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REVELATION BIBLE VERSES
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Revelation Bible Verses book with Revelation Bible Verses lesson. This Revelation Bible Verses study and Revelation Bible Verses story with Revelation Bible Verses lesson looks at the Revelation Bible Verses message and asks what do the Revelation Bible Verses mean, what are the Revelation Bible Verses, why are Revelation Bible Verses important, what is the Revelation Bible Verses message and how do Revelation Bible Verses affect you. The Revelation Bible Verses are essential in the Christian walk. Understanding the Revelation Bible Verses message is very important and learning about the Revelation Bible Verses can help you to overcome the worldly whirlwinds. Let us delve into this Revelation Bible Verses lesson with Revelation Bible Verses message in this Revelation Bible Verses book, shall we?



 

CHRISTIANITY OASIS
PRESENTS
PURITY PUBLICATIONS


REVELATION

GOD'S WORD REVEALED


By KENNETH B. ALEXANDER, J.D., Minister

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PREFACE
INTRODUCTION
THE BOOK OF REVELATION
EPILOG
DIVINE REVELATION: GOD SPEAKING TO MAN
PRINCIPLES OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE
THE BEST WAY TO PRAY
BE IT DONE ACCORDING TO YOUR FAITH
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
CAN YOU FALL FROM GRACE?
KINGDOM OF GOD OR KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
LIFE AFTER DEATH
FORGOTTEN BOOKS NOT IN THE BIBLE
AN INTRODUCTION TO OLD TESTAMENT LAW
REAL CHRISTIANITY IS SPIRITUAL
GNOSTICISM VS. CHRISTIANITY
EXPLAINING THE BOOK OF LAMENTATIONS

WHY READ THE BIBLE
IN THE DAYS OF THE KINGDOM
THE MARK OF THE BEAST
THE TRUE MEANING OF CHURCH
WHY SO MANY DENOMINATIONS
UNIVERSAL LAW
BIBLICAL ASTROLOGY

 

 

PREFACE

The author thanks the following for contributions 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, Minister

enoch1122@yahoo.com

 

INTRODUCTION

 

             The title of this book is Revelation. Revelation is variously defined as: “an uncovering, a bringing to light of that which had been previously wholly hidden or only obscurely seen. God has been pleased in various ways and at different times (Heb. 1:1) to make a supernatural revelation of himself and his purposes and plans, which, under the guidance of his Spirit, has been committed to writing (Easton’s Dictionary). Although this book does contain an attempted interpretation of the Book of Revelation, anything God does or speaks is in and of itself revelation in that it is bringing to light something hidden.

            The Bible is unlike any other book written by man. The Bible, although written by man, is the inspired writing of that man moved by the Spirit of God and so becomes not the word of man but the Word of God. Books written by men convey emotions, ideas, entertainment, concepts and other mental images. God’s word brings revelation to the Spirit of man. Jesus 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 6:33). The words are food for man’s spirit, just as natural food nourishes the body.

Revelation is highly valued in the Kingdom of God. “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you,  Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:13-19).

The Lord was overjoyed in that man had not talked Peter into anything regarding the Lord’s identity but Peter had received revelation directly from the Father. This book, along with others I have written, attempt to convey the truth of the Lord through revelation obtained from Him. The following are some odds and ends I have gathered together hoping you will gain a better understanding of Him from His words. Everything said here is confirmed by scriptures from God’s word. I hope it opens an even clearer picture as to He is and His purpose in the earth.

 

THE BOOK OF REVELATION:
BEASTS, SERPENT, SEALS, BOWLS, VIALS AND FALSE PROPHETS

            There has been much emphasis placed on the Bible Book of Revelation as it relates to eschatology or events surrounding “the end of the world”. The purpose of this chapter is to take a close look at the Book and hopefully shed some divine light on it, using other scriptures in the Bible to clarify some points. This chapter will cover chapters 4-20 of the Book of Revelation, being the chapters that deal with our topic of God’s final judgments on the earth. The first three chapters are messages to the seven churches John was overseeing at the time. Although rich in Christian insight, our emphasis is on the events which will, and have, taken place with respect to God’s final judgments on the earth. An analysis of Chapters 1-3 are beyond the scope of this work at this time.

            Understanding Revelation is difficult because John was speaking of spiritual things in vision form. He was in the spirit realm, the realm where God resides, when visions were unfolded to him received and recorded in this Book. Before we embark on attempting to understand this Book, which has perplexed scholars and theologians alike for centuries, let us be clear about one thing. The Kingdom of God is to manifest itself on the earth. Every prophecy in the Bible relating to the future envisioned this Kingdom where earth and the spirit realm (heaven if you will) will merge together so that there is no distinction between the spirit realm and the universe for that matter. Jesus prayer, recorded in Matthew 6:10 states His wish that: “[The Father’s] Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. The Book of Revelation and many other Books in the Bible address this one prayer, showing us how this great miracle will take place.

Many Christians have been taught and believe that all that is necessary for them to do the will of God is to lead good Christian lives so that when they die they can go to heaven and be with the Lord in a blissful paradise. Unfortunately that is not what God wants. He wants to eliminate death and combine heaven and earth together, where His will is done in both places. Death does not mean automatic perfection. It actually is a limbo where the dead in Christ wait eagerly for their fulfillment on earth. Hebrews 11 is a chapter devoted exclusively to those who have died in Christ. However by dying they did not obtain what was promised to them in full measure. Hebrews 11:39-40 makes this abundantly clear: “And all these [those who died in faith, martyrs], having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, [by dying] because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect”. It is incumbent on us, who remain on the earth, to become perfect first so that those who have gone on before us can have their fulfillment.  

            When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden they had an existence where earth reflected the paradise of the spiritual realm. When they were removed from the Garden they were separated from God and since that time mankind has led an existence separate from His creator (see Genesis 2-3). His will is to restore and enhance that original creation where everything was “good” once again as it had been when He created it (Genesis 1).   

            Unfortunately things are no longer “good” as man, using his own will instead of Gods, has polluted creation to the point that it can no longer continue as it is.  

            John begins Revelation by revealing his positioning when he wrote the Book. “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Rev 1:10). Further he said he wrote pursuant to a spiritual revelation of Jesus Christ, spoken through His angels. Rev 1:1-2 says: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him [John] to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who testified to the word of God and to  the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw”.  

            The visions he saw do not necessarily apply to human events as we humans see them but are a recitation of events taking place in the spirit realm, then manifesting on the earth. What is important to God may not be as important to man and vice versa. Visions and dreams are also distinct in that they appear to man as highly symbolic and allegorical. God is attempting to communicate spiritual truth to a human spirit and mind. The difficulty is explained in the following scripture: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts” (55:8-9).  This has the result that the visions and dreams usually cannot be interpreted literally in things such as numbers, identities and times of events. For instance God resides in eternity and time has no meaning to Him except where it applies to us.  

            We have seen this in other examples in the scriptures. Daniel and Joseph were able to interpret dreams by God’s spirit while others were not able. Jesus Himself spoke many times in parables that were many times not understood by the hearer. The visions recounted in Revelation are hidden messages that can be deciphered only by revelation from God and knowledge of God’s word. The messages may have different applications depending when they are read. Neither is the Book written chronologically because with God time does not exist as we know it. So He does not think or communicate entirely in what we would call a logical progression of events.  

            In the case of Revelation God is communicating as best He can an understandable account of His overall plan of redeeming his Sons, bringing defeat to the devil and ending futility on the earth. On a purely natural level the book was written to encourage the seven churches under John’s charge that were undergoing great persecution at the time, primarily by the Roman Empire. Many of the references in the Book, contrary to modern interpretation, concerned the Roman Empire. John wanted to encourage his churches and to tell them that through all the persecution that the Kingdom would eventually prevail and for them to be steadfast in their faith. John himself was in a prison facility on Patmos Island for preaching the gospel in Roman occupied territory.  

            John’s first recorded encounter with the spirit realm in Revelation was in a vision that took place while he was at the throne of God. He saw, in vision form, the beings who were attending God on the throne (Revelation 4). The first scene involves a scroll with seven seals. The only one worthy to open the seals was the Lamb, the same lamb who had been slain from the foundation of the world (Jesus Christ). In other words, Christ’s work had already been done before he ever appeared on earth. He had already been slain as the sacrificial lamb before the world was formed and before he ever came to earth to manifest Himself.   

             In Chapter 4, God said He was giving John an overview of the tribulations that “will happen hereafter” (Revelation 4:1) to the earth and its inhabitants. There are no time limits as to when these tribulations will occur, only the designation “hereafter” which word is also applied to eternity itself.  

            What is revealed by the unveiling of the seven seals is the overall plan of God for Christ to regain His Kingdom that He lost at the fall of man. Thus, the seven seals represent all power given to the Lamb; the seven trumpets that follow reflect the shaking of the world kingdoms and the overthrowing of them and the Lamb’s Kingdom ushered in; and the seven vials, by which Satan’s kingdom is destroyed. 

            The events which are described in Revelation are sometimes referred to as “tribulations”. The point to be made here is that “tribulations” in the world have been taking place on the earth for a long time, at least in the last 2000 years. They are not limited to a seven year period as many have advocated. The earth has already suffered many of the judgments prophesied by John 2000 years ago.  

            The great plague killed as many as 50% of Europe’s population. We have already seen World Wars that killed millions including the worst instance of genocide the world has ever witnessed. There have been conquerors and conquering tribes all over the known world. not to mention the conquerors of the middle ages who decimated entire areas of the known world. The depression of the 1920-30 caused worldwide economic collapse.  The rulers of the Middle Ages primarily Rome and the Catholic Church brutally killed millions and suppressed entire populations.  

            We have seen massive famines, drought, natural disasters such as climate change and conquering nations which have destroyed entire civilizations including the Mayans, Incas, Aztecs, Nasca and others. It is therefore spurious to lump the events prophesied in Revelation into one seven year period (the Bible never mentions a seven year tribulation period anyway). So as we examine the events prophesied by the seals, trumpets and vials we must realize that many have already been fulfilled as we have been in the “tribulation” period for at the last 2000 years.  

            The first seal opened by the Lamb released the white horse, the conquering horse (Rev. 6:2). We see fulfillment of the destructive deeds of this horse in that conquerors have gone out into the world before and after the birth of Christ. Among them include Hannibal, Alexander the Great, the Romans, the Mongols, Ghangis Kahn, the English and French conquerors, Napoleon, Mohammed, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and assorted more. Thus the vision of the white horse has already been and still is being fulfilled. Today terrorism is a threat to every nation on the earth.  Conquering continues to exist today as nations and their leaders fight wars over property, resources, ideology and religion. You could say that much damage has already been inflicted on mankind by the conquering horse as many conquerors have come and gone and the loss of life from their campaigns has been in the many millions. This horse is not something that just magically appears in the end time; he’s been around for a while! 

            From the second seal emerged the red horse, the war horse (Rev. 6:3-4). Historians cannot argue that mankind has been at war with itself for nearly its entire existence. Nations in the world continue to be at war with each other today. The war’s effects have increased in the last few centuries due to the number of people alive at this time. Millions upon millions were killed in the last two great world wars. If you add all the wars that have occurred just in the last 2000 years the death toll must be in the hundreds of millions conservatively. And we stand today on the verge of global destruction if the technologically advanced weapons at our disposal are released at one time.                    

            The third seal released the black horse (Rev. 6:5-6) who affected the economics of the nations. Today we stand on the verge of the greatest economic collapse ever seen in the world to this point. In the past, nation after nation, including the Roman Empire, have failed partly due to economic collapse. Many nations now and in the past have not been able to feed their people. Famine sweeps and has swept the globe.  It has been estimated today that one-third of the world’s population lives in famine and starvation. Throughout the last 2000 years most of Europe was alternatively involved in famine of one sort of another. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives as the result of famine. The black horse was effective in creating a perennial lower class that was always at the mercy of the elements, serfdom, subsisting from day to day with meager resources. We see and have seen the wild fluctuations of world economies and the world’s money supplies over an extended period of time. We have seen recessions, depressions and complete financial ruin in some nations.   

            The fourth seal released the Ashen horse (Rev. 6:7-8) who was given the power to kill by sword, famine, pestilence and wild beasts. The black plague in Europe wiped out more than 50% of the population, setting progress back in that region for hundreds of years. Other plagues killed thousands, even in the Roman Empire, and other conquering nations experienced plague at one time or another. Pestilence continues to plague us today as new strains of resistant bacterial and viral infections appear periodically and kill millions. A resistant strain of sickness released in the world today could equal or surpass effects from plagues that have gone before.  

            The fifth seal involved the martyrs who had been slain because they spoke the word of the Lord. They cried out from under the altar “how long oh Lord…will you refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth” (Rev. 6:9-11). They had good reason to cry. They did the will of God in their generation but died without experiencing the fulfillment due them. As The Book of Hebrews says, their vindication depends on us. “And these [martyrs] all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided  some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect”   (Hebrews 11:39-40). This puts to rest the theory that we go to heaven and receive the entire fulfillment when we die. The martyrs and the great men killed or died were not made perfect automatically by dying and “going to heaven”. Their perfection depends on us who remain.  

            The sixth seal (Rev. 6:12-17) represents the terror of great natural disasters which have occurred and will continue to occur in the form of volcanoes, great earthquakes which rearrange land masses and other terrible events we have seen in the last 2000 years and before. Great tsunamis have killed hundreds of thousands, earthquakes have killed as many and great storms, hurricane and tornados have done untold damage to person and property. These natural disasters have been occurring for thousands of years. However, the frequency of these disasters seems to be increasing just in the last few years and their effect felt more due to the increased population in the world. Just recently we have seen earthquakes and attending tsunamis as in Japan, Malaysia and Chile. We have seen flooding on a vast scale and ravaging tornados in various places. We have been and are experiencing wild swings in the weather. These are likely to increase as we approach the day the Lord takes the Kingdom. 

            Next in Revelation, but not in any order, we see the 144,000 who were sealed by God (v.7:4-8). The 144,000 is not a literal number but represents 12x12, a number of perfection. In addition to the 144,000 who were numbered and sealed by God, we also see a multitude standing before them that cannot be counted, clothed in white robes. The 144,000 are the only people who are recorded as being “sealed” which literally is a means a designation of ownership. The multitudes surrounding the 144,000 were not numbered and they had not been sealed. This picture creates a clear distinction between the 144,000 who were counted and sealed and the multitude surrounding them who were not.  

            Thus there are two groups who initially comprise the Kingdom of God. The 144,000 are the saints, the very elect, the remnant, as referred to by the Lord (Matthew 24:22, 24). “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short… “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect [chosen ones]. Mark emphasizes it is impossible to deceive the very elect. “for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, IF POSSIBLE, the elect” (Mark 13:22).  

            The remaining multitudes, not part of the 144,000 are those who have been saved by their confession of Jesus. In verse 10 the multitude is crying “Salvation to our God”. They are those who have confessed the Lord as their Savior and have been saved by their belief and confession. “…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9-10. That does not necessarily mean they have been saved to the uttermost and become perfect as have the Saints (Hebrews 7:25). 

            This difference between the two groups is borne out by Paul as he describes the day of the Lord: He recounts the day "when He [Jesus] comes to be glorified in the persons of His saints [holy ones] on that day [the very elect] and to be marveled at [or admired by] all who have believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:10). He is describing two separate groups. In the first group the Lord comes “in the person” of the saints, that is His nature is fully formed within them. As John says in 1 John 3:2: “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”.  

            Christ will appear on the earth (His second coming) and there are those who will possess His very nature and be just like Him when He does. Hebrews 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” (Hebrews 2:10). God’s purpose is to create and then adopt many Sons like Christ who, like Him, have been perfected. The second group that marvels at the manifested Christ is the other believers who have been saved and also receive eternal life, just not on the level of Sons who have become like Him. As Paul says:”He  predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself,” (Ephesians 1:3-6).   

            There has been much discussion as to whether the 144,000, who are identified in 12,000 increments according to the twelve tribes of ancient Israel, are actually going to be of Jewish lineage. The physical Jewish nation was the favored nation of God until Christ came, initiated the new Covenant (Hebrews 8:7, 9:15, 12:24; Jeremiah 31:27)   and opened His promises to all people, Jews and Gentiles alike. The Israel referred to in the New Testament is the spiritual Israel who has accepted the fullness of Christ and became like Him by being born again into the spirit. One only need read Romans chapters 9-11 to realize the position of the Jewish nation after the coming of Christ. They were put on equal footing with all other nations and lost their favored status (see Chapter in this Book “The Jews and the Temple in the New Age”). Thus the 144,000, that are purported to be the nation of Israel are not all Israelites. The number is symbolic as is the references to the twelve tribes; Saints of God overcome by their faith not their nationality.

             In Chapter 14 we see the 144,000 sealed of God again (Rev14:1-5). There the criterion for their selection is spelled out more clearly. They are defined as: “Those who follow the Lamb (Christ) wherever He goes” (Rev. 14:4). As Paul said in Romans 8:14: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God”. They were purchased by God from among men as His first fruits (v. 4). Contrary to Satan, the father of lies, no lie was found in their mouths and they were chaste by the blood of the lamb (Christ).   

            The seven trumpets follow the opening of the seventh seal in Revelation Chapters 8-11. The seventh seal notes a completion of the assertion of Christ’s authority and heralds the beginning of the seven trumpets. The angels prepare to sound the trumpets: “And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake” (Rev. 8:2-5). Thus, the seven trumpets are introduced by an offering (from a censor) which are the prayers of the saints to aid the effectiveness of the trumpets as they sound forth. Trumpet is symbolic of the word of God (Isaiah 58:1-5) which brings about the results recorded in the nest chapters.  

            The sounding of the seven trumpets results in destruction of an unbelieving humanity and prepared the way for the return of the Lord. At this point the saints had been sealed and the saved recognized. The destruction wrought by the trumpets was for the inhabitants of the earth who had not and would not repent. It is reminiscent of the Pharaoh who hardened his heart even in the midst of devastation. In those times man will not even be able to die even though he cries for it (v. 9:6). In God’s eyes it is just retribution for a humanity that was unwilling, despite evidence to the contrary, to acknowledge God as the ultimate Lord, King and creator of everything.  

            It is perhaps expressed best by Isaiah the prophet 2800 years ago: “For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. 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 Lord. O Lord, Your hand is lifted up yet they do not see it. They see Your zeal for the people and are put to shame; Indeed, fire will devour Your enemies” (Isaiah 26:9-11).  

            And: “Come, my people, enter into your rooms And close your doors behind you; Hide for a little while Until indignation runs its course. For behold, the Lord is about to come out from His place To  punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; And the earth will reveal her bloodshed And will no longer cover her slain” (Is 26:20-21).  We must remember that the judgments and tribulations are for the unrighteous of the earth. In the coming Kingdom there can be no unrighteousness so it is eliminated from the earth in these verses.                

            The bottomless pit is opened by the angel and he receives the keys to it, although no one is put in the pit at this time (v. 9:1-2). But the filth from the bottomless pit spread over the earth and did uncountable damage. And there was a terrible war with millions involved that killed millions of mankind. This is reminiscent of the wars we have seen in our time-the First and Second world wars which killed millions and reaped irreparable damage on the nations. Whether or not there will be a 3rd war remains to be seen but the world wars were so destructive they could easily be fulfillment of this prophesy.  

            Chapter 10 begins with the strong angel with the little book, and the little book was opened. The angel was terribly powerful in that he cried out with seven peals of thunder (the voice of God).  The symbolism in this chapter is very great as the angel turns out to be a compilation of past events involving God. He was clothed with a cloud, as the Lord will return on a cloud as he left; or representing the cloud in the wilderness that led the Israelites. The rainbow is evidence of God’s promise to Noah. His feet like pillars, likened to the pillars of fire that followed the Israelis in the wilderness. His great size is emphasized as he straddled the land and the sea and raised his hand and swore an oath- “and swore by Him who lives forever and ever,  who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer,” (v.10:5-6). John heard and understood the seven peals of thunder but was told to seal up that knowledge until the time. The fact that the angel said “there will be delay no longer” answers the cry of the martyrs under the altar who cried “how long O Lord” (Revelation 6:10). The answer was “it is now, no more delay”. 

            John reluctantly took the book from the angel but instead of reading it he ate it. It was sweet to the taste but bitter in the stomach. These is similar to the supper of the Lord as we eat His body and drink His blood and thereby become like Him and take on His nature. Although the communion is sweet going down, the rigors of discipleship follow which can be a bitter experience at times. When John ate the book it was not something he acquired intellectually but something that became a part of his being enabling him to go on to the conclusion of the revelation and beyond.  

            In Chapter 11 John is given a rod with which to measure the temple. This is the heavenly temple prophesied by Ezekiel in his book Chapters 40-48. Ezekiel was also given a rod to measure the heavenly temple in those chapters. John was told not to measure the outer court (there are three courts in the temple) but to leave the outer court to the Gentiles (the ungodly) to be trampled underfoot. The physical temple in ancient Israel had been trodden underfoot many times by Gentile nations in the past. This time it happens to the spiritual temple of God.  This represents the satanic battle against the people of God as the spiritual temple is constructed (for more insight into the temple see Chapter “The Jews and the temple in the New Age” in this book).  This temple is unique in that it does not contain a veil between the Holy of Holies (God’s seat) as that secret place is now open for all humanity to experience. When Christ died the veil of this veil was “rent, torn in two” (Mark 15:38).  

            In Chapter 11 the two witnesses are granted authority to prophecy. Revelation 11:3 says: “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” Again this passage has no chronological significance neither indicates a reference to the time of their prophecy; only the duration. The time of their prophesying, or bearing their testimony for Christ, is 3 ½ years or a thousand two hundred and threescore days. Taking that figure and converting it symbolically to the number of prophetic days, taking a day for a year, would give us 1260 years as the length of their prophecy (Matthew Henry Commentary, Rev. 11:3, II). 

            “These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth” (Rev 11:4). This scripture is reminiscent of a scripture in Zachariah 4:2-3: “He said to me, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it; also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side” (Zachariah 4:2-3).   

            Revelation continues: “And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them,  he must be killed in this way. These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during  the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire” (Rev 11:5-6). The identity of the two witnesses seems clear from the scriptures as Elijah stopped the rain for 3 ½ years in ancient Israel and Moses turned the Nile waters to blood and struck Egypt with 10 plagues. With regards the two witnesses we must realize that John’s vision is not specific as to time. It is just a vision he is seeing while “in the spirit” (Revelation 1:10). It is the spirit of Elijah and Moses who appear at this time regardless of whether they appear in human form or not. These are the same witnesses who were present at Christ’s transfiguration (Matthew 17:2-3). Malachi prophesied that the Lord would send the spirit of Elijah before the appearing of the Lord (Malachi 4:4). Elijah came in the form of John the Baptist as fulfillment of this prophecy. Thus these two spirits are closely identified with Christ.

            The term “witnesses” is not used in the context of witnesses as though they saw something and thus were witnesses of it such as witnessing (seeing) an event. It is used here as though they were the conformation of something. As an example Paul said: “Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses” (2 Corinthians 13:1; Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15). The two witnesses here were referred to as if they were confirmation of Christ’s ministry and moved in that confirmation according to their individual earthly ministries. In fact the entire Old Testament is a “witness of” or confirmation of the Messiah to come. Christ told the Pharisees: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; (John 5:39).  

            The next scriptures exemplify just how close to Christ they were. “When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them”. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the  God of heaven” (Rev 11:7-13).  

The exact meaning of this set of scriptures is unclear but one cannot ignore the similarities to Christ and His death. For those who can bear it, the appearance of the two witnesses is actually the appearance of companies of people who will collectively manifest the spirits of the witnesses. They will move through the great “body of Christ” that will come forth preceding Christ’s coming (Ephesians 4:12; Romans 7:4); 1 Corinthians 10:16). They were apparently overcome at one point but not for long. Daniel says: “I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom” (Daniel 7:21-22).  The two witnesses are also symbolic of Satan’s attempt to defeat Christ (so he thought) by killing Him but Jesus was resurrected by God. He was taken to heaven in a cloud.  

