The author thanks the following for help in compiling this work. Pastor
John Robert Stevens, deceased; Pastors Gary and Marilyn Hargrave; The
Living Word, a fellowship of Churches (thelivingword.org); many true
believers I have been associated with over the years; and The Libronix
Bible Study System;
Author: Kenneth B. Alexander, BSL, JD, Ministry
scriptures are from The New American Standard Bible, 1995 ed. unless
These are a collection of articles written under the hand of the Lord to
reveal some of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God which are not usually
taught in most denominational churches today. This is further
showing of deep foundational truths so one can enter the highest level
of the coming age of Christ’s rule on earth. The road to perfection,
which is what God longs for, is a narrow road. Few there be that pass on
it. Christ said: “Enter ye in at the strait [narrow] gate:
for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction,
and many there be which go in there Because strait is the gate, and
narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it”
Well you say I am a born again Christian and have accepted Jesus as my
Savior. Isn’t that enough to get me to heaven? The answer is that what
we call “basic salvation” is just the beginning to a real walk with God.
Yes you that have saved will obtain a measure of eternal life. But
beyond that are many things you must learn, which things involve a
continuing salvation process that brings you into perfection; and not
necessarily after you physically die.
More than anything God is after a relationship with you like He had with
the first humans in the Garden. There He spoke face to face with them in
the cool of the night. The first humans were babies in their overall
spiritual development and God had much to teach them. We who are saved
are in much the same place. God has much to reveal to us and much more
He would like us to become. He desires us to become Sons of God, like
the first Son Jesus Christ. Together Christ and His brethren, us, form
the Father’s family that he longs for.
At the last supper Christ made it clear to His disciples that they had
much to learn when He was gone He would send the “helper”, the Holy
Spirit to teach them many things. He said: “When the Helper [
Gr paracletos, one called alongside to help, comforter, advocate,
comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that the Spirit of
truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and
you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the
beginning” (John 15:26-27). “But I tell you the truth, it is to
your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper
[paracletos] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him
to you” (John 16:7).
Christ was not speaking to babes. He was speaking to disciples who had
been with Him for 31/2 years; they had cast out demons, healed people
and done other mighty works. But Christ said He had more to teach them,
through the helper that was to come, the Holy Spirit. Christ’s ministry
was within a 30 mile radius of His home yet he wanted the gospel to go
to the end of the earth. He wanted His disciples to do greater works
than He did (John 14:12). He wanted the disciples to reduplicate
themselves and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
“To whom would He teach knowledge, And to whom would He interpret the
message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just taken from the
breast? “For He says, Order on order, order on order, Line on line, line
on line, A little here, a little there.’ ”Indeed, He will speak to this
people Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue,” (Isaiah
This Book is one more line upon line, precept on precept so we can all
reach perfection in the Lord as He desires.
THE CREATION OF HEAVEN AND
The question about the events surrounding the creation of the heavens
and the earth has been the subject of much consideration and speculation
over the ages. All civilizations and cultures have their own creation
stories or myths. Most theories involve a creation born out of violence,
usually between warring gods. The ancient Sumerians depicted a great
battle between Tiamit and Marduke, resulting in the remains of Tiamit
being spread over the heavens, resulting in the creation of the
universe. Marduke became their god supreme. Both the Greeks
and Romans had myths of great conflicts between the Gods. Native
Americans have stories varying between tribes. Most creation stories
contain a flood, similar to Noah’s flood, as depicted in the Bible. It
is beyond the scope of this article to study each creation story of the
various civilizations. Science today challenges all of the
accounts by explaining creation by scientific processes involving no
god(s) at all. Science for the large part places the Genesis account of
creation, the most popular, as one more myth to be disregarded. But 21st
century science cannot explain, hard as it may try, how the universe was
created out of nothing.
The Bible makes it clear: “By faith we understand that the worlds
were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made
out of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Creation was
created like everything else-by a Word from God.
“big bang” is the currently accepted scientific theory of the origin of
the creation of all things. That may have actually been the way
God initiated creation. Cosmologists theorize that the universe resulted
from an explosion which originated from an infinitely dense piece of
compressed matter/energy over 14 billion years ago. The resulting
“explosion” created everything we see and do not see of the universe
today. Science can mathematically calculate what occurred after this
“big bang”, even down to down to the -10-41 power of a second (a decimal
with 41 zeros to the right of it called a Plank’s second). They can
explain by mathematical physics how this explosion gradually formed into
stars, galaxies and solar systems. But beyond that they do not know what
ignited the “bang” or how that piece of matter/ energy got there in the
first place. In refusing to accept the fact that creation was initiated
by God out of nothing, theories have been developed specifically to
avoid accepting that fact. Some theories involve parallel universes,
colliding membranes (called banes), theories involving extra dimensions
and many more. Some absurd theories suggest that what we see and live in
is nothing more than a hologram projected from the edge of the universe.
Another says we are living in a computer generated world created by some
form of humanity living in the future. Still another postulates that
creation itself is comprised only of mathematical equations. And of
course others say we were populated by extraterrestrial means. The list,
believe it or not, goes on. These alternate explanations, however, are
just theories, originating from the mind of men, and not proven.
know there was a starting point to creation and a mathematical
probability of an ending point. Science has made strides in
understanding the cosmos in the last 400 years, especially in the last
40 years. However as science seems to close in on understanding visible
matter in the universe, they have recently discovered that as much as
96% of the universe is comprised of energy and mass that we cannot see
or explain (i.e. dark matter, dark energy). All our scientific knowledge
of anything cosmological, astronomical or even on a quantum level is
based on the less than 10% of the visible universe.
has begun to explore the heavens with sophisticated telescopes, and can
now see visible matter billions of light years away. Man has ventured
out to explore the closest planets, in our solar system, which rotate
around one sun of billions that comprise our Milky Way galaxy. But
beyond our galaxy lie billions of other galaxies which also comprise
billions of stars themselves. Man has no technology to personally travel
to any of our closest planets (man has reached the moon) let alone
reaching our nearest star. Neither has science solved the elusive
“theory of everything” which is thought to exist within the atom,
combining magnetic, strong and weak forces with gravity. Man is
discovering a variety of particles that comprise the atom but cannot
understand their function or purpose. If nature alone created all we can
see it certainly left no easy clues as to the very nature of its
same is true of Darwin’s theory of the evolution of life. His theory
still cannot explain how the first organism formed into something
“alive” and eventually evolved into man. Science speculates that life
originated in a primordial soup of elements necessary for life that
somehow mixed themselves together and became “alive”. This theory
explains life as a “roll of the cosmic dice”, when conditions were just
right for this chemical mixture to become “alive”. However, to this day
scientists cannot, by mixing these various chemicals together in ideal
conditions, create anything “living”. Science can manipulate what
already exists by rearranging genes etc. but it can’t create life or
even understand what “life” is.
sum up, the mind of unspiritual man, no matter how hard it tries, knows
little and can never know the mind of God. He cannot accept what should
be obvious. God said: “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”
(Isaiah 55:8-9). And: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom
and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways
past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath
been his counsellor?”
(Romans 11:33-34). Even Job in his agony knew this: “It is God who
removes the mountains, they know not how, When He overturns them in His
anger; Who shakes the earth out of its place, And its pillars
tremble; Who commands the sun not to shine, And sets a seal upon the
stars; Who alone stretches out the heavens And tramples down
the waves of the sea; Who makes the Bear, Orion and the Pleiades, And
the chambers of the south; Who does great things, unfathomable,
And wondrous works without number. “Were He to pass by me, I would not
see Him; Were He to move past me, I would not perceive Him. “Were He to
snatch away, who could restrain Him? Who could say to Him, ‘What are
You doing?” (Job 9:5-12).
THE CREATION ACCORDING TO GENESIS
Genesis, the first book of the Christian and Jewish Bible, starts with
the story of creation as follows: “In the beginning God created the
heavens and the earth. The question becomes: just what did God
create at this time. The Hebrew word for “heaven(s) is "samayim” which
is used throughout the Bible in a variety of contexts. However when the
word is coupled with the earth (heaven and earth) it defined
differently. The term “heaven and earth” are meant to refer to God’s
creation in its entirety. While the term can be used to denote the sky,
atmosphere etc. the most likely meaning in Genesis 1 is that “samayan”
is used to denote God’s dwelling in order to separate that place form
earth, which has been given to man.
Psalm 115:15-16 says: “May you be blessed of the
Lord, Maker of heaven and
earth. The heavens are the heavens of the
Lord, But the earth He
has given to the sons of men”. In this case Sayamim and earth serve
as a contrasting pair. This theme of the distinction of God’s ways
(those of heaven) and humanity weaves its way throughout the Bible.
Isaiah 55:8-9 is clear on this point: “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”. While the term heaven, as used
in Genesis, could incorrectly to refer to the universe, with its vast
stars and galaxies, we must note that God relegates the creation of the
universe (the Sun, Moon and stars) to later passages in Genesis.
we read: “The earth was formless [waste and emptiness] and
void, and darkness was over the surface [face of] of the deep,
and the Spirit of God was moving [hovering]
over the surface of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2, NASV). There has
been much theological and scientific discussion of the passages Genesis
1 & 2). Those who cling to the idea that the Bible says the heavens and
the earth were created in seven days are misreading Genesis 1-2. There
is no time specified between versus 1 &2. These verses are entirely
separate from subsequent verses that deal with the further details of
creation. Verse 1 says that in the beginning God created the heavens and
the earth and does not say He did it in seven days. In verse 2 we skip
forward and find the earth in a state of being formless and void. The
time gap between verse 1 and 2 is not stated, and from our standpoint
(God knows no time) the period could have been countless eons. We do not
even get to the seven days of creation until later in the passage and
subsequent verses do not include versus 1 or 2.
idea that the heavens and the earth were created in seven calendar days
seems to belie belief and physical evidence. However many still believe
that was the case. One Archbishop Ussher (1580-1656) held to this idea
of a recent creation. He purported to construct a time-line of creation
based on events which occurred in known human history and the time
between them. Using 1 A.D. (C.E.) as a starting point, he counted
backwards until he reached the year 4004 and stopped because at that
time there was no more recorded human history. He did not imply that
4004 was the year of creation; he had just reached the end of recorded
human history. However some have adopted this date as the year of
Verses 1-2 clearly mention the heaven and the earth. As we have pointed
out above the Hebrew word for heaven “Shamayim” or “shameh” can mean any
number of things, taking it standing alone without being identified with
earth (heaven and earth) i.e. the physical universe outside earth, the
sky, where the birds fly and a spiritual realm where God lives. The word
for earth is “Erets” which means the physical earth and all it
comprises. No time frame is mentioned that indicates the space of time
between when God made the “heavens and the Earth” and when He found the
earth in a totally devastated state (v.2).
Science, from a mathematical standpoint, calculates the age of the
universe to be approximately 14 billion years. According to science, out
of the energy/matter of creation, the earth was formed some 8 billion
years later. In that respect there is no real conflict between God and
science on the point that a long period of time elapsed between God the
time God created the heavens and the earth. It could have been billions
of years (as man perceives time).
could have used any methodology to create all things. Scripture says:
“I, the Lord, am the maker
of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out
the earth all alone,” (Isaiah 24:24). And:
“Surely My hand founded the earth, And My right hand spread out the
heavens;” (Isaiah 48:13). And again: “Thus says God the
Lord, Who created the
heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its
offspring,” (Isaiah 42:5).
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. (2 Peter 3:8). 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”. These scriptures are
clearly allegorical but they state clearly that time to God is not how
man computes time.
interpreters say that the term “a thousand years” is simply a number
meaning “ultimate perfection” (10 x 10 x 10 = 1,000). Wiersbe, Warren
W., The Bible Exposition Commentary, Victor Books, 1996. The Bible
Knowledge Commentary states as follows: God counts time differently
than does man. People see time against time; but God sees time against
eternity. In fact time only seems long because of man’s finite
perspective. With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a
thousand years are like a day”. Other commentators simply regard a
thousand years as simply “a very long time” capable of any
interpreting 2 Peter 3:8-9 Matthew Henry states: “ The truth which
the apostle asserts—that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years,
and a thousand years are as one day. Though, in the account of men,
there is a great deal of difference between a day and a year, and a vast
deal more between one day and a thousand years, yet in the account of
God, who inhabits eternity, in which there is no succession, there is no
difference; for all things past, present, and future, are ever before
him, and the delay of a thousand years cannot be so much to him as the
deferring of any thing for a day or an hour is to us. (Matthew
Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Complete and Abridged in One
Volume, 2 Peter 8-9).
Again, since there is no time mentioned in verse 2 of the time that
elapsed between verse 1 and verse 2, we only know that at the time of
verse 2, the earth had been created. It is cited therein that “the earth
was without form and void”. The Hebrew word for “without form or void”
is ‘Saraph” which means: to be “on fire, to destroy by fire, to cremate,
complete destruction of objects and cities, futility, waste,
nothingness, void and destroyed”. We know nothing of what could have
occurred to render earth into that catastrophic state. We know nothing
of what occurred from the time it was created until it reached its
condition depicted in verse 2. Given that God immediately began to
restore it to a reasonable condition as he found it at that time tells
us nothing of what had gone on before.
Therefore we must conclude that time is computed by God differently than
time is perceived by man. Computing time is just one more instance where
man can never understand the ways of God nor what time means to Him.
Therefore references to time in the context of eras or epochs do not
necessarily reflect periods of time as man understands them. Peter’s
reference to a day being like a thousand years to God, and vice versa,
renders computation of times mentioned in the Bible essentially
meaningless or perhaps more correctly allegorical.
also must understand that Genesis was never meant to be a historical or
scientific Book. Its composition is more lyrical than scientific. It is
actually a song of praise to God who created the wonders of the heavens
and the earth. The Book is primarily a prose narrative, punctuated by
poetic verse here and there. Much of the prose is of lyrical quality,
using figures of speech and other devices that characterize the world’s
finest epic literature. It does portray, however, what God wanted to
convey as to the origin of what would culminate in the birth and
ministry of His Son Jesus Christ, the Savior of an otherwise futile
Verses 3-5 of Genesis state: “Then God said, “Let there be light”;
and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God
separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and
the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was
morning, one day”. On the second “day” He creates: “Then God
said, “Let there be an expanse [firmament] the midst of the
waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” God made the
expanse [firmament], and separated the waters which were below
the expanse [firmament] from the waters which were above the
expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse [firmament]
heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day”.
In this case we can infer that the use of the Hebrew “Shamayim” refers
to a physical heaven of some kind: a sky or in this case a “Firmament”.
Firmament is from the Vulgate "firmamentum", which is used as the
translation of the Hebrew "raki<a". This word means simply
“expansion.” It denotes the space or expanse like an arch appearing
immediately above us. The language of Scripture is not scientific but
popular, and hence we read of the sun rising and setting, and also hear
the use of this particular word. It is plain that it was used to denote
solidity as well as expansion. It formed a division between the waters
above and the waters below (Gen. 1:7). The
supported the upper reservoir (Ps. 148:4). It was the support also of
the heavenly bodies (Gen. 1:14), and is spoken of as having “windows”
and “doors” (Gen. 7:11; Isa. 24:18; Mal. 3:10) through which the rain
and snow might descend. (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).
Heaven, as used here, which God called the firmament or expanse, is
likened to a massive transparent dome that covers the earth in the
mystical world view of the ancient Hebrews. The blue color of the sky
was attributed to the chaotic waters that the firmament separated from
the earth (Gen. 1:7). The earth was thus surrounded by waters above and
below (Deut. 5:8). The firmament was thought to be substantial; it had
pillars (Job 26:11) and foundations (2 Sam. 22:8; Harper’s Bible
Dictionary). It still suggests a distance between heaven and earth as an
inconceivable distance, yet not an impassable gulf, as there is between
heaven and hell. This firmament is not a wall of partition, but a way
for the two realms to communicate. It is the visible heaven, the
pavement of the holy city; above the firmament God is said to have his
throne (Ezekiel 1:26), for he has prepared it in the heavens; the
heavens therefore are said to rule (Dan. 4:26). The so called “Lord’s
prayer” begins with “Our Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). The
height of the heavens should remind us of God’s supremacy and the
infinite distance between us and him; the brightness of the heavens and
their purity should remind us of his glory, and majesty, and perfect
holiness; the vastness of the heavens, their encompassing of the earth,
and the influence they have upon it, should remind us of his immensity
and universal providence.
that the light created on this second day was not light from the sun, as
the sun is not created until the fourth day. On the third day: “Then
God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one
place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. God called the dry
land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw
that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation,
plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after
their kind with seed in them”; and it was so. The earth brought
forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees
bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that
it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a third day”
can see so far that the “days” God was speaking about were not what we
consider days now as there was no alternating light and dark as the sun
and moon had not yet been created. Without that reference to the
computation of time we have no guide as to the length of the days
designated through 1:3 in Genesis. The Hebrew Term for “day” is “yom”
and in addition to being referred to as a physical day, it can also
refer to an unspecified period of time (Mounce’s Complete Expository
Dictionary, William D. Mounce, Zonderman, 2006).The Greek
noun “hemera” (used in the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament Bible)
can also mean an unspecified amount of time as well as a literal day. It
appears that the term “day” is used by God to show an order of creation
that was understandable to the reader, instead of millenniums of time,
or even billions of years. Time is a creation of God which began at a
finite moment in eternity. God is eternal and no one knows what came
before (if there can even be a before in the context of eternity). It is
as if God carved out a section of eternity and made it time. Since
Genesis is the first book of the Law (Torah) God is teaching man the
order in which he will live in creation, which comprises seven days
including the Sabbath.
goes on with His creation: “Then God said, “Let there be lights
[luminaries, light bearers] in the expanse of the heavens to
separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for
seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the
expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. God
made the two great lights, [luminaries, light bearers]
the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to
govern the night; He made the stars also”. “God placed them in
the expanse [firmament] of the heavens to give light on the
earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light
from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and
there was morning, a fourth day” (Genesis 1:13-19). Thus it was not
until this fourth day of creation that a human day was governed by the
sun and the moon.
the fifth and sixth day God made all the living things that were to
inhabit His earth including man on the sixth day. At each point He
paused to notice that what He had created was “good”, including man.
recall that after God created the Earth that He found it in a state of
being formless and void (described above). We don’t know how it came to
be that way but with the Spirit of God hovering over it, God remade the
earth into a place where He called it and all creation “good”. Later,
after the Garden of Eden, it was returned to a futile state, the state
we live in now.
can see that the scientific explanation for creation, and God’s account,
do not differ fundamentally from each other. The order of creation from
a scientific view follows God’s order in sequence. In the beginning God
made heaven and earth, the stars, the sun and moon, then the plant life,
then animal life and finally man. One thing science has done is maximize
the stars and the universe over the earth where God places little
emphasis on the physical universe. Earlier He said “and he made the
stars also” almost as an afterthought.
Modern science tends to minimize the importance of the earth in the
overall scheme of things in the universe because they say the earth is a
small insignificant piece of creation placed in an insignificant place
in an ordinary galaxy. However God places great emphasis on the earth.
For all we know, the earth may be the most important place in the
universe. There is no real proof we have ever been visited by
extraterrestrial beings, if they exist at all. From all the heavenly
bodies we have visited or observed we have found none even remotely
similar to earth. The great schism which has developed between God and
science has been that science has set about to minimize the importance
of the earth in relation to the vast cosmos. The Bible speaks of the
heavens and the earth in the same breath and in most cases minimizes the
importance of the heavens (that is the physical universe).
scripture speaks of the destruction of the universe in a way that
diminishes the importance of the physical universe. “And all the
host of heaven will wear away, And the sky will be rolled up like a
scroll; All their hosts will also wither away As a leaf withers from the
vine,” (Isaiah 34:4). And: “The sky was split apart like a
scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved
out of their places” (Revelation 6:14). Matthew Henry in his
authoritative commentary says: “Look up to the visible heavens above,
which have continued hitherto, and seem likely to continue, but they
shall vanish like smoke that soon spends itself and disappears; they
shall be rolled like a scroll, and their lights shall fall like leaves
in autumn” (quoting Isaiah 51:4). It is true that science predicts
the ultimate demise of the universe but at a point so far into the
future that it is not really relevant to us living today. The Bible
points to a possible imminent destruction of the heavens.
know the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) was hovering over the earth to try
once again to return earth to its former heavenly state, as recorded in
the remainder of the Bible. According to scripture, Adam and Eve lived
on a perfect earth. They had need of nothing. God was constantly
present. After their sin and removal from this perfect world, they were
cast into a world which was under futility (Genesis Chapter 3).
Banishing Adam and Eve from one state of being to another God said:
“To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in
childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire
will be for your husband, And he will rule over you” (Gen. 3:16).
to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your
wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying,
‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In
toil [sorrow] you will eat of it All the days of your life. “Both
thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants
of the field; By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you
return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are
dust And to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:16-19).
Thus death and futility were born. God had good reason to take the first
humans from a world of Paradise to a world of futility: “Behold, the
man has become like one of Us [Father, Son and Holy Spirit],
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. So He drove the man out; and at the
east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming
sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of
life” (Gen. 3:22-24). What He did, knowing now the propensity of
man for evil, was He placed man in a limited place so his evil would not
have the enduring, eternal effect it would have had had otherwise.
was created to be an eternal being, in the image of God. But because of
sin and disobedience he was made subject to futility and death, as we
all are today. One need only look around at the state of earth as it
writhes in the grips of futility. Nothing is permanent. Nothing has any
lasting significance. Kingdoms come and go. Everything wears out. Even
scientifically the entire universe will wear out and die eventually if
left to its current course. All of medical science can only cure disease
long enough for its patients to eventually die at a later time.
the Apostle said in Romans 8:20-2: “For the creation was subjected to
futility,”. Futility is variously defined as: “of no avail,
useless, dismal, fruitless, ineffectual, pointless, and vain and the
quality of producing no valuable effect” (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary,
state of futility is aptly described by King Solomon in his book
“Vanity of vanities,” [futilities of futilities] says the
“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” [futility]
What advantage does man have in all his work
Which he does under the sun?
A generation goes and a generation comes,
But the earth remains forever.
Also, the sun rises and the sun sets;
And hastening to its place it rises there again...
All things are wearisome;
Man is not able to tell it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor is the ear filled with hearing.
That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one might say,
“See this, it is new”?
Already it has existed for ages
Which were before us.
There is no remembrance of earlier things;
And also of the later things which will occur,
There will be for them no remembrance
Among those who will come later still. (Ecclesiastes 2-11).
However futility is not to be the permanent state of creation. Paul the
Apostle said in Romans 8:20-22: “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”. Creation was subjected to futility not of it is own will but
because of the will of God. But God retained a hope it would return to
its glorious state. There remains a promise that the Sons of God will
release creation from its divinely imposed futility.
hope is first voiced in Genesis 3:14-15. The serpent that deceived Eve
was Satan (Revelation 12:9). In the Garden God spoke to the “serpent of
old” as follows: “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more
than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly
you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 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” (Gen. 3:14-15). What God was saying
was that the seed of the woman (Jesus Christ) would crush Satan’s head
killing him, which He did on the cross. Although Satan would bruise the
heal of the Son, the Son would initiate the fatal blow.
“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”
the end the original sin is forgotten and creation is made new again. In
the Book of Revelation John says: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new
earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there
is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned
for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying,
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among
them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,
and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no
longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying,
or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the
throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
(Revelation 21:1-5). So just as God made all things new when He found
the earth in a formless and chaotic state in Genesis, so again He makes
all things new at the end of the age and the end of time.
ALWAYS RETURN TO YOUR FIRST
In the Bible Book of Revelation John wrote to the church at Ephesus as
follows: “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance
[steadfastness], and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put
to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and
you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have
endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. ‘But I have this
against you, that you have left your first love. ‘Therefore remember
from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at
first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out
of its place—unless you repent”
At first glance
the church at Ephesus had everything going for it. They toiled for the
Lord with great perseverance and steadfastness. The churches of Christ
were, at that time, under great persecution by the Roman Empire and by
orthodox Jewish sects. It took great strength and perseverance just to
exist as a body of believers, let alone engage in the monumental task of
spreading the word of God. God recognized and commended them for that
church had apparently been infiltrated by false prophets and some who
called themselves Apostles. At that time the church was under assault by
various groups and men who advocated doctrines other than the true
gospel of Christ. Among them were the Gnostics who were a false sect who
taught a doctrine of “secret knowledge” as a means to salvation. They
denied that Jesus was the Christ and battled Paul throughout his
ministry. Also present were the aesthetic Jews who wanted to mix
Christianity with elements of the Jewish Law, and legalism which
pervaded Israel during the time of Christ. Other groups preached
mystical doctrines that conditioned righteousness on what men ate drank
or how they conducted themselves in various rituals such as washings,
fastings, and other natural observances such as new moon festivals etc.
Others taught angel worship (See the Books of Colossians and Galatians,
wherein Paul opposed these types of intruding religions). The Ephesian
church had the perception to weed out these evil influences from their
midst and adhere to the true gospel taught them by John.
Further they had endured, even while being under the greatest
persecution the early church had faced during that time. One of Satan’s
greatest tactics of spiritual warfare was and is to “wear down” those
pursuing Christ, as noted by Daniel in 7:25: “He [Satan] will
speak words against the Most High and wear down the saints [holy
ones] of the Highest One” Yet God commends the Ephesian church
for enduring and not becoming weary; they refused to be worn down by the
continual assault of the enemy.
