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HOW TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Oasis Ministry has provided
you with this How to Enter the Kingdom of God book with
How to Enter the Kingdom of God lesson. This How to Enter the
Kingdom of God
study and How to Enter the Kingdom of God information looks at the
How to Enter the Kingdom of God message and asks How to enter the
Kingdom of God, why knowing How to enter the Kingdom of God is
important, what is the How to Enter the Kingdom of God message and how does the
How to Enter the Kingdom of God answer
affect you. The truth of How to enter the Kingdom of God is
essential in the Christian walk. Understanding the How to Enter the
Kingdom of God message is very important and learning How to enter
the Kingdom of God can help you to overcome the worldly
whirlwinds. Let us delve into this How to Enter the
Kingdom of God
lesson with How to Enter the Kingdom of God message in this
How to Enter the Kingdom of God book, shall we?
ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Kenneth B. Alexander
The author thanks the following for help in compiling this work. Pastor
John Robert Stevens, deceased; Pastors Gary and Marilyn Hargrave; The
Living Word, a fellowship of Churches (thelivingword.org); Many true
believers I have been associated with over the years; and The Libronix
Bible Study System;
Author: Kenneth B. Alexander, BSL, JD, Ministry
These are a
collection of articles written under the hand of the Lord to reveal the
way one enters into the Kingdom of God. It’s purpose is to reveal the
mysteries of the Kingdom of God and to show how one can enter the
highest level of the coming age of Christ’s rule on earth. The road to
perfection, which is what God longs for, is a narrow road. Few there be
that pass on it. Christ said: “Enter ye in at the strait
[narrow] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that
leads to destruction, and many there be which go in there Because
strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and
few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Well you say
I am a born again Christian and have accepted Jesus as my Savior. Isn’t
that enough to get me to heaven? The answer is that what we call “basic
salvation” is just the beginning to a real walk with God. Yes you that
have saved will obtain a measure of eternal life. But beyond that are
many things you must learn, which things involve a continuing salvation
process that brings you into perfection; and not necessarily after you
anything God is after a relationship with you like He had with the first
humans in the Garden. There He spoke face to face with them in the cool
of the night. The first humans were babies in their overall spiritual
development and God had much to teach them. We who are saved are in much
the same place. God has much to reveal to us and much more He would like
us to become. He desires us to become Sons of God, like the first Son
Jesus Christ. Together Christ and His brethren, us, form the Father’s
family that he longs for.
At the last
supper Christ made it clear to His disciples that they had much to learn
when He was gone He would send the “helper”, the Holy Spirit to teach
them many things. He said: “When the Helper [ Gr. parakeets,
one called alongside to help, comforter, advocate, intercessor]
comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that the Spirit of
truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and
you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the
beginning” (John 15:26-27). “But I tell you the truth, it is to
your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper
[paracletos] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him
to you” (John 16:7).
not speaking to babes here. He was speaking to disciples who had been
with Him for 31/2 years; they had cast out demons, healed people and
done other mighty works. But Christ said He had more to teach them,
through the helper that was to come, the Holy Spirit. Christ’s ministry
was within a 30 mile radius of His home yet he wanted the gospel to go
to the end of the earth. He wanted His disciples to do greater works
than He did (John 14:12). He wanted the disciples to reduplicate
themselves and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
What is often overlooked about Christ’s
ministry is that He came to bring the Kingdom of God to the earth. When
asked by others how to pray His suggested prayer was short and to the
point. After instructing the multitude to Honor His Father He said:
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven….”
(Matthew 6:10). Christ was the personification of the Kingdom of the
earth. Most of His parables began with “the Kingdom of God is like” or
“the Kingdom can be compared to” or “can be likened to”. Christ’s
forgiveness of sin was simply a prerequisite to the Kingdom that was to
come. Since there can be no unrighteousness in the Kingdom Christ had to
forgive and remove sin and remove it in preparation for a new age.
Christ also made it clear in His parables that not
just anyone, even if they came in the name of the Lord, would
automatically enter His Kingdom. In Matthew 7:21-23 he said: “Not
everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in
Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform
many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart
from Me, you who practice
rejected actually did miracles in the name of the Lord but were
rejected. There are many more parables and teachings along that line in
This book is an attempt to present the Word of the
Lord in what may seem to be a new and different way. The book teaches
what God really wants from His people in these end and beginnings of
time. At this time the realm of the spirit is merging with the realm of
the physical forming what will be Christ’s Kingdom on earth as it is in
heaven. Since the road to complete salvation is a narrow road it behests
us to consider very carefully our individual walks with the Lord to
ensure that we are really doing His will. Many Christians and others
walk believing they have something from God when in fact they don’t have
The parable of the 10 virgins illustrates this
beautifully. All 10 were virgins and were close enough to the bridegroom
to know that He was coming. However, when the time came 5 of the virgins
discovered they did not have enough to enter and were left out. We don’t
want to delude ourselves into believing that just being saved or doing
great works in the name of the Lord is enough.
In this day
Paul said that Satan masquerades as a religious spirit. Paul warned of
false apostles who were deceiving people, He said: “For such are
false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the
apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into
an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also
be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be
according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). The charismatic
preacher you may be following may very well be one of these deceitful
humility I present this work to you. It is by no means complete. Neither
is it necessarily made to be read cover to cover. However every point
and every article is confirmed by the Bible which is the guide to our
feet. This has all been revealed by God Himself through other men of
God. The writing may not be as eloquent as you would think. Paul said
of himself: “For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful;
but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible” (2
God Himself said (through Isaiah) said he
would speak through a stammering tongue. Moses himself stuttered. God
said: “So the word of the Lord
to them will be, Order on order, order on order, Line on line, line on
line, A little here, a little there,” That they may go and stumble
backward, be broken, snared and taken captive… Indeed, He will speak to
this people Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue” (Isaiah
28:10-14). Therefore when reading this book pay more attention to the
message than the way it’s presented. I can assure you, after much prayer
and waiting on the Lord, that it is the word of the Lord for you today.
Please apply it as such.
THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS
Christianity, and indeed the whole world, awaits the second
coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. This so called “second advent” is
the most anticipated event in religious and human history. This is time
when Jesus returns to the earth after having been crucified some 2000
years ago. When He returns, many believe, He will establish His eternal
Kingdom on the earth and the earth and its peoples will enter into an
eternal Paradise. The Biblical promise is that when He comes every eye
will see Him and every tongue will confess Him as Lord. At that time,
scripture says, knowledge of Him will cover the earth as the waters
cover the sea. Churches, as we know them, will become unnecessary as the
need for men to teach each other the knowledge of the Lord becomes
unnecessary. What we know about this Kingdom is revealed to us through
the Holy Bible and through spiritual knowledge He has given us through
The scriptures say, of His second coming, the following: “BEHOLD,
He is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the
tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen”
(Revelation 1:7). “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him,
and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at
the name of Jesus every
knee will bow, of those
who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every
tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). They will not hurt or destroy in
all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of
the Lord As the waters
cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9). “And they shall not teach every man
his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all
shall know me, from the least to the greatest” (Hebrews 8:11;
Most of Christianity is in a state of waiting for His return
or waiting for some kind of rapture experience. They see His coming as
event separate from themselves. However, the second coming of Christ,
although there may at some time be a single event, does not happen apart
from those believers who remain on the earth. Actually the believers
remaining on the earth initiate the return of Christ. As we will see,
they remain to prepare a place for Him. This is the great responsibility
of each and every Christian/believer.
When Christ comes, the scriptures say, He will return and
bring with Him those who have died in Christ. Those who remain will,
together with Christ and His Saints, rule and reign with Him on the
earth. However Christ, and those who have died in the faith, does not
return until we who remain prepare a place for them. Therefore in a very
real sense we are not waiting for Christ’s return as much as we are
Hebrews Chapter 11 provides a summary of the great men of
God who have gone before us but died without receiving the promise they
believed for. They are alive in the great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews
12:1) but they are waiting to be made perfect. Hebrews 11:13 says,
speaking of all those who died in the faith: “All these died in
faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and
having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they
were strangers and exiles on the earth”.
So prophets and men of God died in faith, not having been
made perfect, and not receiving the entire promise, and so remain in the
spiritual realm until they return with Christ. These include the men of
God mentioned in Hebrews 11 (Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac,
Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Samuel, David,
Kings, the prophets) and must also include the Apostles and righteous
men of the New Testament, as well as many more not mentioned but having
served the Lord in their day.
However, even though they are awaiting the return of Christ
as we are, they are actually waiting for us to be made perfect. Only
then can they return. Hebrews 11:39-40 states:
“And all these, having
gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was
promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that
apart from us they would not be made perfect”.
Apart from us, those who died in faith will not
receive their promise of perfection until we become perfect here on
earth. Hebrews says that God has provided something better for us. God
has provided something better for those who remain in that, unlike the
men of God of old who died without receiving the promise, those who
remain on earth are positioned to be able to see the promise be
fulfilled before their eyes. Our ancestors saw the promise afar off, we
will experience the fullness of it right here on earth. And without us
obtaining that perfection, right here on earth, those who have gone
before us will not be made perfect and will not receive the promise.
Again, Hebrews says: “apart from us they would not be made perfect”.
The Christian world is conditioned to believe in an
afterlife in “Heaven”, where they are made perfect simply by dying. That
concept is neither true nor supported in the scriptures. We have already
seen that even the greatest men of God were not made perfect by dying.
Death is no more than a separation between the spirit and
physical world. It is likened to a veil in the scriptures. In God’s
Temple, a veil separated the most holy place from the rest of the temple
symbolizing the separation of the spirit world from the physical world
(See Hebrews Chapter 9; Leviticus 16:2). Behind the veil was the Ark of
the Covenant which housed the presence of God, the Ark of the Covenant,
the show bread and the 10 commandments and only select priests were ever
allowed behind this veil. When Christ died on the cross, the veil in the
Temple of Jerusalem was rent (torn) in half that had existed as a
barrier to full access to the presence of God to everyone (Mark 15:38;
Luke 23:45). The removal of this veil is the abolishment of our final
enemy. “The last enemy that will be abolished is death”
Jesus explained the order of resurrection as follows: “So
the last shall be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 19:30;
Mark 10:31; Luke 13:30). What does it mean that the first will be last
and the last first?
Jesus said: “And they will come from east and west and
from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of
God. “And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first
who will be last” (Luke 13:30). The first are those who have gone
before us who did the will of God in their generation but died without
seeing the promise. The last are those who remain on earth, who also do
the will of God in our generation, but, unlike them, they will see the
promise fulfilled. Those who remain are therefore the last generation to
do the will of God but are the first to SEE the promise. And, as Hebrews
11 says, those who remain will be made perfect first, before those who
went before us. Those who went before us will be the last to see the
Christ was the very first. Upon His death He was
resurrected to the right hand of the Father. However, He is also waiting
for the ones who remain to complete His work. Hebrews 10:12-13 says:
“But when this priest [Christ] had offered for all time one
sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that
time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool” (see also
Hebrews 1:13; Luke 20:43; Acts 2:35). We can see then that Christ does
not return to earth until His enemies, those enemies on the earth who
oppose Him, are made a footstool for His feet.
How do His enemies be made His footstool? Since He will not
return until this occurs it must be an important event. Does it have
something to do with us who remain and are the first to be made
perfect? The answer is yes. The Sons of God become the army of the
Lord, whose purpose becomes to subdue all of Christ’s enemies and make
the earth a footstool for His feet, in effect creating the atmosphere
for His returning.
We must realize that Christ is the firstfruits of many Sons
of God to come to glory, who become like Him. Hebrews 2:10 says: “For
it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are
all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of
their salvation through sufferings”. These additional Sons complete
His sufferings. They also become, among other things, the army of the
Lord created to defeat Christ’s enemies.
Joel 2:2-5 describes this army in allegorical terms:
“So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything
like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many
generations. A fire consumes before them And behind them a flame
burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them But a desolate
wilderness behind them, And nothing at all escapes them. Their
appearance is like the appearance of horses; And like war horses, so
they run. With a noise as of chariots They leap on the tops of the
mountains, Like the crackling of a flame of fire consuming the
stubble, Like a mighty people arranged for battle”.
However, unlike physical conquerors of the past (and
present), this army is a spiritual army. Their enemies are spiritual
enemies. Paul said: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the
strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will
be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our
struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against
the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
And: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war
according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the
flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We
are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against
the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the
obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). The many Sons of God
who will be created here on earth are those who will defeat the enemies
of Christ, and make the earth His footstool, suitable for His return.
This army will ultimately be successful. “But on Mount
Zion there shall be deliverance, And there shall be holiness; The house
of Jacob shall possess their possessions. The house of Jacob shall be a
fire, And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau shall be
stubble; They shall kindle them and devour them, And no survivor shall
remain of the house of Esau,” For the
Lord has spoken... Then
deliverers [saviors, plural] shall come to Mount Zion To judge
the mountains of Esau, And the kingdom shall be the
Likewise, in the Book of Revelation 20:9-10 it is said: “And
they [Satan’s spiritual army] came up on the broad plain of the
earth and surrounded the camp of His [Christ’s] saints and
the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
And the devil that deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire
and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and
they will be tormented day and night forever and ever”. Satan,
like God, is a spirit, as are his satanic cohorts. This final battle
will be a spiritual contest. The fire of God, through His Word spoken by
His saints, will destroy the evil one forever, making the way for
Christ’s permanent return to the New Earth to set up his Kingdom.
At that time, scripture says: “For a child
will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government
will rest on His shoulders;” (Isaiah 9:6). Human governments
will cease as we know them and Christ will rule and reign with a rod of
iron “From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may
strike down the nations, and He will rule [alternate translation
shepherd] them with a rod of iron;” (Revelation 19:15). Making
clear the symbolism, it is the sharp sword (the Word of God) that will
strike down the nations making them nations of Christ. Hebrews 4:12
describes this sword of the Word of God: “For the word of God is
living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and
piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints
and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the
heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things
are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do”.
One main foe that will be defeated, before the earth becomes
Christ’s footstool, is the spirit of the antichrist. Unlike current
Christian thinking, the anti-Christ is probably not one sole figure who
suddenly appears in the end-time, although many throughout history have
been suspected of being “the” antichrist. However, as John clearly
pointed out in his Epistle, the antichrist is a spirit which has been in
the earth from the beginning. In 1 John 2:18 he says: “Children, it
is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming,
even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is
the last hour”. And: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every
spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from
God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God;
this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it
is coming, and now it is already in the world” (1 John 4:2-3).
And finally in 2 John 7:“For many deceivers have gone out into the
world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the
flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist”.
Note John defines the antichrist as a spirit, which may or
nor take up residence in a man. According to John, the spirit of the
antichrist is anything (any spirit) that does not confess that Christ
has come in the flesh and was resurrected as Lord. This narrows down
considerably the list of the peoples and religions of the world, past
and present, who John, by inference, identifies as having the spirit of
antichrist. Basically, only Christianity has as part of its beliefs the
death and resurrection of Christ as Lord and Son of God.
As we are living in an age of professed religious tolerance,
pronouncing other religions as false does not necessarily condemn the
people practicing these religions, or practicing no religion at all. God
looks on the heart of man not what he does. However, Christ warned of
the many false prophets who would arise and deceive many (Matthew 24:11;
1 John 4:1). Those who in their hearts are deceived by false prophets,
or spirits of antichrists, may be in spiritual danger according to the
Word of God.
In 2 Corinthians 10:5-6 Paul describes the spirits we
battle, including religious spirits: “We are destroying speculations
and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we
are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we
are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is
complete” .Again we are speaking about spirits, “spiritual
wickedness in High places” which exert great influence over mankind
and are diametrically opposed to Jesus Christ.
They may or may not come in the form of a man.
Certainly Judas, who betrayed Christ, must be considered an antichrist.
John 13:27 says: “Jesus then answered, “That is the one for whom I
shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the
morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.
After the morsel, Satan then entered into him”. Other men have
performed such acts of atrocity that would be able candidates for being
possessed by the spirit of the antichrist such as Napoleon, Hitler and
Stalin. But remember the antichrist is not necessarily a man but may be
a man possessed by this spirit.
Paul specifically warns of spirits of religion
who have deceived or can be set to deceive. As he identifies false
apostles and prophets attempting to infiltrate the churches under his
care he says: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers,
transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no
wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also
transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will
be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Satan has
been defined, among other things, as a religious spirit. His angelic
name is Lucifer which means “light bearer”, “enlightened one” or” bright
morning star”. Satan appearing as a religious spirit has certainly
deceived many and continues to do so today, as we look at some of the
major television evangelists prevalent today.
Christ’s greatest adversaries during His time on earth were
the Pharisees and other religious leaders who required the people to
adhere to strict moral codes. He even went so far as to say of them:
“If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and
have come from God…“Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is
because you cannot hear My word. “You are of your father the devil,
and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer
from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no
truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature,
for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:42-44). Paul also
warned of those religions “having a form of godliness but denying
its power” (2 Timothy 3:5).
Even the Book of Revelation warns of those of the appearance
of the religious spirit who is religious in appearance but is actually
evil. “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he
had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon” (Revelation
13:11). The beast had two little horns like an innocent lamb but spoke
the words of the dragon, Satan. He was as we would say today a “wolf in
sheep’s clothing”. The appearance of the 2 sheep horns deceived some
into believing the devil’s voice spoken.
The Christian world today tends to relate to Jesus as
a sweet and peaceful soul, a type of Santa Claus, who exists only to
make us happy and give us what we want. In truth the second coming of
Christ is anything but that. He came the first time as the suffering
servant who willingly went to His death at the hands of His enemies. He
will return in a different form; that of a conquering Savior ready to
punish all disobedience.
Revelation 19:11-16: “And I saw heaven opened, and
behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and
True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a
flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name
written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a
robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the
armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean were
following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so
that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them
with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath
of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name
written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” The Second coming of
the Lord is a fearful sight, especially to those who are perishing. Note
that He prevails because of the sharp sword that proceeds from His mouth
(Hebrews 4:12) and He is in fact named the “Word of God”. It is by the
Word of God and the speaking of it that will precipitate the second
coming of Jesus Christ.
We conclude then that the second coming of Jesus Christ is
not an event which occurs apart from us who believe. Actually we, His
saints on the earth, create His coming by speaking His word into the
earth and create the atmosphere for His coming. When we defeat His
enemies He will return and reign.
Neither will Jesus Christ the person come alone. Scripture
says He will come with His Holy Sons and saints and “they” will rule and
reign together. They will actually rule and reign together with Christ
as His many membered body. His many membered Body becomes His spiritual
temple within which He sets up His permanent abode. It is a temple not
made with hands, as in the past, but a living temple, with living
stones, His spiritual tabernacle for eternity on earth.
1 Peter 2:4-5 says: “And coming to Him as to a living
stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice [chosen or
elect] and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones,
are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to
offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”.
Christianity of today looks for a third Temple to be rebuilt in
Jerusalem before Christ returns. Those who believe that do not
understand the spiritual nature of Christ’s return or the spiritual
temple within which He will dwell. We, His Sons and chosen elect, are
His Body, His temple. Paul said: “Now you are Christ’s body, and
individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
We are to become Christ’s very body with arms, legs and
mouths. Paul described: “But one and the same Spirit works all these
things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. For
even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members
of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For
by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or
Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one
Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many” (1 Corinthians
Further: “And He gave some as apostles,
and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and
teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service,
to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the
unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a
mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the
fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13). We are thus to become a
fully matured Christ on the earth, His body and dwelling place, with all
enemies defeated, before He is to return to join us. The Body of Christ,
comprised of many individuals like Him actually precedes His personal
return to become the head of His Body
John confirms that we are to become like Christ.
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet
what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him,
because we will see Him just as He is (1 John 3:2). In other words,
before Christ appears the second time, we will already have become like
Him. That is why we will recognize Him because we will be like Him. As
Paul said: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to
face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known”
(1 Corinthians 13:12).
There is more to say such as concerning the gifts of the
spirit we are given to facilitate His coming in His body (1 Corinthians
12) and the love we must possess as He is love (Corinthians 13). The
entire Bible speaks of who Christ is and what He is to become, in and
thru us, especially the New Testament, but also the Old Testament. Jesus
the Old Testament, speaking to the religious leaders of the Jewish
nation of His day: “You search the Scriptures because you think that
in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;”
(John 5:39). All scripture reveals Christ and teaches us to know Him. It
is those who know Him who will receive the promise.
Jesus answers the five foolish virgins, as He excludes them
from His Kingdom: “Truly I say to you, I do not know you.” (Matthew
25:12). Likewise in Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says: “Not everyone who
says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who
does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day,
‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in
Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I
will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who
He warns: “Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and
there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way
is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it”
(Matthew 7:13-14). Remember Christ is returning at a time and in a way
you do not know. This article has attempted to explain how He will come,
which differs with much of traditional Christian doctrine. But study the
scriptures to understand the truth of what is being conveyed here. Many
are called to participate in His return but few are chosen. The wise
will know (Daniel 12:3). Let us be among them.
And remember first and foremost what Jesus Himself taught us
to pray: “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10).
