Prophetic Significance of Jerusalem

The Significance of the USA Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

 

Recently on December 6, 2017 President Donald Trump of the United States of America recognized the city of Jerusalem as the capital of the nation of Israel. The significance of this cannot be underestimated. Jerusalem is mentioned more than any other city in Scripture: more than 800 times. It is named in 660 verses in the Old Testament, and in 142 verses in the New Testament.  Jerusalem appears in some two-thirds of the books of the Old Testament, and almost one-half of the books of the New Testament. While Jerusalem is its most common title, it also occurs under other names such as Zion, Salem, The City of David, and Ariel. It is symbolically named in allegory as “Hagar and Mount Sinai in Arabia” (Galatians 4:25) and in prophecy as “Sodom and Egypt” (Revelation 11:8). Of the over 800 biblical references, 465 in the Old Testament and 24 in the New Testament refer to prophecies of Jerusalem yet future to the time they were stated.

First Mention of Jerusalem in The Bible

Genesis 14:18-20

18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High. 19And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 and blessed be God Most High, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him a tenth of all (ASV, 1901).

Jerusalem, formerly known as “Salem” first appears in the book of Genesis in the Bible where “Melchizedek, the king of Salem” blessed Abraham, the first Hebrew. “Melchizedek” is one of the most interesting characters in the Bible. Here he is said to be “priest of the God Most High”, and this is the first mention of a “priest” in the Bible. The title “God Most High” in Hebrew is El Elyon. This Hebrew title of God is found three times in these verses. It is only found elsewhere in once in Psalm 78: 35. Frequently we find the phrase “Most High” in other Bible passages, but only here and in Psalm 78 do we see the phrase “God Most High.” This designation has special significance, and verse 19 specifically states that God is the “possessor of heaven and earth”. It also means that Jehovah God had a relationship with “Melchizedek”, for “Melchizedek” was a follower and minister of the Lord of Heaven and Earth. Here “Melchizedek” is said to be both a priest and a king. Abram acknowledged Melchizedek as his superior, and seemed to recognize that God had revealed Himself to this man. In the New Testament and Psalm 110, “Melchizedek” is treated as a type of Jesus. He is never seen as the Lord Jesus. A type is an example or model of something else. The book of Hebrews says he was like the Son of God (Hebrews 5,6,7). What is important to realize is that Melchizedek is a representative of God as the text says “priest of the God Most High.” Abraham recognized this and gave Melchizedek a tithe of one-tenth of all he owned.

God Says Jerusalem is His Dwelling Place.

Here the psalmist declares that Jerusalem is God’s earthly dwelling place:

Psalm 76:1-3

1In Judah is God known: His name is great in Israel. 2In Salem also is his tabernacle, And his dwelling-place in Zion. 3There he brake the arrows of the bow; The shield, and the sword, and the battle, Selah (ASV, 1901). 

Jerusalem is a very special place in God’s plan for this earth, and He can do with it as He pleases:

Psalm 87:2

2Jehovah loveth the gates of Zion More than all the dwellings of Jacob. 3Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God (ASV, 1901).

Moreover, it is this city alone to which God took up His residence in the Tabernacle, resided in the Temple, and sacrificed Himself in the Lord Jesus. The Psalmist again states:

Psalm 132:13-14

13For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. 14This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it(ASV, 1901).

As a result, Jerusalem is both the Holy City, and the city at the center of the world (Ezekiel 5:5).

God Gave the Land of Israel to The Jews

Joshua 1:2-4

2Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 3Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, to you have I given it, as I spake unto Moses. 4From the wilderness, and this Lebanon, even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your border” (ASV, 1901). 

After the death of Moses, God made Joshua the key figure to fulfill His program. His instructions were very explicit. Joshua was to lead the people across the Jordan River into the land that God was about to give to them. It is entirely God’s right to give Canaan to the Israelites for He owns all the earth. The psalmist affirmed this:

Psalm 24:1

1The earth is Jehovah’s, and the fulness thereof; The world, and they that dwell therein,(ASV, 1901). 

God Gives Jerusalem to The Nation Israel

II Samuel 5:6-10

6And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither; thinking, David cannot come in hither. 7Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion; the same is the city of David. 8And David said on that day, Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites, let him get up to the watercourse, and smite the lame and the blind, that are hated of David’s soul. Wherefore they say, There are the blind and the lame; he cannot come into the house. 9And David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward. 10And David waxed greater and greater; for Jehovah, the God of hosts, was with him” (ASV, 1901). 

 

The Jews were now given the city of Jerusalem for their capital because God was with King David, and caused him to grow ever more powerful in terms of enlarging his dominions for Israel. The Jews were subject to the conditional Mosaic Covenant, and they were apt to lose their occupation of the land if they were disobedience to God’s Law. But they would never lose the title to it (Leviticus 26:3-45). Furthermore, He promised to always love them regardless of whether they sinned or not. In 586 B.C. Jerusalem would be destroyed by the Babylonians because of their disobedience. Jeremiah 31:38 tells us the city will be rebuilt later, and God described two characteristics of this new city of Jerusalem. First, it will be “holy to the Lord” (Zechariah 14:20–21). The city and its inhabitants will be set apart to God, who will dwell in her midst (Ezekiel 48:35). Second, the city will no more be uprooted or demolished. The ravages of war will not be experienced in this new city. However, these verses were not fulfilled after the Babylonian Captivity ended because the Jewish leaders did not cease from sin, and failed to recognize God when He appeared in the Lord Jesus. As a result, the city that was rebuilt by Ezra and the returning Jews from Babylon, and was expanded upon until the time of Jesus was destroyed again in A.D. 70 by the Romans. The new city of Jerusalem spoken of by the prophets Jeremiah, Zechariah and Ezekiel will be fully restored as Bible says, but not until the Messianic Kingdom (Ezekiel 40-48). From the time after the Roman destruction until the Zionist movement of the late 1800’s the land was not again occupied by the Jews. God told the Jews through the prophet Ezekiel that He would lead them back to the land in stages starting with the Zionist movement (Ezekiel 37:1-14). Those stages are:

  • The Zionist Movement
  • The end of World War I and the establishment of the Mandate
  • End of World War II and the creation of the sovereign State of Israel
  • The National Regeneration of Israel and beginning of the Messianic Kingdom

In the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:1-14 the valley is covered with bones. Ezekiel also makes the observation that there was a large volume of the bones, and they “were very dry”. These bones were scattered about and not in piles. This is an indication that they were not produced in a single event, but over a great length of time, and no vivid life had been in them for an extended period. For example, from the time of the last invasion of Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. to the rebirth of the nation Israel in 1948, Israel had been without life for 2,534 years. This is quite in keeping with the Lord statement of “The Times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24).

The Times of the Gentiles

Jerusalem occupies a strategic position with respect to two major prophetic periods/events: “The times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) and the Allied Invasion led by the Russians (Ezekiel 38-39). “The times of the Gentiles” is that long period of time from the Babylonian captivity (586 B.C.) until the Second Coming of Jesus. In “The times of the Gentiles” the Lord Jesus said that Jerusalem would be trodden down by the Gentiles until that time period ended, and during this time the Gentiles have control over the city of Jerusalem. There have been times of temporary Jewish control over the city. For example:

  • Maccabean Period (164-63 B.C.)
  • First Jewish Revolt against Rome (A.D. 66-70)
  • The second Jewish Revolt (the Bar-Kochba Revolt) against Rome (A.D. 132-135)
  • As part of the end of 1967 Six-Day War

Any Jewish takeover of the city before the Second Coming is temporary, because Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles for at least another 3 ½ years during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 11:1-2). Thus, the current situation of Jerusalem as of 2017 does not mean that “the times of the Gentiles” have ended. “The times of the Gentiles” can only end when Gentiles cannot “tread down” Jerusalem any more.

The times of the Gentiles” is also the period of time when Gentile empires will follow one another in sequence, with the Fourth Empire of imperialism going through several different stages. But eventually this will give way to God’s setting up His Own Kingdom. So even though the Jews won through battle in 1967 the control of Jerusalem, their presence there has been disputed by the eastern block of nations, including Russia and the Islamic nations. The affirmation of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital city by the United States is one link in the sequence of events in “The times of the Gentiles”. It is important to realize that the United States, through President Harry Truman, was one of the first nations to recognize the modern state of Israel in 1948 after they declared their independence. Now President Donald Trump is officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol. These affirmation of Israel, and Jerusalem’s sovereignty, are much in keeping with the blessings promised in the Abrahamic Covenant.

The Abrahamic Covenant is the first unconditional covenant that God made with Israel.  The Abrahamic Covenant promised a seed, land, and blessings. As such, these three major promises of this Covenant were personal promises to Abraham, national promises to Israel, and universal promises to all the people of the earth. God promised that He would bless Abraham and make him a blessing to others, to make his name great, to give him many descendants, to make him the father of a multitude of nations, to give him the land of Canaan for always and to “bless them that blessed Abraham and to curse them that cursed him” (Genesis 12; 13; 15 & 17). God also made national promises concerning Israel. They are to make a great nation of his descendants, to give land from the eastern most branch of the Nile delta (called the river of Egypt) to the Euphrates to his descendants forever, and to give the Abrahamic covenant to his descendants forever (Genesis 17:19; 21; 26:2-4; Genesis 28:12-15). As a result of these promises, we can see the period after the Second World War as having unprecedented prosperity to the United States of America, thus fulfilling God’s promise to bless those who bless Israel. We can look forward to addition prosperity following President Trump’s affirmation of Israel’s capitol as Jerusalem.

However, as expected, the Muslim Arab nations are violently reacting to President Trump’s declaration. This may trigger the allied invasion as described in Ezekiel 38 & 39. It will at the very least cause the allies of Russia to desire the invasion in an ever more urgent manner.

The world is setting the stage for this prophecy to be fulfilled by various peace negotiations, demanding that Israel give up land, and most importantly, constantly threatening their security. The biblical text as stated in Ezekiel 38:1-39:16 describe an invasion of Israel from the north, and the subsequent total destruction of the coalition of invading forces once they reach the area of “the mountains of Israel”. It appears that there is a preemptive attack by the Israelites with a nuclear weapons exchange that results in a seven-year clean-up period. The unidentified person who will be leading this alliance is named in Ezekiel 38:2 as “Gog”. Some have referred to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the notorious Russian Jew hater, as the one who would be “Gog”. It could also be Vladimir Putin, the present Russian president, or some other person.

The various nations that will invade Israel have their origin in Genesis. In the two charts below, notice that the names of the Genealogy of Noah/Japheth colored in blue in the first chart are the same names, among others, listed in the second chart naming those who invade Israel:

Chart by The Author

 

Invading Nation of Israel from Gog and Magog War Ezek. 38 & 39 Art by Daniel Woodhead

God’s love for Israel underlies His promises to protect them and His Land by decimating the invaders of His land. God Almighty has had enough, and His fury is unleashed. This invasion of Israel is equilivant to the cup of iniquity being full, the apple of God’s eye being touched, and the Wife of Jehovah being violated, thus arousing God’s anger so that He moves out in judgment to destroy the invading army. Several causes of destruction are listed, and these include an earthquake civil war breaking out among the invading soldiers, pestilence, blood, flood, hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Since these things totally destroy the invading army without the aid of other nations, God’s purpose is seen as succeeding in its objective. God is indeed sanctified in the eyes of many people.

Prelude to the Messianic Kingdom

This invasion is immanent and could occur at any time. With the recent announcement of moving the United States embassy to Jerusalem, the Muslins have been rioting, and shooting rockets into Israel. Russia has been relatively quiet, only making slight affirmation of disagreement with the United States’ announcement, and thus affirming their allegiance to their Muslin allies. Once this invasion occurs it will trigger a major step in “the times of the Gentiles”. It will remove all the eastern bloc Islamic nations as well as Russia from political prowess on the world stage. This will pave the way for super dominance by the western democracies, and usher in the one world government. Later following this, the Antichrist will emerge as the sole leader.

It is necessary to have some basic realization of power in human relationships. This power over the world shifts from person to person and empire to empire. All the while though, God remains in control at least 2 ways. He creates, or makes things happen (His Creative Will), and He allows things to happen (His Permissive Will). All the events that lead up to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom are affected by both God’s Creative Will and His Permissive Will. It is important to direct our attention to the Fourth Gentile Empire, described in Daniel Chapter 2 and 7, which is included in the chart below:

Chart drawn by Cathy Bateson

 

Both Daniel passages in Chapters 2 & 7 make it clear that the Fourth Gentile Empire begins with the end of the Third Gentile Empire, which was Greece, and continues until Messiah comes to set up His Kingdom. The Fourth Empire is an Imperialistic Empire. Imperialism is simply a policy of extending a country’s influence through diplomacy or military force.

