Satan’s Death Throes

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St Michael and his Angels Fight the Dragon Fight, Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) Source: Albrecht Durer the Complete Works

Introduction

It is an undeniable fact that throughout the New Testament there is a consistent sense of anticipation concerning Christ’s impending return.

There are scholars today who claim Jesus and the Apostles got it wrong. Those who do so undermine the inspiration of the Scriptures.

Equally, the 1st century church eagerly awaited the imminent demise of Satan.

I will attempt to explain how and when Satan met his end, which is an aspect rarely addressed today. I will produce scriptural evidence to prove that not only did Jesus return as promised, He also defeated all His enemies, including Satan!

Reluctance to Proclaim Outright Victory

Other than a fleeting comment that Satan is a defeated foe, many sermons about him quickly revert to how he is causing havoc in the world today. Consequently, a typical theme is the ‘wiles of the devil’; exhorting believers to guard against the pitfalls Satan has set for the unsuspecting believer.

Many scholars are willing to defend the view that Christ defeated Satan, yet reluctant to affirm His outright victory! Why should this be? In my opinion, empirical evidence has replaced the inspired Word of God.

Due to the evil prevalent in the world today, the perception is that Satan is alive, well, and more active than ever. Perhaps if Christians accepted what the Scriptures actually teach regarding the defeat of Satan, their outlook would dramatically change for the better.

If Jesus said it, then I believe it! Regardless of how things may appear, believers must put their trust in the Word of God, and not allow every sensational headline or crisis to strike fear in their hearts.

Infatuation with the Origin and Character of Satan

It is not difficult these days to find highly imaginative scenarios as to the character of Satan. There is a profusion of websites, religious and secular books, and fantastic works of art on the subject. All of which nourish an unhealthy fascination with Satan and the occult. Other dubious sources include extra-biblical writing, mythology, and the vain imagination of ‘man’.

Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28

Dramatic sermons often describe the origin and character of Satan, deduced from reading between the lines of Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. Correct me if I am wrong, but neither the Lord Jesus Christ nor any of the New Testament writers ever quoted from or alluded to these two chapters. Considering the magnitude of this doctrine and its influence on the Church today, surely it is reasonable to expect some references, since these have formed the foundation of the doctrine.

My articles ‘Who Is the Bright and Morning Star? Jesus or Lucifer’ and ‘There Never Was a Pre-Adamic Race?’ may help to explain my viewpoint on this particular aspect of the doctrine of Satan.

Satan’s Purpose

The Hebrew word ‘ha-satan’ means ‘the adversary’, ‘the obstacle’, and ‘the accuser’.

It is interesting to note that Robert Young in his highly acclaimed literal translation of the Bible, took the time to translate ‘ha-satan’ as ‘The Adversary’ on every occasion. Many translators retained the Hebrew ‘satan’ and personalised it by adding a capital ‘S’, thereby raising his status.

God is Sovereign

God in His infinite wisdom chose to use ‘The Adversary’ in His great plan of redemption. Satan, irrespective of his origin and character, had exceptional powers, although he was restricted in his opposition. Only God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, Satan was a created being and never possessed any of these divine attributes.

I will leave it to the speculators whether Satan was an angel who had fallen from favour or otherwise. It is of far greater importance that believers are aware of Satan’s end rather than his beginning!

Satan in the Old Testament

Relatively speaking, the references to Satan in the Old Testament are few by comparison to the New Testament.

Satan’s Adversarial Actions

The beguiling of Eve… Genesis 3:4; 2 Corinthians 11:3

The testing of Job… Job 1:12

The provocation of David… 2 Samuel 24:1; 1 Chronicles 21:11

The adversary of Joshua the high priest… Zechariah 3:1

Satan in the New Testament

Satan dramatically exploded onto the scene at the advent of Christ in a vain attempt to thwart every move to establish the Kingdom of God in the hearts of men.

Satan’s Adversarial Actions

The temptation of Christ… Matthew 4:1

The sifting of Peter… Luke 22:31

The buffeting of Paul… 2 Corinthians 12:7

Satan’s Titles:

The prince of this world… John 14:30

The god of this world (age)… 2 Corinthians 4:4

The prince of the power of air… Ephesians 2:2

The power of darkness… Colossians 1:13

The great dragon, the serpent, the devil, Satan… Revelation 12:9

‘Deliverance to the captives’

Luk 4:18-21 KJV The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.’

‘deliverance to the captives’ This quote from Isaiah 61 alluded to Satan’s overthrow. Jesus added ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.’

The Binding of Satan

Mar 3:27 KJV No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.

The miracles that accompanied Jesus’ ministry were evidence of Satan’s binding.

The binding of Satan occurred during the first advent of Christ, and his ‘loosing’ was for a short time prior to Christ’s return on the great and terrible day of the Lord in AD 70.

The Return of the Seventy

Luk 10:17-18 KJV And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

‘even the devils are subject unto us through thy name’ It was when the seventy returned with joy, having exercised the power of God in the casting out of devils through His name, Jesus declared ‘I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.’

Luke 10:18 ‘I beheld Satan – That is, when ye went forth, I saw the kingdom of Satan, which was highly exalted, swiftly and suddenly cast down.’ — John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

The Casting Out of Satan

John 12:31 KJV Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

‘now shall the prince of this world be cast out’ Why do scholars insist Satan is as active as ever? Surely ‘now’ means ‘the present time or moment’, his casting out is history.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible

John 12:31 ‘Now – This moment. And from this moment Christ thirsted more than ever, till his baptism was accomplished. Is the judgment of this world – That is, now is the judgment given concerning it, whose it shall be. Now shall the prince of this world – Satan, who had gained possession of it by sin and death, be cast out – That is, judged, condemned, cast out of his possession, and out of the bounds of Christ’s kingdom.’

Dispensationalism’s Dilemma

According to Dispensationalism, Satan’s demise is at the end of the 1000 years reign of Christ on earth. However, Paul wrote to the Romans to reassure them the ‘crushing’ of Satan was about to happen within their lifetime. Did he give them false hope? Of course, he didn’t.

Romans 16:20

The Crushing of Satan under the Feet of the Saints

Rom 16:20 (King James Version) And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Rom 16:20 (Young’s Literal Translation) and the God of the peace shall bruise the Adversary under your feet quickly; the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen!

Rom 16:20 (Bible in Basic English) And the God of peace will be crushing Satan under your feet before long. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

‘the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly/quickly/before long’ According to Dispensationalism, the Lake of Fire awaits Satan at the end of the 1000 years reign of Christ on earth, irrespective of Paul’s assurance to the Romans of the impending ‘crushing’ of Satan. This is a typical example of a clear and simple statement of imminence being misconstrued, with its meaning thrust into the far and distant future to support an ill-founded doctrine.

Bruise

‘Bruise συντρίβω suntribō G4937 soon-tree’-bo From G4862 and the base of G5147; to crush completely, that is, to shatter (literally or figuratively): – break (in pieces), broken to shivers (+ -hearted), bruise’  – Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries

According to Strong’s dictionary, this ‘bruise’ was not just a slap on the wrist!

Did Paul get it wrong? Of course he didn’t. Not only would doubt be cast over the Epistles of Paul, the inspiration of the Word of God would be undermined.

The Destruction of Satan

Heb 2:14 KJV Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Hebrews 2:14 ‘He might destroy – That he might “subdue,” or that he might overcome him, and “destroy” his dominion. The word “destroy” here is not used in the sense of “closing life,” or of “killing,” but in the sense of bringing into subjection, or crushing his power. This is the work which the Lord Jesus came to perform – to destroy the kingdom of Satan in the world, and to set up another kingdom in its place. This was understood by Satan to be his object: see the Mat 8:29 note; Mar 1:24 note…’

The Timeline of Satan’s Demise

Jesus Had the Keys

Rev 1:18 ISV the living one. I was dead, but look-I am alive forever and ever! I have the keys of Death and Hades.

At the time John received the Revelation, Jesus said ‘I have the keys of death and Hades’. He thereby announced He had complete control over Satan. The Revelation was for the encouragement of believers in John’s day, and unveiled the impending sequence of events leading to the final destruction of all Christ enemies.

Rev 20:2-3 KJV And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

According to Dispensationalism the binding of Satan begins at the future 1000 years reign of Christ, then loosed for a short season at the end. This view contradicts the foregoing Scriptures that clearly describe impending judgement.

The Thousand Years and Chilias or Chilioi

In my opinion, the millennium was not a literal 1000 years. The timeline began with the binding of Satan during Christ’s ministry… Matthew 12:21 and continued until set loose for a short time leading to the Roman/Jewish war, AD 66 to AD 70.

John did not write the Greek numerical ‘thousand’ (chilias) years’, six times he wrote the Greek ‘thousand’ (chilioi) years’. So what is the difference?

A Quote from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary

‘G5505 ÷éëéÜò chilias khil-ee-as’ From G5507; one thousand (“chiliad”): – thousand.’

‘G5507 ÷ßëéïé chilioi khil’-ee-oy Plural of uncertain affinity; a thousand: – thousand.’

In Revelation 20, ‘thousand’ was not ‘chilias’ the numerical 1000, but always ‘chilioi’, it was suitable for figurative speech.

Rev 20:7 KJV And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

With Satan released from the abyss, the end of ‘1000 years period’ drew near. The Dragon enlisted the beast to make war with the saints… Revelation 13:7 Many suffered martyrdom for the testimony of Jesus… Revelation 20:4

At that time the Old Covenant was still in effect but was ready to pass away; it ended with the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in AD 70.

Rev 20:10 KJV And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

God has accomplished His great plan of redemption; therefore, there is no longer satanic deception of the nations.

Why is There Still Evil in the World Today?

Jas 1:14-15 KJV But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

According to the Scriptures, this world’s problem is no longer Satan but mankind’s sinful nature.

Joh 8:44 KJV Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Col 2:18 KJV Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

Sin has been the major contributing factor in this grief stricken world.

Jer 17:9 KJV The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

1Jn 2:16 KJV For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

‘Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity’

Hos 4:1-2 KJV Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. 2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.

Hos 8:7 KJV For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.

Hosea prophesied God’s judgement upon the Kingdom of Israel because of their idolatry and wickedness. The idols they had created and worshipped would prove incapable of rescuing them.

‘For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind’ God revealed to Hosea the reason why and its consequences. In other words, it was inevitable their sins would catch up with them.

The Assyrian Empire swept down and laid the Northern Kingdom to waste, enslaving its inhabitants.

Hos 10:13 KJV Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.

Personally, I believe this tragedy is a reflection of the sinful condition of mankind. Throughout the annals of history to the present time we constantly read of such events.

Gal 6:7-8 KJV Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

It is impossible to reap anything other than sown. Notwithstanding, ‘man’ never takes the blame or responsibility for his sinful actions, instead he claims ‘the Devil made me do it’.

The modern idiom comes to mind, ‘What goes around comes around’.

Conclusion

I have presented Scriptures that describe Satan’s demise during the lifetime of Christ’s generation. These Scriptures contain words such as bind, fall, cast out, judge, bruise, crush, and destroy. All of which vividly portray the ‘death throes’ of Satan.

At Christ’s parousia, the final blow was struck during the great and terrible day of the Lord in AD 70. God’s great plan of redemption was accomplished, bought and paid for by the blood of the New Covenant.

Unfortunately, many New Covenant believers are encouraged to continue a war that has already been won, instead of rejoicing in Christ’s victory.

Where is Satan today? Satan was completely ‘whipped’ and ‘stripped’ of his kingdom and cast into the Lake of Fire.

1Jn 3:8 KJV He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

A Quote from Vincent’s Word Studies

1 John 3:8 ‘The Devil See on 1Jn 2:13. Compare Joh 8:44. “The devil made no one, he begot no one, he created no one; but whosoever imitates the devil, is, as it were, a child of the devil, through imitating, not through being born of him” (Augustine).’

Satan’s only legacy today is found in his imitators who prefer darkness to the light of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Scriptures proclaimed Jesus would return quickly to complete His victory. I believe He did exactly that.

Was Christ a failure in His mission to defeat the Devil? Of course He wasn’t.

What do you think?

 

 

Who is the Bright and Morning Star? Jesus or Lucifer

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The Light of the World, James Holman Hunt (1827-1910)
Source: Artists for Christ

Introduction

The titles ‘Bright and Morning Star’, ‘Day Star’, and ‘Light Bearer’, belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.

I fail to grasp why many believers attribute this title to Satan. Most likely, the basis of their assumption is the tenuous interpretation of Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. Not only does it demean this appellation of Christ, it exalts the Satan to a level far above his station.

It is remarkable that the majority of Christians, based solely on private interpretation, has embraced this doctrine concerning the origin and character of Satan. For example:

A Quote from Got Questions

‘There is no verse in the Bible that says, “Lucifer is Satan,” but an examination of several passages reveals that Lucifer can be none other than Satan. The fall of Lucifer described in Isaiah 14:12 is likely the same that Jesus referred to in Luke 10:18: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” A similar fall is depicted in Ezekiel 28.’

There is no verse in the Bible that says, “Lucifer is Satan,”’ Alarm bells should be ringing after reading this opening sentence.

The fall of Lucifer described in Isaiah 14:12 is likely the same…’ Is likely the same? Should a doctrine be based on ‘likely’.

Jesus and the New Testament writers often quoted and alluded to the Old Testament to endorse the authenticity of their statements. Yet they never referenced Isaiah 14 or Ezekiel 28. Surely, it is reasonable to expect at least one quote, considering the magnitude of this doctrine’s influence on the Church today.

I will seek to explain from the Scriptures why I am convinced these chapters do not describe the character of Satan.

Isaiah 14

When taken out of context, Isaiah 14 gives license to the most imaginative and ludicrous descriptions of Satan; elevating him to a position that is totally inappropriate and unscriptural.

Isaiah prophesied the deliverance of Israel and the fall of the Babylonian Empire.

Summary of Isaiah 14

Deliverance of Israel from captivity, which shall follow the downfall of the great empire, Isa 14:1, Isa 14:2. Triumphant ode or song of the children of Jacob, for the signal manifestation of Divine vengeance against their oppressors, vv. 3-23. Prophecy against the Assyrians, Isa 14:24, Isa 14:25. Certainty of the prophecy, and immutability of the Divine counsels, Isa 14:26, Isa 14:27. Palestine severely threatened, Isa 14:28-31. God shall establish Zion… Isa 14:32.’ – Adam Clarke

Isaiah 14 the Proverb

Isa 14:4 KJV That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!

Isaiah 14 was actually a proverb or poem, which mocked the rise and fall of the Babylonian dynasty, from powerful Nebuchadnezzar to partying Belshazzar.

The Lord can exalt rulers and the Lord can cast them down, Babylon was not an exception, ‘he removeth kings, and setteth up kings’… Daniel 2:21; Daniel 4:32

Lost in Translation

Isa 14:12 KJV How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, (heylel) son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

Heylel

The meaning of the Hebrew word ‘heylel’ is ‘morning star’. In my opinion, it was used to illustrate the magnitude of Nebuchadnezzar’s rise to power; the ‘morning star’ was one of his honorific titles.

Phosphorus

‘Heylel’ was translated ‘phosphoros’ in the Greek Septuagint, subsequently; when Jerome translated his 4th Century Latin Vulgate Bible he used ‘lucifer’.

‘Phosphorus’ appears only once in the New Testament when Peter described Jesus as ‘the morning star’… 2 Peter 1:19 Surely, he would not have done so if the title belonged to Satan!

Lucifer

It is unfortunate that the translators of the King James Version not only retained the Latin ‘lucifer’, but also personified it by adding a capital ‘L’.

In the KJV, ‘Lucifer’ appears once. It is folly to build a doctrine on one verse of Scripture.

Isa 14:12-14 KJV How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Striking Facts or Striking Fiction

A Quote from the Summarized Bible

Striking Facts: Isa_14:12-14. ‘This is a reference to Satan, the real, though unseen ruler of successive world powers. This tells the story of the beginning of sin in the universe. The universal catastrophe here predicted has never occurred and has to do with the close of the times of the Gentiles and the setting up of Christ’s Kingdom.’

This quote from the Summarized Bible is a typical example of reading between the lines and reaching a conclusion that is bereft of scriptural support. I wonder if the Summarised Bible would have made this presumption had the King James Version properly translated the Hebrew ‘heylel’ into English (morning star) instead of Latin (Lucifer).

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 14:12 ‘Isaiah 14:12’O Lucifer, son of the morning – The Versions in general agree in this translation, and render היללheilel as signifying Lucifer, Φωσφωρος, the morning star, whether Jupiter or Venus; as these are both bringers of the morning light, or morning stars, annually in their turn. And although the context speaks explicitly concerning Nebuchadnezzar, yet this has been, I know not why, applied to the chief of the fallen angels, who is most incongruously denominated Lucifer, (the bringer of light!) an epithet as common to him as those of Satan and Devil. That the Holy Spirit by his prophets should call this arch-enemy of God and man the light-bringer, would be strange indeed. But the truth is, the text speaks nothing at all concerning Satan nor his fall, nor the occasion of that fall, which many divines have with great confidence deduced from this text. O how necessary it is to understand the literal meaning of Scripture, that preposterous comments may be prevented! Besides, I doubt much whether our translation be correct. הילל heilel, which we translate Lucifer, comes from ילל yalal, yell, howl, or shriek, and should be translated, “Howl, son of the morning;” and so the Syriac has understood it; and for this meaning Michaelis contends: see his reasons in Parkhurst, under הלל halal.’

The well-respected commentator Adam Clarke felt it necessary to set the record straight. He was convinced ‘the context speaks explicitly concerning Nebuchadnezzar’.

A Quote from the Amplified Bible

Isaiah 14:12 ‘Some students feel that the application of the name Lucifer to Satan is erroneous, even though it is commonly taught to that effect. Lucifer, THE LIGHT BRINGER, is the Latin equivalent of the Greek word phosphoros, which is used as a title of Christ in 2 Peter 1:19 (…until the DAY STAR arise in your hearts.) and corresponds to the name `BRIGHT MORNING STAR’ in Revelation 22:16, which Jesus called Himself. The application of the name Lucifer has only existed since the third century A.D., and is based on the supposition that Luke 10:18 (I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven) is an explanation of Isaiah 14:12, which authorities feel is not true.’

Isa 14:16 KJV They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;

In this chapter, the ‘morning star’ was an epithet of Nebuchadnezzar the man, not a spirit being.

Isa 14:22 KJV For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD.

There is no evidence in the Scriptures to purport that ‘morning star’ was a description of Satan, or that Isaiah 14 explained his origin and character.

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Isaiah 14:22 ‘For I will rise up against them, saith the Lord of hosts – That is, against the family of, the king of Babylon. And cut off from Babylon the name – That is, all the “males” of the royal family, so that the name of the monarch shall become extinct (compare Rth_4:5; Isa_56:5)…….’

On the contrary, Isaiah clearly prophesied God’s judgement on the Babylonian dynasty.

Isaiah 14:12

‘The exposition of this passage, which some have given, as if it referred to Satan, has arisen from ignorance; for the context plainly shows that these statements must be understood in reference to the king of the Babylonians. But when passages of Scripture are taken up at random, and no attention is paid to the context, we need not wonder that mistakes of this kind frequently arise.’ – John Calvin

Ezekiel 28

There has been far more ‘Striking Fiction’ than ‘Striking Facts’ written about Satan, to grant him the title of ‘morning star’ is completely untenable.

Let us eliminate the myths surrounding this character and attempt to uphold what the Scriptures actually teach.

Summary of Ezekiel 28

‘Against the Prince of Tyre – Ezekiel 28:1-19 As the city of Tyre was first of all threatened with destruction (Ezekiel 26), and then her fall was confirmed by a lamentation (Ezekiel 27), so here the prince of Tyre is first of all forewarned of his approaching death (Eze 28:1-10), and then a lamentation is composed thereon (Eze 28:11-19).’ – Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament

The accolade ‘morning star’, the titles anointed cherub and archangel, are included in Lucifer’s curriculum vitae. There is no evidence in the Scriptures to prove that Satan was either an archangel or a cherub.

Eze 28:2 KJV Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God:

‘yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God’. The fact of the matter is that Ezekiel prophesied the downfall of the King of Tyre.

A Quote from Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Ezekiel 28:1-10 ‘The pride of the prince of Tyre is described in Eze_28:2 as consisting in the fact that he regarded himself as a God, and his seat in the island of Tyre as a God’s seat…’ ‘…The Tyrian state was the production and seat of its gods. He, the prince of Tyre, presided over this divine creation and divine seat; therefore he, the prince, was himself a god, a manifestation of the deity, having its work and home in the state of Tyre…’

Was Lucifer the Anointed Cherub?

Eze 28:14 KJV Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.

The purpose of the cherubim is to guard the things of God, while angels are messengers sent from God. According to Christian tradition Satan was both!

Was Lucifer Really One of Three Archangels?

Although Christian tradition has adopted the idea that Satan was one of three archangels, this misconception is from extra-Biblical sources; there is no mention of three in the Scriptures. Michael is the only archangel named… Jude 1:9

Eze 28:17 KJV Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

‘because of thy beauty’ Many scholars contend Satan was the most beautiful of all the angels. However, Ezekiel 28 described the king of Tyre, not a spirit being.

Did Lucifer Enjoy the Delights of the Garden?

Ezekiel’s 28:13 KJV Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

Scholars also claim Lucifer fell from his elevated position in the angelic host prior to the creation of Adam and the Garden Eden, if so, how could he have been the person described in Ezekiel 28:13?

Jesus Is the True Morning Star

Isaiah prophesied ‘ people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined’… Isaiah 9:2 This and similar prophecies pointed to the coming of the Messiah… Isaiah 60 1-2

Joh 1:5 KJV And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

2Pe 1:19 KJV We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

John described Jesus as ‘the light shineth in darkness’. Peter also used a similar phrase ‘a light that shineth in a dark place’ when he described Jesus as ‘the day star’. The fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecies was the advent of Christ.

Conclusion

Satan may have been a predominant fallen angel who possessed great powers, but why glamourise him by the misappropriation of Scripture.

I find it incomprehensible that Christian tradition has given Satan the grand title of ‘light-bringer’!

The Final Word

Rev 2:28 KJV And I will give him the morning star.

The reward of the overcomer is ‘the morning star’; thankfully in the final chapter of the Revelation, Jesus settled the identity of ‘the bright and morning star’.

Rev 22:16 KJV I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

If Jesus said it, then I believe it!

What do you think?

Footnote

Recommended Reading:

I discovered this fascinating article on the city of Tyre while ‘searchin’ for information on Ezekiel 28: Tyre in Prophecy

 

 

The Denigration of Adam: Does it Really Matter?

 

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Adam and Eve in Paradise, Francesco Bartolozzi (1727-1815) Source: Wikimedia

Introduction

A clear perspective on the life and ‘deaths’ of Adam is pivotal to Christianity.