Therefore it appeared the Ephesian church had done everything right.
What could God possibly have against such a faithful, victorious church?
I am sure the church thought they were doing very well themselves.
However, as one reads on in the scripture, God had something against
them that was so important that it could lead to their very destruction
if left uncorrected. They had left their first love. They were so
focused on doing works, enduring, weeding out evil and being steadfast
that they had forgotten why they were doing it all in the first place.
First and foremost God requires that we love Him first, before all other
things. An Israelite lawyer, one who knew and practiced the Law of
Moses, asked Christ the following question:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He [Jesus]
said to him, “ ‘You shall
love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your mind.’
“This is the great and foremost [first] commandment” (Matthew
Certainly this world, in all its various pursuits, has completely lost
touch with God in most cases. The human intellect and man’s soulish
pursuits of pleasure have erased God from any consideration in the
hearts of men. But here God is not speaking to humanity in general—He is
speaking to a faithful, steadfast, perceptive Christian church that
despite all their good works will lose out with God unless He becomes
their only priority.
The Kingdom of God is all about having a personal relationship with God.
It is about love—loving Him first before anything else. He is a jealous
God. When one of His chosen focuses on something other than Him He
becomes enraged and reacts violently. This is all too evident in the way
He treated the nation of Israel, as recorded in the Old Testament. When
Israel would begin to focus on other things, like the gods of the
surrounding nations, God would judge them severely. He would react as
would any jealous lover when he/she is betrayed. Jealous rages account
for a majority of murders in society. God judged His chosen nation of
Israel many times for their apostasy.
Over and over in the scriptures God likens Israel, His chosen nation, to
being an unfaithful bride or to whoredom (see the Book of Hosea for
example). That is not to say that He likened the Ephesian church to
whoredom but the principle is the same. Anything that rivals God for His
affections is something that displeases Him no matter how good the
intentions. No one can argue that the Ephesian church had good
intentions in doing everything they knew to please God. Yet in all their
doing, they somehow lost their bearings and forgot for whom they were
doing all these good things.
Many Christian churches of today are involved in many kinds of good
works intended to please God. Missionary movements spread good will
throughout the earth. Churches engage in political activist movements
intended to influence legislation to reflect what they think God wants.
Many churches are so involved in doing what they think is the will of
God that they forget that all He wants is for them to love Him. The
works come, if at all, out of that love relationship. Without
manifestation of the pure, unadulterated spiritual love of God, works
designed to please Him are worthless—they are called “dead works”
(Hebrews 6:1, 9:14).
Revelation speaks of the seven lampstands surrounding the throne of God
which some say are representative of the seven churches spoken to by
John (Revelation chapters 2-3), including the Ephesian church
(Revelation 1:12-13). The Ephesians were doing so well that, according
to the scripture, they already had a lampstand in place surrounding the
throne of Christ. However, despite all the good works being done by the
Ephesian church, God threatened to remove their lampstand from among the
seven unless they repented and returned to love Him first. As harsh as
this may seem to the human mind, it is sadly symbolic of the nature of
God who wants to be put first in everything. He seems to say that if all
we do is love Him, with all our hearts, that that one act is in and of
itself sufficient to please Him. Only out of that love comes our love
for our neighbor and all of the wonderful works He intends to accomplish
on the earth, the foremost work being the establishing of the Kingdom of
God (Matthew 6:10).
We don’t take this word with any condemnation that we have somehow
failed Him by not loving Him first. We know that loving Him with all our
hearts is only made possible by His gift of grace. We simply accept the
gift. We love you first, Lord. We love you first because you first loved
us (1 John 4:19). This is impossible for us but with God all things are
possible (Mark 9:23, 10:27; Matthew 19:26).
GOD SEES THE FUTURE
God is essentially unlimited, and every element of his nature is
infinite. His infinity in relation to time we call his
eternity, in relation to space his omnipresence, in relation
to knowledge his omniscience, and in relation to power his
omnipotence. God is eternal, all-present, all-knowing and
all-powerful. Omnipresence means He is present everywhere at the
same time. Omniscience is infinite knowledge.
Omnipotence means having unlimited authority or power.
At the same time God’s infinity implies his immanence. By this we
mean his all-pervading presence and power within his creation (cf.
Ps. 139). He does not stand apart from the world, a mere spectator of
the work of his hands. He pervades everything, organic and inorganic,
acting from within outwards, from the centre of every atom, and from the
innermost springs of thought and life and feeling, in a continuous
sequence of energizing effect. God is pure spirit (John 4:24). When we
say that God is infinite spirit, we pass completely out of the reach of
our experience. We are limited as to time and place, as to knowledge and
power. His infinity likewise means that God is transcendent over
his universe. It emphasizes his distinctness as self-existing spirit,
from all his creatures. He is not shut in by what we call nature, but
infinitely exalted above it (Wood, D. R. W. ; Marshall, I. Howard:
New Bible Dictionary. 3rd ed. Leicester, England; Downers Grove,
Ill. : InterVarsity Press, 1996, S. 418).
Scripture confirms this. “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a
great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty
thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!”
(Revelation 19:6). And: “Do you people think that I am some
local deity and not the transcendent [omnipresent]
God?” the Lord asks”
“Do you really think anyone can hide himself where I cannot see
him?” the Lord asks. “Do
you not know that I am everywhere?” (Jeremiah 23:23-24, NLT).
Romans 11:33-36 (KJV) says this about God: “O the depth of the riches
both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His
judgments, and HIS WAYS PAST FINDING OUT! For who hath known the mind of
the Lord? or who hath been his counselor? Or who hath first given to
him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through
him, and to him, are all things: to whom be the glory forever. Amen”
(also Isaiah 40:13; Job 36:22).
order to understand predestination as it applies to God and this current
creation we must realize that from the inception of creation God had a
plan. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis
1:1). He created those things, not in the abstract, but with a
predetermined plan. Man always poses the question “Why are we here?” and
or “What does this all mean?”. If you were to ask that question of God,
He could give you an answer. It may not be the answer you were looking
for but it would be the correct answer nevertheless. The answer is that
He is looking for a Kingdom on earth that would duplicate what already
existed, and has existed for eternity, in heaven, the Spirit realm of
God. As Jesus said, as he was teaching the multitudes how to pray:
“Thy [the Father’s] Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as
it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
With that in mind God set about to create His physical Kingdom where
nothing material had existed before. He created the earth, the
cosmos, the plants, animals and all the things necessary to provide a
suitable environment for man, the crowning achievement of His creation.
He created man (from the earth) and then woman from the man. He set them
in the physical Paradise on earth which resembled heaven (the spiritual
realm) in that in that it was perfect in every respect. Adam and Eve
were babies in this new creation but God planned to multiply them to
fill His creation which, upon completion, He had called “good”. “God
saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis
However God did not want a "robotic” creation where man would just carry
out His predetermined plan with no say in the matter. He wanted
man to have a choice in the matter. He wanted a creation of man who
would “choose” to be part of God’s plan. Psalm 110:3 describes what God
wanted: “Your people will volunteer freely [be freewill
offerings] in the day of Your power;”. So God gave man a
freewill where He was not required to fulfill God’s plan of destiny but
could choose which way to go.
God gave man everything he could have ever wanted or desired in this
perfect creation He had The Garden tailor made just for them. So great
was God’s expectations that He intended one day they would rule His
entire creation, temporal and spiritual. Man would even rule angels. But
He gave man only one test. “The
Lord God commanded the
man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but
from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for
in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis
Genesis says: “Now the serpent [Satan disguised as a serpent,
see Revelation 12:9, 20:2) 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’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit
of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree
which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat
from it or touch it, or you will die.’ ” The serpent said to the woman,
“You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it
your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and
evil.” 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 [to
know good and evil]” (Genesis 3:1-7).
Now the fact that they ate of the forbidden fruit was not in and of
itself bad. God, as they matured, would at some time have explained in
more detail about good and evil. But the fatal fact was that they had
sinned, disobeyed God, and thus were forever polluted by that sin and
could no longer remain in the Garden. The way God set up the creation
was that “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Even in
the Old Testament it was set up that way. If a man was to keep the law,
he had to keep the whole law because even one violation, without
forgiveness, was death (Galatians 5:3). At that point there was no
provision for the forgiveness of sin and the penalty had to be carried
God had only one thing to do in the case of Adam and Eve, in view of the
fact that now knew sin, good and evil. “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. So
He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He
stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every
direction to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:22-24).
If He would have left man in his current condemned state, and had he
lived forever, God’s plan would have been ruined eternally and he would
have had no choice but to abandon the plan completely and destroy the
creation he had so carefully completed. Sin left completely unchecked
for eternity would have been nothing but disaster.
So God cursed the ground and subjected man to a state called futility in
order that his now apparent evil tendencies could be controlled until He
could put into action another plan for obtaining the Kingdom He wanted.
He subjected creation to a futile state but not without hope that He
would still get what He wanted. As the Apostle Paul put it later:
“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). God had not abandoned His plan. He had modified it in
hope that He would get what He wanted in the end when the children of
God were revealed.
God in His condemnation of the serpent, man and woman left open that
door of hope. The Lord said to the serpent (Satan): “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). The seed of the woman was of course
Jesus Christ who, by His death and resurrection, would crush Satan on
the head, although Satan would bruise His heel in the struggle. Once
that occurred, the provision for God’s perfect Kingdom would become a
reality again and a potential for any and all to reach into.
So because of the original sin God subjected creation to futility. In a
sense the door was opened for evil to become a part of human society but
the extent of the penetration of evil was limited by earth being in a
futile state. Creating death was a big part of His containment process.
No one could live long enough to perpetrate enough evil to destroy
Futility (sometimes mistranslated as vanity) is variously defined as:
serving no useful purpose, completely ineffective, occupied with
trifles, producing no result, completeness of failure or un-wisdom of
undertaking or failure to achieve a desired result. Fruitless comes
close to vanity but often suggests long and arduous effort or severe
disappointment. Other words to describe the condition are: barren of
results, abortive, bootless, fruitless, ineffective, ineffectual,
unavailable, unavailing, unprevailing, unproductive, useless, vain,
empty, hollow, idle, nugatory, otiose, inadequate, inefficacious,
inefficient, insufficient, unsatisfactory and unsuccessful. Contrasted
words are effectual, efficacious, fruitful; advantageous, beneficial,
profitable (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 11th Ed. and
Futility indicates the fruitlessness of human endeavors as being the
result of man’s natural life. King Solomon, reputed to be the wisest man
of his time, wrote extensively on futility in his Book of Ecclesiastes.
He says: “Vanity of vanities, [futility of futilities]” says
the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” [futility].
What advantage does man have in all his work Which he does under the
sun?... All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it. The eye
is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing. That
which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is
that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun”
(Ecclesiastes see 1:2-11). He goes on to proclaim as futile all of man’s
endeavors in life including the acquiring if wisdom, pleasure and
possessions, the futility of labor, futility of the evils of oppression
by the rich over the poor, the folly of riches and generally the
futility of life. He mentions the word vanity or futility 10 or more
times in the book.
We can see the effects of this futility in our daily lives and in the
course of history over the last 5000 years. Empires rise and empires
fall, from the pinnacle to virtual extinction in a matter of a few
centuries. Nothing is permanent. Most of humanity lives in virtual
slavery to a few who hold all the power. Joy is fleeting. Happiness is
momentary. Grief and sickness abound. Dreams and visions fail or fall
short. Needless killing and wars dominate. Economies fail and starvation
and famine abound. We can have great scientific advances but they do not
solve economic or social problems. This is futility but we do not often
see it because we don’t know anything else. If you can accept it,
futility is God’s holding period until He can complete His plan for a
perfect Kingdom where futility is finally done away with.
Futility did not deter God from making steps towards His final goal.
Without reciting a detailed version of Israelite history, starting with
Abraham he created a nation whose lineage would end with the birth of a
Savior who would crush the serpent Satan, remove sin from the world,
open the door for all peoples to be reconciled back to God the Father
and to open the door to the Kingdom of God (Paradise restored).
Christ accomplished two things as it pertains to ending futility. When
God banished man from the Garden He essentially separated Himself from
humanity. Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the cross both redeemed mankind
and reconciled him to God. Redemption means deliverance from some evil
by payment of a price. In this case Christ, by sacrificing Himself on
the cross, paid the price required by God for the redemption of man, the
forgiveness of his sin. “For He [Christ] rescued us from the domain
of darkness, [separation from God] and transferred us to the kingdom of
His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”
(Colossians 1:13-14 see also Hebrews 9:12; Romans 8:23).
Reconciliation means the doing away of an enmity, the bridging over of a
quarrel. It implies that the parties being reconciled were formerly
hostile to one another. The Bible tells us bluntly that sinners are
‘enemies’ of God (Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:21; James. 4:4). By removing the sin
of man through Christ man is thus reconciled to God, removing the
enmity. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having
now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath
of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to
God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we
shall be saved by His life
Therefore Christ accomplished God’s predestined purpose for mankind, the
ultimate reconciliation of man to God by the principle of redemption.
Now, as far as individual predestination and choosing, consider the
following. Christ’s ultimate sacrifice opened up redemption for all of
mankind including every man and woman on the planet. John 3:16 says:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only [unique, one
of a kind] begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not
perish, but have eternal life”. Our predestination, according to the
scripture, is up to us individually. Bluntly, we can choose God’s free
gift of eternal life and salvation by believing on Christ or we can
refuse the gift and perish. God is not a respecter of persons where He
would favor one over another with respect to His free gift of life in
Christ (Romans 2:11; Colossians 3:25; Ephesians 6:9; 2 Chronicles 19:7).
Any and all can partake.
So the question of predestination and free will is solved. If you wish
to use your freewill to accept God’s provision then you enter into His
predestination for you for a place in His eternal Kingdom. That becomes
your predestined, predetermined destiny. So it can then be said of you:
“He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to
Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,” (Ephesians
1:5). “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become
conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn
among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called;
and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He
justified, He also glorified”
(Romans 8:29-30). “Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are
mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of
this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a
mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to
our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has
understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified
the Lord of glory;” (1 Corinthians 2:6-8).
So in a nutshell God has predestined His plan for the salvation of
mankind. This has been His plan since the beginning. Despite what
happened so long ago in the Garden God, in His love for mankind, did not
give up on that plan but completed it by the sacrifice of His Son. As
the scripture says
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to
those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”
If you are interested in more information regarding predestination, and
how God deals with the future, see the succeeding Chapter “More On
MORE ON PREDESTINATION
We could stop with the previous chapter because it addressed the bottom
line on the issue of predestination. However there are some additional
situations addressed in the Bible which bear on this issue and reveal a
bit about the character of God.
further examining the question of God’s knowledge of the future, and how
He deals with it, we must remember we are dealing with God, the creator
of the ends of the universe. His ways are past finding out to the
natural man. All man can really do to his own benefit is to ignore
speculation about this or that and realize that God can do anything,
even limit himself, when it comes to dealing with mankind. What we can
do, on a practical level, is: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways
acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5–6).
We know and have previously examined and concluded that any man’s future
is not fatalistically predestined to the point he has no control.
However, the scripture does provide some clues about how God deals with
us in His infinite omnipotentence. When we are considering God’s
knowledge of the future we have previously examined the doctrine of
predestination. God also exercises a principle of election and choosing.
Matthew 22:14 says:
“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
God chooses or invites all to walk
with Him into His Kingdom. The principle of God’s choosing is not
inconsistent with the doctrine of predestination, previously discussed.
“desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”
(2 Timothy 2:4). Thus the universal call goes out to all men. Yet, in “the
eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph.
3:11), He chooses only the elect “out of the world” (John 17:6)
and passed over the rest, leaving them to the damning consequences of
their sin (cf. Rom. 1:18–32). The culpability for their damnation rests
entirely on them because of their sin and rejection of God. God is not
to blame for their unbelief. The principle of free will still dominates.
Since “God desires all men to be saved,” we are not required to
ascertain that a person is an “elect”. God alone knows who all the elect
are (2 Timothy 2:19). We may pray “on behalf of all men” with
full assurance that such prayers are “good and acceptable in the
sight of God our Savior.” After all, “the Lord is gracious and
merciful; slow to anger and great in loving-kindness. The Lord is good
to all, and His mercies are over all His works” (Ps. 145:8–9).
In addition to the universal call to all men, God specially calls many
but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). In the context of predestination the
reason so few are chosen is because those called must “choose to be
chosen”. Once we make that choice, the call and the cost of discipleship
are fulfilled through rising in the Spirit by the grace of God to
fulfill the demands of the Lord (Stevens, John Robert: This Week,
Volume III (1972). North Hollywood, CA. : Living Word Publications,
1981, P. 88).
Thus we choose whether or not we will participate fully in His choosing
and partake of all he has to offer. God said by his prophet Isaiah in
65:12 “I will destine you for the sword, And all of you will bow
down to the slaughter. Because I called, but you did not answer; I
spoke, but you did not hear. And you did evil in My sight And chose that
in which I did not delight.” There it is again: Man is given
freewill to respond to God’s call or not.
Also God laments: “I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did
not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek
Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ To a nation which did not call on
My name. “I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious
people, Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own
thoughts” (Isaiah 65:1-2). We must conclude that His choosing is
based entirely on our response to His calling.
In another vein, if a person chooses to exercise His right to be
included in God’s predetermined plan, he must know that not everybody
receives the same reward. Jesus said: “Do not let your heart be
troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. “In My Father’s house
are many dwelling places; [mansions in KJV] if it were not so, I
would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you”
(John 14:1-2). Each individual has his own place reserved by Christ in
the Father’s house (Kingdom).
The fact that there are many levels (dwelling places) in the Kingdom is
confirmed by the Book of Revelation. One group is described by these
“And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and
forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel”
(Rev. 7:4). “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…And
they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living
creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the
one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the
earth…These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These
have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the
Lamb” (Rev. 14:1, 3-4). Thus some have a destiny of being chosen by
God to be first fruits of His Kingdom.
There is another group mentioned in connection with the first group.
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one
could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white
robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a
loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9-10). So we have one group of 144,000
which can be counted, and are sealed, and another larger group which
cannot be counted which, although saved, are not among the first fruits.
Thus there is a clear scriptural distinction between the two groups and
this is all in the choosing and predestination of God. 2 Thessalonians
1:10 also speaks of this distinction: One group is those in whom: “He
comes to be glorified
[revealed] in His saints on that
day”. And another group: “and to be marveled at among all who
There is a group, God’s Saints, THROUGH WHOM Christ will be glorified
and revealed, i.e. some will actually become like Christ, with His
nature fully formed within them. Another group, eternally saved, marvel
at God’s revelation of Himself in the Saints.
Scripture bears this out. 1 John 3:2 says: “Beloved, now we are
children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We
know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will
see Him just as He is”. There is a difference in just being a
human sinner whom God has forgiven. Many churches today gauge their
success on how many souls they have saved. And many who have been saved
think that is all that is necessary in becoming perfect. Some think “I
have been saved therefore I am going to heaven when I die” so everything
is OK. And they are right to some extent. If they have confessed Christ
as their Savior they are saved on one level. However, being saved is
just the beginning if one wants to walk in the fullness of God which is
actually becoming like Him; just like Him with His nature living within
them. Ultimately, that is the goal for those who choose to go beyond
There is a difference in being saved and being saved to the uttermost. “Wherefore
he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him,
seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).
Being saved to the uttermost means that you are actually conformed to
His image. Part of God’s predestined plan is to bring many Sons to
glory, Sons like Christ in every way. “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). “For those whom He foreknew, He
also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so
that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;” (Romans
The two groups thus become apparent in their composition. One group has
actually become conformed to the image of Christ, having become like
Him. The rest are saved, and are God’s children, but they have not
reached the ultimate level of becoming like Christ.
There is another group mentioned, which is probably the 144,000
previously mentioned. “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them,
and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had
been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the
word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image,
and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and
they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 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). These again are those who have been resurrected, like
Christ, and will rule with Him. The rest of the dead come later.
Daniel says: “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands
guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a
time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation
until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found
written in the book, will be rescued. “Many of those who sleep in the
dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the
others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. “Those who have insight
will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and
those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and
ever” (Dan. 12:1-3).
Why doesn’t God reveal the future to us? One reason is that we would not
understand it if He did. God has a unique non-human way of looking at
“Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
“Behold, I will do something NEW,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert”
The very nature of human sciences such as psychology are based on
calling to mind the past, even to childhood, in order to solve internal
conflicts. God says not to consider the past because our faulty memories
can only get us into trouble.
eye has not seen and ear has not
have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him”
(1 Corinthians 2:9; Isaiah 64:4, 65:17).
Nothing we see or our furthest imaginations cannot compare with what God
has for us on a day to day basis.
God moves, or says something to man, it is usually something the man has
never considered or imagined. It can be compared to a man wanting
and praying for a bicycle for transportation. The man may think that his
life would be fulfilled if only he had one; he may have even figured out
the color and make of the bike. So he prays for transportation and gets
up the next day to find a Lexus in the driveway. That is how God works.
He always has in mind something greater than we could ever imagine. That
is why it would be difficult to reveal future knowledge to man because
man’s thinking is skewed so as to believe in limitations rather than an
An obvious scriptural example of election and predestination is found
with the Old Testament nation of Israel. They were God’s chosen people.
In effect He said: “I am only moving on behalf of Israel; the pagan
nations can have their gods and their ways, just don’t intermingle with
them”. Is that fair or an example of Him having predestined the other
nations to destruction? Deuteronomy 4:19 says: “And beware not to
lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars,
all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve
them, those which the Lord
your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven”.
All other pagan nations founded their societies on the worship of the
cosmos and idols.
Although the nation of Israel was seemingly predestined by God to be
His special people on the earth, they never lived up to God’s
expectation of them and they were eventually cast aside. When they
served God to His satisfaction, they defeated their pagan enemies and
had times of peace. When they did not follow His law, God stirred up the
surrounding nations who would defeat Israel. God would also send famine
and pestilence. Even though Israel was predestined and elected to be
God’s people, they never obtained what he had planned for them.
Did God know the future of Israel? Yes, He even predicted it.
Lord said to Moses,
“Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers; and this people
will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into
the midst of which they are going, and will forsake Me and break My
covenant which I have made with them. “Then My anger will be kindled
against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face
from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will
come upon them; so that they will say in that day, ‘Is it not because
our God is not among us that these evils have come upon us?’ “But I will
surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will
do, for they will turn to other gods” (Deuteronomy 31:16-18). But in
this case there was a reason and Israel’s failure did not defeat God’s
overall plan. He wanted to show mankind that man, in himself, could not
fulfill the Law of God thus necessitating a Savior who could. Scripture
says the Law of Moses was out tutor to lead us to Christ. “Therefore
the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may
be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24).
is flexible in His predetermined plan.”God causes all things to
work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called
according to HIS purpose” (Romans 8:28). So God, who knows all
things, has provided a way that if we deviate from HIS predetermined
path He is able, if we choose, to re-do His predetermination to lead us
back to the right path, which is the path chosen for us to walk.
Simply because physical Israel failed to walk in what God had planned
for them did not mean that God’s predetermined purpose failed. For
purpose of explanation, the Israel referred to in the Old Testament was
the physical nation of Israel. After Christ and the initiation of the
New Covenant (Hebrews 8:7-13), physical Israel became spiritual Israel
as salvation was opened to the Jews and Gentiles alike; the Jews, the
physical nation of Israel were no longer afforded their unique position
of being God’s special, chosen nation. They were thus put on equal
footing with the Gentiles (Romans 9-11). Paul says in Romans 2:28-29
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that
which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly;
and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not
by the letter”.
God, in his great omnipotence, has the ability to choose to forget or
disregard events such as sin. In the Old Testament man was required
under the Law of Moses to continually make offerings for forgiveness of
Sin. Thus man was constantly reminded of his sin because no sacrifice of
a bull or goat erased sin completely. When Chris appeared all of
mankind’s sin was forgiven, removed and forgotten by God. “And the
Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that
I will make with them
says the Lord:
I will put My laws upon their
And on their mind I
will write them,”
He then says,
“And their sins and their
I will remember
He could remember them, but He has chosen not to.
has limited Himself with the ability to change His mind about something
He has decided will occur. Examples of God’s predestination being
changed by the intervention of man are recorded in the scriptures. In
Abraham’s time God predestined to destroy the cities of Sodom and
Gomorrah and told Abraham what he intended to do. Abraham challenged
God’s predestined future by bargaining with God, asking Him if He would
spare the cities if there were as few as 10 righteous men therein. God
agreed to do that. He turned away from what he had predestined and
promised Abraham that if there were indeed a handful of righteous men in
Sodom/Gomorrah he would relent and save the cities. He even sent angels
to assess the situation. However, in the end, the only righteous men
found were Lot and his family. The cities were destroyed but could have
had there been as few as 10 righteous men found in the cities. (Genesis
Likewise Moses saved the entire nation of Israel by intervening and
changing God’s mind about situations. As recorded in Exodus 33 God
became angry with Israel and vowed to destroy the entire nation, leaving
only Moses to carry on the chosen nation. Moses interceded with God and
God changed His mind and decided not to destroy the people. Similarly in
Numbers 21 God again became angry with Israel and set to destroy them,
sending fiery serpents among them. Moses interceded with God to stop the
carnage. God said He would relent if Moses made a bronze serpent and
held it up upon a standard. Moses did so and it came about that all who
looked upon the bronze serpent were spared. Again God changed His mind,
In the Book of Jonah God decided to destroy the wicked City if Nineveh
and sent Jonah to warn them. However, after Jonah’s warning, the entire
City decided to repent. “So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according
to the word of the
Lord. Now Nineveh was an
exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk. Then Jonah began to go
through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty
days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” Then the people of Nineveh
believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the
greatest to the least of them” (Jonah 3:3-5). “When God saw their
deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented
concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them.
