Practical Insights

This excerpt is a pratical insight for Christmas. See the entire article on our devotional for December 21.

"Let us take care that we have clear views of our Lord Jesus Christ's nature and person. It is a point of the deepest importance. We should settle it firmly in our minds that our Savior is perfect man as well as perfect God, and perfect God as well as perfect man. If we once lose sight of this great foundation truth, we may run into fearful heresies. The name Emmanuel takes in the whole mystery. Jesus is 'God with us.'" J. C. Ryle

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Scripture of the Day (Through Joshua)

Now Joshua captured Makkedah on that day, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword; he utterly destroyed it and every person who was in it. He left no survivor. Thus he did to the king of Makkedah just as he had done to the king of Jericho. Joshua 10:28

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"He who keeps Israel will neither
slumber nor sleep."
Psalm 121:4

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

"I will give to you and to your seed after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God."

Genesis 17:8

"He has remembered His covenant forever...the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, 'To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion of your inheritance.' "Psalm 105:8-11

Israel: You Are Not Alone

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Why Did Abraham Say Sarah Was His Sister?

In Genesis 12:10-20 Abraham and Sarah go down to Egypt because of a famine in the land of Canaan. But when there, he does something astonishing--he says that Sarah is his sister! Did this man of God lie just because he was scared for his own life? Even after the great events of Genesis 15 and 17, Abraham does it again (Genesis 20)! Here is a much more likely interpretation suggested by Rabbi Obadiah ben Jacob S'forno (1475-1550).

In those Middle eastern countries, if they would desire a married woman, they would know that there is no way to get her legally, so they would kill her husband. But if she was single, they would negotiate with her protector (father, brother, etc.) and attempt to obtain her legally. Abraham was proposing that they pose as brother and sister, and this way they would buy time. The negotiations could drag on and eventually they would go back to Canaan. But this plan was thwarted when the king himself took her, and the king's way of doing things was take first and pay later.


Sunset December 12

Hanukkah Menorah

Hanukkah and Christmas are often thought of together. What is Hanukkah? Is it simply a Jewish substitute for Christmas? Hardly! Hanukkah (Hebrew, "dedication") is a post-biblical Jewish feast mentioned in the New Testament (John 10:22). The Second Temple had been completed in 516 B.C. after the return from the Babylonian captivity. Many years later, however, it was desecrated in 167 B.C. by the Greek king, Antiochus IV ("Epiphanes"). Led by Mattathias and his sons, called the Maccabees, a small group of Jews revolted against Antiochus and prevailed against overwhelming odds. Thus Hanukkah, or the Feast of Dedication, celebrates the cleansing and eight-day rededication of the Second Temple in 165 B.C. According to Jewish tradition recorded in the Talmud, at the rededication there was only enough oil for the lampstand to burn one day, but by a miracle from God it burned for eight days. Thus Hanukkah is also called the Festival of Lights. Part of the celebration today involves lighting a nine-branch Menorah. Hanukkah is a feast that celebrates God's protection and provision. We can all reflect on the ways in which the Lord continues to protect and provide not only for his people Israel but for Christians as well. This year Hanukkah runs from sunset December 12 to sunset December 20, 2017. (Read our notes on other biblical and post-biblical Jewish holidays.)

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Important Topics

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We have long lamented the lack of depth in the preaching within Evangelical churches today. Many Christians possess only a shallow knowledge of both the Bible and theology. Check yourself with two questions that should be very simple to any Christian who attends a Bible-believing church.

  • Bible knowledge: The Psalmist wrote, "Sing the glory of his name" (Ps. 66:2). What is his name? What is the name of the God of the Bible, the God you worship?

  • Theological knowledge: What is the meaning of the word propitiation, which is used, for example, in 1 John 2:2?

We hope that the Bible study material posted at this Web site will both increase your knowledge of the Bible and theology and also encourage you to buy and read books by great Christian theologians and preachers. The full contents of this site can be seen at a glance on our Site Map; there are over 1200 items.

Our Sister Web Site:
Messiah Studies

We have another Web site, Messiah Studies, that is devoted to a detailed study of Messianic prophecy. However, it is a new Web site, and so far there are only a few papers posted. It is our goal, however, to develop a series of papers dealing with the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament in historical order. The site is designed for Jewish inquirers, but Christians can gain much from these studies as well. There is also some Jewish music you can listen to, including HaTikvah (Israeli National Anthem), Hava Nagila, Jerusalem of Gold, and the Yigdal (on which the Christian hymn, "The God of Abraham Praise," is based). Please take a look and send us your suggestions.

Judaism and Christianity

What common belief forms the fundamental foundation of both Judaism and Christianity? For the answer, read this encouraging article by Orthodox Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, "Growing in Our Understanding of God."

Jon Voight on Israel

Do You Love Israel?

Israel is God's chosen people and covenant nation. How often does your church pray for the safety of Israel and the peace of Jerusalem? If it doesn't, ask your pastor why not. God promised in the covenant he made with Abraham that he will bless those who bless Israel (Gen. 12:3). Please listen to legendary actor Jon Voight as he gives us an urgent message about Israel.

Nicky's Children Youtube Video

For a 4-minute version taking you back to Sir Nicholas in 1938, see this Youtube video.

The "British Schindler"

Beginning in 1938, Nicholas Winton organized the rescue of over 600 Jewish children from German-occupied Czechoslovakia. Here is a very touching video from a BBC television program reuniting Sir Nicholas with many of these children, now adults. How cold our own hearts must be if we cannot thank Jesus for saving us from eternal death with the same emotion that Vera Gissing shows in this video when she meets Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved her as a young girl from the Nazi death camps.

NIV Translation Unreliable

In many ways, we are living in a dangerous age. Some dangers are where you would least expect them, as for example the degree to which feminism has infected even evangelicalism. What translation of the Bible are you using? The NIV has become an unreliable translation. Read "An Evaluation of Gender Language in the 2011 Edition of the NIV Bible" produced by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Replacement Theology and Amillennialism

Anyone at all familiar with this Web site knows that we are at the opposite end of the theological spectrum from replacement theology and amillennialism. At our sister Web site, Messiah Studies, we have posted a number of lectures from perhaps the best book on Messianic prophecy that I have read: The Messiahship of Jesus by Alexander McCaul (1852). He does argue that the Messianic prophecies point to fulfillment by Yeshua (Jesus), but in his discussions he gives considerable attention to the Jewish objections to Christian interpretations of these prophecies. However, the point I would like to emphasize here is that he also argues for a literal fulfillment of the prophecies dealing with the future of national Israel and forcefully critiques replacement theology and amillennialism, which sees no future for Israel in an ethnic and national sense. I suggest that those who hold to replacement theology and amillennialism should examine this book carefully. See the the McCaul page . The Messiah Studies site also has a short paper written by me "The Messiah: An Overview," which summarizes what the prophets indeed predict for national Israel--God's chosen, covenant people, the apple of his eye (Zech. 2:8) and the nation written on the palms of his hands (Isa. 49:15-16). You might also be interested in a short paper here on Rediscovering the Bible, "Does Eschatology Matter in Jewish Evangelism?"

Psalm 107

Ship In Storm

"He that cannot pray, let him go to sea, and there he will learn."

John Trapp on Ps. 107:23-29, cited by Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David.

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