Zechariah’s Vision of the Woman in the Basket means God Will Rid The World of Sin

 

Zechariah’s  Vision of the Women and the Ephah

 

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One spring evening in 520 B.C. The Prophet Zechariah received a series of eight visions all in one night. This was the seventh. While God had assured him that He loved the Nation Israel and He would end their Babylonian captivity and return them their land Eretz Yisrael He would in no way tolerate sin. In an earlier vision He talked about punishing sinful individuals. Here He tells Zechariah by means of symbols that He will remove sin itself. This will occur through the Great Tribulation.

Zechariah 5:5-11

5 Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth. 6 And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth. 7 And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. 8 And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof. 9 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven. 10 Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah? 11 And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base (ASV 1901).

Zechariah is Commanded to Shift His Frame of Vision

Zechariah 5:5

5 Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth (ASV 1901).

The angel that has been speaking to Zechariah now tells him to shift his attention to a vision that is above his straight line of vision. He prepares him to see the next vision, which is a moving active vision. The angel (malakh haddobher bi) who talked in me moves into a different position to begin speaking to Zechariah’s spirit.

The Ephah

Zechariah 5:6

6 And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth (ASV 1901).

 Now Zechariah sees the seventh vision and immediately does not know what it is. The Hebrew grammar, which designates gender to all nouns, assigns a feminine gender to the  “it.” So he asked the malakh haddobher bi who answers him. This is an ephah that goes out over all the earth, is airborne and will attempt to assert dominion over all the earth. The term   their resemblance means a multiplication of the symbolism of this image will exert itself throughout the earth. The ephah, the same as bath, was an ancient volumetric measurement of Israel. It was equal to about thirty-seven quarts or a bushel basket of dry goods. This was the largest dry goods measurement in the Old Testament. In this context coupled with the previous vision and the Hebrew morphology refers to a large sinning (thievery, perjurers etc.). Another way of expressing this is to say that in the previous vision God let Zechariah know that transgressors would be removed. In this vision God is showing Zechariah that sin or iniquity itself would be removed. It will be removed at the very place of its origin. And He is saying that He is fed up with it. So the image of the ephah clearly says to the Jews I have had it up to here (ephah) with your sin!

Prior to the Babylonian captivity the Israelites were primarily an agrarian shepherding nation. Their sin caused them to be conquered and expelled from their country. Babylon was the most advanced nation on the earth at that time excelling in commerce and the occult. While there they became accustomed to those advancements and the wicked ways of the Babylonians. The commercial practices in and of themselves are not wicked. But they have been used in wicked ways, which is what God objects to.

For nearly 2,000 years Babylon was the most important city in the world. It was a commercial and financial center of Mesopotamia. The arts of divination, astronomy, astrology, accounting, mathematics and private and commercial law all sprang up from Babylon. In short many of our world systems came from that region.

Hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi (Cir. 1772 B.C.) is one of the earliest sets of laws found, and one of the best-preserved examples of a legal type of document from ancient Mesopotamia. It shows rules and punishments if those rules are defied. It focuses on theft, farming (or shepherding), property damage, women’s rights, marriage rights, children’s rights, slave rights, and murder, death, and injury. The laws do not accept excuses or explanations for mistakes or fault. There were 282 laws on an obsidian stela, which is lava like stone and it is about 8 feet tall. It was discovered in 1909. It is now on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. This concept lives on in most modern legal systems and has given rise to the term “written in stone”.

Mathematics

They developed a form of writing based on cuneiform (i.e. wedge-shaped) symbols. Their symbols were written on wet clay tablets, which were baked in the hot sun, and many thousands of these tablets have survived to be read by us today. It was the use of a stylus on a clay medium that led to the use of cuneiform symbols since curved lines could not be drawn. The Babylonians divided the day into 24 hours, each hour into 60 minutes, each minute into 60 seconds. This form of counting (sexagesimal or base 60) has survived for 4000 years. Their year and calendar had 30 month days and 360-day years. (Same as Genesis 7 & 8, Daniel 7:25 Revelation 12:6, 14 and Revelation 13:5) They had tables of squares, square roots, cubes, cube roots, reciprocals, exponential functions, and log functions. They had knowledge of trigonometry, the Pythagorean theorem 1200 years before Pythagoras did, and pi. They divided the circle into 360 degrees.

Occultic Spirituality

Babylon spiritually symbolizes the city of man or the city of Satan. One way to look at the Bible is a tale of two cities Jerusalem and Babylon. Both began in Genesis and both end in Revelation.  It has never been destroyed yet (Isaiah 13:19-20). It fell into disrepair over the years since Cyrus took over the city. Saddam Hussein spent considerable effort to rebuild it. It will be the world headquarters of the Antichrist and the commercial center the one world government. This will be the final governmental form on earth prior to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom.

God implores us to come out of her.

Revelation 18:4-5 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying Come out of her, my people that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

In this vision of the ephah the Jews were being told that the wicked commercialism and occult they have been exposed to will end some day and they are not to participate in it.            God is heaping up the sins of the Israelites and will separate them from the wicked at the end of the Great Tribulation.

 The Talent and The Woman

The Woman in the Ephah by Ted Larson

The Woman in the Ephah by Ted Larson

 

Zechariah 5:7-8

7 And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. 8 And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof (ASV 1901).

In verse six with reference to this vision Zechariah had asked, “What is it?” Since all Hebrew nouns have gender regardless of whether they are actually male or female we see a feminine gender being applied to the “it.” The feminine ending of the term what is it gives insight that this grammatical feminine gender now takes on new meaning, for there is a woman (feminine) in the ephah, and she personifies wickedness. This symbol of wickedness is sitting in the ephah. Since the ephah was a dry measure and usually represented as a basket about the size of a bushel she is seen sitting in a bushel basket.

