Plan of God
Our Messiah Died
Shocking words! Imagine the distress of the apostles when Jesus died. Everything they knew and believe was predicated on one thing alone—the Messiah lives! And yet, He had died. The purpose of this book is to preach the Gospel. The Gospel of the soon coming Kingdom of God is mostly lost to the world today (Mark 1:14). The Gospel message was proclaimed by Jesus Christ and by His apostles in the clearest of terms – and recorded for us today in the Scriptures. God’s Plan is sure, and nothing will prevent the fulfillment of His loving purpose. Jesus had taught the apostles:
Matthew 10:27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak you in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach you upon the housetops.
Darkness was upon the face of the earth from noon until three o’clock as Jesus Christ our Messiah was dying on Passover Day. It was as though His light were extinguished for a moment – but only so that it might shine forth in the brilliance of eternal glory.
Isaiah 60:1-2 Arise, shine; for your light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness shall cover the people: but the LORD shall arise upon you, and the splendor of His glory shall appear upon you.
Matthew 27:45, 54 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour… When the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
Jesus had brought light unto man. He was about to be entombed in a sepulcher to fulfill the replication and meaning of the Night to be Much Observed (Exodus 12:40-42). Jesus had given His life to bring His Sacrificial Covenant to fruition (Genesis 15:17-18). Jesus said in effect, “I will give my life in order to bring all men to salvation.” Abib 15th was about to arrive – ushering in the beginning of the First Day of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6). Our Savior’s work in the flesh was complete, but the work of salvation would not be complete until His resurrection to Life—which would come fully three days and three nights after Jesus’ dead body, wound in pure linen clothes with aromatic spices, was placed in the heart of the earth at the beginning of the High Day (John 19:31, 40; Matthew 27:59; Romans 5:10). Why did Jesus have to die?
Jesus had to die—His death a substitution for ours—in order for the New Covenant to go into effect—first for the Church brethren, and later for all mankind; for God to send His Holy Spirit; for our sins to be forgiven, upon repentance; for reconciliation with God the Father to take place; and for the gift of eternal life. We see these in the following verses:
Mark 14:22-24 …Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And He took the cup… and He said unto them, This is my blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many.
Hebrews 9:16 Where there is a Covenant, there must also of necessity be the death of the one who made it.
John 16:7 [Jesus said] …If I go not away, the [Holy Spirit] will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send it unto you. (John 14:26)
Romans 5:8 But God proved His love for us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
1John 1:9 …He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins…
Hebrews 9:22 …Without shedding of blood there is no remission [of sin]. (Hebrews 9:26)
Romans 5:10 …We were reconciled to God the Father by the death of His Son, [Jesus Christ].
Romans 6:23 …The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Ezekiel prophesied of the New Covenant and some of its attributes:
Ezekiel 36:26-27 A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
Only the Church brethren – led by the Spirit of God – are able to conform their lives to the terms and conditions of the New Covenant. Jesus did not establish the New Covenant with the House of Israel and Judah at that time—that is yet future as Jeremiah explains:
Jeremiah 31:31-33 Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will make a New Covenant with the House of Israel, and with the House of Judah: Not according to the [Old] 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 broke, although I was an husband unto them, says the LORD: But this shall be the [New] Covenant that I will make with the House of Israel; After those days, says 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.
When asked for a miraculous sign from heaven that He was truly the Messiah, Jesus said that the only miracle given to them would be His entombment for no less than three days and three nights, no more than three days and three nights, but exactly three days and three nights:
Matthew 12:39-40 Jesus answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a miracle; and there shall no miracle be given to it, but the miracle of the Prophet Jonah: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the giant fearful sea monster's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
It is made perfectly clear in the Scriptures that Jesus was not in the grave less, or more than three days and three nights – but exactly three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. In order tounderstand any basic subject in the Bible, it is necessary to view all Scriptural evidence touching that particular question. One of the proofs that the Bible is the word of God is that its many writers, covering many centuries, never contradict one another, but worked in concert as their inspired writings combine together with crystal clarity (John 10:35). No other book does this. God’s word is truth (John 17:17). God is the very Fountainhead of Truth. God the Father resurrected Jesus to life after a full three days and three nights; proof that He is the Messiah. That is the only miracle that Jesus ever gave that He is the Messiah. Unless Jesus was in the tomb for three days and three nights, a full 72 hours - He is not the prophesied Messiah.
God’s timetable for counting when 24 hour days begin and end is very simple and straight forward: When the sun sets, the day is over. That is not what Catholics and Protestants believe. They reckon that Jesus was in the grave from Friday afternoon till Sunday sunrise. There are not three days and three nights between Good Friday afternoon and Easter Sunday morning. Friday afternoon to Sunday morning is barely 36 hours – only 2 nights and 1 day. Those who are intellectually honest and believe Jesus’ words to be accurate (“when it was yet dark”) will note that He was gone from His tomb before the sun rose on Sunday morning (John 20:1). That fact alone works to shorten their way of counting Jesus’ time in the grave. Late Friday to very early Sunday does not fulfill the Scriptural "sign" that Jesus gave as proof that He is the Messiah.
Because Catholics and Protestants have rejected God's annual Holy Day Sabbaths they cannot understand what was taking place during the Passover on which Jesus died, or the First Day of Unleavened Bread (John 19:31). The beloved apostle John makes it perfectly clear that the day after Jesus died was a High Holy Day—the First Day of Unleavened Bread. People say that they believe in Jesus; the problem is that they just do not believe what He said. There are millions of people who actually believe in Jesus Christ but do not have salvation because they disregard His teachings—that is not categorically believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.
John shows exactly what took place on the Passover when Jesus was crucified. Jesus died and His body was hastily placed in prominent business man and disciple of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea’s sepulcher at evening time, just as Passover was ending with the sun setting and the High Sabbath Day beginning (John 19:30-42).
Do not believe that weak and anti-Semitic argument that Jews do not know how to count the difference between a part of a day and an entire day. Until the advent of highly technical time measuring methods of today, their understanding of time and calendar was incredibly accurate. Almost 6,000 years ago, our forefathers were the first to develop the sexagesimal system for astronomy and mathematics, a system verified by today’s atomic clocks which are accurate to within a few seconds over many thousands of years. In the Holy Scriptures, three days, or three days and three nights are clearly understood (1Samuel 30:12-13). Jesus had obviously gotten His point across to the Jewish Pharisees who understood how long three days were (Matthew 27:62-65)! They put guards on His grave – but to no avail.
Those who hold to a Good Friday crucifixion and an Easter Sunday morning resurrection deny the one true miracle that Jesus Christ gave proving that He is our Messiah. Unless Jesus was in the grave for three days and three nights, a full 72 hours – He is not the prophesied Messiah according to His own word.
Exactly Three Days in the Grave
Jesus Christ died. His thoughts perished and He ceased to exist for three days and three nights – leaving the Father all alone. He had declared:
John 2:19, 21 …Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up… But he spoke of the temple of His body.
God the Father restored Jesus’ life, power and glory that He had before the creation of the world (John 17:5) and Jesus left the tomb at the exact conclusion of three days and three nights. God the Father with exceeding great power resurrected Jesus Christ back to Life eternal.
Ephesians 1:17-20 …That you may know what is the exceeding greatness of [God the Father’s] power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places.
The importance of a full three days and three nights cannot be over emphasized – the Bible speaks of it so many times.
Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Christ spelled it our so clearly and in so many ways that it could not possibly be misconstrued. And yet, the world has been deceived into believing that Jesus was not three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Mark 8:29-31 [Jesus] said unto them, But whom say you that I am? And Peter answered and said unto Him, You are the Messiah. And He charged them that they should tell no man of Him. And He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. [At the end of three full days.]
Matthew 17:22-23 While they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill Him, and the third day he shall be raised again.
The accounts of the Gospel writers agree with each other and must all be added together for the entire picture. The Scriptures, which are the Word of God, are never broken or in contradiction to one another (John 10:35). Mark’s Gospel account confirms that a full three days transpired. Mark records it this way:
Mark 9:30-31 They departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were for He taught His disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him; and after that He is killed, He shall rise the third day.
Jesus had clearly gotten His point across to them!
Matthew 27:62-63 Now the next day [First Day of Unleavened Bread], that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver [Jesus] said, while He was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
Those Biblical words demonstrate that Jesus knew for certain that He would be in the tomb for a full three days and three nights and then be brought to Life by His Father.
There was no Easter sunrise resurrection. After a complete three days and three nights in the grave, Christ's resurrection occurred at precisely the same time of day that He was laid to rest in the tomb—at sunset—and that was when the weekly Sabbath Day came to an end during the Days of Unleavened Bread. John tells us that Jesus was gone from the grave before Sunday sunrise. “On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.” (John 20:1)
There is no more important doctrine than that of God the Father’s restoring eternal spiritual Life to His Son precisely three days and three nights after His dead body was paced in the garden tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a matter of salvation because it is an integral part of the Gospel. These Scriptures show our salvation! The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians explaining that Jesus did, in fact, fulfill the Scriptural prophecies concerning the sign of Jonah by His resurrection. Paul reminded the Corinthians that they stand in the Gospel:
1Corinthians 15:2-5 By which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: And that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
Jesus Christ fulfilled the miracle of Jonah. He is the Messiah!
John 5:17 Jesus said, “My Father is still at work, and I work as well.”
God the Father and Jesus Christ were working in the past, they continue to work now, and they will go on working to fulfil their Plan of making man in their image and glory. This book is necessary because there are so many people who are not able to make sense out of the Bible to understand what Jesus and His Father are doing. God is not an uninvolved observer way off in the distant heavens. On the contrary, the Father and Jesus reside in those with whom they are actively working.
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
There are only a relatively few people who know and love God. They are the ones for whom this book is written. They have taken ownership of their faith and do those things that are pleasing in God sight (1John 3:22). Jesus quoted the inspired Prophet Habakkuk saying that everyone else would remain in the dark about these spiritual works of God until their appointed time.
Habakkuk 1:5, Acts 13:41 Behold, you despisers among the nations, and consider, and wonder in dismay marvelously, and come to naught: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no way believe, though it be told you.
After all due diligence in searching the Scriptures we present our best explanation for consideration until a better answer is made available.
Chapter Six is about the Church Age. Few realize how considerably different things have become since Jesus formed the Church. How will the Kingdom of God come to be established over all this earth? Without the knowledge of the Plan of God as outlined in His Holy Days it is not possible for those in the world to see the hand of God in everything from the most minute happenstance to the enormous events taking place in world affairs.
With the first coming of the Messiah some 2,000 years ago the world entered the enlightened Age of Faith, or as we prefer, The Church Age. This period of time extends from its inception on the Day of Pentecost following the resurrection of Jesus until the second coming of the Messiah and the restitution of all things in the Millennium.
Acts 3:20-21 [God the Father] shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
Men have made valiant attempts at recording the history of this time period. Will Durant, American writer, historian, and philosopher, with his wife, Ariel, wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning, massive eleven volume series, “The Story of Civilization,” in which was covered, “The Age of Faith.” They would be the first to confess how difficult it was to write a concise and all-inclusive history of this age. “To the Reader:
“The obligation to cover the economic, political, legal, military, moral, social, religious, educational, scientific, medical, philosophic, literary, and artistic aspects of four distinct civilizations—Byzantine, Islamic, Judaic, and West European—has made unification and brevity difficult.” The Age of Faith, Volume 4, 1950 p. vii
Our responsibility in Plan of God—Darkness to Light is much simpler and straightforward. We are presenting God’s perspective (as supported by Scriptural references) on how Christ alone enlightens those who follow His every word (John 8:12). However, this book is not at all meant to be a comprehensive treatise of all the details of the Plan of God, as it would be impossible to begin to cover every aspect even of the Church Age in a single book!
John 21:25 There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.
Disclaimer: The world recognizes the Age of Faith, or the Church Age, as that portion of history mainly presided over by Rome and the Reformation. Our position is that Rome, even prior to Constantine, had become apostate and not a part of Christ’s true faith. The Catholic Church and her Protestant daughters had rejected the Law of God, the Holy Day Plan of God and all things Christian
In reality, the true Church of God is a very select few faithful members consisting of those who are led by God’s Spirit (Romans 8:14). Even among those ministers and members who would count themselves as faithful, Jesus Christ says that many are called and few chosen (Matthew 22:14). Jesus gives us ample instances of foolish virgins and tares to make that point clear. Therefore, the Church people of whom we speak are a relatively small number of converts at any given time of whom the writers of world history are mostly oblivious. Salvation will be afforded all others in their order (1Corinthians 15:23). The Church Age then is the history of that unique faithful people of whom the world is not worthy (Hebrews 11:38).
This Chapter covers the Church Age to its culmination in the Millennial rule of Christ and His saints – who will reign with Him a thousand years (Revelation 20:6; 1Thessalonians 3:13). The Millennium will commence only after every eye will have seen Jesus return to this earth with His saints—in great power—to establish the Kingdom of God – after eradicating the enemies of God from the face of the earth.
Matthew 24:30 Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man [Jesus] 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.
Jude 1:14-15 …Behold, the Lord comes with tens of thousands [myriads] of His saints to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all that are ungodly…
The events of the Church Age revolve around the calling, development and expansion of the spiritual body of converted brethren generation after generation until their resurrection as glorious spiritual beings shortly before the Millennium. Satan will be bound for the duration of the Millennium allowing the world to be at rest— a Sabbatismos rest (Hebrews 4:9). Satan will be powerless to deceive the nations for 1,000 years. During that time, as spirit beings with Christ, the saints—the work of God’s hands—will reshape and revive the world (Job 14:15; Acts 3:19). During the 1,000 years of the Millennium the entire face of the earth will be restored and refashioned, from being virtually destroyed, back to the Garden of Eden-like former grandeur and perfection at the time of its creation (Genesis 1:31).
Proverbs 3:19 The LORD by wisdom has founded the earth; by understanding He has established the heavens.
In God’s far-reaching Plan, Jesus the Messiah is continuously a hands-on Designer and Creator – tweaking its direction until it comes to the full. In addition to making intricate daily adjustments in the course of human affairs, there would be two major comings of Christ [the Messiah] of foremost importance. His first advent, some two-thousand years ago, was for the purpose of inaugurating the Church of God—a people with the heart of God—and proclaiming the Gospel, the good news of God’s coming Kingdom on earth (Mark 1:15). The Day of Pentecost, at the culmination of Christ’s public ministry, was the commencement of the Church Age. Even before the arrival of that extraordinary man on earth (Jesus), He had established for mankind the indelible imprint of His eternal Plan shown in His Holy Days. On the seventh day of creation He gave mankind the memorial of all creation—a delight—the Sabbath Day of rest (Leviticus 23:3, Isaiah 58:13). Though it may seem a small thing to many, in actuality, the Sabbath Day of rest shows the true reason that worship is due only to the Creator. God set the precedent of Sabbath rest for man by resting Himself.
Genesis 2:2 On the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.
God needs no rest! He is Creator God. He not only instituted the Sabbath rest, but for our example, He Himself celebrated the first Sabbath Day—giving us the standard to preserve.
In today’s world, only a miniscule percentage of the earth’s population knows the meaning of the Sabbath Day and the appointed Feasts of the Lord. But that was not the case when Jesus walked the earth. Even after their captivity, deportation and subsequent resettlement back into the Promised Land, a large number of those Israelites who heard Jesus speak maintained the intent of the Holy Days as best they could.
They had grown up with the Torah which is the law of God revealed to Moses and written in the Pentateuch—and they took it for granted. From the synagogues of Galilee to the Temple at Jerusalem, culture and religion centered around the faith of the Patriarchs of Israel. The Sabbath was a day of rest and the Feast Days were a time of rejoicing. Eight-day old boys were circumcised, and all eschewed those meats that were not set aside by the word of God and prayer to be received with thanksgiving (1Timothy 4:4-5, Leviticus 11). Many people prayed and fasted often. The priesthood was sustained by the tithes and offerings of the populace (Matthew 23:23). They had the Law of the Ten Commandments and the Prophets, and from year to year they went up to Jerusalem from all over the known world to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, as all will do once again in the glorious days of the Millennium ahead (Zechariah 14:16).
In this modern time, the way of life that God gave to ancient Israel is all but lost and forgotten. When a new proselyte is called by God today, that foundation in the word of God that once existed—needs to be reestablished.
When Jesus began His public ministry of preaching the Gospel to the great multitudes of people from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judaea, and from beyond Jordan, He did not need to teach them those well-established tenets of Israel because they knew them already. In the fullness of time God introduced and revealed the practice of Christianity to mankind through Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:4).
What Jesus began to teach His disciples were the heretofore unknown profound tenets of Christianity—how a converted person is entirely different in mind, heart and spirit from everyone else in the world. In those first sermons, Jesus taught the essence of Christianity which is necessary for the Kingdom of God.
1John 5:3 This is Godly love that we keep His Commandments.
What makes the Church Age so different from everything that has gone on before? What was the need and purpose of Jesus establishing yet another distinct set of people—the Ekklesia—the called-out ones, the earthly saints?
He began with so few, and the true sect of undaunted faithful believers remains a small flock to this day (Luke 12:32). What is the difference between the Church in the Wilderness of the Old Testament, and the Church of God of the New Testament when Jesus is Lord, Prophet, Messenger and High Priest of both (Acts 7:37-38)?
Using Moses, God established a people “called by His name” (2Chronicles 7:14; Acts 15:14). "Our help is in the name of the LORD" (Psalm 124:8). These verses are not referring to the phonetic sound of God’s name, but to His spiritual character and nature, as in ‘a good name’ (Proverbs 22:1; Ecclesiastes 7:1).
Upon those people God promised physical blessings and national greatness for obedience to His Commandments. God intended that Israel be an exemplary people to all their neighbors round about them. Their wisdom and understanding would have shown the foreign nations how near and how great the true God is (Deuteronomy 4:5-8).
But Israel was unable to live according to the way of the Lord because they lacked God’s Spirit which would have given them a heart of flesh (Hebrews 8:7-8). With the New Testament Church that He established on Pentecost, Jesus became the mediator of a new and better Covenant, which was established upon better promises—not national prominence, but the promise of eternal life (Hebrews 8:6).
Jesus, not only observed all the Feasts of the Lord His entire life, He magnified them by revealing their spiritual meaning. Jesus openly celebrated all of God’s annual Holy Days – not because He was a Jew, but because God had declared that they are, “My Feasts,” and their observance was a statute forever (Leviticus 23:2; 41). Jesus lived and taught the expanded objective that God intended from the beginning of creation. From a small child until the Passover day of His death, Jesus’ life revolved about the annual Holy Days—the Feasts of the Lord (Leviticus 23).
The seven annual Holy Days were ordained by God as “Feasts of the Lord.” They were diligently kept by Jesus Christ, His disciples, and the first century New Testament Church of God. Jesus revealed that each Feast has a special prophetic meaning depicting an important step in God's Plan for man. The Feasts and Holy Days are the following: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, and Last Great Day.
The seven annual Holy Days were ordained and commanded by God to be observed as holy gatherings—Holy Convocations—required observances, because they are rehearsals in preparation for distinct events in the Plan of God. They are the appointed times which picture exactly what God is doing to bring His Plan about. The Holy Days unveil God's continuing Plan for all mankind. They were originally given to the holy men of God and ancient Israel (Matthew 13:17; 2Peter 1:21). God is gracious, not only to disclose His great design, but also to allow us to partake of His Plan of Salvation as it unfolds.
God's Church today observes the Scripturally commanded seven annual Holy Days given to us by our Lord through Moses, kept by Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul, and all the faithful New Testament Church of God members, as evidenced by the Biblical books of Acts and Corinthians. God commands His people to keep, not only the weekly Sabbath Day, which is a Holy Convocation, but His annual Festivals as well. From Jesus Christ's sacrifice as the Passover Lamb, to the Last Great Day of the Feast spoken of in John 7:37, the Holy Days explain God's intervention in bringing many sons to Glory.
Each year God intends that we go through the entire cycle of Holy Days depicting His eternal Plan for mankind. In fact, because of their essential significance to the members of the Church, the apostle John used the annual Holy Days, which occurred during Jesus’ public ministry, as the outline for his Gospel account. Jesus used the occasion of the Holy Days to expound on their spiritual and prophetic significances. Each Feast Day has a special prophetic meaning depicting an important step in God's salvational Plan for man. A deeper understanding of the meaning of the Holy Days comes with their persistent observance.
All of God’s Holy Days have great meaning and significance. Not only have they not been done away with, the Bible clearly shows that the Feasts of the Lord will continue to be kept during the 1,000-year Millennium when Jesus Christ will have established the Kingdom of God over all the earth.
Zechariah 14:16 It shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
By way of contrast, the false pagan holidays such as Christmas and Easter do not possess any symbolic meaning at all. Jesus did not rise from the grave during an Easter sunrise. Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day and St. Valentine’s Day are all worthless because of their pagan origin. They are Satan's counterfeit feast days. The great Church of Rome upholds these counterfeit days, but the true Church of God has never observed those bogus holidays. They do not point out anything that God is doing. They are hollow and meaningless. It is because pagan holidays draw people away from the truth of God, that God calls those practices, “abominations.” Jesus was not born anywhere near December 25th, and we are told nowhere in the Scriptures to observe His birth at all. Christmas is not pleasing to God in any way at all—quite the contrary! Students of the Bible understand that God has given us a prophetic outline of events leading up to the return of the King of kings, Jesus Christ. Jesus gives us everything that we need to be alert to the times and seasons so that we will not be caught unaware as the world will be. God's Feast days reveal His Plan of action.
Before the foundation of the world the Plan of God was decided upon by God the Father and Jesus Christ. Jesus would die, redeeming mankind through His shed blood, and the Father would raise Him to Life—making eternal Life available to man (Romans 5:21).
1Peter 1:18-21 Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, from your vain conduct received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
Jesus Christ died to pay for my sin. Everyone can say the same thing. Jesus bore our sins so that we do not have to die eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus became sin in our stead. God the Father allowed Jesus to substitute Himself in our place:
2Corinthians 5:21 For [God the Father] has made [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
God the Father had to turn His back on sin—represented by Jesus—and allow Him to die forsaken and all alone. Jesus Christ willingly did that for us. At the end of His brutal ordeal, hanging on the stake on Passover Day, Jesus said:
Matthew 27:41 Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is to say, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? [The Father had to hide His face – Isaiah 59:2]
Jesus died so that we would be able to live eternally with Him (2Corinthians 5:15, 1Thessalonians 5:10). In the Plan of God, Passover is the first of the Feasts of the Lord. Jesus instituted the New Testament Passover service—a most solemn ceremony.
Leviticus 23:5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at evening is the Lord’s Passover.
Passover pictures Jesus Christ—the Passover Lamb—slain from the foundation of the earth for all mankind (Revelation 13:8). Passover is to be observed just after sunset, at the beginning of the 14th day of the first month, just as Christ kept it on the Passover evening before He died (1Corinthians 11:23). Passover is kept only once a year. Passover is not a High Holy Day of Convocation, and work is permitted. God instructs His people about the first month of the year:
Deuteronomy 16:1-2 Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night. Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the Passover unto the Lord thy God.
As Passover began, Jesus told His beloved apostles how much He looked forward to observing the Passover service again, with its unleavened bread and wine, in the Millennium:
Matthew 26:29 I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's Kingdom.
Christians are commanded by God to observe Passover as the memorial of Jesus’ death. God’s Holy Days, more than anything else, define and illustrate the Plan of God – from Passover to the Last Great Day. Jesus' life, ministry, death and resurrection fulfill the very meaning of the Feasts of the Lord, past present and future (Leviticus 23:2).
Included in the Passover service is the Footwashing ceremony conducted at the beginning of the Passover service (John 13:1-17). The Footwashing service is performed as an example of serving one another in humility, and in accordance with Christ's example and instruction to us. For more on the Footwashing, see Chapter Five of this book. Baptized members partake of the unleavened bread and wine, symbolizing the forgiveness of sin by the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. We renew our baptismal covenant with God yearly at the Passover service. Paul wrote:
1Corinthians 11:23-26 I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, this is My body, for you: this do in remembrance of Me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, this cup is the New Covenant in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He comes.
At our baptism we became virgins to Christ because He cleaned us up – no matter what our sins were. We entered into an eternal Covenant. Jesus provides a necessary spiritual cleansing at the Footwashing each Passover so that we are able to remain holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:27).
At Passover, Jesus purged our sins so that we might have a right relationship with God – having been justified [past guilt removed] and made innocent by His blood, we shall have salvation by His life and resurrection (Romans 5:9-10; 6:5).
That word “justified” means a clean slate with God—our guilty past wiped out—cleansed by the death and blood of Jesus. Justification means becoming righteous in the sight of God. Justification means rendered innocent. Speaking of Jesus and His Father:
Hebrews 1:3 The Son is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person, and sustaining all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Where Passover concerns the redemption of the firstborn [the Church brethren, the saints, the Christians], whom God has called in every age before Jesus Christ’s return, the Day of Atonement reveals the reconciliation of all humanity to God – the entire world. (For more on Passover see Chapter Five)
There were no witnesses to the resurrection of Christ. There were no believers—yet. Had even one of the apostles or disciples understood and believed – they would have surely been there between the two evenings to witness Christ’s resurrection. Of all believers, Mary Magdalene would have been present at that exact time. She was of the select women who witnessed His death, burial, and was first to see Him after He had been resurrected (Mark 16:9; John 19:25; Luke 24:4-8). How she must have kicked herself over and over for missing out on the greatest moment the earth has ever known—the resurrection of Jesus to Life. Jesus had taught them many things including when His resurrection would take place—and yet they could not put it all together—not until God sent His Holy Spirit some fifty days later:
John 14:26 The Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, which the Father will send in my name shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Faith in God is a gift. Up until Pentecost, doubt remained in them as the Scriptures show us. Jesus said to Peter and the disciples, “Whosoever shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which [God] says shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever He says” (Mark 11:23).
Leviticus 23:6 On the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread represents Jesus Christ—the true Unleavened Bread of Sincerity and Truth. Unleavened Bread has no yeast in it—representing the sinless life of Jesus. Paul wrote:
1Corinthians 5:8 Therefore let us keep the Feast [of Unleavened Bread], not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the Unleavened Bread of Sincerity and Truth.
Unleavened Bread follows Passover for seven days. The fifteenth day, and the twenty-first day of the first month are Holy Convocations. Unleavened Bread pictures a Christian coming out of sin – putting sin totally out of our lives. Jesus Christ is our perfect example of a sinless life. Therefore, Christians put leavened bread [yeast products] out of their homes for seven days—picturing the spiritual removal of sin from our lives entirely.
Exodus 23:15 Thou shalt keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread: (you shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it you came out from Egypt.
Wake up Britain and America along with all of our English-speaking brothers and sisters! Jesus Christ is coming soon! As loving, compassionate, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and patient as Jesus is, He is not soft-headed when it comes to the anti-Christ movement. There is coming a final judgment when the glory of the Lord will be seen and felt by those who hate God. The Tribulation precedes the return of Jesus Christ pictured by the Feast of Trumpets.
