The Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God

The HOPE of the Gospel is a wonderful one – to live for ever in the Kingdom of God. This promise is real and physical and is described in the Bible. God’s purpose is clear, “All the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord” (Numbers 14:21). This is not a ‘spiritual experience’ or ‘rapture’ which only a few people will experience. The kingdom will be worldwide, and will be experienced by everyone, whether immortal or mortal (we will look at the difference). This article looks at what the Bible teaches about the kingdom; its conditions, the people in it, what will be happening, and how it will end. To make it easier to follow, we have included references at the end of each paragraph rather than within the text. This means that you can check the details for yourself, and get a fuller view of what the

The First Christians – Rejoicing in Suffering

The First Christians – Rejoicing in Suffering

The FIRST Christians experienced extraordinary persecution from both the Jews and the Roman authorities. This came in the form of hatred, being made outcasts from the synagogues, trials, imprisonments and executions. Their example of endurance is truly inspirational and the fact that they could rejoice in such suffering is almost beyond belief. Fascinatingly, Jesus had foretold the suffering that his disciples would go through. By comparing passages in Luke and Acts we can see how the prophecies of Jesus unfolded in the lives of the first Christians. In Luke 21 we have the record of Jesus foretelling the destruction of the Temple. This led his disciples to ask when this was to happen and what the sign would be that it was about to take place. Jesus provided the signs that would occur before the destruction of the Temple and informed them that: Before all these things, they will lay

Nehemiah

Nehemiah

Nehemiah was a Jewish exile who served as a cup-bearer to the Persian monarch, Artaxerxes, in about 446 BC. Following the decree of Cyrus in 536 BC, some of the Jews had returned to the land of Israel. However, adversaries had succeeded in slowing down the work of restoration. Now, some 90 years later, the walls of Jerusalem were still in a state of disrepair. Nehemiah prayed to God about it (1:4–11). Nehemiah’s sorrow for the state of Jerusalem showed in his face. Artaxerxes demanded to know the reason for his fallen countenance. A quick prayer to God by Nehemiah (2:4) was immediately answered. Building Work Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah authority to go to Jerusalem and personally take charge of the rebuilding work. The first thing Nehemiah did was to undertake a night-time survey to assess the state of the walls (2:12–15). Then he mobilised the people to repair sections of

Miracles in a Time of Famine

Miracles in a Time of Famine

Famine was a regular problem in Israel at the time of Elijah and Elisha. We have already looked at the famine in the time of Elijah and Ahab which lasted for three and a half years. There was another famine in the time of Elisha, which seems to have been desperately severe. This was not however because of a direct act of God, but because Ben–Hadad king of Syria had besieged the city of Samaria.  The famine in the city was so severe that small amounts of food were selling for amazing prices. One example was the head of a donkey for 80 shekels, perhaps about £4000 at today’s prices. There was even worse, women were eating their own children, they were so desperately hungry. What happened in Samaria was to be an awful warning of what would happen later in Jerusalem. The prophet Jeremiah used this picture to foretell

Hezekiah’s Seals

Hezekiah’s Seals

Archaeologists study history by looking at ancient sites and artefacts. In this series we look at some fascinating archaeological finds. They cast light on the world and events that we read about in the Bible, and they provide evidence that the Bible record is true. Hezekiah the King Hezekiah was one of the greatest Jewish kings. He reigned in Jerusalem around 715 to 686 BC. He is introduced like this: He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done                                         (2 Kings 18:2–3). He was a sincere worshipper of God, unlike his father, Ahaz, who worshipped the idols from neighbouring nations. The consequence of this is descibed like this: The Lord was with him;

Christians and their Allegiance

Christians and their Allegiance

Being a conscientious objector is always a serious decision and often an unpopular one. Since the eighteenth century, conscientious objectors have often been unfairly accused of cowardice, and given white feathers as symbols of this. We examine reasons why some Christians are conscientious objectors, and what the Bible teaches about this difficult subject. Not Pacifists Followers of Christ cannot be pacifists if by that word we mean that the use of force is wrong under all circumstances and at all times. Nor can we be pacifists if by that word we mean that by refusing to participate in war we shall eventually bring about world peace. Neither of these things is consistent with Bible teaching. Force is right if and when God commands it; He has commanded it for His people in the past and He might command it in the future. Also, pacifism will not bring world peace. Indeed,

The Power of Water

The Power of Water

It WAS hot. The sea glittered as though it were raining quicksilver. The waves rolled invitingly to the beach. My younger son and I decided to brave the cold water (this was Britain!) and take a cooling dip. After the initial shock, the water was wonderful, and we played in the waves for a long while. Fun became exhilaration as the rollers grew around us, picking us up like flotsam or crashing over us. We were reminded of the power of the waves as we left the water. One would carry us towards the shore whilst the next would flatten us! We made the shore perfectly safely and were elated for the rest of the day. The scientific numbers make impressive reading. A cubic metre of water weighs 1000kg, or a metric tonne. Physicists have calculated that a breaking wave will exert peressure of up to 30,000 kg per square

The Upper Room

The Upper Room

On the day before he died the Lord Jesus shared a last meal with his disciples. He had already started making preparations for it: Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare, that you may eat the Passover?” And he sent out two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us” (Mark 14:12–15). When all was ready and they were seated Jesus said, “With fervent desire I have

Three Times in a Nation’s History (part 2)

Three Times in a Nation’s History (part 2)

Continued from Glad Tidings edition 1621. In PART ONE of this article, we considered how the nation of Israel, in its history and its very survival, is living proof that God is in control of world events. Choosing three events from three different periods (the ‘Three Times’) we find a consistent picture of Israel suffering at the hands of the superpowers of the time, being defeated and exiled, but being preserved just as God’s prophets had foretold. Last time we considered the Babylonian invasion of 598 BC and the Roman siege of 70 AD. In this concluding part, we think about the Third Time – an attack which is yet to come. Israel Regathered In the establishment of Israel, we have witnessed one of the most remarkable examples of the fulfilment of Bible prophecy in the whole realm of human experience. The Old Testament of the Bible abounds with prophecies

The Priestly Blessing

The Priestly Blessing

Excavation of ancient tombs can be frustrating, because it’s usually the case that they have already been looted. However, occasionally a tomb is found which has escaped the notice of the grave-robbers. In 1979, archaeologists were investigating a series of caves on the edge of the old city of Jerusalem. They had been used as a communal tomb and had held around a couple of dozen bodies. They had been stripped by grave-robbers long ago, but the archaeologists discovered a corner which had been protected by a section of fallen roof. In this forgotten corner they found a large number of pots and other artefacts, and most exciting of all, two tiny silver scrolls, the largest measuring less than 10cm long. They were badly corroded and fragile. It took three years to decide how best to open them, but when they were finally unrolled the scientists found, to their huge