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Visitation of Christ, The (A Christmas Issue)
A December Christmas Issue
(December 12th, 2010: Written by: Robert Marino)
     We are all driving under the influence whether we want to believe that or not. The question is what are we driven by? During Jesus' first visitation, the people of that time were under the influence.
The influence of sin.
The influence of the world.
They were power hungry and loved the praises of men.
The influence of the Pharisees.
The influence of the chief priests.
The influence of the Sadducees.
The influence of the scribes.
And a few were under the influence of righteousness, Jesus, and the scriptures.

     What are you “driven” by? Are you driven to love the Lord thy God with all of your heart, soul, strength and might or are you driven by the temporal things of this life, sin or following man instead of Christ?
     In the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), five are taken and five are left. Five were ready for the visitation of the bridegroom, while the other five were not ready.
     I would like to take a look at two sections of scripture that popped out at me this week. It showed two different types of people - those who made haste to go see the Savior while the others were troubled and agitated about this one born King of the Jews who didn't make haste to go see this King. The religious vs those hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

Let's first go to Luke chapter two. Jesus is just being born.

Luk 2:1  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. Luk 2:2  (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) Luk 2:3  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. Luk 2:4  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) Luk 2:5  To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. Luk 2:6  And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. Luk 2:7  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Luk 2:8  And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. Luk 2:9  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. Luk 2:10  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Luk 2:11  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luk 2:12  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Luk 2:13  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Luk 2:14  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luk 2:15  And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. Luk 2:16  And they came with haste (speediness), and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. Luk 2:17  And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. Luk 2:18  And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. Luk 2:19  But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. Luk 2:20  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

     Here we had some shepherds in the field, minding their own business and a bomb is dropped on them - the Savior is born. We don't know how many shepherds were there but we do know one thing, they believed the message and they MADE HASTE to go see the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. Now here is the beginning of the comparison I wanted to make. They were like the five wise virgins in Matthew 25 who were anticipating the coming of their bridegroom and excited when He arrived.

Now let's go to Matthew chapter two.
Jesus is a young child at this point-he was two years old or a little younger.

Mat 2:1  Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Mat 2:2  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. Mat 2:3  When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled (agitated), and all Jerusalem with him.

        Why was Herod and all Jerusalem troubled? I can see Herod having a problem with this situation; after all, he was the one placed by the Romans to oversee the region of Galilee and was probably thinking that he was about to get kicked out of office by this new king or that there might be an uprising of Jews that might cause problems in his district.
        But why was all Jerusalem troubled? Could it be that the wise men said that they came “to worship” this child and it was considered outright idolatry? Or was it that most did not know the hour of the Christ's visitation? Was anyone even looking for the coming of his or her Savior at this point? Were they just all caught up in religious activity in their synagogues? Let's read on.

Mat 2:4  And when he (Herod) had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. Mat 2:5  And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, Mat 2:6  And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

        Okay. Now Herod goes to the religious leaders of his day and asks about Christ. He may have had some background of the Hebrew scriptures or the wise men explained things to him but whatever the case, he knew who to go to that could give him an answer. The chief priests and scribes quoted the scripture immediately to Herod that Christ would be born in Bethlehem.

Mat 2:7  Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. Mat 2:8  And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

        Herod was just so eager to go worship the child that he didn't go with the wise men. I think I smell a snake.

Mat 2:9  When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. Mat 2:10  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Mat 2:11  And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

        I need to cow-tip a few things here. Why do people put Joseph there in the nativity scenes when the wise men show up? He was probably out building a condo on the east side of Bethlehem. Also, there may not have been three wise men. There are three gifts. The Bible doesn't state how many wise men there were. Men being plural, there were at least two but there could have been several. Off the subject, I know. There are just so many things to cow-tip and so little time.

Mat 2:12  And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. Mat 2:13  And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying,           Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. Mat 2:14  When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: Mat 2:15  And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. Mat 2:16  Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Mat 2:17  Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, Mat 2:18  In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. Mat 2:19  But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Mat 2:20  Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. Mat 2:21  And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. Mat 2:22  But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: Mat 2:23  And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

