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The Houses of God
God wants to be with His people on earth, and commanded different structures to be built to do this. His first structure was the portable Tabernacle that the Jews carried with them during the 40 years of wandering, and into the settlement days of their time in the Promised Land. Next came the First Temple built by King Solomon in Jerusalem as a permanent house of the Lord. After that was destroyed, the Second Temple was initially rebuilt by Zerubbabel and others in Jerusalem, and enlarged by King Herod. That too was destroyed in 70 A.D. A Third Temple will be built for use during the Great Tribulation, which will also be destroyed. The final and most magnificent Fourth Temple will be built by and for King Jesus to rule in during the Millennial/ Messianic Kingdom.
The Tabernacle, and later the Temple, are important for it was here the High Priest and other priests carried out their work to bring God to the people. The first dwelling for God’s Presence (in Hebrew, “presence” is the word Shekinah) in the world was in the Sanctuary of the Tabernacle. (The Hebrew word for tabernacle is Mishkan). The Tabernacle accompanied the Jews on their journeys in the desert as they traveled from Mount Sinai to the Land of Israel. The Shekinah glory came into the Tabernacle and resided in the inner most chamber called the Holy of Holies. The High Priest would meet with God there once a year on Yom Kippor, the day of Atonement, to pray for the forgiveness of his sins and the Children of Israel’s sins.
Moses was commanded to make a tabernacle for Him to dwell in on the earth, and it was to be patterned after the perfect Tabernacle in Heaven:
8And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. 9According to all that I show thee, the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the furniture thereof, even so shall ye make it (ASV, 1901).
Everything from the structure to the implements was to be made in all respects exactly according to the view, or images, Moses received from God. Moses then communicated these instructions and directions to the workmen. This was not to be made as an impression of the pattern, but an exact replica, or a perfect model of the patterns impressed on the mind of Moses. The image below one conception of is how the Tabernacle looked.
After the Jews entered the land of Israel, the Tabernacle stood in Gilgal for 14 years. Afterwards the Tabernacle, including the ark, was moved into a permanent structure at Shiloh. This structure was erected with the same dimensions as the Tabernacle in the desert. In contrast to the original Tabernacle, which had wooden walls, the building erected at Shiloh was stone.
The First Temple
The next step was the construction of the First Temple in Jerusalem by King Solomon that replaced the Tabernacle at Shiloh, and was to be a permanent building. Solomon was chosen to do this, not King David (2 Samuel 7:1-17):
I Kings 5:1–5
1And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David. 2And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying, 3Thou knowest how that David my father could not build a house for the name of Jehovah his God for the wars which were about him on every side, until Jehovah put them under the soles of his feet. 4But now Jehovah my God hath given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary, nor evil occurrence. 5And, behold, I purpose to build a house for the name of Jehovah my God, as Jehovah spake unto David my father, saying, Thy son, whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room, he shall build the house for my name (ASV, 1901).
Construction of the Temple began about 960 B.C.
I Kings 6:1
1And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of Jehovah (ASV, 1901).
Among the differences between the Temple and the previous Tabernacle was an increase in the size of the altar and an increase in the size of the Temple building. The construction was completed in seven years, the number of God indicating completeness:
I Kings 6:37–38
37In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of Jehovah laid, in the month Ziv. 38And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it (ASV, 1901).
God’s glory enters the Temple when King Solomon conducted the opening ceremonies:
II Chronicles 7:1–3
1Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt-offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of Jehovah filled the house. 2And the priests could not enter into the house of Jehovah, because the glory of Jehovah filled Jehovah’s house. 3And all the children of Israel looked on, when the fire came down, and the glory of Jehovah was upon the house; and they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and gave thanks unto Jehovah, saying, For, he is good; for his lovingkindness endureth for ever (ASV, 1901).
The Lord Leaves the First Temple
The Jews greatly sinned. This caused the Lord to leave the Temple in 586 B.C. when He brought the Babylonians into Jerusalem to sack the Temple, and punish the nation Israel for turning against Him:
36Jehovah said moreover unto me: Son of man, wilt thou judge Oholah and Oholibah? then declare unto them their abominations. 37For they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands; and with their idols have they committed adultery; and they have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass through the fire unto them to be devoured (ASV, 1901).
The Lord begins this concluding section to the twenty-third chapter of the book of Ezekiel with an arraignment of the nation Israel. The central theme of Israel’ sins against God had been discussed in chapters 20 to 23. Ezekiel is instructed to refer to the Northern Kingdom of Israel as the prostitute “Oholah” and the Southern Kingdom of Judah as the harlot “Oholibah”, against whom formal charges are brought for their “abominations”. The general crime against God is spiritual adultery committed by the nation Israel for their behavior as a prostitute instead of a loving wife. They prostituted themselves to the pagan cults, and were guilty of seven detestable practices listed in verses 36-37 including:
- Desecration of the Sabbath
- Desecration of the Temple
- Making forbidden foreign alliances
- Committing adultery
- Engaging in innocent bloodshed
- Committing child sacrifice
So, the verdict is reached in this section of Scripture and the sentence is given for execution in chapter Ezekiel 24:1-27. Jehovah God leads Ezekiel to the inner court of the Temple to witness more abominations of the Jewish religious leaders. These corruptions were the worst Ezekiel ever saw.
16And he brought me into the inner court of Jehovah’s house; and behold, at the door of the temple of Jehovah, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of Jehovah, and their faces toward the east; and they were worshipping the sun toward the east (ASV, 1901).
These men were probably twenty-five priests located between the covered entrance and the altar, with their backs to the Temple and their faces toward the sun. They were worshipping the sun, which they knew of from their days in Egypt, and now brought sun worship into God’s Temple. Moses warned against these practices (Deuteronomy 4:19). In attempting to avoid this, the Lord established the position of the sanctuary in such way so the entrance was facing west. In this configuration, those entering the Sanctuary would be facing the Holy of Holies with their back to the sun in the east. These twenty-five men had defied the Lord, faced the east, and bowed down to it in obeisance. In this way they were showing their contempt for the Temple of the God, and Him as well. Some Jewish interpreters see this act of defiance being carried out by the twenty-five defecating toward the Temple in obscene insolence as they bent over. They had uncovered themselves and evacuated downwards toward the Temple. (Eisenmann and Sherman, 1977, 167) The Jewish interpreters translate the Hebrew word meeshtachvtem as “bowing down destructively”, not worshipping respectfully.
The sense of defiance toward God is apparent, which is why this particular abomination is the worst one of the seven listed above. The downward slide is clear for Israel. They had descended into idol worship, with its attendant sexual immorality and defiance to God. The New Testament letter of I John writes to the Church, “My little children, guard yourselves from idols “(I John 5:21). This makes it apparent that it can happen to us if we do not heed the Word of God, and become ensnared by the things of this world. Many churches have fallen victim to this as they move away from the Word of God and promote worldly practices. Consider the quote from Kent Dobson, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan upon resigning:
“I have always been and I’m still drawn to the very edges of religion and faith and God,” Dobson said. “I’ve said a few times that I don’t even know if we know what we mean by God anymore. That’s the edges of faith. That’s the thing that pulls me. I’m not really drawn to the center. I’m not drawn to the orthodox or the mainstream or the status quo.” (Vande Bunte, 11/23/2015)
God’s presence left the Temple before the sentence was executed. All was set in motion to move God out of the Temple due to the sin of the religious leaders.
15And the cherubim mounted up: this is the living creature that I saw by the river Chebar. 16And when the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them; and when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the wheels also turned not from beside them. 17When they stood, these stood; and when they mounted up, these mounted up with them: for the spirit of the living creature was in them.
The cherubim went in, the wheels went beside them in perfect unison. Upon command, the cherubim began lifting the Shekinah Glory up from the Temple The mighty wings of the cherubim lifted the Golden Chariot and the Lord up from the earth, and the wheels never swerved from their side. When the cherubim stood, the wheels stood. The energizing Spirit was in everything associated with this vision. The Glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the Temple. Then in Ezekiel’s sight the cherubim mounted up from the earth.
Jehovah Moves Out of the Temple
18And the glory of Jehovah went forth from over the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim. 19And the cherubim lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight when they went forth, and the wheels beside them: and they stood at the door of the east gate of Jehovah’s house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.
This was the second stage of the various ascensions as He left from the Holy of Holies. The Lord mounted His Golden Chariot in the Holy of Holies, went to the threshold and then upon His magnificent vehicle, stood over the east gate. It is important to note that God is not one with the Chariot, but above it ,and the cherubim and chariot are obedient to Him as His need dictates. As God moved from The Holy of Holies upon the Chariot it moved Him to the threshold of the Temple, and then to the outer side of the east gate. The Glory is the same as seen before:
20This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river Chebar; and I knew that they were cherubim. 21Every one had four faces, and every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings. 22And as for the likeness of their faces, they were the faces which I saw by the river Chebar, their appearances and themselves; they went every one straight forward (ASV, 1901).
Thus, gradually, in solemn majesty, the Glory of the Lord, which had dwelt visibly in the Temple in the midst of His people, was departing. Verse 22 of chapter 11 connects with verse 19 of chapter 10. The complete departure of the Glory of the Lord from the midst of the city is recorded there. God moves to an unnamed mountain on the east side of the Temple. The diagram below numbers the progression of God leaving the First Temple.
The Glory has not abandoned Israel, for it will return: “And the Glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose front was toward the east” (Ezekiel 43:4). It will return in the same way as it departed. And that will be when the King, our Lord, comes back to earth again. At that time, the Glory will cover Israel and Jerusalem (Isaiah 4:5; 60:1), and the knowledge of it will cover the earth as the waters cover the deep. This is the Millennial Temple, or Fourth Temple, where once again the Glory of God will inhabit the Temple.
What Ezekiel saw here is the same that he saw in chapter one during his first vision. The despair he senses with the Shekinah Glory departing the Temple is relieved in the chapter forty-three visions when Christ returns. The fact is God will never abandon His Chosen People:
44And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them; for I am Jehovah their God; 45but I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am Jehovah (ASV, 1901).
3that then Jehovah thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the peoples, whither Jehovah thy God hath scattered thee. 4If any of thine outcasts be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will Jehovah thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: 5and Jehovah thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers (ASV, 1901).
God corrects Israel, and His presence leaves the Temple, but He takes up residence at the unnamed mountain on the east side of the Temple. He is still near to them.
1But now thus saith Jehovah that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine. 2When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3For I am Jehovah thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour; I have given Egypt as thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in thy stead. 4Since thou hast been precious in my sight, and honorable, and I have loved thee; therefore will I give men in thy stead, and peoples instead of thy life. 5Fear not; for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; 6I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back; bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the end of the earth; 7every one that is called by my name, and whom I have created for my glory, whom I have formed, yea, whom I have made (ASV, 1901).
Jesus says the same thing to the Church. He will never leave us (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).
Dating the Judgment
1Again, in the ninth year, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, write thee the name of the day, even of this selfsame day: the king of Babylon drew close unto Jerusalem this selfsame day 3 And utter a parable unto the rebellious house, and say unto them (ASV, 1901).
This verse started with Ezekiel stating the date this message from God was given. On January 15, 588 B.C. of the Gregorian, also known as the western calendar, this message was received by Ezekiel. This most significant event was also recorded in three other places in the Old Testament:
II Kings 25:1
1And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and encamped against it; and they built forts against it round about (ASV, 1901).
1 In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army against Jerusalem, and besieged it (ASV, 1901).
4And it came to pass in the ninth year of his (Zedekiah) reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and encamped against it; and they built forts against it round about (ASV, 1901).
This was the long prophecied day when the Babylonian army under Nebuchadnezzar set their siege against Jerusalem. This started two and a half years before the destruction of the Temple in 586 B.C. So, ends the first Temple.
The Babylonian Captivity Ends
175 years before Cyrus was born, the Lord foretells that Cyrus the Mede, His servant, will conquer Babylon and deliver the Chosen People back to the Land:
1Thus saith Jehovah to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him, and I will loose the loins of kings; to open the doors before him, and the gates shall not be shut: 2I will go before thee, and make the rough places smooth; I will break in pieces the doors of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron (ASV, 1901).
Here is a timeline of these events:
549-530 B.C. Rise to world-rule of Cyrus the Persian.
549 B.C. Cyrus unites Persia and Media
546 B.C. Cyrus conquers Lydia
539 B.C. Cyrus conquers Babylon (this ends the Chaldean Empire)
The Persian Empire (539-331 B.C.) and the Restoration of Judah
538 B.C. Edict of Cyrus permitting Jewish repatriation of Judah (Ezra 1)
537-536 B.C. Return of 49,897 Jews to Jerusalem (Ezra 2; Nehemiah 7)
536 B.C. Altar rebuilt and sacrifices offered (seventh month)
535 B.C. Work on temple started, but then stopped (Ezra 3:1-4)
535-520 B.C. Hardships, economic depression in Jerusalem; people forget the temple and selfishly concentrate on their own needs (Haggai 1,2)
530 B.C. The death of Cyrus
530-522 B.C. Reign of Cyrus’ son, Cambyses II, who conquered Egypt
522-486 B.C. Darius I, The Great, saved the empire from civil war, erected the Behistun Inscription and was friendly to the Jews
520 B.C. Darius confirms the decree of Cyrus and aids in the construction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 6:1-14)
520 B.C. Sixth month (September-October) first day of the month, Haggai’s first sermon (Haggai 1:3-11)
520 B.C. Sixth month, twenty-fourth day, Haggai’s second sermon (Haggai 1:12-15)
Seventh month (October-November), first day, Haggai’s third sermon (Haggai 2:1-9)
Eighth month, (November-December), first day, Zechariah’s opening sermon (Zechariah 1:1-6)
Eighth month, twenty-fourth day Haggai’s last sermons (Haggai 2:10-23)
520 B.C. Eleventh month (February-March) twenty-fourth day, Zechariah’s eight night visions (Zechariah 1:7-6:8)
Eleventh month twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth day the symbolic crowning of Joshua prefiguring Messiah King-Priest
518 B.C. Ninth month (December-January) fourth day, delegation from Bethel; Zechariah’s message of repentance and promised blessing (Zechariah chapters 7 and 8)
516 B.C. twelfth month (March-April) third day completion and dedication of the temple (Ezra 6:15)
490 B.C. Darius I’s campaign against Greece, Defeat at Marathon
486-465 B.C. Xerxes I (Ahasuerus) husband of Esther (Esther 2:16), reigns
480 B.C. Persians defeated at Thermopylae and Salamis by the Greeks
478 B.C. Esther becomes queen
465-424 B.C. Reign of Artaxerxes I
458 B.C. Ezra returns to Israel (some scholars date this event later)
445 B.C. Artaxerxes I authorizes Nehemiah to restore Jerusalem’s walls
445-432 B.C. Malachi’s ministry (approximate dates)
424-423 B.C. Xerxes II
423-404 B.C. Darius II
404-358 B.C. Artaxerxes II
358-338 B.C. Artaxerxes III
338-336 B.C. Arses
336-331- B.C. Darius III. Defeated by Alexander of Macedon
During the reign of Darius the First, the prophet Daniel receives a vision of the end of the desolations of Jerusalem:
1In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans, 2in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years whereof the word of Jehovah came to Jeremiah the prophet, for the accomplishing of the desolations of Jerusalem, even seventy years (ASV, 1901).
THE SECOND TEMPLE
God chooses the correct new High Priest for the next Temple:
5And I said, Let them set a clean mitre upon his head. So they set a clean mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments; and the angel of Jehovah was standing by. 6And the angel of Jehovah protested unto Joshua, saying, 7Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou also shalt judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee a place of access among these that stand by (ASV, 1901).
Now, the prophet Zechariah describes the events in the Holy Supreme Court. Interjecting himself into the event, Zechariah clearly says to the attending angelic host to “set a clean mitre upon his head”. He is referring to Joshua the High Priest who is in the court, but dressed in filthy clothes. The Hebrew word for High Priest is Kohen Gadol. The filthy clothes Joshua is wearing represents the sin that the nation Israel has committed, which resulted in their persecution by the God of the Universe. This symbolic act of God forgiving their national sin is also going to happen on a future day at the end of the Great Tribulation when the entire nation will believe in Jesus as their Messiah (Romans 11:26).
Here we see the crowning of the High Priest’s change to festive clothes with the “mitre”, or turban. This capping signified his office, so to speak, being upon his forehead. We can assume that a golden plate that was attached to the headband of the mitre, on which was written “holiness to the Lord” (Exodus 28:38). This was a special command of the Lord when the original garments of the High Priest were ordered (Exodus 28:36-39). Now Joshua is appropriately dressed for his office. “Jehovah of hosts” now charges him to behave in such a way so that he would be emanating holiness. This holiness would be to represent the return to God of the redeemed Chosen People. The High Priest’s office had become extremely sinful, and therefore unable to render God’s holiness to the Jewish nation. With Joshua receiving the “mitre”, he acknowledges he is willing and able to execute the office of the High Priest to the nation so they can be provided with God’s holiness through this earthly assigned intercessor. The high degree of significance of this event must not be missed.
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah cover the period from the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C. to the second half of the 5th century B.C. They tell of the successive missions to Jerusalem of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah and their efforts to restore the worship of the God of Israel, and to create a purified Jewish community. In Ezra 1–6, God moves the heart of Cyrus to commission Sheshbazzar (whose other name is Zerubbabel) “the prince of Judah”, to rebuild the Temple. 40,000 exiles return to Jerusalem led by Zerubbabel and Joshua as the newly commissioned High Priest. The Second Temple was enhanced by Herod the Great.
Reconstruction and expansion of the Temple under Herod began with a massive expansion of the Temple Mount. Herod’s work on the Temple is dated from about 20/19 B.C. until 12/11 or 10 B.C. Religious worship and Temple rituals continued during the construction process.
The prophet Daniel received a prophecy of the destruction of the Second Temple:
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, and shall have nothing: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined. 27And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate; and even unto the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate (ASV, 1901).
The purposes of this prophecy were:
- To finish the transgression. In this first purpose, sin is to come under control so that it will no longer flourish, specifically, Israel’s sin of the rejection of the Messiahship of Jesus. Israel’s national sin is now to be firmly restrained, and brought to completion. The same point is brought out in Isaiah 59:20 and Romans 11:26. The first purpose, then, is to end Israel’s national transgression, which was the rejection of the Messiahship of Jesus.
- To make an end of sins. The point in this purpose is that, while there may be sin among the Gentile nations, in the Kingdom there will be no sin in Israel. This very same truth is taught in Isaiah 27:9; Ezekiel 36:25–27; 37:23; and Romans 11:27. This is also the point of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31–34, where Jeremiah clearly predicts the day will come when all Israel’s sins will be removed and all Israel will be saved, from the least to the greatest.
- To make reconciliation for iniquity.The program of the Seventy Sevens is a cleansing of Israel that will include the removal of all three things: first, the national sin of rejecting His Messiahship; second, sinning daily; and third, dealing with the sin nature itself.
- To bring in an age of righteousness.The fourth purpose is to bring in an age of righteousness to establish the Kingdom. Daniel thought the Kingdom would be set up immediately after the seventy years of captivity. Now he is told that this will occur not after seventy years, but after seventy sevens of years or 490 years.
- To cause a cessation of prophecy.The fifth purpose of the Seventy Sevens is to cause a cessation of both oral and written prophecy, because the program of the Seventy Sevens will contain the final fulfillment of all prophecies. The function of all prophecies will cease at the Second Coming of the Messiah.
- To anoint the most holy place.The most holy place is not the First Temple of Solomon, nor the Second Temple of Zerubbabel, and certainly not the Third Temple of the Great Tribulation. Rather, it is the Fourth Temple, the Temple of the Messianic Kingdom, built by the Lord Himself, and it will be anointed as part of the program of Seventy Sevens.
- The starting point of the Seventy Sevens. Daniel 9:24 already stated that the program of the Seventy Sevens concerns not only the Jewish people, but also the Jewish city of Jerusalem. Now in Daniel 9:25a, he is told that the Seventy Sevens will begin with a decree, one that involves the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
- The first Seven Sevens. Daniel 9:25bstates the first subdivision, the seven sevens, is a total of forty-nine years and refers to the forty-nine year period that it took to rebuild Jerusalem. In speaking of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, it speaks of the city as being “built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times” The first subdivision of the Seventy Sevens, then, is the seven sevens, or forty-nine years, during which time Jerusalem was rebuilt. Only after forty-nine years was the rebuilding process brought to completion.
- The Sixty-Two Sevens or Four Hundred Thirty-Four Years.Combining seven sevens and sixty-two sevens gives a total of sixty-nine sevens. Or, combining forty-nine years with 434 years gives a total of 483 years. A total of 483 years will transpire from the time that the decree is issued until the coming of the Messiah, “the prince”. Hence the first 483 years of the 490 year period came to an end with the First Coming of the Messiah.
- The events between the Sixty-Ninth and the Seventieth Sevens. Daniel 9:26 states that while there was no gap of time between the first subdivision and the second subdivision of the Seventy Sevens, there is a gap of time between the second subdivision and the third subdivision. Verse 26 starts out: “And after the threescore and two weeks”, after the second subdivision, certain things must occur before the third subdivision begins in verse 27. When he says, “after the sixty-two sevens,” he means after the conclusion of the second subdivision of the Seventy Sevens and before the beginning of the third subdivision of the Seventy Sevens. This phrase clearly shows that a gap of time exists between the second and third subdivisions, that is, between the sixty-ninth seven and the seventieth seven. In this gap of time three events are to occur.
- The Messiah would be killed.It is not “the prince that shall come “who will destroy the city and the Temple, but rather, “the people of the prince that shall come”. The point of that second phrase in verse 26 is that the nationality of “the people” and “the prince that shall come” are one and the same. “The prince that shall come” in this context is the Antichrist of whom Daniel has already spoken of in chapters 7 and 8. By saying “the prince,” Daniel uses the article of previous reference, because he has spoken of him in the previous chapters. “The prince that shall come”, which is still future, is of the same nationality as “the people” who will destroy the city and the Temple. After the Messiah is cut off, the city and the Temple will be destroyed.
