John Bradshaw - Pharaoh's Heart, a Flaming Sword and Forced Obedience
John Bradshaw: This is "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm John Bradshaw and with me, Eric Flickinger. Thanks for being here.
Eric Flickinger: Good to be here, John.
John Bradshaw: If I were to ask you explain very briefly, what "Line Upon Line" is all about, you would say...
Eric Flickinger: Premise is pretty simple. There's a lot of questions that people have about the Bible and we are here to try to help find Bible answers. So if you have a question about the Bible and you would like a Bible answer, you can send that question to [email protected] Again, that's [email protected] That question will come to us and we will try to help you find a Bible answer for it.
John Bradshaw: Okay we've got questions today about eternity, about salvation, about studying the Bible. We got a question coming up soon about the devil. What's our first question?
Eric Flickinger: Here's our first question. And this one comes from Rhonda. Thank you, Rhonda for writing in. Rhonda asks, "What did first century Jews look like"?
John Bradshaw: A little hard because we can't pull out our phone and look at photographs. There's no illustration in an encyclopedia that was a first hand accountant. So we're going by what scholars tell us and what we think based on the historical records that we have. A first century Jewish male would've been about five feet, seven inches tall, maybe a little shorter. He would've had short dark hair and a beard, more than likely brown eyes, olive skin, and would not have been wearing ostentatious clothing. Would've worn a tunic, and it would've been really rather simple. I can't tell you too much about the Jewish females, that, but the feminine version, I think is what it is.
— And of course there's gonna be some variation in that. Just like not everybody who is a 21st century individual looks the same today, there was some variation back then too. So we can expect that to be the case.
— Yeah, one thing interesting about Jesus is it says in the book of Isaiah, "There was no beauty in him that we should desire Him". So speaking of Jesus Himself, and I know the question was not about Jesus. It was more broad, but Jesus didn't stand out in any way as the guy most likely to be voted homecoming king based on His looks. He was, and I mean, respectfully, fairly ordinary looking man, a fairly regular Jewish fellow who didn't stand out physically in His time.
— That's right, and what drew people to Him was not what He looked like. It was what He said and the life that He lived, because as people drew near to Him, He said, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father". He wanted everybody who met Him to get to know His father and to fall in love with His father, just as He loved His father. It wasn't what He wore, it wasn't what He looked like. It was who he was that made the difference.
— Character. It was character.
— Wendy asks us, "When are we taken to heaven? And what happens to the sinners when Jesus comes back"?
— Great question. Thank you, Wendy for that one. Let's take a look at a few verses here. 1 Corinthians chapter 15 is one, and if you would like, you can read 1 Corinthians 15: 51-55. We won't read all of those right now, but they're all very encouraging verses. 1 Corinthians 15, beginning in verse number 51, Paul says, "Behold, I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed". That change takes place, Paul says in 1 Corinthians, or pardon me in 1 Thessalonians chapter four at the return of Christ, when the trumpet sounds, when Jesus returns with the voice of an archangel and the dead in Christ are raised first. When Jesus comes back, that's when mortals put on immortality. That's when the dead, the corruptible, the dead have been raised incorruptible. That takes place when Jesus comes back.
— 2 Thessalonians 2:8, now this is in a given context, but it describes what happens at that time. "And then shall that Wicked be revealed whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming". And in Revelation, chapter six, "The lost call to the mountains and the rocks. And they call out, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, who shall be able to stand?'" When Jesus comes back, the unsaved are lost and they are slain by the brightness of His returning.
— Very good. We have a question here. This one comes from Rosa. Rosa asks, "Is it better to study the Bible chapter by chapter or to study it by topic"? And before I pitch that to you, just kind of going back to Wendy's question about when people are taken to heaven, what happens when Jesus comes back? The righteous, the wicked. Rosa now asks this question. Is it better to study the Bible chapter by chapter, or study it by topic? If, for example, Wendy wanted to know more about this question that we just answered for her, what's a good way for her to find more of an answer, an elongated answer, 'cause Rosa's asking us, how do we study the Bible and get the right stuff out of it?
