.Rebuild it .Radio days .Martyrdom of James .Peter next? .inner circle .Nero .Herod Agrippa the 1st .Who was ‘that fox’? .Herod Antipas .Vision or real? .Dreams- Visions- Prophecy .John Mark [Wrote the Gospel of Mark] .Guardian angels .Thinks he’s God! .Now he’s dead .Josephus- Antiquities .Times up .Holy family .Dead birds
(739)ACTS 12- Herod kills James [not the brother of Jesus who is one of the lead Apostles at Jerusalem] and puts Peter in jail. The church has a prayer meeting for Peter and an angel goes into the cell and wakes Peter up. He leads him outside the city and frees him. Peter thinks it’s a vision and realizes it really is happening! Note how real their visions and dreams must have been, Peter at times can not determine fact from vision! He shows up at the prayer meeting and a girl named Rhoda hears a knock at the door. She asks ‘who is it’? He says ‘It’s me, Peter!’ She can’t believe it and leaves him standing at the door! She tells the prayer group ‘it’s Peter’ they tell her ‘no way, maybe his angel?’ Funny, you can believe his angel showed up, but no way could the Lord deliver him from jail. At the end of this chapter we see the return of Paul and Barnabas after they brought the relief money to the saints at Jerusalem. It calls it ‘their ministry’. This early church did not see ‘the ministry’ as the actual business and the need to raise funds for the ‘church’. Now, it’s fine to pool your money for good cause’s with other believers. When I teach we are not ‘under the tithe’ this does not mean we shouldn’t support good ministries with 10 percent or more of our money. The point is, here we see Peter going back out to the field, Paul and Barnabas returning back from ‘the field’. Spontaneous prayer meetings. No set time or way to give offerings, just a true freedom of giving themselves away for the cause of Christ. Leadership does exist, but the normal function and flow of this church is not centered around ‘the Sunday Sabbath’ [EEK!] There is a real sense of this community of believers being led by the Spirit. It would be wrong to say ‘hey, Phillip went out on his own! He is not under the local church covering’! Or ‘now that we are back from Jerusalem, lets ask Pastor so and so [the supposed Pastor of the ‘church at Antioch’] what’s next’. There were no ‘Pastors’ in the sense of the fulltime Christian minister who oversees the ordinances on Sunday. Now, these developments will arise as the centuries progress. Many good Pastors and Priests will function this way for centuries. They will see the church ‘building’ as ‘the church’. Our Catholic brothers will begin to see ‘the altar’ as the actual place ‘in the church’ that Jesus Body is ‘re offered’ [presented] as a ‘bloodless sacrifice’ for the salvation of the world. All developments that are not seen in Acts. The point is, we limit the flow of Gods Spirit thru his people when we regress from ‘the true has now come’ [the whole reality of Jesus and the church being the real image of things. The law and it’s shadows were only an incomplete picture]. When we as believers go back to ‘the shadows’ thinking that form and ‘pictures of things’ [symbols] are the way we will touch the world, then we lose the reality of us being the actual people of God showing the world Christ thru our unselfish lives. Jesus said when the people of God love each other and lay their own desires and goals down for his Kingdom, then the world will see our actions and believe. Jesus did leave us memorials ‘do this in remembrance of me’ ‘as often as you do this you SHOW the Lords death till he come’. I do realize that the church does have an element of ‘presenting thru picture [art] the Lords death and resurrection’ [passion plays and so forth] but when we lose the real fellowship mentality of this first century church, we then lose the greatest picture of all. Being the actual functioning Body of Christ on earth. John writes ‘how can you say you love God, who you don’t see. When you can’t love your brother, who you do see?’ [1st John] the New Testament clearly shows us that the love we have in word and deed is the greatest ‘sacramental’ picture we can declare to the world. Our Catholic friends have a song ‘they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love’. I agree.