In addition to the largest volumetric measure God brings the largest weight measure to this vision. The talent was the largest Old Testament Jewish measure of weight, equivalent to 60 mina or 3000 shekels. The weight of one talent was about 75-95 lbs.

Some examples of the use of talents mentioned in the Old Testament for perspective are:

  1. The sons of Ammon hired chariots and horseman to fight against Israel in the days of King David for 1000 talents of silver (I Chronicles 19:6).
  2. Solomon was said to have received a weight of 666 talents of gold per year (II Chronicles 9:13).
  3. The holy of holies in Solomon’s temple was overlaid with 600 talents (for example; this is at least $12 billion in A.D. 2013 value) of gold (II Chronicles 3:8).
  4. 650 talents of silver plus 200 talents of gold and silver utensils were delivered to Jerusalem for the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 8:26).
  5. Hezekiah, king of Judah, paid the King of Assyria 300 talents of silver plus 30 talents of Gold to withdraw their attacking troops (II Kings 8:14).

In this vision the woman is seen sitting in the ephah. The malakh haddobher bi then casts a talent of lead into the ephah where she was sitting thereby sealing up the ephah with the lead as a cover. She represents being bathed in the luxury of wicked commercialism and is symbolized by it. Again this is not mere commerce, it is Godless commercialism and mammon-worship. Her sitting in this wickedness shows that she delights in it. This is the very embodiment of evil. By her getting thrown into the ephah and covering her with a mass of lead is symbolically tying down and sealing sin so it cannot ever again surface to cause mankind to commit it. This image lets us know that God will finally rid the world of sin and all those who luxuriate in it. Women are symbolically represented in Scripture as a religious entity.  Some examples in Scripture supporting this are:

On the positive side is the Wife of Jehovah in the Old Testament.  In the New Testament, we see the Bride of Christ.  So the Jews are called the “Wife of Jehovah” and in the New Testament the church is called the “Bride of Christ.”

On the negative side, there’s the woman with the leaven, Matthew 13:33 and the Great Harlot of Revelation 17:2 called Jezebel.  Jezebel was a real woman in the northern ten tribal region of Israel.  She married Ahab and brought pagan religions into that community after the civil war when Israel was divided north and south.  Baal worship resulted in more idolatry and sexual immorality. In Bible typology Jezebel represents the Great Harlot of Revelation 17 riding the beast.

Revelation 2:20-22

20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou (allow) that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds (KJV).

Here Jesus is condemning the Thyatira Church for their wickedness in the Dark Ages (Cir. A.D. 600-1517). The name Thyatira means continual or perpetual sacrifice.  It represents the Eucharist, which also called transubstantiation or continually sacrificing Christ.

During this period while the standing church persecuted many and accumulated vast personal wealth they introduced at least ten false doctrines.

  1. Justification by works – not simply by grace through faith.  This means one can work their way to heaven.
  2. Baptismal regeneration – This means that the point the body goes into the water, one is saved, you are a Christian and you are going to be with Christ in heaven.
  3. Worship of images – You can see this especially in the Eastern Orthodox Church.  There is an incredible number of icons there that have a greater importance to most people than Christ himself.
  4. Celibacy – Forbidding priests to marry.
  5. Confessionalism – Is where sins are confessed to a priest then the priest tells you whether or not he is going to relieve you of the guilt of that sin.
  6. Purgatory – It’s a place of confinement, which is neither heaven nor hell, but it’s a place where the priest says that this is where you go because you haven’t completed your responsibility to God. The worse part of Purgatory is that your sanctification here on the planet is not complete.
  7. Transubstantiation – This is the taking of the bread or the wafer in the Mass, which is taught that it is a real sacrifice of Christ.
  8. Indulgences – By the giving of money, one’s time in purgatory is reduced.
  9. Penance – is “beating” yourself somehow to reduce your time in purgatory.
  10. Mariolatry – The worship of the Virgin Mary, elevating her to deity.

The Great Whore

The Whore of Babylon by William Blake cir 1809

The Whore of Babylon by William Blake cir 1809

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revelation 17:1-6

1And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration (KJV).

John the apostle saw this vision of the woman riding the beast. It represents the marriage of false religion to the various governments and commercialism of this world. The beast she rides is the last world empire, which was described in Daniel chapter seven. It is the final form of the empire of imperialism with absolute control of the Antichrist ruling from Babylon supported by the False Prophet leading the world’s apostate religions to worship the Antichrist. The term Jezebel in Bible typology means this woman.

The Two Women With Wings

Zechariah 5:9-11

9 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven. 10 Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah? 11 And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base (KJV).

The Women With Wings Carrying Away the Ephah  Artist Unknown

The Women With Wings Carrying Away the Ephah Artist Unknown

These two women are symbols of God’s agents to remove sin and take it to Babylon (Shinar)  where it will be destroyed as Babylon will be destroyed. Babylon will be the commercial center of the world during Antichrist’s reign and it will be destroyed during the campaign of Armageddon. This symbolic act demonstrates the commercial nature of Babylon with its wicked commercialism originating in the days of Nimrod (Genesis 11:4). God taking the ephah there symbolizes Him letting the wicked commercialism flourish in the future one-world capital until it is finally removed forever.