— You know, one really good thing to do would be to go to itiswritten.study and start doing those Bible studies. They're great, they're engaging. They're solid. They're in depth. They're accessible, easy to get your arms around them. And you study on through there, you'll soon come to our study about the second coming of Jesus. And that will take you in depth to get really good answers to that question. I'm glad you mentioned that, yeah.
— So now onto Rosa's question, is it better to study the Bible chapter by chapter or to study it by topic?
— Yeah, I think the answer to your question, Rosa is sure. I think the answer's sure. Now, whatever you do when you study the Bible, you wanna study it in context. It's okay to study it by topic. That's a hundred percent okay, but if you do that, what you're gonna end up doing is looking at verses outta context. Now you'll ask us questions here. Just like I said a moment ago, "Oh 2 Thessalonians chapter two, that's in a given context". It's okay to take a verse outta context because the verse has something clear, but there are pitfalls there.
Eric Flickinger: Right.
— And you've gotta be really careful that you don't end up using a verse and applying a verse in a way it was not meant to be applied by the Bible writer. When you are studying the Bible, see some of us, we make the mistake of saying, "I'm studying this to prove my point," but you're not really. You're studying the Bible to find out what God says, to find out what the Bible writer had in mind when he wrote what he wrote, you see? 'Cause if you can understand what the Bible writer was getting at, then you'll understand the import and the intent of what's in that passage. So it's okay to study by topic. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, sometimes we use this verse in the Bible to explain that where, the verse that this program's title comes from.
— That's right. Yep.
— Studying here a little and there a little, line upon line and precept upon precept That's okay, but never out of context. So if you were to get a concordance or a Bible program of some kind to find out and say, "I wanna find out everything the Bible says about death,' and you'd up all those words related to death and study that, you'd get a very clear picture. "I'm wanting to find out what the Bible says about hell or Sabbath or salvation," that's okay. But studying by chapter or book of the Bible, that's good too. The answer really is yes, both are better. Both are valid. But if we were gonna say one thing rather than another, we would remind you that context is king. So however you're studying, study within the context of the Bible and try to get at what that Bible writer was saying when the Bible writer said what the Bible writer said.
— And when you line up all of the texts on a given subject, as John mentioned a moment ago, and you read through all of them and again, a concordance is very helpful for this, you get a pretty good idea of what the Bible teaches on that subject. Now more often than not, you will find a few verses that seem to contradict what the majority has to say. The key in heading in the right direction is not to focus on those few verses that contradict the majority, look at the majority and say, the majority is what the Bible teaches. Now let me study in greater detail, in greater depth those few verses that don't seem to fit with the rest until you can bring them in line with the rest. Accept what the majority have to say as what the Bible teaches on that subject, then dig in carefully to those other verses until you can understand them in light of the majority.
— I'm encouraged that Rosa is asking about Bible study at all. The challenge we have is that most people aren't studying the Bible.
Eric Flickinger: Right.
— And Rosa, we wanna affirm you and encourage you to keep on doing that. Question from Pranith: "Can Satan know our thoughts and somehow enter our hearts? Of course, God knows the thoughts and intents of hearts and the Holy Spirit abides in us. If Satan cannot know our thoughts, how is it possible for him to cause sinful thoughts to tempt us"? It's a good question. The answers are really simple, but very important.
— It's right, Satan cannot read our minds, but if you're a parent and you look at your child, more often than not, if they're about to make a poor decision, you can tell just by looking at them. You can't read their mind, but there are other evidences about them. The look on their face, the way that they look at a certain, where their eyes go, maybe the way that they're standing, lets you know, they're probably gonna do something that maybe they ought not. Satan's good at reading signs, if you will.
— Oh sure. And history.
— That's right.
— By now, you know your children well enough to say to them, "Do you want pistachio ice cream"? You know that the answer's gonna be yes, no, Or yes and no, depending on the child. Cause you know them. You know what they get up for and you know what drags 'em down. Satan's been studying human beings for 6,000 years.
Eric Flickinger: Right.
— And you know, the Bible says this: "The devil as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour". He studies this thing. He studies you. He knows you well. You don't need to fear that because the Bible says in 1 John 4:4, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world". But while Satan cannot read your mind, he's a very, very good student of human behavior. And he knows you well.
