Author: Alice A. Anacioco

Who Do You Say Jesus Christ Is?

Who Do You Say Jesus Christ Is?

Peter’s confession of who Jesus is in Matthew 16:16 has been considered by many as pivotal and climactic in the entire narrative of Matthew. That’s because it was on this confession that Jesus built and established the Church. Who do people say Jesus Christ is? Who do you say He is?

We learn from the Gospel accounts that people followed Jesus around wherever He went during His earthly ministry, either to listen to Him teach, have the sick and demon-possessed healed and delivered, or in the case of the religious leaders, to test and trap Him.

Peter’s Confession of Jesus as the Messiah 

Matthew 16:13-17 

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”

Background of the Passage

After the account of Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth (Matthew 13:53-58), the feeding of the five thousand at or near Bethsaida (Matthew 14:13-21), His encounter with the Canaanite woman who has great faith in the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21-28), and the feeding of the four thousand on a mountainside near the sea of Galilee, Jesus and His disciples withdrew to the region of Caesarea Philippi.

This move was likely a retreat from the pressing crowds. Do you notice in the Gospels that whenever Jesus wanted to teach His disciples some very important “Kingdom” truths, He would take them to a private or remote place?

About Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi was a Gentile city at the northernmost region of ancient Israel, some 25 miles or 40 km north of the Sea of Galilee, 50 miles southwest of Damascus and situated in a beautiful location at the foot of Mount Hermon.

Something noteworthy is the historical fact that Caesarea Philippi was a region strongly identified with pagan religions and idol worship. In his commentary, Barclay says, “The area was scattered with temples of the ancient Syrian Baal worship.”

Originally, Caesarea Philippi was called Paneas in honor of the pagan god Pan. And during the reign of King Herod the Great, he built a temple there to honor Augustus Caesar.

Who Do You Say Jesus Christ Is?
Photo Credits: enterthebible.org

When Herod’s son Philip took over, he developed and expanded the city and renamed it Caesarea in honor of Emperor Caesar. He then added his name to distinguish it from other regions named Caesarea, hence, Caesarea Philippi.

What a setting for Jesus to ask a very important question. They had just left the city where there were a lot of false teachings about Jesus. (See Matthew 16:5-12 where Jesus warned His disciples about the yeasts/leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.)

And as they came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, they saw the temple built by King Herod with all the statues of gods. Some commentators even suggest that Jesus and His disciples could be standing in front of the temple when the conversation took place.

The Question of Jesus’ Identity

In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asked a pointed question – a question of His identity: “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man am?” In other translations, it reads, “Who do people say the son of Man is?”

In other words, Jesus was asking what men in general, whether high or low, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, are saying about Him. Why did Jesus ask this question? Was He interested to know who people thought He was?

Is Jesus having some kind of identity crisis? Didn’t He know who He was? Or was it because He’s so concerned about other people’s opinion of Him? Of course not! Jesus knew exactly who He was.

Some say that one probable reason for asking this question was the changing opinions about Him under the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Consider this scenario: Every time Jesus finishes teaching a certain crowd, the religious teachers would step right in to teach the people something else contrary to what Jesus taught them.

No wonder then that despite all the wonders and miracles that Jesus performed which the people witnessed with their own eyes, they still couldn’t figure Him out.

The Reply

“Some say John the Baptist, some, Elijah, and others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matthew 16:14).

Obviously, people who thought that Jesus was John the Baptist (such as Herod the tetrarch in Matthew 14:1-3) didn’t know much about Him; or they would have known that Jesus and John had ministered at the same time.

Apparently, some people thought Jesus was a herald of national repentance like John the Baptist.

What do people believe about Jesus
Photo Credits: Bibleinfo.com

But why Elijah? Because of the miracles that Jesus performed, some people believed He was the forerunner of the Messiah and a famous worker of miracles. The Jews knew their Torah so very well and were familiar with the various miracles that Elijah performed (in the name of God).

And still, others thought Jesus was someone who spoke the word of God, like Jeremiah and the prophets.

The Unbelief of the People

Notice that no group was officially confessing Jesus as the Messiah. Regardless of the fact that in His words and His works, Jesus gave every evidence to the people that He was the Messiah, the Son of God, the people did not get the message.

They never denied that Jesus was a great teacher and prophet; they did not deny that He performed many miracles. Yet they chose to listen to popular opinions and followed them, instead of diligently seeking for the truth, just as many people do today.

Instead of following their convictions, the people chose to rely on their opinion and the opinions of others, and this is what led them all astray.

While the opinions of the crowd were complimentary towards Jesus, they were inaccurate. Jesus was much more than a national reformer like John the Baptist, more than a miracle worker than Elijah and more than a prophet like Jeremiah.

We might think that the above answers as to who Jesus is are not in any way bad or negative. However, the general tendency was to underestimate Jesus and to give Him a measure of respect and honor but end up falling short of the honor due to Him for who He really is.

The Follow-up Question

Going back to the question of Jesus’ identity, Jesus asked the question as an introduction to a more important follow-up question.

Upon hearing the different opinions of men concerning Him, I find it interesting that Jesus did not make any reflections or comments. Instead, He immediately redirected the question to His disciples. He asked, “But what about you? Who do you say I am” (Matthew 16:15)?

The disciples had been with Jesus for three years. They left everything and followed Him when He called them and became His disciples. Why? Because they believed in Him. You wouldn’t follow someone unless you believe in him, right?

On the part of Jesus, He knew exactly what kind of faith His disciples had on Him. He could see right through them and that is why He often rebuked them for their little faith and told them to increase their faith.

Why did Jesus have to ask His disciples who they thought He was? Because it was not enough to just believe in Him, they must confess Him as well. A confession has to be made as Romans 10:9-10 clearly says.

Romans 10:9-10

Peter Confesses Jesus as Christ

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16)! In other translations, it says, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”

Note: “The Christ” is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew “the Messiah,” meaning, the Anointed One.

In his answer, Peter was saying, “You are the Anointed One, the only Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Life Everlasting.”