The Kingdom of
Heaven does not come when you die and abandon the earth. The Kingdom
comes ON the earth, where the will of God is then done here as it is in
Heaven (the Spirit realm). The earth and Heaven are one; there is no
more veil; there is no more separation or death.
THROW DOWN YOUR CROWNS
The Apostle John, who wrote the Book of Revelation, was
taken by vision into the very throne room of God Almighty. In Revelation
Chapter 4 he relates His experience but in doing so coveys an important
lesson for Christians today. Revelation Chapter 4 is full of rich
symbolism and books could be written, and have been, attempting to
interpret that symbolism but that is not the central theme of this
article. We will here address some of the symbolism but only as it
applies to the point of this article and the principle we can take away
with us from it.
John begins the chapter as follows:
“After these things
I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first
voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me,
said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was
standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was
sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and
there was a rainbow [halo] around the throne, like an emerald
in appearance (v. 1-3).
things to realize so far is that John was taken out of the physical
realm and taken into the spirit realm, which is a very real place. John
said earlier in his Gospel that: “God is spirit, and those who
worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24). So John
was taken into the spirit, God’s realm.
He heard the
“sound of a trumpet’. Trumpet is symbolic of the word of God i.e. “blow
a trumpet in Zion” (Joel 2:1) or speak the word as a warning or
heralding of the coming of the Lord (Hosea 5:8. Joel 2:1 says: “Blow
a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the
inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming.
And amidst all this noise he saw one sitting on the throne, God Himself,
in all his glory. Also John saw the door to heaven standing open.
Scripture says that when Christ died the veil was rent that formerly
separated the Holies of Holies (God’s throne, the Ark of the covenant)
from the rest of the Jewish temple of God (Matthew 27:50-51) With the
veil being “rent” everyone, not just priests, were given full access to
John goes on
“Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones
I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and
golden crowns on their heads (v.4). These elders were glorious
creatures themselves. They had white robes which means that they had had
their robes washed in the blood of the lamb (Revelations 7:14). They had
golden crowns on their heads, symbolic of royalty and of the crown worn
by the Son of God (Revelation 14:4).
describes the scene. “Out from the throne come flashes of lightning
and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire
burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; and
before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like
crystal” (v. 5-6). He also describes 4 creatures that had faces of a
lion, a calf, a man and a flying eagle” (vs.7-8). And the creatures had
six wings and eyes all around symbolic of the creatures being able to
see everything, behind and in front (i.e. nothing escapes the eyes of
God, He sees everything). The six wings give the creatures great
mobility to respond to do the will of God when commanded. Verse 8 says:
“And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings,
are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not
cease to say, “HOLY, holy,
the Almighty, who
was and who is and who is
next is the bottom line of this article. “And when the living
creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the
throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders
will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship
Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the
throne, saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive
glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of
Your will they existed, and were created.” (v. 9-11).
four elders were glorious in and of themselves, be they angelic beings
or perfected Sons of God. They had their own crowns distinct and
separate from God who sat in their midst of them. However it is what
they did with their crowns that is important. Instead of retaining their
own crowns, or their own glory, they threw down their crowns at the feet
of the Lord, thereby relinquishing their own glory and giving it all to
Him who sat on the throne.
Our Lord did
the same thing and likewise should we. It says of our Lord ” Have
this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who,
although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality
with God a thing to be grasped [utilized, asserted], but
emptied Himself [laid aside His privileges], taking the form of
a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found
in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to
the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).
Even though Christ was God on the earth, He did not assert all the power
and glory that was His but he humbled Himself and laid aside all that
glory in order to die on a cross for us. Paul says that we too should
have that attitude in ourselves. We take nothing for ourselves but give
Him all the glory and honor. The twenty four elders, although they had
their own crowns, chose instead to throw them at the Lord’s feet and
give him the glory, not retain it for themselves.
Christ did the same thing as the twenty four elders “God highly
exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every
knee will bow, of those
who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every
tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
Father” (Philippians 9-11).
In this day
God is in the process of bringing many Sons to glory, Sons like unto
Christ the head of the Body. Hebrews 2:10 says: “ For it was fitting
for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in
bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their
salvation through sufferings”. We true believers are those many Sons
that God intends to bring to glory. But as we come forth in Christ, in
our own glory, in the likeness of Christ, we must retain the same
attitude as was in Christ. We take no glory ourselves but give it all to
the head, to the Lord, the original author of our salvation in the first
FIXED FOCUS ON GOD
“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in You".
“Trust in the Lord
For in God the
Lord [YAH], we have an
everlasting Rock (Isaiah 26:3).
In the Thesaurus: English (United States) the
following words are listed to describe steadfast:
unfaltering, persistent, committed, dedicated, unswerving, firm, loyal,
dependable, stalwart, faithful, reliable, trustworthy, devoted and
Such an intense focus on God is also described by David:
“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed” (Psalm 57:7). This
fixed focus made him a man after God’s own heart (I Samuel 13:14). All
David wanted to see was “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the
living” (Psalm 27:13
In the third chapter of Acts, Peter and John were going into
the temple and they saw a lame man begging alms of those who entered the
temple. And Peter, along with John, fixed their gaze upon him
and said, “Look at us!” Why does it say that—“fixed his gaze”? Fixed
is an intense word. He fixed his gaze and he said, “Look at us!” And
he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from
them. But they healed him. “… In the name of Jesus Christ the
Nazarene—walk!” The man walked. (Acts 3:4–8).
The heart, Lab in Hebrew, occurs over 800 times in the Bible
and is most commonly defined as “[the] totality of man’s inner and
immaterial nature”. A fixed focus denotes the heart, mind and spirit
entirely focused, to the exclusion of all other things.
Paul described a fixed focus on God:
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the
things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God
[quoting Psalm 110:1].
Set your mind [be intent on] the things above, not on the things
that are on earth”
For you have died [to the old life] and your life is hidden with
Christ in God.
When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be
revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).
And “while we look not at the things which are seen, but
at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are
temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (1
Corinthians 4:18). Temporal means, among other things, “worldly,
earthly, mundane and mortal (Thesaurus, above). We are looking for the
passing away of the temporal and looking for the Kingdom of God when:
“…He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no
longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying,
or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
“Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way,
what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and
godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God,
because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the
elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we
are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness
dwells” (2 Peter 3:11-13). Peter was looking intensely for the
coming of the Kingdom of God.
Other scriptures describe the result of this fixed
focus: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature
[or new creation]; the old things passed away; behold new things
have come” (2 Corinthians 5:15-16).
The old is expressed in Job. “In a moment shall
they die, and the people shall be troubled at midnight, and pass away:
and the mighty shall be taken away without hand” (Job 34:20). The
new is expressed in Christ. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is
a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become
new” (Colossians 5:17-18).
Fixing your focus on Christ, as the above scriptures
indicate, is not an easy thing. This age is ripe with distractions. Just
living an ordinary life seems to take all your focus. We are bombarded
with voices of television, technology, useless information, and the
like-who can keep a focus on God in the midst of all this?
First of all, it is your spirit that must make contact with
God. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers
shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh
such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must
worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).
Many are not even aware they have a spirit. But man was
constructed as a triune being; Spirit, soul and body. “Now may the
God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your “spirit and
soul and body” be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of
our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
Since God is a spirit, we can only relate to Him through
that medium. We cannot relate to Him through our intellect or emotions.
These are part of a nature passing away. One can study the Bible for a
lifetime but unless God speaks to him from it, he has nothing but
intellectual understanding (called the dead word as opposed to living
word). It is thus through our will and our spirit that we can relate to
Him. That’s where a fixed focus comes in.
Paul, the great apostle, acknowledged that in his flesh nature (soul,
body, or corrupted spirit) cannot know nor do the will of God.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh;
for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil
that I do not want” (Romans 7:18-19). For the mighty Apostle Paul to
admit this about himself, it must be the same for us. Without God the
Spirit we can do no good.
Will power alone will not accomplish this alone. It is not a
discipline as such. It is not good works for Jesus. It is not going to
church every Sunday or seven days a week. It is not reading the Bible or
a faithful devotion every day. These are all dead works unless directed
by God while your spirit is fixed on Him. This fixed focus is essential,
the difference between life and death.
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and
the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter
through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to
life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7: 13-14).
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter
the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in
heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did
we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in
Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I
never knew you; depart from me,
you who practice
(Matthew 7:21-23, psalm 6:8). The only way to enter is to know
God and to be known by Him. This can only be accomplished by a focus of
Today there are many great men who exalt themselves or their
ministry; who prophesy in Christ’s name, bring sermons, cast out demons,
heal people, give large gifts of money, build giant churches and do
miracles even in Christ’s very name. Yet if in all those good works the
workers are not striving to know God, the works are worthless and
rejected by God, and those who did them will be banished.
In a great percentage of mankind, people are not aware of
their spirit because it is buried beneath our souls and bodies. Those of
the world primarily relate to life through their human perceptions,
senses and emotions. Life to most is an up and down experience depending
on how the wind blows or the circumstances play out. Since those
everyday mundane things can take up most of their attention, their soul
and body become preeminent-there is just no time for God and no way to
reach Him anyway.
The goal of most Christians should be to be led by God
(Romans 8:14). But that can’t happen without a touch in the spirit.
Otherwise you are led by your old nature, which is passing away. We want
the will of God manifest in our lives, but without allowing the Spirit
to gain preeminence over our soul and body we will never do the Will of
Everyone has a preeminent focus, whether it is a hobby, a
place, television, sports, apparel, a career, a boyfriend/girl friend, a
house, possessions, works for God. But to a Christian God is to be our
sole focus. All of these other things might be good things and if God
directs you into them, for whatever reason, then they are important. But
as children of God we must continually be sorting between the
acceptable, good and perfect will of God. God will give us all things we
need if we only walk with Him with a fixed focus.
In the end all will have this fixed focus. “For the
earth will be full of the knowledge of the
Lord As the waters cover
the sea” (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14).
“But this is the covenant which I will make with the
house of Israel after those days,” declares the
Lord, “I will put My law
within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their
God, and they shall be My people.
“They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his
brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of
them,” declares the Lord,
“for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no
more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).
When we have a fixed focus on God, to the exclusion of all
other focuses (or all other focuses are in subjection to God) we will
know Him and inherit His Kingdom.
RULE IN THE MIDST OF YOUR
Christians we are, or should be, striving to bring the Kingdom of God to
the earth. As Christ said in Matthew 6:10, we should be praying at all
times for the Kingdom of God to be a reality in the earth as it is in
heaven, the spirit realm where God lives. He said: “Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. We Christians should
live in this prayer every moment of our lives. To that end, this article
will discuss one aspect of this quest that results in the defeat of our
and Christ’s enemies that oppose the manifestation of His Kingdom on
110:1-2 the psalmist David said: “The
Lord says to my Lord: Sit
at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
The Lord will stretch
forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of
Your enemies.” He also said: “you shall rule them with a rod
of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.” (Psalm 2:9).
These verses are, of course, allegorical to us as we war in the Spirit
realm, not in the physical realm as David did in ancient Israel. As Paul
said: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but
against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of
this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the
heavenly places”. (Ephesians 6:10).
So who are
these enemies and how do we defeat them. We defeat them with the Word of
God. Paul said: “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that
you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done
everything, to stand firm….And take the
helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is
the word of God. (Ephesians 6:6:10, 17).
The Word of God is powerful and able to subdue the
enemy." For the word of God is living and active and sharper than
any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and
spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts
and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His
sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with
whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13). So ultimately we defeat the
enemy by speaking and living in the Word of God because it can defeat
any enemy. John, the beloved Apostle, said: “You are from God,
little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who
is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Sometimes in our daily battles, as we walk with
Christ, we encounter difficulties and circumstances and many times we
blame ourselves for how we act or react when in fact it is not us doing
it but it is really an enemy. Jesus recognized this and expressed it in
many parables as recorded in the gospels. In one such parable, the
parable of the wheat and the tares, He said:
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a
man who sowed good seed in his field. “But while his men were sleeping,
his enemy came and sowed tares [a weed resembling wheat] among the
wheat, and went away. “But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain,
then the tares became evident also. “The slaves of the landowner came
and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How
[from where] then does it have tares?’ “And he said to them, ‘An
enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then,
to go and gather them up?’ “But he said, ‘No; for while you are
gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. ‘Allow both
to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I
will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in
bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”
Many, who do not know the Lord, say “how can God
allow such evil to exist in the world if He is a loving and caring God?”
We must realize that, as far as we on earth are concerned, God only sows
good seed. It is His (our) enemy that sows evil in the world. Why
doesn’t God just destroy the evil? The answer is in the parable, above.
As a wise farmer, God realizes that if he were to
set about to destroy the evil he might also destroy the good in the
process. The reason for this goes back to the original sin in the Garden
of Eden. Adam and Eve sinned and were banished to a world of futility.
Because of their sin they inherited a nature that was at once both good
and evil (remember they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil). The two natures became hopelessly intermingled. There was no way
to separate the two. As God has said: “The [human] heart is
more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; [wicked]
Who can understand [know it] it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). This wickedness
is the result of the fall. Only through the sacrifice of Christ on the
cross are we delivered from this seemingly hopeless state of being.
But separating the natures is a process. Christ’s
gift of complete salvation is a continually unfolding event. Although it
was accomplished all at once on the cross, it is unfolding in our lives
day by day. The evil is defeated incrementally as we walk with Christ
and appropriate His provision. How do we defeat this evil that seems to
exist in our lives?
The Apostle Paul recognized the sin (evil) that was
in His nature and recognized that only Christ could banish it. As he
states in the Book of Romans:" For what I am doing, I do not
understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am
doing the very thing I hate…. For I know that nothing good dwells in me,
that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing
of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I
practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very
thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which
dwells in me. I find then the principle [law] that evil is
present in me, the one who wants to do good” (Romans 7:15, 18-21).
If God were to have set about to instantly destroy the evil present in
Paul he would have had to destroy Paul in the process.
Paul correctly concluded: “Wretched man that I
am! Who will set me free from this body of death? Thanks be to God
through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my
mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the
law of sin” (Romans 7:24-25).
How then do
we vanquish the evil present in all of us. It is through the gift of
Jesus Christ but there are keys to fully appropriate His provision.
Christ said: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His
righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew
6:33). We must first, before anything else, seek God and His
righteousness. He promises us that if seek we will receive or find (Luke
Christ’s many “parables of the Kingdom” illustrate
this principle. In response to his disciple’s request of Him on how to
pray Jesus said: “So I say to you, ask [keep asking], and it
will be given to you; seek, [keep seeking] and you will find;
knock, [keep knocking] and it will be opened to you. “For
everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who
knocks, it will be opened”.
The parable from which this instruction is drawn is
Christ’s response to the disciples question ‘Lord teach us to pray’
(Luke 11:1). Christ’s response includes the very important principle of
perseverance. He says: “ Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you
has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend
me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and
I have nothing to set before him’; and from inside he answers and says,
‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and
I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ “I tell you, even
though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his
friend, yet because of his persistence [some translations use
shamelessness] he will get up and give him as much as he needs” (Luke
Does it sometimes seem as if the heavens are closed
to your prayer? We pray and pray and do not seem to receive. Christ’s
answer is always “keep praying, keep seeking, keep on knocking”; because
of your audacious persistence you will eventually receive what you are
seeking. The word “shamelessness” is used as a synonym for perseverance
since we sometimes must become shameless in our seeking. We are not
concerned about how we look or what others think. As foolish as we may
look we keep seeking. We will receive in the end.
Christ said: “Now suppose one of you fathers
is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead
of a fish, will he? “Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him
a scorpion, will he? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good
gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give
the Holy Spirit to those who ask (and keep on asking) Him?” (Luke
Jesus said to follow Him no matter the cost.
“And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If
anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his
cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life [soul]
will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s
will save it” (Mark 8:34-35; Matthew 16:24; John 12:26). Many will
say “but Lord I cannot follow you because my father just died and I must
bury him” or they will have some other plausible reason not to leave
all. To these, Jesus’ response was swift and brutal: “Follow Me, and
allow the dead to bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:21-22).
If we want to receive from Him, and rule in the
midst of our many enemies, there is NO plausible excuse. The Kingdom of
God is not comprised of the politically correct or those who recognize
human obligations before Him. It is comprised of seekers who receive
because of their utter shamelessness and their hunger for Him and His
righteousness. This is the key to the defeat of every enemy of the
Kingdom, of which there are many. Sometimes the enemy comes from outside
ourselves but more often we are our own worst enemies. Despite what we
may consider our shortcomings, our human condition of sickness or
sadness or grief, our instructions are so simple a “fool could not err
therein”. Seek Him and thereby, through Him, you will make even your
worst enemies a footstool for His and your feet. You will ultimately
RETURN TO YOUR FIRST LOVE
In the Bible Book of Revelation John wrote to
the church at Ephesus as follows: “I know your deeds and your toil
and perseverance [steadfastness], and that you cannot tolerate
evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves
apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you
have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not
grown weary. ‘But I have this against you, that you have left your
first love. ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent
and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and
will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent”
At first glance the church at Ephesus had
everything going for it. They toiled for the Lord with great
perseverance and steadfastness. The churches of Christ were, at that
time, under great persecution by the Roman Empire and by orthodox Jewish
sects. It took great strength and perseverance just to exist as a body
of believers, let alone engage in the monumental task of spreading the
word of God. God recognized and commended them for that quality.
Further, the church had apparently been infiltrated
by false prophets and some who called themselves Apostles. At that time
the church was under assault by various groups and men who advocated
doctrines other than the true gospel of Christ. Among them were the
Gnostics who were a false sect who taught a doctrine of “secret
knowledge” as a means to salvation. They denied that Jesus was the
Christ and battled Paul throughout his ministry. Also present were the
aesthetic Jews who wanted to mix Christianity with elements of the
Jewish Law, and legalism which pervaded Israel during the time of
Christ. Other groups preached mystical doctrines that conditioned
righteousness on what men ate drank or how they conducted themselves in
various rituals such as washings, fastings, and other natural
observances such as new moon festivals etc. Others taught angel worship
(See the Books of Colossians and Galatians, wherein Paul opposed these
types of intruding religions). The Ephesian church had the perception to
weed out these evil influences from their midst and adhere to the true
gospel taught them by John.
had endured, even while being under the greatest persecution the early
church had faced during that time. One of Satan’s greatest tactics of
spiritual warfare was and is to “wear down” those pursuing Christ, as
noted by Daniel in 7:25: “He [Satan] will speak words
against the Most High and wear down the saints [holy ones] of
the Highest One” Yet God commends the Ephesian church for enduring
and not becoming weary; they refused to be worn down by the continual
assault of the enemy.
appeared the Ephesian church had done everything right. What could God
possibly have against such a faithful, victorious church? I am sure the
church thought they were doing very well themselves. However, as one
reads on in the scripture, God had something against them that was so
important that it could lead to their very destruction if left
uncorrected. They had left their first love. They were so focused on
doing works, enduring, weeding out evil and being steadfast that they
had forgotten why they were doing it all in the first place.
First and foremost God requires that we love Him
first, before all other things. An Israelite lawyer, one who knew and
practiced the Law of Moses, asked Christ the following question:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He [Jesus]
said to him, “ ‘You shall
love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your mind.’
“This is the great and foremost [first] commandment” (Matthew
Certainly this world, in all its various pursuits,
has completely lost touch with God in most cases. The human intellect
and man’s soulish pursuits of pleasure have erased God from any
consideration in the hearts of men. But here God is not speaking to
humanity in general—He is speaking to a faithful, steadfast, perceptive
Christian church that despite all their good works will lose out with
God unless He becomes their only priority.
The Kingdom of God is all about having a personal
relationship with God. It is about love—loving Him first before anything
else. He is a jealous God. When one of His chosen focuses on something
other than Him He becomes enraged and reacts violently. This is all too
evident in the way He treated the nation of Israel, as recorded in the
Old Testament. When Israel would begin to focus on other things, like
the gods of the surrounding nations, God would judge them severely. He
would react as would any jealous lover when he/she is betrayed. Jealous
rages account for a majority of murders in society. God judged His
chosen nation of Israel many times for their apostasy.
Over and over in the scriptures God likens Israel,
His chosen nation, to being an unfaithful bride or to whoredom (see the
Book of Hosea for example). That is not to say that He likened the
Ephesian church to whoredom but the principle is the same. Anything that
rivals God for His affections is something that displeases Him no matter
how good the intentions. No one can argue that the Ephesian church had
good intentions in doing everything they knew to please God. Yet in all
their doing, they somehow lost their bearings and forgot for whom they
were doing all these good things.
Many Christian churches of today are involved in
many kinds of good works intended to please God. Missionary movements
spread good will throughout the earth. Churches engage in political
activist movements intended to influence legislation to reflect what
they think God wants. Many churches are so involved in doing what they
think is the will of God that they forget that all He wants is for them
to love Him. The works come, if at all, out of that love relationship.
Without manifestation of the pure, unadulterated spiritual love of God,
works designed to please Him are worthless—they are called “dead works”
(Hebrews 6:1, 9:14).
