Zephaniah – Revealing Our Eternal Rest

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

In the Book of Zephaniah, we can see God’s love and deliverance, and we can learn some tremendous truths regarding the will of God that believers can partake of in God’s loving grace. Jesus Christ is he who reveals to us our eternal rest in God’s love that we currently have.

When we discover God’s eternal love for us and begin experiencing that His love is within, then love begins dispelling fears about God (I John 4:6-21).

Zephaniah 3:15-17:
-15: The LORD hath taken away thy judgments {of condemnation}, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.
-16: In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack {let not your hands hang down, i.e., as a defeated city}.
-17: The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty {God is always mighty to deliver, not only in the present tense but always}; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love {for you}, he will joy over thee with singing.

Verses 15 and 16 refer to the future for Israel, while verse 17 is in the continuously present tense, because God is always mighty, He always will save, He always rejoices, He always loves, and He always sings a joyful song for His children.

When I look back over my life and remember just a fraction of how much I feared God or even hearing His name, and was so terrified of His wrath that I assumed was due to me, I realize the healing and comforting miracle that has taken place so that I may enjoy teaching His healing Word. We can become so thankful to our heavenly Father the more we begin to see and realize in our hearts that He (in love) has sent His only begotten Son so that we may live with the understanding that God loves us so very deeply.

God has loved us from before the foundation of the world, and He will always love us, regardless of how much we reciprocate or recognize Him or His messenger of divine love – Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, even if the children of Israel never accepted all of God’s care and protection, He continued loving them, and in their future He would restore them back in Zion and prove to them His love beyond all of their comprehensions.

Today, however, in grace, we do not need to wait for our arrival into heaven to begin enjoying God’s love because Christ the Lord made God’s love available for us to enjoy.

Let us look at the will of God from verse 17 above: “He will save!” “He will rejoice over thee with joy!” “He will rest in his love!” and “He will joy over thee with singing!”

Ask yourself this question: “Is the will of God one of fear and despair for us, or is the will of God one that would give us more than we ever realized, especially before knowing the love of our wonderful heavenly Father?” Obviously the will of God is marvelous to behold, and without knowing Christ who is the way to the Father we could never really believe to receive God’s loving will, or enjoy the more abundant life that Jesus Christ came to give us (John 10:10)!

I Timothy 2:4-6:
-4: Who {God} will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
-5: For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
-6: Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time {and that time is now}.

John 13:34-35:
-34: A new commandment I {Jesus} give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
-35: By this {new commandment of love, which is our God-given spiritual love} shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

In Romans 5:8 we read, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The word “commendeth” means to introduce into our hearts, and what we are introduced into is the love of God with all the spiritual intensity that God has been loving us with since the beginning of time.

With His love and with the examples of the life of Jesus Christ and the new commandment, we can learn how to love in the same exact ways he did, and thus we will begin increasingly to enjoy Our Eternal Rest in God’s love that we have been introduced to through Jesus Christ’s loving example.

Amos – Revealing Our Salvation

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

The Book of Amos reveals Jesus Christ as the Raiser of David’s tabernacle that was rejected by Israel in Zion. David’s tabernacle is where the Ark of the Covenant was, and the covenant represented the presence of God. Jesus Christ’s very life was the complete embodiment of everything that David’s tabernacle symbolized.

The raising of the tabernacle represents the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and through the resurrection of Christ, salvation is granted to those who would believe (Amos 9:11, Acts 15:15-17).

Amos 5:14 – Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.

“As ye have spoken” represents the fact that they were saying that God was with them, yet they had rejected Him, and so God was not literally with them as they were saying. Amos was exhorting them to again “seek good, and not evil” and the reason for seeking good was so they “may live.”

The word “live” represents life eternal, not merely physical life (that, they already had), but eternal life (salvation) was promised to them if they would seek good. To “seek good” is to seek God, and when God is sought out and recognized, it is because He is made known through Jesus Christ, and without Christ, God is simply an enigma. This is why people refer to God as “the man upstairs,” or “the spirit in the sky,” rather than truly recognizing Him as our heavenly Father Who indeed blesses those who truly seek Him through Jesus Christ, for he is the way, the truth, and the life to the Father (John 14:5-7).

I John 5:11-12:
-11: And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
-12: He that hath the Son hath life {eternal life}; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

The question then arises: “Do we have the Son of God?” The Son of God is Jesus Christ, and salvation is acquired through his name and no other (Acts 4:10-12).

When we receive our salvation, it is because we have received the Son of God, believing in the record that God’s Word says of Jesus that he indeed did come, that he indeed did die for us, and that he indeed did become resurrected by God to become our Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-10).

In the verse, “Knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance” (Romans 2:4), the word “repentance” means our salvation, for salvation is ours through the goodness of God, and Jesus Christ is the epitome of the goodness of God, “for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Romans 1:16-17:
-16: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek {the Gentile}.
-17: For therein {our salvation} is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Amos encouraged them to “seek good” {rather than reject good), that they may live with the assurance of having eternal life.