Peter understood that Jesus was not only the Messiah but also God Himself. In the Jewish context, to receive the title “The Son of the Living God” in a unique sense was to make a claim to deity itself.

Jesus Pronounces a Blessing

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).

You see, Christ’s messianic claims had always been subtle allusions to Old Testament prophecies, combined with miraculous works that substantiated those claims. Jesus had never explicitly taught His disciples the fullness of His deity.

So what happened was, God the Father had opened Peter’s eyes and heart and revealed to him who Jesus really was. When Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ (Messiah), the son of the Living God, it did not come out as a mere expression of an academic opinion about the identity of Jesus.

Who do you say Jesus Christ is?
Photo Credits: rainbowtoken.com

Instead, it was a confession of personal faith that was made possible only by a divinely-regenerated heart.

The carnal man does not have any idea who Jesus is (2 Corinthians 2:14). Only true believers are the ones who understand who Jesus really is. Unless God reveals to us in our spirit, we will never truly understand who Jesus really is.

Closing Words

We know that many people today do not believe Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God and Savior of the world. But what about us as individuals, what do we believe about Jesus. Who do we say Jesus is?

“Who do you say I am?”

This is the question placed before us today and all who hear of Jesus. Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ? The Messiah? The son of the Living God? The Life Everlasting? Did you confess with your mouth His lordship over your life? Do you believe in your heart that Jesus is who He claimed to be?

Believing Jesus is the Messiah is one thing, confessing Him as Lord and Savior of your life is another thing, especially these days when talking about Jesus, Christianity and the Bible is not the most popular thing to do.

What you and I believe and confess about Jesus is a matter of life and death. We deserve the death penalty as a result of our sin but we receive eternal life as a gift from God when we place our faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.


*Recommended Resource: 

Who Do You Say that I AM?: A Fresh Encounter for Deeper Faith
By Becky Harling

Who Do You Say That I Am? is an 8-week study of the “I AM” statements of Jesus that will help women draw deeper into the Word of God for a more personal relationship with Christ. He wants your answer to his question, “Who do you say that I AM?”

The Study Book contains five days of study for each of the 8 weeks along with reflection questions.

Bless Israel and Be Blessed

Bless Israel and Be Blessed

There is a divine principle that begins in Genesis and runs through the Scripture: God blesses those that bless Israel. Simply put, if you bless Israel God will bless you.

When God asked Abraham to leave his country and go to a land that He will show him, God did not only promise to bless him exceedingly; He also promised blessings to those who will bless him and a curse to those who will curse him.

God’s Promise of Blessing and Curse

We are very certain that when God makes a promise, He will not change.

Genesis 12:1-3 (NKJV)

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Do you notice how God’s policy of anti-Semitism is established beyond all doubt in these verses? God has promised to pour out His blessings on those who bless Abraham, and He has promised to curse those who curse him (anti-Semitic).

This promise to Abraham which is inherited by his descendants, the Jewish people, remains true today.

If you bless Israel God will bless you

Blessings to a Gentile Nation

A great Bible illustration of this principle is Joseph, a Jewish boy who was sold into Egypt by his own brothers, but who became the prime minister of Egypt.

Joseph foresaw seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. In the seven years of plenty, he built massive storehouses for grain for the seven years of famine. When the seven years of famine began, it affected all other lands but Egypt.

When the famine had spread over the whole land of Egypt and its neighboring countries, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to them. The Gentile world was saved from starvation because of one Jewish slave who became prime minister.

*Related Article: God’s Divine Providence in the Life of Joseph

We also read in the New Testament how Jesus supported the principle that God blesses the Gentiles through the Jewish people when He said, “… salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).

The Gentiles received the Word of God through the Jews, the patriarchs, the prophets, Jesus, and the apostles. If you remove the Jewish contribution from Christianity, there would be no Christianity.

Why do you think America has been so blessed? Although America has committed many sins for which they deserve judgment, America has been a consistent friend of the Jews and the nation of Israel, as well as a benefactor.

Not only did the United States of America under President Harry Truman helped persuade the United Nations to recognize Israel as a nation in 1948, but America has also contributed billions of dollars in aid to Israel since then.

Under the Trump administration, America became the first country to recognize Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided capital of Israel. And just last month, the United States of America also recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

No other nation in the history of the world has a better record of treating individual Jews with respect than does America.

Blessings to a Gentile Employer

This principle is demonstrated in the story of Jacob and Laban (Genesis 29 – 31). In exchange for beautiful Rachel’s hand in marriage, Jacob agreed to work seven years for her father Laban.

After the seven years were over, Laban deceived Jacob and gave to him his older daughter Leah instead. Jacob was forced to work another seven years for Rachel. Laban also changed Jacob’s wages ten times and started treating him unfairly (Genesis 31:41).

So Jacob took off with Leah and Rachel and all their possessions. When Laban heard of this, he went after Jacob and convinced him to stay. Laban, the Gentile employer, acknowledged firsthand that God has blessed him because of Jacob, a Jew (Genesis 30:27).

Blessings for Blessing Israel

Blessings to a Gentile Benefactor

Ever asked yourself why God the Father chose the house of Cornelius, a Roman Centurion who lived in Caesarea, to be the first Gentile house in Israel to receive the Gospel? The answer is given repeatedly in Acts 10.

Three times in the book of Acts chapter 10 the Bible declares Cornelius, a man who gave alms to the people and prayed to God always (Acts 10:2, 4 & 31). Who were the people to whom Cornelius gave these alms? They were the Jews.

Cornelius was a man of good reputation among the Jews (Acts 10:22). As a result, Cornelius benefited from the principle of “I will bless those who bless you” (Genesis 12:3). What was his blessing?

As a god-fearing Gentile who expressed his unconditional love for the Jewish people in a practical manner, Cornelius was divinely selected by God to be the first Gentile household to receive the Gospel and the first to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The apostle Peter was given a vision from God in which the religious barrier forbidding Jews from associating with Gentiles in spiritual matters was torn down. Peter went to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile, preached the Gospel, and all those in his house were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44).