Revelation speaks of the seven lampstands
surrounding the throne of God which some say are representative of the
seven churches spoken to by John (Revelation chapters 2-3), including
the Ephesian church (Revelation 1:12-13). The Ephesians were doing so
well that, according to the scripture, they already had a lampstand in
place surrounding the throne of Christ. However, despite all the good
works being done by the Ephesian church, God threatened to remove their
lampstand from among the seven unless they repented and returned to love
Him first. As harsh as this may seem to the human mind, it is sadly
symbolic of the nature of God who wants to be put first in everything.
He seems to say that if all we do is love Him, with all our hearts, that
that one act is in and of itself sufficient to please Him. Only out of
that love comes our love for our neighbor and all of the wonderful works
He intends to accomplish on the earth, the foremost work being the
establishing of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:10).
We don’t take this word with any condemnation that
we have somehow failed Him by not loving Him first. We know that loving
Him with all our hearts is only made possible by His gift of grace. We
simply accept the gift. We love you first, Lord. We love you first
because you first loved us (1 John 4:19). This is impossible for us but
with God all things are possible (Mark 9:23, 10:27; Matthew 19:26).
OF OUR RETURN TO THE LORD
The subject of this article is the powerful spiritual
reality that occurs when there is a return by humanity to the Lord God
our Creator. The reason the word “return” is used is that in Biblical
history it denotes a time when a people, who had become apostate,
returned anew to the Lord. That event, the “return”, not only placed the
people back to the place where they had been before the apostasy but
the return itself generated a spiritual power that had not been known
before. Likewise, in our day, a return to our creator could put the
entire world on a course unequaled at any previous time in world
history. No one can argue that world events have become beyond human
control and that there needs to be drastic changes in all realms of
human endeavor. Neglecting this change or “return” could hasten a
destruction of life as we have known it. Returning to the Lord is the
one act that can generate this change for the better.
this article will follow the course of the ancient nation of Israel as
recorded in the Old Testament. Israel’s history was one of continual
apostasy and return, eventually resulting in their destruction as a
nation. Many other kingdoms and empires rose and fell throughout
history, nations and empires that far exceeded any we see today
including the Sumerians, Egypt, Greece, Babylon, Persia and the Roman
Empire. These civilizations collapsed on their own, never having a real
God, other than the gods of nature they followed. Israel, on the other
hand, was the first monotheistic nation and thus had to deal with the
One True God who they ultimately were unable to please on a consistent
basis. But when they did please God they, being one of the smallest
nations of the world, achieved success beyond that of their larger
Book of the prophet Hosea illustrates this principle of return. He wrote
vividly about the conditions which existed in the Northern tribes of
Israel in about 800 B.C. He likens conditions in his homeland to that
of a bride forsaking her husband and depicted Israel as an unfaithful
lover, much like that of a prostitute. As the relationship with their
God diminished so did the conditions in the country.
He writes: “Listen to the word of the
Lord, O sons of Israel,
For the Lord has a case
against the inhabitants of the land, Because there is no
faithfulness [truth] or kindness [loyalty] Or
knowledge of God in the land. There is swearing, deception,
murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that
bloodshed follows bloodshed". Therefore the land mourns, And
everyone who lives in it languishes Along with the beasts of the field
and the birds of the sky, And also the fish of the sea disappear”
This description could just as easily apply to
conditions in our country today. Politics practice mass deception in
order to garner votes. Crime is rampant, not only within the crimes of
violence but the crimes of greed on Wall St. and by the rich. Animals on
land, in the air and in the seas are becoming extinct at a level not
previously known, as environmental conditions deteriorate. The lands
(people) mourn as they see life pulled from under them. There is no joy
only bloodshed, both literally and spiritually. Where is the
faithfulness and truth that founded this nation?
Hosea goes on: “Harlotry, wine and new
wine take away the [heart of] understanding. My people consult
their wooden idol, and their diviner’s wand informs them; For a spirit
of harlotry has led them astray, And they have played the harlot,
departing from [under] their God” (Hosea 4:11-12). If there
has even been a nation in which idols have replaced God it is the United
States. What every man calls his toys are his idols. The car a man
drives defines his character not his heart. Where and how he lives
becomes his god as he strives to outdo his neighbor. Technology and
communication has flooded the world with useless information and man
revels in his knowledge of masses of irrelevant facts spread by those
who do not know truth. Religion itself leads the masses astray by their
adherence to legalistic moral codes they try to force on one another and
attempt to incorporate into legislation, legislating morality on a scale
as effective as the Catholic Inquisitions of days gone by. Sexual
license to do as you please in that area has become the accepted norm of
society. Faithfulness is rare and real commitment is unknown.
People today hide their eyes from these
realities as civilization descends down the slippery slope to
destruction. On the other hand, people who are aware of these conditions
become discouraged when they realize there are no human solutions to the
problems. Hope flourishes for a moment and fails just as quickly in the
face of the reality that the fervent hope was not realized. What real
solutions exist for such massive problems as the current national
indebtedness, the rise of terrorist nations set on destruction of all
who oppose them, the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the hands of
the irresponsible and the raging of plagues, famine, natural disasters
and unchecked nationalism leading to the ethnic cleansing of entire
races of humans.
It becomes readily apparent that there can
never be any real solutions to these ills by human action. The same
humans who can send man into space, who can accomplish medical miracles,
develop drugs for every ill and other acts of so called modernization
cannot solve basic problems of providing a successful human social
existence. But despite the magnitude of man’s problems there does remain
a solution that is capable of turning the tide faster than the
proverbial bullet. A returning to the Lord, the Creator, has more power
inherent in it than the power of the big bang that created the entire
Hosea’s answer for ancient Israel is the same answer
available today—the power of returning to the Lord. He says:
“Come, let us return to the
Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded
us, but He will bandage us. “He will revive us after two days; He
will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him".
“So let us know, let us press on to know the
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth” (Hosea 6:1-3).
It would appear that if anything America has lost
its vision, the vision it had at the time of the founding Fathers. At
the time, when we declared independence and fought and won an impossible
war against the greatest power of the then known world, there was a
vision of a form of government never seen in the world. Men of great
diversity and difference of opinion came together and managed to agree
on how this new nation would conduct its affairs. All differences and
divides were put aside for the greater vision. That same vision carried
us through other wars, a civil war, and two great world wars and brought
us to the place it seemed anything was possible.
Although not necessarily formed as a Christian
nation, we were founded on spiritual principles as real as its secular
counterparts. As wise man once said “without a vision the people
perish” (Proverbs of Solomon 29:18). And for good measure “If a
kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. “If a
house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
“If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot
stand, but he is finished! (Mark 3:24-26). America today has lost
its bearings, its vision, and its internal division has divided the
country seemingly irreparably.
Today a new vision is set before us, for all those who
choose to accept it. Whether we accept it or not it is coming and to
those who see it will experience a complete newness of life on a scale
not heretofore known. To those who do not, it could represent
unprecedented destruction. The vision has been set to writing and is
there for all to see.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the
first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of
heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I
heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of
God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His
people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away
every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death;
there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first
things have passed away.”
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all
things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and
true” (Revelation 21:1-5).
Can you imagine a new world where there are no tears, no
grief, no mourning, no crying, no pain and no death? Most of us cannot
because this world of strife and death is so familiar to us. We think,
as Solomon wrote,
“Vanity of vanities,”
[literally futility] says
the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! [futilities of futilities] All
What advantage does man have in all his work
Which he does under the sun?
A generation goes and a generation comes,
But the earth remains forever….
That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is
nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one might say, “See this, it is new”?
Already it has existed for ages Which were before us.
There is no remembrance of earlier things;
And also of the later things which will occur,
There will be for them no remembrance Among those who will come
However there is the promise of the better world which is
more than a promise—it is the coming reality for those who will receive
Our current ills began back near the beginning of time when
God expelled man from Paradise. However that expulsion was not meant to
The great Apostle Paul explained as follows:
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly [of
its own will], but because of Him [God] who subjected it,
in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its
slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of
God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains
of childbirth together until now” (Romans 8:20-22). In other words
creation, earth, plants, animals, the cosmos, was subjected to a state
of futility as expressed by Solomon above. However, God placed creation
in that state with the hope (let’s call it certainty) that at some point
it would be released from this divinely imposed state and returned to
His original purpose, perfection.
When God made creation He called everything good,
including man (Genesis chapter 1). He was pleased with His work. But
within this perfect creation God added one element that He desired above
all else. That is He wanted man to chose Him, by His own will, over all
else. God made man able to choose to remain in the perfected state or
able to choose something else. Man, being man, chose another path to his
ultimate detriment. It is in the consequence of that choice that we live
However, that choice was not permanent. The freedom
to choose did not go away with the subjecting of creation to futility.
We still have it today. It is the one quality that separates man from
all of creation and is the greatest gift God gave man when he learns to
Yes man can choose freely, whatever he wants.
Unfortunately choices involve consequences. Man chose incorrectly in the
Garden of den and all of creation suffered from that wrong choice.
Today, people can choose whatever they want, can live how they want, can
believe or not, can curse or bless, but each choice carries a
consequence. The choice with the greater eternal benefit is the subject
of this article. Man can choose to return to His creator and, despite
all the bad blood that has gone on before, the Creator is there to
respond to that choice with the better consequences.
It has always been a choice to return, to turn or
not to turn. John the Baptist, who came before Christ to announce his
coming, preached that man should “repent” for the Kingdom of God
(Christ) was at hand. The Hebrew verb for repent is “sub” which means to
“return, to turn, to go/come back”. The Greek verb “metanoeo”, which is
the word used in the New Testament as it was written in Greek, means,
among other things “a radical, moral turn of the whole person to God”
and means more than just changing one’s mind. It means a literal
“turning” or “turning away” and actions that correspond to a leaving of
the old and embracing the new (for a complete description see Mounce’s
Complete Expository Dictionary, William D. Mounce, Zondervan Press,
2006; page 580-581).
the Baptist knew that Christ was coming with a new law and a new way of
living in the coming Kingdom of God, he told the people to repent, that
is be prepared to turn from the old and embrace the new. “Now in
those days John the Baptist came, preaching [proclaiming,
heralding] in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the
kingdom of heaven is at hand [has come near].”… “Therefore
bear fruit in keeping with repentance; (Matthew 3:2,8).
Repentance means more than just feeling sorry for
yourself and your sin. It is a positive action in response to a
provision made available by God to man who was given the power to
choose. Man has the ability to choose God or to reject Him. One would do
well to recall the words of Moses as he led the nation Israel from the
wilderness to the Promised Land. “See, I am setting before you today
a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments
of the Lord your God,
which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen
to the commandments of the Lord
your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today,”
We, who find ourselves in the midst of the curse,
have the power to choose the blessing. How do we do this? For one we
cease thinking of god as a myth or a distant second cousin and realize
He is right here among us willing to reverse the course of humanity and
out lives. He is ready to forgive and forget all. He is ready to mete
out the blessing which is our heritage. He stands ready to make “all
Don’t think for a minute that He is unaware of your
personal situation. He knows your fears and your shattered dreams. He is
aware of the hardships of losing your house, your job, your frustration
over government and your feeling of being absolutely alone with nowhere
to turn. He is aware of the terrors generated by unhindered evil
rendered against those who do not believe as they do, the terrorists.
His eyes peer deeper into your heart than you could ever do. As Jesus
said: “not one sparrow falls from the sky that He is not aware of”.
His understanding is inscrutable; His wisdom without measure. He knows
all things. Yet he leaves the door open for us, His people, to choose
Him. To return to Him. The power of returning to God exceeds all other
power. It is the power to transform and defeat all His enemies. It is a
power we can execute if we just ask Him. Our prayer should be “God I
return to you, I can’t do this on my own, help me”. And He will, beyond
your own expectations.
THE ARMY OF
THE LORD--JOEL CH. 2
The theme of
the Book of Joel is the coming of the great and mighty "Day of the Lord"
(the term is used 6 times in the short book). Joel was a prophet of God
in Judah in about 900 B.C. Little is known about his life. He may have
been a farmer (like Amos) since his allusions involve land and crops.
However, he prophesied some of the most prophecies relevant to this day
found in the scriptures. He talks about the judgments, the army of the
Lord and the mercies of God.
Joel 2 is
traditionally interpreted as the story of a locust swarm that devastated
Israel (Joel 2:1-11). However, upon a closer reading, and a little
revelation from God, the locust storm referred to has a more spiritual
meaning and application. Joel may have seen a locust swarm devour
Israel's crops, and although he may be describing locusts, he uses them
allegorically to convey something else, something more important than a
In Joel 2,
the prophet is actually describing the army of the Lord moving in
judgment in the end-time. He sees the army executing God's judgments in
the Day of the Lord. He outlines an escape from the judgments by the
people and he ends with the mercy that God will show to his remnant.
He begins his
description of the Army of the Lord in verse Chapter 2, verses 2-3:
So there is a great
and mighty people;
there has never been anything like it
Nor will there be after it...
A fire consumes before
behind them a flame burns
The land is like a Garden of Eden before them
But a desolate wilderness behind them,
and nothing at all escapes them (v.3).
of a "great and mighty people" who go through the land executing
judgments. The promise is of a Garden of Eden is before them (The
Kingdom of God) but a desolate wilderness of destruction (judgment) is
behind them. They are like "a people arraigned for battle" (v.5).
All faces turn pale, (that is the unrepentant whom God is destroying) .
The army runs like mighty men, climbs the wall like soldiers, they each
march in their own line, everyone in his own path (organized) and they
don't deviate from their goal (v. 6-7).
utters his voice before his army and strong is He who carries out his
Word (of judgment). Joel 2:11. "Yet even now" [in the midst
of the destruction] God says to the people:
"Return to me with all
your heart...and rend your heart not your garments
was traditional for repentance in Israel]..."who knows whether the
Lord will not turn and relent" (v.12-14). Even in the midst of
terrible judgment, God still holds His hand out for people to repent.
15-27, God enumerates (through His prophet Joel) the many blessings He
has for the people who turn to Him. Finally, in ending Joel 2, he
prophecies as to what He is going to do in the end-time This day we are
"...I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
and your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams
your young men will see visions....I will display wonders in the sky and
on the earth,
blood, fire and columns of smoke...
Before the great and awesome day of the Lord.
And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Will be delivered; for on Mt. Zion and in Jerusalem
There will be those who escape" (v. 28-32).
So Joel 2 can
be summarized this way. The wickedness of the people had become so great
that God, once again, had to send judgment upon the earth, through His
end-time army, of which all real believers are a part. They have a
vision of paradise before and destruction is behind them. They are led
only by the voice of God. They are organized; nobody doing their own
thing. And yet during all of this God still promises blessings on all
who turn to him. And he will pour out His Spirit "on all flesh", in this
day. And "whoever" calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
FUTILITY: THE STATE
OF A OUR FALLEN WORLD
After the sin of Adam and Eve God subjected creation into a
state of futility (vanity). Genesis describes this transformation of a
world He once called “good”:
“Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the
voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded
you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;
Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil [sorrow] you will
eat of it all the days of your life.
“Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;
By the sweat of your face you will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken;
For you are dust, And to dust you shall return” (Genesis
Thus death and futility (the curse) were introduced into a
world that formerly knew neither. Although Adam lived another 900 years
after banishment, he eventually died. He lived the life we know now of
sorrow and labor in the midst of the obstacles (thorns and thistles)
that are with us continually.
Futility (or vanity in the KJV of the Bible) is defined in
the American Heritage Dictionary as a condition of: “having no useful
result, barren, fruitless, useless”. Webster’s adds: trifling,
unimportant and a “head stuffed with silly and unimportant ideas”.
When Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden, they
entered a realm of separation from God. Whereas God was always visibly
present in the Garden, under futility man had to seek the invisible God
with prayers, altars and animal sacrifices. As soon as the pair ate the
forbidden fruit, they realized they were naked and hid themselves from
God. That same condition exists today as God is hidden from us by our
Futility means that mankind lives in a world of sin, ruled
by the devil.
“Listen! The Lord’s arm
is not too weak to save you,
nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.
It’s your sins that have cut you off from God.
Because of your sins, he has turned away
and will not listen anymore.
Your hands are the hands of murderers,
and your fingers are filthy with sin.
Your lips are full of lies,
and your mouth spews corruption” (Isaiah 59:1-3).
Isaiah goes on with a look at futility that He sees:
one cares about being fair and honest.
The people’s lawsuits are based on lies.
They conceive evil deeds
and then give birth to sin...
Their feet run to do evil,
and they rush to commit murder.
They think only about sinning.
Misery and destruction always follow them.
They don’t know where to find peace
or what it means to be just and good...
We look for light but find only darkness.
We look for bright skies but walk in gloom.
We grope like the blind along a wall,
feeling our way like people without eyes.
Even at brightest noontime,
we stumble as though it were dark.
Among the living,
we are like the dead...
For our sins are piled up before God
Yes, truth is gone,
and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.
The Lord looked and was
to find there was no justice” (Isaiah 59:4-16, NLT).
Our sins separate us from God. God looks and sees only
injustice and violence in the futile world. He stands ready to deliver
but our sins have rendered us inattentive to Him—no eyes to see or ears
“Though the wicked is shown favor,
He does not learn righteousness;
He deals unjustly in the land of uprightness,
And does not perceive the majesty of the
O Lord, Your HAND IS
LIFTED UP yet they do not see it” Isaiah 26:10-11).
Probably the fullest definition of futility was written by
Solomon, King of Israel, considered to be the wisest man of his time. He
“Vanity [futility] of vanities…,
“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity
He goes on to discuss the areas of life he himself
experienced that bore this out:
The Futility of Pleasure and Possession
(Ecc 2:1-11; The
Futility of Life (Ecc 6:1-12); The Folly of Riches (5:10-20);
The Futility of Labor (2:18-260; The Futility of Wisdom
(1:12-18); The Evils of Oppression (4:1-16) and so on. This is a
man who had unlimited resources to examine life and found only futility
i.e. “there is nothing new under the Sun” (1:9). We are all
caught in this web of futility with seemingly no way out.
However, the Apostle Paul proposed the only remedy to a
world consumed by futility. said this about futility:
“For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the
revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to
futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope”
(Romans 8:19-20). In hope of what?
…that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery
to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God”
“For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers
the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also
we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we
ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly [with
expectation] for our adoption as sons” (Romans 8:22-23).
Thus the cure for futility is the manifestation of the Sons
of God who will release creation from its cursed state. God had this in
mind when He subjected creation in the first place. In His loving mercy,
He foresaw the Coming of Christ and the Sons to set right creation to
its true, original condition—the Kingdom of God.
The whole creation has this travail of childbirth—the plants
and trees, the animals, the weather, the elemental spirits and it is
deep within the spirit of man. Life is travail, a groaning too deep for
words for the coming of the Sons and their deliverance. The words
“release creation” denote the spirits of the evil one Satan, the god of
this world. They must be defeated.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but
against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of
this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the
heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
These spiritual forces, also called powers and
principalities, are currently controlling every aspect of our lives and
the lives of society in general. They promote futility and play upon it,
destroying even the hope to those to who are subjected. Only in Christ
we see the defeat of death and futility, once and for all accomplished
on the cross. As soon as Christ was resurrected the defeat of Satan and
futility was a done deal. Our job, 2000 years later, is to manifest His
victory on this earth. “Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven
[the Spiritual realm of God]” (Matthew 6:10).
However, we must realize the obstacle(s) we are up against
in completing this task. At birth we inherited the fallen futile flesh
nature or “the Adamic nature” (nature of fallen Adam). The Apostle Paul
was well aware of his own flesh being an ever present reality:
“For I know that NOTHING GOOD DWELLS IN ME, that is, in
my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good
For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil
that I do not want.
But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the
one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who
wants to do good… Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from
this body of death?” (Romans 7:18-21).
If Paul, perhaps the greatest Apostle realized that nothing good dwelled
within him so also should we realize that all our human activities are
done in futility, accomplishing nothing.
However Paul found the answer to this seemingly unanswerable
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one
hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other,
with my flesh the law of sin” (Rom 7:26).
He goes on:
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you
free from the law of sin and of death.
For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh,
God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as
an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who
do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the
things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the
things of the Spirit.
For the mind set on the flesh is death [sin is death], but the mind
set on the Spirit is life and peace,
because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it
does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do
and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:2-8).
Many try to know God through their intellect but Paul says
that our very minds and brains are “enmity” against God. Our intellect
does not subject itself to Him and is NOT EVEN ABLE TO DO SO. There is
nothing we can do for God in our natures of futility that pleases Him.
We can’t do enough good works, even in His name; we can’t give enough
money, we can’t go to church enough and we are even unable to love with
His love. He looks on our fallen natures as:
“… [being] like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like FILTHY RAGS;"
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6 KJV).
And: “And there is no one who calls on Your name,
Who stirs himself up to take hold of You;
For You have hidden Your face from us,
And have consumed [caused us to melt] us because of our iniquities”
Christ uncovered the previously held secret, known only to
Abraham: Righteousness comes not by works of the flesh but by faith.
Formerly, the Mosaic Law held man in bondage as it was proven again and
again that man in his fallen nature, could not fulfill God’s
requirements to be righteous. The need of a Messiah became apparent.