- The destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. This occurred in A.D. 70, forty years after the death of the Messiah. It is known from history who “the people” “The people” who destroyed the city and the Temple in A.D. 70 were the Gentiles of Rome, the Romans. Since the Antichrist must be of the same nationality as the people who destroyed the city and the Temple, it is this verse that shows that the Antichrist will be a Gentile of Roman origin.Then he states: “and the end thereof shall be with a flood,” meaning that the end of Jerusalem and the Temple shall be the result of “a flood.” Whenever the figure of a flood is used symbolically, it always is a symbol of a military invasion. Jerusalem was destroyed by a Roman military invasion, first under Vespasian and then under Titus.
Jesus affirmed the destruction of the Second Temple
Jesus was taken the Second Temple by His parents on the eighth day of His life for His circumcision. This was the last time the Shekinah Glory entered the Second Temple (Luke 2:22-38). Years later, during the last week of His life, Jesus said the Temple would be destroyed:
1And Jesus went out from the temple, and was going on his way; and his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. 2But he answered and said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down (ASV, 1901).
The Third Temple of the Great Tribulation
Several passages of Scripture indicate that the activities of the Antichrist involve a future Jewish Temple:
- Daniel 9:27 – The prince who is to come confirms a covenant for the duration of the 70th Week of Daniel. In the middle of the week, “he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.” This implies a preexisting Temple within which sacrifice and offering had been taking place.
- Daniel 12:11 – The daily sacrifice will be taken away and the Abomination of Desolation is set up. The context indicates that this occurs during “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a [Jewish] nation” (Daniel 12:1). A Temple must have been standing in which the daily sacrifices were being offered.
- Matthew 24:15 – Jesus predicted that the Abomination of Desolation would stand “in the holy place.” This refers to a location within the Temple.
- II Thessalonians 2:4 – Paul indicated that one of the acts of “the man of sin” would be to exalt himself “above all that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” [emphasis added]
- Revelation 11:1- John is told to measure “the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.” The context is during the Great Tribulation, prior to the return of Christ.
Implied Destruction of the Third Temple
Isaiah states the structure of the earth changes, and could be a cause of the Third Temple destruction:
19 The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. 20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again (KJV).
One result of the Great Tribulation is the leveling of the earth surface through multiple earthquakes. Some of this occurs during the judgment of the bowls which follow after the judgment of the trumpets during the second half of the Great Tribulation:
17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. 18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. 19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great (KJV).
The pivotal event, which signals the mid-point of the Great Tribulation, is the Antichrist’s takeover of the Jewish Temple. He breaks his covenant with the Jews, and declares himself “The Almighty God”. He also begins a serious persecution of the Jews, which will last for 1,260 days. The False Prophet sets up an inanimate image of the Antichrist in the Temple, and Satan causes it to become alive. The Antichrist is in control of the world for those 1,260 days, and then he will be killed:
11And from the time that the continual burnt-offering shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand and two hundred and ninety days (ASV 1901).
The image stays in the Temple for additional thirty days. The desecration of the Jewish Temple lasts an additional thirty days beyond the end of the Great Tribulation, then it will be destroyed, which brings the Abomination of Desolation to an end. From this passage it appears that the Tribulation Temple will be finally destroyed after the end of the Great Tribulation.
The Millennial Fourth Temple on the Millennial Mountain
As result of the leveling of the earth’ surface, the highest mountain on earth will be in Israel. The Lord spoke through the prophet Micah of His Millennial Mountain:
1But in the latter days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow unto it. 2And many nations shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem (ASV, 1901).
Micah received nearly the same information as Isaiah which emphasizes its importance to the Lord. He also was privy to learn that the Millennial Mountain will be the highest, be exulted above all, and God’s Law would proceed from it. It will be the center of the world’s government activities. Ezekiel received the most information regarding the Millennial Mountain and the Fourth Temple that will be erected during that time.
The Location of the Temple
2Of this there shall be for the holy place five hundred in length by five hundred in breadth, square round about; and fifty cubits for the suburbs thereof round about. 3And of this measure shalt thou measure a length of five and twenty thousand, and a breadth of ten thousand: and in it shall be the sanctuary, which is most holy. 4It is a holy portion of the land; it shall be for the priests, the ministers of the sanctuary, that come near to minister unto Jehovah; and it shall be a place for their houses, and a holy place for the sanctuary. 5And five and twenty thousand in length, and ten thousand in breadth, shall be unto the Levites, the ministers of the house, for a possession unto themselves, for twenty chambers (ASV, 1901).
This very high mountain, the highest in the world, will itself have a fifty-mile square plateau on top (v. 1). This square plateau will be subdivided into three sections. The northern section (vv. 2–4) will be twenty miles by fifty miles, having in its center the Millennial Temple, which will be about one mile square. The rest of the area of the northern section will be reserved for the Zadokites to live. These are “the priests, the ministers of the sanctuary, that come near to minister unto Jehovah”.
The central section (v. 5) will also be twenty miles by fifty miles and will be reserved for the members of the Tribe of Levi. Chapter forty-eight will explain their allotment and positioning in greater detail. The text of verse five cites specific buildings for the Levites who will care for the more mundane activities in the Temple. Referred to as “for a possession unto themselves, for twenty chambers”, there is no explanation as to exactly how these chambers will be used. Instead of being scattered throughout Israel as before the captivity (Joshua 21:1-42), they will now live close to the Temple where they will minister.
Millennial Jerusalem in the Southern Section
6And ye shall appoint the possession of the city five thousand broad, and five and twenty thousand long, side by side with the oblation of the holy portion: it shall be for the whole house of Israel. 7And whatsoever is for the prince shall be on the one side and on the other side of the holy oblation and of the possession of the city, in front of the holy oblation and in front of the possession of the city, on the west side westward, and on the east side eastward; and in length answerable unto one of the portions, from the west border unto the east border. 8In the land it shall be to him for a possession in Israel: and my princes shall no more oppress my people; but they shall give the land to the house of Israel according to their tribes.
The southern section (vv. 6–8) will be ten miles by fifty miles, the smallest of the three. The city of Millennial Jerusalem, which will be ten miles by ten miles square. The city proper will belong to all people not to any particular tribe. On either side of the city will be field areas, each measuring ten by twenty miles, for growing food. These areas will be overseen by the prince, the resurrected David, who will apportion the Land according to tribe, as detailed in chapter forty-eight. This section will be considered as ordinary (in the Hebrew “ordinary” is chol) because of the city and fields for produce for the people living in the city. This is different than the designation of the two northern sections that are called “holy” or “sanctified” (in the Hebrew, kadosh). Below is a diagram of the 3 sections:
Source: Daniel Woodhead
God Promises a Sanctuary in Israel
27My tabernacle also shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28And the nations shall know that I am Jehovah that sanctifieth Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore (ASV, 1901).
During the Babylonian exile, God revealed a vision of the ultimate Millennial, or Messianic Temple, to the prophet Ezekiel. When the Jews returned from Babylon to build the Second Temple, they desired to build that structure in accordance with Ezekiel’s prophecy, but had difficulty comprehending all of its particulars. Therefore, they structured the building according to the plan of the First Temple, incorporating whatever innovations were clear to them that Ezekiel had envisioned.
God, in His Divine providence, is beginning to describe the home He is going to build for Himself on earth during the Messianic Kingdom:
12and speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh Jehovah of hosts, saying, Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: and he shall grow up out of his place; and he shall build the temple of Jehovah; 13even he shall build the temple of Jehovah; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. 14And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of Jehovah. 15And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of Jehovah; and ye shall know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of Jehovah your God (ASV, 1901).
This will be a period of time on the earth where Jesus Christ will be running the government of the earth from Jerusalem. His Temple will be the place in which He will be.
Eisemann, Rabbi Moshe, and Sherman, Rabbi Nosson. (1977). Yechezkel: Translation and Commentary. Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Publications Ltd.
Vande Bunte, M. (November 23, 2015). “Rob Bell’s successor at Mars Hill is stepping down.” Retrieved January, 2020 from http://www.mlive.com/news/grandrapids/index.ssf/2015/11/rob_bells_successor_at_mars_hi.html
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1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually (KJV).
Melchizedek is a unique character who first in the Scriptures appears to Abraham.
In an effort to stop a rebellion of five vassal kings near the Dead Sea four powerful Eastern kings invaded the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea and defeated all the forces in the region. In doing so they plundered five Jordanian kings and took Lot captive. The four kings formed a consortium under Chedorlaomer king of Elam and then conducted a military sweep north to the south of Canaan. The five kings from the Dead Sea area followed and confronted them. Abraham became involved when he learned that his nephew had been captured. He pursued the offending party with 318 men. He successfully defeated them in a night attack, and recovered Lot, his possessions, and liberated the other captives.
After the battle of the kings and the rescue of Lot as well as those women that were captured with him Abram met with two additional kings. The first one mentioned is the king of Sodom (Genesis 14:17-24). This is the successor to the first king of Sodom because the first one perished in the slime pits with the king of Gomorrah in the vale of Siddim (Genesis 14: 10). Abram met with the new king of Sodom and a king named Melchizedek. This man has a Hebrew name, which is the combination of two names: Melech means King and Tzedick, which means righteous.
This righteous king goes out to meet Abram. He is further identified as the king of Salem, which is ancient Jerusalem (Psalm 76: 2). They meet in the vale of Shaveh, which is the valley of Jehoshaphat on the east side of the temple mount. On the east of that valley is the Mount of Olives. Today this valley is called Kidron.
Melchizedek is one of the most interesting characters in the Bible. He is said to be a priest of the “God Most High.” This is the first mention of a priest in the Bible and the title is El Elyon.
This Hebrew title of God is found four times in these verses. It is only found elsewhere in Psalm 78: 35. Frequently we find “Most High” but only here and in Psalm 78 do we see “God Most High.” With this designation appearing here so uniquely it has special significance. First it means that God is the possessor of heaven and earth. It also means that Jehovah God had a relationship with Melchizedek. And Melchizedek was a follower and minister of the Lord of Heaven and Earth. Some have suggested that he was a preincarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus or even a theophany. This designation is not accurate when compared to other preincarnate appearances of the Lord Jesus. In those instances, the Lord Jesus does not hold an office on earth. Those earthly preincarnate materializations of Jesus are for short periods and then they are gone. Here Melchizedek is said to be both priest and king. Abram acknowledged him as his superior and seemed to recognize that God had revealed Himself to this man.
During the Levitical priesthood under the Mosaic Law the offices of priest and king were separate and were not to be combined. The Lord Jesus did hold the office of priest while He was here and will as king when He returns because He is God Himself. Paul the writer of Hebrews is making a case for the necessity for the Lord Jesus to come into the earth as both king and our priest fulfilling the Law. It is only the Lord Jesus who can forgive sin. Melchizedek did not forgive sin. He blessed Abram but did not forgive any sin. In Hebrews we see that Melchizedek is used as a “type” of the Lord Jesus since he was a priest and a king. David knew that this was the case too as he wrote in Psalm 110.
Psalm 110: 1-7
1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. 2 The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. 3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. 4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. 5 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.6 He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. 7 He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head (KJV).
He knew that one would come from God who would be God and would usher in the establishment of a messianic priesthood and kingdom. This Psalm was written about 500 years after the inauguration of the Levitical order. This shows that David realized the imperfection and impermanence of the Levitical order. Melchizedek is only a follower of God and not God Himself. Jesus is forever a priest and king.
Some of the Orthodox Jews believe that Shem, Noah’s son who is also the Messianic seed son of Noah is Melchizedek. This is not too farfetched a conjecture since Shem continued to live thirty-five years after Abraham died. Both lived in the same region of Mesopotamia. Of the three sons of Noah Shem was the most righteous and was chosen to bring the Messiah through his line of descendants. It is altogether possible that Melchizedek is Shem.
Paul in Hebrews treats Melchizedek as a Type of Jesus as well as king David writing in Psalm 110. He is never seen as the Lord Jesus. Hebrews says he was like the Son of God expressed in the KJV as after the order. The grammatical figure of speech used here is called a simile. It makes an expressed comparison between two different things. Melchizedek has no record of a genealogy. Not that he did not have one, there was just no record of it. What is important for us to realize is that Melchizedek is a very righteous man. He was a priest and a king and knew God. Abraham realized this and Paul in Hebrews says that Jesus is not a high priest after or like the earthly high priest but after the order of Melchizedek. The priesthood of Christ and Melchizedek are not the same. No mere man could possibly compare to Christ’s priesthood. But knowing what God has revealed of Melchizedek we can see the comparison. Melchizedek, appeared without any ceremony, without visibly being made holy, appeared to Abraham as a high priest. This too was Christ, by the direct word of the Father, saying to him, you are a priest forever. In this sense, Christ is called a high priest in the order of Melchizedek because He was divinely appointed.
Back in chapter 5:6, which, God also said, in Psalm 110:4, Thou art a priest for ever After the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek was introduced. The text of Hebrews digressed for the rest of chapter five and all of six to discuss their spiritual state of the Jewish members of the early Church who were considering returning to the Levitical Law. Now Paul commences a full exposition of this individual Melchizedek and his comparison to the Lord Jesus.
4Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever After the order of Melchizedek (ASV, 1901).
There is very little information given in the Bible regarding Melchizedek. Genesis chapter 14:18-20 provides the most. There are six characteristics of Melchizedek that are similar to Jesus.
1. Melchizedek was a priest-king. His name and title characterized two things about his reign: he ruled in righteousness, which is what the name Zedek means; and he ruled in peace, which is what Salem means. These aspects of Melchizedek are also mentioned of the prophecy of the coming of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6–7. Melchizedek was both king and priest and so is Jesus the Messiah. The king of righteousness is the provider of righteousness to others, just as God is said to be “The Lord our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6).” He also is the king of peace, in the sense that God is called “The God of peace (I Corinthians 14:33; I Thessalonians 5:23; Romans 15:33 etc.).” This was true of Melchizedek, as he was a type Jesus Christ.
5Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land (ASV, 1901).
2. Melchizedek blessed also Abraham which will be developed in verse four.
3. A recognition of superiority by the fact that Abraham, was tithing to Melchizedek. Abraham recognized Melchizedek as a superior person in his role. Jesus functions as a Melchizedekian priest which means He is superior to any other priest.
4. Melchizedek as high priest shows that he was not tied or beholding to anyone as is Jesus.
5. Melchizedekian Priesthood has no time associated with it There is no mention of the beginning or the end of his priesthood. He being a human must have had a father and mother but there is no record of this in the Bible therefore the apostle says this is another similar characteristic to the Lord Jesus. Jesus who is God has always existed. He only lived on earth in the flesh for thirty-three and a half years, but spiritually He is eternal.
6. The Melchizedekian Priesthood ministered to all. The Melchizedekian Priesthood was universal. Jesus also has a universal priesthood.
COMPARISON TO THE AARONIC PRIESTHOOD
4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. (KJV).
The nature of Christ’s office was treated in the first half of chapter five and will again in a lengthily exposition in chapter nine. Here the apostle shows the unknowable superiority of our High Priest over that of the Levitical law. He is making this known to the Hebrews so they would love Him so much that they would not consider going back to the Levitical Law.
Now consider how great this man was, Melchizedek, has been established as great and wonderful. One measure of his greatness is the fact that, unto whom the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils from the battle of the kings. Abraham gave tithes to him. Considering Abraham’s position as a patriarch, who did it; it is important to realize that he was the patriarch of patriarchs, as the sons of Jacob are called, (Acts 7:8, 9) he is the patriarch of the whole Jewish nation, and of many nations, and of all believers, and the friend of God. So, this then makes Melchizedek to be greater because Abraham paid tithes to him. Now we see how much greater the Lord Jesus is, who is the antitype of Melchizedek.
5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi who receive the office of the priesthood have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham (KJV).
And verily they that are of the sons of Levi. It was the tribe of Levi; whose descent is from Abraham: who receive the office of the priesthood. Some of them were priests, and Zadokites but not all. Levites are sometimes called priests (Ezekiel 44:15). In Numbers 18:20–26 these were separated out of all the tribes of the Children of Israel for their service in the tabernacle; and because they had no inheritance in the land. There were 48 cities in ancient Israel set aside for the them because they were not allocated their own territorial land in the Levitical law (Numbers 35, Joshua 21).
This was a demonstration that the Levities were devoted to God himself for work unto the other eleven tribes: that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham; who are their brethren and kinsmen according to the flesh, though of different tribes; and from these they receive tithes. They are still the sons of Abraham.
Levites that were priests received the tithes from the people for God’s work, and then they received a tenth part of those tithes, or the tithe of tithes from the Levites (Numbers 18:26; Nehemiah 10:38).
6 but he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham and blessed him that had the promises, 7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better (KJV).
Melchizedek blessed Abraham. Although it says that Melchizedek’s genealogy was not from them—he had no direct genealogical connection to the Levites. Still he received tithes from Abraham and then blessed Abraham. The one performing the blessing is superior to the one being blessed. We see that Melchizedek blessed Abraham who had the covenant promises from God. It is stated in verse seven that the one who blesses is superior. He states that this is fact (non contradiction) and it was a recognized truth of that day. The lesser is blessed by the greater. Abraham did not bless Melchizedek. Melchizedek blessed Abraham and he is therefore superior.
8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth 9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. 10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him (KJV).
Here the apostle compares how the Levitical priests and Melchizedek received tithes. The tenth is the basis of the comparison between Melchizedek and the Levitical priests. They both received tithes.
This now begins the contrast between Melchizedek and the Levitical priests. For the Levitical priests were men subject to death. They were mere mortal men who lived and died as any human does as they carried out their duty. As the Scripture shows, Melchizedek’s death is not recorded. He probably did die as a human being but in keeping with the Scripture’s limited revealing of his existence we do not know of him to have died. In contrast with the Levitical priests, Melchizedek is declared to be living. This is said about Melchizedek, taking him to be a type, for we know that he probably would die. Our salvation depends on the everlasting or eternal life of Jesus Christ the God-man. So as a comparison of Melchizedek, as he was a type of him, him who is declared to be living. Christ also lives—forever.
The difference here noted is between a succession of mortal priests and one perpetually living. Verse three says “having neither beginning of days nor end of life;” We see in Genesis that there is no mention of either death, birth, or ancestry, and so he is presented as the ideal of “a priest forever” to the psalmist.
We see Jesus not appointed to the order of the Levitical Priesthood of which the highest order was the high priest, but to one much higher in stature than that. This is the order of the office of Melchizedek.
Finally, Paul says that the imputed tithes of the Levites were in Abraham through whom they would be eventually be born and inherit his heritage. One can say that as is the father so is the son. In this case it is Jewish solidarity in practice with their spiritual and genealogical ancestor Abraham.Share on Facebook
Happy Half Hours With The Bible
We have just republished a book for believers of any age who want to learn
the Bible .It is called Happy Half Hours With The Bible. It was originally
published in 1908 and again in 1915. It quickly provides the story line of the
whole Bible with emphasis on the principal characters. We made it a large
print publication with a spiral binding for ease of reading and absorbing. The
volume is 375 pages of 8.5 X 11. The cost is $35 with free shipping to the
Typical Color Art Depicting Stories
Stories with moral lessons enhanced with professional art work
Numerous professional works of art to visually explain Bible Stories
Fill in the blanks as memory aids to enhance retention
Send a $35 check to Daniel Woodhead at:
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Trust and Obey God
11For Jehovah spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, 12Say ye not, A conspiracy, concerning all whereof this people shall say, A conspiracy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be in dread thereof. 13Jehovah of hosts, him shall ye sanctify; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread (ASV, 1901).
The Lord continues to instruct Isaiah regarding what to do relative to apostates, referred to as “this people” in verse 11. It is important to recognize the intensity in which this message is conveyed. The Hebrew text for “a strong hand” is cehchzkat haiyad, and it connotes the intense strength, force, and urgency with which the Lord is imparting a prophetically inspired command for Isaiah to stay away from the apostates. While God is revealing awesome visions to Isaiah, He is also instructing him not to even be influenced by those rebellious individuals at the time of this prophecy. In Isaiah’s day it was King Ahaz who did not trust God, and instead sought military help from Assyria. He was fearful of a threat of the conspiracy between the Northern Kingdom of Israel and a Syrian military alliance. Isaiah was told to not allow the fear of Ahaz influence him. Fear is contagious, and God wanted Isaiah to continue to trust in Him alone, and not an earthly, rebellious unbeliever.
God says to “neither fear ye their fear, nor be in dread” of“this people” in verse twelve. The Hebrew words for “ye are not to fear” is yārēʾ. He is challenging Isaiah and his followers to focus on fearing God, not man. In the next verse, thirteen, they are to treat Him alone as holy, for He is the One to truly fear. When we treat God as holy we do not ignore His words, dishonor His name, or fail to trust in Him. We give Him due reverence, and in faith, obey what He says. When we allow ourselves to be influenced by the fears of unbelievers, regardless of the way we are treated, we do not honor God, nor do we trust His promises and commands. Believers must follow God and do things differently than others within society. Today we call these people apostates, and the apostle Peter severely condemns them and warns us to avoid them:
II Peter 2:1–22
1But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2And many shall follow their lascivious doings; by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of. 3And in covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose sentence now from of old lingereth not, and their destruction slumbereth not. 4For if God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5and spared not the ancient world, but preserved Noah with seven others, a preacher of righteousness, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, having made them an example unto those that should live ungodly; 7and delivered righteous Lot, sore distressed by the lascivious life of the wicked 8(for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their lawless deeds): 9the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment unto the day of judgment; 10but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of defilement, and despise dominion. Daring, self-willed, they tremble not to rail at dignities: 11whereas angels, though greater in might and power, bring not a railing judgment against them before the Lord. 12But these, as creatures without reason, born mere animals to be taken and destroyed, railing in matters whereof they are ignorant, shall in their destroying surely be destroyed, 13suffering wrong as the hire of wrong-doing; men that count it pleasure to revel in the day-time, spots and blemishes, revelling in their deceivings while they feast with you; 14having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; enticing unstedfast souls; having a heart exercised in covetousness; children of cursing; 15forsaking the right way, they went astray, having followed the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the hire of wrong-doing; 16but he was rebuked for his own transgression: a dumb ass spake with man’s voice and stayed the madness of the prophet. 17These are springs without water, and mists driven by a storm; for whom the blackness of darkness hath been reserved. 18For, uttering great swelling words of vanity, they entice in the lusts of the flesh, by lasciviousness, those who are just escaping from them that live in error; 19promising them liberty, while they themselves are bondservants of corruption; for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he also brought into bondage. 20For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the first. 21For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22It has happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog turning to his own vomit again, and the sow that had washed to wallowing in the mire(ASV, 1901)”
Reading through this passage, it is clear Peter displays no love or tolerance toward the apostates. The Bible, and particularly the Lord Jesus, does not display any toleration toward apostasy, and both castigate it very severely as these verses clearly show. Peter also tells us what the “mark of an apostate”is. They teach “destructive heresies”, or denials, because their content entails “denying even the Master that bought them”.In other words, the content of apostate teaching involves denies the Person (“the Master”) and work (“bought them”) of the Lord Jesus.