Isaiah 66:15-16 Behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with His chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.
The Apostle Peter advises the masses of people to save themselves from this corrupt generation by obedience to God (Acts 2:40). The Great Tribulation begins with Satan’s wrath which lasts 2½ years (Matthew 24:21-22). It begins with the fifth seal. It is followed by heavenly signs and earthquakes (Joel 2:30-31).
Isaiah 13:9-11 Behold, the Day of the LORD is coming, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. 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 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.
What will be the straw that breaks the camel's back? The infrastructures of modern Israel, the USA and UK, are rapidly disintegrating, but no single factor will bring down our American and the Israelitish nations. Why? Because, if that were the case, post-tribulation mankind would be able to stake the claim that there was still hope – and that Jesus had showed up when He was not really needed. No, every institution for mankind – marriage, education, economy, defense, ranching, justice, courts, travel, entertainment, medicine, mining, trade, collective bargaining, you name it – will be rotten to the core – beyond redemption. No one will be able to say to Jesus, "If only such or such..., we could have tweaked the system, and we could have put society back in order. Mankind must learn the lesson of hopelessness that sin brings. It will not be the failure of one single system that will bring about the ultimate destruction of the end-time. The blessings and strength of America and Britain are bound up tightly within our societal institutions of academia, banking, finance, family, military, farming, agriculture, law, transportation, tax, health, welfare, cyber technology, computers, social networking, communication, government, industry, commerce, etc.
All systems are ungodly and corrupt. In every case, these systems that regulate and govern so much of the blessings that God so freely gave us are rapidly deteriorating. It sounds like it will be more like a crash – than a gradual decline.
Deuteronomy 28:20 The LORD shall send upon you cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that you set your hand unto for to do, until you be destroyed, and until you perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby you have forsaken me.
Expect sudden destruction when all these societal systems collapse all at once:
1Thessalonians 5:3 When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
If a single factor brings down our nations people would be able to say, "If only such and such... none of this would have happened, and Jesus Christ would not have had to return." There is going to be total failure of all worldly systems at the same time! All men, including the Israelitish nations, will realize the utter hopelessness of this world's God-less ways.
Revelation 1:7 Behold, He [Jesus Christ] comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindred of the earth shall wail because of Him.
Men will finally realize how futile all existence is without Jesus Christ ruling in their lives. There will be no second guessing the need for the Kingdom of God because history will have recorded that the result of mankind's best efforts was always ruin, failure, and devastation. Man will realize that the root cause of his demise is the lack of Godly character. It is rejection of the True God, and disobedience to His Commandments. The degeneration of the English-speaking peoples in areas such as morality, secular education, and spiritual values is rapidly taking place. The moral decline – the rejection of God and His ways – within America and the other Israelitish countries is the real cause of the coming obliteration of society. Look at the obvious signs of how our moral fabric and society are failing from within:
The Ten Commandments are looked down upon with utter contempt, especially God’s Sabbath rest; one parent homes are the norm; Children grow up being raised by an irreligious state; same sex unions are politically correct; out of wedlock births are the norm; millions of abortions of precious God given life never entered the mind of God! Every life is a gift from our Great God, and the taking of that life, no matter how early or late, is murder and a violation of the Ten Commandments.
Jeremiah 19:4-5 ...They have filled this place with the blood of innocents; They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spoke it, neither came it into my mind.
The gambling industry is blatant; the war against drugs is forgotten; genetically modified foods and destructive agricultural practices preclude quality nourishment; the farm land has no rest (Leviticus 25:4; 26:34); Devil worship and idolatry are thought to be shrewd and chic – relegating God to the status of a non-entity; the medical community’s overuse of antibiotics is setting us up for the prophesied pestilence and disease epidemics of Biblical proportions; gang murder in the streets is rampant; the practices of financial institutions are unbiblical (Leviticus 5:10; Deuteronomy 23:20); adultery is winked at and the courts pervert justice (Leviticus 19:15); there is incomprehensibly massive runaway debt; abuses within the World Wide Web and unparalleled migrations of peoples (Daniel 12:4); and fanatical worldwide jihad. These and many more vices tear away at family, society and the Plan of God. The family as designed by God is the sustaining foundational component of society. And because family is the foundation of society, God prophesied of Ephraim as a type of all Israelitish nations, that these pervasive and ungodly trends will finally result in a people that has made itself to be without substance or endurance:
Hosea 13:1-3 Now they sin more and more... according to their own understanding... therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that evaporates away.
Revelation 12:12 Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! For the devil [Satan] is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.
Following the beginning of the Great Tribulation, the heavenly signs are the sixth seal.
Matthew 24:29 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.
Revelation 6:12-13 I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
Joel 2:30-31 I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible Day of the Lord comes.
Revelation 8:1-2 When he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
The Day of the LORD’s wrath—the seventh seal—which is the one-year long Day of the Lord - totaling 3½ years of Tribulation. The Tribulation will be the final wake up call for Church brethren; the most tragic period ever for those who once knew the truth of God but were remiss in living their faith to the full.
Matthew 24:9-10 They shall deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
It will be the hardest thing those saints ever did, but some will call on the name of the Lord for strength to take a stand by becoming martyrs. They will overcome Satan by physically laying down their lives. They will be with Christ in the First Resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6).
Revelation 7:14 I said unto him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, These are they which came out of Great Tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. [Jesus died, and these avail themselves of His blood by being martyred.]
Man’s inhumanity to his fellow man knows no boundary. From Cain who killed his brother Abel; to the utter ruthless atrocities of the ancient Assyrians; to the German perpetrated horrors on the Jews and Russians; to the Japanese brutalities of gas and germ warfare inflicted on the Chinese; to the pitiless treatment of slaves everywhere through history, and sadly to how the indigenous tribes of America were wronged. There is a spirit—the devil—that works in the children of disobedience – and when that war-like spirit awakens for the last time it will be so ferocious and atrocious that no period in history is like unto it, ushering in the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7).
God is sending warning for man to repent even now. When the fourth seal was opened, the rider of a pale horse representing death and pestilence went forth, and the grave followed him.
Matthew 24:7-8 There shall be famines, and pestilences, and natural disasters, in widespread places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Revelation 6:8 I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
Revelation 6:9 When he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.
Only the faithful brethren of God’s Church who are living Christian lives will be spared the horrors of the Great Tribulation. Their resurrection to reign and rule with Jesus Christ will come at the sounding of the very last trumpet. Do not be mistaken: The Trumpets (Plural) begin to sound on a Feast of Trumpets, but the last Trumpet, the resurrection Trumpet, (singular) will be sounded on a Feast of Pentecost. It is wise to study out the sequence of the Holy Days and the sounding of the Trumpets of the Lord.
Not all the saints will have to die. The saints will be raised incorruptible – in the image of God.
1Corinthians 15:51-52 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet [singular]: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
This takes place at the end of the Tribulation on a Pentecost Day. Only a relatively small number of saints will have been protected – most having died in the Tribulation because they were so slow to get their act together—and love their brethren as Christ gave us example. Why did God add the clause, “and remain?” It is because many of the saints will have been martyred by that time, no longer remaining—they are the remnant with whom Satan makes war (Revelation 12:7). They too, will be in the first resurrection, but how will they muster the courage to stand up to the Beast and die, when they have been so reluctant to lay down their lives, spiritually speaking, for one another?
1Thessalonians 4:16-17 The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain [alive] shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
The world has been deceived into believing that they do not have to obey God – but somehow He will forget that and rapture them up into heaven. That misunderstanding comes mostly because they have rejected God’s Holy Days which give the prophetic framework of the Plan of God. They forget that the third woe heralds the return of Jesus Christ with His saints at the timing of the pouring out of God’s seven last plagues – after the marriage supper of all the firstfruit saints who were resurrected as spiritual beings on that final Feast of Pentecost.
Revelation 11:14-15 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe comes quickly. And the seventh angel sounded [his Trumpet]; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.
More than any of the other Feast Days, Pentecost exemplifies the Feast of the Church.
Leviticus 23:16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall you number fifty days; [‘Pentecost’ means number fifty days.]
Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
God poured out His Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4), upon the Church brethren on the Day of Pentecost with stunning manifestations of spectacular happenings—the noise, the cloven tongues like as of fire, and the foreign languages—observed by all in order to punctuate the fact that something truly breathtaking was occurring as never before.
Indeed, at that particular Holy Convocation God the Father was bringing converts into His Family as His Children with His Life, Mind and Spirit making them brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ—the Church of God. Those whom God calls to be firstfruits led by His Spirit are also to be partakers of the first resurrection with Jesus Christ (Revelation 20:6). The first resurrection numbers 144,000 spiritual saints (Revelation 14:1-5). Only a relatively small physical remnant of mankind will survive the maliciously cruel wanton carnage and indiscriminate annihilation of young victims all around the war-torn earth during the Tribulation to live over into the Millennium to become the people of the wonderful world tomorrow. For more on Pentecost see the end of Chapter Five of this book.
There is a great deal to understand about all of the episodes associated with the end-time trumpets that lead up to the final trumpet. The seven trumpets signal the day of God's wrath, the Day of the Lord. Just prior to the Day of the Lord, the sixth seal reveals that there will be signs in the heaven and on earth (Revelation 6:12). God tells us in advance:
Joel 2:30-32 I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD has said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.
The Feast of Trumpets falls on the first day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:24). In the Plan of God, Trumpets is the next Feast of the Lord to realize its prophetic fulfillment. Even now, Church brethren are counting down to the return of Jesus Christ. After six thousand years of human misery, wars and sin, righteous men cry out for the day of Christ's return in power and great glory:
Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.
God's annual Holy Days reveal His Plan of action to us. By comparing the words of Jesus in Matthew 24 with those in the Book of Revelation, the full meaning of the Feast of Trumpets is revealed. When opened, the seven seals of Revelation 5 reveal the sign of Christ's coming spoken of in Matthew 24. Jesus tells us that the heavenly signs will usher in the seven trumpets - the seventh seal. While foretelling of the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus said:
Luke 21:25-27 There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Christians were reconciled, made right with God the Father, in the context of Passover and at our baptism… But the world remains cut-off from God because Satan is still the ruler of this evil world. That is about to change when Jesus begins to rule as King of kings.
In the Plan of God, the Feast of Trumpets foreshadows the victorious return of Jesus Christ who will overcome all evil kings and rulers of this world. He will conquer the Beast and the False Prophet with divine wrath (Revelation 17:13-14; 19:20). He will bind Satan. He will establish the Kingdom of God over all the earth (Revelation 19:14-16). As King of kings, Jesus’ saints will be with Him when as He gains victory.
Revelation 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb [Jesus Christ], and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with Him [the saints of God] are called, and chosen, and faithful.
The Feast of Trumpets pictures a most significant event; the dramatic return and second coming of Jesus Christ in supreme power over all the earth.
1Thessalonians 4:16 The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the Trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.
Revelation 11:15 The seventh angel sounded [his trumpet]; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.
There are two very different suppers spoken of by our Lord in Revelation 19. Christians wish to partake only of the first supper – the second is for the birds:
Revelation 19:9 …Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. [This is the first supper.] (Matthew 22:2-13).
After that splendid Marriage Feast where Christ will be wed to the Church, Jesus will unleash His indignation against all wickedness on the earth described as the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. We see the second supper here:
Revelation 19:17-19 I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the buzzards that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; [That is the second supper—the supper for buzzards, the eaters of carrion] That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army [the resurrected saints of God].
Joel 3:2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.
God even tells us where the second supper will take place:
Joel 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the Day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
Matthew 24:28 Where-so-ever the carcass is [those spiritually dead], there will the buzzards be gathered together.
Each and every Sabbatical year begins on the 10th day of the 7th month, which is the Day of Atonement. Jesus began His Public ministry on the Jubilee year of 26/27 AD (Leviticus 25:10). Notice the insightful words of Jesus on that High Sabbath Day:
Luke 4:18-21 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 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. And He began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.
As the Plan of God is unfolding, the realization of the Day of Atonement shows how God the Father will make reconciliation possible for all the sinful world to Himself. It is a most grand step in the Plan of God. Atonement is one of the seven annual Feasts of the Lord (Leviticus 23:27) – it is a Holy Day of Convocation on which we are to appear before the Lord. The Day of Atonement is to the entire world what Passover is to called, chosen and faithful Christians. God in His perfect love will reconcile the entire world unto Himself. That is what the Day of Atonement is all about:
2Corinthians 5:19 God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.
Atonement pictures the complete cleansing of sin – making possible the reconciliation of all mankind to God. Atonement is a spiritual Feast Day – without physical food or drink. Its complete fulfillment will be a very great day! Atonement will make an intimate and thorough relationship with God possible for all mankind. It will be an extraordinarily remarkable Day in that both God the Father and Jesus Christ will have so obviously worked together to bring it to fruition.
2Corinthians 5:21 For [God the Father] has made Him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
1Corinthians 15:22 As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Jesus died for us, and the Father, with exceeding great power resurrected Jesus Christ to life eternal when He raised Him from the dead and restored His divine glory (Ephesians 1:17-20, John 17:5). Otherwise, Jesus would have remained dead, and God the Father would have been forever alone. Jesus’ existence would have ceased! That is how much God loves us—by putting everything He has on the line for us (John 3:16-17).
1John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the personal atonement for our sins.
In the same way that Passover makes reconciliation with the Father possible for Christians through the cleansing of sin, the Day of Atonement will bring about the reconciliation of the world. Mankind will no longer be separated from the Father (Isaiah 59:2). God the Father initiates the process of reconciliation through Christ (2Corinthians 5:18-19). The Feasts of Passover and Atonement are distinguished by when the blood of Christ is applied to the Church of the first resurrection, and when the blood of Christ will be applied to the balance of mankind that will live in the Millennium and in the second resurrection at the Last Great Day.
Atonement is for the world: In the same way that Christians were reconciled to God by the Passover sacrifice and death of Jesus, Atonement makes possible a right relationship with God for all the world. Where the Feast of Passover provided for our personal reconciliation to God the Father, Atonement looks to the day of universal reconciliation of all who have ever lived. Atonement falls on the tenth day of the seventh month. Atonement is a spiritual Feast day – a day of fasting without food or water.
Leviticus 23:27-29 On the tenth day of the seventh month there shall be a Day of Atonement: It shall be an Holy Convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls [fasting]… And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a Day of Atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
Atonement makes way for the millennial rest to begin because man is delivered from the bondage of Satan and every enemy. For more on the Day of Atonement go to Jesus Died and He Lives later in this chapter.
The Feast of Tabernacles is a seven-day Feast unto the Lord at the time of the abundant fall harvest typifying the great spiritual harvest of the Millennial Kingdom of God on this earth (Leviticus 23:34). It is the best known of the annual Holy Days because all the members travel to Feast sites for fellowship, spiritual messages, abundant food and drink – all picturing the time when our Messiah, Jesus Christ, and His Bride, the Church, will reign and rule over this entire earth for a thousand years. The first day of the seven days is a Holy Convocation. God intends that there be a strong sense of the temporary and transient nature of our earthly sojourn by having us reside in temporary dwellings during the Feast of Tabernacles.
Leviticus 23:39-40, 43 In the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a Feast unto the Lord seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath [Last Great Day]. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days… That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
The first inhabitants of the Millennial Kingdom will be the surviving remnant of the Great Tribulation. They will each be called to conversion providing them opportunity for eternal salvation (Joel 2:28-29; Ezekiel 37:14). Speaking of this remnant God says:
Ezekiel 39:28-29 Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them anymore there. Neither will I hide my face anymore from them: for I have poured out my Spirit upon the House of Israel, says the Lord GOD.
Their primary task throughout the one-thousand years will be to restore the entire earth to its original Garden of Eden state in preparation for the great resurrection of all who have ever lived. God calls that resurrection, The Great White Throne Judgment.
The Last Great Day—the last of God’s Feast Days—pictures the time at the end of the Millennium when all who have ever lived will have the incredible opportunity to live again on this earth, and then to know God and be led by His Spirit!
Matthew 25:31-33 When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left (John 5:25-29).
All who have ever lived shall have God’s Holy Spirit poured out on them (Joel 2:28). Spiritual blindness will be removed from the earth (Isaiah 35:5). Jesus signified that God’s Spirit would be abundant for all in that day—pictured by rivers of living water. We find the New Testament name of the last Holy Day here:
John 7:37-38 In the Last Day, that Great Day of the Feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believes on me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of His belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
This is the day when we will be reunited with our loved ones. They will have been in their graves since they died—then, raised to physical life once again at the voice of the Son of God:
John 5:25-29 Truly, truly, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father has life in Himself; so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and had given Him authority to exercise judgment also, because He is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of condemnation.
Adam and Eve, along with all mankind who have ever lived, will be resurrected back to physical life on the Last Great Day and have God’s Spirit poured out on them for the first time – providing their opportunity for salvation that comes to all men only once. In the Great White Throne judgment all who have never received God’s Holy Spirit will be resurrected – receive God’s Holy Spirit – and then be judged during that period.
In reverse order, Isaiah writes about how there will be ample time at the end of the Millennium and just before the New Heavens and New Earth for all mankind to be judged by God – either as worthy of His Kingdom, or deserving of the accursed second death
There is so much more to be told of the story of God’s Holy Days. After the time of the Last Great Day and the Great White Throne Judgment will come the New Heavens and the New Earth with a glorious future for the Children of God. For more on the Last Great Day see Chapter 7.
In expectation of the Messiah, John the Baptist was sent in the spirit and power of Elijah 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 (Luke 1:17). The Prophet Elijah had turned many Children of Israel to the Lord! In the same way that Elijah was sent by God, Zacharias was informed by the angel Gabriel as to the commission and purpose of John the Baptist’s ministry:
Luke 1:17 And [John] shall go before [Jesus] in the spirit and power of Elijah, 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. (Malachi 4:6)
We see here that the most important result of John the Baptist’s commission was that of turning hearts to God. Those Christians who embrace Christ’s teachings are given that which no group of people has been given before—a heart for the Lord.
1Peter 2:10 In times past they were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
For the first time, a righteous people would be able to live according to the intent of God’s Law. This small number of people are the Spirit-filled people who are His Church. This people—the Church of God—is a forerunner of all those who will eventually be saved in the day of the great judgment, the Last Great Day when they all will have God’s Spirit poured out on them for the first time – providing their opportunity for salvation that comes to all men only once (Joel 2:28, Revelation 20:11).
Hebrews 8:10 This is the Covenant that I will make with the House of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
For the world, this conversion is yet future, but for God’s little flock—the Church brethren who have already covenanted with God, this is a reality— they are now the people of God!
Ezekiel 11:19 I will give them one heart, and I will put a new Spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.
God is not trying to save the entire world at this time. If He were, most would admit that He has been a dismal failure. There is an order and purpose to God’s calling (Romans 8:30; 1Corinthians 15:23). The purpose of God’s calling is to have “a people” – the Church of God. The Church brethren are being prepared to reign and rule with Jesus (Revelation 5:10). Called out of the world, the Church brethren are to be a light to the world at this time. Jesus prayed:
John 17:23 I in them, and you [Father] in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me.
Jesus chose His disciples carefully – praying to His Father all night long for discernment – that they might be, not only witnesses to every word He spoke, but to become foundational elements in His Eternal Kingdom. The apostles’ names will be inscribed over the gates of God’s eternal city—New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:14).
Luke 6:12-13 It came to pass in those days, that [Jesus] went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called unto Him His disciples: and of them He chose twelve, whom also He named apostles.
After calling His disciples, Jesus set out in His Sermon on the Mount to magnify God’s Law and make it honorable by instituting the basic moral code of Christianity (Matthew 5-7). Jesus taught His followers how to triumph over their human foibles. Over seven hundred years earlier, the Prophet Isaiah had prophesied:
Isaiah 42:21 The LORD is well pleased for His righteousness' sake; He will magnify the Law, and make it honorable.
Christianity is a lifestyle. It is founded in the Law of God. When lived, Christianity develops the individual; the Christian family grows in integrity; society is strengthened, and nations are established. The Bible contains the written record of the Law of God in action. The Bible is God’s manual for humanity.
Psalm 119:97 O how love I thy Law! It is my meditation all the day.
Jesus brought His teachings into a darkened world—to a people wholly lacking in Christian awareness and understanding. For the most part, Jesus preached and taught a crowd whose minds were blinded by a veil of darkness:
2Corinthians 3:14 Their minds were blinded: for until this day remains the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament.
The fathoming of Jesus’ words was given only to those being called by God. (Romans 11:7-8). Jesus did not come to bring salvation to everyone at that time, but He came to bear witness to the truth of God (John 18:37).
Romans 11:7-8 What then? Israel has not obtained that which he seeks after; but the election [Church brethren] has obtained it, and the rest were blinded (according as it is written, God has given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
The preaching of John the Baptist had prepared the way for Jesus and given the masses a sense of expectation. Isaiah had prophesied of John the Baptist:
Isaiah 40:3-5 The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
Jesus came the first time some 2,000 years ago, not to save the world then, but to announce the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God, and to prepare a people to reign and rule with Him throughout the Millennium (Mark 1:14). Even now, God is not ready for everyone to know Him and His perfect way. Jesus said:
Matthew 11:25 I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.
Standing in a natural amphitheater part way down a mountain where He had been praying all night, possibly at theplain of Gennesaret not very far from Capernaum, Jesus looked up and began teaching the true spiritual standards of life to the multitudes—the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:1; 8:1, Luke 6:17; 20). The people listened and were astonished at Jesus’ doctrine because He taught them as one having that singular quality of command presence, and not as the scribes who lacked authority (Matthew 7:28-29).
Jesus was not trying to convert the multitudes. Jesus came for a number of reasons, but one of them was not to try to convert everyone. God’s Spirit would be conveyed to only a comparatively small number – those who would comprise the Church of God—the one community of called-out believers—the Children of God. In the resurrection, the rest of those people will be called to conversion. (Romans 11:32)
The Church Age is not relevant to the great majority of mankind which remains in spiritual darkness. In the soon coming Millennium, the symbolic veil that represents man’s separation from God will be removed for all mankind (Isaiah 25:7). It may be that if you are reading a book like this that you are being called by God (John 6:44, 65; 14:6). If you answer Him, He will grant you repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 2:4; Acts 11:18; Ephesians 2:8). If you do not answer Him, it is because the wicked one, the devil has seized the word of God from your heart. Jesus said:
Matthew 13:19 When any one hears the word of the Kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one, and confiscates that which was sown in his heart.
Most of mankind is not aware of the Gospel. Most do not know what the Gospel is. The Gospel is not the story about Jesus; how He gave sight to the blind; how He walked on water; how He made the lame walk; how He cleansed the lepers and raised the dead (Matthew 11:5). No, the Gospel is what Jesus preached over and above those miraculous works—It is the Good News of His Father’s Kingdom. Soon, Jesus is going to come to establish the Kingdom of God over all the earth—that indeed is good news. God will reign supreme over all. God’s law, His love and His way of life will be the norm for all men—that is the Plan of God.
Those who are mindful of the Gospel message of repentance from sin, and faith in the sacrifice of Christ will begin to live lives of obedience to God's way of life, and thus He will give them His Spirit at baptism with the laying on of hands (Acts 5:32). For those called by God to be Jesus’ spiritual brothers and sisters, Christ came to lift the veil of darkness and blindness that engulfs the world. The very words of Jesus attest to the fact that He was bringing spiritual light to a people who were heretofore blinded and in darkness, who would believe and walk in all His ways.
Isaiah spoke of how the entire earth lay in darkness and in need of the One who would lift the veil of blindness. The very reason that Jesus spoke to the multitudes only in parables was so that they would not understand (Matthew 13:34; Mark 4:34). That may sound harsh, but it was not time for them to receive the Gospel. The veil of darkness covered the nations then, and it continues to cover the nations today so that they cannot understand—except for those who are being called by God.
Matthew 13:10-11 The disciples came, and said unto Jesus, Why do you speak unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
The world thinks that Jesus spoke in parables to make His message clearer. They are yet blinded by the veil of darkness. Jesus tells us that it is not yet time for the world to be healed of their spiritual blindness. He said:
Matthew 13:13-15 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. (Mark 4:12; John 12:40; Acts 28:27)
Jesus said plainly that it was not yet the time for the multitudes to turn around and be converted to the way of God. For the vast majority of the world’s population the time of their conversion is yet future:
Isaiah 25:7-9 He will swallow up in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the LORD has spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.
God tells us that because of mankind’s sin He is the source of blindness, and confusion of heart. It is God who has placed the veil that separates sinful mankind from Himself because He will never tolerate perverseness in His presence—and certainly not in His Kingdom.
Isaiah 59:2-4 Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. None calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.
It is God who blinds the minds of unbelievers. It is Satan who murders, lies, twists, deceives, distorts and rules this entire evil world (John 8:44; 14:30; Revelation 12:9). The earth is under the sway of the wicked devil (1John 5:19). Satan is not the “god” of anything but he is a serious threat to Christians. That is why we must pray for protection from the evil one (Matthew 6:13; Luke 11:4). Notice that it is the Lord who has blinded the minds of them which believe not:
Isaiah 29:10 The LORD has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes…
It is not yet God’s intention that all the world should see and understand the Plan of God at this time—that day is coming. For now, this precious knowledge is for the Church brethren alone. Even though the Jews have kept the Holy Day calendar throughout the centuries, they do not grasp the prophetic meaning of each Feast Day (Romans 3:1-2; Leviticus 23).
2Corinthians 4:3-4 If our Gospel be hidden, it is hidden to them that are lost: In whom the God of this age has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
It is conversion that removes the veil of blindness:
2Corinthians 3:14-16 Their minds were blinded: for until this day remains the same vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless, whenever one shall have converted to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.
How is that veil of darkness removed from the saints, those being called into the Body of Christ, who have converted to the Lord? Paul gives us the answer:
Colossians 1:12-14 …The Father …has rescued us from the power of darkness, and has conveyed us into the Kingdom of His dear Son: In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of [our] sins:
Beginning with His sermon on the mount, Jesus began removing the veil of darkness that blinded those who would truly follow Him. Those who were called to conversion were the first New Testament Christians to be enlightened and see the light. At the very moment that Jesus died, the veil that separated man from God’s Holy Presence was torn asunder – making it possible for the saints to come into the true Holy of Holies having obtained reconciliation with God the Father (Hebrews 9:8; 10:19-20). The veil in the Temple at Jerusalem represented the veil of blindness:
Matthew 27:50-51 Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up His breath. And, behold, the veil of the Temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. (Leviticus 16:2, Ephesians 2:14-16)
In Moses’ day no one would dare approach Mt. Sinai because of the presence of the LORD there – they would have been struck dead (Hebrews 12:20). Who today would dare to approach the heretofore inaccessible throne of God the Father? Jesus came to reveal the Father (John 1:18; Matthew 11:27). Paul explains that Jesus has opened the way to the Father:
Hebrews 10:19-22 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His own body. And having an High Priest [Jesus] over the house of God; let us draw near [to the Father] with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
Having been separated because of our sins, Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on our behalf made our reconciliation to the Father possible. When the Father looks upon converts He no longer sees a rebellious sinful people, but He sees the righteousness of His Son that has been imputed to them (Romans 4:6-8; Psalm 32:1-2). God said, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34). Now the saints can go directly to the Father where we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need
Jesus is not trying with all of His might to save the world at this time. If he were, all would have to agree that He is fighting a losing battle. Too many have wrongly concluded that all men are being judged at this time. Only the Church of God is being judged right now and judgment is reserved until a later time for those who are in the world (1Peter 4:17; Revelation 11:15).
