Passover and Easter – Week 15 / April 10th

Passover and Easter – Week 15 / April 10th

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                                “Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed

                                 the Passover Lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do you

                                 want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?”

                                                                                                Mark 14:12

                                “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said,

                                 “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the

                                 world.”

                                                                                                John 1:29

                                “….and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said,

                                 “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do

                                 this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also

                                 took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new

                                 covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in

                                 remembrance of Me.”

                                                                                                1 Corinthians 11:24-25

 

This year, as in some previous years, Passover and Easter fall in the same week. Their connection is not just one that has to do with our annual calendars but they mirror each other, though separated by thousands of years in terms of their historical context. The one took place 3300 years ago in Egypt and the other 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. What they both have in common is:

  1. The condemnation of the world.

Without the vicarious suffering of another the world, including all of Israel in Egypt, would fall prey to death at the hands of the Angel of Death. Death is more than just our physical expiration; it is being separated from God for all eternity.  We are all a people condemned to die because of our sins.

  1. The marvelous grace of God.

That which saves us from death is not our good works or efforts but the grace of God alone. The Jews in Egypt were as much at risk as the Egyptians were when the Angel of Death approached. Their only hope was the blood of a lamb that had to be appropriated on the door posts and lintels of their homes. In like manner only the blood of the Lamb of God, applied to the doorposts of our hearts can save us from death. God’s grace is wonderful and frees us from a “works based” attempt to please Him. By grace we have been saved!

  1. The changing of our circumstances.

The Israelites of old had to be dressed and ready to leave Egypt in haste. They would now be a changed people who would find their new life in God who came down to deliver them by His mighty hand. They would never be the same again. In like manner we leave the world (Egypt) and follow Christ Who has transformed us, changed our hearts and made us “new creatures.”

  1. The pursuit of the enemy.

Though redeemed and brought under God’s protection, the Israelites were relentlessly pursued by the Egyptians at many levels and not just physically. It’s one thing to come out of Egypt but it’s entirely another to get Egypt out of your heart! For forty years and more the Israelites battled and struggled with the latter. We too have been saved from sin but it takes a lifetime to get sin out of our hearts! In both cases however the enemy has been defeated. “The horse and rider has been thrown into the sea!”

  1. The care, provision and protection of God.

The Exodus story serves as a marvelous lesson about the love that God has for His people. Those redeemed by the blood of a lamb are God’s precious people a holy nation and a royal priesthood. He watches over them day and night. Likewise the Church is also deemed a holy nation and a royal priesthood and Jesus said “Lo I am with you always even unto the end of the age.” The lesson is clear; those that are” blood bought” enjoy God’s presence and cannot be separated from Him.

  1. The hope of a promised land.

The Israelites went out of Egypt with the sure assurance that they would inherit a land of milk and honey; and they did. We too have gone out of the Egypt of sin looking for a city that has “foundations whose architect and builder is God.” God desires to dwell forever with His children and indeed He will. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions; I go to prepare a place for you that where I am you may be also.”

Isn’t it amazing how Passover and Easter reflect each other? The truth is, they do reflect each other and are really one and the same! Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples and in the middle of this celebration, as He drank the cup of Redemption, He stated that this represented His blood that, like that of a lamb, would be poured out for the saving of the world and as He broke the Matzos Bread, He called their attention to the fact that this was a symbol of His body that would be broken for the world and for the healing thereof.

As we therefore celebrate these things let us do so with great reverence and fear, for God Himself has come down to save and deliver us from our sins and to give us a new and glorious start in life. To Him be all the praise and glory!

Malcolm Hedding

Some Thoughts About Purim – Week 11 / March 17

Some Thoughts About Purim – Week 11 / March 17

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                  “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief
                   and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another
                   place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet
                   who knows whether you have come to the kingdom
                   for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:14

The story of Purim, which records the deliverance of the Jews, from certain genocide, by Esther is an interesting one indeed. We of course have this record preserved for us in that book of the Bible that goes by Esther’s name. Given that the festival of Purim has just been celebrated by the Jewish world it is worthwhile to meditate on a few things concerning this story.

Some things are unaltered.

As it was in Esther’s time, the hatred of Jews and Israel continues as an evil phenomenon. The Festival of Purim is taken from the word Pur which actually can be interpreted as, those who cast lots (vote for) the destruction of the Jews. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern that this evil desire has not gone away. In one sense Haman lives on today.

Just think of the following:
There has been in one year a 34% rise in anti-Semitism in the UK alone. The Jews of France, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands are constantly being subjected to anti-Semitic attacks of one type or another and then in recent weeks the Jewish community of America has been consistently targeted by anti-Semites who have desecrated Jewish grave yards and community buildings and have consistently threatened their schools with bomb attacks. Israel, the “collective Jew”, exists under the constant threat of attack from the north, south and east. All of this just seventy-five years after the Holocaust.