 

Daniel E. Woodhead

 

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Antiochus Epiphanes IV – A Type of The Antichrist

Antiochus Epiphanes

Wojciech Stattler, Machabeusze or the Maccabees painting, 1842

Wojciech Stattler, Machabeusze or the Maccabees painting, 1842

 A Type of The Coming Antichrist

Daniel E. Woodhead Ph.D.

Introduction

The Bible gives a prophecy about the development of a world empire out of which a man called Antiochus Epiphanes would emerge. In this clear example of Bible typology God is giving us an example of the coming Antichrist and what he will do in the middle of the Great Tribulation. He along with the False Prophet who will be the leader of all the heretical pagan world’s religions will place an image of the Antichrist in the rebuild Jewish Temple. Because of the Antiochus typology we assume it will be placed in the Holy of Holies where it will come alive. The Abomination of Desolation was prophesied by The Lord Jesus (Matthew 24:15) and will be carried out by the Antichrist and the False Prophet (Revelation 13:14-15). Jesus wants His children to realize what is coming. We have the example of The Lord Jesus telling His inner circle; Peter, James John and Andrew of future end time world events in His Olivet Discourse. He said to them, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew 24:4). Jesus also wants to strengthen our belief by telling us events long before they occur.

John 14:29

And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe (KJV).

Alexander’s Generals

We see the prophecy of the vision of the coming Hellenistic empire (also called the Greek Empire) from Daniel 7:6 where this empire is described as one beast that is leopard-like with four wings and four heads. With leopard-like swiftness, Alexander the Great conquered the Medo-Persian Empire and greatly extended the Hellenistic Empire. In 323 B.C. Alexander dies, and when asked who should succeed him, he says to leave his empire to “the strong.” The empire is split into four kingdoms. The four wings represent the four kingdoms rising out of Alexander’s Empire and the four heads represent the four generals who took control of the four kingdoms, and who would fight with each other continually over these territories. The generals and their areas were:

  • Ptolemy, who ruled over Egypt, Israel and Arabia Petrea
  • Seleucus, who ruled over Syria, Babylonia, and as Far East as India
  • Cassander, who ruled over Macedonia and Greece
  • Lysimachus, who ruled over Thrace and Bithinia

Here is a map showing the divisions in 301 B.C.:

Untitled

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Retrieved March 28, 2013 from

http://etc.usf.edu/maps/pages/6800/6811/6811.htm

Notice the position of Israel is in between the areas claimed by Ptolemy and Selucis, and would be a an area of constant turmoil as these two powers fought with each other. The successors of Seleucus and Ptolemy are all prophesied in Daniel 10 and 11. Out of the Seleucid line came the leader, Antiochus Epiphanes, who eventually exerted control over the Holy Land and imposed extreme persecutions to the Jews as described in Daniel chapter 8. Here is the line of succession that preceded Antiochus Epiphanes:

323 B.C.                                Alexander dies. He says to leave his empire to “the strong.”

312-280 B.C.                        Seleucus I Nicator succeeds as ruler over the Israel region.

280-261 B.C.                        Antiochus II Soter assumes leadership over Israel.

261-246 B.C.                        Antiochus II Theos replaces Soter.

246-226 B.C.                        Seleucis II Callinicus assumes control.

226-223 B.C.                        Seleucis III Keroneos rises.

222-187 B.C.                        Antiochus III The Great took control.

187-175 B.C.              Seleucis IV Philopator plundered the Temple and raised taxes to the Jews.

175-164 B.C.              Antiochus IV Epiphanes is the brother of Philopator and he begins a very severe persecution of the Jews, which causes a revolt led by the Maccabeans, and creates a turning back to God by the Jews for a short while.

Antiochus Epiphanes

Epiphanes’ name means “God made manifest.” Epiphanes sought to force Greek culture and manners on the Jews. In imposing Hellenism, Epiphanies was following the intentions of Alexander whose dream was to create an empire, not by the sword but by culture. Because of this Hellenization, the region was speaking Greek by the time of Christ and the New Testament, which was written in Koine Greek and spread quickly because so many people throughout the empire knew Greek.

Bust of Antiochus Epiphanies IV from Altes Museum in Berlin

Bust of Antiochus Epiphanes IV from Altes Museum in Berlin

This Hellenization had a measure of success among the un-biblical, or Hellenized portion of the Jewish priesthood, but there was a core of devout priests and people who refused to abandon the faith of their forefathers. God always leaves remnant that are faithful to Him. Epiphanies tried to put an end to the Jewish religious community through the introduction of Hellenistic cults, and persecuted those who would not bend to his demands (170-164 B.C.). For example, he entered the Holy of Holies and desecrated the sanctuary by offering pigs upon the altar of burnt offerings. He polluted the whole building by sprinkling it with water in which pig flesh had been boiled. He dedicated the Temple itself to Jupiter Olympus. Finally, he erected the statue of that deity and plundered the temple treasures. Severe punitive measures merely brought the matter to a head. For example, “According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised, and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers’ necks”
(I Maccabees 1:60, 61, RSV). These events were the cause of the Maccabean struggle and a revolt followed. [1] As a result of the persecution many Jews hung on to God and His commandments, and many in Israel stood firm and did not bend to pagan rituals being forced upon them. Another example was staying resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. “But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. And very great wrath came upon Israel” (I Maccabees 1:62-64). Epiphanes enacted a law requiring all citizens to present themselves four times a year to pay formal homage to Antiochus Epiphanies as the senior god of the Seleucids. The day chosen for these periodic submissions was Shabbat, the Jewish day of prayer when Jews preferred not to leave their homes. Epiphanes  was met by a revolt, called the Maccabean Revolt (167-160 B.C.), in which the Jews set up a small state in which the high priest was the central figure and this gained the Jews their independence for a short while. God let the Jews get themselves out of the trouble they brought upon themselves.