            The seventh trumpet sounds and the Kingdom of the Lord is ushered in. The world kingdoms are shaken and overthrown, and the Lamb’s kingdom appears. There remains only the defeat of Satan. The heavenly elders cry: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of  His Christ; [Messiah] and He will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). With the appearance of the Son of Man, God opened the temple and the Ark of the Covenant appeared in the temple symbolic of the presence of the Lord.  

            In verse 12, out of chronological order, we meet the woman who is Israel, clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and a crown of 12 stars. She is pregnant with the man child (Christ) and in labor. The dragon (Satan) stood before her ready to devour the man-child as it came to birth. This is reminiscent of King Herod’s so called “slaughter of the innocents” wherein he killed all first born sons in Bethlehem, hoping to kill the one who would become King and threaten Herod’s kingdom. At this time, since the Kingdom is firmly established in heaven and Satan is cast out, he took 1/3 of the angels with him to make war against the man-child and his descendents on earth. But the woman gave birth and the man-child (Christ) was immediately caught up out of Satan’s grasp and the woman, who now symbolizes the church of believers in Christ, was given shelter and nourished. This is also reminiscent of the child being taken to safety in Egypt hiding from the dragon who possessed Herod.  

            It was Christ’s ascension and authority that threw down the devil from heaven, after a great war with the arch angels. By this time the sons had overcome by the blood of the lamb and were sealed and Satan was thrown to earth. Satan persecuted the woman, symbolic of the church, which is evidenced by the great persecution suffered by the early Christians at the hands of the satanically controlled Romans. The converts were forced to hide from their persecutors and gather in secret, sometimes in caves. The devil poured a river of persecution at the woman and the converts, seeking to sweep them away. This was prophesied by Isaiah: “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19). But the converts who remained were saved and the church carried on. When he couldn’t destroy the early church he went after the other converts whom the church had spawned through their evangelistic efforts.  

            At some point, again not necessarily chronological, Satan came into the open and showed himself for what he was. With the dragon (Satan) standing on the shore came first as a beast coming up out of the sea of humanity (see Psalm 2:1) with horns, heads and diadems which represent the nations of the world and their crowned headed leaders who had warred against physical Israel (Babylonians, Assyrians, Romans, Syrians or Scythians). “And then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were  blasphemous names. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion”. Symbolically these faces represent great nations: Greece (a leopard, Dan. 7:6), Mede-Persia (a bear, Dan. 7:5), and Babylon (a lion, Dan. 7:4). And the dragon [Satan] gave him his power and his  throne and great authority” (Rev 13:1-2).  

            John goes on: “I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; they worshiped the  dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” (Rev 13:3-4). The beast of nations was given power by the serpent Satan who stood apart from the nations on the sea shore (Rev. 13:1). The head that was slain and the fatal wound healed was the Roman Empire that was defeated by the barbarians but rose again in another form, the Catholic Church. Rome was sacked in the 600s C.E. and from then on the church ruled Rome and lands in the east for hundreds of years. The church collectively gained great power over the people to such an extent that the people’s voice was not heard and they worshipped (bowed down to) the church under penalty of death for disobedience. (Rev. 13:3). The church and ruling nations became increasingly anti God as Satan continued to exercise his power and authority (Rev. 13:5-8). Verse 13:9-10 states: “If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance [steadfastness] and the faith of the saints [holy ones](see Rev. 3:7-13 as to the perseverance of the church at Philadelphia). The church became as corrupt and murderous as the Roman Empire through the “dark ages” seating one perverse Pope after another.  

            The next beast to appear from the earth is the beast of religion. It had two harmless looking white horns like a lowly lamb but it spoke as the dragon Satan. Satan is above all else a religious spirit, perverting the truth of Christ into a religion. Paul said, speaking of Satan’s influence that crept into the early church, as follows: “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).  

            This beast of religion exercises the same power as the first beast showing that religion, as evidenced by the Church in the middle ages, was as powerful as the nations as they intermingled together to exercise power over the peoples. Satan’s angelic name is “Lucifer” which means “light bearer”. While in heaven he emitted great light, which was perverted as he fell to earth. He was also known as “the bright morning star”. Isaiah 14:12 says: “How you have fallen from heaven, O  star of the morning [shining one], son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!” Perverted light is religion. We will see more of this intermingling and the authority of religion as we examine the judgment of Babylon below.  

            Any who did not worship this two horned beast were killed. The Catholic Church of the middle ages killed thousands during inquisitions and witch hunts. When someone did not confess their allegiance to the Church they were tortured, banished or killed. (Rev. 13:14-15).  

            The mark of the beast (Rev. 13:16-18) is evidence of the power held by the two beasts in their control, this time of the economic realm. The mark is numbered six hundred sixty six (666). “And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or  the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six” (Rev 13:16-18). Many interpret 666 to be, according to Hebrew numerology, to equate to the man Nero, Emperor of Rome, who persecuted Christians mercilessly. However Nero died long before John wrote Revelation although there were rumors of his resurrection which disconcerted Christians. It may have been Nero who banished John to Patmos but this is doubtful.  

            Actually the number 666 is related more to the man Satan. In Isaiah, when the dust settles and He is defeated, Satan is revealed as just a man. “Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit. “Those who see you will gaze at you, They will ponder over you, saying, ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms, Who made the world like a wilderness And overthrew its cities,” (Isaiah 14:15-17). The more probable meaning of the mark, for those who have eyes to see, is that  six is the mythical number of man, below seven the number of God. Scripture explains that man has been made a little lower than the angels for now. “Thou made him [man] a little lower than the angels” (Hebrews 2:7; Psalm 85:5).  

            Thus 666 is the unholy trinity of the man Satan comprised of the two beasts and the false prophet (Satan, the antichrist) as they strangle the earth by controlling all buying and selling. The trinity of 666 is similar to the trinity of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and the makeup of man (spirit, soul and body). Three or a trinity is the mystical number of completeness. Satan, like God, moves through men. A triad, a linking of three entities, is a powerful combination. Scripture says: “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). This threefold cord was Satan’s last, best chance of victory, as he combines his forces into an evil triad against the coming of Christ and His Kingdom.  

            Verses 14:9-13 begins the judgments of Satan and Babylon. “Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships [bows down to] the beast and his  image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who  worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and  their faith in Jesus.” 

            The six bowls of wrath are poured out on the earth as a judgment against Satan and all who are allied with him (Rev. 16:1-12). Verses 16:13-16 describe the false prophet (Satan) making ready his forces for battle against the righteous. John symbolically describes the battleground as a place called Armageddon which actually references a mountain in Israel called Har Megiddo (Mt. Megiddo) near where many battles have been fought over the centuries. Although many believe that a literal battle will be fought there, John is speaking about a spiritual battle that will take place and is using the valley around Har Megiddo as a representation of a battleground for opposing forces to battle. In fact, for those with eyes to see, the real Armageddon is fought within ourselves as we defeat Satan in our inner beings making way for Christ to come forth in our hearts.  

            John is using symbolism to identify a place for battle when in fact it will be a spiritual battle. Paul made this clear in his epistles: “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, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). In the Old Testament physical battles were fought. In the New Testament the battles became spiritual as spiritual rulers, principalities and powers were destroyed.  Too many people’s disappointment there will be no “Armageddon” that will take place on a physical level, at that physical location. But there will be a battle and God and His Sons will prevail and Satan (a spirit) will be relegated to his proper place in hell.  

The next two chapters deal with the judgment of Babylon which God emphasizes almost more than any of the other judgments He releases (Ch. 17-18). Why God is so concerned about Babylon?  In fact what is collectively called Babylon is the root of the religious systems of the world which God hates. The roots of Babylon go back to the days of Nimrod (Genesis 10:8) the mighty soul hunter, and the beginning of a perverse religious that continues today. The tenth chapter of Genesis records the origin of Babel and how the great Nimrod founded it and spread it to other wicked cities in the region.  “Now Cush (son of Ham, son of Noah) became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord." The beginning of his kingdom was Babel [Babylon] and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar (another Hebrew name for Babylon). From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh [and other great cities] (Genesis 10:8-12). These cities were the origins of the Canaanites who were defeated by Joshua centuries later as Israel took the Promised Land.     

            Nimrod was a mighty hunter before the Lord, but it does not mean that he went out to hunt elephants and wild game. Nimrod was a hunter of the souls of men. He was one of the first ones in a religious sense to prey upon other people. Genesis tells us that the people sought to make a name for themselves and they began to build the tower of Babel, brick by brick, that they might reach up unto heaven. Nimrod built a city, a tower and a kingdom requiring untold wealth.  

            The fourteenth chapter of Isaiah is one of the most revealing chapters that you can find in the Old Testament indicating the fall of Babylon. The Jewish people came to have an abhorrence of Babylon, because it was the place of their exile around 680 B.C., but “that” Babylon was only a symbol of something else that had existed previously and was to come. Isaiah 14:4–11 speaks of this Babylon and that all its kings that had gone to “Sheol,” the Old Testament word for the grave, translated in King James, “hell”. “Thy pomp is brought down to Sheol, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and worms cover thee:” This showed the noble end that was prophesied for Babylon, and like all prophecy, there was the fall of Babel in Genesis 11 with the confusion of languages.  

            What was behind Babylon? Again we have reference to Satan who controlled the Kings of Babylon, quoted above. Satan was the motivating force behind the King of Babylon. When Isaiah brings discourse against the King of Babylon in the above verses he is talking about Satan, who is so closely aligned to Babylon as to be one entity. Isaiah says this about Satan: “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, [shining one] son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14). Satan’s sole aim was to become like God, a position he could never attain.       

            God is saying that Satan was the motivating force behind Babylon. History tells us that when Babylon was taken by the Medes and the Persians, the Babylonian hierarchy fled to Pergamum in Asia Minor. In his messages to the churches by John, Pergamum is called “Satan’s seat” (Rev. 2:12-13). The last king of Pergamum, called the “Supreme Pontiff” of the Babylonian order, bequeathed by law all of his dominion and power to the Babylonian hierarchy of Rome, because the Roman empire was coming up strong, with all of their rites, ceremonies, authorities and dignitaries. Thus, the Roman Caesars became and were called: “Pontifix Maximus,” “Sovereign,” “Pontiff,” “Supreme Pontiff.” They had these names that were transferred from the old order of the religion of Babylon and they continued to bear these names, even after they became nominally Christian in the 4th century C.E. under Constantine.  These were in essence names of gods as the Caesars of Rome came to be regarded so by the people. Julius Caesar was first made the Pontiff (Emperor) of the Babylonian order in 74 B.C.—he became the Supreme Pontiff of Babylon in 63 B.C. and this meant that the old Babylonian religion was tied in with the government which often they worshiped. Nero even tried to continue this, proclaiming himself God, and that he should be worshiped, and he was doing this only because he had the inheritance by the Babylonian religion that he should stand as God to the people. 

            In 376 A.D., the emperor Gratian said it was wrong for a Christian emperor to be the Supreme Pontiff; and to be a Christian, he couldn’t be the head of devil worshipers at the same time, so he renounced the title. Then, there was no tribunal before whom the pagans could be tried who followed the Babylonian religion, so confusion began. The authority of Babylon was then bestowed upon the Bishop of Rome, Demasus, in the year 378 A.D. The “Supreme Pontiff” or the “Pontifix Maximus,” was then the title of the Bishop of Rome. The papal power then actually comes from the devil worship of Babylon. Only three years later, 381 A.D., the church decreed the worship of Mary. By 519 A.D., they decreed the observance of Easter and Lent, which were Babylonian, idolatrous holidays. Following the sacking of Rome in 500-600 C.R. the Roman Catholic Church became the actual rulers of Rome for hundreds of years. Many of the Popes engaged in the same perverse manner as did the Roman Emperors.  

            The sign of the cross came from the T of the tower of Babylon, which had been used by the Chaldeans, the Egyptians and in the Babylonian mysteries for two or three thousand years, before Christianity began using the sign of a cross. The rosary, tonsure, celibacy, monks, nuns, formerly the vestal virgins of Rome, all came from Babylonian idolatry. Guides of present day Rome will say, “This used to be a temple where they worshiped Venus,” etc., from which idolatrous statues were not removed, but given the names of saints. 

            Back in history to the time of Nimrod, Semiramis, or Ashteroth, whose husband Nimrod was killed, became the sole queen over Babylon and began one of the most sadistic reigns in the history of the world. In her widowhood, beyond being satisfied, her favorite pattern was to find a male, force intercourse, castrate and murder him. She was the “black widow” of ancient history. She claimed to have brought forth, as a virgin, a son miraculously, that is, without a human father, and called him Tammuz. The worship of Tammuz is emphasized in the Bible, especially in Ezekiel 8:14. Tammuz was killed by a wild boar while hunting. There were forty days of fasting and weeping, which we now call Lent; followed by Easter, which was originally a feast of Ishtar (Ishtar was a prominent female goddess throughout early history with origins in Acadian civilization). Tammuz was supposedly resurrected, and the chicken, the egg and the bunny, his favorite pets, became symbols of his resurrection. Cakes were baked and there was a great feast. This was all the result of Semiramis, or Ashteroth, the “queen of heaven.” “Queen of heaven” is the exact title later conferred by the Roman Catholics on Mary. The virgin queen that was worshiped in Isaiah 47 is identical with Mary worship that came later. Christmas was the birthday of the sun god. The favorite tree of Tammuz was the evergreen. Jeremiah 10 tells how they cut the tree from the forest and decked it. This is the origin of the present day “Christmas tree.”  

            In other words Babylon, and its roots and branches, set about to corrupt Judaism and Christianity from the start and that is who God spends two chapters in Revelation condemning. Satan is the power of this mystical Babylon. There is the cry to “come out of her my people” and come into Zion and the true church. 

            This is the prophecy in Revelation 18:1–5 concerning Babylon: “After these things I saw another angel coming down out of heaven, having great authority; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried with a mighty voice, saying, Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, and is become a habitation of demons, and a hold of every unclean spirit, and a hold of every unclean and hateful bird. For by the wine of the wrath of her fornication all the nations are fallen; and the kings of the earth committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth waxed rich by the power of her wantonness. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come forth, my people, out of her, that ye have no fellowship with her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues: for her sins have reached even unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities”. You will notice that the complete destruction of the nation of Babylon, who defeated Israel and took its people into exile, was not completely destroyed when conquered by the Persians. The destruction of real mystery Babylon is reserved for this time of judgment portrayed in Revelation.   

            “Render unto her even as she rendered, and double unto her the double according to her works” (Revelation 18:6a). There is a double portion prophesied in the Old Testament. “Instead of your shame ye shall have double;” (Isaiah 61:7a). God will give a double portion to those of Zion that return, and God also says that He will give a double portion of judgment to Babylon. God will double up the judgment on the Babylonian system and bring it down. How long will it take?… in the cup which she mingled, mingle unto her double. How much so ever she glorified herself, and waxed wanton, so much give her of torment and mourning: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall in no wise see mourning. Therefore in one day shall her plagues come, death, and mourning and famine; In one day, and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judged her. Revelation 18:7–8.  

            And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived wantonly with her, shall weep and wail over her, when they look upon the smoke of her burning, standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! for in one hour is thy judgment come” (Revelation 18:9–10). So it is with the political forces. Organized Christianity has been a great political force, whether it was in the middle ages or in some refined form now. The religious systems and political powers work closely together. 

            In the commercial enterprises, the merchants weep and mourn over her judgment (Rev. 18:11-13). One hour and it is ended. What would happen to businesses if organized religion was brought to an end? They would begin to mourn. If it were not for Easter and Christmas sales and the system of gifts, the margin of profit in many businesses would be completely gone. 

            Revelation 18:20 it says: “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye saints, and ye apostles, and ye prophets; for God hath judged your judgment on her. This means that when the fall of Babylon comes, it will be the apostles and prophets, the saints of God and all of the heavenly hosts joining in that will bring forth the judgment upon Babylon, and God will bring it down in one hour. God hath brought forth; “God hath judged your judgment upon her”.  

            We’ll not fail to know that the system is the deadly enemy, because it is Satan inspired, called THE MOTHER OF THE HARLOTS in Revelation 17:5. All denominational systems have followed what the Bible calls the harlot system—committing fornication with the kings of the earth to get security, so they’ll not be persecuted—an exchange that goes on back and forth. 

            What about the true church? Rejoice and be glad for in the 19th chapter of Revelation it says, After these things I heard as it were a great voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, Hallelujah; Salvation, and glory, and power, belong to our God: for true and righteous are his judgments; for he hath judged the great harlot, her that corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. Revelation 19:1–2. Then, what is the great cry? Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad, and let us give the glory unto him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. There are two women in Revelation, the false church is called the harlot, and the true church is called the bride of Jesus Christ, and she is clothed with fine linen, clean and white. And it was given unto her that she should array herself in fine linen, bright and pure: for the fine linen are the righteous acts of the saints. Verses 7, 8.). God looks upon commercial and political religion as nothing more than spiritual harlotry.  

            The woman clothed in scarlet, riding upon the beast of the nations, could not be a clearer representation than the Babylonian system in league with the nations, so intermingled so that the woman is called “the mother of harlots” (verse 17:5). God views the intermingling as whoredom where one feeds and survives on the other. Finally her end is completed: “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.” Then a  strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer. “And the sound of harpists and musicians and flute-players and trumpeters will not be heard in you any longer; and no craftsman of any craft will be found in you any longer; and the sound of a mill will not be heard in you any longer; and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery. “And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth” (Rev. 18:20-24). 

            After the judgments are completed (verse 19:1-4) the coming of the Christ begins to manifest. The marriage of the Lamb takes place where Christ and God marry those who have remained faithful (v.7-8). The second coming of Christ occurs (Rev. 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, [the Word] so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule [shepherd] 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.” He came the first time as a lamb led to slaughter but He comes the second time as a conqueror.

             Finally the beasts and the false prophet Satan are seized and bound. “And I saw  the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. And the beast was seized, and with him the  false prophet who  performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, [again the Word] and all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Rev. 19:19-21).  

            A word about the antichrist. Contrary to accepted Christian doctrine the antichrist is not one man who magically appears in the end time to deceive the nations. Antichrist is not mentioned in Revelation. The antichrist is a spirit, the spirit of Satan the false prophet. John clearly identifies this in his epistles. “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now [2000 years ago] many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). Also: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 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 4:1-3). The antichrist spirit is simply a spirit that does not confess Jesus as Lord. It has been around since the time of John 2000 years ago. The scope of this spirit is broad. Most of the world’s religions do not confess Christ as Lord and to that extent they are antichrist. “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” (2 John 7).  

            Then Satan himself is bound. “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the  abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time” (Rev. 20:1-3).   

            Then those who had been sealed by God partook of the first resurrection. “Then I saw  thrones, and they sat on them, [the 144,000] 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. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4-6).  

            The thousand years may mean any length of time, not necessarily a millennium.  We must understand what time really is, that is, what time means to God who lives in eternity.  The Bible says this about time from God’s standpoint:  But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9). Also Psalm 90:4 states: “For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night”. This scripture indicates a thousand years are like a watch in the night which man sleeps through with no passage of time noted.  

            When the devil is released, at whatever point, the great white throne judgment takes place (Rev. 20:11-15). Although it is not specified who these people are, or what their relationship to God is or was, they are judged by their works good or bad in God’s eyes. The Lord warns of this time. “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “So then, you will know them by their fruits. “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 lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:18-23). Therefore even those who profess Christ, and do mighty works in His name, will be rejected. 

            Christ warned further of that day: “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).  

            The Lord references true Israel in the scriptures over 80 times as a “remnant”. A remnant is defined as “the portion left over after a part has been removed”. In Biblical thought, the remnant has been or will be saved and redeemed by God. This concept is frequently mentioned in prophetic writings since it is the obverse of the idea that God will punish the sinning people with near total destruction” (Harpers Bible Dictionary). A remnant can also be defined as a “trace” of what was, making a remnant a very small portion (Webster’s Dictionary 11th Ed.).

            Paul, quoting Isaiah, spoke of the remnant of physical Israel that would remain and accept Christ. The same is true of the Gentiles who accept Christ. Whatever the number it will always be a remnant, a small piece of what was once whole. Paul said “Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, though the number of the sons of Israel  be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved;” (Romans 9:27; Isaiah 10:22). And: “For thus says the Lord, “Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, And shout among the chief of the nations; Proclaim, give praise and say, ‘O Lord, save Your people, The remnant of Israel.’ (Jeremiah 31:7). Further: “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).  

            In any event those not mentioned in the Book of Life (symbolic of a recount of a lifetime) will be thrown into the lake of fire with the devil and his angels (Rev. 20:15). However the Lord does give some indication of how severe the punishment will be.  In Luke 12:47-48 Jesus said, in the parable of the faithful servant (Luke 41-53) “that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more”.  

            Chapters 21-22 speak about the new heavens, the new earth and the New Jerusalem which we have covered in a previous chapter. . The way John describes it is voiced in almost the same way by Isaiah hundreds of years before.  Isaiah said: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing And her people for gladness. “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of  weeping and the sound of crying” (Isaiah 65:17-19). And: “For just as the new heavens and the new earth Which I make will endure before Me,” declares the Lord, “So your offspring and your name will endure. “And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to  bow down before Me,” says the Lord. “Then they will go forth and look On the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me". For their worm will not die And their fire will not be quenched; And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind” (Isaiah 66:22-24).  

            Those who think this fulfillment will take place in physical Israel are mistaken. The dwelling place of God will not be in a rebuilt temple-it will be among His people. Revelation 21:3-4 says: “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.”

            The true tabernacle is not one made with hands but one made, and dwelt in, in the spirit realm. The writer of Hebrews explains that the first tabernacle, made with hands, was but a mere copy of the spiritual tabernacle to come. He said: “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but  through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:11-12).  

            The true tabernacle of Christ is in His many membered body of believers. Paul said: “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). Ephesians chapter 4 explains how this body is formed: “He [Christ] who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things. 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. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:10-16).  

            Then there is the church invisible which consists of the whole number of the elect (a remnant) that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ, the head thereof. This is a pure society, the church in which Christ dwells, the Kingdom of God. It is the body of Christ. It is called “invisible” because the greater part of those who constitute it are already in the spirit realm and also because its members still on earth cannot certainly be distinguished. The qualifications of membership in it are internal and are hidden. It is unseen except by Him who “searches the heart.” “The Lord knows them that are his” (2 Tim. 2:19). 

            However many of those receiving Christ will not die before they see the Kingdom coming in the earth. “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). And Paul said: “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, [die] but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and  the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Here Paul distinguishes between those alive and the dead. All will be made imperishable. Some will live to greet the Lord upon His return. “For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory (Isaiah 25:8).“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:53-55; Hosea 13:14).    

            Then comes the description of this heavenly temple filed with the Saints of God with God dwelling among them, the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:10-27). The eternal river of the word of God, the Christ, appears along with the lost tree of life. The curse God imposed on creation in Genesis is lifted. The nations are healed by the leaves of that tree. The sun no longer shines because the light of the Lord lights all things. All of the nations will walk by that light, including their kings.  

            John says in the face of this glorious vision “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The  Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Rev 22:14-17). 

            And in all of this remember that the Kingdom is coming on the earth so that earth will be identical to heaven, and they will be one. Jesus said: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).  

            The Book of Genesis is a book of beginnings; the Book of Revelation is a book of endings. In the Book of Genesis the first two chapters are without sin; and then in the third chapter sin is introduced. In the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, the third to the last chapter, you find the Lord of lords taking over and abolishing sin. In the last two chapters, there is no sin again, just as in the first two chapters of Genesis. “The grace of the Lord be with you all. Amen” (Rev. 22:21).

 

 

EPILOG

            So what about all the destruction discussed in the Book of Revelation which features so prominently in church sermons today. There will be severe judgments in the earth which are the birth pangs of a new age. Those judgments have been with us for a long time. Much of those judgments have already been fulfilled. There are undoubtedly more to come. Hopefully a review of the Book of Revelation has provided sufficient justification for God to initiate the tribulation and judgments to be administered by God throughout history and especially in the end time.  