     The thing that caught my attention much more than what Herod the king did was what the chief priests and the scribes DIDN'T DO. In verses 4 through 6, we see that they knew the prophecy about where Christ would be born; they also knew the wise men came to town looking for the one born to be King of the Jews. According to verse 3, ALL Jerusalem was troubled or agitated and this would include the chief priests and scribes.
     My question to the chief priests and scribes of that day would be, “Are you on meth? Why in the world would you have not sent an entourage with the wise men to go see the one born King of the Jews? What in the world were you thinking? Were you so afraid of Herod and knew his intentions that you were willing to miss the visitation of the Christ?”
     Think about it. Your whole occupation revolves around attending to the temple of Jerusalem, along with reading, copying, and teaching the scriptures and your Roman-placed overseer, Herod the king comes to you about one born King of the Jews and you didn't even make an attempt to find out if this was the promised Messiah? Were they just so involved with religious duty and obligation just like many of the programs that are done in America's churches today? Maybe they were trying to earn their way to Heaven? Or were they more concerned about themselves that they may soon no longer get the praises of men? A mystery to boot I am sure, but you would think if they were really LOOKING FORWARD TO THE COMING (1ST VISITATION) OF THEIR KING, that they would have at least sent one scribe and one chief priest with the wise men. Maybe they just really didn't believe their scriptures or as Jesus stated many times, they were more concerned about their customs and traditions than they were about the commandments and Word of God. They knew the signs of His coming but they rejected the one that came. Maybe He didn't fit their soulish-King-Saulish picture of what a Messiah should look like. Nonetheless, they knew the scriptures and could quote them. Read this section of scripture. It's very interesting. They were given sign after sign but they still couldn't see because of the blindness of their hearts. Jesus tells them He is going to give them just one more sign and that is the sign of Jonas being in the belly of the great fish which I am sure they knew the scriptures on that.

Mat 16:1  The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.
Mat 16:2  He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
Mat 16:3  And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
Mat 16:4  A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

Now this next section of scripture really caught my attention because the last sign these religious leaders of this day were going to get was the sign of Jonas but Jesus already knew they would even reject His death, burial, and resurrection. They not only ended up rejecting His resurrection, they deceived their own people into believing that Christ's body was stolen and sent many of their own to Hell because of falsifying (bearing false witness) the evidence.

Luk 16:19  There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
Luk 16:20  And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
Luk 16:21  And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
Luk 16:22  And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
Luk 16:23  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Luk 16:24  And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
Luk 16:25  But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
Luk 16:26  And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
Luk 16:27  Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: (at this point the rich man knew his fate was not going to change and that he justly deserved what he got and now his concern went to his brethren)
Luk 16:28  For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Luk 16:29  Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. (the religious leaders of Jesus' time also had Moses [the law] and the prophets)
Luk 16:30  And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
Luk 16:31  And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

           And what did we just read in Matthew 16:4 about the last sign the religious people would get - of one being raised from the dead? If we cannot believe God's word and be persuaded by it anymore, we have become like the religious leaders of Jesus' time who knew the scriptures, who could quote the scriptures but missed His visitation. They knew the signs but ignored them. We know the signs today but most are ignoring them. Most Christians are living in the lap of luxury just like this rich man and could care less about the things of God and could care less about walking holy and bringing forth fruits of repentance. It use to bother me when someone might say I was critical and I know many more were thinking it. But when God tells you to not let up, you need to obey. I know it goes against the grain but I rather go against the grain of man then go against the grain of God. God's sandpaper is much more coarse. If many of the leaders of today would have been judging the fruit of their own ministries, they would have had to swallow their pride and admit that many of their sheep, if sheep at all, have gone off into apostasy because they weren't thinking critically and they wouldn't open their mouth and sound an alarm.
           My witnessing buddy Mike and I were talking about the “goodness” of God that leadeth men to repentance. This verse is almost always misquoted as the “love” of God. Although God's love might be applied here, to look at it just that way can be misleading.

Rom 2:4  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Strong's reference: G5544; ÷ñçóôï?ôçò; chre¯stote¯s; khray-stot'-ace
From G5543; usefulness, that is, moral excellence (in character or demeanor): - gentleness, good (-ness), kindness.

     Sometimes the “goodness” of God is when God opposes someone or allows destruction to come into their natural life so that they will even think about coming to repentance. His goodness more often than not is His chastisement. The Apostle Paul even went to the point of delivering over the adulterous man (the one sleeping with his mother-in-law) in Corinthians to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that his “soul” might be saved.

Just as these religious leaders were not ready for the first coming of Christ, I believe many, if not most proclaiming to be Christian in America's churches today, will not be ready for His SECOND COMING and miss the hour of His visitation.