The Bible tells us to “separate out from them” in no-uncertain terms, and we must separate from them because the Lord has commanded it throughout the New Testament. Separation is not mean or unloving; it is obedience to God. Separation is not an optional part of Christianity, it is a commandment. Here are several of many references stating that:
“Mark them . . . avoid them” (Romans 16:17)
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
“Have no fellowship with” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
“Come out from among” (2 Corinthians 6:17)
“Withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:5)
“Shun” (2 Timothy 2:16)
“Purge oneself from” (2 Timothy 2:21)
“From such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5)
“Reject” (Titus 3:10)
“Receive them not into your house neither bid them Godspeed” (2 John. 10)
We are also to separate even from brethren who are walking in disobedience (2 Thessalonians 3:6). Separation is a wall of protection against spiritual danger. Failure to separate from an error, or erroneous teaching, leaves one open to the influence of error (1 Corinthians 15:33).
The reason a shepherd separates the sheep from wolves is to protect them. Likewise, a faithful and godly Bible teacher will seek to separate his flock from spiritual dangers that are even more destructive than wolves. The Doctor of Souls will do all He can to keep heresies out of the Church. Heresies are to the Church of Jesus Christ what disease is to a medical doctor that cares for human bodies in time and space. Both doctors will do all they can to prevent or stop heresies (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 anyone on earth can receive. Nothing has greater value. As evidence of this we see many false prophets, corrupt denominations and seminary teachings that result in few finding eternal salvation. Then Satan has accomplished one of his goals, which is the eternal destruction of human souls.
The origin, or reason, to enforce the protecting of our faith is: “He is faithful that hath promised” (Hebrews 10:23). God has made great and precious promises to believers, and He is a faithful God, true to His word. There is no falseness or wavering with Him, and there should be none with us. His faithfulness should excite and encourage us to be faithful, and we must depend more upon His promises to us than upon our promises to Him. So, take the grace He has promised because His grace is sufficient for us.
God is The Rock of Stumbling for The Apostates
Christ praying on a rock in Gesthemene
14And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15And many shall stumble thereon, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken (ASV, 1901).
The holiness of the Lordcan save or destroy. For those who fear the Lordand honor His holiness, the Lordwill be like a place of refuge or a “sanctuary”. A sanctuary is a holy place set apart as a place of safe refuge (1 Kings. 1:50–53; Psalm 27:5). It is a place of blessings, peace, and joy in the fellowship of the Lord(Psalm 65:4). It is the place expected by all who believe in Him to find true comfort (Psalms 27:4; 43:4; 84:2). But, on the contrary for those who are apostate or unfaithful toward the holiness of the Lord,He will become a “stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense” or a “snare,” causing them to stumble, fall, be caught, and brought into exile. Deuteronomy 6:15 tells us God is “a jealous God” (Hebrew el qannaʾ), and He will not be replaced by mere man. In Isaiah’s day the “stone of stumbling” was the impending exile of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the yet future Babylonian exile of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. They already had their own history and the Mosaic Law that had shown them to rest on God’s promises to them. The apostle Paul characterizes this as a blessing on “that spiritual Rock”, who is Jesus:
1 Corinthians 10:1-4
1Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ (KJV).
Seal the Law Up Against the Apostates
16Bind thou up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. 17And I will wait for Jehovah, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. 18Behold, I and the children whom Jehovah hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from Jehovah of hosts, who dwelleth in mount Zion.
In verse 16 a command is given to Isaiah by God that was to be inscribed in the hearts of Isaiah’s disciples, who were other believers. He is commanded to “bind”, or tie up the roll or scroll, and to “seal” it which essentially closes it, and it was to be given for safe keeping to his disciples, or others to securely preserve it. After Isaiah had completed the sealing of the prophecy, he said in verse 17, “I will wait for Jehovah, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.” He declares that he will obey God and wait on Him to see what He will do according to His prophecies and promises.The phrase “that hideth his face from the house of Jacob”is a reference to how God will distance Himself from the apostates and unrepentant by denying them any spiritual awareness of who He is. The light of God’s face is not hidden from believers and it brings them the spiritual realization of Him, like the sun shines on the material world. All life, health, joy, and happiness, come from God’s light, and from Him not hiding His face.
On account of the people’s sins, that light was now to be withdrawn for a time, but Isaiah would wait for its reappearance. In fact, the names of Isaiah’s sons were given to him by God for prophetic signs. Shear-Jashub means “A remnant shall return” and also held out two hopes. The first hope was that a remnant of Israel would return to God and become His true servants, and the second hope was that a remnant would return from the captivity that had been prophesied (Isaiah 5:13). Another son’s name was Maher-shalal-hashbaz, and means “Plunder speeds, spoil hastens”. His name was a sign of a different kind than his brother’s name. Primarily this name referred to the spoiling of Damascus and Samaria, and indicated a time of general disturbance, plunder, and ravage which was coming on the both the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdomdue to apostasy and sin.
Characteristics of the Apostates
19And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the living should they seek unto the dead? 20To the law and to the testimony! if they speak not according to this word, surely there is no morning for them. 21And they shall pass through it, sore distressed and hungry; and it shall come to pass that, when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse by their king and by their God, and turn their faces upward: 22and they shall look unto the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and into thick darkness they shall be driven away (ASV, 1901).
God continues with instruction to Isaiah regarding avoiding the apostates. He begins to tell him how they will approach him in order to draw him into their wicked, occultic practices. In a time of panic and severe distress due to the wrath of God, unsaved people turn to mediums and wizards for answers to questions related to their circumstances. The practice of consulting mediums and wizards was always a temptation for the people in Israel, even though it was prohibited by the law (Deuteronomy18:11; Leviticus 19:31; 20:6–7). It is clear that God is very much opposed to all forms of spiritism, such as was practiced by Saul at Endor (I Samuel 28:3–11; Isaiah 8:20).
But God asks them: “should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the living should they seek unto the dead?He tells them He knows they are pursuing idols, necromancers, and communication with the dead. God is where you should place your trust and communication.Him is who we should seek, not communication “to the dead”. The necromancers pretended to have intercourse with the spirits of the dead. The Lord strongly exposes the absurdity of this. What could “the dead”know of this? How could they declare the future events respecting the living? Where was this authorized? God is a living God, not a dead idol, therefore men should seek God who is alive, and not pretend to hold seances with the dead. The Law of God containedeverything the nation needed to know about their future. A person’s failure to heed God’s Word means he has no spiritual light (John 3:19–20). Spiritists and mediums, and those who consult them, will eventually be judged by God (Isaiah 8:21–22). In their distress they will look up to God and curse Him, and then look to the earth where they will face distress and then be thrust into … darkness (II Peter 2:17). Ironically those who seek to consult “the dead” will be forced to join them.
Today’s visible church has many manifestations of these forbidden practices. The emergence of “experience”, usually a personal experience, as an equally valid communication with God is actually a connection to the occult. Certain denominations have made these “experiences” a priority over the Scriptures, and this is how they do it. If the Bible contradicts a particular practice which man has characterized as a “new move of the Spirit”, they diminish the text of Scripture by actually saying it can be contradicted by this “new experience”. This appears to be a more “spiritual” way of denying the truth of God, and is far more deceptive. In turn, this has led to strange and diverse doctrines,causing many to be truly tossed aboutresulting in total spiritual instability (James 1:6–7). The Bible must be the final and only authority on all matters of what we believe and what we practice. Most people will defend a particular practice, not on the basis of Scripture, but on their own experience. The most common expression from them is that it makes them feel happy and joyful. Satan would not be a very good deceiver if he made one feel badly. He and his demons of the occult can give people joyful and happy experiences. People will choose this happy, feel good experience rather than hear what they need to confront their sin and turn from it to God.
In verse 19 God gave Isaiah a warning not to go after counterfeit spirits and teachers “that chirp and that mutter”. In other words, Isaiah is warning people not to pursue supernatural things that cause them to make the strange sounds of chirping and muttering, for while these experiences might come from the supernatural, not all that comes out of the supernatural is of God. Verse 19 clearly shows these are “familiar(occultic) spirits”. The closing phrase of verse twenty should not be missed: “if they speak not according to this word, surely there is no morning for them.” Isaiah makes it quite clear. Regardless of the supernatural experiences the others may have, if it does not align with the written Word of God that was already present in Isaiah’s day, then it is not from God. If pursued, it will result in a Godless eternity. Here are contemporary examples of these forbidden practices:
- Rome’s prayers to Mary, a dead person. This is nothing short of necromancy.
- Rome’s prayers to the saints. They claim that these prayers to the dead saints will intercede on our behalf. This is also necromancy.
- Sanctioning “new” fruits of the Spirit, such as Rodney Howard Brown and the Toronto Blessing do. There people engage in a practice called “holy laughter” where they laugh uncontrollably and writhe around on the floor, supposedly being led by the Holy Spirit. There is no example of this fruit of the Spirit in the Scripture.
- Repudiation of separation from apostates.
- Replacing separation from apostates with dialogue to come to an “agreement” through negotiate.
- Repudiation of the more negative aspects, such as sin and Hell, of biblical Christianity, and emphasizing instead a love for positivism, a judge-not philosophy, and a dislike of doctrinal controversy.
- Exalting love and unity above doctrine.
- Adopting a pragmatic approach to the ministry by utilizing marketing techniques and business practices.
- Exhibiting an attitude of anti-fundamentalism.
- Avoidance of doctrine as too “divisive”.
- Dividing biblical truth into categories of “important” and “not important”.
- Exalting social-political activity to the same level as the Great Commission.
- Promoting a mood of softness, which is a desire for a less strict Christianity.
- Dependence on secular psychology instead of Scripture for guidance.
- Appealingto the carnal nature of man through entertainment instead of instruction.
- Avoiding clear and accurate teaching of the Word of God, and instead present teaching characterized by an over emphasis on application.
Paul warned us that the end times would be characterized with a departure from sound doctrine and a departure from the truth. An over emphasis on application and departure from doctrine is a direct path to the Humanist’s world betterment philosophy, and away from God:
II Timothy 4:3-4
3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (KJV).
It is extremely important we understand correct teaching of doctrines in the Bible. Here are some verses from the New testament about doctrine, also called teaching:
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. (Romans 6:17, KJV)
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Romans 16:17, KJV)
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (Ephesians 4:14, KJV)
3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. (1 Timothy 1:3-4, KJV)
16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (1 Timothy 4:16, KJV)
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, KJV)
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:2, KJV)
9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:9, KJV)
24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. 26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. 27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (1 John 2:24-27, KJV)
Daniel E. WoodheadShare on Facebook
1For, behold, the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah stay and staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water; 2the mighty man, and the man of war; the judge, and the prophet, and the diviner, and the elder; 3the captain of fifty, and the honorable man, and the counsellor, and the expert artificer, and the skilful enchanter, 4And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. (ASV, 1901).
In previous chapters God has been using the prophet Isaiah to let the people of the world, and particularly those of Judah and Jerusalem, know the effects of His judgment on the earth during the Great Tribulation. He now switches back to the sins of the people of Judah and Jerusalem during Isaiah’s life in the late eighth century B.C. God begins this chapter by saying He will remove their fundamental support systems because of their continued sin. The most fundamental support that will be removed, that of bread and water, are indispensable for existence. The whole “stay” (or supply), not just bread and water, will be removed and thus the nation will be deprived by God of its most necessary means of life. When God metes out His justice on the people of Judah and Jerusalem it will cause the most prominent of its citizens, that is, the men and women of power and influence, to perish slowly through famine and war. The leaders the people depended and who led the people into sinful practices will be taken away, and replaced with the young and inexperienced. Six classes and occupations of men are designated:
- Occult based Wise people
- Military leaders
- Skilled workers
The fact that Isaiah included “the diviner”, and the “skilful enchanter”in this list does not mean he was endorsing them. He was merely noting those on whom the nation was depending for survival and security. Babylon trusted in this system of advisors (Isaiah 47:12). The Mosaic Law clearly prohibited any involvement in soothsaying and enchanting which are tied to the occult (Deuteronomy 18:10–14). The country will be robbed of its false support, and torn away from its comfort. The kingdom of Judah would descend into the most shameless despotism: “And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.”The glory of the reign of the last king of the unified empire, Solomon, will be followed by the times of his son Rehoboam. He was an immature young man when he ascended to the throne who followed the influence of his young friends, and rejected the wise council of the advisors to his father (I Kings 12:8). His own father had written of this folly:
16Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning! 17Happy art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness (ASV, 1901).
Solomon contrasted the despotic state of a nation whose leaders are incompetent and undisciplined with the blessed state of a nation whose leaders are competent and disciplined. The former kind of leaders are childish. But the latter kind of leaders are well prepared by noble birthand training. The phrase to “eat in the morning” means that incompetent leaders are intemperate and start early in the day with revelry and drunkenness (Ecclesiastes 10:17; see Isaiah 5:11 and Acts 2:15 for similar ideas). But competent leaders are temperate, and they eat at a proper time—for strength and not for drunkenness.
The Population Becomes Oppressed
5And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbor: the child shall behave himself proudly against the old man, and the base against the honorable (ASV, 1901).
The result of the unrepentant sin will be young and inexperienced leadership assuming control and oppressing everybody. The people will not respect them and will not subordinate themselves to this nonsensical leadership. This will result in a state of affairs wherein everyone will consider themselves capable of exercising authority, thereby forcing their will on their fellow citizens. This is definitely anarchy. God will send an evil spirit among them too (as in Judges 9:23) which would make them prone to bring harm to each other. Their princes, being children, will take no care to restrain the oppressors or relieve the oppressed. Nor will it do any good to appeal to them because every man is his own avenger, and therefore they bite and devour one another, and will soon be consumed one of another. In other words, there will be no leadership control.
When respect for the elderly, the experienced and the wise is denied, moral anarchy closely follows. The young will fight against these, and they move to harm the aged. Respect for old age by them is viewed as the “old law”, along with its fear or reverence for God as stated in Leviticus: “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary [silver, or white] head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord”(Leviticus 19:32). When all authority passes, respect for aged also passes. One evidence of the degeneration of a government, a country, or a people is seen in the manner in which the elderly are treated. What is pictured here is a social war against everybody, including those whom God has honored with the blessing of long life. The elderly should be honored with expressions of civility. Those who are advanced in age and wisdom are worthy of double honor. They should be consulted because of their experience, their wisdom sought, and attention should be paid to their needs (Job 32:6–7). Christianity teaches good manners, and obliges us to give honor to the elderly, the experienced, and the wise (I Timothy 5:1–2, 17; I Peter 5:5;). It is an instance of great degeneracy and disorder in a land when “the child behaves himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable”. In the natural order that God created, the elders and respectable people are held in high esteem. But outside God’s plan for societal order, the opposite will be true. The young people will be insolent toward the elderly and the experienced, while they also become crude, vulgar and uncouth towards the respectable people. People who engage in grave sins, but view them as minor infractions of behavior, will try to domineer righteous, God-fearing people.
6When a man shall take hold of his brother in the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand; 7in that day shall he lift up his voice, saying, I will not be a healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: ye shall not make me ruler of the people. 8For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen; because their tongue and their doings are against Jehovah, to provoke the eyes of his glory (ASV, 1901).
“When a man shall take hold of his brother in the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand” is depicting the situation of overwhelming poverty, and people looking for capable and worthy leadership. Isaiah is using a simile of one grabbing at the garment of another who appears to have some modicum of wealth. They sense this is indicative of prominence and capability of leading the nation out of the massive distress and anarchy that is rampant everywhere. The people will plead, “Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand”, to accept the position and responsibility of leadership of the nation. The people mistakenly view the individual’s clothing as a symbol of authority that will be obeyed by the rebellious citizens to settle the chaos. They think that surely their word will be obeyed by the population. They are not considering the source of the chaos, which is the sin against the Almighty God. These men however respond with a refusal of leadership roles because of their paucity. They too have “neither bread nor clothing” and respond to the request for them to be leaders with the statement,”ye shall not make me ruler of the people.”
In fact, the source of all Jerusalem’s problems is because they have sinned against God, in both word and deed. They behaved as though He does not see or hear their behavior. Worse, they did not care if He was aware of their behavior. Their desires to carry out their sins was so strong that they tried to avoid His acknowledgement of their behavior and His authority:
28And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: 32who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them (ASV, 1901).
Boldness in Sin
9The show of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have done evil unto themselves. 10Say ye of the righteous, that it shall be well with him; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. 11Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him; for what his hands have done shall be done unto him (ASV, 1901).
The brazen nature of their countenance, or outward expressions, reveals their attitude toward their sins. The do not think they are sinning, they just view these desires they have as “who they are”,and that the righteous have put a restraint upon them. Just like the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah they have no desire to conceal their sins. In fact, they exhibit a pride over their ability to publicly sin without any legal restraint of their behavior. They brought this evil upon themselves and have no one else to blame for this when the correction comes. The destruction that comes during their lifetime, as in the examples of Judah, Jerusalem, and Sodom, are one sphere of correction. The worse one is the eternal damnation that will befall them when they, as unsaved God-haters, enter the Lord’s domain and immediately realize their rebellion against Him. People of all ages are responsible for their behavior. The righteous person will enjoy the fruits of their restraint and shall “eat the fruit of their doings”.The wicked will experience Divine retribution for “what his hands have done shall be done unto him”.We are not responsible for the thoughts Satan pours into our minds. We are responsible for what we do with them once he pours his evil into us. We must submit ourselves to God and resist the Devil, then he will flee from us (James 4:7). We are to stay with God in all circumstances:
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; 19because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. 20For 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: 21because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. 22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things 24Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: 25for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen (ASV, 1901).
The way God will turn them over to the lusts of the hearts is through demonic influence, and make it so that their consciences will no longer be able to let them know their behavior is sin against the Creator.
I Timothy 4:1–2
1But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, 2through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron (ASV, 1901).
Sin Reverses God’s Hierarchical Order
12As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they that lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths (ASV, 1901).
Because of the gross sins of Israel, God was placing women and children in leadership positions, reversing His desired plan for the leadership hierarchy, and therefore adding to the anarchy. God has provided a hierarchical order to this world. But the behavior of Adam and Eve ended that at the Fall when God pronounced a curse on them. The most significant curse was the spiritual death, which Adam and Eve experienced “on the day they ate of the fruit.” Separate cursing’s were also settled on Adam and Eve. For Adam, man would henceforth earn his living by sweat (Genesis 2:15), and man’s life would now be filled with sorrow and ultimate death (Genesis 3:19; Ephesians 2:5). For Eve, the multiplied sorrow and pain of women in childbirth and motherhood was also one result.
The other result for Eve was her position in relation to man that came about because she chose to act independently from him, and disobey God’s Word. Prior to the Fall, woman’s position, in comparison to the man’s, was subordinate due to Adam’s divinely ordained headship. After the Fall, a firmer headship was invested in man due to woman’s responding to the serpent. While the man was to have dominion over her, she now desired to usurp his leadership role, to control him and desire his headship for herself. This created a built-in conflict within the family. Her husband would be a ruler over her, but not in a loving leadership role that accompanied God’s initial plan for marriage or her treatment in general. Now man’s rule over her would be sinful and domineering. But, just like Cain, the man and the woman had to master sin. Those who continued to turn away from God and follow after Adam and Eve would now follow the sinful and natural inclination that God gave to the relationship. Man would dominate woman, and she would resist and seek to usurp his rule. God did provide for her though, but only to those who followed Him and kept His Word. God’s plan is always best. The New Testament describes the roles which God has ordained:
22Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body. 24But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everythingShare on Facebook
Three Categories of Saints
The word saints, is used throughout the Bible to refer to people that have accepted the rule of God in their lives, and is a common word for believers of all ages. There are three groups of saints, divided by when they lived. The first group are the Old Testament saints or godly ones who believe in God and who lived before the Day of Pentecost (Psalm 85:8).
The second are the Church age saints, also today called “born-again” believers and consists only of those saved people who live between the Day of Pentecost of Acts 2 and the Rapture of the Church from the earth (1 Corinthians 1:2). Saints who died before the Day of Pentecost and people who become saved after the Rapture of the Church are never part of the Church. Thus, the Church consists of a distinctive group of saints who live during one particular period of history—namely, those saints who are baptized with the Spirit and are “born again”. This causes some folks confusion and they tend to incorrectly apply the term “Church” to those saints who lived and died before the era of the Church (Acts 2 – The Rapture), or after the Church era (Post Rapture).
The third category are the Great Tribulation saints (Revelation 13:7) who accept Christ during the seven year span of the Great Tribulation. Even though the word “saints” is used several times during the Great Tribulation, it does not refer to those who were believers in Christ before the Great Tribulation began. Within the Great Tribulation saints, there is the group that are killed before the 3.5 year mid-point and those that die after the mid-point. The saints during the 7 year Great Tribulation include the 144,000 saved Jewish evangelists and the myriad of others converted mostly through their efforts (Revelation 7:3-17). They will also be resurrected after the Great Tribulation and during that Seventy-five-day Interval that comes between the end of the Great Tribulation and the beginning of the Messianic Kingdom.
This distinction is brought out in Revelation chapter twenty:
4And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as worshipped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years should be finished. This is the first resurrection. 6Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years (ASV, 1901).
In verse 4, John describes who are to co-reign with the Lord Jesus in the Messianic Kingdom, and in this passage, they are the Church age saints and the Great Tribulation saints.
The first group are those who have died during the Church age, and who in verse 4a are those to whom “judgment was given”. This is a direct reference to the Judgment Seat of Christ that they endured. This refers to the Church saints who were raptured at some time preceding the Great Tribulation. The Rapture will include only the Church saints and it will occur before the Great Tribulation. They are referred to as “kings and priests” in John’s introductory verse of Revelation 1:6 (KJV). The judgment that these saints have already had the apostle John is referring to is the Judgment Seat of the Messiah, also known as known as the Bema Seat judgment (I Corinthians 3:13; Romans 14:10). This judgement is an evaluation of how well, or how poorly, each believer exercised their spiritual gifts while still alive in their natural bodies. In fact, it is the outcome of this judgment that will determine the position of each Church saint in the Kingdom.
