Sunday, May 1, 2022

 Altar – ations

Jack Davis

“And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered…” - Lk. 9:29.

It is interesting to consider from the scripture the things that have been altered in conjunction with, or in relation to prayer. Some have been external, some internal, and many eternal. Alteration is the act or process of altering, the state of being altered, or the result of altering. Prayer changes things, yet not generally our Father’s over all purpose. God is love. Love faileth not, in other words, not driven off course. Most all true Bible students have been amazed at the strange turns in the course of events in answer to prayer. There are also many times that the circumstances as not changed until the people therein are altered in some way, thus fulfilling the purpose for its allowance. Prayer usually serves in bring the sincere prayer-warrior into closer harmony with the purposes of God.

There are many important aspects of our prayer life. One that impresses me is that we have the marvelous privilege therein to be labors together with God.

It is most intriguing to observe the drastic alterations that are yet to take place in answer to prayer in the perfect will of God. “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightenings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound” – Rev. 8:1-6.

In answer to the prayers of the saints, offered with incense upon the golden altar; the messengers prepare to trumpet forth destructive transformation. The saints offering up their petitions according to the will of God, with the attitude of gratitude, give forth a sweet smelling savor.

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man is not overcoming divine reluctance to deliver, but rather laying hold of his willingness to intervene, showing forth his mighty power on our behalf. Believers express in many different way, their cry, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” “Amen, Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

“We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle” Heb. 13:10. Shall we that are under the everlasting covenant, offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name? Oh, Let us go forth unto Him without the carnal camp, bearing his reproach. For He suffered without the gate that He might set, apart unto Himself, His espoused, and present a glorious company, without spot or wrinkle. Such presentation requires some major altering at this altar.

Since Jesus Christ our merciful and faithful high priest has ascended on high, and opened access to the throne room for us, we are urged to go unto him without the camp, but thank God also within the veil. Heb. 13:13 & 6:19.

Altered at the Altar: “But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste death, till they see the kingdom of God.  And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him” – Lk. 9:27-35.

Jesus often went to His Father in prayer, Here we find Him leading others up to pray. Today we still find Him leading true followers up in prayer and worship. This was indeed a special moment. An unexpected change took place while he was in close communion with His Father. Three favored guest from earth was at this astounding event. Then two other companions appeared in glory. These two, Moses and Elijah are heard discussing the accomplishing of His course, the approaching Cross. Not their taking His life from Him but rather His carrying it out to the conclusion. Well, it seems that these three almost missed it. They were asleep, then awakened and amazed to see His glory. Thank God, today, He still awakens us to behold His glory, He has, He is and He will. By beholding His glory we are wonderfully changed. II Cor. 3:18.

It seems that Peter spoke up before he fully woke up, not knowing what to say nor what He said. He knew that it was good to be there, to behold the glory of the Lord. It seems that he wasn’t yet fully able to discern that which is most excellent. Phil. 1:9-11. 

The two men communing with Jesus were indeed great men of God. They had finished their course, and reached an elevated state, but they couldn’t do what our merciful and faithful Lord was about to do. It took a spotless lamb to die for the sins of the whole world, tasting death for every man, bearing our sins in his body on the tree.  He was making the way for many sons to be brought unto glory.

Peter seemed to be ready to start a construction company, or maybe three, to enshrine equally Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. But the builder of all things is God. Heb. 3:4.

I am so glad to be able to realize the spiritual development in Peter by the time he wrote about this event in second Peter. “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; where unto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in you hearts” – II Pet. 1:16-19.

“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” Jude 20,21. We are taught in scripture the changes essential to spiritual construction. We enjoy a personal development of faith that comes by exercise. Such exercise in the Spirit brings progress, growth, development, keeping us receptive and responsive to love divine.

Thank God, that while Peter thus spake, it got cloudy, and out of that cloud rang the message clear and Loud. That transforming word, that it was God’s Son they needed to hear.

Now Elijah, on another mount had sensed the wind, the earthquake, and the fire but he was moved on in God’s will by a still small voice. Are we listening? Elijah and Moses are both great examples of alterations taking place in answer to prayer. Read James 5:17-18.