Today in God’s grace, we who seek the goodness of God through our acceptance of Jesus Christ receive salvation, and with Christ we may partake and enjoy his spiritual life (Colossians 3:4). “I {Jesus} am come that they {believers} might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

The reason that we can enjoy the more abundant life is because we have received Our Salvation, for we have found him who is the goodness of God.

Joel – Revealing Our Heavenly Standing

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

The Scriptures refer to the children of Israel who believe as the meek, and the meek will inherit the earth, “the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalms 37:11). On the other hand, in the New Testament Epistles we learn that we inherit heaven itself and we will have free rights to visit and enjoy the earth.

The children of Israel hoped for and anticipated the kingdom of Christ to be restored and be given back to them. However, we, the children of God, are members of His Church (we are called to be members of the body of Christ), and have received in the present-tense our heavenly standing with God in Christ because God “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).

The Book of Joel reveals to Israel that their glorious future is centered in and around mount Zion, and they will dwell there in eternal safety (Zion is a Hebrew word, while Sion is the Greek equivalent). Zion was the place where God desired to place His name, and was the place of the children of Israel’s spiritual homeland, and is the place where their future hope will finally rest.

Joel 2:32 – And it shall come to pass {still a future time for Israel}, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant {those who believed} whom the LORD shall call.

Israel anticipated this day of deliverance that “shall come to pass”; however, when Jesus Christ came to deliver them they rejected him and crucified him. Oh, I know that the Roman soldiers did the dirty work, but they did it for Israel as all four Gospels plainly teach us.  Peter, addressing Israel in the temple said, “ye {Israel} have taken {Jesus Christ}, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23)!

So the man who said “every Christian living today had a part in the death and crucifixion of Jesus” obviously did not read his Bible. “Then answered all the people {Israelites}, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matthew 25:25). You and I had nothing whatsoever to do with the crucifixion and humiliating, torturous death of Jesus; it is totally ludicrous to take the blame for Israel who insanely rejected their longed-for Savior and Redeemer and put him to death.  However, we have everything to gain by believing in his resurrection, because he now resides within our searching hearts.

Joel 3:17 – So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then {still future} shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers {unbelievers} pass through her any more.

This is obviously a future prophecy to and for Israel, and we know this because Zion in Jerusalem has three major factions fighting over it, as well as several minor groups all staking claims to that place. However, we in the Church of God have received a heavenly calling and standing.

II Corinthians 5:20 reads, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ,” and an ambassador can only fulfil his mission in a foreign land. We are ambassadors here on earth today because heaven is our home, and in heaven is where we have Our Heavenly Standing!

We are physically here on earth as ambassadors for Christ, and we are spiritually seated at the right hand of God.  When Christ returns to earth, then, and not until then, will the prophecies of Zion be fulfilled for Israel, (including the future prophecies recorded in Daniel and Revelation).

However, today in grace our spiritual homeland is in heaven. Jesus said in Luke 13:35, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” He was teaching them that their temple was empty in Jerusalem because God was going to begin dwelling within the hearts of believers wherever they may be (John 4:19-24, Acts 7:48, 17:24;,I Corinthians 3:16), who today believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-10).

Today, God’s blessings do not emanate out from the earthly temple at Jerusalem, but come out from the actual home of heaven’s throne and from God Himself. Hebrews 3:1 tells us in the Church of God that we are “partakers of the heavenly calling,” while Israel would be partakers of the earthly calling. And today, Israel’s calling is held off until our gathering together up to Christ; then and only then will the calling to Israel again commence.

Hebrews 12:22-24:
-22: But ye are come unto mount Sion {our spiritual homeland up in the heavenlies}, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
-23: {and we have come} To the general assembly and church of the firstborn {Jesus Christ}, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
-24: And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant {New Testament}, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel {who offered sacrifices for his sins, for Christ offered himself for our sins}.

Today in God’s grace we are members of His Church, which is the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:17-23, I Corinthians 12:27). We currently are already members of God’s family, being partakers of the heavenly Sion (Zion), with heavenly citizenship from above.

Galatians 4:26 reads “but Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” Jerusalem is our mother because we are born from above, from God’s heavenly home, and we are citizens, as opposed to the earthly “Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children” (Galatians 4:25).

When the calling of Zion in Jerusalem is again restored we read that “no strangers would pass through her any more,” and today it certainly is filled with strangers, believers, and unbelievers; this is why Romans 9:6 records, “For they are not all Israel, which are of {in} Israel.”

Christ Jesus will establish his Kingdom and restore the children of Israel in Zion at Jerusalem on God’s timetable, and this is still a future event (Acts 1:6-7).

Today, while that future prophecy still awaits Israel, anyone who will believe, Jew or Gentile (Galatians 3:26-29, Colossians 3:11) may partake of Our Heavenly Standing with God in Christ (Ephesians 2:6, 18-22), as we together in the body of Christ enjoy the more abundant life.

Ezekiel – Revealing Our Covenant of Peace

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

In the Old Testament times, Zion was God’s chosen place and is the place where God intended to inhabit (Psalms 132:13) and establish His covenant of peace.  Today in God’s grace, we believers are the chosen place where God inhabits (Ephesians 2:18-22) giving us spiritual peace.