It is important to realize that even though God uses evil people to carry out His will, He punishes them for their wickedness.  Here are two accounts of Antiochus’ death, from I and II Maccabees.

Now, when the king heard these words [about the defeat of his armies by Judas Maccabeus] he was astonished and sore moved; whereupon he laid him down upon his bed, and fell sick for grief, because it had not befallen him as he looked for. And there he continued many days: for his grief was ever more and more, and he made account that he should die. Wherefore, he called for all his friends and said unto them: “The sleep is gone from mine eyes, and my heart faileth for very care. And I thought with myself into what tribulations am I come, and how great a flood of misery it is, wherein now I am! for I was bountiful and beloved in my power. But now I remember the evils that I did at Jerusalem, and that I took all the vessels of gold and silver that were therein, and sent to destroy the inhabitants of Judea without cause. I perceive, therefore, that these troubles have come upon me, and behold I perish through great grief in a strange land.” Then called he for Philip, one of his friends, whom he made ruler over all his realm, and gave him the crown, and his robe, and his signet, to the end he should bring up his son Antiochus, and nourish him up for the kingdom. (1 Maccabees 6:8-15)

But the Lord, the God of Israel, that seeth all things, struck him with an incurable and an invisible plague. For as soon as he had ended these words, a dreadful pain in his bowels came upon him, and bitter torments of the inner parts.  And indeed very justly, seeing he had tormented the bowels of others with many and new torments, albeit he by no means ceased from his malice.  Moreover, being filled with pride, breathing out fire in his rage against the Jews, and commanding the matter to be hastened, it happened as he was going with violence, that he fell from the chariot, so that his limbs were much pained by a grievous bruising of the body.  Thus he that seemed to himself to command even the waves of the sea, being proud above the condition of man, and to weigh the heights of the mountains in a balance, now being cast down to the ground, was carried in a litter, bearing witness to the manifest power of God in himself:  So that worms swarmed out of the body of this man, and whilst he lived in sorrow and pain, his flesh fell off, and the filthiness of his smell was noisome to the army.  And the man that thought a little before he could reach to the stars of heaven, no man could endure to carry, for the intolerable stench. And by this means, being brought from his great pride, he began to come to the knowledge of himself, being admonished by the scourge of God, his pains increasing every moment.  And when he himself could not now abide his own stench, he spoke thus: It is just to be subject to God, and that a mortal man should not equal himself to God.  Then this wicked man prayed to the Lord. (II Maccabees 5-13)

Antiochus Epiphanes died in 164 B.C.

Death of Antiochus Epiphanies IV by Ambrose Thomas 1834

Death of Antiochus Epiphanes IV by Ambrose Thomas 1834

 

This prophecy of Daniel 8:23-25 goes beyond what was historically fulfilled in Antiochus to foreshadow the Antichrist in the “Latter Days.” Antiochus is used as a type or model of the future coming world leader.

Daniel 8:23-25

23And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. 24And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper and do his pleasure; and he shall destroy the mighty ones and the holy people. 25And through his policy he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and in their security shall he destroy many: he shall also stand up against the prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand (ASV).

 What he did was a type or model of what the future Antichrist will do in the rebuilt Jewish Temple. This is called the Abomination of Desolation.

Daniel E. Woodhead


[1] Josephus, Flavius. The Works of Josephus Translated by William Whiston. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1987, 323.

 

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Introduction to Israelology

 

WHAT IS ISRAELOLOGY?

Ancient Map of the Temple Mount

This is a recently identified subject within systematic theology as taught in competent seminaries, which recognizes the election of the nation Israel by Yahweh Elohim. When the Hebrew Tanakh is coupled with the eyewitness accounts of the life of the man who claimed to be the Hebrew Messiah YESHUA HAMASHIACH which is called the New Testament it provides a complete picture of the nation Israel, past, present and future. Approximately four fifths of the entire Bible is devoted to the Jews and their story as told by God. In fact every writer of both testaments of the Bible who were chosen by God to give us His oracles was Jewish. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum was the initiator of this component of systematic theology.

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Prophetic Fulfillment in the NT of OT Prophecies

 Prophetic Fulfillment

 

The Descent of the Holy Spirit by Anthony Van Dyck Cir.1618-1620
The Descent of the Holy Spirit by Anthony Van Dyck Cir.1618-1620

The New Testament frequently realizes prophetic fulfillments in various manners of Old Testament prophetic passages. Some have stated that there is in excess of six hundred allusions and quotations in the New Testament from the Old Testament. Others have alluded to the book of Revelation having that many all by itself. Prophecy is obviously a significant component of the New Testament. Therefore, it is important for one seeking a correct reading of the New Testament to understand this issue so he or she will accurately assimilate the message that God is communicating. Without an appropriate understanding of this issue proper reception of God’s Word is jammed and the student will receive error. Just as earthly warfare has combatants attempting to jam each other’s communications so as to gain an advantage, the Biblical text has an enemy that is seeking to cast doubt on God’s Word. Satan has been trying to cast doubt on what God has Spoken since the Garden of Eden. He will use any means possible including poor hermeneutics, grammar and theology.