This Fourth Empire is diverse from all the rest. It goes through five distinct stages. Rome is only the first of the stages. Rome is not the name of the successive stages. I realize that some Bible teachers believe that there will be a revival of the old Roman Empire, but the text never says this. It is man’s speculation that leads to that idea. What Rome did that was different than all the other empires was to establish the imperialist form of government. It is this form that the Bible speaks of as the Fourth Gentile Empire, not just Rome. There is no break or gap in the imperialist form of government on the earth from the initiation of the Roman Empire until Christ returns. Nowhere in Scripture is this stated. This form will go through five successive stages. We need to study those to see where history fits in this exposition.

  1. The United Stage-Rome is the first stage of the imperialist form of government. The first stage, or the United Stage, started about 43 B.C and lasted until A.D. 364. However, there were five types of government that Rome went through from its origin and subsequent development, which is referenced in Daniel chapter seven.
  2. The second stage or the Empire of Imperialism was the Two Division Stage. This stage was foreseen by Daniel 2 (Legs of Iron), but not by Daniel 7. It began in A.D. 364 when Emperor Valentinian divided the Roman Empire into an east and west division. There was an earlier division in A.D. 285 that was of short duration. The Emperor Constantine in A.D. 312-313 reunited the empire. The A.D. 364 division was permanent. The Western Headquarters was in Rome and the Eastern Headquarters was in Constantinople. This lasted until A.D.1453 when it collapsed in the Turkish invasion. When Constantinople fell the political rulers, scribes, and scholars fled north into Russia, infiltrated the government there, and set up an imperialist form of government. The rulers called themselves Czars, which is Russian for “Caesar.” Later Russia began calling itself the Third Roman Empire. Eventually the eastern balance of power was centered in the Soviet Union and included the Communist block of nations. When European communism collapsed, the eastern balance of power shifted to Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Presently power transfers are still occurring, with Islam becoming a major eastern power. More settling is sure to occur in the future until this Two-Division Stage gives way to the as of yet future One-World Government Stage (The Allied Invasion).   The western division of power remained in Rome from A.D. 364 until A.D. 476 when Rome fell. From there it shifted to France, especially the power gained by Charlemagne in A.D. 800. He called his domain the Holy Roman Empire of the Frankish Nation. In A.D. 962 Otto I of Germany defeated the Franks and set up the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. The leaders called themselves Kaiser, which is German for “Caesar.” Since then, especially after World War I, the western balance of power has been centered in the democratic nations of the west. So, the Two-Division Stage, which began in A. D. 364, continues to this day and there may be some shifting yet to come before the east-west balance becomes the third stage.
  3. All the remaining 3 stages of the Empire of Imperialism are yet future to us today in 2017.  Daniel 7:23 clearly states that at some time the Fourth Empire will “devour the whole earth”. Rome never did this. Rome did not even extend to the borders conquered by the Greeks under Alexander the Great. The Imperialist form of government will at some time exercise control over the whole earth.   Rome must not be seen as the total of the Fourth Empire, but as only one stage of the Empire of Imperialism.  The Allied invasion of Israel, which will occur prior to the Great Tribulation, will cause the Russian and Muslim nations to lose their authority. (Ezekiel 38:1-39:16) This event will give way to the One-World Government Stage. 
  4. The Ten-Division Stage is seen in both Daniel 2 with the ten toes, and in Daniel 7 with the ten horns. This stage is clearly stated to come out of the One World Government Stage. The Bible is silent as to why the division occurs. These ten kingdoms will cover the entire earth and not be limited to some specific continent such as Europe. They will begin sometime before the Great Tribulation, and continue into the middle of the Tribulation.  To be consistent with Daniel’s prophecy, perhaps one could consider the Club of Rome’s recommendation that the world be divided up into ten administrative districts to avoid economic collapse. The Club of Rome is a global think tank, and center of worldly innovation and initiative. As a non-profit, non-governmental futurist organization, it brings together scientists, economists, businessmen, international high civil servants, heads of state and former heads of state from all five continents who are convinced that the future of humankind is not pre-ordained, and that each human being can contribute to the improvement of our societies.
  5. The Antichrist Stage follows the Ten-Kingdom Stage. The Antichrist rises to power during the Ten-Kingdom stage, uproots three of the ten kings, and the other seven submit to his authority. This then becomes the Stage of Absolute Imperialism. Once this submission occurs the Antichrist Stage officially begins. This stage is the fifth and final stage of Gentile World Imperialism.

It is very valuable to understand the course of “the times of the Gentiles” so we can get an understanding of biblical eschatology itself, and see that various world events clearly fall into line with God’s overall Plan.

 

Daniel E. Woodhead

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Jesus Arrived in the Fullness of Time

Divine Intervention into Time and Space

 

ADORATION OF THE LAMB BY JAN VAN EYCK CIR 1432

ADORATION OF THE LAMB BY JAN VAN EYCK CIR 1432

Divine Intervention

 

Galatians 4:3-7

Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ (NKJV).

The world’s population is locked into the sinful ways of this world (elements of the world). Prior to the advent of Jesus the Jews were like slaves to sin. That is, they were children in spiritual immaturity driven by the urges that entered their minds. This is still the state of the unsaved. The Jews were and still are locked into the basic principles of the Mosaic Law. This has run its course since the Jewish Messiah has come and fulfilled its requirements for all to take advantage of. The Gentiles are in bondage too but under the miserable principles of the various heathen religions of the world. Both Jews and Gentiles are locked into life guidance principles best described as slavery (bondage) to some set of rules for life that are not what God intends for the human race. Since the Fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden God set up the redemption of mankind (Genesis 3:15). He would send His Messiah to this earth to emancipate the earth through His teaching, death and resurrection.

God Himself stepped forth in Divine Intervention to bring hope and freedom to mankind. Just like a father has chosen a time for his child to be designated as an adult (e.g. Roman elevation of a son to an adult; Jewish bar mitzvah of a boy to manhood) so too did our Heavenly Father choose the time to bring Christ His Son to earth. He designated the perfect time in all of world history to send Himself in the body of a human to make provision for the people’s transition from bondage under the Law or pagan cults to spiritual sonship. He prepared the world in several ways that are apparent.

The Fullness of Time

God decided that the preparation of four thousand years since He first announced His coming (Genesis 3:15) to Adam, Eve and Satan was fulfilled. He chose the perfect time and made all the adequate preparations. It should have not been a surprise to those who love Him and know His Word. It was a surprise though and Jesus wept over the Jews lack of understanding regarding the timing of His appearance on this earth. Their lack of recognition of the timing of God’s appearance to them in the greatest ever Shekinah Glory led to the destruction of Jerusalem by Roman soldiers in A.D. 70.

Luke 19:42-44

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation (NKJV).”

Prophecies had been given to the Jewish prophets regarding the Christ’s appearance on earth and the Jewish leaders disregarded them even though they knew of them. They intellectually understood their details but did not take them to heart as a direct message from God. From II Corinthians 3:6 (The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life) we see this principle. God gave His strict Law but it is meant to lead us to God’s Spirit. The Law is a teacher but not a Savior. The Jews had become so deeply adherent to God Law that they did not see its intent. It was a teacher meant to lead us to Him and a relationship with Him. The Law was fulfilled in Jesus and His teaching. The entire Sermon on the Mount was directed at the Pharisees who were so deeply immersed in the specifics of the Law that they did not recognize its central message. Frequently in this Sermon Jesus says, “You have heard it said by them of Old… But I say unto you.” He is describing their pickiness over the details but not seeing the intent of the Law. They did the same thing with the prophecies of His first advent.

When the Magi visited Herod he immediately conferred with the chief priests and scribes to learn where the Messiah would be born. They told him that Micah 5:2 said in Bethlehem in Judea. So they all knew what the Scriptures said but did not take any of it to heart for their personal spiritual belief and benefit. God says that He does nothing except He first reveals it through His prophets (Amos 3:7).

God Gives Daniel the Exact Day of His Appearance

Daniel 9:20-26a

20And while I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before Jehovah my God for the holy mountain of my God; 21yea, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. 22And he instructed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee wisdom and understanding. 23At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment went forth, and I am come to tell thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision. 24Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. 25Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the anointed one, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times. 26And after the threescore and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, but not for Himself (KJV).

Daniel was taken captive in 605 BC by Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon and taken there. During that time he became the prime minister, chief of the Magi and a devoted prophet of God. While praying on evening he was visited by Gabriel the angel with a message of the Messiah’s appearance on earth. This vision specified some length of time that must pass before the Messiah would appear. Gabriel further said that the Messiah (Anointed One) would be killed (cut off) but would die not for Himself. In other words this Messiah would die for some others. Gabriel used the terms seven weeks and threescore weeks and two weeks to reference several pivotal events on God’s timetable for the Fullness of Time to bring His Messiah. The Hebrew word used is shavuim, which means sevens. It refers to seven of something. The context governs the topic of which the sevens apply. Here Daniel is praying about the seventy years of captivity and assumed it would end according to what the prophet Jeremiah had written (Jeremiah 29:10) after seventy years. So the seventy sevens (seven, threescore or sixty and then two weeks) are actually 490 years.

Gabriel gives Daniel the start of the seventy sevens. The starting event, which would begin the countdown, is the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem. The culminating event, which is the appearance of the Messiah on earth, is cited, as unto the anointed one, the prince is sixty-two weeks or 483 years of the entire 490 years. The Jews had been in Babylon when the Medes and Persians conquered the Babylonians. They did not have any reason to keep them captive so they were told they could go home and rebuild Jerusalem. According to Isaiah’s prophecy Cyrus the Persian, whom the Lord called His shepherd, would give this command and perform all His pleasure “even saying of Jerusalem, She shall be built; and of the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid” (Isaiah 44:28). I believe that God through Isaiah spoke accurately when He said that Cyrus would issue the edict for the restoration of the temple and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Artaxerxes issued a reaffirmation of this decree, which more finely prophecied as being applied to the walls of Jerusalem, in 445 B.C. to Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:8). This command seems to be the most fitting to initiate the math of the seventy weeks prophecy. So if we count out from there we can get to Jesus appearance in Jerusalem. So there is a mathematical prophecy. The Jewish (and Babylonian) calendars used a 360-day year; 69 weeks of 360-day years totals 173,880 days. In effect, Gabriel told Daniel that the interval between the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem until the presentation of the Messiah as King would be 173,880 days.

Dates

The date that the Jews were released from captivity in Babylon was March 14, 445 B.C.. Accounting for the different calendars of 360-day years and 365 ¼ day year we come to 173,880 days to get to the date of April 6, 32 AD. This is the date that Jesus presented Himself on Palm Sunday as the Jewish King.

The Jews who should have know this probably knew it in their minds but not in their hearts. They knew their Messiah was coming from this prophecy just as they knew where He would be born but they ignored it.

 He Was Expected

Historians record for us that at that general time there was a strange expectation in the world for a coming king. The people in the east had it, which partly explains why the Magi came. People in many places were anticipating the arrival of a king, something even the Roman historians acknowledged:

  • Suetonius wrote in The Twelve Caesars, “There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judea to rule the world.” Writing during the second century A.D. about such things as Vespasian’s conquering of Israel in A.D. 70, Suetonius looked back and said that the first century was a day when there was an expectation for men coming from Judea to rule the world. Consequently, people’s eyes were focused upon that place.
  • Tacitus, the famous Roman historian, tells of the same belief in The Annals that “there was a firm persuasion…that at this very time the East was to grow powerful, and rulers coming from Judaea were to acquire a universal empire.”
  • Josephus, in Wars of the Jews, said that the Jews had a belief that “about that time one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth.”

Jewish Facilities Were Prepared For His Teaching

Since the Babylonian captivity and the destruction of the Temple in 586 B.C. Rabbinic Judaism rose up with Synagogues for teaching. The oldest dated evidence of a synagogue is from the 3rd century B.C., but synagogues doubtless have an older history. Some scholars think that the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in 586 B.C. gave rise to synagogues after private homes were temporarily used for public worship and religious instruction. The Jewish Orthodox use a term shul, provides additional information of the synagogue’s primary function. That is as a house of study (beit midrash). It is the place where Jewish men and male children receive their religious education and instructions. Jesus frequently went into the Synagogues to teach. The teaching facilities were ready to receive Jesus and His apostles after Him. By the time of Christ, there were synagogues all over Israel and in many cities of the Roman world (The Diaspora), which helped the spread of Christianity. Paul is mentioned as going into synagogues in Damascus (Acts 9:2); Salamis (Acts 13:5); Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:14); Iconium (Acts 14:1); Thessalonica (Acts 17:1); Berea (Acts 17:10); Athens (Acts 17:17); Corinth (Acts 18:4); and Ephesus (Acts 18:19; 19:8).

Luke 4:16-21

16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: 18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” 20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son (NKJV).”

In this prophecy Jesus quoted part of Isaiah 61:1-2. Here as He was teaching in the Synagogue He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. He followed this by saying this Scripture is fulfilled in their hearing. They should have realized that was a quote from Isaiah and they would have known it and its meaning.

Isaiah 61:1-2

The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me; because Jehovah hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2to proclaim the year of Jehovah’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn (ASV 1901).

