Peace Be Still

Today, we find ourselves living in a world of uncertainty. All around us we see the evidence of crime, violence, and social unrest. Our president recently returned from meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to discuss denuclearization. While all the details
of the meeting have not been made known, it apparently includes the freezing of North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities and the
shutting down of known nuclear facilities. Skeptics cite that it all depends on whether North Korea is serious about following through
with the agreement, and compliance may be difficult to substantiate. Meanwhile, we have the continued debate over gun violence and
gun control, the worldwide immigration crisis, and the tragedy surrounding the illicit use of drugs which has reached epidemic proportions.

As we view the events taking place in the world, they are anything but peaceful. Jeremiah wrote, “saying, Peace, peace, when there is
no peace.” (Jer. 6:14) This saying of “Peace! Peace!” has been going on for many years as world leaders have met numerous times to
sign peace treaties and yet, we continue to live in a world without lasting peace. This unrest is confirmed by the Apostle Paul’s words, “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.”—1 Thess. 5:3

There can be no true peace if there is sin. Sin is the great difficulty the world wrestles with through the work of Satan. “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”—Rom. 5:12

The relief from present conditions will come only with the birth of a new order of things. John 1:29, speaks of Jesus as “the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Jesus died on the cross completing his sacrifice to take away the sins of the world. Jesus’ faithful sacrifice earned him the right to establish this new order of things and take control of man’s affairs. (Isa. 9:6,7) This takes place when the Kingdom of Christ is set up, and then, Christ will bring all trouble to a sudden end. According to the Heavenly Father’s plan, Jesus as the “Prince of peace” will bring in the lasting peace that is so desired by mankind.—Isa. 11:9

This was shown when our Lord Jesus calmed the sea saying “Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39) The raging sea represents the restless, turbulent, dissatisfied masses of the world. (Isa. 57:20,21) Jesus will bring an end to the sin, violence, and death plaguing mankind through the fulfillment of the promise, “‘I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners … Peace, peace to him who is far [Gentiles] and to him who is near [Jews],’ says the Lord, ‘and I will heal him.’”—Isa. 57:18,19 (New American Standard Bible)

Christ’s kingdom will teach mankind righteousness and “the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”—Isa. 32:17

To learn more, see our offer for the booklet Hope for a Fear-Filled World on the back page of this newsletter.

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Ruth, an Example of Faith

A severe famine fell upon Israel, so Elimelech and his wife Naomi moved from Bethlehem to Moab. Then, Elimelech died and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, married Moabite women—Orpah and Ruth. After ten more years, both Mahlon and Chilion died.—Ruth 1:1-5

When Naomi heard that the famine in Israel had ended, she decided to return to her homeland.Her daughters-in-law desired to go with her. However, Naomi advised them to return totheir mother’s homes. While Orpah agreed and stayed in Moab, Ruth decided to go with Naomi. She made the statement, “For whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” (Ruth 1:16) This statement showed
Ruth’s trust in Naomi and her God.

When Ruth arrived in Judah, it was the time of the barley harvest. Ruth went to the edge of a field to collect grain. This was allowed under the Jewish law. Boaz, the owner of the field noticed Ruth and inquired who she was. When he discovered that they were related through Naomi, he instructed his workers to treat her kindly.—Ruth 1:22; 2:1-9,14-17

Ruth continued collecting grain and Boaz watched over her. Naomi instructed Ruth to make herself attractive and to sleep at Boaz’s feet after a long day on the threshing floor. Boaz awoke about midnight and realized that someone was sleeping at his feet. When he asked her who she was, she informed him that he was her family’s redeemer. Under Jewish law, the immediate kin of a family member were to take on their brother’s family in the event of their death. Since Ruth was a widow, there was no one to carry on the family name. Boaz pointed out, that there was a closer family member who had the first rights to Ruth.

Boaz approached this family member who desired to purchase Naomi’s land. However, he did not want to jeopardize his own inheritance by marrying Ruth and so, Boaz agreed to assume his responsibility as the kinsman redeemer. (Ruth 4:1-9) Boaz married Ruth and their child (Obed the father of Jesse) was born. Thus, Naomi had a grandson and her family line endured. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is related to David through Ruth.—Ruth 4:17-22

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A House Built Upon a Rock

Jesus said, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.” (Matt. 7:24,25) These words are the exclamation point Jesus put on his teaching about what it will take and who will be fit to enter into the Kingdom of God.