It is important for the student of the Bible to realize that prophecies and other components of Old Testament Scripture can be quoted without actually being fulfilled. Those of us who apply the literal method of Bible elucidation believe that the writers of the New Testament used real references to Old Testament passages for at least four different reasons. The literal method seems to work best if anyone is going to understand the Bible. Without reading it literally as anyone would any other piece of literature there is only a remote chance that the correct God given message would be communicated. The non-literal method is essentially a jamming of the communication, which results in error, and therefore God’s Word does is not accurately received by His intended audience. As Paul Lee Tan categorizes:[i]

  1. Recognition of actual fulfillment
  2. Choice of illustrative material
  3. Delineation of typical situation
  4. Appropriation of common concepts

He also cites that there are at least four kinds of prophetic fulfillment.

  1. Complete fulfillment
  2. Partial Fulfillment
  3. Double reference
  4. Repeat foreshadowing

It is to this last category of prophetic fulfillment that we now turn in order to gain a proper communication of the apostle Peter’s statements in the second chapter of the book of Acts. We recall the excitement that Peter has as he is partaking in the birth of the Church and realizing that it is tied to the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32.

The events of that day must have been miraculous to say the least. The Holy Spirit came first upon the apostles during the feast of Pentecost. He felt like a mighty wind and filled the house where they were sitting. He appeared as cloven tongues similar to fire and sat upon each one of the apostles. Immediately they began speaking with other tongues (languages) as the Spirit gave them utterance.As the texts of the events are recorded in Acts two they include the devout Jews living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven who also begin to hear them speak in their own languages. This Spirit enablement caused the Jews from the other countries to wonder how it is that they can hear the Galileans who would normally speak Galilean. The text goes on to state who all the countries and people groups present were, and the amazement that they experienced. Mockers thought the apostles were drunk. Peter stands up and with the rest of the apostles and begins to speak. He addresses his message to the men of Judea and all that dwell in Jerusalem.

First he rebukes the mockers by saying that they are not drunk being that it is too early in the morning for them to have become inebriated. Then he says that “this is that” which was spoken of through the prophet Joel.

Now Joel was a Jew writing to Jews about last day’s events with direct application to “the last days.” His passage Joel 2:28-32 reads:

28And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 30And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come.  32And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call (KJV).

             This passage speaks to the absolute end times. We can tell this from the context. Wonders in heaven and in the earth such as blood, fire and pillars of smoke are clearly end times signs. Joel goes on to say that the sun will be blacked out and the moon will turn blood red before the “great and terrible day of the Lord.” Clearly this passage references the pouring out of God’s Spirit at the end of the Tribulation on “all flesh.” Some would say that the blackout is a reference to the darkness that accompanied Christ’s death on the cross. As dark as that was it does not completely explain the passage. For example at Christ’s death the moon did not turn to blood nor is this the “great and terrible day of the Lord.”

How then do we understand Peter correctly so we can receive God’s message properly and offer those to whom we teach and pass on His Word to a correct unjammed communication. The battle continues and we must be aware of the subtleties of the evil one as he tries to corrupt our communication.

Peter could not have been discussing the end times although with the miraculous experience he was having he might have thought that the end was near. Looking back from where we are here in the twenty-first century we are certainly closer to the end than Peter was then.

One very important factor in biblical understanding is the concept of time. God co-created time along with matter and space and discussed it in Genesis 1:1. Prior to the creation there was no time. Just because we utilize “time related’ words such as eternity to discuss the realm where God lives there really is no time in His domain. In II Timothy 1:9, the apostle Paul makes a statement that God’s grace “was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” A study of the Greek phrase “pro chronon aionion,” translated “before the beginning of time,” shows the independent existence of God’s grace in Christ outside of our time domain. It is crucial to be aware of the chronology of events on earth during the period prior to the creation and after the Millennium when the “eternal” order is established.

All things move forward in time since the creation and time will cease after the thousand-year reign of Christ. Therefore it is important to examine biblical events in the chronological framework of time moving forward in succession. The Joel prophecy of the last days or end times and Peters reference to it must therefore must be examined as Tan categorizes a “repeat foreshadowing.”

Joel a Jew saw the absolute end of all things and gave a prophecy of one aspect right at the end for the Jews. Peter saw a repeat of that prophecy but foreshadowing it with the birth of the Church and the launching of the New Covenant that Christ inaugurated at the Last Supper. Christ predicted the birth of the Church and He said He would send His Spirit. But the coming of the Spirit in this instance of Acts two was not the Day of the Lord Joel spoke about. It was the launching of the New Covenant of which Christ spoke and Jeremiah prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-33

31Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, 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 an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people (KJV).

It is quite clear that this prophecy is made with Israel and Judah. In the long chronology of the earth and man’s time here God gave the Jews a message and He gave the Church blessings from those messages to the Jews. This is one of those situations. The Church is not the Nation Israel or Judah. But we will realize some benefit from the New Covenant. We are as it were riding on the coattails of this covenant in terms of blessings. That the actual covenant has not been fulfilled yet is obvious do to the context where Jeremiah speaks about Israel and Judah and them turning to God as a nation. That has not happened at this point in time so that one could notice. It will only happen as the prophet Daniel said in his twelfth chapter “after the breaking of the power (will) of the holy people. They will not have their insubordination toward God broken until the end of the Tribulation. This is one of the purposes of the Tribulation; to break the will of the Jews and have them turn to God finally in belief.

So if we look at the Joel prophecy in light of God’s timing in the great chronology of all time we see that the different dispensations of God have different administrations of His grace and plans. This is not to say that a dispensation is an era of time. That is not true. It is just fundamentally important to realize that all human history is moving through the time domain along a chronological linear line. The Church age receives benefit of the Jews covenants including the New Covenant. But the Church does not replace the Nation Israel and usurp her covenants. The Church just receives the benefit of them. Any Bible student should always keep in mind that God always keeps His promises. He will do what He said He would do. What Charles Spurgeon expounded in one of his sermons may shed light on the subject under discussion.