This prophecy that Jesus quoted has another aspect which He left out It is the day of vengeance of our God; He didn’t say that because it relates to His Second Coming when He will take back the earth with the Great Tribulation which is the day of vengeance of God restoring the earth.

 Alexander Brings a Common Language

Because of the conquests of Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.) Greek language was delivered as Alexander carried the Koine form of the Greek language, along with Greek culture more generally, across the empire he conquered. It became the standard language of commerce and government, existing along side many local languages. Greek was adopted as a second language by the native people of these regions and was ultimately transformed into what has come to be called the Hellenistic Koine or common Greek.

Map of Alexanders Empire from Time Maps

Map of Alexanders Empire from Time Maps

The New Testament was written in Koine Greek a language the region of the world, which Alexander had conquered, knew well. Greek could be read and communicated quickly by a wide variety of people across many cultures and countries.

Roman Roads Facilitate Christianity

Roman road system, extended from Britain to the Tigris-Euphrates river system and from the Danube River to Spain and northern Africa. The Romans built 50,000 miles (80,000 km) of hard-surfaced highway, primarily for military reasons.

The first of the great Roman roads, the Via Appia (Appian Way), begun by Appius Claudius Caecus in 312 B.C., originally ran southeast from Rome 162 miles (261 km) to Tarentum (now Taranto). By the beginning of the 2nd century B.C., four other great roads radiated from Rome: the Via Aurelia, Via Flaminia, Via Aemilia, the Via Valeria, and the Via Latina, running southeast and joining the Via Appia near Capua. Their numerous feeder roads extending far into the Roman provinces led to the proverb “All roads lead to Rome.”

The Roman roads were very straight, had solid foundations, cambered surfaces facilitating drainage, and use of concrete made from pozzolana (volcanic ash) and lime. The Roman engineers followed basically the same principles in building abroad as they had in Italy. The Roman road system made possible Roman conquest and administration and later provided highways for the great migrations into the empire and a means for the rapid expansion of Christianity. Despite deterioration from neglect, it continued to serve Europe throughout the Middle Ages, and many fragments of the system survive today.

 Roman Empire First Century A.D. by C.S. Hammond & Co. NY

Roman Empire First Century A.D. by C.S. Hammond & Co. NY

God sent His Messiah in the Fullness of Time. He gave the prophets the exact time that he would appear. He prepared the way for Jesus appearance at the perfect time.

There was a great anticipation among the Jews and the Romans of that time that the Messiah would come.

Rome had unified much of the world under its government, giving a sense of unity and peace to the various lands. Also, because the empire was relatively peaceful and the Romans built roads, travel was possible, allowing the early Christians to spread the gospel. Such freedom to travel would have been impossible in other eras.

While Rome had conquered militarily, Greece had conquered culturally. A “common” form of the Greek language (different from classical Greek) was the trade language and was spoken throughout the empire, making it possible to communicate the gospel to many different people groups through one common language.

The Jewish Synagogue had become prevalent across the Roman Empire and was places of religious learning at the time Jesus came.

The mystery religions of the time emphasized a savior-god and required worshipers to offer bloody sacrifices, thus making the gospel of Christ, which involved one ultimate sacrifice believable to them. The Greeks also believed in the immortality of the soul (but not of the body).

The Roman army recruited soldiers from among the provinces, introducing these men to Roman culture and to ideas (such as the gospel) that had not reached those outlying provinces yet. The earliest introduction of the gospel to Britain was the result of the efforts of Christian soldiers stationed there.

God Himself stepped forth in Divine Intervention to bring hope and freedom to mankind. Just like a father has chosen a time for his child to be designated as an adult so too did our Heavenly Father choose the time to bring Christ His Son to earth. He designated the perfect time in all of world history to send Himself in the body of a human to make provision for the people’s transition from bondage under the Law or pagan cults to spiritual sonship.

Daniel E. Woodhead

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The Star of Christmas – A Special Sign in Heaven

 

The Star

 

 

God spoke to the Magi through the prophet Daniel to let them know 600 years earlier that His Messiah would be coming. Daniel was the prime minister of Babylon during two successive administrations; the Babylonians and Media-Persia. God wants us to know Him and enjoy His glory. The intent of the physical universe is to declare and display the majesty and glory of its Creator. This discussion will reveal a portion of His will in this regard.

Matthew 2:1–12 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, Wise-men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we saw his star in the east, and are come to worship him. And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written through the prophet,  

(From Micah 5:2)“And thou Bethlehem, land of Judah, Art in no wise least among the princes of Judah: For out of thee shall come forth a governor, Who shall be shepherd of my people Israel. “  

Then Herod privily called the Wise-men, and learned of them exactly what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search out exactly concerning the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word, that I also may come and worship him. And they, having heard the king, went their way; and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And they came into the house and saw the young child with Mary his mother; and they fell down and worshipped him; and opening their treasures they offered unto him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

The star they saw guided them to Jerusalem (east to west) and then on to Bethlehem (north to south). This was a special star identified as “His Star.”  This star appeared to them while they were in the east and they knew that it signified the Christ or Messiah had arrived. God uses the stars in the heavens to bring messages to the world about Himself. In this study we will explore how God uses the stars to communicate to us and then we will conclude with a discussion of the special star of Bethlehem. We must always remember that Satan has corrupted God’s message to us and the message in the stars is typical of that corruption. Nevertheless Christ told us to search the Scriptures (John 5: 39). This we must do to understand what God wants us to know.

 On the fourth day of creation God made the stars in the heavens.

Genesis 1: 14-18 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide 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 firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made the two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.  

One of the reasons for making the stars in the heavens was for a sign. A sign signifies or represents something. One dictionary defines a sign as: An object, quality, or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the presence or occurrence of something else.  Signs therefore, are meant to lead one to something else. The sign itself is not the end meaning. It is the method employed to direct our attention to something else. In the stars God is the direct object the signs point to. We should realize that His entire creation which theologians call “general revelation,” speak to Him and coming from Him. In fact God charges all mankind to know Him through the ‘signs” He has provided.

Romans 1: 20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse:

God is trying to tell us things about Himself through the stars in the heavens. The heavens declare His creative output.

Psalm 19: 1-6
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto day utters speech and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world. In them he has made a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run it’s race. It’s rising is from one end of heaven, and it’s circuit to the other end; and there is nothing hidden from it’s heat thereof.

This psalm of David announces that the heavens declare the glory (splendor) of God’s handiwork. Verse one is a summary statement: the majestic Creation is evidence of the even more majestic Creator-God. The heavens continually (every day and every night) display the fact that there is a Creator.

Even though Creation does not speak audibly as humans do, its message goes out for all the earth to witness. The message from nature about the glory of God reaches all nations, and is equally intelligible to them all. It is a universal language.

The stars in the heavens move around a circular path. The band of stars on both sides of this path (circuit), which is known today as the Zodiac, is called the Mazzaroth in Hebrew. The names of these stars, Virgo, Pisces, Capricorn, Leo etc., are familiar to us today, because astronomers and navigators designate various areas of the sky with them. Satan has corrupted them for occultic purposes, which are very far from the original truth. The 12 signs have NOTHING to say about man, however they do have a great deal to say about God’s plan of redemption for mankind – from the virgin birth (Virgo) to the triumph of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Leo). The stories He is trying to tell us about are directed straight at Himself. He wants us to know and acknowledge Him through these “signs.”

Isaiah 40:26 Lift up your eyes on high, and see who hath created these, that bringeth out their host by number; he calleth them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and for that he is strong in power, not one is lacking.

God wants us to see Him through these stars. He is not in the stars, as some would believe. He created them. He wants us to realize just how powerful He is. God, who cannot be compared to anyone or anything knows everything about His Creation and sustains it. In His strength He created and also controls and sustains millions upon millions of stars, each one of which He, amazingly, has named.

In Isaiah chapters 40-66, God is revealed as the Creator and Maker. He does not want us to worship the stars, as in astrology (Isaiah 47: 13-14; Deut. 4: 19; 17: 2-5; Isaiah 47: 13-14). He wants us to worship Him.

Amos 5:8  [Seek him] that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD [is] his name:

The psalmist also tells us that God has provided names for the stars as well as knowing exactly how many there are. He is clearly demonstrating His sovereign control over His creation.

Psalm 147:4 He counteth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names.

Isaiah 40: 26 Lift up your eyes on high, and see who hath created these, that bringeth out their host by number; he calleth them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and for that he is strong in power, not one is lacking.

Since God has created the heavens and the stars as signs pointing to Him and His message for us it should not be surprising that Satan has corrupted it along with the rest of God’s creation. The specific signs that the stars told have been obscured with satanic corruption.

Mazzaroth or Constellations

The Jewish historian, Josephus, attributes the origin of astronomy to Seth, the third male offspring of Adam after Able and Cain. (Antiquities of the Jews, Chapter 2:3). Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old. He further refers to Seth as virtuous and of excellent character, and reports that his descendants invented the wisdom of the heavenly bodies (astronomy). The Hebrew word for the constellations is Mazzaroth. We see this word in the plain text of Scripture. The first appearance of the word is in Job chapter thirty-eight. God is having a discussion with Job. In order to demonstrate Job’s weakness as a man compared to the power of God He uses the constellations as an example.

Job 38: 31-33 Canst thou bind the cluster of the Pleiades, Or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season? Or canst thou guide the Bear with her train? Knowest thou the ordinances of the heavens? Canst thou establish the dominion thereof in the earth?  

Job 9: 7-9 That commandeth the sun, and it riseth not, And sealeth up the stars; That alone stretcheth out the heavens, And treadeth upon the waves of the sea; That maketh the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, And the chambers of the south;

Job is the oldest book in the world. It was written during the period of the patriarchs who lived at the time of events of the book of Genesis. It clearly shows that God had named the constellations by that time. The Zodiac of astrology was originally the Mazzeroth of Job 38. It got corrupted like all things beginning with the fall. Then the worldwide communication disruption at the tower of Babel caused all human communication to become corrupt. Satan will use any circumstance to corrupt what God is doing. He had willful servants in Nimrod and his followers attempting to reach for heaven. The signs of the Mazzeroth are not figures in the sky. They are actually a set of stars with names that mean the figure that they describe. We are not to follow the Zodiac and its perverse soothsaying however, we are instructed to be neither afraid of the message of the stars.

Jeremiah 10: 1-6 Hear ye the word which Jehovah speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: thus saith Jehovah, Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the nations are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are vanity; for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are like a palm-tree, of turned work, and speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good. There is none like unto thee, O Jehovah; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.  

The signs of the Mazzeroth are not figures in the sky. They are actually a set of stars with names that mean the figure that they describe. If you look at the pictures that astrology says the stars depict you will require a vivid imagination to see the pictures they allegedly describe. This is the corruption.

 

 

This is not the message that God created for a sign in the heaven with the Mazzaroth. There are twelve constellations in the Mazzaroth. Each of them has three sub-constellations called decans. There are a total of forty-eight sets of stars bringing forth God’s message to us. Each constellation has a message and so do each of the decans. It is the names of these stars and star groupings through which He communicates His message. The problem we have discerning the message is that it has been corrupt for so long that we don’t have accurate information regarding its nature.

Virgo Drawn Connecting The Stars

In Hebrew Virgo is Bethulah = Virgin who bears Names in the sign:

Hebrew Tsemech = Branch Hebrew Zavijaveh = Gloriously Beautiful

1st decan: Hebrew Coma = The Desired One

2nd decan: Hebrew Centaurus= The Despised

3rd decan: Hebrew Bootes = The Coming One

The corruption causes some of the Hebrew words to be unavailable to us.  The constellation in Virgo explains that this coming “Branch” will be a child, and that He should be the “Desire of all nations.” The ancient name of this constellation is Coma, the desired, or the longed for. We have the word used by God in in Haggai 2:7 “The Desire of all nations shall come.”

The ancient Zodiacs pictured this constellation as a woman with a child in her arms. Albumazar, an Arabian astronomer of the eighth century, says, “There arises in the first decan, as the Persians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians, and the two Hermes and Ascalius teach, a young woman whose Persian name denotes a pure virgin, sitting on a throne, nourishing an infant boy having a Hebrew name, by some nations called Ihesu, with the signification Ieza, which in Greek is called Christos.” Blessed One, “the Desire of all Nations.”

The ancient Egyptian name for this constellation was Shes-nu, the desired son!  Some view the constellation of Coma in which “the Star of Bethlehem” appeared. There was a traditional prophecy, well known in the East, carefully preserved and handed down, that a new star would appear in this sign when He whom it foretold should be born (Numbers 24:17).

The Star that Appeared to the Magi

 German astronomer, mathematician and writer, Johannes Kepler in 1607 believed he identified the Christmas star that guided the Magi or “Wise Men” to where Jesus was born, and with precise event and date. To Kepler the “Star of Bethlehem” was a planetary conjunction of Jupiter, Mars and Saturn in the evening sky, described to mean a close approach of planets in the sky. Many others have struggled to find natural explanations for the star. The fact that God controls all things in all times and all places leads us to look to Him for an explanation. Therefore it must be an appearance of the Shekinah Glory.