In verse 24, Jesus said those who hear and do his sayings are wise. The Apostle Jamesagrees that we should be “doers of the word and not just hearers only.” (James 1:22) Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he spoke of demonstrating one’s love for the Father and for himself by
loving their brethren and neighbors and laying down their life for them. These same character principles Jesus gave in both his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) and during the evening of the last supper. In addition, Jesus gave the disciples a lesson and example in humility by washing their feet—John 13:12-17

In verse 25, Jesus likens the harsh weather conditions that beat upon the house to the trials of one’s life. “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12) A strong faith built upon the rock of truth that Jesus is the son of God is required for one not to be swept away by these trials. Instead, the Apostle Paul says, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”—2 Cor. 4:17

If we are to be built up and grow into Christ and be fitted for a place in Christ’s Kingdom, we must have faith that God will reward them that diligently seek him (Heb. 11:6), make a full consecration of our lives to God (Rom. 12:1), and be transformed into the likeness of our Lord and Savior by developing the fruit of God’s spirit in our hearts and minds. (Rom. 12:2; Gal. 5:22-25) Concerning the rock upon which our faith rests, Paul writes, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”—1 Cor. 3:11

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The Resurrection

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, … when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”—John 5:25

These words of Jesus provide the promise to mankind of being raised from the sleep of death. A few verses later, he further confirms, “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth.” (vss. 28,29) The promise that “all that are in the graves” will be raised from the dead is based on the fact that Jesus died a “ransom for all.” (1 Tim. 2:5,6) Having paid the penalty for sin, he provided redemption for Adam and his race, the entire human family. As the Scriptures plainly state, all in Adam have died, and so all in Christ will be made alive.—1 Cor. 15:21,22

The “making alive” of mankind is described in the New Testament by the word “Resurrection.” It is a translation of the Greek word anastasis, and signifies “a standing up again,” and by implication, “a moral recovery.” Thus, the resurrection is more than merely an awakening from the sleep of death. It is the entire process of mankind being brought back into heart harmony with God, and into full fellowship with him as earthly sons.

Christ’s thousand-year kingdom is the period in God’s plan for the accomplishment of the resurrection work. Satan, man’s great Adversary, will be bound, and unable to deceive the people any longer. (Rev. 20:1,2,6) Man will first be raised from the grave, and will be given new bodies which are physically and mentally whole. His character, however, will still retain many of the vestiges of sin which plagued him in this life. Thus, the people will be educated in the knowledge of God—his laws and his character attributes. (Jer. 31:34) This education process, along with each individual’s application of its lessons, will enable man to be freed from the remaining effects of sin.

Then, the great resurrection work will be complete, and man will be recovered to God’s favor. “They shall be his people, and God himself shall … be their God.”—Rev. 21:3

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Immanuel Is Born

“She shall bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”—Matt 1:21
Immanuel is a symbolic name, meaning “God with us.” (Isa. 7:14) The name Jesus, which is the Greek form for Joshua, signifies savior, or liberator. “For he shall save his people from their sins.”—Matt. 1:21
The entire work of our Lord Jesus is summed up in the meaning of the name Jesus. Our Lord was publicly identified as the Savior as a babe; but it was only when he had completed his sacrifice at Calvary that he earned the full right to be the savior, owner, and Lord of mankind.—Luke 2:11

Jesus was begotten not by Joseph, but by the Holy Spirit. The life principle of the Logos or Word of God (John 1:1-3,14), also known as Michael (Dan. 10:13; 12:1), was transferred by God’s Holy Spirit into Mary. (Heb. 1:5) The promise was then fulfilled in the words, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) Jesus was born perfect, free from the Adamic curse of sin and death. He knew no sin, while all other men are sinners by nature. (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:18) Therefore, he could die on the cross as a perfect man, fulfilling God’s desire that through him, “shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”—Gen. 12:3
These “families” refer to the world of mankind under the new administration of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom. At that time the kingdoms of this world will have passed away, and been replaced by the kingdom of our Lord. Mankind will respond to this kingdom, “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.” (Isa. 2:3; Rev. 11:15) Then, God’s promised blessings will flow to all the people of the earth. Isaiah 9, verses 6 and 7, provide an explanation from the LORD’s standpoint of how these blessings are under his provision and supervision.

Beginning with our Lord’s birth in Bethlehem, and presenting himself as God’s son, Jesus gave his human life as a willing sacrifice on our behalf, starting at Jordan, and culminating at Calvary. Because of his obedience unto death, “God also hath highly exalted and given him a name which is above every name.” This name includes honor, dominion, and power above all others, “that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Phil. 2:9-11) Here, we have included those who sleep in death—“under the earth”—who will be raised up to a restored perfect life on earth.