Peter, James and John had heard Jesus speak on earth and wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth. Soon we will hear Him speak from heaven. John records Jesus’ words; “…He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life…The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live…the hour is coming, in the which all that are in graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth…” Jn. 5:24-29. The Lord Himself is soon to descend with a shout, and we shall ascend to meet him in the air. When that trumpet sounds we shall be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye. GLORY!!


Gordon Crook, Pastor, Grace Assembly, Wichita, Kansas

Jeremiah 2:12-13 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

A cistern (Middle English cisterne, from Latin cisterna, from cista, “box,” from Greek kiste, “basket”) [1] is a waterproof receptacle for holding liquids, usually water. Cisterns are often built to catch and store rainwater.

A fountain is a spring of water that continually gives forth cool, clean, refreshing water.

We had some cisterns in Paraguay. They were typically built with cement or bricks covered in a cement layer to make them hold water. There is a problem if the concrete or brick walls crack, and they can no longer hold water. The water collected becomes stale as it sits waiting to be used.

Notice that God refers to two evils here. The first is turning away from God, and the second is turning toward our own self effort to replace God. God uses this comparison to help understand how ridiculous His people were being. Imagine having an opportunity for a fresh, continually flowing spring of refreshing water, but choosing instead to create a cistern that would hold old stale water that runs off of the roof. And then, the cisterns wouldn’t even hold water because they are broken. Sounds pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it.

This is a great reminder for us. Why would we turn from God’s fountain of living water to our own cisterns? The cisterns speak of our self effort in any way. Looking to our own effort and the world for fulfillment, for wisdom, for wealth, for anything that makes our life complete. Our cistern collects these, and they either become stale, or they just leak out and become useless. 

Our self effort just doesn’t compare with what God has prepared for us. When we turn to our Lord for all that we need, we find a plentiful supply and it never gets old. Like a spring, it is continually supplying new fresh living water. “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” Psalm 36:9. “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14

God’s Word is our source for knowing all that God has for us. “This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me” Psalm 119:50 “I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me” Psalm 119:93. Why do we seem to want to search in the world (philosophy, culture, expectations). All we will find is corruption from the simplicity of the gospel of God’s grace. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” 2Corinthians 11:3.

Paul warns of this very problem in Colossians. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” Colossians 2:8. He knew that these saints, just like us would be attracted to the things of the world and that this would draw them away from the truly valuable thing in their life. Notice the simple contrast here, much as in the passage in Jeremiah. “Not after Christ.”

The world today offers so much to satisfy our soul and so much to give us solutions to all that comes our way, but they do not satisfy, and they do nothing to solve anything. Many in Christendom are trying to mix the offerings from the world with God’s supply.

It is not possible to mix the two things either. We cannot try to take the living water that God provides from His fountain and place it in the “cistern” of our own self effort or the effort of this world. We must daily partake of God’s eternal supply that is offered to us freely.


Anita Clark – Pastor, Grace Chapel, Carbondale, Kansas

The ultimate purpose of this Church Age is to prepare a group of redeemed human beings to be a Bride for Jesus Christ. The work of the Holy Spirit is going on today in the lives of believers who are yielding to the divine working of God.  A careful study of Philippians 3:7-14, shows that Paul was not speaking of gaining salvation, when he writes, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and do count them but dung that I may win Christ.” He is speaking of a work that will change him into a completely yielded child of God with a close place with the Lord Jesus; where all is “counted loss” to win Christ.  

No where in the Bible does it teach that we win salvation by any good works. In fact the opposite is taught. Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He has saved.” Eph. 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved by faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; Not of works lest any man should boast.” Also Phil. 3:11, Paul says, “Not as though I have already attained” (GK. “To seize or attain).” The word “apprehend” (V. 13) means almost the same thing, “to seize, attain, apprehend.”  Paul sums up his desire in V. 14, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

In other portions Paul speaks of the race course likening it to our spiritual day by day journey to achieve this place as the winner - I Cor. 9:24-27.  The wonderful place we desire, to be yielded completely so that the Holy Spirit  prepares us to be the Bride of Christ. Paul speaks specifically about this in II Cor. 11:1-3, “Would to God you would bear with me in my folly, and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

God has made provision that every believer in Christ could be in that company, who will make up the Bride of the Lord Jesus Christ. The sad thing is that not all will avail themselves of that glorious place. Satan deceives believers and lulls many to sleep (I Thess. 4:13-5:8).  The Lord warned that we are to watch and be ready for His soon appearing. In Rev. 19:1-10 we see a beautiful scene in heaven, when all the church is gathered unto the Lord. Not all who are there are the Bride. In V. 7 we see a “great multitude” introducing the Bride, who had “made herself ready.” There are guests and servants at the wedding, Vs. 5 & 9.  