The second group are the saints who accept Christ as their savior during the Great Tribulation. The first group in verse 4b are those who “had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus”are the believers who will be martyred during the first half of the Great Tribulation, and are mentioned at the time of the fifth seal opening (Revelation 6:9–11). The rest of the Great Tribulation saints are covered in verse 4c, and are those who “had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as worshipped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand”. Since the image of the beast, and the marking of worshippers of him with a mark on their forehead or arm are things initiated only at the middle of the Great Tribulation, this group of saints will be those martyred during the second half of the Great Tribulation. Both the Church saints and the Great Tribulation saints then will co- reign with the King for one thousand years. The Messianic Kingdom will cover the entire earth. But the land give to the Sons of Jacob will be what was promised to Abraham.
What happens to the Old Testament Saints?
After the second coming, we know Old Testament saints will be resurrected. This is stated by three Old Testament passages:
Your dead shall live; my dead bodies shall arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for your dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast forth the dead (ASV, 1901
2And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (ASV, 1901).
14I will ransom them from the power of Sheol; I will redeem them from death: O death, where are thy plagues? O Sheol, where is thy destruction? repentance shall be hid from mine eyes (ASV, 1901).
With this resurrection, the unfulfilled covenantal promises will finally be fulfilled to them. One of these is the promise to become a “kingdom of priests”:
5Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be mine own possession from among all peoples: for all the earth is mine: 6and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation (ASV, 1901).
In the Messianic Kingdom the nation of Israel will be ruled by the Old Testament saints in the implied role of kings:
1And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of Jehovah thy God, to observe to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that Jehovah thy God will set thee on high above all the nations of the earth (ASV, 1901).
Finally, there is one particular passage where the Lord Jesus is speaking to the Jews before the Church was founded. In parable form, Jesus tells them that they can expect to become “kings” and “priests” and “rulers” in the kingdom of Jesus Christ (Luke 19:11-27). This passage tells us how Jesus Christ will determine who rules over how many cities in His Kingdom. Though it is a parable, it is widely viewed as referring to the way we will be selected as rulers, or kings.
The Organization of the Messianic Kingdom
Are all three groups of saints are going to be kings and priests in the Messianic Kingdom? The answer is yes, but in differing roles, and in different geographical places. Jesus, as the absolute ruler on earth, will govern the Messianic Kingdom. His throne will be in Jerusalem. The government will be split into two branches, a Jewish branch and a Gentile branch. It is quite clear from both Testaments that Jesus will sit upon David’s Throne in Jerusalem ruling the Jews and Gentiles. The Lord Jesus will be both King of Israel and the king of the world. Under His absolute authority He will rule with a “rod of iron.” The “rod of iron” that will characterize the rule of the government in the Kingdom will be implemented through various spheres and positions of authority.
The ruling hierarchy of the Gentile branch of government will be from Messiah, to the Church and the Great Tribulation saints, to the kings of the Gentile nations. The ruling hierarchy of the Jewish branch of government will be from the Messiah to David, to the Twelve Apostles, to the princes, to the judges and counselors, over all Israel.
David described this arrangement in Psalm 72:
1Give the king thy judgments, O God, And thy righteousness unto the king’s son. 2He will judge thy people with righteousness, And thy poor with justice. 3The mountains shall bring peace to the people, And the hills, in righteousness. 4He will judge the poor of the people, He will save the children of the needy, And will break in pieces the oppressor. 5They shall fear thee while the sun endureth, And so long as the moon, throughout all generations. 6He will come down like rain upon the mown grass, As showers that water the earth. 7In his days shall the righteous flourish, And abundance of peace, till the moon be no more. 8He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, And from the River unto the ends of the earth. 9They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; And his enemies shall lick the dust. 10The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall render tribute: The kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. 11Yea, all kings shall fall down before him; All nations shall serve him. 12For he will deliver the needy when he crieth, And the poor, that hath no helper. 13He will have pity on the poor and needy, And the souls of the needy he will save. 14He will redeem their soul from oppression and violence; And precious will their blood be in his sight: 15And they shall live; and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba: And men shall pray for him continually; They shall bless him all the day long. 16There shall be abundance of grain in the earth upon the top of the mountains; The fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: And they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth. 17His name shall endure for ever; His name shall be continued as long as the sun: And men shall be blessed in him; All nations shall call him happy. 18Blessed be Jehovah God, the God of Israel, Who only doeth wondrous things: 19And blessed be his glorious name for ever; And let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen, and Amen. 20The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended (ASV, 1901).
As we can see, in Psalm 72, the different Gentile nations will have “kings” over them. These kings will have their natural bodies, while the saints who will be over them will have their spiritual, resurrected, and glorified bodies. The individual kings will be the supreme rulers over their own nations, but they themselves will be under the authority of the Church and Great Tribulation saints who will be essentially kings over the lesser kings.
In conclusion, saints in all three of the categories of the Old Testament, the Church, and the Great Tribulation will all in some manner be “priests” and “kings” in the Messianic Kingdom.
One Point of Confusion
One point of the confusion is the misapplication of the term “church” by Covenant Theology, which has called Israel of the Old Testament the “church of the Old Testament”. This is simply not true. In contrast with the Covenant Theology view of the nature of the Church, Dispensational Theology asserts that the Church consists only of those saved people, both Gentile and Jew, who lived between the Day of Pentecost of Acts 2 and the Rapture of the Church from the earth. Saints who died before the Day of Pentecost and people who become saved after the Rapture of the Church are never part of the Church. Thus, the Church consists of a distinctive group of saints who live during one particular period of history—namely, those saints who are baptized with the Spirit.
It is essential to note that the Dispensational Theology view of the nature of the Church also leads logically to several conclusions. Israel and the Church are not the same because there is something distinctive about the relationship of the Holy Spirit to saints between the Day of Pentecost and the Rapture of the Church. There are distinctions between groups of saints throughout history, (Old Testament saints, Church saints, Great Tribulation saints). The fact that saints will be on earth during the Great Tribulation period does not require the Church to be on earth during the Great Tribulation, and there will be more than one resurrection of dead saints at different times of history, not just one general resurrection of saints.
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The Lord’s Children Have Rebelled
2Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for Jehovah hath spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me (ASV, 1901).
To listen to Isaiah the prophet is to listen to God, for the words, which come forth from him, have been received super-naturally and originate outside of the time and space domain. The Lord chose him and impressed upon him these matters to convey to the world. Now our Lord begins His great polemic toward His chosen people, the Nation Israel. He calls on the heavens saying to them to hear what He has to say. He then calls on the earth to give ear or “listen” to what He has to say. The Hebrew word for hear is shema,which is a straightforward word simply meaning hear. But the Hebrew word for listen is a Hiphil verb form. This particular form expresses an imperative meaning that God is saying with great emphasis to pay attention or be obedient. It is a command. The word is ha-azneen, which literally translated is “And In Your Ears.” God is saying to the Heavens to listen but to the earth He says get this message in to your ears or deep with you. The strength of His orders are made clear to Israel.
His appeal to the heavens and the earth is not merely hyperbole. It would be if God had not created the whole Heaven and as well as that which is within it including the earth and its contents. This is recognition of the whole order of the Universe and the totally of life as well.
What God’s people are doing is an offense against nature and the order he has ordained. Sin, pride, and oppression are contrary to creation as God envisioned it. The heavenly bodies all follow what God has ordained them to do. They move in their various circuits and ellipticals as He has commanded. The stars produce the exact light as He created and they all are suspended in the exact place wherein He has placed them. They do not move outside of the space and path He has provided. There is order to this Universe. His request to the Heavens is to recognize what is happening on earth, that is, the Children of Israel’s sins. Within this Universe there is also moral order in addition to the physical order. This is what He is seeing His children, Israel breaking and therefore His much stronger admonition to the earth to LISTEN in your ears!
Moral order of mankind is subject to God’s absolute standards of conduct that do not change with circumstances, location or time. These standards are universal to all humanity despite culture or era, and they maintain their relevance whether or not an individual or a culture values them. God has placed in our hearts a standard of right and wrong that, if followed, would result in our being blessed (Romans 2:14–15). But our fallen nature and leading toward sinful behavior cloud our conscience. Therefore, the Bible admonishes us to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5). Psalm 119:59 says,“I considered my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies.”Consideration of human nature shows us our inability and our need for God: “If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction”(Psalm 119:92).
God has set in place certain standards, and it is sinful to break those standards. Psalm 24:1 testifies to God’s authority: “The earth is the LORD’s, and all it contains; the world, and those who dwell in it.” He set the absolutes of our morality expressed throughout His Word: “You shall therefore obey the LORD your God, and do His commandments and His statutes which I command you today”(Deuteronomy 27:10). The divine command of moral absolutism is what the Lord teaches us, and the Bible records. Jesus gave us the Golden Rule, which characterizes the universal morality we all realize which is to treat others as we want to be treated (Luke 6:31). Jesus also succinctly sums up the relationship to God and others.
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these (KJV).
The Beasts Know Their Master
3The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that deal corruptly! they have forsaken Jehovah, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are estranged and gone backward (ASV, 1901).
As the Lord continues to condemn Israel for her sins He brings an example to them of His creatures obeying Him through the instinct He has placed within them. But, His children Israel are a sinful nation. They are a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that deal corruptly! He said the same thing to them through His prophet Hosea.
When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. 2The more the prophets called them, the more they went from them: they sacrificed unto the Baalim, and burned incense to graven images. 3Yet I taught Ephraim to walk; I took them on my arms; but they knew not that I healed them. 4I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love; and I was to them as they that lift up the yoke on their jaws; and I laid food before them (ASV, 1901).
At the beginning the Lord’s relationship with Israel was like a father to a son. The Lord displayed His love toward the nation by summoning her from Egypt. However, when God later called them to obedience through His prophets and the Mosaic Law, they rejected Him and turned instead to false gods (the Baalim). The more He called them through the prophets the more they rebelled against Him. Like a father patiently teaching a young child to walk, the Lord had established and sustained Israel. He also restored (healed) the nation’s strength after times of judgment. She subsequently failed to acknowledge His intervention.
Israel is compared to a work animal as in the Isaiah passage. God adds to His depiction of the unnatural character of sin by referencing animals. Neither the ox nor the ass is very intelligent. However, even these animals knew from whence they came and who cared for them. Israel could surely do better then them. But no, Israel does not know that much. The Lord is likening Himself to a master who gently in kindness and love leads his animal and releases its yoke so that it might eat with greater ease the food he kindly provides. The Lord treated Israel with compassion and love and they rejected Him as if they did not know Him. In fact they did not just sin and disobey, they regressed and distanced themselves in their relationship to Him as He said they are estranged and gone backward. Submission to God’s commands will bring a right understanding (Proverbs 1:7), and refusal to submit can only result in foolishness (Romans 1:18–32).
Their Whole Body is Sick
5Why will ye be still stricken, that ye revolt more and more? the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and fresh stripes: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with oil (ASV, 1901).
This passage expresses the sense that suffering mustfollow sin. Then, if they continue to revolt, they must still be smitten for it. So then why, will they continue to do so? Do they not realize that it is their moral disobedience that is causing their suffering? God said the same thing though the prophet Ezekiel.
31Cast away from you all your transgressions, wherein ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? 32For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord Jehovah: wherefore turn yourselves, and live (ASV, 1901).
Again there is a moral order to this universe and God is saying get on My program and end the suffering you are causing yourselves to experience. I will not allow sin to go unpunished. Judgment for sin is my character. So stop your disobedience and experience my comfort. When God’s people turn their backs on God certain consequences necessarily follow. Isaiah recounted what was happening in order to help them understand that their difficult times had come because of their disobedience. When the Lord’s judgment falls upon His people is a matter of their choice. God has not decided, in some arbitrary way, to punish Israel. The political and social catastrophes they were experiencing were the natural results of living in ways contrary to those God designed for them.
The prophet in his personification of the nation Israel as a body, says that the whole head of the nation is diseased, its whole heart faint, or unable to get up off the ground and stand erect before God. The head and heart represent both the intellectual and moral attributes of the nation. The entire body is completely diseased. It is as if the entire body is one wound, or one festering sore.
The Lord says they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with oil.Here He is referencing closing open wounds, and then treating them with oil, as was the practice in ancient times. The general sentiment of the entire passage is that there has been no medical treatment of the wounds of any kind; they have been left to themselves, to fester and spread corruption over the whole body. In other words there has been no attempt made to cure them. What He says is that the nation Israel does not want to stop their sin against God. This is difficult to understand even though it is apparent their disobedience to the Lord is the cause of them to increasingly suffer.
God’s Judgments Have Come to Israel
7Your country is desolate; your cities are burned with fire; your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8And the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9Except Jehovah of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, we should have been like unto Gomorrah (ASV, 1901).
God writes future prophecies in a completed sense. Which is to say He makes future prophecies expressed in what we call the past tense. That is in His mind they have already occurred. He lives outside of time and space so when He ordains a future event expressed in the past tense it is certain to happen. Here the text is probably referring to the Assyrian (722 B.C.), Babylonian (605; 597 & 586 B.C.), and Roman destructions of Jerusalem (AD 70). At the time of this writing none of these invasions had occurred. Jesus referenced the AD 70 destruction caused by their disobedience.
37O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord (ASV, 1901).
God continues sayingand it is desolate. He speaks of the whole land; and they were carried away captive, and scattered among the nations, where they had been until the late 1800’s when they began returning in the Zionist movement. This ultimately led to the re-establishment of their sovereignty in 1948 (Ezekiel 20: 33–37). He says, your cities are, or shall be, burnt with fire;as Jerusalem has been, and your land, strangers devour it in your presence;before their eyes, and it would not be in their power to prevent it. This was the case with the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Romans. All were were strangers and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel: and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers;who ravage, plunder, and destroy all they meet with, and spare nothing, not intending to settle there.
He continues with the daughter of Zionin which the city of Jerusalem is personified. Other instances of this type of personification are Isaiah 47:1, 5, where Babylon is called the “daughter of the Chaldeans;” and Lamentations 1:6; 2:1, 4, 8, 10, where Jeremiah uses this repeatedly to reference Jerusalem. Usually it designates the people living outside the city (Lamentations 2:13; 4:22; Micah 4:8, 10, 13; Zephaniah 3:14; Zechariah 2:10; 9:9).
Vineyards needed to be watched for a few weeks as the fruit began to ripen; and the watchers, or keepers, built themselves, “booths” for their protection (Job 27:18). These were frail, temporary dwellings like tents. The imagery being conveyed is temporary dwellings, which are structurally very unsound and therefore helpless. Such was now the condition of Jerusalem in its sin awaiting God’s judgment, which was certain, and unwavering. Similarly, the text as a lodge in a garden of cucumbersis referencing another type of temporary lodging set up in a cucumber patch.
In ancient Israel cucumber gardens required manual vigilance throughout the longer growing season, which extended from spring to fall. Because of the longer growing period the watcher would need a somewhat more solid structure than a tent. So, such gardens had “lodges” in them, i.e. more permanent huts or sheds. They were usually built on an elevation of ground, with room for only one person, who all alone watched the ripening crop. “So did Jerusalem stand in the midst of desolation reaching far and wide—a sign, however, that the land was not entirely without any people”This statement from The New Unger’s Bible dictionary is paralleling verse 1:9 Except Jehovah of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, we should have been like unto Gomorrah.
This just simply references their description, which was one of extreme depravity as was the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The clear implication is that God could have made his people like Sodom and Gomorrah—extinct. But he has chosen not to do that.The Lord always leaves a remnant. He will never destroy Israel.
43The land also shall be left by them, and shall enjoy its sabbaths, while it lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity; because, even because they rejected mine ordinances, and their soul abhorred my statutes. 44And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them; for I am Jehovah their God; 45but I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am Jehovah (ASV, 1901).
35Thus saith Jehovah, who giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who stirreth up the sea, so that the waves thereof roar; Jehovah of hosts is his name: 36If these ordinances depart from before me, saith Jehovah, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. 37Thus saith Jehovah: If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, then will I also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith Jehovah (ASV, 1901).
Daniel E. Woodhead
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Satan’s Corruption of Humanity
Daniel E. Woodhead
Our Lord Jesus told us that the conditions on this earth are going to be just as bad as they were before He destroyed the earth with a Flood many years ago:
Matthew 24: 37
“37But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (KJV)
In the first instance, God destroyed the earth by a flood. When Christ returns, the destructive means will be a fire, with nuclear weapons contributing to it. In both instances, the sin on the earth had degraded to the point where violence was rampant, and all flesh was corrupted. The earth will continue to degenerate to the point that the Lord will rapture the true believers (the Elect) off the face of the earth to be with Him, leaving only the unsaved and a massively sinful population. The Great Tribulation will follow the event of the Rapture.
The Last sinful characteristics of humankind, which will precede the Great Tribulation are:
- The Promulgation of abnormal depravity (Genesis 6: 5, 12) (Morris, 2009, 174-175).
Satan fell before the foundation of the world and he has been trying to corrupt the world ever since.
When he indwelt the serpent in the vegetable Garden of Eden he lured the woman into defying God’s Word and bringing sin into the world.
Genesis 3: 15
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
This verse is called the Proto-Evangelium since it is the first appearance of the Gospel. Conversely it is also the first prophecy the Lord gave us of the Antichrist.
The supernatural origin of Antichrist will be by means of a counterfeit virgin conception. The supernatural origin is found in Genesis 3:15. There are two pairs listed here.
- Enmity between Satan and the woman
- The second pair is the seeds of the Woman and the seed of Satan.
The first satanic attack of women 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 and Daniel 9: 26-27 then it can be deduced that Satan will someday impregnate a woman of Roman lineage who will give birth to Satan’s seed. That person 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.
2 Thessalonians 2:8-9
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; [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 originate by the energizing that comes from 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 but probably in a different manner. The fallen anointed Cherub Hallal who became Satan (aka 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 second provision states that the provision will continue as the text states “between your seen and her seed.”The seed of the woman is The Messiah Himself, The Lord Jesus. In the Bible genealogies are traced through the males lines. It is not until Isaiah 7: 14 that the Bible explains this as the Messiah coming from the womb of a virgin. The seed of the woman also implies a supernatural conception. The Lord Jesus had no human father. Joseph was his stepfather.
The third provision promises a curse, which is: “he shall bruise your head.”The woman’s seed, Jesus, gives the bruising to Satan by His death and resurrection (Hebrews 2: 14-18). The word bruise is harmful but not fatal. Satan is still alive but has a terminal condition due to Christ’s finished work. He can only corrupt mankind. Because of Romans 16: 20 and Revelation 20: 10 we know that Satan’s final demise will be in the Lake of Fire. This will be a “crushing” of the head of the serpent. In which case his demise will be eternal.
The forth provision in Genesis 3: 15 is: “You shall bruise his heel.”Satan bruised the heel of the Woman’s Seed, which represents the crucifixion. The bruising of the heel while painful is not terminal. The bruising and crushing can be best understood with imagery regarding the Jew’s method of killing of poisonous snakes in Israel.
The corruption of Adam’s line (Genesis 6)
The apostle Paul, who recognized that demonic warfare was taking place in the spirit world, warned us that we were the objects of their wrath.
Ephesians 6: 12
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (KJV).
After Satan’s success in the Garden of Eden, the next attack by Satan to prevent to coming of the Messiah was the series of events recorded in Genesis 6:1-5. Jewish scholars clearly understood this passage to be a union of angels and humans, which produced a corrupt line of humans known as the Nephilim. This was the cause of the Great Flood, to eliminate these monsters and restart the human line through which Jesus would come. The Lord Jesus warned His disciples that similar events would transpire when He was about to make His second coming to the earth and told them, and us, not to be deceived (Matthew 24: 4. 37).
Therefore, the purpose of the Flood was to destroy the product of the fallen angels with the human women. The demonical combination of the seed line of Cain with their self centered, anti-God practices and the intermarriage of fallen angels with human women produced a civilization that were monsters which caused God to render His justice on the earth.
Satan has attempted to stop the Messiah from arriving many times by corrupting the Messianic seed line. Obviously, he has not been able to do so and he continues to attempt to corrupt what he can’t destroy.
He continues to corrupt the human race and recently he has caused mankind to attempt to alter the design of the genes of human beings. This is now Satan enters deeply into God’s design and like he did before the Flood he corrupted the human population with the Nephilim. Only now it appears that the means is direct corruption of the genes of humans through experimentation with the design blueprints of God for humans. This is dangerous territory, as God will only put up with it for so long before He again brings Divine correction to the earth. The last time was the Great Flood. This time it will be the Tribulation, which will usher in the Messianic Kingdom.
The Human Cell
The tiniest of cells are made up of 100 billion atoms and are far more complicated than any machine built by humans and have no parallel in design in the non-living world. In other words, nothing compares to its design and complexity. The cell is unequalled in any factory on the earth. It is capable of replicating its entire system within a matter of a few hours. Self-reproduction is the most fundamental characteristic of all living organisms. Within this cell is the DNA or the blueprints of the design.
DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid within a cell is similar to two strands of fishing line 125 miles long stored within a volleyball. It is unzipped, copied, and restored on spools at a speed, which is three times that of an airplane propeller without tangling. This is all within a cell as it is giving the cell its instructions. This is the blueprint of God’s design for the human body. It is His design, not any other.