            If you are a believer you have nothing to fear from the judgments because they come to enforce your salvation. As David said: “A thousand may fall at your side And ten thousand at your right hand, But it shall not approach you. You will only look on with your eyes And see the recompense of the wicked. For you have made the Lord, my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent” (Psalm 91:7-10). However woe to the one who does not believe because that one will get the full effect of God’s rage, as has already happened in history.   

            With the foregoing in mind, Christ said this about the end of days: “See to it that no one misleads you. “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.  “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.  “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Mt 24:4-13).  

             “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will." Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect [chosen ones] those days will be cut short” (Mt 24:21-22).  But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. “And  He will send forth His angels with  a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect [chosen ones] from  the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.  

            “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. “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. “Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.  “But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards;  the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know,   and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be  weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 24:24-51).  

            Therefore we who believe shall govern ourselves accordingly!

 

 

DIVINE REVELATION: GOD SPEAKING TO MAN 

            Traditionally, revelation is defined as God making Himself known to man. In one aspect it is an uncovering, a bringing to light of that which had been previously wholly hidden or only obscurely seen. God is pleased in various ways and at different times (Heb. 1:1) to make a supernatural revelation of Himself available to man. His purposes and plans, which, under the guidance of his Spirit, has been committed to writing in the Bible. The Scriptures are not merely the “record” of revelation; they are the revelation itself in a written form, in order to the accurate preservation and propagation of the truth. Jesus 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).  

Man, like God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), is a triune natured being-spirit, soul and body. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says: “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”.  

God is pure Spirit. The only way we can communicate with God is through our human spirits. John said: “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).         

Real revelation is more that a conveying by God of some truth, knowledge, wisdom, faith or a speaking of His Divine will or leading in one situation or another. We may ask God for answers as to what we should do in this situation or that and he may lead us in the way which we should go. But real revelation is more than that. Real revelation is an impartation to our beings of His very nature so that by revelation our human nature is changed into His. You cannot walk away from a real revelation of God the same person you were before the revelation. By revealing Himself He leaves in a person a deposit of His nature.  

            The Apostle Paul was well familiar with this principle and he expressed it in scripture. “Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives,” (1 Thessalonians 2:8). “For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established” (Romans 1:11). And: “For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law” (Galatians 3:21b).  

            Impartation of life through God results in change or regeneration (Matt. 19:28 and Titus 3:5). Regeneration by revelation literally means a “new birth.” The Greek word so rendered is “palingenesia” sometimes used by classical writers with reference to change. In Matt. 19:28 the word is equivalent to the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21). In Titus 3:5 it denotes that change of heart elsewhere spoken of as a passing from death to life (1 John 3:14); becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17); being born again (John 3:5); a renewal of the mind (Rom. 12:2); a resurrection from the dead (Eph. 2:6); a being quickened (2:1, 5). This change is attributed to the Holy Spirit. It originates not with man but with God (John 1:12, 13; 1 John 2:29; 5:1, 4). As to the nature of the change, it consists in the implanting of a new principle or disposition in the nature of man; the impartation of spiritual life to those who are by nature “dead in trespasses and sins.” The necessity of such a change is emphatically affirmed in Scripture [John 3:3; Rom. 7:18; 8:7–9; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:1; 4:21–24] (Easton, M.G.: Easton's Bible Dictionary. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996, c1897). 

            As Paul said (above) we who are walking in the Spirit of God can not only change ourselves but can receive and impart change. We do so by prophecy. We shift from prophecies that were predictive to prophecies that actually create and impart. The Word of God is creative. It was the Word of God, spoken by God, that created the heavens, the earth and all the attending elements including man (Genesis 1). Hebrews 11:3 says: “By faith we understand that the worlds [ages] were prepared [created, framed] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible”. When we prophesy a creative Word from God, or God speaks to a person, the power and authority of God goes out with that word and a change if effected. The same power used by God to create the universe is included in the word. God, speaking through man, can impart a revelation of Himself to the hearer and he/she is changed.  

The spiritual Word of God is life. It is God who creates life. Science can gather together all the elements necessary for life and mix them together but they cannot create life. Life comes from the Spirit of God by revelation. “For the word of God is living, active, powerful 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). Therefore, since the word lays everything bare before Him, it is able to create what it is intended to accomplish. It is able to bypass the human mind and go directly to the human spirit; spirit to spirit.  

As we previously noted man is composed of a spirit, a soul and a body--three distinct elements. It is the spirit that is intended by God to have dominion over the soul and body. Man lives today in most cases with the soul, mind or emotions ruling his/her life. That is not what God intended. The soul, the seat of the intellect and the emotions, cannot know God. Paul refers to the soul and the mind as “the flesh” or “soul flesh”, as opposed to the “spirit”. It is the nature we inherited from the first humans when they fell from Paradise long ago. Paul said this of the human mind: “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” (Romans 8:5-8). The human mind, part of the soul, is not even able to know God because God is a spirit. The revelation from God comes first to the spirit of a person and then filters down to the soul and finally the body. Eventually in an entirely spiritual man his/her spirit dominates the soul and the body. By receiving revelation in our spirits we receive a new mind, the mind of Christ.  

            Paul said: “But a natural [unspiritual] 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. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But  we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:14-16). Revelation from God can even bring life to the body, as well as the soul and mind. “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 [quicken] your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).  

            Revelation from the Father is the very foundation of the Kingdom of God, according to Matthew 16:13-19. The meaning meant to be conveyed by those verses, is clear but is often misinterpreted.  

 In our example Jesus begins his discussion with the disciples by asking “Who do men say that I am?” (v.13). The disciples answered by saying some thought He was John the Baptist, some Elijah, some Jeremiah, and others one of the prophets (v.14). Apparently the speculation as to who Jesus was prevalent among the multitudes. Jesus, apparently expecting the disciples to have more insight than the multitudes, than asked “Who do you say I am?” (v.15).  

Simon Peter, the boldest of the disciples, spoke up and said “You are Christ [Messiah] the Son of the living God” (v.16). Jesus said to Peter: “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona [son of Jonah; a man]: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. Christ was saying that Peter the man was blessed because man, flesh and blood, had not revealed this to him but God. Sarx, among other meanings, is the Greek word for flesh, meaning the physical body or nature whether of man, beasts, fish or birds. Blood, Haima in Greek, means, among others “the blood of the human or animal body” or “the life force of man”, as opposed to the divine. So man, who is flesh and blood, had not revealed to Peter who the Lord was but it was revealed to Him by the Father in heaven (the spirit realm).  

The word “reveal” in Greek is “Apokalupto” meaning: “to remove a veil or covering, exposing to open view what was before hidden” (see also Apokalupsis meaning revelation, one of three words in the NT referring to the second coming of Christ). Therefore Peter, a man of flesh, had spoken what was formerly concealed, exposing it to open view. He revealed what was in essence the identification of the Lord Jesus as the Son of God. This “revelation” did not come from man but was revealed by the Father in Heaven (from the spiritual realm).  

Christ said further: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter [a stone], and upon this rock [large rock, bedrock] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”. (Verse 17, KJV).  

The word “Peter” is in Greek “Petros”, a small stone. The rock referred to in the scripture (“upon this rock”) is Petra in Greek which means a large rock or bedrock. What was this bedrock? It is the subject of this entire series of scriptures. The BEDROCK is the REVELATION from the Father to the human spirit.   

Thus it was the revelation of Christ coming from the Father that would be the bedrock upon which Christ would build His church. God did not intend to build His church (Kingdom) on Peter, the small stone. The Catholic religion interprets this scripture to mean that Christ would build His church on “Peter”, thus, the idea that Peter was the first Pope of the Catholic Church. This is misinterpretation of scripture!  God planned to build His church on the bedrock of divine revelation, not on one man.  

This revelation of Christ as the foundation upon which the true church is to be built is conformed in many scriptures. Jesus said to them “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him. (John 14:6-7).            

            Paul said: But I certify you, brethren that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12). And: “Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith (Romans 16:25-26).            

            The entire Book of Revelation is a revelation of Jesus Christ. John said in Revelation 1:1: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” (Revelation 1:1). Thus divine revelation from God is the only road to the way, the truth and the life which is Christ. His Kingdom is not of this world. It is built upon the continued revealing of the mystery of Christ, hidden from ages past, but revealed to His Sons.        

And to him to whom who the revelation comes, he will be given the keys of the Kingdom (which is the revelation of the Father). Then whatever he binds in earth shall have already been bound in Heaven (the spiritual realm where God dwells) and whatever he loosed the same (see above). In Matthew 6:10 Christ made this abundantly clear when He said in Matthew 6:10: “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”.         

How can we receive this life changing revelation from God? It is by persistence in asking, seeking and knocking. The Lord gave the following illustrative parable: “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 [also intpr. shamelessness] he will get up and give him as much as he needs”. So even knowing God as a friend is not sufficient for Him to give you a life changing revelation or whatever it is you are asking Him for. Your persistence must take on a “shameless” quality where you will do almost anything necessary to get an answer to your prayer.      

Christ goes on: “So I say to you, ask, [and keep on asking] and it will be given to you; seek, [and keep on seeking] and you will find; knock, [and 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. “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 Him?” (Luke 11:5-13). Sometimes we think God is indifferent to our prayers when in fact He is drawing out in us a persistent quality He is looking for from our spirits. He says: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).  

            So real revelation from God is a life changing experience. Christ said to seek it like a fine pearl of great price or a treasure hidden in the field. “they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

 

 

PRINCIPLES OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE 

            From the beginning Satan has been around attempting to thwart what God is doing on the earth. Spiritual warfare takes many shapes and is of many kinds. Since Christ died Satan’s only device is to delay the fulfillment of God’s promises, since He is a defeated foe fighting a losing battle. That does not mean that we take him lightly because our warfare with him is often an issue of life and death. He is eventually going to the pit but he would like to take as many of us with him as he can.           

            Satan is the god of this world. The Apostle Paul said; "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world [age] 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” (2 Corinthians. 4:3-4; John 12:31). So one aspect of Satan’s warfare is to blind the minds of the people to the glory of Christ.  

            There can be no question that Satan is the god of this world and everything in it is his to give as long as he’s around. Jesus knew this firsthand: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil…” the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU shall worship the Lord your God, AND SERVE Him only (Matthew 4:1, 8-10). Satan had the power to give all the Kingdoms of this world, and all their glory, if Christ had only bowed to him and worshipped him. Satan wants to be like God and receive worship from man like God. Christ knew that the Father intended to give Him all things in heaven and so wasn’t bluffed by the devil.

            The source of all spiritual warfare is Satan and the horde of angels that fell from heaven with him (called devils or demons). Satan’s angelic name is Lucifer which means variously “light bearer”, “lightness” (from the Hebrew “Helel”), “Star of the Morning”, “Morning Star” or bright star. In heaven, before he was expelled, he was one of the brightest most beautiful creatures God had created. That is why he is so effective on earth. Here his former brightness is perverted light because he no longer knows the truth. If he had he would never have crucified the Lord of Glory.  

            In the scriptures he is called the serpent of old, the devil and Satan (Revelation 20:2), who first deceived man, resulting in man’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden. It was he who first questioned the Word of God (see generally Genesis 2-3). This “devil” is even described as the “father of the unbelieving” (John 8:44). Apostle Peter instructs Christians that Satan is “our adversary” and St. Peter that “we are not to be unaware of his schemes“(1 Peter 5:8). 

            If we are to become more aware of this “adversary” we need to know about his origins, purposes and methods. We do know that at one time this angelic being held a very high place before God. Isaiah 14:12-14, speaking of Satan, says: “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn. You have been cut down to the earth,  You who have weakened the nations!” Many say the 14th chapter of Isaiah is describing Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon at the time, but the references to Satan are unmistakable. It was Satan who was behind the power of Babylon as it advanced through the ages and was judged (Revelation 17-18). Isaiah goes on (verse 13-14): “But you said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north." I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." Satan's purpose is to get man to worship him instead of God. As we see above, what he wanted Christ to do in exchange for all the kingdoms of the world was to worship (bow down to) him.  

            Extant (no longer in existence) books and Pseudepigraphical literature (non biblical or non-canonized books) describe Satan as being thrown out of heaven, to the earth, because he was unwilling to bow to man whom God made to ultimately rule the angels. Revelation describes a great war in heaven where he was defeated. “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 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 12:7-9).   

            We must know that Satan cannot create anything. He can only manipulate what God has already created. God created Satan and even after his evil intentions were known, he had to get permission from God to carry them out. In The Book of Job this reality is readily apparent. “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan [known as the Adversary] also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord (Job: 1:1, 6-12.).   

            Satan went on, with God’s permission, to kill all Job’s livestock, steal his possessions and eventually kill his entire family. Job remained faithful to Gods through this adversity. Finally Satan said: “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. “However, put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to Your face.” So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a potsherd to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes” (Job 2:4-8). “Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:9-10).  

            God was testing Job and was using Satan to do it. This is how we react many times when God brings impossible circumstances our way.  Our friends, like Job’s, accuse us as they accused Job of being a sinner. Our reaction is many times “this can’t be God” doing this to me”. But often it’s the enemy, the devil, who is causing the havoc. No matter how hard Satan hits us or what he takes away we must, like Job, remain faithful. This is one example of spiritual warfare.

Satan is also a religious spirit and his power is behind most of the great religions of the world. He uses his perverted light to create a religious image of himself that is nothing more than hypocrisy. He portrays himself as an angel of light which is false righteousness. Speaking of false prophets Paul said of 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 deeds” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Many of the leaders of great church denominations today are so disguised as ministers of righteousness when in fact they are exalting themselves not Christ.   

            In the Old Testament the war against the enemy was physical with armies and swords. Most of the “enemies” in the Old Testament were nations which did not worship the one God of the Israelites (YHWH) but instead were polytheistic societies worshipping many Gods, usually of the stars, planets or elements. God had proclaimed such societies as pagan and continually warned the Israelites not to engage in the practices of these nations. Nearly every enemy of the Israelis was pagan and the Israelites were justified by God in destroying them, men women and children. The Canaanites who inhabited the Promised Land eventually conquered by Joshua were pagan nations who worshipped what were essentially satanic spirits-the powers and principalities of spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places later spoken of by Paul in the New Testament.  

            After Christ, the warfare was elevated to a spiritual level. Paul said “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). And: “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).  

            Early Christians were persecuted vigorously by both the Jews and the ruling power at the time the Roman Empire. Warfare was great against Paul himself as well as against all believers. After Christ, man was to become a perfected spirit, soul and body. Satan by virtue of his power over men inflicted persecution and pain against the saints whenever he could. Paul said of himself that he had encountered: “… in far more labors, in far more imprisonments,  beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews  thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” (2 Corinthians  11:23-27). In early Christianity thousands of believers were tortured, burned, eaten by animals and killed in other ghastly ways.  

            Satan, innately knowing his days were numbered after the resurrection of Christ, fought viciously to delay what would be his inevitable fate. One way he did this was to delay answers to prayer. An example of how a spiritual enemy can war in the spirit realm for the purpose of delay see Daniel 10:10-14. At that time Daniel was praying and fasting before the Lord to find out what would occur in the future to Israel. The angel eventually brought him the answer but not without having to battle the Satanic forces ruling Persia at the time. Daniel said “Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said to me, “O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on  humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding [standing against] me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. “Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people”. We too, as Paul said, are battling the spiritual forces of wickedness and perhaps the reason our prayers are not answered as quickly as we would want is that they are being delayed by demonic powers and principalities.  

            The entire earth is under siege by Satan and his hordes of fallen angels. All of creation has been subjected to futility. As 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” (Romans 8:20-21). Because creation was subjected to futility by God, because of man’s original sin, Satan takes opportunity to oppress and deceive every person on the earth. This futility affects not only mankind but animal, plant life the cosmos and all of creation. Although God subjected creation to futility in hope that it would eventually be released from that condition, Satan uses futility to assault man to the point he loses hope. As they battle Satan works to “wear down” even the chosen Saints of the Most High (Daniel 7:25). In a very real sense all humans living under this futility are facing spiritual warfare.  

            Satan is first and foremost a liar and a deceiver. He can deceive without you even knowing it. He can sell you on anything he wants. He is so clever and deceitful that many times you can accept his bill of goods without question. Satan has been with God throughout eternity.  To that extent he has knowledge of the workings of the spirit realm. He is much smarter and stronger than we humans. Since he can create nothing, he can only spin webs of lies to try to get mankind to bite on his empty hook. His specialty is hypocrisy, presenting an appealing front that looks good on the outside but has nothing on the inside.  

Everything in our lives is affected by the deception of Satan. He wove his first lie in the Garden of Eden and it was a big one because it resulted in man’s expulsion from Paradise. “Now the serpent [Satan masquerading as a serpent] was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” That was a lie since there was only one tree from which they couldn’t eat. “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!” This was the second lie, directly contradicting the word of God. Then he said: “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). This was exactly what Satan himself aspired to do-to be like God.  

So completely deceived by Satan the liar: “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings” (Genesis 3:6-7).  

Biting on this lie was eternally significant because before eating of the fruit of the tree the couple was completely unconscious of sin. Now, after eating the fruit, they became aware of their sinful condition and their first response was to hide from God out of shame. And God had warned them that if they ate from this tree they would surely die because “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Now that they had sinned God had no choice but to expel them from Paradise because at that time there was no provision for forgiveness of sin-that would come later with the appearing of Christ. “Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken” (Genesis 3:22-23). God rightly knew that to allow them to live forever in their sinful state would have been disaster. So He subjected them, and ultimately all of mankind, to a world of futility and death where the evil that had entered the world could be contained and not necessitate Him destroying all of creation which could never have stood with eternal sinful beings populating it. He did leave man with a hope that the futility would be reversed but not until all of mankind spent thousands of years in banishment from God.  

            As 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”. But until that time: “….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). Now being the time of the appearing of Christ and His Sons who would set creation free from futility. But what suffering mankind had to endure until that day.  

Because of that sin: “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).                        

            Jesus said of the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27). These are the same men he accused of having Satan as their Father. “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 8:44).  

            Paul prayed for the churches under his control. “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Who will be the one to rise up and break his chains and control over the earth?  

            Jesus, the son of God, was sent to destroy the devil and his deception of the whole world. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (I John 3:8). The militant Christ is coming forth so that He might destroy the works of Satan. “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and  bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer” (Revelation 20:2-3).  

            How does He accomplish this? Through man, his servants, the prophets and the believers. “Surely the Lord God does nothing Unless He reveals His secret counsel To His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). Jesus, upon His death and resurrection destroyed Satan, the final destruction to be carried out by His saints and Sons. 

             Christ is waiting for us to subdue His enemies and make the earth His footstool. He will not return until this is accomplished. “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 mad a footstool for His feet” (Hebrews 10:13; Psalm 110:1).                          

            Paul set out perfect guidelines on how we fight and defeat the devil in Ephesians 6:10-19 which we will discuss in detail below. First he reminds us: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, [men] but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places [in the spirit realm where Satan lives].  

            Paul goes on to describe the armor that is necessary to defeat the enemy. “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”. As the army of the Lord, we put on armor. We must understand that it is His righteousness, and that it is our prerogative to put it on. This is not a righteousness that we manufacture; it is not something that we attain by our efforts or discipline. It is something we acquire by faith. We put it on. His words are blunt: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14). He becomes our protection. He becomes the aura of immunity round about us. 

            Then: “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness” (verse 14). The idea is that Satan will come against the seat of your emotions, the very thing that the loins represent. Some New Testament references use the word “bowels” instead of loins, but they involve the same part of our anatomy.   

            Our breastplate is His righteousness. We do not stand in our own righteousness but in the righteousness He won for us on the cross. Every effort that we put in to creating our own righteousness is playing right into Satan’s hands. Satan, Lucifer the “light bearer”, stands in his own idea of righteousness; but he is standing in the lie.   

            After we have put on the armor of righteousness we shod our feet. “Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace (Verse 15). Once is man was crippled, he is out of the fight. No matter how strong he was elsewhere, if he was disabled in his feet, he is in a dangerous position. There must be that which protects our feet so we don’t wander into dead ends; that we are not directed as we should be. We fall into the traps and snares that are laid for our feet. One device used in ancient methods of battle was to attach large sickles to the hubs of chariots, so that as the chariots came through, they actually cut the legs off of the men on the field of battle rendering them completely ineffective.  

            That is why the Word says to “make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame should be put out of joint” (Hebrews 12:13). The legs of a fighter will give out before his power to hit with his fists. That is why a prizefighter spends so much time skipping rope and jogging; his legs must be so strong that when he is almost beaten senseless there is still a reserve of strength within his feet. This is exactly what Ephesians 6:13 is saying: … Having done everything, to stand … When everything else is done, you must still be on your feet. 

            Now we come to the shield of faith. “in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of  the evil one” (verse 16). If we are true sons of God everything we have of righteousness comes from our faith. Satan attacks our faith by lying to us about how things really are. Faith must be our shield: Above all, [or chiefly], taking the shield of faith, (v. 16). This is more necessary than any of them. Faith is everything to us in an hour of temptation. The breast-plate secures the vitals; but with the shield we turn every way. “This is the victory over the world, even our faith” (John 5:4). We are to be fully persuaded of the truth of all God’s promises and threatenings, such a faith being of great use against temptations. Consider faith as it “is the evidence of things not seen and the substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1), and it will appear to be of use for this purpose. Our faith receives Christ and the benefits of redemption, so deriving grace from him, is like a shield, a sort of universal defense.  

            Our enemy the devil is called “the wicked one” (1 John 2:13; Matthew 13:19, KJV). He is wicked himself, and he endeavors to make us wicked. His temptations are called darts, because of their swift and undiscerned flight, and the deep wounds that they give to the soul; fiery darts, by way of allusion to the poisonous darts which were sent to inflame the parts which were wounded with them. Therefore they are correctly named just as the serpents with poisonous stings are called fiery serpents. Violent temptations, by which the soul is set on the fire of hell, are the darts which Satan shoots at us. Faith is the shield with which we must quench these fiery darts, wherein we should receive them, and so render them ineffectual, that they may not hit us, or at least that they may not hurt us. 

            Now the helmet of salvation. “And take THE helmet of salvation’ (verse 17a).  The helmet of salvation protects the head but most importantly the mind. The human mind is fertile ground for Satan to deceive with a continual barrage of unwanted thoughts. Paul describes the human mind: “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, “ (Romans 8:5-7). The helmet protects the mind and the constant distractions that come and keep us from focusing on the Lord. It is called the helmet of salvation because in salvation we receive the mind of Christ, which is constantly focused on Him. 

            Paul said: “But the” natural [unspiritual] 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. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For  who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:14-16). Just as the helmet protects the head and brain during battle, the helmet of salvation ensures we correctly evaluate whatever comes against us and respond with the mind of Christ. The helmet also ensures our spiritual covering to protect us from danger in time of spiritual battle.  

            Finally we always have the sword of the spirit to use in spiritual battle, which is the Word of God. “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (verse 17b). Hebrews 4:12-13 says: “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”. The Word of God pierces deeply and discerns to the separation of the tightly connected bones and marrow. It can’t be deceived as it searches the heart and mind.

            The word of God is creative in nature, not just predicting future events, but actually creating them. This has been true since the beginning of creation. In Genesis we see creation being formed by the speaking of God, creating something out of nothing. Genesis 1:3 says: “Then  God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. “Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”  Then God said is repeated in Genesis verses 1:9, 11, 14, 20, 26 and 29.  

            Many see the prophecies of men of God in the Old Testament as being predictive seers rather than creative. Actually these prophets by their words were creating reality by speaking the Word of the Lord; creating the events that were to occur. When Isaiah spoke in 9:6-7 he was actually creating the reality of Christ on the earth: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” Hebrews 11:3 says: “By faith we understand that the worlds [ages] were prepared [framed] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible”. The writer is just repeating what we saw in Genesis, that the entire creation and the coming ages were created by a word from God.  