In my opinion, there are those with a hidden agenda behind the denigration of Adam. By diminishing the creation and fall of Adam, not only does it impugn the Scriptures, sin and the fallen nature of man are reduced to irrelevant issues.

Sadly, it is not only unbelievers who are dismissive of Adam, some Bible scholars also teach he never existed and the creation account in Genesis is simply an allegory. Others that a Pre-Adamic race existed prior to the creation of Adam, thereby, undermining God’s great plan of redemption.

I will attempt to explain why I believe the Genesis account of Adam and Eve. I don’t expect to change the minds of ‘all’ sceptics, but I do hope to inform and encourage fellow believers confronted by intransigent critics.

So how should Bible believing Christians respond? Our ensample is the Lord Jesus Christ, who constantly responded to His critics with the Word of God.

The Inspiration of the Scriptures

2Ti 3:16 KJV All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

If believers accept without question that Adam and Eve never existed, the implications have far reaching repercussions, in particular, the defamation of the Word of God.

Reputations are at risk, Job, Luke, Paul, James, Jude, and the Lord Jesus Christ, all affirmed the existence of Adam and Eve. If we undermine their testimony how can we rely on anything else they said or wrote.

Job’s Reference to Adam

Job 31:33 KJV If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom:

Job referred directly to Adam’s transgression and his vain attempt to hide from God.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Job 31:33 ‘If I covered my transgressions as Adam – Here is a most evident allusion to the fall. Adam transgressed the commandment of his Maker, and he endeavored to conceal it; first, by hiding himself among the trees of the garden: “I heard thy voice, and went and Hid myself;” secondly, by laying the blame on his wife: “The woman gave me, and I did eat;” and thirdly, by charging the whole directly on God himself: “The woman which Thou Gavest Me to be with me, She gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” And it is very likely that Job refers immediately to the Mosaic account in the Book of Genesis. The spirit of this saying is this: When I have departed at any time from the path of rectitude, I have been ready to acknowledge my error, and have not sought excuses or palliatives for my sin.’

Ezekiel’s Reference to Job

Eze 14:14 K JV Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.

Some scholars also claim Job was a fictitious character, while Ezekiel revealed Job had a soul.

The Scriptures confirm Job’s existence. On two occasions, Ezekiel included Job with Noah and Daniel, when he described them as three righteous men… Ezekiel 14:20

James’ Reference to Job

Jas 5:10-11 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. 11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

Not only did James describe Job as a man of patience, he included him with other great men of God, ‘the prophets’.

Luke’s Reference to Adam

Luk 3:38 KJV Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

Luke traced the genealogy of Christ back to Adam. How did he do that if Adam never existed?

If we reject Luke’s research, we are obliged to accept that Christ is also a fictional character! How could Jesus descend from someone who never was?

Paul’s Reference to Adam

1Ti 2:13-14 KJV For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

It is interesting to note that none of the inspired writers suggested or alluded to an allegorical Adam.

Paul not only affirmed the existence of Adam, he revealed Adam was not deceived.

Adam knew exactly what he was doing when he ate the fruit, and was fully aware of the consequences.

According to some scholars, the serpent deceived Adam into believing he would be like God, which contradicts Paul’s account. The serpent beguiled Eve; she partook of the fruit and persuaded Adam to do the same.

Gen 2:24   KJV Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Adam loved Eve and joined in her disobedience that she might not be alone in the death she had brought upon herself. They were one flesh.

A Quote from John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

1Timothy 2:14 ‘The apostle’s positive assertion is to be taken without any such limitations or qualifications; Adam never was deceived at all; neither by the serpent, with whom he never conversed; nor by his wife, he knew what he did, when he took the fruit of her, and ate; he ate it not under any deception, or vain imagination, that they should not die, but should be as gods, knowing good and evil. He took and ate out of love to his wife, from a fond affection to her, to bear her company, and that she might not die alone; he knew what he did, and he knew what would be the consequence of it, the death of them both; and inasmuch as he sinned wilfully, and against light and knowledge, without any deception, his sin was the greater: and hereby death came in, and passed on all men, who sinned in him:’

The repercussions of Adam’s sin were far reaching in that his posterity would also experience the same spiritual death.

Jude’s Reference to Adam

Jud 1:14 KJV   And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

Jude wrote that Enoch was the seventh patriarch from Adam. Enoch may even have met Adam, since they were alive at the same time.

The Lord Jesus Christ Alluded to Adam and Eve

Mat 19:3-4 KJV The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

Mar 10:6 KJV But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

The Pharisees tested Jesus by asking Him to explain His view on divorce. Jesus began His discourse by asserting that in the beginning of creation God made male and female, thereby, He alluded to Adam and Eve. Since Jesus attested to the existence of Adam and Eve, who are we to judge otherwise.

If we trust the Word of God, and are satisfied that Adam and Eve really existed, we can confidently find more answers.

Adam Chose Eve Rather Than the Lord

Adam forfeited all the blessings of the Garden of Eden through his disobedience. Why did he do that?

Jud 1:6 KJV   And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

God imputed Adam with certain attributes, but immutability was not one of them, he was subject to change. Nevertheless, he did have freewill similar to the angels who had the ability to choose between loyalty and rebellion.

Personally, I do not believe mankind has freewill to the same degree as Adam prior to his fall. The only exception being freewill in secular matters, allthough marginalised and impaired by outside influence.

The capacity to assimilate the options available is essential to freewill. On understanding the alternatives, desire increases, only then choice becomes attainable.

1Co 2:13-14 KJV Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Regarding spiritual matters ‘man’ does not have freewill, because ‘man’s’ natural mind cannot grasp spiritual concepts. Natural ‘man’ is dead in trespasses and sin and consequently unable to discern spiritual matters, therefore desire and choice remain quiescent.

Adam could comprehend from experience a spiritual relationship with God his creator, and a loving relationship with his wife. His desire was realised when he rejected the Lord and chose Eve.

The Deaths of Adam

Adam lived, died, continued to live, and died at 930 years of age, how could that be? God said if he ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would die that day.

Gen 2:17 KJV   But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Some scholars claim that although Adam did not die physically that day, by applying the often misquoted ‘one day is with the Lord as a thousand years’… 2 Peter 3:8 they deduce he began to die.

Adam was told categorically he would die that day. Who are we to challenge such a clear statement?

Gen 3:4-5 KJV   And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5   For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Satan told Eve she would not die. God said they would die. I believe God!

Gen 3:6 KJV And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

The day Adam ate the fruit he immediately received the knowledge of good and evil, it is therefore reasonable to conclude he also died that day.

Gen 3:17   KJV And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life’ It is obvious biological death was not the result of disobedience. God said Adam would die the day he ate, yet God told him his punishment for sin was the life of an outcast..

Adam and Eve died spiritually that day in accordance with God’s Word. Jesus came to redeem man from spiritual death; physical death was never the issue.

Eph 2:5-6 KJV Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

It is important to understand that Adam’s spirit did not die, spiritual death meant alienation from God. Adam was cast out through disobedience. Christ’s death and resurrection was the way ‘man’ was restored to his creator. By being born again ‘man’ is resurrected to life with God.

The Result of Adam’s Fall

During the Old Covenant Age, if someone was cast out from the Children of Israel that person was out of covenant and therefore considered dead.

Luk 15:24 KJV For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

The parable of the prodigal son is an illustration of a loving father and a disobedient son. While the son was in a far away country, he was dead to his father. When the son returned with humility and repentance his father forgave him and restored his privileged position; he had been ‘resurrected’ from the dead. The New Covenant introduced by the Lord Jesus Christ is also one of forgiveness, resurrection, reconciliation, and restoration.

For as in Adam all die’

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

Paul alluded to Adam when he taught the sin of Adam had brought death upon mankind.

1Co 15:22 KJV For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Again, Paul affirmed the existence of Adam when he compared the consequences of Adam’s sin to the redemptive work of Christ. All descendants ‘in Adam’ suffer spiritual death; all who are ‘in Christ’ enjoy spiritual resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:22 ‘in Adam all — in union of nature with Adam, as representative head of mankind in their fall. 

in Christ … all — in union of nature with Christ, the representative head of mankind in their recovery. The life brought in by Christ is co-extensive with the death brought in by Adam.’ — Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

Some scholars teach that God never intended Adam to eat of the tree. Of course He did! By what other means would man know ‘good’ without knowing the difference between good and evil?

God created Adam with the ability to exercise freewill. Adam would not have learned the difference between good and evil without the opportunity to choose an alternative path, God used His adversary Satan to accomplish His great plan of redemption.

Unfortunately, Adam acquired knowledge in depth and was cast out of the Garden of Eden, he exchanged the blessings of the Kingdom of God for the evil taskmaster and the kingdom of darkness.

1Pe 1:19-20 KJV But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

God had no need of a ‘plan B’, He was not surprised by Adam’s disobedience. The Lord being omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, knew the end from the beginning. He knew ‘man’ would fail the test; nevertheless, God had already prepared His great plan of Redemption before the foundation of the world.

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

1 Peter 1:20 ‘It follows from what is said in this verse:

(1) That the atonement was not an afterthought on the part of God. It entered into his plan when he made the world, and was revolved in his purposes from eternity.

(2) It was not a device to supply a defect in the system; that is, it was not adopted because the system did not work well, or because God had been disappointed. It was arranged before man was created, and when none but God could know whether he would stand or fall.

(3) The creation of the earth must have had some reference to this plan of redemption, and that plan must have been regarded as in itself so glorious, and so desirable, that it was deemed best to bring the world into existence that the plan might be developed, though it would involve the certainty that the race would fall, and that many would perish. It was, on the whole, more wise and benevolent that the race should be created with a certainty that they would apostatize, than it would be that the race should not he created, and the plan of salvation be unknown to distant worlds. See the notes at 1Pe 1:12.’

God’s Great Plan of Redemption

Joh 11:25-26 KJV Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Physical death is not a prerequisite for resurrection. Believers, who were once spiritually dead, experience resurrection by grace through faith in Christ.

Psa 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Should physical death hold fear over those in Covenant with God? Biological death does not separate the believer from God. Physical death is the way into the greater plan of God for those who have put their trust in Him.

Conclusion

Jesus is the antitype of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden.

I believe from a Christian perspective, the Scriptures provide the answers to the questions that plague the conscience of ‘man’. Unfortunately, the natural mind cannot contemplate the spiritual things of God, and thereby reacts disparagingly to anything Christianity proffers. Only the Holy Spirit can enlighten the heart of ‘man’.

If you are not born again, and this article has stirred interest in your heart, call on the Lord, and ask Him to reveal His plan of salvation, He will answer.

What do you think?

There Never was a Pre-Adamic Race

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St. Michael and Satan, Raphael (1483-1520) Source: Olga’s Gallery

Introduction

There are numerous conflicting views on Creation within Christianity today.

Personally, I was influenced by the ‘Gap Theory’, which is another dubious teaching popularised within Dispensationalism.

During the 19th century in particular, some scholars attempted to harmonise the Scriptures with science. This was a vain, yet genuine attempt to defend the Word of God from the onslaught of emerging scientific ‘discoveries’. As if such a course of action was necessary!

The Gap Theory not only attempts to explain Creation, it incorporates the doctrine of the Rise and Fall of Satan.

The problem is, the Scriptures do not support this view.

The Domino Effect of the Gap Theory

According to Dispensationalism, a Pre-Adamic race existed between Genesis 1:1-2 with Lucifer its ruler. Ultimately, he rebelled and sinned against God. The result was his fall and the destruction of the Pre-Adamic world. Notwithstanding, after a considerable ‘gap’ in time, God recreated the heaven and the earth from the formless void that remained, with Adam the pinnacle of His new creation. However, fallen Lucifer caused Adam to disobey God when he tempted Eve in the garden and the rest is history.

Those who promulgate the ‘Gap Theory’ are immediately confronted by an insurmountable difficulty; the ‘domino effect’ on their ‘Origin of Satan’ theory. If Lucifer fell during a Pre-Adamic world, how could he possibly fit the description of the person described in Isaiah and Ezekiel?

Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 being the premise to support Satan’s origin and fall.

Topple one domino and others fall, the same apparently applies to false teachings.

Eze 28:13-15 KJV Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

Pastor Bill Britton clearly explains the dilemma:

A Quote from Pastor Bill Britton lighthouselibrary.com

Ezekiel 28:13 ‘As for Satan being ‘Lucifer’ (King James Version only) of Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, consider this… this being who fell was described as holy and beautiful and wise before he fell, and was described as being in the Garden of God, walking among the stones of fire, etc. Read Genesis account of creation, and find that the Garden was prepared for ADAM, not Satan, and that according to the ‘gap theory’ (a foundation for the Holy Angel Lucifer theory), the Garden was not even created until after ‘Lucifer’ was supposed to have fallen and become Satan. So Satan could not have walked in the Garden of God in a holy state, as per Ezekiel. Read the footnote on Isaiah 14:12 in the Amplified Bible, as to why ‘Lucifer’ is only in King James.’

Disseminators of the Gap Theory

C Larkin, F J Dake, J N Darby, C I Scofield, T Chalmers, Chuck Missler, and Jimmy Swaggart (to name a few) helped promote this doctrine, now considered by many to be the orthodox view.

‘The manner of the “creation” of the Pre-Adamite Earth is not revealed in the Scriptures. They simply declare that-“In the BEGINNING GOD CREATED the heaven and the earth.” We have to fall back then upon Science.’ — Clarence Larkin, Dispensational Truth

We have to fall back then upon science’! In that case rule me out.

Let us stand by the adage ‘let us speak when the Scriptures speak and be silent when the Scriptures are silent’. The Scriptures are silent about a Pre-Adamic race having ever existed.

‘Satan before his fall was the “Anointed Cherub that Covereth”. That is, he was the Guardian of the “Throne of God”. The probability is that the original Earth was placed under his “Governorship”, and was the scene of the first rebellion against the “Kingdom of God”, for which Satan was responsible…’ — Clarence Larkin, Dispensational Truth

Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 and a Pre-Adamic Race

Even although Charles Larkin used the word ‘probability’ in his statement, many believe his theory is ‘factuality’! In my opinion, without scriptural support, he should have remained silent instead of allowing his imagination to run wild.

The Scriptures cited to support the Gap Theory are taken out of context, and thereby fail to add any credibility to the view.

Let’s examine the Scriptures that reputedly prop up this doctrine.

Genesis 1:2 and a Pre-Adamic Race

Gen 1:2-3 GW The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water. The Spirit of God was hovering over the water. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light!” So there was light.

formless and empty’ The phrase simply means the earth was still unformed; it was not the finished work of creation. This Scripture does not support the assumption that a Pre-Adamic rebellion by Satan caused the Earth to be ‘formless and empty’.

‘Genesis 1 is not a history of the original creation, but of a reconstruction following a cataclysmic judgment which had befallen the original creation. Gen_1:1 Original creation. Gen_1:2 its destruction. Gen_1:3 and on, Reconstruction.’  — The Summarised Bible Commentary

The Summarized Bible Commentary not only endorsed the theory of a cataclysmic judgement between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:3; it surrendered to science in the process.

The Prophet Jeremiah Mourning over the Destruction of Jerusalem

Jeremiah 4:24 and a Pre-Adamic Race

Jer 4:23-26 KJV I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. 24 I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. 25 I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. 26 I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger.

‘the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void’  This phrase may allude to Genesis 1:2 but it does not automatically endorse the Gap Theory. Jeremiah described the utter devastation that had overwhelmed the Kingdom of Judah.

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Jeremiah 4:23-26 ‘In four verses each beginning with “I beheld,” the prophet sees in vision the desolate condition of Judaea during the Babylonian captivity.’

Jeremiah used poetic prophetic language to describe the result of God’s judgement.

Luke 10:18: and a Pre-Adamic Race

Luk 10:17-18 KJV And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

Luke 10:18: ‘This refers to the casting out of Satan when he invaded heaven from the earth long before Adam.’ — F  Dake, Annotated Reference Bible

Many scholars misquote Luke 10:18 to support the casting out of Satan and his angels from Heaven during a Pre-Adamic rebellion. By doing so, the verse is taken out of context and misinterpreted.

How could Dake postulate such a theory? Luke 10:18 has nothing to do with a Pre-Adamic race. The seventy, filled with joy, reported to Jesus they had fulfilled His commission to preach the Kingdom of God and heal the sick. Jesus responded by saying, ‘I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven’.

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Luke 10:18 ‘…that is, “I followed you on your mission, and watched its triumphs; while you were wondering at the subjection to you of devils in My name, a grander spectacle was opening to My view; sudden as the darting of lightning from heaven to earth, lo! Satan was beheld falling from heaven!…’

Jesus taught more on His response to the seventy in the following chapter.

Luk 11:21-22 KJV When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22 But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.

As the seventy preached the Kingdom of God and witnessed the manifestation of its power, Jesus saw the ‘beginning of the end’ of Satan’s power and control. Matthew described it as the binding of the strong man… Matthew 12:29 Only through the binding of Satan could the seventy spoil his goods.

A Quote from the Wycliffe Bible Commentary

Luke 10:18 ‘Jesus implied that the power was broken, and that the success of these disciples was an evidence of the victory.’

Luke 10:18 ‘I beheld Satan – That is, when ye went forth, I saw the kingdom of Satan, which was highly exalted, swiftly and suddenly cast down.’ — John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

2 Peter 3:4-7 and a Pre-Adamic Race

The context of this portion of Scripture appertains to Noah and the flood, not to a Pre-Adamic flood known as the Luciferian flood.

2Pe 3:4-7 KJV And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

the earth standing out of the water and in the water’ The earth after the third day of creation… Genesis 1:9-10

‘the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished’ This was the antediluvian world prior to Noah’s flood… Genesis 6:17

Scoffers alleged God was negligent concerning His promises by contending all things continued as before, they wilfully misconstrued the Scriptures. Peter reminded them of God’s promise to destroy the earth by flood during the days of Noah. He then proceeded to warn them that judgement awaited them for their complacency. Judgement came to Peter’s generation on ‘the great and terrible day of the Lord’, the second coming of Christ in AD 70.

2Pe 3:2 KJV That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

Peter said his authority was the words spoken by the prophets and the precepts of Christ, why would he extrapolate on a Pre-Adamic world bereft of scriptural support.

Peter did not allude to a Pre-Adamic race; he spoke of the fathers who had lived and died since Adam.

Revelation 12:9 and a Pre-Adamic Kingdom

Rev 12:9 KJV And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Some scholars use Revelation 12:9 to validate the fall of Satan during a Pre-Adamic civilisation. However, the Revelation was a vision of an imminent event that involved the fulfilment of God’s promises to Old Covenant Israel. The physical evidence was the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70.

The war between Michael and the dragon took place during the ‘great tribulation’ when Satan was ‘loosed’ on earth for the last time.

Rev 12:4 KJV And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

If the phrase ‘the third part of the stars of heaven’ was a reference to the rebellious angels being cast out with Satan, it does not give license to apply it to an angelic host being cast out during a Pre-Adamic race.

Conclusion

Consign dominoes to the purpose originally intended, likewise the Scriptures.

The aggrandised theories of Satan’s origin and a Pre-Adamic race can only be supported by the vain imagination of ‘man’ in conjunction with mythology, extra-biblical writings, and the misappropriation of Scripture; confusion being the end result.

In my opinion, the Scriptures are silent concerning the casting out of Satan during a Pre-Adamic race.

Let’s leave fiction to Hollywood.

What do you think?

 

Jesus Never Mentioned a Millennium Temple

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The Revelation of St John, 13. The Adoration of the Lamb and the Hymn of the Chosen, Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)
Source: Albrecht Durer the Complete Works

Introduction

I believe many have departed from their New Covenant vocation in Christ, having been vigorously beset and influenced by proponents of dubious ‘end times’ fiction. Today, our understanding of the ‘end times’ is invariably based on empirical evidence and current world affairs.

Rev 21:22 KJV And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

There is also an ill-founded fascination amongst many believers concerning the building of a temple in Jerusalem, whether a ‘tribulation period temple’ or ‘Ezekiel’s millennium temple’. An underlying misconception is ‘the sooner a temple is in Jerusalem, the sooner Christ will return’. By comparison, the importance of the New Covenant temple is virtually inconsequential. Surely, zeal for the spiritual temple would be more profitable than ‘end times’ speculation.

I will attempt to explain why I believe Ezekiel’s temple will never be built.

John 4:21

Joh 4:21 KJV Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb Are the Temple!

The New Covenant temple is ‘the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb’ and believers ‘in Christ’ offer the sacrifice of praise and worship through their induction into the Royal Priesthood… 1 Peter 2:9

I Make All Things New

Rev 21:5 KJV And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Dispensationalism’s promulgation of a literal interpretation of Ezekiel’s ‘millennium’ temple is bewildering, incidentally, it includes the re-introduction of animal sacrifices, circumcision, the restoration of the Levitical priesthood, and the separation of Jew and Gentile.

During Christ’s earthly ministry, He never mentioned a 1000 years reign on earth or Ezekiel’s temple. Why would members of the Royal Priesthood contemplate the proliferation of an ideology that supports the restoration of Old Covenant ordinances? It beggars belief that Christians would undermine all that Jesus made ‘new’ by advocating a thousand years of what was forever removed.

Christ has fulfilled all the Law and the Prophets. He has made all things new.

The New Covenant

Jer 31:31-33 KJV Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not 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.

Jeremiah prophesied the establishment of the New Covenant, which would include a spiritual experience accessible to all who put their trust in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile.

Eze 37:26 KJV Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.

Ezekiel prophesied that the New Covenant would be an everlasting covenant of peace, and according to Isaiah, the Prince of Peace is the Lord Jesus Christ… Isaiah 9:6

Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel!

The Tabernacle of God is With Men

Eze 37:27 KJV My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

Ezekiel 37:27 ‘By tabernacle – Jesus Christ, the true tabernacle, in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.’

Paul

2Co 6:16 KJV And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

‘the temple of the living God’ Paul taught the fulfilment of Ezekiel 37:27 when he wrote to the Church at Corinth.

Peter

1Pe 2:5 KJV Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

While Peter wrote that those ‘in Christ’ are an integral part of a spiritual house, they are not only ‘lively stones’ but also ‘an holy priesthood’ in the spiritual temple of the New Covenant Age.

John

Rev 21:3 KJV And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

John also alluded to Ezekiel 37:27 in the Revelation, and thereby confirmed the temple of the New Covenant was the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy.

