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Reeling To and Fro Like a Drunkard

The Prophet Isaiah described our current day with these words: “The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard And it totters like a shack, For its transgression is heavy upon it, And it will fall, never to rise again.”—Isa. 24:20 New American Standard Bible

The world bounces back and forth between competing political, economic, social and religious philosophies, looking for and never finding one that meets its needs or solves its problems. Instead, mankind becomes more and more divided into competing groups with a growing anger for, and intolerance of, those who do not share their values and philosophies.

Because of this dilemma, Jesus prophesied regarding our day, “On the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 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.” (Luke 21:25,26 NASB) Men’s hearts are failing them for fear of the coming political, religious, economic and social strife. To man there appears no way out of their current trouble. Man has neither the wisdom, the resources, nor the proper spirit to resolve all of the ills afflicting this planet and its many human and animal inhabitants.

Still, Jesus prophesied that these signs would herald the approach of his earthly kingdom. “When these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”—Luke 21:28 NASB

This trouble signals the imminent implementation of Christ’s earthly kingdom which will bless all the families of the earth. The Apostle Paul wrote, “The anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:19 NASB) The heavenly deliverance of the completed church, Jesus’ faithful followers or “the sons of God,” will then bring an end to this present evil world. (Gal. 1:4) They will replace it with a “new heavens” (religious government) and “new earth” (civil government) based on righteousness that will bring peace and life to all mankind.—2 Peter 3:13

This new heavens and earth pictures Christ’s kingdom, which will resurrect every man, woman and child from the grave, wipe away tears from off all faces and eliminate death, mourning, crying and pain from man’s experience. (Rev. 21:4) In this kingdom, the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk, and all will know the Lord, from the least unto the greatest.—Isa. 35:5,6; Jer. 31:34

The competing philosophies of man will be replaced by the law of God—the law of righteousness and love for their fellow men. A highway of holiness will be cast up for all mankind to walk upon to perfection, harmony with God, and everlasting life. (Isa. 35:8; 62:10) Man will no longer fear the future but rejoice in the love of God and his deliverance.—Isa. 25:9

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Entering the Promised Land

Delivering the Israelites from Egyptian bondage fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham that he would make his descendants into a great nation and lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey. God was also delivering them from the bondage of slavery.—Exod. 3:8

When they came to enter the promised land, Moses sent spies from the 12 tribes. All the spies reported that it truly was a wonderful land. However, the majority frightened the people with an evil report.—Num. 13:33,34

When two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, tried to encourage the people to put their trust in God, the people sought to stone them. The Lord became angry and determined that the people were not worthy to enter the land. Instead, they would remain in the wilderness for forty years until that generation, who lacked faith and obedience in God, died off. It would be their children who inherited the promised blessings of the land.—Num. 14:1-35

Forty years later, when the people were gathered near Shittim, God allowed Moses a glimpse of the promised land. Moses would not be permitted to enter because of his personal disobedience. Instead, authority over the nation was turned over to Joshua. Joshua gathered the people to the Jordan River and commanded the priests carrying the ark to cross the raging river. (Josh. 3:1-4) It was harvest time and the river overflowed the banks. Miraculously, the waters were dammed up twenty miles north in the city of Adam. When the priests’ feet touched the waters, the waters dried up and the people crossed on dry land.—Josh. 3:15-17

With this crossing of the Jordan, the Lord pictured mankind crossing into the righteous kingdom ruled by Christ Jesus. Jordan means “judged down” and the overflowing water illustrated the condemnation of death now resting on mankind. The damming of the waters at Adam shows how the curse of death, put upon mankind due to Father Adam’s disobedience, will be stopped by the ransom provided through Jesus’ obedience and sacrifice. (1 Cor. 15:22) The people crossing on dry ground shows us the favorable conditions the Lord will provide for men to enter into his Kingdom and gain everlasting life.

Manna and Quail

ilderness of Sin. They soon grumbled against the Lord as they remembered the bread and meat they ate in Egypt. God responded to their request with manna from heaven and quail in great numbers.

The manna was found on the ground after the nighttime dew evaporated, leaving behind a fine, flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. The cakes made from it tasted like cakes baked with oil. The manna itself was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.—Exod. 16:1-36, Num. 11:4-35, English Standard Version

The manna had to be gathered daily before melting in the heat of the sun. It also had to be consumed that same day. None would last until the next morning, except on the day before the Sabbath, when a double portion of manna could be gathered. Then, the manna would keep to the seventh day, the Sabbath. This provision was made because there would be no manna on the ground on the Sabbath, to preserve it as a day of rest for Israel.

The miracle of the manna continued until Israel entered the promised land of Canaan forty years later. Thus, the people were fed throughout their wilderness journey. Jesus describes himself as the bread of life, which came down from heaven, thus identifying himself with the manna. In order to live we have to eat of Jesus’ flesh, which he gave for the life of the world. (John 6:51) This pictures appropriating his atoning merit by faith.

Besides the manna, Israel also clamored for meat. Every evening for a whole month, God used a strong wind from the sea to blow quail to the camp of Israel. The people didn’t appreciate God’s care and blessings and overindulged in eating the quail to God’s displeasure. We, too, can take for granted God’s provision for our feeding during this Gospel Age and grumble for more and different food. Another lesson is not to look back longingly to what we left in Egypt. Instead, we are to rejoice in and appreciate the prospect of entering the heavenly Canaan at the end of our wilderness journey.

Deborah

The account of Deborah is found in Judges, chapters 4 and 5. Once again, the Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord. In response, God chastened them by permitting Jabin, king of Canaan, to oppress them. Jabin’s general, Sisera, with an army of 900 iron chariots oppressed Israel severely for 20 years. In response, the Israelites cried out to the Lord for deliverance.

The Lord hearkened to their cries and chose Deborah to deliver them. She was a prophetess. The Hebrew word means prophetess or inspired woman. She discharged all the special duties of a judge and was held in high regard by the people. She was a willing and devoted servant of his people and the Lord used her to rescue Israel. What a lesson here for all of God’s people. To be used in the Lord’s service and to accomplish things for him, full devotion of heart is essential!

By God’s direction, Deborah asked Barak to raise an army of 10,000 men and engage Jabin’s forces under Sisera’s. God assured Barak “I will give him into your hand” and save Israel. (Judges 4:7) Barak asked Deborah to go with him into the battle. She agreed to go with him but told Barak that because of this, the honor of victory would not be his, for the Lord would sell Sisera into the hands of a woman. (verse 9) With that assurance by Deborah of the Lord’s blessing and victory, Barak and his men found courage.

The Lord was faithful. He sent a storm, rendering Sisera’s chariots useless. Then, he threw Sisera’s army into confusion. Broken and routed, the Canaanites fled. Barak and the Israelites pursued them and victory was secured. All the army of Sisera fell by the sword. Not even one was left.—verse 16

Sisera fled away on foot and took refuge in the tent of Jael. After he laid down to rest, Jael took a tent peg and drove the peg into Sisera’s temple, killing him. Jael then showed Barak the man he was pursuing. That day, God subdued Jabin, the king of Canaan, before the sons of Israel and the land was undisturbed for forty years. Just as the Lord delivered Israel from their enemies, we can trust him to ultimately deliver us as well.

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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