— He does, and he knows which buttons to push to get you to do what he wants you to do. That doesn't mean you have to fall prey to him. What it means is you need to cling to Jesus when you sense that temptation coming on and say, you know, the Lord rebuke you and grab a hold of Jesus and He can take care of you. Just because the devil tempts you doesn't mean you have to fall victim to it.
— Amen. Very important point. Next question.
— We got a question here from Henry. Henry asks a great question. "If the earth is empty of human life during the Millennium, then whom does Satan tempt in Revelation 20:7-8"? Great question.
— Oh yeah. Let's turn there shall we, Revelation chapter 20. Now this is the chapter dealing with the Millennium. And we read this. Jesus comes back. The saved are taken. The lost are destroyed. There's a thousand year period. That's the Millennium, very clear from the Bible. It says, "And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog to gather them together to battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea". So the reason that Satan's loose, liberated, he has people to tempt now. The holy city, New Jerusalem has come down from God out of heaven. The lost have been raised and they're raised because they're gonna ultimately confess that Jesus Christ Lord and they'll be destroyed. So Satan is tempting the unsaved who have been brought back to life. Question, this thing about Gog and Magog.
— A lot of people fantasize about this Gog is, I don't know, and Magog sounds like Moscow, and so this is Russia and Iran. Don't interpret your Bible that way. It's reckless. It's not sound, it's not wise and it's not accurate. Gog and Magog, these are symbols taken from the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. In the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, Gog and Magog were the enemies of God. And here, the lost, the unsaved are the enemies of God, a very, very clear picture. So these folks have been raised. They're in opposition against God and it'll be the end for them.
— God is gonna raise everybody in the end. He's gonna raise the righteous. He's gonna raise the wicked Some to eternal life and some to destruction and damnation. Unfortunately, that's the wicked.
— Yes it is, but it doesn't have to be. It doesn't have to be me. Salvation is on offer to us. We receive it as a gift from Jesus. if you haven't told Him you want that, tell Him now, don't waste a moment. We'll be back with more "Line Upon Line' from It Is Written in just a moment.
— Welcome back to "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written. Thank you once again for sending us your Bible questions. We enjoy answering them.
— Amen. And we've got a question from Joanne who asks, "I believe in keeping the Sabbath, but I'm the only one in my household who does. I don't have a car, so I can't get to a Sabbath keeping church". Then Joanne says, "Am I sinning by keeping the Sabbath alone"?
— Well, great question, Joanne. And we are encouraged that you want to get to a Sabbath keeping church. There are plenty of people out there ho have all kinds of opportunity to do that and they don't take advantage of it. So we're encouraged that you want to get together. The Bible talks about not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together. When it's not possible, it's not possible, but one blessing of the pandemic, if I can use that word in conjunction with pandemic, is that we've realized that even if we can't physically get together, we can still get together virtually. And so many church services over the last year, year and a half have taken place over some platform that allows people to get together virtually. Now that's not the default.
— But it gives an opportunity.
— So two things I would say. Number one, remember these words, It Is Written TV and In the Word. So Sabbath morning go to It Is Written TV, itiswritten.TV online, wherever you can find or wherever you find It Is Written TV. And you'll be able to join us as we get into a study of the word of God. Second, phone the church. "I can't get there 'cause they don't have a car. Can you help me"? and someone will say, "Yes, we will come and get you. We'll pick you up and we'll take you to church because we want you to join us in the house of the Lord worshiping". So if you cannot get there, are you sinning? No, of course you're not. God has your heart. You love Him and He loves you. He understands your circumstances. There's a great verse in the Psalms where the Bible writer writes, "He knows our frame and He remembers we are dust". He knows what we're up against. He understands the limitations of ourselves or our experience, but do what you can. Call the church, try to get there and understand you're okay. Question for Eric from Henry. "I do not understand why God put an angel to keep out sinful man from the garden of Eden. yet he allowed Satan in".