GOD’S promises are not exhausted when they are fulfilled, for when once performed, they stand just as good as they did before, and we may await a second accomplishment of them. Man’s promises even at the best, are like a cistern, which holds but a temporary supply…

What Peter is experiencing is the amazing time of the day of Pentecost, which foreshadows the spirituality and blessing of the Millennial Kingdom. Christians are spiritual citizens now of the future kingdom. This is not to imply that the long awaited Kingdom has arrived. It is yet future to us and will not be realized “on earth as it is now in heaven” until Christ returns. In principle yes we are spiritual citizens of the kingdom. We have the ticket to get in and know that we will be there when Christ initiates it here on earth.

However, the reference to the Joel prophecy by Peter is what E.H Trenchard calls an “analogy of principle.”[ii] He goes on further to caution that this does not annul the OT prophecy; it is simply a special application of it. So clearly this is not a direct fulfillment of the Joel prophecy and we should consider Peter’s statements referencing the Joel passage as “like” what the prophet Joel spoke of and not a complete fulfillment of that prophecy.

The similarities that Peter saw were communicated to learned Jewish men who knew the Old Testament. Since we don’t see any rebuking of Peter by them for an inappropriate application of Joel it is apparent that Peter is speaking of the portion of the Joel passage with the launching of the Spirit on anyone who would believe. Peter might have quoted the entire passage of Joel so that the learned Jews would not accuse Peter of improper use of Scripture. Joel prophesied that the outpouring of the Spirit would happen just before the kingdom age. Peter uses this prophecy as an illustration and application of the foreshadowing of the Joel prophesied event. He never said that the entire Joel prophecy was being fulfilled at the birth of the Church on Pentecost.

Tan makes an appropriate comment regarding this when he says that:

Moreover, it ushered in the “end age” (I John 2:18) where the benefits of the millennial age would become more evident and might be anticipatively enjoyed by its future participants. Thus, although the millennial kingdom had not yet come, Christians are even now spiritual citizens of the kingdom.

We have the Spirit as the earnest deposit for future redemption. (Ephesians 1:14) We have the blessings that God promised to Israel. They are not getting them now due to unbelief. They will in the future when their will is broken and they cry out to God to stop the Tribulation that they must suffer through. For now God is making them jealous by giving the Gentiles access to the Church. It is open to them too but as a nation Israel is unwilling to enter into the Church any meaningful numbers.

On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended upon a special group of people. The cross and resurrection opened up a whole new dispensation which would culminate in universal spiritual blessing. The Spirit has not yet been poured out upon “all men” as Joel prophesied. This is for Israel and will happen in the future.

For now we can understand that Peter speaking to learned men quoting the Joel passage as being in principle foreshadowing in a way similar to the complete fulfillment yet future to Pentecost.

Daniel E. Woodhead Ph.D.


[i] Tan, Paul Lee. The Interpretation of Prophecy, Assurance Publishers Rockville, Maryland 20851, 1979

[ii] Trenchard, E. H. Acts-A Bible Commentary for Today, ed. G.C. D. Howley, Published by Pickering and Inglis, London 1979.

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Satanic Opposition to Yeshuah’s First Arrival

 Satan Tried To Stop Messiah From Arriving

 

Birth of Jesus by Antonio Allegri, called Correggio, 1528
Birth of Jesus by Antonio Allegri, called Correggio, 1528

As we celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to this earth it is important that we become aware of the intense heavenly struggles that took place to block His arrival. Satan has made many attempts to stop our Lord from arriving on earth as a man to accomplish His task. Christ delivered us from Satan’s slavery to living freedom when we believe in Him as our savior. The measure of the wealth of God’s unmerited favor to every believer is the cost of Christ’s blood. It was accomplished not “out of” but “according to” the wealth of His grace. We are redeemed through His blood from our sin.  Christ prevailed and, because of this, today we can celebrate His birth. When Lucifer fell he became Satan (“adversary” in Hebrew) and polluted the heavenly realm with the sin he brought in to God’s presence (Isaiah 14:13-14). He then entered the Garden of Eden, and through lying, enticed Eve to defy God. In this manner Satan became “the father of lies” because he originated lying (John 8:44). This single act brought sin into the earthly realm and into the heavenly realm as well.  Eventually Satan convinced one-third of the angels to follow him and rebel against God Almighty (Revelation 12:4). Jehovah God sent Himself, in the body of a man, to atone for the sins of the world. As a suffering servant, His suffering reached a level of pain before and during the crucifixion that we couldn’t imagine as He bore the sins of the world and the spiritual realm as well (Isaiah 49-57). In the cosmic realm Satan tried all he could to prevent Christ’s crucifixion. But Christ battled with the powers of darkness, and won the war (Luke 22: 53). The death He experienced cleansed the heavenly tabernacle, which Lucifer polluted with his sin and fall, as well as providing for the salvation of all who would believe the gospel of Christ (Hebrews 9: 23-26; II Corinthians 5: 21). This is why the Lord Jesus had to come to earth. He had to go to the cross and provide the cleansing of the heavenly and earthly realms. Satan has not given up and we see many instances in Scripture where he tried to stop the Messiah from arriving to accomplish His task. Satan’s tactics would include lying about what God says, and polluting the Messianic family line with occultism if he could not kill them. Satan would also use the lust for political power to destroy the Jews as well as turn rulers and members of the chosen seed family against each other in another attempt to kill off the seed line of the Messiah. It is some of these efforts by Satan that we will examine and see how the Christ prevailed. We must remember that Satan is the force behind all evil in this world.