The Shechinah Glory is a visible manifestation of the presence of God in time and space. In the Old Testament most of these manifestations took the form of light, fire or a cloud including some combination of these. He appears in the Old Testament in the following manners:

  1. The Garden of Eden as fellowshipping with Adam and Eve
  2. Meeting with Abraham as a smoking furnace.
  3. To Moses as a burning bush.
  4. During the Exodus as a pillar of fire and a cloud.
  5. On Mount Sinai as a cloud, thunder and lightening as well as a trumpet.
  6. A kind of visible manifestation to Moses said to be His back.
  7. Dwelling within the Tabernacle and Temple and lighting the brazen altar in the Temple as fire coming down from Heaven.
  8. Departing from the Temple.

In the New Testament He appeared:

  1. To the shepherds and the Magi as the Christmas Star.
  2. He also came as flesh (John 1: 1-14) in the body of Jesus.
  3. At the Transfiguration as a white lit Jesus.
  4. Tongues of fire to the apostles.
  5. Bright light on the Damascus road to Saul.
  6. Smoke in the Tribulation Temple from Revelation 15:8.
  7. At the Second Coming as Matthew 24:30.
  8. In the Millennium as the Risen Jesus ruling the world (Ezekiel 43: 1-7a).
  9. In the Eternal Order as seen in revelation 21: 1-3; 10-11 and 23-24.

After the Shechinah Glory appeared to the shepherds announcing the birth of Jesus the Messiah it next appeared to the Magi. The star led them to Israel. It appeared to them on at least two occasions. It led them from the east to the west and from the north to the south. It finally stood over the very house where the child Jesus was; and was unique to Jesus and no other. Coming in the form of special light this was a physical manifestation of the Shechinah Glory announcing the birth of the Messiah to a group of Gentiles from Babylonia.

SEE THE COROLLARY STORY OF THE MAGI

 

Daniel E. Woodhead Ph.D.

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God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility

Conversion of the apostle Paul by Rubens cir. 1601-02

Conversion of the apostle Paul by Rubens cir. 1601-02

 

Ephesians 1: 3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved (KJV).

This verse begins one long sweeping statement and goes without a major stop from the beginning of verse three to the end of verse fourteen. Paul touches on all the great biblical themes in that complex sentence—sanctification, adoption, redemption, and glorification—and they all rest on one foundational doctrine, the doctrine of election also known as predestination. The highest spiritual blessings stand on Ephesians 1:4 where the text says that God has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world. It also says that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. God didn’t look down the corridor of time to see who would choose Him before He decided or even acted in some random way to select us. Rather, by His sovereign will He chose who would be in the Body of Christ. The construction of the Greek verb for “chose” indicates God chose us for Himself. That means God acted totally independent of any outside influence. He made His choice totally apart from human will and purely on the basis of His sovereignty.
The term predestination, which follows those words, simply means to determine ones destiny beforehand. The Bible never says how God does the choosing. This is exclusively God’s territory. It never gives us His methodologies. This term has produced much division in the Church of Jesus Christ since He departed back to Heaven. Mostly though this heated up with the reformers in the sixteenth century.  Many theologians and Bible teachers have engaged in intensive debate over this term and entire denominations have been split as well as formed around it. We will provide a comprehensive explanation so that we can understand what the Bible teaches on this subject and also what some denominations teach that is actually outside the biblical text. Most discussions of this topic produce too little light and too much heat. It is taught in seminaries as a part of Soteriology, (the doctrine of salvation), within systematic theology.

Four very important truths must be first advanced:

  1. God is entirely sovereign over His creation, is in complete control of it, and He can do whatever He likes (II Kings 19:15; Job 26:13; 38:4; Psalm 103:19; Proverbs 3:19; Isaiah 42:5; 44:6; 45:12; 66:2; Jonah 1:9; Revelation 1:8; 3:14; 4:11).
  2. Man, living in time and space is incapable of realizing a full understanding of God and all His ways (Job 38 & 39 etc.).
  3. Because He lives outside of time and space He can look down the long corridors of time and see all events and decisions simultaneously. He knows what will be decided in the human heart and what will happen in the future before it happens (Isaiah 44:7-8; 45:21; Psalm 139; Genesis 3:15;)
  4. Prior to salvation all humans deserve to enter Hell. Without God we cannot change and save ourselves. NOWHERE IN THE BIBLE DOES IT SAY THAT GOD HAS SPECIFICALLY CHOSEN SOME TO ETERNAL DAMNATION.

Jeremiah 13: 23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil (KJV)?

Romans 3: 10-12 according as it hath been written — `There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who is understanding, there is none who is seeking after God. All did go out of the way, together they became unprofitable, there is none doing good, there is not even one (KJV).

Jesus said to His disciples, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). And in the same Gospel, John wrote, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). And Paul said, “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (II Thessalonians 2:13).

Those statements defining God’s sovereign choice of believers are not in the Bible to cause controversy, as if God’s election means sinners don’t make decisions. Election does not exclude human responsibility or the necessity of each person to respond to the gospel by faith. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37). Even though a simple reading of this verse appears to mean that God has chosen people to salvation before the world was formed, other verses indicate that mankind has to choose God in order to be saved (John 3:15; Acts 16:31 etc.). The dichotomy grows wider with predestination seemingly tightening to mean that God has chosen some people but not all to salvation (Romans 9:18; John 10: 25-29). On the other hand some verses indicate that God wants all people to be saved (John 12:32; 2 Corinthians 5: 14 etc.).

You must understand that your faith and salvation rest entirely on God’s election

(Acts 13:48). And yet the day you came to Jesus Christ, you did so because of an internal desire—you did nothing against your will. But even that desire is God-given—He supplies the necessary faith so we can believe (Ephesians 2:8). If your salvation depends on you, then praise to God is ridiculous. But, in truth, your praise to God is completely appropriate, because in forming the Body before the world began, He chose you by His sovereign decree apart from any of your works. The doctrine of election demonstrates God being God, exercising divine prerogatives. For that we must praise Him.

Some are shocked to find that God seemingly didn’t choose everyone to salvation. Jesus said, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:39). God the Father chose certain individuals to form a Body as a gift to Jesus Christ. Every believer is part of that love gift to Christ—a gift of the Father’s love to His Son.

To those who say that is unjust, Paul answers: “What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “ ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Romans 9:14-15).

So why does God still find fault in unrepentant sinners when He didn’t choose them? Doesn’t this deny human responsibility? Is it fair for God to still hold them accountable? FAIR? What is fair? Humans all have a different vision of fairness depending on our experience base. God is in control of His creation and as such can make His own rules. God’s choices are always perfect. In our weak human understanding we see a sense of unfairness with God’s choice. But we must remember He know everything all events, past, present and future. His choices are always perfect or else He would not be God. He has not left anybody out. He made perfect choices.

Paul answers all such questions with a rebuke:

Romans 9: 20-21 20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (KJV)

Certainly HE does!

Some believe that is terribly cold and calculating. But that is only one side of God’s sovereign election. Paul continues in the next chapter by saying:

Romans 10: 9-13 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “WHOEVER calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (NKJV)

These two sides of God’s truth; His sovereignty in choosing us; (Romans 9) and our responsibility to confess and believe (Romans 10) is IMPOSSIBLE for us to reconcile and understand. But Scripture declares both aspects of salvation are true (John 1:12-13). It’s our duty to acknowledge both and accept them by faith.

This seemingly unsolvable difference in two truthful biblical concepts that can’t be reconciled is called an antinomy. It is not a paradox or a contradiction. Those concepts require that one or the other is untrue. This situation is when both are true. Another biblical antinomy is the Trinity. God is one God in three persons. Both of those imply that either one or the other is true, not both. However, both God’s Divine Sovereignty and man’s ability to choose are true. Hence, they provide antimony. The human’s problem is that we are unsettled with antinomies and try to take one side or the other.

Many denominations take the predestination verses in the Bible as fact and while they can’t reconcile predestination with man’s choice they say man has no choice. In taking this position they must invalidate the verses that clearly show that man has choice. Others take the opposite position and say man has all the choice and God does not choose. They then relegate the verses, which clearly state that God has chosen us to obscurity, or restate them to mean something else. When we don’t accept both ideas as fact and choose one or the other we are engaging in heretical acts. Reformed churches historically take the total predestination position and Baptist churches usually, but not always, take the other. The total predestination position is usually called Calvinism after John Calvin the French reformer of the sixteenth century. The entire emphasis on man’s exclusive choice in the matter of salvation is usually called Arminianism after Jacob Arminius a sixteenth century Dutch theologian who advanced this concept. The problem for us is that both concepts are true and we must accept them as such.

Somewhere in the councils of God this makes sense but on this earth it never will and many have tried to no avail unless they take one side or the other. This then results in heretical teaching. The doctor of souls will do all he can to keep heresies out of the church. They are to the Church of Jesus Christ what disease is to a medical doctor that cares for human bodies in time and space. Both legitimate doctors will do all they can to prevent or stop heresies and diseases in their respective bodies. Unfortunately there are more quacks in the spiritual realm than in the physical temporal one. This is because the prize for pure spiritual truth is eternal life. It is the greatest prize on earth to receive. Nothing has greater value. As evidence of this we see many false prophets, corrupt denominations, and seminary teachings. As a result few find eternal salvation and Satan has accomplished one of his goals: the eternal destruction of human souls.

Matthew 7: 13-15 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

The deception leading into heresy by religious authorities is not new. Jesus condemned the religious authorities of His day for leading the Jews away from eternity.

Matthew 23: 13-15 13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. 14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves (KJV).

What is important for us to do is clearly explain the antimony and continue to witness for Christ. We never know who will accept. We also cannot take the position that God has chosen those who will accept His call and stop telling others. We must always praise the God of the universe for who He is and stay humble for allowing us to believe. FINALLY IT IS IMPORTANT TO REALIZE THAT WE ARE NOT GOD. IT IS NOT UP TO US TO CHOOSE WHOM HE HAS CHOSEN OR ASK WHY. His choices for salvation and ministry are entirely His providence. That is entirely God’s domain and not ours. It is best that believers NOT argue about this and try to enforce their position. This all belongs to God. God is sovereign and man has responsibility to Him. If you keep arguing about this you will just cause divisions in the Body of Christ. This all belongs to our Lord. He is in charge. Keep teaching and witnessing and lastly, Never, never, never, never, give up.

Daniel Woodhead

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The Nature and Names of the Coming Antichrist

The Coming Antichrist Has Been Given Many Names in the Bible.

 

Samyaza The Fallen Angel by Hawkwood

Biblical Names for the Antichrist- Old Testament

  1. Adversary; Psalms 74:8-10; Amos 3:11
  2. Assyrian; Isaiah 10:5, 12
  3. Belial; Nahum 1:15
  4. Bloody and Deceitful Man; Psalms 5:6
  5. Branch of the Terrible Ones; Isaiah 25:5; Isaiah 14:19
  6. Chief Prince; Ezekiel 38:2
  7. Crooked Serpent; Job 26:13; Isaiah 14:19
  8. Cruel One; Jeremiah 30:14; 23
  9. Destroyer of the Gentiles; Jeremiah 4:7
  10. Enemy; Ps 55:3; Jeremiah 30:14; 23
  11. Evil Man; Psalms 140:1
  12. Head over many Countries Psalms 110:6
  13. Head of the Northern Army Joel 2:20
  14. Idol Shepherd; Zechariah 11:16-17
  15. King of Princes; Hosea 8:10
  16. King of Babylon; Isaiah 14:11-20
  17. Little Horn; Daniel 7:8-11, 21-26; 8:9-12, 23-25
  18. Man of the earth; Psalms 10:18
  19. Merchant, deceit, oppress; Hos 12:7
  20. Mighty Man; Psalms52:1
  21. Nail; Isaiah 22:25
  22. Prince That Shall Come; Daniel 9:26
  23. Prince of Tyre; Ezekiel 28:2-10
  24. Profane Wicked Prince of Israel; Ezekiel 21:25-27
  25. Proud Man; Habakkuk 2:5
  26. Rod of God’s Anger; Isaiah 10:5
  27. Seed of the Serpent; Genesis 3:15
  28. Son of the Morning; Isaiah 14:12
  29. Spoiler, Destroyer; Isaiah 16:4-5
  30. Vile Person; Daniel 11:21
  31. Violent Man; Psalms 140:1, 10, 11
  32. Wicked, Wicked One; Psalms 9:17; 10:2, 4; Isaiah 11:4; Jeremiah 30:14, 23
  33. Willful King; Daniel 11:36