— All right so I don't know Henry, great question. I don't know that really the concern was being in the Garden of Eden, per se, being able to walk along the paths and see the shrubbery as it were. But what was in the Garden of Eden that was of concern was the tree of life. And Adam and Eve were to eat the fruit from the tree of life. They received their life giving force, their lifeness. I don't even know what the word to be. How about just life? I'll just call it life. They got life from God. But he had them take the fruit of the tree of life on a fairly regular basis. And in the new earth, in the new heaven and the new earth, we're gonna have access to the tree of life restored and it's going to bear fruit every month, so we can expect we're going to be eating it on a regular basis.
— But when Adam and Eve sinned, he barred them from the tree of life so that they could not access it and therefore be sinful and live forever. Why was it not such a concern for Satan? Well, maybe Satan was not dependent upon the tree. He was created a little differently than Adam and Eve. God saw fit to bar Adam and Eve from the tree. I don't think Satan's gonna live forever though either.
— No I don't, and the angel wast put at the entrance to the Garden of Eden to keep Adam and Eve out after the fall. And undoubtedly, I don't think Satan was wandering in and out of the Garden of Eden after the fall either frankly. He got in before the fall. Question for you. Says 12 manner of fruits on the tree of life. What do you expect to see on the tree of life?
— I am expecting that there's going to be something that approximates about a million times better than a mango if that's possible.
— Oh yeah?
— Mango's about the best I can think of right now.
— I'm gonna make my Filipino and Malaysian and Thai and Singaporean friends happy right now. Indonesian perhaps, my friends from Vietnam. Durian will undoubtedly be on the tree of life.
— If durian is on the tree of life...
— No question.
— Will it still have the smell that it has today?
— Oh, no question. That's a wonderful smell.
— That draws people to the tree of life, right?
— The problem isn't the smell. The problem is with the nose of people who don't like the smell.
— Ah, there we go.
— I think Kiwi fruit.
— Do you think that that the durian is going to be, the smell of durian, will be a determining factor in who is in the heaven and who is not?
— Hard to imagine that people who don't appreciate durian are fully sanctified yet?
— Well, we'll have to get there.
— I think they have some growing left to do.
— I think Kiwi will be on there.
— Manga, durian, kiwi fruit.
— Probably some pineapple.
— Pineapple will be on there too.
— You know, you've had pineapple from the store, and it tastes like this.
— Have you been to one of these countries and you've had fresh pineapple right off the pineapple vine tree, bush, plant?
— I went to Hawaii for a weekend and I got there just after everybody else in the group had finished eating the pineapple.
John Bradshaw: That's not good.
— I smelled it. And the smell was pretty good.
— I was in Papua New Guinea and they said "We have pineapple here". It was like going from watching black and white to color.
— Unbelievably good. So if we could have a pineapple from Paupau New Guinea on the tree of life, I'm all for it.
— That'll work.
— I think somehow it'll be even better than that. When you get it fresh like that, phew. Andrew asks "The Bible says that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. Does this mean that he made Pharaoh reject Moses simply so He could show the world how powerful He is"? Doesn't that make Him, God, an egomaniac"? Good question, Andrew. That's a thinking question. Very fair question to ask. Let's see what Eric says.
— You know, often in the Bible, when it says that God did something, what it simply means is He did not prevent something from happening. God does not get into somebody's heart, Pharaoh's heart, your heart, my heart, and muddle around and make us do things. One of the great gifts that God has given us is a free will. He gives us choice. He gave that to Moses. He gave it to Pharaoh. He gives it to you. He gives it to me and He gives it to you. He's not going to take it away from someone. If He did, He would cease to be love.
— What God did with Pharaoh is He didn't, He didn't zap Pharaoh, He didn't say to Moses, "Hey, watch this, you go down there, I'll zap him so that he can't do anything". But what God did was He gave Pharaoh light. As God gave Pharaoh light and Pharaoh rejected that light, Pharaoh's heart was hardened. As you said, God will word it in such a way so that it sounds like He did. He's taking responsibility for this, but what God did there was give Pharaoh a thousand good reasons, 10 very, very good reasons why he should acknowledge the God of heaven and surrender to said God of heaven, and Pharaoh wouldn't. He knew, he knew these plagues, it wasn't the wind that brought these things blowing in. He knew when the first born all died, he knew, he knew. God gave him light. He rejected that light. His heart was hardened.