Selected Scriptural Accounts of Satan’s Attempts to stop God’s Plan

 

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: 10-13). 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).

 Abraham’s seed (Genesis 12, 20)

Attempts to eliminate the family line that would produce the Messiah centered on Abraham, the patriarch of the Jews. Abraham foolishly endangered the Messianic line by lying twice about his relationship to Sarah his wife. At two different times, once in Egypt (where he went against God’s direction), and a second time in Gerar of Canaan, the kings of these realms had taken her into their harem unaware that she was already married to Abraham. Twice both of them could have been killed when the truth was found out, but the Lord provided the means of escape both times.

The populating of Canaan (Genesis 12:6)

Abraham sojourned in Canaan at the Oaks of Terebinth, which was a well- established place of intense pagan worship and occultic practices. Although Abraham was in close physical proximity to this center of pagan worship, he did not participate with them. Instead God came to him and made the everlasting Abrahamic Covenant with him. This revelation and intervention preserved the purity of the Messianic line.

 Famine (Genesis 42)

Famine came into the world and again threatened to terminate the family line of Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, in Canaan. They would have died out had the Lord not intervened and caused the events that brought Joseph and then the rest of the family down to Egypt to survive and then thrive.

 Destruction of male line (Exodus 1)

Satan, through Pharaoh Thutmose II, enslaved the Jews to stop the Messianic line from developing. Enslavement was only partially effective so Pharaoh decided to enact a more aggressive policy of infanticide. The king’s instructions were explicit to the midwives: male babies were to be killed and female infants kept alive. The midwives, who feared God, disobeyed Pharaoh and under threat of death delivered the male babies alive to preserve the seed line.

 Pharaoh’s pursuit (Exodus 14)

As the Hebrews left Egypt in the Exodus following a series of miracles brought on by God, Pharaoh chased them with his army. As Pharaoh’s armed troops approached, the Jews became fearful because they were trapped between the Red Sea and a vicious foe behind them. Then the angel of God, who guided them, moved from the front of the Israelites to the rear to protect them from the charging Egyptians. The angel shifted from guide to guardian! All through that night the pillar of cloud, which also had moved to therear to be between the two camps, brought such darkness that military advance was impossible for the Egyptians. That night God performed another miracle by splitting the sea by a strong east wind and drying the sea floor. While the wind kept the sea floor dry and the sea split, the Israelites walked through the sea bed to dry land on the other side. However when the Egyptians came after them, God commanded the sea to return to it’s original state and drowned the entire Egyptian army. Again the Messianic line was preserved.

Against David’s line (II Samuel 7)

King David decided on his own that he would build the Lord a temple. It is clear from the context that this refers to a literal house and not a dynasty. This was premature in the Lord’s timing; in fact it was not God’s will for David to build Him a temple at all. If David forged ahead with Nathan, the prophet’s, authorization it would have been contrary to God’s plan. Satan had obviously tricked Nathan into thinking that this was the Lord’s will. Nathan initially had a favorable response to David’s desire but this was changed by the Lord’s visit to him. Because the Lord Himself intervened, Nathan rescinded his words to David. David was instructed not to build the temple at this time, but his son after him would have the honor of doing so. David was of the family of Judah, the great-grandson of Abraham who was given the pledge that the Messiah would come through him (Genesis 49:10). Instead of David building a Temple, God would build a royal house, which would be a dynasty of kings that originated with David. It would be a kingdom that would never end; the kingdom and its throne would be permanent, a realm over which the Son of David (The Lord Jesus) would reign forever. So again Satan attempts to lead God’s people astray, but the Lord intervenes to make sure the Messianic line is preserved for the kingdom reign.

Jehoram kills his brothers (II Chronicles 21)

As King Jehoram of Judah came to power, he killed his brothers along with others of the royal family, perhaps because of his close ties with the wicked rulers of the northern Israel. He too would suffer a cruel death after a brief reign of only eight years. Despite Jehoram’s personal evil, however, the Lord did not destroy the nation, for he remembered his everlasting covenant with David, that David’s line would continue forever. Satan tried again to stop the family line by causing Jehoram to kill his brothers, but not the entire Messianic line. God intervened and killed Jehoram and allowed Jehoram’s sons to remain alive.

Arabians slew all but Ahaziah (II Chronicles 22)

Satan sent a group of Arabians to Jerusalem to kill the sons of the King Jehoram to break the Messianic line, and only Ahaziah the youngest survived. As a king he was wicked and died in battle with Jehu’s army, the king of the Northern kingdom. The king’s servants buried him in Jerusalem (2 Kings 9:28). In addition to murdering the two kings, Jehu almost annihilated the royal families of both Israel and Judah (2 Chron. 22:8; 2 Kings 10:1-14). The Lord preserved another Satanic attempt to destroy the seed line by preserving the life of Ahaziah’s youngest son Joash.

Athaliah kills all but Joash (II Chronicles 22)

Jehu was in power in the north; and there was no male survivor in the Davidic dynasty except Joash, an infant son of Ahaziah back in Jerusalem. Ahaziah’s wicked mother Athaliah took the throne and started a bloody massacre to exterminate the royal family, which would have ended the Messianic line. Then Jehosheba, Ahaziah’s sister, hid her baby nephew from the queen, and spared the infant Joash’s life, Ahaziah’s son. He was kept in safety until the six years of Athaliah’s reign ended (841-835 B.C.).