Ezekiel 34:25-26:
-25:  And I {God} will make with them {believers} a covenant of peace {also see Ezekiel 37:26}, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.
-26:  And I will make them and the places round about my hill {Zion} a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.

The “covenant of peace” was given to those of the children of Israel who would believe and looked forward to the coming of Jesus Christ. Today, Jesus Christ has already come. He is our covenant of peace (with God), and he currently is residing within our hearts (Colossians 1:27).

This is the definition of the word Christian, for a Christian has Christ – within!

In Acts 10:36 we have an enlightening verse of Scripture: “The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:).” The Word of God that was sent to the children of Israel by God’s prophets was for “preaching peace by Jesus Christ” because all of the Scriptures relate to Jesus as he is the subject of the Word.

Then the verse states “he is Lord of all” because today he is our Lord of peace and our covenant of peace.

II Thessalonians 3:16 – Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.

Jesus said “my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27), and “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace” (John 16:33). Jesus Christ, by giving his life for us, made an everlasting covenant of peace between God and man (believers).

Hebrews 13:20-21:
-20:  Now the God of peace {the architect of the covenant of our peace}, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood {the blood of Christ that washed our sins away} of the everlasting covenant {of peace},
-21:  Make you perfect {in our standing before God} in every good work to do his {God’s} will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through his accomplishments on our behalf. Since we have peace with God; He is able to work within our hearts to do that which is well-pleasing in His sight (Philippians 2:13).

Jesus Christ made an everlasting covenant for us by offering and giving his life (Hebrews 9:13-28) in order that we may boldly walk with God.

Ephesians 2:14-15:
-14: For he {Jesus Christ} is our peace, who hath made both one {believers from any walk of life}, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
-15: Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments; for to make in himself of twain {two} one new man, so making peace;

The “enmity” was a conflict between the children of Israel and the Gentiles because Israel thought they were God’s chosen people (and they were during the Old Testament times).

Now in God’s grace, in the New Testament age, any person who will simply accept Jesus Christ can become saved and enjoy our Covenant of Peace that we now have in and through Christ.

Lamentations – Revealing Our Hope

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

The Book of The Lamentations of Jeremiah contains many of the reasons why Jeremiah and Israel would have cause to lament. Zion, the Holy City of David, was destroyed and the people were taken into captivity.  This can be traced back to their rejection of God’s Word and His guidance which took Israel out of God’s promised rest.

God did not forsake His people, rather they by their actions and disbelief were turning their backs on God’s Word and they walked away from the guidance of His prophets and became encased in unrest as their hope in the coming Savior dissipated from their hearts.

When reading Lamentations, we find a sad and lowly state of the chosen people of God.  We find them engulfed with loneliness, having to bear the suffering that bondage begets, weakened with heart-wrenching disappointments, and living in their own shame for turning their backs from the true blessings that come from God.

And still, even in the Book of Lamentations there is a ray of hope, a beacon of divine light shining through their days of great darkness with a promise of continued hope if and when they would (as a nation) try to again turn their ways back to God’s Word. God would give them hope, which grows in the believing heart from anticipating the Savior’s day of redemption.

Lamentations 3:22-26; 57-58:
-22:  It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
-23:  They {God’s mercies} are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
-24:  The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
-25:  The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
-26:  It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.
-57:  Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not.
-58:  O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul {knowing my heart}; thou hast redeemed my life.

Hope is manifested in the lives of God’s people when Christ is acknowledged to be our genuine entrance into the promises, mercies, and graces of God.

God is always faithful to His Word, ever renewing His daily mercies. Jeremiah said “Great is thy faithfulness” because he knew that God never left him without a lifeline of hope, and that hope is “Jesus Christ which is our hope” (I Timothy 1:1), and he leads humanity to God.

James 4:8a – Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you . . .

In Acts 17:28 we read “in him {God} we live, and move, and have our being;” because our God is everywhere present. When we draw nigh to God with our believing actions we will begin to realize that God never left us alone, rather we are drawing near Him by our believing.  James 4:8 literally means that when we decide to draw nigh to God we will find Him to be as close as our very own breath.

When we believe in Jesus Christ who is the way to the Father, then we will clearly recognize our God’s presence.  Jesus said “I shall shew you plainly of the Father” (John 16:25), and the more we believe in Jesus Christ who is the way, he continues giving us divine hope and inner spiritual rest “for we which have believed {on Christ} do enter into {his} rest” (Hebrews 4:3).

Matthew 11:28-30:
-28:  Come unto me {Jesus}, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
-29:  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly {humble} in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
-30:  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The word “light” is an interesting word; it is an adverb reflecting on the light burden that we have with Jesus, and this relieves us of our earthly burdens that often weigh heavy on our shoulders. The word “light” also implies God’s spiritual light which is uplifting to our souls and this “yoke is easy” to bear.

Jesus enlightens the heart with inner assurance that we may have continued rest in hope because we have believed on the redeeming work of him who gave his life for us, and he reveals to our hearts the Father in true spiritual light.