Acts 1

Acts 1: Matthias is chosen as Apostle #12

                We learn that Jesus continued to teach for forty days after His Resurrection. Jesus continued to instruct His Apostles and while doing so, one of the Apostles asked Jesus: “…Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” and His response was; “…It is not for you to know the times of the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” (Acts 1:6-7) After He had said these things, Jesus was taken up into the clouds and the Apostles looked up and marveled. Two men who were presumably angels stood dressed in white and said; “…why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

The Apostles then returned to Jerusalem where they went into an upper room to pray about who should be the next Apostles, because Judas had betrayed Jesus and was no longer an Apostle. One Apostle explains what was the end of Judas; “…this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, the field of blood.” (Acts 1:18-19)

                Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus and felt so bad about doing it, he committed Suicide. The Apostles therefore in replacing him, chose two men who had been with them ‘Joseph Justus’, and ‘Matthias’ and this is the manner in which they chose between the two men; “…they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship…” (Acts 1:24-25) After much praying they came to the conclusion that Matthias was the Lord’s choice and he would be ordained to be an Apostle for the Lord’s church. Today in the Restored Church of Jesus Christ, the Apostles follow something similar to choose new Apostles when older ones finish their mission on the earth.

Luke 6

Luke 6: Blessing for the Obedient… woes for the Wicked

                On the second Sabbath, Jesus and His Apostles travel through a corn field and plucked ears of corn because they were hungry. Without having stepped much further the Scribes and Pharisees were ready to find fault and begin questioning Jesus; “…Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?” (Luke 6:2) Jesus responds; “…Have ye not read so much  as this, what David did, when himself was an hungered, and they which were with him; How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the showbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone? …the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:3-5)

The Pharisees wanted to catch Jesus doing anything wrong, but even their so called mastery of the scriptures and the word of God was no match for the Son of God himself. The Pharisees did err, because they knew not the scriptures. How could they not see that Jesus was the Christ? The Son of God!?

Jesus continues His journey and enters into a Synagogue to teach, while He was there He saw a man whose right hand was withered. The Scribes and Pharisees again stood by waiting to see if Jesus would heal the man on the Sabbath, and therefore find fault for having healed on the Sabbath. Jesus of course knew their intentions and asked the man to come near and stand up, He then asked the man; “…Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? To save a life, or to destroy it?” (Luke 6:9) Jesus then asked the man to stretch forth his hand so he could heal it, and the hand was restored to a perfect condition.

The Pharisees were angered and communed with one another to figure out what to do with Jesus, for He was clearly violating what they had made up or misunderstood about His own law. The Sabbath day should be kept as a reverent, holy day unto the Lord. If at all possible we should avoid activities that draw away from the Savior or do not bring peace into our homes. Sabbath days are meant to be a day of rest, but also a day of service. The Sabbath is the time to go to church, worship God and spend time with Family. We should avoid working or shopping on this day, so that others can honor the Sabbath day.

Jesus leaves the Pharisees and goes to a mountain to pray (where He prays all night to decide who to call to be His Apostles), those chosen the next day are; Simon (who is also named Peter), Andrew, James, John, Phillips, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Simon, Judas and Judas Iscariot. Jesus speaks to His apostles and those gathered;

“…Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.” (Luke 6:20-22)

Jesus taught that all things will be made right for those trials we go through in life. Jesus continues to address the people gathered; “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27-28) Jesus taught that we should love our enemies, regardless of what they do to us.

Jesus explains that we must be charitable and give unto others. For what we sow, so shall we reap; “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” (Luke 6:36-37)

Jesus continues by explaining that:

  • The blind cannot lead the blind (Luke 6:39-40)
  • Do not judge others when you, yourself are not perfect (Luke 6:41-42)
  • Every tree brings forth its own fruit, and is known by that fruit (Luke 6:43-45)

Most importantly Jesus explains that those who follow Him, and actually do as He has taught will be like a wise man who built his house upon a rock, with a solid foundation. However, those who don’t listen to Jesus or follow His teachings will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. When the floods come the one without a foundation will be washed away. This metaphor can be used in our own lives, if we do not ground ourselves in the doctrines of Christ and follow Him each day… when the storms of Satan come and he tempts us, we might just give into those temptations and wash away.

Jesus asks those who follow Him; “…why call me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46) Earlier in Matthew we read that Jesus taught; “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in haven.” (Matthew 7:21) Because of this, we are Saved by grace and good works. We cannot simply say we believe in Christ. To believe in Jesus, means that you believe His teachings, and if you believe His teachings you are a follower. Therefore if you follow Jesus, you believe in Him, are a follower of Him and do the will, and good works.