God opened the windows of heaven and poured upon a Gentile and his house blessings he could not contain. And that’s because he blessed the Jewish people and the nation of Israel unconditionally.

Conclusion

If God did not cast off His original covenant people, neither should we. If we claim to sincerely love Yeshua, the Jewish Lord, we must love the Jewish people whom He loves.

Biblically speaking, the Jews are the chosen people of God. Christian believers should support the Jews because God loves them and cares so much about them as His chosen people.

While we do not have to support everything Israel does as a nation, we must support their right to exist as a sovereign nation. Some might think that God has forgotten Israel, abandoned them and that they have been replaced by the Church. That’s the biggest lie that’s circulating even among Christians today.

God will surely fulfill His promises and covenants with Israel. God still has a plan for them.

As Amir Tsarfati of Behold Israel always says, “The nation of Israel is our insurance policy. If God has abandoned the Jewish people and His covenant with them, what makes us think He would not abandon the church and His promises to us?”

Always keep this in mind: God promised, “I will bless those that bless Israel.”

How to let Your Light so Shine

How to let Your Light so Shine

Being a dedicated Christian is not easy. Even more so because our society is not a friend to God nor to God’s people. But as a Christian and believer of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are exhorted by the Word of God to let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

In Conflict with the World

Whether we like it or not, conflict exists between us and the world. Why? Because we are different and have different attitudes from the world. As we read the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), we find that they represent an outlook that’s radically different from that of the world.

And here are just some of those differences:

  • The world praises pride, not humility.
  • The world endorses sin, especially if a person gets away with it.
  • The world is at war with God, while God is seeking to reconcile with his enemies and make them his children.

Letting Your Light Shine

The Bible tells us that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), which gives us not only a great compliment because Jesus claimed that title to Himself when He walked this earth (John 8:12; John 9:5) but also a great responsibility to be light-givers.

Our concern should no longer be ourselves and we should stop living only to ourselves. Rather, we must focus on having someone to shine to and do it sincerely and lovingly. It’s high time we live up to what God has called us to do when we received His light.

The purpose of light is to illuminate and expose what is there. To properly put it to use, light must be exposed and allowed to reveal everything that’s hidden in the dark. Therefore, a light hidden under a basket is no longer useful.

Sure, there will always be the strong temptation for Christians to hide their light in order to avoid drawing the world’s attention to them which in effect would “expose them to the ill will of such as hate the light” (Bruce).

Be a Light to Everyone

The idea of a lampstand in Matthew 5:15 gives the sense that Christians are to be intentional about letting their light shine and let them so shine among all men. Jesus was inferring that the light that will shine from us is “good works.”

During Jesus’ ministry, He went about “doing good and healing everyone who was oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38). Jesus simply did good everywhere He went, no questions about that.

What about us? What kind of good works are expected from us? The fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Having these character traits manifested in our life is a great indicator of the intensity of the light that we received from Christ.

How to let Your Light so ShineHave you heard the story of a young boy who refused to go home even after the Sunday church service has long been over? His mother took him with her one Sunday to church because no one was at home to be with him. After the service is over, he didn’t want to go home.

The mother spent hours convincing him but he refused and held on tightly to his chair. This caught the attention of the minister who approached them and asked what was going on. The mother was quick to reply that her son is having his usual tantrums and does not want to go home.

The minister smiled and asked the boy why. The boy replied, “I do not want to go home because at home my mother is treating me badly. Since she is much nicer to me here, I’d rather stay here for good.”

A sad story indeed! Christians are supposed to be light-givers first and foremost to their immediate family. A lamp is put on a lampstand in order to give light to all who are in the house (Matthew 5:15b). Here’s a quote from Spurgeon:

Bible Verse: Let your light shine

We are to be looking for ways to let our light shine in greater and broader ways which should start in our homes. Jesus wants us to live visible lives not for men to see how good we are, nor even see us at all, but in order to draw attention to the beauty of God’s work in us.

The object of our shining before all men is for them to see God and His grace in us and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16b).

Our Story, Our Purpose

Every born again Christian has a story. Every born again Christian has a purpose. Both your story and your purpose are given to you by God. And let me tell you, “No two Christians are the same.”

Many times I have been impressed by how God uses others. In turn becoming jealous and envious of them, rather than praising God. Many times I got critical of other Christians not doing enough for God. I realized, however, that both of these responses are wrong, so wrong.

How to let Your Light so Shine

We have to understand that God has blessed all of us, His children, with a specific story and purpose. That is the light or message God has given to each one of us and we must USE IT.

The demoniac had the opportunity to learn directly from Jesus but Jesus told him to go back to the Gadarene people and tell them what God had done in his life.

The Bottom Line

We can praise God for whatever story and purpose God has given to us individually. There is no purpose to be envious, jealous or critical of other Christians because we are not them. God has a purpose for you to do.

Don’t concern yourself with the purpose of others because that is not your business. Go live your life as a testimony to what God has done in your life. At the same time, expect some oppositions and persecutions as a result of living as God wants you to live – to let your light so shine before all men.


*Acknowledgment:

My sincerest thanks to Michael Heilman, one of the authors/contributors of this website, for helping me come up with this article topic and also with the last 2 parts of the article.

What is Palm Sunday About?

What is Palm Sunday About?

Palm Sunday, which is the Sunday before Resurrection, is one of the few incidents in the life of Jesus that is present in all of the Gospels (Mark 11:1-11; Matthew 21:1-17; Luke 19:29-40 and John 12:12-19). But what is Palm Sunday all about? Why is it significant?

Palm Sunday commemorates the event known as the “Triumphal Entry.” This was about Jesus entering into Jerusalem riding on a colt. Since this event was mentioned by all Gospel authors, we can conclude that it was significant not only to the people of Jesus’ day but to all Christians throughout history.