The Temple of His Body

Joh 2:20-21 KJV Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

A Quote from John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

John 2:21 ‘But he spoke of the temple of his body. Which was the anti-type of the material temple; and might well be called so, since the bodies of the saints are called temples, 1Co_3:16 2Co_6:16; and the human nature of Christ is called a tabernacle, Heb_8:2; and he himself, in prophecy, is said to be למקדש, “for a sanctuary”, or temple, Isa_8:14, and that because the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily, the train of the divine perfections filled the temple of his human nature, Col_2:9. And because here, as in the temple, God grants his presence, and communes with his saints, accepts of their prayers and praises, and all their spiritual sacrifices through him; and who is the oracle, the true “Urim” and “Thummim”, by whom he delivers his whole mind and will to his people.’

Heb 8:1-2 KJV Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

The tabernacle in the wilderness with the pillar of cloud was evidence of God dwelling amongst His Old Covenant people. This glorious manifestation was but a type and foreshadow of the greater glory to come, the Lord Jesus Christ and His New Covenant people being the antitype.

The Hour Cometh, and Now Is

Joh 4:20-24 KJV Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

During His conversation with the woman of Samaria, Jesus revealed the time had come when God’s people would worship neither on Mount Gerizim nor in the temple at Jerusalem, but ‘in spirit and in truth’.

Surely, this nullifies Dispensationalism’s concept of a millennium temple.

‘the hour cometh, and now is’ This was a statement of imminence, not a prophetic word for those living thousands of years in the future.

John 4:21 ‘The hour cometh, etc. – The time was now at hand in which the spiritual worship of God was about to be established in the earth, and all the Jewish rites and ceremonies entirely abolished.’ — Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible

Adam Clarke’s comment is correct, but why did he not apply the same criterion to the Scriptures that declare an imminent return of Christ?

Statements of Imminence in Revelation 22

1. Revelation 22:6 ‘…must shortly be done…’
2. Revelation 22:7 ‘…Behold, I come quickly…’
3. Revelation 22:10 ‘…for the time is at hand…’
4. Revelation 22:12 ‘…And, behold, I come quickly…’
5. Revelation 22:20 ‘…Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus…’

Rev 22:6 KJV And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.

‘the things which must shortly be done’ The timeline when worship in the temple would end was AD 70. The destruction of the temple symbolised the end of the Old Covenant Age and the inauguration of the New.

Despite the five statements of imminence in Revelation 22, Dispensationalism, the theory renown for taking the Scriptures literally, repudiates these.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Revelation 22:6 ‘These sayings are faithful and true – See the preceding chapter, Rev_21:5. From this verse to the end of the chapter is reckoned the epilogue of this book.

1. The angel affirms the truth of all that had been spoken, Rev_22:6-11.

2. Jesus Christ confirms what has been affirmed, and pledges himself for the fulfillment of all the prophecies contained in it, Rev_22:12-17.

3. John cautions his readers against adding or diminishing, and concludes with the apostolical blessing, Rev_22:18-21.

The things which must shortly be done – There are many sayings in this book which, if taken literally, would intimate that the prophecies delivered in the whole of the Apocalypse were to be fulfilled in a short time after their delivery to John; and this is a strong support for the scheme of Wetstein, and those who maintain that the prophecies of this book all referred to those times in which the apostle lived, and to the disturbances which then took place, not only among the Jews, but in the Roman empire. What they all mean, and when and how they are to be fulfilled, God in heaven alone knows.’

‘God in heaven alone knows’ Adam Clarke made an honest assessment of Revelation 22:6, but with a surprising ambivalence. His reticence to affirm the clearly defined imminent time statements of Jesus repeated on five occasions in chapter 22, is a further example of approaching Scripture from a futurist presupposition. It is interesting to note he had no hesitation in implementing the imminence factor in his comment on John 4:21 in the previous segment.

Conclusion

Our understanding of Eschatology is vitally important because it influences our whole outlook and approach to the things appertaining to the Kingdom of God.

‘the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it’ On the premise that Jesus has made all things new, why do many believers yield to Dispensationalism’s ‘end times’ theory which entangles them in a system that postulates a return to the ‘old’ that has passed away?

What do you think?

The Elect, the Remnant, and the Israel of God

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The Elect, Luca Signorelli (1445-1523)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Introduction

There is a predominant teaching in Christendom today proclaiming two ‘peoples of God’, national Israel and the Church.

The popular ‘end times’ theory Dispensationalism is the major force behind this view, insisting God still has a plan for national Israel, which must not be confused with His plan for the Church; the anti-Semitic label is often attached to those who disagree.

In my opinion, God has one chosen people, described in the Scriptures as the elect, the remnant, the Israel of God.

I will attempt to explain why I believe it is important to understand there is only one ‘people of God’.

The Elect of God

Deu 14:2 KJV For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.

God’s eternal plan was not restricted to one nation. Old Covenant Israel was the elect of God from amongst the nations and it was through Israel the Gospel of Grace reached out to the Gentiles. Since the passing of Old Covenant Israel, the only means of salvation is by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, regardless of nationality.

Col 3:10-12 KJV And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

Paul called the Colossians ‘the elect of God’, he affirmed the identity of the elect, those ‘born again’ having put on ‘the new man’ and bearing the fruit of the Spirit.

‘neither Greek nor Jew’ There is no racial discrimination ‘in Christ’, the barrier between Jew and Gentile has been removed, and all are of equal standing before God regardless of birthright.

1Pe 2:9 KJV But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Israel was a type and foreshadow of the ‘holy nation’, which is now established in Christ… Exodus 19:5-6

Rev 7:9 KJV After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

John beheld in his vision a multitude from all nations worshipping God.

The Remnant of God

Noah, the Flood, and the Lord’s Judgement

Throughout the Scriptures, there are references to God’s ‘remnant’. On numerous occasions, the ‘elect’ remained secure during dire times of persecution and judgement, even when dramatically reduced in numbers.

Gen 6:8 KJV But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

‘And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth’... Genesis 6:5 God’s remnant consisted of only eight people at the time of the flood, Noah and his family.

The Ten Tribes of the Kingdom of Israel, the Assyrian Captivity, and the Lord’s Judgement

2Ch 30:6 KJV So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria.

The remnant of God from the ten tribes of the Kingdom of Israel migrated south to the Kingdom of Judah and escaped the Assyrian invasion… 2 Chronicles 34:9

The Kingdom of Judah, the Babylonian Captivity, and the Lord’s Judgement

Jer 31:7 KJV For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.

Jeremiah prophesied God’s elect would return to the land at the end of the Babylonian captivity. This remnant rebuilt the walls, the temple, and Jerusalem, and thereby set the stage and backdrop for the advent of the Messiah.

The Israel of God

Jesus is the ‘Israel of God’

Mat 2:15 KJV And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

Matthew alluded to the prophecy in Hosea 11:1. The Lord guided Jacob (Israel) and his family into the safety of Egypt prior to famine, and later delivered them at His appointed time. Jesus, taken by Joseph and Mary into Egypt to escape Herod’s ‘slaughter of the innocents’, was called out of Egypt in due course.

Hos 11:1 KJV When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

Israel, a type and foreshadow of God’s Only Begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

Hosea 11:1 ‘Was a child – In the infancy of Israel. I loved him – Manifested my tender and paternal affection to him. Called my son – Adopted him to be my son, and as my son, provided for him, and brought him out of servitude. Out of Egypt – But Israel, the first adopted son was a type of Christ the first – born. And the history of Israel’s coming out was a type of Christ’s future coming out of Egypt.’

Isa 49:3 KJV And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

Isaiah 49:3 ‘O Israel – As the name of David is sometimes given to his successors, so here the name of Israel may not unfitly be given to Christ, not only because he descended from his loins; but also because he was the true and the great Israel, who, in a more eminent manner, prevailed with God, as that name signifies, of whom Jacob, who was first called Israel, was but a type.’

Believers ‘in Christ Jesus’ Are Called the Israel of God.

Gal 6:15-16 KJV For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

The Lord Jesus Christ is ‘the Israel of God’ and all ‘in Christ Jesus’ are members of His Body and thereby share the title ‘the Israel of God’.

Gal 3:8 KJV And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Galatians 3:8 ‘The Scripture, foreseeing – See the notes on Rom_4:3-16(note). As God intended to justify the heathen through faith, he preached the Gospel that contains the grand display of the doctrine of salvation by faith, before, to Abraham, while he was in his heathen state; and thus he is called the father of believers: therefore it must refer to them who shall believe the same Gospel among the Gentiles; and, as the door of faith was open to all the Gentiles, consequently the promise was fulfilled: In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.’

Joh 8:56 KJV Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

The ‘Ekklesia’ is actually older than Old Covenant Israel, Abraham believed in Christ! Dispensationalism is disconcerted by this, vainly imagining that God saved people in a different way in previous ‘dispensations’.

In my opinion, the Day of Pentecost was not the birth but the empowerment of the Church.

Act 2:41 KJV Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

All believers from the ages before the Cross, who by faith looked for the Messiah, and all since the Cross, who have come to faith in Christ, constitute the Israel of God… Hebrews 11

Gal 3:16 KJV Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

Believers enjoy the promises, no longer being ‘in Adam’ but ‘in Christ’.

Gal 3:29 NKJV And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Everything we are and have is by virtue of our union with Christ.

Gal 3:28 KJV There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Spiritual Israel is God’s people by faith; all who put their trust in Christ are ‘the Israel of God’.

Conclusion

Rom 9:6-8 KJV Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

Paul clearly taught Israel after the flesh was not true Israel. He revealed the existence of national Israel and spiritual Israel. The former ‘the children of the flesh’ and the latter ‘the children of the promise’. National Israel represented the Israelites by blood alone, while ‘spiritual Israel’ is of Abraham’s seed, the Lord Jesus Christ.

National Israel believed all born of Jewish blood were saved by birthright, they felt secure because they were the children of Abraham and therefore in the covenant of promise. However, only spiritual Israel is the elect, the remnant, the Israel of God.

Rom11:17-20 KJV And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Romans 11:17 ‘And if some of the branches, etc. – If the present nation of the Jews, because of their unbelief, are cut off from the blessings of the Church of God, and the high honor and dignity of being his peculiar people; and thou, being a wild olive – ye Gentiles, being without the knowledge of the true God, and consequently bringing forth no fruits of righteousness, wert grafted in among them – are now inserted in the original stock, having been made partakers of the faith of Abraham, and consequently of his blessings; and enjoy, as the people did who sprang from him, the fatness of the olive tree – the promises made to the patriarchs, and the spiritual privileges of the Jewish Church: -‘ Romans 11:18 ‘Boast not against the branches – While you are ready to acknowledge that you were included in the covenant made with Abraham, and are now partakers of the same blessings with him, do not exult over, much less insult, the branches, his present descendants, whose place you now fill up, according to the election of grace: for remember, ye are not the root, nor do ye bear the root, but the root bears you. You have not been the means of deriving any blessing on the Jewish people; but through that very people, which you may be tempted to despise, all the blessing and excellencies which you enjoy have been communicated to you.

Does God really have two separate ‘peoples’? God has only one people, ‘the Israel of God’.

What do you think?

Jesus is ‘The Branch’

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King David, Arent de Gelder (1645-1727)
Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH!

‘The Branch’ is a descriptive title belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ. By taking a closer look at the credentials attributed to ‘The Branch’, we will benefit from a greater understanding of Christ’s relationship to David and His right to sit on David’s throne.

The Title

Why Jesus is ‘The Branch’

The Hebrew word ‘tsemach’ was translated ‘The Branch’ in the KJV, with a little research it becomes apparent ‘tsemach’ also means ‘sprout’ or ‘shoot’. Taking this into account a clearer understanding will gradually unfold.

A Quote from Brown, Driver and Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions

Branch, H6780 tsemach BDB Definition: 1) sprout, growth, branch1a) sprouting, growth, sprout1b) growth (of process)1c) sprout, shoot (of Messiah from Davidic tree)

A Quote from Dictionary.com

Branch: A line of family descent stemming from a particular ancestor, as distinguished from some other line or lines from the same stock; a division of a family.’

The Throne

2Sa 7:16 KJV And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.

David the son of Jesse was chosen to be King Saul’s successor and God made a covenant with him promising his throne would last forever.

1Ki 2:4 KJV That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.

The covenant required the obedience of David’s descendants and heirs to the throne; however, on numerous occasions wicked kings led Israel into idolatry.

David’s descendants were invariably rebellious and incapable of meeting the demands of the covenant. As long as David’s ‘sons’ were unrighteous kings, the Kingdom could not be established forever.

Jeremiah and ‘The Branch’

Jer 22:28-30 KJV 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.

The throne of David reached an all time low when king Jeconiah was deposed.

Jeconiah, also called Jehoiachin, ascended to the throne when he was 18 years old and reigned in Jerusalem for three months during 597 BC. Deposed by Nebuchadnezzar and taken captive, he died while still in Babylonian captivity after 36 years of imprisonment. Although Zedekiah took his place on the throne, the exiled Jews still acknowledged Jeconiah as their rightful king… Ezekiel 1:2

Zedekiah was the uncle of Jeconiah and reigned from 597-586 BC, having been placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar. Imprisoned following a rebellion, and made blind after he witnessed the execution of his sons; he was considered a weak king and died in Babylonian captivity.

‘for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah’ Jeremiah’s prophecy is a dilemma for proponents of Dispensationalism who adamantly maintain that Christ will reign on earth from Jerusalem… Acts 2:29-36

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Jeremiah 22:30 ‘Childless – No child to sit on David’s throne. See 1Ch_3:17 note. Jeconiah was the last king of David’s line. His uncle indeed actually reigned after him, but perished with his sons long before Jeconiah’s death (literally 10): and yet from so dead a trunk, from a family so utterly fallen, that spiritual King came forth whose name is “Yahweh our righteousness” Jer_23:5-6.’

Jer 23:5 KJV Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

‘I will raise unto David a righteous Branch’ The Lord kept His promise to David; provision already existed in the plan and purpose of God.

‘The Branch’, God’s righteous and obedient Son would sit on David’s throne in Heaven, and would meet the demands of the covenant that David’s descendants could not keep.

Jer 33:15 KJV In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

Jeremiah 33:15 ‘The branch – The kings they had hitherto had of the line of David, were most of them unrighteous men, but God promises that after the captivity, they should have a branch of David who would execute judgment and righteousness in the land, for the protection and government of those that feared him.’

Isaiah and ‘The Branch’

Isa 4:2 KJV In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.

‘In that day’ This is a reference to the day of the Messiah.

‘for them that are escaped of Israel’ What judgement did Jesus execute? The judgement of the great and the terrible day of the Lord on His return to His generation in AD 70; the evidence being the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, the dispersion of the Jews, and the deliverance of the remnant from Jerusalem.

Isaiah 4:2 ‘for them that are escaped of Israel; not beautiful and glorious; excellent and comely, in the view of all men, only them that believe, who have seen his glory, and have tasted that he is gracious; these are the remnant according to the election of grace, the preserved of Israel, the chosen of God, and precious, who were saved from that untoward generation, the Jews, and escaped the destruction of Jerusalem, and were saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation.’ — John Gill, Exposition of the Entire Bible

Isa 11:1 NIV A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Isaiah 11:1 ‘stem — literally, “the stump” of a tree cut close by the roots: happily expressing the depressed state of the royal house of David, owing to the hostile storm (Isa_10:18, Isa_10:19), when Messiah should arise from it, to raise it to more than its pristine glory…’

On this occasion, Isaiah used the Hebrew ‘netzer’ instead of ‘tsemach’. John Gill’s explanation is interesting.

A Quote from John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

Isaiah 11:1 ‘The branch is a well known name of the Messiah; See Gill on Isa 4:2 the word Netzer, here used, is the name of the city of Nazareth (q); which perhaps was so called, from the trees, plants, and grass, which grew here; and so our Lord’s dwelling here fulfilled a prophecy, that he should be called a Nazarene; or an inhabitant of Netzer, Mat 2:23.’

Isa 53:2 KJV For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

Isaiah described the character and ministry of the Messiah in detail and alluded to ‘The Branch’. Luke wrote ‘And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.’

Isaiah 11:10 KJV And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

The Lord kept His covenant with David and caused ‘The Branch’ to grow out of the root of Jesse. Jesus is ‘The Branch’ of Jesse in whom the remnant of Israel and the Gentiles would put their trust.

Rom 15:11-12 KJV And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. 12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.

Paul wrote to the Church at Rome exhorting them to ‘praise the Lord’ because Isaiah’s prophecy had its fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Temple

In my article entitled ‘Jesus Never Mentioned the Millennium Temple’, I identified and expanded on the Lord’s imperative pre-requisites for the construction of the tabernacle and the temple during the Old Covenant Age. The men chosen and commanded were equipped for the task. I cited Moses, Solomon, and Zerubbabel to substantiate my premise, and compared their success to the failure of the magnificent but ill-fated temple of Herod.

One other ‘man’ was chosen, commanded and equipped to build one more temple… Matthew 12:18; 1 Peter 2:4 It was not Dispensationalism’s millennium temple, but the temple of the New Covenant Age, and His name is ‘The Branch’.

Zechariah and ‘The Branch’

Zec 3:8 KJV Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.

Zechariah was a contemporary of Haggai and prophesied around 520 BC, during the rebuilding of the second temple. Both prophets encouraged Zerubbabel and Joshua when ridiculed by unbelieving Jews. Zechariah went on to prophesy ‘The Branch’ would build an even greater temple.

Zec 6:11-13 KJV Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; 12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD 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 the LORD: 13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; 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.

‘he shall build the temple of the LORD’ How many temples would ‘The Branch’ build? Only one, but surely this cannot be Ezekiel’s temple with the Levitical priesthood led by the sons of Zadok, complete with animal sacrifices, circumcision, and separation of Jew and Gentile.

Zechariah’s’ prophecy was the fulfilment of the spiritual temple of the New Covenant.

Jesus never referred to Ezekiel’s temple during His ministry, but John alluded to Ezekiel 37:26-27 in Revelation 21:2-3. By doing so, he affirmed the New Covenant fulfilment of Ezekiel’s prophecy. The New Covenant, established in AD 70, is synonymous with the ‘covenant of peace’ and the ‘everlasting covenant’. God’s dwelling place is not a future temple made with hands, He tabernacles within the hearts of His people today.

A Quote from John Wesley

Ezekiel 37:27 ‘My tabernacle – The tabernacle wherein I will shew my presence among them. Their fathers had a tabernacle, but the Messiah shall bring with him a better, a spiritual, and an heavenly. They shall be my people – By my grace I will make them holy, as the people of a holy God; and I will make them happy, as the people of the ever blessed God.’

‘and he shall be a priest upon his throne’ Not only would ‘The Branch’ build the temple; He would be both High Priest and King. The Lord Jesus Christ is the antitype of Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the prince and builder.

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Zechariah 6:12 ‘And he shall build the temple of the Lord – The material temple was soon to be finished, and that by Zerubbabel, to whom this had been promised, Zec_4:10, not by Joshua. It was then a new temple, to be built from the foundation, of which He Himself was to be “the foundation” Isa_28:16; 1Co_3:11;Eph_2:20-21, as He said, “On this rock I will build My Church” Mat_16:18; and in Him “all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple to the Lord” Eph_2:21…’

Paul and the Temple

Act 17:24-25 KJV God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

Even although Paul preached to the men of Athens that God ‘dwelleth not in temples made with hands’, Dispensationalism intransigently declares the Messiah will build Ezekiel’s temple in the millennium, surely this assumption is contrary to the Scriptures.

Eph 2:19-22 KJV Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

When Paul wrote to the Church at Ephesus, he described the spiritual temple of the Lord, Jesus being the chief cornerstone, the Apostles and Prophets the foundation. Those who are in the Body of Christ constitute the ever-growing building, the spiritual temple in which dwells the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Paul neither mentioned a millennium nor Ezekiel’s temple vision in any of his Epistles.

Conclusion

Rev 5:5 KJV And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

Jesse was of the tribe of Judah and the lion was its ensign. Studying Christ ‘The Branch’ directs us to Christ ‘The Lion of the Tribe of Judah’.

‘The Branch’ has taken His rightful place on the throne of David in Heaven, having established it forever.

Jesus came figuratively as ‘the lamb’ and returned as ‘the lion’!

The ‘Lion of the tribe of Juda’ is a worthy appellation for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

What do you think?

 

 

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath

 

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The Disciples Plucking Corn on the Sabbath, Gustave Dore (1832-1883) Source: Dore Bible Gallery Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D

Introduction

There are those who teach that Christians should keep the Sabbath. Some go as far as to insist that Christians should observe the Sabbath on a Saturday, thereby condemning Sunday worship in the process.

This issue has been around since New Testament times; Paul constantly rebuked the Judaisers who sought to mingle Mosaic Law with the Gospel of Grace, consequently bringing believers into bondage.

Today Christians are being encouraged by Christian Television (I use the term loosely) to share in the weekly Sabbath, the Jewish Feasts, and even to purchase Jewish prayer shawls!

Col 2:16-17 KJV Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

A Quote from the People’s New Testament

Colossians 2:16-19 ‘Let no man therefore judge you. As the law was nailed to the cross (Col_2:14), let no man compel you to keep its ordinances.   In meat, or in drink. By requiring you to eat only what the Jewish law prescribes (Lev. 7:10-27). See Rom_14:17; 1Co_8:8; Heb_9:10. Compare 1Ti_4:3.
Or in respect of a holy day. Such as the Passover, Pentecost, etc.
Or of the new moon. The monthly observances (Num_28:11).
Or of the Sabbath day. The Jewish Sabbath had passed away with the law.
Which are a shadow of things to come. The body, or substance, which casts the shadow is Christ. We are to pay no attention to the shadows since Christ has come, but to observe what we find in him and the gospel…’

I will endeavour to explain why I believe ‘born again’ believers are not required to observe the Sabbath.

The 4th Commandment to Remember the Sabbath Was to Old Covenant Israel, not the Gentiles.

The leading question asked by those promulgating the Sabbath doctrine is:

Do you keep the 10 Commandments, yes or no?

If the Christian answers yes, but does not keep the Sabbath, the debate begins as to the reason for breaking the 4th commandment.

If the Christian answers no, this leads to the accusation of disobedience to Jesus’ commandment. ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments’… John 14:15

The Book of Acts and the Law of Moses

Act 15:5-10 KJV But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

The Apostles and Elders concluded it was not necessary for gentile believers to keep the Mosaic Law, which included the Sabbath. If the Sabbath was an exception, why was it not discussed at the gathering?

Act 21:25 KJV As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

The Apostles upheld the decision approximately eight years later in Acts 21. Once again, the Sabbath was not an exception.

Romans and the Law of Moses

Rom 7:6 KJV But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Romans 7:6 ‘But now we have been delivered from the law. By death. Having died in Christ (Rom_6:2-4), we are released from the dominion of the law. See Rom_7:1. So that we should serve in the newness of the spirit. This service of Christ is the new service of those living new lives. It is a spiritual service: “God must be worshiped in spirit and truth.” God’s law under the new covenant is “written in the hearts” (Heb_8:10); hence it is not a bondage, but a free, willing service.’ — The People’s New Testament

Galatians and the Law of Moses

Gal 3:1-3 KJV O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Gal 4:9-11 KJV But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? 10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

Paul challenged the Galatians as to why they desired to return to the bondage they once knew under the Law.