[parts] ALEXANDRIA- EGYPT. Last night I was watching the news coverage of the demonstators in the streets of Egypt- they were protesting the government’s response [or lack] to the bombing of the church in Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt [around 4 million people live in the city]. As I watched the sad story- in my mind I recalled all the times I have run across Alexandria in my studies of history. The city was founded by Alexander the great in the 4th century b.c.e. It had the largest library of the ancient world and was Egypt’s capitol for around 900 years. When the Muslims took over in the 7th century Cairo became the new capitol [under another name at the time]. Alexandria was one of the great centers of Christian learning during the first few centuries of the 1st millennium of Christianity. I remember reading about the great church father Origen- he lived in the 3rd century and eventually would head up the school out of Alexandria- one of the first Christian schools of the day. The famous philosopher Plotinus also had a lot of influence in the city. It was sad to see the destruction on the news- so many years later. This morning I read Revelation chapter 13. The apostle John writes about the persecution of ‘the beast’ against the Christians- the apostle says he makes war against Gods people and overcomes them. We often neglect to see this aspect of scripture- I mean how many songs have you heard that say ‘the beast overcame us and killed us’. We like to sing stuff like ‘we overcome by the Blood of the Lamb’ [another verse from Revelation]. Yet the apostle foresees a time of persecution of the church that will include the deaths of many believers. Those who think the book of Revelation was written early [before a.d. 70] see Nero as the one who bares the mark of the beast- yes the popular 666 is in this chapter. Others who date the book later [around a.d. 90] see the emperor Domitian as the beast- either way John was speaking about a future ruler who would severely persecute the saints [and of course the most popular view today among evangelicals is the anti Christ is yet to come]. In verse 10 of the chapter John says those who kill with the sword, must die the same way- this is the patience of the saints. John is communicating to the 7 churches that he is writing to that they should not retaliate against their oppressors- they should patiently endure- knowing that the persecutors will eventually ‘hang themselves’ with their own rope. Of course the great empire of Rome would finally fall- and for those who see Nero as the 666 guy [my view] he eventually dies a shameful death as well [he killed himself].
As I watch the various responses from Muslims and Christians [and Jews] to these types of events- we all have a tendency to view things most favorably to our own particular viewpoint. While some Muslims are of course outraged over the church bombing- yet the Christian community is more enraged. When the recent peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down- many Christians in the west couldn’t care less- many of them view the entire conflict thru the lens of end time dispensationalism [an end time view that sees Gods plan being played out by the displacement of Palestinians from the land]. I grew up in New Jersey [yes- the state of the great governor Christie!]. As a good old Italian boy- I had lots of ethnic friends- Germans, Dutch, Spanish- etc. Many of these families were immigrants to the U.S. whose families had a history of living in the country for a hundred years or more [some less]. Now- if I were to come to your neighborhood, and tell you ‘look, the governments of the world made a deal [league of nations- later called the U.N.] and you have to leave this area and another group is going to move in’ how what this make you feel? Put aside your view of the bible and how you see ‘Gods plan’ being carried out- I mean just as a human being- how would you feel? You would feel terrible- you would think ‘geez- my father and his father settled here a hundred years ago- I’m not an alien!’ Yet the Palestinians were living in their land for 2 thousand years! Okay- just see the other point of view. Some of the Palestinians are Christians [small %- 2-5]. How do you think they feel when they have been praying for justice- many lost their homes and family estates during the displacement- and then they see the parade of American Christians trod thru the land like their on some Holy Land adventure- taking the kids to Disney world type thing- and yet in the real world lives are being lost on both sides of the conflict.
Most American Christians who hold to these end time scenarios that play into the geopolitical situation on the ground- they don’t realize that many Jews- and even many in the Israeli govt. do not completely embrace their enthusiasm for Israel. The Israeli leaders also know that most of these scenarios see a bloody conflict that will take place in the Holy Land [does Armageddon ring a bell?] and that many Jews will be slain- only a small remnant will escape [does the number 144,000 ring another one?]. The Israeli security forces in the city of Jerusalem actually have a specific profile for a group/persons that they see as dangerous to the city. Do you know who these ‘dangerous persons’ are? They are the tourists that enter the city every so often- and they have this wild look in their eyes- they are there to await the return of Jesus and they believe that they will be a part of the end time army that will spill much blood and defeat the forces of the enemy- yes- these types are deemed dangerous to the Israeli’s.
