Monday, May 7, 2018

Desert Experiences, Why God?

How God Works Through Desert Experiences

By Mark Altrogge

God leads every believer into the desert at one time or another.

Well, maybe not every believer. I can’t give you a Bible verse that says that. But in over 30 years of pastoring, I’d say God leads most believers into the desert at one time or another.

Moses spent 40 years in the desert before God raised him up to lead Israel out of Egypt. As soon as God delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt, he took them into the desert. David did a lot of desert time hiding out from Saul before God made him king. And the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert after his baptism for 40 days.

Lots of circumstances can be “deserts.”

A prolonged sickness can be a desert. Moving to a new place or joining a new church where you don’t know anyone can be one. Being stuck in a miserable or boring job instead of the fulfilling career you had hoped for can be a desert. A rebellious child or an unbelieving spouse can be a desert.

When we’re in the desert, it can feel like God’s not doing anything. Or he’s set us aside. But God is always at work. He uses desert experiences in many ways, as we see in Dt. 8:2-6:

Deserts humble us

And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you (v 2)

Deserts reveal what is in our hearts

Testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. (v 2)

Deserts teach us to live by God’s Word

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (v 3)

Deserts teach us that God can provide for us in any circumstance.

Your clothing did not wear out on you, and your foot did not swell these forty years. (v 4)

Deserts teach us to fear and obey God

Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. (v 5-6)

When Moses, Israel, David, and Jesus were in the desert, God was preparing them for something greater. If you’re in the desert right now, know that God is at work in your life. Don’t despair. Trust God. He’s doing great things in you.

Mark Altrogge

Mark Altrogge is the original triple threat: singer, songwriter, pastor. He has been the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA for over 25 years, and is the author of many well known worship songs such as “I Stand In Awe”, and “In The Presence”. When not pastoring or writing songs, Mark can be found consuming vast quantities of coffee. Unfortunately, Mark is not particularly gifted in the area of athletics.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

3 Days/3 Nights On The Cross To Resurrection, Is It 72 Hours?

Were The Three Days And Three Nights That Jesus Was In The Grave A Full 72 Hours?

There has been a long standing debate over the meaning of Matthew 12:40, “for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” In my opinion, the evidence supports the traditional view that Jesus was crucified on Friday afternoon and was in the grave part of Friday (the day of preparation cf. Luke 23:54-55), all of Saturday (Luke 23:56), and part of Sunday, the first day of the week (Luke 24:1). Some of the evidence for this is as follows:

(1) To us, three days and three nights generally means 72 hours, but we must understand the Bible historically and culturally. For the Jewish mind, this could mean any part of the first day, all of the second day, and any part of the third day. This is obvious by comparing Esther 4:16 and 5:1. Esther mentioned fasting for three days and nights and said that she would then go into the king, which she did, but 5:1 tells us clearly that it was on the third day that she went into the king, not after three days or on the fourth. This simply illustrates the way the Jews reckoned time.

(2) Further, the statement “after three days” could mean to the Jewish mind “on the third day” since any part of that day was considered the third day (cf. Matt. 27:63-64). Note the statements, “after three days” and securing the tomb until the third day. More will be said on this below.

(3) But on the third day could not mean on the fourth day, i.e., after a full 72 hours. Compare Luke 24:1 with 24:21. We read that they arrived at the tomb “on the third day” and then in verse 21 it is stated that “it is the third day.” This would be impossible to say if Jesus had stayed in the tomb for a full 72 hours for it would then be the fourth day. His resurrection would have had to be after the third day and on the fourth.

(4) Also, “the day of preparation” (Luke 23:54) could only refer to Friday before the Sabbath since no work of any kind could be done on the Sabbath, the seventh day. On other Sabbaths, holy days, domestic work could be done like making fire and cooking. No special preparation was needed for those Sabbaths or holy days, but not so on “the High Sabbath.” We might also note that the “day of preparation,” the Greek paraskeue, means Friday in modern Greek. See Ex. 16:22-23. The point here is that Friday is the only day a preparation day was needed as a preparation for the Sabbath, our Saturday.

(5) In several passages (the majority, about 4-1) it is said Jesus would rise “on the third day.” If the resurrection occurred after a full 72 hours (3 days) it would have been on the fourth. Compare Matt. 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Luke 24:7, 21, 46; 1 Cor. 15:4. See below also regarding the use of the dative case here.

(6) In my mind, comparing all that is said in Luke 23:54-24:1 and John 19:31, settles the issue because of the day of preparation, Friday, being needed to prepare for a special high day or high Sabbath along with the fact the women came to the tomb on Sunday morning which is described as the third day.