Biblical Names for the Antichrist-New Testament

  1. Angel of the Bottomless Pit; Revelation 9:11
  2. Antichrist; 1 John 2:18, 22
  3. Beast; Revelation 11:7, 13
  4. Father of the Lie; John 8:44; 2 Thessalonians 2:11
  5. Lawless One; 2 Thessalonians 2:8
  6. Man of Sin; 2 Thessalonians 2:3
  7. One Come in His Own Name; John 5:43
  8. Prince of Darkness; 2 Thessalonians 2:3
  9. Son of Perdition; 2 Thessalonians 2:3
  10. Star; Revelation 8:10; 9:1
  11. Unclean Spirit; Matthew 12:43
  12. Vine of the earth; Revelation 14:18

Capabilities of the Antichrist

  1. Big Mouth Daniel 7:8, 11, 20
  2. The Son of Satan; Genesis 3:15
  3. Intellectual Genius; Daniel 7:20; Ezekiel 28:3
  4. Oratorical Genius; Daniel 7:20; Revelation 13:2
  5. Political Genius; Daniel 11:21
  6. Commercial Genius; Daniel 8:25; Revelation 13:17; Daniel 11:38; 43; Ezekiel 28:4-5
  7. Military Genius; Daniel 8:24; Revelation 6:2; Revelation 13:4; Isaiah 14:16
  8. Governmental Genius; Revelation 13:1-2, 17:17
  9. Religious Genius; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:3, 14, 15

The Jews have called him Armilus. In their non-canonical writings (Midrashim)

For Example:

Saadia ben Yosef (cir. AD 882-942) writes of this coming world leader as Armilus[1] which in some smaller Midrashim are dealing with the “latter days.” In the “Midrash wa-Yosha'”—which comes nearest to Saadia’s conception—Armilus is taken to be Gog’s successor; but is represented as a monstrosity, bald-headed, with one large and one small eye, deaf in the right ear and maimed in the right arm, while the left arm is two and one-half ells long. His battle with and his defeat by the Messiah, son of Joseph, correspond with Saadia’s account.[2] The statement that is found there is that Armilus is the son of Satan and of a stone. [3]

 The Antichrist Appears at the Beginning of the Tribulation

 Revelation 6:1  

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, Come.

 Revelation 6:2  

And I saw, and behold, a white horse, and he that sat thereon had a bow; and there was given unto him a crown: and he came forth conquering, and to conquer.

Since he is a counterfeit Christ he will have a natural birth and a supernatural birth.

The natural origin of Christ is that He was a product of a Jewish woman. The supernatural origin was the miraculous virgin birth by means of the power of the Holy Spirit. The result was the God-Man that we worship as Jesus of Nazareth that we know as the Messiah or Christ.

The Antichrist Will Be a Gentile:

He Will Be of Roman Origin:

The person that makes the seven-year covenant with Israel whose people destroyed the Temple is the Antichrist. (Daniel 9:26-27)

His Supernatural Origin:

The supernatural origin of Antichrist is by means of a counterfeit virgin conception. The supernatural origin is found in Genesis 3:15.

Genesis 3:15  

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

 This verse gives the first prophecy of the coming of the Messiah. It also speaks to the coming of Antichrist. There are two pairs listed here.

  1. Enmity between Satan and the woman
  2. The second pair is the seeds of the Woman and the seed of Satan.

The first satanic enmity with woman is shown in Genesis six where demons intermarry with human women attempting to stop the Messiah from coming. A worldwide flood stopped this attempt. It is important to note though that the second pair is the enmity between Satan’s seed and the woman’s seed. Women do not have the seed for procreation, men do. However, since Jesus was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) the expression her seed represents a miraculous conception.

The reference in this verse to Satan’s seed implies a supernatural, miraculous conception too. From this passage then it can be deduced that Satan will someday impregnate a Roman woman who will give birth to Satan’s seed who is going to be the Antichrist. The woman might not be a virgin because Scripture does not affirm this but he will be conceived through supernatural means. Consider II Thessalonians 2:8-9.

II Thessalonians 2:8  

And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming;

II Thessalonians 2:9  

[even he], whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders

 The Greek word translated working is energeo, which means to energize. So then the coming of Antichrist will be brought about by the energizing of Satan. The counterfeit Son of the unholy Trinity will be brought about by a counterfeit virgin conception.

A time is coming when the events of Genesis six will be repeated.  The fallen anointed Cherub Satan (Lucifer) will impregnate a Roman woman to give birth to Satan’s son. The product of this conception will be a counterfeit god-man.

The Character and the Rise of the Antichrist:

Because of his close relative (father) Satan the Antichrist will have access to the satanic and demonic realm. He will accept the offer of Satan that Jesus refused when He was tempted in the wilderness. When he accepts Satan’s offer of all the kingdoms of the world it will start his rise to political power and world domination. The Church may be here to see his rise. We do not know when the rapture will occur. It can happen any time before the Tribulation starts and that is sometime before the signing of the seven-year covenant with Israel. Some see the timing of the Rapture of the Church as occurring sequentially different than this.

Daniel describes him as a willful king, characterized by self-exultation above all men and self-deification by magnifying himself above even God. By deifying himself he will put himself above all humanity. He won’t desire the love of women and therefore be inhuman toward women. Some have concluded that he will be a homosexual from (Daniel 11:37). The enmity of Satan against women will continue through Satan’s seed. He will be under the total control of Satan. He will honor Satan. His policy will be “might makes right.” Then with the help of this foreign god, Satan he will take over the strongest defenses in the world appearing invulnerable. Those who give over themselves to his authority will be given status and authority in his kingdom. (Revelation 13:17-18; 666) He will divide territory he has conquered among those who will be loyal to him and confess him to be god.

One of his capabilities will be superb oratory skill while misleading the masses.

 This will be his chief satanic enablement. He will be able to sway the masses with “great swelling words.” Ian Kershaw in his biography of Adolph Hitler provided the following quote of his appraisal of Hitler’s oratory skills. “Hitler’s frequently demonstrated diffidence and unease in dealings with individuals contrasted diametrically with his self-confident mastery in exploiting the emotions of his listeners in the theatrical setting of a major speech. He needed the orgasmic excitement which only the ecstatic masses could give him.” Hitler himself quipped that “I must have a crowd to speak.[4]

So the Antichrist will be Satan -controlled and Satan energized who will set out to conquer the world. The first seal demonstrates the beginning of his conquest. He does not gain full control until the middle of the Great Tribulation. This then is the first of the four horsemen of the apocalypse (Revelation 6:2) the rider on the white horse wearing a stephanos going out conquering and to conquer.

He Will Lead The Entire World

THE COMING ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT

Some day the events of Ezekiel 38 & 39 will occur as a Russian leader whose title is Gog seeks spoils of some sort in the land of Israel. It might be the minerals in the Salt Sea or the recent natural gas finds off shore of the land allotted to the tribe of Asher. Some have conjectured that he might have the Arab oil as his actual target using Israel as a stepping stone to get to it. In any event the Bible teaches that Gog leads a coalition of Arab Muslim nations as well as Germanic peoples in an invasion of Israel. Some believe that He will emerge from Islam. This causes the elimination of those world powers to have any remaining political prowess on the world scene. It will take the Israelis seven months to clean up the dead or they will wait seven months to enter the battlefield to start the clean-up. No one will be allowed to touch any of the bodies until the professionals have cleaned the area. Additionally, the residue of the weapons will burn for seven years providing fuel for the cities in that region (Mountains of Israel). It is for these two aspects of this battle I believe nuclear arms will be used. The Hebrew words in these passages mean simply generic weapons such as missiles. They have been translated into arrows for example in ancient Babylon (597 B.C to 586 B.C.) when Ezekiel prophesied and knew only ancient weaponry.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky the ultra-Russian nationalists is presently a four-time presidential hopeful. In the December 1993 elections, he was elected to the Russian parliament. His Liberal Democratic Party shocked the nation by receiving twenty-five percent of the votes cast. This is the party that has been compared to Hitler’s Nazi party. Liberal Democrat in the Russian sphere of political influence has a different meaning than what we are accustomed to in the United States. Some call them ultranationalists. This kind of nationalism often has as its avowed goal racial, ethnic, or religious purity. Zhirinovsky has written extensively of the future war that Russia must engage in with the people to the south. His autobiography titled the “Last Dash to the South” discusses the Russian fate of attacking the Mediterranean people in Russia’s last great war. He, like Hitler has claimed that the Jews are infecting the nation and were responsible for both World War I and II. He sees Israel as a nation with tremendous wealth. He says that he envies the Jews because they are the richest nation in the world! While he may not be Gog his attitude, rhetoric, and fervor would lead one to believe that God’s prophecy is immanent.

When this happens the east and west will be brought together with the western democracies having superiority. This will be followed by a regional or economic division of the earth into ten separate entities each with its own leader. The Antichrist will rise as the eleventh leader. He will depose three of the ten and the remaining seven will submit to him in obedience. He will then be supreme leader of the entire earth’s one world government headquartered in Babylon (Zechariah 5:5-11). Lest we look for his appearance on the world stage too early assuming control it is important to review and emphasize the imagery that the prophet Daniel wrote of in his book.

In chapters two and seven he received imagery that depicted world empires that would emerge following Babylon. The last empire described as nondescript will be the single world government or system such as imperialism.  Specifically, in chapter seven after this world unity of one government, the entire world will be segmented into ten either geographic or economic regions. Only then he will come to power. He will kill three of the ten leaders (kings) in coups d’état and assume control over the remaining seven. Until the earth is divided in some obvious manner into ten regions we will not see him coming to power. Many have looked for him too early and thought to identify him with many historical characters. Two of those for example have been the pope, and Nero, the first century Roman emperor.

Destruction of Ecclesiastical Babylon 

Revelation 17:16

And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.

One of the Antichrist’s first acts in gaining religious control will be the destruction of the first religious system of the Tribulation, the Ecclesiastical Babylon. Previously, this religious system had the support of the civil government, for the first 3 ½ years. With all civil authority turned over to the hands of the antichrist, who is now in full control, civil government itself will destroy the domination of the Ecclesiastical Babylon.

When Adolph Hitler assumed the Chancellorship of Germany on January 30, 1933 the Protestant Churches acclaimed him as the savior. Some such as Karl Barth the theologian of Bonn University did not see any major significance to Hitler’s appointment. Within one month civil liberties were extinguished. Within two months most political opponents were imprisoned or left the country. The Reichstag surrendered its powers and gave Hitler complete control of the legislative process. Within four months all the trade unions were dissolved. Within six months all opposition parties were suppressed and forced into voluntary liquidation leaving the Nazis as the only party in Germany.

 The Christian Churches began to make voluntary comprises to the Nazis.

 The following items were used to further Hitler’s agenda.

  1. Churches were supported with state taxes (church married to the state).
  2. There was a split between public and private morality (one for the state and one for the private person-the doctrine of two spheres).
  3. Human ideas were substituted for God’s Word-God was irrelevant-Enlightenment thinking was advanced.
  4. Hatred for the Jews flourished under Hitler which originally started with Martin Luther.
  5. The authority of the Bible which condemns these things was ignored.
  6. The Third Reich claimed complete control over all churches in Germany.
  7. The Nazis stopped the Bible from being published and disseminated.
  8. Mein Kampf, Hitler’s book replaced the Bible in Churches.
  9. All crosses were removed and replaced by swastikas.

If the genuine Church is here to see him, we must watch for him to have the same agenda that Hitler used. Many churches will go along with him because they are apostate now.

The Antichrist will try to change the laws too.

Daniel 7:25

And he shall speak [great] words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

All these things will come to pass because the Scripture cannot be broken.

John 10:35

If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken

Many believe that he will be a Muslim. That may be as Scripture only tells us he will be born through a corrupt conception between an earthly Gentile woman and Satan himself.

Daniel E. Woodhead

 

[1] http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/1789-armilus

[2] Patai, Raphael, The Messiah Texts, Wayne State University Press 1979 Detroit, MI pg. 156-164

[3] Jellinek, Introduction to Bet Ha-Midrash, ii. 21-23, iii. 17-20

[4] Kershaw, Ian. Hitler in IV Volumes. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998. Reprint Norwalk, CT: Easton Press, 2005, Vol. I, 133

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CHRIST IS SUPERIOR TO ALL CELESTIAL BEINGS

Hebrews 1:10-2:8

10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: 11 they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; 12 and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. 13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit, on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation (KJV)?

The Creator Has Laid the Foundation of the Earth

Hebrews 1:10

10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands (KJV):

The text now continues to describe the creator and His handiwork expressed in Psalm 102:25-27. The Jewish person to whom our text was written would know the Psalms. The Psalms though affirm the creation account in Genesis. Only God can create. Mankind is not able to do this. He can manage, rearrange and form. He cannot create matter out of nothing ex nihlo. This is the Latin meaning for “out of nothing.” In the beginning is a direct reference to the creation of the physical property of time. When we ponder the concept of time we find it impossible to arrive at a suitable definition. Time is not uniform: It is a physical property that varies with mass, acceleration and gravity, among other things. Particle physicists insist that we exist in more dimensions than we are aware of. These are all products of the time domain.  What is important to understand is that time had a beginning is in existence now, is changing its properties, and will have an end. These are concepts the human cannot fully understand. Consider our awareness spectrum while we are in these bodies. We are aware of events transpiring at the present. We can remember the past. We cannot predict the future because we cannot see it. Now God who lives outside of time (not where there is a lot of time) knows the future. In fact, one might say “God Remembers Tomorrow!” Such is the unique characteristic of time and the limitation of knowing it that God has placed upon us.