James and the Law of Moses

Jas 2:10 KJV For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

Should the Christian observe the Law? Can you name the 613 commands? If we cannot name all the commands, how could we hope to keep them?

James said if the Law observer failed in one point then that person was guilty of all.

Believers are in danger of taking their eyes of the Lord by mixing Law and Grace. The incorporation of Jewish traditions into the Church would result in a watered down gospel, the emphasis would shift from faith to works.

Man Was not Commanded to Observe the Sabbath since Creation

Sabbath observers also insist that because God ‘rested’ on the seventh day, consequently, observance of the Sabbath was demanded of mankind since creation. However, there is no such commandment found in Genesis, neither is there any evidence of the Patriarchs having kept the Sabbath.

Exo 16:23 KJV And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.

A Quote from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

‘The statement that God set apart the 7th day for holy purposes in honor of His own rest after six days of creative activity is boldly challenged by many modern scholars as merely the pious figment of a priestly imagination of the exile. There are so few hints of a weekly Sabbath before Moses, who is comparatively a modern character, that argumentation is almost excluded, and each student will approach the question with the bias of his whole intellectual and spiritual history. There is no distinct mention of the Sabbath in Gen, though a 7-day period is referred to several times (Gen_7:4, Gen_7:10; Gen_8:10, Gen_8:12; Gen_29:27 f). The first express mention of the Sabbath is found in Exo_16:21-30, in connection with the giving of the manna……. If we cannot point to any observance of the weekly Sabbath prior to Moses, we can at least be sure that this was one of the institutions which he gave to Israel. From the days of Moses until now the holy Sabbath has been kept by devout Israelites.’

There is no mention of Sabbath observance in the Scriptures prior to Exodus 16.

The Greek words ‘katapausis’ and ‘katapauo meaning ‘rest’ were used constantly in Hebrews 4. On one occasion however, in Hebrews 4:9 the Greek word ‘sabbatismos’ was used instead, thereby differentiating between the Law and the believer’s Sabbath Rest found in Jesus.

Jesus Is the Believer’s Sabbath Rest

Luk 24:44 KJV And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

Jesus fulfilled all the Law and the Prophets and we ‘rest’ from our works by grace through faith in Him.

Hebrews and the Believer’s Sabbath Rest

The answer to those who would bring bondage to the Christian by raising a straw man argument with regard to Sabbath keeping is in Hebrews 4.

Heb 4:7 GW So God set another day. That day is today. Many years after your ancestors failed to enter that place of rest God spoke about it through David in the passage already quoted: “If you hear God speak today, don’t be stubborn.”

The writer to the Hebrews alluded to Psalm 95:8-11. He reminded Jewish believers of their ancestors demise during the forty years of wandering in the wilderness; due to their unbelief, they failed to enter into God’s rest.

A Quote from the Summarized Bible

Hebrews 4:1-16 ‘…The privileges by Christ under the Gospel are far greater than those enjoyed under the Mosaic law. The seventh day rest commemorating a finished creation, was but a type of heart-rest which is to be had by covenant relation with Jesus Christ, and which is offered to those who will renounce their own works as a means of salvation and put their entire trust in the finished work of the Great High Priest who has passed into the heavens.’

The Judaisers who undermined the teachings of Paul, were subverting the 1st century Church by persuading believers to observe the Law. By adhering to these erroneous teachings, they were in danger of missing the even greater ‘sabbatic rest’ through faith in Christ.

Jesus or Joshua?

Heb 4:8 KJV For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

Heb 4:8 YLT for if Joshua had given them rest, He would not concerning another day have spoken after these things;

Many Bible Translations including the KJV translated ‘Jesus’ instead of ‘Joshua’ (the son of Nun) in Hebrews 4:8 and by so doing jeopardised the context of the passage.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Hebrews 4:8 ‘For if Jesus had given them rest – It is truly surprising that our translators should have rendered the Ιησους of the text Jesus, and not Joshua, who is most clearly intended……. The apostle shows that, although Joshua did bring the children of Israel into the promised land, yet this could not be the intended rest, because long after this time the Holy Spirit, by David, speaks of this rest;…’

Heb 4:9 YLT there doth remain, then, a sabbatic rest to the people of God,

The Greek words ‘katapausis’ and ‘katapauo’ meaning ‘rest’ were used constantly in Hebrews 4. On one occasion, however, in Hebrews 4:9 the Greek word ‘sabbatismos’ was used instead, thereby differentiating between physical rest and the believer’s Sabbath rest found in Jesus.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Hebrews 4:9 ‘There, remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God – It was not, 1. The rest of the Sabbath; it was not, 2. The rest in the promised land, for the psalmist wrote long after the days of Joshua; therefore there is another rest, a state of blessedness, for the people of God; and this is the Gospel, the blessings it procures and communicates, and the eternal glory which it prepares for, and has promised to, genuine believers…’

Heb 4:10-11 YLT for he who did enter into his rest, he also rested from his works, as God from His own. 11 May we be diligent, then, to enter into that rest, that no one in the same example of the unbelief may fall,

The Mosaic Covenant Ended in AD 70

A Quote from Halley’s Bible Handbook

‘Hebrews, One of the objects of this Epistle was, we think, to prepare Jewish Christians for the approaching Fall of Jerusalem. After accepting Jesus as their Messiah, they continued to be zealous for the Temple Rites and Sacrifices, thinking, we suppose, that their Beloved City, under their Messiah’s reign, was about to become Capital of the World. Instead, they were to receive the shock of their lives. By one stroke of the Roman Army the Holy City was to be wiped out, and the Temple Rites cease.’

Forty years after the crucifixion the destruction of the temple ended the Old Covenant Age with its Law and Offerings, the Judaisers fell in the judgement that took place in AD 70.

The 1st century believers who had rested from their works through faith in Christ entered into the New Covenant Age.

Has this Hub challenged you to search the Scriptures?

Conclusion

Eze 20:12 KJV Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.

The Children of Israel received the Sabbath as a sign of the Old Covenant.

Col 2:16 KJV Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Colossians 2:16 ‘Therefore – Seeing these things are so. Let none judge you – That is, regard none who judge you. In meat or drink – For not observing the ceremonial law in these or any other particulars. Or in respect of a yearly feast, the new moon, or the weekly Jewish sabbaths.’ — John Wesley, Explanatory Notes

Prior to the time of Moses there was no reference to Sabbath observance in the Old Testament.

The ‘sabbatismos’ rest promised in Hebrews 4 is redemptive life in Jesus Christ; the believer is to cease from his works and rest in the finished work of Christ.

From the physical aspect, it does make sense to have one day of rest in the week, but it is folly to allow the traditions of men to distract us from the reality of true ‘Sabbatic Rest’.

What do you think?

The Resurrection and the Heresy of Hymenaeus and Philetus

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The Resurrection of Christ, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
Source: wikiart.org

Introduction

2Ti 2:17-18 KJV And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

Paul condemned Hymenaeus and Philetus for teaching the false doctrine ‘the resurrection is past’, causing to ‘overthrow the faith of some’.

I will attempt to ascertain the nature and timeline of the resurrection, define the 1st century Church’s understanding of Paul’s teaching on the subject, and explain why Paul was so adamantly opposed to the false doctrine of Hymenaeus and Philetus.

The Timeline of the Resurrection

When Exactly Was the Resurrection to Occur According to the Scriptures?

All the New Testament writers anticipated the impending second coming of Christ and the end of the Old Covenant Age, consequently, ushering in the resurrection and the judgement. It never entered the minds of the Apostles this would take place thousands of years in the future. Since these men of God were inspired by the Holy Spirit and sat at the feet of Jesus, who are we to contradict them.

The Two Ages

The Jews had two ages in their eschatological thinking, the Mosaic Age and the Messianic Age. The Mosaic Age would end with the coming of the Messiah.

Deu 31:29 KJV For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.

Prior to Moses’ death and having faithfully fulfilled God’s plan and purpose through the establishment of the Old Covenant Law and the Offerings, he prophesied the children of Israel would be judged for their apostasy in the ‘latter days’ of the Old Covenant Age.

Dan 9:2 KJV In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

Dan 9:13 KJV As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.

Daniel interceded on behalf of his people, he was not seeking God regarding the end of the world. His desire was to understand the prophetic timeline of Jeremiah and Moses concerning Old Covenant Israel.

Lazarus and the End of the Age

Joh 11:23-24 KJV Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

We learn from Martha’s discussion with Jesus that she had no doubt the resurrection would be ‘at the last day’. The timeline of the resurrection was not the last day of time, but the last day of the Old Covenant Age!

Let us continue studying the resurrection timeline more closely by comparing Daniel 12 to the Gospels.

Compare Daniel 12:1-2 and Matthew 24:21:

Dan 12:1-2 KJV And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which 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.

Mat 24:21 KJV For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

The Timeline of Daniel 12 was the AD 70 ‘Great Tribulation’

Daniel prophesied the resurrection would take place after ‘a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time’… Daniel 12:1 Jesus alluded to Daniel’s prophecy in Matthew 24:21 when He predicted its fulfillment during His generation’s lifetime… Matthew 24:34

‘no, nor ever shall be’

Some scholars conveniently teach the ‘great tribulation’ in Matthew 24:21 is a double fulfilment prophecy, claiming the AD 70 event will be repeated in our generation. Nevertheless, Jesus specifically said such great tribulation will never be seen again, ‘no, nor ever shall be’! Therefore, it was a one-time fulfilment.

Compare Daniel 12:2-3 and Matthew 13:39-43:

Daniel 12:2-3 NIV Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise[a] will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

Matthew 13:39-43 NIV and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
The Timeline of Daniel 12 was the AD 70 ‘End of the Age’

Jesus alluded to Daniel 12:2-3 during His discourse with the disciples. He described the judgement about to fall upon Old Covenant Israel… Matthew 13:39-43

‘The harvest is the end of the age’ The disciples were living during the last days of the Old Covenant Age.

‘Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father’ Jesus alluded to Daniel when He described the outcome of the judgement. Once again, we see the same timeline in the statements of Daniel and Jesus.

Compare Daniel 12:11 and Matthew 24:15-16:

Dan 12:11 KJV And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

Mat 24:15-16 KJV When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

The Timeline of Daniel 12 was the AD 70 ‘Abomination of Desolation’

It is interesting to note the Greek word ‘erēmōsis’ translated ‘desolation’ appears only three times in the New Testament… Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20

Luke’s timeline harmonises perfectly with Matthew and Mark, we can therefore rely on his additional insight into the meaning of the ‘abomination of desolation’. This also refutes the concept that Luke wrote about a different event.

‘Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains’ The remnant seized the opportunity to flee from the abomination of desolation and found refuge in Pella; Jerusalem finally fell to the Roman Army in AD 70, thereby, fulfilling the words spoken by Jesus.

Luk 21:20 KJV And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.

‘Jerusalem compassed with armies’ Some scholars suggest that ‘armies’ cannot refer to the Roman army in AD 70, because the plural ‘armies’ must mean a confederation from various nations. The Greek word ‘stratopedon’ translated ‘armies’, used once in the Scriptures, according to Thayer’s Greek Definitions it means ‘soldiers in camp, an army’.

It was not unusual for the Romans to conscript the armies of subjugated nations to fight their wars. On this occasion, the Roman army mainly consisted of the nations surrounding Old Covenant Israel; all had a vested interest in its destruction, hence the extent of the devastation.

The timeline of ‘the abomination of desolation’ was commensurate with the resurrection. According to Jesus, it was ‘when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies’… Daniel 12:1-2; Daniel 12:11-13

The Resurrection and the 1st Century Church

The Hymenaeus and Philetus heresy gives insight into the resurrection beliefs of the 1st Century Church.

The Church had many false teachers who attempted to undermine Paul’s ministry. Among them were Hymenaeus and Philetus who caused confusion by teaching the resurrection was past.

Paul did not challenge Hymenaeus and Philetus as to the nature of the resurrection, whether it was physical or spiritual. However, he did refute the timing because it was not a past event.

The Nature of the Resurrection

If the nature of the resurrection were physical, surely believers would have witnessed the extraordinary event.

If Paul taught the popular 21st century concept leading to the Day of the Lord including:

The rapture

The two stage return of Jesus

The physical resurrection of the dead with open graves

Every eye beholding the physical and visible return of Christ

The end of time or the end of the world

How was it possible for false teachers to convince believers in Thessalonica, Corinth, and Ephesus the resurrection and the Day of the Lord were past events? If a physical rapture had taken place they would have noticed the disappearance of some believers at least? The rapture is supposed to happen seven years prior to the Day of the Lord! All they had to do was look around the graveyards and see nothing had changed!

In my opinion, it is reasonable to conclude, the early Church believed the resurrection of the spiritual body not the physical.

Paul’s Opposition to the False Teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus

Why was Paul opposed to Hymenaeus and Philetus, could he not simply have drawn them aside and corrected their error?

1Ti 1:19-20 KJV Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

These men were beyond accepting instruction from Paul; they were neither genuine students of the Word of God nor were they seeking the truth. Paul had already dealt with Hymenaeus according to his 1st Epistle to Timothy.

Act 13:45 KJV But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.

Paul constantly rebuked those who contradicted the Gospel; the most prevalent false teachers were Jewish converts who refused to leave behind Judaism, as in Antioch…Acts 13. What Judaism was unable to achieve by persecution, it sought to destroy by infiltration.

The resurrection without the second coming of Christ was heresy.

2Ti 4:1 KJV I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

Christ’s return, the resurrection, the judgement, and the establishment of the New Covenant were concurrent events.

Luk 24:44 KJV And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

To teach the resurrection had occurred without the other major events surrounding the Day of the Lord was contrary to prophecy and the teachings of Christ.

The Transition Period

Heb 9:8 KJV The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

The Hymenaeus and Philetus heresy postulated the establishment of the New Covenant while the earthly temple in Jerusalem ‘was yet standing’. Their ulterior motive was to justify the inclusion of the Law of Moses into Christianity, resulting in a mixture of Law and Grace.

The 1st century Church lived during a ‘transition period’, also described as the ‘already but not yet’. This period was during the passing of the Old Covenant and the establishment of the New. Believers experienced some of the blessings of the New Covenant, but until the Lord had fulfilled all His promises to Old Covenant Israel, they could not enter into its fulness.

The outward manifestation of Christ’s parousia was the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70, until that time the Law and the Prophets remained unfulfilled.

An Attempt to Vindicate Judaism

The false teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus undermined the authority of Christ’s ministry. To falsely teach the resurrection was past without the second coming of Christ and the impending judgement on apostate Israel, was an attempt to vindicate Judaism and the hypocrisy of its religious leaders; thereby giving an acceptable credibility to the Gospel’s greatest opposition.

The Resurrection and the Old Covenant Age

Heb 11:13 KJV These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

The resurrection of the dead was not a biological resurrection of decayed bodies; it was the raising of the spiritual body from Sheol.

Act 23:6 KJV But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Acts 23:6 ‘With great propriety, therefore, he might address the Pharisees and say, “Brethren, the doctrine which has distinguished you from the Sadducees is at stake. The doctrine which is at the foundation of all our hopes – the resurrection of the dead; the doctrine of our fathers, of the Scriptures, of our sect, is in danger. Of that doctrine I have been the advocate. I have never denied it. I have everywhere defended it, and have devoted myself to the work of putting it on an imperishable basis among the Jews and the Gentiles. For my zeal in that I have been opposed. I have excited the ridicule of the Gentile and the hatred of the Sadducee. I have thus been persecuted and arraigned; and for my zeal in urging the argument in defense of it which I have deemed most irrefragable the resurrection of the Messiah – I have been arraigned, and now cast myself on your protection against the mad zeal of the enemies of the doctrine of our fathers.” Not only, therefore, was this an act of policy and prudence in Paul, but what he affirmed was strictly true, and the effect was as he had anticipated.’

Resurrection was a promise made to Old Covenant Israel. It was the ‘hope of Israel’, and took place at the passing away of the Old Covenant.

The Resurrection and the New Covenant Age

Since Christians have continued to physically die over the past 2000 years, it is obvious, Christ’s commission was resurrection from ‘spiritual death’ not physical death.

Adam did not die physically when he chose to disobey God. His expulsion from the Garden of Eden resulted in spiritual death, his wonderful relationship with the Lord ended.

God’s great plan of redemption was not only the resurrection of the faithful remnant of Old Covenant Israel, but through Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, resurrection and reconciliation was offered to all nations.

Joh 11:25-26 KJV Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Jesus promised all born again believers they would never die!

Joh 5:24 KJV Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

The New Covenant is synonymous with the Kingdom of God; all born again believers are spiritually resurrected from spiritual death.

Conclusion

Eph 2:5-6 KJV Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Ephesians 2:4-7 ‘Having shown that both Jews and Gentiles were spiritually dead, Paul now declares the spiritual resurrection of the saints. This lifting up from death to a new life is due to God, rich in mercy, and on account of the great love wherewith he loved us. The next verse affirms the fact.

Hath quickened us together with Christ. As he quickened Christ and raised him, so when we were dead in sins he gave us spiritual life by the gospel and lifted us to a new life. “We were planted in the likeness of his death and resurrection” (Rom_6:5).

By grace ye are saved. Not by works of the law, as he has shown so fully in the Galatian letter.

And hath raised us up together. Buried into the death of Christ, we are risen with Christ (Col_2:12). We are risen as new creatures to walk with the Risen Christ, with our minds on heavenly things (Col_3:1).

To sit in heavenly places. In our present state, to have our minds above (Col_3:2).

That in the ages to come. In all coming time.

The exceeding riches of his grace. In saving, purifying and blessing his children.’

By His death, resurrection, ascension, glorification and return, Jesus defeated ‘the death’ that separated ‘man’ from fellowship with God.

What do you think?

The Ascension of Christ and the ‘In Like Manner’ Question

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The Ascension of Christ, Rembrandt Van Rijn (1606-1669) | Source: Source: Rembrandt the Complete Works

Introduction

The ‘In Like Manner’ Question

Most scholars today, especially the proponents of Dispensationalism, insist Christ will return in the future ‘in like manner’ to His ascension, with emphasis on Him returning with the same body in which He ascended.

By allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture I will seek to prove otherwise. In my opinion, ‘in like manner’ does not mean in ‘exact same’ manner.

Will Christ really return with the same body in which He ascended? Let us examine the implications of such a claim.

The Ascension and Christ’s Second Coming

Act 1:9-11 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

The following comparisons reveal little similarity between these events:

Angels

2Th 1:7-8 KJV And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Mat 25:31 KJV When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

Only two angels appeared at the ascension… Acts 1:10 but the Scriptures teach Christ would return with all the holy angels.

Trumpet

Mat 24:31 KJV And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Jesus ascended silently, yet those who propose a future return believe He will come with the literal sound of a trumpet.

Every Eye

Rev 1:7 KJV Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Jesus ascended visibly in the presence of a handful of disciples; Dispensationalism teaches that literally every eye shall see Him at His return.

White Horse

Rev 19:11 KJV And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

Jesus did not ascend on a white horse!

‘Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more…’

Joh 14:19 KJV Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

A major premise of Dispensationalism is that Jesus will return in the same body and physical appearance in which He ascended. Obviously, to accommodate the theory that He will literally sit on a throne in Jerusalem; even although He said ‘Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more’.

The Ascension and John’s Vision of Christ

Rev 1:13-16 KJV And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

Jesus appeared to John on Patmos in His post-ascension form, and what he described was resplendently different to the Jesus he had known.

Although He is the same Jesus there can be no doubt His appearance now emphasises His glorification and deity.

Daniel’s Prophecy

Dan 7:13 KJV I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

John could only say that the One he saw was like the Son of Man described by Daniel in his Messianic prophecy.

1Jn 1:1 KJV That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

‘and our hands have handled’ John had seen and touched Jesus during His earthly ministry; he witnessed His transfiguration and was one of those taught by Him for forty days after His resurrection. If we also take into consideration the post resurrection appearances of Christ to 500 witnesses, we must conclude they already knew what Jesus looked like. Yet, clearly there was a significant difference between Christ prior to His ascension and Christ of the Revelation.

1Jn 3:2 KJV Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

‘for we shall see him as he is’ John wrote in his 1st Epistle ‘it doth not yet appear what we shall be’ then added ‘when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is’. Why did John make this statement if he believed Jesus would return looking the same as at His ascension?

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

1 John 3:2 ‘John had seen his glory on the mount when he was transfigured; and this we find was ineffably grand; but even this must have been partially obscured, in order to enable the disciples to bear the sight, for they were not then like him. But when they shall be like him, they shall see him as he is – in all the splendor of his infinite majesty.’

John was anticipating the imminent parousia of the glorified Christ, coming in His majesty and deity!

The Ascension and Christ at the Transfiguration

The Transfiguration Was a Vision of the Passing Away of the Old Covenant Age

Mat 17:2-5 KJV And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. 4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Peter did not fully understand the significance of the vision. By suggesting three tabernacles, he may have thought the three persons were of equal greatness and stature.

Luk 9:35-36 KJV And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 36 And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.

However, Peter was left in no doubt as to whom the greatest glory belonged when the voice of the Lord spoke out of the cloud.

Heb 8:13 KJV In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

The transfiguration was a vision of the passing away of the Old Covenant glory, symbolised by the departing of Moses and Elijah… Luke 9:33 Thereby making way for the greater New Covenant glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When did the Old Covenant vanish away? It ended at the time of the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70.

Since Jesus promised to return during the lifetime of His generation, we must concur that the second coming of Christ and the establishment of the New Covenant Age took place simultaneously.

The Transfiguration Was Also a Vision of the Glorified Christ of the Parousia

2Pe 1:16 KJV For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

Peter in his 2nd Epistle was able to proclaim to the scoffers he was an eyewitness of ‘Christ’s majesty’. He had seen the glorified Christ and preached His imminent return with conviction.

Luk 19:15 KJV And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.

‘having received the kingdom’ Although the ascension concluded Jesus’ earthly ministry as He entered into the heavenly Holy of Holies, it was the commencement of His heavenly priesthood and kingship.

The parousia was a glorious occasion when the ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’ returned having received His Kingdom.

The Conversion of St Paul

The Ascension and Paul’s Vision of Christ

Act 9:3-7 KJV And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

Who art thou, Lord?’ No doubt Paul heard many first hand accounts and descriptions of Jesus, but he did not recognise this Jesus. The encounter left him trembling and astonished.

Once again, we have a vision of the glorified Christ. If Jesus was to return in His resurrection body, why do we constantly find manifestations of a transformed Christ after His ascension?