Christ fulfilled the law for us so that we could go where He is, seated
at the right hand of the Father, in God’s Spirit realm.
Whereas since the Old Covenant (The Old Testament) was
ineffective in bringing righteousness, Christ initiated the New
Covenant, in His blood, that made righteousness available to all who
believed. Instead of requiring adherence to a code of laws, He required
only faith in Him and his resurrection. This New Covenant was first
prophesied by Jeremiah hundreds of years before Christ’s appearing:
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the
Lord, “when I will make a
new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I
took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My
covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares
“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of
Israel after those days,” declares the
Lord, “I will put My law
within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God,
and they shall be My people.
“They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his
brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of
them,” declares the Lord,
“for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no
more” (Jeremiah 31:30-34, quoted in Hebrews 10:15-17).
This New Covenant applies to all, not just the Jewish
people. All those of faith become God’s chosen people, not just one
nation as in the Old Testament. Paul said: “… there is no distinction
between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian,
Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all”
(Colossians 3:11). And: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly,
nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.
But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which
is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is
not from men, but from God” (Romans 2:28-29). Thus today all
believers become “spiritual Israel”, God’s chosen nation. Physical
Israel no longer enjoys this place exclusively.
Christ rent the veil which formerly blocked the way into the
Holiest of Holies in the temple. He did away with all enmity between God
and man. Their sins were forgiven and forgotten. And all of this by the
immeasurable gift of the Grace of God which is free and unmerited—not by
works so we cannot boast in the flesh that we did it.
God through this grace will impart His nature to us. He will
write His laws on our hearts so that they become our nature and, like
Christ, it becomes impossible to sin. No more preachers and teachers—all
will know Him. His presence will fill the earth as the waters cover the
sea. We will see Him like He is because we will be like him (1 John
God had all of this in mind when he subjected mankind to the
awfulness of a futile existence. He made only one way of escape: the
person of Jesus Christ who abolished the separation from God. We need to
recognize the existence of futility throughout creation so we can
appreciate Christ and His gift of grace. That is our only “hope”.
Everything else is death, decay and unlimited sin.
As Paul said:
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the
things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on
earth [for the things of the earth are temporal but the things above are
For you have died [to your futile nature] and your life is hidden
with Christ in God".
When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be
revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).
THE TRUTH ABOUT ARMAGEDDON
The word Armageddon is not used in the Bible. In Revelation
16:13-16, quoted below, the word “Har Magedon” is used and has been
translated “Armageddon” in some manuscripts. As to the time of it’s
(whatever IT is) coming we do not know.
“And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the
mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three
unclean spirits like frogs;
for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to
the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war
of the great day of God, the Almighty.
“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays
awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and
men will not see his shame.”
And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is
This reference is from the New American Standard Bible.
There is a footnote to Har-Megiddo which notes that the word Armageddon
was used in two other ancient translations. The New International
Version uses Armageddon. The King James Version uses Armageddon.
(meh-GID-oh) is an important town in northern Israel where many battles
were fought. The Book of Revelation tells of a great battle between good
and evil at “Armageddon,” which means “the hill of Megiddo.” (Joshua
12:8–21; 2 Kings 23:29–30; Revelation 16:16). In the New Testament it is
named as the scene of the final battle between the kings of the Earth at
the end of the world. It has been applied to any catastrophically
destructive battle; the First World War was referred to as an
Armageddon". The word Armageddon is derived from Mount, (Har
in Hebrew) and Megiddo, the site of the Battle of Megiddo and other
This location is said to have had its origin in the great
victory of Baruk over King Hasar and his military leader Ciscero (Judges
4:15). Surrounding Megiddo is the Plain of Esdraelon upon which the
great battle was fought, near Mount Megiddo which is referred to in
Megiddo was at the point of a major trade route south. In
order to reach the cities of the south, one had to come through Megiddo.
Therefore, many battles were fought there over access to the road. It
was strategic in that an enemy could cripple a rival nation of its
source of supply and defeat them. The bottom line is that the English
Armageddon means Mount (Har in Hebrew) Megiddo and represents
symbolically the location of the biggest battle yet to come. It is
actually a symbolic as the place where Christ and the Saints finally
defeat Satan. However the idea that this final battle will be fought in
a physical location is not supported by the scriptures.
The final battle that will be fought there is not an actual
physical battle as some believe. Just as The Book Revelation contains
mostly allegorical and symbolic references to the things John saw, so is
this an allegory that refers to a symbolic battle. In Revelation 1:10
John, the author of Revelation says: “I was IN THE SPIRIT on the
Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a
trumpet”. From there to the end of the chapter, John continued “in
the spirit”. He was seeing spiritual realities and conveying them as
best he could into language readers could understand. God had commanded
him to write the book (Rev 1:11).
In the Old Testament, the battles were fought, in Megiddo
and other places, in the physical realm against flesh and blood. All of
that changed in the New Testament. Paul writes: “FOR OUR STRUGGLE
IS NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD, but against the rulers, against the
powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the
spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places”
Our struggle is in the realm of the Spirit where God lives,
against Satan and the evil rulers of that realm. While there may be a
physical battle of some kind on the earth, the main battle is in the
Spirit. The Book of Revelation is not necessarily written
chronologically. It refers backward and forward, as John was seeing the
visions of things in the spirit. He does not say anything about the time
span involved. For instance much of Revelation refers to past nations
and events (see Daniel 7-12 which speaks of past and present events,
many of them past at the time of John). Time itself means little to God.
It is actually a by-product of grace that as the wise Shepherd God has
allowed us time to enter into what He has planned.
“But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that
with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years
like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count
slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but
for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9). And in the Psalms 90
Moses said: “For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday
when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4).
The truth is that we are already, and have been, in this
battle for 2000 years or probably more. Christ defeated Satan on the
cross and entered into the spiritual realm at the right hand of the
Father. He went through the battle and won it for us. It is for us to
manifest His victory so that “Thy will be done on earth as it is in
Heaven” (Matthew 6:10). The spirit realm and the physical merge
together; the New Jerusalem comes down from Heaven. The new temple is a
spiritual temple, not a rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. .
As to the time, Jesus said the following in response to the
disciple’s questions: “As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives,
the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these
things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the
end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). Jesus answered:
and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of
heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone (Matthew 24:35-36).
Jesus ends the parable of the 10 virgins with the following
admonition: [speaking to the unwise virgins] “Truly I say to you, I
do not know you.’ (Matthew 25:12-13). “Therefore be on the alert, for
you do not know which day your Lord is coming. “But be sure of this,
that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the
thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have
allowed his house to be broken into. “For this reason you also must
be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think
He will” (Matthew 24:42-44).
So much for the time of His coming. Speculating about the
time of this or that is just that: speculation. Nobody but the Father
knows the day and hour. You can actually miss God by such speculation
because He is coming at an hour when you don’t expect Him. The same is
true of Armageddon. The real
Armageddon is really being fought inside ourselves right now, but that
must be reserved for another article.
movements have made fools of themselves by preparing for an end of the
world at a specific time. He never came when they thought He would.
Lately we have the 2012 Mayan calendar coming prediction. If no one
knows the day or hour then the Mayans and their calendar couldn’t have
known it either.
The topic here is “is
it coming soon?” The answer is Yes from the Lord’s standpoint.
Revelation says: “And behold, I am coming quickly.
Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book”
(Revelation 22:7). “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is
with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. “I am
the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the
end” (Rev 22:12-13). And: “So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is
in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner
rooms,’ do not believe them. “For just as the lightning comes from the
east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of
Man be” (Matthew 24:25-27).
We can surmise that He is coming suddenly and quickly.
Better we take the Lord’s advice and be
ready all the time. Then we won’t miss Him when He is victorious in the
OVERVIEW OF OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCES TO CHRIST
Testament is so replete with references to Christ that they are far too
numerous to mention in one short article. We will highlight some of the
more obvious references mixed with some references that are not so
readily identified. As a matter of fact the entire Old Testament is
speaking to and of Christ.
Jesus said in
response to the Jews who wanted to kill Him: [you] “Search the
scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they
which testify of me. (John 5:39). The Pharisees were the religious
scholars of the day. They searched the scriptures constantly, even to
the extent of memorizing entire books. They were looking for nuances in
the law that could give that they could use to advance their religious
positions in the guise of religiosity-giving life. Paul indirectly
rebuked them stating: “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to
consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from
God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the
letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives
life. (II Corinthians 3:5-6).
Paul said: “All
Scripture is inspired by God…” (2 Timothy 3:16). Therein lies the
key to the understanding the scriptures. In order to receive the life in
them, and see Christ in them, the scriptures must be read with Divine
revelation. If they are read intellectually they remain as other human
words imparting ideas but not life. Christ said: “It is the Spirit
who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have
spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63).
obvious reference to Christ is in Isaiah Chapter 53, portraying the
suffering servant. Keep in mind that this scripture was written
centuries before the physical appearing of Christ, yet it is the most
complete description of Jesus, His sufferings and His heart that we have
in either Testament.
describes Him thus: “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we
shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is
despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with
grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we
esteemed him not Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried
our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and
afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised
for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with
his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have
turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the
iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:2-6). And (vs. 8): “he was
cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my
people was he stricken. He had done no violence, neither was any deceit
in his mouth.
Chapter 9 His coming to earth and His Kingdom are predicted. “ For
unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government
shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful,
Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon
the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish
it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. (v.
6). Christ is predicted to come from the line of David who was from the
tribe of Judah. He is prophesied to rule the governments of all nations
and will bring peace to a shattered world. He will come as the
ambassador of the Father, which He fulfilled in hid earthly ministry.
From here we
go to the not so obvious references. The Torah, the first five books of
the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy)
primarily deal with God’s chosen people, Christ’s lineage and His
sacrifice. Genesis tells the story of Adam and Eve and their sin which
put mankind into a state of futility that necessitated Christ’s ultimate
coming to take that sin generated futility upon Himself (Genesis, Ch.
2-3). God also gave to Abraham His covenants (agreements) that are still
applicable today, and for eternity. Genesis 12:2-3 states:
will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy
name great; and thou shall be a blessing: And I will bless them that
bless thee, and curse him that curse thee: and in thee shall all
families of the earth be blessed.
promise would be fulfilled through Christ. God promised Abraham that one
day his offspring would inhabit all of what was then Canaan (Gen
13:14-18) and eventually all nations. Today we, as his spiritual
offspring, will inhabit the Kingdom of God, through this promise made to
Abraham, through Jesus Christ. In Ch. 17, God promises through Abraham
abundant fruitfulness for His offspring, the child of promise Isaac, and
institutes circumcision as a sign of God. Through Christ we have
fulfillment of these promises. In Christ we have the promise of abundant
fruitfulness and a circumcision made without hands--a circumcision of
the heart producing righteousness.
fruitfulness of His Son and Sons. “That our sons may be as plants
grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones,
the similitude of a palace: That our garners may be full, affording all
manner of store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten
thousands in our streets: That our oxen may be strong to labour; that
there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in
our streets. Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy
is that people, whose God is the Lord (Psalm 144:12-16, speaking of
the people of God, both ancient Israel and today spiritual Israel).
The child of
promise Isaac: “And I will bless her [Sarah], and give thee a
son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of
nations; kings of people shall be of her. (Gen 17:16). This is a
type of the mother of Christ who also gave birth to a child of promise
who would rule all nations. In Revelation, the Woman clothed with the
sun gave birth to the Son who was caught up to the throne of God the
Father (Revelation Chapter 12). This same woman was also to bring many
more Sons to birth like Christ (see Hebrews 2:10).
Christ brought forth the New Covenant of Faith that would bring a
permanent righteousness in all peoples and nations. But it was first
promised to Abraham, whose faith was reckoned to him as righteousness,
two centuries before Christ’s appearing on earth. As to circumcision, in
Abraham’s day it was a physical sign; through our Savior it became a
circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:28-29), circumcised into His death
that we may have His life.
rich in parallels between the deliverance from Egypt and Christ’s
ministry of deliverance from death. Let us look at some of them;
The saving of Moses from the decree of death made by Pharaoh is a type
of Christ who was also saved from the decree of death by Herod (Exodus
Ch. 2; Matthew 2:16).
Moses was the deliverer of Israel from the oppression of Egypt, through
a series of judgments, just as Christ was to deliver all who believed
from the Kingdom of darkness into His Kingdom of Light (Exodus Ch.
The Passover, the day Israel was delivered, became a perpetual ordinance
observed by Jews and Christians alike (Exodus Ch. 12). “Behold the
Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 36).
Christ is our Passover Lamb (I Corinthians 5:7).
The miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, the rebellion of Israel, the
miraculous works by Moses in the wilderness, the manna and clothes not
wearing out are all manifestations of Christ’s Kingdom where His
children will not wear the works of their hands. The plagues resulting
from disobedience were all types of the manifestations of the flesh
nature of man, who is never satisfied, and who is locked into his
The Books of
the Law (Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) all deal with the
sacrifices of the Aaronic and Levitical priesthood made of behalf of the
people for sin and other conditions. The Priests were the mediators
between God and man, as Christ is our mediator to the Father. In
Leviticus Chapters 1-7 the sacrifices for the people are described:
The law of burnt offerings (Ch. 1)
Grain offerings (Ch. 2)
Peace offerings (Ch. 3)
Sin offerings (Ch. 4)
Guilt offerings (Ch. 5)
Instructions to the Priests administering the various offerings (Chs.
All of these were
types and shadows of Christ’s eternal sacrifice for mankind. We have
such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the
Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary,
and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. For
every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore
it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if he
were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests
that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example and
shadow of heavenly things, (Hebrews 8:1-6).
sacrifices refer to the presentation to the Lord of a lamb without
blemish (Christ was our lamb without blemish or sin). The sacrifice was
burned with fire, as our flesh is burned so that we become pure
offerings (Lev Ch. 1). The blood of the sacrifice was often put on the
ear, big thumb and big toe of the person sacrificing, representing the
hearing of the Word, the authority of God and our walk with God
respectively (Leviticus 14 for example). On the Day of Atonement (Yom
Kippur), the priest would transfer the sin of the people onto the
scapegoat (Azaziel goat in Hebrew) and send it outside the camp to
dispose of the sin, a type of Christ who bore the sins of the world and
removed them by His death on the cross (Leviticus 16).
Old Testament sacrifices are a type and shadow of the better New
Covenant instituted by Christ, the Old Testament sacrifices needed to be
offered continually, whereas Christ’s one sacrifice was sufficient for
eternity. Instead of the laws written on tablets, Christ said: “For
this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after
those days, saith the Lord; I will put
my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I
will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall
not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying,
Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and
their iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 8:10; Jeremiah
The Books of
the Prophets continually enunciate principles of the consequences of
sin, the blessings of obedience to God, and their own sacrificial lives
in following God and speaking His word, battles similar to those we
experience today with the Satanic powers and principalities. David, as a
type of Christ, was a man after God’s own heart. Other parts of David’s
life are also references to Christ, too many to explore here. The poetic
book of Isaiah contains little else that prophetic references to Christ
and His Kingdom, especially from chapter 40 on.
When the Old
Testament is read with this prospective in mind, it becomes far more
meaningful than a bunch of outdated scriptures referring to an ancient
people. However, The Old Testament is the foundation upon which the
great temple of God is being built today—the spiritual Kingdom of His
Son, if you can receive it. Many, many of Old Testament scriptures and
prophecies pertain directly to us in this end-time, which is the time
fulfillment of everything God ever spoke. They also pertain to us
directly as individuals (see Isaiah 40-44). We are those servants spoken
of; we are the Spiritual offspring of the nation of Israel; we are the
spiritual Sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; in us is the fulfillment of
Christ in bringing many Sons to glory with Himself (Hebrews 2:10). God
be praised for His bountiful Word.
*scriptures from King
James Authorized Version
THE BOOK OF ESTHER
ESTHER SAVES THE JEWS
events described in Esther took place in the days of the Persian King
Ahasuerus, who reigned from Persian provinces in India and Ethiopia,
over 127 provinces in all. King Ahasuerus is better known as King Xerxes
(the Greek form of his name). He was the third King to rule Persia after
Cyrus and Darius. In those days he sat on his royal throne which was
at the citadel in Susa, known as the city of lilies. The city was
known for its expansive gardens and other architecture constructed by
the Persians during their world domination.
the third year of his reign Xerxes he gave a banquet for all his princes
and attendants, the army officers of Persia and Media, the nobles
and the princes of his provinces. Persia had developed magnificent
architectural achievements and Xerxes wanted to show off the magnificent
gardens and structures in Susa. He displayed the riches of his royal
glory and the splendor of his great majesty for 180 days. In the castle
there were hangings of fine white and violet linen held by cords
of fine purple linen on silver rings and marble columns, and
couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble,
mother-of-pearl and precious stones. Drinks were served in golden
vessels of various kinds, and the royal wine was plentiful according to
the king’s bounty (Es 1:1-8). Queen Vasthi also held her own celebration
during this time.
ordered Queen Vasthi to come to his celebration but she refused. This
angered the King and the result was he set about to find a Queen to
replace her. The King ordered all the suitable virgins in the province
to be brought before him so he could choose a queen from among them.
There was a colony of Jews who lived near Susa. Their leader was a
Benjamite, from the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai. Mordecai
suggested that Esther, a young virgin, who he considered to be his
daughter (her Father and Mother had died) to join in the competition for
Queen (Es 1:10-22, 2:1-7).
about when the command and decree of the king was heard many young
ladies gathered to the citadel of Susa. Esther was taken to the king’s
palace in the custody of Hegai, who was in charge of the women. Esther
pleased the King and found favor with him. So he quickly provided her
with her cosmetics and food, gave her seven choice maids from the king’s
palace and transferred her and her maids to the best place in the harem.
Esther did not make known her people or her kindred, for Mordecai had
instructed her that she should not make them known since it was
not clear how the people would regard her position, her being a Jew.
She was taken to the primary harem and prepared for a meeting with the
King. When months had passed she met the King and he was pleased with
her. The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor
and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the
royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti (Es. 2:17).
though a Jew, was respected by the King and had access to the King’s
courts. While in that position he was able to observe Esther to see that
no harm come to her. While Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate,
Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s officials from those who guarded
the door, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus
(Xerxes). But the plot became known to Mordecai and he told Queen
Esther, and Esther informed the king in Mordecai’s name. Now when the
plot was investigated and found to be so, both men were both hanged on a
gallows (Es. 2:21-23). So Mordecai saved the King’s life.
events King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha an
Agagite, and advanced him and established his authority over all the
princes who were with him (Es 3:1). Haman was an Agagite and in
his heritage there was a hatred of the Jews. This hatred goes back to
the days of Samuel. Agag was a King of the Amalekites whom Saul defeated
in battle. King Agag was captured alive, contrary to the orders of
Samuel to leave no one alive and take no spoil from the battle. When
Samuel found out Saul had allowed Agag to live, he hacked Agag to pieces
in front of the people (1Sa 15:8-33). It can be assumed that this
resentment carried down through the ages and engendered the hate in
Haman for Jews.
king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage
to Haman; for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai
neither bowed down nor paid homage (Es 3:2). This caused consternation
among the Persian peoples including Haman and Haman plotted to do harm
to the Jews. Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people
scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your
kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and
they do not observe the king’s laws, so it is not in the king’s interest
to let them remain. “If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed
that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver
into the hands of those who carry on the king’s business, to put into
the king’s treasuries.” Then the king took his signet ring from
his hand and gave it to Haman, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews.
Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces to
destroy, to kill and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old,
women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the
twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to seize their possessions
as plunder (Es 3:8-10, 13).
and the Jews found out about this plan, they were much distressed and
went about in sackcloth and ashes. When Esther found out, she fully
investigated the matter and learned all that had happened. She realized
she was the only one who could remedy the situation, although it would
put her in great personal jeopardy. At this time Queen Esther resided in
the harem and did not see the King unless she was called for. She was
not allowed to see him at her own initiative. If she desired to see the
King without being called she faced death. “All the king’s servants
and the people of the king’s provinces know that for any man or woman
who comes to the king to the inner court who is not summoned, he has
but one law, that he be put to death, unless the king holds out to him
the golden scepter so that he may live” (Es 4:11). “Then Mordecai
told them to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s
palace can escape any more than all the Jews. “For if you remain silent
at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from
another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows
whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Es
replied to Mordecai, “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in
Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day.
I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in
to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I
perish” (Es 4:15-16). So Esther appeared before the King and the
King extended his scepter indicating Esther had found his favor. “Then
the king said to her, “What is troubling you, Queen Esther? And what is
your request? Esther said, “If it pleases the king, may the king and
Haman come this day to the banquet that I have prepared for him.” So the
king and Haman came to the banquet which Esther had prepared”. As
they drank their wine at the banquet, the King said to Esther, “What is
your petition, for it shall be granted to you". And what is your
request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be done.” So Esther
replied, “My petition and my request is: if I have found favor in the
sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and
do what I request, may the king and Haman come to the banquet which
I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king says” (Es
the banquet and went home and bragged about his new position and all the
riches that would come his way because of this. He even bragged that he
had been invited to the banquet by the Queen herself. Then he said:
“Yet all of this does not satisfy me every time I see Mordecai the Jew
sitting at the king’s gate.” Then Zeresh his wife and all his friends
said to him, “Have a gallows fifty cubits high made and in the
morning ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on it; then go joyfully
with the king to the banquet.” And the advice pleased Haman, so
he had the gallows made” (Es 5:13-14).