Fulfillment of Prophecies & Demonstration of Jesus’ Authority

Before entering Jerusalem, Jesus sends two of His disciples ahead of Him to Bethphage to get the donkey and its colt that He needed for the event (Matthew 21:1-6; Mark 1:1-6; Luke 19:29-34). They were told that if anyone asked what they were doing, they were to say that the Lord needs them and then they would be sent right away.

Note: While most people today think of a donkey as nothing but a humble beast of burden, in that day, it was looked on as an animal fit for a king to use (1 Kings 1:33).

This preparation before the triumphal entry was designed by Jesus to demonstrate His authority. He knew that the animals would be there and He also knew that they would be given to His disciples if they said the Lord needed them.

Zechariah 9:9

At that time, the disciples did not understand the significance of what was happening but after the resurrection, they could look back and realize how Jesus had demonstrated in this and the other events His authority, that He was in control of all events and not losing control to evil times or wicked men (John 12:16) .

Riding on the back of a borrowed donkey’s colt that no one has ever ridden, a crowd comes to greet Jesus, laying before Him their cloaks and waving leafy branches on the road they cut from the trees. Jesus was in the center of the procession and the people all around Him were shouting expressions of praise and celebration, hailing Him as the “King of Israel.”

Little did the people know that they were fulfilling an ancient prophecy:

“Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.” – Psalm 118:25-26

What is the Significance of Palm Sunday?

Jesus’ riding into Jerusalem accomplished two purposes: 1) In the first part, He is revealed as the sovereign King, the one with authority but who comes in peace; and 2) as He entered Jerusalem Jesus was recognized as the coming Messiah who brings salvation.

The Gospels tell us that multitudes of people came with Jesus in the procession. The news of His arrival in Bethany had spread so there was time for the crowds to gather, especially those from Galilee and all those who were looking for the Messiah.

Needless to say, Messianic expectations were very high at this time so the people naturally thronged to see Him when the word of His arrival in the area spread. After all, His teachings and miracles had drawn crowds everywhere He went.

The Triumphal Entry
Photo Credits: Free Bible Images (Pinterest)

As Jesus rides into Jerusalem as a conquering King He is hailed by the people as such, in the manner of the day. He ascends into the royal city, His palace, like a king and receives the praise and worship of the people that only He so deserves.

Interestingly, no longer does Jesus tell His disciples to be quiet about Him but to shout His praises. That day, Jesus openly declared to the people that He was their King and the Messiah they had been waiting for.

Unfortunately, the people did not welcome Jesus and lavished Him with their praises because they recognized Him as their Savior from sin. They received Him out of their desire for a messianic deliverer who would lead them to revolt against Rome.

Roman Triumphal Entry vs. Christ’s Triumphal Entry

At Passover season, the city of Jerusalem was the delight of the Jews and the despair of the Romans. Thousands of devout Jews from all around the world would arrive in the Holy City with their hearts full of excitement and nationalistic fervor.

During the festival, the population of Jerusalem more than tripled making it necessary for the Roman military units to be on special alert. They lived with the possibility that some enthusiastic Jewish Zealot might try to incite a riot or kill a Roman official. There was also the potential for disputes among various Jewish religious groups.

What is Palm Sunday all about?

Jesus’ triumphal entry was nothing like that of a Roman triumphal entry but it was a triumph just the same because as God’s anointed King and Savior, His conquest would not be military but spiritual.

In order to merit a triumph, a Roman general would have to kill at least five thousand enemy soldiers. But the Gospel would “conquer” some five thousand Jews and transform their lives in a few weeks (Acts 4:4). Christ’s “triumph” would be the victory of love over hatred, truth over error, and life over death.

Crucify Him! Crucify Him!

When the people saw Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey, they hoped that perhaps He would be to them a great temporal deliverer. They hailed Him as King with their praises, recognizing Him as the Son of David who came in the name of the Lord.

Jesus had been widely recognized by his followers as “the Coming One.” So when the people repeated their “Hosanna” to God in the highest, they were praising God for sending them the Messiah, the Savior of Israel.

Note: The word “hosanna” is the Greek writing of the Hebrew verb “save;” it is a request for salvation or deliverance, as in Psalm 118:25. It was part of the Hallel, consisting of Psalm 113 – 118, which was sung at the Passover season.

What is the significance of Palm Sunday

They recognized that Jesus was a prophet and so it was fairly easy for them to get caught up in the Messianic fervor in light of His miracles and teachings. They hailed Him as their King without grasping the truth about His inevitable suffering as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

In fact, even the people closest to Jesus did not understand that His triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the promised Messiah was not to take up His throne but to die on the cross.

And when Jesus failed the expectations of the crowd and refused to lead them in a massive revolt against the Romans, they quickly turned on Him and within just a few days, their shouts of “Hosanna” would change to cries of “Crucify Him!” (Luke 23:21).

Note: The Jewish leaders had decided not to arrest Jesus during the feast, but God had determined otherwise. The Lamb of God must die at Passover.

Significance of Palm Sunday to Believers Today

Palm Sunday is something that Christians continue to celebrate and commemorate today. It was an important event that served as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies (Zechariah 9:9; Psalm 118:25-26), Jesus’ recognition as sovereign King and Messiah and it prepared the way for the events that led to His death and resurrection.

The Jews desired deliverance from the Roman occupiers, but Jesus came to deliver us on a much deeper level – from the power of sin and death.

As our Savior, deliverer and King Jesus truly deserve all our praises and adoration. Hallelujah! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

Conclusion

Palm Sunday is the story of Jesus the King who came not in His majestic glory and splendor; He did not come as a conquering king with His kingdom of armies. Instead, Jesus came on a lowly donkey, on the clothes of the poor and humble, in lowliness and servanthood.

When Jesus came for the first time, He came in love, grace, and mercy and sacrificed His own life for the redemption of mankind. But when Jesus comes again, He will come in power and glory to conquer, rule and reign.

Are you awaiting His return?