            By taking the sword of God, which is the Word of God, we tap into the same creative power of God to create. By using that two edged sword against Satan we are creating his demise and creating (or framing) the Kingdom of God. By speaking the word of God we are using the same authority of God that He used to create the heavens, man and the earth.  

            Satan has created an illusion that he is the prince of this world. But in reality Christ reigns. We look at that which is going the way of evil, the multitudes which go on the broad way to destruction, and we’re moved by the illusion of the majority; we’re moved by the illusion of the greatness of mountains; and yet He the mustard seed faith has more power and authority than anything we see round about us. We have within us the miracle of change, the Word of God. We have within us the key that unlocks the door to God’s treasure house.  

            As Paul said: “You [speaking of the Corinthian church] are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts” (II Corinthians 3:2, 3). The church had been created by Paul into the Word of God written on the tablets of their hearts not tablets of stone as had been the case with Moses on Mt. Sinai.  

            Then Paul said: “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view,  be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me” (verse 18-19). Paul also said: “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Joy is the perfect antidote for the presence of Satan for joy is a quality of God not possessed by Satan. By praying without ceasing one is always in the presence of the Lord the place Satan can no longer go.  

            There is also a certain amount of perception that goes along with spiritual warfare. We need to know when it is Satan speaking to us and when it is God. The gift of discernment of spirits is one of the gifts of the spirit we can have (1 Corinthians 12:10). One prophet put it nicely when he said: “if you take forth the precious from the vile, you shall be as my mouth:” (Jeremiah 15:19). The precious (the word of God) seems to come along with the vile (Satan’s lies). If we can separate the two, our words will be God’s and the enemy defeated. We rely on God’s strength completely when confronting Satan. He is stronger than us but not stronger than God. “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19). 

            It is never an issue over our power against Satan’s power. Again Satan has far more power than us. It is an issue of God’s authority. “Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you.” (Luke 10:19). Here is authority over power. This is the immunity that we really need. We need to walk immune from the assaults of the enemy. An old saying says “When Satan knocks on the door let Jesus answer it”. Jesus has the authority. Jesus said: “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lighting.” He saw him fall (Luke 10:17, 18).  

            Spiritual warfare is a daily occurrence for those who are pressing in to see the entire word of God fulfilled, which includes the absolute defeat of Satan. For those Christians who are not so pressing in, Satan leaves them alone. But we have been given the authority over Satan and all his guiles and deceptions. However he remains a dangerous foe not to be taken for granted. At stake is life and death. Jesus said of the time of trouble: “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect [chosen ones] those days will be cut short” (Matthew 24:22). Let us count ourselves among the chosen ones and thwart Satan’s plan to kill all flesh.

 

 

 

THE BEST WAY TO PRAY 

Jesus told the multitudes and the disciples how to pray. Matthew 6:9-13 says:

"And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. "Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him.” Pray, then, in this way:

'Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name.

Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.'
[For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.]
"For if you forgive men for their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  
But if you do not forgive men,
then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."
 

That prayer compacts all we need or want in one package. He is showing us, teaching us how to pray, teaching us how to pray. 

HALLOWED BE THY NAME. Approach God in a reverent manner. 

THY KINGDOM COME. Jesus spent the majority of His ministry speaking of how we will be and act in the Kingdom (notice I said how we will be and act). We will not fulfill the Sermon on the Mount, for instance, by trying to apply the principles enunciated there to our daily lives. In the Kingdom we will become those principles. We must, as Jesus said "Seek first the Kingdom of God and all other things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). 

OUR DAILY BREAD. Christ is not speaking of our physical food alone. As He said: "is life not more than food or drink?" He means our spiritual bread, the bread of life, the only true life. If we pray only for that, we will receive all that we need ("seek first the Kingdom") (Matthew 6:25-34).  

THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. Heaven, or more correctly the Spirit realm where God lives, is in a state of perfection. We need to reach that state on earth. So do we try to do all the good works in our own strength in order to do that will? Ridiculous. If we could do it by ourselves, we would not need to pray. We must become His will. How do we do that? By taking on Jesus nature, in which was fulfilled every jot and tittle of the law. Remember, the Old Covenant required man try to obey the law through his unrighteous flesh. The law was brought to show us our sin and that we could not fulfill the law in ourselves (Galatians 3:24). The New Covenant showed us that we could only fulfill it through Christ. 

Under the new covenant God will write His righteousness on our hearts. As Hebrews 8:8-12 states He will write the laws on our hearts so we are incapable of sin:

“Behold, days are coming, says the Lord,
When I will effect a new covenant
With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah
;
 Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers
On the day when
I took them by the hand
To lead them out of the land of Egypt
;
For they did not continue in My covenant,
And I did not care for them, says the Lord.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
After
those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws into their minds,
And I will write them on their hearts.
And I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.
And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen,
And everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
For all will know Me,
From the least to the greatest of them.
“For I will be merciful to their iniquities,
And I will remember their sins no more.”

(see also Jeremiah 31:33 et sq.) 

FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS (TRESPASSES). Jesus came to earth to forgive sin. How can we be followers of Him by neglecting to forgive others? 

AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL. This is an especially useful tool in our walks with God. He is able both to deliver us from evil, which means we do not need to constantly fight and struggle with evil but just ask God for deliverance; and lead us not into temptation in the first place - God has a way of bringing to naught our temptations and leading us elsewhere.  

In Luke 11:1 the disciples ask Jesus how to pray and He gave them a more complete answer. First, he quotes the Lord's prayer (verses 2-4).  

Then He goes on to fully answer the question (Luke 11:5-13): "And He said to them, "Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say 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 shall answer and say,' 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 he will get up and give him as much as he needs.  "And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. "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 shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"  

His point is that you not only need to pray, you must pray with PERSISTENCE. The Greek says: "seek and keep on seeking, ask and keep on asking". The man in the parable had a legitimate need: food for his family and guest, legitimate enough for him to be asking at midnight. Yet just having a legitimate need was not enough. Although the man in bed was the other man's friend, because of that friendship alone he would not get up and give his friend what he wanted. Of course the asking man is us and the man in bed is the Lord. Being a friend of God is a very special relationship! Yet for that fact alone He will not move on your behalf. God wants to give to us ("Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the Kingdom" Luke 12:32). He wants to give you the Kingdom but only His way. We must be persistent in our asking.  

Too often people, good Christian believers, ask the Lord for a multitude of things, trying to be heard for their much speaking and/or trying to get what THEY want. Yet God knows your needs before you ask. He wants you to seek Him first. Only then will you get an answer. God. Would it not be better to ask for HIS will, not ours, to be done? I think we may find that we are much more effective in our prayer asking for His will than our perception of what we want or worse our perception about what He wants. What we think He wants is often not what He wants.  

Lord bring us to the day when our wills are Your will. Then, whatever we ask will be done because with God on your side you will not be denied.

 

 

BE IT DONE ACCORDING TO YOUR FAITH

            The Lord Jesus Christ performed many miracles during His ministry on earth. What we sometimes don’t realize is that often it was often the faith of the recipient of the miracle that was the catalyst that made the miracle possible. Everyone knows that Jesus Christ had faith and could do anything. He was God, and all things were possible with Him. The disciples, after witnessing a great work by Jesus asked astonished: “Then who can be saved?” And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:23-26). And: “Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27). “And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You;” (Mark 14:36).         

Knowing that God can do anything, why then were some healed while others were not? Christ noted this peculiar fact as He began His ministry. Speaking in the Jewish temple He said:  “But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. “And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:25-27). What Jesus was saying is that there were many people in need but Elijah was sent only to a certain few who had faith for the healing or blessing.        

So it was with Jesus ministry. He was sent only to those who recognized Him as the Son of God and had faith for the miracle performed. This was borne out poignantly when He returned to his hometown Nazareth and attempted to perform miracles there. “He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not  His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? “And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took  offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:54-58).  Jesus could not do any good for the needy in Nazareth, or even His family because of their unbelief. They were actually offended by Jesus. Familiarity breeds contempt.         

It was to those who had faith that Jesus was able to perform miraculous deeds. A perfect example, one of many, was the Roman Centurion with the ill servant. “And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a [Roman] centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. “For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment” (Matthew 8:5-13).                      

In another case “And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are crowding and pressing in on You.” But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me.” When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; [saved you]  go in peace” (Luke 8:43-48; Matthew 9:20-22).         

In this case the crowds were pressing in to Jesus to get Him to lay hands on them and heal them. This woman was desperate enough, and sufficiently believed that Jesus could heal her, that she did not wait her turn in line but burst through the crowd and got her healing. Despite her fear, and even after she was discovered, it was her faith that made her well. This is the type of desperate faith the Lord sometimes requires of us. This kind of faith will stop at nothing until the answer is obtained.         

In another amazing case: “Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of  Tyre and Sidon. And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us. But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” And He answered and said, “It is not proper to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs." But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table." Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once” (Matthew 15:21-28).

This woman was hated (by the Jews) because she was a Canaanite, whom the Jews had conquered long ago as they took possession of the land of Israel. She was probably a pagan, not worshipping the Jewish God.  Yet she was crying and screaming after the Lord so annoying that the disciples told the Lord to shut her up. At first even the Lord denied her petition on behalf of her daughter. However the woman would not be put, off humbling herself greatly by likening herself to a dog eating crumbs from her master’s table. Even though she was not a Jew Jesus healed her daughter because her faith could not be denied.   

It should be made clear that: “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who [diligently] seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).  Whatever we do for God in the hope of pleasing Him is utterly ineffective unless we have faith. The world exists because of faith and every man of God has distinguished himself by his/her faith (see Hebrews 11). “Now faith is the assurance [substance] of things hoped for, [expected] the conviction [evidence] of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained [obtained] approval. By faith we understand that the worlds [ages] were prepared [framed] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:1-3).  

            Faith is not passive as we have seen from the miracles described above.  Each recipient of something from God demonstrated an active faith. They showed they had faith by their actions,  inciting the Lord to move on their behalf. If they had had faith, but stood back in the crowd, not acting on their faith, then their faith would have been of no benefit. “Faith, if it has no corresponding works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?” (James 2:17-20). James goes on to explain that faith, without corresponding works, is utterly useless.          

“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? ….Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-16, 21-26).   

            Works without faith are just as useless as faith without works. Called “dead works” these are works which are generated from the old human nature with the intention to please God. These are the kinds of works that Christ will reject. Christ said in Matthew 7:21-23: “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 lawlessness”. Lawlessness, in this context, means works not ordained by God but done with the old human nature. That is the way it is in the Christian life. Dead works without faith are useless, and “faith without works is dead” also, getting you nowhere. But faith and works pulling together make for safety, progress, and blessing.” Dead works are those works that our human consciences consider good but they are not pleasing to God.         

That is why the writer of Hebrews stresses the cleansing of our human consciousnesses. “…since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience” (Hebrews 10:21-22). Man’s conscience is the part of His old nature that determines, through his own thinking pattern, what is right and what is wrong. What is right or wrong or good or bad is not to be determined by man but God. An evil conscious will result in legalistic rules and regulations, regulating morality according to those rules. The result in those who violate these rules invariably results in condemnation, the opposite of the grace that Jesus taught (Romans 8:1). Works that further this perverted sense of what is right or wrong are dead works since they are not done in the newness of life of Christ’s spirit.          

To illustrate: “And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good;”. Jesus was telling him that as a man he couldn’t be good no matter what he did. Jesus went on: “but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Then he said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But the self righteousness young man responded to Jesus: “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete [perfect], go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property” (Matthew 19:16-22).        

The young man’s conscience told him he was ready for the Kingdom because he had kept all the rules. But when Jesus told him the real price he would have to pay he could not do it because he lacked the commitment. Because he didn’t have the necessary faith to go all the way he was rejected because his conscience was shocked that such a sacrifice would be required. Many governments, institutions and churches attempt to legislate morality by the enacting of laws and regulations but all they accomplish is a stifling their subjects and converts. Jesus came to free us from laws and regulations. The Law of God would be fulfilled but it would be accomplished by god, not dead works. By walking with Him the laws would be fulfilled in us, written on our hearts (Hebrew 8:7-13. It becomes our nature to do the right thing in the eyes of God.         

Jesus went on to perform many miracles that are recorded in the Bible, most initiated by the faith of the recipient. “And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he came near, He questioned him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, I want to regain my sight!”  And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well” (Luke 18:40-43). And: “Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”...…Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!” And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road Mark 10:46-52).   

            Jesus was amazed at the littleness of the faith of those around Him. When an epileptic boy was brought to Jesus, “Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you.” (Matthew 17:18–20).  

            As we can see it is both the faith of the Lord and our faith working in tandem that activates the faith that works. It is significant that Jesus rebuked the disciples for their littleness of faith. This shows us that that mountains moving faith is present in each of us even if it is the size of a mustard seed, the smallest seed. Even the Lord cannot move in His power and authority, unless we have faith to see Him do so. We cannot please Him without faith. Although we cannot feel it or touch it, faith is the force that can change the universe.         

How do we obtain this kind of mountain moving faith? We pray for it. “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” The apostles said to  the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this  mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you” (Luke 17:3-6).

So we pray “Lord increase our faith”.   

 

 

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD           

            David said, in perhaps his most well known Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet [still] waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:1-4). David, even in the midst of his troubles and even while bring pursued by Saul, sees the Lord as His shepherd and comforter.  

            A shepherd is one who pastures or tends a flock of sheep and/or goats. Since these were the most important domestic animals in Palestine, there are many scriptural and symbolic references to sheep and shepherds. David himself was a shepherd of sheep before receiving his call to be King of Israel.  

            Saul, the first King of Israel, had displeased the Lord and the Lord sent the prophet Samuel to Bethlehem to the house of Jesse to anoint a new King from Jesse’s family. Jesse called forth seven of his sons to pass before Samuel, all fine young men, but Samuel rejected all seven. The Lord told Samuel: “Do not look at his [their] appearance or at the height of his [their] stature, because I have rejected him; [them] for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). Then: “And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here” (1 Samuel 16:11). David, the youngest, a lowly shepherd, was the one chosen by God to be King.  

            David said “the Lord is my shepherd” (see above). Just as a shepherd of real sheep the shepherd tends to and protects the flock. So the word “shepherd”  (or Pastor) has been symbolically applied  to represent the relation of rulers to their subjects, and of God to his people (Ps. 23:1; 80:1; Isa. 40:11; 44:28; Jer. 25:34, 35). Pastor is one of the 5-fold ministries mentioned by Paul in Ephesians 4:11. The similarities between a literal shepherd, and a man of God pasturing the sheep are striking.   

            In the natural realm the position of the shepherd is a lowly one. Nonetheless the duties of a shepherd are both important and onerous. In early morning he led forth the flock from the fold to where they were to be pastured or fed. Here he watched them all day. If a sheep strayed he would seek diligently till he found it and brought it back to the fold. The shepherd would guide the sheep to water and at the end of the day would bring them back to fold, counting them to make sure none was lost. During the night he had to guard the fold from the attack of wild beasts, or a prowling thief (see 1 Sam. 17:34). Sheep are notoriously unaggressive and tend to wander away into dangers known only to the shepherd. The shepherd had to exercise constant diligence 24 hours a day in order to preserve and protect the flock. This unaggressive behavior of sheep is emphasized in Matt. 7:15:“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Perhaps most famous are the sheep’s submissiveness (Isa. 53:7; Jer. 11:19) and its trust in the shepherd (John 10:3-5). 

            The rod and the staff of the shepherd also have literal and symbolic meaning in the duties of a shepherd. The rod refers to a type of club with which to defend the flock, and the staff is a longer rod or pole upon which the shepherd could lean or with which he could guide the flock. The rod or staff is symbolic of the authority which the shepherd exercises over the flock ((Judg. 5:14; Gen. 49:10). Moses (or Aaron) used the rod to perform miracles in Egypt and to bring water from rocks in the wilderness. Aaron’s rod budded and produced almonds, signifying the authority vested in his line by God. The rod was also used to measure the spiritual temple by Ezekiel and John the Revelator ((Ezek. 40:3; Revelation 21:15). Because of the authority vested in the rod and staff David, the shepherd, was comforted, even though he might travel the valley of the shadow of death (see above).  

            The Lord Himself will rule from His Kingdom with a rod, a rod if iron. “From His mouth comes a sharp sword, [the Word] so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will  rule [shepherd] them with a rod of iron;” (Revelation 10:15). Here Christ’s rule is equated with that of a shepherd. God has always wanted His rulers to be shepherds, to care for the people, to bring them along in the knowledge of the Lord. On the other hand the rod used here by the Lord is rod of iron. Iron is known as metal whose hardness and malleability made it ideal for implements of war as well as of more peaceful pursuits such as farm implements. However the meaning here seems to be that the Lord will be a shepherd but that the authority of His Kingdom will be exercised without compromise.    

            So we draw the inference that the shepherd faithfully guarding the sheep is similar to the leader faithfully shepherding [or pastoring] his people. David as King became a shepherd of men. “He [God] also  chose David His servant And took him from the sheepfolds; From the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him To shepherd Jacob His people, And Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them with his skillful hands” (Psalm 78:70-72). Although God exercises His authority through men, in this case David, it is God who is the real shepherd, the Perfect Father, and the Savior: “Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth! Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up Your power And come to save us! O God, restore us And cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved” (Psalm 80:1-3).  

            When shepherds, men of authority, went astray God became extremely angry. “For the shepherds have become stupid And have not sought the Lord; Therefore they have not prospered, And all their flock is scattered. The sound of a report! Behold, it comes—A great commotion out of the land of the north—To make the cities of Judah A desolation, a haunt of jackals” (Jeremiah 10:21-22). In Hosea the Lord likened the perversity of the shepherds to harlotry. “Since Israel is stubborn Like a stubborn heifer, Can the Lord now pasture them Like a lamb in a large field? Ephraim is joined to idols; Let him alone. Their liquor gone, They play the harlot continually” (Hosea 4:176-28).

            Jeremiah 23:2 says: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord” And in Jeremiah 50:6 the prophet mourns: "My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place”. And Ezekiel (34:2) says: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock”. And in the New Testament John 10:12: “But he that is a hireling and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not see the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees and the wolf catches him and scatters the sheep”. This is important to grasp. This is the difference between the true and the false: the true stands there and fights through, even at the price of self-sacrifice. It stays there because it knows it has a responsibility before God. 

            Jesus is the true shepherd of the flock. He says of Himself: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. “When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”  

            This  figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them. So to clarify He went on:

Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. “All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. “He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd” (John 10:1-18).  

            It cannot be said any clearer than that. He is the true shepherd and those that are from His flock follow Him. Paul said: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). His Sons know His voice and follow Him. In Revelation the 144,000 are described as follows: “Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads…These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Revelation 14:1, 4).  

            Shepherds not only follow the Lord, they are men after God’s own heart. David was such a man (1 Samuel 13:14). The Lord promises: “Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15). This is to be contrasted with many leaders we have today. Too often they pursue their own interests rather than the Lord’s interests. This is as true in the clergy as it is in the secular political. Man instinctively understands this and does not feel cared for or covered. A true shepherd gently guides those under him to peaceful waters and green pastures. He doesn’t promise this-he delivers.  

            In the Kingdom Age, rapidly approaching, God will dwell among His people. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, Behold, the tabernacle [presence] 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” (Revelation 21:4-6). God will be their shepherd just as he was with David.  

            In the resurrected Christ’s last words He said to Simon Peter: “So when they had  finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep. "He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep” (John 21:15-17).   

            The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

 

 

CAN YOU FALL FROM GRACE? 

            Can we fall from grace? Christ’s grace is endless. It is an unfailing. We can only “fall” from it is if we deliberately, consciously reject it. As long as we recognize it, we can be always be restored. Jesus last words before He was received in the cloud were: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20.  

            Christ never leaves. His hand is always open even to the end of the age. “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again” (Proverbs 24:16). Grace, by definition, is entirely unmerited favor shown to those who God loves and who love Him. No matter what the circumstance or sin grace is always available to forgive and erase that sin. To God it goes into His Sea of Forgetfulness (Micah 7:19). As long as you always see that God’s gifts and blessings are always by grace you will never fall. It is only when you start doing things according to your own will that grace is no longer needed since what you are doing by your own efforts in not grace.  

            Paul mentioned this in his Epistle to the Galatians. Aesthetic Jews were invading the church at that time trying to convince the /Christians that they were still obliged to follow parts of Jewish law such as circumcision. He said: “Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is under obligation tokeep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace”. Paul is not saying they are forever lost from grace but he is teaching them that if they continue to adhere to the Old Covenant of Law, and not believing the Law was fulfilled in Christ, they may be in danger of falling from grace… For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love (Galatians 5:2-4, 6).   

            We can fall from grace when we begin to do things that are contrary to Christ’s gift of the New Covenant. In the New Covenant Christ promises to write the law of God on our hearts so that we will be incapable of ever sinning, as He was. Hebrews says in part of the New Covenant: “FOR this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, And I will write them  on their hearts. And I will be their God, (Hebrews 8:10).  

            It is actually God’s will that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, not just Christians.  When speaking about how Christians should relate to the Kingdoms and governments around them, Titus said: “This is good and acceptable in the sight of  God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (Titus 2:3-4). The oft worn scripture of John 3:16 says that Christ died for all men because He so loved the world and those in it. At Christ’s resurrection grace to enable us to do what He wanted done spread over the entire world. It is available to all but mostly for us sinners who would have no other hope otherwise.  

            There will be those who choose not to accept the grace of Christ. They will choose instead to glorify themselves, instead of God, and they won’t need grace because they will accomplish their works in their own strength. God wants to do it all through His Sons but He wants them doing it in the way He wants to have it done. The world is in such a mess today because man chooses to do things his own way. God could easily solve the world’s problems if man would just humble himself and seek His help. Believe it, God has answers for all problems, big and small, but He will not respond until mankind asks Him.

             You mentioned that you were disturbed that some who did great works, even in the name of the Lord, would be cast aside. Man looks on the outward; God looks on the heart (Samuel 16:7). Remember it is by the heart that we believe and by the mouth we confess. Jesus accused the Pharisees of speaking about godly things but that their hearts were far from him. You will notice that when Jesus rejected those who had done great things in His name, His parting comments were “I never knew you, depart from Me you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23).   

            The Pharisees of Christ’s time were the most religious people in the world. They knew the scriptures backward and forward. Yet with all their study and knowledge that never found Christ in what they were reading. Christ said to them”You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me” (John 5:39). They knew the scriptures but they did not know Him as He stood in their midst. Similarly today many ministers know much about theology, Christian history and are fine and convincing speakers. Yet do they know the Lord? Are they preaching His word of theirs? Are they preaching from a broken and contrite heart, as He desires? Or are the numbers of congregants, the amounts of the offerings or the persuasiveness of their speech on their hearts and not on the Lord’s? 

            A man must humble His heart to receive grace. Isaiah 66:2 says “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word”. And Isaiah goes on: “For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite”. (Isaiah 57:15).  

            How can one lose grace? It happens, if at all, in the heart. By failing to recognize that it is God who is at work in you both to do and will His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). When you forget that, and begin to try to complete the work yourself, grace is no longer needed. God’s grace is not available for you to do your own thing, think your own thoughts, have your own ideas etc. His grace is there as a free gift to allow you to do His will. As long as you are doing His will, His way grace is ever present.  

            But this isn’t absolute because you always have the opportunity to regain the grace by repentance (going the other way). That too is by grace. It always allows you to return and He will respond with great compassion.  

            But for some walking in grace will be impossible. The rich young ruler was not able to follow Christ since He had more important things to do. Likewise did the one who asked to be excused from following Christ, so he could bury his Father, obtain grace if He did not follow? Christ asks of us many things we would rather not do. But if a man has grace he knows that God will get it done through him. 

            Nobody said it would be east to acquire all that God has for us. We are always in the way. Jesus said: “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. Why is this? Because people are basically sheep that will follow almost anything that looks good and sounds right. God’s people are also sheep. Yet we follow the Lamb wherever it goes and, although the path is impossible on a human level, through grace all things are possible to God.   