 Matt. 13:45-46, Jesus spoke of “The Goodly Pearl.” The Merchant man speaks of Christ who came to the world “seeking goodly pearls.” God has made provision for each believer to be His “pearl of great price.” The word “goodly” in the Gk. is “beautiful, good, literally or morally virtuous.” The Lord Jesus came to seek a Virtuous Bride.   Jesus came to call a people who would yield to Him completely and love Him supremely. He gave up all He had with the Father to find this Pearl.

V. 46 “He went…and “He bought it.” The Lord is “seeking goodly pearls.” This speaks to us that provision is made for every believer to be that beautiful pearl that Jesus is looking for in this Age of Grace. “Who, when He had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that He had, and bought it.” II Cor. 5:21 “For He hath made Him sin, who knew no sin, for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” He condescended and became a human being in order to die and save us.  That’s how greatly He esteemed the “Pearl of great price.” This pearl represents the Bride of Jesus Christ.


And oyster is an ugly thing, and represents us in our old adamic state. It is rough, rock hard, and almost impossible to open. We were found in the dark depths of the ocean of sin in a very corrupt state. Oysters grow in water that is often smelly and has a bad flavor. This is so typical of all the human race, when Jesus found us. We were hopeless! He came to that place, “made Himself of no reputation and took upon Himself the form of a servant (slave)” in order to rescue us. Heb. 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The Lord works a work from the inside out. As we yield He does His work in us. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” Phil. 2:13. The pearl realizes an irritant bothering her. God gave a defense mechanism, a fluid to coat the irritant.  Layer upon layer of the coating, is applied until a lustrous pearl is formed. This speaks to us that God is working a little at a time to change us into His image and make us ready to be that pearl of great price. We might liken the fluid to the Holy Spirit constantly at work to make us into that beautiful pearl.  This work is an inward, often unseen by others.

The longer a pearl is grown, the larger the pearl and its value increases. A natural pearl of value is found in less than one in every 10,000 wild oysters. Natural pearls created without human intervention are very rare. God does this work in us as we yield to Him. The Master Workman has promised to finish the work He has begun.  The only thing that hinders this is our will.

He saw the beauty of what we would be when He molded us and His Spirit coated us with the beautiful righteousness of Christ. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through His poverty might be rich” II Cor. 8:9. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). Our job is to yield to His working in us.

Matt. 13:46, “When he had found one pearl of great price, the “virtuous one,” the only one of her mother” S. of Solomon 6:9, also mentioned in Prov. 31:10, whose “price is far above rubies.” May we choose now and let the Lord work, so we will be ready for this exalted place.


Earlene Davis

Dispensational View of the 7 Churches

A dispensation is a period of time, we are living in the dispensation of the Church Age. We need to remember the view point of this revelation. John was taken to the Lord’s day and hearing a voice behind him turned and was looking back at the Church Age – Rev. 1:10-12. John saw the whole Church Age from the beginning to the end. The seven churches all together tell the story of this Age and how the Church has traveled from the Day of Pentecost to the present time and even beyond where we are now.

Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-3) represents the beginning of the Church Age. On the day of Pentecost, 50 days after Christ’s resurrection, all believers were baptized into one body and the Church began – I Cor. 12:12-14. The book of Acts tells the glorious beginning of the Church. It was separated from the world, and gladly received the Word and continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine and fellowship. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they had all things common, rejoicing and praising God and the Church grew daily – Acts 2:1,4,41-47. God’s purpose for the whole Church is outlined in Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. What the Lord has provided for the Church and what He wants for them.