 Blood Curse on Jeconiah

The kings of the southern kingdom had declined in morality, and one of the most interesting enigmas in Scripture emerges from the blood curse that God pronounced on Jeconiah (also known as Coniah): Jeremiah 22:28-30 28 Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not? 29 O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord. 30 Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah (KJV).  The Messiah was prophesied to come from the royal line of David, but with a blood curse on the royal line of Jeconiah this could not happen. God always keeps His word. How can the Messiah come from the royal line that is now subject to a blood curse? God gives us the answer through the differing genealogies of Christ recorded in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Matthew, as a member of the Tribe of Levi, focuses his gospel on the Messiahship of Jesus and presents Him as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Thus, Matthew traces the legal line from Abraham through David, then through Solomon to Jacob the father of Joseph, the legal stepfather of Jesus. On the other hand, Luke traces the bloodline from Adam (the first Man) through to David and his genealogy from Abraham through David is identical to Matthew’s. But after David, Luke departs from the path taken by Matthew and traces the family tree through another son of David (the second surviving son of Bathsheba), Nathan, down through Heli, the father of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary was a virgin and therefore not subject to the blood curse. Even though the text of our Bibles in Luke chapter three say Joseph is the son of Heli, he clearly can’t have two fathers; Heli is Mary’s father. Scriptural evidence to explain the substitution is given in Numbers 27:1-11 and 36:1-12. Normally inheritance came through the sons. The daughters of Zelophehad had petitioned Moses for a special exception to the inheritance law since they were the only surviving relatives in their family. This was granted to them when they entered the land under Joshua. The one exception to the law in which inheritance is permitted through the daughter is if no sons are available, and she married within her tribe. The pure blood of Christ relies upon this peculiar exception granted to the family of Zelophehad in Numbers chapters 27 and 36. Heli, Mary’s father, apparently had no sons, and Mary married within the tribe of Judah. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, of the house and lineage of David and carrying legal title to the line, but without the blood curse of Jeconiah. The Greek text of the Luke passage is marked to indicate that Heli is Mary’s father. Joseph clearly cannot have two fathers.

Haman’s attempts (Esther 3)

Mordecai was the single Jew in the Persian King Xerxes’ court. Mordecai’s job was to represent the Jews and translate the king’s orders for the Jewish community. Haman, also close to the king, wanted to kill Mordecai for not bowing to him when ordered to do so, because Mordecai said that he, a Jew, does not bow to Haman. In the story, Haman and his wife Zeresh instigate a plot to kill all of the Jews of ancient Persia. Haman attempts to convince King Xerxes to order the killing of Mordecai and all the Jews of the lands he ruled. Killing Mordecai would not solve Haman’s problem because a new Jewish representative will take his place and will also not bow to him. So Haman decided to kill the whole nation of Mordecai, including Mordecai himself, and then there will be no need for a new Jewish representative, who might not bow to him. The plot is foiled by Queen Esther, the king’s recent wife, who herself is a Jew. Haman is hanged from the gallows that had originally been built to hang Mordecai. The Lord used Esther to intervene and save the entire Jewish nation and thereby preserve the Messianic line to Jesus.

Joseph’s fears (Matthew 1)

In the ancient days of the Jewish marriage practices, the engagement was considered to be an integral part of the marriage. So much so that any sexual activity during or outside of the engagement period was considered adultery, which could be punishable by death. When Joseph heard that Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit he wanted to privately and quickly break the engagement. This would have given Jesus the status of bastard and therefore disqualified her baby from a Jewish legal perspective as the Messiah. Satan had obviously convinced him that Mary’s story of being visited by the angel Gabriel and pregnant with the Holy Spirit was unbelievable.  It was only through God’s intervention that Joseph believed the story and stayed with Mary, which gave Jesus a Jewish legal mother and father in an earthly sense. Satan’s plot was again foiled.

Herod’s attempts (Matthew 2)

King Herod was an insecure man. He was also not Jewish. He was from Edom and was a half-Jew at best. The occupying Romans put him on the throne. One of the worst persecutions that Herod orchestrated was the killing of the young male children as recorded by Matthew chapter 2. Herod was threatened that a true King of the Jews would replace him when the Magi met with him to locate the baby Jesus so that they could worship Him. Scripture explains that Herod was troubled and all Jerusalem with him over the Magi’s visit. This is not grammatical hyperbole. The ancient Magi were a hereditary priesthood of the Medes credited with profound and extraordinary religious knowledge. Herod consulted his chief priests and scribes to find out what the Scriptures said about the location of the birth of the Messiah. He relayed the Bethlehem location (Micah 5:2) to the Magi then followed that with a request for them to come back to him to verify the Messiah’s location.  This was under the guise of Herod “worshipping” Him too.  When the Magi were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, he realized that he had been tricked and ordered all male children less than two years of age in Bethlehem and its environs to be slain. Joseph, Jesus’ stepfather was also warned in a dream and went to Egypt for safety.

Conclusion

There are many more attempts that could be demonstrated from Scripture where Satan tried to stop the birth of the Messiah. He was not able to prevail and we are clearly shown that the Lord God will always prevail and His enemies will not. Our Lord was born on exactly the day the Lord prophesied in Daniel 9:27. Here the Bible predicts that the Messiah will be on earth in 483 years from the time of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem after the last siege of the Babylonians in 586 B.C. King Artaxerxes issued that decree to Nehemiah in about 444 B.C. Some believe that this decree was made at an earlier date. In any event, counting out the exact timetable of the 183,880 days described in Daniel chapter 9 puts the timing of the appearance of the Messiah within Jesus’ lifetime. Satan could not stop Jesus from coming and nobody will stop Him from coming back.   Daniel E. Woodhead Ph.D.

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