The King was
troubled that night and he had books of records brought to him and
discovered that Mordecai had not been honored for revealing and
thwarting the plot on the King’s life. The King decided to honor
Mordecai. So the King called Haman to him and instructed him “let
them bring a royal robe which the king has worn, and the horse on
which the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown has been
placed; and let the robe and the horse be handed over to one of the
king’s most noble princes and let them array the man whom the king
desires to honor and lead him on horseback through the city square,
and proclaim before him, ‘Thus it shall be done to the man whom the
king desires to honor.’ ” (Es 6:4-9). So the King ordered Haman to
do all these things for Mordecai, which he did. With his head held low,
Haman recounted to Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that
had happened to him. Then his wise men and Zeresh his wife said to him,
“If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish
origin, you will not overcome him, but will surely fall before him.”
(Es 6:10-14). Haman returned to the banquet.
The king and
Haman came to drink wine with Esther the queen. The King again
inquired of Esther what her petition and request was. Then Queen Esther
replied, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it
pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people
as my request; for we [ the Jews] have been sold, I and my
people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated. Now if we
had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would have remained
silent, for the trouble would not be commensurate with the annoyance
to the king.” Then King Ahasuerus asked Queen Esther, “Who is he, and
where is he, who would presume to do thus?” Esther said, “A foe and an
enemy is this wicked Haman!” Then Haman became terrified before the king
and queen” (Es 7:3-6).
The king arose in his anger from drinking wine and
went into the palace garden; but Haman stayed to beg for his life
from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm had been determined against him
by the king. Now when the king returned from the palace garden into the
place where they were drinking wine, Haman was falling on the couch
where Esther was. Then the King said, “Will he even assault the queen
with me in the house?” As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they
covered Haman’s face. Then Harbonah, one of the eunuchs who were
before the king said, “Behold indeed, the gallows standing at Haman’s
house fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai who spoke good on
behalf of the king!” And the king said, “Hang him on it.” So they
hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai, and
the king’s anger subsided” (Es 7:7-10).
hanging of Haman, the King promoted Mordecai. The king took off his
signet ring which he had taken away from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai.
And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman (Es 8:2). The signet
ring represented the authority of the King wherever it was used.
appeared before the King again with a request. She implored him to avert
the evil scheme of Haman the Agagite and his plot which he had devised
against the Jews to destroy them. The King told Esther that he could not
revoke the previous order he made at the behest of Haman because any
order sealed with the signet ring could not be abrogated. However he
said the following: “Now you write to the Jews as you see fit, in
the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring”. In it
the Jews were given the right to defend themselves if and whenever they
were attacked. The letter was sent to all 127 provinces and it:
granted the Jews who were in each and every city the right to assemble
and to defend their lives, to destroy, to kill and to annihilate the
entire army of any people or province which might attack them, including
children and women, and to plunder their spoil”, (Es 8:8-17).
So the Jews
went through all the provinces and confronted all those who meant them
harm. Most of the provinces did not fight them because the King had
shown favor to Mordecai and to the Jews and great dread fell on them
toward the Jews. However the Jews conquered all the men who meant them
harm in the provinces but took no spoil. They also captured Haman’s 10
sons and hung them on gallows. The rest of the Jews who were in
the king’s provinces assembled, to defend their lives and rid
themselves of their enemies, and kill 75,000 of those who hated them;
but they did not lay their hands on the plunder.
recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews who were in
all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, obliging them to
celebrate the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day
of the same month, annually, because on those days the Jews rid
themselves of their enemies. He said it was a month which was
turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a
holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and rejoicing and
sending portions of food to one another and gifts to the poor
Haman in his
scheme to destroy the Jews had cast “pur” against them. “Pur” involved
the casting of lots and consultation with astrologers to determine the
best time to annihilate the Jews. But the Jews turned the “pur” into a
perpetual celebration which they called Pur-im (Purim). It is to this
day a day of rejoicing for the Jews (9:20-32). Queen Esther established
the customs of the feasts and notified Jews everywhere. Mordecai the Jew
was made second only to King Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews
and in favor with his many kinsmen. He was one who sought the good of
his people and one who spoke for the welfare of his whole nation (Es
10:1-3). But it was Esther who risked her life twice by appearing
uninvited before the King who had the power to kill her for this illegal
action. Once again God had intervened on behalf of His people.
THE SUFFERING SERVANT
AS THE WORSHIPPER
Psalm 13 is a Psalm of deep need and faith and is symbolic
of Christ on the cross. It is a short Psalm and is duplicated here for
reference: “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. How long wilt
thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from
me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart
daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear
me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that
trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in thy mercy; my
heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the LORD,
because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
While suffering on the cross Christ cried out: "And
about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli,
lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken
me?" (Matthew 27:46). When God transferred all the sin of the world
upon Him, He had to turn His face from Jesus. Jesus didn't know why.
That not knowing was part of His suffering; His Father turned from Him
at the hour of His greatest need.
Many prophets and men of God have asked the Question "How long"?
Most all (if not all) of those references concern Christ in one way or
another. Christ said: "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye
have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John
5:39). The Old Testament scriptures, first and foremost, were about
Christ, providing details of His life and ministry we don't have in the
Christ walked a lonely ministry. No one could have
understood Him. He continually refers to the multitudes He was speaking
to as those who didn't have "eyes to see nor ears to hear". His own
people, the Israelites, rejected Him. As He says: "O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are
sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together,
even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"
So most of the references to "How long” are references to
mourning, a deep call to the Lord for fulfillment. Even God Himself had
this call: "And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people
provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the
signs which I have showed among them?" (Numbers 14:11).
Jesus was constantly incensed at the disciples for their
unbelief: "And when they were come to the multitude, there came to
him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on
my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into
the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples,
and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless
and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I
suffer you? bring him hither to me" (Matthew 17:14-17).
The cry comes even from the dead: " And when he had
opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were
slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And
they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true,
dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the
earth?" (Revelation 6:9-10).
Who can argue that the following reflects the Lord's thinking: "O ye
sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye
love vanity, and seek after leasing? [deception]" (Psalm 4:2). This
cry must have persisted during the last 2000 years of apostasy.
The Psalms have no less than ten references which cry "How long?" (Psalm
94:3; Psalm 74:9; Psalm 82:2; 6:3; 35:17; 89:46; 62:3; 79:5 to name a
Job, in his unjust sufferings, as Christ suffered unjustly, cried
"How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow
down my spittle? I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou
preserver of men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I
am a burden to myself? And why dost thou not pardon my transgression,
and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou
shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be" (Job 7:19-21).
Jeremiah (12:4), Hosea (8:5), Habakkuk (2:6), Zechariah (1:12) and
Joshua (18:3) all had similar cries. Proverbs 1:22 says: “How long,
ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in
their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?”
Thus Psalm 13:1-4 predicts accurately the cries of Christ,
what He must have felt and what He carried with Him during His life on
earth. Yes the Psalm comes from David's own experiences in his life, but
as we've seen above, his words had a more far reaching meaning, as did
the cries reflected in the words of other men of God. They reflected
Christ in that they came forth from a suffering heart, a reflection of
Christ who suffered more than them all.
David ends the Psalm with a declaration of faith in God, in His
salvation and in worship of Him (vs. 5-6). This is also a common
response in men of God.
Jeremiah laments: "I am the man that hath seen affliction
by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me, and brought me into darkness,
but not into light. Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand
against me all the day. My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath
broken my bones. He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall
and travail..."(Lam 3:1-5 quoted, see 1-20).
But after describing his unjust sufferings he concludes: "My
soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I
recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies
that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new
every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith
my soul; therefore will I hope in him" (Lam 3:20-24). See also Psalm
52:8; Psalm 9:14; Psalm 116:7.
We can take this with us in our walks with God. Men who
suffered probably more than we, always had as their final response
gratitude and worship of the Lord (Psalm 13:6). That is the correct
response of a man of God. He worships in the midst of inhuman suffering.
Another reference to the sufferings of Christ, as spoken by
David, is in Psalm 22:
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from
helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the
daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not
silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were
not confounded...For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked
have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my
bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them,
and cast lots upon my vesture [clothing]".
But he concludes: "I will declare thy name unto my
brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. Ye that
fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and
fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. For he hath not despised nor
abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face
from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard. My praise shall be of
thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear
him. The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD
that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. All the ends of the world
shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the
nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the LORD'S:
(Psalm 22:1-5, 24-28).
So shall be our response to the sufferings He feels
justified to impose on us to His Glory.
*All scripture references are from the King James Authorized Bible
INTRODUCTION TO THE REVELATION TO JOHN’S 7 CHURCHES OF ASIA MINOR
(REVELATION CHAPTERS 2-3)
This chapter is a brief introduction to Revelation chapters
2-3 where John the writer of Revelation was communicating to the seven
churches under his charge. Books could be written of the Christian
wisdom contained in each of the messages to each individual book. Here
we present a brief summary of what John communicated to each church with
the incentive for further study by the reader. Many believe these
churches have tremendous symbolic value in analyzing principles
applicable to the various stages one encounters in a true walk with God.
Scripture says Christ was holding seven stars in His right hand and
walking among the seven golden lampstands. The “stars” were the angels
or messengers of the churches and the “lampstands” were the seven
The Book of
Revelation is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him
[ John]… and He sent and communicated it by His angel
to His bond-servant John,” (Revelation 1:1). Thus the entire Book
is a revelation of Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ Himself is revealed in
the Book. Although many look to revelation for its eschatology value in
predicting future events and judgments the Book is actually telling the
story of Christ’s Second Coming the attendant birth pangs experienced by
the world before and during His coming. The revelation is conveyed to
John through His (Christ’s) angel. Since Christ’s coming to the earth,
and His death and resurrection is the only event in human history with
any significance Jesus Christ is not only revealed in the Book of
Revelation but also in every scripture and event recorded in the Hebrew
and Christian Bible, Old and New Testaments. Jesus Himself said to the
Pharisees: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them
you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;” (John
Most scholars believe
the Book was written about 95 C.E. (A.D.). The book was written to the
churches in Asia then being pastured (shepherded, overseen) by John. The
churches were experiencing a time of persecution, falling away and being
led astray by false prophets. The churches had suffered times of major
persecution were during the Roman leadership of Nero and Domitian,
during the years prior to 95 C.E. They continued to suffer persecution
by succeeding Roman generations and from the Jews as well. The Book of
Revelation was designed to encourage the saints during that time by
pointing out that the victory over Satan had already been won by Christ,
and that the same victory was about to be enforced on the earth by the
saints. John described his words as the "sure Word of God". He described
to them and the Churches that they would of certainty inherit the
Kingdom of God. Their sorrow, sighing, sickness and futility would give
way, and even death itself and all evil would be conquered and
There can be little
doubt that the Apostles and churches of that day saw the coming of the
Lord as an imminent event, to occur in their lifetimes, as we do also in
this day. That the coming of the Lord would be accompanied by great
tribulation was not new news to the early churches as they were already
experiencing some of the most severe persecution ever meted out to a
people in history.
At the time of the
writing of the Book John had been banished to a small island in the
Aegean Sea somewhere off the coast of modern Turkey called Patmos
(Revelation 1:9). It probably served as a Roman penal colony. John was
imprisoned there for speaking the word of Christ.
The second and third
chapters of Revelation contain specific instructions to those churches.
These chapters are often overlooked by exposés of the Book of
Revelation. Theologians instead focus on the disasters predicted later
in the book and on the end of the world. However the instructions in
Chapters 2-3 are very applicable to the Christian church today. God
points out where each church is doing well, but tells them where they
were falling short. Each one of these passages contains vital principles
pertinent to enduring in the face of severe satanic assault and
possessing the Kingdom of God which was the ultimate goal. These
principles, and the words of John in the Book of Revelation, have great
significance to Christians today as we strive to possess the same goal
in our individual and collective walk(s) with God today.
EPHESIANS, He said that He recognized their perseverance, toil
and discernment. But He had against them that had left their first
love (God) and began to focus on other things. John instructed them
to remember from where they had fallen and to turn and do their first
deeds. (Rev. 2:1-7). This first love relationship with God is actually
the foremost commandment. Matthew 22:34-40 records: When
the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they
were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him
a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great
commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord
thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy
mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like
unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two
commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (See also
Deuteronomy 6:5; Luke 10:25-27).
beginning of our salvation experience, when we were first introduced to
God, we tended to love Him first, but later as our ministries and
responsibilities increased, we may have began to put our works first to
the exclusion of our love relationship with God. Or we may have fallen
victim to the spirit of this age, when iniquity abounds, and “the
love of many will wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). In that first love
relationship comes the proclamation “seek ye first the kingdom of
God, and his righteousness; and all the things we eagerly seek will
be added to us (Matthew 6:33). We love the Lord first then the
works and the blessings are derived from that.
God warns of the persecution that is to come and that they should not
fear (Rev. 2:8-10). He recognizes their tribulation, poverty and their
battle against the synagogue of Satan and warns them to endure to
the end and receive the crown of life. The synagogue of Satan then were
the legalistic Jews who denied Christ as the Messiah and continually
advocated that the Christian church return to Jewish legalism, instead
of holding to the freedom of Christ’s gift of grace. Today the
synagogues of Satan may be the large, denominational, universal churches
who, in the name of Christ, are actually preaching hypocrisy, legalism
and blasphemy. Paul says: “For such are false apostles, deceitful
workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no
marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as
the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their
works. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). The word Lucifer actually means the
“light bearer” and religion is the perfect place for the “enlightened
one” to practice his wiles. easy.
To PERGAMUM (Rev.
2:12-17) God said He knew where they dwelled, where Satan’s throne was,
and that did not deny their faith. In other words they lived spiritually
in a place of great battle and persecution, on the “front lines” so to
speak. However, God still had against them that some held to the
teaching of Balaam. Balaam was a diviner and practitioner of witchcraft
in Old Testament times who had some knowledge of God. He entered into
league with the King of Moab to curse Israel coming up from the
wilderness. God blocked his blasphemy and Balaam actually ended up
speaking a blessing on Israel. The “error of Balaam” spoken of By Jude
(v.11) was that, through his limited knowledge of God, Balaam was sure
God would curse Israel because of their sin. He was killed in the
ensuing battle Israel won over Moab.
We too must be aware
of the false prophets who come in the name of the Lord, yet seek to
destroy us. They, like Balaam, make pacts with pagan nations (or demonic
spirits today) for their own monetary gain, never for the glory of the
Lord. Such divisive men or groups can be very convincing and may even do
miracles. However, on that day, Jesus will say, despite their great
works, that He never knew them as He casts them into everlasting hell
To THYATIRA, God said
He said He knew their deeds of faith, love, service and perseverance,
and that their deeds “of late” were more than their deeds “at first”.
But He had against that they still tolerated the spirit of Jezebel who
led Israel astray with deeds of sorcery and sexual immorality (Rev.
2:18-29). Jezebel was the Queen of Israel alongside King Ahab in about
871 B.C. She instituted the worship of Baal [a pagan god] in Israel, set
up idols for him and became close to hundreds of Baal priests. She had
many of the prophets of God slain in the name of Baal. Elijah, the
prophet, finally had to defeat the Baal priests and slew over 400 of
them. Jezebel was eventually slain at the instance of Jehu and was
thrown from an upper window and eaten by dogs (2 Kings Chapters 16-19).
Tolerating the spirit of Jezebel by any Christian church or person
greatly perverts the atmosphere of the church and is at the root of the
sexual perversion we have seen in modern churches lately.
SARDIS (Rev 3:1-6) God warns them: “I know thy works, that thou hast
a name that thou livest, and art dead. Wake up and strengthen the things
which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works
perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and
heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch
(NASB “wake up”) I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not
know what hour I will come upon thee. Jesus warns in the Gospels
that He will come as a “thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2),
when everyone is asleep, except those who are watching for Him. As Jesus
said: “But of that day [the coming of the Lord] or hour no
one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father
alone.” Mark 13:32. Therefore we must be on the alert (see Matthew
25:1-13, the parable of the 10 Virgins).
Speaking to the
church at PHILADELPHIA (brotherly love in Greek, the Faithful) God
praises them for their keeping His Word and not denying Him. Rev
3:7-13), He prophesies that those of the synagogue of Satan will bow
down at their feet. He tells them to hold fast what they have in the
midst of the testing that will come on the whole world until His coming
and the coming of the New Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God. They must have
been doing something right.
Finally to the church at LAODICEA (Revelation 3:14-22), God gives
possibly His most poignant instruction: Be hot or cold, not lukewarm,
in your faith; the lukewarm "I will spit out of my mouth. His
entire warning is very important to us as Christians in this end-time:
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou
wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold
nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am
rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest
not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and
naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou
mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that
the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with
eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten:
be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and
knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to
him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will
I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set
down with my Father in his throne.
this time, where the love of many is waxing cold, where people are
crying peace and safety, where many are or feel rich and have need of
nothing, when Satan is working to wear down even the Saints of the Most
High. Evil abounds everywhere, many become lukewarm in their faith.
God’s seeming delay in coming often contributes to that. Those who
become lukewarm are not the unbelievers; God is speaking to those who at
one time had a revelation of the Lord, and were once red-hot in their
faith towards Him. When these become lukewarm, they may just as well go
all the way and become servants of Satan because God seems to hate both
with the same intensity. Also, if a man goes one way or the other, God
can more easily deal with him than the lukewarm one who chooses what
pleases him at the moment and listens only when he wants too. The
lukewarm straddle the fence, hedging their bets, ready to go one way or
the other and are tossed by the winds of circumstances. Being spit out
from the mouth of God seems an experience we all want to avoid. We avoid
this by guarding our intensity for the Lord and our fixed focus on Him
and His promises which Revelation promises will be fulfilled.
can learn many lessons from God’s viewpoint of what is and what isn’t
right in our walks with Him. He, as the Faithful and True, always gives
us the opportunity to repent, to turn away from the thing that
displeases Him. Despite what we have done, Heaven rejoices over those
who repent and turn away. And as to the things we are doing right, we
should receive our praise, arming us even further in our gathering of
armor with which we will manifest Christ’s victory on earth.
SLAIN BY THE
SPIRIT - OR LIVING IN IT
Christians today use the term “slain by the spirit” to describe an
encounter they may have experienced with God. This term is, however,
meaningless in context of a true Christian’s walk with God. The real
issue is not whether you have been “slain” (does not imply literal
death) in an experience with the spirit of God but whether you can
permanently abide in the experience of His spirit. Abiding with God is
an experience but it is a permanent eternal experience that we can have
every minute of every day.
Chapter 8 is basic teaching for those who desire to walk with God in His
Spirit. That chapter will be explored below. However we must
first realize that the only way we can know or experience God is through
His spirit. "God is a spirit and those who worship must worship in
SPIRIT and in truth” (John 4:24). It makes sense that if God is a
Spirit, the only way to truly relate to Him is through the realm where
He lives-the realm of the Spirit. All humans have a spirit as well as a
soul and body but it is through the dominance of our spirits in Christ,
over the soul and body, that we truly experience all of God.
we get explore this further consider some instances in the Bible where
men of God had overwhelming experiences with God and the results. At the
time of the completion of Solomon’s temple, the spirit of the Lord so
filled His temple that the ministers could not even stand to minister. 2
Chronicles 5:14 says: “…the house of the
Lord, was filled with a
cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the
cloud, for the glory of the Lord
filled the house of God”.
Daniel the prophet asked the Lord what was to
become of Israel as it was captive in the land of Persia in the time
following their captivity by Babylon. Daniel sought God to receive an
answer as to how long it would be until Israel again possessed their
promised land where they had dwelled since the time of Joshua. To that
end Daniel fasted until he received an answer to his question. He
records his experience as follows:
“On the twenty-fourth day of the first month,
while I was by the bank of the great river, that is, the Tigris, I
lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed
in linen, whose waist was girded with a belt of pure gold of Uphaz.
His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of
lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like
the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound
of a tumult [or roaring]. Now I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, while
the men who were with me did not see the vision; nevertheless, a great
dread fell on them, and they ran away to hide themselves. So I was
left alone and saw this great vision; yet no strength was left in
me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained
no strength. But I heard the sound of his words; and as soon as I heard
the sound of his words, I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my
face to the ground (Daniel 10:4-9).
Thus Daniel records the experience of
seeing God or His angel as being so overwhelming that he became filled
with dread, lost his strength and fell on his face into a deep sleep. An
angel had to lift him to his feet in order to tell him the answer to his
Similar experiences are recorded in the scriptures.