Some things are unusual.
Esther was the Queen of a Gentile Media-Persian King, the truth is she had held her Jewish identity a well kept secret. It also means that to a great degree she had assimilated, and thus in every way she had lived like a Gentile. How else can one explain the fact that not even the King knew of or suspected her Jewish identity and yet God had planted her at the very heart of the kingdom? The God we serve does unusual things in terms of His protection of Israel and the Jewish people. Even now He has Esthers planted in the right places of power and prestige in order to save His people. Joseph is another example of this; he dressed as an Egyptian, worked as an Egyptian and even looked like an Egyptian but he was a Jew sent before his people to save them from starvation and extermination. This is indeed unusual. Ruth, a Gentile woman, is another example of this and she gave hope to Naomi, saved her from poverty and shame and then took her place in David’s lineage.

Some things are unexpected.
Mordecai said to Esther, “…you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” Most Christians understand this coming to the kingdom as referring to the kingdom of God. This is not true and is a violation of the context. The “kingdom” to which Esther came was the pagan kingdom of the Media-Persian empire. In other words she had been cunningly placed by God, Who in fact is not referred to at all in the book, in the heart of this pagan empire so as to use her influence in it to save her people.

In like manner, we all have a sphere of influence in the world and we must use it to defend Israel and the Jews and in fact to proclaim the Gospel. Our ” kingdom” is our place of influence in an ungodly world.

Some things are undecided.
Giving verbal support to these things is not good enough and thus it remains undecided whether we will arise like Esther and use our position in the world to defend the purpose of God and even risk our lives for the Church and the Jewish people. There comes a time when having meetings and even praying is not enough to please God, we have to act. The book of Esther is about action and this is why God is not mentioned in the book but His purpose is clear and it needs defending!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the now famous Lutheran Priest, fled Germany just before the Second World War as he wished to escape from the tyranny of Hitler’s Reich. He thus went to New York. One day, as he stood gazing at the Hudson River, he heard the voice of God say to him, “Who are you and what are you doing here.” In short, God was saying to him, “What are you made of and why have you abandoned your sphere of influence?” Consequently he went back to Germany and in his ministry stood up against Nazism. He embraced his sphere of influence that he had abandoned and eventually gave his life for it as the Nazis hanged him just before the war ended. The lesson is, as it was with Esther, will we decide to take the challenge and embrace our world of influence? Mordecai knew, when he spoke to Esther, that the issue was undecided and therefore he told her that if she didn’t rise to the challenge someone else would. This challenge applies to you and me today and the outcome remains undecided!

Malcolm Hedding

Behold I Make All Things New – Week 9 / March 2nd

Behold I Make All Things New – Week 9 / March 2nd

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“For behold, I create new heavens and a

new earth; and the former shall not be

remembered or come to mind. But be

glad and rejoice forever in what I create;

for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing,

and her people a joy.”

Isaiah 65:17-18

 

The world we presently live in has been subjected to futility and consequently decay and death are everywhere evident (Romans 8:18-22). Even we are “trapped” by physical death that, while having no sting because of what Jesus did for us, nevertheless still holds a certain foreboding in all of us. Then there is the raging of the ungodly that brings misery, sorrow, destruction, persecution and war to our earthly experience. This should not be because a lonely cross set on a hill in Jerusalem defeated these things 2000 years ago but it remains ignored and even mocked and so the rot continues.

The good news is that God is going to make all things new again! This is His promise and indeed it is required because of what Jesus did; the cosmos must be set in order (Ephesians 1:9-10). A “new creation family” must have a new world to live in and in this world they will shine like the sun (Daniel 12:3; Matthew 13:43). So, the final two chapters of the book of Revelation tell us about the coming:

New World Order (Revelation 21:5)

For those who overcome there will be a new order that is truly beyond description. It will be the inheritance of those who have embraced Jesus as Lord and who, in their lives on the present earth, have honored God with transformed lives and deeds of righteousness in the face of great and overwhelming challenges (Revelation 19:8). They have “overcome” this evil age and have become what God wanted them to be by the power of the cross (Galatians 1:3-4).

This new order will be characterized by:

  1. A new heavens and a new earth (Revelation 21:1)

The beauty and glory of this coming creation will be amazing because it will not be retarded by the principles of death and decay. These will be things of the past.

  1. A new city (Revelation 21:2)

The great Patriarchs of our faith went out in pursuit of God because they were given a glimpse of the City of God (Hebrews 11:10; 13:14). Indeed, like them we too abandon the “attraction of the earthly city” because God has something better for us. The eternal City of God will be 1500 miles wide, long and high; its glories are indescribable but John does give us a description of them (Revelation 21:10-21).

This city will have Jewish under-pinnings thereby eternally memorializing the particular role that Israel has played out for the redemption of the world (Revelation 21:12-14) Jesus recognized this when He said, “Salvation is of the Jews”(John 4:22).

  1. A new relationship (Revelation 21:3-4)

God Himself will be visible and amongst His people and He will personally remove the “former things” from them. What a glorious day this is going to be! This embodiment of the divine presence will find its full expression in the person of Jesus. The passage tells us that He:

  • Will be the joy of the city (Revelation 21:9)
  • Will be the desire of the city (Revelation 21:22)
  • Will be the light of the city (Revelation 21:23)
  • Will be the door to the city (Revelation 21:27)
  • Will be the life of the city (Revelation 22:1)
  • Will be the King of the city (Revelation 22:3)
  1. What is absent? (Revelation 21:8; 22:15)

This list is challenging because it tells us that those who:

  • Worship themselves or things other than God
  • Reject the sexual boundaries created by God
  • Practice the occult in rebellion against God
  • Habitually lie and contradict the character of God…and,
  • Take life and thereby dishonor the image of God……………

Will go to hell! They will find themselves “in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.