Paul said, he had heard of their faith and love to all the saints. He prayed for them to have the spirit of wisdom and revelation and to know the hope of their calling and that they might experience the power that raised Christ from the dead – Eph. 1:15-23. In Eph. 2:1-6, Paul tells them they had been dead in trespasses and sins, but they have been quickened, raised with Christ and seated in the heavenlies. That truth is for the whole Church, we are a heavenly body, a heavenly people. God did not intend for the Church to be a part of this world – Jn. 17:13-17. We are in the world, but not part of it. Neither did God intend nor instruct believers to fix up the world. It will never change until Christ comes back to set up His kingdom. We are not to be as Lot, who fellowshiped with the world. We are pilgrims just passing through on our way to our heavenly home – Jn. 14:1-3.

Verse 4 of Rev. 2, tells the first failure of the Church. They left their first love, their love for Christ as the Head of the Church, as their Lord and Bridegroom. The Church as a whole ceased to love Christ supremely and began to degenerate. We read in Acts 19 of Paul going to Ephesus and God gave him a great revival. The city was so stirred and many who came to Christ, burned their idolatrous books, idols and shrines. But when Paul returned to this same church (Acts 20), he had to warn them, to examine themselves and to feed the church; for grievous wolves shall come in not sparing the flock and draw away disciples to themselves. In Paul’s last imprisonment he said all Asia had forsaken him – II Tim. 1:15. They no doubt like Demos loved this present world – II Tim. 4:10. They wanted the easy way. Paul’s way meant suffering. People were going away from the truth even back then – Rev. 2:5. The Ephesus period probably didn’t last until the end of the first century. 

But we will notice that in every phase down through the years of this age, there has always been overcomers, those who held true to Christ – V. 7. The Smyrna church are the overcomers of this condition. No fault is found against them. They will exist clear up to the coming of Christ. Rev. 2:8-10, “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” They represent the full overcomers who have died in the Lord down through the years, if we die before the Lord comes and are full overcomers, we will be of them.

Just as Smyrna represented the overcomers of Ephesus,  the Pergamos church represent the nonovercomers who dwell in the world, where Satan’s throne is – Rev. 2:12-13. Satan is the god of this world, II Cor. 4:4. Declension takes a while whether it is in the church or individuals. The early Church had terrible persecution. Believers had to hide out to worship God. Then Constantine the Emperor of Rome made friends with the Church and gave them freedom to worship. Christians thought this was the answer to all their prayers. But Constantine had a motive, he wanted to be the head of the Church.

There were those who stood against it. One was Antipas (or Polycap), Rev. 2:13. He warned the Church  not to make friends with the Emperor and he lost his life, He was a faithful martyr. When any individual or church departs from the truth, they do not stay on one level. They keep going down, unless they repent. This is what happened in the Church. The sect of the Nicolaitanes (Clergy over laity) had tried to infiltrate Ephesus earlier (2:6), but they wouldn’t have them. But during the Pergamos period, they were in the church (2:15). Not only their doctrine, but also the doctrine of Balaam (evil associations, false doctrine, spiritual fornication) was found there (Rev. 2:14-15). Shortly thereafter a state religion began, the Roman Catholic Church.

Thyatira tells of this further decline, with papal supremacy the climax. In this condition the prophetess Jezebel represents the Church as the teacher. Rev. 2:18-21. This is actually what the Roman Catholic Church did, she put herself up as the teacher of the people (not the Bible), but the church. For years the people were forbade to read the Bible. If they wanted to know anything, they had to ask the priest. Their doctrine is a mixture of the Jewish Religion (their priesthood and offerings, etc.); and the Christian  doctrine (virgin birth of Christ, His death and resurrection); and paganism (idols, pagan practices and worship). It has been called the dark ages of the Church. 