            In answer to the question as long as you follow the Lord in your heart, you can never lose grace. But even if you fall short, grace will lift you up when you need it because He is faithful and just to forgive. How many times does God allow us to fall out of grace? Jesus said: “Then Peter came up and asked him, “Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I have to forgive him? Seven times?”Jesus said to him, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21). As long as you receive it, you will always have it right up to the end of the age. It will leave only if you let go.

 

                         

KINGDOM OF GOD or KINGDOM OF HEAVEN 

            The terms Kingdom of God and Kingdom of heaven are used almost interchangeably in the scriptures that speak of God’s Kingship over heaven and eventually over the earth. As He was teaching the multitudes to pray Jesus said: “Thy [God’s] Kingdom come, thy [God’s] will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). What this scripture depicts is that God intends for the His Kingdom, which already exists in heaven, to come to dominate the earth as well. His will is not currently being done in heaven but not presently on earth. He purposes that the same condition that exists in heaven exist here also. It has been called the “convergence of the two realms” that of the heavenly and the earthly so that both realms become one. Christ accomplished this on the cross as the veil was rent that separated the Most Holy place from the earth and opened His heavenly Kingdom to all.  

            There is a minor theological difference between the two terms but that difference is irrelevant when you consider that both Kingdoms are to become united as one in the age to come, the age of His Kingdom. Although the terms are virtually indistinguishable as used in the scriptures the Kingdom of Heaven differs from the Kingdom of God only in semantics. In Matthew 6:10 the Lord identifies two Kingdoms, the heavens and the earth. When Jesus died He went to the right hand of the Father and all rule and authority was given to Him over all creation. Satan was defeated and removed from heaven, thus leaving heaven (the spirit realm where God lives) free from Satan’s influence. Absolute rule was given to Christ and all evil and rebellion was vanquished. The Kingdom of Heaven was thus established.

             However, at the same time, Christ removed all of the impediments from earth so that earth too could participate in His heavenly Kingdom. He forgave sin and actually removed it forever from man and left it on Satan whom He had banished to earth by His victory. However, at the time of Christ’s death and resurrection we do not immediately see His victory manifested on earth. That is because His former enemy in heaven is now on earth and in order to see the full manifestation of Christ’s victory this enemy must be defeated on earth, just like it already was in heaven.  

            The coming to earth of the heavenly Kingdom must thus be delayed as the process of defeating Christ’s enemies on earth is completed. Christ does not return to earth until the enemies are defeated. Hebrews 10:11-13 says: “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 (quoting Psalm 110:1). Christ is seated in His heavenly (spiritual) Kingdom waiting for His defeat of His to be made manifest on the earth. In Isaiah 66:1 God said: “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool”. He is speaking of the reality of the situation but there still remains the time when all His enemies are defeated and earth indeed becomes His footstool.  

            Who are these enemies and how are they defeated so that Christ’s Kingdom is not just in heaven (the spirit realm) but on earth also? The enemies are clearly described by Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians: “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). Satan still remains the God of this world until he is defeated (2 Corinthians 4:4). This has become known as “spiritual warfare” as we are always in battle with the evil forces which control nearly all the realms in the earth.  

            How are they defeated? Long ago, in the Garden of Eden, God banished the first two humans from the Garden and everlasting life and subjected them to a realm of futility. Why He did this is beyond the scope of this article (there is an answer however) we but we throughout history up to and including today are living in this world cursed by futility. However, although God turned His back on humanity for that moment, He did not leave us without hope of a restoration and reconciliation.

            Paul addresses God’s purpose in Romans 8:20-21: “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”. This current state of futility will be defeated by the manifestation of the Sons of God, plural. The Sons will release all of the physical creation from its state of futility including the plant and animal kingdoms, the cosmos and man.  

            Paul goes on to explain further: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are  children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:16-17).  

            Also he says: “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons [plural] 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 8:19, 22-23).  

            It is God’s intention to bring many Sons to glory just like Christ, in His likeness. When these Sons are fully revealed than Christ’s victory on the cross will have its manifestation on the earth. Hebrews 2:9-10 is clear on this point: “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. 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” Christ’s intent is to bring MANY Sons to glory, just like Him, to be perfect and to perfect Christ himself through their sufferings. What could be more beautiful! 

            The Book of Revelation trumpets this final victory: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).  

            So the final result is that the Kingdoms of this world collectively become the /kingdom of God as His rule is established in all of creation, heaven and earth alike. Thus it all becomes collectively the New Age, the Kingdom of God.  

 

        

LIFE AFTER DEATH 

            The Bible is clear about life after death. Not only is there life after death in the realm we are living in now, in our fallen nature, but there is eternal life available in the age to come, The Kingdom of God. Life in the Kingdom Age is life as it was meant to be from the beginning. Jesus said: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).  Jesus said (John 10:10. He is speaking of eternal life. Also: "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:11).  

This new life is even available now, here on earth, as well as in the age to come. We can actually have life after death here on earth, before we die a physical death. Jesus said: “But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:27; Matthew 16:28). In 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 Paul said: “Behold, I tell you a  mystery; we will not all sleep, [die a physical death] but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed”. Paul distinguishes between 1. the dead being raised and 2. “we”, those remaining on earth who will be changed. 

            Jesus said: "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal (John 6:27). For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16). "This is eternal life, that they may know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17:3). This is the promise which He Himself made to us (literally "promised us"), eternal life (1 John 2:25). "But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life (Romans 6:22). There are many more scriptures which speak of the eternal life that is promised to those who belong to Christ.  

            How does this eternal life come about? “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead (1 Cor 15:20-21). The last enemy that will be abolished is death (1 Cor 15:26).   

            "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep (1 Thess 4:14-16).              

            This scripture has been interpreted as evidence of a rapture wherein the Godly will be taken up to Christ in order to avoid the so called “tribulation period”. Discussion of the rapture is left to another article, but the truth is that the true Sons of God will remain on earth to fight until Christ’s enemies are made a footstool for His feet (Hebrews 10:13; Psalm 110:1). There are men who have been translated to God without seeing death. We know of two (Enoch, Elijah) but there could have many more we have not heard about. However this has nothing to do with a rapture as modern dispensationalism interprets it.    

            Christ came to earth not just to forgive sins. He came to bring "many Sons to glory”, Sons of God like Him. “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory”, (Hebrews 2:10). The many Sons become the Father's family. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren (Hebrews 2:11).                         

            How do we do to inherit this eternal life? Believe in the name of the Son of God. (John 5:13; John 6:47). Believe in the grace of God (Titus 3:7). Eternal life is a gift. You do not have to earn it by good works. You merely need accept it. "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you" (John 6:27).   

            "A rich young ruler questioned Jesus saying, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.' And he said, "All these things I have kept from my youth." When Jesus heard this, He said to him, "One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Luke 18:18-25). It is OK to have great wealth. Abraham had great wealth, as did other men of God. It is not OK to put that wealth before God. "Seek first the Kingdom and all else will be added to you".             
 

            Know Christ. This implies a close personal relationship with Him (John 17:3).  

            Hear and believe His word (John 5:24).  

            Help those that are in need for you may be helping angels or the Son of God in disguise (Matthew 25:31-46).  

            See Christ in the scriptures you study. (John 5:39).  

            "Take hold" of eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12). It is the violent [in Spirit] who take the Kingdom by force (Matthew 11:12).  

            Repent and bear fruit accordingly (Matthew 3:8).           

            Be sanctified (Romans 6:22). 

            Pursue the things of God. " pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance (literal steadfastness) and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life" (1 John 5:11-12). 

            Demonstrate perfect patience (1 Timothy 1:16).           

            Drink the water of the Word. Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." (John 4:13-14). 

            Wait anxiously for the mercies of the Lord (Jude 21).  

            Hear and follow the voice of the Lord. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:27-28).  

            Persevere; to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; (Romans 2:7).  

 

            This is not a complete list of things we must do to inherit this promise. But the preceding points can be boiled down to having faith in the gift of eternal life, which is offered through grace. Grace is "unmerited favor"; we can do nothing to earn it except follow to Him.

Unfortunately, all life, even death, is eternal. No life created by God can be completely erased from existence. "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" Revelation 20:14-15). There will come a time when men will be unable to die, though they desire it. And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from the (Revelation 9:6). "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death” (John 3:14). It is possible to be alive (abide) in death. 

            The second death is life in the lake of fire. “And the beast was seized, and with him the  false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone” (Revelation 19:20). And: “And the devil who 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” (Rev. 20:10).  

            "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 they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years". (Revelation 20:4-6).  

            Death is also characterized as a necessity for us to enter into the Kingdom of life. We must die to our old natures in order to obtain Christ's gift of life. This is made available by the sufferings of our Lord, tasting death for all of us. "because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:9). "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. (Rom 8:12-13).  

            What is referred to as "the flesh" is the old corrupt nature we inherited from Adam. "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God... Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh [put it to death] with its passions and desires" (Galatians 5:16-24).   

            We will not inherit the Kingdom of God if we do not "put to death" the flesh (soulish, evil, corrupt) life. Instead we will live forever in a state other than life, separated from God.   

            Thus we can conclude from the scriptures that there is life after death. We choose here on earth what type of life we live and will live in the age to come. There is no automatic perfection after we "die and go to heaven". Only those walking by the Spirit of God will inherit the Kingdom of Life. There is death, but it is a living death, separated from God for all of eternity. And don't think that by all your good works you automatically "go to heaven". It is those who "do the will of the Father" that become perfected in life.   

            "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity"*. (Matthew 7:21-23). All of those works, even in the name of the Lord, were not enough; they didn't do the will of the Father.  

 

 

INTRODUCTION TO:
FORGOTTEN BOOKS NOT IN THE BIBLE 

            The decision on which books to include in the Bible was begun by the Jews probably sometime after the Law (Jewish ‘Torah”), the first five books of the Bible, was given to Moses in the wilderness. These were called by the Jews “sacred writings”. Over the next hundreds of years the sacred writings were expanded to 24 books, including all the books we now consider part of the Christian Bible Old Testament including Joshua, Judges Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Job, Esther etc. It was not until a couple of centuries before Christ that the books of the prophets were included. This became the Jewish Bible, called the Tanakh, which is still used today. It is divided into books of the Law, The torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy), the Prophets (including the former prophets Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings and 15 latter prophets (Isaiah-Malachi), and the Writings (Psalms, Ruth, Proverbs, Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel etc.). The Old Testament was written in the Hebrew and Aramaic languages.   

            About the Middle of the 2nd Century B.C. a Greek version of the Old Testament was translated in Alexandra Greece called the Septuagint (LXX). It was the first Bible to contain a group of books called the Apocrypha. These books were ultimately rejected as being part of the Bible but were declared “canonical” (see below) by the Catholic Church and are included within the Catholic Bible and others. These books primarily help us to understand Jewish life before and after the time of Christ. They also fill some of the 300 year gap between Malachi and Jesus (1 & 2 Maccabees and others). The books also embellish on the stories of some of the earlier prophets (Bel and the Dragon, Susanna etc). Curiously enough, the Septuagint was the version of the Bible used and quoted by the Apostles in the New Testament.  

            The New Testament began formation in the late first century A.D. with the Gospels of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and later the writings of the Apostles (Paul, Peter etc.). About that time the terms “canon” or “canonical” were used as a stamp of approval from the majority of scholars that certain books were the divinely inspired Word of God. Books written by early Apostolic Fathers (Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian) were included in the canonical books until the Age of the Reformation (1500 A.D.). There was dispute over whether to include the Book of Revelation but it was ultimately included. Thus, the Bible we have today is generally accepted as the inspired Word of God and all other books written containing Biblical overtones are placed in other categories. 

            During the reign of Roman Emperor  Constantine (274-337 C.E) Christianity was declared the official religion of the Roman Empire. To that end, meetings of scholars and priests were held including the council of Nicea in 325 C.E. in which were decided the way Christianity should be standardized throughout the Roman Empire. Discussions were also held on what books would be included in the fledgling “New Testament”. The books ultimately chosen or “Canonized” comprised essentially the same New Testament we have today with some books later deleted. The final product probably appeared as the King James Authorized Version under England’s King James in 1615.   

            The list of books that were written at or around the time of Christ and after is endless. Many of the ancient Jewish books are extant (no longer available) such as the Assumption of Moses (quoted from in Jude v.9). Overall, there are at least 14 books that are referred to in the Bible but no longer available to us including Book of the Wars of Yahweh, The Book of the Just (Joshua 10:13) and others. A list is provided at the end of this article of books mentioned in the Bible but largely unavailable in their original forms today. There are available a great number of Jewish writings published by unknown authors using pseudonyms attributing authorship to persons known from the Bible (see the Old testament Pseudepigrapha, available in many translations).   

            There are other books that we do have available and are not part of the Bible. We have discussed the Apocrypha, which has been canonized by the Catholic Church but not by most Protestant religions. Four books of which there was debate as to whether or not to include them were Books of 1 & 2 Enoch, The Book of Jasher and The Book of Jubilees. 1 Enoch is quoted by Jude, half bother of Jesus, (verses14-15) and Enoch is referred to in Genesis 5:22-23 as the man who did not die but “God took him”. The Book of Jasher is referred to twice in the Old Testament (2 Samuel 1:18; Joshua 10:13). Jubilees purports to be an account of what God told Moses while he was fasting on Mt. Sinai for 40 days. Called “Little Genesis”, the book is a history of the earth and man from creation to Jacob. Versions of these books can be found today but it is disputed as to whether they are the original writings. Many scholars believe these books to have been written anywhere from 100 B.C. to 200-300 A.D. However, there is no proof that is true. Since Enoch and Jasher were mentioned in the Old Testament, they must have existed many centuries before the time of Christ. Scholars argue that the true books are extant and the versions we have now were written by other anonymous authors much later. Again, this is without proof certain. It is certain, however, that all three books are easily available today from most booksellers.    

            Writings of the early church Fathers are readily available including books and epistles by 1 & 2 Clement, Barnabus, Ignatius (6 epistles) and Polycarp (2). Another category is the so called “Forgotten Books of Eden”. This includes writings, some of unknown authors, entitled 1 & 2 Books of Adam and Eve, 2 Enoch, Psalms and Odes of Solomon and 12 books titled in the name of the 12 sons of Jacob. Another set of books include the works of the theologian/historian Lactantius on various aspects of God’s character. This set also contains some writings by early church Fathers and fragments of other works.  

            By far the largest collection of books fall under the title “The Pseudepigrapha” of the Old and New Testaments. Pseudepigraphia means works anonymously written under the names of some other person, usually well known, and claimed to be the work of that person. For example book entitled “The Testament of Moses” was written by an unknown author but purported to be the work of Moses. The works are massive—the contents of the Old Testament Pseudepigraphia (by J. Charlesworth) is over 2000 pages long.  

            Most of the works contained therein are of the apocalyptic variety which means “any works assuming to make revelation of the ultimate Divine purpose and pertaining to revelation, discovery and disclosure” (Webster’s Dictionary). A great many of these works contain visions, revelations and descriptions of the heavens, God, angels, hell and other spiritual manifestations. The Book of Revelation is an apocalypse. The Books of Enoch are also included in this category and 2 Enoch is almost entirely composed of Enoch’s visions and “guided tour” of the heavens and hell.

            Apocalyptical books reveal secrets of God and the seven heavens He rules. That there is more than one heaven (spiritual realm) has been prominent in Jewish literature from ancient times. The Apostle Paul himself says he was caught up to the third heaven and heard words unlawful to be spoken by man (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). Each heaven, according to the ancient literature, is occupied by a certain class of divine beings and exists for one purpose or another. There are works naming the various archangels which rule over heaven and earth. It is beyond the scope of this article to go into the specifics but these books are interesting reading, true or not. Some of the Apocalyptical books of this variety are: 2, 3, 4 Ezra, Books of Baruch 1-4, the Ascension of Isaiah,  Sibylline Oracles, Apocryphon of Ezekiel and Apocalypse of Daniel. There are also poignant stories such as the story of the wife of Joseph, an Egyptian, who converted to Judaism with much suffering because of her love for Joseph called Joseph and Aseneth.  

            Some of the other books of the Pseudepigraphia are the Apocalypse of Abraham, Apocalypse of Adam, 3 Enoch, Testament of Job, Jannes and Jambres (the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses also mentioned in the epistle of Jude), Ladder of Jacob, Apocalypse of Elijah and other Hellenistic literature.  

            Most of these books scholars say were written anywhere from 200 B.C. to as late as the 4th century A.D. Whether or not these books were copied from earlier works is unknown. Like most historical books of that time, these are a combination of fact and fiction. However they all exalt God, many refer to end-times, are historical, and fill in a lot of gaps left out of the inspired writings of the Bible. The Book of Jasher, for example, records that Esau, firstborn of Isaac, slew Nimrod while hunting. Also Sarah, the wife of Abraham, fell dead when she heard that her son Isaac had not been killed by Abraham, as she previously thought. Also the deeds of the 12 sons of Israel in conquering several surrounding nations in Mesopotamia. These books are all Jewish so there is no mention of Jesus, but the coming Messiah is discussed in many. 

            There is also a New Testament Pseudepigraphia which is along much the same vein as the Old Testament collection of the same name. Early Christian writings or addendums are included in some Old Testament Pseudepigraphia as well. The Dead Sea Scrolls have fragments of some of these books like the Enoch Books, the Books of Wars and others.  

            Finally there are the Gnostic writings preserved in the “Nag Hammadi Scriptures” discovered in Egypt in 1945. These scriptures were and are considered heretical in that their doctrines which are loosely described as Christian. Many contain stories that are contrary to the canonical Gospels and other writings in the Bible. These Gnostic books form the basis of Dan Brown’s “DaVinci Code”. The Lost Books also include stories of Mary, Mother of Jesus, two books on the infancy of Jesus, the Gospel of Nichodemus, visions by a man named Hermes, a Gospel by Peter and letters from Herod and Pontius Pilate as well as a recently revealed Gospel of Judas.  The Nag Hammadi Scriptures are extensive. One complete translation contains over 800 pages of writings (The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, The International Version, Ed. By Marvin Meyer, Harper Books 2007).  

            The examination of all the books written which are not in the Bible is a science in itself and any detailed examination is beyond the scope of this brief article. In sum, the basis of any walk with God is believing that the Bible, as it presently exists, is the inspired Word of God. Despite the argument that the Bible can’t be truly accurate, because it was written by men, is spurious. If we believe in a God who created the universe, He is certainly capable of leaving a book that says all he wants to say and what we need to hear in order to inherit His Kingdom. The spiritually perceptive among you will notice the difference in the Bible and most of these other works. The Bible conveys life while most of the where other books, including nearly all “uninspired” works of which we have referred to here convey information, enjoyable reading and visions of the spiritual realm. Who’s to say whether the visionaries who penned these books are right or not?  That is left to the reader. To the true believer God, not man, wrote the Bible and it is complete as it stands today with nothing of substance missing of left out.  


*Appendix of Lost books referenced in scripture: 


Book of the Wars of Yahweh (Numbers 21:14)

The Book of the Just (Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18)

The Book of the Acts of Solomon (1Kings 11:41)

The Book of the Annuals of the Kings of Israel (1Kings 14:19; 2Chron. 33:18; cf 2Chron 20:34)

The Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah (1Kings 14:29, 15:7)

The Annuals of Samuel the Seer (1Chron. 29:29)

The History of Nathan the Prophet (2 Chron 9:29)

The Annuqals of Shemaiah the prophet and of Ido the seer (2Chron, 12:15)

The Annuals of Jehu Son of Hanani (2 Chron 20:34)

Untitled writing of Isaiah (2 Chron 26:22)

The Annuals of Hozai (2 Chron 33:18)

The Book of Enoch (Jude 14-15 assumed to be 1st Enoch)

The Assumption of Moses (Jude 9 not mentioned by name but assumed from the text)

The Book of Jubilees  



*Books commonly thought to comprise the ancient Apocrypha but are now lost include: 


1Enoch

Book of Patriarchs

Prayer of Joseph

Testament of Moses

Pseudepigraphia of Abraham

Eldad and Modad

Elijah the Prophet

Zephaniah

Baruch

Ezekiel

Other Books of Daniel


 

 

AN INTRODUCTION TO OLD TESTAMENT LAW

STUDY OF LEVITICUS 14 

The Book of Leviticus is often unintelligible to the average Bible reader. To Historians and Traditional (Orthodox) Jews it is one part of the Law of God, The Torah, meaning Law in Hebrew.  In Judaism as well as Christianity the Torah consists of the first five books of the Bible – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. When the law was given to Moses, it was meant for the Israelis of that day to follow it literally. To the Orthodox Jew today, the same is true, although the requirements are now encoded in Rabbinical Law interpreted by Rabbis (example the Midrash) not by the former Levitical Priesthood of Moses’ day.   

The Rabbinical law did away with animal sacrifices as provided in the original Mosaic Law. For modern Christians the animal sacrifices, strict dietary rules, the rituals for temple worship and the like serve to alienate the reader from any applicability of the old law to them. Leviticus is almost entirely composed of rituals of dealing with sin, cleanliness, and worship by animal sacrifice, legalism, death by disobedience, etc. However, Leviticus and the other books of the Torah can be understood since they, and the entire Old Testament for that matter, speak of Christ. Thus, the books of the Law are very applicable to us today in understanding our Lord and His sacrifice. Jesus said:  “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.  (Matthew 5:17). And in rebuking the Pharisees: “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and it is these that testify of Me. Yet you will not come to Me, that you might have this life” (John 5:39–40).  

Jesus is our High Priest. By His one sacrifice He forever atoned for man's sin and we no longer need to come to the earthly priest over and over again to receive what Christ did for us. He offered a permanent, eternal sacrifice according to the eternal priesthood of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:11-17, 23-27). In Hebrews 8:1-5 it is stated (as edited): "...we have such a high priest who(1) has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the Heavens (2) a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man... (4) Now if He (Jesus) were on earth, He would not be a priest at all since there are those who offer gifts [sacrifices] according to the law...who serve a copy and shadow of the Heavenly things...” Thus, the Old Testament is a type and shadow of the eternal priesthood to come through Christ.  

But we can learn much from the Old Testament law. Since He testified that the Law spoke of Him and His coming sacrifice on the cross, what better way to know the Lord more than by finding Him in the Old Testament laws and sacrifices.  Leviticus 14 is a snapshot, as you will, of the Torah. Many of its symbolisms are applied to Christ today including the Lamb of God, likened to the lambs without blemish sacrificed in Moses’ day. The quote “He will come like a consuming fire” references the altar of the Lord on which the sacrifice was consumed by fire. Jesus was also represented by the Ark of the Covenant which was and represents His presence on earth. Therefore, let us look closely at the law and see how it reveals Christ to us today. 

Leviticus 14 was chosen as the subject of this article at random, in responding to the question of a friend. It concerns an aspect of the cleansing process, which was part of the priesthood duties in the Old Testament. We today as Christians are cleansed spiritually so that we can be Holy and Righteous vessels for His use; and so we can see God face to face in his purified and righteous form. Malachi 3:4-5 likens the process to a smelter purifying silver to remove the dross (the impurities) in order to make the silver pure so that it can be sold for higher value. Leviticus 14 gives us an aspect of the cleansing process, in this case the cleansing of a leper.  

We know that leprosy is a very contagious disease which can affect an entire community. This is why lepers are excluded from any society and forced to “set up their own camps” elsewhere. In the wilderness, God provided a remedy for the leprous man/woman who showed signs of recovering from the disease. What we call rituals were actually methods, instituted by God that actually worked. Being put out of the camp for their physical impurity is actually a type and shadow of the spirit realm today, and how we are to walk in the Spirit of God.  

In the Old Testament, as today, a contagious disease like leprosy will pass quickly through a group of people living in close proximity to each other. Sin, being a spiritual malady, can also travel from one person to another by a principle called transference. If sin (or uncleanness) is allowed to exist within a community or church, all may be contaminated. The writer of Hebrews noted: “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”  (Hebrews 12:15). In I Corinthians 5, Paul actually expels a man from the church on the grounds of sexual immorality. This was not just a moral decision. Since the church was sympathetic to the man, Paul was concerned that the sin might be transferred to them through their openness, thus defiling the entire church. 