Luke 2

Luke 2: Birth of Jesus Christ

                In the days of Caesar Augustus, he commanded that everyone be taxed and return to their city of lineage to be taxed. Joseph and Mary returned to the City of Bethlehem, there May brought forth her first born son, and

“…wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lol, the angel of the Lord came upon them: and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel sad unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:7-14)

Once the angels had gone away, the Shepherds all made haste to see the child, and they found Him lying in a manger. After eight days the child was circumcised and He was called, Jesus. There was a man named Simeon who was just and devout. The Holy Ghost told him that before he died he would see the Lord’s Christ. Upon seeing him, he was filled with joy and said; “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” (Luke 2:29-30)

A prophetess named Ana also came to proclaim of the greatest of Jesus. After they had performed all things in the Law of Moses they returned to the City of Nazareth where Jesus “…grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:40)

Every year Joseph and Mary would return to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, Jesus being 12 years of age traveled with them, but stayed behind without His parents knowing. When the parents returned to Jerusalem they found Jesus sitting for three days in the temple; “…sitting in the midst of doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard of him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed; and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have south thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye no that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.” (Luke 2:46-50)

                Both Joseph and Mary were confused by this, of course Jesus was speaking of His Father’s business, not that of Joseph’s, but of Heavenly Father’s business. Jesus “…increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)

Matthew 10

Matthew 10:

12 Apostles – Authority from Jesus Christ 

Jesus calls Twelve Apostles; Simon, Peter, Andrew, James, John, Phillip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Simon, Judas Iscariot. He “…gave them power…” (Matthew 10:1), or in other words Jesus gave the twelve Apostles “Authority” to act in His name. Therefore YOU need Authority to be an Apostle of the Lord.

“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-6)

Jesus commanded the twelve to go among the lost sheep that they might be brought back into the fold. Jesus commanded them to; “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils; freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)

Jesus also reminds them that they have no need for money, for they would be provided for in the service of the Lord. He tells them to “…enquire who in it [the city] is worthy…” (Matthew 10:11) and that any house which rejects them to “…shake off the dust of your feet.” (Matthew 10:14), essentially leaving behind no blessing on the house.

Jesus reminds the Apostles, that as missionaries they need to move forth as sheep amongst wolves, wise as a serpent, and harmless as a dove. Missionaries need to always be cautious and wise, yet caring and harmless. Jesus tells them that many will reject them, and if that be the case to not worry about what to respond with, “…for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.” (Matthew 10:19) Sadly, those who follow Jesus and His gospel will be persecuted, Jesus said; “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22)

We are reminded of the importance of REVELATION, when Jesus said; “…for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hi, that shall not be known.” (Matthew 10:26) Everything that we don’t understand will someday come to light and we will understand. Revelation is not dead, and the prophets continue to give us revelation in these Latter-days!

Jesus tells His Apostles that no one should love anyone or anything more than God, for “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:39)

Judges 19-21

Judges 19-21

Chapter 19: Dividing in 12 Pieces

I almost want to say, “viewer discretion is advised” on this passage! Seriously it is probably one of the more messed up stories of the Bible. So there is that warning, before you read.

A Levite living in Ephraim gets a concubine (a mistress) from Bethlehem. She however is unfaithful to him and returns to her father’s house in Bethlehem. Four month later the Levite man gets his servant and starts after her. When he arrives there the concubine brings him into her father’s house and invites him to stay. The Levite man stays for 3 days and prepares to head back home, but the father insists that he stays for food and then he ends up staying until the fifth day, when he tries to convince him again, but after 5 days the Levite wants to leave, so he leaves with his servant and concubine.

During their trip back they pass the city of Jebus (later Jebus gets conquered by the Israelites and is renamed “Jerusalem”), which has Jebusites living there. The Levite’s servant suggests they stop for the night in Jebus, but the Levite refuses to stay in a city whose inhabitants aren’t Israelites, so they push on to the city of Gibeah.

At Gibeah, they go into the “down town” section and everyone refuses to take them in. In this time, it was custom for someone to offer a place to sleep at night. But no one seems to let them in, except an old man that comes in from among the fields. The old man asks him where he is from, and the Levite tells him and asks for just a place to stay for the night. The old man finds out that they are both from the hill country of Ephraim and offers to give him food as well. They arrive at the old man’s home and get something to eat and wash their feet, all in all they were “enjoying themselves”.

Just then, the house gets surrounded by a bunch of wicked men of the city. They practically pound the door down and demand the old man to send out the Levite that is staying with him. The reason for this? They “wicked men” want to rape the Levite man. I told you this was a pretty graphic chapter. This part of the story is from (verses 22-30).