The unity of the three components of our existence, time, matter and space are all independent and coterminous with the whole. The universe is not part time, matter and space. It is rather all space, time and matter.

Clearly God has given us multiple characteristics of what we cannot see. Nachmonides a Jewish rabbi from Spain in the 13th century taught that there are ten dimensions. Four are knowable such as the three spatial (height, width & depth) as well as time. The other six are “curled” into the four we are able to detect while in our bodies. We will see them all when we are released from these bodies at death when the angels come for us (Luke 16:22) or if the Lord comes for us first (I Thessalonians 4:14-17).

The use of the Hebrew word to create, Bara in Genesis 1:1 means that at some point God spoke the creation into being. God alone is infinite and omnipotent. God is the Creator who came to earth in the person of Jesus of Nazareth who the Bible says created all things (John 1). God also created the heavens. The heavens here refer to space. So, the beginning of time was then followed by the space of the universe. Our entire universe only consists of three components. They are space, time and matter. The Hebrew word shamayin is that used of the space component of the basic space-time-mass universe. This is followed by the Hebrew word erets, which is translated as earth but primarily refers to matter. Matter of course is anything that has weight and takes up space. At the time that matter was created there were no bodies in the heavens. They were created on the fourth day of the creation account in Genesis one. On the fourth day of creation God made the stars in the heavens.

Genesis 1: 14-18

14And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years: 15and let them be for lights in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16And God made the two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth, 18and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good (ASV, 1901).

One of the reasons for making the stars in the heavens was for a sign. A sign signifies or represents something. One dictionary defines a sign as:

An object, quality, or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the presence or occurrence of something else

Signs therefore, are meant to lead one to something else. The sign itself is not the end meaning. It is the method employed to direct our attention to something else. In the stars God is the direct object the signs point to. We should realize that His entire creation which theologians call “general revelation,” speak to Him and coming from Him. In fact, God charges all mankind to know Him through the ‘signs” He has provided.

Romans 1: 20

20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse (KJV):

The heavenly bodies are the handiwork of God. God is trying to tell us things about Himself through the stars in the heavens. The heavens declare His creative output.

Psalm 19: 1-6

1The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth his handiwork.2Day unto day uttereth speech, And night unto night showeth knowledge. 3There is no speech nor language; Their voice is not heard. 4Their line is gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, 5Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And, rejoiceth as a strong man to run his course. 6 His going forth is from the end of the heavens, And, his circuit unto the ends of it; And there is nothing hid from the heat thereof (ASV, 1901). 

This psalm of David announces that the heavens declare the glory (splendor) of God’s handiwork. Verse one is a summary statement: the majestic Creation is evidence of the even more majestic Creator-God. The heavens continually (every day and every night) display the fact that there is a Creator. Even though Creation does not speak audibly as humans do its message goes out for all the earth to witness. The message from nature about the glory of God reaches all nations, and is equally intelligible to them all. It is a universal language.

The Creation is Temporary While God is Eternal

Hebrews 1:11-12

 11 they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; 12 and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail (KJV).

The Son is exalted above all.

Here Paul again quotes Psalm 102:25–27. He states six concepts from the Psalm.

  1. Jesus is superior in His basic existence.
  2. He is the Creator of the universe.
  3. The Son is sovereign over the changes in the universe.
  4. The Son is the unchangeable Lord in the midst of a changing universe.
  5. The Son is eternal.
  6. Jesus the Creator is eternal, the universe will someday be discarded like an old piece of cloth. In the words of Revelation 6:14: You will roll them up. In 2 Peter 3:10, the universe is destined to be dissolved. So, while He is eternal, the universe is temporary and a large portion of the matter will be destroyed (dissolved) in the Great Tribulation.

Our universe is comprised of only three components. They are matter, space and time. Since the Fall each of these are gradually dissolving due to entropy (gradual decay) that entered the creation. Peter is teaching that God is not bound by the time domain like we are.

The day of the Lord will hit the unbeliever with the suddenness and unexpectedness of a thief in the night. During the Great Tribulation, the heavens shall pass away with a great noise. The Old Testament passages to this statement are from Isaiah 3:13 and 34:4. Each of these Isaiah passages mention the same occurrence. Jesus spoke of these same things in His Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:29). While the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, the earth will be burned up by the judgments of the Great Tribulation. Many of these are fiery judgments. For example, in the Trumpet Judgments of Revelation 8–9, the first, second, third, and sixth Trumpet Judgments are judgments of fire. In the Bowl Judgments of Revelation 16, the fourth Bowl Judgment is a judgment of fire. During the Great Tribulation, there will be a burning of the earth. In fact, somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of the earth’s surface will be destroyed during the Great Tribulation. In this case, Peter is not dealing with the total destruction of the globe by fire; he is referring to the surface of the earth. Contrary to the evolutionists claims, the earth is not eternal. This is the destruction of the matter spoken of by the Hebrews 11:11 passage.

Time has been decaying since the Fall after creation. Einstein came close in his quest to understand the basic fundamentals of energy in the universe. His general theory affirmed that there is no distinction between time and space. He saw time as bending, having a velocity and decaying. Time is not uniform: It is a physical property that varies with mass, acceleration, gravity, and light among other things. The speed of light similarly has been slowing down over the centuries since the Fall.

 

 

The velocity of light has been measured 164 times by 16 different methodologies over the last several hundred years. The net result of all these measurements is that light is slowing down over time. So, we can infer that if light has been slowing down for the last several centuries, then it must have been slowing down since the origin of time. For example, using the same regression as observed by the physicists we can surmise that light was 10-30% faster during the time Christ was on the earth (Cir. A.D. 33). We can then believe that light was 2 times faster during the time of Solomon (Cir. 900 B.C.)  If we go back further with the same regression to the time of Abraham (Cir. 2350 B.C.) light could have been 4 times faster than now. Using the same regression and understanding the decay caused by the “Fall” light could well have been 10 Million times as fast at the time of the creation and therefore light was able to be so fast as to travel almost instantaneous at creation so as to be at the origin (stars) and the earth almost at once.

Space also has properties which God controls. This Hebrew word rakeeah means to spread out or stretch. Some other places in Scripture where this same expression is used are

  1. Job 9:8 He alone stretches out the heavens.
  2. Psalm 104:2 The heavens are stretched out like a tent curtain.
  3. Isaiah 40: 22 God stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
  4. Jeremiah 10: 12 The Lord has stretched out the heavens.
  5. Zechariah 12:1 God stretched out the heavens.

These usages of the Hebrew word for stretch (rakeeah) are not quaint poetic hyperbole or exaggerations. They mean to express the properties of the heavens that we cannot see or fully understand. Space is not an empty vacuum. We have difficulty defining space and understanding the concept of the property of space. Scripture gives us some insight as to some of its properties.

  1. Space can be torn (Isaiah 64: 1);
  2. It can be worn out like a garment (Psalm 102: 25),
  3. It can be shaken (Hebrews 12:26; Haggai 2:6; Isaiah 13:13).
  4. It can be burnt up (II Peter 3:12).
  5. It can be split apart like a scroll (Revelation 6:14);
  6. It can be rolled up like a mantle (Hebrews 1:12) or scroll (Isaiah 34: 4).

So just like a garment space can be rolled up, folded and put away. But, God exists outside of time. We have a tendency to call this eternity. In the first verse in the Bible we are told that God existed before the beginning or to say it another way before the beginning of time began. In fact, the apostle Paul writing to Timothy stated the same thing in:

II Timothy 1: 9a

9For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time (NLT)

We need to realize that the New Testament affirms one component of Genesis 1: 1 by stating that God acted before time began. God was in existence before any creation efforts were put forth. It has often been pointed out that coming to an understanding of the early chapters of Genesis and believing them makes the rest of the Bible easy to understand and believe. These early verses demonstrate the degree of control over all things that God has and exercises. Paul is affirming these things with verse 12 when he says, “but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” All things are in a state of decay until the Lord returns and establishes His Kingdom on this earth. At that time, the earth will receive a renovation. The speed of light will increase seven-fold (Isaiah 30:26), which will be a major factor in the renovation of the earth. In fact, with the light speeding up time will also change. One observation the Scripture gives us to affirm that is the longevity of the human during the Messianic Kingdom.

Peace By William Sttrutt Cir 1896 depicting Isaiah 11:6-7

The Land will be well watered, produce abundant food and have a major (Seven-fold) increase in light. All physical infirmities will be healed. The speed of light has been significantly faster closer to the creation than it is now. This will be the reason for an increase in life longevity in the Millennium. Again, God says:

Isaiah 65: 20

20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days; for the child shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed (ASV, 1901).

The Angels are Servants

Hebrews 1:13-14

13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit, on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation (KJV)?

This is a quote from Psalm 110:1 which the Jewish people of the first century considering the claims of Christ and those who being born again entered the Church knew well. Essentially, angels function as priestly messengers especially for them who shall be heirs of salvation.

Their activities can be summarized as that of:

  1. The worship of God (Isaiah 6:3; Rev. 4:8)
  2. As messengers of God (Daniel 9:22; Luke 1:11, 26; 2:9; Revelation 1:1)
  3. As soldiers in spiritual combat (Daniel 10:13f; Revelation 12:7)
  4. As ministers to God’s people (Hebrews 1:14)

In their service to God, they are seen as attendants around His throne, waiting to serve Him and do His bidding (Psalm 103:20; Isaiah 6:1f; Job 1:6; 2:1; Revelation. 5:11; 8:1f), as worshippers in praise of Him (Isaiah 6:3; Psalm 148:1-2; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:12), as observers who rejoice over what He does (Job 38:6-7; Luke 2:12-13; 15:10), as soldiers in battle with Satan (Revelation 12:7), and as instruments of His judgments (Revelation 7:1; 8:2). In relation to the nation of Israel, Michael, the archangel, functions as their guardian (Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1; Jude 9). In relation to other nations, they watch over rulers and nations (Daniel 4:17) and seek to influence their human leaders (Daniel 10:21; 11:1). In the Tribulation, they will be the agents God uses to pour out His judgments (Revelation 8-9 and 16).

With the plan of God centering in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, they naturally perform many services for the Savior.

They predicted His birth (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:26-28), and then announced his birth (Luke 2:8-15). An angel warned Joseph to take Mary and the baby Jesus and flee into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15), and an angel directed the family to return to Israel after Herod died (Matthew 2:19-21).

In relation to His suffering, angels ministered to Him after His temptation (Matthew 4:11), in His stress in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:43), and Jesus said He could have called a legion of angels who stood ready to come to His defense if He so desired (Matthew 26:53).

 

In relation to His resurrection, an angel rolled away the stone from the tomb (Matthew 28:1-2), angels announced His resurrection to the women on that Resurrection morning (Matthew 5-6; Luke 24:5-7), and angels were present at His ascension and gave instruction to the disciples (Acts 1:10-11).

In relation to His coming again, the voice of the archangel will be heard at the translation of the church (1 Thessalonians 4:16), they will accompany Him in His glorious return to earth (Matthew 25:31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7) and they will separate the wheat from the tares at Christ’s second coming (Matthew 13:39-40).

In Relation to the Church: Hebrews 1:14 describes their ministry as “ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation.” In this, however, Scripture points to a number of specific ministries: they bring answers to prayer (Acts 12:5-10), they help in bringing people to the Savior (Acts 8:26; 10:3), they may encourage in times of danger (Acts 27:23-24), and they care for God’s people at the time of death (Luke 16:22).

In all of these activities in which the celestial beings engage, Jesus the Creator is Superior……

Daniel E. Woodhead

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The Early Seed Line of the Messiah

The Seed Line Shifts after Abel’s Murder

Because of the murder of his brother Cain was given a banishment from God and from his home region, which was near Eden. Eden was in Southeast Iraq near ancient Babylon or about forty miles southeast of Baghdad on the Euphrates River northwest of the Persian Gulf. Cain’s leaving God was only a departure of the physical presence of God in time and space, the Shekinah Glory. One cannot get away from God since He is a Spirit omnipresent. The Shekinah Glory is seen in as moving flame at the east end of the Garden of Eden.

Cain is seen as only wandering so far and then beginning to have a family and attempt to defy God’s decree for him to be a vagabond. However he settles in a geographic region known then as Nod (Hebrew for the land of wandering). After Cain settled in Nod he had a son Enoch with his wife and this son became the founder of a city by his same name. This was a prohibition of God that Cain violated. Cain was supposed to be a nomad. In violating God’s Word Cain set the stage for a satanically influenced world system where humanity would be organized around the principles of greed, selfishness, ambition, force and pleasure. We are commanded to not love this system in the New Testament (I John 2: 15-17). This city was destroyed with the Flood but the principles returned with the Babylonians after the Flood.