Dolly (5 July 1996 – 14 February 2003) was a female domestic sheep, and the first animal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell, using the process of nuclear transfer. Ian Wilmut, Keith Campbell and colleagues at the Roslin Institute, part of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and the biotechnology company PPL Therapeutics, based near Edinburgh, cloned her. After cloning was successfully demonstrated through the production of Dolly, many other large mammals were cloned, including pigs, deer, horses and bulls. Even though Dolly was not the first animal to be cloned, she gained this attention in the media because she was the first to be cloned from an adult cell.Though animal and reproductive cloning should be a concern for Christians, today the debate is mostly centered on the cloning of human embryonic stem cells, which are used for treatment and research of diseases. The Roman Catholic Church among others, has voiced strong opposition to cloning on moral grounds. Few if any see the greater issue of Satan entering into the design of God’s creation to corrupt it. This is near the last stage of demonic corruption of the human race. If animal cloning is a reality then human cloning is too. In fact, the book In His Image by David Rorvik (Published by Lippincott 1978) made the startling claim that the world’s first human clone, a male had already been born. He said it happened in 1973. The cloning technique he described was loosely based on a procedure that had been successfully used to clone a frog in the mid-1960s. However, within months Lippincott and Rorvik found themselves in court when they were sued for defamation by J. Derek Bromhall, a British scientist whose research had been cited in the book. The court asked Rorvik to provide concrete evidence of the existence of the cloned boy. When he failed to do so, the court ruled that Rorvik’s book was a “fraud and a hoax.” A year later, in 1982, Lippincott agreed to pay an unspecified amount of damages to Bromhall. Rorvik never said his story was false. Instead Rorvik continued to claim that his book is telling the truth. He would never reveal the identity of the people involved in this cloning. This is also the reason why human cloning is not getting out in the media now. There is still a stigma associated with it in Christianity. If the Christians could be silenced it could proceed at full efforts. As Christianity becomes more marginalized by society we will begin to see the discussion of the present cloning efforts in the media.
Genetic Experimentation Now
Genetic experimentations are unlocking the secrets of DNA. it is being done to alter our genetic makeup to augment desirable traits and block negative characteristics. Its proponents tout that such a move will bring longevity and eradicate diseases. Other possible outcomes include the production of designer babies in the womb, and even introducing DNA from other species into the human code; thus, building a ‘Human Plus’ equipped with advanced physical and cognitive traits. Such a trans-human/hybrid would be ‘transgenic’—literally a human GMO (Genetically Modified Organism).
Many are interested in a concept known as Transhumanism. This practice uses genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology (manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale.) to create a future race of humans of incredible superiority. This practice is very seductive to those in powerful military and governmental positions. Scientific reasoning has been thought to be a strong bearer of the truth than the revealed truth of the Bible for some time. This has been widely accepted since the 18thcentury Enlightenment when intellectual and scientific reason elevated the authority of scientists over those in the Church. Sooner or later this will completely win the battle for tinkering with God’s design producing desired alteration of the human species. Some believe that genetic manipulation would replace people. In other words some super human like the Nephilim would be back among us but through a different avenue.
Satan has convinced the world to experiment with God’s designing blueprints. Before the Flood the Nephilim were the product of co-mingling of Fallen Angels with promiscuous human women. Every generation exercises power over its successors. In doing so, what one generation creates subsequent generations accept. Cloning has been accepted. Evolution as been accepted. Homosexuality is gradually being accepted. Now transexuality is being defended as a right and necessary in some cases. The next logical level of these design alterations of God’s creation is to use technology to enhance the human for some hyper activity or performance enhancement. This is way beyond an athlete taking anabolic steroids to perform at higher levels of physical strength and endurance. This is essentially engineering the cyborg (human merged with machine) soldier.
There are presently efforts to develop genetic clusters of enhanced superhumans who will dominate us if not enslave us too. This is all under the guise of improving mankind to be disease free and provide enhancements such as senses of smell, sight and strength. The new species will view old normal humans as inferior which will only be fit for slaughter or slavery. The remaining normal people may be threatened by the cyborgs and initiate battles, which might end in genocide while making the post humans (cyborgs) into weapons of mass destruction. If the military adopts this practice of gene redesign we can see a future with super soldiers unable to be beaten by any enemy. In describing the last world empire before the Lord Sets up Him Messianic Kingdom Daniel saw a strange mingling of elements.
42And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. 43And whereas thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron doth not mingle with clay. (ASV, 1901).
This could suggest that the mingling with the seeds of men are these generically, altered humans, which will control future world governance.
We know from Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed.The reference in this verse to Satan’s seed implies a supernatural, miraculous conception too. From this passage and Daniel 9: 26-27 then it can be deduced that Satan will someday impregnate a woman of Roman lineage who will give birth to Satan’s seed. This man is going to be the Antichrist. He will probably seek to enlist the cyborgs in his efforts to dominate the world but the Lord Jesus will defeat him when He returns.
44And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever (ASV, 1901).
We have only to look at the desires of the megalomaniac dictators to see what efforts they put forth to create super races. Consider Adolph Hitler who wanted to create the Aryan Supreme race. He had medical experiments conducted on captives in his death camps to seek a new race of super heroes and demigods as well as god-men. He also used select soldiers and women to breed a pure race of people who would be superior to any other on the earth.
Some Present Efforts to Breed Superior Mixes (AKA Chimera)
Rabbit Eggs with Human Cells
The first successful human-animal chimeras were reported in 2003. Chinese researchers at the Shanghai Second Medical University successfully fused human cells with rabbit eggs. They were allowed to develop the eggs for several days in a petri dish before the embryos were harvested for their stem cells. Their hope was that this process could one day be used to grow cells or tissues for transplantation.
Pigs with Human Blood
A year after the successful Chinese chimera experiment, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota announced they had created pigs with human blood pumping through their veins. What was startling about the animal is not only did the pig blood cells flow with human cells, but some of the cells merged together, creating pig-human cell hybrids. Scientists said this experiment can give them a better understanding of how viral infections can pass from animals to humans such as HIV and various others.
Sheep with Human Livers
One of the efforts behind creating chimeras is to generate animal specimens that could grow human organs to be farmed for transplantation. In 2007, scientists at the University of Nevada-Reno announced they could grow livers made up of 20 percent human cells in sheep. Dr. Esmail Zanjani injected either human adult stem cells derived from bone marrow, or human embryonic stem cells, into growing sheep fetuses. Zanjani said he uses sheep because the circulation systems of sheep and humans are similar.
Cow Eggs with Human Cells
British researchers were given approval to conduct human-animal hybrid research in 2008, a decision that researchers touted would give them the ability to possibly find a cure for Parkinson’s disease. Before, only human cells were allowed to be injected into human eggs, but the researchers argued that animal eggs are much more available. After given permission, researchers went to work using cow eggs. The nucleus of the cow egg — the source of most DNA– was removed, and replaced with the nucleus of a human cell such as a skin cell. Once the egg was allowed to develop and multiply it would become an early-stage cloned embryo called a blastocyst. Scientists could then extract the stem cells from this blastocyst to use in disease treatments.
Irving Weissman, Stanford University professor and cofounder of the biotech company Stem Cells Inc., was granted permission by Stanford to create a mouse-human hybrid in 2005.Weissman and his team transplanted human-brain stem cells into the brains of mice with the intention to study neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. In his initial experiment, the human cells only made up less than 1 percent of the mouse brain. In 2010, Stanford researchers announced they transformed mouse skin cells into fully functional neurons in a laboratory dish for the first time. They also announced in May that they successfully used mouse stem cells to develop sensory hair cells, which could combat human hearing loss.
Transhumanism Efforts and Predictions
The Transhumanism technology already appears to be growing at an exponential rate. Transhumanists believe that our world will rapidly become transformed into a place that would be unrecognizable to us today. Just a few decades from now, transhumanists believe that superhuman powers and extremely advanced life extension technologies will allow them to essentially become like gods. The key moment that most transhumanists are looking forward to is known as “the Singularity”. That is the moment when artificial intelligence will actually surpass human intelligence and a massive technological chain reaction will be triggered. At that time, most transhumanists believe that biological intelligence will merge with non-biological intelligence and humanity will become vastly more intelligent than it is today. During this transition, society will be fundamentally transformed… Where have we heard this before?
After the Singularity occurs, it is predicted that vast changes will sweep through society; changes so drastic that they are nearly inconceivable at the present time. Experts in the movement say that after the Singularity, indefinite human life extension will rapidly become the norm. Many scientists working in this field are particularly interested in the concept of achieving immortality.
Transhumanist Mark Pesce is even more extreme. He openly states that he believes that Transhumanism will allow us “to become as gods”…
“Men die, planets die, even stars die. We know all this. Because we know it, we seek something more—a transcendence of transience, translation to incorruptible form. An escape if you will, a stop to the wheel. We seek, therefore, to bless ourselves with perfect knowledge and perfect will;To become as gods, take the universe in hand, and transform it in our image—for our own delight. As it is on Earth, so it shall be in the heavens. The inevitable result of incredible improbability, the arrow of evolution is lipping us into the transhuman – an apotheosis to reason, salvation – attained by good works.” He further states: On ABC’s TV show (The New Inventors) the following; “Once the genome was transcribed, once we knew what had made us human, we had—in that moment—passed into the Transhuman. Knowing our codes, we can recreate and re-sequence ourselves into a new Being, de-bugging the natural state, translating ourselves into supernatural, incorruptible, eternal. There is no God but Man.
Transhumanism, attempts to be all inclusive, embracing Darwinism, Intelligent Design, spirituality, science, belief in ET etc. wrapped up in a self guided salvation message. In short:
“Transhumanism is the ultimate goal of Technocracy … a meta-movement: the idea that the works of Man’s hands can save Humanity—hence, technology and science forms the basis of a Technocratic society. Transhumanism takes this to its ultimate conclusion: The development of the post-human or neo-human.
“Based on the premise that evolution is true, Transhumanism looks to shape the human species through the direct application of science. In other words, by employing technology we can take hold of the evolutionary process and change it as we desire, thus becoming the masters of our future.
This all takes us back to the Garden of Eden and Satan’s lies to Eve.
Genesis 3: 1-5
Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which Jehovah God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil (ASV 1901).
Satan then began his first challenge to the woman. He starts with slightly misstating what God’s command had been to Adam. God said that he could eat of any tree in the Garden except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2: 16-17). Eve knew that and so did Satan. But because he wanted to impart doubt he said, “Did God say that yea shall not eat of any tree of the Garden?”God’s command was clear but Satan was making it unclear like liberal theologians who do not like being pinned down to the specificity of words in Scripture. This is where that liberal mindset comes from. It is always dangerous to alter God’s Word either by addition or deletion (Deuteronomy 4: 2; Proverbs 30: 5-6; Revelation 22: 18-19). God will always do exactly what He says He will do.
Eve, knowing the command from God either through direct communication with God or Adam, restated God’s command quite clearly to the serpent. She knew the penalty for sinning against God for she added lest ye die (Genesis 3: 3b). One Jewish writing the Midrash Rabbah Bereshit 19:3 says that the serpent pushed Eve to touch the tree until she gave in and touched the tree. When she did, she did not die. He then said to her “Just as there is not death in touching neither is there any death in eating.” This is because she added to God’s command the possible prohibition of not touching the tree in addition to not eating of it.
Now Satan goes from instituting doubt in Eve’s mind to outright attacking the penalty God imposed by denying it is true. This is the first lie in Scripture. Jesus called Satan the father of lies (John 8: 44). Satan then moved to a full denial of God’s authority by saying “for God does know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as God knowing good and evil.”Satan was trying to instill a lure into his sin of trying to be like God or usurp God’s authority (Isaiah 14: 12-14). According to Satan, because one has the knowledge of good and evil, one is like God. Since the fall many have thought they were God. They are not of course but they fell for the lie too. Satan is essentially accusing God of being shellfish and denying Eve the opportunity to experience Godlikeness. So Satan had a three-point strategy:
- He raises doubts of the efficacy and accuracy of God’s Word.
- He directly denies God’s Word by contradicted it.
- He claims that disobeying God’s Word would result in being like God.
For a video of this teaching click on the link below to be taken to Dr. Woodhead’s utube page.
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The Reasons for Suffering
5and ye have forgotten the exhortation which reasoneth with you as with sons, My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, Nor faint when thou art reproved of him; 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, And scourgeth every son whom he receiveth (KJV).
It is inappropriate to assume that every injurious trauma that happens to us is godly correction. There are three sources of harm that can come to us in this life.
- Evil entered the world at the Fall and the corruption associated with it is a general cause for disease, weather disasters, war and the like. These are not our fault.
- Mistakes we make are also causes that harm us, such as accidents. These are not necessarily our fault either, but accidents happen, and some of them cause us harm.
- Willful sin that we knowingly commit against God will bring God’s correction if we are truly a child of His, that is a born-again believer.
This third reason for God’s correction for coming into our lives is the focus of this section of the letter to the Hebrews. The apostle explains correction as a normal experience of believers.
It is so important to realize this, and we must view it as a loving correction or refinement that is evidence of Divine love. Our Lord disciplines us as His children because, like a loving father, He wants us to stay away from practices that will bring harm to us that also stop us from moving to maturity. Sometimes He must bring trauma into our lives to alter our path if He views it as leading to destruction:
11 My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; Neither be weary of his correction: 12 For whom the Lordloveth he correcteth; Even as a father the son in whom he delighteth (KJV).
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live (KJV)?
The apostle applies the lesson from Proverbs to the readers of Hebrews. In the American Standard Version translation, it read “It is for chastening that you endure”. The effectiveness of the discipline God gives us depends upon how we receive it. This is moral training. The word “chasten” means “moral training,” or as Proverbs 22:6 says, “to train up a child”. “Chastening” is also punishment for the sake of correction, and is a corrective measure used by God. If you do not admit your sin when the punishment comes, you will not receive its benefit. Now Paul provides the principle behind this, which is “for what son is there whom his father chastens not?”
Having established this principle, he next presents a two-pronged argument.Verse 8 starts with the first step in the argument, which says if they are never disciplined, it will show them to be illegitimate and prove they are not true sons. However, since they have all become “partakers”of sonship because of this chastisement, they must receive this punishment. This is the bonafide evidence that they are sons. For this reason, the chastening should be accepted and incorporated in their day-to-day living. That means to realize its effects and alter their thoughts and behavior to accommodate God’s correction. But if chastening is absent, it shows they are illegitimate, and they are not God’s children. An illegitimate child does not have the rights of an heir to the father’s fortune, and deprives him of his father’s care. Under Jewish law, to be illegitimate meant three things: no right of inheritance, no right to marry into Jewish society, and no right to be buried in a Jewish cemetery.
Verse 9 presents the second aspect of the argument, and refers to a human father’s discipline. In spite of that discipline, we learn to give our human fathers reverence and respect. The application of the illustration is “and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?”Since the believers were willing to subject themselves to human fathers, how much more should they be willing to subject themselves to their Heavenly Father and, therefore, exercise patient endurance by voluntary submission? Undisciplined children, or children who refuse it, will not enjoy a relationship with their human fathers or God the Father.
The object of their submission is “the Father of spirits”, which emphasizes Him as the Creator and also refers to the immaterial part of man. It is the immaterial part of man that continues to live after physical death. The result is that they shall “live”. One product of divine discipline is the abundant life now enjoyed in fellowship with God the Father while the believer is still on earth. When we live forever, we can look forward to eternity with our Heavenly Father knowing His will and love for us as corrected sons.
Earthly Fathers are Imperfect
10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness (KJV).
Sometimes our earthly fathers administered the discipline inappropriately or not at all. Most did the best they could do for the time they had responsibility for our growth and development. Their efforts are contrasted with our Heavenly Father’s discipline. It is always right, perfect and designed to be good for us. We will also share in His holiness:
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren (KJV).
Discipline is not generally enjoyed, but if it is received with the proper attitude it brings great reward. “Partakers of his holiness”is a reference to our sanctification or growth in becoming more Christ-like. This leads to the spiritual maturity and completeness that God would have us attain. We then become more like Him, or in His image.
11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby (KJV).
In verse 11 we are told“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous,but grievous”. These words anticipate our objection to being corrected because of the grief and sorrow that comes with correction. The immediate question we ask ourselves is how could this be for profit and advantage? The apostle anticipates our reaction by affirming that no affliction “seemeth”to be joyous. No discipline seems pleasant at the time. While corrections initially does not seem to be an occasion for joy, in the end they really are. There is a delayed acceptance and later on however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. When we view correction by faith, we realize it as tokens of the love of God and Christ, and are evidence of our sonship to each of them.
This verse ends the apostle’s argument about sufferings and afflictions and how they should be borne. He also to the Corinthians states that the good derived from them is vastly better than their pain:
II Corinthians 4:17–18
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (KJV).
If we did not receive earthly correction as His sons we would suffer more than any of us can imagine in eternity. To be disassociated from God in eternity is perpetual pain and suffering which is far greater than the temporary pain associated with correction here. We must always have in mind our goal of eternal life and the Messianic Kingdom, not temporary discomfort here including God’s chastisement. All is temporary here, but eternity is permanent. We must endure here to receive the wonderful benefits of Heaven. This is what the apostle calls “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” in verse 11 above.
One might also refer to it as a “harvest of righteousness”. Another of God’s dealings here are likened to a farmer with his corn (Isaiah 28:23–29), or as a farmer pruning his vine so that it may bear fruit (John 15:2). This harvest produces two kinds of fruit. First, the removal of sin, by putting it to death. The second part of the harvest is increased righteousness and holiness for the “crop”, which is the believers.
Notice verse 11 says the harvest produced is the “fruitof righteousness”,not righteousness itself. Neither our actions nor our suffering is the reason for our righteousness, but they promote it in us and increase its fruit and strength. Our righteousness is imputed at the point of justification (Romans 10:4; II Corinthians 5:21). So, the apostle says that God would increase in them the harvest of righteousness “unto them which are exercised thereby”, orthose to whom God loves as sons to correct. The promised “peace” is one of both inward tranquility and contentment.
Do Not Give Up
12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed (KJV).
In verse 12, “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees” is anexhortation directed toward parts of the body that are involved in coordinated activity like athletics. The hands, the knees, and the feet are named because it is through these body parts that we exert all our strength to prevail in an athletic competition. But first we must observe the defect they possess, then second, the remedy for this defect and finally what both of the defect and remedy mean spiritually.
“Hands which hang down” is a reference to us becoming tired of what they we are doing and give up. “Feeble knees”a picture of fear and hopelessness. This imagery is used elsewhere in the Old testament by Nahum: “Hearts melt, knees give way” (Nahum 2:10), and in Psalms: “my knees give way from fasting”(Psalm 109:24). Both the descriptions of the hands and the knees depict one who is ready to give up and abandon all hope of achieving success. The same ailment is afflicting different parts of the body, so the apostle prescribes the same remedy for them both, which is to use all our spiritual strength in our Christian race to the end.
In verse 13, we are told to “make straight tracks for the feet.” This is a path that leaves a track that may be followed. Obeying God is called “walking with Him,” and these paths are the “paths of the righteous.” The apostle continues with his metaphor about running. Those who obey make level pathsfor their feet, but those who are defective here are called “lame”. This is not a ridicule of one who is lame, but a description of the effect of lameness that causes them to make slow progress, and in a race, they would be ready to stop altogether. So, lameness here is an mental ailment different from external hindrances, but points to an inner sickness of wanting to faint away from the race and let weariness stop us from striving. It is an attitude toward correction that needs to be healed.
14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled (KJV).
There is a radical difference in nature between the born-again on the narrow way to Heaven and those following the broad road to Hell. The character and conduct of the genuine believers make a stark contrast to non-believers. In fact, non-believers are incited to act with a self-pleasing disposition and in flesh-indulging ways to defy believers. The children of the Devil have no love for the children of God, and they delight in doing whatever they can to annoy and aggravate us. Nothing gives them more pleasure than to see success in their efforts to tempt us to compromise, or stir us up unto angry retaliation. Therefore, it is a code of conduct for allbelievers, in any age and in any country, to strive earnestly to live in peace with all men. That does not mean we will. It means to try. We must avoid those who would antagonize us into anger at all cost. However, when confronted with anger and physical attack we must defend ourselves as we attempt to escape the situation.
Verse 14 starts out with Christians being told to“Follow peace with all men”.Its implication is clear: by nature, men are fractious, wrathful, revengeful creatures. It is because of this contentious, envious, revengeful, spirit which is in us living as the old man, that we need to be reminded to try and “Follow peace with all men”.Further, it is the duty of Christians to be at peace among ourselves, to be on their guard against all alienation of affection towards each other. Paul’s words here seem to be a reference to the world around them. They are to “follow peace with allmen.’”
We must carefully abstain from injuring anyone, and must do everything but sin in order to prevent a quarrel. Do not merely be easygoing when one irritates you, but go out of your way to be gracious unto those who oppose. Do not be so ready to “stand up for your rights,” but yieldeverything except truth and the requirements of holiness. We cannot successfully “pursue peace” if we are prideful, pridealways stirs up strife. We cannot “pursue peace” if we are filled with envy because we then see faults where they do not exist, and cause trouble.
Verse 15 tells us there must be constant spiritual oversight by each one over his life and his attitudes. There is a danger if we fail to keep on the lookout as to where we are spiritually. Falling short means “a moral separation.” It is more than a simple defect. It is the failure on the part of the children of God to apprehend or appropriate grace when something negative comes into their lives. Believers stumble in their spiritual lives because they fail to appropriate the grace that is available. The failure to appropriate grace is the first step downward for it means a failure to progress upward.
The second step downward is positive infidelity: “lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby the many be defiled”. When the apostle refers to a “root of bitterness”, he deals both with the root and with the product, which is bitterness. The failure to appropriate grace during a time of suffering or trial leads to bitterness resulting from the suffering. Bitterness will eventually result in the defilement of many others. In a plant this is how the root manifests itself. Bitterness in the heart leads to murmuring with the tongue, and murmuring with the tongue means murmuring against other people. Others are defiled by the readers’ murmuring, and the murmuring is caused by the “root of bitterness”. This phrase is also found in Deuteronomy 29:18: “lest there should be among you a root that bears gall and wormwood”. It is used of Israelites pursuing idolatry and they have become a root that produces poison. People with a “root of bitterness”cause divisions and split churches. They defile others by talking against the leaders of the church. The first step affects only the individual, but the second step begins to affect others as well. They fail to have peace with all men.
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Jesus fulfilled Old Testament Law and Prophecies, He did not abolish them
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (KJV).
Jesus made some statements in the Sermon on the Mount addressed to the Pharisees that would be in sharp contrast with the Old Testament Law. Even though the fundamental Law was the 613 commandments within the Torah, the common understanding ofit expanded to the entire Old Testament by the time of Jesus’ first advent. During the early Second Temple period the religious authorities had left Old Testament Mosaic Law in favor of Rabbinic Judaism. Rabbinic Judaism is based on a man-centered philosophy. It also tied people up with so many conditions and rules there was no way a Jew could ever fulfill them. It would have been easy to conclude that Jesus wanted to abolish the Law that had been given through Moses, but Jesus assured his listeners that He had no such intention.
He fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament by doing what those prophecies said the Messiah would do. He also “filled up” the law by pouring into it the meaning that had been forgotten by the teachers of Israel. This is what the Sermon on the Mount was teaching, that is, the intent of the Law. He applied the Law to thoughts and motives as well as to actions.
He also fulfilled the Law by accomplishing what the Law had failed to do. The Law revealed the standard of righteousness that God expected. The Law also revealed to people their sinful state and let them know that they were sinners, and their efforts were insufficient to earn eternal life (Romans 3:19, 20). The Law pointed out the need for a Savior, thus it served as a means “to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). When we come to Christ, the Law’s purpose is fulfilled; “we are no longer under the supervision of the law” (Galatians 3:25).
In Matthew 5:18, Jesus was saying that not even the tiniest part of the Law would be removed or discarded “from the law, till all be fulfilled”. This occurred when Jesus declared on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The Gospel replaced the Law which is the “good news”. God was now reconciling the world to himself through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19).
Jesus fulfilled the Righteousness God demanded
Jesus’ words highlight one of the principle functions of the Law and that was to reveal the righteousness that God demanded. God’s people under the old covenant owed their undivided obedience to the Law given from God through Moses, but Christians are under the divinely revealed Gospel.
Because the Sermon on the Mount was directed to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, it is not easily discerned two thousand years later what a bombshell these words were to the people who heard Jesus speak them. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were considered to be the people who kept the Law most precisely. It was difficult to understand, even in that day, how anyone’s righteousness could ever surpass theirs.
Since the Pharisees followed a man-made law, which was developed in the four hundred years before Jesus appeared, it was not of God. These individuals followed their Rabbinic law consisting of giving, praying, and fasting purely for show:
1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. 5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him (KJV).
They claimed to possess a great devotion to the law, but their true devotion was to themselves, their prestige, and their traditions. In much of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew chapter 5, Jesus contrasted the Old Testament Law and with the religious leaders of His day with His own teaching on a variety of subjects. In every instance, Jesus taught that sin and righteousness are found in one’s thoughts and motives as well as in one’s actions. To recognize this is to follow after the kind of righteousness that surpassesthat of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. The next section of Scripture examines a portion of this teaching found in Matthew chapter 5:
Matthew 5: 38–42
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away (KJV).
In verse 38, the command of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” was part of God’s law (Exodus 21:23, 24; Leviticus 24:19, 20; Deuteronomy 19:16–21). It provided for the equal punishment of wrongdoing. It was meant to provide a punishment that fit the crime, nothing more or nothing less and no vengeance was to be taken. Its purpose was to limit acts of personal vengeance and thus to prevent bitter feuds from escalating into something worse.
In verse 39, Jesus made an assertion of divine authority. Whatever the letter of the Law said, God’s true will for man was now being revealed directly by His Son. A “smite on the cheek”, or a slap, was done to insult someone more than injure him. The essence of His teaching was the believer’s personal responseto personal insults and injuries. He was not abolishing law and order or the protection of the weak and helpless from cruel treatment by criminals. He was presenting the appropriate response to an insult by having the civic authorities handle the situation regarding preventing and punishing crime (Romans 13:1–4).
In verse 40, The “coat” was a tunic or the undergarment worn in the time of Jesus. If someone wants to be unjust enough to try to legally take your “coat” then “let him have your cloak as well”—your more costly and public outer garment. He was saying that it is inappropriate to be bitter or angry, even when you are treated unjustly. But rather show your attitude of goodwill by giving more than your adversary demands. This also does not mean that Christians are to be “doormats,” allowing people to take advantage of them. It means that Jesus wants his people to be more concerned about relations with others than with their personal rights.
In the first century Rome occupied Israel, Roman soldiers were authorized to draft a civilian at will to carry his pack for a “mile”. If a civilian cursed the solider or complained, he probably would be beaten. Verse 41 instead encouraged them to go along cheerfully and do even more than what was required. This attitude and action would disarm any hostility and promote goodwill. From this teaching of Jesus comes the familiar phrase, “going the second mile.”
In verse 42, common sense and even love for others must qualify our response to someone who asks us for something. We should not give to people who will abuse our generosity. If a person who has a drinking problem asks for money so he can buy more liquor, we must deny that request. We are not obligated to give what is asked for. Sometimes the requests are made from people who have the responsibility to provide, but do not want to, and react with inappropriate behavior instead. The ideal presented here is that of helpfulness and generosity. One is not to develop a callous heart toward genuine needs, but neither is a person to grant another’s requests indiscriminately.
Jesus fulfills Gods command to Love our Neighbor
Matthew 5: 43- 48
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (KJV).
“Love your neighbor”was plainly written in the Law (Leviticus 19:18). In contrast, “hate thine enemy”is not specifically stated anywhere in the Law. Even so, God’s people sometimes were ordered to destroy entire nations of enemies, killing men, women, children and animals without mercy (Deuteronomy 7:2; 1 Samuel 15:3). Many Jewish teachers interpreted such commands as orders to hate one’s enemies. The Greek word for “love” in verse 43 isagape, and Jesus uses it here to refer to unselfish goodwill in action. Jesus’ followers must not only refuse to harbor enmity toward their enemies, they are told to seek what is in their best interests and to pray for them. This is certainly possible but is very difficult.
It is also important to recognize who Jesus considered our neighbor. In the Old Testament the word appears in four different Hebrew forms. They are Strong’s #’s 5997; 7138; 7934; 7453; 7468. In the New Testament there is only one form in the Greek. It is Strong’s # 4139. Generally, the various Hebrew forms refer to someone that is extremely close to you. The Jewish usage of the term neighbor always means any member of the Hebrew nation and commonwealth, that is, another Israelite. It can also refer to a brother, lover, companion, friend, or husband. Some forms include a general member of the human family, or a person that lives in close proximity or even sometimes an enemy. The Greek usage is similar, but with only one word it does not have the individual subtle usages found in the Old Testament Hebrew.
The verses which exemplifies its usage the most is found in the book of Matthew. In the following section of Scripture, the Lord is responding to a challenging question from one of the lawyers trying to trap Him in a theological debate related to the Mosaic Law:
Matthew 22: 35-34
35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (KJV).
Here Christ is referring them back to the Mosaic Law in Leviticus 19:18 where the “neighbor” is narrowly defined as another Jew:
” ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD (KJV).
The New Testament was written by and first given to the Jews. In fact, Christ made the declaration early in His ministry that He had come only for “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6; 15:24). Paul tells us that the Gospel is to go to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16). It is important to consider the Jewish roots of Christianity in order to properly understand the Biblical text. Stephen in his dissertation to the High Priest in the book of Acts uses the term “neighbor” to mean a fellow Hebrew, and the King James Version uses the word “brethren”:
24And seeing one [of them] suffer wrong, he defended [him], and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 25For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not (KJV).
Here Stephen is speaking of Moses’ attempt to defend another Jew against an Egyptian and calls the Jew a neighbor. Fellow Christians are referred to as “neighbors” in the New Testament (Romans 15:2; Ephesians 4:25; James 4:11-12). This is consistent within the context of Jesus referencing Leviticus 19 while talking about fellow Christians meaning other Christians are “neighbors”. Christ in the same passage of Matthew told the lawyers that we must love God first and then love our neighbors the same way we love ourselves. We must consider the context also of Christ’s commandment to love one another as related in John’s gospel:
34A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (KJV).
As Christians we are commanded to have a love for one another. This is consistent with Christ’s usage of loving our neighbors in Matthew 22:39. Here He narrowly defines the love we are to have for “others” is to be first be directed to others in the Body of Christ. Those “others” who are outside the Christian community will see our special relationship to God. The apostle John captures this subject in his first epistle. He demonstrates that a true believer loves “the brethren”, other believers, otherwise stated as our neighbors:
1 John 3:14-16
14We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death. 15Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren (KJV).
This follows directly from the Matthew passage in that Christ said the first commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second as mentioned is to love your neighbor the same way you love yourself. This is not a commandment to engage in loving oneself. He knows that with the sin nature still in us we already love ourselves. The sin nature obviates the need for this commandment.
Neither do these passages refer to us loving, in a humanistic sense, the whole world’s population. The love that Christians should have for each other is to mark us as Christ’s disciples. If the commandment to love others were to the general population then there would be nothing significant about the passage in John 13. We are commanded to love other believers. That is real believers, not pretenders or those that hate us. They that hate us are depicted as being non-believers in the 1 John passage. Notice that we are not commanded to hate back. In fact, Christ tells the listeners of His Sermon on the Mount to love those that hate and curse you (Matthew 5:43-44). What does that mean? It is important to realize the nature of Christ’s statement so as not to confuse it with the passages commanding us to love other believers.
The Sermon on the Mount is Christ’s explanation of the standard of righteousness, which God demanded, put in contrast with the Pharisaic interpretation of the kind of righteousness, which the Law demanded. The Pharisees interpretation was treating the Levitical passage as license to hate everyone that was not a Jew and particularly not a Pharisee. The Mosaic Law never intended this commandment to be carte blanche to hate any enemy. Rather, the Mosaic Law was given in the sense that one must love God and love those whom God loves, and conversely hate those who God hates. As an example, God hated the Canaanites because of their extreme wickedness and He commanded the Jews to exterminate them. Therefore, the Old Testament commandment was never meant to hate individuals through personal animosity or enmity.
The proper interpretation is to hate what God hates and love what God loves. God hates sin and we must hate sin. As far as loving our neighbor, we must first love other believers. We are not commanded to hate those that harm us or do not believe. We are to extend our love to the unbelieving community in that we would like to see them become children of God as we have become. All people are made in the image of God and a have worth. We should treat them with respect and concern. The love Christians have for each other is unique and a special living testimony to our connection to the Lord Jesus and the salvation that He has given to us.
Jesus pointed out that God gives numerous blessings to all people everywhere, even though they do not recognize Him as the source of these blessings. In fact, many live in defiance of His will for man, following what is evil and unrighteous. The patience and kindness of our Father in heaven should be a constant rebuke of others when in our flesh, we would prefer to retaliate.
There is nothing unusual about responding to good treatment with a good disposition. Even people who lack any kind of spiritual depth (pagans) can express gratitude to those who have treated them kindly. Jesus expects his followers to do more than others. The Christian is to go beyond what would normally be expected. In Matthew 5:48, the Greek word translated “perfect”means “complete” or “mature.” It indicates the complete development or final form of anything. The text is talking about such matters as loving our enemies (Matthew 5:44). We can and ought to love all those whom God loves, and we ought to do good to them as we have opportunity (Galatians 6:10). Loving our neighbors means we would like them to become believers. It does not mean we affirm or join in to their pagan practices.
The Sequence of Our Love
The sequencing of our love is to be:
- First, our primary love is to be directed to God.
- Second, our love is directed to other believers. We are to love those people first that God loves and realize that other Believers (Christians) are our neighbors.
- Third, our love is to be directed to those outside the church that need our assistance.
- Finally, we are to hate sin, and are to offer God’s love to sinners in hope that God will choose to save them. This stage is only after we have offered love and assistance to other believers. We are not commanded to first offer God’s love to those outside the church.
Daniel E WoodheadShare on Facebook
The Lord Jesus fulfilled the Law
11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin (KJV).
This section of Scripture begins to compare what the Lord Jesus did in contrast to what the Levitical priests had to do repetitively. When Jesus rose from the dead, He ascended into Heaven and now sits on the right hand of God. In other words, He completely fulfilled the Levitical Law, and by this one event His work is effective forever. While the Old Testament sacrifices did not remove sins, His death and resurrection did. Now Jesus waits for the time when He will return to finish the Great Tribulation exercising the complete victory over His enemies in the earth. This will be the fulfillment of Psalm 110:1:
1Jehovah saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand,
Until I make thine enemies thy footstool (KJV) .
The final sacrifice of Himself totally fulfilled all that God had ordained for the complete remission of sins. Jesus fulfills the promises of the New Covenant, which no longer required any animal sacrifices, and the Jewish believers, who are the intended audience of this book, can dispense with them without any loss of salvation. First, we must remember the original reasons for the Mosaic Law. It was to demonstrate God’s standard of righteousness, make us aware of sin, make us aware of our desire to sin more, and finally to act as a schoolmaster so we would be aware of our sinful state.
The Old Testament contains important information for us to know in order to truly understand how Christ completely fulfilled the Law. He is the Goelfor all believers on earth, from the time of Adam and Eve right through into the future when the Great Tribulation begins. What is the Goel? Goelis the Hebrew word for “redeemer”. The verb form means “to redeem, act as kinsman-redeemer, avenge, revenge, ransom, do the part of a kinsman” (Strong’s Concordance, number 1350). Note the word “kinsman”, it modifies the word “redeemer” t mean one in which there is a “blood relationship”, or one who is tied to the redeemer role in the closest possible way.
Based on Old Testament Law, the Goelas a noun is the one who acts in the role of the kinsman redeemer, and there are three instances where Jesus Christ qualifies as the Goel, and these instances are described in the Mosaic.
AS THE GOEL HE IS OUR AVENGER OF BLOOD.
Within the Mosaic penal code was the principle of personal retribution for murder. It is different than vengeance. Vengeance belongs to God. Vengeance is killing someone because you hate him or her, or because they have harmed you in some way. That is not what God allows. In a narrow sense, the only thing He allowed was the concept that if somebody killed a family member, the nearest kinsman, like is a brother, could be the avenger of blood and was justified in killing the manslayer in retaliation for their taking the life of one of the immediate family – particularly another brother. For example, under the Mosaic Law if a male Hebrew had a brother who was killed by another person, the living brother had the legal right to avenge the death by killing the manslayer, but only if it was first degree or premeditated murder.
The Mosaic Law did provide for legal retaliation. Later the Romans called it “Lex Talionis” and it is the legal principle upon which retaliation was justified. Even our legal system has it today, but the individual does not go off and kill somebody. They present the case to our court system that has a systematic way of dealing with the issue. As a believer you could forgive the person, but the manslayer is still responsible for what they did. The Mosaic Law gave the following directions for the kinsman redeemer acting as the avenger of blood:
The willful murderer was to be put to death, without permission or compensation, by the nearest kin of the deceased. In this narrow sense the blood avenger was limited to only killing the manslayer if the crime was first degree, or premeditated murder (Deuteronomy 19:11-13).
The law of retaliation was not to go beyond the immediate offender (2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chronicles 25:4). In other words, there were a lot of things the avenger of blood could not do. For example, he could not go out and kill the manslayer’s family, or he could not steal all the manslayer’s money. If the individual committed second degree murder, or manslaughter, then he could flee from the blood avenger and take refuge in one of the Cities of Refuge (Numbers 35; Deuteronomy 19:2-9). The interesting aspect of this is that he could stay there without harm and be protected until the High Priest died. But, if he left the city of Refuge before the High Priest died, then he was subject to being killed by the blood avenger if the avenger was still nearby looking for him. When the High Priest died, then the blood avenger lost his legal right to kill the manslayer for murdering his kinsman.
There are important parallels to Jesus as our High Priest, and as our Goel, the avenger of blood. He died so that we can be redeemed from the spiritual (and sometimes physical) death that results from our sins. All sin leads to death, which of us is not guilty of sin? (For an extensive discussion of why we are saved from death because of our sins by believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus our Redeemer see Romans chapter 8.) Remember, Satan brought sin and death into this world. Satan committed premeditated, first-degree murder by taking both the spiritual and physical life of Adam and Eve, and of every human being born since his crime in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve would have lived forever if they had not been tempted to sin by Satan. Because Jesus the Son was born as a human baby (which makes Him our brother), He is our kinsman and the avenger of blood for all who believe. He will completely destroy Satan who is the “manslayer “of the human race. When Jesus died, if you believe that he died and rose from the deal he is your Savior, you are released from the death penalty of sin, just like the one who was able to flee to a City of Refuge and then able to go free after the death of the High Priest. So, Jesus Christ fulfills the role of the High Priest and the blood avenger.
HE IS OUR GOEL IN THE LAW OF LEVIRATE MARRIAGE
Moses gave clear instructions for the Law of Levirate Marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). The idea was to carry on the family line of the individual that died within the Nation Israel. Essentially, the Law of the Levirate marriage was this: If a married brother dies with no male offspring, it would be his closest surviving brother’s obligation to marry the deceased’s widow. It was against the Law for her to go out and marry a stranger. The firstborn son of the union between the widow and her brother-in-law took the surname of the deceased, thus continuing the deceased’s name in the family register so that it might not perish out of the nation of Israel. This action labeled the surviving brother as the “kinsman redeemer”, the first instance of two in which this title is used.
(The second use of “kinsman redeemer” is in regards to redeeming property of a near relative which will be covered in the next section.)
If a brother did not wish to take his diseased brother’s wife as his own, she had the right to legally cite him for rejecting the marriage before the city elders who were the decision makers in civil matters. This required the woman and the brother-in-law to go to the center of the city square where the city elders were to be found, and the brother-in-law would remove his sandal to indicate he would not “walk in that way”, and which signified that he gave up all claim to the deceased brother’s estate. If he were to marry her, he got the brother’s estate. If he did not carry out the law, she could spit in his face. Spitting in someone’s face was an act of humiliation and it still is today.
We see this Levirate law in action in the story of Judah and Tamar in Genesis chapter 38. In summary this is what happened: Onan was one of Judah’s sons. Onan dies without any children and Tamar, his wife, comes to her father-in-law Judah and says, “I need a husband.” Judah had one more son who was a youth, and Judah says, “I’ll give you him when he’s old enough.” And she says, “OK, I’ll wait”, but Judah never gave her that son. So, what the Lord did was to bring Tamar to Judah some years later, dressed as a prostitute and enticed him into a sexual relationship. Before she would have intercourse with him, he said, “What do you want for payment?” She said, “Why don’t you give me your signet ring and your staff in the meantime, until you come back and give me what I am owed.” Judah agrees to do that, they have intercourse, and Judah returns to his home. But when he sends his friend to find her with the agreed payment, she is not there. Three months later, she is pregnant and the word goes out that Tamar has been having intercourse outside of marriage and she’s now pregnant. Judah is the man of retribution and demands “Who is she to do this? Under the law she needs to be stoned to death.” So, Tamar is brought before him but he does not recognize her as the harlot he had intercourse several months prior. He asks her “How could you do this?” She holds up his jewelry and staff and said she was pregnant “by this man.” Obviously, Judah is not willing to let the situation go any farther, and realizes he was the one who had committed the wrong against her by not following through on his promise to have her married to Onan’s brother. Tamar had twin boys, one of whom was Perez. It was through Perez that the family line was kept flowing through the generations leading to the birth of the Lord Jesus. This subterfuge and dishonesty could have been avoided if Judah honored the law of Levirate marriage. But Judah did not honor the Law, and the Lord intervened to keep the family line alive that would produce our Lord. The Law of Levirate Marriage and how relates to Christ as our redeemer is also explained in the book of Ruth, which is covered in the next section in more detail.
HE IS OUR GOEL AS THE KINSMAN REDEEMER
The Goelwas also called the kinsman redeemer in the case of redeeming property. To redeem means to “buy back”, “to take from”, and “to make right.” Land is very important to the Jews, and the Promised Land is extremely important. The property given to the Jews that encompassed the Promised Land was to be their permanent possession because it is God’s permanent possession:
23“The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you [Israel] are but aliens and sojourners with Me (KJV).”
Within the nation of Israel, provision was made for a poor person to sell their property, or himself into slavery for seven years to satisfy a debt instead of paying the lender money. However, they always had the ability to buy the property or themselves back if they came into enough money to pay the original debt. Even within the tribes, if the property was moving from one tribe to another, the original owner never lost it. They held a permanent deed to the property and in essence when they “sold” the property they were getting what we call a “lease-hold” arrangement whereby they were giving up the land for some temporary money. One could sell their property, and ideally if the nearest of kin had the willingness and the ability to buy it back, the nearest of kin could buy it back for them:
25“If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. (KJV)”
It is the Goel, the same person that can perform the Levirate marriage and take somebody out of slavery who can redeem the family land. In this case, the kinsman redeemer was essentially a rich benefactor. If a family member was forced into slavery, his redeemer purchased his freedom. When debt threatened to overwhelm him, the kinsman stepped in to redeem the family member’s homestead which would allow the family to continue to live there.
The Law gave specific instructions for the Goelto redeem property of a relative to determine the cost paid by the redeemer (Leviticus 25:23-28; 48-55). The redeemer did not pay more than the original price, and the number of years that the property had been in the possession of other person was taken off the redeeming price to determine the value of the property. In the case of family members selling themselves into slavery to pay off a debt, the price was affected by the remaining years left of the original seven years of indenture. Usury or interest was not to be charged amongst the Jews at all. At the end of seven 7-year cycles (7×7=49 years), the fiftieth year is called the Jubilee Year, and all land went back to the original tribe that owned it, no matter who owed what now.
We see the concept of the kinsman-redeemer or Goelacted out in the book of Ruth. Elimelech was a Jewish man who sold his land and moved his wife Naomi, and their two sons to Moab to live since there was an extreme famine in the land of Israel. In Moab both of his sons married a gentile woman, and one of them was named Ruth. Jewish men were not to marry out of the faith but this story has a purpose. In time, Elimelech, and both his sons died. Naomi and her daughter’s-in-laws had lost their husbands, and now they were all widows. Naomi tells her daughters-in-law to return to their families in Moab, however Ruth wants to stay with her because she loves Naomi and does not want to leave her. Ruth tells Naomi:
16“Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.17“Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me (KJV).”
Naomi had become bitter over her situation and decides to return to Israel since the famine had abated, and Ruth goes with her. They travel back to the Bethlehem, the hometown of Naomi and her husband. Ruth meets Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s husband while gleaning grain in his field. She tells Naomi of the kindness Boaz had shown her. Naomi realizes a union with Boaz is a way for Ruth to have a family and be happy. She also knows of the kinsman redeemer directions in the Mosaic Law. So, she instructed Ruth in what to do, and how to set in motion the kinsman redeemer responsibility to activate the Goel’sresponsibility to redeem her dead husband’s land and marry Ruth. Ruth does as Naomi instructed, and Boaz is receptive to the idea but realizes there is another man who is closer in kinship than Boaz to Naomi’s dead husband. Boaz approaches this relative about redeeming the land for Naomi. The relative agreed to buy the land back until he found out that Ruth, a gentile woman he would also have to marry, came with the package. In Israel, that was forbidden – the Jews did not marry Gentiles. If they did, there was going to be a lot of problems for them socially. They were going to be outcasts unless that person converted. It still would be a tough marriage because the Jews would always view them as being an “outsider” even if they converted. The nearer kinsman backs out because he felt this redemption was going to harm his inheritance and agrees to let Boaz assume the kinsman redeemer role for the family of Elimelech. Boaz now becomes the nearest of kin and he has the privilege of redeeming Naomi’s land and Ruth with it. So, he marries Ruth and he takes the land.