Lets pray for the peace of all people- let’s do our best to reject all forms of violence as being totally unacceptable- whether it be the bombing of a church in Egypt- the destruction of the Buddha statues by the Taliban in Afghanistan [they destroyed these ancient pieces of art when they rose to power in the early years]. Even the bombing of abortion clinics- or the shooting of doctors- we need to see what the apostle John saw- those who take up the sword must in this manner be killed. I think too many of us have signed our own death warrant.
[parts] (360)I was up praying early. I was actually saying to myself ‘you can go so low in the pit to retrieve treasures, that it becomes dangerous’. I had a sense of a Hollywood schema that would have the ‘hero’ saying ‘I will go and risk my life to save the damsel [or some other corny thing]’ and the others standing by and pleading with him not to take the risk. Sort of like Peter telling Jesus ‘don’t go to the Cross’. As I was actually ‘muttering’ the words about ‘a very low pit’ I heard on the radio the days verse ‘he reached down and took me out of the most horrible pit’ it was a contemporary version from Psalms. Lets share some treasures that were just mined from a low place. On this blog I discuss a lot of controversial things. One is the end times. I don’t hold to a lot of the popular end time scenarios. For instance I recently showed you why Christ’s return will not vindicate natural Israel. The answer was Jesus could not ‘vindicate’ any system outside of the true gospel. So the ‘key’ to seeing this is actually the Cross! You will find this to be the key to everything. All truths must ‘filter’ thru the Cross. You will not rightly divide scripture until you master this. One of the controversial ideas I have espoused is Nero being the ‘beast’ of Revelation. Many evangelicals disagree. Lets open a door using the ‘key’. One of the New Testament books that Paul wrote speaks of Jesus ‘destroying the antichrist’ at his coming. With a total destruction. Some who believe Nero was the beast say this ‘coming of Jesus to destroy’ was a ‘coming’ in judgment in AD 70. They ‘spiritualize’ the 2nd coming to make it fit. The modern evangelical who holds to the Tim Lahaye stuff sees this as an excuse to prove a point. They say ‘see, if Jesus totally destroys antichrist at the 2nd coming, then obviously Nero wasn’t him!’ I do want to note that early historians will tell you that one of the ‘nick names’ for Nero was ‘the beast’. Here’s a ‘key’. In Revelation you see many things happening at different times. You also see many spiritual truths that are concurrent [remember what I showed you the other day]. There are images that show the beast and the antichrist being bound for a period of time. I also showed you on this blog that Hebrews says ‘Jesus destroyed him that had the power of death thru dieing himself’. This ‘key’ of Christ’s death teaches us that the devil is already destroyed by the Cross. It’s not ‘really’ a future event. The 2nd coming is a ‘culmination’ and ‘crowning’ of the Cross’s work. So the image in Revelation of the antichrist being ‘bound’ might very well be speaking of what happened at the Cross. In all the generations of man, since the Cross there has been more light and freedom than at any other time. The enemy, as well as the antichrist, can very well be described as ‘bound’. Now you also have images in Revelation that show this ‘binding’ as being a ‘waiting stage’ for ultimate destruction. The ‘contents’ of death and hell are finally ‘poured’ into the lake of fire. Peter in the New Testament gives images of rebellious angels being ‘held in chains’ until the final ‘destruction’. So with all this in mind, here’s a key. Nero is being ‘held’ right now, with Hitler and every other wicked despot that has ever lived. They are waiting for the 2nd coming. At the real 2nd coming [not AD 70!] he will really be ‘destroyed with total destruction by the presence of the Lord’. This my friends is the key, Jesus and his Cross.
VERSES- Acts 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. Acts 12:2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. Acts 12:3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) Acts 12:4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. Acts 12:6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. Acts 12:7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. Acts 12:8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. Acts 12:9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. Acts 12:10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. Acts 12:11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the LORD hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. Acts 12:12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. Acts 12:13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. Acts 12:14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. Acts 12:15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. Acts 12:16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. Acts 12:17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place. Acts 12:18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter. Acts 12:19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode. Acts 12:20 And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country. Acts 12:21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. Acts 12:22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. Acts 12:23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. Acts 12:24 But the word of God grew and multiplied. Acts 12:25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark. Mark 3:17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Matthew 2:18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations Psalm 91:11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Matt. 6