“The government shall be upon his shoulder,” describes the authority, glory, and honor given to the Lord by God through his great love. Christ’s kingdom will usher in God’s “times of restitution of all things.” (Acts 3:19-21) The Scriptures assure us that Jesus’ reign will be a time of blessing, peace and joy for all who love righteousness and truth. “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”—Isa. 9:7

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Caleb

After the exodus from Egypt, and following the giving of the Law Covenant at Mount Sinai, God led the Israelites to the southern borders of Canaan, the land of promise. Caleb, of the tribe of Judah, and eleven leaders from the other tribes formed the ruling structure of Israel, with Moses as the recognized head of the nation. Nevertheless, all were subject to God and his commandments.

In Numbers 13:1-3 (New King James Version), we read, “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, everyone a leader among them.’” These men were to spy out the land and see whether the people who dwelt in it were strong or weak, few or many, whether the cities they inhabited were like (tent) camps or strongholds, whether the land was rich or poor, and whether forests were there or not. They were also to bring some fruit of the land back as evidence of its productiveness.—vss. 18-20

The twelve spies travelled through the land, taking forty days of careful inspection, and returned with a good report of its fruitfulness, bringing back with them grapes, figs, and pomegranates. But they also declared that the people were strong, the cities fortified and very large. Then, ten of the spies discouraged any hope in the people of conquering it, stating they looked like grasshoppers in their own sight compared to the inhabitants of the land.—vss. 27,28,31-33

However, Caleb and another leader, Joshua, did not so react. Instead, they declared faith in the power of God to defeat any enemy, no matter how unlikely from a human perspective. God rewarded the faith of Caleb (and Joshua) by keeping them alive through the forty years of wilderness wandering and bringing them into possession of the land of Canaan. All the other men of Israel from twenty years old and upward died in the wilderness. (Num. 14:1-10,22-24; 32:11,12) Thus, Caleb became a good example of faithfulness where trust in God brings victory and reward.

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Israel at Mt. Sinai

Three months after leaving Egypt, the Israelites came to the wilderness of Sinai, where they camped at the foot of the mount. (Exod. 19:1,2) There, God spoke to Moses, and reminded him of their recent deliverance from Egyptian bondage by divine power.—vss. 3,4

God then proposed to Moses his desire to make a covenant with the Israelites, offering to them the opportunity to be “a peculiar treasure, … a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation,” if they would obey his laws and instructions. (vss. 5,6) Moses called together representatives of all the people, and explained the wonderful offer which God had made. In unison, the people answered, “All that the LORD hath spoken we will do.” Moses returned their affirmative response to God.—vss. 7,8

Moses was instructed that prior to the giving of God’s Law to the people, they were to be made ready for this important occasion. Moses was told to “go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes.” On the third day, the people were to gather at the bottom of Mount Sinai.—vss. 9-11
When the people gathered on the third day at the foot of the mount, God’s great power was demonstrated. There was thunder, lightning, and the sound of a trumpet. A thick cloud of smoke covered the mount, and it quaked violently, causing the people to tremble. (vss. 16-19) God told Moses that the people were not to ascend the mount. Only Moses and his brother Aaron were to come up. There, God would give his Law to them, which they in turn would present to the people.—vss. 21-25; Heb. 12:18-21

Exodus, chapters 20-23, provides a record of the laws given to Moses and Aaron by God at Mount Sinai. They covered many different aspects of daily life. There were the “Ten Commandments.” These were followed by laws governing altars and offerings; servants; restitution; social matters; the Sabbath and other festivals; and instructions regarding their eventual conquest of the land of Canaan. Finally, God confirmed his covenant in the presence of Moses, Aaron, Aaron’s sons, and seventy of the elders of Israel.—Exod. 24:1-8

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Forty Years in the Wilderness

The nation of Israel was God’s chosen people (Amos 3:2), and God gave them abundant evidence of his love and special favor. He brought them out of Egypt, delivered them from the pursuing Egyptian army at the Red sea and gave them his Law at Sinai.
God had promised them the land of Cannan. “The LORD spoke to Moses, ‘Depart, go up … to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ I will send an angel before you and I will drive out the Canaanite.” (Exod. 33:1,2, New American Standard Bible) All Israel had to do was to trust and obey.