The abiding expectation and longing that God’s new people have is for the coming of Jesus. We should constantly hold this before our spiritual eyes as it is certain and it constitutes a blessed hope that will keep us true to our confession of faith in Him. “Behold, Jesus says, “I am coming quickly” (Revelation 22:7, 12,16, 20)

“Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

 

Malcolm Hedding

Biblical Christian Zionism – Week 6 / February 2nd

Biblical Christian Zionism – Week 6 / February 2nd

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“Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father’s

           house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation;

           I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a bless-

           ing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who

           curses you, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Genesis 12:1-3

“And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him,

           ‘Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are-

          northward, southward, eastward and westward; for all the which

          you see I will give to your descendants (seeds) forever.”

Genesis 13:14-15

“In your seed (singular) all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,

           because you have obeyed my voice.”

Genesis 22:18

“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does

           not say, ‘And to seeds’, as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your seed”,

          who is Christ.”

Galatians 3:16

“For if the inheritance is of law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave

           it to Abraham by promise.”

Galatians 3:18

“And this I say, that the law, which was given four hundred and thirty

           years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before God

           in Christ.”

Galatians 3:17

“For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear

           by no one greater, He swore by Himself…………Thus God, determining

           to show more abundantly to the heirs (seeds) of promise the immuta-

           bility of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable

           things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong

           consolation, who have fled for refuge  to lay hold of the hope set before

           us.”

Hebrews 6:13,17-18

 

Recently, in response to one of my weekly devotionals, an individual claiming to be Christian accused me of deception, of misleading the people of God and warned me that Jesus was going to judge me for these things. He thus presented himself, very proudly I might add, as my prosecutor, judge and jury. He pressed the case, judged the case and gave his verdict. For him the modern state of Israel is an accident of history, is antichrist and guilty of apartheid.

He states these things as a Christian and all because at the root of it all he subscribes to Replacement Theology which considers the Abrahamic Covenant to be either abolished or adjusted. The result of this re-arrangement of the Abrahamic Covenant is that the modern day restoration of Israel enjoys no biblical significance. It is, as I stated above, a mere accident of history and indeed an immoral one. But is this true? Of course not as it is all based on the false exegesis of scripture.

The passage of scripture this person used to bolster his claims was that found in Galatians 3 where Paul, commenting on the covenant that God made with Abraham, stated that the promises of God were not made to many but to one proved by the use of the word seed as in singular (one person) and not seed in the use of many. So, for this person this proves that the covenant has now been adjusted or indeed abolished as it is all fulfilled in the person of Jesus. Jews therefore no longer have a claim then to the land of Canaan.

The truth is, Paul is not here adjusting anything and he is certainly not addressing the land issue of the Abrahamic Covenant at all. Actually he is addressing the contentious issue that arose in his time between law and grace. That is, are we saved by the keeping the law or by the grace of God brought to us by virtue of Christ’s death on the cross?  This is the only context of the passage in question. He is in fact just stating what the Abrahamic Covenant stated in its original form and thereby demonstrating that the covenant in its original form promised that salvation would come through the nation of Israel in the form of a seed, a single seed. It will be by this seed that all peoples, Jew or Gentile, would be saved. This promise Paul says was given 430 years before God gave the law to Moses and he then reinforces the immutability of the Abrahamic Covenant by staying that it can never be annulled in its original form. In other words the law of Moses has not replaced it.

It is this Covenant that not only promises the coming of a “Seed Savior” but which also bequeaths the land of Israel to the Jewish people (the seeds as in plural) as an everlasting possession and which promises a blessing and a curse depending on how people or nations respond to it. It is one Covenant with a number of components and Paul is only appealing to one of these components to prove his point; namely that salvation will not come to the world by the keeping of the law but in fact by exercising faith in the redemptive work of the “Seed”. The subject of Galatians 3 is that only of law and grace and Paul’s punch line is, “The law is our teacher to bring us to Christ” (3:24) since by hanging on a tree He became a curse for us. The law Is not not our savior but the way to the Savior (the seed) as it convicts us of our sin (Romans:3:20).

Here Paul is actually upholding the veracity of the Abrahamic Covenant not disavowing it. Hebrews 6 asserts that God will remain faithful to the Abrahamic Covenant because it is ratified by His word and character, two immutable things by which it is impossible for God to lie. My detractor is indeed challenging God’s immutability and thereby accusing Him of lying. For him God is actually not faithful to His covenant with Abraham and therefore does mean what He says!