And He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10).
This is consistent with the idea that anything God has predestined can
be changed. Although His overall plan is not affected, details of how He
carries it out can be changed by the intervention of men of God. Even
what is written in the Bible is not necessarily fatalistic. Perhaps God
writes a certain future but always leaves open the possibility that the
outcome can be changed by prayer and intercession. This can be true even
of the prophecies and predictions contained in the Book of Revelation.
Things do not have to be as they are predicted if man repents and
humbles himself to the Lord. In 2 Kings 20 God intended to kill King
Hezekiah by striking him with a fatal illness. The prophet Isaiah
interceded and God changed His mind and allowed the King 16 years more
wise man once said “the wicked destroy themselves”. They don’t need
intervention from God to do evil. It’s in their nature to do wrong. All
the evil in this world that denies that Christ was and is the
resurrected Son of God causes man to seek his own way rather than God’s.
Disaster is always the answer for not accepting God’s will over our own.
So we could say that man creates his own predestination. God’s
predetermination that the Kingdom of God will come on this earth never
changes. God is the driver of the buggy. If we want to ride along He is
willing to allow us (from the movie “Mulholland Drive”). The fact that
God knows the beginning from the end has no bearing on that.
Remember, God’s ways are unknowable to us in our fallen state. The only
real answers come directly from God where He lives in the realm of the
Spirit (Heaven if you will). And He reveals them only when we are ready
to receive them. So it is to us not to wonder about the future,
predestination, election and the like, but to seek God because our
salvation draws nigh. There is nothing hidden that won’t be revealed.
And all who sincerely believe in the gift of grace, eternal life is
theirs if they will only believe. If we truly believe, our life on this
earth will also be much less complicated. A wise man once said that “the
worship of God is the answer to a thousand questions”.
JESUS’ PARABLES OF THE KINGDOM
Did you know that the most important
aspect of Jesus' ministry was to preach of the coming of the Kingdom of God? A
great many of His parables were concerned with this topic. It's not hard to
recognize such parables and sayings because they usually begin with "The
Kingdom of God (or heaven, no difference) can be compared to….". We will
examine some those parables and sayings, all contained in the Gospels.
The Kingdom of God is described in
the scriptures as the coming together of the Kingdom of Heaven with the earth,
forming the ultimate Kingdom i.e. the Kingdom of God wherein God’s will is done
both in heaven and on earth (Matthew 6:10). As it now stands, Satan has been
removed from heaven and banished to earth where earth, Satan’s kingdom, stands
in opposition to God’s coming Kingdom. When the Kingdom of heaven is reconciled
to the earth it is said that the Lord will then rule the combined Kingdom with a
rod of iron (Revelation 19:15; 12:5; 2:27). The Lord, while on earth referenced
the coming of this Kingdom age and how to become a part of it, frequently using
parables, collectively called the Parables of the Kingdom. Some of these we will
The Gospels of Jesus are the first 4
books in the New Testament of the Bible. They are written by men who were either
with Christ in person as an original disciple or were with an apostle and
learned Jesus' truths. The Gospels, the word meaning in Greek "Good News", were
not biographies of Christ but were brief descriptions of His ministry on earth
as the Son of God. The Apostle John said that if everything about Jesus were
written were to have been written that "even the world itself could no
contain could not contain the books" (John 21:25). So what we have in the
Gospels is a snapshot of His ministry. But curiously they contain all we need to
know of His ministry to enter the Kingdom.
The Gospels were written by men but
all scripture we have was "inspired by God", in our case the actual words of God
spoken through mere men. What is contained in our Gospels is what God wanted us
to hear. There are many other spiritual works not included in the Bible books
but they are not necessarily what God considered essential for our walk.
The Gospels were written largely by
uneducated and/or unpopular men. Matthew was a hated Jewish tax collector, who
collected taxes for the Roman Empire. Mark was an ordinary man, a close
associate of Peter, one of the 12 disciples. John, like Peter, were fisherman.
Only Luke stands out as a learned man, being a physician, having a close
relationship with the Apostle Paul, who left his position as a learned Jewish
learned man destined to priesthood when he met Jesus in the Spirit.
When Jesus left the earth, and went
to be with the Father, he told the disciples that he would send the Helper, the
Holy Spirit, who would Glorify Christ: "He shall teach you all things, and
bring your to remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).
This is also called a "quickening" to our remembrance. Thus the writers of the
Gospels wrote the words that the Holy Spirit brought to their remembrance. They
did not speak their own words. Thus the Bible contains the literal words of
Christ quickened to the disciples remembrance, including Jesus' parables and
A parable according to Webster’s
Dictionary is: "a short allegorical story designed to convey some truth or
moral lesson" An allegory is: "an extended and elaborate metaphor”
(Unger's Bible Dictionary). Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables for the
reason that: "And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to
them in parables?" And He answered and said to them, "To you it has been granted
to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been
granted. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not
see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. But blessed are
your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear" (John
13:10-11, 13, 16).
The first recorded Kingdom parable
is: "Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell
beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. And others fell upon the
rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up,
because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were
scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And others fell
among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on
the good soil, and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some
thirty. He who has ears, let him hear." (Matthew 13:3-9). He then told the
disciples they had been granted to know the mysteries of the Kingdom,
identifying this parable as a parable of the Kingdom of God. Its meaning, as
conveyed to the disciples is contained in Matthew 13:18-23. The parable conveys
that it is the heart (the soil) that defines whether the seed grows abundantly.
There are many levels of bearing fruit according to how the heart hears and acts
upon the Word.
Jesus goes on to relate another
parable of the Kingdom: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who
sowed good seed in his field. But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and
sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprang up
and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. And the slaves of the
landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field?
How then does it have tares?' And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!' And
the slaves said to him, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?' But he
said, 'No; lest while you are gathering up the tares, you may root up the wheat
with them. 'Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of
the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them
in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn " (Matt
Here, Jesus is implying that there
are two types of forces in the earth, the evil and the good. God himself does
not deliberately create evil, but an enemy (the devil) sows evil into the world.
Rather that removing the evil from the world immediately and risk destroying the
good, He advocates waiting for the harvest when the evil and the good would be
clearly defined and the good harvested and the evil burned.
He presented another parable to
them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took
and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds; but when it is
full grown, it is larger than the garden plants, and becomes a tree, so that the
birds of the air come and nest in its branches. (Matthew 13:31-32). By this
He shows that it takes only a small amount of faith to bring forth something
great, in this case the Kingdom of God.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is
like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value,
he went and sold everything he had and bought it.”
(Matthew 13:45-46). This shows, among other things, that if you find the
Kingdom it is best to give everything you have acquired to acquire this pearl no
matter what the price. This brings remembrance to Christ’s command to leave all
and follow Him.
"He spoke another parable to
them, "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in
three pecks of meal, until it was all leavened."
(Matthew 13:33-34). Leaven or yeast is introduced into bread in a small amount
but the bacteria in it grown to a much greater size and soon encompasses the
"The kingdom of heaven is like a
treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he
goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field
(Matthew 13:44). Here a man found a treasure in a field and ended up buying the
whole field, not just the treasure alone.
"Again, "The kingdom of heaven is
like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it
was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down, and gathered the
good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. So it will be at the end
of the age; the angels shall come forth, and take out the wicked from among the
righteous, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping
and gnashing of teeth. (vs. 47-50). This spoke clearly to the disciples
since many of them were fishermen and Christ’s description of the art of fishing
was exactly how they conducted their business. He likened this process to the
separation of the bad from the good at the end of the age.
What have we learned so far about
the Kingdom of God? The sower Jesus sows the Word of God. Sometimes, depending
on man's heart, the seed sprouts and brings forth fruit of various levels of
effectiveness (30, 60, 100 fold). Sometimes the word is sown and the enemy sows
tares among it so that the wheat and tares grow together. This explains the
state of the world today wherein the good and evil are in the earth together;
but it won't be that way forever. It also explains what seems to us to be delay
in Christ's coming; He is waiting for the time of the harvest. The parable of
the fish also speaks of a separation of the good from the bad.
We also learn the value of the
Kingdom of God and that we should seek it before all else ("seek first the
Kingdom"). Jesus likens it to valuable pearls, where the merchant sold
everything he had to purchase the pearl ("leave all behind and follow me").
Similarly, the man who found the treasure in the field did not just try to dig
it up; he sold all he had to buy the entire field. That is what is required to
enter into the Kingdom.
The disciples asked Jesus to teach
them to pray. Jesus responded to them in Luke 11:2-13 and more fully quoted in
Matthew 6:9-13: "Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy
kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven" (see also Luke
11:2). Jesus continues His answer in Luke 11:5-13. He goes on to speak of the
man who went to his friend at midnight, seeking something he really needed:
bread for his family. His friend, even though he was a friend and had enough
bread, responded for his friend to go away as he and his family were asleep. But
the man persisted in telling his friend he really needed the bread and finally
the friend got up and gave him what he wanted. The friend would not get up and
give bread to the man solely because he was his friend but only due to his
persistence. Like wise, if we are so close to God that He calls us His friend,
we still must exercise persistence in prayer in order to get from Him what we
Jesus goes on to say: "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?" (Luke 11:10-13). The Lord
gives to them that seek Him (the NASV says "seek and keep on seeking, knock and
keep on knocking"). This is just for our daily bread. We are seeking the
Kingdom. We must disregard what seems like delay and seek and keep seeking after
the Lord with dogged persistence.
The Lord's Prayer also illuminates
another truth. "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in
heaven". At this point, “anything but" the will of God is being done on this
earth. Only when the Kingdom is fully manifest will we see the will of God done
on earth as it is already done in heaven. At that point, earth and heaven (the
Spirit realm where God lives) will all be one Kingdom and "The government will
rest on his (Christ's) shoulders".
The parable of the ten virgins is
again likened to the Kingdom of God. It would be good to read the entire parable
(Matthew 25:1-13): "Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten
virgins pure and undefiled), who took their lamps, and went out to meet the
bridegroom Christ. And five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For
when the foolish took their lamps (their undefiled spirits, Spirit of Christ),
they took no oil (anointing) with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along
with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and
began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come
out to meet him.' Then all those virgins rose, and trimmed their lamps (their
light.) And the foolish said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil, for our
lamps are going out.' But the prudent answered, saying, 'No, there will not be
enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for
yourselves.' And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom
came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the
door was shut. "And later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open
up for us.' But he answered and said, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.'
Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour".
Although they were all virgins in
that they had kept themselves pure (He is not speaking of unbelievers) some took
Him seriously and not only showed up but were ready. However, the five foolish
virgins expected the Master to appear when they expected he would and only took
enough oil for their lamps to last until that moment. The wise took extra just
in case the Master delayed. Even though both sets of virgins drowsed as the
Master delayed, the five wise ones were ready when the door opened. It is an
attitude of heart. Since we do not know the day and hour of His appearance, we
must always be in a state of readiness. The consequences for the other virgins,
also believers, were high.
Similarly, in Matthew 25:14-30 “a
land owner (the Lord) went on a trip (to the right hand of the Father)
and entrusted his three slaves (disciples, believers) with five, two and
one talent according to their abilities (callings). When he returned, the
slave with five talents had had increased it to ten. The one with two had gained
two more. The land owner praised them because being faithful with a little, he
put them in charge of many things. However, the servant with one talent had
buried it and gave the one talent back to the Master. The master rebuked him
saying: (Matt 25:26-30) "You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap
where I did not sow, and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to
have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money
back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the
one who has the ten talents.' For to everyone who has shall more be given, and
he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he
does have shall be taken away. And cast out the worthless slave into the outer
darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth".
Remember, that last slave was a
servant of the Master, but what he had gained was taken away and he was sent to
the place of outer darkness. This was because he knew that the master was a hard
man and in fear hid the talent for fear for losing it. It is the fearful who
lead the parade into hell. What God gives us is often not enough in and of
itself to get the job done but it must be increased. Christ said He expects us
to do greater works than He (John 14:12). What jeopardy even believers face in
not increasing what they have received from the Lord.
In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus stresses
the importance of doing God's will. In the Day of Judgment, all appeared before
Him. He put the sheep (righteous) on His right and the goats (unbelievers) on
His left. Jesus told the righteous they had done the will of God by feeding the
hungry, clothing the poor etc. They went into the Kingdom. But to the goats He
said they had not done as the righteous and thus: "He will answer them,
saying, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the
least of these, you did not do it to Me'. And these will go away into eternal
And: "Not every one 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. 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 7:21-23). Entrance
to the Kingdom is not dependent on what works we do, even in the name of the
Lord. The question is whether what we did was what God wanted us to do.
Finally, "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 shall begin 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 shall cut him in
pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and
the gnashing of teeth". This describes the slave put in charge of slaves who
does not anticipate his Master will be late, gives up, and begins acting like an
There are many more parables on this
subject in the Bible. In fact in reviewing them for this article, nearly all
speak of the way of entrance into His eternal promises. Just remember Jesus
said: "Enter in at the strait [narrow] gate: for wide is the gate, and
broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in
thereon: “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads life,
and few there be that find it". (Matthew 7:13-14 KJV). Let us travel the
less traveled road in our walks with God.
A MOTHER IN ISRAEL AND A
The Role of Women in the Church and
It goes without saying that the debate as to women’s role in the
church and the Kingdom has been raging since ancient times. Even
during the ministry of Christ, and later Paul and Peter, the
church has been accused as being male dominated, excluding
women. Most modern churches, such as the Catholics, maintain a
marked segregation between men and women in the ministry even
prohibiting Priests to be married in order to keep their
minister free from the influence of women. The truth is that the
exclusion of woman was not the case in the early Apostolic
Church of the first century and shouldn’t be so now.
The truth is that women are an integral part of the Body of Christ
(the true church). Many women are called to a dual ministry – that of a “Mother
in Israel” and a prophetess. The “Israel” referred to here is the spiritual
Israel of the New Covenant under Jesus Christ. Old Testament references refer to
physical Israel but are applicable to the spiritual Israel of today (Romans
The term “Mother in Israel” may be new to some, but it is a
scriptural term. Deborah, the Old Testament female judge, was called a mother in
Israel. “The peasantry ceased, they ceased in Israel, Until I, Deborah,
arose, Until I arose, a mother in Israel” (Judges 5:7).It is a unique
ministry. As Paul said: “For though ye have ten thousand tutors in Christ,
yet have ye not many fathers” (1 Corinthians 4:15). So it is with mothers;
we don’t have many true ones. In reality the concept of Mother in Israel is the
feminine side of God in action which, although perhaps more hidden, is as
prevalent as His male side.
Spiritual motherhood is a spiritual quality, although it is
exercised in the natural world. It is the spiritual side of what a woman does in
the physical natural realm. It is a ministry of creating and nurturing. The
mother creates a child, from conception to adulthood, starting in the womb and
continuing through the life of the child.
A Mother in Israel, or spiritual Mother, exercises much the same
creativity in the Body of Christ. She has the power and authority to create men
and women of God. As the child of God is birthed in salvation, the mother, with
silent or vocal cries, intercedes for the child. In the beginning stages of the
new convert in Christ, when he/she is most vulnerable to outside influences, she
looks after the child, cares for it, protects it, nurses it and tends to its
spiritual needs. The unique creative power that is in her can be exercised
towards God and can literally “bring to birth” future Sons/Daughters of the
Lord. It is this concern and nurturing quality that, in and of itself ministers;
the creative power within her.
That same spiritual quality was in Hannah, the mother of the
prophet Samuel in the Old Testament. (1 Samuel 1:1-28, 2:18-21). Hannah was
barren. She knew the Lord and knew that within her lay a child of promise. She
remained in the Temple day and night crying out to bring forth the child within
her. She finally struck a deal with God that if God would give her a child, she
would in turn give the child back to God. This was probably intended all along
but it took Hannah’s violence of spirit to bring it to fruition. Sometimes God
promises us something but makes us pursue fulfillment with fervency (for a good
example of this principle see 1 Kings 18:43-45).
Deborah, mentioned above, had great care and concern for the people.
The people saw her heart and were inspired to willingly go to war for her
(Judges 5:7; also Judges Chapters 4-5).
In some ways the ministry of the mother in the church is hidden. She
may be behind the scenes creating, interceding and making things happen. But it
isn’t always a hidden ministry. The love of a mother can be so great as to be
violent in expression. An example is found in Judges 4:17-24. After the Israeli
army routed King Siscera and his armies under Deborah, the king fled the battle.
Jael, a Kenite woman, lured Siscera into her tent and cut off his head, thus
assuring Israel a complete victory (Judges 4:17-24). This spiritual violence is
sometimes necessary. Jesus said: “The Kingdom suffers violence and the
violent [of spirit] take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).
On a practical side, a child of God needs both the Fathering and
Mothering ministry in order to grow and develop correctly. God Himself has this
male and female quality. The woman never needs to compete with a man to be
successful in her ministry. They work side by side. While the Fathering ministry
may consist in planting the seed of the Word of God, the mother's nature creates
the growth and protects the seed while it grows to maturity. Although a mother
may minister the Word with as much power and authority as a man, it is this
backside ministry as a Mother in the Kingdom that can be just as effective. God
shows her things and she implements them by her faith, love and intensity.
Her ministry and counsel especially to other women, is invaluable.
She is able to obliterate the spirit of insecurity that sometimes afflicts women
in the church. If she is truly mature in her spirit, she is aware of that
spiritual quality in her and is able to direct it effectively. A Mother must
“know her spirit” and how to control it, so it can be directed in the proper
direction according to the will of God.
One of the most important things she does is to create other Mothers
in Israel. She is less a leader and more a creator; in the natural realm you
could compare it to leading by example. Many spiritual movements have failed
because the original ministers did not duplicate themselves, so that when the
leader left the ministry, there was no one of like spirit to carry it on. In
that respect she will often work with the young women, by example and by proper
teaching, to show them what is expected of a woman of God. She will in essence
minister “herself” to them as Christ ministers Himself, his nature, to us.
At the same time, a woman can be a prophetess. This term is found
more frequently in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, and is applied widely
to various situations involving women. Generally, the word is applied like that
of the prophet. She ministers the creative Word of God, imparting the Christ
nature to her listeners, She also, like a prophet, can predict the future thing
that God is going to do in the earth and sees visions pertaining to future
As Joel prophesied
“It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
“Even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days
prophecy was fulfilled on the Day Of Pentecost (Acts 2:16 et al).
The Bible refers to many prophetesses. Specifically named include
Miriam, sister of Moses, who led a choral dance in celebration of Israel’s
deliverance from Egypt (Ex. 15:20); Deborah, wife of Lappidoth, whom we have
already mentioned (Jdg. 5:7); Huldah, wife of the keeper of the royal wardrobe,
declared God’s divine will to Josiah the king after the rediscovery of the book
of the law (2 Kings 22:14); and Anna, who praised God in the Temple at the
appearance of the infant Jesus (Luke 2:3). Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist
was a prophetess and a priest.
Isaiah’s wife, unnamed in the scriptures, is called ‘the
prophetess’ (Is. 8:3). Philip’s four unnamed daughters prophesied in Caesarea
(Acts 21:9) and caught the attention of the Apostle Paul. In the early church,
as Paul’s Corinthian correspondence indicates. The gift of prophecy was
exercised by various Christians irrespective of sex (1 Cor. 11:4).
There is no verse in the Bible that prejudicially separates the
ministry of a woman from that of a man or in any way refers to woman ministers
as inferior. Indeed they are given the same equal treatment and credit as the
Prophets are. Paul’s reference in 1 Corinthians 11:13, that women ought not to
pray with their heads uncovered is a spiritual analogy of the spiritual covering
a woman should have. It was also a solution to the problem of some unspiritual
women of that day disrupting the service by speaking words from the congregation
that were not in the flow of the spirit.
Women were important in the New Testament, as they provided lodging,
food and money to the ministries of Jesus and Paul. Among these mentioned were
Mary Magdalene, the two other two unidentified Mary’s, Martha, Prisca
(Priscilla), Aquilla, Apphia, Timothy’s mother Lois and others. Women were
present at Jesus’ crucifixion when the other Apostles (except John) fled. It was
a woman who poured the expensive perfume on Christ prior to His death. It was
Mary Magdalene who first discovered that Jesus had been resurrected and she was
instructed by Jesus to tell the male disciples.
A woman’s ministry in the Spirit of God is a beautiful thing to
watch. God Himself creates her into that perfect vessel of Himself and through
her virtue she is an example to all. It is always what she becomes spiritually
that in and of itself ministers. Others see it and follow. As fellow members of
the Body of Christ, we honor them.
HAS GOD’S PLAN FOR
The Spiritual Israel of the Kingdom of God
In the Old Testament God brought the
Law to the Jewish people through Moses (see Exodus, Leviticus,
Numbers and Deuteronomy). Israel was God’s chosen people. God
desired and still desires a people He can call His own-a Family.
The Law was to be obeyed by Israel to the letter. This was the
Old Covenant between God and His people. The law contained
provisions for forgiveness of sins. There were over 600 such
laws enumerated in the Torah, the first 5 books of the Bible. If
the people obeyed the laws God would bless them. However, it
became apparent that Israel, in themselves and in their
humanity, could not follow the Law. This disobedience ultimately
led to the destruction of physical Israel as a nation. Something
more was needed in order for God to fulfill His desire for a
The real purpose of the Old Testament
Law was to bring people to a realization that in their human
form they were sinners who could not please God in the flesh
(Romans 7:18), despite endless temporary sin forgiving
sacrifices. When God saw this, He devised a plan whereby His law
could be fulfilled---the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Christ himself would provide a permanent sacrifice so that by
appropriating this sacrifice, man could become perfect. Christ
came to fulfill the law for all people and thus made salvation
available to everyone. Obedience was no longer by human works to
fulfill a law but by Faith in Jesus Christ. This is called the
The new covenant is described thus: He said: “But
this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those
days,” declares the Lord, “I will
put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be
their God, and they shall be My people (Hebrews 10:16; Jeremiah 31:33).
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a
new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh
and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to
walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will
live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and
I will be your God.
Thus God promised by the New Covenant to actually give
believers a new heart (a new nature) so that they would be unable to disobey God
and would keep His laws. This act by God was a free gift to all believers. They
did not need to work for it. All they had to do was receive it. By receiving
this gift from Christ, He would replace their old disobedient natures and give
them His nature.
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the
basis of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace.
The Old Covenant was given to physical Israel only.
The New Covenant was to the whole world (John 3:16). The new covenant was a
spiritual covenant. As Paul says in Romans 2:28-29: “For he is not a Jew who
is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But
he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the
heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but
from God. God no longer looks on the outward appearance, Jew or Greek, but
on the inward appearance, the heart. From now on the promises to physical Israel
become the promises to all of mankind, Jews and Gentiles alike.
Paul goes on: What then? Are we better than
they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks
[Gentiles] are all under sin; as it is written, “THERE
is none righteous,
one; There is none who
3:10-11; Psalm 14:1-3; Psalm 53:1-3). Since there is no righteousness in man in
and of himself, it takes this impartation of Christ’s nature to produce true
Unfortunately, the Jews (Orthodox) still walk by the
law. As John said: “He [Jesus] came unto his own [Israel] and
his own received him not. (1 John 1:11). The Jews crucified Christ, not
understanding His message of grace by faith. “But as many as received him, to
them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on
his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of
the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,
(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full
of grace and truth” (1 John 1:12-14).
“As many as received him” applies equally to
Jews. “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild
olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich
root of the olive tree,” (Romans 11:17). What Paul is saying is that
Israel is still the root of the Christian faith and we Gentiles are “grafted in”
to that root. It doesn’t matter if a few branches were broken off (the result of
Israel’s failure to accept Christ). The root remains. Israel is now on equal
footing with the Gentiles; those Jews who accept Christ retain their place as
the people of God, just as the Gentiles who believe become the children of God
[Israel] also, if they do not
continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in
again… Only a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness
of the Gentiles has come in; (Romans 11:25). “For if their rejection
[of Christ] is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance
be but life from the dead? (v. 15). “For if you were cut off from what
is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a
cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be
grafted into their own olive tree? (v. 24). “Quite right, they were
broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith (v.20). In other
words God has forgiven the Jews for their crucifixion of Christ and has again
included them in the family of believers which includes all nations and people.
Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees, by his own
admission, and persecuted the Christian Church in that day with a vengeance.
Paul knew and aggressively followed the Israeli Law. After Christ met him on the
road to Damascus (Acts 9), he immediately believed in the grace of Christ,
contrary to the way he led his life previously. Yet in the Epistle to the Romans
he defends the Jews and recognizes that, since Christ came to forgive all sin,
He was also was able to forgive Israelites who believed in Him.