In summary, Boaz was nearest of kin to Naomi’s deceased husband (Ruth 2:1). He was able to redeem by paying the price of redemption (Ruth 2:1), and he was willing to redeem the land (Ruth 4:4). Boaz was to become the kinsman redeemer, or the Goel. It is a beautiful love story too, but the central thread through this is showing us the role of the kinsman redeemer. Boaz, whose name is on one of the pillars of the Temple, became foundational in the family line that would bring the Lord Jesus Christ’s body into the world. That is what makes this story so beautiful. This story is a picture of the Christ and His Church.
What did Christ do? The Church is the Gentile Bride of Christ. He brought the Gentiles into the Church. Christ is a Jew. The Jews and the Gentiles are one in the Church. Christ is our Goel, our Kinsman Redeemer. That is one of the reasons why He fulfilled the Law.
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Ezekiel chapters 25-32 details Divine judgments against nations that have risen up many times against Israel as their adversaries. There are seven people groups singled out, and the text divides them in two groups. The first is a group of four that includes Ammon, Moab, Edom and the Philistines. The second group is a group of three that includes Tyre, Zidon and Egypt.
Ammon, Moab, Edom and the Philistines are immediate neighbors to Israel. Their presence posed a constant spiritual as well as physical danger to Israel’s relationship to God and seemed to be a persistent frustration of the Divine plan for the Nation Israel. Most Bible teachers and commentators avoid specifying a time as to when these judgments will take place, but all accept that they have not yet occurred. When one sees the entire Bible as one long chronological story, the period of the timing of the judgment is brought into focus.
These eight chapters also seem to provide an answer to the psalmist Asaph’s imprecatory prayer in Psalm eighty-three asking the Lord to terrify them, to cause them to be confused, and to make them perish so that Israel’s adversaries will seek the name of the Lord Jehovah:
1O God, keep not thou silence: Hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. 2For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult; And they that hate thee have lifted up the head. 3They take crafty counsel against thy people, And consult together against thy hidden ones.4They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; That the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. 5For they have consulted together with one consent; Against thee do they make a covenant: 6The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab, and the Hagarenes; 7Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre: 8Assyria also is joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot. Selah (ASV, 1901).
Some have written that this Psalm teaches that these nations will come against Israel before the Great Tribulation, and prior to the allied invasion described in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. As we will see they already have come against Israel. But the case in point is that this Psalm does not describe an invasion of Israel by these nations, just a hatred of Israel.
Since the days of Abraham, there has been a long standing, adversarial relationship between the progeny of Isaac and Ishmael. God promised a covenant to Abraham along with a special child to receive the covenant that would come from his loins. It began in Genesis with the barren Sarah giving Abraham her Egyptian handmaid, Hagar, as a concubine to produce a child for him. That child was Ishmael. Sarah later had a child of her own, Isaac, and he would receive the covenant promise (Genesis 16:12). Isaac had twin sons, Jacob and Esau, and it was his son Jacob who received the covenant, and his twin brother Esau did not. In reaction to this, Esau married into the Ishmaelite family, thereby adding people to the group in conflict with Israel. This animosity has been obvious since the time of Abraham, and it was still there during the Exodus (Numbers 20:14-21), and into more modern history.
The nations listed in Psalm 83 are unified in their desire to annihilate Israel, and they do not want the name Israel to be remembered. The names used are the ancient biblical names, and have modern counterparts as shown in the comparison of the two maps below:
In summary, here are the names from two different historical time periods:
Edom – Southern Jordan
Ishmaelites – Father of the Arabs
Moab – Central Jordan
Hagarenes – Egypt
Gebal – Lebanon
Ammon – Northern Jordan
Amalek – The Sinai Peninsula
Philistia – The Gaza Strip
Tyre – Lebanon
Assyria – Iraq and some of Syria
Current History Between Israel and these Nations
In the fall of 1947, the United Nations voted to give Israel sovereignty over the piece of land on the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Israel declared statehood on May 15, 1948. A coalition of five Arab armies from Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq immediately invaded Israel.
The stated purpose of this invasion was to “push the Jews into the sea”, in other words, genocide. Assam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, declared their intentions:
“This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades. What Hitler didn’t finish three years earlier, the Arabs would finish once and for all.”
A Nazi collaborator, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, led the Arabs of the former British Mandate of Palestine (a post-World War I division of Israel). He was charged at the Nuremberg trials before escaping in 1946. Al-Husseini actively supported Hitler’s aim to exterminate the Jews in World War II. Israel prevailed over all the military efforts of these cited nations to destroy them. The Arab nations failed miserably to destroy Israel.
Following the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, in the period leading up to June 1967, tensions increased dangerously. In reaction to the mobilization of Egyptian forces along the Israeli border in the Sinai Peninsula, Israel launched a series of preemptive airstrikes against Egyptian airfields. On May 15, 1967 Nasser ordered a blockade of the Strait of Tiran. This blockade cut off Israel’s southern access to the Red Sea and beyond. By May 31,1967 Egypt had moved 100,000 troops, one thousand tanks, and five hundred heavy guns into the Sinai. By June 4, Arab forces outnumbered Israel three to one as they poised on Israel’s borders. This was Israel’s Six Day War and it was fought on three fronts, against three countries, in three overlapping stages. In the south, Israel engaged and defeated the Egyptians. In the central region, Israel engaged and defeated the Jordanians. In the north, Israel engaged and defeated the Syrians. In each of these theaters, Israel gained significant territory that would serve as its own buffers in future years.
On the morning of June 5,1967, the Israeli Air Force destroyed almost the entire Egyptian Air Force (more than three hundred planes) in less than three hours. Israel’s armored divisions, under the leadership of General Ariel Sharon, also launched a lightning attack on the same day.
After some initial resistance, Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser ordered the evacuation of the Sinai. Israeli forces rushed westward in pursuit of the Egyptians, inflicted heavy losses, and conquered the Sinai. Nasser later acknowledged that eighty percent of Egypt’s Russian-supplied military equipment had been lost in the Sinai debacle. Finally, at 8:00 p.m. on June 8, Nasser accepted a cease-fire. On June 11, 1967 a ceasefire was signed. Arab casualties were far heavier than those of Israel with fewer than a thousand Israelis killed compared to over 20,000 from the Arab forces. More than eight hundred Egyptian tanks had been destroyed, and thousands of soldiers were taken as prisoners of war. Nasser later acknowledged that eighty percent of Egypt’s Russian-supplied military equipment had been lost in the Sinai debacle. Finally, at 8:00 p.m. on June 8, Nasser accepted a cease-fire.
However, there has been no settled peaceful relationship between them. After a third war in 1973, the Arab nations turned to terrorism (known as the Intifada), to attrition, and to “trying” Israel in the world press as a means of combat. God has obviously caused the Israelis to regain their land after being out of it since 586 B.C., for is a total of 2,533 years. As described, He has allowed them to prevail in several large-scale wars in which the nations in Psalm 83 state a desire to exterminate the Jews, but always lose militarily.
More Still to Come
These prophecies in Ezekiel chapters 25-32 and in Psalm 83 seem to indicate a Divine, permanent, and severe judgment against those nations. Other Scriptures indicate a restoration of a relationship of varying sorts between these nations and Israel (Ezekiel 35:6-9; Isaiah 19:18-22; 23-25; Jeremiah 49:28-33; 34-39 etc.). Since there has not been a restoration of relationship between these nations and Israel as of 2018, it is necessary to consider when this might occur on the long chronological timeline of human history as laid out in the Bible.
These judgments have had a partial fulfillment, a past fulfilment, and the complete fulfilment is yet to come. The prophetic Word shows that the nations who have sinned against Jehovah and His people will be judged in “a coming day”, when Israel will be restored and be blest in the Millennial Kingdom. This is evident when we read the future promises to His covenant people Israel in Ezekiel 28:24–26 and 29:21. These unfulfilled promises concerning Israel’s restoration and spiritual prosperity make it clear that these judgments will be end time events, also known as the “latter”, or “last days”.
Only the Biblically illiterate fail to see that we are presently in the “last days.” The “last days” began with World War I. In the Olivet Discourse, Christ used the Jewish idiomatic phrase “nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom” to mean a conflict in the total region under discussion. In the Olivet Discourse He was discussing the events pertaining to the entire world surrounding His Second Coming. Matthew records our Lord’s words with respect to the beginning of the end, or as the Bible states the beginning of the “latter days”:
7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places, 8All these [are] the beginning of sorrows (KJV).
According to all three synoptic Gospel writers, the sign of the end of the age is said to be when “nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom”. This act will be coupled with famines and earth quakes in various places, and Jesus clearly stated that this would be the beginning of travail (“sorrows”). The term “travail” beans “birth pang”. It refers to the series of birth pangs that a woman undergoes before giving birth to a baby. The Jewish prophets also pictured the “last days” as a series of birth pangs before the birth of the Messianic Age, also known as the Millennial Kingdom. The beginning of travail, the first birth pang, and the sign that the end of the age has begun is when “nation rises against, nation and kingdom against kingdom”.
It is important to find out just exactly where and how this idiom is used in the Bible. It is used in at least two passages, and here the second group of three nations located geographically further away from Israel becomes important. The nation of Egypt, is the subject of this next section from Isaiah. The first passage of “nations against nations” idiom use is about the land of Egypt, and points to a conflict all over the land of Egypt as the nation is involved in a civil war:
1Behold, Jehovah rideth upon a swift cloud, and cometh unto Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall tremble at his presence; and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. 2And I will stir up the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbor; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom. 3And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst of it; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek unto the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards. 4And I will give over the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, Jehovah of hosts (ASV, 1901, underlining added).
A second passage using an idiom very similar to the previous section is found here:
II Chronicles 15:1-7:
1And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded: 2and he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: Jehovah is with you, while ye are with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. 3Now for a long season Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law: 4but when in their distress they turned unto Jehovah, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them. 5And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in; but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the lands. 6And they were broken in pieces, nation against nation, and city against city; for God did vex them with all adversity. 7But be ye strong and let not your hands be slack; for your work shall be rewarded (ASV, 1901, underlining added).
In this passage the idiom states that the conflict encompasses the entire Middle East. In the Olivet Discourse it is the whole world that is in view. This is clear from Matthew 24: 14; 21; 30 and 31. So, this idiom refers to a worldwide conflict, and this worldwide conflict is the first birth pang, signifying that the end of the age, and that the “last days” have begun.
Interestingly, the Jewish rabbis have used the idiom “nation against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” in various texts outside of the Bible. One Jewish source known as the “Zohar Chadash” states:
“At that time wars shall be stirred up in the world. Nation shall be against nation and city against city; much distress shall be renewed against the enemies of the Israelites.” 
Another Jewish source known as the Bereshit Rabbah states:
“If you shall see the kingdoms rising against each other in turn, then give heed and note the footsteps of the Messiah (XLII:4)
The Rabbis clearly taught that a worldwide conflict would signal the coming of the Messiah. Jesus corrected this idea slightly, for He said that when the world war occurs, while it does not signal the coming of the Messiah, it will signal that the end of the age has begun. These “birth pangs” that He talked about are the same as the “footsteps” the rabbis talked about. “The footsteps of the Messiah” had to do with a series of events that led up to the coming of the Messiah.
World War I (1914-1918) was the fulfillment of this particular prophecy for that was the first time the entire world was at war. World War II was a continuation of World War I because it involved the same participants and was fought over the same issues. Both wars had a significant impact on Jewish history. World War I gave impetus to the growth of the Zionist movement, and World War II let to the re-establishment of the Jewish State.
Since World War I, history has entered the “last days” of the Church Age. However, the “last days” are an extended period of time. We do not know when the end of the “last days” will occur. The “last days” are a period that includes the consummation of the Church age and the Great Tribulation. The period of the “last days” up to the beginning of the Great Tribulation is unrevealed in Scripture. The Great Tribulation is seven years long. The sign that the end of the age has begun is the worldwide conflict fulfilled by World War I and World War II.
Therefore, our pinpointing the events of the judgment of the nations surrounding Israel seem to place themselves in the “last days”. Specifically, with the Great Tribulation still in the future, and the Arab nations continuing to be at odds with Israel, it is reasonable to place these judgments at the end of the Great Tribulation when all animosity toward Israel will end. It may also be at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom when Israel is at peace with all nations, and the Messiah is governing the world from His throne in Jerusalem. This state of the earth after the Great Tribulation is one where wickedness and sin has been defeated (Isaiah 13:9), and the animosity of the nations toward Israel will be over.
Daniel E. Woodhead
 Sachar, Howard M. A History of Israel from the Rise of Zionism to Our Time: 2nd Edition. New York: A Borzoi Book, 1976. Reprint Alfred A. Knoff, Inc.,1996, 333.
 Fruchtenbaum, A. G. (2003). The footsteps of the Messiah Rev. ed.,Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries. pp. 626–627.Share on Facebook
God Initiates The Ordinances of the Offerings
18And he said unto me, Son of man, thus saith the Lord Jehovah: These are the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt-offerings thereon, and to sprinkle blood thereon. 19Thou shalt give to the priests the Levites that are of the seed of Zadok, who are near unto me, to minister unto me, saith the Lord Jehovah, a young bullock for a sin-offering (ASV, 1901).
This first set of ordinance offerings initiate the operation of the Messianic Temple. This is God’s first official act to consecrate the Temple and inaugurate its nearly full thousand year operation following its construction and operation. These very specific sacrificial offerings will be made upon the altar described in the previous verses in full sight of the Messiah as He sits in the inner Holy of Holies and looks out on the inner court as they are made in loving obedience to the Savior. The altar will be cleansed by the shedding of blood and used for offering whole burnt and peace offerings. Blood which the Bible regards as containing the life of the offering will be placed in the prominent place on the altar to communicate holiness. It imparts holiness and removes sin. This is a direct reference to the Lord Jesus whose blood imparted holiness to us and removed our sins. Now He is celebrating the fact that these two factors of the Messianic Kingdom have been achieved by Him. This is very similar to what Moses was commanded to do in the wilderness to inaugurate the Tabernacle over a seven day period. Details are important because similarity does not mean sameness.
14And he brought the bullock of the sin-offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock of the sin-offering. 15And he slew it; and Moses took the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured out the blood at the base of the altar, and sanctified it, to make atonement for it (ASV, 1901)
Since Ezekiel has been promised to be resurrected he will be able to actually give to the priests, the Levites that are of the seed of Zadok, who are near unto me, to minister unto me, saith the Lord Jehovah, a young bullock for a sin-offering. This is promised to the faithful Old Testament saints in at lease two places. This is God’s Promise.
19 Your dead shall live; my dead bodies shall arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for your dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast forth the dead (ASV, 1901).
While this passage promises that a resurrection will some day take place a more specific promise regarding timing is found in the second passage found in the book of Daniel.
1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (ASV, 1901).
This passage is making a clear distinction between the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the unrighteous. Only the righteous saints will be resurrected at this time in order to partake of the blessings of the Millennial Kingdom. These are the friends of the bridegroom (John. 3:29) who will be invited to the wedding feast with which the Messianic Kingdom will begin. The rest of humanity will be resurrected to everlasting destruction at the Great White Throne judgment after the Messianic Kingdom. Since Daniel chapter twelve begins with a discussion of Michael the Archangel prevailing at a time of trouble greater than any ever, it clearly points to the time of the end of the Tribulation. Therefore Ezekiel will be resurrected and provide the necessary first sacrifice to the Sons of Zadok of the priestly line to inaugurate the Messianic Temple. He may be the High Priest or at least have a significant role in the High Priest’s activities.
The Sons of Zadok are a very special group of which Ezekiel belongs and as God says, “are near unto me, to minister unto me.” All Hebrew names have meaning. The Sons of Zadok have a unique name meaning “righteous.” As such Zadok was a type or model of the Lord Jesus. Zadok was a priest, who descended from Eleazar the son of Aaron the first High Priest (I Chronicles 6:4-8). He aided King David during the revolt of his son Absalom and was subsequently instrumental in bringing King Solomon to the throne. After Solomon’s building of The First Temple in Jerusalem, Zadok was the first High Priest to serve there. The Sons of Zadok have always been faithful to the Lord and His chosen elect.
In their rebellion Israelite priests had violated the Lord’s covenant by allowing foreigners to bring their detestable practices into the temple. Because the Levites had been unfaithful to the Lord, they will be demoted in the Messianic Temple. They will tend the temple gates, slaughter sacrificial animals, and assist the people, but they will not be allowed to handle the holy objects or offerings of the Lord. As a reward for their faithfulness the Zadokite line of the Levitical family would function as the Lord’s priests. Zadok was a descendant of Aaron through Eleazar and Phinehas (I Chronicles 6:3–8, 50–53). They will be the priests selected for service of the altar called in Hebrew the Mizbeyach in the Messianic Temple. The sacrifices while memorializing the atonement that Jesus provided for the world will also emphasize the divine election of the nation Israel. They will have been chosen to perform the very sacrifices that will impress upon the whole world the blessings of salvation and peace that have been provided by the Messiah Jesus. The very first sacrifice will be a young bull as a sin offering. The Hebrew word for sin is chatat. Since Hebrew words are built on a root of three letters this word’s root is chat which means cleanse. It is actually more accurate therefore to describe this as a cleansing offering.
Administration of the Cleansing
20And thou shalt take of the blood thereof, and put it on the four horns of it, and on the four corners of the ledge, and upon the border round about: thus shalt thou cleanse it and make atonement for it. 21Thou shalt also take the bullock of the sin-offering, and it shall be burnt in the appointed place of the house, without the sanctuary (ASV, 1901).
Similarly was the case in the Mosaic Law when the blood was applied to the four horns of the altar with the priest’s finger (Exodus 29:12). Actually every sin offering mentioned in the Law was a blood applied on the four horns of the altar. Then in the Mosaic Law the remainder of the blood was poured on the base of the altar. In the Messianic Temple the blood will be sprinkled first on the four horns of the altar and then also sprinkled on the corners of the settle which went round it, for the priests to walk on, and carry out their activities.
This could be either the uppermost, or the lowermost settle, or both (see diagram). Some will also probably be applied on the border or ledge that enclosed the settle. Here is another distinction between the Messianic Temple sacrifice and that of the Mosaic Law found in the book of Exodus.
13And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul upon the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar. 14But the flesh of the bullock, and its skin, and its dung, shalt thou burn with fire without the camp: it is a sin-offering (ASV, 1901).
In the Mosaic Law the inner parts of the bullock were burned on the altar. Here the command is to burn all the bullock outside the Temple. There is no mention of the Mosaic practice of allowing the priests to eat the flesh of the private sin or peace offerings here in the memorial sacrifices.
The Second Day’s Offerings
22And on the second day thou shalt offer a he-goat without blemish for a sin-offering; and they shall cleanse the altar, as they did cleanse it with the bullock. 23When thou hast made an end of cleansing it, thou shalt offer a young bullock without blemish, and a ram out of the flock without blemish. 24And thou shalt bring them near before Jehovah, and the priests shall cast salt upon them, and they shall offer them up for a burnt-offering unto Jehovah.
The Lord changes the offering for the second day from a bullock to a he-goat. This did not occur in the Mosaic Law at the Tabernacle’s inauguration. The bullock was used for the full seven days of that inauguration. The object of the offering of the “he-goat” was the same as that of the offering of the bullock is to continue the cleansing of the altar. Simmarily to the scapegoat in the Mosaic Law, the scapegoat took on the sins of the Israelites and removed them (Leviticus 16:10). This is again a memorial to what Christ has done for the world. After which on the same day a bullock and finally a ram all without any blemishes or flaws shall be offered. The use of salt with an offering is associated with the idea of covenant (Numbers 18:19; II Chronicles 13:5). Salt was used as part of sacrificial communal meals and was a sign of purification and preservation. Therefore salt is a symbol of preservation of the promises of God and a sign of the purity of the New Covenant, which promises no possibility of failure of God or His people in the Messianic Kingdom who will be under it
33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more (ASV, 1901).
25And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. 27And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them (ASV, 1901).
Seven Days Shall be The Inauguration
25Seven days shalt thou prepare every day a goat for a sin-offering: they shall also prepare a young bullock, and a ram out of the flock, without blemish. 26Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar and purify it; so shall they consecrate it. 27And when they have accomplished the days, it shall be that upon the eighth day, and forward, the priests shall make your burnt-offerings upon the altar, and your peace-offerings; and I will accept you, saith the Lord Jehovah (ASV, 1901).
The pattern commanded for day two will be carried out for the entire seven days of the inaugural ceremony. That is, a he-goat, a bullock, and a ram all perfect without any blemishes. This also was not a practice of Moses when he inaugurated the Tabernacle. It was also not done by those that returned to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah after captivity in Babylon. This is another major change in the order of sacrifices in time to come, under Messiah. So this ceremony lasting seven days will provide a consecration of the altar to our Messiah. These particular sacrifices in this order will have the specific purpose to inaugurate the Messianic Kingdom’s services in the new Temple. From the eighth day forward the sacrifices will continue every day but they will be burnt offerings and peace offerings all ceremonial for what Jesus our Messiah has done for us. For God says that, “I will accept you, saith the Lord Jehovah.”
Select Concepts to Consider Regarding the Sacrifices on the Altar
- The sacrifices are a gift to our God and in burning them they become irrevocable as in a covenant that cannot be broken. They are promises of the people to God to keep His Law. The salt is a symbol of the preservation of these promises.
- Fire in the house of God is a type of the Shekinah which provides, power, (Exodus 9:24), wrath (II Kings 1:9–12), approval (Leviticus 9:24), guidance (Exodus 13:21–22), protection (Zechariah 2:5), purity (Isaiah 6:5–7), deliverance (II Kings 2:11), God’s word (Jeremiah 5:14), the Messiah (Malachi 3:2), the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3), judgment (Matthew 25:41), the return of Christ (II Thessalonians 1:8), and the end of the present age (II Peter 3:10–12).