(7) Finally, the Jews who heard the Lord use the phrase “three days and three nights” in Matt. 12:40 did not seem to necessarily understand a full 72 hours. Compare their comment in Matt. 27:62-64.

62 Now on the next day (i.e., the High Sabbath, Saturday), which is the one after the preparation (i.e., Friday), the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ 64 “Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, lest the disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.”

Note, they said, “until the third day, not until the fourth.” Matthew could have used a Greek construction here which would have stressed through (duration) the third day, but using the preposition eo„s with the genitive, it basically meant “till or up to” and does not stress the idea of duration meaning “through.” The genitive case typically stresses during, at, or within a time range. Had the accusative been used alone or with a different preposition, it could have stressed extent or duration of time.

It is probably significant that “Every occurrence of the ‘the third day’ with reference to Jesus’ resurrection in the Gospels is put in the dat. (dative case) without an accompanying preposition” (Dan Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basic, Zondervan, p. 156). The significance of this is that nouns used in the dative case like “the third day” express a point in time rather than duration of time. So it means, “at a point in time, on the third day.”


There was darkness on Friday the Crucifixion day from noon till 3pm.

• Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. - Matthew 27:45.

• Luke 23:44-45

44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

45 And the sun was darkened, and the curtain of the temple was torn in the middle.

That means He died during the Friday night technically.


This reinforces the fact that He died on Friday and not Thursday.
You can read the Bible commentary to verify this :


Read John 19:31

The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.


The next day was not just a Sabbath day but a special Sabbath day for it was the Passover week. That means the next day was Saturday and that puts the crucifixion on the Friday and NOT THURSDAY. To make it more authentic, it states that they wanted to take down the body before the Sabbath began

And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath was coming on. - Luke 23:54

Then the Resurrection is clearly stated as the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK. To the Jews the week begins on Sunday after the Sabbath rest.

The first day of the week came Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and saw the stone taken away from the sepulcher. - John 20:1

Matthew 28:1
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

Mark 16:1
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they could go and anoint Jesus' body.

Luke 24:1
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Feasts of Israel

Jesus In The Jewish Feasts

Question: "How did Jesus fulfill the meanings of the Jewish feasts?"

Answer: The way in which Jesus fulfilled the Jewish feasts is a fascinating study. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the Jewish prophet Amos records that God declared He would do nothing without first revealing it to His servants, the Prophets (Amos 3:7). From the Old Covenant to the New, Genesis to Revelation, God provides picture after picture of His entire plan for mankind and one of the most startling prophetic pictures is outlined for us in the Jewish Feasts of Leviticus 23.

The Hebrew word for feasts (moadim) literally means "appointed times." God has carefully planned and orchestrated the timing and sequence of each of these seven feasts to reveal to us a special story. The seven annual feasts of Israel were spread over seven months of the Jewish calendar, at set times appointed by God. They are still celebrated by observant Jews today. But for both Jews and non-Jews who have placed their faith in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, these special days demonstrate the work of redemption through God’s Son.

The first four of the seven feasts occur during the springtime (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Weeks) and they all have already been fulfilled by Christ in the New Testament. The final three holidays (Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles) occur during the fall, all within a short fifteen-day period.

Many Bible scholars and commentators believe that these fall feasts have not yet been fulfilled by Jesus. However, the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) for all believers in Jesus Christ is that they most assuredly will. As the four spring feasts were fulfilled literally and right on the actual feast day in connection with Christ's first coming, these three fall feasts, it is believed by many, will likewise be fulfilled literally in connection to the Lord's second coming.

In a nutshell, here is the prophetic significance of each of the seven Levitical feasts of Israel:

1) Passover (Leviticus 23:5) – Pointed to the Messiah as our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) whose blood would be shed for our sins. Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover at the same hour that the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover meal that evening.

2) Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6) – Pointed to the Messiah's sinless life (as leaven is a picture of sin in the Bible), making Him the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Jesus' body was in the grave during the first days of this feast, like a kernel of wheat planted and waiting to burst forth as the bread of life.

3) First Fruits (Leviticus 23:10) – Pointed to the Messiah's resurrection as the first fruits of the righteous. Jesus was resurrected on this very day, which is one of the reasons that Paul refers to him in I Corinthians 15:20 as the "first fruits from the dead."

4) Weeks or Pentecost (Leviticus 23:16) – Occurred fifty days after the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and pointed to the great harvest of souls and the gift of the Holy Spirit for both Jew and Gentile, who would be brought into the kingdom of God during the Church Age (see Acts 2). The Church was actually established on this day when God poured out His Holy Spirit and 3,000 Jews responded to Peter's great sermon and his first proclamation of the Gospel.

5) Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24) – The first of the fall feasts. Many believe this day points to the Rapture of the Church when the Messiah Jesus will appear in the heavens as He comes for His bride, the Church. The Rapture is always associated in Scripture with the blowing of a loud trumpet (I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and I Corinthians 15:52).

6) Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27) – Many believe this prophetically points to the day of the Second Coming of Jesus when He will return to earth. That will be the Day of Atonement for the Jewish remnant when they "look upon Him whom they have pierced," repent of their sins, and receive Him as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 11:1-6, 25-36).

7) Tabernacles or Booths (Leviticus 23:34) – Many scholars believe that this feast day points to the Lord's promise that He will once again “tabernacle” with His people when He returns to reign over all the world (Micah 4:1-7).

Should Christians celebrate these Levitical feast days of Israel today? Whether or not a Christian celebrates the Jewish feast days would be a matter of conscience for the individual Christian. Colossians 2:16-17 tells us “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” Christians are not bound to observe the Jewish feasts the way an Old Testament Jew was, but we should not criticize another believer who does or does not observe these special days and feasts (Romans 14:5).

While it is not required for Christians to celebrate the Jewish feast days, it is beneficial to study them. Certainly it could be beneficial to celebrate these days if it leads one to a greater understanding and appreciation for Christ’s death and resurrection and the future promise of His coming. As Christians, if we choose to celebrate these special days, we should put Christ in the center of the celebration, as the One who came to fulfill the prophetic significance of each of them.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Should Tithing Be Compulsory In The Church?

Question: "What does the Bible say about Christian tithing?"

Answer: Many Christians struggle with the issue of tithing. In some churches tithing is over-emphasized. At the same time, many Christians refuse to submit to the biblical exhortations about making offerings to the Lord. Tithing/giving is intended to be a joy and a blessing. Sadly, that is sometimes not the case in the church today.

Tithing is an Old Testament concept. The tithe was a requirement of the law in which all Israelites were to give 10 percent of everything they earned and grew to the Tabernacle/Temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). In fact, the Old Testament Law required multiple tithes which would have pushed the total to around 23.3 percent, not the 10 percent which is generally considered the tithe amount today. Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites in the sacrificial system. The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. Paul states that believers should set aside a portion of their income in order to support the church (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says it is to be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving. The New Testament talks about the importance and benefits of giving. We are to give as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the church. Every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of participating in tithing and/or how much to give (James 1:5). Above all, all tithes and offerings should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Who are the 7 Spirits of God?

The Operation of the Seven Spirits of God

1. the Spirit of LORD
2. the Spirit of wisdom
3. the Spirit of understanding
4. the Spirit of counsel
5. the Spirit of power
6. the Spirit of knowledge
7. the Spirit of the fear of the LORD

"Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven Spirits of GOD." The seven lamps of fire, buring before the throne, we defined as "the seven Spirits of GOD." We have already seen this description in Revelation 1:4, where John was apparently referring to the sevenfold characteristics of the HOLY SPIRIT as revealed in Isaiah 11:2...

The seven Spirits do not mean seven different Spirits, but the seven characteristics of the One HOLY SPIRIT. It should be borne in mind, however, that these characteristics are not limited to HIS role in heaven, HIS role during the Tribulation, or HIS role during the Chruch Age, but are an eternal part of the HOLY SPIRIT. Therefore, when we are filled with the HOLY SPIRIT, in addition to the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22, we should expect to manifest these characteristics--wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, and reverence for the LORD.

From "Revelation Unveiled" by Tim Lahaye Part 2, 11. The Throne of GOD (Rev. 4-5).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Like Unto Me: Moses as a Type of Christ

Moses Lived in the Reflection of Christ

There can be no doubt that Moses is a picture of Jesus Christ. Deuteronomy 18:15 says, “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, LIKE UNTO ME; unto him ye shall hearken;” (emphasis added). The following is a list of some of the ways in which Moses is a type or picture of Jesus Christ. Although this is not an exhaustive list, it does include 40 different ways in which Moses typifies Christ. This list, then, is designed for the benefit of Bible students to think about the ways in which Moses and Christ are alike.

