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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 At that time the kingdoms of this world will have passed away, and been replaced by the kingdom of our Lord.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

 

Israel’s Passover

The final plague the LORD brought upon Egypt to force Pharaoh to let Israel go was death of the first-born. (Ex. 11:1,4-6) To protect the Israelite first-born, God instructed Moses to have Israel to implement the Passover. (Ex. 12:1-14) The Passover involved selecting a male lamb of the first year without blemish on the 10th of the month and bringing it into their household. On the 14th day of the month, the Israelites were to kill the lamb, sprinkle its blood on the lintel and side door posts of their homes, roast the lamb and then eat it with bitter herbs while remaining within their homes during the entire night and being dressed, ready to leave Egypt. Following these instructions would protect their first-born from the angel of death. “The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”—Ex. 12:13 (New American Standard Bible)

This event is a beautiful picture of how God liberates Israel and mankind from their bondage to Satan, sin and death. The man Christ Jesus is the (Passover) lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29,36) “For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed” for us. (1 Cor. 5:7) The followers of Jesus, the church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven, are pictured by the first-born of Israel. (Heb. 12:23; Luke 10:20) They are Christ’s body and if faithful, follow him as first-born from the dead.—Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5

They are “not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold … but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:18,19 NASB) They are protected by Jesus’ blood from God’s justice (angel of death) as they follow Jesus’ example, teachings and are conformed to his image. (Rom. 8:29,30) God justifies them through Jesus blood that they might be acceptable to Him.—Rom. 8:32-34

Following Jesus’ return, his followers are resurrected from the dead. (Rev. 20:4,6) As kings and priests with Christ, they will lead Israel and all mankind to freedom from sin, death and Satan in Christ’s earthly kingdom, pictured by Israel leaving Egypt.—Ex. 12:50,51

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Spying Out the Land

Following the Exodus, we find the account of the Israelites spying out the promised land. (Num. 13:1-33) God instructed Moses to select leaders from each of the twelve tribes to search the land of Canaan. Moses instructed them to assess the people and the land which God was giving them. They were told to see if the people were strong, numerous, and if they lived in fortified cities. They were also instructed to explore the land to see if it was good, fertile, and had abundant trees.

God promised Israel that he would give them this land. They spied out the land all the way to the far north near Mt. Hermon. The twelve spies collected a cluster of grapes that took two men to carry. Truly, this was the land of milk and honey that God had promised them.

When the spies returned after forty days, ten of them told the Israelites that the occupants of the land were numerous, of great stature, and lived in fortified cities. But Joshua and Caleb, the two remaining spies, gave a good report saying the land was bountiful and that God would deliver it to them.

The ten spies responded, “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel.” (Num. 13:31,32) This stirred the people against God to the point where they cried out that it would have been better if they had been left in Egypt.—Num. 14:1-9

God was so angered that the ten spies stirred up the people, he caused the Israelites to wander the wilderness for forty years, a year for each day that the spies had spent spying out the promised land. In addition, any over the age of twenty, would die in the wilderness and would not be allowed to enter the promised land.—Num. 14:28-35

Joshua and Caleb, because of their faithfulness, led the people into the promised land forty years later. (Num. 14:30) This experience teaches us the importance of walking by faith. Only when we rest in the Lord, will we be delivered by God into his promised land. This account also illustrates God will fulfill every promise that he makes to those who faithfully follow him.

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Healthcare Crisis

Most people in our country are familiar with the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) or “Obamacare”—signed into law in 2010. “Obamacare” was coined as a derogatory term by opponents of President Obama. But, it caught on with the general public since it was easier to say and remember. The ACA was the most sweeping reform of the US healthcare system since the 1965 passage of Medicare and Medicaid.

Reforms implemented by the ACA include establishing Health Insurance Exchanges (marketplaces) where individuals, families, and small businesses could purchase qualified health insurance plans with affordable premiums. These plans satisfy the ACA’s individual mandate requiring those who don’t have health insurance to purchase it. The ACA also provides low and middle-income purchasers with subsidies to make buying health insurance more affordable. At the same time, it imposes a tax penalty on those who are uninsured beginning in 2014.

The procedures involved with applying for medical coverage and the need for such a system have been a source of debate and discontent since their inception. Premiums and deductibles associated with the available plans have continued to increase, and insurance providers have withdrawn from the program in many states.

The controversy continued during the 2016 presidential campaign and last month President Trump and the Republican congress attempted but failed to repeal parts of the ACA. The proposed repeal would have led to 24 million Americans losing their health insurance by 2024.

Unlike mankind, there is no confusion about how God will provide all mankind with the opportunity to live healthy lives in the future. (Isa. 40:28) God has promised to establish His holy kingdom upon this earth, and it will abide forever. “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.”—Psa. 145:13; Dan. 2:44

Under that kingdom, the blood of Jesus will be applied on behalf of all and the penalty of sin, sickness and death will be removed from the human family. As a result, “the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.” (Isa. 33:24) “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing.” —Isa. 35:5,6

All the dead shall be raised to life. “For an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” — John 5:28-29 (New American Standard)

Under this plan, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”—Rev. 21:4
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Job

Job’s life was one of integrity, sincerity and consistency. He reverenced God and worshiped Him. God blessed him with a large family, many possessions and the esteem of friends.

Suddenly, disaster came upon him. He lost his children, wealth, influence and his health. He sought an explanation as to why God should permit such calamities to come upon him. Still, he trusted in God, saying, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him!”—Job 13:15

Job’s character was being tested and refined. Likewise, every Christian will go through trials to test their character. In James 5:11, we read, “You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings.” (New American Standard) The Lord desires to develop patient endurance in His people.

If we have difficulties, persecutions or troubles of any kind, we should look to God. We should say: This thing could not happen to me unless the Lord permitted it. We have come under special Divine care. God has promised that all things shall work together for good to us who are His children. (Rom. 8:28) The lesson of trust is one of those difficult lessons for us to learn and apply. We must come to realize that all of life’s experiences are under Divine supervision. Nothing can happen to us but what ultimately is for our highest, eternal good.

The Lord’s people have such a peace and rest of mind through the knowledge of God’s Plan. The knowledge of His Justice, Mercy and Love, and a blessed realization that He is our God give us peace, quiet and rest of mind. While the people in the world today are more or less troubled, God’s children have a peace that the world cannot comprehend. (Phil. 4:7) It is a peace that the world can neither give nor take away. When our trials are over, the Lord will make up for all the troubles of the present life. Then, we shall look back on these trials and consider them but light afflictions, only for a moment. —2 Cor. 4:1

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