John 9:39 Jesus said, For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.
Conversion is much more than the sentiment of giving your heart to the Lord. Conversion is much more than the adoption of a set of beliefs identified with one particular religious denomination to the exclusion of others. A convert is one who has been called by God; repented of that which is evil in God’s sight; accepted Jesus Christ in faith as his personal Savior; been baptized receiving God’s Holy Spirit; been turned around from the ways of this evil world; been transformed by the restoration of his mind; chosen that which is good; and fully yielded to the perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2).
When Paul wrote of being transformed by the regeneration of your mind he meant that a convert was an entirely new creation (2Corinthians 5:17). It was one of the first lessons that Jesus had taught him. When Paul was knocked to the ground, Jesus began immediately to teach him all about conversion—beginning with Paul’s sins being washed away and his being filled with Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17; 22:16). Paul asked Jesus:
Acts 26:15-20 Who are you, Lord? And He said, I am Jesus whom you persecute. [Paul was killing Christians] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto you for this purpose—to make you an appointed servant and a witness both of these things which you have seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto you; delivering you from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to convert them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them who are sanctified by faith that is in me. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and become converted to God, and do works suitable for repentance.
In the Scriptures 'conversion,' which would normally mean simply to turn about, takes on its spiritual dimension of converting entirely to the Lord through repentance, faith, submitting and yielding wholeheartedly to God. Conversion is a moral revolution brought about entirely by God of turning an individual around. It takes place when God the Father acts in a person’s life to call them and grant them repentance and faith in the blood of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin (Romans 2:4; Acts 11:18; Ephesians 2:8). God the Father calls only some people at this time to conversion – all others, in their order, will be called later (John 6:44; 65; 1Corinthians 15:23). Jesus taught the requirement of the lifelong conversion process when He said:
Mark 1:15 The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel.
Repentance and belief are the very first aspects of the conversion process. The Gospel is the entire Good News Jesus brought concerning the soon coming Kingdom of God—including everything Jesus taught regarding God’s way of life. Conversion is a gift of God. Unless God calls and gives a person repentance, the faith of Jesus Christ, and the motivating influence of His Holy Spirit – they are not be able to live their lives according to the principles Jesus has laid before us.
Repentance has to do with keeping God’s Ten Commandments—not only in the letter but in the spirit of the law. Most importantly, with a measure of God’s Spirit, a new heart enables a true Christian to keep covenant with his Maker – and receive the promise of eternal life (Acts 2:38).
2Chronicles 7:14 If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and become converted from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
The apostles were not converted until after the resurrection of Jesus—on the Day of Pentecost—when they received God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus said to Peter:
Luke 22:32 I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the apostles taught the necessity of conversion:
Acts 3:19 Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
There are dire consequences for those who would treat their conversion shabbily. Peter compares those who would fall away from their conversion to:
2Peter 2:21-22 It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to become unconverted from the Holy Commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
The apostle Paul cautioned of the consequence of not remaining true to conversion ever so much more sternly:
Hebrews 6:4-6 It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.
Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
God has revealed to us the astonishing importance of our remaining converted. Only true Christians are altogether yielded and wholly submissive with all their heart to God and His ways. There is a reason that the Plan of God exists. The French have a saying, raison d'etre, meaning "reason for existence." A man who has a life’s goal of accomplishing a project is said to eat, sleep, and walk, every waking moment of his existence to carry out his ambition. That is the way God is with His Plan to bring many sons and daughters to glory. Christians are the raison d'être of God’s Plan! We, the Children of God, are the venture, the Plan that God dreams of, envisions and is achieving.
Conversely, our calling, and our raison d'etre, for living is to be yielding up of ourselves as servants to one another, and laying our lives down as surely as Jesus did for what is right in God’s eyes. We are servants of Jesus Christ right now. We are to give of ourselves – all of ourselves – as Christ gave us example. That is what Jesus meant when He said:
John 4:34 My meat [raison d'etre] is to do the will of Him [God the Father] who sent me, and to finish His work.
Conversion has to do with doing God’s will. Jesus said:
Matthew 7:21 Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Jesus said, not as I will, but as you will (Matthew 26:39).
That is the question. Jesus taught, Thy will be done (Matthew 6:10). Again, the question is, will we do His will? The answer is so clear: Do so. (Matthew 24:46)
The crux of Christianity lies in coming to the point of yielding one’s self to the perfect will of God. Yield to God in everything, without equivocation. Not, “…if it works out.” Not, “…if it is convenient.” Not, “…If I get the chance.” The 1st Commandment is put God 1st. That means that God’s will is always placed ahead of personal inclination (Matthew 22:37-38). That means maintaining Godly principles even when they are difficult or seemingly impossible. The natural man cannot submit entirely or surrender his will and mind to the will of God. Without the gift of God’s Holy Spirit to purge an evil conscience it is impossible for man to relinquish his thoughts in favor of the higher power (Hebrews 9:14; 10:22). Isaiah wrote of the evil and complex machinations of the carnal mind:
Isaiah 55:7-9 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Paul gave a good example in expressing that he worked diligently to yield his ways to God’s ways when he said:
Acts 24:16 …I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.
The people of God's Church are called for the purpose of preparing now to rule with Christ in the Millennial world tomorrow. Christians are learning how to live according to the rule and way of God's Kingdom here and now in everything – by coming out of this present evil world (2Corinthians 6:17).
Romans 12:2 Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
God tells His children not to worry needlessly about what we consider to be the necessities of life - food, clothes, and shelter – for after all, God takes care of even the flowers and the animals which are not as important as man (Matthew 6:26). Our focus is to become like God. Jesus said it like this:
Matthew 6:33 Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things [food, clothes, and shelter] shall be added unto you.
Those few true Christians who yield entirely to God, love Him and their fellow man according to Godly principles, will qualify to sit on the throne of Jesus Christ with Him (Revelation 3:21; 5:10).
Daniel 7:27 And the Kingdom and Dominion, and the greatness of the Kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
John 12:35-40 Jesus said unto the apostles, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walks in darkness knows not whither he goes. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spoke Jesus, and departed, and did hide Himself from them. But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him: That the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore, they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them (Isaiah 6:9-10).
God is not saving the entire world at this time – there is a time order to God’s calling – God blinds those who are not being called and hardens their heartaccording to His will as He moves His creation toward everlasting light.
Matthew 13:15-16 This people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
In introducing Christianity to humanity, Jesus began an indoctrination program (in the good and right sense of the word) into the heart and mind of God. For the first time, a true called-out people—the ‘ekklesia’—the Church brethren, would begin to acquire that heart and mind of God (Jeremiah 31:33). He began a process of instruction and teaching of His moral code to the great multitude of His followers so that some would recognize and wholeheartedly appreciate God’s high standards. Jesus taught them the goal, purpose and state of mind a true Christian disciple must live by. We have heard of them as the beatitudes. In actuality, with respect to the Law of God, Jesus began teaching the aspirational principles of the Kingdom of God that together with all of His other doctrine constitute the Love of God. Those folks were already familiar with the Old Testament and were looking for the prophesied Messiah to arrive. Jesus came to fully develop God’s law in a glorious way – teaching how to become blessed Christians. Jesus’ message was eminently superior to the teachings the multitude had heard before. ‘Blessed’ in today’s English means to be spiritually well-off, pleasing to God, especially privileged, and supremely happy in God’s approval.
Jesus taught for hours on end. The Sermon on the Mount extends from Matthew Chapter 5 all the way to Chapter 8:1 where Jesus descended from the mountain. He expounded on the law of God in its fullest sense and application. He explained and illustrated God’s principles and values that describe how to live, think, and be like God. It was time for them to come out of the dark and know the love of God. God is love (1John 4:8). God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all (1John 1:5). The love of God has to do with dealing with others in compliance with the Ten Commandments. In other words, we do not fight, steal, lie, cheat, or in any way hurt or mistreat others—rather we help, care for, encourage and advance their cause. Jesus clarified everything from the smallest detail of daily life to the most important aspects of Christian living. Jesus taught fairness, kindness, empathy, equity, attention, patience, respect, honor, generosity, thoughtfulness, sacrifice, appreciation, affection – the list was endless (John 21:25).
Because man has the proclivity to seek loopholes to evade the law, Jesus did not provide a Talmud of do’s and don’ts, but a way of life. Jesus’ discourse was in no way a dry presentation that left the crowds bewildered. These beatitudes only scratch the surface of what Jesus presented to them. Repentance, faith and God’s Holy Spirit would later open the converts’ understanding that they might fathom the deeper meaning of Christ’s sayings (Luke 24:45).
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. (Luke 6:20)
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Isaiah 61:3)
Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Galatians 5:23)
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Luke 6:21; Matthew 6:33)
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Ruth 3:10)
Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (Ezekiel 36:25-27; John 1:47)
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the Children of God. (Romans 12:18)
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
All of these preceding eight characteristics are descriptive of life within the Kingdom of God, because they are bracketed with the phrase, “for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven [where God keeps track of our doings]: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Luke 6:23)
Christians who unwaveringly and resolutely take a stand for God’s way will be persecuted (2Timothy 3:12). Jesus Christ gives the correct response to persecution:
Matthew 5:44-45 …Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may become the Children of your Father which is in heaven.
Living according to Jesus’ moral code imparts light to a Christian. These attributes are the heart of the Law. It is only the Church brethren that understand their God-ordained potential of becoming glorious beaming spirit beings in the Kingdom of God (Hebrews 2:10; Daniel 12:3).
Matthew 5:16-17 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Yes! Jesus came to fulfil the law and the prophets to the fullest. That had not been done before! Certainly, the law is holy, and the Commandment holy, and just, and good, but Jesus came to make the law replete – supplying that which was the goal of the law. For example, where the law says that, “Thou shalt not kill,” the New Testament Christian is instructed to be a peacemaker, and as much as possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).
Disobedient and sinful men reason that because Jesus fulfilled the law, God is appeased. And because God has been placated by Jesus Christ they do not have to be obedient and keep His Ten Commandments.
They do not understand that God’s Commandments are an expression of His love. The Ten Commandments tutor us how to love God and our fellow man.
The leadership of the Church of God has often been remiss in its duty of teaching the brethren the principles of these qualities of Christian behavior and how to implement them. Christians must learn them and live them to be in the Kingdom of God. Jesus, Himself, lived according to the highest expression of the expanded law. Jesus’ way of life was peaceful, humble of heart, and poor in spirit—that is what a Christian emulates:
Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
All the things that Jesus taught about Christianity were on a higher spiritual plane than His disciples had known. God’s plane of existence is far above man’s realm of thought and reason (Isaiah 55:8-9). Jesus taught that a person does not gain favor with God through physical might, wealth, guile, influence or political intrigue, but by this spiritual code—this inexhaustible set of virtues that define who Jesus is. Christ’s doctrine was counter-intuitive and contrary to all the expectations of the world: “How can you ever get ahead by being humble, meek, generous and serving?”
When Jesus said, “Happy are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven,” He was speaking of a poverty of spirit which is not natural to the human condition which tends to think more highly of itself than is becoming of a Christian (Galatians 5:17). “Poor” means to be in want of – in need of – to make one whole and complete. Poor in spirit is the exact opposite of a haughty heart that needs nothing, and knows it all (Proverbs 18:12). Only in resisting pride, having a humble heart, and possessing a total dependency on God’s mercy, can anyone be supremely happy and blessed having gained God’s approval. He who is poor in spirit is one who realizes that his relationship with God is lacking in many ways. God dwells with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones (Isaiah 57:15; Isaiah 66:2).
Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near unto them that are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite spirit.
Jesus taught that a repentant attitude was the proper self-view and self-evaluation which distinguishes those for whom is the Kingdom of God. For example, upon repentance, King David, the mightiest king on earth, sought to subjugate his carnal spirit:
Psalm 131:1 LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.
That is the quality and attitude that Jesus denotes as poor in spirit. Though rich in earthly possessions and powerful militarily, David had become poor in spirit. Referring to himself, David prayed:
Psalm 34:6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
It is difficult to understand exactly what Jesus meant by, “Blessed are the merciful.” Paul tells us that Jesus became a man so that He could learn compassion for pitiful mankind’s sake (Hebrews 2:17). It is difficult to be magnanimous to the unfortunate ones in the spirit of meekness without assuming a wrongful better than thou attitude (Galatians 6:1).
In the Hebrew there is the often-used word, hesed or chesed, better translated as lovingkindness. We are to be big-hearted. We do see God’s abundant mercy that we are to assume and replicate in our lives, thoughts and actions. God is pleased with loving acts of mercy, forgiveness and kindness – more so than blind compliance to law.
Exodus 34:6-7 ... The LORD, The LORD God, compassionate and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin...
Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and lovingkindness with them that love Him and keep His Commandments to a thousand generations.
Numbers 14:18-19 The LORD is longsuffering, and of abundant lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression ...Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy lovingkindness, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
As Jesus expounded on God’s principles and values, He was not remiss in teaching the more important aspects of Christian living. Jesus had, of course, spoken through the prophets of old, like Micah, and inspired their writings (1Peter 1:10-11):
Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
When Micah wrote that it was required for man to ‘Walk humbly with his God,’ he was expressing the similar elements of Christian faithfulness and Godly love. We know this because of the manner in which Matthew and Luke recorded this verse when Jesus quoted it.
What are the most significant guidelines for Christian living? What are the most important things we should be doing? In addition to the observance of the Sabbath and the Feasts of the Lord, the Church of God last century had an established set of customs and culture, including sermons and sermonettes, the singing of hymns, Bible studies on Scripture and prophecy, potlucks, colleges and Spokesman Clubs. Some of those endeavors were unfamiliar to those new in the faith.
Many learned for the first time that God required a tithe of ten percent on income, and that He had a law about clean and unclean food laws (Leviticus 27:30; 11:1-23). Jesus said that those were important, but He said that there were ways of living that even more importance than tithing and unclean food laws.
Some people in God’s Church never get past the unclean food laws as the standard for their faith. And, like the Pharisees of Jesus Christ’s day, some Church brethren have not always learned to practice the principles that Jesus says are of major importance. Jesus says that there are key issues – really important things – that are of more gravity than others. Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees for missing the point entirely:
Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, [every little thing – like our salt and pepper] and have omitted the weightier issues of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not left the other undone.
Judgment, mercy, and faith are the Godly standards of Christian living that must be adhered to so that one’s life might conform to that of Christ’s life! How many in God’s Church understand this straightforward concept?
This word, ‘weightier’ is the Greek, ‘barus’ meaning ‘grievous,’ ‘serious’ or ‘grave.’ The Pharisees were obviously majoring in the minors by leaving out the more important weightier matters of the law. They were very exacting over some details, but when it came to the most crucial aspect of their lives, practicing Godliness, they left a great deal to be desired.
Zechariah 7:9-10 Thus says the Lord of hosts, Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother: And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.
Has the Church of God matured to the point of understanding how important Christ’s lesson is? Jesus says that our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees who considered the Law to be a legalistic drill. Being unconverted, they could not put their hearts into the things of God. To what extent should New Testament Christians be living according to the weightier matters of the Law? Christians are instructed to practice the more decisive matters of judgment, mercy and faith – “these ought ye to have done,” not forgetting the less crucial aspects of such things as food laws and tithing. “Not leaving the other undone,” Jesus said.
‘Weightier’ means more important, central, or more crucial as compared to what are peripheral or secondary things pertaining to the Law. Thus, the intent of God's law is to yield judgment, mercy and faithfulness—to produce justice, compassion and kindness, and loyalty to God. We find then that practicing judgment, mercy, faith and the love of God are the weightier aspects of the Law of God. Why is it that Matthew recorded the weightier matters of the Law, differently than did Luke’s Gospel account?
Luke 11:42 Woe unto you, Pharisees! For ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment, and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Luke does not mention mercy and faith as Matthew does, but he substitutes and adds the major concept of the love required by God. Are the love of God, and mercy and faith, somehow equivalent? It is informative to us that where Matthew writes, “mercy and faith,” Luke substitutes the word “agape” – Godly love. When we follow the Biblical principle for establishing doctrine of ‘a little here and a little there’ (Isaiah 28:10), putting the entire word of God together, it tells us that when we are practicing God’s attributes of mercifulness and faithfulness – we are in fact practicing Godly love.
Another way Jesus taught was by the use of Kingdom parables. In the very beginning God the Father and Jesus Christ envisioned what their perfect world would be like wherein mankind would be able to develop into the veritable Children of God. In parables, Jesus gave insight into the various aspects of that coming ideal world. Jesus went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 4:23). That Good News included how God’s Kingdom would be established over all the earth and how the Kingdom of God operates. The understanding of the Kingdom parables was given only to those being called by God (Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10). The Kingdom of heaven and the Kingdom of God are synonymous – they are one and the same. The attributes of the Kingdom of God are described with numerous revealing details in many parables. All of these parables must be studied and considered in whole to obtain the complete picture that God is providing for us:
Matthew 13:24 ...The Kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field.
Matthew 13:31 ...The Kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field.
Mark 4:30-31 To what will we liken the Kingdom of God? Or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth.
Matthew 13:33 ...The Kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
Matthew 13:44 The Kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hides, and for joy thereof goes and sells all that he hath, and buys that field.
Matthew 13:45 The Kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls.
Matthew 13:47 The Kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind.
Matthew 13:52 ...The Kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which brings forth out of his treasure things new and old.
Matthew 18:23 ...The Kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
Matthew 25:1 ...The Kingdom of heaven shall be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
Matthew 25:14 The Kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
Mark 10:14 …Allow the young children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of God. (Luke 18:16)
These and many other Kingdom Parables when properly understood in context teach us what Jesus intended we know about the Kingdom of God.
Acts 1:3 Jesus showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. (Acts 19:8; 28:23)
Many who read the words "Kingdom of heaven" are thinking, "The Kingdom in heaven." The Kingdom of which Jesus taught is not in heaven. "Of" is possessive, simply meaning that the Kingdom belongs to God. That is the very basis of the Gospel message. The Gospel is not about the things Jesus did. The Gospel is about the Father's Kingdom. Notice closely the two:
Matthew 4:23 Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. (Luke 8:1; 9:2)
Yes! Jesus preached the Gospel (Good News) of the Kingdom, and He did other things like walking on water and raising the dead, etc. Those things Jesus did to signify that He was indeed the Messiah (Luke 7:20-22). The Bible needs to be studied closely because the Catholic Church and its derivatives have led many astray. There is a way to know what Jesus is doing now – and what He will soon be doing. Christians will be reigning and ruling in the Kingdom of God on earth for a thousand years with Jesus Christ:
Revelation 5:10 Who has made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." [Not heaven]
Exodus 19:5-6 If you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.
Mark 1:15 The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel.
Jesus declared that His Church people would always exist in some places, and never die out entirely—the gateways of the grave shall not overpower God’s called-out people—the Ekklesia (Matthew 16:18). But, they were soon lost to recorded history.
The seven Churches of Asia Minor, near the Isle of Patmos where John was exiled and received God’s Revelation, are representative of many resurgent revivals and awakenings of God’s Church throughout the centuries. After the first one hundred years of the Church, the true brethren disappeared from history and remained in small enclaves widely scattered.
History records a few of the more prominent reappearances of God’s people labeling them, “heretical sects.” As Paganism flourished anew, we find that the newly dominant Catholic Church had; moved away from Passover, on the 14th of the first month, to Easter; had done away with God’s Law and Holy Days by substituting Christmas Day and the like; had proclaimed the Pagan Trinity; had proclaimed the immortal soul; had proclaimed heaven and hell as eternal rewards; had instituted infant baptism; had blessed swine flesh for human consumption; had sanctioned killing in war; had accepted Pagan idols and the cross in their worship; and had replaced the Sabbath Day of creation with the eighth day Sunday.
History tells us that the Church of God almost died out at times – and what few brethren held on to God’s truth – were not that well versed in Christ’s doctrine. A few of the names ascribed to those who sought to hold on to God’s truth were the Nazarenes, Elkasaites, Ebionites (poor men, Matthew 5:3), the Albigenses (Acts 24:5), the Paulicians, the Cathars, the Waldenses (Peter Waldo), the Bogomils, the Sabbatarian Anabaptists (re-baptism as adults). Men like John Traske and Thomas Tillam wrote books in defense of the Sabbath and were severely persecuted for doing so. They did not possess the entire truth of God, but they ardently disseminated the truth given them in a dark world.
The apostle John dealt with false ministers like Diotrephes who abused the true saints (3John 1:10). Jesus warned that those who go along with the heavy-handed tactics of a false minister or counterfeit apostle would have their candlestick removed. They cease to be a part of the valid Church of God.
Revelation 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and you have tested them which say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them to be liars:
Revelation 2:4-5 I have somewhat against thee, because you have left your first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, unless you repent.
Here is the promise of a crown of eternal life to those saints who faithfully endure torment until the end.
Revelation 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Repeatedly throughout the ages there are those who would trip-up, seduce and dominate Church brethren in the name of God. It is clear that God will bring swift retribution on the perpetrators of abuse. God’s people are assured that just vengeance is His prerogative:
2Thessalonians 1:6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you.
Jeremiah 26:14-15 As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seems good and meet unto you. But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the LORD hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.
Revelation 2:13-14 I know thy works [Pergamos], and where you dwell, even where Satan's seat is: and you hold fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
Revelation 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
We find that over and over there are most egregious sins extant among God’s people. Obviously, God tells us that these violations of His love and law will be dealt with for all the other of His Churches to see. What could be worse than being cast into the Tribulation and having your children die?
It has been said that the symbol adopted by Thyatira to represent itself was the Menorah with the middle of seven candles burning.
Revelation 2:19-20 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou allow that woman Jezebel, which calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
Revelation 2:26 He that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
Most of the supposed saints in Sardis were defiling their garments – meaning that they were not living righteously as a Christian must. These words are a dire warning to all those throughout the ages who, though they would attend services with the Body of Christ, they have not yielded themselves to the Sovereign God.
Revelation 3:1 Unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that you have a name that you are living, but you are dead.
Revelation 3:4-5 You have a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Revelation 3:7 To the messenger of the Church in Philadelphia write; These things says He that is holy, He that is true, He that has the key of David, He that opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens.
The Book of Revelation originates with God the Father (Revelation 1:1). Jesus is the door to the Father (John 10:7; 14:6). Jesus alone has the key because the Father has given to the Son authority to execute judgment (John 5:26-27). Jesus has the final say as to who is resurrected to life – and who is not. It is Jesus who is holy, true, that has the key of David, that opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens—His decision is final.
Revelation 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name.
It was commonly held in the latter half of the twentieth century that the church era of Philadelphia had arrived. It was assumed that there was an open door to preach the Gospel to the world. There was an elation in the belief that God levied no reproach against the people of Philadelphia. And, best of all, because Philadelphia did everything so right everyone would get to go to the Place of Safety. All those who did not recognize Philadelphia’s ascendency would be given their comeuppance:
Revelation 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved you.
If everything was already so perfect in Philadelphia, why was it necessary for Jesus Christ issue this warning to overcome?
Revelation 3:12-13 Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.
During the twentieth century, God did a rather large work (John 6:29). The Gospel of the Kingdom went to a large part of the world, and many were called and converted. Jesus shows in the second and third chapters of Revelation that He hates what was frequently going on in His Church congregations – the Nicolaitan heresy. We know that Jesus instructed His apostles to eschew the abusive exercise of authority upon the brethren in a hierarchical top down government which wars against true servant leadership – which is bottom up service – not top down control (Matthew 23:11; John 13:15; Revelation 2:6, 15). Neither Jesus or the apostles ever established a hierarchical form of government over the Church brethren. In fact, Jesus expressly taught against an authoritarian government that ruled over people’s lives – exercising lordship over them (Matthew 20:25-28). The Church of God answers directly to Jesus Christ and His Father (1Peter 5:1-4).
It is interesting to note that the Radio Church of God grew and prospered rapidly – with Christ as its head. In 1939 it was correctly believed by the church that hierarchical government was not the way to work with God’s people. There was yet no top down hierarchy of government ruling over the Church brethren.
However, as the church grew as an organization with lots of departments and administrative areas such as: ministerial administration, publishing, congregations, festival sites, colleges, youth programs like SEP (Summer Educational Program), YOU (Youth Opportunities United), archeological projects, motor pool and fleet, field ministry, radio and TV, Personal Correspondence and Letter Answering Department, D&R (divorce and remarriage), finances, travel, etc., Herbert W. Armstrong felt the need to maintain control, and he became an advocate for a top-down hierarchical authority headed by one man. He, with a council of elders and ministers, formed and administered a hierarchy that ruled over, not only the governance of the organization, but over the Church brethren’s lives as well. The greater problem was that the Church brethren were not being taught to look directly to God – in effect, pushing God out of the picture. The Church brethren – the spiritual entity – had to submit to a physical government that was often a coercive hierarchy. There was great social and psychological pressure put on the Church brethren to accept the presumed spiritual authority of the organization as coming directly from God. Ministers began to be ranked by hierarchy: Apostle, Evangelist, Administrators, Regional Directors, Senior Pastors, Pastors, Associate pastors, Assistant pastors, Elders, Church Elders, and Local Church Elders, Deacons and Deaconesses.
As the organization grew, developed and flourished, God the Father, Christ as head of the Church, and Christ-centered servant leadership, were often relegated to secondary importance. Perhaps not willingly – but the result was to displace God as sovereign ruler in members’ lives. In fact, that topic of looking to God and serving others as Christ did was declared bogus in subsequent ministerial conferences and forums. Eventually, with much encouragement from ministers in his organization, and in an attempt to maintain control of the church organization, Herbert W. Armstrong acquiesced to a hierarchical form of government with tight control over doctrine and members.
When members were treated harshly by the ministry, they all too often found that they had nowhere to turn. There was no real recourse or redress of their mistreatment – as complaints were returned to the minister at fault to deal with as he saw fit. Certainly, Jesus Christ was their Advocate and rear guard (Isaiah 52:12). But, there was no effective appellate procedure in place to seek remedy within the organization. As a result, hurt members were driven away, while others succumbed to church politics. Marking and disfellowshipping by the ministry were powerful tools sometimes used on hapless members who were subsequently railroaded out of the congregations (Romans 16:17). They were disfellowshipped – not for sin or heresy, but for righteousness' sake (Matthew 5:10-11). In desperation and exasperation, they were cut off from their families and their church body of loved ones (1Corinthians 12:12). In all too many instances the members were left to stand alone (1Corinthians 2:5). As the apostasy of the 1980s came upon the Church, many brethren who continued to live by Godly principles and standards, and who remained faithful to God – found themselves scattered and without a pastor. God’s people went from enjoying a sense of belonging to one another – to being widely scattered around the world because of the abuse and duress heaped upon them.