Cain and his wife had Enoch. Four generations down from him is Lamech who introduces polygamy and bigamy into the human family. He takes two wives. From the two wives Zillah and Adah there are three sons and a daughter mentioned in the Genesis account. The three sons are the progenitors of two crafts, music, and metallurgy as well as the nomadic lifestyle. The daughter’s contribution must have been significant due to here inclusion but it is not delineated. Those alive at the time and for the next several centuries probably knew of her exploits.

Adam then records a song in poetic form by Lamech. This type of Hebrew poetry is parallelism or one line repeating another with slightly different text. Lamech slew a youthful warrior who wounded him and demanded greater leniency in any vengeance that might come his way than that afforded to Cain (Genesis 4:24). Lamech boasted about the murder. Here is a picture of a selfish society defying God and His laws, seeking pleasure and self-indulgence. Lamech was proud that he killed another person. He bragged about his prowess in the vengeful murder. Lamech then boasts of his self-centered security. Cain interestingly asked God for protection. He must have known the result of the violation of God’s Word. Society would be very violent.

Lamech now very far from God believes in himself and his own capabilities.

It must be pointed out that there were seven generations highlighted in this passage moving down from Adam. Adam died in the seventh generation. It is important to see the developments in this time period of human history (930 years from Creation). Humanism and sin became entrenched with murder, lying, and self-pity becoming commonplace as well as seeking worldly security instead of God’s offer. All false religions follow the way of Cain.

The text now changes to focus on the line of Seth, which will be further developed in chapter five. Adam’s wife Chavah (Eve) comments that God has appointed her another son to replace the God centered Abel. His name is Seth and in keeping with the Hebrews having meaning for their names. Seth means, “appointed.” Seth was appointed to take the role of Abel and bring the Messiah. This is the seed line of the woman as promised in Genesis 3: 15. Christ would come through this line as the text in Luke 3: 23-38 clearly chart. Eve provided the naming of Seth exerting her authority over her child. Seth had a son shown here. It was Enosh and his name means “frail man.” Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.

This is a Hebrew expression stating public worship. So this is the beginning of open public worship of God in opposition to the way of Cain, which is worldly and self-centered. In strong contrast with Cain’s godless society was the righteous, those who called on God in acknowledgement. In the line from Seth there was belief. Seth himself was a provision from God, according to Eve’s statement of faith. In the days of Enosh, Seth’s son, men began to call on (“proclaim”) the name of the Lord (Yahweh).

The Patriarch’s Longevity

Genesis chapter five is the Toldot (generation) of Adam. It expresses the chronology of Adam to Noah. Both of these men represent significant points in the chronology of humanity on the earth. Adam was the first man made by God and Noah the only man (with his family) who survived the worldwide flood. It was the seed line of Adam through Seth that made it through the Flood. The line of Cain did not. Adam wrote portions of Genesis. This is clearly one of them as the text uses the word book to describe this section of Genesis. The Hebrew word for book is סֵ֔פֶר saafair. Because Adam died about 120 years before Noah was born we believe that Noah finished this section of the book of Genesis as well as the events of the Flood and on through the year 2000 from creation.

The first aspect of this Toldot that stands out is the length of the patriarch’s lives. We must realize that prior to the decay (Entropy) that came into the earth at the Fall mankind was made to live forever. Decay began and man’s life span began a steady decline to be less than a hundred years. This chronology is repeated in I Chronicles 1:1-14 and Luke 3: 3-38. There are no gaps in these accounts. One person is the father to the next. Further the years are normal years not some exaggerated unreal time frame. The Hebrew text does not accommodate a grandfather-grandson depiction in this account. These long life spans are validated in secular data as well as the biblical account. Two examples are, The Sumerian King List written between 2000 – 3,000 B.C. and Babylonian history by Berossus (Cir. 300 B.C.). The Sumerian King List records in succession the names of most of the kings of Sumer and the lengths of their reigns.

Sumer – Artist unknown

The Sumerians were the post Flood Empire that succeeded Nimrod in Babel. The Akkadians conquered Sumer. Creation was Cir. 4004 B.C. (Hebrew 3760 B.C.) and the Flood was about 2500 B.C. (1656 years from Creation from the Masoretic text). The Sumerian King List purports to identify both pre and post Flood kings of the Mesopotamian (Between Rivers) region. Sumer was succeeded by Assyria and they were conquered by Babylon.

The document begins at the beginning of history, the time when ‘kingship (first) descended from heaven,’ and goes up to the reign of Sin-magir (1827– 1817 BC) towards the end of the Isin dynasty. The list is characterized by extremely long life spans of the different kings, especially the earlier ones. One quarter of a million years is assigned to the first eight kings before the Flood and more than 25,000 years for the first two dynasties after the Flood. The length of the lives of the Sumerian kings mentioned is grossly exaggerated from the Genesis account. This is in keeping with other non-biblical accounts of early ancient history such as the Gilgamesh Epic. Some characteristics of these ancient accounts are fanciful but they attest to the validity of the Genesis account of creation, ancient patriarchs, and the Flood. Since Christ validated Genesis and the Old Testament we know that God Himself affirms the structure and data in Genesis.

Enoch’s Translation

One obvious aspect of the Seed Line is the truncated life of Enoch. In comparison to the others his life was relatively short at 365 years. The Bible says that God took him. God gave immortality to him. The Hebrew word for took is lackach. It means that the Lord captured him. We can translate this as rapture. The New Testament affirms this in Hebrews 11: 5 and says Enoch pleased God. This is a model or type of the Rapture of the Church which is yet future to us and the program of which is explained in I Thessalonians 4: 16-17. The Lord Jesus told us that we would not know the day or the hour (Matthew 24: 36). Many have tried to predict the date of the Rapture even though the Lord Jesus said we would not know. That should be reason enough to not engage in mental and biblical gymnastics to try and set a date. Those that make these predictions harm the credibility of the fact of the Rapture and Bible prophecy. Those who might become believers are deferred from believing the full biblical text and attribute such prophecies to the fools that make these predictions. Although there many views on the general timing of the Rapture of the Church in the long world chronology this author believes it occurs before the Great Tribulation.

The earliest indication of a Pretribulational Rapture is found in Luke 21:34-37.

 Luke 21:34-37 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and [so] that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called [the mount] of Olives.

After describing the terrible events of the Tribulation, Jesus states that it will come upon all them that dwell on the face of the earth (v35). In other words, no earth dwellers can escape the calamities of the Tribulation. Yet there is one way of escaping all these things that shall come to pass (v36), but not by remaining on the earth. In order to be able to escape all these things one must be a genuine believer. This means escaping is to stand before the Son of Man, a standing that must happen at a place off the earth, for there is no escape on the earth. That is exactly what happens to believers that are raptured off the earth to stand before the Son of Man. One of the reasons for the Tribulation is to make and end of sin (punishment). Jesus The Christ has already taken the punishment for sin, which is coming on the world, for the believer. If we believe, we don’t suffer any punishment (Romans 8:1) and He takes us to be with Him prior to the Tribulation. Just like Enoch we please God by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. As already indicated by Luke 21:34-36, the result of the Rapture is to stand before the Son of Man.

Methuselah

This was the longest living person who has ever been on the earth. He was 969 years old when he died. The name Methuselah in Hebrew means “His death shall bring.” Methuselah’s father Enoch functioning as a prophet according to Jude 14-15, named him to signify the timing of the flood. The longevity of his life is a testimony to the grace of God who withheld the Flood until he died. Men were given a long time to repent just as we are today (II Peter 3: 8-9).

Noah

The genealogy of Adam ends with Noah. His name means comfort or rest. This is in direct contrast to the toilsome sluggish work that Adam would experience after the fall. He has three sons who with their wives and children will repopulate the earth after the Flood.

None of the individuals cited in the Godly Seed Line died in the Flood. All were either dead or raptured before the Flood and Noah and his sons passed through it. The death account of the individuals personifies Romans five.

Romans 5: 12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5: 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come

The following chart depicting the early chronology of the Lord Jesus also declares the salvation He offers the world. By reading the Hebrew meaning of the individual’s names it produces the Gospel. Man appointed mortal sorrow. The blessed God descends teaching that His death brings the despairing comfort.

Daniel E. Woodhead

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Unequally Yoked – The Bible and Sexual Purity

The Mosaic Law (OT) clearly restricted the believer’s behavior in many areas such as food. Certain foods were allowed while others were either restricted or forbidden. Since Christ has been crucified the believer now has much latitude in the choice of diet and other activities. One example is the rigid restriction on movement during the Sabbath. With the complete elimination of the entire corpus of the Mosaic Law (613 Laws) and replacement by Christ’s Law, the New Testament believer was free from all constraints of the Mosaic Law. Christ’s Law, which is spelled out in the New Testament, becomes the operative commandments for a Christian to follow. The Laws, which God wants us to adhere to, appears in the New Testament. Now for the Jews who were used to keeping the Mosaic Law, Christ offers them the option of doing so if they choose (Col. 2:16-17). It is no longer mandatory in the New Testament Church Age though. This is the freedom (liberty) that Paul speaks of in this book of I Corinthians. We have freedom from the specific binding tight regulations of the Mosaic Law. We will see the concept of liberty more thoroughly developed in I Corinthians chapters eight to ten. But here the concept is just introduced to refute the concept of Antinomianism. This heresy concluded that the liberty we have in Christ extended to the moral aspects of the Law as well as the ceremonial. In an incorrect syllogism it is stated in this manner:

  1. The believer is saved by grace through faith in Christ (Eph 2:8-9).
  2. All sins are forgiven, past, present, and future (Acts 13: 39; Titus 2:13-14; etc.).
  3. When the believer sins forgiveness is available to the repentant sinner (1 John 1: 9; II Corinthians 7: 10).
  4. This heresy therefore concludes the syllogism with an endorsement to go ahead and sin all you want because forgiveness has already been achieved through the grace of the Lord Jesus.
The question we must answer is: If this is not true why?

The syllogism breaks down because the truly repentant sinner turns from the sin. The unbeliever who may masquerade as a believer will continue to sin and appeal to grace for freedom from The Law. A second fallacy is that the moral Law did not get restated in the New Testament Law of Christ. It did! Only the ceremonial Law was not restated in the NT.

 

I Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

 

Paul is again stating the cry of the antinomian; “all things are OK (lawful) for me to do.” This had become a slogan of the Corinthians to continue sinning as if Christ permitted it under grace. The statement was partially true. While Christ had taken away the sins by grace all things were not good (expedient) for the Child of God to pursue. Some were still forbidden in the New Testament. Sexual sins continued to be in the forbidden classification.

It is never appropriate to disregard basic Christian morality as taught in the New Testament for personal gratification.

Beginning to address behaviors that were permitted under the New Testament’s Law of Christ, the text continues to demonstrate that we should not get caught up in any of them so as to damage our testimony. For those activities for which we have liberty we are not to become addicted. For those activities, which are permitted in the New Testament, we must not allow them to control us. Some examples where the Church falls down in liberty are in the areas of gossip, bitterness, an unforgiving spirit, and lust or withholding money from God’s work.

I Corinthians 6: 13-14 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.

Food (meats) for the stomach and the stomach for food (meats), was an expression by which some Corinthians sought to justify their sexual immorality. They reasoned that “food” was both pleasurable and necessary. When they sensed hunger, they reasoned that food was eaten to satisfy the urge. So too, they argued, sex was pleasurable and necessary. When their bodies signaled sexual desire, they needed to be satisfied. But Christ drew a sharp line between the stomach and the body. The body in this context meant more than the physical frame; it referred to the whole person, composed of flesh (the material) and spirit (the immaterial). While we are on the earth the body is not separated from the spirit. Further the body will be resurrected to an immortal state at the first resurrection. The “body,” therefore, was not perishable but eternal and it was not meant for sexual immorality but for union with the Lord. The eternality of the body, the future destiny of the individual, was made certain by Christ’s resurrection. We will see this expressed fully in I Corinthians chapter fifteen. So an urge that comes to us is no justification to satisfy it! The homosexuals rely on this thinking to justify their behavior. They reason that since they have and urge to do these abominations it is therefore normal and who they are. When a believer dies today prior to the resurrection he/she is separated from the body. The body goes into the ground awaiting the Rapture and Resurrection. The spirit goes to be with the Lord. So stomachs and food will pass away as the bodies die. Until the Rapture and Resurrection we are separated from our bodies and there have no need of food or a stomach. Later when the Rapture and Resurrection takes place we will be reunited with our bodies. It is possible at that point that we will once again be eating food since Christ ate after He was resurrected from the dead.

I Corinthians 6: 15-16 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

So too the work of the Spirit has affected Christians’ present destiny and joined them to Christ. Could a Christian practice immorality without grieving Christ? Never!