The Ascension and Christ at His Resurrection

Some scholars today teach that Jesus rose from the dead in His glorified body. In my opinion, Jesus rose from the dead in the same body placed in the tomb; His glorification took place after the ascension.

Others claim He received His glorified body having been taken up to heaven soon after the resurrection, but prior to His ascension. This is based on their interpretation of John 20:17.

Joh 20:17 KJV Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Touch me not’ Jesus did not restrain Mary from touching Him for any spiritual reason, He simply wanted Mary to go quickly and inform the dejected disciples of the good news of His resurrection.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary of the Bible

John 20:17 ‘Touch me not – Μη μου ἁπτου, Cling not to me. Ἁπτομαι has this sense in Job_31:7, where the Septuagint use it for the Hebrew דבק dabak, which signifies to cleave, cling, stick, or be glued to. From Mat_28:9, it appears that some of the women held him by the feet and worshipped him. This probably Mary did; and our Lord seems to have spoken to her to this effect: “Spend no longer time with me now: I am not going immediately to heaven – you will have several opportunities of seeing me again: but go and tell my disciples, that I am, by and by, to ascend to my Father and God, who is your Father and God also. Therefore, let them take courage.’

Joh 20:27 KJV Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

‘Thomas, Reach hither thy finger’ It is assumed because Jesus discouraged Maryfrom touching Him, but later invited Thomas to thrust his hand into His side, that He had ascended to His Father during the intervening period.

Mat 28:9-10 KJV And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. 10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

However, in Matthew’s account of the resurrection, Jesus did not forbid the women from touching or worshipping Him! Therefore, the change in His appearance took place at His glorification after the ascension.

Jesus Walking on the Sea

Christ in the Midst v Walking on the Sea

Joh 20:26 KJV And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

‘the doors being shut’ It is also unsustainable to claim that Jesus’ resurrected body was His glorified body because He could appear in a room with all the doors closed.

Mat 14:26 KJV And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

The occasion when Jesus walked on the sea repudiates this; it was equally miraculous and occurred prior to the resurrection.

The motive behind this hypothesis is to support the eschatological position held by scholars who demand a less glorified Christ, to accommodate their theory that Christ in His resurrection form will sit in the temple in Jerusalem during the ‘millennium’.

Act 2:34-35 KJV For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

Christ’s enthronement did not happen directly after His resurrection; Jesus spent forty days with His disciples before that glorious event.‘Sit thou on my right hand’

Jesus was to be King not only over Israel; He was to be King of Kings.

Peter declared Christ’s resurrection from the dead… Acts 2:22 and thereby Jesus was the recipient of the promise made to David that his descendant would sit on his throne… Acts 2:30-33

Where was the throne located?

Peter made it clear; the Messiah would sit on the throne of David in heaven, not on earth.

Christ now appears in all the glory of His deity, not as He was before or after the resurrection, but as He is since His ascension and glorification!

The Ascension and the Glorified Christ

Joh 17:5 KJV And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

After His ascension, Christ received the glory that was His before the foundation of the world. Once again adorned with the resplendent glory of the second person of the Trinity.

Php 2:9-11 KJV Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The Father highly exalted Him in recognition of His triumph over sin and ‘the death’.

The Ascension and the Cloud of the Lord

The significance of the ‘cloud of the Lord’ is the only common denominator. The theophanic cloud of the Lord was the visible manifestation of the divine presence.

The Old Covenant ‘Cloud of the Lord’

Exo 24:17-18 KJV And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

‘Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up unto the mount’ Here we find an Old Testament type and foreshadow of Christ and His ascension. Moses entered the cloud and returned after ‘forty’ days; a cloud also conveyed Christ into Heaven, and He returned after ‘forty’ years.

Exo 34:29 KJV And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses knew not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.

Moses not only ascended the mount, but while there he received the Old Covenant, likewise when Christ ascended to the Father, He received the New Covenant.

Exo 34:30 KJV And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

Rev 1:16 KJV And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

Moses’ appearance changed having been in the presence of the Lord, the appearance of Jesus at His return was even more glorious.

The New Covenant ‘Cloud of the Lord’

2Co 3:7-11 KJV But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

‘much more that which remaineth is glorious’ The New Covenant glory eclipsed the glory of the Old Covenant.

The glorified Christ returned in majesty on the ‘cloud of the Lord’, having neither the identical appearance with which He ascended, nor with a mere cumulus cloud.

Act 1:9 KJV And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

Rev 14:14 KJV And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.

A Quote from Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary

‘The Old Testament. The Literal Cloud. Natural phenomena involving clouds are depicted occasionally in the Old Testament, but far from being only “natural,” these are invariably linked with the direct activity of God…’‘The Theophanic/Eschatological Cloud. The remaining twenty-two New Testament occurrences of the word “cloud” appear in the context of theophany, and encompass six theologically crucial, eschatologically related events or visionary scenes in salvation history: (1) the pillar of cloud at the exodus, viewed as a type of Christian baptism in the time of eschatological fulfillment (1 Cor 10:1-2); (2) Jesus’ transfiguration, as a foretaste of the kingdom of God, during which the Father appears and speaks in a cloud (Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:34); (3) Jesus’ ascension, explained by the angels as a paradigm for his return (Acts 1:9); (4) the “mighty angel” descending from heaven wrapped in a cloud, announcing (against the eschatological backdrop of (Dan 12:7) that time should be no longer (Rev 10:1); (5) the two resurrected witnesses ascending to heaven in a cloud, described in the context of the eschatological measuring of the temple of God (Rev11:12); and (6) Jesus’ parousia, against the backdrop of Daniel 7:13, as the Son of Man coming with/on/in a cloud/the clouds/the clouds of heaven (Matt 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26;14:62; Luke12:54; 21:27; 1 Thess 4:17; Rev 1:7; 14:14-16)’.

Conclusion

Mat 16:27 KJV For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

The effulgent glory of Christ’s deity shone through at His return; that was not evident at the ascension. The emphasis at the second coming was the glorified Christ, coming in the glory of the Father.

What do you think?

The Atonement: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus

IMG_3746

Paradise and the Fall, Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625) /
Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

There are many Atonement theories in Christendom today, some emphasise a particular aspect of the Atonement while others do a great disservice to the Lord.

I may be accused of over simplifying the matter, but my intention is to state my understanding of this important doctrine by allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture.

Christ Died for Our Sins According to the Scriptures

1Co 15:3-4 KJV For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

The Atonement provided the forgiveness of sins through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross, by whom reconciliation between God and ‘man’ became possible.

I will explain my understanding of the important doctrine of Atonement and its crucial link to Jesus our High Priest’s return.

Christ Died for Our Sins According to the Scriptures

1Co 15:3-4 KJV For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

The Atonement provided the forgiveness of sins through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross, by whom reconciliation between God and ‘man’ became possible.

The Rite of Sacrifice

To comprehend the rite of sacrifice it is crucial to understand the demands of justice regarding payment for sin, the forfeit of the life of the transgressor.

A sacrificial sin-offering was a substitute for the transgressor, and involved the death of a pure and innocent animal by the shedding of its blood. The sinner should have been the one put to death; but God in His mercy allowed a sacrificial offering, thereby granting life and forgiveness.

The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were a type and foreshadow of the ultimate sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ that would take place at God’s appointed time.

Adam and Eve and the Atonement

The Protoevangelium

Gen 3:15 KJV And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

This first prophetic declaration concerning the Messiah in the Scriptures, ‘the Protoevangelium’ or First Gospel, would have been communicated by Adam and Eve to their descendants.

Gen 3:7 KJV And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

The day Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he died spiritually, being cast out from the presence of God and the Garden of Eden. He did not die physically.

Gen 3:21 KJV Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

God clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of the first recorded victims of sacrificial death. The Scriptures do not specifically record the Lord’s original instruction to offer animal sacrifices as sin-offerings, although it is interesting to note that the only physical deaths mentioned as a direct result of the fall were those of the animals slain to be a covering for Adam and Eve.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 3:21 ‘God made coats of skins – It is very likely that the skins out of which their clothing was made were taken off animals whose blood had been poured out as a sin-offering to God; for as we find Cain and Abel offering sacrifices to God, we may fairly presume that God had given them instructions on this head; nor is it likely that the notion of a sacrifice could have ever occurred to the mind of man without an express revelation from God. Hence we may safely infer, 1. That as Adam and Eve needed this clothing as soon as they fell, and death had not as yet made any ravages in the animal world, it is most likely that the skins were taken off victims offered under the direction of God himself, and in faith of Him who, in the fullness of time, was to make an atonement by his death. And it seems reasonable also that this matter should be brought about in such a way that Satan and death should have no triumph, when the very first death that took place in the world was an emblem and type of that death which should conquer Satan, destroy his empire, reconcile God to man, convert man to God, sanctify human nature, and prepare it for heaven.’

Cain and Abel and the Atonement

Gen 4:4 YLT and Abel, he hath brought, he also, from the female firstlings of his flock, even from their fat ones; and Jehovah looketh unto Abel and unto his present,

Abel’s Acceptable Sacrifice

The Lord looked favourably on Abel’s animal sacrifice.

The first mention in Scripture of ‘man’ offering an animal sacrifice is in Genesis 4:4. It is reasonable to contemplate that the acceptable animal sacrifice made by Abel was the result of the concept communicated to him and his brother either directly by the Lord, or through their father Adam who had first hand knowledge of the Lord.

Heb 11:4 KJV By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

According to the writer to the Hebrews, Abel ‘obtained witness that he was righteous’ because his offering was by faith and a contrite heart.

Cain’s Unacceptable Offering

Gen 4:5-7 YLT and unto Cain and unto his present He hath not looked; and it is very displeasing to Cain, and his countenance is fallen. 6 And Jehovah saith unto Cain, `Why hast thou displeasure? and why hath thy countenance fallen? 7 Is there not, if thou dost well, acceptance? and if thou dost not well, at the opening a sin-offering is crouching, and unto thee its desire, and thou rulest over it.’

Cain’s offering and attitude was unacceptable to the Lord.

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Genesis 4:7 ‘If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? — A better rendering is, “Shalt thou not have the excellency”? which is the true sense of the words referring to the high privileges and authority belonging to the first-born in patriarchal times.
sin lieth at the door — sin, that is, a sin offering – a common meaning of the word in Scripture (as in Hos_4:8; 2Co_5:21; Heb_9:28). The purport of the divine rebuke to Cain was this, “Why art thou angry, as if unjustly treated? If thou doest well (that is, wert innocent and sinless) a thank offering would have been accepted as a token of thy dependence as a creature. But as thou doest not well (that is, art a sinner), a sin offering is necessary, by bringing which thou wouldest have met with acceptance and retained the honors of thy birthright.” This language implies that previous instructions had been given as to the mode of worship; Abel offered through faith (Heb_11:4).
unto thee shall be his desire — The high distinction conferred by priority of birth is described (Gen_27:29); and it was Cain’s conviction, that this honor had been withdrawn from him, by the rejection of his sacrifice, and conferred on his younger brother – hence the secret flame of jealousy, which kindled into a settled hatred and fell revenge.’

Gen 4:8 YLT And Cain saith unto Abel his brother, `Let us go into the field;’ and it cometh to pass in their being in the field, that Cain riseth up against Abel his brother, and slayeth him.

The Lord gave Cain the opportunity to repent and make an acceptable ‘sin-offering’, he continued to rebel and as a result he murdered his brother.

1Jn 3:12 KJV Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

The Old Testament contains many types and shadows, Christ being the antitype. To understand the Atonement of Christ it is advantageous to grasp the significance of the Old Covenant sacrificial system.

Moses Coming Down from Mount Sinai

Old Covenant Israel and the Atonement

The Law of Moses

Lev 4:3-4 KJV If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin offering. 4 And he shall bring the bullock unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock’s head, and kill the bullock before the LORD.

Lev 4:12 KJV Even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn him on the wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall he be burnt.

The Law of Moses required the sacrificial victims be free from blemish. An animal’s death did not automatically make a person right with God in some ritualistic way. God provided the means of atonement in the sacrificial system, but the Israelites had to recognise the seriousness of their sin… Leviticus 16:29-30; Micah 6:6-8 They also had to identify themselves personally with the victim that died… Leviticus 1:4

Lev 17:11 KJV For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

During the Old Covenant Age, did the blood of an animal cleanse their sin? Yes it did.

Heb 9:22 KJV And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

The Law of Moses was the fundamental principle by which God continued with them, the taking of a life by the shedding of blood was required when the Old Covenant people broke the Law.

Heb 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Rom 3:25-26 KJV Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Although Old Covenant believers received genuine atonement, the sacrifice of animals was unable to meet the demands of God’s judgement upon sin. A greater sacrifice was necessary, the Lord Jesus Christ… Romans 3:25

The Day of Atonement

Lev 16:34 KJV And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.

The Day of Atonement first began c 1490 BC and was an annual cleansing of all the sins of Israel committed during the course of that year.

Heb 9:11-12 KJV But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

The Great High Priest of the New Covenant was the antitype of the Old Covenant high priest.

Heb 10:8-12 WNT After saying the words I have just quoted, “SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS OR WHOLE BURNT-OFFERINGS AND SIN-OFFERINGS THOU HAST NOT DESIRED OR TAKEN PLEASURE IN” –all such being offered in obedience to the Law– 9 He then adds, “I HAVE COME TO DO THY WILL.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 It is through that divine will that we have been set free from sin, through the offering of Jesus Christ as our sacrifice once for all. 11 And while every priest stands ministering, day after day, and constantly offering the same sacrifices–though such can never rid us of our sins– 12 this Priest, on the contrary, after offering for sins a single sacrifice of perpetual efficacy, took His seat at God’s right hand,

A Quote from Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

Hebrews 10:1-10 ‘The apostle having shown that the tabernacle, and ordinances of the covenant of Sinai, were only emblems and types of the gospel, concludes that the sacrifices the high priests offered continually, could not make the worshippers perfect, with respect to pardon, and the purifying of their consciences. But when “God manifested in the flesh,” became the sacrifice, and his death upon the accursed tree the ransom, then the Sufferer being of infinite worth, his free-will sufferings were of infinite value. The atoning sacrifice must be one capable of consenting, and must of his own will place himself in the sinner’s stead: Christ did so. The fountain of all that Christ has done for his people, is the sovereign will and grace of God. The righteousness brought in, and the sacrifice once offered by Christ, are of eternal power, and his salvation shall never be done away. They are of power to make all the comers thereunto perfect; they derive from the atoning blood, strength and motives for obedience, and inward comfort.’

Under the Law of Moses, the sacrifices were ineffectual in that they could not remove sin permanently. However, these were types and shadows of the coming Christ who would be the perfect and final sacrifice for sin.

The ‘Lamb of God’ and the Atonement

The Lamb of God

Joh 1:29 KJV The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Gen 22:8 KJV And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 22:8 ‘My son, God will provide himself a lamb – Here we find the same obedient unshaken faith for which this pattern of practical piety was ever remarkable. But we must not suppose that this was the language merely of faith and obedience; the patriarch spoke prophetically, and referred to that Lamb of God which He had provided for himself, who in the fullness of time should take away the sin of the world, and of whom Isaac was a most expressive type. All the other lambs which had been offered from the foundation of the world had been such as Men chose and Men offered; but This was the Lamb which God had provided – emphatically, The Lamb Of God.’

Isa 53:7 KJV He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Many Jewish scholars insist that Isaiah 53 does not apply to the Lord Jesus Christ, the suffering Messiah. Instead they claim it was a description of the sufferings of the nation of Israel.

Act 8:32 KJV The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

The Ethiopian eunuch was endeavouring to understand Isaiah 53 when Philip, under the unction of the Holy Spirit, approached him and preached Christ from that very portion of Scripture. The result was the conversion of the ‘eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians’… Acts 8:27

Matthew and the Blood of Christ

Mat 26:28 KJV For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Paul and the Blood of Christ

Eph 1:7 KJV In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Col 1:14 KJV In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Col 1:20 KJV And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

The Writer to the Hebrews and the Blood of Christ

Heb 9:14 KJV How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

John and the Blood of Christ

1Jn 1:7 KJV But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Rev 1:5 KJV And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

The Atonement of Christ is reconciliation by redemption through His blood for the forgiveness of sin.

Gal 3:13 KJV Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

The Lord Jesus was born by supernatural conception and was not tainted with Adam’s sin, having no sin of His own He had no sin counted against Him; therefore death could not hold Him.

When He died as our substitute He ‘bare our sins in His own body on the tree’… 1 Peter 2:24 Isaiah who lived c 700 BC prophesied ‘the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all’… Isaiah 53:6

Lev 17:11 KJV For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

To denigrate the efficacy of the Blood is to attack the integrity of the Scriptures. In recent times, those offended by the preaching of the ‘Blood of Christ’ described Christianity as the ‘slaughterhouse religion’. In fact, a ‘Christian theologian’ created the slogan; I use the term loosely!

Prophetic Fulfilment and the Atonement

Heb 9:7-8 KJV But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: 8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

By comparing the Old Covenant high priest with the New Covenant High Priest in Hebrews 9, we discover a clearer understanding of the full and fulfilled atonement.

On the Day of Atonement, the high priest offered an annual blood sacrifice. However, it was not until he descended from the temple, thereby providing evidence of an acceptable sacrifice, could the Children of Israel rejoice having been reconciled for another year… Leviticus 16:16-18

Lev 16:17 KJV And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.

Likewise, Jesus our High Priest had to return to us before our salvation was complete.

The simple fact is, if Jesus our High Priest has not returned from the heavenly ‘temple’, then He has still to finish the work He set out to do. Not only is a 2000 years gap inconceivable it also discredits the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles; His imminent return was their clarion call.

2Co 1:22 KJV Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

Heb 6:5 KJV And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

Did the blood of Christ cleanse 1st century believers from sin? Yes it did. Nonetheless, it is necessary to take into account that prior to the parousia in AD 70 there was a ‘transition period’ of 40 years, sometimes referred to as the ‘already, but not yet’. The 1st century believers were sealed and had already tasted the Word of God and the powers of the ‘age’ to come, but until Christ returned in AD 70 they were unable to enter fully into all the blessings of the New Covenant Age.

Heb 9:28 KJV So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

The return of our Prophet, Priest, and King meant the completion of our Salvation.

Dispensationalism’s Dilemma and the Atonement

Through the full and fulfilled atonement of Christ, the Scriptures declare all the types and shadows of the sacrificial system have their antitype in Christ. There is no justifiable reason for reinstating animal sacrifices even as a means of remembrance, as some scholars suggest.

For Dispensationalism to teach the re-establishment of animal sacrifices during a millennium reign of Christ on earth, is not only totally contrary to the Scriptures, it does a great disservice to the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Not only did Jesus fully atone for sin, no other future sacrifice is required.

A Quote from Charles S Price

Leviticus 17:11 ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the souls.” In the heavens above–in the water beneath–in the world in which we live–there is no atonement for sin except through the blood. From the time when our foreparents in the Garden of Eden were told to make skins with which to cover themselves, unto this day, there has never been ONE SINGLE CASE of atonement for sin without the shedding of blood. The sacrifice of Cain was rejected while the sacrifice of Abel was acceptable to the Lord. In all of the types of priesthood that we discover in Old Testament scripture, there was never any system or method of atonement offered to them except the shedding of blood. Type and antitype must correspond. The life of the body is in the blood–and Jesus shed his precious blood upon Calvary–and thereby gave His life for the atonement of all of our sins.’

We may never fully understand why God in His infinite wisdom chose to do things the way He did. With a thankful heart we rejoice in the fact He has made reconciliation a reality.

That’s my Saviour!

What do you think?

Footnote

The Old Covenant Offerings

Voluntary Offerings

Burnt Offering… Leviticus 1:1-17… for consecration…Romans 12:1
Meat (meal) Offering… Leviticus 2:1-16… offered with the Burnt Offering
Peace Offering… Leviticus 3:1-17… for reconciliation

Compulsory Offerings

Sin Offering… Leviticus 4:1-35… for sins against God
Trespass Offering… Leviticus 5:1-7… for sins against man or holy things

Jesus is King of Kings

IMG_3741

Source: gospeldrivendisciples.blogspot

Introduction

This may seem like a stupid question: Is Jesus reigning now?

Of course He is.

Nevertheless, there is a lack of understanding among many believers regarding the kingship of Jesus. For example, although Dispensationalism is probably the most popular ‘end times’ theory and widely accepted by Christendom, there are mixed messages from its proponents regarding the question of whether Jesus is King at this present time. A familiar phrase from my own days in Dispensationalism was ‘Jesus is my Prophet, Priest, and coming King’.

To make my point, I have selected a few shocking statements from a prominent author and leading advocate of Dispensationalism:

Had the people received Him, He would have fulfilled the kingly prophecies in their day in addition to the ones regarding the suffering Messiah. But when the Jewish nation as a whole rejected Christ, the fulfilment of His kingship was postponed until the final culmination of world history.’

‘…even though Christ has the right to rule the earth, He isn’t exercising this authority over kings and kingdoms at this time.’ — Hal Lindsey, There’s a New World Coming, Pages 30, 206.

Jesus is King and Reigning from Heaven

Jdg 8:23 KJV And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.

God was Israel’s King.

1Sa 8:5-7 KJV And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. 7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

The Lord ruled from Heaven by means of His revealed Law, but Israel wanted an earthly king like other nations. God assented after their remonstrance, but added they were rejecting Him as their King.

Hos13:11 KJV I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.

Dispensationalism would have us believe that God’s great plan and purpose was to have a king ruling from Jerusalem. Nonetheless, God had a far greater plan for the Messiah… Acts 2:30-33

Jer 22:30 KJV 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.

‘for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah’ When the Kingdom of Judah ultimately descended into apostasy, God removed king Coniah, also called Jeconiah, sending him into captivity in Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar placed Zedekiah the uncle of Jeconiah on the throne. Following a rebellion, Nebuchadnezzar imprisoned Zedekiah and after he witnessed the slaying of his sons, Zedekiah’s eyes were put out. He died in a Babylonian prison.

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Jeremiah 22:30 ‘Childless – No child to sit on David’s throne. See 1Ch 3:17 note. Jeconiah was the last king of David’s line. His uncle indeed actually reigned after him, but perished with his sons long before Jeconiah’s death (literally 10): and yet from so dead a trunk, from a family so utterly fallen, that spiritual King came forth whose name is “Yahweh our righteousness” Jer 23:5-6.’

Jesus is a descendant of Jeconiah… Matthew 1:11-16 and the rightful heir to David’s throne, but according to Jeremiah He will not reign on the throne of David in Jerusalem. Yet, that is exactly what Dispensationalism teaches.

Jesus Avoided Becoming an Earthly King

Joh 6:15 KJV When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

If His Kingdom was of this world, why did Jesus circumvent those who could have brought it to pass?