The Power of Waiting On the Lord

The Power of Waiting On the Lord

Ever find yourself standing in front of the microwave oven saying, “Hurry up?” Or pushing the elevator call button every five seconds while waiting for the elevator to arrive? Waiting is said to be one of the most difficult things to do. I know, it’s a tough assignment.

We get impatient waiting; we hate to have to wait for our ride to arrive or our food to be served, and even for our prayers to be answered. But let us not forget that the Bible promises power to those who patiently wait upon the Lord (Isaiah 40:31). More importantly, we do not survive spiritually if we do not learn to wait.

We Renew Our Strength by Waiting on the Lord

It’s important to note that the strength we have right now that needs to be renewed from time to time is not our own strength. It is strength that we received when we first came to the Lord in weakness.

Unless we first acknowledge that we are weak, we will never admit that we need the Lord’s strength. For “God’s strength is reserved only for those who know they are weak and know they have no might” (David Guzik).

The Power of Waiting on the Lord

So how do we receive this “new” strength from the Lord? We receive it by waiting. We need to understand that waiting on the Lord does not mean sitting around until the Lord does something.

Indeed, God gives us strength but we should not expect it to come as if He were just pouring it into us while we sit passively. We receive God’s strength as we continually seek Him and rely on Him, instead of our own strength.

How to Wait on the Lord

A. Wait with Patience

We should wait on the Lord with patience.

When we do not know what to do about something, we should wait. Often times we get caught up in just doing something that we neglect to hold still, listen and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

The Power of Waiting on the Lord

So many of us are waiting for something and as we wait, we can become discouraged and start asking when the waiting will ever end. Will God ever answer my prayer?

When the pieces of our lives are not fitting together the way we want, we get busy and start trying to force things to work, as Abraham and Sarah did.

B. Wait in Prayer

We should wait on the Lord with prayer.

The first step in getting answers to our prayers is to pray. When we face trials, prayer should be the first we head. Psalm 130:1-2 is a prayer for God to listen. The psalmist is so consumed with despair, asking God to listen to his requests.

Do you know that failure to pray is a sin? 1 Samuel 12:23-24 says, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.”

The Power of Waiting on the Lord

Twice the psalmist says in Psalm 130:5-6 that his soul waits for God’s response. Consider also the repeated phrase, “more than those who watch for the morning. The psalmist is so eager for the Lord’s presence that he says it twice for emphasis.

Are you praying while waiting on the Lord?

C. Wait on Purpose

We should wait on the Lord on purpose and make God the focus of our lives.

Divorce, addiction, emotional disorders, and criminal records are evidence of lives torn apart because someone decided on pursue to follow some voice other than God’s, some counsel other than God’s, some plan other than God’s.

In Psalm 62:5-6 David wrote, “My soul, wait silently for God alone. For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.”

The Power of Waiting on the Lord

We also read in Psalm 1:1-3 that there is a blessing for those who do not seek the counsel of the wicked. Clearly, the righteous man and the ungodly (wicked) man are different in the way they think and behave.

The Christian knows that God’s word is always the best counselor, and godly counselors will always bring the truth of God’s word to help someone who needs counseling.

My Personal Testimony

Seven months ago, I submitted my resignation letter because I truly believed that I am not properly compensated for the work that I do and have been doing for 8 long years. I have been praying and asking God for a raise for more than 2 years but it seemed like God was silent.

So I took that as a go signal from God for me to resign and apply in another company that is willing to pay me more than what I was currently making. Upon handing my resignation letter, the HR called me to his office and asked if I would consider staying. In return, they will give me a pay raise.

What he offered was much lower than what I was expecting. But because I have not heard from the companies I applied to and my resident visa is expiring in a few days, I took the deal.

Today, I still feel like my salary isn’t worth the workload that I do. Was I impatient for doing things my way instead of waiting on the Lord? Maybe! Today, I take delight in the great and mighty things that God is doing n my life and church ministry. God is still good and He is good all the time.

And through all that, I have learned that if we take the time to pursue God’s direction and wait for His response, we will get much better results.

Are we weak? It is because we are not waiting on the Lord.

Closing Words

God loves us and He wants us to live with joy, hope, and victory. But at the same time, God desires for us to wait with patience, in prayer, and on purpose and He will answer.

There is power in waiting on the Lord. It gives us the benefit of getting our strength renewed. The basic meaning of the word renew is to change; it means to keep putting on fresh strength.

But we also have to remember that the Lord gives us strength not to show off but to move forward and progress for Him and in our walk with Him.


*Reference:

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible, 2015 Edition  {Diamonds for Living}
By John Hagee, ed.

The prophecies of the Bible assure us that God will prevail. The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible, 2015 Edition has hundreds of pages of special features that offer a broad understanding of prophetic themes, salvation, covenants, and other important doctrines of the Christian faith.

The 3 Levels of Tribulations

The 3 Levels of Tribulations

The term “Tribulation” generally refers to a state of great suffering or trouble. In Christian eschatology, the Tribulation will be the final 7-year period of Daniel’s 70 Weeks when Jesus will judge the wicked world and restores Israel. It will be a time of great distress that occurs prior to the return of Christ to rule and reign here on earth for a thousand years.

However, tribulation could not only refer to a future event. Even now, God’s people and the world are going through two of the 3 levels of tribulation.

Level 1 Tribulation

This is the tribulation of all the unbelievers in the world which started when man disobeyed God’s command and was driven out of the Garden of Eden, a paradise of full joy and contentment, and God cursed the earth (Genesis 3:17-19).

So from that time that man became sinful until now, the people of the world work and work so hard in order to eat, while at the same time suffering all kinds of illnesses, accidents, and all kinds of misfortunes under the bondage of the devil who has become the ruler of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Level 2 Tribulation

This is the tribulation for the believers after Jesus came to earth to be the second Adam and Son of God. This is classified further into 2 sub-levels:

A. The tribulation of compromised or unfaithful believers in Christ.

Apparently, there are Christians who compromise to the world and do not fully obey the commands of God. Their tribulation is just like that of the unbelievers in the world. They are suffering the curse of God on earth from the time of Adam and Eve.