Ezekiel 34:6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.
God allowed those things to happen for a purpose (1John 2:19). The great majority of the church pastors closed their eyes to the abandonment of Godly doctrine and truth, and supported the heavy-handed practice of congregational destruction—not considering that God will hold them just as accountable as the perpetrators of the return to worldly abominable heresy (Leviticus. 5:1). God rules the universe. There is nothing that is not under God’s Umbrella of Authority. Church brethren are answerable to, and responsible directly to Christ. No organization is able to insert itself between a church member and Christ. God did not institute any organization to rule His Church—which is a spiritual entity—in His place. When organizations and ministers demand a member’s loyalty, that constitutes idolatry in that it is putting God in second place. It violates the First Commandment. Paul put it succinctly:
Ephesians 5:23-24 …Christ is the head of the Church: and He is the Savior of the body… the Church is subject unto Christ…
The only power and authority Jesus ever gave His original twelve apostles was to heal the sick and cast out demons. And He sent them, not to rule, but to preach—not to bear authority, but to serve (Matthew 20:25-27). The necessary qualification to be an apostle of Christ was to have been a witness of all that Christ did. This was the primary criterion to be met when replacing Judas Iscariot’s apostleship:
Acts 1:21-22 Which of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that [Jesus] was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection.
Jesus says that He hated the doctrine of the Nicolaitans at least twice – because of its prevalence in His Churches. Nicolaitanism is the practice of hierarchical form government—like a military establishment – an abusive administration of dictatorial church leadership (Matthew 20:25-27). It is the system of a strict rank and file hierarchy dominating within God's Church that must be submitted to by everyone. Just like with Diotrephes (III John), everyone knew and recognized the pecking order. It results in ungodly behavior. And, Christ hates it vehemently.
In many of the Church of God organizations the ministry is unquestionably superior to the lay members. The members are subject to the directives of the ministry in many significant aspects of their lives. Some church leaders believe that they represent God’s government on earth and if their authority is rejected, they make the brethren feel as though they were rejecting God, Himself. Those church leaders fully believe that they have dominion over the members’ life – even throughout the apostasy, the church break-up, and afterward (2Corinthians 2:14). Ministers believe that they belong to a higher tier – a form of social and ecclesiastical stratification – than the rank-and-file brethren. Those ministers do not understand Christ’s example of coming as a lowly servant
Jesus Christ, the light of the world, came to dispel darkness. Those are beautiful words, but unless we can understand with our heart what they mean they are without profit to us as Christians. We must allow the Holy Scriptures to define what God means by these words that are much more than merely pious sounding sentiments. The importance of these words cannot be overestimated in that they represent the way to eternal life—the light of life. Jesus gave us a most stern warning with regard to the path a Christian must walk when He said:
Matthew 6:23 If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!
For those who are sitting in God’s congregations around the earth today, let us hear what the Spirit says unto the Churches.
Luke 11:35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.
This book, Plan of God – Darkness to Light is being written while recognizing that the prevailing attitude of God's Church is predominantly Laodicean, though the principal characteristics of any of the seven congregations could also be present. Jesus warns Laodicea of their lack of Godly character and tells them to, “buy of me gold tried in the fire.” They are rich in doctrinal understanding – more so than anyone else has ever been. Jesus’ words apply doubly so where He says, “Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear and have not heard them” (Matthew 13:17).
Like some of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, the Laodiceans claim to be able to see clearly, but it is Jesus Himself that tells the people that, like so many who have gone before us, we are blind. It behooves the Church brethren to make sure that we anoint our eyes with eye salve that we may be able to truly see our wretched spiritual state. When Jesus says that a people is naked, it means that they are not righteous in His sight. For the Church brethren, it is a matter of salvation and sitting with Jesus on His throne in the Kingdom of God (Revelation 3:21).
John 9:41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, “We see;” therefore your sin remains.
Revelation 3:15-16 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.
Revelation 3:17-18 Because thou say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed [in righteousness], and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
Revelation 3:19-22 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the Churches.
Seven times, Jesus forewarns the Church brethren throughout all ages when He says, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches” (Revelation 2:2, 7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6; 13, 22). In every age within the Church there are those who think that they ‘have it made.’
They assume that because they have been baptized and are surrounded by Christians at Sabbath services, they will be welcomed into the Kingdom with everyone else. That is precisely who Jesus is addressing when He says, “To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne” (Revelation 3:21).
There are a number of ways to discern the seven cities of Revelation. Keep in mind that these seven churches constitute the True Church of God. How are we to interpret these letters?
First: There are seven cities spoken of in the prophecy of Revelation. There was a viable congregation of the Church of God in each city. The letters were written to those seven active Church congregations on a Roman mail route in the first century of God’s Church. Too many people wish to relegate Christ’s words as being relevant only to the seven first century Church groups, but they are relevant throughout the ages. The language to these Churches too often speaks in relation to the return of Christ – which is not yet (Revelation 3:3).
Second: It is possible to see some chronological patterns in the history of the true Church, but we cannot keep track of them with a stopwatch because their dates lapse and overlap one another. The thought that the seven Churches are exclusively historically sequential congregations is unsubstantiated because the verses speak of more than one assembly being extant at Christ’s return. Lately, everyone wants to be a Philadelphian because God seems to find no fault with Philadelphia. Certainly no one wants to be a Laodicean.
Third: These letters represent important tests, trials and blessings on the various Churches of God throughout the ages. These letters demonstrate the weaknesses and attitudes in the Churches that are present at all times. Jesus Christ does not give us a lot of detail into the things He hates in these Churches. He just tells the Church brethren to deal with it and overcome it as He did (John 16:33; Revelation 3:21). There is great danger in believing that there is no culpability or flaw within any of the groups. For example, a lukewarm lackadaisical Church that is deficient in Godly character, and spiritually wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked is in serious need of repentance (Revelation 3:17).
Fourth: There is a forth way we must view the letters to the messengers of the Churches of Revelation 2 and 3. Each Christian must consider that each letter is directed to him personally. All of the messages from Christ to the individual Churches are meant to be heeded personally. Jesus tells each of us to hear Him and what the Spirit says to all the seven Churches. Each Christian’s life develops and goes through stages of growth and trials. We are privileged to have personal letters from God the Father through Jesus Christ to the Churches of God (Revelation 1:1). Every Church congregation has had and continues to have its own unique strengths and weaknesses on which each and every Church member will be judged. We are to take personally what Jesus says to all the Churches, and examine each stage of our own personal Christian growth and experiences after having been called to perfection by God. Anyone can from time-to-time, and throughout a lifetime have any one of the attitudes or trials of the seven Churches.
Like Ephesus – all Christians experience their first Love—not only the excitement of having God’s truth revealed to them, but the first love that is most importantly—that of a right relationship with Jesus Christ and His Father. Yet, they have to deal with false apostles and with the ungodly leadership of the dominating Nicolaitans like that of Diotrephes of III John who loved to have the preeminence instead of pointing the brethren straight to God. Each member must be vigilant not to let his love wax cold (Matthew 24:12). Like Smyrna – where every Church member has individual trials and tests to go through. Like Pergamos – where the seductive doctrine of Balaam taught the people that they could rub shoulders with the world and still be right with God, and where the Nicolaitans abused and persecuted the faithful flock. Like Thyatira – we all have to deal with false doctrine and lawlessness within the Church. Like Sardis – most of the congregation lived unrighteously. Like Philadelphia – where the faithful brethren have had to deal with the accusations of being irreligious causing them to be cast out of the congregations. Like Laodicea – where the fervent members are debased and rejected by the apathetic preponderance of self-satisfied church goers who have no need of the other parts of the Body of Christ. Everyone has to grow in faith and endure until the end.
Looking directly to God removes spiritual blindness. Everyone will possess his own personal record which will be presented to Jesus Christ on His judgment seat.
Romans 14:10, 12 …We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ… So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
The Church brethren are severely tested in every generation, but in every case, there are some who stand up to the trials and become overcomers.
Revelation 3:21 To him who overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne.
Fifth: There is a possible fifth way to consider the prophetic nature of the seven churches. Each time God raises up a Church group it sequentially goes through the same cycle or stages of coming to the truth, receiving spiritual gifts, experiencing growth, standing fast, enduring weaknesses, suffering trials, etc., and then coming to its ultimate ending. We see that occurring even with the first century Church of the apostles beginning on the day of Pentecost. It experienced its Ephesian first love, growth, trials and persecutions, and ultimately faded away. Paul wrote that all the brethren in Asia had turned away (2Timothy 1:15). Because the true Faith was disappearing, Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote of the need to contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 1:3). Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD and the visible Church was subsequently lost to history after about one-hundred years. Only small isolated bodies of believers continued to exist. What of the few Churches of which we are aware, that thrived for a time, like the Albigenses, Bogomils, Cathars, Paulicians, Nazarenes, and Waldenses, who enjoyed varying degrees of repute, but then gradually disappeared? It follows that there must have been a calling to the truth of God for each one – a first love – the momentum of a new Christian movement, but then we find that, eventually, each group grew old and diminished.
It was the same for all the historical Churches of God throughout the ages. They flourished for a season, but then were lost to virtual obscurity.
All the Churches consecutively go through the phases and attitudes represented in all seven letters. We have Christ’s command to hear what He said to all the Churches. With this common refrain Jesus forewarned of the behaviors of the seven Churches and what they would go through. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches” (Revelation 3:22). Jesus spoke of the prevalent characteristics of these first century Church congregations that would be found in all congregations throughout time until His return. Amazingly, the same thing happened to the Worldwide Church of God. At first, it flourished with an Ephesian type of first love beginning in the 1930s only to become blind to the truth (Revelation 3:18) and meet its demise some fifty to sixty years later. For example, the Radio Church of God, which filed Articles of Incorporation on March 13, 1946, and was renamed Worldwide Church of God on June 1, 1968, was quite possibly the largest work of God since the days of the first century apostles. It’s first love was the Gospel Truth and its going to all the world. Many people came to a knowledge of the Truth, the Sabbath, the annual Holy Days and the Plan of God. But like all of God’s Churches through the ages, wrong concepts crept in for the testing of the brethren. One such misstep that replaced sound doctrine was the thinking that God’s government was represented by a corporate organization on earth—quite possibly a case of twentieth century Nicolaitanism; and that all members were to be loyal to that church government no matter what. It was taught that a member’s loyalty to the corporate organization constituted proof that members would be eternally loyal to God’s government in heaven. The problem with that rule was that it removed the personal accountability of each member to God. Ministers made decisions in families’ lives that should only have been made by the head of the family. Local congregations had their responsibility usurped by faraway corporate men who declared that they were “the church” instead of the [ekklesia] called-out ones (Matthew 18:17; 1Corinthians 5:13).
As the individual Church brethren strive to understand what is meant in these letters to the seven churches, one important consideration is most telling: These letters constitute a stark warning to each and every Church member. They must be studied with the utmost contemplation of salvation. Take for example:
Revelation 3:4 You have a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
Does that “few names” mean that “most names” have defiled their garments and are not righteous in God’s sight? Generation after generation of Church brethren are placed in circumstances where they too have the opportunity to be overcomers – just as Jesus was tried, tested and overcame this world (John 16:33).
When God told Abraham, “In thy seed [offspring] shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,” it was a Messianic Prophecy of Jesus Christ whose life and sacrifice would bring untold spiritual blessings on the entire world. Jesus’ life’s work having been accepted by the Father, the blessings of salvation and life eternal could begin to accrue to all (Genesis 22:18; Leviticus 23:11).
Though the multitudinous offspring of Abraham was primarily intended, the apostle Paul interpolates within this verse the inspired interpretation that all the Church brethren—who are also descendants of Abraham—constitute the Body of Christ, and thus, ‘thy seed’ is Christ, notwithstanding that Jesus the Messiah is also the offspring of Abraham (1Corinthians 12:27; Galatians 3:29). Jesus is the promised seed:
Galatians 3:16-17 To Abraham and his seed were the promises made. [God] did not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many; but as of one, ‘And to thy seed,’ which is Christ. And this I say, that the Covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
We understand here that both aspects of God’s promises—physical and spiritual—to Abraham are valid to this day. Physical and spiritual promises were confirmed by God to Abraham’s son Isaac (Genesis 26:3-5). God subsequently promised Jacob that, “A nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body” (35:11).
Genesis 22:17-18 In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
God stipulated the provisions of the sacrificial covenant, making it clear that He would not deviate from its terms. God promised Abram, with an incontrovertible oath, that he would become a great nation (Genesis 12:2, 7). Then God promised Abraham that he would become a father of many nations (Genesis 17:5). Was it possible for Abram to grasp the full spiritual aspects of Genesis 15:5? Just so we do not miss the implication here – Paul spells it out for us in Galatians 3 – that these future children are not all Abraham’s physical seed/children – but they also include all those who become spiritual children – through Christ.
God the Father is lavishly generous – and He desires His Children to be generous as well. God gave the very best – His Son, Jesus Christ.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Had Jesus sinned, His Father would have lost Him forever. Jesus would have died for His own sin, and paid the penalty of eternal death. But, Jesus did not sin (1Peter 2:22). Jesus in His generosity gave His life for our sins—so that we might live (Galatians 1:4).
We find God being well pleased with the first martyr, Abel, and his generous offering. Abel gave the very best, choosing rather to suffer loss than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25). Withholding a proper offering from God is a sin (Malachi 3:8, Genesis 4:7).
Genesis 4:4 Abel also brought a gift—the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The LORD accepted Abel and his gift.
Abel could have easily justified giving a lesser animal saying, “I need the very best for breeding purposes—to build up my flocks, and in that way I’ll have more to give the LORD later.” Instead, Abel acted courageously in faith, knowing that his generosity would be rewarded in God’s good time (Hebrews 11:4). Abel’s sacrificial lamb prefigured Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world (John 1:29, Revelation 13:8). Cain, a tiller of the ground, should have also given the very best to the LORD (Genesis 4:2). He could have brought the best of his grains, prefiguring Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life.
John 6:35 Jesus said unto them, I am the Bread of Life.
Cain lacked both generosity and faith—therefore; God did not favorably accept Cain’s offering (Genesis 4:5). Cain yielded to his selfish nature and did not give his best. Had God already instituted His sacrificial offering system and instructed Cain and Abel in it? If so, Cain did not follow God’s specified form of sacrifice (the outpouring of the life’s blood) and worship to bring a slain lamb that he could have humbly obtained from his younger brother, Abel. In either case, Cain’s offering was not acceptable to God.
Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. [God] did not say, “And unto seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed,” which is Christ.
The one seed, the spiritual offspring of Abraham, is Jesus Christ the Messiah.
Galatians 3:29 If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Abram showing some trepidation because he remained childless at an advanced age, and remembering God’s prodigious promise which was remarkably great in extent, asked God how He was going to perform His promise (Genesis 12:7):
Genesis 15:2, 8 Abram said, Lord GOD, what will you give me, seeing I go childless… whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
The Covenant of Promise to Abram was ratified by God with a Covenant Sacrifice. We saw in Chapter Five how Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of His life provided the ratification of the New Covenant.
The Sabbath Comes to America
Because of the promised blessings to Abraham, God brought the knowledge of His Sabbath Day to America so that eventually the Gospel could be preached to the entire World. Jesus said:
Matthew 24:14 This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
In 1664, Sabbatarian Stephen Mumford fled severe persecution in London, England and came to America. He understood correctly that the entirety of the Ten Precepts [Ten Commandments] as delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai were spiritual, holy, just, good, moral and immutable. On December 23, 1671, the first Sabbath-keeping Church in America began with seven members. Pastor William Hiscox served the Church until his death in 1704. Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and New Jersey were the main areas of Sabbath-keeping Churches. About 100 years later as the Church began to spread, a general conference was organized by eight Sabbath-keeping congregations – adopting the name The Sabbatarian General Conference, and later changed to Seventh-Day Baptist General Conference. Very harsh persecution scattered the early congregations, with the laws of Pennsylvania being particularly oppressive toward Sabbatarians.
Paul wrote to Titus about the immediate and glorious appearing of Jesus Christ. God intends that each person realize that the time consigned to him be used wisely – because time is short (1Corinthians 7:29):
Titus 2:13 Looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious manifestation of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Over and over, the Church is advised to overcome—and to do so quickly:
Revelation 2:5 …I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except you repent.
Revelation 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
God warns the Philadelphians hold on to True Christianity because too many are letting down and others are being called to take their place. Because they have not held fast to the basics, they will not qualify to reign and rule with Jesus in the Millennium (Revelation 20:6).
Revelation 3:11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
Revelation 22:7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keeps the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
Revelation 22:12 Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
Revelation 22:20 He which testifies these things says, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Who will be in the better resurrection (Hebrews 11:35)? The answer is those who have let their light shine forth as Jesus did. But what of those wicked who offend and do iniquity of whom Jesus says that they will be cast into a furnace of fire? There are tares among the wheat sitting among the people of God. Those tares will awake in their resurrection to shame and everlasting contempt. The weeping and gnashing of teeth of which Jesus speaks is a very inconceivable pain and the inexpressible agony as a result of their violent despair of having seen a glimpse of God’s Kingdom and themselves thrust out. They finally realize the glory they have missed out on too late! Jesus said:
Luke 13:28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
Notice carefully, because some congregations act as though God is interested only in their Church group. When Jesus looks down from His heavenly throne He sees His one true Church which is not separated by artificial walls of corporate organizations. Jesus continues:
Luke 13:29 And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the Kingdom of God.
Who are these firstfruits in the Kingdom of God that may be taking our place? Right now they may not seem to have the best places on the committees, councils, and so forth – and that may be because they are living Christian lives of quietly serving and sacrificing. Jesus sets forth a principle:
Luke 13:30 And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.
Matthew 13:24 Another parable Jesus put forth unto them, saying, The Kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
Matthew 13:38 The field is the world; the good seed are the Children of the Kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
Matthew 13:41-42 The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:50)
Matthew 13:43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Daniel 12:2-3 Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.
Many times God warns His Church of what the unbelievers will encounter: Bitterness, most intense disappointment, the realization of their horrific loss, extreme anguish, and anger at the realization of the eternal judgment of sinners. God will expose their superior, smug, self-satisfied, prideful attitude of thinking themselves better than their brethren.
Matthew 8:11-12 I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
God tells us that those who knew the Truth and did not live it will be kicking themselves for down deep knowing better – and somehow thinking they would get away with it. They will find themselves to be persona non grata at Christ’s wedding Feast.
Matthew 22:11-13 When the King came in to see the guests [at the marriage supper], He saw there a man who did not have on a wedding garment [the righteousness of the saints]: And He said unto him, Friend, how did you come in here not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the King to the servants, bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 24:51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Psalm 112:10 The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away: the desire of the wicked shall perish.
The Mind of God
In Chapter Five we looked at the Feast of Pentecost when the New Testament Church of God was established and God poured out His Holy Spirit on the first converts.
1Corinthians 2:16 Who has known the mind of the Lord?
With the pouring out of God’s Spirit on His people it became possible for the Church brethren to have the mind of God. Without the Holy Spirit, a person cannot keep God’s laws fully and completely, let alone go on to perfection (Hebrews 6:1). To really know and obey God with all our heart, a person must have God’s Holy Spirit. The coming of God’s Holy Spirit made it possible for the first time for converts to fully believe that God exists (Hebrews 11:6), and grasp His Plan and purpose for man. God desires that we obey Him with our whole heart. God’s Law is the expression of His mind. God’s goal for mankind is that we become God-beings, possessing His complete image – in form, in Spirit, and in Godly character. The Feast Day of Pentecost pictures how that is made possible.
Acts 2:1-4 When the Day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with Holy Spirit. (There is no specific article ‘the’ in the Greek before Holy Spirit.)
A dramatic change took place in those brethren who were awaiting the promise of the Father (Luke 24:49). They were of one spirit, with one accord, and the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul (Acts 4:32). They were now ready to take up the gauntlet and fight the Christian fight of faith:
1Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
Pentecost is the Feast of the Church—representing its beginning and its resurrection. Pentecost is also called the Feast of Harvest because it pictures the spring harvest of the Church of God brethren—the resurrected firstfruits saints. The Day of Pentecost following Jesus’ ascension into heaven marked the coming of God’s Holy Spirit upon the Church brethren. This Day was the founding and establishment of the New Testament Church of God—the Church of God—with Christ as its head (Colossians 1:18). The Church is a spiritual entity of baptized believers, not a physical organization, who have been called to glory by God through the Gospel and given a token of His Life, Mind and Spirit (John 6:65, 2Thessalonians 2:14).
Pentecost shows the conversion process wherein the spirit in man is enlivened, vitalized, animated, given life, impregnated by the Spirit of God making us Children of God (1Corinthians 2:11). One hundred and twenty New Testament Church of God brethren were empowered and initiated on the first Feast of Pentecost following Jesus death and resurrection (Acts 1:15). They were each sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. (Ephesians 1:13).
The Holy Spirit is God’s all-presence, His all-knowing and all loving mind, His unlimited power, His personality, His manifold traits, His character. God’s Holy Spirit is every characteristic of God - His righteousness, gentleness, peace, compassion, excellence, generosity, mercy… the list is endless.
We are totally unable to comprehend every characteristic of God’s Spirit with our human intellect for God is far too great. And yet, it is absolutely necessary that we “grow in Spirit” in order to put on the Godly character that is essential to be in the Spiritual Family of God. The complete attributes of God's Spirit are beyond the grasp of our finite minds.
On that first Pentecost after Jesus was crucified, God began sending His Spirit into the New Testament Church brethren. Jesus had told them:
John 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; which the world cannot receive, because it sees it not, neither knows it: but ye know it; for it dwells with you, and shall be in you.
On the last Pentecost before Jesus returns, the saints will be caught up to God’s throne to be accepted just as Jesus was accepted on the fulfillment of the Wave Sheaf (John 20:17). God has inexorably tied the Wave Sheaf day of Jesus’ resurrection to Pentecost by the count of fifty days (Leviticus 23:16). Therefore, those faithful brethren in the Church of God today are also an integral part of the early firstfruits harvest. In the same way that the wave-sheaf offering—with oil—represented Jesus Christ, the two wave-loaves of Pentecost—baked with leaven, (Leviticus 23:17) represent God's spiritual firstfruits of faithful men and women. Jesus Christ's presented Himself to God the Father as the Wave Sheaf offering to be accepted for us as the first of the "firstfruits" resurrected from the dead to eternal life (Leviticus 23:11; 1Corinthians 15:20).
At His resurrection Jesus was ceremonially clean – having paid for the sins of the world by His death. Jesus was put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit (1Peter 3:18) – a dead body raised to life with all the wounds and scars of His death, and yet He was a holy perfect presentation to His Father – but not yet fully glorified until He had been accepted by the Father (John 17:5). The wave-sheaf was being offered at about 9 AM in the temple that morning. The wave sheaf grain would have been gathered at the end of the Sabbath, the evening before – at the same time that Jesus was resurrected by His Father and restored to life – the perfect fulfillment of the Unleavened Bread of sincerity and truth (1Corinthians 5:8). And while the wave-sheaf was being offered in the Temple, at the same moment Jesus—in fulfillment—ascended to His Father in heaven. It was an instantaneous spiritual trip – no man saw it.
1Corinthians 15:20-22 Now is Christ risen from the dead and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man [Jesus Christ] came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Just as agricultural crops were harvested in conjunction with the festival seasons, God's Holy Days show us how He will harvest different groups of people. Jesus declared the parable of the spiritual harvest to His disciples:
Matthew 13:37-40 Jesus answered and said unto them, He that sows the good seed is the Son of man. The field is the world; the good seed are the Children of the Kingdom; …the harvest is the end of the age.
The Church of God, including the prophets and the saints of the Old Testament, are a part of the firstfruits, and will be in the better resurrection (Hebrews 11:35). Then, at the end of the millennium, there will be a much larger harvest—including the resurrection of the Great White Throne Judgment period (Revelation 20:11). [See Chapter Seven] Speaking of the resurrections:
1Corinthians 15:23 Every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming.
The incredible truth is that those faithful brethren of the Church of God are begotten by God the Father to be included with Jesus Christ—to be among the early harvested firstfruits resurrection.
The firstfruits resurrection is of Jesus Christ and the Saints: It is to life eternal (Revelation 20:6). It takes place at Christ’s return, and will be just before the Millennium.
The vast majority of mankind is not being called to salvation now, but God has not overlooked them. The second resurrection is for all who have ever lived without having received God’s Holy Spirit. Those dead people will live again on earth at the Last Great Day. It will be a resurrection to physical life again, and to judgment – for the first time.
Acts 24:15 Have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
Those of the second resurrection will be judged (for good or bad) with all who have ever lived (except for the first resurrection Saints). The second resurrection will be back to physical life for those who have lived and died without being called to conversion by God (Revelation 20:12). The Great White Throne will bring into judgment – both those in this second resurrection and those who lived during the millennium – having had God’s Spirit available to them (Joel 2:28) – in order to be tried and tested by Satan – because he’s been bound for 1000 years.
The third resurrection is to physical life for condemnation to everlasting death—by verdict and judgment at the Great White Throne—the second death (Revelation 20:12-13; 21:8). Those once converted people who received God’s Spirit and were begotten by God, who then rebelled against God, and those who were called to repentance but refused to do so—will be cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone (Revelation 21:8). John the Baptist explained:
Matthew 3:11-12 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with Holy Spirit, and with fire: Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat [faithful Saints] into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
God will show everyone a glimpse of the eternal life they rejected and missed out on—in His glorious Kingdom. The rebellious hoards will weep and gnash their teeth in revulsion and horror:
Luke 13:28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the Kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
Jesus Christ has a Book of Remembrance on each one of us – with every important detail of our lives. That book holds every act of Christianity and Godliness we have done in this lifetime. Every encouraging word, every sacrifice made, every unselfish deed, and every Godly stand we took, are all written therein.
Also recorded in our book is every un-repented mean or spiteful action, every cruel or hateful word spoken – it is all there – a complete record of our lives. Our book contains all the evidence we will be judged on – for good or for bad. We have the time to make the necessary changes in our lives. God will accept no substitute in place of His sincerity and truth. God is making it abundantly clear to us that He is keeping a full and complete record on each and every one of us. Our personal book is an inclusive dossier or profile of everything about us. They are written in heaven in the Book of Life and our own personal record, journal, register, or ledger. Each of us has a record being kept by God. David referenced his book of remembrance kept by Jesus Christ – with every important detail of his life.
Psalm 56:8 You have inscribed my life’s divergences: you have saved my tears in your bottle: are they not in thy book?
This means that God knows our heart and mind. He knows our burdens, shortcomings, tears, trials, gifts, sacrifices, persecutions and pains:
Hebrews 6:10 God is not unrighteous to forget [He remembers] your work and labor of love, which you have shown toward His name, in that you have served the saints, and continue to serve.
That’s a nice example of the kind of things God is writing in our book. God remembers every act of love – every thought of compassion – every prayer of mercy. That is the book on each and every one of us, which is quite extensive, and comprehensive right down to our DNA. God is intimately and intricately involved in our lives – even before we are born – He never forgets a single incident.