If the leper who had been banished from the camp showed signs of recovery from the disease, it was reported to the Priest and he would begin the process of cleansing so the man could return to camp with no danger of contamination of the community. The priest (v.4-6) would bring two live, small birds (swallows or sparrows) and would order one to be slaughtered so that its blood was available for the cleansing process. He would then take the live bird, and with some herbs and plants, dip the live bird in the blood of the dead bird and put the live bird and the mixture into fresh water. He then sprinkled the man with the water mixture. This is representative of the cleansing process we go through in Christ. He shed blood on the cross and by that blood we are cleansed and saved. There is no forgiveness (cleansing) without the shedding of blood. We are also washed by the fresh water of the Word as part of our cleansing.  

After sprinkling the leper he then lets the live bird go free. The principle here is that the uncleanness of the leper is actually transferred to the dead bird through the shedding of the blood, which is then transferred to the live that is set free to take that "sin" and remove it far away from the camp.  

This is similar to the transference of the sin of all of Israel on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Once a year, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies to atone for the sins of Israel. Two goats would be presented for sacrifice. One goat would be killed. The sin would then be transferred to the other goat, called the scapegoat or the Azazel goat in Hebrew. That goat carrying the sin of Israel would be led far away from the camp (Leviticus 16:2-2, 6-10). Thus the sin would be far removed from Israel and the nation would be cleansed for the entire year until the next year when the whole process would be done again. Their deliverance was temporary; ours is permanent through Christ. This is symbolic of Jesus in that He died and was resurrected and His sacrifice was permanent through His blood shed at the cross.  

Now the (former) leper was to wash his clothes, wash his hair and bathe in the mixed water. After that he was sufficiently clean to be returned to the camp. However, he had to remain outside his tent for 7 days. This was for observation of any reoccurrence of the disease and for additional cleansing. On the eighth day he was to shave off all his body hair including beard and eyebrows. Then he was determined clean. Do you see that this lengthy, temporary process Christ did eternally with just one sacrifice? 

But the process was not yet completed. The man must fully atone to God, through the Priest, for his uncleanness. This process is similar to the process used in those times to cleanse a man from any sin. First two lambs, without blemish, are brought to the temple, along with some oil and some fine flower. Christ was our lamb, perfect in every way. The lambs were both slain, for guilt and a sin offering.

Next comes a highly significant part of the atonement, which again is a type and shadow of Christ's sacrifice and its applicability to us today in our walk with God (v. 14-20). In v.14 the priest takes some of the blood of the guilt offering lamb and puts it on the right ear, the right thumb and the right big toe of the man. He does the same with the oil. The reason he chooses these locations are as follows: the right ear is for the hearing the word of God; the right thumb is for the authority of God; and the big toe is for the man's walk with God. This is a big part of what Christ did for us. He restored our ability to have a personal relationship with God by hearing His voice, hence the blood on the ear. He was also given all authority in heaven and earth, which we are to have with him. The right thumb is a symbol of authority. That is why captured Kings often had their thumbs removed by the capturers as a sign that they had no more Kingly authority. Finally, Christ's sacrifice enabled us to walk with Him, as Adam and Eve did in the Garden. We walk and are led by God (through the Spirit). Remember, those who are led by Him are the Sons of God (Romans 8:14).  

The priest then completes the cleansing process thru v. 20. In verses 21-31 the love of God is made more manifest in that he even deviates from His normal procedure of demanding sacrificing the best of a flock. For those who cannot afford the lambs and other implements used in the cleansing process can bring birds instead of lambs. The same process is done with the birds as it was with the two lambs, and is acceptable to God. The cleansing process and atonement ends with "Then he shall be clean" (verse 19) in the case of the man who can afford the lambs. In v. 32 cleansing is accomplished by those "whose means for his cleansing are limited". Glory to God! 

Thus, in the Old Testament sacrificial rites were born the terms we are familiar with today. Christ is our atonement. The biggest day in Judaism was the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the time of God Tabernacling with His people. Webster’s defines atonement as: “satisfaction of reparation of for a wrong or injury”. Daniel foretold the atoning gift of Christ, how that the Messiah would come and put an end to sin and make an atonement for the transgression of His people (Daniel 9:24–26).  

As in the case of the leper, who was reconciled to God and his community, so Christ has reconciled us to Himself.  “Now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:9-11).  

Also forgiveness, cleansing, washed, anointed, forgiven, washed by His Word, and sanctified are all terms we are familiar with in Christ, but which all had their origination in the Old Testament law. Thus, Christ did fulfill the law – it was all incorporated into His one sacrifice at Calvary. 

 

 

REAL CHRISTIANITY IS SPIRITUAL

To Spiritualists and New Age Proponents 

Many people today turn to spiritualism rather than religion due to the lack of any spiritual emphasis in most organized religions today. Religion, as it is practiced today, is mostly devoid of an awareness of God, the devil world or the spiritual world. The truth is that the spiritual world is more real than the natural world and nothing happens here but what is initiated first in the Spirit realm (called “heaven by some”). Jesus said "Thy will be done on earth AS IT IS [already] in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Our task is to become aware of this spirit realm so that it becomes real to us, and leaves behind the mystery and spookiness of “the other worlds or dimensions” that persist today. 

Many title the “spirit world” incorrectly. There are many realms that are beyond our human comprehension but that does not mean they are the real spirit realm or heaven where God lives. For instance, people speak of physic powers or the physic realm. While the physic realm operates on many of the same principles as the spirit, the psychic realm is used primarily for fulfillment of human desires. Supernatural forces are channeled through the psychic realm using a principle called “transference”. Witchcraft and voodoo for instance work because of use of this principle. By transference Wiccas and other physic or occult groups are able to transfer an effective force to other people(s) and other forces to affect circumstances. These physic forces are used primarily to further human motives such as lust (love potions), greed (influencing financial forces), hate (for revenge etc) or they can even be used for what looks like good (healing, good fortune or luck, blessing etc).    

Meditation is another form of advanced conciseness that we mistake for the spirit world. Meditation mainly takes you inside of yourself to the extent that you reach certain levels of mind and body that both satisfy the human need of total relaxation and reveal knowledge and mysteries (Nirvana in Buddhism).  The Gnostic religion, Rosicrucianism and other “secret knowledge cults” purportedly apply revelations of secret wisdom and knowledge which they claim brings a state of perfection. However, even the deepest meditation is flawed in that it does not produce a permanent change of nature but is temporary condition which must be repeated over and over again to reach the same effect. The Spirit realm, where God lives, is an eternal state of being that does not need to be regenerated over and over.  

Other cults and “secret organizations” also operate on the principle of being recipients of “special or secret knowledge” such as the Masons, the legendary Illuminati, Branch Davidions  and others. Entire nations were formed around the worship of the elements and the heavens such as the Egyptians, Babylonians, Chaldeans, Greece, the Mayans, the Aztecs and others.  

There are other types of events we class as spiritual or spiritual experiences. Some of these are come about by use of fortune telling, mediums, tarot, astrology, tea leaves, out of body experiences, astral projection, remote viewing, visions, drug induced conditions (ex. LSD), I-Chang, idols, worship of objects, worship of nature, devil worship or sexual acts producing an extra- ordinary physic experience.   Unfortunately, these phenomenons do not originate from the true spiritual realm. They are an extension of human powers to perpetuate the human will and desires.   

Christianity believes that all evil acts originate from Satan. As the story goes, Satan was a high ranking angel in Heaven (the Spirit realm where God lives) but, due to his rebellious conduct, he was banished from that realm (see The Book of Revelation, Ch.12:7-9). Whether we call the evil around us Satan, powers, principalities or just evil forces, what we see certainly does not reflect the state of being in so called Heaven, the realm of God. The will of God is not currently being done here on earth as it is in heaven. So there is a force or forces that operate here on earth that don't operate in "heaven" the Spirit realm of God. Forces operate on earth militate against what is done in heaven. Jesus told his followers to pray: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).  

The Spirit realm is not so spooky and mystical as it may seem too many.  The spirit realm has laws just the same as the physical realm. Those using the psychic realm use these principles to advance their own purposes; or they mis-use them for purposes not related to God. For instance, no one in the human realm can walk through a wall. That is a physical law. Principles such as faith, love and transference are laws of the Spirit realm. The psychics know this and use some of these spiritual principles for their own ends.  

            In the human realm, if you believe for something hard enough and long enough, eventually it will happen to you. If you want wealth above everything else, you will eventually obtain it. The Spiritual law of “seek and you will find” is entirely operable in the natural realm. Many teach this principle under the guise of the power of positive thinking, loving yourself or believing that each human is a God in himself, negating the necessity for an external God. Humans can become like God but only through applying real spiritual principles in their lives. The Bible 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” (1 John 3:2).   

            If you believe in Satan, you learn that he wanted to be like God. He would eventually become the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan cannot create; he can only pervert what God has already created (see Isaiah 14:12-17). Using these principles (he knows them better than we) he has been able to deceive the whole world (Revelation 12:9). Most people today do not even know he exists, yet there he is generating evil in every possible way through a supernatural realm we can’t see. One of his favorite deceptions is to appear in religion as one who purportedly does good but in fact is practicing the worst form of hypocrisy. The Apostle Paul said of Satan: “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;” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Satan’s angelic name is “Lucifer” which means “light” or “light bearer”. He uses this light, which made him great in heaven, as religion which becomes “false light” in the name of enlightenment. 

 Satan so dominates this present age that he is essence “owns” all the Kingdoms of the earth. Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness by offering Him all the Kingdoms of this world, as they were his to give at that time (Matthew 4:1-11).  

So we can see that most of the supernatural realms we experience here on earth are originated by forces that have been separated from God and Heaven. Consider what the Apostle Paul said about the qualities of the natural realm and the spiritual realm. The natural realm is: "immorality... idolatry, sorcery, strife, jealousy, disputes, factions" etc; the Spirit realm is: "love, joy peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self control" etc (Galatians 5:19-23), against which there is no natural law.  In the Bible God condemned all such earthly use of forces such as fortune telling, astrology, divination, mediums etc. (Deuteronomy 18:9-15). And there are many examples of such forces being used in the Bible, but usually always for human motives.  

How do we become aware of this higher realm? Much the same way as we use the natural realm to get what we want. Seek God. Ask Him, keep on asking. Reach above the things of the world, the distractions, the idols you value most, the commercial world, and look to the Creator, the ultimate source of everything we see with our natural eyes, and the things above which we do not see (Colossians 3:1-3). Real transference occurs when God's nature is transferred to us instead of the curse from the earthly realm. For the things we see with our natural eye are all temporal, no matter what they are; the things unseen to our natural eye are eternal.

 

 

GNOSTICISM VS. CHRISTIANITY 

            There has been much recent furor surrounding the publication of a book entitled The DaVinci Code, (Dan Brown, Doubleday 2003). The book that spent years as the #1 bestseller on everybody’s list is a fiction work, but draws upon a compilation of an ancient form of Christianity called Gnosticism. This religion produced an extensive set of  “alternative gospels”. The gospels call into question many of Christianity’s basic tenants such as: Jesus’ virgin birth, Jesus as Savior, Jesus as without sin and Jesus’ death and resurrection. Perhaps this should be expected – Jesus himself said that many false prophets would arise and deceive many.  

            Although most of these theories originated in the first through fourth centuries, they have remained hidden to the general public until the “gospels” were rediscovered in the last 50 or 60 years. Many recent books, many of which formed the basis of The DaVinci Code, have resurrected these theories, now made popular by Brown’s work. As it was in the 1st through 4th centuries, when the true Church opposed these doctrines, it seems that they have returned to again oppose true Christianity. Well qualified historians and theologians lend credibility to these ancient writings and stories, which presents an open door for Christians, and other religions in opposition to Christianity, to feel comfortable in adopting them for themselves.   

            The Gnostics have their own Gospels that form the basis of their Secret beliefs. From the early centuries, they relied mainly on the alternative Gospels of The Pistis Sophia, and bits and pieces of other “gospels. Much later, in 1945, a library of bound codices was discovered in Egypt, which was named the Nag Hammadi Library, which added over 60 new manuscripts to the Gnostic collection such as the Gospel of Mary [Magdalene], the Greek translation of the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Phillip, alchemical writings and other ancient texts of dubious authenticity (see the Gnostic Society Library, www.gnosis.org/library.html). For instance, one contention popular to the Gnostics is that Jesus actually founded his church on Mary Magdalene, not Peter, and that the Church knew this, and their subsequent recognition of St. Peter was a great conspiratorial cover-up.  

            The beginnings of these alternative theories can be traced to the Gnostics of the late first and second centuries, and maybe even earlier. Gnosticism has been defined as:

“The doctrines of certain pre-Christian pagan, Jewish, and early Christian sects that valued the revealed knowledge of God and of the origin and end of the human race as a means to attain redemption for the spiritual element in humans and that distinguished the Demiurge from the unknowable Divine Being” (American Heritage Dictionary  2004). 

            They further equate spirituality with self-knowledge of a “higher self”. They acknowledge creation as a gigantic “mistake” and blame the “lesser God” of Genesis, a demiurge, who is responsible for the evil in the world (Gnosticism: New Light…, Stephan A. Hoeller, Ph.D., former Chair of Comparative Religions at College of Oriental Studies, Los Angeles).             

            Most of these alternative theories center on denying Jesus’ divinity, portraying Jesus as more human than Godly, more prone to the lust of the flesh, generally making him appear more relatable to an ultra-materialistic age. It seems to some much easier to see Him, not as a savior of all mankind, but as a great man, a great prophet and a wise sage whose wisdom and cryptic sayings we should follow, but who, of course, is not the Savior of the world. Apparently, it is too much for the average man, or the “progressive, new age” Christian, to believe the supernatural aspects of Jesus, such as that He was God in flesh, who’s main purpose was to die a suffering death, mystically erase man’s sin by that one act, send the Holy Spirit, and usher in the new age of the Kingdom of God. It is easier to believe that he escaped the cross, even staged his own death some sources say, so that he could live on with Mary Magdalene and procreate creating a blood line that exists today.   

            This chapter is in no way an exhaustive history of the Gnostic religion which would take a book in itself. Modern translations of the Gnostic writings comprise some 800 pages. This chapter touches on some of the high points so the Christian believer can at least be familiar with the religion in passing. Some examples follow.  

            Paul faced many of these false religious versions of Christianity as he created churches throughout Greece and Asia, including Gnosticism. In the Book of Colossians he confronts many of these false beliefs which can be condensed to reflect Jewish and Gnostic influences. Among those mentioned were:

·         Ceremonialism which held strict beliefs as to permissible food and drink and strict observances of
     religious festivals (Col. 2:16-17) and circumcision (2:11, 3:11).

·         Asceticism which had rules about touching and handling some things (Co. 2:21 cf 2:23).

·         Angel Worship (v. 2:18).

·         Depreciation of Christ which denied His Divinity and Supremacy (v. 1:15-20, 2:2-3:9).

·         Secret Knowledge. The Gnostics boasted in this and Paul refuted (v. 2:18, 2:2-3 where Paul emphasized
     Christ as the source of all  wisdom and knowledge

·         Reliance on human Wisdom and Tradition (v. 2:4, 8).   

            The book Mary Magdalene, Myth and Metaphor, Susan Haskins, 1993 says of a Gnostic belief that:

…“Following a staged crucifixion, in which Jesus is either taken down from the cross…or replaced by Simon of Cyrene [his family flees to France] to flee from those, headed by St. Peter, who were not part of the plot and who are bent on preserving the reputation of Christ as the Messiah”…  

            Many Gnostic theories involve the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Ultimately, Mary M. is presented as the so-called much sought after “Holy Grail”, or the “sacred feminine” of legend. Mary Magdalene is, of course, prominently portrayed in the Gospels of the canonized Bible as a devoted follower of Jesus, a disciple, one of the women (along with Mary the Mother of Jesus) who witnessed the crucifixion and the one to whom Jesus first appeared in His resurrected form.  However, the alternative gospels portray her as a female Goddess, as the single most important disciple, and as one with whom Jesus had sexual relations, married or not, and begot a child (children) to carry on His natural bloodline. Unfortunately (or fortunately) little evidence is offered in support of this proposition, the proponents musing instead that the Catholic Church of the dark ages suppressed this truth to protect their “fable” of his divinity for monetary gain and to establish a male dominated clergy.  

            They go so far as to point to a jealous conflict between the male disciples, led by St. Peter, and Mary M. as to who was the greatest and closest to Jesus. This “superior” relationship" is described in the alternative, un-canonized gospel of Philip. Therein it says: “And the companion of the saviour was Mary Magdalene. Whom Christ loved more than [all] the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said to him "Why do you love her more than all of us?" The Saviour answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness” 

            This gospel concerns itself extensively with the subject of marriage and ends with: “If anyone becomes a 'son of the bridechamber' he will receive the Light. If anyone does not receive it while he is in these places, he cannot receive it in the other place. He who receives any Light will not be seen, nor can he be held fast. No one will be able to trouble him in this way, whether he lives in the world or leaves the world. He has already received the Truth in images, and the World has become the Aeon. For the Aeon already exists for him as Pleroma, and he exists in this way. It is revealed to him alone, since it is not hidden in darkness and night but is hidden in a perfect Day and a holy Night”.  

            The Gospel of Mary M. contains references as to why Jesus loved Mary Magdalene more than the other disciples. The Gospel of Phillip describes Mary M. as a close “companion” of Jesus and kissed her on the mouth” (see above). Further, the Gospel of Phillip states: “Simon Peter said to them, “Let Mary [Magdalene] leave us, for women are not worthy of life”. Jesus then [supposedly] said, “I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too can become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who shall make herself male will enter the kingdom of God”. 

            Another (just one) example of what these early Gnostics recognized as enlightenment is set out below. A reading of this and other passages make it clear why the Gnostic books were left out of the canonized Bible. From the gospel of Mary M. we read of this secret knowledge supposedly imparted to her:

“But it happened that after Jesus had risen from the dead he spent eleven years speaking with his disciples. And he taught them only as far as the places of the first ordinance and as far as the places of the First Mystery, which is within the veil which is within the first ordinance, which is the 24th mystery outside and below, these which are in the second space of the First Mystery, which is before all mysteries the Father in the form of a dove. And Jesus said to his disciples: "I have come forth from that First Mystery which is the last mystery, namely the 24th".  

            This does not sound like sound doctrine which was a concern as scholars “Canonized” scripture. Rather than sound doctrine it seems to border on the ridiculous. Many well-educated theologians and historians subscribe to these “Gospels”, although others dismiss them for what they are: “false teaching”.   

            Many books have been written recently addressing Mary Magdalene’s role as Mother of the Church, as the “Sacred Female” and the “Holy Grail” (as carrying the seed of Jesus, his bloodline). They argue that as the woman’s role in the Church was gradually suppressed throughout the Dark Ages by the male dominated Catholic Church, and that Mary M. represents a rallying point for the woman to regain her lost “status”. While this may be an admirable goal, the truth is that such assertions bear a decidedly femininist bent.  

            As “evidence” for the preeminence of the woman in ancient times, Gnostic writings infer ancient examples of exalted feminism such as Ishtar and Tamuz of ancient Babylon and Isis and Osiris. Isis was known as God of Earth, Goddess of the Sky and even the Mother of the Tarot.  Her twin brother Osiris died and was supposedly resurrected, allegedly a type of Christ (many scholars disbelieve the orthodox gospel on the grounds that it is a repetition of what had already occurred before Christ based on these pagan tales of resurrection). Mary M. herself is said to have inherited several of Isis’ titles such as Seat of wisdom, Star of the Sea and Queen of Heaven.  

            Along with these female Goddesses went ancient sex rituals still practiced today such as the Hieros gamos, a ritual where sex is performed while others look on and chant. Supposedly, the man having sex is to “catch a glimpse of God” at orgasm.  The proponents of these theories attempt to grab legitimacy by alleging that the Jews practiced many of these rites and goddess worship. It is true that the nation of Israel continually fell into pagan worship traditions and that fact led to their ultimate destruction.  

            It doesn’t take a spiritual genius to conclude where these various theories lead. John put it very simply: “…Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen…But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know…Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?” (1 John 2:18, 20, 22). And: “You shall have no other Gods before me”. (Exodus 20:3). 

            One only has to read the Old Testament from the Book of Judges forward to know how God judged his own people when they began to worship idols, such as exalting the female form above Him. It’s no secret that the nations surrounding Israel in Old Testament times did not know God, and so resorted to all forms of idol worship including female worship (Ashtoreth, Diana of the Greeks) and these practices were oft adopted by Israel during times of apostasy. After being judged over and over for these practices, which amounted to idolatry and Satan worship, Israel was finally taken totally into exile by the Assyrians, Babylon and finally completely destroyed by Rome.     

            Although the DaVinci Code was an enjoyable fiction work it is based primarily on Gnosticism and the mid-evil Catholic Church, neither of which were teaching true Christianity. However, in order to delve into this more thoroughly, all the follow-up research materials are listed on Brown’s website, and there is a wealth of information available about the Gnostics on the Internet. Perhaps this willingness to believe a lie is a result of the general dissatisfaction of the multitude with organized religion, which is a valid concern.   

            Paul said that he did not come with enticing words of human wisdom, to titillate the ears, but with the Spirit and with power. People love a conspiracy, new controversial information and they love to have their ears tickled. They are “Ever learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth” as Paul put it (2 Timothy 3:7).  Paul admonished Timothy to teach “sound doctrine” not engaging in various theories that were obviously present, even in the first century. And as to the feminism aspect Paul had lavish praise for many women in the New Testament –Prisca, Aquila, Nympha, Lois (Timothy’s  mother) to name a few. The early church often met in the homes of women, and there is evidence that women of means supported the ministries of both Jesus and Paul.  

            Mary Magdalene was obviously a great woman of the Lord and very close to Jesus. She may have been the Mary who broke the alabaster jar over Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. She may have been the prostitute who was delivered by Jesus. But we know that, in the end, she was at the cross, while the other disciples cowered for fear of arrest (except John the Beloved). And the risen Lord spoke to her first upon his resurrection. But to exalt her as a Goddess, to deny Jesus’ divinity by attributing possible sin to He and Mary, to make Mary an idol on the same level as the mythic Isis, is at the least a disservice to her and at most an outright rejection of the Savior as Messiah. 

 

 

EXPLAINING THE BOOK OF LAMENTATIONS 

The Book of Lamentations is located immediately after the Book of Jeremiah the Prophet in the Bible. It is considered by a majority of scholars to have been written by Jeremiah in approximately 586 B.C. The title of the Book in Hebrew is ekah meaning How?. In the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament) the Book is called Lamentations, as well as in the Latin Vulgate. In Jewish tradition it is called Qunit which means Lamentations.  

Lament/Lamentations is defined by Webster's as: (Strong's Dictionary #1591) 1 : a crying out in grief : WAILING 2 : DIRGE, ELEGY 3: COMPLAINT 1: that is to be regretted or lamented: DEPLORABLE 2: expressing grief: MOURNFUL 3: an act or instance of lamenting; mourned for 

It is the only Book of the Old Testament Bible to contain laments exclusively, although all other Books in the O.T. contain some laments. Its subject matter in history is the Babylon takeover of Judah and Jerusalem, and the people's subsequent captivity, under King Nebuchadnezzar. The prophet laments over what Israel/Judah had become leading to their captivity and over their condition and treatment in captivity. He also blames himself for the calamity and blames himself on behalf of Israel for their sin. He does recognize that the judgments of God in allowing the capture to occur were fair in view of his perceived sins and the sins of the people. In a significant part of the Book, Jeremiah describes his own life in his service to God.  