So the old man responds to the wicked men:

“…I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house… here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now… and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not vile a thing.” (Judges 19:23-24)

                The men refuse to listen, so the Levite sends out his concubine…

“…and they knew her, and abused her all night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go” (Judges 19:25)

She returns to the house, after a whole night of being gang raped. She falls down to the ground in front of the house where she remains unto daylight. The Levite then wakes up and comes outside to find her by the front door on the threshold. He tells her to get up, that they must be going now. She doesn’t respond, so he picks her up and puts her on his donkey and returns home. The chapter or verse does not mention anything about the state of the concubine, but from the looks of it, it appears she is dead when he loads her onto the donkey. So she was raped to death. I told you that I should put a “viewer/reader discretion is advised” on the first of this blog!

When the Levite returns home, he takes the concubine and cuts her body into 12 pieces and sends a piece to each tribe of Israel. When the Israelites find this, they respond with rage; “… there was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt…” (Judges 19:30)

Chapter 20: Benjamites Are Destroyed

So the story from the last passage carries on… A woman was gang raped to death and it seemed no one cared. But in this chapter we find out who did this horrible crime. So we know that the woman was cut up into 12 pieces and sent to every tribe of Israel, well they are horrified. At least someone cares now, right? Well we find out that it was the Benjamites that committed the crime. The other 11 tribes of Israel gather before the Lord at Mizpah to find out what happened.

The Levite explains the situation to the eleven tribes. He says that his concubine and him went to Gibeah to spend the night, during their visit the men in Gibeah intended to come after him but instead he handed over his concubine. She was killed like we read in the last chapter and then the Levite cut her into pieces and sent them to each region of Israel, because the crime was committed in Israel.

The 11 tribes of Israel unanimously decide that they are going to give the Gibeanites what they deserve for their heinous crime. So they go to the tribe of Benjamin and demand that they hand over the men from Gibeah who committed the crime. The Benjamites decide not to hand over the men, and instead prepare for war against the rest of Israel.

The Benjamites organize and have 26,000 swordsmen and 700 chosen men from Gibeah. The 700 chosen men were all left-handed and could sling a rock at a hair and not miss. Essentially these men were great warriors!

So to respond to this great number, the Israelites (the other 11 tribes) muster up 400,000 swordsmen and they gather at Bethel to inquire of the Lord who (of each tribe) should go to battle first. The Lord tells them that Judah should go first and they are practically wiped out. They lose 22,000 men! The Israelites then spend the day weeping, and encouraging each other to go back to battle. They ask God if they should go to battle again, and the Lord responds with a positive! The Israelites go to battle again and they lose another 18,000 men in battle! So they come back and weep and fast. They then ask God again, if they should go. They seem to be a bit disheartened, and the Lord tells them to go back to battle and this time the Benjamites would be delivered into their hands!

So the 11 tribes of Israel go up against the Benjamites again, this time with more strategy. They lose 30 men, but as the Israelites retreat, the Benjamites are struck from behind. They retreat, but the city of Gibeah is burned down. So the Benjamites retreat into the desert, and are followed and hunted down, the Benjamites lose 18,000 men and try to retreat another direction, where they are met by more of Israel. This time they lose another 5,000 men and then again another 2,000 men. All in all only 600 of the original 26,700 men escape and live in the desert for 4 months. While the 600 men escape and are in hiding the Israelites finish off killing ALL of the Benjamites, burning their cities and killing even their animals!

Chapter 21: Wives for the Benjamites

With only 600 Benjamite men in hiding, the rest of Israel gathers at Bethel to mourn the almost extinction of one of the tribes of Israel. The 11 tribes of Israel promise to not give any of their women to the Benjamites to marry. So now the tribe of Benjamin has no hope of continuing on, seeing as the only Bnjamites left are 600 men. All of the women and children have been wiped out.

The 11 tribes of Israel made an oath about not marrying any of their women to the Benjamites, and they all made a promise that if someone did not come to this meeting that they would be put to death. While mourning the tribes of Israel realize that the people of Jabesh Gilead are not there at Mizpah mourning with them. They decide they will be the solution to the problem. They have to put the people of Jabesh Gilead to death anyways because they broke the oath. So they decide to kill all of them and only spare the virgin woman and give those women to the tribe of Benjamin. The problem is that there are only four hundred women. But they bring these women to the tribe of Benjamin as a peace offering.

The tribe of Israel mourns some more, because there are still 200 men without wives, but they remember that there is an annual festival that happens at Shiloh. So they instruct the Benjamites to go an hide in the vineyards of Shiloh and when the girls come out to dance, they can snatch them up and take them as wives. If their fathers or brothers have a problem with this, the Israelites will calm them down, and ask them to do this favor so the Benjamites can have wives.