So just like the people of the world today, the unfaithful Christians work and work with no contentment and are suffering all kinds of illnesses, accidents, and misfortunes in life. They sincerely believe they are saved and have full salvation.

The 3 Levels of Tribulation

However, that salvation is only partial because they have no salvation from sickness and accidents and they do not enjoy the open floodgates of heaven to supply all their needs according to God’s riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).

They may only have salvation of their souls so they may be saved in the end and not go to hell if they remain faithful and hold on to their faith in Jesus Christ.

B. The tribulation for the faithful and carefully obedient believers in Christ.

These are the people of God that the Bible says God will protect just like Noah when God spared him and his family during the Great Flood (Genesis 6-9), and Lot when God rescued him during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19).

Remaining faithful and obedient to God does not mean being free from difficult times trials and suffering. The faithful righteous believers will suffer persecutions because it is part of the “cross” that Jesus said in Matthew 16:24. But the Lord will “make their yoke easy and their burdens light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

*Read here: What is the Christians Response to Trials

When they cry out to God, He will deliver them from all troubles (Psalm 34:17-20) because the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the Day of Judgment (2 Peter 2:9).

And their light persecutions will accompany their hundredfold blessing in this present age and in the age to come. When the Great Tribulation will start, these faithful carefully obedient believers will just fly to the Wedding Banquet in heaven without experiencing death (Matthew 16:28).

Level 3 Tribulation

This is the final Great Tribulation spoken of by Jesus immediately following the rapture of the faithful believers. There will be great tribulation that is unequaled from the beginning of the world and never to be equaled again. And unless those days will be shortened, no flesh would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened (Matthew 24:21-22).

The elect are the Jews, the chosen people of God, and they will suffer greatly. As Jesus said, “They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away captive into all nations. Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:23-24).

Jesus also said, “Jerusalem will be surrounded by enemies” which is how they “will know that its desolation is near” (Luke 21:20. What is the status of Jerusalem now? It is surrounded by Arab nations who want nothing more than its destruction.

The 3 :Levels of Tribulation

The great destruction of Jerusalem is just about to happen but the faithful believers who are now going through the narrow gate will take their “flight” while the vast majority of compromised believers who go through the broad way will go into destruction where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 7:13-14).

These are the “believers” to whom Jesus will say, “I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23).

Concluding Thoughts

Each one of us will encounter trials and tribulations that will place some pressure on us in possibly every area of our life. Trials are part of life and we cannot always expect life to be trouble-free and smooth-sailing.

Even we as Christians should not expect to navigate through life without encountering challenges, obstacles, and difficulties. Question is: are we suffering tribulation as a result of compromise and disobedience to God? Or are we suffering persecution for being faithful followers of Christ?

To go through trials and tribulations now is one thing; to go through the horrors of the Tribulation in the future is another thing.

God is loving, merciful and gracious; He wants everyone to accept His offer of salvation and be caught up to heaven before the terrible Day of the Lord.

Have you accepted Jesus’ invitation to be part of His heavenly kingdom by acknowledging that you a sinner in need of a Savior? 


Guest Author: Bishop Moses R. Chungalao

Recommended Resource: Lord Why?: Trials & Tribulations are all in His Plan
By Reno Johnson

If you find yourself facing adversity and discouragement, take hope and strength knowing that God is with you in your trials. In Lord Why?, Pastor Reno Johnson will help you learn to see difficulties as opportunities, not obstacles. He provides practical, biblical wisdom for overcoming whatever types of opposition you face.

What is Covenant in the Bible?

What is Covenant in the Bible?

The concept of “covenant” has been revolutionized by research in recent decades of studying the Old Testament. What is the idea of covenant in the Bible?

Many scholars, whether conservative or liberal, have maintained that “covenant” is the organizing principle around which Old Testament theology must be constructed and understood.

It has become clear that in the near eastern world of the second millennium before Christ, formal covenants were the primary way people who were not blood relatives related to one another.

The Meaning of Covenant

The word “covenant” basically means “contract;” it is an agreement between God and His people. In the said agreement, God makes promises to His people and usually requires certain conduct from them.

As used in Scriptures, the word “covenant” is the Hebrew word “Berith” which means “to cut or divide.” This is an allusion to the Jewish sacrificial custom in connection with covenant-making, where the two parties involved would divide the animal by which the covenant was ratified and laid them out in two halves.

After that, the contracting parties would then “walk between the pieces” to establish the covenant.

What is Covenant in the Bible?

In the Greek Septuagint, covenant is the Greek word “Diatheke.” Unlike Hebrew, the Greek differentiates between a covenant where one party is the recipient (diatheke) and the other the benefactor, and other covenant made between equal parties.

If the two parties come together in agreement, making it a two-way arrangement, the word “Suntheke” is used, which means “to place together.”

Of Meals and Marriages

People in Asia Minor, ancient Mesopotamia and first century Palestine depended on covenants to appease the gods, regulate personal affairs, international relations and business deals. All kinds of covenants existed between equal partners, between greater and lesser partners, and between absolute sovereigns and object servants.

Covenants were often memorialized with stone pillars (stellae) as Jacob and Laban did (Genesis 31:44-47). A ceremonial meal between the parties involved would signify the harmonious nature of the new relationship and a marriage between the two families seals the compact.

In every case, the gods of all parties involved were called to witness and guarantee the contract, agreement, vow or treaty.

Fortunately for Bible scholars, the people of the ancient Near East went out of their way to write down all kinds of covenants. All during the twentieth-century archaeologists dug up, dusted off, and deciphered clay tablets and stone monuments that recorded countless covenants regulating the commercial, political and religious life of nation after nation.

Perhaps the most significant covenants for Old Testament studies turned up in the archives of the Hittite monarchs, which were discovered in 1906 among the ruins of Boghaz-koi in Turkey.

*Related Article: What is the Adamic Covenant?