— You know, John it's often been said that the same sun that melts wax hardens clay. And that's what happened with Pharaoh. He hardened, he didn't soften. Yeah, precisely. Ward writes this. Ward. "In the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar is turned into a crazy person and eats grass like an animal, all this because he didn't give God the glory". Oh interesting, this sounds a bit like our previous question. "Why did that happen if God is love and doesn't force us to love him"? What Ward's saying is sounds like force to me. What's going on there?
— So God gave Nebuchadnezzar, as we mentioned a moment ago, light. He gave Nebuchadnezzar light through the life of Daniel, of Shadrach, of Meshach, of Abednego And as you read the first three chapters of the Book of Daniel, you find that Nebuchadnezzar is impressed by this God of Daniel and his friends and he's making progress, but he's still a very proud monarch. And, and as you look at Daniel chapter four, incidentally, Daniel chapter four was written not by Daniel. It was written by Nebuchadnezzar, after this experience that he had. So Nebuchadnezzar is reflecting on this experience. And he's saying in essence, "You know what? It was actually a good thing that this happened to me, that I had to go through this," but he looked out over his kingdom and he said, "Is not this great Babylon that I have built"? Daniel had already told him about this dream, explained this dream that he had had about a tree being hewn down and so forth, about a band being placed around it. God was trying to reach Nebuchadnezzar before this experience out in the field to help him to realize that God was the one who was the source of all blessing and the source of all life and Nebuchadnezzar resisted that.
— God couldn't have done much more. Nebuchadnezzar was a thorough heathen. You saw in chapter one of Daniel, the miracle with the health and the food and so forth. Chapter two, he answered or explained the dream. Chapter three, they went into the fiery furnace, and hello. There is one like a son of the gods who's with them. He knew, the dream in chapter four, dramatic. What the story is telling us is not that God's an egomaniac. Far from it, God will do whatever he has to do to save you. When Nebuchadnezzar ate grass like an ox, spent seven years living in the wilderness. This wasn't punishment. This wasn't God saying, "I'll show you, I'll fix you". This was God saying, "What can I do to get through to this man? I want him saved. I want him to understand that his life is on a trajectory that's hopeless right now. He's going to be lost, and I don't want that. What a God! God could have said, "Oh, forget this guy. I've tried and he's just stubborn. Forget him". But he didn't. God said, "I'll go the extra mile". I'll do even more to try to reach this guy. You gotta be careful how you apply this and interpret this. But sometimes these things happen today. Why did I get in a car accident? Well, God allowed it; didn't cause it, allowed it, 'cause He felt like he might get your attention. Why did, you know what, I met a man one day. He said had cancer some years ago. This was in the state of, I wanna tell you, it was Florida or Texas, Florida maybe. He said "I had cancer, almost died, came to within a hair's breadth of death. I realized my life wasn't right with God".
— "I gave my heart to Jesus. I've been on fire with the love of God ever since". That wasn't God punishing the man. That wasn't God being an egomaniac. That was God saying,, "What else can I do to reach this man"?
— You see? So in everything like that, let's see it not as a call of God the egomaniac, but God the merciful God, doing everything he can to save someone out of love.
— You know, there's a verse at the very tail end of that chapter that I think puts it in context. This is the last thing that Nebuchadnezzar writes in chapter four of Daniel. He says, "Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the king of heaven, all of whose works are truth and His ways justice and those who walk in pride, He is able to put down". So he is thanking God for allowing him to go through that experience, because it may, it brought him into a better relationship with Him, a saving relationship with Him.
— And that's what we want. Some of us keep score here on earth and we say, "Oh, God is against me, everything is against me, I had a bad life, or whatever it is. But how about "I'm hanging onto Jesus and I have eternity in front of me and God has been doing everything He needed to do to save me". That's a good way to go. Eric, thanks for joining me here today.
— Good to be here John.
— Really good, and thank you for joining us. We'd love to hear from you. Email us with your question, [email protected] With Eric Flickinger, I'm John Bradshaw. This was "Line Upon Line," from It Is Written.