During this period no one was allowed to profess any other doctrine, but what the state church endorsed. The Scriptures were hidden and only a few had assess to them. But God preserved them through that very means. They hoarded them so perfectly that it prevented them from being lost or destroyed. About 1500 A. D. the first man we know much about (although there were others) was Martin Luther. He found in Scripture (Rom. 1:17), “The just shall live by faith.” And there he was doing penitence for his sins. He was very disturbed by the hypocrisy of the priests and how evil they were. For they sold indulgences for a certain amount of money. If you wanted to sin you just paid the priest and was given permission to sin. The history of the popes, is anything but good people. Many bought their way into the Pope position. You no doubt heard about Borgia, they had illegitimate children that they put up in the Church as Cardinals, etc. It was a very evil time. It is all recorded in Church history.

Martin Luther came out of the Roman Church and the Lord brought a revival of the Church. It was an upward trend for awhile, Rev. 2:24-25. This brought in the Sardis period, the reformation, which we will cover in the June issue.


Debra Isenbletter, Pastor, Christian Assembly, Springfield, Missouri

Jonah 3:4 “And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”

In this verse we see Jonah’s activity as he steps forward in faith and enters the great city of Nineveh.  We see his Journey and his message of Judgment. 

The Journey: “And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey,”  I have no idea what Jonah thought as entered the city, it must have been both an amazing and overwhelming sight to this prophet of God.  I know he had probably never seen anything like this city before.  Yet the scripture says that he began to preach the moment he entered the city.  He began and he did not stop once he started.  Like Jeremiah, he found he could not hold back, he must preach. Jeremiah could not hold back, could not contain the message God gave him, though he tried. “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing [holding it in], and I could not stay [contain it any longer].” (Jer.20:9)

What persistence, what patience, what perseverance! He could not help but see the city but his commission from his God, the burning message that was placed in his heart, was so much greater. There was no comparison. Matthew Henry describes the faithfulness and dedication of not just Jonah but all of those that serve the Lord.  “God’s servants must go where He sends them, come when He calls them, and do what He bids them, we must do whatever the Word of the Lord commands.”  

That dedication overshadows any discouragement and transforms it into determination.  How often must have the Apostle Paul been visually overwhelmed when he entered the great cities of the ancient world, such as Athens or Rome. He saw the great architectures, the great temples, the great palaces, the great works of man’s hands. He saw those things and was not discouraged because he also saw the great idolatry (Act.17:16) and great need.  It was their need for the Lord that gave him the strength to preach the Word of God.

We also see just how large the city of Nineveh was, because when Jonah entered the city and began to preach, he was only able to preach “a day’s journey” and we find that he had only covered one-third of the city.  Jonah could have preached three days, covered the city in that time and then stopped or he could have kept preaching for forty days. We do not know how long Jonah preach, only that he preached and that it was an exhausting task. Other translations read: “Jonah began his entry into the city and had finished only his first day of proclaiming…” (Complete Jewish Bible). “Then on the first day’s walk, Jonah began to go through the city.” (Amplified Bible). That first day must have been an exhausting day.

The Judgment: “and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” 

The prophet: “and he cried, and said.”  I looked “cried” up in Strong’s and it says it has “the idea of accosting a person met.” I can just picture Jonah stopping people that he met along the way and speaking to them.  The word “cried” also means “to recite” and “to proclaim” and Jonah could have done that in the market or the square or any central meeting place. Jonah “cried” and then he “said” and that word means “to certify,” “to challenge,” “to command.” Jonah was not intimidated, he spoke boldly, loudly, he spoke with authority, with zeal. He spoke to individuals, he spoke to crowds. He spoke because he had a message and a mission from God. The people may have heard of or about the God of the Hebrews but now they are now hearing personally from that God and that message concerned them.

The period: “Yet forty days.” The number 40 is a picture of perfect judgment and also perfect testing.  We see that perfect judgment in the flood, when it rained 40 days (Gen.7:4) and after 40 days Noah opened the window of the ark (Gen.8:6).  We see a picture of perfect testing in Exodus. Moses spent 40 years raised by Pharaoh’s daughter in the royal court. That was a time of testing and when the time came Moses passed that test and put God first. By faith Moses refused to be called Pharaoh’s son (Heb.11:25). By faith Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God (Heb.11:25), By faith Moses forsook Egypt (Heb.11:27). Moses was tested again for 40 years tending Jethro’s flocks (Acts 7:10).  Moses was tested again 40 years leading God’s people in the wilderness (Acts 7:36) and they were tested at the same time. They were tested when they ate manna for 40 years (Exo.16:35).  They were tested and proved God when they were sustained for 40 years, they lacked nothing (Neh.9:21). They were tested in the wilderness for 40 years (Deu.8:2). Also we see that testing of the Messiah. Jesus fasted for 40 days (Mat.4:2) and was tempted for 40 days (Luk.4:2).  As far as Nineveh is concerned, these 40 days speaks of judgment but behind the threat of judgment is a test for the people, how will they respond? 