Jeremiah was called by God when he was very young to be his prophet, to speak His Word to Israel and Judah. Jeremiah, like other men of God, protested His calling. In Jeremiah's case he thought himself too young to be a prophet. God made him one anyway. Jeremiah spent his life prophesying to Israel/Judah that if they did not cease their idolatry and perversity that they would be judged.  

Jeremiah’s words were ignored and he was perceived as a crazy man. People hated him because he was too negative. As Jeremiah describes in Chapter 3 of Lamentations, his life was besieged by hardship both by God's dealings on his life and by the way the Jews completely rejected him for doing the will of God. He was called "the prophet of doom", ridiculed, made fun of, twice was left for dead, once at the bottom of a well where he had been tossed by the Jews.  

His laments can be compared to Christ's laments over the fair city Jerusalem. Christ mourned: "Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how oft I would have gathered you under My wing as a hen doth her brood, but you would not. You didn't know the day of your visitation and now your house is left unto you desolate" (Matthew 23:3738, New Century Version).  

Jeremiah begins his laments in Lamentations 1:1:

"How lonely sits the city
That was full of people!
She has become like a widow
Who was once great among the nations!
She who was a princess among the provinces
Has become a forced laborer!"
[speaking of Jerusalem].

He describes what Jerusalem has become in her captivity:

"Judah has gone into exile under affliction, And under harsh servitude;
She dwells among the nations, But she has found no rest;
All her pursuers have overtaken her In the midst of distress (Lam 1:3). And:
"Her adversaries have become her masters, Her enemies prosper;
For the LORD has caused her grief Because of the multitude of her transgressions;
Her little ones have gone away As captives before the adversary.
And all her majesty Has departed from the daughter of Zion;"

(Lam 1:6).

Jeremiah's reaction to all of this adversity visited on his country?:

"For these things I weep; My eyes run down with water;
Because far from me is a comforter,
One who restores my soul;
My children [the people of Judah) are desolate
Because the enemy has prevailed."

(v.16). 

Jeremiah goes on in Chapter 2 to personalize the anguish:

"When little ones and infants faint In the streets of the city.
They say to their mothers,
"Where is grain and wine?"
As they faint like a wounded man
In the streets of the city,
As their life is poured out
On their mothers' bosom

(Lam. 2:11-12).

He recounts how God sees all the sin of the people and reacts:

"In the indignation of His anger.
The Lord has rejected His altar,
He has abandoned His sanctuary;
He has delivered into the hand of the enemy
The walls of her palaces.
They have made a noise in the house of the LORD
As in the day of an appointed feast.
The LORD determined to destroy
The wall of the daughter of Zion.
He has stretched out a line,
He has not restrained His hand from destroying;
And He has caused rampart and wall to lament;
They have languished together

(Lam 2:6-8). 

And:

"The Lord has swallowed up;
He has not spared
All the habitations of Jacob.
In His wrath He has thrown down
The strongholds of the daughter of Judah;
He has brought them down to the ground;
He has profaned the kingdom and its princes.
In fierce anger He has cut off
All the strength of Israel;
He has drawn back His right hand
From before the enemy.
And He has burned in Jacob like a flaming fire
Consuming round about"
 (Lam 2:2-3).

In Chapter Jeremiah 3 describes his life both before and after the captivity and during the years he had been God’s prophet. It is a poignant portrayal of what it is like for a man to really follow the Lord and to experience His sufferings, as Christ did:

"I am the man who has seen affliction Because of the rod of His wrath.
He has driven me and made me walk
In darkness and not in light.
Surely against me He has turned His hand
Repeatedly all the day.
He has caused my flesh and my skin to waste away,
He has broken my bones.
He has besieged and encompassed me with bitterness and hardship.
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"

(Lam 3:1-8).

It is obvious that Jeremiah’s God wasn’t the “sweet Jesus” of the Christian world today. The Lord disciplined him incessantly. He made Jeremiah feel His anger at the Israelites His failed and unfaithful Bride. He laments:

"The Lord to me like a bear lying in wait,
Like a lion in secret places.
He has turned aside my ways and torn me to pieces;
He has made me desolate.
He bent His bow And set me as a target for the arrow.
He made the arrows of His quiver To enter into my inward parts.
I have become a laughingstock to all my people, Their mocking song all the day.
He has filled me with bitterness, He has made me drunk with wormwood.
And He has broken my teeth with gravel; He has made me cower in the dust.
And my soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness.
So I say, "My strength has perished, And so has my hope from the LORD"

(Lam 3:10-19).

However, after describing all his scourging at the hand of the Lord, he does not curse God (Job did not either) but humbles himself and acknowledges God's love and care for him and for Judah:

"Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness.
Surely my soul remembers
And is bowed down within me.
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Thy faithfulness"
(Lam 3:19-23).

In Chapters 4-5 Jeremiah continues to lament over Israel/Judah/Jerusalem. He continues to describe the horror he has seen, some of which call to mind the prophecies of destruction at the end of days (Revelation, Daniel etc):

"Her consecrated ones were purer than snow,
They were whiter than milk;
They were more ruddy in body than corals,
Their polishing was like lapis lazuli.
Their appearance [now] is blacker than soot,
They are not recognized in the streets;
Their skin is shriveled on their bones,
It is withered, it has become like wood.
Better are those slain with the sword
Than those slain with hunger;
For they pine away, being stricken
For lack of the fruits of the field.
The hands of compassionate women
Boiled their own children;
They became food for them
Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people"

(Lam 4:7-10).

God prophesied that Judah’s captivity would only be for a time. Then He would release them, while at the same time destroy Babylon. Sure enough after 70 years of captivity, Persia, under King Cyrus, conquered Babylon. Little by little the Jews were released, led by Ezra and Nehemiah. The broken walls were repaired and the temple rebuilt, albeit in the midst of opposition from enemies. Finally, the Feast of Booths was celebrated in the new temple and the Book of the Law was read. Israel was home for the time being, although they would be eventually sacked by Roman armies in 70 AD. 

Jeremiah is certainly a type of Christ. Known as the “crying prophet” God allowed Jeremiah to experience the grief of God who still loved Israel despite their wayward ways. This is evidence of how God loves us, even when we are betraying and scorning Him with our actions. All God wanted was people who would love Him only. When Israel went after serving other gods who were not Gods, The Almighty was angry, jealous and destructive. Yet He always took His people back. Being under his judgments taught the Jews to always repent in their captivities’ and God would always forgive. The same remains true today. We can always come back. God will always be there for us. Like Job, Jeremiah never cursed God in all his afflictions. He, as Job, in some innate way always believed that the judgments of God, however destructive and painful, were just and right in view of the totality of the circumstances. 

 

 

WHY READ THE BIBLE?

God’s Word Recorded 

            Reading the Bible is essential for the Christian as well as for all mankind. The Bible is not a history book, per se, although it contains history. The Bible is not a collection of wise sayings designed to educate the reader or to reveal some esoteric philosophy. Neither is it mythology or a collection of moral stories. And to your probable surprise, it is not a manual for everyday living. No, the Bible is much more than that to the spiritual Christian. Jesus says: “My words are spirit and they are life”. (John 6:63). The word of God is not sent to educate the mind but to be spiritual food for the Saints.  Jesus made is clear that He had food of which the disciples were not aware; He had the food of the Word of the Father that was Hid real sustenance (John 4:32, 34). For His own reasons God has chosen to move through men in all He does on the earth i.e. Moses, the prophets etc. “All Scripture is inspired [God breathed] by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” (1 Timothy 3: 16-17). 

         The books contained in the Bible are Words from God. The book is in literary sense mainly written from God's viewpoint. Even though written by men, it is the inspired Word from God (2 Timothy 3:16). What is inspired is precisely the Biblical writings. Inspiration is a work of God terminating, not in the men who were to write Scripture (as if, having given them an idea of what to say, God left them to themselves to find a way of saying it), but in the actual written product. It is Scripture—graphē, the written text—that is God-breathed. The essential idea is that all Scripture has the same character as the prophets’ sermons had, both when preached and when written on the divine origin of every ‘prophecy of the scripture’; (see also Jeremiah 36; Is. 8:16-20). That is to say, Scripture is not only man’s word, the fruit of human thought, premeditation and art, but also, and equally, God’s word, spoken through man’s lips or written with man’s pen. In other words, Scripture has a double authorship, and man is only the secondary author; the primary author, through whose initiative, prompting and enlightenment, and under whose superintendence, each human writer did his work, is God the Holy Spirit (Wood, D. R. W. ; Marshall, I. Howard: New Bible Dictionary. 3rd ed. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill. : InterVarsity Press, 1996, S. 507).  

            The words contained in the Bible are not mere words. Jesus said: "My words are spirit and they are life" (John 6:63). This means that when the words are read with faith, the Spirit and the Life of God are conveyed or transferred to the believer. The spiritual reader actually receives the nature and attributes of God Himself through His words that came in a flash of inspiration which bypass the senses, the processes of reasoning and memory.  

            The Word actually has gone through three stages. First, before writing was instituted, God revealed Himself either directly to man (Adam, Enoch, Noah etc.) or through His creation and/or the cosmos. The Psalmist says that the heavens declare the righteousness of God (Psalm 97:6). Next, His Word was revealed both orally (passed down through many generations) or through writing. Finally, Jesus Christ appeared and manifested the Word on earth, in the flesh, which was also recorded in words.   

            The Apostle John described the word this way: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it" (Gospel of John 1:1-5). 

            Who was the “Word” John was speaking of? Jesus Christ was the "Word made flesh" (John 1:14). He was the Son of God and He was the Word, the expression of the Father, the second person of the trinity which comprises all of God. God created the worlds by a Word.  He said "Let there be" and there was (Genesis Ch. 1 & 2). The Word (Christ) was the creative power issuing from God that enabled His heart to be manifested in His creation. “By faith we understand that the worlds [ages] were prepared [framed] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).  

The Bible contains history in that it traces the thread of Jewish history from creation to Christ. It tells of the first man Adam, then Eve, and how they fell from the Garden. It tells of the early peoples of the earth and their satanic natures.  The flood that destroyed the wickedness is chronicled. Then it tells of the dispersion and deeds of Noah's sons. It speaks of Abraham, the Father of Faith, who was called from Babylon to the land of the Canaanites, which would eventually become the Promised Land. His Son and Grandson, Isaac and Jacob, would carry on his legacy and remember the binding covenant God made with Abraham, which is still applicable today being “righteousness by faith”. Joseph, Jacob's younger son, became a ruler in Egypt and saved the Jewish line from a great famine by administering food during the famine from Egypt.  Eventually, the Israelites became slaves in Egypt and were delivered by Moses, who went on to receive the Law from God on Mt. Sinai. That Law that was to be applicable to Israel for centuries to come (recorded in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Joshua, Moses’ spiritual son, led Israel's army as it defeated 32 Canaanite nations greater and mightier than Israel. Thus Israel became a nation in the Promised Land (See the Book of Joshua).  

The books of Judges, Kings and Chronicles trace the history of the nation and the rulers (Judges and Kings) of Israel. Those books chronicle the deeds of the various rulers, focusing on who of them followed God and His laws, and who did not. The story emphasizes the judgments of God that befell Israel when they did not obey Him. Finally, the physical lineage of Christ is traced (see Matthew 1:1-17) and the unlikely men and women who were included in this lineage (Rahab the harlot, Ruth, Giddeon, Deborah, Samson, Jehu, David, Solomon and more). The Book also contains worship and prophetic Psalms, wise sayings (Proverbs) and a love song (Song of Solomon). Finally, the Old Testament terminates with the coming of Christ and the New Testament begins with Christ and the spread of Christianity after His death and resurrection.  

The Old Testament also contains the words of some 16 prophets who were God's mouthpieces throughout Israel's history. They advised rulers, performed miraculous works, predicted victory and defeat for Israel's armies, rebuked Kings and recorded or had recorded their revelations from God of the future, some pertaining to the end-time, our time in the 21st Century.  

            The prophet’s words of the events they saw from afar mainly spoke of Christ. The entire Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi reveals Christ to the close reader (for instance see Isaiah 9:6-7 and Ch. 53). The Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, concerning the old priesthood, the ritual animal sacrifices, were a type and shadow of Christ's great sacrifice on the cross. The references to Christ in the Old Testament would fill volumes. We read the Bible because we too are to become prophets, priests, Kings and Sons, like Christ. The Bible is the vehicle, the guide to see this accomplished. Although one could say the Bible contains history it is history important to God in bringing to pass His plan of salvation for man. It is a unique historical work in that is spiritually a type and shadow of what is to come in the Kingdom of God on the earth using Israel as an illustrative example of how we should walk with God today (see Hebrews 9). Christ Himself said to the Jewish religious leaders: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me” (John 5:39). 

The New Testament lays the foundation for the believer in Christ, the Messiah and resurrected Lord. It is set forth in the form of Gospels (spiritual biographies of Christ), epistles (letters of Apostles written to churches) and prophetic books. The Gospels, which means "good news", are four accounts of the birth and life of Jesus Christ. The Gospels, the Words of Christ, are, contrary to popular belief, words that teach us about the Kingdom of God. They are not necessarily to teach us how to live in this life. The Sermon on the Mount reveals who shall inherit the Kingdom. Most parables find their root in telling of the Kingdom and how to possess it. The recorded miracles are conformation that Christ possessed a power and authority beyond that of this world. Christ actually was and lived in the Kingdom of God even as He appeared as a man on the earth. 

The disciples, when they were sent out to the peoples, were instructed to preach "the Kingdom of God is at hand" (Matthew 10:7). When they healed someone they were to say "the Kingdom has come near to you" (Luke 10:11). The parable of the wise and foolish virgins teaches us that we are to be ready for His coming. The parable of the sewer teaches us how to grow 100 fold from the good seed planted by God. Most of the parables in the Gospels begin with Christ saying “The Kingdom is like…or the Kingdom can be likened to”. Only in the Kingdom, with natures like Christ, can we fulfill the sinless life. "Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it", while “wide is the way that leads to destruction and many are they who walk on it” (Matthew 7:13-14). To inherit the Kingdom, Jesus says to "be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect". We cannot accomplish this in our human selves but only through Christ who has left the written Word to light our way.  

Also in the New Testament are the epistles (letters) by Apostles of God to churches they founded and had leadership over. Paul, John, Peter, James and Jude all wrote such recorded letters. The epistles (Paul wrote the majority of them) lay the foundation for the New Testament order and teach about who Jesus was and is and what He did for believers in His one sacrifice for sin. The Book of Acts, written by Luke, chronicles the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul throughout most of the Mesopotamian world at that time including Greece, Macedonia and Rome. Finally, the Book of Revelation reveals the future and the coming of Jesus Christ, past and present, in vision and apocryphal form.  

            Many ask: "Why didn't God in His Word answer all our questions about the universe, about current wars and famine, the state of humanity, oppressive government, the evil in the world etc? How can a loving God allow all this to happen? Well, God did answer all of these questions in the Bible if you look hard enough. For instance, the evil in the world is not from God but from the devil and a divinely imposed futility. At the same time God actually uses the devil to accomplish His will. Where God does not seem to answer our questions, these are things we may not be ready to receive this time. Jesus said to the disciples at the Last Supper: “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). Everything pertaining to God's wishes, desires and our destiny is in His Word. God does promise: “For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17; Mark 4:22).  

Some say that the devil attempted to destroy God's plan by revealing secrets to man before He was ready to apply them correctly. Adam and Eve were prematurely taught “good and evil” before they were ready to receive it, resulting from their expulsion from the Garden and the subjecting of the earth to futility. Later, man was untimely taught secrets of witchcraft, transference, alchemy, astrology, how to make war, to build cities (that became centers of evil) and other hidden mysteries that had the effect of corrupting man rather than benefiting him. This was the result of the nephilim, produced by fallen angels who mated with human women (Genesis 6:1-7). As a result God had to destroy man by a great flood, saving only righteous Noah and his family (Genesis 6:8-8:22).  

            Therefore, the Bible should be read in the context that it is spiritual food that can teach our spirits and to impart to us His ways, His nature and His life. The Word should be “eaten” rather than read and understood. Jeremiah said: “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16). The letter of the words are dead when read intellectually; they are life when you see God in them. Human writings convey only ideas and emotions which ultimately lead nowhere; the Word of God, contained in the Bible, conveys life and that more abundantly. “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

 

 

IN THE DAYS OF THE KINGDOM

             People often wonder “what is the Kingdom” and “what do we do if and when we get there”? In many ways the wondering is without ready answer since the Kingdom of God is a spiritual Kingdom and here on earth exists a vast ignorance of spiritual things. Contrary to popular doctrine, dying and going to “heaven” is not necessarily the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is a spiritual Kingdom which is to exist both on earth and in heaven at the same time. When teaching the multitudes to pray Jesus said pray 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 6:10). The Kingdom is a merging of the spirit realm where God lives (heaven) and the earth so that there remains no difference or separation.   

            The Kingdom consists of that which our human minds nor imaginations cannot grasp.  1 Corinthians 2:9-16 says:

“…but just as it is written,
“THINGS which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.” 

            The Kingdom of God, being a spiritual Kingdom, is completely different than what we have now on the earth. The earth has been subjected to a state called “futility” since the first humans were banished from the Garden (Genesis 3). As the Apostle Paul observed: “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” (Romans 8:20-21). Because of this futility the earth and its peoples have been beset by wars, tragedies, disease, famine, natural disasters and death; none of which will exist in the Kingdom of God. The earth has been in a state of travail, similar to childbirth, awaiting the coming to birth of the Kingdom. As Paul confirmed: “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now” (Romans 8:22). And since creation will be released from futility into the freedom of the glory of the Sons (plural) of God, he says further: “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” (Rom 8:23).  

            At some point the Sons of God will release all of creation from futility. God is bringing many sons like Christ to birth to accomplish this task. 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”. When the Sons release creation from the divinely imposed futility we will have a Kingdom which is described in the scriptures.   

            Isaiah 65:17-25 describes aspects of this Kingdom:

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.
“But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing
And her people for gladness.
“I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people;
And there will no longer be heard in her
The voice of weeping and the sound of crying.
“No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days,
Or an old man who does not live out his days;
For the youth will die at the age of one hundred
And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred
Will be thought accursed.
“They will build houses and inhabit them;
They will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
“They will not build and another inhabit,
They will not plant and another eat;
For  as the lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of My people,
And My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands.
They will not labor in vain,
Or bear children for calamity;
For they are the offspring of those blessed by the Lord,
And their descendants with them.
“It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer;
and while they are still speaking, I will hear.
“The  wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox;
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain says the Lord”.
 

            The Book of Revelation describes other aspects of this Kingdom, as best words can do: “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 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” (Rev. 21:1-4). And: “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:1-5).   

            We will behold this with spiritual eyes to see and spiritual ears to hear. As Paul said about the spiritual:

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.  For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,  which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.  But 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.  But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:9-16).   

            Thus eye has not seen nor has the ear heard, nor has it even entered into our imaginations what God has for His overcoming believers. We can’t even conceive or imagine it. It thus transcends all human intellect. That it because, as Paul said above, this is spiritual knowledge, combining spiritual (not intellectual) thoughts with spirit. God is a spirit and those who would worship Him must do so in spirit (John 4:23-25). For us to speculate what will happen to us as we become reborn into the spirit realm is a futile as is understanding creation itself. Whatever we imagine, no matter how wonderful, will not describe it because we cannot conceive it except through the spirit, our spirits in contact with His.  

            Paul makes a feeble attempt to describe his experience being caught up to the 3rd Heavens: “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).  

            Just as Revelation says there will be no more sorrow, grief, sickness, death, war, etc (Revelation 21) should be sufficient for the Sons God is bringing to birth to desire this Kingdom above all else and to create this place here on earth as God has commanded (Matthew 6:10).  

 

                       

THE MARK OF THE BEAST 

            Today Christianity and much of mankind in general have a fixation of the Book of Revelation and other sources of predicted end-time events. The reference in the Book of Revelation to the “mark of the Beast” is a mystery for most. Questions as to what it means predominate Christian thinking. In order to attempt to understand this The Mark of the Beast, we must begin in the Book of Revelation and the operative scriptures pertaining to the Beast and his mark.  

            The Book of Revelation introduces the Beast: “And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names” (Revelation 13:1). Just so we have our players in their correct places: The dragon is Satan. Revelation 12:9 identifies him: “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” (see also Revelation 20:2). Satan thus watches from the seashore as the Beast emerges from the “sea”. The sea referred to here is “the sea of humanity” or from a Jewish standpoint the “sea of the Gentiles” (cf Revelation 17:15). It refers to the “wild and restless” conditions of the nations (the Greek word is “thalassa”-see explanation Vine’s expository Dictionary, Sea, p. 1002). The Beast itself represents nations and kings and rulers of these nations.  

         “And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; they worshiped the dragon because he  gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” (Rev. 13:2-4). This description of the Beast is symbolic of great world powers and their symbolism: Greece (a leopard, cf. Dan. 7:6), Medo-Persia (a bear, cf. Dan. 7:5), and Babylon (a lion, cf. Dan. 7:4). Thus the Beast presents as a collection of world powers, some say that have already come and gone and others say are powers to be revealed in the end-time. Rome is among the nations depicted as the head “slain” represents the fall of the Roman Empire which is resurrected into the Roman Church which ruled most of the known world from the time of Rome’s fall into the late Middle Ages.  The Dragon (Satan) gave the nations power which power left humanity in awe so that they worshipped (bowed down to) the nations and Satan, the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4).  

As further confirmation of Satan’s power over the nations and Kingdoms of this world see Matthew 4:8-9 during Satan’s temptation of Jesus: “Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me”. Satan at that time was able to offer Christ all the Kingdoms (nations) of the world because they were his to give.  

“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. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence [by his authority]. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose  fatal wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of [by the authority of] the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the  mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six” (Rv. 13:11-18).  

               In order to fully understand this passage one must realize that false religion pervades this scripture and winds its way through the Book of Revelation in many forms (the judgment of Babylon as a religious system takes up two full chapters, 17-18). Satan is above all a religious spirit, as he manifests on earth. His angelic name was Lucifer which means “light bearer”. Satan occupied a very high place among the heavenly hosts and was quite possibly the brightest. He has been called “the bright morning star” (Venus or the Sun in comparison). Isaiah 14:12-17 describes Satan while focusing on the King of Babylon who was exercising the authority of Satan in a Babylonian religious sense. The bottom line is that this scripture describes the interaction and intermingling of religion and the secular nations, empowered by Satan, to form the unholy satanic trinity to dominate the world.  

The second beast was the religious beast, having two horns of a lamb (a mockery of Christ the Lamb of God) but it spoke like a dragon, the religious spirit of Satan, the false prophet (Rev. 16:13, 19:20, 20:10). Satan has always wanted a place of worship like God and he duplicates it on earth by establishing an elaborate system of religion, working through both the church and the nations, in order to fulfill his desire of worship through total world domination. Isaiah chapter 14 says this of Satan:

“How you have fallen from heaven,
O star of the morning, son of the dawn!
You have been cut down to the earth,
You who have weakened the nations!
“But you said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’ 

In order to cement his total control he institutes a plan of total control of humanity by controlling the world economics. From the dawn of time trade and commerce has been most important to the human race and the empires that ruled them (i.e. Egypt, Babylon, Rome etc.). At the time of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah God describes conditions as: “It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: “they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; [economic]” (Luke 17:28). It was the same in the days of Noah (Luke 17:26-27; Matthew 24:37). World history and the accumulation of wealth has been a primary motivating factor for nations as it is today. To control trade is to strangle the people. Most wars, at their root, were fought over economic issues. Today most of the world’s wealth is held by a small percentage of the population.  

The mark of the best, and the theory behind it, is symbolic of Satan’s plan to gain control of the masses through economic control. The mark in the right hand and forehead implies the prostration of bodily and intellectual powers to the beast’s domination. “In the forehead by way of profession; in the hand with respect to work and service” (Jamieson Commentary, re: Rev. 13:16). Although the physical imprinting of the mark is most probably symbolic, it represents a complete giving over of the human nature to an economic reality controlled by Satan, who thus controls all buying and selling, the economy. 