- A sign of God’s presence with His people (Ezekiel 43:27).
- It was associated with holiness, purity, and mercy, especially the horns of the altar (Ezekiel 43:15, 20; 1 Kings 1:50–51; 2:28). The sprinkling of blood on the horns of the altar was a rite of purification (Ezekiel 43:18–21).
- The altar was a tool of mediation (Ezekiel 40:47; 43:19). Offerings were translated from the physical world by burning and given to God as the smoke rose to heaven.
- The sacrifice was a means of communication with God and was considered a form of prayer (Psalm 141:2).
- The act of sacrifice was for a temporary atonement of sins committed knowingly and unintentionally (Ezekiel 43:25–27; Leviticus 4:2, 13, 22, 27; 5:3–4, 15, 18; Numbers15:22–31).
At the conclusion of the seven days of cleansing God will completely accept the population of the Messianic Kingdom. The cleansing ritual is passed and from then on the daily sacrifices are memorial for the world to affirm Christ’s love and sacrifice for us. It will be a reminder of the order, peace ,and promises He provided for this world.
The Second Cleansing Sacrifice
18Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: In the first month, in the first day of the month, thou shalt take a young bullock without blemish; and thou shalt cleanse the sanctuary (ASV, 1901).
God speaks directly to Ezekiel giving him explicit instruction for the cleansing of the Sanctuary. Earlier in Ezekiel 43:19-20 a young bull was offered to cleanse the Altar.
With the Exodus (cir. 1444 B.C) God inaugurated a religious calendar for the Children of Israel that would replace the civil calendar for ceremonial purposes.
1 And Jehovah spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household (ASV, 1901)
The events of the Exodus 12 passage took place in the seventh month according to the civil calendar which began in September with the new harvest. The passover & deliverance from their slavery was such a significant event that God would change the basis point from which they reckon time. A new year would signify a new beginning apart from the Egyptian solar calendar to a new lunar calendar. So God then changed the religious calendar to the first month of the year which then He called Abib to commemorate a new start. This name was change to Nisan during the Babylonian captivity. God wanted this new start to be so significant to the Nation Israel that even the calendar was going to reflect it. The Antichrist as a false Messiah will try and do the same (Daniel 7:25). The rest of Israel’s law is given at Sinai, but this memorial of redemption was established in the land of Egypt. The religious calendar would begin in the time period of March-April.
This new Messianic cleansing will take place in Nisan but on the first day of the month not the 10th day as specified in Exodus 12:3 for the new beginning. The significance of this is that the 10th of Nisan was the month of Israel’s redemption from the persecution in Egypt. The final redemption of Israel’s persecution from this present age will also end on Nisan but on the first day of the month.
19And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin-offering, and put it upon the door-posts of the house, and upon the four corners of the ledge of the altar, and upon the posts of the gate of the inner court. 20And so thou shalt do on the seventh day of the month for every one that erreth, and for him that is simple: so shall ye make atonement for the house (ASV, 1901).
Once the bull has been sacrificed by the Levites they will put it on the door-posts of the Temple Doorway and the base of the four corners of the upper platform of the Altar and on the doorpost of the gate of the Inner Courtyard. Presumably this is the inner eastern gate.
This will be for any Gentile who unintentionally sins because intentional sin will not be possible for the Jew due to the New Covenant’s provisions. The simple person is also known as one who was foolish. It is generally seen as those who when the Babylonian captivity had ended decided to stay in Babylon instead of going back to Jerusalem. This procedure will be repeated on the seventh day of the month.
The Messianic Passover Celebration
21In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. 22And upon that day shall the prince prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bullock for a sin-offering. 23And the seven days of the feast he shall prepare a burnt-offering to Jehovah, seven bullocks and seven rams without blemish daily the seven days; and a he-goat daily for a sin-offering. 24And he shall prepare a meal-offering, an ephah for a bullock, and an ephah for a ram, and a hin of oil to an ephah. 25In the seventh month, in the fifteenth day of the month, in the feast, shall he do the like the seven days; according to the sin-offering, according to the burnt-offering, and according to the meal-offering, and according to the oil (ASV, 1901).
Passover will be celebrated on the fourteenth of Nisan as it has been since the Exodus. In keeping with the celebration of what the Messiah did for us by sacrificing Himself on the fourteenth of Nisan, the Passover will continue to occur on the same day. The actual festival of Passover (Pesach) begins the nightfall on the fifteenth day of Nisan. But on the fourteenth day, after the sixth hour of the day. Chometz, unleavened bread, or any food that contains leaven (yeast) will be forbidden. Yeast is represented as sin in the Bible because it puffs up as in pride like the first sin of the anointed Cherub Hallal who became Satan the adversary of God and then mankind’s adversary. Then in the afternoon the Korban Pesach (Pascal lamb) is offered. Interestingly Jesus was sacrificed on the Passover, went into the tomb on Unleavened Bread and rose from the dead on First Fruits the third holiday of the Jewish agrarian year.
The Prince David will be the director of the services first for himself then for the people of the land with a bullock for a sin-offering. in the Mosaic system, the Passover was held within individual families with the head of the household performing the ceremony. In the Messianic Kingdom the Prince David will perform the ritual on behalf of the nation. In the Mosaic Law, the Passover was a one day festival, while in the Ezekiel, it will last for seven days. The Mosaic offered an unblemished lamb, while in the Kingdom a bullock will be offered.
David will offer a flour offering on the first Passover in order to consecrate the newly operational Temple. This and the timing of the seventh month in the fifteenth day will signify the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) which will have a significant attendance including all the Gentiles in the world.
16And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the (Gentile) nations that came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Jehovah of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles (ASV, 1901).
Closing of the Inner Court East Gate
1 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: The gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the sabbath day it shall be opened, and on the day of the new moon it shall be opened. 2And the prince shall enter by the way of the porch of the gate without, and shall stand by the post of the gate; and the priests shall prepare his burnt-offering and his peace-offerings, and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate: then he shall go forth; but the gate shall not be shut until the evening (ASV, 1901).
The Sabbath of the Old Testament will be reinstituted. The Sabbath will be in force as soon as the Church is Raptured from the earth. This will continue for the entire reign of our Messiah during His one-thousand year Kingdom. The glory of our Messiah and in His honor the east gate to the inner court will be opened only on the Sabbath and the first day of the month (Hebrew Rosh Chodesh). The Prince will lead the worship and it will last until the evening at which time the east inner court gate will be shut again. It is by this gate that the Prince will enter into the sanctuary to preside over the worship services as the Levites prepare the designated offerings to our Messiah. The Hebrew text says the Prince will prostrate himself before the Lord not worship as our translation says. This is the appropriate level of obedience and honor one gives the king of the earth who gave us His life for our salvation.
People Worship at the Inner Court East Gate
3And the people of the land shall worship at the door of that gate before Jehovah on the sabbaths and on the new moons. 4And the burnt-offering that the prince shall offer unto Jehovah shall be on the sabbath day six lambs without blemish and a ram without blemish; 5and the meal-offering shall be an ephah for the ram, and the meal-offering for the lambs as he is able to give, and a hin of oil to an ephah (ASV, 1901).
All people will come to worship at the Messianic Temple at the sabbath and the new moons.
In the Mosaic Law, the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles was required for Jews only. But this will change under the Kingdom Law, it will be mandatory for both Jews and Gentiles (Zechariah 14:16–21). Under the Law of Moses, only Jews could be priests, but under Kingdom Law, Gentiles will also serve as priests (Isaiah 66:18–21). This is not at all a return to the Mosaic Law, but it is a brand new Kingdom Law. It does not conflict with the New Testament teaching that the Mosaic Law ended with Messiah’s death. Isaiah made it quite clear that these observances would occur when God gave him these prophecies nearly seven-hundred years before Jesus was born.
23And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith Jehovah. 24And they shall go forth, and look upon the dead bodies of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh (ASV, 1901).
God makes it quite clear through His prophet Isaiah that the people coming to Jerusalem shall see the multitude of people who perished in the last siege of Jerusalem during the Great Tribulation. These nations that came against Christ will find themselves being trodden down by the King of the Jews. The city is Jerusalem and the winepress metaphor is the battle in the Valley of Jehoshaphat which today is called the Kidron Valley. It lies between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives.
Revelation 14: 19-20:
And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs (KJV).
From here the armies leave for Bozrah and then return ending the conflict. The blood stretches for 1,600 furlongs or 200 miles. Jeremiah best describes this:
20Therefore hear ye the counsel of Jehovah, that he hath taken against Edom; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the inhabitants of Teman: Surely they shall drag them away, even the little ones of the flock; surely he shall make their habitation desolate over them. 21The earth trembleth at the noise of their fall; there is a cry, the noise whereof is heard in the Red Sea. 22Behold, he shall come up and fly as the eagle, and spread out his wings against Bozrah: and the heart of the mighty men of Edom at that day shall be as the heart of a woman in her pangs (ASV, 1901).
The massive blood letting that began at Bozrah moves to the south down the Arabah until it empties into the Red Sea at the present-day cities of Eilat and Akaba. The distance to Jerusalem is about 200 miles. The level of the blood is about four feet high. The battle finally comes to an end in the Valley of Jehoshaphat ending the seventh stage of the campaign of Armageddon.
Offerings For The New Moon
6And on the day of the new moon it shall be a young bullock without blemish, and six lambs, and a ram; they shall be without blemish: 7and he shall prepare a meal-offering, an ephah for the bullock, and an ephah for the ram, and for the lambs according as he is able, and a hin of oil to an ephah. 8And when the prince shall enter, he shall go in by the way of the porch of the gate, and he shall go forth by the way thereof (ASV, 1901).
Israel’s calendar was change by God as they left Egyptian time reckoning from a solar year to a lunar year. God commanded that this change be recognized of the new moon in a significant manner. The feasts were all reckoned in relation to the various phases of the moon.
Today in some of Orthodox Judaism’s followers special prayers are recited at the appearance of the new moon. This Messianic Kingdom change is a new offering brought by David and it differs from the Mosaic Law as prescribed by the Torah in that there is no mention of a sin offering (Numbers 28:11, 15). This is a brand-new offering unique to the Messianic Kingdom.
David enters by the outer door on the side of the east and he goes out the same way. He has a very prominent role as the representative of the people. He presents his offerings to the Lord God our Messiah, while the people stand as worshippers at the outer side of the inner east gate. The offerings the Prince is to bring on the Sabbath are larger than those commanded in the law. Both the burnt-offering and the meal offering brought by him on the Sabbath are more abundant than those offered under the Mosaic Law. This represents a higher form of worship of the Messiah who will live with us and restored Israel.
The Worship Procession
9But when the people of the land shall come before Jehovah in the appointed feasts, he that entereth by the way of the north gate to worship shall go forth by the way of the south gate; and he that entereth by the way of the south gate shall go forth by the way of the north gate: he shall not return by the way of the gate whereby he came in, but shall go forth straight before him (ASV, 1901).
During the Messianic Kingdom there will be a orderly procession of all the people of the earth coming to Jerusalem to honor the King at the appointed festivals. This is a public display of worship and honor to God. In order to prevent congestion and confusion all the people will be entering the Temple compound through either the north or the south gate. The Temple proper, known as the Heichal, will be passed by as the worshippers stream through the inner court and prostrate themselves before the Messianic King of the universe. Whatever gate they enter by they will proceed straight through to the other side and exit that opposite gate. So if they enter by the north gate they will go out by way of the south and visa-versa. God is very concerned with appropriate decorum in His House as well as worship practices and has stated that in the Mosaic Law as well as the New Testament.
16Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before Jehovah thy God in the place which he shall choose: in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles; and they shall not appear before Jehovah empty (ASV, 1901).
This same concept holds true in the New Testament too. The apostle Paul when giving us rules of order in the proper expression of Spiritual Gifts (Greek Charismata), says that we should “Let all things be done decently and in order” (I Corinthians 14:40). Paul does not limit the proper order to charismata. He says, “All Things,” which focuses on the worship and honor we pay to the Lord. In fact the book of I Corinthians from Chapter 11:2 to 14:40 reveals the proper order of Christian worship leading up to this section’s conclusion of the proper functioning of charismata. It includes the state of women and headship as well as the state of all at the Lord’s Supper. We will all stand before God to give and account. (Romans 14:12; II Corinthians 5:10). God does not want us to follow the culture. He wants us to be obedient to Him in all things.
There will be an unknown number of people in the millions coming to Jerusalem during the Messianic Kingdom so order and decorum must prevail in our public display of worship. What is important for us to realize is that everything is divinely ordered. We may not understand it but God does everything for a reason. He wants our obedience.
David The Prince With His People
10And the prince, when they go in, shall go in in the midst of them; and when they go forth, they shall go forth together. 11And in the feasts and in the solemnities the meal-offering shall be an ephah for a bullock, and an ephah for a ram, and for the lambs as he is able to give, and a hin of oil to an ephah. 12And when the prince shall prepare a freewill-offering, a burnt-offering or peace-offerings as a freewill-offering unto Jehovah, one shall open for him the gate that looketh toward the east; and he shall prepare his burnt-offering and his peace-offerings, as he doth on the sabbath day: then he shall go forth; and after his going forth one shall shut the gate (ASV, 1901).
One of the most precious views of the attitude of David the Prince and why he was chosen for this role is the love for and obedience he had for God. He as the great leader is not pushing the people to properly worship God. He is showing them how to obey by doing it with them. Here he is in the midst of them; and when they go forth, they shall go forth together, (David’s Lament in I Samuel 26:19; Sons of Korah Psalm 42:4; David’s Godly resolve in Psalm 132:1-5). God says that when David shall prepare a freewill-offering, a burnt-offering or peace-offerings as a freewill-offering unto Jehovah, one shall open for him the gate that looketh toward the east; and he shall prepare his burnt-offering and his peace-offerings, as he doth on the sabbath day: then he shall go forth; and after his going forth one shall shut the gate. So the gate on the east of the inner court will be open for him to make his obeisance to The King of the world. After he came in with the people he will then ceremonially go in and out of the eastern gate in obedience to God. The gate will be opened for him and closed after he has made his ceremonial offering leading the people in worship with the specified offerings in the volumes required. The outer eastern gate is permanently closed now after Messiah entered the Temple compound. The lesser leader David will obey a model of that with the inner eastern gate. The New Year offerings, the Passover offerings, the offerings for the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Sabbath offerings, will all take place at the inner eastern gate. The inner eastern gate will be shut for six days, but will always be opened on the Sabbath throughout the Kingdom period.
The Lamb of Sacrifice
13And thou shalt prepare a lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt-offering unto Jehovah daily: morning by morning shalt thou prepare it. 14And thou shalt prepare a meal-offering with it morning by morning, the sixth part of an ephah, and the third part of a hin of oil, to moisten the fine flour; a meal-offering unto Jehovah continually by a perpetual ordinance. 15Thus shall they prepare the lamb, and the meal-offering, and the oil, morning by morning, for a continual burnt-offering (ASV, 1901).
During the period of the Mosaic Law the daily offerings consisted of a lamb every morning and of a lamb every evening (Exodus 29:38-42; Numbers 28:1-8). In the Messianic Kingdom services the only burnt-offering mentioned is during the mornings. One more difference to the Mosaic law is that the offering volume is increased from one-tenth to one-sixth, and the oil from one-quarter of a hin to one-third. This difference is intentional even though not clearly explained why. One observation we can make is that as the blessings of grace abound under the Gospel dispensation, and we should abound in our thanksgiving to God. The blessings of the Messianic Kingdom will be greater than at any time before and offerings should represent this greater blessing to us. This then brings an end to the commands for the new order of worship in the Messianic Kingdom.
The Rules of Inheritance of the Prince
16Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: If the prince give a gift unto any of his sons, it is his inheritance, it shall belong to his sons; it is their possession by inheritance. 17But if he give of his inheritance a gift to one of his servants, it shall be his to the year of liberty; then it shall return to the prince; but as for his inheritance, it shall be for his sons. 18Moreover the prince shall not take of the people’s inheritance, to thrust them out of their possession; he shall give inheritance to his sons out of his own possession, that my people be not scattered every man from his possession (ASV, 1901).
David the Prince will have some special rights or privileges because of his exulted position in the Temple. The fact that the Prince has sons, natural descendants is conclusive that the Prince of these last chapters of Ezekiel is not Christ. Clearly by decree in the Messianic Kingdom whatever gifts he bestows upon them shall be their possession by inheritance. During the one-thousand year Messianic Kingdom there will be twenty Jubilee years. In compliance with one of the laws for the Jubilee property will revert to its original owner as in the Mosaic Law. The Jubilee was celebrated after 7 sabbaths of years or 49 years. Then in the 50th year, counting from Israel’s entry into the Promised Land certain practices were to be set free. The land was to lie fallow during the Jubilee year, Hebrew slaves were to be set free and, hereditary lands that had been sold were returned. The Jubilee was, in a sense, an entire year of festival, a year of liberty that restored the nation to the state it had enjoyed when God first established it. With the Messianic Kingdom being set free of sin, Satan and the curse on the earth at the Fall it will experience true liberty in Jubilee fashion too. So it is in this requirement of the Prince that when he gives gifts to those outside his family these gifts will revert to the original owner in the year of Jubilee which, is him. God sets limits on this practice referencing the abominable practices of the Jewish leaders in the confiscation of the people’s land in the period leading up to the Babylonian captivity and unfortunately after. David while not guilty of these practices during his reign as Israel’s king is nevertheless charged with providing for his offspring from his own personal property not that of others. The people will be protected as to their own personal property. This Jubilee return of gifts only pertains to that which Prince David gave to others outside his family.
23And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity; for the land is mine: for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. 24And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land (ASV, 1901).
The Law of the Boiling of the Sacrifices for The Offerings
19Then he brought me through the entry, which was at the side of the gate, into the holy chambers for the priests, which looked toward the north: and, behold, there was a place on the hinder part westward. 20And he said unto me, This is the place where the priests shall boil the trespass-offering and the sin-offering, and where they shall bake the meal-offering; that they bring them not forth into the outer court, to sanctify the people. 21Then he brought me forth into the outer court, and caused me to pass by the four corners of the court; and, behold, in every corner of the court there was a court. 22In the four corners of the court there were courts inclosed, forty cubits long and thirty broad: these four in the corners were of one measure. 23And there was a wall round about in them, round about the four, and boiling-places were made under the walls round about. 24Then said he unto me, These are the boiling-houses, where the ministers of the house shall boil the sacrifice of the people (ASV, 1901).
This is a continuation of the discussion that the Messiah was providing Ezekiel which stopped at chapter 43:17. Starting at the side of the north gate He shows Ezekiel the spot where there is a one cubit gap in the northern wall of the inner wall and the knife depository. This is the place where the priests will boil the trespass-offering and the sin-offering, and where they shall bake the meal-offering; that they bring them not forth into the outer court, to sanctify the people.
The priests will cook the guilt offering and the sin offerings so as to not bring them out into the outer court. Since these sacrifices are of the highest quality and most holy, any transportation to the outer court would disqualify them for use in the services. If they went to the outer court then they would be exposed to non-priestly people wearing unsanctified apparel and this would render them unfit for use. The outer court where the Angel of Jehovah leads Ezekiel is also called the Women’s Court. This is because it completely surrounds the Temple and Inner Courtyard. From Proverbs 12:4 we see that a virtuous women is the crown of her husband. So it is that the women of the Messianic Kingdom are all virtuous and the outer court surrounding the inner court as a crown is known as the women’s court. In Solomon’s Temple the women’s court did not surround the inner court but stood east of it. The text in this section of Scripture ends with a description and location of the cooking chambers. Here the priests will cook portions of the sacrifices of the lesser holiness offerings such as the peace offerings and thanksgiving offerings, which are not disqualified if they are taken out of the inner courtyard.
Messianic Temple will not have the Ark of the Covenant.
16And it shall come to pass, when ye are multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith Jehovah, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of Jehovah; neither shall it come to mind; neither shall they remember it; neither shall they miss it; neither shall it be made any more. 17At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Jehovah; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of Jehovah, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the stubbornness of their evil heart (ASV, 1901).
Since the Messiah who is God Himself will be dwelling in and reigning from Jerusalem, there will be no need for any Ark of the Covenant. The contents of the Ark of the Covenant were the tablets of stone that were the embodiment of the Law of Moses, a jar of manna and Aaron’s budded rod. The fact that the Law of Moses is no longer in effect is another reason why the Ark of the Covenant will be missing. Finally the Law of the Messianic Kingdom will be the New Covenant.
31Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith Jehovah. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more (ASV, 1901).
The Ark will not be needed because God says, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Daniel E. Woodhead
The Significance of the USA Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital
As he promised on December 6, 2017 President Donald Trump of the United States of America to relocate the American embassy to the city of Jerusalem as the capital of the nation of Israel he followed through and did it. 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
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:
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:
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:
“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
“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:
“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:
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:
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. WoodheadShare on Facebook
Divine Intervention into Time and Space
3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 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.
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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. WoodheadShare on Facebook
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.
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:
- The Garden of Eden as fellowshipping with Adam and Eve
- Meeting with Abraham as a smoking furnace.
- To Moses as a burning bush.
- During the Exodus as a pillar of fire and a cloud.
- On Mount Sinai as a cloud, thunder and lightening as well as a trumpet.
- A kind of visible manifestation to Moses said to be His back.
- Dwelling within the Tabernacle and Temple and lighting the brazen altar in the Temple as fire coming down from Heaven.
- Departing from the Temple.
In the New Testament He appeared:
- To the shepherds and the Magi as the Christmas Star.
- He also came as flesh (John 1: 1-14) in the body of Jesus.
- At the Transfiguration as a white lit Jesus.
- Tongues of fire to the apostles.
- Bright light on the Damascus road to Saul.
- Smoke in the Tribulation Temple from Revelation 15:8.
- At the Second Coming as Matthew 24:30.
- In the Millennium as the Risen Jesus ruling the world (Ezekiel 43: 1-7a).
- 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.Share on Facebook
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:
- 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).
- Man, living in time and space is incapable of realizing a full understanding of God and all His ways (Job 38 & 39 etc.).
- 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;)
- 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 WoodheadShare on Facebook