For instance, in Revelation John fell at the feet of a heavenly being
that wasn’t even God but one of his slain brothers who were in heaven
(the spirit realm). John said: “Then he [the heavenly being]
said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the
marriage supper of the Lamb.’ ” And he said to me, “These are true
words of God.” Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said
to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your
brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the
testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation
Isaiah saw the Lord and became “undone”. He said:
“In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a
throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the
temple… Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! [another
translation “undone”] Because I am man of unclean lips, And I live
among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the
Lord of hosts.”
(Isaiah 6:1, 5).
The term “slain in the spirit” is found nowhere in
the Bible or in any noteworthy commentaries or other supporting
literature. It was probably coined by the Pentecostal and/or Charismatic
movements to describe an experience with God. There have, however, been
instances where men were actually slain (killed) by an encounter with
God. For example in Leviticus 10:1-2 scripture says: “Now Nadab and
Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after
putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire
before the Lord, which He
had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the
Lord and consumed them,
and they died before them” (see also Numbers 26:61; Numbers 3:4).
5:1-6, Luke records as incident that occurred in the early church:
“But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of
property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s
full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the
apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your
heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price
of the land? “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And
after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you
have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but
to God.” And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed
his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. When his
wife Sapphira was confronted by Peter about the same incident she also
fell dead on the spot (Acts 5:8-10).
Korah and his family met a similar fate as they
rebelled against Moses while Israel was in the wilderness. As Moses and
the sons of Korah confronted each other the following occurred: “As
he finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them
split open; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and
their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their
possessions. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to
Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the
midst of the assembly. All Israel who were around them fled at their
outcry, for they said, “The earth may swallow us up!” Fire also came
forth from the Lord and
consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense”
Thus there are instances recorded in the Bible
where men have been “slain by the spirit” of God, some positive some
negative. Certainly Paul’s experience with God on the road to Damascus
was a life changing experience (Acts 9:3-6). Individual experiences
with God can have a lasting, sometimes devastating, effect. The phrase
“slain by the spirit” could be used to describe this and other
experiences by men with God. However those types of experiences are for
the most part isolated events and not the sustained walk God would
require of us as citizens of the Kingdom. The goal is to “stand” in the
presence of the Lord continually, not be so slain that we cannot
scriptures say that no man, that is flesh, can see God and live. The
only way to see Him is through the Spirit (John 4:24 above). There yet
remains the promise of seeing God and living. Jacob saw Him. “Then
Jacob asked, “Please tell me your name.” “Why do you ask my name?” the
man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. So Jacob named the place
Peniel, explaining, “Certainly I have seen God face to face and
have survived.” (Genesis 32:29). Moses saw God but only His back
(Exodus 33:23). Christ said: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for
they shall see God” Matthew 5:8).
world today tends to unduly exalt experiences with the spirit of God and
to use those types of experiences as evidence of their spirituality.
Such experiences have become identifying marks of the movement wherein
they occurred. The Quakers were so named because they quaked when the
spirit came upon them. The Pentecostals were called “holy rollers”
because they rolled on the floor when moved by the “spirit’. The
Pentecostals, they say, also fell backward from the power of God.
Christian history is filled with so called “outpourings of the spirit”
where believers experienced miracles and healings and other wondrous
experiences. However these experiences were always temporary and died
out almost as soon as they started.
never been a sustained movement of God which advocated a total walk in
God’s spirit on a 24/7 basis since Paul and the early church. The so
called Charismatic (or the new age) movements are perhaps the most
sophisticated mail-line Christian movements in existence today. However,
if one attends or studies these movements, one will discover that these
movements morphed turn into performances or shows fashioned to cater to
certain segments of the population, making their form of religion
palatable to the public. For instance the Christian rock music craze
makes religion palatable to the young people who are tired of the
staunch religious morality teaching of most fundamental churches. Few
churches actually teach and practice the principles of a true walk with
God in the spirit.
There is yet something more that God has
for His people. And it is not a church or a movement, although a true
move of God may be temporarily housed in a church as a means to an end.
The church age can be likened to Noah’s ark. The ark carried Noah’s
family through the storms but when the storms receded, Noah and his
family left the ark and populated the earth. The ark is a type of church
that has carried us to the ultimate goal-the Kingdom of God. Once the
ark (church) was no longer needed it became obsolete. Hebrews is clear
that in the Kingdom Age there will be no need for churches: “And
they shall not teach
everyone his fellow
And everyone his brother,
the Lord,’ For all
will know Me, From
the least to the greatest
of God is not just an experience-it is a dwelling place. Although most
believers miss it, Christ’s entire teaching concerned the coming Kingdom
of God. His Kingdom is not of this world as Christ told Pilate prior to
His crucifixion. “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom
were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would
not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this
realm.” (John 18:36).
although His Kingdom is not of this present age, it is to come on the
earth. Christ’s only instructions on how to pray included the prayer:
“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven;”
(Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2). The Kingdom is thus a conjunction of the two
realms, being the joining of the spirit realm with that of the earthly.
Christ second coming is to the earth where he will set up His Kingdom
and rule. He will bring with Him the dead in Christ with Him “to the
Christianity still clings to the fallacy of dying
and going to heaven where everything becomes perfect. Nowhere in the
scriptures is this concept confirmed. Actually it is clearly rebuffed.
In Hebrews 11 the writer goes through a litany of the men of God who
walked in faith but died without having received the promise including
Moses, Abraham and other prophets. Hebrews is clear that by dying they
did not receive the entire promise. Actually it is left to us, here on
earth, to obtain perfection for them. Hebrews 11:39-40 says: “And all
these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive
what was promised, because God had provided something better for
us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect”.
says that Christ will not return until all His enemies have been made a
footstool for His feet here on earth. As stated: “ …but He, having
offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat
down at the right
hand of God, waiting from
that time onward until His
enemies be made a footstool for
His feet. (Hebrews 10:12-13; see also Psalm 110:1; Hebrews
1:13; Luke 20:43).
Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father, in “heaven” (the
spirit realm) waiting for us here to defeat his enemies. The enemies we
must defeat are described in Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is
not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the
powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the
spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places”.
religion, and churches that survive by isolated experiences, are some of
the worst enemies to the coming Kingdom of God. Paul said, while
speaking of the false teachers infiltrating the true Christian church:
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming
themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself
is transformed into an angel of light. “Therefore it is no great thing
if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness;
whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians
11:13-15). The false apostles of whom Paul speaks were those who
advocated a religion that governed such things as what you should eat,
how you should act, what laws you should obey etc. all abrogating the
freedom in Christ Paul was preaching.
opposed to a spiritual walk with God, is not from God but many times is
from the devil. Satan’s true angelic name is Lucifer which means “light
bearer” or “enlightened one”. Satan was the brightest angel in “heaven”
before his fall. He is also described as the “bright star of the
morning” or “bright morning star” (Isaiah chapter 14). As Paul said, he
turned his light into darkness which manifested in various areas of evil
including the deception of God as a religion, dictating morality and
codes of conduct or exalting “secret knowledge” over knowledge of God,
such as the Gnostics.
In any event
our goal should not be seeking an isolated experience with God but an
abiding experience which becomes our dwelling place. Elijah the prophet
had apparently reached a similar abiding. He was referred to as he who
“stood in the presence of the lord” (1 Kings 17:1). Notice he stood; he
was not slain and was not off his feet. We too must learn to “stand” in
the presence of the Lord.
In Romans 8
Paul tells us how to do this. In order to see and experience God we
must live where He lives, that is, in the spirit realm. Humans we are
composed of spirit, soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). We have, as
part of our being, a spirit that is capable of communicating with and
walking with God, who is Himself a spirit. The soul and body,
collectively referred to as “the flesh” by Paul, will not allow us to
walk with God or experience or see Him. Our soul and body can
communicate with God but only in subjection to our spirit.
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you
free from the law of sin and of death...so that the requirement of the
Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but
according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set
their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to
the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is
death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the
mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject
itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those
who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the
flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you…If
Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit
is alive because of righteousness… But if the Spirit of Him who
raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus
from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His
Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation,
not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living
according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are
putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are
being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” Romans
these passages we find that only through the spirit can we walk with and
be led by God. The true Sons of God are those who know Him through the
Spirit and are led by Him through the Spirit. If we have this spirit
from God within us, it can even give life to our mortal bodies, which
abrogates the idea that we have to die first to receive this.
the intellect and the emotions in their daily walk. Man understands the
intellect to be supreme as he struggles with His mind to understand his
existence. Man, through his intellect, can see to the furthest reaches
of the universe, but cannot find God. He doesn’t realize that God exists
in a place, called the spirit realm, beyond human understanding. That
realm is more real than the one we purportedly live in now-it lies
beyond our human sight-we have eyes but we don’t see, ears but we don’t
God found through our emotions. The reason for this article was
originally intended to understand the experience of being “slain by the
Lord”. Most of these experiences are of the emotional variety. The idea
is not to be slain by him but to “live” in his Spirit daily and
We cannot be
those who just carry Christ around with us as we go about our everyday
lives. Our everyday lives become Him. We are, as Paul said, citizens of
the Kingdom of God (Philippians 3:20). That is our true address. And as
citizens we become ambassadors of that realm to the world (2 Corinthians
5:20). This ambassadorship goes far beyond just convincing people to
accept Christ and be saved or passing out literature. We become those
who transform the lives of those around us, by the power of Christ,
which is far greater than any earthly power. As citizens of the Kingdom
we transform the earth and bring His enemies down so that they become
His footstool. The sweet bye and bye becomes the here and now.
Creation is under divinely imposed futility and has
been since the Garden of Eden. Paul said: “For the creation was
subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who
subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free
from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the
children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and
suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this,
but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we
ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as
sons, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:20-23).
We are not just Christians who have been saved and
know we will go to heaven when we die. We are not waiting passively for
some kind of rapture. We are liberators of ourselves and of the entire
creation, if what Paul is saying is true. We are aggressively pursuing
our complete adoption as Sons and the redemption of our bodies here and
now. We are preparing the place for Christ’s return. The coming Kingdom
must occupy our entire being.
John saw what
we are to experience in a vision. “Then I saw a new heaven and a
new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and
there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for
her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold,
the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and
they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He
will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer
be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or
pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the
throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said,
“Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me,
“It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of
life without cost.“He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I
will be his God and he will be My son” Revelation 21:1-7).
We are the
new heaven and earth coming down from heaven. This is because we walk in
the kingdom age of the spirit and bring it down to earth where it
replaces everything else in our lives and in creation itself.
THE BIBLE: HUMAN
AUTHORS SO FALLIBLE TEACHING?
The fallibility of
the Bible, because it was written by fallible human beings, is a common
criticism professed by many scholars and unbelievers today. Because they
cannot understand it, they discount its accuracy and emphasize its
seeming contradictions on the grounds that it can’t be accurate because
it was written by mere men. This theory is fallible for several reasons.
The only way one can
understand the Bible is through spiritual revelation. That's because it
is deliberately veiled so it cannot be comprehended by the human mind. 2
Corinthians 4:3-4 states: "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is
veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world
has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the
light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God".
The god of this world referred to is Satan, who is the generator of all
the evil forces here on earth. Interpreting the Bible by the
unenlightened mind is impossible.
Romans 8:6-7 states:
"For the mind set on the [human] flesh is death but the mind
set on the spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh
is hostile (or enmity) toward God, for it does not subject itself
to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so".
The natural man does
not understand the things of the Spirit. "A natural man does not
accept the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to
him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually
appraised (Romans 2:14).”God is a spirit and they who worship
[understand] Him must do so in Spirit and in truth" (John 4:23).
In other words, the
Bible is for everyone but is understandable only by spiritual revelation
from God. Christ's gift of life was intended for all. But it is not for
those who are perishing because they try to understand God’s truth with
their human minds. Human writings convey ideas and emotions. God's word
conveys life. It is written by men yes, but that is the way God intended
it. He chose to move through human vessels. The Bible was written by men
who were inspired by God to speak his Word in the earth.
“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are
perishing, in whose case the god of this world
blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the
light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of
God. “But we have this treasure in earthen [human] vessels, so
that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not
“From the mouth of infants and nursing
babes You have established strength Because of Your adversaries, to
make the enemy and the revengeful cease (Psalm 8:2).
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are
perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For
it is written, “I will destroy
the wisdom of the wise,
And the cleverness of the clever I
aside.”Where is the wise
man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not
God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of
God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was
well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to
save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:18-21).
Therefore it is God’s purpose to reveal Himself through man. God is
pleased to do this because it is then His who receives the glory. Since
everything God does is impossible for men, he chooses to use them so the
observers will see God through the fallibility of the earthen vessel. To
those who do not see, including the great men, the great minds and
theologians are the fallible fools because the real things of God are
hidden from them.
bible is rife with examples of humans not "having eyes to see or ears to
hear". The disciples asked Jesus why He spoke to the multitudes in
parables. He answered them:
"To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of
Heaven, but to them it has not been granted" (Matthew 13:10-11).
Jesus said: "...no one comes to the Father except through Me"
(John 14:6). All the intelligence and wisdom of the earth will not lead
you to God. In fact God laughs at the wise of this age. The disciples
were ignorant and unlearned men; fishermen, laborers and hated tax
collectors. Jesus himself was a mere carpenter. Certainly fallible men
were those chosen by God to speak His Word.
It is amazing that
through the ages, the many translations and re-translations of the Bible
have still come out to be the Word of God even for this day. When you
compare the Dead Sea Scrolls scriptures, written 2000 years ago, with
today's Bible, you find them nearly alike. The Septuagint, the Greek
version of the Old Testament, written before the Dead Sea Scrolls in
about 300 B.C. It is substantially similar to the versions we use today
and was the version quoted by the early Apostles in their writings.
able, through the ages, to use unskilled and uneducated men, to preserve
accurately what He wanted to say, even to this present age. The real key
to understanding the Bible is to be open to the truth that the Bible IS
the Word of God. Yes, it's a miracle. But what about God isn't? Thank
God we today can read the Bible, recognizing it for what it is; the
unadulterated Word of God. Admitting any less and we would be severely
limiting an unlimited God.
If we do not believe
this, and try to interpret God’s by our futile minds, without
supernatural revelation from God, we become lost in complexities,
questionings, lack of faith and belief, leading to the human
interpretation of a Spiritual Book. Any mind can find fault. It is the
spiritual who understand. That is the greater miracle.
THE BOOK OF HOSEA
Prophet of Love, Judgment and Harlotry
The Book of
Hosea the prophet contains the dealings of God on Hosea, which were
allegorically a picture of God’s of love for and judgment upon His
people Israel. Essentially God put Hosea through hard circumstances to
show Israel of His (God’s) longing for a faithful marriage relationship
between Him and them. The book contains at least three layers of
symbolism, applicable to three periods of the nation of Israel. God is
speaking to natural Israel of Hosea’s time; He is speaking of the coming
of the Messiah; and He is speaking of the end-time establishment of the
spiritual Kingdom of God. The book alternates between God’s anger at the
unfaithfulness of His people and promises of restoration.
and prophesied in the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the 8th
century B.C., although he refers to Judah frequently. He was the only
writing prophet to have come from the Northern Kingdom of Israel. These
were the final days of that Kingdom; they were conquered by Assyria in
733 B.C. During Hosea’s time, there was a 25 year period in which six
different Kings reigned. Many of them were killed in office, some by
their successors. It was a sorrowful time for Israel and Samaria, its
Hosea was put
into circumstances designed to represent how God felt about the
unfaithfulness of His chosen bride and wife Israel. God made Hosea an
example to Israel. Through his dealings with Hosea, God showed them both
his heart of love for them and His grief for their apostasy. He
continues to promise them restoration, despite their unfaithfulness.
Hosea to take a wife of harlotry (a whore) and to have children by her.
In Hebrew harlotry is “zanuwn” which means whoredom, fortification,
idolatry, unfaithfulness, adultery and to commit illicit sexual
intercourse. This was meant to describe to Israel their whoredom towards
God by forsaking Him for other gods. So in obedience Hosea took a
prostitute wife named Gomer. She bore him a son called by God Jezreel
(God scatters), representing God’s intention judge the house (sons of)
Jehu and to thereafter scatter Israel (Hosea 1:1-4). She bore two other
children that the majority of scholars agree were not Hosea’s children,
but children of harlotry. The daughter was named Loruhamah, which means
“she has not received compassion” (Hosea 1:6-7). No sooner had she
weaned her daughter she had a son (again probably from harlotry) and he
was named Lomammi. By his birth God was speaking to Israel “you are
not My people and I am not your God” (Hosea 1:9).
occurs many times in the book, despite their harlotry, God offers Israel
and Judah restoration: “Yet the number of the sons of Israel Will be
like the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered; And
in the place Where it is said to them, “You are not My people,” It
will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God.” And the
sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together,
And they will appoint for themselves one leader, And they will go up
from the land, For great will be the day of [The Valley of]
Jezreel (Hosea 1:10-11).
The Book goes on from then, alternating between God’s grief
and anger to promises of future blessing. For example in Hosea 2:2-4:
“Contend with your mother, contend, For she is not my wife, and I am
not her husband; And let her put away her harlotry from her face
And her adultery from between her breasts,
Or I will strip her naked and expose her as on the day when she was
I will also make her like a wilderness, Make her like desert land
And slay her with thirst.
“Also, I will have no compassion on her children,
Because they are children of harlotry".
Then (vs. 18,
19-20) God says: “In that day I will also make a covenant for them
… “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in
righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion,
And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the
In Chapter 3, God tells Hosea to buy back his wife Gomer,
which he does.
Then Hosea said to her,
“You shall stay with me for many days. You shall not play the harlot,
nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you.”
why: “For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king
or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or
household idols [teraphim]. Afterward the sons of Israel will
return and seek the Lord
their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the
Lord and to His goodness
in the last days (Hosea 3:4-5).
words God is comparing Gomer’s state, as described by Hosea, to Israel’s
future when they no longer serve other gods and return to the Lord.
In Chapter 4,
God returns to His tirade against Israel. He accuses them of swearing,
deception, murder, stealing adultery. He said they employ violence and
bloodshed so that the land mourns (4:2-3). He calls them stubborn and
accuses them of playing the harlot and drinking to excess. The entire
chapter is of the same vein. Chapter 5 is similar.
“For I will be like a lion to Ephraim
And like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away,
I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver.
I will go away and return to My place
Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me”
But in verse 6:1-3 god returns to His promises of hope:
“Come; let us return to the
For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.
“He will revive us after two days;
He will raise us up on the third day,
That we may live before Him.
“So let us know, let us press on to know the
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Here, God compares the Old Covenant that was and the New
Covenant that was to come.
I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of
God rather than burnt offerings. But like Adam they have
transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against
Me.” (v. 6:6).
In the remaining chapters, God continues to describe Israel
as the harlot. But in chapter He again promises restoration and
will heal their apostasy,
I will love them freely,
For My anger has turned away from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
He will blossom like the lily,
And he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon
As we said, Hosea contains abundant symbolism, both of the
first advent of Christ and of His second coming. Jesus came to a land
much the same as that described in Hosea. Sin was rampant, especially in
the priesthood. Of the Pharisees, Sadducees and the studiers of the law
He said they were the blind leading the blind. He said they were of
their Father the Devil and hypocrites, white washed sepultures. He
grieved over Israel then as He did in Hosea’s time saying:
who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I
wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her
chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. ‘Behold, your house is
being left to you desolate! “For I say to you, from now on you will not
see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the
Lord” (Matthew 23:37-39).
recitation of the state of mind of God (it was Christ speaking) was
essentially the same as expressed by Christ – anger, frustration and
disappointment. Yet He came to fulfill what He said He would and to
offer to Israel the same promises as He did in Hosea – to restore their
fortunes, make them fruitful and to describe the Kingdom He had reserved
for them. But as Israel had done countless times before, they went back
to their harlotry and idolatry. This time, as Jesus predicted, they were
completely destroyed as a nation by the Romans in 70 A.D.
So the book of Hosea is
saying essentially the same thing as Christ said. Those promises
were never fulfilled with natural Israel, nor will they ever be. They
were judged harshly, only this time for good. But the promises remain to
be fulfilled in this generation under the New Covenant of Christ through
has deceived the whole world. People are steeped in various kinds of sin
– adultery, false prophets of religion, and idols of commercialism
without love or compassion just like the days of Israel in the Old
Testament. Today God still holds out His hand for repentance and
restoration, but few see. “Oh Lord your hand is lifted up but they do
not see” (Isaiah 26:11). And today the promise is for everyone, not
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is
circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is
one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the
Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from
God” (Romans 2:28-29).
to save the entire world, to anyone who would hear Him, so that “For
God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten
[literally means: unique, only one of His kind] Son, that whoever
believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John
3:14-16). God is this time holding out the Kingdom of God for all
Most all the
Old Testament prophets preached much the same message as Hosea. Yet
nothing has changed from that day until now. The promise is still there
for us, but who has eyes to see it? Israel is still small; God’s elect
are but a few. And judgment, this time eternal, faces those who do not
It is amazing
that God would require a man of His own choosing to experience God’s own
pain because of Israel’s apostasy. Hosea was required to fall in love
with and marry an unfaithful whore, and suffer the grief of her lack of
faithfulness. Children were born to this wife which was probably not
his. Hosea’s life must have been a sea of grief and heartsickness. Yet
God gets His point across to us, where He probably didn’t to ancient
Israel. God has feelings, deep feelings, and deep longings. He hurts
while His own people go astray. He desires a marriage relationship with
His people. When your lover is unfaithful, we all know the resulting
heartbreak and pain. God is no different. We exist in His image,
emotionally as well as physically.