The Abrahamic Covenant is both conditional and unconditional in that it was conditional only upon Abraham’s obedience. Genesis 22, dealing with the “binding of Isaac”, demonstrated Abraham’s faithfulness and obedience to God resulting in the promise that a “seed” would come through the nation (the seeds) who would bless the world with salvation. There is no adjustment here to any part of the Covenant as this promise is made in its original form and therefore it is a part of the whole. This “whole” vouches for the fact that the land of Canaan is the everlasting possession of the Jewish people. The Covenant, according to Paul, will never be annulled, not in whole or in part, and therefore the modern day restoration of Israel to the land of Canaan is evidence of God’s faithfulness to it. Just as Israel’s restoration to the land after the Babylonian exile also was.

This is no different to a binding contract made today in that these have many clauses or components to them and sometimes one or two of these have to be defended to ensure compliance with the whole contract. Paul in Galatians 3 is doing only and just that, nothing and more and nothing less.

This is the truth of God’s word and it is the truth that many of God’s great servants believed on and acted upon including the first century church leaders, John and Charles Wesley, the Puritans, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Bishop Ryle of Liverpool, Derek Prince, Jack Hayford, Franklin Graham and presently the world’s greatest expositor of the Bible, David Pawson. This is just a very small selection of well known and proven teachers of God’s holy word who support the biblical position I have set forth above. I will be most happy, as my detractor has asserted, to be scrutinized with the Wesleys and Charles Spurgeon on that great day when Jesus comes again.

As a biblical Christian Zionist I want to encourage all of you not to be deterred by those who assert that God has no destiny for the Jewish people in the land of Canaan. They are wrong and will be proved to be wrong as they have no biblical grounds for their assertions. Least of all any support for them from Galatians 3. Finally, the Bible teaches that when the Messiah comes again in great power and glory to the Mount of Olives He will do so to defend His people Israel and a Jewish Jerusalem. I pray, please tell me why He would defend, what some assert to be, a political accident!

Most of all dear friends, God’s faithfulness to every part of the Abrahamic Covenant is held up before us by the writer of the book of Hebrews as undeniable proof that the God of the Bible does keep His promises and especially all those made to us in the New Covenant. You can trust His word because He does not lie!

Malcolm Hedding

The Battle of Jerusalem – Week 3 / January 20th

The Battle of Jerusalem – Week 3 / January 20th

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Jerusalem, by its very name, is the city of peace precisely because the city is an imperfect replica of a heavenly one; which scripture terms as, “The Jerusalem Above” (Galatians 4:26). This heavenly city will be the eternal home of the redeemed of all ages and but the present earthly Jerusalem is the “gateway” by the cross to that perfect heavenly and eternal abode. Singular and crucial to this story of epic proportions are the Jewish people who have been designated by God to be the custodians of these treasured truths! (Romans 3:1-2)

 

  1. The Eternal Purpose of God

This may be defined as: That divine initiative to gather a holy family from all the peoples of the earth by which the heart of God will be rejoiced and the purpose of God through the ages will be fulfilled. This truth is reflected in Paul’s second letter to Timothy when he writes:

 

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our

                         Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the

                         sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,

                         Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not

                         according to our works, but according to his own

                         purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus

                         before time began.” 2 Timothy 1:8-9

 

To achieve this divine initiative the God of the bible made a remarkable choice.

 

  1. The Amazing Choice of God
  • Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). God called this unique gentile into a special relationship with Himself. This would be for the saving of the world.

 

  • Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Acts 3:13). The patriarchal structure of Israel reflects the eternal purpose of God. That is, He is a God of promise or covenant (Braham), a God of atonement or sacrifice (Isaac) and a God of change or transformation (Jacob).

 

  • Abraham’s Covenant that is eternal, unchanging and guaranteed by the immutability of God Himself. (Hebrews 6:13-18). This means that in all aspects, including that of the land of Canaan nothing will ever change. God Himself declares that He is the Lord and He does not change. Numbers twenty-three and verse nineteen states, “God is not a man, that He should lie…”

 

  • Abraham’s children; the vehicle of world redemption. (John 4:22; Romans 3:1-2; Romans 9:1-5) Everything we have as Christians is Jewish, even our Messiah.

 

  1. The grave warning of God

 “Behold, the whirlwind of the Lord goes forth with

  fury, a continuing whirlwind; it will fall violently

  on the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the

  Lord will not return until He has done it, and until

  He has performed the intents of His heart. In the

  latter days you will consider it.” Jeremiah 30:23-24

 

The construction of the Bible is such that it begins with an emphasis on the serious consequences of sin and rebellion against God. The heart of man has become “desperately sick and wicked above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9) and deserves nothing less than the thundering of God’s anger and wrath (Hebrews 12:18-21). We downplay our depravity to our spiritual loss! (Hebrews 10:26-31) This is especially true because God has determined in Christ to reach out to us and save us from our sins. He did this through the Jewish people and their eternal city Jerusalem! In short, by Jesus’ death in Jerusalem we are “saved from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

 

Moreover, since Israel has been the means by which God has brought His love and gift of eternal life to us our dealings with her and with her eternal city will determine whether we are blessed or cursed (Genesis 12:3).  This is no small matter and we “laugh it off” to our peril. Balaam, who set out to curse Israel, was restrained by the Holy Spirit and instead declared, “Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you” (Numbers 24: 9) This applies to the Church and to the nations of the world. We have been, a long time ago, warned of this:

 

“And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem

                        a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave

                        it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of

                        the earth are gathered against it.” Zechariah 12:3

 

                        “For I am with you, says the Lord, to save you; though I

                         make a full end of all the nations where I have scattered

                         you….” Jeremiah 30:11

 

It is interesting that we are presently witnessing a concerted effort by the world community to wrest Jerusalem from Israeli control. This warning is clear; in doing so they will rupture themselves!