This is to those called of God today:
     If you are doing things the way of “the status quo” just because everyone else is, then you are more concerned about the traditions of men than the commandments of God. If you are more concerned about growing your (???) Church than feeding the flock of God the whole Word of God, you are more concerned about yourself and not being obedient to the call of God on your life.
     The religious leaders of Jesus' day pushed their EXTRA-Biblical traditions and customs upon the people. They loved the affections of the people rather than hold up the honor, integrity, inerrancy, and infallibility of God's Word. Sound familiar? The same thing is going on today. Jesus just has to come back soon. In the words of the great preacher Leonard Ravenhill, “If Jesus was to show up on the scene today, He wouldn't clean out the temple but the pulpits.” I agree with my brother. He said this at least 10 years ago; things are ten times worse now. There are too many man-pleasers today. They will not allow anyone in to teach or preach who might bring their people to a place of repentance. The ministry of the prophet isn't about signs and wonders but about preaching repentance. Show me one prophet in scripture that DIDN'T preach repentance and warning. All we hear today is encouragement and exhortation being given to an already disobedient church.
     Man-pleasers really aren't much different than a wolf in sheep's clothing. They tell you that you are all right just like the false prophets in the Old Testament did while God's judgment lurked around the corner. Nobody listened to the true prophets of that time and they are not doing it today either.
     Half-truths and playing church are going to be a thing of the past real soon. Many churches have already split because the leadership hasn't repented and got back to doing things God's way while many churches are losing many members to the false Emergent movement because of the lack of character of the pastors in this country who did not stand for the truth of God's Word. Along with that, God's real sheep are going to start leaving and let the dead bury their dead. They are starving for they have not been fed. They have bite marks all over their bodies from the wolves that have been allowed into the church. I can't see God standing for this much longer.
     The deceived will become more deceived because thy have rejected the truth and heaped unto themselves men that will tell them what they want to hear. And the righteous will get brighter and brighter because they love the holiness of God and they will not put any evil before their eyes or ears. The chasm of the true and false has already begun in America and it is getting easier and easier to be able to tell if someone is for real or not for real.
     My heart goes out to the deceived but they choose to reject the very Words of Jesus and follow men's traditions and customs. They are told to have “their better life now” and they love this false teaching and wonder why their kids are going to Hell. Better yet, they are told by these same ministers that their kids aren't going to Hell even though their kids are living in fornication, committing adultery, lovers of self more than lovers of God. You know what I am saying. Some even knowingly reject Christ's words that teach the exact opposite of what these men are teaching when Jesus said, “If you want to gain life, you must lose it” and ”Take up your cross daily and follow me” and “Take no thought for tomorrow”. I can't believe how blind I use to be following teachers like that but I thank God for opening my eyes to the truth of His Word. Thank you Lord for giving me a teachable spirit.
     I never thought I would see the day when so many of the preachers and teachers don't even quote Jesus anymore unless it is John 3:16 and they leave out John 3:18-21 or they quote “judge not that ye be not judged” so that no one judges them, their teachings or their fruit of their ministries. The Bible plainly states to judge ALL things but we are to do it without hypocrisy and to try to restore our brothers back. Unfortunately, many of these brothers are now to be rejected and named because they have had 10+ years since they were first confronted and they still teach their false doctrines and are leading many astray. I bet the Apostle Paul would have only given these guys a week or month to repent before naming them and boy did he name quite a few people so that the TRUE sheep would be spared and not follow those men. It is not love for one to not name people who will send others to Hell. This is perversion. Are we to love the one doing the evil so that the innocent pure sheep get mauled to death spiritually? Would you honestly do that to your own children? I think not. I think that many don't quote Jesus' Words because they know that if they do, they will offend most of their congregation. They've given them candy and chocolate for so long, that the people will not eat their veggies now. And then there is the spiritualizing the Words of Jesus as if we can't understand them that way we have an excuse to not obey them. Here is some simple hermeneutics for you. Jesus meant what He meant.
     Ministers, I adjure you, if you have compromised, repent and come back to your first love and become that faithful minister of the Word of God that you are supposed to be. Jesus spoke of losses and crosses and needs - not greeds. What are you willing to let go of in order for Him to fill you up again with His Spirit? You have to take the old furniture out of the room before you can put the new pieces in. I had to do it - that is, I had to repent. I played games for many years and didn't minister because of doubt, bitterness, and unforgiveness that I allowed into my heart. It isn't worth it to not sell out. We must get back to basics, quit all of these ridiculous programs and put God first in every area of our lives. God is more than able to restore the Church but it must begin in the pulpits first. God is more than able to raise up new pulpits (He actually has been) and they won't be those people you see on TBN and some of those other Christian TV networks. If we are not willing to be faithful stewards, He will take from the one and give his talents over to the one who is faithful.