Act 1:6 KJV When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

Acts 1:6 ‘ Wilt thou at this time, etc.? They still held to their old ideas of a worldly restoration of the kingdom of Israel. Their only question was, “Wilt thou restore it now?” After the Holy Spirit was given, this delusion was dismissed, and they understood that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world.’ — People’s New Testament

Dispensationalism teaches that God has two separate peoples, national Israel and the Church. The Jews remain special heirs of Abraham and will rule over the Gentiles in a future millennium kingdom. This is contrary to the Scriptures and accentuates why it is important to have a clear understanding of the Kingdom of God and the Kingship of Jesus.

Jesus Reigns on David’s Throne in the Heavenly Realm

Act 2:30-33 YLT a prophet, therefore, being, and knowing that with an oath God did swear to him, out of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, to raise up the Christ, to sit upon his throne, 31 having foreseen, he did speak concerning the rising again of the Christ, that his soul was not left to hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 `This Jesus did God raise up, of which we are all witnesses; 33 at the right hand then of God having been exalted–also the promise of the Holy Spirit having received from the Father–he was shedding forth this, which now ye see and hear;

Peter proclaimed the fulfilment of God’s promise to raise up Christ upon David’s throne… Psalm 89:3-4 Therefore, Jesus was reigning over Israel during the lifetime of His generation.

Joh 18:36-37 KJV Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

When Jesus answered ‘My kingdom is not of this world’, it was in keeping with His parable of ‘A certain nobleman’…Luke 19:12-27

A Certain Nobleman

Luk 19:12-15 KJV He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. 15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.

In this parable, we see a clear reference to Christ going by way of His death, resurrection, and ascension, to receive His Kingdom from the Father and to return in judgement.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Luke 19:12-15 ‘A certain nobleman – The Lord Jesus, who was shortly to be crucified by the Jews. Went into a far country – Ascended to the right hand of the Divine Majesty. To receive a kingdom – To take possession of the mediatorial kingdom, the right to which, as Messiah, he had acquired by his sufferings: see Phi_2:8, Phi_2:9; Heb_1:3, Heb_1:8, Heb_1:9. In these words there is an allusion to the custom of those days, when they who had kingdoms or governments given unto them went to Rome to receive that dignity from the emperors. Bishop Pearce. In proof of this, see Josephus, Ant. l. xiv. c. xiv., where we find Herod went to Rome to receive the sanction and authority of the Roman emperor. And, from lib. xvii. c. 3, we learn that his successors acted in the same way. And to return – To judge and punish the rebellious Jews.’

The Church and the Kingdom

Mat 16:18-19 KJV And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Jesus referred to the Church and the Kingdom in this portion of Scripture and His statement can only make sense if the titles are synonymous.

Heb 12:23 KJV To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

Heb 12:28 KJV Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Church and the Kingdom are interchangeable terms; to partake of one is to partake of the other.

Eph 2:12-15 KJV That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

Eph 2:19 KJV Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

To be in Christ is to be in the Church and in the Kingdom.

Conclusion

Hal Lindsey has written numerous successful, highly acclaimed books based on Dispensationalism’s ‘end times’ theory.

In my opinion, he reveals the dubious nature of this doctrine by his failure to acknowledge the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Luk 1:33 KJV And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Believers are citizens of the spiritual Kingdom of God, with King Jesus reigning in their hearts from His everlasting throne.

Rev 19:16 KJV And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

That is my King!

What do you think?

Footnote

Further to my comment on Jeremiah 22:30

Jer 22:30 KJV 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.

Chronology

Josiah was King of Judah 640-609 BC; he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD. He died in battle against the Egyptians at Megiddo.

Jehoahaz 608 BC reigned for three months then deposed by Necho II and imprisoned in Egypt.

Jehoiakim was King of Judah 608-597 BC; he was a wicked king.

Jehoiachin also called Jeconiah 597 BC reigned for three months then deposed by Nebuchadnezzar and taken captive to Babylon. Although Zedekiah took his place on the throne, the exiled Jews acknowledged Jeconiah as their king…Ezekiel 1:2. Matthew recorded Jeconiah in Christ’s genealogy… Matthew 1

Zedekiah was King of Judah 597-586 BC; he was Jeconiah’s uncle and placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar. After a rebellion, was imprisoned, his eyes were put out, and he died in Babylonian captivity.

There is no Difference Between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven

IMG_3740Christ Enthroned, Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) | Source: Pre Raphaelite Art

Introduction

There are scholars today who teach there is a difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Proponents of Dispensationalism are the main disseminators of this teaching, since it requires two kingdoms to make its ‘end times’ theory plausible.

Personally, I was taught the ‘Kingdom of God’ is spiritual and in the world today. The Kingdom of Heaven is a future millennium kingdom on earth. Jesus is not King at this present time, He is our Prophet, Priest, and coming King.

A Quote from Clarence Larkin’s Dispensational Truth (currently available on the Blue Letter Bible website)

‘The “Kingdom of God” is the “Reign of God” in the Universe over all His created creatures, and includes time and eternity, heaven and earth. It is spiritual and “cometh not with observation.” Luke 17:20,21. It is entered by the “New Birth,” (John 3:5); and is not “meat” and “drink,” but “Righteousness and Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost.”Rom. 14:17.
The “Kingdom of Heaven’,” is a New Testament term, and is found in Matthew’s Gospel only, where it is mentioned 32 times. Its character is described in the 12 “Kingdom of Heaven Parables” given in Matt. 13:1-50; 18:23-25; 20:1-16; 22:1-14; 25:1-30. From these Parables we see that the “Kingdom of Heaven” is limited as to its Time and its Sphere. Its Time is from the First to the Second Coming of Christ, and its Sphere is over that part of the world that we call Christendom. In the “Kingdom of Heaven” there is a mixture of good and evil, of “Wheat” and “Tares,” of “Good Fish” and “Bad Fish,” of “Wise Virgins” and “Foolish Virgins.”‘

In my opinion, the ‘Kingdom of God’ and ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ are synonymous titles appertaining to the universal Reign of God. There is one spiritual Kingdom.

In defence of my assertion of only one Kingdom, I have selected a few examples to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture.

Dispensationalism

‘The Kingdom of GOD ‘cometh not with observation [outward show]’ (Luke 17:20), but is chiefly that which is inward and spiritual (Romans 14:17); while the Kingdom of Heaven is organic, and is to be manifested in glory on the earth.’  – Lewis Sperry Chafer – The Kingdom in History and Prophecy

The Kingdom Suffereth Violence

The Scriptures reveal the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ existed during the time of John the Baptist and Christ’s ministry.

Consider the following Scriptures:

Matthew 11:12 and Luke 16:16 are two Gospel accounts of the same conversation.

Mat 11:12-13 KJV And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

‘kingdom of heaven’ For the Kingdom of Heaven to ‘suffereth violence’ it must have already existed during the ministry of John the Baptist. Therefore, it was not a title reserved specifically for a future millennium kingdom.

Luk 16:16 KJV The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

‘kingdom of God’ Luke recorded the same conversation and used the equivalent title ‘Kingdom of God’.

It is likely Matthew when writing to the Jews simply preferred to use ‘heaven’ rather than ‘God’.

Preach the Kingdom

Once again, we have two Gospel accounts of the same incident recorded by Matthew and Luke.

Mat 10:7-8 KJV And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

‘preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven’ This is another example of the Kingdom of Heaven being synonymous with the Kingdom of God.

Luk 9:1-2 KJV Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

‘preach the kingdom of God’ Jesus commanded the twelve disciples to preach and heal the sick, Matthew wrote ‘kingdom of heaven’ while Luke used ‘kingdom of God’.

Enter into the Kingdom

Mat 19:23-24 KJV Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

In Matthew’s Gospel both phrases are compatible, surely, Jesus would have expounded further if there were a need to differentiate between them.

Mar 10:24-25 KJV And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Mark applied ‘Kingdom of God’ on both occasions when he recorded the same conversation.

The Kingdom Is Synonymous with the New Covenant

Heb 12:24 KJV And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

Covenant change was the theme of the Epistle to 1st century Hebrews during the ‘transition period’.

The Old Covenant was about to be removed, deferring to the full establishment of the New Covenant. The Church was about to enter fully into New Covenant.

Heb 12:28 KJV Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

The writer to 1st century Hebrews exhorted them to live ‘with reverence and godly fear’ because they were not only recipients of the New Covenant, they were about to receive the ‘Kingdom’.

Nevertheless, John MacArthur insists the Kingdom has been postponed for 2000 years and counting:

Dispensationalism’s Definition

What is the Kingdom of Heaven?

A Quote from John MacArthur, Grace to You Website,

John MacArthur explained Dispensationalism’s interpretation of the Kingdom of Heaven, and began with the tenuous statement ‘Although the precise phrase is not found there, the kingdom of heaven is basically an Old Testament concept.’ He continued with the following:

‘Had God’s people Israel accepted their King when He first came to them, there would be no interim kingdom. The kingdom at hand would have become the kingdom of a thousand years, which, in turn, would have ushered in the eternal kingdom. But because they killed the forerunner of the King and then the King Himself, the millennial kingdom, and consequently the eternal kingdom, were sovereignly postponed. – John MacArthur

The Spiritual Kingdom

Luk 17:20-21 KJV And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

The Jews believed Gentile dominance would end by setting up Christ’s throne in Jerusalem. However, Jesus was about to end the Jewish polity completely, at His return in AD 70.

Joh 6:15 KJV When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

The Jews were willing to make Jesus king, but He avoided their intentions. If He had come to reign over a material kingdom from Jerusalem, the opportunity was there for the taking.

Joh 18:36-37 KJV Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Jesus was born into the world that He might establish the spiritual Kingdom.

Isa 9:7 KJV Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Jesus returned in AD 70 and gathered His elect into the Kingdom and judged those who rejected Him. The Scriptures proclaim His Kingdom will continue to grow. The prophet said ‘Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end’.

The natural mind cannot perceive the progress of the Kingdom of God, its growth in the world is a process of pervasion in the spiritual realm… Matthew 13:31-32

1Pe 2:9 KJV But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Conclusion

The titles of the Kingdom are synonymous and describe one spiritual Kingdom.

Christ’s government is ever increasing.

Jesus is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords!

What do you think?

 

New Jerusalem will not Physically Descend from Heaven

IMG_3730The New Jerusalem, Paul Gustave Dore (1832-1883) | Source: Dore Bible Gallery Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

Introduction

A Quote from Dr David L Cooper, Biblical Research Society

‘Since God has the proper sense of proportion and since this New Jerusalem will be fifteen hundred miles in each direction, I conclude that the new earth to which it comes and upon which it rests forever will be an enormous one. It is impossible for us, with our limited comprehension, to understand these vast proportions.’

New Jerusalem will not descend literally from Heaven at some time in the future.

In my opinion, the emphasis on earthly Jerusalem and National Israel has had a detrimental effect on Christianity. Not only does Dispensationalism cause Christians to neglect the fact they are citizens of Heavenly Jerusalem, with its benefits and responsibilities, it has sidetracked the Body of Christ from its original focus, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I will seek to prove from the Scriptures that contrary to the teaching of Dispensationalism, New Jerusalem is a present day reality, a city inhabited spiritually, and to be enjoyed by all born again believers.

The Tabernacle of God is With Men

John alluded to Ezekiel 37:26-27 in Revelation 21:2-3. By doing so, he affirmed the New Covenant fulfilment of Ezekiel’s prophecy. The New Covenant, established in AD 70, is synonymous with the ‘covenant of peace’ and the ‘everlasting covenant’.

God’s dwelling place is not a future temple made with hands, He tabernacles within the hearts of His people today.

Ezekiel 37 vs Revelation 21

Eze 37:26-27 KJV Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Rev 21:2-3 KJV And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Ezekiel 37:27 ‘My tabernacle – The tabernacle wherein I will shew my presence among them. Their fathers had a tabernacle, but the Messiah shall bring with him a better, a spiritual, and an heavenly. They shall be my people – By my grace I will make them holy, as the people of a holy God; and I will make them happy, as the people of the ever blessed God.’ — John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

An Allegory of the Old and New Testaments

Hagar and Sarah were Symbolic of Two Covenants and ‘Two Jerusalems’

Paul encouraged the Galatians to be faithful to the Gospel he had imparted to them, and to beware of Judaisers who had infiltrated the Church. These false teachers insisted on combining the Gospel of Grace with the Old Covenant Law.

Gal 4:22-26 KJV For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

Paul explained that Hagar being a bondwoman represented the bondage of the Old Covenant and correlated to ‘earthly Jerusalem’, while Sarah a freewoman represented the freedom of the New Covenant and correlated to ‘heavenly Jerusalem’.

‘Jerusalem which now is’ In bondage to the Law given to Moses at Mount Sinai, whereas ‘Jerusalem which is above’ is New Covenant freedom in the Holy Spirit, through the death, resurrection and glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gal 4:30 KJV Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

In a spiritual sense, Hagar the bondwoman typified the casting out of the Old Covenant, while Sarah the freewoman typified the establishing of the New Covenant.

The Church at Galatia had freedom, but was in danger of being rescinded if entangled in the bondage of Judaism and the Old Covenant Law.

Therefore, New Jerusalem is not a material city to descend from Heaven in the future, but a spiritual city to enjoy now in the New Covenant Age.

Are Believers Really Living in ‘The New Jerusalem’? Yes, Although Many Do not Realise it!

Heb 12:22 KJV But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

Many scholars today teach Heavenly Jerusalem is still future and will materially descend to earth from heaven. Nonetheless, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews explicitly proclaimed Heavenly Jerusalem, also called New Jerusalem, was and is a present reality… Revelation 3:12; Revelation 21:2

There was no need for physical death and resurrection for 1st century believers to enter into the Heavenly City; they entered while still alive in their physical bodies!

A Quote from Alexander McLaren

Hebrews 12:22-23 ‘For, says my text, ‘Ye are come,’ not ‘Ye shall come.’ The humblest life may be in touch with the grandest realities in the universe, and need not wait for death to draw aside the separating curtain in order to be in the presence of God and in the heavenly Jerusalem.
How are these things brought to us? By the revelation of God in Christ. How are we brought to them? By faith in that revelation. So every believing life, howsoever encompassed by flesh and sense, can thrust, as it were, a hand through the veil, and grasp the realities beyond. The scene described in the first words of my text may verily be the platform on which our lives are lived, howsoever in outward form they may be passed on this low earth; and the companions, which the second part of our text discloses, may verily be our companions, though we ‘wander lonely as a cloud,’ or seem to be surrounded by far less noble society. By faith we are come to the unseen realities which are come to us by the revelation of God in Christ. ‘Ye are come unto Mount Zion.’

How can this be? They had come ‘To the general assembly and church of the firstborn’.

Jesus the Firstborn Among Many Brethren

Heb 12:23 KJV To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

Christ is fully God and fully man; He was not a created being, as some falsely teach from this verse. In Scripture, firstborn often signified a well-beloved, or best-beloved son; one preferred to all the rest and distinguished by an exclusive right and privilege.

Exo 4:22 KJV And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:

God called Israel his son and his firstborn.

Jer 31:9 KJV They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.

Ephraim was God’s firstborn.

Rom 8:29 KJV For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Paul said Jesus was the ‘firstborn among many brethren’ meaning that Christ was the Pre-eminent One, the Ultimate Model.

The General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn

Having already come to Heavenly Jerusalem and the church of the firstborn, citizenship of the 1st century Church did not rely on resurrection from physical death.

Rom 6:5 KJV For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

The 1st century believers had joined with Christ in His death and resurrection.

1Co 12:13 KJV For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

The Church was living in the Heavenly Jerusalem by the power of the Holy Spirit of Promise.

Heb 6:5 YLT and did taste the good saying of God, the powers also of the coming age,

During the transition period between the Old and New Covenant, the general assembly and church of the firstborn tasted of the powers of the New Covenant Age.

Conclusion

Heb 12:27-28 KJV And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Hebrews 12:27 ‘The removing of those things that are shaken – The whole of the Jewish polity, which had been in a shaken state from the time that Judea had fallen under the power of the Romans.
As of things that are made – That is, subjects intended to last only for a time. God never designed that the Jewish religion should become general, nor be permanent.
Those things which cannot be shaken – The whole Gospel system, which cannot be moved by the power of man.
May remain – Be permanent; God designing that this shall be the last dispensation of his grace and mercy, and that it shall continue till the earth and the heavens are no more.’
Due to the constant bombardment of Dispensationalism’s ‘end times’ pessimism, many Christians miss the present blessings our Heavenly Father has provided through His Son. ‘Blessed Assurance’ is quickly replaced by ‘Hold the Fort for I Am Coming’.

If New Jerusalem received the enthusiasm and resources given to earthly Jerusalem, the furtherance of the Gospel would benefit greatly.

Heavenly Jerusalem, the City of the Living God, is a present spiritual reality for those ‘in Christ’. It is not a literal, material city.

The question is, earthly or heavenly Jerusalem, which one is your capital?

What do you think?

Jesus was not Smitten of God

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The Flagellation, Caravaggio (1573-1610) Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

Son 2:15  KJV Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

Subtle misconceptions are the little foxes that spoil our understanding of the Scriptures.

An unbalanced view of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son is often the result of misrepresentation of Scripture.

I have heard preachers explicate how Jesus was ‘smitten of God’, ‘made sin for us’, ‘forsaken of God’, and have often repeated these ill-conceived views without examining the Scriptures for myself.

I will attempt to explain my understanding of substitutionary atonement.

Was Jesus Smitten of God?

Zechariah

Many preachers and websites narrate arduous and unremitting accounts of Jesus being ‘smitten of God’.

Zec 13:7  KJV Awake,  O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.

For example:

A Quote from Living Stream Ministry

‘However, not only did men reject and betray Him, but God smote Him. “Smite the shepherd.” He was smitten by God on the cross. He was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver by men, but following that, He was smitten on the cross by God Himself.’

Some scholars suggest Zechariah prophesied the Lord would personally smite the Shepherd. In my opinion, Albert Barnes elucidated the meaning and context of this portion of Scripture when he wrote:

Zechariah 13:7 ‘But by this command he signifies that human malice, acting freely, could do no more than His “Hand and” His “counsel determined before to be done” Act 4:28. The envy and hatred of Satan, the blind fury of the chief priests, the contempt of Herod, the guilty cowardice of Pilate, freely accomplished that Death, which God had before decreed for the salvation of the world…(Ribera), “the sword shall be aroused against My Shepherd, that is, I will allow Him to be smitten by the Jews. — Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible

The Perpetrators Were Identified by Peter in Acts 4

Act 4:26-28 KJV The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. 29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

‘For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.’ God the Father did not smite His Son; Peter in Acts 4 listed the perpetrators.

All the evil that sinful ‘man’ could muster while driven by Satan and his kingdom of darkness, was according to the Lord’s divine plan for the redemption of mankind.

God knew Adam would disobey His command and result in ‘mans’ fall and deprivation. Nevertheless, God’s great plan of redemption was in agreement with the Son before foundation of the world. He permitted Satan and wicked fallen ‘man’ to smite and unleash all within their power upon the Lord Jesus Christ, but to no avail, on the third day Christ rose victoriously from the dead.

A Quote from John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

Acts 4:28 ‘and thy counsel determined before to be done: God’s decrees are from eternity; there is nothing comes to pass in time but what he has beforetime determined should be done, either by effecting it himself, or doing it by others, or suffering it to be done, as in the case here. Whatever was done to Christ, either by Jews or Gentiles, by Herod or Pontius Pilate, was according to the secret will of God, the covenant he made with Christ, and the council of peace that was between them both: what they wickedly did, God designed for good, and hereby brought about the redemption and salvation of his people: this neither makes God the author of sin, nor excuses the sinful actions of men, or infringes the liberty of their wills in acting.’

Isaiah

Isa 53:4 KJV Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

A Quote from R C Sproul ‘The Servant Lord II’

‘He is “smitten by God” for our sins and “crushed for our iniquities” (v. 5). Note that it is not any sin in Jesus that causes this punishment. Rather, the Father punishes the Son for the sins that we have committed, the sins that were imputed to Him on the cross.’

The Old Testament animal sacrifices were a type and foreshadow of Jesus the Lamb of God, I fail to find God pouring out His wrath upon the innocent lambs for being sin bearers.

A Quote from Gloria Copeland

‘Jesus was smitten of God with sin and sickness in order for you to go free. Verse 6 tells us, “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”’

Jesus was smitten, but not smitten of God!

yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted’ Isaiah did not write Christ was smitten of God! The prophet clearly said ‘yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted’. There is a huge difference, the crowd witnessing the crucifixion considered Him smitten of God because of His predicament and punishment.

Consider other translations:

Isa 53:4 Douay-Rheims Bible Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted.

Isa 53:4 Geneva Surely hee hath borne our infirmities, and caried our sorowes: yet wee did iudge him, as plagued, and smitten of God, and humbled.

Those who beheld the spectacle of Christ’s sufferings assumed He was in that wretched condition for His own sins, of which He had none. They were oblivious to the fact it was for their sins and for the sins of the world that He endured the cross.

Isa 50:6-7 KJV I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. 7 For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.

I gave my back to the smiters’ Jesus willingly gave Himself in the knowledge that God the Father would come to His aid.

But this is your hour, when darkness reigns!’

Luk 22:53 ISV While I was with you day after day in the temple, you didn’t lay a hand on me. But this is your hour, when darkness reigns!”

‘But this is your hour, when darkness reigns!’ The crucifixion was a spectacle of violent aggression. However, it was not a manifestation of the Father’s wrath on His Son. It was a testimony of God’s love and forgiveness in contrast to the violence and wrath of sinful ‘man’, incited by the Devil and the powers of darkness.

Col 1:13 KJV Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Christ prevailed over ‘mans’ wickedness unleashed on Him in the physical realm, and Satan’s futile attempt to overturn God’s great plan of redemption in the spiritual realm.

A Quote from the People’s New Testament

Colossians 1:13-14 ‘Who hath delivered us. The language implies that we were captive. We were under the power of darkness. Compare Luk_22:53. Satan is the power of darkness. Those in sin are held under his power.’

The Devil’s hostile yet ineffective attack on Christ was a desperate attempt to thwart the plan and purpose of God. Although he bruised Christ’s heal at the crucifixion, his final demise was imminent, when Christ would bruise his head… Genesis 3:15

The concept of God the Father pouring wrath on His Son is not in the Scriptures, nor did the Apostles teach God punished Jesus when He was on the Cross.

Was Jesus ‘Made to Be Sin’ for Us?

2Co 5:21 KJV For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

2Co 5:21 Douay-Rheims Bible Him, who knew no sin, he hath made sin for us: that we might be made the justice of God in him. Sin for us… That is, to be a sin offering, a victim for sin.

The Douay-Rheims translation not only makes more sense, it is also in keeping with Christ being the antitype of the Old Covenant sacrificial system.