 

  1. The Final Battle of God

 “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil

 will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the

 nations against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the

 houses rifled and the women ravished. Half of the city

 shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people

 shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will

 go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in

 the day of battle. And in that day his feet will stand on

 the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.”

                                                Zechariah 14:1-4

 

The final and great battle of world history will be over the great city of Jerusalem. The “powers” of evil, both seen and unseen, will increasingly seek to dismantle Israel and disinvest her of her Capital, Jerusalem. In doing this they are, as they have always done throughout history, attempting to frustrate and liquidate the purpose of God on the earth. A Jewish Jerusalem is the platform, and thus the destination, of Jesus’ return to the earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  All the scriptures pertaining to the visible second coming of Christ portray Him as returning to a Jewish controlled Jerusalem.  In fact Jesus comes to defend His people living there! (Zechariah 12:8) This amazing day will be and is being resisted by all the powers of darkness and so we have to choose on what side of this battle we are going to stand? Will we risk persecution, demonic resistance and unpopularity and side with Israel or will we side with the Devil and his hordes, the Bible calls them the “sons of tumult.” (Numbers 24:17)

 

To be honest this great day of the battle for Jerusalem has already begun. It has accelerated and escalated in recent weeks by the UNESCO decision to designate Jerusalem “Islamic”, by resolution 2334 at the UN that seeks to remove Jerusalem from Israeli sovereignty and now by the “Paris Conference” that sought to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. In short Israel is on a collision course with the world but the world is on a collision course with Jesus! Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

 

Malcolm Hedding

           

Thoughts to Ponder – Week 2/ January 9th

Thoughts to Ponder – Week 2/ January 9th

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Of late I have been spoken to and touched by a wonderful verse from scripture. These words have made me think, meditate and consider my response to them. I therefore share this verse with you in the hope that it will do the same for you. I sum it up as:

The Desire of God

“Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of
Zion, streaming to the goodness of the Lord- for wheat
and new wine and oil, for the young of the flock and
the herd; their souls shall be like a well-watered garden,
and they shall sorrow no more at all.” Jeremiah 31:12

In its immediate context this verse is referring to a glorious day of redemption that is coming to Zion. The chapter tells us that it will spring forth because God will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and by it they will come to have a personal knowledge of God Himself (Jeremiah 31:31-34). So, clearly the verse in context is teaching us about the blessings of being redeemed in Christ Jesus by virtue of His finished work on the cross. In this regard, it therefore applies to us; a fact that Paul confirms in his Roman letter when he writes that Jesus was sent to confirm the promises that God had made to Israel and to save us Gentiles by God’s mercy and grace. (Romans 15:8-9)

What caught my attention is the fact that God, by His goodness, gives His flock three things:
1. Wheat
2. New Wine…. and,
3. Oil
Wheat is a symbol of God’s precious Word; it is the very bread of life and God has given it to us. The blessedness of the Bible is beyond our ability to appreciate and we should always remember this. It is a veritable treasure that can transform our lives if received properly (James 1:21) As far as Paul is concerned the Word of God is to be “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15) and held in reverence (respect) because it is fully inspired (2 Timothy 3:16). The challenge from heaven is to so take hold of the pages of this book that you begin to live it as a walking picture of it! (2 Corinthians 3:1-3) We must be “living epistles’ being read by all men. I fear that not too many of us have embraced “the wheat of God” in this way.

New Wine is a symbol of a life that is filled with the very purpose of God. We can so easily get caught in a form of devotion and practice that is formal and routine. God wants us to have “New Wine.” That is, something fresh, joyful and infectious. This means that our Christian walk is attractive and thereby elicits questions from those who do not know Christ. Jesus spoke of this when He called our attention to the principle of “new wine” which essentially challenges status quo Christianity. In fact, the “new wine Christian” has to very often seek new fields of witness and practice as the old formal expression of following Christ cannot cope with it! (Matthew 9:16-17) Only a living relationship with Jesus will impart this new wine to us.

Oil, as we all well know is a picture of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It is this that sets us apart as Christians. That is, we are anointed ones just as Jesus was the Anointed One or Christ! Paul exhorts us to be filled with the Spirit and thereby baptized into a world of the supernatural. (Ephesians 5:18) We are to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), give expression to manifestations of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7), and we are to build ourselves up by praying in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20). Jesus warned that when He comes again He might not find His people filled with His “oil.” (Matthew 25:1-13) We should take this very seriously!