He is very much involved in creating us at this very moment. He is actively – hands on – continuously in the process of creating us to be in His image.
God is not going to blot anyone’s name out of the Book of Life except for those who turn away, reject and forsake God’s perfect way. Best of all, the nations will be build-up in preparation for all who have ever lived before. They will be resurrected to physical life, have God’s Spirit poured out on them, and for the first time see God Plan in action. Overwhelmingly, they will choose to worship and serve the True God. Then they too, will hear the words, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
James 1:17-18 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness [Greek – parallage], neither shadow of turning. Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creation.
‘Parallage’ is the astronomical Greek term for our English word parallel. In this case it means that God’s light is explicit, unswerving, and sure to guide us into His truth—where there is no variable shadow of turning or darkness at all (1John 1:5).
The faithful Church brethren will be resurrected to eternal life as firstfruits. This was pictured when the High Priest took two loaves of bread—firstfruits—for a wave offering to be presented and accepted by the Father (Leviticus 23:20). These wave-loaves of Pentecost picture this:
Leviticus 23:17 You shall bring out of your habitations two wave-loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord.
Before He died, Jesus knew full well that He would be offered to the Father and be received as an acceptable sacrifice. The acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Wave Sheaf of the first harvest was necessary before the rest of the spiritual harvest could begin. Jesus prayed the night before He died looking forward to that acceptance. Just as Jesus was accepted by His Father on the day of the Wave Sheaf offering, the resurrected Church brethren will be raised on the day of the Pentecost offering and presented to Jesus Christ (Leviticus 23:16-17; Revelation 19:9). The resurrected Saints will be accepted as well.
John 17:1 These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.
The Children of God will also appear with Christ in glory when they too are glorified.
Colossians 3:4 When Christ who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory.
Jesus is the first of the firstfruits to be resurrected from the dead and accepted by His Father. God the Father will accept His Church as a Wave Offering as well:
Romans 8:29 For whom [the Father] did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
The Church brethren are to be firstfruits unto God: Speaking spiritually:
Revelation 14:4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb where-so-ever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
The harvest of firstfruits pictures those who are called and prepared for the Kingdom of God. They are the "firstfruits of the Spirit" whom God is calling to salvation (Romans 8:23).
In the same way that Jesus, the Wave Sheaf offering, was the perfect firstfruits presented to and accepted by the Father, we, too, are firstfruits to be presented and accepted by the Father:
Colossians 1:15-19 Jesus is the firstborn of all creation. He is the head of the body, the Church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.
There remains yet a future fulfillment of Pentecost! We await the soon-coming day when the Church brethren—the saints—will be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air:
1Thessalonians 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
It has been God’s intention from the beginning of creation to present us approved to Himself (on that soon coming Pentecost) as a glorious Church:
Ephesians 5:27 That He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
God will soon gather all of His faithful saints together at Christ’s coming, for He knows His own. Those who yield to Christ and overcome their unrighteous nature and behavior, and have Christ’s righteousness imputed to them (1Corinthians 1:30) will be welcomed into the Kingdom and Family to sit with Christ on His throne and help Him as co-saviors to rule in the World Tomorrow as He sees fit – in continuing to build His family and Kingdom. That is His Plan:
Isaiah 9:7 Of the increase of His empire and peace there shall be no end.
In the same way that Jesus was tested in every way and on every point of God’s perfect way (Hebrews 4:15), the collective Church brethren will also have experienced every possible scenario in order to be able to effectively reign and rule with Christ throughout the Millennium. Then, while the saints are instructing everyone on earth saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it,” no one will be able to challenge or gainsay them by responding, “You do not know what I’m going through” (Isaiah 30:21). Each and every saint will be an overcomer (Revelation 3:21).
Hebrews 4:14-15 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession [of faith, Christianity]. For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted [scrutinized] like as we are, yet without sin.
Generation after generation of Church brethren are individually placed by God where it pleases Him – in circumstances where they too have the opportunity to be overcomers as Jesus was (1Corinthians 12:18). Jesus said:
John 16:33 …In the world you shall have trials: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Romans 8:35-37 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
As the end-time approaches there will be a general weakening of faith among the Church brethren. One would think that the Church, empowered by God’s Spirit, would be growing exponentially as the end approaches. That is not what Christ tells us. The Church has always been plagued with the false concept of, “I’ve got it made,” or “once saved always saved.” Jesus' teachings are to be taken literally. He said:
Matthew 7:14 Because strait [very restrictive] is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and there are few that find it.
Matthew 24:13 He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Throughout the years there have been many who have abandoned their Christian faith and spiritual warfare. To the Church is given many examples of those who did not endure until the end. Paul wrote:
2Timothy 1:15 …All they which are in Asia are turned away from me.
Indeed, much of the history of the New Testament gives evidence of those who have deserted the faith of Jesus Christ. As we have seen, the Church brethren of Ephesus left their first love—which the Greek [protos agape] clearly shows is Godly love of Him and His perfect way. The Ephesians received a scolding note from God the Father about the issue of their having forsaken their first love. That letter is also meant to be a reprimand for us today because God is admonishing us as well to take heed of that warning:
Revelation 2:4-5 I have somewhat against thee, because you have left your first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, unless you repent.
These instructions, directly from God the Father to Jesus to the Church brethren tell every congregation and every generation to heed these warnings (Revelation 1:1-2). A Christian’s first love is a spiritual awakening to the truth of God, including the Commandments and the Feasts of the Lord: The Sabbath, Passover, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day. The genuine first love spoken of here is the deep abiding love of God, and love of brethren. God knows that we need to be willing to lay aside—sacrifice absolutely everything—even our life and reputation if need be—in order to help one another into His Family and Kingdom. That is the nature of the first love of God. In this case, protos does not mean first in time, but it means utmost and foremost in importance.
Sadly, in God’s Church today there is virtually no love for all the saints. Perhaps for some of the saints, but not for all of the saints. The love that God has for us is the ultimate love – it is the foremost love – it is the true first love. How did the Ephesian brethren leave off and forsake this supreme gift of God? Will there be any true believers practicing their faith when Jesus comes? Jesus alerts us to the danger:
Luke 18:8 … when the Son of man returns, shall He find faith on the earth?
Would Jesus find faith among the church brethren that you know? Are their lives shining examples of lives filled with the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit? Are they a joyful people who uplift and encourage you? Do they trust in God’s principles – or, are they more like the people in the world? As we look around our scattered congregations – how many brethren are holding grudges? Who honors his parents according to God’s Commandment? How many refuse to reconcile or to be reconciled? Who is truthful in their words and deeds? Is the fruit of God’s Spirit evident in their lives? Brethren, most importantly, we must understand what God’s Holy Spirit is – and how it is that we grow in Spirit as Jesus did.
When studying the Plan of God and the looming return of Jesus Christ to set up His Father’s Kingdom on Earth for a thousand years, there is no better framework to scrutinize than the seven seals. They begin with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, followed by the Great Tribulation, Heavenly Signs and finally by the one-year long Day of the Lord. The seven seals are the LORD’s pleading with all flesh for repentance and judgment on the earth (Isaiah 66:16). Only Jesus is able to open the seals revealing the judgments of God (Revelation 5:4-5). Jesus has told our generation what to watch for. He said:
Matthew 24:33-34 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things [Those in the seven seals], know that it is near, even at the doors. Truly I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Jesus gave us the outline and overall view of the Seven Seals of Revelation in His Olivet Prophecy, which begins in Matthew 24:3, when He sat upon the Mount of Olives answering the disciple’s question, “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus concluded the Olivet Prophecy at Matthew 26:1 when He had finished all these sayings.
The First Seal: False Prophets and Religious Deception
Matthew 24:4-5 Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Matthew 24:11-14 Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Matthew 24:23-24 If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. [Revelation 6:1-2]
The Second Seal: War
Matthew 24:6-7 You shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. [Revelation 6:3-4]
While serving in the central Pacific Ocean near Christmas Island on September 23, 1958, my ministerial cohort/coworker, John Jewell witnessed first-hand, the devastating last atmospheric nuclear test of Britain's Hydrogen-bomb detonations. That H-bomb, utilizing fusion boosted tritium gas, resulted in Britain becoming a world thermonuclear power. Destructive power that dreadful announced the coming last days of the world as we know it.
Mark 13:20 Except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be savedalive: but for the elect's sake, whom He has chosen, He has shortened the days.
The Third and Forth Seal: Famine and Pestilence
Matthew 24:7-8 …There shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. [Revelation 6:5-8]
The Fifth Seal: Satan’s Wrath and Tribulation
Matthew 24:9-10 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
Matthew 24:21-22 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. [Revelation 6:9]
The Sixth Seal: Great Earthquake and Heavenly Signs
Matthew 24:29-30 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: 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. [Revelation 6:12-15]
The Seventh Seal: Day of the Lord’s Wrath - Last Year of the Tribulation
Matthew 24:31, 33 [Jesus] 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… when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
The Seventh Seal consists of the Seven Trumpets and the Seven Vials.
Revelation 16:9 Men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give Him glory. (Revelation 16:11)
Matthew 24:46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when He comes shall find so doing.
What is it that Jesus expects His servants to be doing? That is the most important question! The answer that so few understand is below in the section on: “Servants of Jesus Christ.”
Jesus warned that especially as the end-time drew near many false ministers would plague and abuse His small faithful flock of true believers. False ministers are everywhere, today! At His Olivet discourse, Jesus prophesied that false ministers would correctly claim that Jesus was the Messiah, but that they would be preaching under false pretenses. They would seek followings after themselves and use the Gospel message for nefarious means (Acts 20:30). Jesus told His disciples—warning us at the same time—of the religious seduction of the last days—the end of this age. Jesus warns us to be observant and prepared:
Matthew 24:4-5, 11, 24 Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ [Messiah]; and shall deceive many… Many false preachers shall rise, and shall deceive many… For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Jesus is not speaking of religious clerics like Billy Graham, Oral Roberts or Joel Osteen who do not know the basics of the Truth or Christianity. God’s people cannot be deceived by Catholic or Protestant ministers. It is those many ministers among God’s people who are not servants of His people, and who are departing from their professed faith, and do not realize that they are departing from Christ’s instructions (Matthew 20:25-26):
Incredibly, Jesus spoke of many false ministers who would pretend to represent Him. Indeed, we must ask ourselves, “Where are they today?” The beloved apostle John, first cousin of Jesus, reiterated Christ’s warnings about the religious imposters.
1John 4:1, 6 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false preachers are gone out into the world… We are of God: he that knows God hears us; he that is not of God hears us not. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
By ‘try the spirits’ John warned us to be discerning of those charlatans who are not living lives consistent with the doctrines they purport to teach. Over and over Jesus forewarned us that bad ministers who devour the brethren would be virtually indistinguishable from Christ’s true servants. Paul warned the elders at Miletus:
Acts 20:29-31 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore, watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
The New Testament writers had to continually address this serious problem impacting the Church of God. Preachers were passing themselves off as true ministers of Jesus Christ, while leading the brethren astray by telling the weak members exactly what they wanted to hear – as opposed to what they needed to hear. People say, “That cannot happen today – we would spot a counterfeit minister in a minute.” Well, that is not true, because false ministers are not easy to spot.
2Corinthians 11:13-15 Such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Yes, God will certainly judge them, but God included these verses for the very reason that brethren today are being led into grave error by false ministers who walk in craftiness and handle the word of God deceitfully (2Corinthians 4:2). It is happening! The true saints do have the spiritual discernment to perceive between false and true ministers of Jesus Christ—if they only would.
We are warned that many shall follow the destructive ways of those counterfeit preachers. Not only is it possible for the true people of God to be fooled—we are clearly told that many shall follow their fatal ways—giving God’s Church a bad name:
2Peter 2:1-4 …There shall be false teachers among you, who sneakily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you:
False ministers are most cunning because they allow themselves to be Satan’s agents:
2Peter 2:18-19 When the [false teachers] speak arrogant words of nonsense, they appeal through much depravity to the basest instincts of the human psyche of those who were at the point of escaping from evildoers. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
Those false preachers are not the servants of Christ or of the brethren. They serve only themselves – and, at great cost to the spiritual development of God’s people. Jesus tells the true Church brethren to beware of those self-serving ministers who allow their own personal desires to eclipse God’s will. They are not living up to their responsibility to serve the Lord’s flock.
Romans 16:18 They that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
‘Serving their own belly,’ means that the minister is looking out for himself, his future, his retirement, and his political standing in his organization. Paul explains further that it is entirely possible for Christians to fall away from the truth.
Galatians 4:9 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?
Those brethren, who had once escaped the delusions of the world, turn again to the permissive nature of society – succumbing to corruption; they find themselves in bondage to sin once again.
Jude 1:3-4, 16 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. There are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ… These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaks great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of [political] advantage.
‘The grace of our God into lasciviousness,’ means that there are things going on in church congregations – both in conduct and appearance – that are morally reprehensible in God’s sight. These verses say that some charismatic ministers cleverly articulate the inordinate desires of members by appealing to their baser human senses. The minister who is an impostor will twist the meanings of God’s Word so as to appeal to man’s lower nature by providing pretexts like – “Be true to your humanity – God will understand – You are not like others – God will forgive you – God knows your heart.”
The deceitful minister plies his trade, realizing that some church members will be seeking promotion or recognition – as in acknowledgment from the pulpit, advancement in the congregation, esteem among the brethren, or possibly access to the minister’s inner-circle of friends. Because this travesty takes place in the confines of the Church congregation, there is a tendency for some members to let down their caution and be caught off-guard.
Ministers become false ministers, not only because of deceptive doctrine, but also when they compromise God’s Word in favor of political expediency. Being ignorant of the true nature of the Gospel – they abuse the brethren. The mistreatment of a member takes place when a conflict arises between following the principles of God on the one hand and dealing in corporate politics on the other. While seeking to curry favor with headquarters, the minister relegates the church member to a non-entity status. They further their careers rather than serving God’s people according to Biblical ethics and guidelines. They do not teach the brethren to look to God – but rather to themselves. This kind of false minister seeks loyalty to himself – not to God. Paul adds a note of caution to be careful of associating with malicious and political ministers who are self-deluded about their actual spiritual condition:
2Timothy 3:13 Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
There are many false ministers in the Church of God, especially in these last days. You shall know them by their words and actions—their gospel is not God’s Truth. These impostors shrewdly undermine the true Gospel of Christ. In the book of Galatians, Paul expresses his dismay that the Galatians had left the true Gospel that Jesus Christ brought for a counterfeit gospel – which is no Gospel at all:
Galatians 1:6-8 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another Gospel; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Jesus warns us so many times of false preachers who have a form of godliness, but they will not enact the personal Gospel of Christ in their own lives. They will not go to their brother – as Jesus directs that we must do (Matthew 18:15-17). Instead of laying up spiritual treasures in heaven, they hoard their money for a rainy day, or allegedly to get to the Place of Safety (Matthew 6:20). They teach that our Lord delays His coming (Matthew 24:48). They relegate the members to the lowest rung of their two-tiered caste system. They teach their followers to dishonor their elderly parents. They do not know the true Nature of God. They love only their own followers, while rejecting many sons and daughters of God who are led by God’s Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14). Jesus says that in the last days these seducing spirits will pervade His holy congregations of saints. Too many Church brethren today foolishly think that they are beyond being deceived by men like these!
1Timothy 4:1-2 The Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.
The problem with a member saying, “There are no perfect ministers,” is that the member is saying in effect, “I’m OK with mediocrity and nonsense – I’ll just sit tight in his congregation – and not go on to perfection (Hebrews 6:1). I’ll overlook my minister’s sins and shortcomings.” The reason that members cannot spot false ministers is because they do not wish to help their Pastor into God’s Kingdom. That is the Biblical definition of hate. Members must realize their responsibility to their Pastor—who is their spiritual brother – or should be. Godly love demands that a sinner be turned from the error of his way (James 5:20; Galatians 6:1).
God will punish those ministers who are content to make a good living off of the Children of God, rather than serve them as God’s shepherds should. God will chastise those ministers for scattering and neglecting the flock of God (Ezekiel 34:1-10). God is not mocked, for He knows what is in the heart and mind of every minister (1Samuel 16:7):
Daniel 2:22 God reveals the deep and secret things: He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.
Most Church members think that their congregations are models of pure religion and Christianity—which is the practice of caring for the fatherless and widows in their burdened lives, while keeping themselves pure from this defiled world (James 1:27). In place of inspiring one another to perform acts of love and good works (Hebrews 10:24), they have substituted another form of religion: Beautiful choirs, and sometimes small orchestras to provide accompaniment for the chorale; dances, summer camps and sports programs. Every member knows how long to wear their hair, and every woman how long to wear her skirt. Everyone is an expert on the clean and unclean food laws – and which products contained animal shortening in them. Members are smug and complacent. The apostasy of the late 1980s should have been a wake-up call for all – and yet, many rushed to replicate the practices of a corporate organization that had forgotten to put God and His ways first in their lives. Jesus rightly predicted that His people would need to be awakened out of their contentment and self-satisfaction:
Revelation 3:17 Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and you do not know that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
Why are there so many Scriptural warnings about false ministers? Because false ministers are always a clear and present danger to the people of God. There are many men who portray themselves as servants of Christ while not living Christian lives. Jesus said that deceivers would look good and sound good, but they would not be teaching the brethren to look to God and help others into His Kingdom:
Matthew 7:15-16, 20-21 Beware of religious impostors which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? …Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not everyone that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
God’s warnings and instructions to His people have always been clear. We must discern those who represent God’s way of life and holiness:
Jeremiah 23:1-3; 5:30-31 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD. Therefore, thus says the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, says the LORD… A terrible and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
God is calling very few people out of the world today to walk in His way and stand-alone if necessary. All the others will be called in God’s good timing—every man in his own order (1Corinthians 15:23).
Luke 21:8 Jesus said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draws near: do not follow after them.
A Christian guards his heart and mind continuously by drawing near to God:
Mark 13:22 False Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
The book of Revelation refers to the lawless mystery religion as “Mystery, Babylon the Great” (Revelation 17:5) and shows it possessing two horns like a lamb (presenting itself as Christ-like) but speaking like a dragon (Revelation 13:11). The dragon of Revelation is Satan the devil, who deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9). This describes a great counterfeit religion—a world-dominating false-Christianity led by Satan and his demons, who appear as ministers of righteousness.
Matthew 11:12 [Jesus said,] From the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of heaven is acquired with an utmost struggle [a maximum effort – with all your being and strength] on your part; and it is only the most serious and dedicated ones who obtain the Kingdom of God.
These are the last days. We had better believe that they are – because there are many Biblical warnings especially for us:
2Timothy 3:1-7 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
This present evil world does not possess a knowledge of the truth. The Catholics are taught to pray to Mary and the Saints. That practice does not comport with the word of God because it is a false doctrine. The living saints of God do not pray to the saints asleep in the earth. They are yet in their graves – their thoughts have perished.
Psalm 146:4 His breath goes forth [from his dead body], he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
The Bible says nothing about Mary ascending into heaven. She awaits the resurrection of the saints as all the faithful are awaiting. Even King David is not in heaven, nor are any who have ever lived on this earth except Jesus Christ:
Acts 2:34 David has not ascended into the heavens.
Jesus explained to Moses that though Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were dead in their graves as far as man could see, they were as good as alive in God’s mind and remembrance because to the coming resurrection of the saints. Jesus said:
Mark 12:26-27 As touching the dead, that they rise [in the resurrection]: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spoke unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living…
True ministers of Jesus Christ preach that Christianity involves a life of trials, self-denial, persecution, suffering, self-sacrifice and hard work – and every fruit of God’s Spirit. We are told to count the cost of what Christianity will require of us (Luke 14:28). Jesus gave and gave until He gave His all. That was His example to us of a true minister and servant. Do not accept a substitute minister. Avoid substitutes for true religion. Any minister who influences his members to have no fellowship with the other brethren of God’s Church is teaching the false doctrine of separation, and not Christ’s doctrine of unity and oneness (Ephesians 4:13). If a minister tells you to avoid fellowshipping with truly converted brethren from other groups – have the spiritual maturity to discern his error and challenge him on doctrinal grounds immediately, because his salvation is at stake. A true minister of Jesus Christ teaches the brethren – to be so doing (Matthew 24:46). The apostle John put it succinctly. Godly love towards our neighbor is a matter of eternal life:
1John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto Life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.
This fact cannot be more straight forward than that. God is very clearly telling us that in order to attain our place in His Kingdom, we must love our neighbor as ourselves by helping them also to reach the Kingdom of God. Remember that your minister is also your brother in Christ, and you have just as much of an obligation to help him into the Kingdom of God as you do to all your other spiritual brothers and sisters.
1John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we are obligated to lay down our lives for the brethren.
How do we go about loving our brother as Jesus desires? In the same way that Jesus laid down His life for us, we are required to lay our lives down for others. The more we give of ourselves – the more like Jesus we become. It is not about money, it is about giving of ourselves, our empathy, our emotions, our love, our time our caring, our being, our attitudes, our concerns – our outgoing concern for others. A converted Christian frequently makes sacrifices. He lays his life down every day – sometimes, many times a day – and at great personal cost. He turns the other cheek; he forgives, and lets a matter drop; he is patient with the impatient, the list is endless. The more we give of ourselves, the more we are like God.
Laying our life down, will, in the course of one’s life, call for major sacrifices to be made in order to preserve the truth of God, or require that we defend a brother who has been falsely maligned. That great sacrifice may cost one his livelihood or status in the congregation or community. But, making that great ssacrifice is how we become followers of Christ. Jesus served us by dying for us. He ‘put it all on the line’ because of our sins. The Biblical principle is clear, we have to ‘put it all on the line’ often, daily if necessary, for those Church brethren who are sinning and not living up to their Christianity to help them come out of their sin. Paul said it like this:
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Christians are to be serving one another in the exact same way that Jesus loved us—by giving His all:
John 15:12-13 This is Commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. [Jesus died for us] Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Ask yourself this: When did you lay your life down for the brethren – really put it all on the line – your job, reputation, standing in the community, even your very life itself? When a brother or sister has strayed and allowed a serious sin to enter their life – we must serve them by going to their spiritual rescue, no matter what it takes – that is laying down our life for them.
1John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loves not his brother abides in death.
The basis of unity and oneness is a genuine care and deep concern for the complete well-being of all the brethren. This kind of unity requires nothing less than putting our very lives on the line for the sake of one another. Oneness demands the right application of Godly principles when interacting with our brethren. In short, oneness requires Christian love.
John 13:4 [Jesus] rose from supper, and lay aside His garments; and took a servant’s towel, and girded Himself.
Jesus was divesting Himself of His customary role as Master and Lord to reveal His great transcendent role as the One who came to this earth for the very purpose of serving mankind. Jesus served mankind setting us an example that we should follow in His steps (1Peter 2:21). Jesus intends that we serve one another. By His example, Jesus was teaching us how to serve others just as He has done for us.
True Christian service entails helping each other into the Kingdom of God. The Footwashing is about learning to serve one another in a spiritual way. Jesus laid His life down for us, so we must lay our lives down for others - but how do we do that? When a brother or sister has strayed and allowed a serious sin to enter their life - we must serve them by going to their spiritual rescue, no matter what it takes - that is laying down our life for them. Jesus was the greatest, and yet He became our servant – it is not asking too much that we become the servants of those in need. See Footwashing in Chapter Five.
Only the true Church of God will recognize the Beast and his mark. God is going to make it evident for those who know and love God, and keep His Commandments and have the testimony of Jesus Christ—they will know. The world will not know!
2Thessalonians 2:8 And then shall that Wicked [one] be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
2Thessalonians 2:9-10 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
What is the Truth? We must know it! The world will not know! Jesus said so in:
Matthew 13:14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, who said, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
Matthew 13:15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
So, the people of the world are blind to the truth of God’s revelations, but not us. Notice what Jesus says:
Matthew 13:16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
This tells us that the world cannot put it all together, but we, brethren, who know the Plan of God, are able to understand the end-time sequence so much better. We must be careful because a single wrong assumption can throw us off terribly. Paul said it this way:
1Thessalonians 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the [end-time] Day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
Who could actually call off the radical jihadists threatening the lives of everyone; beheading Christians all around the world? Not the Pope; the radical Islamic terrorists would not listen to him. Not a German chancellor; who would listen? Not the Secretary General of the United Nations—No!
Who could order all the Radical Islamic terrorists – worldwide – to stand down and desist? Only the leader of the Islamic world – the Muslim Caliph, who is the Islamic political and religious leader of the caliphate—or the Mahdi the prophesied redeemer of Islam—he could cause hostilities to cease.
Something like that is going to take place! For a short while everyone will believe that world peace and prosperity have been achieved.
1Thessalonians 5:3-4 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; (pause) then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
The point is that God intends for His people to know! …No one else will know.
As the Great Tribulation is about to descend upon mankind, one of the main virtues that God seeks among His people is an attitude of abhorrence and repugnance against God-less conduct: crime, amoral behavior, lawbreaking, wickedness and evil abominations, that characterize society today. God is looking for those who llike righteous Lot, are tormented with the filthy conduct of the wicked all around them. God seeks those righteous saints who are distressed daily by every lawless deed they see and hear (2Peter 2:7-8).
Ezekiel 9:4-5 The LORD said unto [indestructible spirit], Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the other [spirit beings] He said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
If we can infer anything at all from Ezekiel 9:4-5, it is that God will not be sparing the rebellious, godless enemies of His way of life and truth.
Those people who sighed, cried, mourned, wailed, wept, moaned and groaned in their grief, not only over the horrid state of affairs of immoral humanity, but also over the lackadaisical spiritual state of God’s Church, were afforded protection because God was pleased with their expression of sorrow and consternation. They were given safety from the inferno and the terror. They had God's mark on them, protecting them from His judgment. In the same way, sighing and crying over the abominations and the sins of our culture and greater society today must be our stance if we are going to escape the coming Tribulation.
Many ppeople will not make it to the Place of Safety. It is because of Satan's deception that the human race will be brought to the very brink of destruction. A great deal is revealed in the Bible about what will occur during the time of the Tribulation. You can learn how to escape the horrors of the Tribulation, and be nourished in the Place of Safety.
Zephaniah 2:1-3 Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired; Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the Day of the LORD’s anger come upon you. Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger.
Many seem to think that we are more privileged than other church groups – and that we will just breeze into the Kingdom of God without learning to put God’s will into our lives. When Christ returns there will be a people whose consideration for their fellow brethren – with a true Christian concern – distinguishes them from those who confuse their social life for Godly service. Jesus does not want anyone to miss out. He wishes for everyone to partake of the wonderful promises He has made to the Church. That is the very reason that Jesus issues His warnings to the Church. All the brethren agree that our faith must be in God only, but then so many relinquish their faith to the wiles of some organization of men. Our focus must be on God and His will. Do we primarily ttalk to God in prayer? Do we listen to His response in His Word – the Bible?