Now we come to the question of Israel today. As we
said, a Jew is no longer saved and blessed just because he is a Jew after the
flesh. Many people interpret the end-time as a dual fulfillment, one for
physical Israel and another for the Gentiles. They believe that the temple,
described by the scriptures, will be erected in physical Israel and that
physical Israel will be saved due to their prior standing with God when the
physical temple is rebuilt. It may be that the temple in physical Israel will be
restored (although doubtful), but that is not what is spoken of as the true
temple in the scriptures. We, as the Body of Christ, including Jews and
Gentiles, are the real temple.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,
but you are fellow citizens with the saints, 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 in the Lord, in whom
you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit”
(2 Corinthians 2:19-22). We are the spiritual temple being rebuilt, and
Christ will take up residence in the temple of our collective hearts.
The God who made the world and all things in it, since
He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;
(Acts 17:4). But God, being rich
in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, (by grace you
have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in
the heavenly places in Christ Jesus even when we were dead in our
transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-6).
So if we are the temple of God, and not a temple built
with hands as former temples, what will be the end result? “And he carried me
away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain [the mountain of
God], and showed me the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of
heaven from God having the glory of God. (Revelation 21:2)
The New Jerusalem is not a physical temple but comes
down from heaven, the spiritual realm where God dwells. The “age to come”,
referred to by Christ, is a merging of the two realms, the physical and the
spiritual. Israel is not excluded but all who believe, including Jews, are
included. Then we will all be one and one for all. As Christ said: “Pray,
then, in this way…‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in
heaven (Matthew 6:9-10). So be it.
The Dumping Ground of the
Hell is a place that is created by God
to ultimately house all that is evil and is located in a place
separate from God. Its inhabitants are men and spirits that have
given themselves over the evil plan of Satan. God has limited
His creation so that what is created cannot be done away with,
only changed. The matter in the material world cannot be
destroyed but it can and does change form. God’s Word is like
that. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my Word shall
not pass away. Matthew 24:35. It remains the same. It is a
creative force generated by God which changes but does not
become destroyed. It is the same force that went forth from God
that created the universe, man and angelic beings.
The force that is created by man and spirits does not
die either. The evil that is generated by man continues in much the same way as
the Word of God. Eventually there must be a separation of the good and evil
forces. The scriptures confirm this.
Matthew 13:41-43 says: “The Son of
man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of
his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be
wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine
forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
On the Day of Judgment, there will be a separation of
good and evil. “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy
angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him
shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a
shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his
right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his
right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world… Then shall he say also unto them on the left
hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil
and his angels… And these shall go away into everlasting
punishment: but the righteous into life eternal (entire verses are in
The same example is set forth in the parable of the
farmer who planted good seed in his field.
kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man who sowed good seed in his field: But
while men slept, his ENEMY (Satan) came and sowed tares among the wheat, and
went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then
appeared the tares (weeds) also. So the servants of the householder came and
said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then
hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said
unto him, Will thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, No; lest
while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow
together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the
reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn
them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
If God were to remove the evil while it grew among the good wheat,
He may be in danger of harming the good produce. But, when the wheat was mature,
He was able to safely separate the worthless tares and the good
God did not sow the bad tares in the field; an enemy did. That is
why there is so much evil in the world. What God created was good (Genesis
1:31). The damage was done by Satan, his angels and his troupes of man given
over to evil. Satan created the evil in an otherwise perfect world, beginning
from the deception in the Garden of Eden to the present day. Using humans and
demons as channels of that evil they have polluted the earth with evil that
What will happen to all the evil that was generated? It must go
somewhere; it doesn’t die. God has prepared a place for it, like a toxic dumping
ground. When it is separated from the righteous, it is disposed of in a special
place “set aside for Satan and his angels”, called hell or Hades. It is in this
place which exists complete separation from God. However there will still be
communication between the two realms. The righteous will see the evil in hell
and likewise. The following is scriptural confirmation of this.
Jesus gave a parable about the rich man and Lazarus, a poor beggar.
They both died and Lazarus went to be with Abraham in heaven, while the rich man
went to Hades (Greek for hell). From Hades he pleaded with Abraham to send
Lazarus back from the dead to warn his five brothers, lest they end up like him.
“But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets,
neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’ ” Luke
16:31. There is no turning back. The rich man originally asked Abraham to send
Lazarus to him to put some cold water on his tongue, which could not be done
either. All the suffering in hell is caused by the evil that Satan through man
generated and the consequences of total and complete separation from God for
The Kingdom of God is a place wherein there exists no evil at all.
It has been removed far away from the righteous. The gulf between the two places
cannot be crossed. Scripture does not confirm the existence of a purgatory. What
we do here and now on earth is irrevocable. It is not meanness on God’s part,
just a recognition of reality. Since evil cannot be uncreated it must be put
somewhere and God has provided a place for it.
SPIRIT OF GOD IN US
God is Spirit,
and those who worship Him must do so IN SPIRIT... (John 4:24).
This is a very literal truth. It does not mean we give God
“spirited worship” nor does it mean that we worship Him
spiritedly with our soul or body. We must worship literally with
our human spirits. Since God is a spirit we cannot relate to
Him through any other medium.
Man/woman is a
triune (3-part) being comprised of spirit, soul and body (1
Thessalonians 5:23). We cannot relate to God with our soul or
our body by themselves. We cannot relate to Him intellectually,
through our emotions, or with our good works; these are part of
the dead soul nature. However, within each of us there is that
part, our spirit, that can communicate with God one on one. Few
are aware they have this within them. The main reason is that
the spirit of man is buried, beneath his soul and body, and is
rarely able to express itself. The spirit does not control our
soul and body as it should. We are controlled more by our
intellect, emotions, feelings and our bodies.
When man was banned from the
Garden of Eden, his spiritual contact with God ended. In the Garden, spirit
contact with God held the preeminence over man’s soul and body. This spiritual
relationship with God was preeminent (Genesis Ch. 2-3). When the separation
between God and man occurred, because of the original sin of Adam and Eve, that
spirit relationship ended, and men began to live in subjection to his soul. Now
man had to call upon the name of the Lord (Hebrew Qara) which means to
seek God and worship with altars (Genesis 4:26).
Man/woman became aware they were
naked, became fearful (soulish), and hid from God. A predominance of the soul
had begun in their lives. That state has progressed throughout the generations
until today the soul, which is comprised of the emotions, the mind, the
intellect, seat of passions, anger and pleasure etc., has become completely
preeminent. As the soul became the dominating force, the body became the channel
of expression of the soul. You see today an "acting out" of these soulish
qualities including greed, lust, power, murder, idolatry, commercialism, and the
like. Thus, our current state has very little manifestation of God in it (love,
joy, peace and the other attributes of the Spirit) (see Galatians 5:16-25). Our
spirit is buried and our soul and bodies run rampant.
Christianity, and most other
religions, seek as their ultimate goal a return to their God. Unfortunately
this cannot occur until our human spirits are awakened and become able to relate
to God's Spirit. This is sometimes referred to as "restoration" (Acts 3:21). It
is the time referred to in the Bible as when God (Christ) returns and sets up
his government on the earth (Isaiah 9:6 "...and the government will be on his
shoulders"..). That is the time when the Spirit takes back its former
dominance over all things including our soul and bodies.
Now we mentioned that man is a
triune being. If man has reached the place where he is aware of his spirit, and
it begins to take dominance, what happens to his/her soul and body. The soul is
a kind of neutral switchboard that responds to whatever stimuli it receives. If
it receives energizing from the spirit, it responds and generates according to
what the spirit is doing. If stimulus from the body or the flesh nature is
received, it responds that way. Many refer to this phenomenon as the old man
(the soulish man) and the new man (the spiritual man). The old man responds
soulishly to non-spiritual impulses (lust, greed, hate) while the new man is the
man of spirit and responds to God.
In the new man, the soul emanates
goodness, love, kindness, concern for others, in short all the spirit qualities
of God Himself. That is why when we gain this spirit awareness, we should feed
IT and deny the other responses. In this way we allow the new man to grow. In
time the new man will dominate our lives. As for sin or evil, bad thoughts etc,
because your new man is so strong, you will not even want to do the other. As
John put it in 1 John 4:4 "greater is He who is in you than he who is in the
world...", referring to the strengthened, quickened and powerful Spirit that
is in you.
Perhaps the most revealing
Chapter in the bible on the Spirit is in the Epistle of Paul to the Romans,
Chapter 8. Chapter 8 follows Chapter 7 wherein the Apostle Paul recognizes that
he is unable to control his conduct. Although he might want to do good, he finds
himself unable to do so in his own strength (Rom 7:14-25). He concludes the
chapter with the plea "who shall deliver me from this body of death?”
In Rom. 8:5-6 Paul says "For
those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh
[or the fallen nature] but those according to the Spirit the things of the
spirit". And "...the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God for it does not
subject itself to god, for it is not even able to do so..." (Rom. 8:7).
Therefore all the intellectualizing about the things of God are fruitless, as
the human mind in its current state cannot ever understand the Spirit because it
does not have the ability to do so.
Who are the ones who have a
spirit to spirit relationship with Him? "For all who are being led by the
Spirit of God those are the Sons of God" (Rom. 8:14). Christ was a Son of
God because of how He walked. He did nothing on his own initiative but He did
only what the Spirit of the Father led Him to do (John 14:7-15). Therefore, in
Christianity, the appearing of the Lord on the earth was not just to forgive
sins. His was to restore this spirit to spirit relationship between man and God,
so that doing righteousness, goodness and love became the natural thing to do;
it came from God, through our souls down to our bodies ending in the will of God
being done "on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).
We are made ultimately in the
image of God. God also has a triune nature. God is one God, because the parts
exist in complete oneness, but have their manifestation as the Father, the Son
and the Holy Spirit. Explaining this would take another whole article but for
purposes of this discussion, as it relates to us: The Father is the Creator. He
has His expression through the Son (Christ) who is the Word of God, the 'logos'
in Greek. Jesus said his words were not His but the Father's and so they were.
Jesus was speaking the Father's words through His complete oneness with the
Father. The Holy Spirit, the third element of God's triune nature, was sent to
the believers in Christ after Jesus had been crucified, because when crucified
He went away to sit at the right hand of the Father and become invisible to us
here on earth. The Holy Spirit's purpose was to lead believers into "all the
truth", a deeper knowledge of Christ and ultimate perfection to a mature man. At
the end of it all, Christ delivers the perfected Kingdom over to the Father so
God becomes in all and through all.
How does one get an awareness of
his/her own spirit? To start, believe you have a spirit, the ability to connect
with God. Ask God for an awareness of it -ask and keep on asking, seek and keep
on seeking. Eventually it will, or should be, quickened to you so that you have
experienced a spark, no matter how small, of God. It will be a "still small
voice" but distinguishable from all the other voices that vie for attention in
your mind. Once you hear it keep at it to make it sharper. Strengthen it,
develop it. It’s yours, your right to have this - God is more than willing to
give it to you. This will at sometime become a necessity because scripture says
that the knowledge of the Lord will cover the entire earth, as the waters cover
the sea. It will be this Spirit knowledge, knowledge of God that will dominate.
There will be no more need for you to be taught to know the Lord for all will
And through this knowledge, your
entire spirit, soul and body will be preserved blameless for an eternity of joy
in His Kingdom.
INTERPRETING THE BIBLE
The first thing
to learn about the Bible is that it is incapable of human mental
interpretation. It is unique in that respect out of all other
books written by men. John 1:1 makes that clear: “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, and apart from Him nothing
came into being that has come into being”. The Word is just
not a collection of literary works; it is and conveys the Spirit
of God-it IS God.
The Word of God is recorded in the Bible. The
operative Greek word is “Logos” meaning “The Word”. Vine’s
Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words partially defines
Logos as: “…the phrase “The word of God” i.e. the revealed Word of God is
used as a direct revelation of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:15) of the
gospel…(citations)… in this respect it is the message from the Lord, delivered
with His authority and made effective by His power…The personal word is a title
of the Son of God…His distinct super-finite personality…His relation to the
Godhead, His creative power… (Page 1241-1242).
So the Word itself is God. Human interpretation or
mental understanding is not God; the Bible can only be understood spiritually by
revelation from God. John 4:23-24 says that God is a Spirit and we can only know
Him or relate to Him in the spirit. The Word is literally God’s power and
authority going out from Him and “made effective” through the Word. Christ is
the Word, God made manifest. All things were created in and through Him. God
created the heavens and the earth through a creative Word (Genesis 1:3-“let
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw
His glory, glory as of the only
[literally “unique, one of a kind”]
begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Christ was
the eternal, powerful, authoritative Word that revealed Himself and the Father.
The entire Bible speaks of Christ. “You search the Scriptures because you
think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;”
The Pharisees, to whom He was speaking, were the eminent Bible
scholars of the day. They knew the Word to the point of memorizing the entire
book. They interpreted every “jot and tittle”. Yet they opposed Christ who was
the fulfillment of the Word on earth. In other words, they knew the Word but
they knew it without revelation from God. Otherwise, they would have recognized
Jesus as who he was. Instead they hated and crucified Him.
“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” (Hebrews 4:12).
Hebrews speaks of the LIVING Word of God. Living (Zao in Greek)
means-to live; to have life, to be alive…spirituality [Galatians 2:20];
spiritually and eternally together (John 6:57)…applied to God who has life
independently from anyone and from Whom all living beings derive their life and
existence” (New American Standard Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, Strong’s
number 2198 for living, page 1830 in Bible). So we conclude that the Words
of God are not mere words but are a living being, Christ.
Not only is the Word living, it is piercing, as far as the division
of spirit and soul. Why is that important? Because man is a triune being,
composed of spirit, soul and body. Since God is a spirit, the only way we can
relate to Him is through our spirits (John 4:23-24). At the present time our
human spirits are for the most part under the dominion of our souls. The Word,
as expressed in the Bible, comes to separate the spirit from the soul so our
entire being can fully relate to God.
The Study Bible, mentioned above, defines soul (Psuche) as: “that
immaterial part of man held in common with animals…the lower region of man’s
being… (p. 1888). Spirit (Pneuma) means breath or wind, as God breathed life
into Adam; “Then the Lord God
formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath
of life; and man became a living being [soul] (Genesis 2:7).
And: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the
Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again
[literally “from above”]. The wind [pneuma, Spirit] blows where
it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and
where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:6-8).
The Word is so piercing and powerful that Paul uses
joints and marrow as an allegory. The joints and marrow are so interconnected it
is difficult to separate them. So it is with the spirit and soul of man. Yet the
Word is able to do that, to separate the two until the freed spirit is able to
relate to God and actually control the soul and its lusts.
How does the Word do this? John says (6:63): “It is
the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I
[Jesus] have spoken to you are spirit and are life”. Taken literally, the
Words of the Bible are not words at all but they are Spirit and life. The
“words” are merely a conveyance of the spirit and life of God to us.
The natural man, the one who interprets the Bible with
human understanding, is not aware of the spiritual realm where God lives. Paul
said of such men: “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 [literally 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” (1
Then how do we read the Bible to obtain this spiritual
knowledge that goes far beyond human wisdom. The Bible is not necessarily read
for understanding. We must eat the words so that they become part of us. Ezekiel
3:1-4 contains an apt example:
“Then He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this
scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and He fed
me this scroll.
He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body
[inward parts] with this scroll
which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.
Then He said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My
words to them”.
God gave Ezekiel the scroll (symbolic for the Word),
he ate it and it filled him. As with many of us, the Word was sweet to the taste
but it brings trouble in the way of persecution etc. Immediately after Ezekiel
had digested the Word, God told Him to go and speak it. So it should be with us.
We eat the Word and it becomes part of us. Only then can we go forth and speak
the truth in love.
Similarly, Jeremiah said: “Your words were found
and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my
heart” (v. 15:16).
In Revelation 10:8-11, John said: “Then the
voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying,
“Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the
sea and on the land.” So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little
book. And he said to me, “Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach
bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” I took the little book out
of the angel’s hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when
I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. And they said to me, “You must
prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.”
Likewise we don’t just read the Word for human
understanding or theological or historical interpretation. We read it to become
it. One of the foundational Christian principles, the communion, is based on the
“And when He had taken some bread and
given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body
which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He
took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for
you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:19-20; Matthew 26:26; Mark
14:22; 1 Corinthians 11:24).
Earlier, when Jesus introduced this principle, He said
to the multitudes: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of
the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. “He who
eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on
the last day. “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. “He who
eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. (John
6:53-56). That was when many of His disciples left the Lord, because it was
strictly against Jewish law to eat blood.
They did not have eyes to see or ears to hear what the
Lord was saying. It actually stumbled them; the truth of the Lord became a
stumbling block to them in their blindness. So it is with anyone who reads the
Bible without revelation. Many write volumes interpreting the Bible according to
their own understanding. Many see nice stories, history, seeming contradictions,
perceived historical inaccuracies, fallibility due to the fact it was written by
man and disbelieving the authenticity of the miracles recorded. The words
recorded in the Bible, meant to be spirit and life, are only foolishness to
them. As we said above the Bible must be read as: “not in words taught by
human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts
with spiritual words. (1 Co 2:13).
So how do we eat the words so that they actually
become a part of us, feeding our spirits and imparting the nature of Christ?
First, we must read it with faith. The starting point in understanding the Bible
is to BELIEVE IT IS THE WORD OF GOD. Without that, you have nothing but a
confusing jumble of mere words you do not understand. We have to believe the
Bible is what God intended to convey to us, at the time we are reading it. There
is no one correct interpretation good for all time. It is a living Word speaking
what God wants to convey day by day. A commentary is useless as soon as it is
written because by that time God has moved on. He speaks to us each day. While
reading you don’t ask the Lord “What does this mean?” You ask Him “What are you
speaking to me today, Lord?” What part of the living word is He showing me
We’ll stress again: We cannot read the Bible with
human understanding, from our minds. Paul says that the human mind is enmity to
God, and is not capable of understanding Him (Romans 8:7). We must be open “in
the Spirit”. We must have open hearts. We must be absolutely ready to let God
into our hearts. We must eat the Word. When I first became a Christian I read
the Bible frequently but for the first 5 years I had no idea what it was talking
about. Yet I continued reading it because I couldn’t deny that something was
happening to me when I read. Years later the words I read without understanding
were brought to my attention by the Holy Spirit and I realized that even as I
read without understanding I was receiving from God. Jesus promised that the
Holy Spirit would bring to remembrance all things He said. The disciples
themselves didn’t understand until the Holy Spirit fell on the Day of Pentecost.
Yet thereafter, they carried the Word to the ends of the earth.
It is in almost a meditative state that we read the Word. As you
read, with or without understanding, you will find the presence of God, the
anointing, come upon you until you feel as if you are actually in His presence
(you are). You must read the word until you reach that state. It is in the
presence of the Lord that your nature is changed into His and that is what you
actually want. The victory is not in overcoming circumstances in your life,
living a good life or doing many good works.
2 Peter 1:4 describes this change of nature: “…He
has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you
may become PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE, having escaped the corruption
that is in the world by lust”.
We must let the Word change us; we must be born again.
Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life”. There is no way, no
truth or life apart from the person of Jesus. Let’s read the Bible with this
central idea that we are becoming like Him and the Bible is our chief vehicle to
JEWS, CHRISTIANS AND
The Feast of
Passover is a festival formerly celebrated exclusively by the
Jews commemorating the nation of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt
by God, through Moses (Exodus 12:14-20). It was celebrated
during the 15-21 day of Nisan according to the Jewish lunar
calendar. Passover, or “pesah” in Hebrew (pascha in Greek)
literally means passover and celebrates the passing over of the
death angel prior to Israel’s deliverance. The Feast is actually
two feasts, the first day of Passover being called the Feast of
Unleavened bread (see symbolic significance below). The feast
was later adopted by the Christian faith for its symbolic
relevance to Christ and His permanent sacrifice on the cross. It
is important both to Jewish and Christian faiths in that when
the feast was first initiated by God He declared it an ordinance
that was to be celebrated permanently or eternally (Exodus
12:14). Christ Himself said that the Feast would be celebrated
even into the days of the Kingdom of God, when Christ returns to
set up His eternal reign upon the earth (Matthew 26:26-29).
As we have said,
the Feast was originally was celebrated by the Jews
commemorating a specific event, the Israelis leaving Egypt and
leaving slavery behind. God, through Moses, was visiting upon
Egypt the last of the 10 plagues that is the death of all first
born sons. In order to protect themselves from the plague, the
Israelis celebrated what would be the first Passover. The death
angel, which would pass over the entire nation of Egypt, was to
spare the Israelis from the same fate through obedience to God’s
commands (see below). This is the story of that first Passover
in brief, as recorded in the Bible in the Book of Exodus
11:1-12:51). The celebration is still celebrated today by Jews
and some enlightened Christians. However, its celebration today,
after Christ, is not a feast only of remembrance of a historical
event. Today it has a more real, spiritual application,
applicable to all believers. In order to understand Passover we
must understand the chronology of what brought about the
Israelis presence in Egypt in the first place.
Joseph, the son of the Jewish
patriarch Jacob, was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers, who were
jealous of Jacob’s apparent favoritism of Joseph. Joseph became a slave in
Egypt. After a time he was falsely accused of attempting to seduce his master’s
wife. He would spend 11 years in an Egyptian prison. It would have been a life
sentence but for the intervention of circumstances that would lead to his
release (see Genesis 37, 39-45 for the entire story as related summarily below).
The Pharaoh of Egypt at that time
had dreams that nobody in Egypt could interpret. By a chain of circumstances,
Joseph was summoned from prison to decipher Pharaoh’s dreams. Joseph,
interpreting the dreams, told Pharaoh of a great famine that would sweep of
Mesopotamia and Egypt some seven years hence. This was to be preceded by seven
years of good crops and plenty. Believing Joseph, Pharaoh put Joseph in charge
of gathering and storing grain in preparation for the famine. He was given power
in Egypt second only to the Pharaoh. Over these seven years of plenty Joseph
accomplished the program of storing for the coming seven year famine and became
a powerful figure in Egypt.
At that time, Jacob and his
remaining 11 sons lived in Canaan, some distance away. They too were affected by
the famine. Needing food, some of the sons of Jacob traveled to Egypt to buy
grain. They had no idea Joseph was alive and in Egypt. Eventually Joseph was
reunited with his family and invited them to come and live in Egypt. They were
given good land and they settled there with Pharaoh’s blessing. The Israelites
multiplied greatly and became a prosperous nation.
However, following Joseph’s
death, there came a time when Egypt’s leadership did not remember what the
Pharaoh had done for them and they feared Israel because of their numbers.
Eventually, the children of Israel were made slaves, and built bricks from Nile
mud to be used in Egypt’s middle Kingdom building programs. Israel continued to
live in Egypt as slaves. Ultimately they remained in Egypt for 430 years. They
cried to God about their condition under the hard Egyptian taskmasters and God
heard their cry. He sent a deliverer, Moses.
God raised up Moses who, through
extraordinary events, had been raised in Egypt as royalty even though he was an
Israelite. At the approximate age of 40 Moses one day killed an abusing Egyptian
taskmaster and fled to Midian, where he remained for another 40 years as a
shepherd of sheep, working for his father in law. It was during this time that
he acquired from God the necessary tools to be the deliver he was to become. At
the end of that time, God called Moses to go back to Egypt and deliver the
Israelites from their slavery. So Moses traveled to Egypt and, through him, God
brought nine severe plagues upon Egypt, asking after plague for the Pharaoh to
let the people leave Egypt. Each time the Pharaoh (possibly Ramses II) hardened
his heart and refused to accede to Moses’ (God’s) demands. So God promised to
bring about one more plague more severe than the preceding ones. He was to send
a death angel throughout Egypt to kill all the firstborn sons therein, including
Pharaoh’s. There begins the story of Passover (see Exodus Chapters 1-11).
The Lord gave specific
instructions to Moses as to how the Israelis would avoid having this plague
affect them, and instructions on how to carry them out. Since the death angel
would also kill the firstborn of the Israelis if they were not protected, the
people had to perform certain acts prevent themselves from that fate. At the
same time Moses ordered them to leave Egypt in a rapid orderly manner.
Moses instructions were very
specific. Each household was to take a lamb without blemish, kill it at
twilight, and put some blood of the lamb on each lintel and two door posts of
their dwellings. They were to roast the lamb with fire and eat all of it before
dawn. They were to eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, with their
loins girded (pants on), sandals on their feet and eat it in haste - at midnight
the death angel was coming. The blood on the door-posts was to alert the death
angel to "pass over" that household when striking the firstborn in Egypt. This
they did while the people of Egypt wailed in grief at the death of their
firstborn sons. As a result Pharaoh finally let the people go.
The acts God commanded Israel
during this time had and has deep spiritual significance for both Jews and
Christians today. Many of the acts foretold of a coming Savior, a Messiah who
would deliver all people for once and for all.
The lamb without blemish is a
shadow of the Lamb of God, the Messiah, who was to come (Revelation Chapters
4-6). The blood of the lamb sanctified and cleansed the Israelis and became an
analogy for the coming of Christ and His shedding of blood for salvation and
removal of sin (Revelation 7:10-17). The unleavened bread was to signify the new
life that was going to come forth, without the old leaven (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).