That is what happened and the Benjamites can continue on… the chapter ends.

Joshua 3-4

Joshua 3-4

Chapter 3: Dry Ground=River Jordan

Joshua leads the tribes of Israel to Jordan, when the feet of the priests (1 out of every 12 tribes) stepped foot into the waters of Jordan, it became dry and the Israelites were able to pass through the River Jordan on dry ground.

Chapter 4: Twelve Stones

After the last Israelite passed through the River Jordan on dry ground, the twelve men (1 from each tribe of Israel) who stepped foot into the water, in the last chapter. Is commanded to place a rock where they stood near their camp. These are the 12 stones that commemorate the crossing of Jordan.

As the Israelites crossed the river, they saw the presence of God with Joshua as he was magnified as a prophet before them. The fear and understand of the Lord, was once again seen as it was with Moses, through Joshua. Over 40,000 armed Israelites crossed the river, and as the last one crossed the river returned to its normal flow.

Joshua then tells the congregation, all of Israel to remember this day. Joshua continues, by saying that they all must remember this day and remember the 12 stones that when their children and future generations ask about the stones they can tell them that they were carried through the river         Jordan on dry ground just like Moses with the power of God brought them out of bondage from the Pharaoh in Egypt as they crossed the Red Sea on dry ground. This is to be a reminder of the Lord, and his power… that we might respect, follow and fear him, as the Lord God Almighty.

Numbers 31-32

Numbers 31-32

Chapter 31: Moses sends 12,000 Warriors

At this point in the story, we have learned that Joshua was appointed to succeed Moses as the new leader for the Israelites. Joshua received the priesthood authority. Moses has another task, before he can be gathered completely to his people.

The Lord commands Moses to take vengeance upon the Midianites. Remember Numbers 25? Where the Midianites seduced the Israelites and caused that some of them worshiped their idol gods? Well Moses sends out 12,000 troops to fight the Midianites. This amounts to 1,000 from each tribe. With this group Moses sends Phinehas (the son of Eleazer) who takes some articles from the tabernacle and some trumpets which he uses for signaling.

The Israelites easily defeat the Midianites, killing every single man and taking the women, children and loot for themselves as plunder. They kill the five kings of Midian: Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, Balaam and Reba.

The warriors return with the plunder and everyone except Moses is happy. Moses asks them;  “…Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor…” (Numbers 31:15-16).  Essentially telling them that the women were the ones who caused the Israelites to sin, so they should have been killed too.

Moses commands them to kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man, but save those who had not slept with a man. Anyone who participated in the killing or touched the dead bodies, would have to stay outside of the camp for seven days as part of the cleansing process.

After that, they divide up the spoils between the soldiers and the rest of the Israelites. The Levites are to receive 1 out of every 500 of everything the soldiers receive and 1 out of every 50 items that the rest of the Israelites receive.

The officers of the army report to Moses that they had 0 casualties, they wiped out an entire nation without any loss! They thank the Lord for this victory, by presenting an additional offering of 190 kilograms of gold. OR in today’s standard of Gold to US dollar equals:  $6,118,000!!! That’s right… over 6 MILLION dollars in Gold.

Chapter 32: Conquering of Canaan

The Israelites are about to enter into the Promised Land, what will become “Israel”, the land on the west side of Jordan. Before they cross Jordan, the Reubenites and the Gadites take a look at the surrounding lands on the East side, or the former lands of Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Hesbon, Elealeh, Sebam and Beon. The Reubenites and the Gadites see that the land would be good and ask Moses if they can keep these lands instead, because they were favorable in their eyes.

Moses of course gets a little angry, especially since they haven’t made it to the Promised Land that they Lord had planned for them, and they already want something else. Moses speaks to the children of Gad and Reuben, saying: “…Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here? And therefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the Lord hath given them?” (Numbers 32:6)

                The Lord has prepared the Promised Land for them and wanting something else, is really not putting their trust in the Lord and this causes him to be angry. The children of Reuben and Gad come back to Moses and tell him that they will go with Israel into the Promised Land.

The Lord even reminds them of why they had traveled in the desert for forty years: “And the Lord’s anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the Lord, was consumed” (Numbers 32:13). Essentially we learn about trials and tribulations…

The Lord gives us Trials that we can be strengthened. By “filtering” out the evil in the children of Israel, the Lord through a 40 year process was able to find the strongest and most faithful of the Israelites to live in the Promised Land. This reminds me of a scripture in (Romans 5: 1-6)

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”

                We glory in tribulations… knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.

Reuben, Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh receive their inheritances east of Jordan. They covenant to join the other tribes in conquering Canaan.