Once, people changed their minds, hearts and lives immensely—because they were truly repentant and converted. They made incredible sacrifices for one another. They were humbly willing to travel great distances to serve their brethren who were in need. They prayed sincerely and fasted to draw near to God. The strong brethren helped the weak brethren. Not only did they stand for doctrinal truth, they selflessly exhibited an enthusiasm toward those who oppose themselves. Much of the Church is slated to go into the Tribulation. The signs of the looming Tribulation are all around us. God will send some of our Church brethren into the Great Tribulation – make no mistake about that.
Revelation 2:22-23 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into Great Tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searches the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
God is not mocked. We have a straight forward choice. We cannot have a pretend religion. We cannot have a substitute religion. We can only have a pure motivation. Everyone else will be cast into the Great Tribulation – according to their works! The Tribulation is going to come on all the world in order to wake them up!
1Thessalonians 5:2-6 For yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
The Tribulation is almost upon us. And then it will be too late to avoid it. Jesus gave a parable that describes the Church just prior to His return to establish the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 25:1 Then shall the Kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the Bridegroom.
What we find in this parable are the two attitudes that are prevalent in the greater Church of God today. One group of people will be eligible for the Place of Safety - the other will not hear the words of Jesus Christ. Satan is subtle and will not be so blatant with his next deception. Last time, the deception was about doing away with the Sabbath and the Law of God, and bringing in the TTrinity, etc. Throwing the Sabbath under the bus and embracing the Trinity as the apostate Church of God did was not subtle – that is why we all saw it. Everyone would get that. Satan is much more cunning and subtle than that! That is why so many are headed for the Tribulation. The ‘I’m in the right organization’ attitude is here and it is widespread. We want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to be in the Kingdom.
Matthew 25:2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
That is the very description of the Church brethren right now. God’s Spirit of wisdom is available to us – are we utilizing it?
Matthew 25:3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
Jesus says that many are not utilizing His Spirit – they took no oil with them.
Matthew 25:4-5 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
That is where we are right now – there’s not much zeal in God’s Church today.
Matthew 25:6-9 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom comes; go ye out to meet Him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are going out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
God’s Spirit must be implemented. It cannot be shared with someone that has not been practicing Christianity. Those who draw their line in the sand, when they obviously see much wrong – will continue to slouch toward the Tribulation because they do not see their need to repent.
Matthew 25:10 And while they went to buy, the Bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with Him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
A saint’s loyalty and allegiance must be solely to God and His principled way of life—not to any man or organization. Over and over God tells us to make a difference between the clean and the unclean. Do we think that He is talking about pickled pig feet only? God is speaking of the Holy and the profane. Do we know the difference? Why does God tell His people to come out from among them and be separate?
We are not thinking correctly when we tell ourselves that, “I’ll go along with them” out of loyalty to an organization or a man until they reach a certain point. That is tantamount to saying that you are OK with being a part of a group where things are sliding in the wrong direction. That is where we must be so very careful.
Zephaniah 1:14-18 The Great Day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hastes greatly, even the voice of the Day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a Day of Wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of ruin and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the Day of the Lord's wrath.
The most foolish justification for changing God’s Holy Sabbath worship from Saturday to Sunday is erroneously based on the Scripture where John says:
Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.
Every serious student of the Bible knows that John is referencing the many, many Scriptures that speak to the day of God’s soon coming wrath. John is speaking about the return of Jesus Christ; That Day; In the Day; the Day of the Lord; That Great Day of God Almighty; the Lord's Day, when the wrath of God will be poured out on all evil. These many references to the Lord's Day have nothing to do with Sunday worship and everything to do with the year that the Lord will unleash His fury against those who are guilty of abominations.
Revelation 16:14 They are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of That Great Day of God Almighty.
Jesus Christ will overcome all evil kings and rulers of this world. He will conquer the Beast and the False Prophet with divine wrath (Revelation 17:13-14; 19:20). He will bind Satan. He will establish the Kingdom of God over all the earth (Revelation 19:14-16). Jesus will unleash His indignation against all wickedness on the earth described as the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. The seven trumpets signal the day of God's wrath, the Day of the Lord. For serious disciples who wish to glean an understanding by adding precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, and there a little we add a few of the verses (Isaiah 28:10):
Ezekiel 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:11, 31; 3:14; Isaiah 13:6; 24:4-6; 26:21; 34:2-8; Amos 5:18, 20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7; Zechariah 14:1; Haggai 2:6-7; Malachi 4:5; Acts 2:20; 1Corinthians 5:5; 2Corinthians 1:14; 1Thessalonians 5:2; 2Thessalonians 2:2; 2Peter 3:10).
Revelation 6:17 The Great Day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Revelation 8:1-2 When He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
Joel 2:1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the Day of the LORD comes, for it is nigh at hand;
Day of the Lord’s wrath, the prophesied Day of the Lord will help all people focus on the sovereignty of God (Isaiah 2:11-17).
God’s Plan follows a precise time schedule. Jesus proclaimed at the start of His public ministry:
Mark 1:15 The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of heaven is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel.;
At Jesus’ second coming He will sit upon the throne of David’s dynasty establishing the Kingdom of God over the earth—the everlasting spiritual throne, “the throne of the Lord.” (1Chronicles 29:23)
Luke 1:31-33 …Jesus shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end.
Jeremiah 33:17 For thus says the LORD; David shall never want a man [descendant] to sit upon the throne of the House of Israel (Jeremiah 23:5).
Isaiah 24:23 ...The LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously.
God has given promises from the time of Abraham and David. Jesus is the seed of Abraham and the son of David in whom God’s covenant promises are fulfilled. The word of the LORD came unto the Prophet Nathan, assuring David that He would establish his house [dynasty], and the throne of David’s kingdom forever (2Samuel 7:11–16; 2Chronicles 9:8).
Zechariah 14:9 The LORD shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and His name one.;
Acts 3:19-21 …the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
The Church is not a movement or an organization. It is a spiritual entity consisting of the chosen Children of God. Jesus is the head of the Church—the called of His Father—led by God’s Holy Spirit (John 6:44, 65).
Romans 8:14 As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Children of God.
Jesus enumerated three things that are necessary to overcome Satan because it is absolutely required of all who will enter the Kingdom of God. Each and every saint will be an overcomer (Revelation 3:21). We must overcome Satan as Jesus Christ did. He tells us how to go about overcoming Satan:
Revelation 12:11 They overcame Satan by the (1.) blood of the Lamb; and by the (2.) word of their testimony; and they (3.) loved not their lives unto the death.
First, Jesus’ sacrifice, the blood of the Lamb becomes effectual only after one repents of breaking the Ten Commandments. That is when our sins are covered by the blood of Christ.
1John 1:7 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 cleanses us from all sin.
Second, the word of their testimony is the exact same as the testimony of Jesus Christ—every word of God (John 17:17). The word of our testimony means that we embrace every word and teaching of Jesus Christ – making His testimony our own testimony.
1John 5:10-11 He that believes on the Son of God has the testimony in himself: he that believes not God has made Him a liar; because he believeth not the testimony that God gave of His Son. And this is the testimony, that God has given to us – eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
Third, they loved not their lives unto the death. They laid down their lives daily—following Christ’s example (Romans 12:1).
That third point is the deciding factor as to who goes to the Place of Safety, and who will have to wash their robes in the Tribulation [martyrdom]: One must overcome Satan by loving his brethren enough to lay down his life daily for them.
1John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we must lay down our lives for the brethren.
We know that a small number of the saints – those who will have already overcome Satan – will be protected by God from Satan and his agents during the Tribulation in a Place of Safety. Somehow, in God’s great providence, He will protect that little flock from the horrors of the Tribulation.
The Bible is clear in that a portion of the Church will be protected and nourished in a Place of Safety, and the remainder will not be protected (Revelation 12:14-17). The small group of physically protected saints will, from their refuge, be a light and beacon of hope to their Christian brethren who have not yet overcome Satan. Those brethren in the Place of Safety will be a witness that God has a high standard that He will not deviate from. The rest of the brethren will finally learn that true Christianity is no “gravy train.” Jesus says:
Revelation 3:10 Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep [protect] thee from the hour of temptation [tribulation and adversity], which shall come upon all the world, to try [tribulation and testing] them that dwell upon the earth.
When Satan is unable to attack the saints in the Place of Safety, he turns his attack on the remaining saints who have been caught in the Tribulation. God gives the remnant of His Church, those who did not qualify for the Place of Safety, time and opportunity to repent in the Tribulation.
Revelation 12:17 The dragon [Satan] was enraged at the woman [the Church], and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, [those who were not qualified to be protected in the Place of Safety] which (1.) keep the Commandments of God, and have the (2.) testimony of Jesus Christ.
Notice that those Christians who do not qualify for the Place of Safety only did two of the three things that Jesus requires for the first resurrection: They came short. These saints are missing the third necessary component for overcoming Satan. That missing element in their lives is: “they loved not their lives unto the death.” They refused to lay down their lives to help others into God’s Kingdom. They selfishly continued to serve themselves – rather than others—that they would not do. That is why they must be tested in the Tribulation. God will graciously and lovingly present one last opportunity to those Church brethren who have not yet learned to lay down their lives, to do so, and become a part of the First Resurrection. Those Christians who go into the Tribulation will eventually see that they had not followed Christ's example of laying down their lives for the brethren.
Too many of our church-going brethren seem to think that we are more privileged than the other Christians, and that we will just breeze into the Kingdom of God without learning to put God’s Will into our lives. When Christ returns, there will be a people whose consideration for their brethren with a true Christian concern, will distinguish them from those who confuse their social life for Godly service.
What will happen to those who have not taken a stand for the true faith, or put their own well-being in harm’s way to save a brother from ruin? They will not be prepared to be the Bride of Christ. They have not been cognizant of the need to provoke one another unto love and to good works (Hebrews 10:24). Like Cain, the first murderer, they will have never truly learned to be their brother’s keeper
(Genesis 4:9). Laying down our life as a living sacrifice is a prerequisite to qualifying as the Bride of Christ.
Those who are not willing to lay down their lives as living sacrifices – now – will, in the Tribulation physically lay down their lives in martyrdom for having neglected to be spiritual sacrifices prior to that time. That is unconditionally required in order to overcome Satan and be in the First Resurrection (Romans 12:1, Revelation 12:11).
Those relatively few brethren who make it to the Place of Safety will be known by those who find themselves trapped in the Tribulation. Those in the Tribulation will realize that they only kept the Sabbath and the Commandments—but they never demonstrated to God that they were willing to lay their lives down to help others into the Kingdom of God. It will become abundantly clear to them that they have not yet met that one important criterion for God's deliverance and protection. They will finally realize that God wanted them to show that they believed Him by laying down their lives as Jesus gave us example.
Brethren, right now we can choose to serve one another with a brotherly-love, and avoid the Tribulation. Delaying until the time of the Tribulation to learn to truly love one another as Jesus loved us will bring about a physical death sentence. Very soon it will be too late. The choice is ours.
During the Tribulation, those Church members who find themselves caught in the wrath of Satan will be given occasion to exhibit the love of God – shedding their blood, just as Jesus did. It will become abundantly clear to them that they have not yet met the criteria for God's deliverance and protection. They will finally realize that God wanted them to show that they believed Him by laying down their lives for others, just as Jesus gave us example by laying down His life for us (John 13:34).
Those brethren in the Place of Safety will be a witness to those Christians left behind that God has a certain level of performance that must be met. The rest of the brethren will finally learn that true Christianity is no “gravy train.”
Revelation 7:14 … These are they which came out of Great Tribulation [as martyrs], and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
During the Tribulation, physical martyrdom and death will be the only way to overcome Satan and gain eternal life. The Tribulation will bring in the unwelcome dystopian future of a terrifying world order. That is a bitter pill. For those brethren caught in the Tribulation it will be too late to escape with their lives because they had been unwilling to lay their lives down for the brethren the way God intends—the way God requires. They will have never truly learned to be their brother’s keeper. They had not yet done the third thing necessary to overcome Satan – so they must face him again. If we have not learned what it means to lay down our lives for all the brethren, we will also go through the Tribulation.
Many people see the time of horrendous trouble looming on the horizon – it is the Great Tribulation. The nations of the earth are even now posturing for world supremacy, geopolitical control and hegemony.
Joel 3:10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.
It is prophesied that at the close of his 6000-year rule, Satan’s great wrath will bring destruction on all the unprotected inhabitants of the earth. No one knows the number of brethren who will be able to stand up against Satan and the Beast in the Tribulation – they are the Innumerable Multitude – the uncountable or unknowable number who will be a part of wedding supper and Bride of Christ.
Jesus Christ tells us to be watching and praying always. That is necessary if we hope to be accounted worthy to escape the near annihilation of mankind (Luke 21:36). The devastation will be so great that there would not be a single survivor – except for Christ’s intervention to save an elect few (Matthew 24:22).
The Wedding Supper
Revelation 19:9 He said unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And He said unto me, These are the true sayings of God. This is not an analogy, metaphor, nor is it allegorical – but the true sayings of God.
These Prophetic Scriptures show us the splendor of the ultimate nuptial ceremony. We do not want to miss out on the most splendid and majestic wedding of all time. What an incredible truth that our Lord and Master has chosen to make us His Wife by entering into an eternal Marriage Covenant with us. (Divorce flies into the face of God’s most perfect illustration – that is why it is so wrong (Mark 10:11-12)). Jesus Himself spoke of His wedding day – and how He would adorn His Bride:
Ezekiel 16:8-14 When I passed by you, and looked upon you, behold, your time was the time of love; and I spread my garment over you, [a symbolic proposal of marriage] and covered your nakedness: yea, I swore unto you, and entered into a Covenant with you, said the Lord God, and you became mine. Then I washed you with water; yes, I thoroughly washed away your blood from you, and I anointed you with oil (Sanctification). I clothed you also with needlepoint work, and placed fur-lined slippers on your feet, and I dressed you about with fine linen, and I covered you with silk.
I embellished you also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon your hands, and a necklace on your neck. And I put jewelry on you, and earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head. Thus were you adorned with gold and silver; and your wedding garments were of glamorous, brilliant, radiant, gorgeous and stunning fine linen, and silk, and embroidered work; you ate of fine cakes, and honey, and oil: and you were exceeding beautiful, and you did prosper into a Kingdom. And your renowned reputation went forth among the heathen for your beauty: for it was perfect through my grandeur, which I had put upon you, says the Lord God.
Mere words fail to portray the most glorious ceremony ever – which Christ has reserved for His Bride alone. Divine music will reverberate across the heavens, and gleaming, brilliance will illuminate the throne room, as the Bride is presented to her Lord. His Bride will be accepted by Jesus Christ, adorned in her radiant white silk wedding gown – and upon her head she will wear a beautiful sparkling crown. At that soon coming Pentecost ceremony at the throne of God, when the glorified, resurrected saints of God are asked, “Do you take Jesus Christ to be your lawful wedded husband for all eternity to come?” She will answer, “I do.” (Exodus 24:3, 7) We are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Our Church of God wedding ceremony begins with the words, “Marriage is a natural union, but a divine institution, ordained of God.” God created the marriage covenant, not only as the basis of social order for mankind, but also to foreshadow His eternal Plan. The marriage of Adam and Eve as husband and wife was the prototype of the eternal spiritual covenant between Christ and His Bride – the Church.
That first marriage contract between Adam and Eve was a prophetic sign of Christ’s ultimate goal to enter into a perfect spiritual union with all the members of His Body. In Ephesians 5, Paul speaks of how the Bride of Christ and the Church of God are one and the same.
Even now, Christ is preparing His Wife-to-be for their wedding day, “That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
The language is decidedly matrimonial in comparing a husband’s love for his wife – to the love of Christ for His Wife, “He nourishes and cherishes her, even as the Lord the Church” (Ephesians 5:29). God established the intimacy attainable within a blessed marriage as a mere indication of the transcendent unity and oneness achievable only in the spiritual realm of the God-plane marriage.
Paul reveals how God is showing us through the physical marriage bond, His intent for all the Church brethren to be joined eternally to Jesus Christ in an eternal spiritual covenant:
Ephesians 5:32 A man shall leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.
There are those who consider themselves to be “doctrinal experts” today who deny that any such marriage will take place. Clearly, God records the first covenant wedding with Israel as being typical of the soon-to-be-fulfilled New Covenant wedding supper with the resurrected Israel of God (Exodus 24:7-11, Galatians 6:16).
Hebrews 10:16-17 This is the Covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
There will be a heavenly wedding! The Bible distinctly shows the objective of our going on to perfection:
2Corinthians 11:2 I have promised you in marriage to one Husband [Jesus Christ], that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
John saw a great multitude, which no one could number from all around the earth (Revelation 7:9) They stood before the throne of God, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes which
Revelation 7:13-14 … Who are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, you know. And He said to me, These are they which came out of Great Tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (1John 1:7; Revelation 3:4-5; 6:11; Isaiah 1:18)
Are the Innumerable Multitude a part of the Bride of Christ and are they in the first resurrection? This is a two-part question. The answer is: In order to be the Bride of Christ it is necessary to be in the first resurrection. Paul says that the Church is the Bride of Christ:
Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse [the Church] with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
The Innumerable Multitude does not immediately qualify for the Place of Safety bbecause they have not yet learned to lay their lives down. They will be purified in the Great Tribulation in order to qualify for the Kingdom of God. Innumerable simply means "uncountable or unknowable," since the exact number is not known of those who will stand up and repent during the Tribulation when the Beast Power takes over. We do know that they will be martyred.
Revelation 7:17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
These people will have all gone into the Great Tribulation and great distress. They will either repent in the Tribulation and martyrdom and meet Christ in the air, or go into the Lake of Fire in the third resurrection.
In Revelation 3:21, God grants overcomers the reward of sitting with Him on His throne! Thus, they have at last qualified to be in the first resurrection, having been judged to be worthy (1Peter 4:17).
As firstfruits, whether we die in Christ or are still alive, we will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the
We saw that our Savior died, but the important thing is that He Lives forever more! He had to die for mankind or the Plan of God—bringing many sons and daughters to eternal glory—could not come to fruition. Man had sinned and the price of sin is the death of mankind. Jesus died to pay that price in our stead. A great deal of the world understands that concept. God became a man with a nature like man’s sinful nature, to condemn sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3). The world raves about the resurrection of Jesus—not knowing when it took place or the significance of it.
1Thessalonians 4:14 …We believe that Jesus died and rose again.
The apostle Paul explained Jesus’ direct role in Atonement:
Romans 5:9-10 Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
The Day of Atonement is about the complete cleansing of sin through the work of Jesus Christ—alone. Jesus’ death paid for our sins—He was pierced for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5). He lay dead in the grave for three nights and three days, and man’s transgressions were covered (Galatians 3:13). But, that did not save us, because mankind was certainly not worthy of salvation or eternal life. Jesus had not yet become man’s Savior. Paul said, “We shall be saved by His life.”
How is man saved by the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Sin is the crime of breaking law – God’s law (1John3:4). There are two aspects to sin that must be considered. Sin has a penalty and a stigma attached to it. Even when the penalty has been paid – the shame, disgrace and carnality remain. Here is an example to make this clearer, suppose:
Through carelessness someone dies in a traffic accident. Charges are brought against the negligent driver—vehicular manslaughter. Suppose then that some benevolent lawyer pays all the costs and gets the case thrown out of court and the judge says, “Case dismissed!” For a moment the negligent driver thinks, “My slate is clean again.” Not exactly – right? He still has to carry the guilt and shame of his negligence in causing someone’s death. He killed an innocent person through his fault. That cannot ever be erased from his conscience. Or, can it?
1John 2:1 …We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
So the point is that even when Jesus has paid for our sins, we remain carnal people, and the stigma of our being sinners still stains our reputations with God. That “guiltiness” needs to be eradicated. How do we become a new creation (2Corinthians 5:17)? Christ’s death only paid the debt called for by God’s law (Romans 6:23). Because Christ died for us, we do not have to die eternal death – and yet, God the Father still knows what sinners we have been – and why would He want to have anything to do with us? He knows good and well that we are actually guilty of sinning against Him. At that point, why would He give us the gift of eternal life? Jesus announced Himself to the apostle John:
Revelation 1:18 I am He who lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.
There is more to the process of salvation than just having our sins paid for by Jesus Christ’s death. That is because sin against God, not only destroys our relationship with Him, but it leaves us with a residual consciousness of guilt. Blaming Satan cannot remove our guilt. How can we ever have a clean conscience? God sees to it that even our conscience is cleansed:
Hebrews 9:14 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?
What is needed is a complete expunging of the guilt of our sins. Our transgressions and iniquities must be forgotten by God. And He does just that! For our sake, He blots out of His mind (Only God can do that) our transgressions and He will not remember our sins (Isaiah 43:25).
Peter addresses this by explaining that baptism has two parts: Repentance from dead works (the filth of the flesh), and the faith of Jesus Christ, including His resurrection. He tells us how the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the answer to a clean and clear conscience before God. That means that we can now turn to God the Father free from guilt, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Wow!
1Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the resulting good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Colossians 1:27 … Christ in you, the hope of glory:
In Leviticus 16 we see the annual Day of Atonement ceremony that pictured the covering of Israel’s transgressions. The covering of sin was only a part of what this day depicts. This ritual is all about Jesus and how He brings justification and reconciliation to the world. A goat was needed to picture the reconciliation process whereby Jesus died and rose again. But, in Old Testament Israel it was not possible to perform this ritual because once the goat was killed—it was impossible for the single goat to live again. Therefore, two goats were needed. One was slain, the other released alive into the wilderness where Israel would wander for forty years. Do not read more into the Scripture than is intended—the goat was released alive into the wilderness. It is repeated for emphasis:
Leviticus 16:10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness. [The Hebrew for scapegoat is azazel from aiz, a goat, and azal, to depart.]
Leviticus 16:21 Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
Joshua 5:6 The children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness… [A land not inhabited (Leviticus 16:22).]
We are not saved by Jesus’ death. We are justified by His death—our past sins wiped out, making us innocent and right with God (Romans 5:9).
2Corinthians 5:15 And that [Jesus] died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again. [Jesus died and rose alive.]
Paul speaks often of Christ’s two-fold, life/death combination, which is necessary for our justification and reconciliation with God to take place. It is the fulfillment of the two goats of Leviticus 16. Jesus has to die for us to be right with God.
Colossians 1:22 In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight: [That is where we want to be – right with God.]
Colossians 2:12-13 [You are] buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised Him [alive] from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has He quickened [made alive] together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.
To make Satan’s being bound and carrying our sins the focus of Atonement would minimize our personal responsibility for sin, and the absolute need for what only God can provide—the resurrection to life.
Romans 4:24 But [faith is to be reckoned as righteousness] for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him [God the Father] that raised [to life] Jesus our Lord from the dead;
Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again [to secure] our justification. [Getting right with God takes both the death and life of Jesus.]
Romans 8:6 To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. [Sin brings death (Romans 6:23)].
Romans 5:21 As sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
“Walk in newness of life” has two meanings. Yes, we are to live our lives as the sinless Christ lived His life. But, it also means that as Christ lives, we will live also. Our death penalty has been taken away, and we have salvation through Christ’s life and resurrection.
Romans 6:5 If we have been buried together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection [to life]:
Is Paul belaboring the point? I think not!
Romans 6:8 If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him:
Paul is making a point. Not only the world, but much of the Church of God is deceived in this matter. That is why Paul goes to such great lengths to drive the point home. Perhaps if Paul doubles up his emphasis – it will come across to us. Paul did not have bold and italics to stress a point:
Romans 6:10-11 In that He died, He died once unto sin: but in that He lives, He lives [continuously] unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We have seen clearly in Leviticus 16:5 where Paul finds his inspiration for Christ’s two-fold, life/death combination, which is necessary for our reconciliation with God to take place.
In Leviticus 16 the two goats begin by being indistinguishable, but at the end of the ceremony - one is dead and the other is alive. On Atonement God wished to have a sin offering that would be sacrificed and yet live—to represent both the sacrificed, and the resurrected Jesus Christ—the two characteristics of Atonement. The two goats comprise one offering—two goats for a [single] sin offering (Leviticus 16:5). God satisfied the single-sin-offering by requiring two identical goats be used to represent each of two characteristics of Atonement. One goat was sacrificed unto death – as Jesus Christ was – and the live goat bore the iniquities of mankind away as Jesus Christ also does. Only Jesus bears our sins (John 1:29). In the Holy Scriptures, Satan is never said to bear our sins. Satan plays no part in the removal of our sin, nor can his binding expiate either our sins or his. Each person is ultimately culpable for his own sins – no one made him do it – not even Satan.
The Day of Atonement pictures two things Jesus does for us: He paid the price of sin for us; He removes the guilt of sin from us. God the Father declares us legally innocent of all charges. We are completely innocent and exonerated before the High Court of heaven. That is how clean Passover leaves a Christian, and, that iis how clean the Day of Atonement will render mankind. It is Jesus who shows up in court as our Advocate and not Satan, our Adversary. Satan does not show up in this court – unless he is the prosecutor – the one doing the accusing (Revelation 12:10).
Romans 8:10-11 If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him [God the Father] that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwells in you.
Within the Plan of God, there can be no greater tenet than that which states that Jesus is our Savior who takes away the sin of the world (1John 2:2). Jesus bears our sin (John 1:29). Sin and transgression are borne by Jesus Christ—represented by the second goat:
Leviticus 16:21 Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
Isaiah 53:6 … the LORD has laid on Him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all. [This is an exact picture of all sin and iniquity being placed on Jesus’ head—a Biblical witness that it is Jesus upon whom the LORD has laid the iniquity of us all.]
Only Jesus is able to bear our iniquity:
Leviticus 16:22 And the [azazel] goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.
They were in the wilderness of the exodus. The Church of God has debated this issue: Is it Jesus who bears upon Himself all our iniquities, or is it Satan wwho bears our sins? There is no Biblical witness or evidence at all that Satan bears our iniquity—because he does not – as much as we might want to blame him for our own sins! Jesus bears our sin. John the Baptist brings this to light:
John 1:29 … Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away [Greek - bears away] the sin of the world.
Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered [in sacrifice] to bear the sins of many. [Jesus Christ was raised from death for our salvation.] John the Baptist recognized that Jesus was fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah 53. These verses are specific to both Passover and Atonement.
Isaiah 53:11-12 He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for [Jesus the Messiah] shall bear [Hebrew – ‘nasa] their iniquities… because He has poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming unto him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which bears away the sin of the world. [Bearing away sin is associated with the Day of Atonement, as well as Passover.]
Interestingly, the Orthodox Jewish Bible has this note at John 1:29 concerning the “Lamb of God” taking away the sins of the world: “i.e., as the sa’ir l’Azazel kapporah (Isaiah 53:6, 7, 12; Leviticus 16:22).” The translators understood that Christ was both the Lamb and the azazel goat!