The Covenant Form

It has been demonstrated quite conclusively by Meredith Kline and others that the structure of the Hittite treaties between oriental monarchs and their abject vassals parallels in close detail the covenant format between Yahweh and Israel found in Exodus chapters 20 to 23, Joshua 24 and the Book of Deuteronomy.

When the one, true living God initiated a relationship with the descendants of Abraham, He utilized a covenant style universally understood at the time:

  • a preamble identifying the absolute sovereign
  • a brief history of relations between the absolute sovereign and the subject people
  • the benefits for and obligations of the subject people
  • an oath of allegiance and its accompanying blessings for obedience
  • a list of witnesses and directions for keeping the covenant

At times there followed instructions for periodic renewal of the covenant.

The Old and New Testament

The Bible is divided into an Old Testament and a New Testament. “Testament” was a synonym for “covenant” in the English era of King James I. All of God’s Word concerns an old and a new form of the way in which He provides for a personal, mutually committed relationship between Himself and those who He calls and who respond in faith to Him.

Various other biblical covenants predate the “old covenant” or elaborate aspects of it. People of God’s covenant have a basis for saying, “My beloved is mine, and I am his” (Song 2:16).


*ReferenceNKJV Prophecy Study Bible, 2015 Edition
Understanding God’s Message in the Last Days
General Editor: John Hagee

The prophecies of the Bible assure us that God will prevail. The NKJV;Prophecy Study Bible, 2015 Edition; has hundreds of pages of special features that offer a broad understanding of prophetic themes, salvation, covenants, and other important doctrines of the Christian faith.

Features include:

  • Introduction to Bible Prophecy
  • Index to Prophetic Passages
  • Top 20 Questions about Bible Prophecy
  • Diamonds for Daily Living
  • Evidences
  • Spokesmen for God
  • Bible Insights
  • Bible Prophecy Charts
  • Full concordance
What is the Cost of Our Salvation?

What is the Cost of Our Salvation?

People often say, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” That is sound advice in the world of business where there is always someone – or crowds of someones – trying to separate you from your money. A famous quote by P.T. Barnum, “There’s a sucker born every minute” expresses the starting point of every con artist.

When talking about our salvation, people often question how it is even possible to gain eternal life just by believing in Jesus as stated in John 3:16. Modern readers ask by reflex, “What’s the catch?” There has to be more to it than just believe. It’s a simple fact that nobody gives away anything of great value. There has to be a hidden cost.

John 3:16

Still, many others are offended by the Bible’s offer of free salvation. Why? Because they don’t want anything for which they didn’t work hard and pay dearly.  If God forgives them, they want to be able to say that He had to because they earned it. You know what? That’s a pride thing.

Is God’s Forgiveness Cheap?

Is our salvation really cheap because we can have it for free? If not, how much does it cost? And why did God choose to pay for it? What would He get in return for sacrificing His only begotten Son to die on the cross for man’s redemption?

British Pastor G. Campbell Morgan who spent considerable time in the United States in the period between the two world wars, shared how in one of his evangelistic meetings in England, encountered a coal miner who told him that he would give anything to believe that God would forgive sins, “but I cannot believe He will forgive me if I just turn to Him. It is too cheap.”

In reply, Dr. Morgan said to the man, “You were working in the mine today. How did you get out of the pit?” He answered, “The way I usually do. I got into the cage and was pulled to the top.” “How much did you pay to come out of the pit?” Morgan asked. “I didn’t pay anything.”

“Weren’t you afraid to trust yourself to that cage? Was it not too cheap?” The man replied, “Oh no! It was cheap for me, but it cost the company a lot of money to sink that shaft.”

The Cost of Our Salvation

In today’s world of credit cards and electronic banking, it’s pretty easy to disregard the cost of a lot of things that are rather important. This is exactly true with sin. The society we live in teaches us to enjoy temporary pleasures while ignoring the price that God had to pay for the forgiveness of our sins.

Sin is like credit card; enjoy now, pay later

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ suffered the following for our sake:

1) Abandonment

In Jesus’ final hours, He was separated from His Father and their fellowship was broken for the very first time since eternity past (Mark 15:34). Some might think that Jesus feared the cross that is why He was in anguish moment before His crucifixion and started to sweat blood.

Jesus was in extreme, deep anguish as He faces the reality of being separated from His Father, resulting in a rare medical condition known as “Hematidrosis.”

2) God’s wrath

At the cross, the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus because of man’s sin. Christ took on upon Himself the penalty for our sins and the condemnation we all so deserved (Romans 5:9; Isaiah 53:5-6).

Although Jesus lived a perfect life of obedience to the Father, all of mankind’s sins were placed upon Him and experienced the fullness of our guilt, shame, and transgressions.

3) Physical pain

During the hours that led to His crucifixion, Jesus was mocked, beaten and humiliated (John 19:1-16). And in His weakened state, He was forced to carry the cross on His shoulders which He was eventually nailed to and died an excruciating death.


*Recommended Resource:

He Died for Me: A Physician’s View of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
By Mark Marinella, M.D., F.A.C.P.

When you meditate on Jesus’ death, do you ever wonder what He really went through? Offering a physician’s view of Christ’s last hours, Dr. Marinella provides historical background on crucifixion as a method of execution; and offers a medical analysis of the physical and physiological pain Jesus endured.


Closing Thoughts

When God offers forgiveness for our sins if we believe in His Son Jesus, that forgiveness did not come cheap. Jesus suffered the agony and shame of the cross as the bearer of the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:2). He gave His life in our place. That was a payment of infinite value, and it involved infinite suffering on the part of Jesus.

Jesus Christ our Savior has suffered greatly on our behalf. He shed His blood so we might become part of God’s family (John 1:12), all because He loves us so much and He desires that our broken fellowship with God be restored.

*Read here: What Does John 3:16 Teach About Salvation?

In light of what our salvation cost, we are to give up the pride that insists we don’t want anything we haven’t earned. Instead, let us accept His offer of free salvation and respond to His call for us to live a sacrificial life of service, doing the Father’s business and living to please Him.