The bitter herbs (Ex. 12:8) signified the hard times that they had experienced
in Egypt, symbolic of the hard times Christians and Jews alike would experience
in walking with God. This is described in the Christian Book of Revelation
(7:14 et al) as symbolic of the times of tribulation experienced by Christ's
followers “those who came out of great tribulation and washed their robes in
the blood of the lamb).
Eating the meal in haste at that
first Passover was essential as they were going to leave Egypt in the morning.
They had to be dressed and ready to go at any moment (Ex 12:11). So we are to be
ready as no-one knows the day and hour of the Messiah’s coming (Matthew
25:1-13). We, as the spiritual Israelites, must "eat all of it" (Ex 12:10); it
takes all of Christ's provision to bring forth the Kingdom of God.
God had a dual purpose in
delivering His people and bringing the plagues that preceded their escape. God
had said (Ex 12:12) that "against all the God's of Egypt I will execute
judgment" (Egypt had a very elaborate multi-deity religious scheme). It is
said that thereafter Egypt never regained their place of former glory and power
as evidenced historically the decline in Egypt from the time of Ramses II.
Likewise, by the victory of Christ the Messiah, judgment was executed against
Satan and his powers throughout the whole earth upon His death and resurrection.
This is ultimately accomplished by our act of obedience to Christ in accepting
the provision He made for us by His death on the cross.
As we have said, God that the
observance of the Passover as a permanent (eternal) ordinance (Ex 12:14).
Orthodox Jews celebrate it to this day. The commandment applies to Christians as
well. After the New Covenant instituted by Christ, within which the Gentiles
were included with the Jews as recipients of God's promises, we all became one
"spiritual Israel". Paul said (Romans 2:28-29) that: "For he is not a Jew who
is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he
is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by
the Spirit, not by the letter...".
There are other reasons to
celebrate it as well. It was during Passover, not Easter, that Christ was
crucified and resurrected. The Last Supper was actually a Passover meal called a
Seder (Matthew 26:18-25). Easter was not introduced until 4th Century
by what then was the Roman Catholic Church as part of a religious compromise
with pagan religions. Easter is actually a mistranslation of the Greek word
“pascha” meaning Passover. The early Christian Church celebrated Passover during
their existence. It is also during Passover that our most important vehicle of
appropriation of Christ's nature was instituted - the Communion and foot
washings. Some of the most profound statements and prayers of Christ were voiced
during the Passover meal (John Chapters 12-17). It was also during Passover that
Jesus, as youth, was left behind by his natural family, being found in the
temple in Jerusalem "being about His Father's work" (Luke 2:41-50).
Today Passover should be
celebrated by Jews and Christians alike as a specific time God has chosen to
move in deliverance for His people, as He did in Egypt. It is not the ritual so
much as it is a celebration of deliverance from our old natures, to enable us to
fulfill His will for us. All the Jewish feasts are important in themselves
((Passover, Pentecost, Rosahsana, Yom Kippur, Succoth [also called The Feast of
Tabernacles, The Feast of Booths, The Feast of the Harvest, Purim). Each Feast
celebration has special origin, purpose and symbolism. We can meet God during
these Feast times in a special way. Celebrating these Feasts is not a legalistic
requirement, but a special time of blessing instituted by God for His people, be
they Jew, Gentile or Christian or any other religion. Many Christian churches
today celebrate the Jewish feasts, instead of the pagan holidays of Easter ad
The feast of Passover is all
about deliverance. Christ came to deliver His people through deliverance from
and removal of their sin. He accomplished this through His death and
resurrection during the Passover. Rather than a remembrance of past historical
events, it is a special time of appropriating Christ’s provision, enabling
salvation to its fullest. It is a time commanded in the scriptures that be
celebrated for eternity. It reflects Christ’s eternal deliverance for all
believers. It can be celebrated in a literal Jewish manner but it is the
spiritual work that is done in our hearts that is emphasized. The original
Passover was a type and shadow of what was to come; the eternal provision of
Christ’s grace and love towards us.
JEWS, CHRISTIANS AND
The Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of
Booths is a scripturally described celebration instituted by God
and recorded in the Old Testament. This time of Tabernacles is
actually several feasts or celebrations in one including: Rosh
Hashanah (the Jewish New Year and the Feast of Trumpets), the
Days of Awe (or the 10 days of repentance including Rosh
Hashanah and Yom Kipper); Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and
Succoth (Hebrew “hag hassukkot”), the Feast of Booths or Feast
of Tabernacles. Although most Christian do not celebrate these
so called “Jewish” feasts, choosing instead to observe the pagan
originated holidays of Christmas or Easter, extensive study will
show that these feasts, such as Tabernacles, are the true
celebrations ordained by God for both Christians and Jews and to
be celebrated permanently or eternally (see below).
Introduction to the Feast of Tabernacles
Following their deliverance from Egypt, and the settling of the
Israelites in the wilderness, God enacted many laws for which the people were to
be governed while they were there. He also instituted feasts or holy gatherings
(convocations) to occur at certain times during the year. These have become
known as Jewish High Holy Days and are celebrated by Jews to this day.
These Feasts have great significance for Jewish peoples but
surprisingly have as much or more application to Christianity and Christ’s New
Covenant. Hidden in the rituals of the Old Testament are great truths applying
to Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. Here we will examine this Feast time
known collectively as Tabernacles. We will first discuss the Three-fold Feast as
mandated by God, on a physical level, during the time Moses and the Israelites
were in the wilderness and recorded in the Torah (Law) sections of the Bible
(the first five books). Then we will compare these to the New Covenant initiated
by Christ of which these original feasts were a type and shadow of the Christ
(Messiah) to come.
2. Feast of Tabernacles in the Old Testament
Rosh Hashanah, widely known as the Jewish religious New Year, is
the first day of the 10 Days of Awe. It ends the old year and sets the course
for the New Year. Rosh Hashanah, in Hebrew, means “Head of the Year”, and falls
on the first and second days of the Jewish month of Tishri, the seventh month of
the Jewish lunar calendar.
Rosh Hashanah is also known as the Feast of Trumpets, lasting 1 day
from sundown to sundown of the first day of the 10 Days of Repentance, or Days
of Awe. The phrase “Rosh Hashanah” is not found per say in the Bible or the
Torah. However the Jewish word “teruah” is used when referring to this Holy Day
(Numbers 29:1). Teruh means a “loud noise, a shout or a blowing of the shofar
ram’s horn”. Numbers 29:1 is translated “a day when the horn is sounded” and
“zichron teruah” which means “commemorated with loud blasts”. It is
traditionally known as “the day of the blowing of the “shofar” trumpets” which
are hollowed out ram’s horns. A trumpet call such as this was used when the
Israelites were to gather together.
Rosh Hashanah also begins the ten-day period culminating in the Day
of Atonement. The 10 day period is referred to as the “Days of Awe”. The 10 day
period of the “The Days of Awe’ (in Hebrew Ya-mim' Noh-rah'-yim) is also
known as the ten Days of Penitence (or repentance). This was a time when God
would “awe” His people with His presence. Since atonement for sin is the main
goal of the Feast, these days are preparation for Yom Kippur, the Day of
Atonement. A participant was to aggressively set about to expose the sin of the
previous year so it could be forgiven and removed. It was a time for heart
searching and for reflection. To a Jew it is a time of renewing vows made both
to the Lord and others which were broken during the previous year.
Yom Kippur is the most significant day in the Jewish experience. It
is mandated by God in Leviticus 23:26 and described fully in Leviticus 16. The
literal translation of Yom Kippur is “Day of Atonement”. Biblically and
liturgically it is also known as Day of Judgment and Sabbath of Sabbaths.
Atonement literally means reconciliation to God, after the bond had
been broken by sin. It means, in a broader sense in Hebrew, ‘purge,’ ‘cleanse,’
‘expiate,’ ‘purify,’ ‘wipe on or off,’ ‘cover,’, ‘justify’ etc. The literal
meaning of the word is simply “at-one-ment”, i.e., the state of being of one or
being reconciled, so that atonement is actually reconciliation to God.
The most important ceremonial aspects of the manifestation of
atonement in the days of the Old Testament law involved the High Priest, two
goats and a bull. This has great significance to us today as we see below. At
that time, in the wilderness, the Jews had constructed a temple (tabernacle) as
a precursor to the great temple that was to be built in the Promised Land. The
temple was constructed into three main areas or divisions: the “outer court”,
the “Holy Place” and finally the Holy of Holies, the most Holy place. No one
entered the Holy of Holies except the High Priest once a year on the day of Yom
Kippur (for a fuller description of the Holy of Holies see the quote from
Hebrews below). A veil separated this most Holy place from the rest of the
A ritual occurred on the Day of Atonement which literally cleansed
the Jewish people from all sins they had committed the previous year. This Old
Testament ritual is actually a representation of the eternal sacrifice that
Christ was to initiate. As we can see below, salvation, as represented by the
Day of Atonement, included the two aspects of Christ’s sacrifice for us. The
following are a summary of the events which led to the Atonement (see Leviticus
16 for a description of the entire process).
There were two goats and a bull involved. The bull was slain as
atonement for the sins of Aaron the high priest who was to administer the
atonement for the people. The first goat was sacrificed for the defilement of
the temple by Israel. In Christ it represents the first part of Christ’s
sacrifice for us. The first goat was slain and sacrificed as forgiveness for the
sins of Israel. But mere forgiveness is only the beginning of what God had for
Israel in a complete experience.
The second goat remained alive. It was brought before the Lord
where Aaron the priest became the vehicle of God to physically (or spiritually)
transfer all of the sin of Israel for the previous year to that goat. This
literal “transference” of the sin was a real occurrence, not only a ritual. The
sin of Israel was actually “placed upon” the goat. The goat was then led outside
the camp and banished into the wilderness never to be seen again. God also made
this ceremony a permanent ordinance which means it was to occur eternally. Today
it is carried on as a celebration of the Lamb of God (Christ) who bore the sins
of all humanity and forever removed sin from the world. In short it shows us
that only being forgiven of sin is not enough. We must also have the sin removed
completely so that we do not have to continually come back to God to seek
forgiveness every year as the ancient Israelites did.
Following Yom Kipper by four days began the Feast of Tabernacles
(Succoth) lasting eight days which culminated in an eighth day “Feast of
Rejoicing’. The Feast is also known as the “Feast of Booths”.
Tabernacle, in Hebrew means the place where God meets man, and thus
God and man “tabernacle” (verb) together. Tabernacle is also referred to a
tent or dwelling. “Miskan”, a Hebrew noun, means God’s dwelling place called the
“Tent of Meeting” (also Hebrew “ohel”) in the Old Testament. In the Old
Testament wilderness it was where God would speak to Moses. In the New Testament
the equivalent term “skene” is used to denote the permanent temple, Christ’s
body, where God will tabernacle with His people for eternity. Leviticus 23:39-43
explains why this Feast is called “The Feast of Booths”:
“On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have
gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the
Lord for seven days, with a Sabbath
rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day.
‘Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful
trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you
shall rejoice before the Lord your
God for seven days.
‘You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the
Lord for seven days in the year. It
shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it
in the seventh month.
‘You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel
shall live in booths, so
that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when
I brought them out from the land of Egypt
[Passover]. I am the
Lord your God.”
Thus each Israelite built a booth from plants and trees for their
family to dwell in for seven days. They did this for a remembrance of how God
delivered Israel from the bondage of the Egyptians. It was a family time and a
time for the Israelites to commune and sup together. Being after Yom Kippur, the
people rejoiced over God’s forgiveness and all would hope for a favorable
upcoming year-crops a’ plenty, prosperity, good fortune and well being. Thus the
Feast of Tabernacles was a time of God being with His people and a time of
remembrance of God delivering them from the bondage of Egypt. In the Kingdom of
God we will eternally live in this constant state of tabernacling, being in His
3. New Testament Application of the Feast of
The Old Testament is, most of all, the physical foundation upon
which Christ is building His spiritual priesthood and His Kingdom. The Books of
the Torah also, in a literal and symbolic way, speak of Christ and His coming as
the Messiah. Jesus said to the Pharisees: “You search the Scriptures because
you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about
Me;” (John 5:39). Old Testament scriptures reveal much about Christ that is
not revealed per se in the New Testament. Many Old Testament scriptures are
quoted word for word in the New Testament, even by Christ himself (see Luke
4:18-19; the Lord quotes Isaiah 61). Isaiah 53 is devoted entirely to a
description of Christ, the suffering servant written centuries prior to His
appearing. Likewise Jeremiah 31:31-34 lays out Christ’s coming New Covenant
centuries before its fulfillment. That scripture is later quoted by the writer
of Hebrews as being the New Covenant (Hebrews 7:8-12).
The Feast of Tabernacles is also important in its depiction of our
relationship with God today. It covers everything from the blood sacrifice, to
the High Priest, to forgiveness of sin, to the relationship of God with his
people. First of all is the principle of the blood. Hebrews says that “there
is no forgiveness of sin except by the shedding of blood” (v. 9:22). In the
Old Testament the blood shed by the sacrificial animals was necessary for the
forgiveness of sin. With Christ, He became the sacrificial Lamb who forgave the
sin of the entire world by the shedding of His blood on the cross, rendering one
sacrifice for all time.
Rosh Hashanah was the trumpet or “loud or noise” that signified the
New Year and the gathering of all Israel together. The trumpet is symbolic of
the Word of God. Note the parallel references in the scriptures to the sounding
of the trumpet: the walls of Jericho fell; the seventh seal of the seven angels
with the seven trumpets of Revelation 8; the 7, trumpets carried by those
escorting the ark (Joshua 6:4); Gideon and the trumpets (Judges 7:8), the great
trumpets that will gather the scattered of Israel (Matthew 24:31). There are
many more examples but suffice it to say the blowing of the trumpet on Rosh
Hashanah was a significant event duplicated literally in the end-time (Christ
will descend with a shout! And a trumpet call, the Word). It literally denotes
that everything from creation onward was accomplished by the trumpet call, the
speaking into existence of all things by a spoken word of God. Today we use the
speaking of the Word to call into being things that we do not see (Hebrews 11:1)
just as God called creation into being by His Word i.e. “Let it be” and it was
done Genesis 1).
The Days of Awe (10 Days of Repentance) are symbolic of our
preparation to receive Christ at His return. Our old human natures must be
brought to the surface, revealed and replaced by the nature of Christ by
transference. This transference principal both removed our sin and placed it on
Christ but it also transfers His Holy nature to us so we can be like Him. This
involves much reflection and the ability to let go. Being the longest portion of
the Feast indicates the importance of this process to God. It can be a difficult
and painful time as our most secret sins work their way to the forefront of our
lives. But without it there can be no Yom Kippur. Our depth of repentance in
many ways dictates our depth of forgiveness and our experience of the removal,
not just forgiveness, of our sin.
On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Aaron was the priest who
administered the sacrifice of the blood of “bulls and goats”. In the New
Testament God administrated through Christ His forgiveness of the world by one
The writer of Hebrews (9:1-10:21) contrasts the Old Covenant with
the New, excerpts of which appear below. The author of Hebrews expresses the
inadequacy of the first (Old) covenant with that of the New Covenant. First He
describes the Old Tabernacle as it was in Moses’ day:
“Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and
the earthly sanctuary. ‘For there was a tabernacle [sacred tent] prepared,
the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred
bread; this is called the holy place.
Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of
having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all
sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s
rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant;
“Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are
continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship,
but into the second
[Holy of Holies], only the high
priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for
himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance”.
“The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy
place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing,
which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices
are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience,
since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations
for the body imposed until a time of reformation” (v. 9:1-10).
The priest entered the Holiest place only once a year, on Yom
Kippur. The sacrifice he offered there, however, was not an eternal sacrifice
but a temporary one relating only regulations for human conduct. Only a cloth
veil separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. When Christ was
crucified on the cross, that veil was rent from the top to the bottom providing
access to the Holiest place to all (Matthew 27:50–51).
“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.
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those
who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh,
how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit
offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead
works to serve the living God?
For this reason He
[Christ] is the mediator of a
new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the
transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been
called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance”.
The sacrifices for forgiveness of sin always occurred with a death
of a bull or goat under the Old Covenant (see Leviticus 1-7 for an explanation
of all of the Old Testament sacrifices for sin). The Old Testament sacrifices
were but a type and shadow of the true sacrifice that was to come. Therefore
it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens [the old
Covenant on the physical level] be cleansed with these, but the heavenly
[spiritual] things themselves with better sacrifices than these”
“For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a MERE
COPY of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence
of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high
priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own.
[Christ] would have needed to
suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the
consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the
sacrifice of Himself” (v.24-26).
As we have said, the Old Testament priest had to continually offer
new sacrifices for sin every year performed in a physical temple made with
hands. Christ entered into the spirit realm (Heaven) where God dwells and
continually lives to make intercession for us.
“For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to
come and not the very form of things can ever, by the same sacrifices which
they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.
Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers,
having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?
But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins”.
Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened :
burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.
(see also Psalm 40:6-8).
This scripture can also be likened to the many good sacrificial
works we do for Christ in hopes of pleasing Him. However, He no longer desires
or approves such “dead works”. We are transformed into the one who comes “to do
the works of God” which proceed not out of our flesh nature but are from God.
This New Covenant of Christ, where He writes His Word permanently on our hearts,
is described fully in Hebrews chapter 10:
“He takes away the first in order to establish the second.
By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of
Jesus Christ once for all.
Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same
sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 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”
“For by one offering He has perfected for all time
those who are sanctified (v. 10:1-14).
And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,
“THIS is the covenant that I
will make with them
says the Lord:
I will put My laws upon their heart,
And on their mind I
will write them,”
He then says,
“AND their sins and their lawless
I will remember
The First (Old) Covenant showed the way to the second (New)
Covenant. The inadequacy of the temporary nature of the Old gave way to the
permanence of the New. The Old Covenant was inadequate in that the sin “problem”
remained. However, the Old Covenant pointed the way to the new. Since the Old
didn’t work a New was necessary to oblivate the sin problem forever.
Similarly, the Old Testament Law, the rules and regulations enacted
by God, could never be fulfilled by man, even His chosen Jews. This necessitated
the one ultimate sacrifice by Christ. Since it was proven over and over again
that God’s chosen people, the Jews, could not fulfill the Law in and of
themselves, Christ came to fulfill it for them and all of us. It is not now by
works we are saved but by faith in a Messiah that accomplished this fulfillment
for us for eternity.
Therefore, all the Tabernacle “rituals” pointed to Christ’s ultimate
sacrifice and were actually a “type and shadow” of the true tabernacle that was
to follow. Aaron transferred the entire sin of Israel for the previous year onto
the scapegoat (Azazel) who carried it far away and forgotten. With Christ, the
entire sin of the world was transferred to Him on the cross. When He died and
was resurrected He arose a resurrected being seated at the right hand of God.
The sin that had been on put on Him from us was banished. By faith all can
participate in this resurrection. Therefore Christ became our permanent Yom
Kippur. Everything He did, and more, can be traced back to this Old Testament
forgiveness of sin and to the type and shadow of the Feast of Tabernacles that
we all, Jews, Christians and Gentiles alike should celebrate as an eternal
ordinance of God.
BETWEEN CHRISTIANITY AND JUDAISM
Judaism: The Foundation of
For too long Christianity in general
has been critical of Judaism. They assume incorrectly that since
the Jews were a part of crucifying Jesus, they committed an
unpardonable sin. That is the real basis for anti-semanticism
today. However, this is not how the New Testament Bible looks at
the Jewish nation. In fact the Apostle Paul himself was a Jew
and a “Pharisee of Pharisees” who became converted to
Christianity. Although Christians were persecuted by the Jews in
the early centuries, Paul never lost his passion for his Jewish
A brief study of Jewish history reveals the following.
God first called Abraham from the pagan Chaldean city of Ur and told him to go
to the land of Canaan, which later became the Promised Land for the Jews. He
made a covenant with Abraham that all the nations would be blessed through him.
God reckoned Abraham righteous because of his faith. That covenant is still
viable today for Jews and Christians alike. Neither “religion” denies that you
need faith to walk with God.
For the next centuries following
Abraham, all the nations were not blessed. Tiny Israel was
cloistered away from the nations. God had told them not to
associate with the surrounding nations or their religions. In
Israel, throughout their history, Jews were unable to follow
that command. Time and again they adopted the religions of the
surrounding Canaanite peoples to the point that God was forced
to judge them over and over again. There were intermittent times
when a good King would tear down all the pagan idols and return
Israel its one true God, but invariably they would go back to
pagan Baal worship or honor one of the many Gods of the pagan
peoples. Israel was taken into captivity or defeated in battle
during these times of apostasy. Finally the nation was all but
destroyed by the Babylonians around 500 B.C., and most of the
nation was taken into captivity.
God had given Israel His law through Moses in the
Sinai wilderness. In addition to the 10 Commandments there were some 600 other
laws that the Israelis were to follow. God promised that if they followed those
laws, He would bless them. Of course, Israel was unable to follow the laws as
God required and thus their rocky history.
One thing Israel did right was to preserve the Word of
God. The Word went from oral to written form and the overall opinion of scholars
is that the Word was accurately copied and translated down to the First Century.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest Hebrew manuscript, turns out to be
substantially similar to the versions of the Word we have today. God, who can do
anything He wants, used Israel to protect His Word, despite being written by
imperfect human channels. As a result, despite all the speculations to the
contrary, thousands of years later we have a Bible that is God’s Word. Nothing
God does is imperfect, so we Jews and Christians alike have His word to light
our paths, just as it did throughout Israel’s history.
The Messiah, for Jews and Christians alike, was to
come and deliver Israel from bondage and thereafter rule with a rod of iron.
This is reflected and even predicted in the writings of many ancient Jewish
prophets, whose words are recorded in the Jewish and Christian Bibles. Isaiah,
Daniel, Ezekiel and nearly all the others prophesy the coming of the Messiah
(see Isaiah Chapters 9 & 53; Jeremiah Ch. 33; Daniel Chas. 10-12 and a multitude
of others). Jesus, the Messiah of the Christians, acknowledged this by saying to
the Pharisees: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you
have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; [The Messiah]
(John 5:39). And it is true, after close study, that nearly the entire Old
Testament speaks of a Messiah or reflects Him through types and shadows and
visions. The New Testament quotes scriptures from the Old Testament countless
Yes the Jews were instrumental in the crucifixion of
Jesus, apparently without any justifiable cause. The Jews of that day feared
Jesus and used His seeming violation of Jewish law and His claim to be God as a
reason to kill him. Does thus then exclude the Jews from the Kingdom? No, says
the Apostle Paul, and he goes into some detail in the New Testament Epistle to
The New Testament recognizes the Law of the Jews. The
writer of Hebrews says the Law was a type and shadow of things to come (Hebrews
8:4-5). Christians believe that when Jesus came the first time that he was the
fulfillment of the Law (Matthew 5:17).Likewise, through Him, humanity also
becomes able to do what Jesus did. The law becomes our teacher to lead us to the
Messiah. “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being
shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has
become our tutor to lead us to Christ [the Messiah], (Galatians 3:23-24).
Paul grieved over Israel; he did not condemn them. He
says: “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience
testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing
grief in my heart. For I could wish [literally pray] that I myself
were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren [Jews]
my kinsmen according to the flesh,…(Romans 9:1-3). And: “Brethren,
my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them [Israelites] is for their
salvation (Romans 10:1).
Paul goes on to say: “I say then, God has not
rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a
descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His
people whom He foreknew” (Romans 11:1-2).
He explains: “I say then, they [the Jews] did not
stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression
[against Christ] salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them
jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is
riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!”… For
if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their
acceptance be but life from the dead? (Romans 11:11-12, 15).
The point Paul is making is this. Many consider that
Israel’s sin in not accepting Jesus as the Messiah excludes them from salvation.
Paul is saying we all have sinned, including Israel, so they can be forgiven
just as the rest of the world (the Gentiles) were. For them, Jesus was not the
Messiah, but consider that Jesus promised to come again and now ever lives to
make intercession for any who ask. The fact that Israel rejected Him the first
time (from a Christian standpoint) does not mean they will not accept Him the
second time. There is no partiality with God; Jews and Christians alike face the
same challenges of accepting the Messiah i.e. “there is level ground at the foot
of the cross”.
Paul then explains the positioning of the Jews and
Christians by making an analogy of the olive tree and the branches: “But if
some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were
grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the
olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant,
remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you
Romans 11:17-18). He is saying that the perceived sin of Israel in
rejecting Christ is represented by branches being broken off the tree. With the
coming of the Messiah, Gentiles were grafted into the tree. But the root still
belongs to Israel. Israel is the root of Christianity.
“You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that
I might be grafted in. Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but
you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not
spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either
We would today call this passage the Christian
position on anti- semanticists. Since we all stand on equal ground (i.e. all
have sinned) how can we be critical of the Jewish people who are the root the
branches sprung from? Christian’s branches can be cut off as easily as some of
the Jewish branches were.
“For if you were cut off from what is by nature
a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive
tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into
their own olive tree? This passage is self-explanatory.
Thus, at this point, there is no real difference
between the Judaism and Christianity. The barriers between the people and their
religions don’t really exist. The Messiah died for all peoples and He is coming
back to rectify all things. The Bible says “He would that none perish”.