The innocent animal was not made to be sin, but the sin bearer.

William F Beck’s God’s Word, Adam Clarke, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, and the Summarized Bible, all captured the true meaning of the verse.

Did Christ Become Sin?

A Quote from Matt Slick, Carm.org

2 Corinthians 5:21 ‘It is possible that at some moment on the cross, when Jesus became sin on our behalf, that God the Father, in a sense, turned His back upon the Son. It says in Hab. 1:13 that God is too pure to look upon evil. Therefore, it is possible that when Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24), that the Father, spiritually, turned away. At that time, the Son may have cried out.’

Contrary to Matt Slick’s view, I believe:

a) Christ did not become sin; He became the sin-bearer and sin offering.

b) God can look upon evil.

c) The Father did not turn His back on His Son.

Christians generally accept the statement made by Matt Slick; personally, Adam Clarke clearly addressed this topic.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

2 Corinthians 5:21 ‘Had our translators attended to their own method of translating the word in other places where it means the same as here, they would not have given this false view of a passage which has been made the foundation of a most blasphemous doctrine; viz. that our sins were imputed to Christ, and that he was a proper object of the indignation of Divine justice, because he was blackened with imputed sin; and some have proceeded so far in this blasphemous career as to say, that Christ may be considered as the greatest of sinners, because all the sins of mankind, or of the elect, as they say, were imputed to him, and reckoned as his own. One of these writers translates the passage thus: Deus Christum pro maximo peccatore habuit, ut nos essemus maxime justi, God accounted Christ the greatest of sinners, that we might be supremely righteous. Thus they have confounded sin with the punishment due to sin. Christ suffered in our stead; died for us; bore our sins, (the punishment due to them), in his own body upon the tree, for the Lord laid upon him the iniquities of us all; that is, the punishment due to them; explained by making his soul – his life, an offering for sin; and healing us by his stripes. But that it may be plainly seen that sin-offering, not sin, is the meaning of the word in this verse.’

Did God Treat Christ as a Sinner?

2Co 5:21 CEV Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.

The Contemporary English Version goes to the extent of asserting ‘God treated him as a sinner’, such theories have led preachers to extrapolate fanciful and exaggerated sermons.

To have a clear perspective of the crucifixion, our answers are found in the Scriptures and not in imaginative sermons, preached to reach the emotions rather than the heart.

Isa 53:6 KJV All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The Lord ‘made the iniquities of us all to meet on him.’ TSK Cross References

Is God too pure to look upon evil?

Hab 1:13 KJV Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?

The Scriptures do not teach God cannot look upon evil. The Book of Habakkuk contains the prophet’s conversation with the Lord, similar to a soliloquy.

It is interesting to compare the King James Version of verse 13, which begins with ‘Thou art’ in italics, (meaning it is not in the original text), to commentators Keil and Delitzsch ‘Art Thou’; Habakkuk’s assumption is transformed into a question and is an equally valid rendition.

A Quote from Keil and Delitzsch commentary on the Old Testament

Habakkuk 1:13 ‘“Art Thou too pure of eye to behold evil, and canst Thou not look upon distress? Wherefore lookest Thou upon the treacherous? and art silent when the wicked devours one more righteous than he?’

A Quote from John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

Habakkuk 1:13 ‘Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look upon iniquity,…. The Lord with his eyes of omniscience beholds all things good and evil, and all men good and bad, with all their actions; but then he does not look upon the sins of men with pleasure and approbation; since they are contrary to his nature, repugnant to his will, and breaches of his righteous law: and though sin in general may be included here, yet there seems to be a particular respect had to the “evil” or injury done by the Chaldeans to the Jews, in invading their land, spoiling their substance, and slaying their persons; and to the “iniquity”, labour, or grievance, by which may be meant the oppression and violence the same people exercised upon the inhabitants of Judea; which, though permitted by the Lord, could not be well pleasing in his sight. The Targum interprets it of persons, workers of evil, and workers of the labour of falsehood; see Psa 5:4.’

Did God Forsake Jesus?

Mat 27:46 KJV And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

I have heard elaborate accounts of God the Father turning His back on Jesus while He bore the sins of the world on the cross, however, the Scriptures do not substantiate this concept of the Father. The fact is, the opposite is true.

For example:

A Quote from R C Sproul ‘The Truth of the Cross’

‘He was overwhelmed by the outer darkness. On the cross, He was in hell, totally bereft of the grace and the presence of God, utterly separated from all blessedness of the Father. He became a curse for us so that we one day will be able to see the face of God. God turned His back on His Son so that the light of His countenance will fall on us. It’s no wonder Jesus screamed from the depths of His soul. (134-135)’

When Matthew recorded the words of Jesus ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ he did so as part of his narrative of the events that occurred during the crucifixion.

Psalm 22

Psa 22:1 KJV My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

When a Rabbi taught from the Scriptures, it was commonplace for him to read the introductory Scripture only, the congregation understood the whole portion or Psalm was to be considered. The Lord Jesus Christ effectively used this teaching method called ‘Remez’.

A Quote from Ray Vander Laan thattheworldmayknow.com

Remez ‘The great teachers (rabbis) during Jesus’ day used a technique that was later called remez. In their teaching, they would use part of a Scripture passage in a discussion, assuming that their audience’s knowledge of the Bible would allow them to deduce for themselves the fuller meaning of the teaching. Apparently, Jesus, who possessed a brilliant understanding of Scripture and strong teaching skills, used this method often.’

‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ King David first uttered these words during a time of severe trial; nonetheless, the Psalm contains a significant Messianic prophecy. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy when He expressed His suffering with a cry of despair.

Psa 22:24 KJV For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

‘neither hath he hid his face from him’ The Psalmist continued by declaring God neither abhorred His affliction, nor hid His face from Him.

‘but when he cried unto him, he heard’ God the Father also heard His cry!

If the Pharisees had not been blind to the truth they would have realised fulfilment of prophecy was taking place in their midst.

Contrary to R C Sproul, in my opinion, God the Father did not forsake His Son.

Conclusion

I have admired and learned from the ministries of R C Sproul and Matt Slick, but I am compelled to disagree on this particular aspect of substitutionary atonement.

Joh 16:32 KJV Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

‘yet I am not alone’ Jesus told the disciples that they would forsake Him, but He assured them His Father was always with Him.

‘the Father is with me’ These were the words of Christ prior to His crucifixion; did Jesus get it wrong? Of course He didn’t!

What do you think?

The Deity of Christ: Jesus did Claim to be God

IMG_3703

Doubting Thomas, Caravaggio (1573-1610) Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

Did Jesus ever claim deity? Yes, He did.

The deity of Christ is a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. There are those today who deny the deity of Christ by suggesting He never claimed to be God, but that is a straw man argument. The Scriptures in fact clearly record that not only did Jesus declare His deity, the New Testament writers by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit constantly referred to it.

His Jewish audience understood exactly the claim Jesus made and attempted to kill Him for speaking blasphemy… John 10 The 1st century Jews knew the term ‘Son of God’ was a reference to divinity.

Is Jesus really God? The answer is a resounding yes.

Thomas and the Divinity of Christ

Joh 20:27-29 KJV Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

John 20:28 ‘…Thomas was the first who gave the title of God to Jesus; and, by this glorious confession, made some amends for his former obstinate incredulity. It is worthy of remark, that from this time forward the whole of the disciples treated our Lord with the most supreme respect, never using that familiarity towards him which they had often used before. The resurrection from the dead gave them the fullest proof of the divinity of Christ. And this, indeed, is the use which St. John makes of this manifestation of Christ. See Joh_20:30, Joh_20:31…’

‘My Lord and my God’ Jesus did not restrain Thomas from worshipping Him; if Jesus was not worthy of worship He would have rebuked him.

Joh 11:16 KJV Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

Let us not be too harsh towards doubting Thomas. When the disciples were deeply troubled that Jesus was returning to Judaea so soon after the attempt to stone Him, it was Thomas who encouraged the disciples to follow Jesus, even if it meant they would all die with Him… John 10:33

A Quote from the Summarized Bible

‘The Son of God became the Son of Man that the sons of men through Him might become the sons of God.’

Jesus and His Divinity

Luk 22:70-71 YLT And they all said, `Thou, then, art the Son of God?’ and he said unto them, `Ye say it, because I am;’ 71 and they said, `What need yet have we of testimony? for we ourselves did hear it from his mouth.’

A Quote from Robertson’s Word Pictures

Luke 22:70 ‘Art thou the Son of God? (Su oun ei ho huios tou theou̱). Note how these three epithets are used as practical equivalents. They ask about “the Messiah.” Jesus affirms that he is the Son of Man and will sit at the right hand of the power of God. They take this to be a claim to be the Son of God (both humanity and deity). Jesus accepts the challenge and admits that he claims to be all three (Messiah, the Son of man, the Son of God).
Ye say (Humeis legete). Just a Greek idiom for “Yes” (compare “I am” in Mar_14:62 with “Thou has said” in Mat_26:64).’

Jesus clearly declared during His trial that He was deity… Mark 14:62

The Father and the Divinity of Christ

Mat 3:17 KJV And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

At the commencement of His earthly ministry, the Father declared Jesus was the Son of God.

Mat 17:5 YLT While he is yet speaking, lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying, `This is My Son, –the Beloved, in whom I did delight; hear him.’

This was endorsed a second time at the transfiguration. The Apostles were enthralled to see Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus; perhaps they considered the three to be of equal standing. When the voice from the glory cloud declared ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him’, they were left in no doubt as to the greatest among them, only Jesus was left standing before them.

Act 13:33 KJV God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

‘Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee’ When visiting the synagogue at Antioch, Paul preached the risen Christ and the fulfillment of Psalm 2:7.

The Gospel of John and the Divinity of Christ

King James vs New World Translation:

Joh 1:1 KJV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1 New World Translation In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.

‘and the Word was God’ Notice the subtle difference. In a vain attempt to support the concept that Jesus was Michael the archangel and a created being, the New World Translation mistranslated John 1:1 by substituting the phrase ‘and the Word was a god’. In my opinion, this is nonsensical; to imply that Jesus is ‘a god’ is to suggest there is another god forby Jehovah. There is no justification for rewriting John 1:1.

Col 1:16-17 YLT because in him were the all things created, those in the heavens, and those upon the earth, those visible, and those invisible, whether thrones, whether lordships, whether principalities, whether authorities; all things through him, and for him, have been created, 17 and himself is before all, and the all things in him have consisted.

Paul declared that Christ is not only the Creator. He also sustains all things.

John 1:1 ‘…God creates and speaks to man through the Word. As we clothe our thoughts in words, God reveals his will by the Word, and when that Word is clothed in flesh, as the Teacher of men, we recognize it as Jesus Christ…’ — The People’s New Testament

Joh 8:56-58 KJV Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

‘Before Abraham was, I am’ When Jesus said ‘Before Abraham was, I am’, He declared His divinity. By drawing from their knowledge of the Scriptures, His Jewish audience understood exactly what He meant when He said ‘I am’.

The term ‘I am’ was specifically attributed to Jehovah. ‘And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.’… Exodus 3:14

Abraham received the revelation of the gospel…Galatians 3:8, and he rejoiced to see Christ’s day… John 8:56

Dispensationalism teaches the Old Testament Patriarchs belong to God’s future plan for the Jews and are not included in the Church; this presupposition is based on the premise God has two separate ‘peoples’. Yet the Scriptures clearly teach the Old Testament saints heard the Gospel and those who looked for the Messiah belonged to the remnant, the Israel of God, into which the Gentile believers were ‘graffed in’.

Joh 10:33 KJV For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

‘because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God’ Again, the Jews, to whom Jesus was addressing, understood exactly the claim He made; Jesus claimed deity! Their reaction was to take Him and stone Him for speaking blasphemy. Why stoning in particular? It was the punishment for blasphemy according to the Law of Moses… Leviticus 24:16

Isaiah’s Vision and the Divinity of Christ

Isa 6:5 KJV Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

Joh 12:41 KJV These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.

‘for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts’ John confirmed Isaiah saw Christ’s glory when he beheld ‘the King, and LORD of hosts’ in his vision (758 BC). When ‘LORD’ is in capital letters in the King James Version it is a translation of the Hebrew ‘Yehovah’.

A Quote from Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

Isaiah 6:5 ‘This vision is explained, John 12:41, that Isaiah now saw Christ’s glory, and spake of Him, which is a foolproof that our Saviour is God. In Christ Jesus, God is seated on a throne of grace; and through him the way into the holiest is laid open.’

Joh 16:15 KJV All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

‘All things that the Father hath are mine’ If ‘all things’ the Father has belong to Christ, does ‘all’ mean ‘all’ including His characteristics and attributes? A created being could not make this claim.

Joh 17:5 KJV And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

‘I had with thee before the world was’ Jesus, God the Son existed with the Father in eternity and shared the glory… John 17:24

Rev 22:12-13 KJV And, behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each as his work is. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, the First and the Last.

the First and the Last’ In the Revelation, Jesus fittingly used the epithet normally attributed to Jehovah, ‘the First and the Last’, and in the same verse He expressed His imminent return!

Isa 44:6 LITV So says Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of Hosts: I am the First, and I am the Last; and there is no God except Me.

‘I am the First, and I am the Last’ Isaiah frequently used this phrase and attributed it to Jehovah… Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 48:12

Polycarp Bishop of Smyrna AD 70 – AD 155 / 160

O Lord God almighty… I bless you and glorify you through the eternal and heavenly high priest Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be glory to you, with Him and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever.’

Paul and the Divinity of Christ

1Co 15:47 KJV The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.

‘the Lord from heaven’ Only despots at their peril would dare to claim the title ‘Lord’, which means God, Master, and Supreme in authority.

Phi 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

‘equal with God’ Christ has equality with, and the form (nature) of God. No created being can claim such attributes.

Phi 2:10-11 KJV That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

‘at the name of Jesus’ If Jesus is not divine then this is surely an idolatrous command!

Col 1:14-15 YLT in whom we have the redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of the sins, 15 who is the image of the invisible God, first-born of all creation,

‘first-born of all creation’ ‘First-born’ is not always understood literally in the Scriptures. It often signifies simply a well-beloved or best-beloved son, one preferred to all the rest, and distinguished by some eminent prerogative.

Thus, God called Israel His son, His first-born… Exodus 4:22 He also called Ephraim His first-born… Jeremiah 31:9

Col 2:9 KJV For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

‘the fulness of the Godhead bodily’ All the divine attributes dwell in Him.

1Ti 1:17 KJV Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

‘the King eternal’ If Jesus Christ is not ‘the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God’ then why did Paul worship Him with ‘honour and glory for ever and ever’. Amen’.

1Ti 3:16 KJV And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

‘And without controversy’ In other words, the subject was not open for public dispute or debate.

‘God was manifest in the flesh’ Paul made clear the authenticity of Christ’s deity. The Scriptures testify to the fact ‘God was manifest in the flesh’ through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Writer to the Hebrews and the Divinity of Christ

Heb 1:6 KJV And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

‘And let all the angels of God worship him’ God alone is worthy of worship; we are to have no other gods before Him… Exodus 34:14 The Son came into the world and began the earthly, human phase of His eternal existence. Jesus the divine Son of God received worship at His incarnation, the instruction to angels was to worship Him… Hebrews 1:8

Heb 1:8 KJV But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.

‘Thy throne, O God’ God the Father declared the divinity of Christ.

Heb 7:24-27 KJV But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

‘because he continueth ever’ Jesus our High Priest presented the ultimate sacrifice in the heavenly presence of the Father, it had to be perfect, sinless and without blemish. No mere man or angel could be that High Priest and sacrifice, that is why God sent His Son to shed His blood and die on the Cross for our salvation.

Hebrews 1:8 ‘The person of the Son was the true image and character of the Person of the Father. He is not said to be the “likeness” of God (implying resemblance) but “image,” which means that He reveals God. In beholding His power, wisdom and goodness, men were beholding the Father, for He was God manifest in the flesh, having all the perfections of God in Him.’ — The Summarized Bible

Peter and the Divinity of Christ

Mat 16:16-17 KJV And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’ Peter emphatically professed by revelation of the Father that Christ was the Son of God. From what greater source could Peter have received such assurance?

Demons and the Divinity of Christ

Mar 1:24 KJV Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

‘the Holy One of God’ Even demons knew who Jesus was!

Conclusion

God paid the price for our salvation. There was not a created being capable of paying for ‘mans’ sin, not even Michael the archangel. Only Jesus, God the Son, was able to offer a perfect sacrifice.

‘The Son of God became the Son of Man that the sons of men through Him might become the sons of God’… The Summarized Bible

What do you think?

Nicodemus and the Transforming Power of the Gospel

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The Descent from the Cross, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
Source: Olga’s Gallery

Introduction

What is the Gospel? This may seem a stupid question since the Gospel has been around for 2000 years, but if ever the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ was in need of clarification, it is today.

What the Gospel Is Not

It is not the ‘prosperity gospel’ preached by many of today’s so-called TV evangelists. The misuse of this media is an embarrassment to Christianity.

It is not the ‘power of positive thinking gospel’ preached by the most successful ‘TV evangelist’ in the USA.

It is not the ‘say this prayer after me gospel’ preached by easy fix preachers, who are only interested in counting decisions and adding to the Church membership roll.

It is not the ‘works gospel’ preached by those who control their flock by insisting church attendance and good works are sufficient for salvation.

It is not the ‘social gospel’ advocated by liberal preachers, who have substituted the Gospel of Salvation for a message of social reform. Having an insatiable appetite to champion worthy or minority causes at the expense of the spiritual needs of mankind.

It is not the ‘politically correct gospel’ preached by compromising preachers with ear tickling sermons, which are inoffensive and totally ineffective.

It is not the ‘there is no need to be born again gospel’ taught by those who believe Jesus spoke metaphorically when He told Nicodemus he must be born again.

Can you imagine the Apostles preaching any of the aforementioned ‘gospels’?

What Is the Gospel?

1Co 1:23 KJV But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

The Gospel is the good news of the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, and his finished work of Salvation.

A Quote from the Summarised Bible

1 Corinthians 1:23 ‘The plain preaching of a crucified Jesus is more powerful than all the oratory and philosophy of an unbelieving world. All the boasted science of the world cannot do for souls what ‘Christ crucified’ does. All one needs, or can desire, they may have in Him (1Co 1:30-31). He is made wisdom to the foolish, righteousness to the guilty, sanctification to the corrupt, and redemption to those who are in bonds.’

Rom 5:8 KJV But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

‘Man’ not only sins; ‘man’ is a sinner! Therefore, ‘man’ needs the Saviour only God could provide.

Eph 2:8 KJV For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

If sinners could be reconciled to God by any of the false gospels mentioned above, then Christ need not have died on the Cross.

Nicodemus Was an Example of the Transforming Power of the Gospel

The lifechanging experience of Nicodemus may enlighten and encourage those seeking to know the Lord.

Nicodemus and his Discourse with Jesus by Night

Joh 3:1-2 KJV There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

Why did Nicodemus meet ‘Jesus by night’? Perhaps because crowds constantly thronged Jesus by day and Nicodemus being a member of the Sanhedrin was also occupied at that time. It was common practice for Jewish teachers to study together in the evening.

In my opinion, Nicodemus was afraid to be seen publicly in conversation with Jesus. It is interesting John mentioned Nicodemus three times in his Gospel and on each occasion he described him as the one who came to ‘Jesus by night’, thereby implying secrecy. As a religious leader, he may have feared his reputation would be diminished if found in the company of the Galilean, he would also have suffered ridicule and retribution from the Pharisees. Even today ridicule can be off-putting for those seeking to know more about Jesus. What family, friends, and associates might think, has been an obstacle for many.

Joh 3:3-7 KJV Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Although Nicodemus was a religious leader, he did not realise his need to be spiritually reborn; in fact, he could not comprehend the concept. Jesus explained by being born again he would enter the spiritual Kingdom of God and understand spiritual matters his natural mind could not assimilate.

Joh 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Jesus compared a natural phenomenon to a spiritual. The wind is incomprehensible, yet acceptable to the natural mind because of its effect. Likewise the spiritual birth is extraordinary, but conceivable only to those born again.

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

John 3:8 ‘Where it listeth – Where it wills or pleases. So is every one … – Everyone that is born of the Spirit is, in some respects, like the effects of the wind. You see it not, you cannot discern its laws, but you see its effects, and you know therefore that it does exist and operate. Nicodemus objection was, that he could not see this change, or perceive how it could be. Jesus tells him that he should not reject a doctrine merely because he could not understand it. Neither could the wind be seen, but its effects were well known, and no one doubted the existence or the power of the agent. Compare Ecc 11:5.’

The Born Again Nicodemus

Nicodemus and Evidence of Transformation

Joh 1:11-13 KJV He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John began his Gospel by explaining that although Christ was rejected by the Jews, many received and believed in Him and were born of God, (prior to the Day of Pentecost).

Nicodemus and his Defence of Jesus

Joh 7:50-52 KJV Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) 51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? 52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.

A Quote from the Popular New Testament

John 7:50-52 ‘Nicodemus has so far overcome his fear that he defends Jesus against the glaring injustice of his fellow-rulers, undeterred by the expression of their scorn just uttered. He appeals to the law, all knowledge of which they have proudly arrogated to themselves, and shows that of this very law they are themselves transgressors.’

Nicodemus displayed evidence of his conversion by being unashamed of his Lord when he defended Him before the Sanhedrin… Romans 9:33

Nicodemus and the Descent of Jesus from the Cross

Joh 19:39-40 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight. 40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea attended to Jesus at His descent from the Cross. Joseph provided the tomb, while Nicodemus the myrrh and aloes.

Ironically, both were members of the Sanhedrin; nevertheless, they were instrumental in fulfilling Messianic prophecy:

John 19:39 KJV And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

Hebrews 1:8-9    But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Isaiah 53:9 KJV And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Matthew 27:57-60 KJV When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: 58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. 59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

So What Must I Do to Become a Christian?

We need to understand that our sin separates us from fellowship with God, however, He loved us so much He gave His Son to be a sacrifice for our sin.

The crucial part of God’s great plan of redemption was that Jesus shed His blood and died on the cross for us.

If we place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repent (turn from our sin); He will restore us to our Heavenly Father.

By asking the Lord’s forgiveness, and repenting of our sin, the Holy Spirit resurrects and baptises us spiritually into the body of Christ. Consequently, we become a child of God. Jesus gives us the assurance we are reconciled and by faith He will lead and always be with us.

Nicodemus was never the same again. What about you?

Conclusion

Joh 20:31 YLT and these have been written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye may have life in his name.’

Considering Nicodemus was mentioned only three times in the New Testament, the outcome of his conversation with Jesus has played an essential role in the preaching of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Unbelievers often ridicule Christians because they fail to understand that faith in Christ is not mental transcendence but spiritual transformation.

What do you think?