Now then all this brings us to the most important part of all of this. That is, our text says that as a consequence our souls, “shall be like a well-watered garden.” This is truly a wonderful picture of spiritual health. I am an enthusiastic gardener and recently my garden was designated “The Garden of The Quarter” by the Trustees of our sub-division. This is not to brag but rather to say that I know something about a well-watered garden in that, if is well irrigated, properly prepared and then ready to be watered, it will spring into life with a beauty that is truly therapeutic. The result is one of freshness, beauty and enjoyment. There is nothing better. Now hear this, God wants our souls to be well-watered gardens and this will only take place when we ensure that our lives are being nourished by wheat, new wine and oil. Moreover, it is God Himself that delights in the well-watered garden of our souls for He visits “our garden” and rejoices in its beauty and fragrance:

“Awake, O north wind, and come, O south! Blow upon
my garden, that its species may flow out. Let my beloved
come to his garden and eat its pleasant fruits.” Song of Solomon 4:16

If then you have any desire for the days that are ahead let this desire be to embrace the desire of God. Let the breath of Christ blow upon the well-watered garden of your soul. You cannot aspire to anything better.

Malcolm Hedding

The Incarnation / Week 51 – December 18th

The Incarnation / Week 51 – December 18th

2016Devotional 2016Devotional

                                                                The Third Week Of Advent 2016

 

                                                “And without controversy great is the mystery

                                                 Of Godliness:

                                                                God was manifested in the flesh,

                                                                Justified in the Spirit,

                                                                Seen by angels,

                                                                Preached among the Gentiles,

                                                                Believed on in the world,

                                                                Received up in glory.”

                                                                                                                1Timothy 3:16

 

The greatest event of all time was The Day when God became man and dwelt among us. This Day altered our world forever and that of the destiny of every human being whether they acknowledge it or not. There is of course great mystery to the incarnation but the facts of history confirm it. Therefore:

  1. 1. The Incarnation punctuates history.

A decree went out from Caesar Augustus requiring all people in the empire to be registered. (Luke2:1) This was the law that brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem and the rest is indeed history. From that time to the present the world generally orders its affairs according to the birth of the Son of God. This alone is amazing!

  1. 2. The Incarnation unveils the nature and character of God.

John declares that no one has seen God at any time but the, “the only begotten God in the bosom of the Father has declared Him.”(John1: 18) Jesus is nothing short of God in the flesh and He clearly affirmed this especially when He addressed the doubts and misgivings of His followers. For in John 14 and verse 9, in response to a question from His Disciples asking Him to show them the Father, He said, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known me…” Not only is Jesus a godman but He is also The Creator!

                “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,

                                 and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

                                 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing

                                 was made that was made. In Him is life, and the life was the

                                 light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the

                                 darkness did not comprehend it.”

                                                                                                John 1:1-3

(Note also: Colossians1: 16-18; Hebrews1: 1-3)

All of this is quite literally mind blowing but true!

  1. The Incarnation has purpose.

This purpose may be summed up in three ways: Firstly; to satisfy the demands of God’s character by the cross. (Hebrews2: 14-18) Secondly; to defeat the powers of darkness and sin who dominate our lives by the cross. (Hebrews 2:14) And, thirdly; to reconcile us to His Father by the cross. (Hebrews2:8-10)

Thanks be to God for His wonderful gift!

  1. The Incarnation is instructive.

That Jesus left the glory and splendor of Heaven to become man and dwell among us, as a servant in this veil of sorrow is amazing.  This truth should challenge us, by His grace, to walk in the same love and humility. He had status and gave it away in order to serve us! (Mark10: 45) We, because of sin, have no status but we falsely seek it and claim it in our pride and arrogance. We too often have forgotten His incredible example by the incarnation. (Philippians2:5-11)

Who will be like Jesus? This Christmas let us think on these things, share them with our friends and family and praise God for them. Merry Christmas!

 

Malcolm and Cheryl Hedding.

 

The Hope of the World – Week 50 / December 5th

The Hope of the World – Week 50 / December 5th

2016Devotional 2016Devotional

 The Second Week Of Advent 2016

 

                                                ‘Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary,

                                                 for you have found favor with God. And behold, you

                                                 will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and

                                                 shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be

                                                 called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will

                                                 give Him the throne of His father David. And He will

                                                 reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His king-

                                                 dom there will be no end”

                                                                                                                            Luke 1:30-33

 

Here in this simple passage of scripture we have a proclamation that changed the world forever and gave it hope. This passage dispels the gloom of human existence and assures us that God loves us all and has stepped down into this world in His Son to save us and fill us all with eternal hope. The work of Jesus is “forever” and those who travel life with Him will never die since His kingdom will have no end. Good news indeed and worthy of celebration. We should note the following and meditate upon them this Christmas time:

 

  1. A Son whose mane is Jesus

Jesus, or Yeshua in Hebrew, means Savior. The Bible most certainly defines the human being as being “fallen.” That is, lost in hopelessness and gloom because they have rebelled against God and have been banished from His eternal presence. This rebellion against God is called sin. This sin has impacted our natures and consequently our actions in a way that we cannot find our way back to God. We cannot attain to His righteousness and we cannot escape His penalty for our state of existence but God has sent us a Savior whose mane is Jesus. We may ask, “Why did He do this?” The answer is clear; because He loves us!

 

  1. A Son who is the Son of the Highest

Jesus was born of a virgin in order to escape our fallen natures. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit! However, this means that He was begotten and was therefore God in the flesh. That is, perfect God and perfect man, truly a Godman. He lived His life out in a broken, sinful and dark world, resisted temptation, never sinned and then atoned on the cross for our sins. So, by the power of an indestructible life He saves us and reconciles us to God. We are declared righteous and made righteous by His life in us. Rightly do we worship Him and give Him praise.