We have ALL sinned. We ALL have need of forgiveness. In order to move closer to
each other, the Jews must realize that they must change their reliance on the
Old Testament Law and believe in a Messiah, who offers them the same salvation
He offers to the entire world. The Christians (formerly Gentiles) must also
change their lives from a life of sin to a life of righteousness. It’s all level
ground at the cross and there is no reason to arbitrarily reject one group or
MATTHEW 13: THE
WHEAT AND THE TARES
The parable of the wheat and the tares
is found in Matthew 13:24-30. It is one of the seven parables of
the Kingdom found in that chapter. The parables all begin with
“the Kingdom of God [Heaven] is like…” or “the Kingdom of Heaven
may be compared to”. A parable (parabola) is defined as:
a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral
attitude or a religious [we would say spiritual]
principle. It is from the Greek root word parabolē meaning
comparison; also, from paraballein to compare
(Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary). A parable has been defined as an
allegorical saying, analogous to a deep truth that cannot be
described in human language. A proverb is much the same as a
parable but is not a story but a brief reference to a principle,
in the Bible a spiritual principal.
It seems appropriate to
quote the entire parable here and then in succeeding paragraphs
“Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may
be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
“But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares
[darnel, a weed resembling wheat]
among the wheat, and went away.
“But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident
“The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good
seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’
“And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you
want us, then, to go and gather them up?’
“But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot
the wheat with them.
‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I
will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to
burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”
(New American Standard Bible, 1995 revision).
When the disciples asked Jesus what the parable meant, Jesus
“And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man
and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of
the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;
and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end
[consummation] of the age; and the
reapers are angels.
“So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at
the end of the age.
“The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His
kingdom all stumbling blocks,
[literally everything that is
offensive] and those who commit lawlessness,
and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be
weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Then the righteous will shine
forth as the
sun in the kingdom of their Father.
He who has ears, let him hear”
Those without ears to hear or eyes to see will never understand the
parable, let alone the spiritual principle being conveyed. Earlier the disciples
had asked Jesus why He spoke to the multitude in parables. Jesus answered:
“To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but
to them it has not been granted.
“For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance;
but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.
“Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see,
and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand (Matthew
13:10-13). This also illustrates that one can only understand the parable with
divine revelation from God, just as Christ had to explain it to the disciples.
In other words, the parable is not self-explanatory although simplistic. As
Daniel said of the end-time: “…none of the wicked will understand but those
who have insight [revelation] will understand” (v. 12:10).
Christ was the farmer who sowed good seed in the field, the whole
world. He planted the seed in the ground with the potential of the seed becoming
full Sons of God, as He is. Satan has sons as well. He took a third of all the
angels in heaven with him when he was expelled. Many became men, manifestations
of Satan on the earth (see Genesis Chapter 6). The sons of the evil one even
intermingled with women and there were giants [literally Nephilim] born to them.
This is a continuing cycle that exists even today. In fact the presence of evil
men was so prevalent in ancient times that God had to destroy them with a flood.
The Lord said that most religious of the Jews in His time, the Pharisees, were
of their father the devil.
This intermingling of tares and wheat caused much damage to the true
Sons, both in knowing the nature of the deception that surrounded them and in
their ability to recognize who they themselves were. Oneness was impossible. The
Sons couldn’t even know their brothers and sisters because the tares blocked
their view. The roots of the Sons and the tares were intermingled-instead of
knowing themselves as Sons they took on the nature of what was constantly around
them. So intricately were the Sons bound with the tares it ultimately took the
angels to separate them. It is they, as a divine moving of God, who, after
separation, bound the tares into bundles and burned them. Humans try to imitate
the righteousness of God but always fail because in themselves they cannot do
it. It is and has always been God who provides what was needed, through His
The tares were immediately apparent to Christ as the enemy, as He
was able to view the entire field. But judgment and fulfillment do not come all
at once, so as to rush in and begin to yank out all of the tares. His goal is
maturity. People ask “why would a loving God cause all the evil in the world?”
The truth is that He didn’t cause it. It is caused by the sons of the evil one,
who also planted his seeds in the earth. This is the same principle applicable
to the times in Old Testament as Joshua was taking the Promised Land. God
allowed the Canaanite nations to exist so they could take care of the vines and
crops that Israel would inherit; and He allowed Israel to grow up and the
iniquity of the nations to come to the full. Also realize that it was not
necessarily the good seed that overcame the bad seed; it took a work of God to
For those who say there is no hell, this parable and the explanation
clearly show there is. It is the eternal dumping ground of the universe,
entirely separated from God for eternity. There will be weeping and gnashing of
teeth there. People say “How could a loving God send anybody to such a place?”
He’s not sending just anybody. He is sending those who through some choice
became aligned with Satan and spread evil throughout the world. The evil they
generated comes back on them. There should not be any sympathy for those who
caused evil, sickness and futility to reign on the earth since ages past. We
will look on them with contempt.
Actually the most important part of this parable comes at the end.
While the tares are burning Christ says “Then
the righteous will shine
forth as the
sun in the kingdom of their
Father”. Can you imagine the glory! The Sun is so bright we cannot even look
at it. We will radiate this intense light. Without the hindrances of the tares,
we will be unlimited. We will no longer subsist in the light generated by
another, but will generate light as does the Son of God.
The Kingdom of God is coming to this earth as it exists in the
Spirit realm of God (Matthew 6:10). It is not far away to be possessed when we
die and “go to heaven”. Neither is it a rapture, when we are taken away from the
middle of the tares, leaving the “wicked” to contend with what is left. It is
the tares who are taken away in judgment-the parable says nothing about the Sons
being taken away. The Sons are left here to bring forth the kingdom in this
earth. We should rejoice!
Eternal Priest and King
To many Christians Melchizedek is a
mystery. He was a man who came to Abraham following Abraham’s
defeat of the five Canaanite Kings who had attacked Sodom and
Gomorrah, took all their food, and fled with many captives,
including Lot, Abraham’s nephew (Genesis 14:17-20).
Following Abraham’s return he was met
by a man identified only as Melchizedek. According to scripture,
and correct translation, Melchizedek was the King of Salem (King
of righteousness) and a priest of a single God named El Elyon.
Melchizedek is translated roughly from the Hebrew Malkiy-edeq).
This King brought bread and wine for Abraham and blessed him
saying: “Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of
heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath
delivered thine enemies into thy hand.” (Genesis 14:19-20,
KJV). Abraham then gave him a tithe of a tenth of all the spoils
of the battle. This is the only personal appearance of
Melchizedek in the Bible. However he is discussed in the Books
of Psalms and Hebrews (see below).
Melchizedek was identified as both a priest of God, El
Elyon, and a King of Salem. In a literal interpretation of Genesis 14:19,
Melchizedek blesses Abraham “in the name of God Most High” which is translated
El Elyon. Melchizedek also calls the “God Most High” (El Elyon) the possessor or
“creator” of heaven and earth. Abraham, worshipped a God called “Yahweh” but
apparently made no distinction between his God and that of Melchizedek because
Abraham gave tithe to Melchizedek thereby conceding him a priesthood greater
than his own patriarchal priesthood. Also Melchizedek worshiped only one God,
unlike Abraham’s Canaanite neighbors, who worshipped many Gods, eliminating the
theory that he hailed from any polytheistic society.
Salem, wherein Melchizedek was identified as being
King, is closely associated with Jerusalem which eventually became the center
for worship by the Jews in King David’s time. Prior to the Jewish occupation of
the city it was named “Uru-salem or Uru-salimmu” (see the Tell el-Amarna
letters, 14th century B.C.). It is believed that Melchizedek heralded
from that city and Salem is also translated “peace” (see Psalm 76:2).
Melchizedek’s validity as a priest of the Most High God (also El Elyon) is
emphasized by Abraham, as he rejects any spoils offered him by the defeated
Canaanite Kings, in the name of the same God he mentioned in Genesis 14:19.
Melchizedek is later identified in the scriptures as
holding an eternal priesthood as a type of Christ who was to come. The Book of
Hebrews goes into the most detail as to whom this mysterious figure,
Melchizedek, represented. Hebrews explains that Old Testament Priests, from the
tribe of Levi, officiated over the various sacrifices given to God by the people
to atone for sin. However, this priesthood was temporary, not permanent, in that
the sacrifices had to be offered over and over again. Further, the Priests died
and their priesthood was ended. Christ, on the other hand, was not from the
physical tribe of Levi (He was of the natural lineage of Judah). Therefore
Christ (Jesus) had no part in the Old Testament temporary priesthood. His
priesthood was permanent in that His one sacrifice forever accomplished
salvation and reconciliation to God.
Christ’s ministry as a priest is therefore compared to
that of Melchizedek “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the most
high God…to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by
interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which
is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent , having
neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God;
abides a priest continually (Hebrews 7:1-3).
The writer of Hebrews goes on: “And it is yet far
more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchizedek there arises another
priest, who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment [Mosaic Law],
but after the power of an endless life (vs. 16-17). The Old Testament
priests were appointed by law; the eternal priesthood was appointed by God and
“For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in
of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God…And inasmuch as not
without an oath he was made priest: For those priests were made without an
oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord swore and will
not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek: By so
much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament…”But this man, because he
continues ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to
save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to
make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy,
harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
Who needs not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his
own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up
himself. For the law makes men high priests which have infirmity; but the word
of the oath, which was since the law, makes the Son, who is consecrated
[literally “made perfect”] for
Neither Christ nor of Melchizedek was appointed by man but by an
oath from the Father. The commissioning to the Priesthood was that set forth in
Psalm 110: “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent [change His mind],
Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. By saying “The
Lord said to my Lord”, David seems to be speaking of the Father (The LORD) and
Christ, the Son of God (my Lord), who is the “Priest forever”, ever living to
make intercession for the Saints and the Sons of God they become (Hebrews 7:25).
The oath “thou
are a priest forever”, was never made to the Levitical priesthood. Both Christ
and Melchizedek are identified as being made priests forever, seeing no
beginning or end of their priesthood. Christ was also, like Melchizedek, called
a King. “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and
the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall
reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no
end. (Luke 1:32-33). And “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy
dominion endures throughout all generations. (Psalm 145:13). “For unto
us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his
shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God,
The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government
and peace there shall be no end (Isaiah 9: 6-70.
Many speculate as to who Melchizedek really was. Some say Shem, the
son of Noah. Others say he was an actual incarnation of Christ himself. The
Christian mystics and the Gnostics identify him as many things including a pagan
God-like figure, a Buddha, a divine being in the secret doctrines of Jesus etc.
Still others identify him as an angel or messenger of God. However, without
speculation, he was clearly identified in the Bible. These theories must be
rejected because they contradict the actual word of God wherein he is identified
as none of these, only as a priest and a King of the Most High God creator of
the heavens and the earth.
Melchizedek was a man who served as confirmation of
Christ’s ministry of eternal priesthood (see above). He was also a King, like
Christ, over His Kingdom of Salem, a Kingdom of Peace. He could be identified as
a prophet (Genesis 14:19-20), speaking the Word of God over Abraham after his
Christ (Messiah) was also identified as a prophet,
priest and King. When Christ came to the earth as God, He restricted Himself and
walked as a man within human limitations. He came as a prophet (speaking The
Father’s word) and was a priest (see above), after the order of Melchizedek—that
divine priesthood which was instituted when God, in human form, ministered on
this earth in the priesthood which preceded the Levitical priesthood. That He is
also a King requires no explanation. This is called the three-fold ministry of
Christ (prophet, priest and King), three being the number of unity
(Father-Son-Holy Spirit; spirit-soul-body etc.).
So we see Melchizedek for what he is-a confirmation of
Christ’s ministry. Any more identification other than what is written in the
Word of God is fruitless human speculation. The mention of Melchizedek as part
of God’s priesthood is meant to glorify Jesus and further solidify our
understanding of His great sacrifice for us.
*Scripture references are from the King James
Authorized Version of the Bible
SECOND COMING AND THE
About all we can be sure about as far as Jesus Second Coming is that
no one knows the date or the time, not even Christ Himself. “But of that day
and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the
Father alone (Matthew 24:36). Therefore anyone who attempts to predict the
time from prophecies, years, millenniums, a Mayan calendar etc. will probably be
wrong, as so many have been in the past. The main thing the Lord teaches us is
that we must be ready, even if He tarries in His Coming.
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your
Lord is coming.
“But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time
of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not
have allowed his house to be broken into. “For this reason you also must be
ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will
(Matthew 24: 42-44). Thus we can be
sure He will not come on our timetable but on His and even at a time when we
don’t think He could possibly come.
Jesus goes on: “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
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
(Matt 24: 45-51).
About all we can do is keep doing the will of God and walking with
Him so that when He does come we can be assured we aren’t among those that are
left out. Even if he delays His coming, we must not become discouraged and turn
again to fleshly living.
Christ reiterates this warning in the parable of the 10 virgins
(Matthew 25:1-13). The parable starts with the gathering of 10 chosen virgins
who were actually waiting right at the door of the Lord, awaiting the call of
the Bridegroom to come to the marriage feast. These were very special women who
had been called for this and had undergone years of preparation. They all
brought lamps as the Lord had commanded them. However the 5 foolish virgins did
not bring extra oil for their lamps. Expecting the Lord to come at a certain
time, they brought enough oil only for their expected time. However, the Lord
tarried, and came late, and by that time the foolish virgins had run out of oil.
In other words, they did not have sufficient anointing from the Lord, sufficient
light to shine into the darkness to see Him as He was. On the contrary the 5
wise virgins realized that the Lord could come at a time they didn’t expect and
brought extra oil in the event He came late. This boils down to the fact that
some thought they were ready when they were not.
Although all the virgins slumbered and slept, and all awoke when He
did come, some were prepared and some not. Perhaps He delayed His coming to give
the foolish virgins a chance to get what they needed just as God had delayed
before waiting for the “wickedness of the Amorites to come to a full” (Genesis
15:16). He is not willing that any be lost. Nevertheless, when He came, it was
too late for the foolish virgins. They, realizing the horror of their situation,
ran to the streets to get (buy, pay the price) for what they needed. In any
event they finally found what they needed but it was too late. The door was
shut. The Bridegroom told them “Truly I say to you, I do not know you.”
(Matt 25:12). They may have had what they thought they should have but at the
end of the day they didn’t know the Lord in the intimate manner that He
desired. Perhaps they thought they had more time to get ready. But the parable
ends with the ominous: “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor
the hour” (Matt 25:13).
This is the danger in walking with God by the intellect. Our
intellect may tell us many things and often they are not true. If our intellect
tells us He is coming at a certain time then our intellect is surely wrong. To
God, there is no time, only eternity. He who predicts the future is not walking
in the Spirit of God. To those who know God in the spirit, such questions as to
when, how where etc. are irrelevant. The only thing relevant is to do the will
of God on a day by day basis constantly looking for His return. Romans 8:14
says: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of
There are signs the Lord told us to watch for preceding His coming.
“For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will
“Wars and rumors of wars.
“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in
various places there will
be famines and earthquakes.
deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and
you will be hated by all nations because of My name.
“many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.
“Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.
most people’s love will grow cold” (Matthew 24:4-12).
Then He describes literally what will happen:
“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 [flesh] would have been saved;
but for the sake of the elect [chosen ones] those days will be cut short.
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He
is,’ do not believe him.
“For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs
and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.
“So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or,
‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them.
“For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the
west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be”
These passages also do not predict how and when the return will
occur. It just says that it will happen. Humanity has always had wars, rumors of
wars, famines, earthquakes and tribulations. All nations from the beginning of
times have had these signs of the “end-time”. So we cannot go by the signs
themselves. We can just continue to do the will of God. All Jesus said about His
coming was: “Behold I am coming quickly, just be ready”.
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
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 [the word of God]
and they will gather
together His elect from the
four winds, from one end of the sky to the other
Mainstream “Christianity” attempts to give its own literal
interpretation of these events. However, again, these interpretations obviously
arise from the human intellect, not the Spirit. Who can know what tribulation
awaits or whether it has started already. What is the sign of the Son of Man
appearing in the sky or coming in the clouds? What is the great trumpet? How
does He gather His elect? Eschatologists everywhere are sure they have the
answers and so teach others. They are false prophets, talking about what their
own minds tell them.
Most organized religions today are influenced by the God of this
world (Satan). They are those who teach Christ but do not know Him; in fact the
teachings of the average Christian church preach doctrines that are inapposite
Paul, in speaking of the false apostles of his day said:
“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).
Satan’s angelic name Lucifer which in fact means “light bearer” or
“son of the morning; morning star”. He is a religious spirit, a false light
bearer. Religion is his greatest deception. By appearing like a light bearer, or
an enlightened one, he can keep the people in bondage to precepts, doctrines and
false security rather than imparting the nature of Christ. Again, as we read,
Satan deceives the whole world. Matthew 24:20 says: “For there shall arise
false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders;
insomuch that, if it were possible,
Therefore we can conclude that we in our human state cannot
understand, predict or interpret anything having to do with God. All true
knowledge about the 2nd Advent must come through the Spirit of God,
not the intellect. It’s Ok not to know everything. Eventually we will. For now,
as we continually press in to “know him” more, there is “nothing hidden what
will not be revealed”.
There is also the current Christian doctrine of the rapture. Those
who believe in the rapture are continually waiting for the time when Christ will
remove them from this world before what they believe as the great tribulation
occurs. Then, when the end-time events are completed they will return with
Christ where he will set up His Kingdom on the earth. This means that certain
believers will be able to avoid the beasts, the heads, the horns, the “anti-christ”,
the mark and all the other aspects of the tribulation supposedly depicted in the
Book of Revelation.
The problem with the rapture is that there is no instance in the
Bible where men of God were spared any tribulation. From Abraham, Noah, Moses,
any of the prophets none were spared anything. They were usually right in the
middle of it. Most Old Testament prophets prophesied during periods of trouble
and wars. The early Christians were crucified, fed to lions and killed in all
manner of ways. They hid in caves to escape the persecution of the Romans and
Jews. The only way they were raptured was by horrible death. Why should it be
different now? The Sons (the elect, the chosen ones) are those that actually
bring forth the Kingdom on the earth. They stay here to do the dirty work. They
aren’t “waiting” for anything; they are eagerly anticipating His return, which
is a different thing. They are also initiating it.
Those who believe in the rapture also try to interpret the Book of
Revelation (eschatologists). The Book of Revelation is incapable of
interpretation by anything except through the Spirit of God. John was “in the
Spirit” (Revelation 1:1) when he saw the revelations. The false revelators
who interpret Revelation literally forget that the real truth is only revealed
through the Holy Spirit. These false predictors think they have all the answers
but the truly spiritual realize wisely that they don’t. What God really does is
not known to the average man unless he has “eyes to see, ears to hear”.
Actually the rapture theory was first advanced in the 19th
century by a few not to be named here scholars. It is nowhere advanced in the
scriptures by Paul or Jesus. It offered people a doctrine of safety and
security rather than the unpredictable moving of God. This increased church
attendance. Those promoting such theories even found what they considered to be
confirmation in the scriptures for the doctrine such as:
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are
asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.
For 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, will not precede those who have fallen
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout
[cry of command], with the voice of
the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise
Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in
the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).
Paul was here reassuring the church at Thessalonica about the dead
who had gone on before them. When Christ comes, he said, He will bring those who
have died (are asleep) in Him and we who are alive at His coming will meet “the
Lord in the air” (the spirit, neuma in Greek) and all (Christ, the dead and the
living) will live forever with Him. There is no preceding rapture indicated;
Paul speaks only of Christ, those who have died and the ones who remain on earth
at the time.
Similarly rapture proponents speak of situations described in the
scriptures such as:
“For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying
and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did
not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the
coming of the Son of Man be. “Then there will be two men in the field; one
will be taken and one will be left. “Two women will be grinding at the
mill; one will be taken and one will be left
Jesus is speaking of the judgment that is going to take place as it
did in the Days of Noah. The flood came and took them “all away” except Noah and
his family who were left. Similarly, Jesus said of the men of the field and the
women at the mill that one will be “taken” and the other left. As in the Days of
Noah the ones taken will be those taken in judgment and the righteous left.
We still come back to the bottom line. As we continue to be ready
and follow God we really do not need to understand anything more. Seek first the
Kingdom and all we need will be added to us, including knowledge. By that time
the spirit and physical worlds will be one as His Kingdom will come on earth as
it is already in heaven. Just remember, we will experience similar sufferings as
Christ as that is God’s will. It was not His intention to “rapture” Christ. It
was His will that Christ suffer. It is same today. As we move in to create the
Kingdom we will also experience the sufferings of Christ. … if indeed we
suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Romans 8:17). If
we don’t suffer we are not partakers with Him. Let’s not be cowards and wait for
some rapture to remove us from the earth right when we’re needed most.
SERVANT AS THE WORSHIPPER
Psalm 13 is a deep Psalm of need and faith
and is symbolic of Christ on the cross. It is a short Psalm and is duplicated
here for reference: “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. How long wilt
thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How
long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long
shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O LORD my God:
lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest mine enemy say, I have
prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I
have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing
unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
While suffering on the cross Christ cried
out: "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli,
Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken
me?" (Matthew 27:46). When God transferred all the sin of the world upon
Him, He had to turn His face from Jesus. Jesus didn't know why. That not knowing
was part of His suffering; His Father turned from Him at the hour of His
Many prophets and men of God have asked
the Question "How long"? Most all (if not all) of those references
concern Christ in one way or another. Christ said: "Search the scriptures;
for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
(John 5:39). The Old Testament scriptures, first and foremost, were about
Christ, providing details of His life and ministry we don't have in the New
Christ walked a lonely ministry. No one
could have understood Him. He continually refers to the multitudes He was
speaking to as those who didn't have "eyes to see nor ears to hear".
His own people, the Israelites, rejected
Him. As He says: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and
stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy
children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye
would not!" (Matthew 23:37).
So most of the references to "How long”
are references to mourning, a deep call to the Lord for fulfillment. Even God
Himself had this call: "And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this
people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the
signs which I have showed among them?" (Numbers 14:11).
Jesus was constantly incensed at the
disciples for their unbelief: "And when they were come to the multitude,
there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have
mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into
the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they
could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse
generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him
hither to me" (Matthew 17:14-17).
The cry comes even from the dead: " And
when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that
were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they
cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not
judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" (Revelation
Who can argue that the following reflects the Lord's
thinking: "O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how
long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? [deception]" (Psalm 4:2).
This cry must have persisted during the last 2000 years of apostasy.
The Psalms have no less than ten
references which cry "How long?" (Psalm 94:3; Psalm 74:9; Psalm 82:2; 6:3;
35:17; 89:46; 62:3; 79:5 to name a few).
Job, in his unjust sufferings, as Christ
suffered unjustly, cried "How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me
alone till I swallow down my spittle? I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee,
O thou preserver of men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I
am a burden to myself? And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take
away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in
the morning, but I shall not be" (Job 7:19-21).
Jeremiah (12:4), Hosea (8:5), Habakkuk
(2:6), Zechariah (1:12) and Joshua (18:3) all had similar cries. Proverbs 1:22
says: “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners
delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?”
So Psalm 13:1-4 predicts accurately the
cries of Christ, what He must have felt and what He carried with Him during His
life on earth. Yes the Psalm comes from David's own experiences in his life, but
as we've seen above, his words had a more far reaching meaning, as did the cries
reflected in the words of other men of God. They reflected Christ in that they
came forth from a suffering heart, a reflection of Christ who suffered more than
David ends the Psalm with a declaration of
faith in God, in His salvation and in worship of Him (vs. 5-6). This is also a
common response in men of God.
Jeremiah laments: "I am the man that
hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me, and brought me
into darkness, but not into light. Surely against me is he turned; he turneth
his hand against me all the day. My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath
broken my bones. He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and
travail..."(Lam 3:1-5 quoted, see 1-20).
But after describing his unjust sufferings
he concludes: "My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in
me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S
mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new
every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul;
therefore will I hope in him" (Lam 3:20-24). See also Psalm 52:8; Psalm
9:14; Psalm 116:7.
We can take this with us in our walks with
God. Men who suffered probably more than we, always had as their final response
gratitude and worship of the Lord (Psalm 13:6). That is the correct response of
a man of God. He worships in the midst of inhuman suffering.
Another reference to the sufferings of
Christ, as spoken by David, is in Psalm 22:
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art
thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry
in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not
silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel. Our
fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried
unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not
confounded...For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have
enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they
look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my
But he concludes: "I will declare thy
name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. Ye
that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear
him, all ye the seed of Israel. For he hath not despised nor abhorred the
affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he
cried unto him, he heard. My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation:
I will pay my vows before them that fear him. The meek shall eat and be
satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for
ever. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all
the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the
LORD'S: (Psalm 22:1-5, 24-28).
So shall be our response to the sufferings He feels
justified to impose on us to His Glory.
*All scripture references are from the King James
Authorized Bible Version.
THE FALL OF MAN
We all know that it was Eve’s, then
Adam’s, disobedience to God that caused the fall of man from the Garden of Eden.
But why the complete condemnation of man from that time until now? We today
still struggle with the nature that resulted from the fall; couldn’t God have
forgiven Adam the one sin? And why and how was he deceived? We will examine the
fall in a context that might seem new to some and fill in some of the details.