The Great and the Terrible Day of the Lord

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The Prophet Isaiah, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) | Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

The Old Testament Prophets used metaphorical language on numerous occasions to describe divine judgement, also known as ‘The Day of the Lord’.

Jesus spoke with similar metaphorical language when He described His second coming in judgement, which was a spiritual not physical return. His audience was accustomed to this type of expression. Many understood the significance of His warning, while the majority rejected His call for repentance.

I have chosen a selection of prophecies where metaphorical language proclaimed God’s judgement on specific nations and Old Covenant Israel. The Lord always kept His Word, but used various practical methods to accomplish it.

In fact, it is misleading to apply a literal interpretation to the metaphorical language used to describe these events.

The Second Coming of Christ

Most scholars today insist on a physical manifestation of the second coming of Christ, however, if we compare the metaphorical language of Matthew 24:29-30 to Old Testament prophecies we will see a striking similarity in phraseology.

The LORD Thundered From Heaven… 2 Samuel 22:7-16

David

2Sa 22:7-11 KJV In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears. 8 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth. 9 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. 10 He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet. 11 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind.

A Quote from Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible

2 Samuel 22:1 ‘This song, which is found with scarcely any material variation as Ps. 18, and with the words of this first verse for its title, belongs to the early part of David’s reign when he was recently established upon the throne of all Israel, and when his final triumph over the house of Saul, and over the pagan nations 2Sa_22:44-46, Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, Ammonites, and Edomites, was still fresh 2 Sam. 21. For a commentary on the separate verses the reader is referred to the commentary on Ps. 18.’

David’s Psalm was one of thanksgiving for God’s powerful deliverance from all his enemies. This deliverance actually took place, but not in the way described, it is an excellent example of metaphorical language in Scripture.

Howl Ye; for the Day of the LORD is at Hand… Isaiah 13:6-13

Isaiah

Isa 13:10-13 KJV For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. 11 And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. 12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.

Isaiah prophesied during 745-695 BC and described metaphorically the destruction of the Babylonian Empire, which existed from 606-536 BC.

Isa 13:17 KJV Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.

Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them’ Isaiah explained the method of judgement used by the Lord… Isaiah 13:17-19.

The Shaking of the Hand of the LORD of Hosts… Isaiah 19:1-16

Isaiah

Isa 19:1 KJV The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.

The prophet proclaimed ‘the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt’, once again prophetic metaphorical language.

Isa 19:2-4 KJV And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom. 3 And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards. 4 And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

Isaiah 19:2 ‘I will set – Egypt was now one kingdom, but not many years after this time it was divided into twelve kingdoms, between whom there were many and cruel wars.’

The Children of Israel had placed their confidence in the Egyptians who were their allies against Assyria at the time. To break their dependency on Egypt, it was important they should be aware of the destruction about to come upon that nation at the hands of the ‘fierce king’ Psammetichus.

Isaiah 19:16 KJV In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shaketh over it.’

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Isaiah 19:16 ‘like … women — timid and helpless (Jer 51:30; Nah 3:13).
shaking of … hand — His judgments by means of the invaders (Isa 10:5, Isa 10:32; Isa 11:15).’

The Indignation of the LORD… Isaiah 34:2-5

Isa 34:3-5 KJV Their slain also shall be cast out and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. 4 And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. 5 For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.

Although fulfilled, the judgement on Edom was not in the manner described in the prophecy.

Eze 25:14 KJV And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord GOD.

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Ezekiel 25:14 ‘by … my people Israel — namely, by Judas Maccabeus. The Idumeans were finally, by compulsory circumcision, incorporated with the Jewish state by John Hyrcanus (see Isa_34:5; Isa_63:1, etc.; 1 Maccabees 5:3). So complete was the amalgamation in Christ’s time, that the Herods of Idumean origin, as Jews, ruled over the two races as one people. Thus the ancient prophecy was fulfilled (Gen_25:23), “The elder shall serve the younger.”

The Fierce Anger of the LORD… Jeremiah 4:8-15

Jeremiah

Jer 4:13 KJV Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.

This metaphorical language described the sudden appearance of unexpected clouds, which often rise quickly and overspread the whole face of the heavens; similarly with great swiftness Nebuchadnezzar invaded ‘as a whirlwind’.

To be Trodden underfoot… Daniel 8:9-13

Daniel

Dan 8:10-11 KJV And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. 11 Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.

The Lord’s instrument of judgement on this occasion was Antiochus Epiphanes who was a foretaste of ‘that man of sin’, Nero Caesar… 2 Thessalonians 2:3

Daniel 8:10 ‘The host of heaven – The Jewish hierarchy. The stars, the priests and Levites. The powers or host of heaven are probably intended by our Lord, Mat 24:29, to signify the whole Jewish hierarchy.’ — Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible

The Great and the Terrible Day of the LORD… Joel 2:28-31

Joel

Joe 2:28-31 KJV And 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: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

Act 2:20 KJV The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

Peter preached the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy on the Day of Pentecost… Acts 2:17-21 Not only did Peter’s generation witness the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they were given the opportunity to repent before the impending ‘great and the terrible day of the LORD’ at Christ’s return in AD 70. The Lord’s method of judgement was the Roman Army.

I Will Shake the Heavens and the Earth… Haggai 2:6-9

Haggai

Hag 2:6-7 KJV For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; 7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.

Heb 12:26-28 KJV Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

The writer to the Hebrews quoted from Haggai 2:6-7, only one more shaking after the time of Haggai and it would be during their lifetime. Not only was it a material, but also a moral and spiritual event. It began with the advent of Christ and fulfilled at His return; among those things removed was the Old Covenant.

The Lord’s instrument was the Roman Army.

The Second Coming of Christ and Metaphorical Language

Luk 17:20-21 KJV And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

A Quote from the People’s New Testament

Luke 17:20-21 ‘When the kingdom of God cometh. These Pharisees expected a visible, temporal kingdom. Cometh not with observation. As a visible, earthly monarchy, like that of David. Is within you. A kingdom that has its throne in the heart, on which Christ, the King, sits. It has to be formed by yielding our hearts to Christ.’

‘The kingdom of God cometh not with observation’ Most scholars today insist on a physical manifestation of the second coming of Christ. However, if we compare the metaphorical language of Matthew 24:29-30 to Old Testament prophecies we find a striking similarity in figurative phraseology.

Matthew 24:29 vs the Old Testament Prophets

Matthew

Mat 24:29 KJV Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Isaiah

For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine’

‘And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down’

Daniel

‘even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them’

Joel

‘The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood’

Haggai

‘I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land’

Matthew 24:30 vs the Old Testament Prophets

Matthew

Mat 24:30 KJV And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Isaiah

‘Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt:’

Jeremiah

‘Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles’

David

‘And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind’

Conclusion

Dispensationalism insists on a literal interpretation of the Scriptures. This may appear commendable on the surface, nevertheless, to have a full comprehension of the Word of God, we must have the Holy Spirit’s guidance to differentiate between literal and metaphorical language.

The Lord Jesus Christ described His return in judgement using the same figurative speech as the Old Testament prophets.

Joel’s prophecy concerning ‘the great and the terrible day of the Lord’ was fulfilled during the lifetime of Christ’s generation.

The second coming of Christ was neither the end of the world, nor the end of time. Instead, it was the end of the Old Covenant Age and the full establishment of the New Covenant Age.

What do you think?

 

Elijah the Prophet will not Return

IMG_3694Elijah Fed by the Ravens, Il Guercino, Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, (1591-1666) | Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

Due to the influence of Dispensationalism, with its strictly literal interpretation of the Scriptures, many Christians may feel it compromises their beliefs to consider a spiritual interpretation, even when appropriate.

For instance, Jesus’ discourse with His disciples in Matthew 17:10-13 is typical of the Scriptures being misunderstood by those who insist on a literal return of Elijah.

Mat 17:10-13 KJV And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

The disciples believed Elijah would physically return; the Jewish people still set a place for him at the Passover table. Nevertheless, Jesus taught the disciples the spiritual significance of John the Baptist’s ministry and the fulfilment of Malachi’s prophecy.

Let’s examine the misconstrued literal interpretation of ‘Elijah’s return’.

The Prophet Malachi

The disciples missed ‘the second coming of Elijah’ and it is not difficult to understand why, since they interpreted Malachi 4:5 literally.

Malachi was the last of the Old Testament prophets to call Israel to repentance. There was a gap of 400 years between Malachi and John the Baptist.

Mal 3:1-2 KJV Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. 2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:

Mal 4:5 KJV Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Malachi proclaimed Elijah would prepare the way of the Messiah, prior to ‘the great and dreadful day of the LORD’.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

Malachi 4:5 ‘The great and dreadful day of the Lord – This literally refers to the times of vengeance upon the Jews, from the death of Christ to the final desolation of the city and temple, and by accommodation, to the end of the world.’

Of all the commentaries at my disposal, John Wesley most clearly defined Malachi 4:5. Far be it from me to criticise such a wonderful man of God, but in my opinion, it is a great pity he felt it necessary to add ‘and by accommodation, to the end of the world’. There is in no mention of the end of the world in the Scriptures.

The Timeline of Elijah the Prophet’s Return

It is important to identify the timeline of Elijah’s coming; Malachi prophesied Elijah would prepare the way for two major events:

1) ‘I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me’ To prepare the way prior to Christ’s advent.

2) ‘before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord’ To proclaim the great and terrible day of the Lord at the passing of Old Covenant Israel, which involved the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews.

John the Baptist warned of these events, and both were fulfilled during the lifetime of his generation.

Mat 17:12-13 KJV But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

According to Dispensationalism, John did not demonstrate the miracles of Elijah, and the great and terrible Day of the Lord has not occurred. Therefore, Malachi’s prophecy remains unfulfilled until a future appearance of Elijah. This assumption is despite the words of Jesus that Elijah had already come! There is neither any suggestion in the Scriptures of a 2000 years gap between the two events, nor the slightest hint of double fulfilment of prophecy as some scholars suggest. If the great and terrible day of the Lord is a future event in the 21st century, then why did Jesus emphatically state ‘Elijah’ returned in the 1st century AD?

The great and terrible day of the Lord is not an ‘end of the world’ event in the far and distant future. On the contrary, Malachi’s prophecy was written specifically to Old Covenant Israel, whose relationship with the Lord was about to end in judgement. The disciples missed ‘the second coming of Elijah’ because they interpreted Malachi 4:5 literally.

John the Baptist

According to the Scribes and their literal interpretation of Malachi 4:5, Elijah would return as a forerunner to the Messiah.

Jewish scholars anticipated the physical return of Elijah, descending from heaven in the chariot that had previously caught him away. Therefore, in their estimation, John the Baptist was not Elijah. Consequently, Jesus could not have been the long awaited Messiah.

Luk 1:15-17 KJV For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

John came ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’, having been ‘filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb’. It was the same ‘spirit and power’ Elijah had been endued with 800 years earlier, but John was not Elijah in person.

Luk 7:27-28 KJV This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

A Quote from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible

Luke 7:28 ‘He was, upon this account, so great, that really there was not a greater prophet than he. Prophets were the greatest that were born of women, more honourable than kings and princes, and John was the greatest of all the prophets. The country was not sensible what a valuable, what an invaluable, man it had in it, when John Baptist went about preaching and baptizing. And yet he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.’

Acts 13:25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

Some scholars insist John failed in his ministry. Such a suggestion contradicts the words of Jesus when He spoke of John being the greatest of the prophets. Not only by his character, preaching, faithfulness and martyrdom, John’s ministry was of the greatest importance in that he prepared the way for the Messiah and warned of impending judgement. John successfully completed his mission.

 A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Acts 13:25 ‘As John fulfilled his course – As John was fulfilling his race, he said, etc. It has been supposed that the word δρομον, course, or race, is used here to point out the short duration of the Baptist’s ministry, and the fervent zeal with which he performed it. It signifies properly his ministry, or life. A man’s work, employment, function, etc., is his race, course, or way of life. John had a ministry from God; and he discharged the duties of it with zeal and diligence; bore the fatigues of it with patience and resignation; and was gloriously successful in it, because the hand of the Lord was with him.’

Joh 1:20-21 KJV And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

‘Art thou Elias?’ John the Baptist made it clear, he was not Elijah in person!

‘Art thou that prophet?’ Meaning the prophet to whom Moses referred in Deuteronomy 18:15.

‘The Prophet’ Promised by Moses, was none other than the Messiah. Peter, while preaching Christ to the men of Israel on the day of Pentecost, referred to the prophecy of Moses, thus confirming its fulfilment in their generation… Acts 3:22

‘I am a voice’ John called the people to repentance, because the Jews to whom he preached were at that time in a spiritual wilderness and unfit to receive the King… Isaiah 40:3

Joh 1:23 YLT He said, `I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord, as said Isaiah the prophet.’

Although John the Baptist was not Elijah in person, he was the fulfilment of prophecy.

‘If Ye Will Receive It’

Mat 11:14-15 KJV And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

‘if ye will receive it’ Jesus accentuated the importance of His statement, He was teaching a doctrine different to the prevalent view at the time. His proclamation varied from the current expectations of the Jews, and the disciples might be disposed to question it.

Matthew 11:15 ‘He that hath ears to hear …’ – This expression is frequently used by Christ. It is a proverbial expression, implying that the highest attention should be given to what was spoken. The doctrine about John he regarded as of the greatest importance. He among you, says he, that has the faculty of understanding this, or that will believe that this is the Elijah spoken of, let him attend to it and remember it.’ — Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible

Conclusion

The vast majority of John the Baptist’s generation was oblivious to the presence of the Messiah, and stubbornly ignored the warnings of impending doom. Consequently, except for the remnant, they suffered the judgement in AD 70.

Jesus taught the disciples an important lesson concerning Old Testament prophecy when He explained the spiritual fulfilment of ‘the second coming of Elijah’. Not all prophecy is to be interpreted literally, and certainly not by the theory of double fulfilment!

The Bible student has to be open minded and capable of differentiating between literal and spiritual fulfilment without presupposition or bias.

This is also a prerequisite when interpreting prophecies concerning the second coming of Christ!

The fulfilment of Malachi’s prophecy was in the 1st century AD.

What do you think?

What Jesus Meant by ‘This Generation shall not Pass’

Christ Among the Doctors Albrecht Durer  (1506) 1471-1528 Source Olga's GalleryChrist Among the Doctors, Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) Source: Olga’s Gallery

Introduction

Why is Matthew 24:34 difficult to understand?

Mat 24:34 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Mat 24:34 NET I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

‘Verily I say unto you’ According to Thayer ‘verily’ in the KJV means ‘at the beginning of a discourse – surely, truly, of a truth’.

Jesus used ‘verily’ to emphasise His statement. Having the attention of His audience, He continued with a simple declaration concerning His generation.

A Quote from the New English Translation Notes

Matthew 24:34 ‘This is one of the hardest verses in the gospels to interpret. Various views exist for what generation means. (1) Some take it as meaning “race” and thus as an assurance that the Jewish race (nation) will not pass away. But it is very questionable that the Greek term γενεά (genea) can have this meaning. Two other options are possible. (2) Generation might mean “this type of generation” and refer to the generation of wicked humanity. Then the point is that humanity will not perish, because God will redeem it. Or (3) generation may refer to “the generation that sees the signs of the end” (v. 30), who will also see the end itself. In other words, once the movement to the return of Christ starts, all the events connected with it happen very quickly, in rapid succession.’

‘This is one of the hardest verses in the gospels to interpret’ Seriously, what an embarrassing admission. The New English Translation Notes provide an example of how far some commentators will go to defend their eschatological view. In my opinion, Matthew 24:34 is one of the hardest verses in the gospels to misinterpret!

There is an option the NETN failed to mention; Jesus meant exactly what He said! Did Jesus use ambiguous language? Of course He didn’t. The New Testament writers clearly understood Him; all anticipated His return within the lifetime of their generation.

‘This generation shall not pass’ Jesus spoke specifically to His generation. Surely, if He had a gap of 2000 years in mind, He would have said so.

Scholars have a dilemma, in particular, those who misrepresent ‘this generation’ to accommodate their futuristic ‘end times’ scenario. Many conveniently downplay this prophecy, however, by so doing they also discredit Jesus our Prophet. The repercussions of acknowledging the simple truth of this prophecy would cause the theological world insurmountable embarrassment.

A Quote from C S Lewis

‘But there is worse to come. “Say what you like,” we shall be told, “the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.”‘

It is a pity C S Lewis did not consider the Preterist view rather than conclude Jesus got it wrong!

Jesus’ Generation was ‘This Generation’. Let’s examine other portions of Scripture that include the phrase ‘this generation’

This Generation is Like Little Children

Mat 11:16-19 YLT `And to what shall I liken this generation?it is like little children in market-places, sitting and calling to their comrades, 17 and saying, We piped unto you, and ye did not dance, we lamented to you, and ye did not smite the breast. 18 `For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a demon; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Lo, a man, a glutton, and a wine-drinker, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners, and wisdom was justified of her children.’

In this portion of Scripture Jesus admonished the Jews of His generation for their vacillation and fickleness… Luke 7:31-35 He said they were like ungrateful children because nothing pleased them. Was Jesus applying this statement to a future generation? Of course not.

A Faithless and Perverse Generation

Mat 17:17 KJV Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

It is obvious Jesus was speaking to His generation, He rebuked those in His midst… Mark 9:19

This Generation is Evil

Luk 11:29 YLT And the multitudes crowding together upon him, he began to say, This generation is evil, a sign it doth seek after, and a sign shall not be given to it, except the sign of Jonah the prophet,

Without question, ‘this generation’ applied to Jesus’ generation, the ‘sign of Jonah’ was a type and foreshadow of Christ’s resurrection.

Jesus was Rejected of This Generation

Luk 17:25 KJV But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary

Luke 17:25 ‘But first must he suffer many things – As the cup of the iniquity of this people shall not be full till they have finally rejected and crucified the Lord of life and glory, so this desolation cannot take place till after my death.’

This Untoward Generation

Act 2:40 KJV And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

In Acts 2:40 Peter’s audience was Jesus’ generation.

All These Things Shall Come Upon This Generation

In Matthew 23, Jesus condemned the Scribes and the Pharisees, obviously those of His day. He warned them the ‘judgement of gehenna’ was about to come upon them. He did not assign this judgement to a generation thousands of years in the future.

Required of This Generation

Jesus prophesied judgement on Old Covenant Israel. In AD 70, the Roman Army decimated His impenitent generation.

This or That Generation

Mat 24:34-35 KJV 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

‘This generation’ If Jesus had a future generation in mind, He would have said ‘that generation’ or ‘the generation’ instead of ‘this generation’.

‘Heaven and earth shall pass away’ Referred to the passing of Old Covenant Israel.

‘my words shall not pass away’ The words of Jesus concerning the New Covenant and the Kingdom of God will never pass away… Mark 13:30-31; Luke 21:32-33

If we take Jesus at His word, we must accept He categorically stated His return would be during the lifetime of His generation.

The aforementioned examples concerned Jesus’ generation, therefore, it is imperative we remain consistent when interpreting Matthew 24:34.

A Quote from Joseph Benson’s Commentary

Matthew 24:32-35 ‘…….”It is to me a wonder,” says Bishop Newton, “how any man can refer part of the foregoing discourse to the destruction of Jerusalem, and part to the end of the world, or any other distant event, when it is said so positively here in the conclusion, All these things shall be fulfilled in this generation. And it seems as if our Lord had been aware of some such misapplication of his words, by adding yet greater force and emphasis to his affirmation, Matthew 24:35, Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away — That is, heaven and earth shall sooner, or more easily pass away than my words; the frame of the universe shall sooner, or more easily pass away than my words shall not be fulfilled. In another place, (Matthew 16:28,) he says, There are some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see, the Son of man coming in his kingdom, intimating that the event would not take place immediately, and yet not at such a distance of time but that some then living would be spectators of the calamities coming upon the nation. In like manner, he says to the women who bewailed him as he was going to be crucified, Luke 23:28, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children; which words sufficiently implied that the days of distress and misery were coming, and would fall on them and their children. But at that time there was not any appearance of such an immediate ruin. The wisest politician could not have inferred any such thing from the then present state of affairs. Nothing less than divine prescience could have foreseen and foretold it.” ‘

Luke 11:50-51 ‘The blood of all shall be required of this generation – That is, shall be visibly and terribly punished upon it. And so it was within forty years, in a most astonishing manner, by the dreadful destruction of the temple, the city, and the whole nation…’ — John Wesley, Explanatory Notes

The Parable of the Fig Tree

A Quote from Hal Lindsey

‘When the Jewish people, after nearly 2,000 years of exile, under relentless persecution, became a nation again on 14 May 1948 the ‘fig tree’ put forth its first leaves. Jesus said that this would indicate that He was ‘at the door,’ ready to return.’

The Mount of Olives was a source of figs as well as olives, summer was near when the leaves appeared on the fig trees; it was inevitable the trees were about to bear fruit. The signs prior to Christ’s return in judgement were as dependable as the leaves on the Fig tree.

Luk 21:29 KJV And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;

The parable was not specifically about the fig tree, Luke included ‘all the trees’. Jesus emphasised the certainty of the signs leading to the end of the Old Covenant Age, not to the restoration of the Israel in 1948.

Mat 24:33 KJV So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know it is near, even at the doors.

Audience relevance – Jesus was speaking to His disciples. The timeline – ‘it is near, even at the doors’.

Mat 24:34 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

When Matthew 24:32-34 is read in context, it is patently clear Jesus had His generation in mind.

The phrase ‘This generation’ appears 16 times in the gospels, and always concerning Christ’s generation.

The Predictions of Jesus

When Jesus answered the questions asked by His disciples, He constantly responded:

‘and ye shall hear’

‘when ye shall see’

‘then shall they deliver you

‘and shall kill you

‘when ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation’

Jesus spoke directly to His disciples when He prophesied the fulfilment of impending events.

The End of the Age

Dispensationalism teaches Matthew 24:3 is pertinent to our generation!

To understand the ‘end times’, it is crucial to identify the ‘age’ the disciples were anxious about. They lived during the Old Covenant Age, and the Prophets had foretold the judgement during its ‘latter days’… Deuteronomy 31:29; Daniel 12:6-13

Eph 1:21 YLT far above all principality, and authority, and might, and lordship, and every name named, not only in this age, but also in the coming one;

What ‘age’ would have been of most interest to them? Surely, the one in which they were living. Their immediate concern was the end of the Old Covenant with its consequences… Hebrews 8:13 After all, why would they ask about the end of the glorious coming age?

It is inconsistent to accept all the Scriptures examined refer to Jesus’ generation except for one, Matthew 24:34.

Simply put, those who misrepresent the meaning of ‘this generation’ do so because their eschatology demands it.

Is there a 2000 years ‘gap’ or have scholars made a ‘gaffe’?

What do you think?