1Peter 2:24 [Jesus] Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
There is absolutely no indication anywhere in the Holy Scriptures that Azazel is Satan or a demon. Book of Enoch is unscriptural and was totally rejected when the Canon of inspired Scripture was codified. The apocryphal “Book of Enoch,” is generally dated to a couple of centuries before Jesus Christ – and a thousand years after Leviticus was written. The “Book of Enoch” contradicts the rest of the Bible on multitudes of points, and yet sounds semi-plausible in others. Sadly, the Book of Enoch has had an ill effect on the whole Church of God – teaching that Azazel is Satan! Due to frequent repetition, this error came to be accepted as truth by many of the Church brethren. Even the Catholic Encyclopedia has under Hebrew Religion, “There can be little doubt that Azazel was an evil demon…”
However, when we follow the Scriptures, Azazel is fulfilled by Jesus Christ! One of Herbert W. Armstrong’s favorite versions of the Bible was the James Moffatt Translation. The James Moffatt version contains some gross errors. Notice this rendition:
Leviticus 16:8 Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for Azazel the demon.
That part about the demon is not in the Hebrew text at all! That is not a translation nor an interpretation. It is out and out misleading fraudulence! God demands that foreign concepts like this one in the James Moffatt Translation not be added to His words (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18). The Book of Enoch is of the category of false literature known as pseudepigrapha—spurious false writings. It is not at all inspired by God. In fact, the Book of Enoch does not mention Azazel in the least – as does Leviticus. Instead the Book of Enoch mentions a similar looking name, 'ăzā'zyēl. Azazel and 'ăzā'zyēl are as different as Alabama and Abalone – and yet a major false doctrine of “Satan bearing our iniquity” has erroneously grown up in God’s Church.
Leviticus 16:5 Aaron shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a [single] sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.
The two goats equal ONE sin offering. Sin must be atoned for by a spotless sacrifice. Two goats constitute to the one offering. The two goats were equal and unblemished. It is never said of Satan that he is unblemished for iniquity was found in him (Ezekiel 28:15). Therefore, no offering to God could ever be represented by Satan. The live goat is made holy (Exodus 30:29). Satan is never made holy:;
Deuteronomy 17:1 You shall not sacrifice unto the LORD thy God any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any evil-favored-ness: for that is an abomination unto the LORD thy God.
The blood of Jesus Christ is holy:
Hebrew 9:14 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?
This unique sacrifice in Leviticus 16 points to the reconciling Savior who both dies and lives. Old Testament Israel could not accomplish this sacrifice with a single goat – so God supplied two goats.
Leviticus 16:21-22 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away [let him depart] by the hand of a fit man [a man appointed] into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.
On the Day of Atonement, the two Goats of Leviticus 16 picture how the blood of Jesus Christ covers [forgiveness of] the sins of all repentant mankind during the Millennium and the Last Great Day. The record against mankind will be completely removed—even the remembrance of those sins will be completely forgotten by God.
Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am He that blots out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances [the ones that say you will die for your sins] that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.
Jesus will sit on the throne of David over the whole House of Israel. God revealed He would build David an eternal house - an indestructible and everlasting dynasty (2Samuel 7:11-16). God’s promise to David is sure - it is still valid today. He reiterated His covenant promise to Solomon:
2Chronicles 7:18 Then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel.
It is always God’s intent that we live our lives in imminent anticipation that the soon coming return of Christ is very near. And it is true because life is a flash—even if we live to a good old age. Our course comes to an end—often before everything important is accomplished (2Peter 3:9, Luke 12:40). Jesus said that He was coming without unnecessary delay:
God made a great promise to the patriarch Jacob – who was renamed Israel (Genesis 32:28). God said that the entire earth would lie at his feet:
Genesis 28:13-15 … I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon you lie, to you will I give it, and to your offspring; And your children shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in you and in thy children shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with you, and will keep you in all places wherever you go, and will bring you again into this land; for I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have spoken to you of.
The British Empire of England’s Elizabethan era began with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603). Her defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 was one of the greatest military victories in English history. Queen Elizabeth I trusted in God and offered Him thanks.
There was an 18th-century revolution known as the American War of Independence (April 17, 1775 to September 3, 1783) between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies—the American Revolutionary War. In 1776 the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 41:51-52), birthright grandsons of Jacob, went their separate ways—in fulfillment of God’s prophecy to Jacob:
Genesis 35:11 God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins.
The United States, Manasseh, declared its independence from England, Ephraim. Canada remained loyal to its motherland. Today there is a monument—the Peace Arch—situated on the Canada–United States border with the inscriptions, “Children of a common mother,” [Asenath], and “Brethren dwelling together in unity.”
In 1606, King James of England authorized the establishment of the Virginia colony in Jamestown, Virginia, America. The Virginia Charter contains this noble desire: We greatly commend and graciously accept their desires for the furtherance of so noble a work, which may, by the providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the glory of His Divine Majesty, in propagating the Christian religion to such people as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God and may in time bring the infidels and savages living in those parts to human civility and a settled, government.
The Second British Empire (1783-1815) led to Britain's imperial century (1815–1914) ruled by Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1819-1901), the Empress of India, reigned over the largest empire in the history of the world. She was anointed with sacred oil to royal office as kings and priests of old have always been (Exodus 28:41, 11Samuel 16:13). More than any other monarch, she ruled a great nation and company of nations. She often strolled in the Pantiles, a Georgian colonnade in the quaint town of Royal Tunbridge Wells. The Victorian era saw the United Kingdom at its peak. The Victorian era saw a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military dominance around the globe. The British Empire ruled territories greater than any other empire in history - a quarter of the land mass of the earth, and a third of its population. How did the British throne become so powerful? The answer to that question is a proof of prophecy, and it is remarkably simple.
Few people understand where the British peoples came from. After Israel was carried away captive by the Assyrians they migrated throughout Europe. The ancient nation of Israel lost its home in the Promised Land and the knowledge of their identity – and were carried away into captivity because of their Sabbath breaking and idolatry. God said:
Ezekiel 20:16, 20, 24 [Israel] despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my Sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols… Keep my Sabbaths holy; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God… Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my Sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers' idols.
Ezekiel 36:17-19 …When the House of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: …Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for …their idols wherewith they had polluted it: And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them.
The twelve tribes of Israel were scattered toward Western Europe. Reuben settled in France, Dan inhabited Ireland, etc. Ephraim colonized the British Isles with a contingent of Judah and Levi (The royal scepter did not depart from Judah (Genesis 49:10). Ephraim (with Levi, Simeon and Manasseh) also colonized much of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Manasseh came to the United States, also with a contingent of Judah. There are more Jews [Judah] in New York City than in the modern State of Israel. Zebulun migrated to the low countries like Holland in the Netherlands; Gad to Switzerland and Luxembourg; Asher to Belgium. The tribe of Issachar traveled to Finland, Asher, Naphtali, Benjamin moved far to the Northwest, Norway and Iceland; and Naphtali inhabited Sweden.
Those nations that bless Modern Israel will be blessed (not the Jews in the State of Israel) but affiliation with the USA and Britain bring tremendous blessings.
The ancient nation of Israel was banished from their home in the Promised Land and carried away by ancient Assyria into captivity because of their Sabbath breaking and idolatry. God punished His people Israel by allowing them to be conquered and vanquished. After the life of Solomon, King Jeroboam divided Israel when he contrived a festival similar to the Feast of Tabernacles – except in the eighth month rather than God’s ordained Feast in the seventh month. Jeroboam also introduced calf worship and idolatry causing Israel to sin a great sin (1Kings 12:32-33).
2Kings 17:6, 23 In the ninth year of Hoshea [last king of Israel], the king of Assyria [Shalmaneser] captured Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and resettled them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes [Media – a region of north-western Iran]… Until the LORD banished Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.
The Northern ten tribes of Israel turned away from the Lord their God. The tribe of Judah was in the southern part of the kingdom with the Levites and some Benjamites. After repeated warnings by God, the northern ten tribes of Israel were carried away — out of their country — into captivity and exile.
2Kings 17:18 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of His sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only. [Only Judah remained in the Promised Land.]
Why are the English-speaking peoples of Europe, Canada, North America, South Africa and New Zealand called Caucasians? Why is the rate of circumcision (Genesis 17:10) so high among Caucasians – as in the United States, South Africa, the Yukon and Britain? Why are so many white people called Caucasians? It is because when their point of origin is traced back it seems to emanate at the small mountainous region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea that comprises Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan—and the Caucasus Mountains. Though today, overwhelming evidence points clearly to the fact that Caucasians did not originate in the Caucasus Mountains, but merely passed through that narrow area north of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers—having come originally from the Promised Land. The evidence is prodigious and incontrovertible that modern Israelites are Caucasians, and vice versa in many cases. The migrating Israelites passed through the deep Darial Gorge—an eight-mile-long granite river canyon on the border between Russia and Georgia as they traveled from Assyria to their new home in Northwestern Europe. The Darial Gorge route lies between Parthia to the south and Scythia to the north. It is easy to find on Google Earth – which belies how tortuous the trek was for the Israelites of the captivity circa 721-718 BC.
The institutions of higher learning are willingly ignorant of anything and everything having to do with God and Israel—they do not want to know (2Peter 3:3-5; Hosea 4:6). Jesus knew very well where the diaspora—the twelve tribes of Israel had journeyed to the British Isles and elsewhere (John 7:35; Amos 9:9; James 1:1). He referred to them in this way when He sent forth His apostles:
Matthew 10:5-6 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.
Yes, they were even lost to themselves having abandoned God’s way, their own identity, and where they were from. Jeremiah was instrumental in reestablishing David’s throne, and visited Israel in Ireland. Later, Jesus visited these Israelitish descendants in England with His uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, an honorable counsellor, who had business in England. Through Jeremiah God spoke of a yet future day when the lost sheep of Israel would seeking the LORD their God and asking the way to Zion (Jeremiah 50:4-5):
Jeremiah 50:6 My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting-place.
“Manasseh” means forgetful. They have forgotten their identity and who they are. They have forgotten their part in God’s covenant promise to Abraham. They have forgotten their God. Though they have forgotten their heritage God has not forgotten where He has scattered His people (Amos 9:9). God has also not forgotten His promises to Abraham. This concept is described in great detail in other writings but suffice it to say that God spoke of a time period of punishment for 2,520 years wherein His birthright promises would be withheld from the Israelitish peoples before they would finally be fulfilled and come to fruition. [Read the book, The United States and Britain In Prophecy by Herbert W. Armstrong.]
The “Ten lost tribes of Israel” are not lost at all. Their migration is one of those historical facts that has been swept under the rug because intellectuals do not wish to recognize God’s hand in world events today. God is faithful. He keeps His promises – and on time. We today, the United States and Britain, are recipients of the fantastic blessings that God promised to Abraham. The wealth, resources, power and blessings have made it possible for God’s Bible and Gospel message to go to all the world. And, for a brief moment in time the United States and Britain were sitting on top of that world. In 1942, even during World War II, Winston Spencer Churchill realized that indeed the sun had begun to set on the Kingdom of Great Britain when he said, "We mean to hold our own. I have not become the King's First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire." Having begun in 1768, exactly two centuries earlier, in 1968 the British Colonial Office in London overseeing the colonies of the British Empire was shut down – merging into the Foreign Office which is little more than a network of embassies and consulates. The British EEmpire officially came to a close. All of this took place according to the time table of God’s Plan in order to fulfill God’s promises to Abraham – and make it possible for the end-time Gospel to go to all the world.
What could the Louisiana Purchase possibly have to do with the Church Age? Making the Gospel to the world possible: (fulfillment of promise to Abraham). At the same time that the British Empire was expanding and experiencing its overwhelming heyday – the USA was thriving and developing immensely, as well. It is no coincidence that President Thomas Jefferson orchestrated the largest territorial acquisition in American history by far. The Louisiana Purchase was the procurement of the vast Louisiana territory by the United States from France in 1803. Stretching from the Gulf of Mexico in the south well into Canada in the north, and from the Mississippi River in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west, the territory purchased contained all of present-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, parts of Minnesota, most of North Dakota, nearly all of South Dakota, northeastern New Mexico, portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, and parts of the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. France’s Napoleon Bonaparte sold Louisiana to the United States. France transferred authority over the region to the United States—ddoubling the size of the country! To this day, Napoléonic Code is the basis of jurisprudence in the State of Louisiana. Incredibly, Thomas Jefferson, the architect of the Louisiana Purchase – one of our nation’s greatest blessings realized the tentative and transient nature of this Divine bestowal when he said, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
God’s hand was in this monumental land accusation long before Thomas Jefferson was born. The French had established settlements in French Louisiana beginning in the 17th century. Louis XV of France secretly proposed to his cousin Charles III of Spain that France give Louisiana to Spain in the Treaty of Fontainebleau. Spain acquired the Luciana territory from France, which in turn named it La Louisiane in honor of King Louis XIV in 1682. In 1800 and 1801 respectively, the Louisiane territory was retroceded to France, under the terms of the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso and the Treaty of Aranjuez. On November 30, 1803, Spanish officials formally conveyed the colonial lands and their administration to France. Less than one month later France turned over New Orleans, the historic colonial capital, to the United States on December 20, 1803. The Louisiana Purchase was signed in New Orleans inside the Cabildo in the historic French Quarter adjacent to the St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square. Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase transfer in 1803 finalized the United States’ acquisition of the Louisiana Territory and practically doubled the size of the fledgling United States.
Genesis 15:5 The [LORD] brought [Abram] forth abroad, and said, Look up now toward heaven, and count the stars, if you are able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
The LORD told Jacob that he would be the father of the innumerable dispersed Children of Israel—the diaspora—who would colonize foreign lands (James 1:1):
Genesis 28:13-14 …I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou lie, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Genesis 22:16-18 By myself have I sworn, said the LORD, for because you have done this thing, and have not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
Because Abraham was obedient to God, Britain became the greatest nation and company of nations to rule the world (Genesis 26:5). Their grandeur was spectacular. God promised not only great physical blessings to Abraham’s descendants, but spiritual blessings through Christ as well.
Paul confirmed that God’s promises included spiritual blessings when he clarified that the Messiah would be of Abraham’s lineage because of his obedience.
Genesis 12:1-3 The LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curses thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Genesis 17:6-7 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
Genesis 17:15-16 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her and give you a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.
God renamed Jacob, Israel, meaning, ‘A Prince of God.’ Israel fathered 12Sons - the children of Israel. The world is hopelessly confused over this simple matter. They commonly make the mistake of assuming that all Israelites are Jews. Yes, all Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews. Judah was one of twelve brothers—children of Israel. This single mistake brings about a terrible misinterpretation of prophecy. In Prophecy, the United States, England and the English-speaking nations of the world are Israel. But the modern State of Israel is the world's only Jewish state.
The birthright included a ‘double portion’ of lands and possessions passed down from the father to the eldest son. The blessings promised by God to Abraham were successively passed down to his son, Isaac and then to his son, Jacob. There was no welfare system in those days. The eldest son received more because the family responsibilities fell chiefly at his feet as well like the care of the elderly and infirmed.
God's promise to Abraham proceeded down through Jacob to the twelve tribes of Israel, and through Israel's son Joseph, to Joseph’s two sons Ephraim and Manasseh who received the unconditional birthright promise of national greatness (Genesis 48). The tribe of Judah, the Jews, is not in possession of the birthright blessings and destiny that belongs to the sons of Joseph. Instead, Judah serves as the tribe which retains the Scepter Rule, bearing rule over the birthright nations:
Psalm 78:67-68 God refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim [includes Manasseh]: But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which He loved.
Most people incorrectly assign to the modern Jews that which is ascribed to all Israel and vice versa. But, Judah is only one of the twelve sons of Jacob, and only one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The world is blinded to the fact that God’s promises of world power and abundant riches to Abraham, and through Joseph’s sons, are being fulfilled in our day:
Genesis 49:22-26 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall… Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lie under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
Jacob foretold that his son Judah, not Ephraim and Manasseh, would receive The Staff of Rulership – the scepter, until Shiloh comes, meaning the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Genesis 49:10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
The world is also blinded to the fact that the scepter shall not depart from Judah—meaning that even now there remains a throne of Judah—and it will remain until the return of Jesus Christ! Incredible as that may seem, Jesus will soon ssit on Britain's very throne ruling the entire world! It is in England today, but will soon be removed to Mount Zion in Jerusalem. The ruling throne will not depart from Judah until the Messiah returns in the last days. The Scriptures are clear in stating that a reigning monarch of Jewish descent of the line of David has ruled in every generation since the reign of King David.
Isaiah 24:23 …The LORD of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously.
Roughly 100 years after Israel went into Assyrian captivity, God gave the Prophet Jeremiah an assignment like none before or after him. In order for God’s covenant promises to Abraham to remain intact, the nation of Israel would have to survive somewhere outside of the Promised Land. God put Jeremiah in charge of bringing David’s dynastic throne-rule at Jerusalem to an end, and reestablishing it in a new location (Jeremiah 1:10). The House of Israel, headed by the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (who possessed the birthright), flourished in due time. There is a long Biblical record of how David’s throne came to be in England—a part of modern Israel. (The reader may search Church of God literature for this fascinating history.) God’s hand is ever present in the affairs of nations and individuals. God’s promises to Abraham were reiterated to his grandson Jacob:
Genesis 35:11 God said unto Jacob, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins.
The Prophet Jeremiah foretold that David was promised by God that one of his offspring would always and forever rule over His people Israel (1Chronicles 17:10-14). That does not mean that the throne would have to remain in Jerusalem. In fact, Jeremiah also prophesied that David’s throne would move around a bit.
Jeremiah 33:17 Thus says the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the House of Israel (Jeremiah 33:20-22).
In God’s own words He tells us that He established an everlasting Davidic dynasty – and that there will always be someone of David’s line ruling Israel (2Chronicles 7:18).
Psalm 89:3-4 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all generations.
God established His covenant promise throne with Solomon, David’s son, adding that Solomon would build the Temple for the LORD’s name (2Samuel 7:13). In that way, the LORD established David’s dynasty and kingdom. The Lord told King David that through Solomon his dynasty and kingdom would be established forever:
2Samuel 7:16 Your house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee: thy throne shall be established forever.
Where is David’s dynasty and kingdom today? World history has been so varied and altered throughout the centuries – is it even possible to find that throne now? Israel’s United Kingdom under David and Solomon soon began to shatter, and because of Sabbath breaking and idolatry, the ten northern tribes of Israel were carried into captivity from 721-718 BC.
The Prophet Ezekiel explained that because Israel had fallen to Assyria and carried away out of the Promised Land into captivity, there had to be an overturning of the location of the throne of Israel (Ezekiel 21:24-27). In fact, he prophesied that the Lord GOD would overturn it three times:
Ezekiel 21:27 I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him [Jesus Christ the Messiah].
We see that the throne will be returned to Jerusalem when Christ returns. But, where has the scepter, the staff of rulership, been all these ensuing years. We find that it was overturned by Jeremiah, first from Jerusalem to Ireland. From Ireland it was overturned to Scotland, and then finally it was overturned to England – where it remains until this day. And, of course Jesus Christ will complete the round trip when He establishes His throne in Mount Zion at Jerusalem. Then:
Isaiah 2:3 Many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Joel 3:17 So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.
It is an incredible thing in the Plan of God that the very throne of Jesus Christ is surviving on the earth today! Few know of this oath. Jesus swore:
Psalm 89:34-37 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure forever, and His throne as the sun before me. It shall be established forever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven.
Jesus Christ will take His rightful throne and rule the nations on earth as King of Kings and continue His office as High Priest. The kingdoms and nations of this evil world will be subdued and Jesus will be King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 17:14).
Revelation 11:15 … The kingdoms of this world are become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.
Daniel 2:44 In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a Kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the Kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
Jesus Christ will sit upon the throne of His father David with His resurrected saints and we will reign and rule with Him as kings and priests (Revelation 1:6; 3:21; 5:10).
Luke 1:32-33 He [Jesus] shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David. And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Abraham lived circa 2,000 BC. The number of years from the time Abraham lived until the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, will be approximately 4,000 years. The birthright blessings that God promised to Abraham were suspended when Israel sinned and was banished from the Promised Land and carried into captivity by the Assyrians from 721-718 BC. The promises were put on hold for 2,520 years before their realization in Ephraim and Manasseh—England and the United States—beginning in the early 1800s AD. To a great extent, the British and American peoples are still enjoying the fruits of God’s blessings which He bestowed on these descendants of Abraham. We have won World Wars and become the richest and most powerful nations the world has ever witnessed. With England heavily embroiled in war against Germany and now Japan as a result of the attack against allied United States at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Winston Churchill declared before the United States Congress on December 26, 1941:
“He must indeed have a blind soul who cannot see that some great purpose and design is being worked out here below of which we have the honor to be the faithful servants.”
The most extraordinary realization for some people is the fact of God’s continuous involvement in world affairs, not only in bringing about the fulfillment of His covenant promises, but for the coordination of both the blessings and punishments working out so precisely to bring us to the place we are today. Thousands of years of overlapping prophecies have come together accurately just as God said they would. For that fulfillment of prophecy to have happened in the exacting and precise way it has, shows indisputably God’s unceasing active hand on the world scene – down to each and every individual along the way! The histories of nations and continents were written in advance—and they hhave come to pass. The promised blessings are so clear in the Bible, and yet so few have understood these words – and fewer yet have believed what God said. When Abraham's servant found a wife for his son, Isaac, her family blessed her and sent Rebecca on her way with this blessing:
Genesis 24:51 Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master's son's wife, as the LORD has spoken.
It is phenomenal how these kinfolk of Abraham, 4,000 years ago, utilized modern concepts of today’s world such as populations in the ‘billions,’ and strategic sea gates critical to shipping lanes, defense, and national commerce.
Genesis 24:59-60 They sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's servant, and his men. And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, You are our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed [children] possess the gate of those which hate them.
Those who do not accept that English Royalty are the rightful descendants of King David’s throne have not scrutinized their bloodline, pedigree or coronation rituals.
The Coronation Ceremony of the King or Queen of the United Kingdom contains remarkable language—evidence of the Plan of God in action:
The Archbishop asks: “Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon [Sri Lanka], and of your Possessions and other Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?”
In her capacity as queen of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II is: “Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”
An excerpt of: The Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the Abbey Church of St. Peter, Westminster, on Tuesday, the second day of June, 1953. After the Queen is anointed the Archbishop shall say:
“LET US PRAY. O Lord and heavenly Father, the exalter of the humble and the strength of thy chosen, who by anointing with Oil didst of old make and consecrate kings, priests, and prophets, to teach and govern thy people Israel: Bless and sanctify thy chosen servant ELIZABETH, who by our office and ministry is now to be anointed with this Oil…”
It is important in the Plan of God to understand how we have gotten to where we are today in the world order. Our forefathers in England knew their ancestry and heritage well. Few realize today that England’s royalty sits on the very throne of King David.
Up until WWII, the United States and Britain controlled every major sea-gate and maritime trading port in the world. But like the Clipper Ship, Man-o-War, Galleon, Privateer, Frigate and Merchant Trader that once plied the seven seas, they are now gone with the wind. God had promised Abraham that his direct descendants would control the world’s sea-gates. Britain brought the English language, civilization, trade and commerce, culture, science and technology to the entire globe—the sun never set on the British Empire.
Genesis 22:17 In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the sea-gates [strongholds] of his enemies.
The United States and Britain controlled all of the strategic sea-gates and waterways, such as the Panama Canal (dug by the United States), Singapore (major port established by Britain on the Far East trade route between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea), Hong Kong (a rich trade center), English Channel, Suez Canal (built by the French), the Bosporus and the Straits of Gibraltar controlling shipping at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, Australia, New Zealand,Straits of Magellan... which are vital to strategic global trade, commerce and defense.
Because of their rejection of God and His Law, the United States and Britain have been systematically stripped of most nearly every important sea-gate and port around the world. The now-defunct British Empire and America’s declining hegemony is God’s warning punishment for disobedience:
Leviticus 26:14-21 If ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these Commandments… I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursues you. And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits. And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.
America and Britain’s ongoing decline today is not the first time that God has carried through on His warning to strip Israel of their blessings. Though God brought severe punishment for disobedience upon ancient Israel, His promises to Abraham were sure. God knew in advance how He would bestow His blessings on modern Israel. That is why we can know that His Plan for all mankind is certain.
Revelation 15:4 You are holy Lord, and all nations shall come and worship before you.
The seventh trumpet blast heralds the pouring out of the seven last plagues. The seven angels receive seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever (Revelation 15 and 16). God completes His wrath upon a rebellious and disobedient mankind. All of the armies of the world will gather at Armageddon and wage war against Jesus Christ. The armies will be vanquished and Christ will be victorious over the angry nations who fight against Him (Revelation 11:18-19).
Then, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and His Bride, the Church, will reign and rule in the Kingdom of God over this entire earth for a thousand years. The inhabitants of this Kingdom will be the surviving remnant of the Tribulation. They will each be called to conversion. Their primary task will be to restore the earth in its original Garden of Eden state in preparation for the great resurrection of all who have ever lived.
Jesus will be King and rule in the Millennium and His saints will be there with Him. Jesus is not yet ruling the kingdoms of this world (John 18:36).
Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection:… they [the resurrected saints] shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 1:6)
Before that can happen, Satan must be bound. When will Jesus become King of kings, and when will Satan be bound? For Jesus to begin His reign, it is necessary that Satan be vanquished, subjugated and bound – and no longer be the ruler over this world. Right now, Satan has the power and authority to rule over the world. Jesus told His disciples:
John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. (John 14:30; John 16:11)
But, Jesus first coming two thousand years ago it was not the correct time to destroy and replace Satan. Satan is not the King of this world, but prince. That means that he is subject to higher authority. Namely – God’s authority. When He was on earth, Jesus knew and understood that Satan possessed authority over the world – and Satan knew it as well:
Luke 4:5-6 The devil, taking [Jesus] up into an high mountain, shewed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto Him, All this power [authority] will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
That power, authority and glory was Satan’s to give to whomsoever he would give it. But, it is not within the Plan of God for Jesus to receive anything from the hand of Satan. Jesus overcame Satan and qualified to rule. God the Father has anointed Jesus Christ Messiah to be King of kings (Acts 10:38, 42; Revelation 2:27).
Matthew 4:10-11 Jesus said unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shall you serve. Then the devil left Him…
Paul explained that Jesus would die before He took any action to replace Satan:
Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, Jesus also Himself likewise took part of the same [flesh and blood]; that through death [the death of Christ] He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.
Satan has the power of death. We know that Satan “bruised Jesus’ heel” at His crucifixion. But through the resurrection, Jesus received the authority to crush Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15). When that takes place, Satan will no longer be prince of anything. When will Satan be bound for the duration of the 1,000-year Millennium? When will Jesus Christ begin to reign and rule as King of kings? Satan will be bound at the implementation and realization of the Day of Atonement when the entire world will finally be qualified and entitled to be reconciled to God the Father. Scriptural evidence is that Satan will be bound at the Day of Atonement when all mankind will be reconciled to God.
It was just a short while before Jesus’ 30th birthday when He was baptized in the fall of 26 AD (Mark 1:9; Luke 3:23). This is significant because Jesus began His forty days and nights of fasting – culminating on the Day of Atonement – immediately after being baptized.
Matthew 3:16 Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him:
Matthew 4:1-3 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And having fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward hungry. And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
Jesus had not yet overcome Satan – and would have to be exceedingly spiritually strong to do so. In preparation for His monumental challenge, Jesus was propelled into rigorous fasting and prayer in the wilderness in order to be intimately close to His Father.