1. Both were born at a time when Israel was under foreign domination (Moses – Egyptian bondage & Jesus – Roman bondage).

2. Both had rulers that tried to kill them shortly after their births (Exodus 1:15-22; Matthew 2:16-18 ).

3. Both spent time in the wilderness before taking on their callings (Exodus 3; Matthew 4:1-11 ).

4. Both dealt with wicked kings (Pharaoh – Exodus 5-12; Herod – Luke 13:31-32 ).

5. Both dealt with folks who hardened their hearts (Exodus 8:15 ; Mark 6:45-52 ).

6. Both dealt with lepers (Numbers 12:10-15 ; Matthew 8:1-4 ).

7. Both had the world offered to them (Hebrews 11:24-27 ; Matthew 4:8-9 ).

8. Both were shepherds (Exodus 3:1 ; John 10:11 ).

9. Both fasted for 40 days (Exodus 34:28 ; Luke 4:2 ).

10. Both climbed mountains (Exodus 34; Matthew 5:1 ).

11. Both were meek (Numbers 12:3 ; Matthew 11:29 ; Matthew 21:5 ).

12. Both were envied (Psalm 106:16 ; Matthew 27:18 ).

13. Both did some writing (Exodus 34:27 ; John 8:6-8 ).

14. Both have a connection to the law - Moses, humanly speaking, wrote the law, but Jesus Christ fulfilled the law (Deuteronomy 31:9 ; Matthew 5:17 ).

15. Both kept the Passover (Exodus 12; Hebrews 11:28 ; Luke 22:11 ; Matthew 26:17-19 ).

16. Both had a connection to innocent blood (Deuteronomy 19:9-10; Deuteronomy 21:7-9; Matthew 27:3-4 ).

17. Both sang (Exodus 15:1 ;Matthew 26:30 ).

18. Both had ministries to the nation of Israel (Exodus 3:1-10;Matthew 15:21-8 ).

19. Both did miraculous things (no references needed ).

20. Both did miraculous things to/on large bodies of water (Exodus 7:20 ; Exodus 14:16, 27; Matthew 8:23-27 ; Mark 6:45-51 ).

21. Both fed hungry people in a wilderness (Exodus 16; Mark 8:1-9 ).

22. Both provided water for thirsty people (Exodus 15:22-25 ; John 4:10 ,14).

23. Both spoke of future tribulation (Deuteronomy 4:30-31; Matthew 24:21-22 ).

24. Both spoke of eternal fire (Leviticus 6:12-13 ; Matthew 25:40-41 ).

25. Both paid tribute (Numbers 31:41 ; Matthew 17:24-27 ).

26. Both sent out 12 men (Numbers 13; Luke 9:1-6 ).

27. Both were called God’s servants – “my servant” (Numbers 12:7 ; Matthew 12:14-21 ).

28. Both were prophets (Deuteronomy 34:10 ; John 6:14 ).

29. Both were priests (Exodus 40; Hebrews 4:14 ).

30. Both were kings (Deuteronomy 33:4-5 ; John 18:33-40 ).

31. Both were judges (Exodus 18:13 ; John 5:24-30 ).

32. Both were teachers (Deuteronomy 4:5 ; John 18:20 ).

33. Both told wicked men to depart (Numbers 16:26 ; Matthew 25:41 ).

34. Both met together on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9 ).

35. Both are connected through the brasen serpent (Numbers 21:4-9 ; John 3:14 ).

36. Both had outstretched arms with 2 men beside them, and in both cases there was a war going on (Exodus 17:8-16 ; Matthew 27:38 ). In Moses’ case, it was a physical war with Amalek. In Christ’s case, it was a spiritual war with the devil (Isaiah 50:8 in the context of the crucifixion).

37. Both had people weep when they died (Deuteronomy 34:8 ; John 20:11 ).

38. Both died but did not stay in their burial places (Deuteronomy 34:5-6; Jude 9; Matthew 17:1-9 ; Matthew 28).

39. Both were the subject of controversies concerning their dead bodies (Jude 9; Matthew 28:11-15 ).

40. Both had important “dignitaries” interested in their dead bodies (Michael & the devil – Jude 9; the Pharisees, the Roman soldiers, and Pilate – Matthew 27:62-65 ; Mark 15:43-45 ).

Friday, December 17, 2010

When did Joseph the Father of Jesus, Married Mary?

How Old Was Joseph?

Q. We know that Mary was a teenager (when she was betrothed), how old was Joseph?

A. Yes it’s likely that Mary was just a teenager, since that was the custom of the day. Joseph’s age is not indicated but circumstantial evidence can lead us to conclude that he was much older.

For example, the word generation is defined as the length of time from a man’s birth to the birth of his first child. In the Bible this averaged out to be about 40 years, suggesting that a man would normally be in his mid to late thirties at the time of his marriage.

Also, a Jewish man had to pay the girl’s father a negotiated “bride price” before taking her, and show that he could provide for her and the family they’d have with a stable income and a suitable house for them to live in. It would normally take years after learning a trade for a man to become financially prepared for marriage. So all things considered it seems likely that Joseph would have been much older than Mary.