The prophecy: “and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”  The prophecy is simple, it is that the city will be “overthrown” and that word has two opposite meanings.   It can mean “to overturn” and it can mean to “return,” to “change, become converted.”  If the people do not change their attitude, they will be overthrown, if they change their attitude, they will be spared judgment. They can be overthrown by judgment or by conviction. Either way they are overthrown by the Word of God. Jonah’s message is brief, it is not long, it is only eight words and is one of the shortest of all prophecies. 

God lets Nineveh know what He will do, He gives them a warning of 40 days. Why? God could have immediately destroyed them but He did not. God waited 40 days to see what they would do. The message did not include a verbal offer of repentance that we know of. This makes their reaction and their repentance amazing. They chose to repent without a demand from God.

 God’s Timing and Purposes – Ecc. 3:1-8

Part 5

Pastor Vicky Moots, Kingman, Kansas

Ecc. 3:3b: “…a time to break down, and a time to build up.”  In the natural, an old building that is deteriorating, or that is no longer adequate to meet the need, must be torn down in order to make room for that which is new.  This is true spiritually also.

In Scripture, the body is often referred to as a building, a temple or a tabernacle, since it is the earthly dwelling place of the soul and the spirit.  Jesus used this analogy in John 2:19-21 when He was speaking to the Jews in the temple: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.  Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.” 

Jesus earthly body had to be destroyed, to be taken down, to make room for His new spiritual body, the church.  He was raised up three days later to become the head of the church.  The earthly temple in Jerusalem was also torn down in 70 A.D.  and never rebuilt.  That’s because God no longer needed an earthly building for a dwelling place since He was building a spiritual temple.

Paul describes God’s new building in Eph. 2:21-22: “In whom [Jesus Christ] all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”  And in I Cor. 3:9 Paul says, “…ye are God’s building.”  He also states in v. 16, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

Our own bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, individually and collectively, as members of the body of Christ.  We are joined together, built together, as the church, to form a spiritual temple that continues to grow daily as souls are being saved.  God now dwells in the midst of His people, not in temples of stone.

Jesus, the Son of God, came to this earth clothed in a body of flesh, an earthly temple, in order that He could die for us as we read in Phil. 2:8: “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”  He chose to let Himself be abased, to be broken down for us.  He had to die in order to be exalted.  He left the glory of heaven to become a servant to all, but then God built Him back up: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name, which is above every name.” (Phil. 2:9)

God sometimes has to break us down too through circumstances in order to build us up into something better.  Jeremiah used the example of the potter and the clay to illustrate this in Jer. 18:3-4: “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.”  This was said concerning the house of Israel, but it also applies to us.  God is the potter and we are the clay.

Note that Jeremiah does not say that the vessel was marred by the hand of the potter, but while it was in his hand.  God never lets go of us in spite of our failures, but He must break down our flawed vessel in order to reshape us, to rebuild us, into something new, a new creation, that is pleasing in His sight.  He breaks down our pride, our self-righteousness and self-works of the old creation, and then builds us up with His Word, as Paul declares in Acts 26:32: “And now brethren I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up.”

Today God is building a bride for His Son, just as He did for Adam, out of those Christians who are willing to let Him break them down first and to remove all of the impunities, as the potter did with the clay.  The majority of the sleepy, lukewarm church will not submit to this, only a small rib portion, those who are closest to His heart.  We must yield to the Lord and allow Him to sanctify and cleanse us with the “washing of water by the word,” as we find in Eph. 5:26-27, that we might be presented to Christ as a chaste virgin, a “glorious church [assembly glorious], “not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing,” qualified to reign with Him.  Now is the time to let Him break you down and build you up to be ready for that day.