Mark 1:12-13 And, immediately the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto Him.
Jesus was spiritually prepared to take-on Satan. Satan’s temptations were exceedingly powerful and horrendous. In full faith of His Father’s protection, Jesus willingly faced an awful tête-à-tête with the Adversary.
Jesus withstood Satan’s attacks (Matthew 4:10; Luke 4:12). After the climactic battle, Jesus returned to Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. When John the Baptist saw Jesus returning after the Day of Atonement he announced, “Behold the Lamb of God, who bears away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 35). John the Baptist understood that Jesus was the Messiah by whom atonement would be made for the sins of mankind (Leviticus 16:22).
The annual Holy Days carry great significance with regard to the Plan of God. There are no coincidences in the Bible. God the Father and Jesus Christ perform meaningful actions on the Feast Days that point directly to the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. In the same way that Jesus cloaked the meaning of parables from the public, significant happenings on the Day of Atonement are not readily available to the world (Matthew 13:13-15). God deliberately follows His Plan to a T on His Holy Days – or better yet, down to very last jot and tittle (Matthew 5:18).
Jesus dealt with Satan at the completion of His forty days and forty nights of fasting as the Day of Atonement came to a close. That defeat of Satan by Jesus would be the first of the three times that Satan would be bruised/crushed by Jesus (Genesis 3:15).
Satan will be bound for a thousand years on the Day of Atonement just prior to the start of the Millennium. Once Satan is bound, God's Kingdom of peace may be formally established on earth. That binding of Satan will be the second time that Jesus overcomes over him (Revelation 20:2). Then, the final time that Jesus will overcome Satan is when Satan is dispatched forever! All three of Satan’s defeats occur on the Day of Atonement.
Revelation 20:10 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 forever and ever.
Because Jesus has not yet removed Satan as ruler of the earth he continues to rule this earth. Satan cannot be overcome without God’s help. Satan is still active – not bound yet – until the end of the tribulation when the two witnesses complete their work (Revelation 11:7). But then, after three and a half days the two witnesses are resurrected in the first resurrection (Revelation 11:11). That first resurrection marks the juncture at which Satan is bound and Jesus begins to rule! Satan’s kingdom will be no more
Revelation 11:15, 17 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever… We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, who are, and was, and are to come; because you have taken to you your great power, and have reigned.
Jesus Christ begins reigning when the Two Witnesses are resurrected and Satan is cast down. Who is the accuser of our brethren? It is none other than the prince of this world:
Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the Kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down [Satan], which accused them before our God day and night.
Satan is cast down immediately after the marriage supper of Revelation 19:9. After that, Jesus will unleash His indignation against all wickedness with the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
Revelation 19:11-16 I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He [Jesus Christ] that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He does judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself. And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies [Saints who have fought the good fight] which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
Jesus will reign as King of kings in the Millennium with His saints who will be kings and priests. That means that we will be involved in civil and religious service. Jesus will be King and rule in the Millennium – and we will too.
Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection:… they [the resurrected saints] shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 1:6)
The Feast of Trumpets pictures a most significant event in the Plan of God—Christ’s victorious return. It is the dramatic second coming of Jesus Christ in supreme power over all the earth. When Jesus begins reigning as King of kings, we hear no more of Satan, the prince of the power of the air, until he is released after the Millennium. With Satan bound – deception ceases for 1,000 years. Satan is bound in preparation for the entire world to be reconciled to God the Father—beginning at the Day of Atonement.
Matthew 6:10; Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"
The seventh clearly defined and separated period in the Plan of God is that of the one-thousand-year Millennial reign of Christ with His saints over the Kingdom of God on earth.
Revelation 20:4-6 I saw thrones, and [the resurrected saints] sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them... and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished... Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection... they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
The covenant promises to Abraham will come to their full when the Kingdom of God is established over all the earth. With God’s Spirit being poured out on all, all will be the spiritual children of Abraham—fulfilling the Covenant promises. The birthright blessings of populations, wealth and prosperity that came so bountifully beginning in the early 1800s to America and Britain were only a token of the ultimate spiritual fulfillment of the covenant promises God made to Abraham and his descendants. All we have to do is look at history and look all around the earth to see that God’s promises to Abraham are not yet complete. But, they will be fulfilled in the Millennial age when the entire earth will be restored to an Eden-like Garden of paradise.
In the one-thousand-year millennium, Jesus Christ will be establishing His Father’s Kingdom over all the earth. The entire physical earth will be re-created exactly as the original Garden of Eden was for Adam and Eve. There will be peace, justice, hope, pureness, happiness, law/rules of protection, reconciliation.
Isaiah 60:5 Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.
Ezekiel 36:34 The desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.
Ezekiel 36:35 And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the Garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.
Isaiah 41:15 Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.
Isaiah 41:16 Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel.
Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
1Corinthians 6:9-10 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the Kingdom of God.
1Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.
Galatians 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.
During such times of tumult and upheaval as these are, we who have been called by God begin looking for events to start lining up with what we understand of prophecy about the time of the end, and it is right and good for us to do so. Let’s take another look at what God has revealed about the Final Beast Empire. What are we to learn from the dreams and visions God has sent?
Daniel 12:4 You, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
Hopefully, knowledge shall be increased refers to a better understanding of the Plan of God. But, at the same time we are seeing mass refugee and illegal immigrant migrations that threaten the stability of national societies and economies. Does that count for “many shall run to and fro?” The unprecedented eruption of personal computers and the World Wide Web has come about recently. Does that count for “knowledge shall be increased?” What special significance does the beast have to do with the saints in the last day? We need to know – these things are in the Word of God. Daniel showed that God's Kingdom will come to this earth.
Daniel 2:28 There is a God in heaven that reveals secrets, and makes known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.
The saints can know what Daniel saw – because it was sealed up until now – “closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Daniel 12:9). Daniel 2 reveals that the first gentile empire that ruled over the holy land was Babylon. Assyria, before that, did not rule over the Promised Land. They were left out of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream – even though they had conquered Israel and carried away the ten northern tribes of Israel.
The Beast of Revelation has everything to do with world empires. The Final Beast Empire is also represented as “Babylon the Great” (Revelation 17:5). When looking for the appearance of the Final Beast, the Church of God has watched for the rise of a powerful political and military figure in Europe. Will he have ties to the Roman Empire which will be rising again? Will he be allied with the Roman Catholic Church? We see that scenario in the Book of Daniel and Revelation. We have to be careful – because we have been wrong before. What if we have overlooked something? What if new information is coming to light? How would that affect what we should be watching for? Nebuchadnezzar's dream is told by Daniel in Daniel 2:
Daniel 2:19 Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
Daniel 2:23 I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter.
Daniel 2:28 There is a God in heaven that reveals secrets.
Daniel 2 represents the great world-ruling kingdoms with the first starting in Daniel’s time. Let us be careful because nowhere does Daniel 2 mention "Four" kingdoms. There are other characteristics that we will look at with regard to the end-time beast… – it is said to have great iron teeth; it devours the whole earth, it tramples down (that is what feet do) and breaks in pieces.
Daniel 2:31 Thou, O king, saw, and behold a great [metallic] image. This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was awesome!
Daniel 2:32 This image's head was of fine gold, his chest and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of bronze,
Daniel 2:33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of ceramic clay. [The legs and feet are comprised of different materials – (1) iron, and (2) an amalgamation of iron and ceramic clay]
So we see that each section of the body consists of a different material. Five in all. Notice that the characteristic of the Final Beast Empire before Christ’s return is that it is part iron and part ceramic clay.
Each different section and element together represents a subsequent kingdom or empire. Then, Jesus Christ returns and destroys the Final Beast Empire!!! Daniel gets ahead of the story here and gives us the final ending when Jesus conquers all and sets up the Kingdom of God – and then Daniel will get back to interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
Daniel 2:34 Thou [Nebuchadnezzar] saw till that a Stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and ceramic clay, and brake them to pieces.
Daniel 2:35 Then was the (1) iron, the (2) ceramic clay, the (3) bronze, the (4) silver, and the (5) gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the Stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
Verse thirty-five is a prophecy of Jesus Christ obliterating the Final Beast Empire, and all that has gone before—and establishing the Kingdom of God over all the earth. The Stone of verse thirty-five represents Jesus the Messiah, who will establish His Father’s Kingdom over the earth and will subjugate all other authorities.
Genesis 49:24 calls the Messiah the “Stone of Israel,” and it is in the prophetic context of God strengthening the peoples of Joseph in the “last days.”
Psalm 118:22 likewise prophesies, “The Stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.”
Isaiah 8:14 says “He will be as a sanctuary, but a Stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”
The fact that the stone was “cut out without hands” illustrates that no human effort was involved—it was solely an act of God. The divine Stone strikes the image upon the feet of iron and ceramic clay, which are broken into pieces (Daniel 2:34). [stamp something very small, such as into powder or dust]
Exodus 32:20 [Moses] took the [golden] calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder.
This shows that at His return, Jesus is going to grind the kingdoms of this earth to powder. Thus, complete destruction of the image—and what it represents—is pictured.
The five stages and materials in Nebuchadnezzar’s image represent kingdoms, or empires, as we see in the interpretation that God gave to Daniel. Worldly ‘eschatology’ [big word meaning the study of end-time prophecy] sees only four elements – not five – because they have come to the conclusion that Daniel 7 – which has four beasts, is another version of Daniel 2 – the same dream. It is not.
Daniel 7:3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is separate and different from Daniel’s dream.
Daniel 2:36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. [It is God’s interpretation]
And so Daniel explains Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian or Chaldean Empire (625-538 B.C.) and a succession of world empires (ruling over the Promised Land) depicted by different metals composing the giant image.
Daniel 2:37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
Daniel 2:38 And where-so-ever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thy hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou [Nebuchadnezzar] art this head of gold.
Gold is the most noble of all the elements. Daniel, in interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, tells him that he is represented by the head of gold, which defines the first of the five stages of his dream, and its associated material component—head of gold.
God decreed that Jerusalem be taken by Nebuchadnezzar, and He further decreed that Babylon would the dominant empire on earth—for as long as He willed it.
According to Josephus, Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar ruled over Egypt, Syria, modern Lebanon, Spain, southeast Europe, India, Arabia, and all of North Africa, in addition to the Holy Land in Palestine, and thus his conquests surpassed all that of the Assyrians, Chaldeans and those Babylonian kings who lived and reigned before him.
Only those gentile powers which controlled Jerusalem are shown in Nebuchadnezzar’ dream—right up to Jesus Christ who’s right it is to rule from Jerusalem.
In short, the image in the dream is a representation of the "times of the Gentiles," which is God’s punishment that will last until the Stone smashes them (Daniel 2:34), and the entire system of Gentile dominion is blown away like chaff.
Though Nebuchadnezzar’s empire was of great extent, it was not of long duration, ending during the life of his grandson Belshazzar—prophesied in Jeremiah 27:7.
That gold head was the first empire in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
Daniel 2:39 And after thee shall arise another [The second kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream] kingdom inferior to thee.
The metal composition of Nebuchadnezzar’s image becomes less valuable as we move from the head downward. But, even as the relative value of the kingdoms decrease, the relative strength of the metal increases. As time proceeds through history, the splendor decreases but the ability to wage war and terrorize the world increases. Nebuchadnezzar—the head of gold—was an absolute ruler whose word was law.
However, during the time period of the chest and arms of silver, Darius the Mede did not have the same absolute reign that the Babylonian king had. For instance, he lacked the ability to free Daniel from the lion’s den because he was constrained by a Medo-Persian law, which once written, could not be changed (Daniel 6:8). This Medo-Persian empire also ruled over Jerusalem.
That chest and arms of silver was the second empire in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
Daniel 2:39 …And another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. [The third kingdom is numbered – but not all of them are numbered.]
Then comes Greece—the belly and thighs of bronze—was an aristocracy based on individual merit rather than birth. Greece was even less despotic (in terms of absolute rule), yet it conquered more territory than its predecessors. Most significantly, Alexander the Great conquered the known world—including Jerusalem in 332 BC.
That belly and thighs of bronze was the third empire in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
Daniel 2:40 And the fourth kingdom shall be hard as iron: forasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and crushes all things: and as iron that smashes all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
That is describing the Roman Empire, the government of Rome—the legs of iron—it was largely dependent upon popular choice, with the emperor being elected by the military. The entire area previously ruled by Greece was conquered by the Romans, and they certainly broke in pieces, bruised, and subdued all things.
The legs of iron—Rome is the fourth empire, and fourth material (iron) out of the five previously counted.
Roman Emperor Pompey took over much of the Middle East, including Israel, in approximately 63 BC. The Roman Empire, while not as noble or splendid as the ones it succeeded, was obviously stronger in terms of military might than all the others. Roman rule prevailed over Jerusalem – even when Jesus was there.
Those legs of iron were the fourth empire in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
Now, we come to the fifth empire in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream—with a further degrading of the elements that represent it—the feet, and the fifth materials, the iron and the ceramic clay.
This fifth empire is the coming Final Beast Empire that Jesus will destroy at His coming. Is it made of two parts – two feet and ten toes.
Daniel 2:41 And whereas thou saw the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the hardness of the iron, forasmuch as thou saw the iron mixed with miry clay.
Verse 41 is frequently seen as a further expounding of the fourth kingdom of verse 40, but notice that a definite shift has taken place. Verse 41 provides a contrast, rather than a clarification: “…the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of iron shall be in it…”
This is clearly different from the kingdom that was “hard as iron”. Verses 40 and 41 are describing two different empires.
Even though this last part of Nebuchadnezzar’s image contains iron—the fourth material; the symbol of hardness—there is no reference to it “breaking in pieces” and “bruising” in the same way that the Roman Empire did during the fourth empire.
The emphasis is on the divided nature of this last empire. It is one that has elements of hardness and might, and is to be feared in its own way, yet it does not have the unity, nobility, or quality of the previous empires. There is not the same discipline or honor. There is not the same cohesion of leadership. It is an unnatural amalgamation.
There are five regions of the image, and five materials, but verse 41 does not directly state that there is a fifth kingdom. The second kingdom is not numbered – but it is clearly there. Because verse 41 has the word “kingdom,” but not the word “fifth,” many have assumed that it is still talking about the fourth kingdom.
But it is clearly different from the fourth kingdom; it is a fifth region, and it contains the fifth material of ceramic clay, even though the word “fifth” does not appear in its description.
Instead, it begins with “whereas you saw the feet and toes…” However, because of the counting we have done, we could just as easily paraphrase this, “Whereas you saw the fifth part of the image, containing the fifth material—the kingdom shall be divided...”
Daniel 2:42 And as the toes of the feet were a portion of iron, and a portion of ceramic clay, so the kingdom shall be partly hard [strong], and partly broken [brittle or fragile].
This fifth empire is definitely an unholy alliance – not formed in unity but of unnatural and antagonistic parties. There will not be true cohesion in the empire.
Daniel 2:43 And whereas thou saw iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mix themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with ceramic clay.
Nebuchadnezzar's dream is typically interpreted to illustrate four successive empires or kingdoms. A simple exercise in counting the component parts of the image reveals something else. Again, notice the five distinct materials found in verse 35:
Daniel 2:35 Then was the iron (1), the ceramic clay (2), the bronze (3), the silver (4), and the gold (5).
We see the return of Jesus Christ and Kingdom of God being set up:
Daniel 2:44 In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a Kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the Kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
A second testimony can be found in Daniel 2:45, where Daniel is then interpreting the dream for Nebuchadnezzar:
Daniel 2:45 Forasmuch as thou saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron (1), the bronze (2), the ceramic clay (3), the silver (4), and the gold (5); the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter [in the end-time]: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
Daniel 2:28 There is a God in heaven that reveals secrets, and makes known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.
Three times God reiterates that there are five materials – for emphasis. Each time the materials that make up Nebuchadnezzar’s image are listed, there are five. We saw in verses 32 and 33 that the five stages of the image were listed.
Daniel spells out the head (First Kingdom), the chest and arms (Second Kingdom), the belly and thighs (Third Kingdom), the legs (Fourth Kingdom), and the feet (Fifth Kingdom). The image, then, consists of five regions of the body, and five different materials. Nowhere does the Bible number these parts of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as being four in number.
Hundreds of years ago ‘four’ became the accepted number because of a wrong association with a personal vision that Daniel had much later. There is also nothing that would indicate that the Final Beast Power would be located in northern Europe per se. The traditional explanation only accounts for four kingdoms. One widely-held viewpoint is that the fourth kingdom, the Roman Empire, would continue on until the return of Jesus Christ through a series of revivals.
This perspective holds that the fifth region, and the fifth material, are both really just the latter end of the fourth region and material. That assumption is inconsistent with Scripture. Those who see only four kingdoms say the fourth kingdom starts out strong but it devolves into weakness. However, degrading over time is normal for all earthly kingdoms and empires, and there is no explanation as to why this natural entropy should be highlighted in only one empire.
The explanation is that the feet are not part of the legs, but that they are in fact a fifth empire that is partly fragile and partly hard, contrasted with the fourth empire which was only hard [strong].
In order to determine whether the feet of iron and ceramic clay are in fact a fifth empire, or merely an extension of the fourth, we have to first answer what this image as a whole represents. All of Five kingdoms have two things in common:
First, they are Gentile powers. However, this does not help much, because there have been hundreds of Gentile kingdoms, the overwhelming majority of which the Bible makes no mention at all. The second factor is Jerusalem will remain trodden down by them. The second commonality can be found in Luke's version of the end-time Olivet Prophecy. In it, Jesus Christ prophesies:
Luke 21:24 And [those in Judea, and particularly in Jerusalem] shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trampled down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
Luke 21:27-28 Then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.
The translation “will be trampled” (or “shall be trodden down” in the King James Version) gives the impression of a future event. However, according to E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible, the Greek here indicates, “shall be and remain trodden down,” in a way that it had never been before. The reference is to the Mohammedan possession since A.D. 636 in succession to the “fourth” or Roman possession.”
E.W. Bullinger has in Daniel 2:41, “The fifth power is now to be described (the “feet and toes”). It came into possession of Jerusalem in A.D. 636 (Rome having held the city for 666 years: viz., from the battle of Actium, 31 B.C.—A.D. 636). Its character as described in Daniel 2:41 is exact; and, as represented by the “feet”, Jerusalem has indeed been “trodden down” (Luke 21:24) as was never done by any of the other four powers.”
In other words, the “trampling” of Jerusalem would not be an event only near the time of the end, but Jesus Christ was predicting—prophesying—that Jerusalem would continue to be “trampled” by the Gentiles, just as it had been since Nebuchadnezzar’s day, was in Christ’s day by the Romans, and until the pre-appointed duration of Gentile dominion over the city was complete at the return of Jesus Christ.
Put more plainly, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome are all linked by the fact that these kingdoms or empires have all ruled over the Promised Land, and particularly over Jerusalem. They have been the instruments of God’s punishment on Judah in prohibiting her from being sovereign over the land given to her. And, in the sixth empire—that subdues them all—Jesus will rule from the throne of David!
It is interesting that Bullinger recognized these five partitions to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream—and who would rule. E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible has this with regard to Daniel 2:
“The fifth [Empire] is revealed in vv. 41—43. The power which was to succeed Rome in the possession of Jerusalem was to be the Mohammedan power, which was still in the future when our Lord referred to it in Luke 21:24…”
God was very specifically using Nebuchadnezzar. Recall Daniel 2:37, where Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar, "You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory." Babylon was one of the oldest kingdoms in existence, first mentioned in the Bible all the way back in Genesis 10:10.
But Nebuchadnezzar was not the first king of Babylon. Instead, Nebuchadnezzar was the first Gentile king who held dominion over the land God promised to the fathers—namely Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar was the head of the Gentile reign over the Promised Land. He was the first king to capture Jerusalem (in 597 BC), in accordance with God’s decree of Judah’s punishment.
Jeremiah 21:10 For I have set my face against this city [Jerusalem] for evil, and not for good, says the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.
The consecutive kingdoms of Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream are significant only as they obtained possession of Palestine, and particularly possession of Jerusalem. This world has had many kingdoms, and yet only a handful of kings are considered significant in this vision.
The Bible says nothing about the Incas, the Mayas, or the Aztecs. It is silent about the Mongols. There is no mention of the powerful and enduring dynasties of the Orient. Even the great kingdom of Assyria—the kingdom that took the northern ten tribes of Israel captive long before Nebuchadnezzar—is not mentioned here.
Only those powers which controlled Jerusalem are shown in this image.
In short, the image is a representation of the "times of the Gentiles," which is God’s punishment that will last until the Stone smashes them, and the entire system of Gentile dominion is blown away like chaff.
Even now, when the nation of Israel owns much of its historic land (since the U.N. mandate in 1948), it still cannot claim complete control over Jerusalem—specifically East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, upon which sits the al-Aksa Mosque. Thus, even though Jerusalem has changed hands numerous times throughout its history, ever since falling to Nebuchadnezzar, it has essentially been under the power of Gentiles. This will continue until the return of Jesus Christ (the Stone) when the “times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
These two identifying characteristics of the five kingdoms are (1) Gentile peoples, who (2) control Jerusalem and prevent a re-establishment of the kingdom of Judah. These distinguishing traits provide the framework for understanding Nebuchadnezzar’s image. But this framework also requires that there be a fifth empire, for it has been almost 1700 years since the (Western) Roman Empire has held sway over Jerusalem and the Promised Land.
About, circa 636-638 AD, tribes of Arabic Muslims, under the Caliph Omar ben Al Khattab (or Kaliph Umar ibn al-Khattab), conquered Jerusalem. Since that time, Jerusalem has been ruled by various Muslim nations such as Jordan and Egypt, and especially the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
Remember how the fifth empire is described as being comprised of dissimilar properties—and divided—and the strange language (Daniel 2:43): they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another? Interestingly, the Ottomans are described as heirs to both Roman and Islamic traditions—an incompatible mixture if there ever was one.
In The Cambridge History of Islam, under the article, "The Rise of the Ottoman Empire," it is observed that:
“The [Ottoman] empire was at the center of interactions between the Eastern and Western worlds for six centuries. The Ottoman Empire was in many respects an Islamic successor to earlier Mediterranean empires—namely the Roman and Byzantine empires. As such, the Ottomans regarded themselves as the heirs to both Roman and Islamic traditions, and hence rulers of a "Universal Empire" through this "unification of cultures”.”
Thus, since the early seventh century, Jerusalem has essentially remained under Islamic rule. The Byzantine Empire continued to hold sway over Jerusalem after the fall of Rome and the Western Empire, but eventually the Ottoman Empire became the dominant force in the region. Rome has been off the radar of Jerusalem since the fifth century.
Even today, Jerusalem is a divided city with the Muslim al-Aksa Mosque—a pagan temple—is sitting on top of the Temple Mount. The Jews have nuclear weapons, and the best-trained and equipped army in the region, but the Muslims wield the power when it comes to the Temple Mount—the focal point of Jerusalem.
We can see, especially in the face of such a bizarre match-up, that the Muslims actually have the authority to be there—for now—just like Nebuchadnezzar had the authority to do what he did because of God’s punishment on Israel and Judah.
The “times of the Gentiles” of which Jesus spoke have not yet been fulfilled. Understanding this aspect of Nebuchadnezzar's image does not actually tell us who the Beast of Revelation will be. What it shows us is, in general, where one power is located that has been given the authority to oppose Judah.
But God's people have always had many enemies, and just knowing who will generally control Jerusalem until Christ returns does not tell us concretely who the Beast will be.
But, what it does tell us is that Nebuchadnezzar's dream is not synonymous with Daniel's dream found in Chapter 7. However, both Nebuchadnezzar's dream and Daniel’s vision do contain a prophecy of the Final Beast Empire.
Daniel 2:41 Whereas you saw the feet and [ten] toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the hardness [strength] of the iron, forasmuch as thou saw the iron mixed with miry clay. [Trampling down with the feet is the characteristic of the Final Beast Empire.]
Daniel 7:7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
In Psalms we find a prophetic list of ten largely Islamic nations listed. (no historical example exists)
Psalms 83:4-8 [The enemies of the Lord] have said, Come, and let us cut them off [exterminate them] from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also is joined with them: they have helped the children of Lot. Selah.
Once we understand that Nebuchadnezzar’s image of Daniel 2 describes five kingdoms rather than four, we suddenly find a major difference between the vision of Nebuchadnezzar, and that of Daniel in Chapter 7. In fact, there are several other significant differences that confirm that Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar were seeing two different things. There is an overlap, because the time of the end is contained within both dreams, but the dreams are not synonymous.
In our Church of God narrative, we historically tried to shoehorn Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 to be one prophecy with totally different symbols. The head of gold becomes a lion; the chest and arms of silver are a bear; the belly and thighs of bronze are a four headed leopard; and the legs of iron are the ten revivals of the Roman Empire – because of the ten toes.
The overall difference between the two dreams is that Nebuchadnezzar was given a dream of the beginning and the duration of Gentile dominion over Jerusalem and the Promised Land, while Daniel was given a vision of the very end of that dominion.
Nebuchadnezzar saw five consecutive Gentile kingdoms, spanning two and half millennia. On the other hand, Daniel saw four beasts that are all in existence at the same time when the Messiah returns.
According to Nebuchadnezzar's dream, a revived Roman Empire is not our concern. The Roman Empire has gone the way of Greece, Persia, and Babylon, and a different, stubborn, violent, disorganized, partly–strong–and–partly–weak power now holds sway in the Promised Land. We saw in Daniel 2:44-45 the fulfillment of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God coming to fruition. Then, the time of Gentile dominion over Jerusalem or the holy land will be entirely ended. The entire system of Gentile domination over the holy land—Jerusalem, specifically—will be blown away like chaff, never to have a place again. The kingdoms of this world will be replaced by the Kingdom of God, and ruled by Jesus Christ forever in peace, prosperity and right judgment.
It is clear in Revelation 11:10 that the Two Witnesses are "prophets." They will be killed and their bodies will lay in the street of Jerusalem (verse 7). The Spirit of life from God enters them upon resurrection (verse 11). God says:
Revelation 11:3-11 I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth [1,260 days]. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devours their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the Beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified [Jerusalem]. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
We have come here to the first and better resurrection. It is the time of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7). As we read on it becomes clear that the third woe yet remains to be poured out before the return to this earth in great power of Jesus Christ is fulfilled. The seven vials of Revelation are yet to come (Revelation 16:1):
Revelation 11:12-15 They heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly. And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.
This book helps to explain how the mystery of God is being worked out for the saints of God and all humanity.
Luke 8:10 Jesus said unto His disciples, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God…
Ephesians 3:4-5 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets Spiritually.
It is the observance of God’s Holy Days, more than anything else, that has opened up the understanding of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God to the Children of God.
Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
Colossians 1:26 Even the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints.
Jesus is coming soon to establish His Father’s Kingdom over all the nations of the earth. All will go up to Jerusalem to keep the Feasts of the Lord (Zechariah 14:16).
Isaiah 2:2-5 It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.