 

  1. A Son who is King of Israel

Jesus is of David’s line, and is therefore the King of Israel and will come back to reign over the house of Jacob. He will not abandon His people Israel and the promise of her deliverance and blessing is bound up in His soon coming. He will not fail His people Israel and even in this dark hour when anti-Semitism is on the rise everywhere Jesus is getting ready to defend a Jewish Jerusalem and take up His throne. What wonderful news to meditate upon at Christmas time.

 

  1. A Son who will reign forever

Mary’s boy child will rule the universe forever! This is the promise of the Angel sent from Heaven. It is a sure promise and will not fail. Not everyone will share it with Him as only those who have linked their lives to His will go into His eternal kingdom. The world has a King and by Him can live forever but sadly too few embrace and love Him. Upon this simple response hangs the eternal destiny of all people. Quite a thought.

We will shortly celebrate the Son of God’s birth into our world so many years ago and, as we do, let us meditate on these things and hold them dear and close to our hearts just as Mary did. Merry Christmas!

 

Malcolm and Cheryl Hedding

The Season of God’s glorious Light – Week 49 / December 3rd

The Season of God’s glorious Light – Week 49 / December 3rd

2016Devotional 2016Devotional

The First Week of Advent  2016

 

                                                “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us

                                                 and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only

                                                 begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

                                                                                                                John 1:14

Scripture declares that the world is in the grip of a demonic fist. (1 John 5:19) Generally speaking the human race walks, “according to the prince of the power of the air,” (Ephesians2:2) and indeed, as Paul affirms, the devil is the “god of this age.” (2Corinthians 4:4) We should therefore not be surprised at the darkness and evil that envelops our world and sadly, sometimes even our own hearts!

 

Nevertheless, at this time of the year we remember, with much joy, that God’s light dispels the darkness and will ultimately conquer it. The Feast of Dedication (John 10: 22) or Hanukkah reminds us that the Lord of Glory penetrates the darkness by the strength of His love and therefore by His saving light, does great things for Israel and for all those who love Him.

 

The very first Hanukkah celebration took place some 160 years before Christ. Israel was overrun by the evil Seleucid Antiochus Epiphanes who committed the abomination of desolation by placing a statue of Zeus in the Temple in Jerusalem. After a great struggle, which raged for three-and-a-half years, he was finally defeated by the Hasmoneans and by Judas Hasmoneas in particular. The Temple was cleansed and rededicated with a miracle that kept the Menorah burning for eight days until pure Olive Oil, that could only be obtained from the Galilee, was able replenish it. The reality was that they only had sufficient oil for one day! Jesus celebrated this miracle and thereby recognized the intervention of God on behalf of Israel. (John 10:22-23)

 

The message was clear; God’s light will deliver Israel and save her. Today the Iranians, their many proxies and others threaten Israel, as Antiochus did, but they will also fail because they have not reckoned on Israel’s light! Time will most definitely prove this to be true! We thank God that He is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and we can then pray with confidence about Israel’s protection and deliverance. Scripture affirms this when it states that the nations will increasingly fall into intense darkness but God’s light will increasingly shine brighter over Israel.

                “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the

                                 Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover

                                the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will

                                 arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The

                                 Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the

                                 brightness of your rising.”

                                                                                Isaiah 60:1-3

 

Also, at this time of the year, we celebrate the birth of the Light of the World; Jesus of Nazareth. The incarnation story is simple, beautiful and worthy of annual celebration, regardless of the date. God became man and dwelt among us so that we could perceive who He really is and be saved from our sins. John the apostle declares, “No one has seen God at anytime, the only begotten God in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” (John 1:18) What a beautiful way of putting the essence or nature of Jesus. The Father is fully reflected in His life and this reflection is nothing short of glorious and divine! By His death and resurrection Jesus has dispelled the darkness in countless millions of lives down through the centuries and in the world today. In short, His star has brought real hope and joy to the world. Rightly then do we celebrate His birth, as the Wise Men did, and also join the choir of Angels in their songs of praise of the Christ child. This we do with the great expectation that very shortly Jesus will inherit the throne of His great grandfather David and rule forever and ever. (Luke1: 30-33) This is the sure promise of God and when it happens, light will at last cover the whole earth “as the waters cover the sea” and the world will at last be at peace. (Isaiah 11:9) This alone is our true hope and joy.

 

This year Hanukkah and Christmas fall together and this most certainly reminds us that God’s saving light will never be vanquished and that we must place our trust fully in Jesus who is the true light of the world. Without Him our world will only continue to experience darkness and hopelessness.

 

May the God of Israel shine His light on you and your loved ones at this special time of the year and thereby fill you with His love and joy! Even so Lord Jesus come quickly!

       Merry Christmas to you all!