     Most of the time when the Bible speaks of the “day of visitation”, it is speaking of judgment. Here is a New Testament example. Christ, in the mode of a prophet, is telling them about what is going to come upon them and that the temple was going to be torn down. Let us not be like the religious leaders of the time of Christ and let us make haste and preparation for His Second Coming.

Luk 19:41  And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Luk 19:42  Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. Luk 19:43  For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, Luk 19:44  And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. Luk 19:45  And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; Luk 19:46  Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.

     Boy do we have a lot of thieves in the dens today. God will heal you of cancer for $1,000 or God will save your family if you give that $80 right now. What a bunch of - Lord forgive me for that thought. The Gentiles do blaspheme the Name of Christ because of these things though. Just go on YouTube and read some of the comments they leave. The majority of the people missed it - not knowing that there were going to be two Advents or visitations. They didn't know their scriptures very well back then. They read about Christ a lot in the Old Testament prophetic books and in the Torah but only saw the Christ they wanted to see - the conquering Messiah that would come and destroy Israel's enemies, and make Israel great again. They didn't see the Suffering Servant.
     What's strange about this is they missed it desiring this great warrior to come because they didn't see in scripture that there would be two visitations. At the first visitation, Christ would come to die for man's sins. They didn't know the times or the seasons. They were spiritually blind.
     Now, let's bring it up to December 12th in the year 2010. The same thing is going on with the people today in regards to missing His coming visitation except it is the antithesis in the sense that this time Jesus will come as a warrior and not a lowly baby in a manger. People are not looking for the Second Coming of Christ. Most of the Israelites had it backwards. It will be the exact opposite of what they are expecting because of ignorance of the Word of God and being in a state of disobedience. Many in the Emergent Church Movement even teach that “they must clean up the pollution (smog, litter) on Earth” in order for Christ to come. Can you see Jesus saying, “Go ye into all the world and pick up another man's trash….”? Then you have the some 66,000 pastors worldwide that are following a man in “trying to bring P.E.A.C.E.” to the Earth. Jesus said, “I come to bring a sword”. If you are preaching truth, you will have some problems but then again that is sharing in the sufferings of Christ. You are either a follower or a false-follower. This is udderly (cow-tipper word) ridiculous but once again it is because people don't read their Bibles and if they did, they wouldn't follow people like this or what they are teaching. They either don't have any understanding of what they are reading, or with most, they don't believe it anymore. I think many don't believe it anymore. Jesus, first of all said that He would bring peace when He returns but it will only be after His judgment and execution of the wicked. He will purify the Earth once again. He has called His church to preach the gospel but much of the church is involved in things God has never called them to do. Humanitarian efforts are fine if done in the name of Jesus but sometimes it is overkill and without prayer or discernment. Just think of this - What if some well-meaning Christian had “blessed” the prodigal when he ran out of money with his riotous living? He would not have come to his right mind and humbly repented and went home to his father and been in right-standing with him. Sometimes we get in the way of the Holy Spirit. Now the Bible does say to help those in the family of God first and then gives us instruction on who those people are and then it tells us to have nothing to do with a brother that doesn't want to work. We need to get back to church discipline and very few churches will do this because they are more interested in how many people they see sitting in their pews than they are about having them right with God. This is false perverted love when we don't do things God's way. Do we think we can love people more than God? He knows what is best and He tells us in His Word. I would much rather do a humanitarian effort in a Muslim country such as the one where Frontline Missions went in and drilled a well for the local Muslims in the name of Christ and gave them fresh water and the gospel and the whole tribe, about 1,000 Muslims came to the Lord and for real - not for one week and then back out into sin. We give and give and give to the same people over and over again, then we water the gospel down to them and wonder why they stay in their sins never coming to repentance. Let's help our brothers and sisters in Christ first, which is scriptural.

Mat 25:40  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then do good deeds before unsaved men with discernment and prayer.

Mat 5:16  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Mat 19:19  Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Let's trust that God knows best. He just calls us to be faithful and obedient to His Word. I just want to know Him. That is all that matters anymore. I hope that we all can have that mindset.

God Bless,
The Sacred Cowtipper