When they reached the land, they sent out spies. Upon their return, Caleb, who had a strong faith, said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it.” (Num. 13:30, English Standard Version) The report of the other ten spies was discouraging. Upon hearing the evil report, the Israelites’ faith in God wavered and they wanted to return to Egypt. “So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the entire generation of those who had done evil in the sight of the LORD was destroyed.”—Num. 32:13, NASB

While Israel journeyed in the wilderness, God provided for all their needs. He fed them with manna, caused refreshing waters to come from barren rock, and led them through the desert with the pillar of cloud and of fire. During their sojourn, neither their shoes nor their clothes wore out. Still, Israel murmured against God, but God faithfully brought them to the promised land. God keeps his promises: the promises he made to Abraham, along with his promises to bless and punish Israel.

Paul writes that these events are recorded for our instruction, that we may endure and escape temptation. (1 Cor. 10:11–13) Israel’s experiences have important lessons for Christians. We have been invited on a journey to a new, heavenly Canaan. There are trials and difficulties along the way. But our God has promised us, just as he promised Moses, that his presence shall go with us. He will test our loyalty and our faith in him. Shall we forget all the way he has led us and the great deliverances in our past? Surely not! Have faith in God.

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What is the World Coming To?

Earlier this year, three hurricanes struck the United States causing untold misery and suffering to people in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico. In September, tensions ratcheted up between the United States and North Korea over North Korea’s efforts to develop a nuclear warhead and missile capable of reaching the United States. Lastly, a deranged gunman killed 58 people and wounded nearly 500 at a Las Vegas concert in the largest mass shooting in US history.

What is the world coming to? Jesus described our day in Luke 21:25-28 (New American Standard Bible): “men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” The Apostle Paul described our day in 2 Tim. 3:1-5 (NASB) saying, “in the last days difficult times will come.” Peter described our day in 2 Pet. 3:10 (NASB): “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”

Jesus mentioned that with his return, there would be “a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” (Matt. 24:21,22 NASB) This trouble results from man’s selfishness coupled with the increase of knowledge which God has allowed (Dan. 12:4) leading to more and larger conflicts between nations, ethnic groups, classes, etc., greater numbers of casualties and more oppression beginning in the late 1800s.

This escalation continues until it reaches the climax of Jacob’s trouble when all of the nations are gathered against Israel. (Jer. 30:7,8,10,11; Joel 3:1,2,12-16) Then, a great army invades Israel to take a spoil. God through Christ fights for Israel destroying the invaders (Ezekiel chapters 38,39; Zech. 14:2,3) and triggers Armageddon (Rev. 16:16-21) which leads to all men shaking at God’s presence, every man’s hand being against his neighbor and God making himself known in the sight of many nations. (Ezek. 38:20,21,23)

This conflict will destroy the nations and selfish institutions (financial, religious, social, political) of this present evil world as Peter writes: “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” (2 Pet. 3:10 NASB) This destruction will cleanse the earth and prepare mankind for the establishment of Christ’s kingdom, the “new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”2 Pet. 3:13 (NASB).

Under Christ’s kingdom all mankind will be released from the grave, taught righteousness and have the opportunity to become obedient to God’s laws and live forever, on an earth restored as the garden of Eden.

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Joshua

Moses led the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery to the promise land. Unfortunately, Moses died while viewing the promised land from Pisgah. In his place God appointed Joshua to lead Israel into Canaan. “The LORD was angry with me (Moses) for your (Israelites) sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither. But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.”—Deut. 1:37-38

As Israel’s leader, Joshua resembles our Lord Jesus Christ. “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.” (Matt. 2:6) Jesus will lead Israel and all mankind to inherit God’s promise kingdom.

During his time leading Israel, Joshua chose 12 individuals, one from every tribe to assist. (Joshua 4:4) These individuals gathered 12 stones out of the Jordan River in remembrance of God’s miracle in drying up river to allow Israel to cross over. Similarly, Jesus selected twelve disciples to assist him in proclaiming the foundation truths of the Gospel message, “And he goeth up into a mountain, … And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.”—Mark 3:13-15

Joshua and Jesus share the same name. The English name “Joshua” is a rendering of the Hebrew word “Yehoshua,” meaning “Yahweh” is Salvation. Jesus is the English word for the Greek translation of “Yehoshua” which again means Salvation.

Finally, both Joshua and Jesus, began their earthly lives as meek, unknown individuals who would rise up and become great leaders. In that role, each would fulfill God’s promise and lead the Israelites to the land that was promised. In his closing exhortation to Israel, Joshua said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) It came to pass that “after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.”—Joshua 24:29