God In A Pillar of Cloud

God In A Pillar of Cloud

When traveling through clouds or fog, we have to exercise caution, because hidden dangers are enveloped in mist and obscured. But that is also why the cloud was a perfect cloak for God. It allowed Him to journey with His people, the Israelites, yet remained hidden. The “pillar of fire,” too, revealed and concealed God’s presence (Exodus 13:21-22).

Bible Verse: Exodus 14:19-20 (NIV)

“Then the Angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.”

Reflection and Challenge

Knowing that the enemy was in pursuit, and hearing the wind blowing all night, the Israelites must have wondered what was going to happen and why God was taking so long. But God always knows what’s best for His people and He is always on time.

We may not always understand God’s ways because His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9), but His way is always the right way. So let us be reminded that God knows what He’s doing; He isn’t in a hurry, and as long as we follow Him, we are safe and in the place of His blessing.

Going back to the verse, when God led His people out of Egyptian slavery in a pillar of cloud, He did not only make sure that they knew He was near, but also that they could not exploit His presence nor control His movements.

“The Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud” (1 Kings 8:12). But what does the cloud teach us about God? Why did God wrap Himself in a pillar of cloud while leading the nation of Israel out of Egypt into the Promised Land? The cloud indicates that partial vision is our normal experience of God (1 Corinthians 13:12) and that we know infinitely less than what there is to know.

Do you sometimes feel that despite your best efforts, you are not able to draw close to God? Why does our attention constantly slip away from Him in prayer? Perhaps, you might say, “It’s because I’m exhausted from work and all that my body wants to do is rest.”

*Related Article: When God Seems Far Away

Or maybe you are deeply thinking of something else that concerns your family; your job or you’re already planning in advance what you can do tomorrow to make things less tiring and stressful. But then again, maybe it is because God wraps Himself in a pillar of cloud.

When we are trying to pray but it seems our hearts and minds are lost in a fog, we are to move through it by faith. Regardless of how we feel at the moment, we need to make a firm decision to trust that God is present though hidden. When we do, we will be at peace with the dark cloud and then God’s light is revealed.


*Recommended Resource:

Finding Jesus in the Exodus: Christ in Israel’s Journey from Slavery to the Promised Land
By Nicholas Perrin

If you want to understand who Christ is, you have to begin by understanding what Jesus meant when He said in Luke 24:27, “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.”

In Finding Jesus in the Exodus, biblical scholar Nicholas Perrin shows that the Bible’s story of the Exodus from beginning to end is filled with prophetic foretellings of the person and work of Christ:

  • Moses as a great deliver and prophet
  • The voice in the burning bush
  • The Passover Lamb of God
  • The unleavened bread
  • The rock and pillar of cloud
  • The red sea crossing
  • The manna from heaven

You will see all of these and more as examples of Christ in the story of the Exodus.

Your Bethel Moment With God

Your Bethel Moment With God

Do you still remember your Bethel moment or first encounter with God? Do you know that God enjoyed that moment as much as you did? Our Bible Reflection and Challenge today has its entire context in Genesis chapters 34 and 35.

Bible Verse: Genesis 35:1

Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.”

Reflection and Challenge

In Genesis 34, Jacob’s daughter Dinah was violated by a young man from a nearby city. As soon as Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, learned of it, they staged a fierce and bloody counter-attack. Strangely enough, God is silent through this whole ordeal. There was no indication of His approval or disapproval.

But as we enter the 35th chapter, after the heartache and crimes had passed, God spoke to Jacob. God called him from the scene of tragedy to revisit the sacred site where they had first met – Bethel. Do you notice how God seems to be as present in chapter 35 as He seems to be absent in chapter 34?

It is worth noting that more than 20 years earlier, Jacob had given Bethel its name, “House of God.” It is in that place where he experienced his first encounter with Yahweh and was awakened to a vivid awareness of His presence (Genesis 28:16-17).


The Encounter [Streaming Video Purchase]
By David A.R. White

Stranded in the middle of nowhere, five strangers take refuge in a deserted roadside diner. An arrogant businessman, a lonely woman, an estranged couple, and a teen runaway, they appear to have nothing in common. But the Christlike proprietor seems strangely all-knowing and offers more than temporal nourishment.

The Encounter 2: Paradise Lost [Streaming Video Purchase]

The follow-up to the Pure Flix hit movie, “The Encounter” increases the intensity and action as a group of damaged individuals face the life-changing decision of accepting Christ – invited by a man claiming to be Jesus Christ himself.

A retiring drug smuggler, his drug-addicted wife and his ruthless bodyguard find themselves trapped by a suspended DEA Special Agent at a Thai resort owned by a troubled former Wall Street investment banker and his wife, who mourn the loss of their only son in a devastating tsunami.

It is an explosive mix of personalities. Violence looms, but a mysterious guest, claiming to be Jesus Christ, arrives to offer each of them one final chance at redemption in this inspiring, thought-provoking thriller.

Special Features:

  • Making of Paradise Lost
  • Commentary with David A.R. White and Bruce Marchiano
  • English and Spanish Subtitles

When God spoke to Jacob again, after many years of trying to outmaneuver his father-in-law, He identified Himself as “the God of Bethel” (Genesis 31:13). Now God is calling Jacob back to the place of encounter. Why? What’s with Bethel that God is choosing it over any other location to be His meeting place with Jacob?

Indeed, God’s choices in these matters are as mysterious as His decision to allow events to run their course or intervene. But no matter what we think and believe, God’s sovereignty is evident. This means that God will always accomplish His purpose for He said, “My counsel shall stand” (Isaiah 46:10 ESV).

Can you recall a Bethel moment with God? Life-changing encounters with Him? And does it surprise you to learn that God enjoyed the closeness you shared as much as you enjoyed it? Perhaps you would do well to revisit that place because God uses these special encounters to reveal Himself to your true self, redeemed and remade in Him.

Please do share your Bethel moment with God in the comment section below.