We long today
to please the Lord and heal His own hurts, which are no different from
ours. He proved that by sending His Son to experience the human
condition and to show He had the same nature as we. God is love. When
our love towards Him fails, then His entire plan for creation fails.
That is why the greatest commandment is for us to love Him with all of
our hearts and minds. Only then is His purpose fulfilled. We must long
to be those people who give God what He has always wanted.
THE BOOK OF MALACHI
the self proclaimed "Messenger of the Lord", wrote his book in or around
430 B.C. The context in which he wrote was: Israel had been taken
captive by Babylon for 70 years. When Persia conquered Babylon, the Jews
were allowed to return to Jerusalem and, through the efforts of Ezra and
Nehemiah, rebuilt the destroyed city and the temple of the Lord.
Nehemiah introduced many reforms in the country including programs to
help to the poor, to shun Israeli marriages with surrounding pagan
nations, to keep the Sabbath and reinstated the tithe to God. In 433
B.C. he returned to Persia to resume his former duties to the King of
Persia. After he left, the Kingdom fell back into sin, similar to what
they had done before the Babylonian captivity. It was during this period
that Malachi prophesied.
contains a number of questions posed by God on behalf of the people. The
Lord also poses sarcastic questions on behalf of the people usually
beginning with "But you say". In verse 2, God says:
"I have loved
you," says the LORD. But you say, "How hast Thou loved us?" "Was not
Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob; but I
have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation, and
appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness."
In other words, God says that He CHOSE to love Jacob (Israel) over Esau
He said He "hated" Esau, Jacob's twin brother, who sacrificed his
birthright for a bowl of stew. But God had made a covenant (contract)
with Israel to love them, a covenant He intended to keep.
He cursed the people
for a variety of sins including offering blemished (lame and sick)
animal sacrifices to Him on the altar. He also called up short swindlers
for selling the best of their flock while giving God the blemished
Chapter 2, he curses the priesthood and blames them for accepting
blemished sacrifices, while praising the original Levitical priesthood,
under Levi, son of Israel (Jacob). He says in Mal 2:7-9:
"For the lips of a
priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from
his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But as for you,
you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by
the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi...So I also
have made you despised and abased before all the people, just as you are
not keeping My ways, but are showing partiality in the instruction"
(using the office to advance their own goals).
poignant section God likens Israel to an unfaithful spouse: "[The]
LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against
whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your
wife by covenant. So take heed to your spirit that you do not deal
treacherously." (Mal 2:14-16).
after condemning Israel for two chapters of the book, admonishes them in
Chapter 3. First, He tells them of the purifying process they are going
to undergo when the Lord was to be fully revealed.
"Behold, I am
going to send My messenger
[perhaps John the
Baptist] and He will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you
seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the
covenant [the New Covenant], in whom you delight, behold, He is
coming," says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of His
coming? And who can stand when He appears? ("Mal 3:1-2).
words, no one "can see God and live" (Exodus 33:20). Therefore,
the sons of Israel must be purified so that they can see God (Jesus)
when He appears. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see
God" (Matt 5:8).
"For He is like a
refiner's fire and like fullers' soap." And He will sit as a smelter and
purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them
like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in
righteousness. "Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be
pleasing to the LORD, as in the days of old and as in former years"
After the purifying
process, "Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a
swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and
against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage
earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside
the alien, and do not fear Me... For I, the Lord, do not change;
therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed" (Mal 3:5-6).
explains the value of the tithe and how tithing will result in a
blessing to Israel "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But
you say, 'How have we robbed Thee?' In tithes and offerings. You are
cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of
you!" Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be
food in My house, and test Me now in this if I will not open for you the
windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.
Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it may not destroy the
fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes.
And all the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful
land," says the LORD of hosts." (Mal 3:8-12).
Finally, He predicts:
"Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the LORD
gave attention and heard it [this scripture is similar to the passage in
Matthew where the Lord said that: where here two or three are gathered,
there I am in their midst], and a book of remembrance was written before
Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name." And they will
be Mine," says the LORD of hosts, "on the day that I prepare My own
possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves
him. So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked,
between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him. (Mal
end it will be apparent who serves the Lord and who does not. This is
confirmed in later scriptures. (See the parable of the wheat and tares
[Matthew 13:24-30) and Jesus' words on the Day of Judgment, where he put
the righteous on the right and the wicked on the left [Matthew 7:21-24].
There will also be judgment on those call evil good (Malachi 2:17). See
also Isaiah 5:20: "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute
bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!.
in Chapter 4, God gives His final admonitions and promises. "For
behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant
and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set
them ablaze so that it will leave them neither root nor branch." But for
you who fear My name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in
its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the
stall. And you will tread down the wicked, for they shall be ashes under
the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing," says the LORD
of hosts. (Mal 4:1-3).
significant verse appears in Malachi 4:5-6: "Behold, I am going to
send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible
day of the LORD. And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their
children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come
and smite the land with a curse." It is generally agreed upon by
scholars that this is indicative of the ministry of John the Baptist,
who was Elijah reincarnated. Christ speaks here of restoring of the
family relationship, not divided between the generations. It mystically
refers to the relationship of the Heavenly Father with His family, the
Sons of God. The oneness of that family will no longer be divided by the
is the final Book of the Old Testament and it speaks again of Israel's
apostasy that had plagued them from the time of Joshua. It was written
four hundred years before Christ's coming and in the time following
Malachi (already ruled by Persia), Israel was enslaved by no fewer than
three nations; the Persians; the Hellenistic period wherein they were
conquered by the Macedonians under Alexander; the kingdom of the
successors of Alexander during the Hasmoneon period of the Seleucidites
reign; and the Roman Empire, in power during Christ's ministry. It was
during Christ's ministry that the promises were finally fulfilled in
Christ and in His blood. 2000 years later, although the victory was won
on the cross, we have yet to manifest what Christ won for us.
of Malachi is just as applicable today as it was in 400 B.C. Today
mankind suffers from the same maladies attributed to Israel of old:
mislead by False priests (the religious leaders of today; whoring after
other Gods (commercial self interests); calling those who are good evil
and vice versa; deteriorating family values that have to be restored;
lack of blessing from God; and generally practicing predominately evil
acts against God. The only answer is accepting grace from God and
invoking His promises to change our Adamic natures into pure natures
that will see God and become like Him.
symbolic use of the smelting of the silver is indicative of how God
refines us today. The dross (impurities) in the silver raise to the top
of the melted silver and are ladled off, the pure silver remaining. When
God is done refining us only the pure will remain. Of equal importance
is his reference to the restoring the hearts of the Fathers to the
children, wiping out generational separations which have plagued man
from the beginning. Only the family relationship will remain, the
Father’s family. Malachi’s words are as applicable today as when they
were originally spoken. His Call to return to the Lord for healing
resonates throughout history. When all is said and done God is a
compassionate Father who loves and rewards His children.
THE FUTURE OF CHRISTIANITY:
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Everyone seems to want to look to the future of Christianity as a
continuation of Christianity as it exists today. Some hope the current
church can somehow come together and agree on one doctrine bringing
unity to an otherwise fractured church. Others see Christianity’s future
as a political vehicle to impose their concept of righteousness on the
government and the people. The current Pope is preaching tolerance of
other religions even though most of them don’t even believe that Jesus
was the Son of God. Putting it bluntly, the future of Christianity as it
exists today seems more intent on watering down what Christ preached so
it becomes lukewarm, putrid and ineffectual.
term Christian, and the resulting Christianity, was the name given by
the Greeks or Romans, probably in reproach, to the followers of Jesus.
It was first used at Antioch (Acts 11:26). It was used by King Agrippa
in Acts 26:28 as he was speaking to Paul. The names by which the
disciples were known among themselves were “brethren,” “the faithful,”
“elect,” “saints,” “believers.” But as distinguishing them from the
multitude without, the name “Christian” came into use, and was
universally accepted. This name occurs but three times in the New
Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16) (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).
future is not about a continuation of the “Christian” denominations,
each one with a different doctrine, seemingly worshiping different
concepts of God. It is not about the spread of missionaries who go to
other countries and try to convince people that they should adopt the
religion of Christianity or that particular church’s version thereof.
Neither is it about spreading the word even further by use of the
broadcast media or the internet. The truth is that Christianity has
become just another religion and has strayed far from its original
purpose as set down by Paul and the Gospels in the New Testament.
future of believers in Christ still has as its primary purpose the
bringing forth of the Kingdom of God in the earth. Jesus said to Pilate:
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world,
then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to
the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this
18:36). Therefore it would seem that Christianity as a religion in this
current world has no future.
Matthew 6:10 states, as part of the one prayer we are supposed to be
praying, the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in
earth, as it is in heaven. What could be clearer? If you are really
a believer, it must be clear that all systems of Christian religion and
ideology must cease in favor of a coming Kingdom of God wherein Christ
rules the nations with a rod of iron (Revelation 19:15). Co-existence
with other religions is impossible, especially with those religions that
call themselves Christian, but are steeped in the love of money,
passivity, self exaltation, exaltation of man, and the preaching of the
many different false doctrines of religious legalism. Christians tend to
be critical of legalistic religions today, such as Islam and Orthodox
Judaism, but the truth is that Christianity itself has become at least
as legalistic as those religions.
himself said: “Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall
enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my
Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord,
have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out
devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works And then will I
profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work
iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23). Most of this verse applies to those who
do their own thing in the name of Jesus. They aren’t doing the will of
the Father. They don’t know the Lord. They are doing great works,
building big buildings, following doctrines, even performing miracles in
the name of the Lord. These will not inherit the Kingdom of God but will
be cast away. Theirs is not the future of the Kingdom or true
world religions (Buddhism, Muslim, Verdic and other eastern religions,
etc) don’t believe the basis tenant of true Biblical followers of
Christ. They don’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God and was
resurrected from the dead.
According to John the Beloved Apostle: “Beloved, believe not every
spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false
prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God:
Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh
is of God: And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come
in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist,
whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in
the world. Very few, if any, world religions confess this fact.
Most, if they acknowledge Him at all, say He was a great and wise man,
but never the Son of God.
Christianity is waiting for the appearance of the evil antichrist in the
end-time. However John stated, 2000 years ago, that the anti-Christ was
already in the world. They were then, and are more so now, the teachers
of false doctrine in order to foil Christ’s plan. And don’t think they
will be so easy to spot. Consider this: “For such are false apostles,
deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as
the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their
works. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
Satan’s name, Lucifer, means “light bearer”. If he was known as “light
bearer” while he was still in heaven, great must have been his light. It
is he who deceives the whole world by manifesting his false light into
religion. “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old
who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was
thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him
(Revelation 12:9). He is the god of this world. He is clever enough to
deceive the whole world, and if he is able to come as a minister of
righteousness, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and he thus deceives many
Revelation speaks of the religious beast: “Then
I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns
like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon” (Revelation 13:11). This
beast had two horns like an innocent little lamb, made to deceptively
look like the true Lamb of God. Yet despite his benign appearance as a
harmless lamb, the beast spoke like a dragon. The dragon is Satan
(Revelation 20:2). The harmless looking lamb, much like the church
today, speaks words of comfort and safety and about Jesus, but many
times they are words of deception coming from Satan himself. Satan knows
God’s word better than we do and he can use it against Christ in many
is the future for real believers, the brethren, the elect, the saints of
God? Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of God which He says is not of
this world. He was continually speaking of the age to come. Which is
a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God that ye may be counted
worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: (2
little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the
kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the
kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein…
we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God
(Luke 18:16). ... we must through much tribulation enter into the
kingdom of God". (Acts 14:22).
is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich
man to enter into the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24).
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again
, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?
It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his
garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air
lodged in the branches of it. And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken
the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in
three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. (Luke
I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and
strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for
the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our
God day and night. (Revelation 12:10).
never called His followers Christians. He called them disciples and
brethren and God’s elect, His chosen ones.
Matthew alone there are no less than 15 parables that Jesus compared to
the Kingdom of God. Some of these are: the wise and foolish virgins, the
sower of the seed, the mustard seed, the tares and the wheat, the
treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great price, the dragnet of
fish good and bad, the rich young ruler, the laborers in the vineyard,
the two sons, parable of the landowner, parable of the wedding feast and
parable of the talents all speak of the Kingdom. The rest of the Gospels
have the same or similar parables and examples. Most all the parables
begin with Jesus saying: “the Kingdom of God (or Heaven) is like
this, may be likened to, comparable to and is like”. Jesus came to
proclaim a new age, not to create a religion called Christianity.
think that Jesus brought forth His teaching as a nice philosophy to
teach humanity to live a better life. However, for the most part, Jesus
is not speaking of this life. The truth is that in nearly everything He
said and did was pointing to the coming Kingdom of God. He was speaking
of the Kingdom age which is a different age than we live in today. He
was teaching how to prepare for the coming age, teaching that our lives
here on earth were only prefatory for the glory to come.
should be obvious that no human could ever match up to Christ’s vision
of life in the new age. And he wasn’t speaking of the “die and go to
Heaven” type of Kingdom. He was speaking of the Kingdom which is to come
here, on earth, as it already is in heaven. One must only read the
Sermon on the Mount to realize that all of the things Jesus brought
forth had to be done in the Kingdom – who could carry them out here on
earth? Who can really be meek and humble without faking it; who can
really be forgiving as Christ was; are there any out there who are
really pure in heart?; or who can in every situation look on another
without there being a thought of lust? Only Jesus, who was perfect in
all His ways, who was the Kingdom of God, could do these things. The Law
of God was written on His heart. It was unnatural and impossible for Him
to sin. It is only in His Kingdom that his vision will be realized and
sin and evil will be banished forever.
say there is no hell or eternal damnation. However hell is simply the
place where evil and sin are banished and dumped, such as nuclear waste
on a dumpsite, which cannot be destroyed only separated. The Kingdom of
God is a place of absolute purity within which no evil can or will
exist. The evil generated in this earth in its pre-Kingdom state must go
somewhere-it cannot be uncreated or destroyed. In a way, hell is not
punishment but a necessity in order to separate the evil from the
Therefore the future of the true believers in Christ is undeniably the
Kingdom of God. Hear Isaiah describe a small part of the Kingdom he
foresaw nearly 3000 years ago: “The wolf also shall dwell with the
lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the
young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down
together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking
child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put
his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all
my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the
LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (11:6-9).
Revelation: “And I [John] saw a new heaven and a new earth:
for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was
no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down
from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And
I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of
God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his
people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God
shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more
death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:
for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:1-4).
is the future of the real believers. We know it is because God spoke it,
and He is unable to lie. We should not put this fulfillment off in the
future. It could be 1000 years away or it could be today. We believers
should believe the latter. God says that if the time were not cut short,
no flesh would be saved alive (Matthew 24:22). That is what would happen
if we let things go status quo, continue to build our own kingdoms,
cling to the false security of religion and are not violently in spirit
praying to God “Thy Kingdom come” (the Lord’s Prayer).
THE LITTLE FLOCK
Many who reside on the earth do not realize that there are
two distinct groups of believers in Christ which will appear in this age
of the beginning of the manifestation of the Kingdom of God on the
earth. It is to one of these groups, the little flock that this article
is addressed. Jesus said: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your
Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32). Just
who is this “little flock” and how do they differ from the millions of
believers in Christ who have been saved and serve the Lord?
That there are two distinct groups on believers or
Christians in the earth is clear from a study of the scriptures. In 2
Thessalonians 1:10 Paul states: “When he [Christ] shall come
to be glorified [or revealed] in his saints, and to be admired in
all them that believe…in that day. Paul is saying that in one group
Christ will be glorified and revealed and another group will admire, or
marvel at the revelation of Christ revealed in the first group. The
first group is the “little flock” referenced above.
It is, or should be, the aim of every Christian to have the
Christ nature fully formed within them. Hebrews 2:10 says: “For it
was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all
things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of
their salvation through sufferings”. Therefore it is Christ’s
purpose to bring many Son of God, to be like Him, to be those in whom
His nature and glory is revealed to the world. Ephesians 4:11-13 states:
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as
evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of
the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body
of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the
knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the
stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” This says, in
essence, that the true church (the Body of Christ) exists to bring the
believer to the “fullness of Christ”, that is to become like Him.
1 John 3:2 says: “Beloved, now we are children
of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that
when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see him just as He
is’. It Is God’s purpose that we as believers become “like Christ”
and have His very nature fully formed in us.
The New Covenant instituted by Christ bears this out.
Hebrews 10:16 says:“This is
the covenant that I will
make with them After those
says the Lord: I
will put My laws upon their heart,
And on their mind I
will write them,” (see
also Jeremiah 31:33-34). These are those who will no longer strive to be
righteous according to the Law of God but who will have their natures
changed so that the Laws of God are actually written on their hearts,
making them incapable of sin. Christ came to the earth as the perfect
Son who had His Father’s laws written on His heart.
Christ said: “He who believes in Me, does not believe in
Me but in Him who sent Me. “He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me”.
(John 12:44-45). There will be those who will have their natures
changed so that, like Christ, when men see them they will be seeing
Christ and the Father. One of Christ’s disciples asked Jesus to show him
the Father. Christ replied: “If you had known Me, you would have
known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen
Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is
enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you,
and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has
seen the Father (John 14:7-9). Likewise there will be those in whom
the nature of Christ will be fully formed so that to see them will be to
see the Father. Those who are so transformed are the little flock.
In Revelation those two groups are again distinguished.
“And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and
forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
…After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one
could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white
robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a
loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and
to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:4, 9-10). The 144,000 could be counted.
The great multitude standing before the throne could not. The 144,000 (a
symbolic number) were those who participated in the first resurrection
of Christ. The rest stood about, admiring them and worshiping them,
clothed in white robes as they had been cleansed from all their sins.
But they were not part of the 144,000.
The 144,000 were those that participate in the first
resurrection. “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and
judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had
been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the
word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image,
and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and
they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years”
Many of this little flock will participate in this first
resurrection without dying a physical death. Jesus said: “But I say
to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not
taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:27). It is
this first resurrection that Christians should seek to be a part of. It
occurs here on earth, not in the sweet bye and bye when we die and “go
to heaven”. Christ will return to the earth in His fully resurrected
body to meet those who have also been resurrected here on earth,
bringing with Him those who died in the faith and in whom the promises
were not fulfilled in their lifetimes. They, those who died, will not be
made perfect without us who remain to greet them. Hebrews 11:39-40 says:
“And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not
receive what was promised, because God had provided something better
for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect”.
There is no such thing as going to heaven and automatically
becoming perfect. The great men of God, enumerated in Hebrews 11, died
and were not made perfect and will not be made perfect we are made
perfect. Although they were the first to die in faith, we who are last
will experience the fulfillment first, because without us becoming
perfect none of the dead will be made perfect. Remember the Lord’s
Prayer. Jesus said: “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in
heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven”. The Kingdom of God does not come only in
“heaven”. (Matthew 6:10) It’s already a spiritual Kingdom in the
spirit realm. That Kingdom must also come on the earth where the two
realms will converge, the physical realm and the spirit realm. This
meeting of the two realms will be the Kingdom of God.
The reason God calls these who obtain perfection in this
matter the “little flock” is that most will not believe this and reach
into it. Only a few will see it. The entire focus of the Christian
church today is on salvation and “bringing people to the altar’. The
true Christian church, the very Body of Christ, goes beyond this mere
salvation and reaches into perfection. As Christ said: “Therefore
you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”.
(Matthew 5:48). That is the promise to the little flock.
Everyone these days speculates about a figure who will
appear in the end-times and lead the world astray by his deceptions.
They look to the Books of Revelation and Daniel to try to identify this
one man. They even consult prophets such as Nostradamus, the Hopi
Indians and the Mayan civilization as they attempt to identify this
person. All end-time scenarios include this nefarious figure. He is
already accused of uniting all the nations of the world into one
government in order to defeat Christ and His purposes for mankind. All
the world, they say, will be spellbound by his Satanic oratory until he
reveals his true purpose to destroy humanity. his identity. There is
only one problem to the existence of this who will set off the war of
Armageddon, where the forces of evil and good will square off on the
plains of Har Hegiddo in Israel. That one problem is that this
antichrist is not mentioned in Revelation or in Daniel or anywhere in
the Bible except in two of the epistles of John, almost in passing.
However, where antichrist is mentioned, the effect of the antichrist is
more powerful than the man everyone is waiting for.
1 John 2:18-22 mentions the term thrice: “Children, it
is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming,
even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is
the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us;
for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they
went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I
have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but
because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is
the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is
the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son”.
John penned his epistles sometime in the late 1st
Century C.E. (A.D.) If you believe the Apostle, nearly 2000 years ago
there were many antichrists already in the world. They didn’t just
appear; it looks as though they were at one time part of the church of
the believers. They “went out” apparently because they no longer
believed in Jesus Christ.