The Two Harmful Categories to Us of Sinful Sex

The union of two people involves more than physical contact. It is also a union of personalities which, however temporary, alters both of them as Paul quoted Genesis 2:24 (The two will become one flesh) not to affirm that a man and a prostitute are married but to indicate the gravity of the sin and the depth of the bonding that takes place in a sexual union.

 

Biochemical Bonding (Physical)

 

Some have studied the chemical nature of sexual intercourse. As a result there appears to be a point at which man and woman enter into a new relationship that is biochemically oriented toward staying together, geared toward their unity as a couple.  Chemicals released during intercourse, such as oxytocin and vasopressin, which are called neuopeptides, introduce a unique effect that promotes a series of pair-bonding behaviors.[1]  Furthermore, this primary exposure of the system to these chemicals seems to trigger a response that permanently alters body chemistry, and consequently behavior tendencies, making the pair more receptive towards their partner.[2] One could also say that the couple becomes bonded closer to each other. Once the bonds are established, the disruption of these bonds causes great distress.3  It is clear that the body favors the maintenance of these bonds and reacts unfavorably when they are broken.  In displaying such responses, it appears that the biochemistry of the body associated with sexual union is optimally designed to be experienced within the context of an intimate and permanent relationship.

The results of these studies are that we truly become one flesh!

Solomon’s Marriage Feast by Rembrandt cir. 1650

 

God designed us to be permanently bonded to one another or in secular terms monogamous.

 

A Secondary Aspect of the Chemical Bonding

 

Scientific findings suggest that tenderness expressed in physical, non-sexual affectionate touching is a bio-chemical condition for optimal sexual experience.  The segment of our brains, which produce the feeling of euphoria such as having sexual intercourse, is also prone to building up tolerance to these effects. Such an effect triggers some individuals to spice up their sex lives by trying new or multiple partners, or other alterations that shift the focus of sex from love to pleasure in hope of attaining that same high again.  However, females who readily have oxytocin available in their system (released by frequent positive person-to-person touching) are actually able to counter this tolerance mechanism naturally.[3] Research indicates that the body is designed to be affectionately touched on a regular basis.  Under the conditions of loving, regular touch – whether it is through holding hands, hugging, or cuddling – the body responds optimally to more intimate sexual expressions.  Sex on a physical level is ordained toward tenderness, which is an important aspect of authentic love that contributes to closeness between a couple, as well as the continuation of exclusive permanency. Therefore it is important to refrain from frequent close touching of members of the opposite sex unless within a marriage or between family members in a wholesome expression of care.

 

Married couples who express tender physical contact will have a more loving sexual relationship and less of a purely and limited physical desire for a sexual high. They will also demonstrate to their children the importance of wholesome physical contact and pass on to them proper loving sexual expressions as an example for them when they are eventually married.

 

I Corinthians 6: 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

 

The Spiritual Bonding Aspect of Sexual Sin

 

Satan’s Last Stand-Armageddon Artist unknown

 

A Christian’s union with Christ likewise affects both him and the Savior, and one cannot act without affecting the other.

 

 I Corinthians 6: 18-20 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

 

The only appropriate response when faced with sexual immorality is to FLEE. Take the example of Joseph when Potiphar’s wife aggressively advanced upon him. He fled and got out (Gen 39:12).

 

Clearly the Lord’s design for our bodies and spirits as well is to be with one spouse in union and not to divert from that. The term body in the Greek construct refers to both soul and body. So in addition to adding conflict within our biochemistry and causing great emotional harm to our spouse the Holy Spirit is greatly grieved. We know that the Spirit enters us at the point of belief and stays with us for evermore thereafter. We have to remember the price that Christ paid for us to provide for our salvation and therefore eternal life and never marginalize it by sinning against him. All sins are against God (II Sam 12:13). Sexual sins are the worst in the eyes of the Lord and received the greatest punishment in Old Testament.

 

II Corinthians 6: 14-18 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

 

The unification of our bodies with a harlot produces a close relationship with the Devil called Belial here. Belial is a Hebrew word to describe one of the most maleficent characters of the underworld, Lucifer who became Satan.

 

It therefore causes pollution of our spirit with the Devil.

 

When we engage in a relationship with unsaved people especially a sexual relationship outside of a committed heterosexual marriage we put the Holy Spirit in immediate proximity with the Devil and the two do not mix. God will withdraw from us and the chemical factors inherent in sexual unions will cause us to want to continue the bonding with the one we had the sexual relationship with. Therefore, God withdraws from us and we move closer to Satan. This is a powerful recipe for spiritual corruption that leads to death.

When we engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage the result is we bond chemically and emotionally with the person with whom we had the sex. The pair bonding does not like to be broken and it continues to seek the bonding when it is broken.

 

God has a plan for us within sexual areas and it is simply that two believers must marry one another. We must not marry outside of the faith for any reason. God regards this as sin and He will not bless the union as such. When a believer finds them selves married to an unbeliever either because of inappropriate choice of partners or if both were unbelievers to start and one became a believer here what must happen.

 

The believer must take his/her God given role as a born again Christian and act like it. God considers this marriage a sinful union. If a person is living in a state of sin or still an unbeliever they will never experience true growth.

 

THOSE IN SIN RETARD SPIRITUAL GROWTH.

 

God will not bless a person living in sin. We have been in a section of Scripture that clarifies much for the successful God led Christian marriage. It all starts with tying ourselves together only with believers. That is committed regenerated believers in Jesus Christ. People who seek to please Him first and foremost in their lives. Real believers have been transformed and seek to rid themselves of the old man in them. They seek the guidance of God in all they do and grow spiritually all the days of their lives. This is why the Bible tells us not to unequally yoked together with unbelievers.

 

II Corinthians 6:14-16 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

 

Remember a sexual union produces a chemical bonding that draws us together as God would have us becoming one flesh. If the other person is an unbeliever the bonding puts Satan in close proximity to Christ and Christ will withdraw leaving the believer bound to an unbeliever in a bond that is difficult to break.

 

1 Corinthians 7: 10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

 

Up to this point Paul had been speaking to the people that either were presently unmarried or may have been at some time in their past but now were unmarried. A new discussion now begins with instruction to those that presently are married. Divorce is not part of God’s plan. In fact He states quite clearly that He hates divorce (Mal 2:16).

 

Malachi 2:16 “For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the LORD of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.

 

The covering that is spoken of here is a symbol of marriage. (Ruth 3:9; Ezekiel 16:8). Covering one’s garment with violence describes violating the marriage relationship, which is exactly what divorce does. Whenever there is a repetition in the Bible it is for emphasis. In this case it is the Lord’s will that we do not divorce.

 

This verse is the most explicit statement in the Old Testament on God’s feelings about divorce. Divorce was allowed. The permission that appears in the Torah provides protection for the wife. (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) Jesus taught that those concessions by Moses were given because of the hardness of people’s hearts, but He emphasized that God does not approve of divorce. He hates it.

So Paul is saying in I Corinthians 7:10 that a wife should not leave her husband. In other words there should not be a divorce or a separation. Typically the question is raised regarding abuse. If a wife is suffering abuse she should remove herself from the harm. This alone is insufficient to seek divorce. Unless there is fornication (adultery) or as we will see in the next few verses abandonment by an unbelieving spouse, there is no biblical permission for divorce (Matthew 5:32). Christ never said that an abused woman should stay in an abusive situation. In fact in the text of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 provides protection for a wife that is cast out by her husband by allowing her to seek another man.

 

I Corinthians 7: 11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

 

So in the event that she must leave and let’s use the example of abuse, she must not remarry. The husband has no right to end the marriage through divorce. The only legitimate biblical reason to end this marriage is through death or if adultery enters the relationship. She must remain unmarried and so also should her husband. In this verse Paul is addressing married believers. When problems occur in a Christian marriage, the resolution is reconciliation not in divorce.

 

Ephesians 4:30-32 And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

 

 I Corinthians 7: 12-13 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

 

Now the discussion turns to those believers who are married to unbelievers (the rest). Remember we must avoid the pain and hardship associated with the unequal yoking in our marriages. Paul does not mean by saying “I speak, not the Lord” that he following words are not Scriptural. What he means is that Jesus did not specifically address this issue in the Scripture we have. Paul had the Christ given authority (Acts 9: 15) to bring Christ’s Word to the Gentiles, Kings and the Jews. That being said it is possible for one of two married unbelievers to accept Christ and enter the family of God. After this occurs the believing spouse must not leave the other. Remember how Paul reminded the Corinthians that some of them had serious sins in their past but Christ washed them clean (I Corinthians 6:11). This can happen to the non-believing spouse. The believer should not leave the non-believer. The marriage will be difficult and may result in at the least a lack of tolerance and possibly worse. In a marriage like this the believing spouse might feel like they are single or all alone. Perhaps they are taking the children to church and receive no spiritual leadership or spiritual support in the family unit. We have all seen these situations. We must reach out to them and encourage them to bring their children up in the knowledge of Christ and seek to support and educate them in the Bible. Through prayer and leading a Godly life the believing spouse may bring about the conversion of the non-believer.

 

I Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

 

The primary reason that the two must remain married is that the believing spouse brings holiness to the marriage. We have at least two Old Testament examples to illustrate this situation.

 

Never, Never Underestimate the power of God

 

Genesis 30: 27 And Laban said unto him, If now I have found favor in thine eyes, tarry: for I have divined that Jehovah hath blessed me for thy sake.

 

Laban who was deceitful knew that the Lord blessed him through Jacob. If Jacob had left earlier than he did Laban would not have received knowledge of God and he was aware of it.

 

Genesis 39: 2-5 And Jehovah was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that Jehovah was with him, and that Jehovah made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found favor in his sight, and he ministered unto him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that Jehovah blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of Jehovah was upon all that he had, in the house and in the field.

 

Again the Lord provided blessing to those around one of His believing children. Joseph was a child of the living God and the entire household of Potiphar the high-ranking officer in Pharaoh’s select personal guard was blessed. Non-believers can sense this in the lives of believers and seek it, if not for themselves, at least for their children. Some people who are non-believers will send their children to vacation Bible school, Christian schools or Sunday school because they know there will be some blessing that will be imparted to the children. The entire family will be blessed by the one believing spouse and especially the children.

 

I Corinthians 7: 15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

 

God has provided and additional exception to the rule of no divorce. In addition to adultery, the situation where an unbeliever insists on a divorce, he is not to be denied. Should this occur, the Christian is not bound to maintain the marriage but is free to remarry. Paul did not say, as he did in verse 11, that the Christian in this case should “remain unmarried.” The believer has two choices in this instance. The believer can allow the marriage to dissolve or he/she can deny Christ and live with the unbeliever, as the unbelieving spouse would like to live; apart from God. No blessings will occur in this relationship. Only pain and hardship will ensue. Once a person truly accepts Christ the Holy Spirit enters them forever. If they try and deny Christ the Spirit will be grieved.

 

The second part of this verse in which Paul affirmed that God had called Christians to live in peace could be understood as a separate sentence. The same conjunction (but) which introduced the exception at the beginning of this verse was repeated by Paul, probably to indicate another shift in thought and a return to the main point in this section, namely, the importance for the Christian spouse of preserving the marriage union and living “in peace” with the non-Christian. Paul’s point was that a Christian should strive to preserve the union and to keep the peace, but with the understanding that marriage is a mutual not a unilateral relationship. This is a difficult situation for the believer, as they will comprise their Christianity and their desire to follow Christ as they seek to appease their spouse through a peaceful relationship. This is one more reason to never become unequally yoked together with unbelievers.

 

 I Corinthians 7:16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

 

Finally the principle reason for the believing spouse staying with the unbeliever is to pray for their salvation. This is a crucial reason why a Christian should stay married to a non-Christian. God might use the Christian spouse as a vessel of blessing possibly leading to the point where the unbelieving spouse would believe the message of the Cross and experience salvation. The apostle Peter said the same thing to us.

 

1 Peter 3:1-2 In like manner, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, even if any obey not the word, they may without the word be gained by the behavior of their wives; beholding your chaste behavior coupled with fear.

 

 

Wives who fear the Lord just may be used to bring salvation to an unbelieving husband.

 

[1] Insel TR, Winslow JT, Wang ZX, Young L, and Hulihan TJ.  “Oxytocin and the Molecular Basis for Monogamy”.  Advanced Experiments in Medical Biology.  Vol. 395 (1995), pp. 227-34.

[2] Carter CS.  “Neuroendocrine Perspectives on Social Attachment and Love”.  Psychoneuroendocrinology.  Vol. 23, no. 8 (Nov 1998), pp. 779-818

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Ibid

4 McLean Hospital , Harvard Medical School.  “Role of Oxytocin in the Neuroadaptation to Drugs of Abuse”.  Psychoneuroendocrinology.  Vol. 19, no. 1, (1994), pp. 85-117.

[4] Wikipedia Internet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatal_Attraction

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