John says of the mark: “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six” (v 18). John, the author of Revelation, says that the meaning of this mark is understandable to him who has wisdom and understanding; in other words revelation from God. Six, in Christian numerology, is the number of man. Seven is the number of God. Scripture says man was made for a little while lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:7; Psalm 8:5-6). So six, man, is beneath seven, represented as God and the heavenly angelic realm. Some say that the number 666 is translated, by Hebrew numerological means, to represent the Roman Emperor Nero Caesar, who was responsible for the greatest persecution of the Christians. During his reign he had the Apostles Paul and Peter martyred as well as thousands of Christians. However Nero reigned during 50 or 60 C.E. and the Book of Revelation was supposedly written in 95 C.E., long after Nero. Whether or not John is using the reign of Nero as symbolic of the evil perpetrated against Christians is not known but is highly unlikely.  

            This number of the beast, which is the same as his name, contains three sixes. In Christian numerology “three” is the number of completeness. God has a triune (3-part) nature-Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Man has a triune nature-spirit, soul and body. So as God and man are complete by these 3-part expressions of themselves, Satan brings forth, as an insult to the trinity, his three-fold nature. These are the three parts of him revealed in Revelation: the Beast of the Sea, the beast of the earth (also called the false prophet) and the dragon (serpent, Satan himself).  

            The scripture says that a three-fold cord is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12; Isaiah 19:18; 2 Kings 3:6). Thus, the three parts of his nature are finally revealed and bound together in this unholy trinity and through it Satan reveals the final culmination of his plan for the earth. Of course he is eventually banished into eternal hell along with his false prophet, beast and himself. In the end, he is seen as just a man, which is why John said the number is the number of a man: 

“Those who see you will gaze at you,
They will ponder over you, saying,
‘Is this the MAN who made the earth tremble,
Who shook kingdoms,
Who made the world like a wilderness
And overthrew its cities,
Who did not allow his prisoners to go home?”
(Isaiah 14:16-17). 

            So the 666 cord of Satan is his last best chance to prevail over Christ in the coming forth of His Kingdom. Of course Satan ultimately fails in this attempt to control the world and kill the offspring of the Woman (Christ). Christ and His saints prevail over Satan and his triad. As it was prophesied in Genesis: “The Lord God said to the serpent,…

“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise
[crush] you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
(Genesis 3:15).

Of course the seed of the woman was the man-child Christ who in the end, although being bruised, crushed Satan under His heel.  

 

 

THE TRUE MEANING OF CHURCH

            The word “church” in Greek (the language used in the writing of the New Testament) is “ekklesia” derived from a root meaning “called out”. So in a spiritual sense church means “the called out ones of God”. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew term for church (used only 3x in the Old Testament) referred to a gathering of God’s people, and eventually to the Jewish synagogue. However, a review of the term in the New Testament refers to a different meaning. 

            When applied to Christians, it can mean the following: 1) To the whole company of the redeemed of which Christ said “I will build my church (Matthew 16:18); and 2) the church which is His [Christ’s] body (Ephesians 1:22, 5:23). It is also used as a gathering (not a physical place) of God’s people (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary). 

            The term is only used by Jesus twice (Matthew 16:18, 18:17). It is primarily used by Paul in his epistles. Paul never refers to the church as a physical structure but as a dedicated group of disciples; a new race redeemed by the blood of Christ (Mounce’s Expository Dictionary).   

            Actually the church is not a physical place. In the New Testament it primarily refers to the spiritual Body of Christ on the earth. “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 [holy ones] 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 true 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).  

            Paul says we of the Body of Christ are the true church-the habitation of God as was the temple in the Old Testament. The writer of Hebrews, in chapter 9, describes the Old Testament temple; its appearance and the activities of the Levite priests (vs. 1-8). He then compares it to the temple of Christ as follows:

“ But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle [or sacred tent] not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation (Hebrews 1:9). The true church of God is not of this world but is a spiritual dwelling place for God. 

            “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been  rejected by men, but is choice [chosen, 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” (1 Peter 2:4-5). “Now you are the body of Christ, and severally members thereof” (1 Corinthians 12:27)

             The true church is often spoken of as the “church invisible, the great cloud of witnesses surrounding us (Hebrews 12:1). The church invisible consists of the whole number of the elect that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ, the head thereof. This is a pure society, the church in which Christ dwells. It is the body of Christ. It is called “invisible” because the greater part of those who constitute it are invisible to us on earth. The qualifications of membership in it are internal and are hidden. It is unseen except by Him who “searches the heart.” “The Lord knows them that are his” (2 Tim. 2:19). The church, to which the attributes, prerogatives, and promises appertaining to Christ’s kingdom belong, is a spiritual body consisting of all true believers, i.e., the church invisible. Its attributes include:

(1.) Its unity. God has ever had only one church on earth.

(2.) Its universality. It is the “catholic” (meaning universal) church; not confined to any particular country or outward organization, but comprehending all believers throughout the whole world.

(3.) Its perpetuity. It will continue through all ages to the end of the world. It can never be destroyed. It is an “everlasting Kingdom” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary). 

            All sources seem to agree that church denotes not a physical structure but a living, eternal spiritual dwelling place. The Body is one but has various expressions and gifts given to each individual member, all for the purpose of the building up of the Body (see 1 Corinthians 12). Christ is the head of His body and the remainder of His true spiritual Body is filled with the elect ones, the Saints, the chosen including those who have gone on. The gifts of the Spirit are given to each member as the Lord sees fit. People don’t “join” the Body as they do in a modern day church; they are placed there by the Lord.  

            Paul said:

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints [holy ones] and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the  corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple [sanctuary] in the Lord,  in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20-22).  

            In the Old Testament both the temple in the wilderness and Solomon’s temple were filled with the Spirit of God, to the extent that the priests could not even stand to minister. In the Old Testament God actually dwelled in the temples made by men. In the New Testament, under the new covenant instituted by Christ, God no longer will dwell in a physical temple. His house will be within His believers, the New Jerusalem. We of the Body of Christ are His dwelling place forever. 

 

 

WHY SO MANY DENOMINATIONS,
YET SO FEW TRUE CHRISTIANS 

            The answer to this question is really very simple but it involves many different factors. The first thing is we must believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Without that we are reduced to drinking from many fountains, listening to many different voices and finding only confusion and frustration.  

            The apostle Paul said, speaking of the apostate: 

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away… Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:5, 7).   

            This article will assume the reader believes the Bible is the Word of God. If he/she does not believe, he/she is regulated to “having a form of Godliness”; ever learning but on a futile path of never really coming to know the truth.   

            There is so much learning and knowledge available today. There is philosophy, psychology, human wisdom, intellectual pursuits, religious doctrines and creeds, many voices that profess special knowledge of religion and scientific knowledge. Someone who doesn’t know God is caught in a maze of conflicting human opinions and a multitude of religious denominations, all with their own particular view of God. Knowing deeply that they need God in their lives, people go from one source to another without ever filling that deep need. They are ever learning but can’t come to the place where there is a ring deep inside that says “this is it”. So eventually they choose a religion (or no religion) where they feel somewhat comfortable in the doctrine being therein expressed or lived.            

            Paul said this about human wisdom, upon which nearly all denominations are based:

“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “THE Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless (1 Corinthians 3:18-20; Job 5:13; Psalm 94:11). So no matter the wisdom and knowledge accumulated in this life, without a true knowledge of God, it is worthless, useless and foolishness to God.  

            God is a spirit and those who wish to know Him must relate to Him in the Spirit (John 4:23-24). However, the spirit realm is unapproachable to those who approach it while relying on human wisdom or knowledge.

Paul said: “But a natural [unspiritual] 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 [examined].  But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one” (1 Corinthians 2:14-15). 

            The Bible is not merely a set of words, like a novel or a textbook. Jesus 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). We don’t learn God intellectually by the written words on a paper. We learn “about Him” but we don’t know Him. His words are life. We ingest His word so that it becomes part of us. Jesus said to eat His flesh and drink His blood; otherwise you have no life in you. Human life is actually death. Spiritual life is eternal.  

            Why so many denominations? Often denominations were and are started by men/women who actually did have something from God. However, when the founder or originator died, he/she left no one to replace him/her so the followers went on in the religion trying to model their conduct or religion on what they though the leader would have done, thought or said. Thus, the denominations were reduced to communities with different conceptions of God based on their own human conceptions of what they thought was the right way to proceed. The doctrines and/or rituals of each community of believers thus resulted in as many church denominations with as many doctrines none in agreement with the other. This has happened to Martin Luther (Lutherans), Wesley (Methodists), Smith (Mormons), Church of Christ (from the Lutherans) etc. Some of these may have been real moves of God at their inception but gradually they became just another denomination modeled as best it could by the congregants into nothing more than a religion. 

            Instead of unity there resulted confusion, differences and factions at war with each other.  While the Apostle Paul spoke of the unity of the faith (Ephesians 4) what resulted was division, the hallmark of Satan. Jesus said:

         “Any [every] kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? (Matthew 12:25-26; also Luke 11:17; Mark 3:24). Thus we have many ideas about God in division with every other idea. The only unity or oneness that is ever achieved is a massive compromise where the denominations agree to agree only on the doctrines that they can agree on. This leaves a watered down version of Christianity that contains no life whatsoever but only retains the life of the denominations themselves to continue their human programs of dead works. Many are motivated only by pecuniary gain.   

            Others just simply follow a man or a great ministry. In order to distinguish himself among other men, he exalts his own conception of God over others and a denomination emerges, with its own set of rules, doctrines and creeds. He enjoys a following; it feeds his ego. Many feel they are really following the true God, with the result that there are thousands of Gods out there created by the ego of the man perpetuating the demonization.  

            Each church conveys its own form of legalism. Legalism is the doing of many “good works”, being a good person, being a “good Christian” not sinning etc. in order to please God. God is not impressed. God considers our human attempts at righteousness to be “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

            Actually, for those who believe the Bible, Satan is at the root of nearly all denominational churches. Paul called them false apostles: “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 real name, Lucifer, means “light bearer or “bright star of the morning”. One of the greatest weapons he has against Christ is religion. The phrase “religion is the opiate of the people” is not far wrong. If Satan can keep people, even those called of God, trapped in an endless effort of trying to please God according to the doctrines of the church; he has kept people from the true knowledge of God. They give up true knowledge in favor of being comfortable. For instance the Catholic Church teaches that only Catholics “go to heaven” so members are confident and complacent in that false “knowledge”.  

            The real purpose of a church is not to do works originated by the human flesh. It is to be transformed so that the works that please God come from within us. Whereas religion does the works then looks to God to bless them because of the works, true “religion” goes to God first, appropriates His nature, and then does the works which have been imparted to him by God. Romans 8:14 says: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God”. These are led by the Spirit of God not by human legalism.   

            When Christ came He initiated a New Covenant between god and man. Whereas the Old Covenant (in the Old Testament) was based on righteousness by works or rituals of sacrifice. the New Covenant was entirely different.

“This is the covenant that I will make with them
After
those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws upon their heart,
And on their mind I will write them,”
“AND their sins and their lawless deeds
I will remember no more
(Hebrews 10:16-17; Jeremiah 31: 33-34). 

            Therefore instead of trying to do the Law in and of ourselves, the Law is written on our hearts so we become the Law. Christ said He didn’t come to abrogate the Law but to fulfill it, to its last “jot and tittle”. We too ought to take a good look at our denomination, if we have one or our private walk with God if we don’t. Do we know Him in the Spirit? Can we hear His voice or are we following some legalistic doctrine? Is He the Lord or is he some man with enticing words of wisdom that “tickle our ears? Are we really being led by His Spirit or are we slaves to our conscience that tells us what is good and the “right thing to do”? Is His law being “written on our hearts” to the extent that we just don’t sin anymore, even to the thoughts and intents of our hearts? When we relate in the Spirit, we are obtaining the mind of Christ and even our thoughts become captive to Him.  

            In reality, there is only one God, one Bible and one truth. There are not many different interoperations. There is only one interoperation. Jesus made this very clear in the following scripture:

         "Now when Jesus came into the district of  Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others,  Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are  the Christ,  the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you,  Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. “I also say to you that you are Peter [a stone] and upon this rock [large rock] I will build My church; and the gates of  Hades will not overpower it” Matthew 16:13-19). Jesus is saying that the opinions of men, however varied, are false conceptions of Himself. He is saying that the only true revelation of Him must come from the Father as divine revelation. The Father does not have many different conceptions of who Christ is. He has only one, the true one, which can only come from Him, not by the shifting tides of man. A final note about this scripture which the false Catholic Church believes to say that Christ was going to build His Kingdom on Peter as the first Pope. What the scripture is actually saying is that He is going to build His Kingdom on the rock of revelation of the Father. 

            Let’s work to know the real truth, direct from the Father Himself, not a false conception created by the vain imaginations of man, which are conceptions void of any truth.

 

 

UNIVERSAL LAW

How God Thinks About the Law of the Earth and Heavens 

Universal law can never be really understood, at least by man in his current state. The simplest questions cannot be understood even by the most eminent scholars. Many times the right questions have never been posed. The earth and the universe are governed by laws. We can see some of the effects of those laws but we don’t know where they originated. These things were and are caused by a being who created the universe with its billions of galaxies and countless stars. We cannot even see its end. Only God knows the cause and the effect and all of the laws.  

Consider that our actual knowledge of the universe consists of only about 6% of what is really out there. The best we can do is call the remaining 94% dark matter and dark energy. We know it holds the universe together, but we don’t know what it is. We call it dark because we cannot see it, as our eyes are limited to absorbing and interpreting only photon light particles.  

We cannot see into the supernatural or spiritual world with our five senses. We discount the fact that the spirit world even exists because we cannot perceive it. When will man realize his inadequacy and admit some things are not perceivable except through the eyes of the one who planned and created them? We deny the existence of God himself, because we cannot see Him; doesn't that prove our arrogance? 

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! (Bible Epistle of Paul to the Romans, Chapter 11, verse 33). “Unfathomable” according to Webster’s Dictionary means: “not capable of being fathomed; impenetrable by the mind; incomprehensible”. According to these definitions, the laws of God are not capable of human understanding or comprehension and cannot be understood by the mind of man. They can only be understood through the eyes of the Creator.     

According to scripture we may see His acts (miracles, nature etc.) but don’t know His ways. “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel [humanity] (Psalm 103:6). 

Consider God's words to a seeker (Job) who thought he knew everything:

"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding,
Who set its measurements? Since you know.
Or who stretched the line on it?
On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone,..
Or who enclosed the sea with doors
When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;
When I made a cloud its garment
And thick darkness its swaddling band,
And I placed boundaries on it
And set a bolt and doors,
And I said, Thus far you shall come, but no farther;
And here shall your proud waves stop'?
 

This is how God looks at creation. You can see the sea stop but you don’t really know how or why it became that way. God asks: “Where were you when I created the earth and how did I do it?”

God goes on to show the utter incomprehensibility man has regarding creation.

Have you ever in your life commanded the morning,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
Have you entered into the springs of the sea
Or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
Or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
Have you understood the expanse of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this.
Where is the way to the dwelling of light?
And darkness, where is its place,

That you may take it to its territory

Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
Which I have reserved for the time of distress,
For the day of war and battle?

Where is the way that the light is divided,
Or the east wind scattered on the earth?
Who has cleft a channel for the flood,
Or a way for the thunderbolt,
To bring rain on a land without people,
On a desert without a man in it,
To satisfy the waste and desolate land
And to make the seeds of grass to sprout?
Has the rain a father?
Or who has begotten the drops of dew?
From whose womb has come the ice?
And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth?
Water becomes hard like stone,
And the surface of the deep is imprisoned.
 

All these things are commonplace to us. But man in his human wisdom doesn’t know how and why they are the way they are; God made His ways past finding out to man so that we would look to Him for answers. God says here we don’t have the wisdom nor understanding to know anything about His ways.  Here He asks man whether he knows the ordinances or the laws of the Heavens or the earth. The answer, of course, is no.

Now gird up your loins like a man;
I will ask you, and you instruct Me…
Or do you have an arm like God,
And can you thunder with a voice like His?
Adorn yourself with eminence and dignity,
And clothe yourself with honor and majesty.
Pour out the overflowings of your anger,
And look on everyone who is proud, and make him low.
And tread down the wicked where they stand.
Hide them in the dust together;
Bind them in the hidden place.
Then I will also confess to you,
That your own right hand can save you.
Who has given to Me that I should repay him?
WHATEVER IS UNDER THE WHOLE HEAVEN IS MINE
(emphasis added). 

Then Job, after he heard about all he did not and could not know, answered the Lord and said,

"I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?'
'Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know."
Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.'
'I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.
(Bible, Book of Job, excerpts from Chapters 38-42; New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation). 

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 to save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:21). 

...the mind is hostile to God for it does not subject itself to God for it is not able to do so (Romans 8:7). 

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world, that he may put to shame the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world, that he may put to shame the strong things;..(1 Corinthians 1:27). 

Do we know the ways and laws of God or only His acts? Do we know His thinking behind the universe when He created it? We can calculate the events of the creation of the universe down to 10-41 of a second after the Big Bang. But do we know, or can we even speculate, how the speck of compressed matter/energy giving rise to creation came into being out of nothingness in the first place? Scientists have many theories but each skirts the issue that what we see was not created from anything visible. Hebrews 11:3 says: “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared [created] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible”. Thus for us to pretend to know universal law, when it is unknowable without the wisdom of God, is itself ignorance. 

In the Kingdom of God, all things will be revealed to all who are there. Some will never know it. Why doesn’t man humble himself and admit he cannot know. We are reminded of the scripture “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10)

 

 

BIBLICAL ASTROLOGY 

            King David  from the Old Testament said:

"The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament (expanse of heaven) literally shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
Their line (sound) has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world".
Psalm 19:1-4.

 

And:

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God, [the angels]
And You crown him with glory and majesty!”
(Psalm 8:3-5).
 

            True Christian astrology, and for that matter astrology before Christ, is ancient. Reading the stars and their interpretation was common to ancient civilizations before there was any writing. Before the Bible, man read the stars and constellations and some civilizations were able to discern the truth as revealing God's plan or the plan of their own spiritual destiny. Evidence of this correct reading of the stars can even be found in the layout of the Great Pyramid in Egypt. Christian astrology reveals the Messiah, Jesus Christ. We will discuss this interpretation of astrology as it pertains to the revealing of the Messiah.  

           The Zodiac is a 360 degree circle, divided into 12 sections of constellations called signs. Each constellation is a grouping of stars that form a picture of an object in the sky. Earth passes through these 12 constellations each year. Each constellation is also called a "sign", corresponding to what picture the constellation depicts. Each sign occupies 30 degrees of the entire circle of 360 degrees. Each 30 degree "piece of the pie" is divided into three 10 degree sections called decants. The decants are also constellations, within the main constellation, and provide further description of the main constellation or sign. Both signs and decants are indicative of an aspect of Christ’s ministry. Taken together, they form a complete revelation of the Christian Savior and His ministry.  

            The constellations are mentioned in the Bible.

“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades,
Or loose the cords of Orion?
“Can you lead forth a constellation in its season,
And guide the Bear with her satellites?
“Do you know the ordinances of the heavens,
Or fix their rule over the earth?”

(Job 38:31-33). 

            The constellations are given names reflecting what they depict, i.e. Virgo the virgin, Libra the scales of justice, Scorpio the serpent and so on. The revelation begins in the sign of Virgo and ends with the Leo. The 12 signs, each with three decants, are: Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aires, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer and Leo.  

The so-called Christian Zodiac and its signs and decants for each sign are discussed briefly below.

1.  The Prophecy of the Promised Seed of the Woman

Virgo (The Virgin). Virgo depicts a woman bearing a branch in her right hand and an ear of corn in her left.  This represents the Promised Seed of the woman Mary. 

2. The Redeemer's Atoning Work

Libra (The Scales). This is the price deficient balanced by the price given. The coming seed of the woman was, among other things, to give up His life in exchange for the lives of others. "They sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy...for Thou was slain, and hast redeemed...to God by thy blood" (Rev 5:9). 

3. The redeemer's conflict

Scorpio (The Scorpion) The aspect of Christ as seeking to wound, but itself trodden under foot. "Thou shall tread upon the lion and adder. The young lion and the dragon shall thou trample under feet." (Psalm 91:13). 

4. The Redeemer's Triumph

Sagittarius (The Archer). He is the two-natured (man and horse) conqueror going forth "Conquering and to conquer." God shall shoot at them with an arrow; Suddenly shall they be wounded. So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves; All that see them shall flee away” (Psalm 64:7-10).  

5. The Blessings of the People Procured

Capricornus (The fish-goat). Represents the goat of Atonement (Azazel goat) slain for the Redeemed (Leviticus 16). This sign opens with the Goat, and closes with the Ram, two animals of Jewish sacrifice; the two middle chapters are both connected with fishes (see below).  

6. Their Blessings Ensured

Aquarius (The Water-Bearer). The Atonement being made, the blessings have been procured, now they can be bestowed and poured forth as water upon the Redeemed [us]. "He shall pour the water out of His buckets, And His seed shall be in many waters, As rivers of water in a dry place." (Isaiah 32:1, 2).  

7. Their Blessings in Abeyance

Pisces (The Fishes). The Hebrew name is Dagim, the Fishes. In Genesis 48:26, Jacob blesses Joseph's sons, and says, "Let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth." The margin in the Bible says, "Let them grow as fishes do increase." It refers to the fulfillment of Genesis 1:28, "Be fruitful and multiply." The seed of Abraham was to be as the stars of the sky, and the sand of the sea. "A very great multitude of fish," (Ezekiel 47:9). Therefore “And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-19).   

8. Their Blessings Consummated and Enjoyed

Aries (The Ram or Lamb). This second grouping of 4 constellations (Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces and Aires) began with the Goat dying in sacrifice, and ends here with the Lamb living again, "as it had been slain." The goat had the tail of a fish, indicating that his death was for a multitude of the redeemed. In the two middle Signs the fishes represent Christ's gift presented to us in grace, and in their conflict. This sign also ends up with victory and triumph; the foundation on which that victory rests, Atonement, by the blood of the Lamb "When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son" (Gal 4:4), and "in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom 5:6). 

9.  Messiah, the coming Judge of all the earth

Taurus (The Bull). This is the last of the 3 groupings of 4 of the constellations representing the coming of the Messiah. The star picture formed is that of a Bull rushing forward with mighty energy and fierce wrath, his horns set so as to push his enemies, and pierce them through and destroy them. It is a prophecy of Christ, the coming Judge, and Ruler, and "Lord of all the earth." “He shall gather the lambs in His arm,
And carry them in His bosom, And shall gently lead those that give"
(Isaiah 40:10, 11, RV) 

10.   The Messiah's (Jesus Christ) Reign as Prince of Peace

Gemini (The Twins). The twofold nature of the King. The more ancient star-names help us to see the many other myths regarding this sign. Gemini represents the two-fold ministry of God and man, His twofold work of suffering and glory, and His twofold coming in humiliation and in triumph.  

11.  Messiah's (Jesus Christ) Redeemed Possessions

Cancer (The Crab). Christ's possession held fast. This sign represents the completion of His work. In Cancer we see it with reference to His redeemed, and in the next (the last) Sign, Leo, with reference to His enemies.  

12.   Messiah's Consummated Triumph

Leo (The Lion). The Lion of the Tribe of Judah aroused for the rending of the Enemy. Here we come to the end of the Zodiac, beginning with Virgo, and we end with Leo. This sign is also represented as the answer to the riddle of the Sphinx. Its Head is Virgo and its Tail is Leo. Leo is the end of the Revelation of Christ or the end of the revelation written in the heavens. The Zodiac was first divided when the sun at the summer solstice was in 1° Virgo, where the woman's head joins the Lion's tail. His feet are over the head of Hydra, the great Serpent, and just about to descend upon it and crush it (Genesis 3:15).  

Thus we have the complete revelation of Christ the Messiah written in the stars.

 

Bibliography: The Witness of the Stars
E. W. Bullinger

       

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