John’s definition of the antichrist should strike terror
into the hearts of mankind even more than the imaginary one everyone is
anticipating. John defines the antichrist as the one who denies “the
father and the Son”. The definition is undeniably clear. The antichrist
denies the existence of Jesus as the Son of God and denies the Father
who begot Him..
In 1 John 4:2-3 John states further: “By this you know
the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has
come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess
Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which
you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world”.
According to John 4:2-3, anyone who does not confess Jesus
as Lord is walking in the spirit of the antichrist. Even factiously
believing that half the world’s population does not believe in Jesus as
the Son of God, that means there are in excess of 3 billion antichrists
in the earth. Nearly all world religions do not believe that Jesus was
the Christ, the Son of God including Islam (who believes He was a great
man and a prophet only but not the Son of God); Buddhism does not
believe in a separate God per se-Buddha is the god. Hinduism and
Sanskrit, including the Vedic sect, believe in a pantheon of gods that
do not include Jesus Christ. A recent addition Krishna worships a man.
Most other religions, and nearly all of the religions of the past
worshiped many gods, usually those of nature. The Jewish religion
believes in a Messiah but did not believe it was Christ, whom they had
crucified. If you believe John everyone who does not believe that Christ
appeared and was crucified for our sins falls into the category of
antichrist. Satan was and is currently the god of this world 2
Satan has deceived men into believing anything except that
Jesus is Lord. Once Satan recognizes Jesus as Lord, he is then
manifested as a defeated foe. He deceives the whole world to the point
there would be no flesh saved alive unless the time for his destruction
is cut short by God (Matthew 24:22).
The deception and the lie is rampant. Satan’s greatest
deception is that he often comes as an angel of light, a minister of
righteousness. His angelic name is Lucifer, meaning “light bearer” or
“light giver”. He was also known as “the bright morning star” Paul said
this of false religions and false apostles originating from Satan: “For
such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves
as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as
an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also
disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be
according to their deed (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).
Religion in the form practiced by the Pharisees, Sadducees
and Jewish scribes were among Christ’s greatest enemies. He even accused
than of being of their Father the devil (John 8:44). They practiced a
form of legalism that left out the important parts of the law including
love and mercy. Jesus said: “Woe to you, scribes and
Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and
cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice
and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the
others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and
swallow a camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For
you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of
extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first
cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be
clean also. 7 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear
beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all
uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to
men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness: (Matthew
23:22-28). So these religious, pious men were actually white washed
tombs in Christ’s eyes and the blind leading the blind. They were, in
all sense of the word, antichrist!
We can all see the rampant commercialism going on in
churches today. What we don’t see is the hidden deception which ties
believers to doctrines of dead works, false bible interpretations and no
real revelation from God, although they claim they do have. We see their
self exaltation in their, mega churches, pagan idols and statutes,
rituals, robes of royalty, holy water and pomp and circumstance to the
point that such manmade magnificence deceives believers into thinking
these false churches have something from god, when they do not. How many
people attend such churches knowing that the churches are steeped in
deception, covering it over by a great show of false righteousness.
Most of those people (it’s not their fault) would die for
their church doctrine. However much of church doctrine is nothing to do
with true righteousness which comes by grace through Christ’s gift. It
is more often a rulebook of do’s and do-not’s that and has nothing to do
with knowing Jesus Christ. Through the seared human conscience they
create moral codes and sets of dead works that have the effect of making
people believe they have something from God when they do not. They
become comfortable and secure in their false doctrines. The comment made
by Carl Marx, communist or not, applies to most religions today. He said
that “religion is the opiate of the people”. This is still true today.
Doctrines like the rapture, salvation only to Catholics, great works to
please God etc. are all designed to make the believer think he securely
has something from God that he does not really have.
The final reference to the antichrist occurs in 2 John 7: “For many
deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not
acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver
and the antichrist.
Remember: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father
who is in heaven will enter. “ Many will say to Me on that day,
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out
demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will
declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart
from Me, you who practice
7:21-23 quoting Psalm 6:8). Many are secure in the fact that they are
doing great works for Jesus but if they are not His works those are in
danger of being rejected by him.
A final word about the “end-time” and the beasts, false
prophets and the like who, according to the theorists, will appear,
along with the antichrist, in the very last days. We have already
learned that the antichrist spirit has been with us from the beginning.
Most of these “so called” end-time events have already occurred or are
continuing to occur. The beast with the horns and heads represent
nations and Kings. The false prophets are the antichrists we have
already mentioned who go about preaching doctrine that does not include
Christ as the Son of God. As for the “tribulation” period which many say
is 7 years long and will produce this single “antichrist” figure, one
need only look around to see that the tribulation of man has been around
since the beginning of creation. We as a race have already been and are
in the worst tribulations man has ever seen. Most of the bowls have
already been poured out, the trumpets sounded, the woes released and the
plagues appeared. Human history has been a constant state of conflicts,
wars, blood and the results of the exercise of the satanic nature of man
he inherited from Adam and Eve at the time of the fall.
God subjected creation to futility in Genesis 2, which
means, among other things, emptiness, fruitlessness, worthlessness and
devoid of truth (Unger’s Bible Dictionary page 1324). The only thing
that is important is the bringing forth the Kingdom of God on earth
thereby releasing creation from its divinely imposed futile state. As
Romans 8:19-21 says;
“For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the
revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to
futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope
that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to
corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we
know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of
childbirth together until now.
Let’s cease the vain and worthless ideas and theories being
put forth in this age of deception. They may sound intriguing, curious
and may satisfy our fancy for the secret knowledge but they are the
product of a futile world. The proponents of these wild speculations
about an antichrist figure who will suddenly arise in the end-time are
really interested in instilling fear into congregations and filling
church seats, increasing contributions and/or selling books, literature
and CDs. Let us not profess what we really do not know. The revelation
of these end-time events remain with God and if no one but Him knows the
day and the hour, perhaps we should admit we don’t know as much as we
think we do. Let’s put our focus where it should be. Not the negative
things of beasts and antichrists but on Jesus and the coming forth of
His Glorious Kingdom. This not the end; it’s the beginning.
YOUR SINS SEPARATE
YOU FROM GOD
Have you ever wondered why your prayers are not being
answered to your satisfaction? Have you ever felt a separation from God
when there seems to be no apparent reason for this? Have the heavens
ever felt like an iron barrier with nothing getting through? You would
not be the first believer to feel these things. We desire closeness with
God but cannot attain it. Thousands of years ago the prophet Jeremiah
felt much the same thing.
In Lamentations 3:6-9 he complains: “In dark places He
has made me dwell, Like those who have long been dead. He has walled me
in so that I cannot go out; He has made my chain heavy. Even when I
cry out and call for help, He shuts out my prayer. He has blocked my
ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked”.
The prophet Isaiah provides the answer: “Behold, the
Lord’s hand is not so
short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And
your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear”
The sin he is speaking about is not just the acts we do that
we believe are against God. They have little to do with external acts at
all. The sin Isaiah is identifying, although it may manifest as an
external act, is a nature of sin we inherited from the original sin of
Adam and Eve. The origin of sin in the Garden was disobedience to God
and unbelief in His word. In Genesis 2:16-17 God told Adam: “The
Lord God commanded the
man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in
the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
However the devil, in the form of a serpent, deceived Eve as
he lied to her. He told her: “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not
eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent,
“From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the
fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said,
‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’ The serpent
said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the
day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like
God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-5).
Eve acknowledged she knew she was not even to touch the evil
tree or she would die. Satan, the serpent directly opposed the word of
God and said she surely would not die. To top that off he told her she
her eyes would be opened and she would be like God if she ate of the
tree. Eve willingly disobeyed as did Adam and thus original sin was
born. Adam lived on another 900 years but he died, just as every human
has died since that time (except Enoch and Elijah).
God cursed the earth from that time forward, or subjected it
to futility as Paul said (Romans 8:20). At that time God separated
Himself from humanity and humanity from Him. We are under that same
curse of futility today. Only after Adam gave birth to Seth did man
began to call upon the Lord (Genesis 4:26).
From the time of Adam and Eve’s fall from the Garden all
mankind has inherited from them their sinful nature. Mankind has
continued to do and think wickedly since then. Mankind became so wicked
in the days after the fall that God had to destroy them with a flood.
Even then the wicked nature lived on in Noah’s sons until the present
So when God speaks of sin He is speaking of the sinful
nature of mankind. Sinful acts spring from a sinful nature. The Lord
made that clear in the Sermon on the Mount. He said: “You have heard
that it was said, ‘You shall
not commit adultery’;
but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her
has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew
5:27-28). Our sin nature which even permeates our minds causes us to sin
against God just by having the fallen nature.
Isaiah goes on in Chapter 59 explaining the results of our
sinful nature. He said: “Therefore justice is far from us, And
righteousness does not overtake us; We hope for light, but behold,
darkness, For brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope along the
wall like blind men, We grope like those who have no eyes; We stumble
at midday as in the twilight, Among those who are vigorous we are like
dead men… We hope for justice, but there is none, For salvation, but it
is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before You, And
our sins testify against us; For our transgressions are with us, And
we know our iniquities:” (Isaiah 59:9-12). Does that sound like
The great Apostle Paul was conscious of his sinful nature
that was with him at all times. He complains in Romans 7: “For what I
am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would
like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate….So now, no longer am
I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing
good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present
in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I
do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am
doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it,
but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is
present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with
the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in
the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and
making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this
death?” (verses 15-24).
Paul was being honest that he had a nature of sin within
him. And it was separating him from God in that he was constantly at war
within himself with that nature he inherited from man’s fall from grace.
He calls himself “wretched” I his fallen nature and cries out “who can
save me from this body of death”. Remember death was the punishment for
the sin of Adam and Eve and had continued to plague Paul centuries
later, as it does today. In Romans 6:23 he reiterates that “For the
wages of sin is death”. The price paid my mankind for this nature of
sin is eventual death and separation from God. However Paul knew that it
was the sin within him which was responsible for his body of death and
that it wasn’t him doing what he didn’t want to do but the sin.
Paul cried out for a savior to deliver him. He goes on
“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one
hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other,
with my flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:24-25).
Jesus Christ came to deliver each one of us from our body of
death. The sin of the world was laid upon Him. Christ brought with Him a
New Covenant, displacing the Old Covenant, where the Law of sin no
longer applied. He came with the power not only to forgive sin but to
completely take it away. Jesus intends to make us perfect by taking away
our sin forever. Hebrews 8:8-14 states the conditions of this New
days are coming,
says the Lord, When
I will effect a
With the house of Israel and with
the house of Judah; Not
like the covenant which
I made with
their fathers …For
they did not continue in My covenant,
did not care for them,
says the Lord.
“For this is the covenant
that I will make with the
house of Israel
says the Lord:
I will put My laws into
will write them on
will be their God,
And they shall be My people.
“And they shall not teach
And everyone his brother,
will know Me,
least to the greatest of them.
will be merciful to their
will remember their sins
Therefore God not only promises to forgive our sin he
promises to remove it far from us so that we don’t have to walk like
Paul continually fighting the old nature. He has the power to make us
forever clean from sin. “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the
glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has
made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine
linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of
the saints” (Revelation 19:7-8).
In Zechariah this principle is made abundantly clear.
“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of
the Lord, and Satan
standing at his right hand to accuse him. The
Lord said to Satan
[the adversary or accuser], “The
Lord rebuke you, Satan!
Indeed, the Lord who has
chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!...Now Joshua was clothed with filthy
garments and standing before the angel. And he spoke and said to those
who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy garments from
him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from
you and will clothe you with festal robes.” Then I said, “Let them
put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his
head and clothed him with garments, while the angel of the
Lord was standing by”
(Zechariah 3:1-5). Joshua stood before the Lord with filthy garments on
him. These garments weren’t his; the accuser had put them on him. The
Lord God removed the filthy garments and properly clothed the high
priest, just as Christ removes our filthiness from the sin we inherited
and clothes with fine garments of righteousness. The accuser is rebuked,
thrown into the pit (Revelation 20:1-3).
Therefore we are to be completely righteous, just as the
Father. The Lord’s promise is that we “be perfect, just as the
heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). And that perfection does
not come automatically when we die. Paul said: “Behold, I tell you a
mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a
moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the
trumpet [the Word of God] will sound, and the dead will be
raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians
15:51-52). The Lord Himself said “But I say to you truthfully,
there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until
they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:27).
When the sin we inherited so long ago is removed by Christ’s
one sacrifice we will be clean and righteous and we will see God. The
separation will be gone. The Lord himself said: “Blessed are the pure
in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). When Christ
makes us pure, clean and righteous in heart, our former sins will not
hide Him from us but we shall see Him as he is because we will be like
Him. “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not
appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will
be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (John 3:2).
KNOW THE LORD, KNOW
HIS VOICE, BE PERFECT!
In order for the mature Christian to fully do God’s will he/she must
KNOW the Lord, His will, His ways and His voice. How do we come to fully
know the Lord? How do we learn to hear His voice? This article will
discuss and define those essential issues and teach us to, like Hosea
“Come, let us return to the
Lord… “So let us know,
let us press on to know the Lord.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us
like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.”
What does it mean to know the really know the Lord? There is
a scriptural distinction between just seeing His acts and knowing Him
personally. In Psalm 103:7 the psalmist said: “He made known His
ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel”. The Sons of Israel
saw the acts and miracles that God performed through Moses. They saw
them and recognized that those acts were from God. They followed the
cloud and the pillar of fire while in the wilderness. They acknowledged
that it was God who had delivered them from slavery to the Egyptians.
However Moses, their leader, knew something far deeper-he knew God’s
ways; he knew how to do the things God wanted done. He had a personal
relationship with God wherein God spoke to him face to face. Thus,
Moses’ relationship with God was distinctly different from the
relationship God had with the rest of His people.
Only Moses went up to Mt. Sinai, the mount of God, while
Israel was in the wilderness. The rest of the sons of Israel were
forbidden to ascend the Mount (Exodus 19:12). The Sons of Israel camped
at the foot of the mountain and they saw the cloud of glory and the
results of God’s appearing there to Moses, but only Moses ascended into
the cloud of glory resting there.
describes the scene: “The glory of the
Lord rested on Mount
Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He
called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. And to the eyes of the
sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the
Lord was like a
consuming fire on the mountain top. Moses entered the midst of the
cloud as he went up to the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain
forty days and forty nights”.
principal appears elsewhere in the scriptures. When Elijah was
translated to heaven many prophets knew he was going to be taken but
only one actually saw the event. As described in 2 Kings 2:1-14: “And
it came about when the Lord
was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven, that Elijah
went with Elisha from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here
please, for the Lord has
sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the
Lord lives and as you
yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. Then
the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and
said to him, “Do you know that the
Lord will take away your
master from over you today?” And he said, “Yes, I know; be still.”
Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the
Lord has sent me to
Jericho.” But he said, “As the
Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So
they came to Jericho. The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho
approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord
will take away your master from over you today?” And he answered,
“Yes, I know; be still.” Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here,
for the Lord has sent me
to the Jordan.” And he said, “As the
Lord lives, and as you
yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Now
fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood opposite them at
a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. Elijah took his
mantle and folded it together and struck the waters, and they were
divided here and there, so that the two of them crossed over on dry
ground. When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I
shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please,
let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” He said, “You have
asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from
you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” As they
were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire
and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up
by a whirlwind to heaven. Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father, my
father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw Elijah
no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two
pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and
returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of
Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and said, “Where is the
Lord, the God of Elijah?”
And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and
there; and Elisha crossed over.
portion of scripture paints a vivid picture of those who know the Lord
and those who just know His acts. Let’s examine the above scripture in
detail as it contains several clues on really knowing the Lord. At the
time of 2 Kings chapter 2 there were many prophets of God in the land.
No less than 50 of them were perceptive enough to know that Elijah was
going to be taken to heaven by God (see above). Now to really know the
Lord one must be more than just perceptive. He/she must be persistent.
Elijah did everything he could to discourage the prophets, including his
servant Elisha, from following him to the place where he was to be
taken. First Elijah left Gigal and told Elisha to remain there. Elisha
refused and followed Elijah against his orders (remember Elisha was
followed Elijah to Bethel and the perceptive prophets at Bethel told
Elisha what he already knew i.e. that Elijah was going to be taken by
God. Again Elijah commanded his servant Elisha to remain at Bethel but
again Elisha disobeyed his master and followed Elijah to Jericho. At the
Jericho the same thing happened. The prophets at Jericho told Elisha
what he already knew, that Elijah was going to be taken. Elisha told the
prophets again to “be still” (shut up) because Elisha refused to be
distracted with the information he already knew. He wanted something
more and refused to be deterred.
one last ditch attempt to deter Elisha and the other prophets, Elijah
said he was going to the Jordon River and commanded Elisha to remain at
Jericho. However Elisha and 50 prophets followed Elijah to the area of
the Jordon River. 50 of them stood at a distance but 2 of them actually
went with Elijah and Elisha to the banks of the river. Elijah then took
his mantle and parted the Jordon river but only he and Elisha crossed
the river-everyone else remained behind for whatever reason.
On the other
side of the Jordon Elijah calmly folded his mantle and, realizing that
he had been unable to shake Elisha off his trail, and realizing that
Elisha was probably going to see him be taken to heaven, he asked Elisha
what he wanted before he was taken. Remember Elijah had managed to elude
prophets of God, seers, men of God, at Gilgal, Bethel, Jericho and the
vicinity of the Jordon River. He had even eluded the last 2 prophets who
went with him to the actual bank of the river. But only Elisha had
followed him across the Jordon to the place where Elijah was to be taken
at the very spot where his master was to be taken up, Elisha told Elijah
he wanted a double-portion of the spirit that was on Elijah. Remember
Elijah was the prophet who defeated the 600 prophets of the God Baal in
Israel, caused a drought, caused it to rain, anointed kings and was
known as the prophet who “stood in the presence of the Lord” (1 kings
18:15). How audacious was it for Elisha to ask for a DOUBLE-PORTION of
that? Yet that is what he asked for. Elijah finally gave in told Elisha
that if he actually saw Elijah being taken he could have his double
portion. Elisha passed the final test, saw the chariots of God take
Elijah to heaven, recovered Elijah’s mantle and began to move in the
double portion he had been given. His first act was to part the Jordon
river, as Elijah had done, and went on to do exploits that actually
exceeded those done by Elijah as recorded throughout the Book of 2
There is then
a distinction between those who are Christians, and even prophets, and
those who really KNOW the Lord, like Moses, Elijah and Elisha (there
were many more recorded in the scriptures). There is a destiny available
for some who actually press on to KNOW Him. The Apostle Paul was one of
those. In Philippians 3:10 Paul has laid out the burden of his own
heart: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection and
the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his
death”. He goes on; “Not that I have already obtained it or
have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold
of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one
thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what
lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward
call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect
[mature], have this attitude; and if in anything you have a
different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;”
goal of God he wants for us is that He wants us to be made perfect like
His son was perfect. “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your
heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). And: “Consider it
all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that
the testing of your faith produces endurance [steadfastness]
And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be
perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”. (James 1:2-4).
To simply be
saved is one thing, to be perfect is another. When Christ told the
multitudes that they were to be perfect He did not qualify His statement
to mean that after you die and go to heaven you will be perfect. He was
speaking to those who were alive and stood before Him on that day. It is
God’s will, to all that can hear it, that we be perfect here and now, in
this earth. Christ told us to pray that : “thy Kingdom come, thy will
be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Paul said:
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the
things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set
your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For
you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God”
(Colossians 3:1-3). He was speaking to those who were physically alive
that their life in this earth was hidden in Christ above. He said:
“When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be
revealed with Him in glory. (Col. 3:4). Perfection not in the sweet
bye and bye but in the here and now, if you can receive it.
intimately knowing the Lord will we fulfill God’s purpose and be made
perfect in this age. Many died before they saw this vision that they had
fulfilled. Let’s not be among them. Let us live and see it fulfilled in
our lifetimes, once and for all, and finally. The myth that if you die
and go to heaven you automatically become perfect is not supported by
the scriptures. Hebrews chapter 11 makes this clear. Hebrews 11, called
the roll call of faith, describes many men of God, who knew the Lord,
who died but never received the promise. “And all these, having
gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was
promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that
apart from us they would not be made perfect”. (Hebrews 11:39-40).
The perfection of those who have gone before us is dependent on us
becoming perfect. We are those who will be allowed to see, in this
lifetime, the fulfillment of the promise seen but not obtained by those
who have gone before us.
This is not
accomplished by simply being saved. As we saw in the preceding
paragraphs there were many prophets and men of God who knew things or
saw certain acts of God but only the really chosen, men like Moses and
Elisha, obtained the promise and KNEW the Lord and were persistent
enough not to be denied the fulfillment of that promise while they were
here. Let us, as Paul said, have this attitude in ourselves. Let us not
be denied the total and complete fulfillment God intends, if not for us,
then for Christ and all who have gone on before. Let us press on to KNOW
Him and the power of His resurrection. Let us become perfect as He is
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