 

Malcolm and Cheryl Hedding

 

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit / Week 47 – November 14th

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit / Week 47 – November 14th

2016Devotional 2016Devotional

“Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in
the city of Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on
high.”
Luke 24:49

Definition of terms
1. Salvation
The Bible teaches that there is a work of the Holy Spirit upon the repentant sinner’s life whereby he or she is regenerated and receives the gift of eternal life. The nature of this saving work of the Holy Spirit is described by Paul in Titus 3:5-6:

“But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward
man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have
done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the
washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

2. Power
The Bible teaches that there is a work of the Holy Spirit upon the believer whereby he or she receives power to witness and serve Christ in the world. This work is called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The nature of this work of the Holy Spirit is described by Jesus Himself in the Gospel of Luke chapter twenty four and verse forty-nine.

Exposition.
In Ephesians 1:13 Paul clearly states that after they believed and were saved they were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Once again the wording is similar to that of Jesus in that Paul refers to the, “Holy Spirit of promise.” This promise they received after they had accepted the Gospel and had believed. Jesus, in John’s Gospel, gave a similar understanding of the twofold work of the Holy Spirit as defined above in John seven and verses thirty-seven to thirty-nine. That is, those believing, meaning the saved Disciples would receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The Disciples were not saved or regenerated by the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost! They were in fact saved when Jesus called them and that’s when they were “born again”

Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus in John three illustrates this as He rebukes Nicodemus for not being born again even though he is a “teacher in Israel.” This life giving born again experience is imparted, according to Jesus, by the Holy Spirit who comes to the repentant person like the wind. (John 3:8) It is important to note that it would not be right of Jesus, or even rational, to rebuke Nicodemus for something that he could not experience until the resurrection of Jesus. Nicodemus and the Disciples were all saved and regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Without this life giving work in their hearts they could not go out as Jesus commanded them to teach and heal! The unsaved or unregenerate cannot heal the sick, cast out devils and even preach.

The Day of Pentecost, as confirmed by Jesus’ own words, was the reception of power by the Holy Spirit by which the disciples could go out into the world and be Jesus’ powerful witnesses. It is important to note that this remains the exclusive context of Jesus’ admonition to the Disciples in terms of being baptized with the Holy Spirit. This is certainly undeniable! Note: Acts1:8.

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has
come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in
Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and to the end
of the earth.”

Evidence
The position put forth above is borne out by the historical record of the preaching of the Disciples as we find it recorded in Acts.
1. The believers were baptized with power on the day of Pentecost (Acts2:1-4)

2. The people in Samaria received the message of the Gospel and when the Disciples in Jerusalem heard of it they went down to them to pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-17) So this demonstrates that they were not baptized in the Holy Spirit when they first yielded their lives to Christ; they were instead regenerated or “born again” by the Spirit. In fact, they were even baptized in water as a public confession of their faith but had not received the Holy Spirit in power. If they needed to be saved this is indeed strange terminology and practice because it means that people baptized in water were not actually saved! Unsaved people need to be led through repentance and the reception of Christ. These were not unsaved people; they were saved and had already been baptized in water!

3. Acts 19:1-6 is a very clear example of this twofold work of the Holy Spirit in that there were believers at Ephesus who had become such through the powerful preaching of Apollos. The context makes this very clear. Paul found them and asked if they had received the Holy Spirit when they came to faith. In one way, of course they did but they didn’t know it because they had received Christ into their hearts by the Holy Spirit. They were just not baptized with the Spirit and thus after baptizing them in water Paul laid hands on them and they were filled with Spirit.

4. The early Disciples were baptized in the Spirit on the day of Pentecost but thereafter they were filled time and again with the Spirit (Acts 4:31). This is precisely why Paul exhorts all believers to be constantly filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18) This is not a reference to the losing of their regenerated life in Christ but to the fact that we allow things to creep into our lives that weaken our power in Jesus to serve Him effectively in the world. We must receive the command to be filled with the Spirit as by doing this we will keep our lives clean before God since He gives his Holy Spirit to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32).

History
There are those who reject the position I have outlined above and instead assert that believers in Jesus get everything the Holy Spirit can give them, including the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, when they repent, receive Jesus and are saved. The problem with this theory is that the church groups that teach it have no manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their congregational life. That is, if you attend their meetings you will never hear tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy and singing in the Spirit! The churches that do embrace what I have written above do.

 

This leaves the “nay sayers” in a dilemma in that they have to do one of three things:
1. Humble themselves accept that they are wrong and change their theology and practice.
2. Reject the reality of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as a separate experience and thus, 3. Assert that what Pentecostal churches experience is fake! In some cases, they even claim that it is demonic!

Most will not humble themselves in this respect, as many of us had to, and so they reject the teaching of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with its manifestations of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and instead claim that these are indeed fake as they ceased 2000 years ago. To support this notion, they invariably quote 1 Corinthians 13:10 out of context. Paul is here speaking about the perfection of eternity and is in no way claiming that the gifts of the Holy Spirit passed away with apostolic period.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are the tools that God in Christ gives us in order to impact the world with the love of Jesus. The disciples needed them before going out into the world and so do we. They will only come to our lives when we are Baptized with the Holy Spirit and clothed with power from on high. It is no coincidence then that the fastest growing part of the Church of Jesus Christ today is the Pentecostal one or is it all fake?

Malcolm Hedding