First of all, it was
Adam’s sin that caused the fall, not necessarily Eve’s. It was
the man who had the authority and Eve was subject to Adam. God
had to be aware of this weakness when He created Eve.
Eve was alone when she was tempted by the serpent, who was possessed
by Satan. It was likely that Adam was not with her because he would have
prevented her sin (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Genesis 3:6). The serpent was
craftier than any other animal in the garden. He probably plotted to get her
alone for that very reason. That is why Jesus sent the disciples two by two. If
we are alone we are more vulnerable to deception.
Why then did Adam succumb to Eve’s deception? Genesis says that when
God created Eve, Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my
flesh; She shall be called Woman [meaning “she man” in Hebrew the word is
"Ishsash"] because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall
leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall
become one flesh (Genesis 2:23-24).
In their relationship together they had a pure love and an absolute
oneness with one another. She was bone and flesh of the man from whom she had
been created. The Hebrew word for bone is ‘Estem. When used in the context of
“bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh” the word (or phrase) usually means “a close
genetic relationship” (New American Standard Bible, Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study
Bible, Lexical Aids section, Strong’s #6106). God’s foremost commandments are to
love Him and your brother:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to
him, “YOU SHALL love the Lord your God
with all your heart, and with all
your soul, and with all your mind.’
“This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘You
SHALL LOVE your neighbor as yourself.’ “On these two commandments depend
the whole Law and the Prophets”
(Matthew 22:37-40; Luke 10:27; Mark 12:30-31; Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus
Paul put it this way in Ephesians 5:28-29: “So husbands ought
also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife
loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes
it, just as Christ also does the church…
Therefore, in the perfect world of the Garden of Eden, Adam loved
Eve as no man since has loved a woman. “So they are no longer two, but one
flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.” (Matthew
19:6). God made Adam perfect, in His own image, but He left him with a free will
and a choice. When Eve came to Adam after eating of the Tree of Good and Evil,
Adam must have immediately recognized what she had done and the probable
consequences. She had been disobedient to the only condition God had placed upon
them in the Garden. One interpretation states that he knew (or thought) that
Eve was thereby condemned and would be punished. He loved Eve totally, so much
that he could not bear being without her, even in the Garden of Eden. Although
he knew that his disobedience would put him in as great a condemnation as Eve,
he chose to be with her in whatever God would will, rather than be without her.
The first thing that happened after the sin was that Adam and Eve
suddenly realized they were naked. As God searched for them, he called to the
man (Adam) and said to him: “Where are you?” He [Adam] said, “I heard
the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid
myself” (Gen 3:9-10). Prior to that time they were naked and were not
ashamed (Gen 2:25). The Hebrew for naked is Arowm or arom. It means nude, naked,
bared, ragged, and badly clad and refers to the dress of very poor people. One
must assume that Adam and Eve were in that condition before the fall. But they
were not ashamed before God. Now that when their eyes were open, they became
afraid and shamed and hid from God for the first time.
God’s response was “Who told you that you were naked? Have you
eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (v.3:11). What He
was saying was “I didn’t tell you that you were naked so who did?”
The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave
me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the
Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman
said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (v.12-13).
Thus came the first instance of shame and denial; they were blaming
something else and not themselves for what had happened. It was a form of a lie
and Satan is the Father of lies. That shame still plagues believers today. Many
feel condemned because of their sin and want to shrink back from God rather than
step up and accept His gift of salvation. There is no condemnation in Christ
The interesting thing about this is that although Adam and Eve were
made in the image of God, they were still children. There were many things
remaining that God wanted to teach them. God had not yet told them they were
naked. As their wisdom increased and they “grew up”, God would have gotten
around to telling them that truth when they were ready to know it. Satan,
however, as part of his plot, revealed to them what was the truth, but before
God was ready to tell them.
The same is true of many of us; they are many things He would like
to reveal to us, but we are not ready to receive them. Just as Jesus said in
John 16:12-15: “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear
them now. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into
all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He
hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. “He will
glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.”
Therefore the things Jesus had to say the disciples they could not
bear at that time. He had to relegate that task to the Holy Spirit who, over
time, would reveal the things of Christ to them; line upon line, precept upon
precept, here a little, there a little (Isaiah 28:10). Too much truth, given at
the wrong time, can be as damaging as or more damaging than the lie. For Satan’s
truth, given too early, destroyed Adam and Eve and all mankind after them. They
couldn’t handle what they had done and hid from their
So God cursed mankind and the earth with futility. But
he subjected mankind to futility not without hope. 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”
What was the hope? 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” (Gen. 3:15). God was saying that the seed of the woman (Jesus
Christ) would crush the head of Satan and thus release creation from the
divinely imposed futility. Therefore what God did in the Garden was with hope:
“For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of
the sons 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, 22-25).
By the same token, the knowledge of the truth of good and evil god
would have revealed to them at the right time, when they had been prepared for
it. The prohibition of eating from that tree was but a test, to see if the pair
could obey God in their innocence. They failed. The scriptures say that although
there were truths the disciples were not ready for, that the Holy Spirit, in His
timing, would reveal all things to them. A fair comparison can be made with the
Bible itself. God tells us He made the heaven and earth, but He doesn’t tell us
how or why. The Bible contains all of the truth but our revelation of the of
God’s word deepens as reveals more truth. God gives us only what we need and can
bear at the time.
There is one additional truth we need to touch on. Why
couldn’t God have allowed Adam and Eve to remain in the Garden? Because the
Garden contained the tree of life. If Adam and Eve had been left in the Garden
after they had entered into imperfection by their sin, they may have eaten of
the tree of life and lived forever in their unperfected state. What a disaster
that would have been! He couldn’t allow mankind to continue eternally in a state
of sin. He said: “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, [Father,
Son, Holy Spirit] 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. So He drove
the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim
and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the
tree of life” (Genesis 3:22-24). God in His mercy subjected creation to
futility (Romans 8:20) but in hope that through the redemptive work of
Christ creation would return again to the freedom of the glory of God.
Thus God, in his infinite wisdom, created a plan for man to
eventually become perfected and mature in Him. Ephesians v. 13-15 says:
“…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
[like Adam and Eve], 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 [literally “holding on to’] the truth
in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even
This is what Christians today are undergoing-the maturing process
that will lead them to absolute maturity. That maturity is to become the
likeness of Christ in every way. We will not be led back to the Garden of Eden
as it was-populated by the immature. We will create the Kingdom populated by the
mature who know both good and evil. We will be ready to receive this truth. And
we will banish evil from the earth. Unfortunately we had to take the long way
around by learning the consequences of sin-death. But by our perfection we will
banish death and all sickness, sorrow and grief. This all could have been
avoided had Adam and Eve simply obeyed God and gone on to perfection in the way
God intended. The result is the same but Oh what a road back. Thank God and
Christ for having the mercy and lovingkindness to reopen the path back to God.
Without that, we are condemned and subject to death, as Adam and Eve were.
So mankind learned a lesson the hard way. But we get back our Garden
and much more but not without defeating the massive evil released by the
original sin. It seems that man always takes the hard path which could be
avoided by simple obedience to God. We don’t have to learn from experience. We
can bypass that way and learn obedience. So the story of the Garden of Eden
FEAST OF PENTECOST
The celebration known as
the Feast of Pentecost is one of the main Jewish Feasts or
convocations initiated by God during Israel’s time in the
wilderness. It has great application to Christians today in that
it was on the Day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit fell on the
Apostles and others following Christ’s death and resurrection.
The Feast was originally known as the Feast of Weeks, as
recorded in the Old Testament. It was named the Feast of Weeks
as it occurred exactly 50 days from the waving of the symbolic
barley sheaf during the Feast of Passover. It is one of God’s
ordained Feasts, Passover and the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles
being the others. God gave the revelation of the Feasts to Moses
while Israel was in the wilderness. The first Feast of Pentecost
occurred 50 days after Israel’s Passover deliverance from Egypt.
(Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10; 2 Chronicles 8:13). Some
believe it was on this day that Moses received the 10
Commandments from God on Mt. Sinai (6th Savin).
The Feast was also called the Feast of Harvest because
it celebrated the harvest of the later grains (Exodus 23:16) and the feast of
the Firstfruits because the first loafs of bread from the harvest were offered
to the Lord (Numbers 28:26; Leviticus 23:17). The timing of the exact day of the
Feast is recorded in Leviticus 23:15.
In early times it was an agriculturally based celebration associated
with Passover. It had to do with the firstfruits of the harvest that was
symbolically planted around the time of Passover. The Feast lasted 1 or 2 days
depending on how the Jewish lunar calendar set the day for that year. It has
also been suggested that the Feast celebrated a renewal of the covenant given by
God to Noah following the flood (Book of Jubilees 6:1-21). As with all Jewish
Feasts the rituals and ordinances involved spoke symbolically of the Christ
(Messiah) that was to come.
There were specific ordinances commanded by God that were to
observed in keeping this feast. In order to be scripturally accurate applicable
portions of scripture that reflect the Feast are quoted below:
“…all your males are to appear before the Lord God
(YHWH), the God of Israel.
“You shall bring the very first of the first fruits of your soil into the house
of the Lord your God.
you shall do no laborious work (Ex
“You shall offer a burnt offering for a soothing aroma to the
Lord: two young bulls, one ram,
seven male lambs one year old; and their grain offering, fine flour mixed with
oil: three-tenths of an ephah
[bushel] for each bull, two-tenths
for the one ram, a
tenth for each of the seven lambs; also one male goat to make atonement for
Besides the continual burnt offering and its grain offering, you shall present
them with their drink offerings. They shall be without defect
“You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath
[week]; then you shall present a new grain offering to the
‘You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave
offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked
with leaven as first fruits to the Lord
[during Passover it was unleavened
‘Along with the bread you shall present seven one year old male lambs without
defect, and a bull of the herd and two rams; they are to be a burnt offering to
the Lord, with their grain offering
and their drink offerings, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the
‘You shall also offer one male goat for a sin offering and two male lambs one
year old for a sacrifice of peace offerings.
‘The priest shall then wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave
offering with two lambs before the Lord;
[in a wave offering the offering was placed on the hands of the offeror and the
priest, after putting his hands under those of the offeror, the priest moved the
offering backwards and forwards horizontally]
‘On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a
holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a perpetual
statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.
‘When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the
very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to
leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the
Lord your God
(Leviticus 23:15-22). Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the
Lord your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your
You shall rejoice before the Lord
your God, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants
and the Levite who is in your town, and the stranger and the orphan and the
widow who are in your midst, in the place where the
Lord your God chooses to establish
“You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful
to observe these statutes”
Passover represented Israel’s deliverance from Egypt into the new
land God was giving them. The Feast of Weeks or Firstfruits represented the
fruit of the produce of the new land, as opposed to the leeks and onions
consumed by Israel in Egypt prior to the exodus. As we see below, the Old
Testament Feast was fulfilled in Christ in that His great commissioning and
promise to His disciples was fulfilled on that day.
In the New Testament, the Greek word “Pentekostos” meaning 50th,
resulted in the Feast being named Pentecost. The early church did not celebrate
the pagan feasts such as Easter and Christmas; they celebrated the three feasts
God had ordained to be perpetual, including Pentecost. It was on Pentecost that
the single most important event in Christianity occurred.
Jesus promised the disciples that when He had Ascended He would send
them the Helper, The Holy Spirit, who would bring to their remembrance all that
He had said and would guide them into all the truth (John 14:26). On Pentecost
that Spirit was poured out on all those assembled with the disciples. This was
the fulfillment of a prophecy by the prophet Joel recorded in the Old Testament:
“It will come about after this that I will pour out My
Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
“Even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days
For 50 days after Christ’s crucifixation, the clueless disciples
wandered in their confusion-some went back to fishing; others went home. They
did not know what to do. Finally they gathered together in an upper room and
began seeking the Lord. The result was astounding.
“When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all together
in one place.
And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it
filled the whole house where they were sitting.
And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and
they rested on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other
[languages], as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
Thus the Word of God was fulfilled in that the Holy Spirit did not
just fall on the disciples or the Jews; it fell on ALL. There were
representatives of many nations present at this time and they marveled that they
were suddenly speaking in other tongues but could all understand each other.
This was confirmation of the New Covenant wherein fulfillment was not just to
physical Israel but to Jews and Gentiles alike. The next scripture shows the
extent of the diversity that was present when the Spirit fell:
“Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every
nation under heaven.
And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered
because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language.
They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are
“And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were
“Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and
Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and
visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds
And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one
another, “What does this mean?”
But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine” (Acts
But now the disciples, who had lived with Jesus for more than three
years, understood now just as the Lord said they would.
“But Peter, taking his stand with
[spokesman for] the eleven
[Judas had been replaced], raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of
Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed
to my words.
For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of
the day (9 AM);
but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel”
From that day, the disciples (now Apostles) began to speak the Word
of God throughout Israel and the world. They became known as those “those who
turn the world upside down”. They did the works of Jesus and more, just as He
had said they would. They were filled with the Spirit and loved not their own
lives until death. They performed miracles, signs and wonders and raised the
dead. They converted thousands upon thousands to Christ. They established
churches and converted countries that are still Christian to this day. They did
it all by the Holy Spirit which had fallen on the day of the first-fruits, the
day of harvest, the Day of Pentecost. They were the first-fruits; they were the
harvest. Pentecost is a short Feast, really only one day but it should be
celebrated by Jews and Christians alike. However, beyond being a feast of a set
time, these feasts were perpetual ordinances and can be celebrated any-time,
anywhere. We celebrate Christ’s gift of the Holy Spirit to us who will guide us
into all the truth and into the Kingdom of God.
BRIDE: A STORY OF HOPE
The theme of God’s people
being the Bride of Christ is prevalent throughout the Bible
(Revelation 21:2 for example, see also Song of Solomon). God
constantly likens His relationship to His people as that of a
husband and wife. It is in this portrayal that God most reveals
His vulnerable side, His love, and the explanation for His
sometimes violent, angry and jealous side.
The marriage relationship between man and woman is probably the most
intense that exists in the human experience. Crimes of passion dominate almost
all other crimes in the affairs of men, who are created in the image of God. The
emotions engendered by close, intimate relationships rival those of God who
loves more intensely than human. As a result, it has been, and is now, not
uncommon for God to react in ways that seem to us as extreme. Yet in all His
dealings with His people, ancient Israel and today’s spiritual Israel, these
extremes are hope for God’s people, His Bride. They reveal God’s unfailing and
eternal love for us.
Isaiah Chapter 54 speaks of this relationship and God’s hope for a
final consummation of this love relationship which is more intense than any
emotion generated by man. “For the Lord
has called you, Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, Even like a wife
of one’s youth when she is rejected,” Says your God. “For a brief moment I
forsook you, But with great compassion I will gather you. “In an outburst
[overflowing] of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, But with
everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,” Says the
Lord your Redeemer” (Isaiah
Forsake, in Hebrew, is azab, and also is used as abandonment in the
context of God’s relationship with Israel in the Old Testament. As the verb
enkataleiop, in Greek, it means to “separate with” someone/something by leaving,
abandoning or deserting. It evokes the most extreme of actions by God upon
humanity with seemingly disastrous ensuing consequences. Christ’s most extreme
reaction on the cross was His agonized cry of “My God, My God why have you
forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). The answer to this question dates
to the beginning of creation when God forsook His creation in the Garden of
God’s heart is revealed in the story of His original creation and
His subsequent abandonment of it. In it, His overwhelming love for His Bride is
shown because he did not completely abandon His object of passion without hope
for redemption. Paul says in Romans 8:20-21: “For the creation was
subjected to futility [a form of abandonment by God], 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”.
God’s original depiction of creation was that of a paradise filled
with His presence and love. God was “pleased” with His created world and saw
that it was “good” (Genesis Chapter 1). In it God had a close relationship with
the crown of His works, man. In all of it He required only one thing of man,
only one commitment, such as the commitment(s) expressed by a husband and wife
in their vows of marriage to each other. In this case God required the
commitment of obedience which was quickly violated by man. The results of man’s
violation of this commitment invoked in God an emotion so severe that, in His
anger, He abandoned creation to a place without His abiding presence, a
condition which continues to pervade humanity to this day to its detriment.
Physical Israel, as depicted in the Old Testament, was to be to us
an example of God’s plan of redemption of mankind and the ensuing struggles
inherent in the completion of that plan. In it all God promised and demonstrated
His great compassion in the face of continual rejection by His chosen people.
This is no better depicted in the Book of Hosea wherein God expressed how He
felt about Israel’s continual unfaithfulness to Him in the face of His promise
of love and blessing.
In Hosea, God commanded His prophet Hosea to fall in love with, and
marry, an unfaithful prostitute. “…the
Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have
children of harlotry; for the land [Israel] commits flagrant harlotry,
forsaking [abandoning, not following after] the
Lord.” (Hosea 1:2). As an
example to Israel of His feelings for His people God caused Hosea to experience
His (God’s) pain, as His chosen nation and people pursued unfaithfulness evoking
His anger and jealousy. Hosea went on to love and marry the prostitute, and to
have children by her, while she continued to be unfaithful to Him.
God’s displeasure with His people, who had abandoned and forsaken
Him, is expressed throughout the book of Hosea, wherein Israel is likened to a
whore in the most uncomplimentary terms. He, who had given so much in the
relationship, is grieved and responds in anger, jealousy and judgment: “For
she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine and the
oil, And lavished on her silver and gold, Which they used for Baal [a
pagan god]. “Therefore, I will take back My grain at harvest time And My
new wine in its season. I will also take away My wool and My flax Given to cover
her nakedness. “And then I will uncover her lewdness In the sight of her
lovers, And no one will rescue her out of My hand. “I will also put an end to
all her gaiety, Her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths And all her festal
assemblies. “I will destroy her vines and fig trees, Of which she said, ‘These
are my wages Which my lovers have given me.’ And I will make them a forest,
And the beasts of the field will devour them. “I will punish her for the days
of the Baals [pagan gods] When she used to offer sacrifices to them And
adorn herself with her earrings and jewelry, And follow her lovers, so that
she forgot [abandoned, forsook] Me,” declares the
Yet is all His rejection and forsaking of His people God still
refused to abandon completely, leaving open a door of hope and redemption.
Although the forsaking and rejecting may be something easily, though painfully,
accomplished by man, God’s ultimate forgiveness and redemption is not common to
man. In the midst of a complete betrayal of His love God says:
“Come, let us return to the
For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.
“He will revive us after two days;
He will raise us up on the third day,
That we may live before Him.
“So let us know, let us press on to know the
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth.”
Words alone cannot describe the depth of God’s love for us. We take
for granted what can only be adequately expressed with tears. We can only
imagine the depths of God’s love for us who have, as humanity, rejected him with
the result that he has rejected us as He did Israel. As humans, a broken heart
is the most extreme feeling we can compare to how God feels about us. To what
can we as humans compare to a broken heart? Yet God extends to us a healing for
our broken heart, and His, if we but return to Him. He says return with “fasting
and weeping”. How else can we return in view of our sins? What do we have left
to offer except what He desires most a “broken and contrite heart?”
David, in the midst of his repentance over the sin of adultery and
murder, says only: “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would
give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a
broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise”
Christ asked the question on the cross as to why God had forsaken
Him at the time of his greatest need. The answer to that question is as follows.
The sin of mankind can be boiled down to his rejection of God wherein God’s
reaction was the same. In His anger He rejected man to his own devices which
resulted only in suffering and grief. God, in His great compassion, had to lay
that rejection, abandonment, forsaking, onto Christ on the cross so that His
love could prevail and His redemption and reconciliation could be fully
accomplished. Although beyond the expression of words, this is mankind’s lesson.
He has removed our rejection and abandonment. We were forsaken, as was Christ on
the cross, but only for a brief moment (a thousand years to God is as a watch in
the night). How can we also but forgive each other as God, although broken and
grieved beyond measure, forgave us and allowed Himself the vulnerability to
accept us to Himself.
His promise to us is without measure.
“O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,
[disciples of] the
Behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.
“Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies,
And your gates of crystal,
And your entire wall of precious stones.
“All your sons will be taught of
And the well-being of your sons will be great.
“In righteousness you will be established;
You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear;
And from terror, for it will not come near you.
If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me.
Whoever assails you will fall because of you.
“Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals
And brings out a weapon for its work;
And I have created the destroyer to ruin.
“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper;
And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the
And their vindication is from Me,” declares the
BE LIKE CHRIST
To be like Christ is to actually
displace our own human nature with the nature of Christ. Analyzing with our
minds “what would Jesus do” in a situation is not being like Him. Neither is
taking on a religious persona or trying to be a good person. The only way to be
like Him is to actually become Him.
The Old Testament
contained various laws that the Jews were to follow in order to
please God. Although the Israelites tried to follow the laws,
they failed over and over again. They were conquered many times
because they were disobedient, following after other religions
and worshipping idols among other things. The point of the Old
Testament laws was to make man aware that even though he had God
in his midst, he could never fulfill the law in himself. Thus
Jesus Christ became necessary to fulfill the law for us.
Jeremiah 31:33-44 and Hebrews 8:7-13 state how the New Covenant
under Christ differed from the Old Mosaic covenant.
are coming, says the Lord,
will effect a new
With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;
Not like the covenant
On the day when I took them by the
To lead them out of the land of Egypt;
For they did not continue in My covenant,
did not care for them,
says the Lord.
“FOR this is the
covenant that I will make with the
house of Israel
says the Lord:
I will put My laws into their minds,
will write THEM ON their hearts.
will be their God,
And they shall be My people.
And when He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But
becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear”.
No longer does Israel (spiritual Israel of Christ’s time) have to
obey God’s laws by their own strength or stamina. Now the laws will be written
on their hearts. With this new nature they will no longer sin because it will no
longer be in their nature to do so. A majority of Christianity today seems to
cling to the old and obsolete law that was if you do certain things, works and
actions, God will be pleased. God is not pleased with anything done on the human
level. He is only pleased by His Son and those who are becoming like Him. Any
works that please Him come from the Spirit and are not man’s works but Gods.
There is no question scripturally that we are to be like Him. 1 John
“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”.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now
I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known”
(1 Corinthians 13:12).
Jesus Himself said that we are to be made perfect. “Therefore
you [you shall be] perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew
5:48). We have already shown that man can never, in all his efforts, be perfect.
The only way to be perfect in the Father’s eyes is to possess His nature, as
How do we accomplish this? Many look at scriptures such as the
Sermon on the Mount and walk away saying “I could never do these things”. How
can I never judge another, even deep in my heart? How can I never look on
another without lust or even think it? How can I never be anxious? Never be
self-righteous? Or angry, or unbelieving? Many try to walk in these teachings
and walk away discouraged because they realize they can’t do them.
Those who walk away with that feeling are right; they can never do
them in themselves. Christ says that righteousness has to be an impartation and
a change of nature.
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy
rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have
taken us away”
(Isaiah 64:6, KJV).
But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard
Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference
to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being
corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the
spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has
been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth”
2 Peter 1:4 states:
“For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so
that by them you may become PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE, having escaped the
corruption that is in the world by lust”.
Only be being partakers of the divine nature may we become righteous.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the
glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to
glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit”
(2 Corinthians 3:18).
By seeing the Lord, a little or a lot at a time, we are changed into
the same image (nature) as He is. Therefore it is our spiritual relationship
with God that changes us, not our great works. When we see Him, we change much
the same as the Old Testament example of Moses. After Moses met the Lord on the
Mount, he had to put a veil over his face to hide the glory because the
Israelites could not look on him.
How do we see Him? We seek Him. We hunger after Him. We cry “Lord,
show yourself”. We pray and are persistent.
Jeremiah 29:12-14 says:
“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me,
and I will listen to you.
‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
‘I will be found by you,’ declares the
Jesus spoke a parable in Luke 11:5-10 as part of His lesson to the
disciples on how to pray. The parable was: A man went to his friend asking for
bread to feed his guests. The friend was asleep and would not get up. But
because of the man’s persistence in asking for the bread the friend finally got
up and gave him what he needed. Of particular interest is verses 8-10:
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.
“So I say to you, ask
[keep on asking], and it will be
given to you; seek [keep seeking] and you will find; knock, [keep
knocking] and it will be opened to you.
“For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who
knocks, it will be opened”
So we seek and keep on seeking with persistence and we will receive His nature
and meet Him and change.
Matthew 7:11 states:
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how
much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ASK
The “good gift” we seek is His righteousness.
Finally, this promise is not for the sweet bye and bye when we die
and go to Heaven. It is for now, right here, right now. Jesus said it straight
out in the Sermon on the Mount:
“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”
His will is already being done in Heaven, the spiritual realm where
He lives. He wants that same will to be done on earth. If it is only being done
by those who are dead and in Heaven, then how is it going to be done on earth?
We on earth, who seek, cry and hunger for righteousness, will find it here. We
don’t have to wait for death or some kind of rapture to be perfect. Christ was
speaking to those on earth, not to those who were dead. His will is that
perfection is available here and now for those who seek Him.
THE FALL OF SATAN
Did you ever wonder exactly what we are up against as mature
Christians who want to walk on with God in this life? This article is for those
who long to move further into a knowledge and awareness of God; to move into a
daily, hourly walk with Him. It is for those to whom simple salvation, accepting
Jesus as our Savior, is only a beginning. By understanding what we must overcome
as Christians, we can better maintain a deeper, personal walk with God and Jesus
Christ, and an understanding and awareness of Him and His purposes.
The answers to knowing the deep attributes of God may seem, at
times, to be shrouded in mystery. However, the secrets of the ages are hidden
within the Word of God (Matthew 13:34-35; Psalm 78:2). Although the Lord
commanded Daniel to seal up the words of the Book, after showing him many
secrets regarding events that were to take place in the future (Daniel 12:9),
Revelations Chapter 5 promises us that the time would come that the “seals of
the Book” would be broken. (v.5-6). To the perceptive Christian, this unsealing
of the Book is taking place today. It is the purpose and promise of the Holy
Spirit to lead us into all the truth and show us all things (John 16:13). We
need only the eyes to see and the ears to hear (Matthew 11:15; Revelation 2:11,
17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22).
Isaiah chapter 14 reveals some of the answers to these mysteries. On
the surface, this chapter seems to be, a discourse taken up against the King of
Babylon who was reigning at the time of Isaiah’s prophecy and who ultimately
attacked and destroyed Judah and Jerusalem. Isaiah may very well have been
referring to that king, on one level. However, many Old Testament writings and
prophecies, although written long before the birth of Christ, were directed
towards the future, to the time of Christ and beyond. (John 5:39, 46-47; Acts
2:16-21, 25-28, 34-36). With that in mind, a deeper and more mystical
understanding of Isaiah 14 is indicated.
Isaiah 14 speaks of Babylon and the king of Babylon. Scriptures written later
speak of another Babylon, far beyond the scope of the Babylon of Isaiah’s time.
Revelation chapters 17-18 describe in some detail the “mystery Babylon”, who was
the “harlot” that did battle with the Lamb (the Lord), and deceived the
nations. It is likely that even if in chapter 14 Isaiah was referring to the
physical king of Babylon of his time, he was revealing a far stronger force
behind the king. It is that “force” that we are concerned with here.
We have all heard of Satan, Lucifer or simply “the devil”, referred
to as a “fallen angel”. What does that mean to us as Christians? We must first
examine what the scriptures say about Satan. First, it was this 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). Satan is described later as the ruler of
this world (John 12:31). Satan tempted Jesus on the mountain saying rightfully
that “All the power in this world” was handed over to him and that it was his
to give to whom he wished”. (Luke 4:6). Satan has also been described as “ he
who blinds the minds of the unbelieving” (2 Corinthians 4:4). This “devil” is
even described as the “Father of the unbelieving” (John 8:44). Apostle Peter
instructs Christians that Satan is “our adversary” and that “we are not to be
unaware of his schemes“(1 Peter 5:8).
If we are to become more aware of this “adversary”, what do we
actually know about his origins, purposes and methods? We do know that at one
time he held a very high place before God. Isaiah 14:12-14 begins with:
“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!”
“Star of the morning” (or “morning star”) is defined in the Hebrew
as “Lucifer” or “the shining one”. The King James Version literally reads “O
Lucifer, son of the morning”. Spiritually, it appears that this “morning
star”, the brightest object in the sky, was actually a place that God at one
time gave Satan as his very own dominion (Job 38:7). It is also a place that
will ultimately be occupied by Christ and His Sons (Revelation 22:16; 2 Peter
Isaiah goes on (verse 13):
“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.”
in verse 14:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
If we accept that Isaiah was not only referring to the king of
Babylon of his day, but was also referring to a force much more formidable, we
can begin to break down these verses and better understand our enemy Satan. We
find that Lucifer (Satan) desired to “ascend above the clouds” and “make
[himself] like” God.
How did Satan want to be like God? First, he wanted to “sit on the
mount of assembly”. The mount of assembly, in the Hebrew, was the place of honor
occupied by God at ordained feasts, worships, and other gatherings of the
peoples. Satan further wanted to “sit” on that mount. The word “sit” is
synonymous to the word “enthroned” in the Hebrew, which refers to the permanent
“seat” of the Lord. Enthroned is used, for example in Psalm 9:11 (God, enthroned
in Zion, the mountain of God) and Psalm 22:3 (God enthroned on the praises of
his people). Therefore, according to Isaiah, Lucifer desired to inhabit a very
high place, as God occupied. Satan did not want to serve God, but desired to sit
or be enthroned, like God, in a place of honor, receiving the adoration and
worship of the people.
However, it likely became obvious that there was room in ‘heaven”
for only one such high place, and it was permanently occupied by the “Most
High”. Not to be daunted, and rather than humble himself to the Most High God,
Satan then sought a suitable place to set up his own kingdom. Isaiah says that
place was located in the “recesses of the north” (verse 14:13). This reference
to the “north” is a key for us in understanding our enemy today.
What are “the
recesses of the north”? The obvious indication is that the Babylonian empire
attacked Israel from the north. However, the operative word “north”, as used in
Isaiah14, is “saphon”, pronounced “saw-fone’” and indicates generally the
direction north. However, the word is likely derived from “sapan” (Zondervan
Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 4, page 451) which means a hidden or dark
place, gloomy and unknown, to hide, hidden, secretly,
secret place, lurk, prively, the hidden ones and laid up (Strongs, 6828, 6845)
In other words, Isaiah tells us that Satan wanted to set up his own rule and
kingdom, in order to receive adoration and worship, like God, and to call the
shots, like God. But he wanted to (or had to) do it as far away from God as he
could. The “recesses of the north” is the hidden, “dark”, gloomy and secret
place, away from the “light” of God where everything is laid open and bare, and
nothing is hidden from His sight (Hebrews 4:13).
We know that Satan ultimately set up his kingdom on this earth
(Ephesians 6:12; John 8:44). By setting up his kingdom in a secret, dark place,
here on Earth, away from the presence of God, we begin to get a glimpse of what
Christ had to face in bringing our redemption and reconciliation to God, and
what we have to face in bringing that redemption and reconciliation to full
reality on the earth (“on earth as it is in heaven”, Matt 6:10).
Does it seem strange to you that it is the natural state of being
for humanity to be unaware of the presence of God? If God is omnipotent and
omnipresent, throughout the universe, why is man not continually, consciously
aware of Him? It was not always so. In the Garden of Eden, man walked in the
presence of the Lord continually. God brought animals to Adam, and he named
them. God walked and talked with Adam in the Garden, in the cool of the night.
The presence of God was so prevalent that Adam and Eve actually had to hide
themselves from His presence after they were deceived (by the serpent) and ate
the forbidden fruit (see generally Genesis 2-3).
From the day man was banished from the Garden of Eden, he had a
struggle to obtain an awareness of God; he has had a struggle just living day to
day (Genesis 3:14-24). Why? Because Satan had been allowed to set up his own
kingdom on this earth, ruling the earth and all that is in it (Luke 4:6; Acts
26:18; Ephesians 6:12; John 8:44, 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). He set up his dominion
here on earth, as Isaiah said, in a spiritual location as far away from the
light of God as possible (the hidden place, the “recesses of the north”). While
man struggles to get closer to God, he is continually hindered by the evil one,
who has set up his rule in separation from God. Man, who lives in Satan’s
kingdom, was made subject to that separation (2 Corinthians 4:4). Over time, it
became completely natural for man to live separated from God. Satan has been so
successful in his plan that a large percentage of humanity struggles to believe
that God even exists at all. Contemplate the magnitude of this deception;
that Satan has been able to convince an entire race of people that the creator
of the universe either does not exist or has no power in our lives! Without
Christ, and His victory over Satan, we would not even be aware of this
deception, let alone be able to overcome it (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Satan is the lie and the Father of it. Jesus went so far as to call
him the “Father of the unbeliever” (John 8:44). We were all unbelievers, until
we accepted Christ. (Romans 5:19; John 3:16). We have had Satan’s nature inbred
in us for thousands of years, so that over time we learned to absolutely accept
separation from and unawareness of God as a natural state of being. Although
Christ created the provision for us to overcome that deception, we believers
still face the challenge of making that provision an absolute reality in out
lives (see Romans 7:14-25).
`We know that Satan’s end is clearly spelled out in the same chapter
of Isaiah, verses 15-20. Satan will be thrown down to the pit and all of
humanity will look on him, as he is unveiled before them and exclaim “is this
the man who made the earth tremble, who shook the Kingdoms…and did not allow the
prisoners to go home [to the Lord]?”… who will go down to the pit to be
trodden under by foot”.
However, until that day the important challenge we face in walking
on with God into maturity is overcoming this unawareness of God, which is such
an integral part of Satan’s kingdom. It is Satan who, through his disobedience
and refusal to serve God, lives, with us, in separation from God, in the dark
place, in the “recesses of the north”. It is readily apparent why an awareness
of his strategy is so important to us at this time in the history of the
restoration of all things. If we remain separated from God, we will not inherit
the full extent of His promises, since His goal is total restoration and oneness
of the human race to Him.
What is Christ’s ultimate purpose and how does He mean to accomplish
it? One primary purpose is to bring many Sons to maturity (Ephesians 4:11-13;
Romans 8:19, 23, 29; Hebrews 2:11), thereby releasing all of creation from
divinely imposed futility (Romans 8:20-22). He intends to do this by creating
His very nature within us, even within our mortal bodies (Galatians 4:6-7;
Romans 8:29-30; Romans 8:11). Only the nature of Christ can inherit the Kingdom
of God; those who walk according to the flesh (in a state of unawareness) will
not (Romans 8:5-8, 12-14; 1 Corinthians 14:50).
Thus, in order to inherit the Kingdom, our natures must change. We
who were born according to the flesh, according to the ways of Satan, in
separation from God, must put on the nature of Christ our Lord, who lives not in
unawareness but in glory. (1 Corinthians 15:53-54). But how do we change? Can a
leopard change his own spots? (Jeremiah 13:23). Can we change through our own
The way we change is by beholding Him, seeing Him, becoming aware of
Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). When we fully see Him, we become like him (1 John 3:2;
1 Corinthians 13:12). It is a matter of awareness. Satan knew this. He knew he
had to set up his kingdom in separation from God, because if we were allowed to
see Christ, high and lifted up, at the right hand of the Father, we would become
like Christ. When we become like Christ, Satan’s defeat is fully manifested;
Christ’s victory becomes a reality.
The prophet Daniel saw this more than a thousand years before
Christ’s birth. He saw that the evil force “would speak out against the
Saints of the most high” and “wear down the saints”. He saw that the
evil one would “attempt to make alterations in times and in law” and that
he would actually succeed for “a time, times and half a time” (Daniel
7:25). One such alteration in law was to block the awareness of the Saints, to
blind them to the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 2:11), to make it
natural for man to be unaware. However, Daniel saw the end result (verse 26-27).
He saw that “…his [Satan’s] dominion will be taken away, annihilated
and destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of
all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the
saints of the Highest One…”
We as “the people of the saints of the Most High” must strive to
become aware of our Lord; to have a greater personal relationship with Him. By
seeing Him, we will change, from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). We can
have this awareness of Him in this lifetime; we don’t have to wait until we die
a physical death. We who are here alive on earth at this time can defeat the
fallen angel, like Christ did, and foil his plans to maintain his own kingdom,
in the recesses of the north, far from the presence (awareness) of God. We can
and must manifest, here on earth, the victory won for us by The Lord Jesus
Christ. By seeking and cultivating, on a daily basis, a continual awareness of
His presence, we make that victory certain.
THE WORKS OF GOD OR
HOW GOD WORKS
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
Nobody really knows how God works. It is a mystery ready to be
revealed in the last times and the coming of the Kingdom of God. His ways are
past finding out (Romans 11:33). However, we have some idea about how he works
on earth in his dealings with mankind and this is what we shall discuss.
Job was a righteousness man according to God (The Book of Job in the
Bible). He was knowledgeable and wise in the things of God and walked with God.
One day Satan came before God and convinced God to take away all that Job had to
see if Job, in the midst of this adversity, would continue to worship God or
would curse Him. God consented and Satan was allowed to slay Job’s children, his
flocks, his servants and destroy his wealth and his health. Job ended up on an
ash heap, covered with painful boils, surrounded by his friends, with whom he
engaged in discourse. The bottom line was that Job mourned over what had
happened and criticized the way God did this to him as he was not conscience of
anything he had done to deserve this. Yet he retained his faith in God despite
accusations from his friends that his calamities we due to Job’s sins,
justifying God’s judgment. Job continued to bemoan his condition and still tried
to justify himself and his self righteousness throughout.
In the end God intervened and showed Job how little he knew about
God. God’s words are recorded in three pages of the Book. Therein he lambasts
Job for his lack of understanding of God or His ways. These verses are a rare
insight into God’s ways as they compare to the limited understanding of man. In
rebuking Job, He said, among other things, thus.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the
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,
When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
“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,”
“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?”
In other words God was telling Job not to question God because he
did not know the works or ways of God. The same is true today. Only God knows
the secrets of His creation. Consider that not even the Son knows the day and
hour of His coming (Matt. 24:36–44).
We do know some of the works of God. But most of us do not know His
ways. In Psalms 103:7 it is said: “He made known His ways to Moses, His
acts to the sons of Israel” (Psalm 103:7). There is a distinction. We are
to KNOW the Lord, to have an intimate relationship with Him (Hosea 6:3). Only
then will the mysteries He is hiding from us will be known.
WHAT WE DO KNOW
a. God Works Through Man
We know God works through imperfect man. The entire Bible was
written by mere men who spoke the Word of God: apostles, disciples, Kings,
prophets, men of God (see Hebrews 11). The word of God today is spoken then and
now by men anointed by the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes He works through the most unlikely of sources. Cyrus, king
of the conquering Persians, did not know God at all. Yet God used him to restore
Israel after their captivity by the Babylonians (see generally Ezra 1). He
called Cyrus his servant (Isaiah 45:1-7). He usually used weak men to do his
will i.e. Gideon, David the shepherd boy, Amos the farmer, the disciples who
were fisherman, common men, Moses the murderer and Abraham the nomad. The
Scripture says He uses the weak to confound the wise: “but God has chosen
the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the
weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base
things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so
that He may nullify the things that are, (1 Corinthians 1:27-28).
b. God Speaks Directly to Us
Paul the apostle said he was not taught the gospel that he spoke by
men but directly from God. He had learned to hear the Word of the Lord. Sons of
God are those who are led by His Spirit (Romans 8:14). To know God and hear from
Him, one must communicate with Him in the Spirit. John 4:23-24 says:
“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
“God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and
God is a triune (three-fold) nature and the three natures
collectively work towards the ultimate fulfillment of all of God’s will and
purpose. The Father created the heavens (spiritual and natural) and the earth
(Genesis 1:1). The Son, the Word of God, came to earth as the manifestation of
the Father on earth. The Holy Spirit is our helper) came to lead us into
complete fulfillment. All of these separate manifestations of God reveal Himself
Man is comprised of spirit, soul and body. The soul and body are
separate from our spirits. It is only through our spirits that we are able to
communicate directly with God who is a spirit. Many are not even aware that they
have a spirit. Without a spirit relationship with God, our soul and body
dominate our lives, choking out our spirits. The soul is the seat of our
emotions, intellect, desires, lusts, prejudices, human love as opposed to divine
love etc. The body was to be the housing for our souls and spirits.
Collectively, our soul and physical nature is called in the scriptures the
“flesh” nature. The spirit (ours in conformance with God’s) is supposed to rule
our beings, subjecting our soul and bodies to do the will of God. In our flesh
(without spirit domination) we do not do the will of God.
We perform many disciplines trying to please God or ourselves like
reading the Bible so much each day, praying, meditating, counting rosary beads,
going to church etc. But none of these activities are pleasing to God because
they originate from our souls in an effort to be pleasing to God or to live a
good happy life. However, despite the happy and good life you will still die
because there is life only in the Spirit realm where God is. It is when the good
works originate from God that they are effective. Our own righteousness is as
“filthy rags” to Him (Isaiah 64:5). We cannot hear His word or perceive His ways
through our souls.
“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
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). Our minds are set on the flesh if we do not have a relationship
with God in the Spirit. We cannot really relate to Him through the flesh or our
intellect; flesh and blood will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
And: “However, you [who are spiritual] are not in the flesh but
in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does
not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you,
though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of
righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells
in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your
mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:9-11).
To most of the unspiritual, spiritual things are incomprehensible to
them. Paul said:
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
(1 Corinthians 2:14).
Paul said in Romans 7:18 this about his natural life:
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh”.
was from a great man of God and apostle of Jesus Christ.
c. God Works Sovereignly
Sometimes God works at His own initiative. We can see the “works”
of God through our natural eyes. The children of Israel saw the miracles of God
performed in Egypt, the parting of the Red (Reed) Sea, the water from the rock,
the manna, the cloud and the fire. But seeing these mighty works does not make
one spiritual. The Israelites still had their flesh nature resulting in sins of
unbelief, idolatry, murmuring, complaining and fear.
Sometimes, we pray for something and it is answered (we know not
how) and we see the results with our eyes. We are perceiving the results of the
acts of God but not His nature or how He did it. However, despite seeing God’s
works we still live in an age dominated by futility.
d. God Speaks Through Creation
God speaks through creation (Romans 1:20). He speaks through the
stars (Psalm 19:1-3). He speaks through nature. But He is rarely heard. Science,
despite its intellectual accomplishments, does not recognize God. Although they
can manipulate created things into great achievements, they can’t explain how
the created things got here in the first place or why.
God can speak through anyone or anything. He spoke to the false
prophet Balaam through his donkey (Numbers 22:22-33). Many times the person on
the street or in a coffee shop will say something you needed to know. God can
speak through your doctor or therapist. Sometimes even He will speak through a
song on the radio or a movie. He is not limited by whom He uses to speak His
word or to perform His works.
e. Dreams and Visions
God spoke about the last days through a vision to John, and he
recorded it in the Book of Revelation. God saved Jesus from the death threat of
Harrod by speaking in a dream to Joseph (Matthew 2:13). Speaking through dreams
was more prevalent in the Old Testament when few men could communicate directly
with God. Prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zachariah and others had fantastic visions
and dreams from the Lord.
The prophet Joel said this about the end of times:
“It will come about after this(Joel
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
“Even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days”
In short, we must be watchful and ready for the lord can speak to us
or work through us at any moment of the day. We must learn to have our focus
fixed on Him as we go about our everyday lives.
God does his best work through a principle called Transference.
Transference is taking something you have and giving it (transferring it) to
someone else. Witchcraft works on this principle, transferring spells, curses
and the like their intended victims.
The principle originates in the spirit realm. When we take communion
(the bread and wine) we partake of Christ’s nature itself and His attributes are
transferred to us. Scripture says that when He appears we will [already] be like
Him and shall see Him as he is (1 John 3:2). In other words we will already have
been transformed into His nature so we can see Him. Prior to that, scripture
says that no man can see God and live (Exodus 33:20). By this transference from
God (Christ) to us, we will be transformed (1 Corinthians 15: 51-55). We will
acquire His nature which has been transferred to us through the spirit.
We start with the flesh nature with its attributes: immorality,
impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy,
outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness
and carousing (Galatians 5:19-21). We end as spiritual beings that radiate the
fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). How do we acquire these
godly qualities? From Christ in the spirit as a free gift of grace. This
principle is also called impartation. Christ imparts His nature to us. We can
then, to the extent we have received that nature, impart it to others through
prophecy, the laying on of hands etc.
One word about the psychic realm. Many mistake this realm for the
spirit realm. There are many levels of so called spirit including the physical
plane, astral plane, psychic plane…) However, true spiritually exists only in
the highest plane “Heaven” where God lives (there are many levels of “Heaven” as
well); Paul says he was caught up into the 3rd heaven. The psychic
planes are where spiritualists and occultists speak with the dead, move objects,
acquire knowledge, tell fortunes, predict things and meditate into and transfer
from. God in the Old Testament condemned these practices, not on some legalistic
basis, but because He knew people can easily be led astray by anything that did
not come directly from Him. The Old Testament is full of examples where the
false prophets and soothsayers predicted results of events only to have God do
it just the opposite.
God works through worship. True worship is a divine communion
directly with God through our spirits. It is here we most feel His love and care
for us. He strengthens us. We receive more from God during these times as our
spirits are open and accessible to God’s impartation. It is here we can let go
of all the stressors of everyday life and focus completely on Him. We can be
free. One minister once said that “worship was the answer to a thousand
problems” and so it is. Lay your cares on Him and exalt Him for what He is-our
creator, our savior, our source of life and sometimes our friend.
Thus God works through many channels. Our job (actually His job) is
to get to the place where we do not only know His works but that we know Him;
not the creation but the Creator. Under the Old Testament covenant Israel had
to obey the Law to garner God’s favor. Under the New Covenant, God writes His
laws on our hearts so that it becomes impossible to err.
writer of Hebrews says this:
“FOR this is the
covenant that I will make with the
house of Israel
says the Lord:
I will put My laws into their minds,
will write them on
will be their God,
And they shall be My people
We will do God’s works when He writes his laws on our hearts. The
more we expose ourselves to Him, the more we change. Then we become doers of the
Word on earth as Christ was. Then we know not only how God works but whom He is
who is doing the works.
THE EPISTLE OF JUDE
Jude was a half-brother of Jesus, son of Mary and
Joseph. In verse 1 Jude acknowledges himself as a "bond servant of Jesus" and
"brother of James", also born of Mary and Joseph. It is a tribute to Jude that
he identified himself as a bond servant of the One he had come to know as the
Lord and Messiah. Jesus had come to Nazareth, where He had been raised. He had
been unable to do many miracles because the people there were too familiar with
Him. They couldn’t believe the carpenter’s son could be the Messiah ((Mark
6:1-5; Matthew 13:53-58). Jesus said: “A prophet is not without honor except
in his home town and among his own relatives and in his own household”
(Matthew 13:7; Mark 6:4). John said: “For even His brothers did not
believe in Him” (John 7:5). Yet, after that, Jude wrote this Epistle
glorifying Jesus; James became the chief Apostle in Jerusalem.
The central theme of Jude is the love and brotherhood. He spends a
great deal of time warning of the false Christs and false prophets whose sole
purpose was to destroy the Christian faith. At one point he called them
“hidden reefs in your lovefeasts” and “they feast with you without
fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds;
autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;” (Jude 12).
He tells them to "contend earnestly for the faith
once for delivered to the saints" (v.2). That faith was under attack by
forces of wickedness; some believe the false Christs were adherents to the
He goes on to identify the false believers as: “…certain persons
have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this
condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into
licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (v.4;
“ angels which had left their proper abode, the unbelieving children of Israel
in the wilderness after deliverance from Egypt, residents of Sodom and Gomorrah,
those who went after strange flesh, rejecters of authority and those who revile
angelic majesties” (5-8).
In verse 9, he draws a comparison with the battle
between Michael (chief angel) and Satan over the body of Moses. "But Michael
the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of
Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, "The
Lord rebuke you". The interpretation of this verse seems a mystery to most
Christians. This story, according to most scholars, came from the now extant
book The Assumption of Moses. Moses' body was buried in the earth and
Satan, the God of this world, wanted the body for himself. However, Moses was
buried in a specific place ordained by God and He wanted it to remain there.
Michael, instead of exerting his power by railing against Satan, simply said "the
lord rebuke you", thereby interposing the authority of God into the
situation which Jude wanted the early Christians to
He is scathing in his rebuke of the false prophets. "But these men
revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know
by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. Woe
to them! For they have gone the way of Cain [see Genesis 4:1-16], and for
pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam [Joshua 13:22),
and perished in the rebellion of Korah [Numbers Chapter 16]. These men
are those who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you
without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by
winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea,
casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black
darkness has been reserved forever” (v.10-11).
Jude is the only book of the Bible that mentions
Enoch, save Genesis (5:23-24). Apparently there was a Book of Enoch present at
the time of Jude because he is quoting from it. Today we have the
pseudopigraphical Book of Enoch which may or may not be the work of Enoch
himself. However, the following references to the words of Enoch match the book
we have today of the prophet God took without him seeing physical death (Book of
Enoch 1:9). "And about these also Enoch, in the seventh generation from
Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy
ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their
ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh
things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." These are grumblers,
finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly,
flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage" (Jude 14-16).
Here Jude cites as his authority for these words Enoch, the seventh from Adam,
the prophet who was translated to Heaven and God without seeing death.
Apparently Jude had read the Book of Enoch. The Book of Enoch we have today
quotes those same words (1 Enoch 1:9).
Jude concludes by instructing the saints as what they
were to do in the face of such deception. "But you, beloved, ought to
remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus
Christ, that they were saying to you, "In the last time there shall be mockers,
following after their own ungodly lusts." These are the ones who cause
divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building
yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit; keep
yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus
Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others,
snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even
the garment polluted by the flesh (Jude 17-23).
Today, the same deception abounds. There are a million
and one ways the Christian can be deceived and drawn away to the world. Jude
ways we must hold tight to what we have and exercise our faith towards God and
one another. We must have perception to see these deceivers for what they are,
as Jude did. We must hate them, even their garments, with a Godly hatred as Jude
did. Satan’s entire purpose on the earth is to defeat Christ’s Kingdom from
coming forth. We must not let him.
Although the book is short, it
compactly states the problem and the solution to all
generations. Not bad for a guy who at one time did not believe
his brother was anyone other than the Jesus he grew up with.