When is Jesus coming back?


Surprisingly, it is often the small things that give me inspiration; I suppose it is because they speak to something deeper within me. Such is the case with this. I feel the need to talk about this idea of knowing or not knowing when Christ will come back.

I know that evokes immediate negative reaction and emotion in many. I am also aware that most of what you feel or think about the topic stems from tradition, an understanding based in what you have been taught, or just another false teacher that led his flock to ruin, death, or at the least embarrassment, as the entire world watched. The most recent that comes to mind was the guy that told his followers to sell everything because the Lord was coming back at a particular time, and they certainly would not need it. I wonder who got all that money? You have surely heard the saying, follow the money. Peter essentially told us to do the same when assessing if a person is a false teacher.

Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:2-3 NASB)

I am also painfully aware of my own thoughts on the subject of when Christ would return, and I have the internal debates about what I would do if could really know that there was a definite time of removal coming. With that knowledge, would I live like a dog, gambling that I would pay attention to my watch and do the appropriate repenting mere minutes before his arrival. I think he knew that weakness about us and has kept this knowledge appropriately cloaked until recently. Now that I am older and had some time to ponder these bizarre thoughts, the answer is no, I want to go out strong like a Billy Graham, or better yet, Smith Wigglesworth; now there’s an interesting man for you.

I go to several bible studies, and at one of them I recently met a an older woman. The reason I mention her is because she reminds me of Anna, the prophetess, whom when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple for circumcision, arrived, as she always did. Luke’s gospel recorded that she was looking for his coming and spoke of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:38 NASB. That implies that some did not care. You learn quickly that you are wasting your time speaking about the things that excite you with some people. So this dear lady, whom had waited and longing for the Messiah, knew Him when they brought Him up to the temple. Now how is that possible?

How is it possible, that “heathens” from Babylon, wise men, Magi, would have known that the Messiah had been born, and came looking for Him-to worship Him?

How is it possible, that the learned of Israel, refused to acknowledge or understand the signs that told of His arrival, and yet Simeon the priest, “came by the Spirit into the temple. And as the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do according to the custom of the Law concerning Him, he received Him in his arms and blessed God, and said, “Lord, now You will let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word. For my eyes have seen Your Salvation which You have prepared before the face of all the peoples,” (Luke 2:26-31 MKJV)

Why did I bring up that woman I mentioned?

As I had time before the bible study gathered, I realized that this now blond-haired woman was the woman I had spoken with several weeks earlier, and I found that she has read the same books and listening to the same men I have. It really excites me to find a like mind. We spoke excitedly about the evidence of His soon return, and then I said, I am not comfortable telling people that I believe Jesus Christ is coming in September with Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashana), and I am not comfortable for all the common reasons that I pointed out earlier. She responded promptly with, I am. I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that it is for us to know.

I did not disagree with her choice to speak out about Christ’s soon coming, but felt that I need to get this idea straight in my head, so that I can speak about it responsibly.

Having come out of a religious upbringing, where church doctrines are shoved down your throat, whether they are correct or not, and having a mother that latched on to one of these advocates of the Lord’s return, my reaction as a high school student who struggled with undiagnosed learning disabilities was, this is my ticket out of this hard work and I mentally quit trying. I have come to understand that this is the complete opposite of what God’s word tells us to do.

So if you will stick with me, we are going to find out what God’s word does say about our ability to know and understand when Jesus is coming back.

For me, it all begins with the disciples pointing out the temple.

Matthew 24 is our starting point, as it has the verse that people love to quote in their efforts to squash the enthusiasm of people like me.

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (Matthew 24:36 NASB)

We cannot do this verse justice without looking at the context and the context begins with a Jewish oriented statement, directed at Jesus, a Jew. You can find this in Matthew 24:1. And just to be clear, Jesus did not have switch from being a Gentile God, back to being a Jewish Messiah just to answer their question. He was brought into this earth as a Jew, and he remains a Jew to this day.

Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” (Matthew 24:1-2 NASB)

The statement the disciples made seemed simple enough, but it demonstrated where their hearts were at, and it was not on Him as the Messiah, one of the primary things he wanted them to see. So He responds to their statement with a devastating response: “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” The temple was a national symbol to Israel and a source of pride. The stones are huge, no one could tear it down. Oh yes they can, and will.

Several minutes passed and now we find them sitting in the mount of olives, quite probably the same place Jesus always went, and here they ask – with their Jewish mindset – the questions that His statement evoked.

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3 NASB)

Do you see it? They asked three questions, but we all forget that these are questions out of a Jewish mindset. I know, some of you are asking, what does it matter? It matters because He understood precisely what they were asking and answered them in a way that a Jewish mindset should have comprehended. This is not about riddles, God wanted them and us to understand. The problem here is that we Gentiles apparently need to adjust our thinking to align with the Jewish mentality, and have failed to do so.

Since much of the answer spoke about a time beyond their life span, and that they could not yet see who He was, I do not think they understood the answer.

It was just three questions. Do you think they understood the depth of what they were asking? Perhaps that is why the answer is exhaustively long, and that is why I will leave you to essentially read the entire chapter at your leisure. Matthew 24:4-51

We should understand that while much of this, for them, will soon be a reality, it is still looking to our present day as well. God saw fit to tell Daniel that what he saw was for a future time, and that time is now.

“But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” Daniel 12:4 NASB.

So I am looking through Matthew chapter twenty-four trying to find something that makes my case. What I find sounds very much like what I read in Joel, Daniel, or Ezekiel, when it speaks about the end; the ending where Jesus actually comes back as the Messiah they awaited. That is until you get to Matthew 24:32. Verse 32 is where we have to start paying attention if we are going to find out whether we have the ability to figure out our place in the timing of things.

Matthew 24:32-34 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; (33) so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. (34) “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

Who or what then is represented by the fig tree?

If we substitute Israel for the fig tree, and Israel became a nation 1948, can we then say that the fig tree budded in 1948? But there is a more generalized application in the fig tree. The fig tree produces leaves in the winter, not considered to be the best time of the year because it is often cold and gray outside. On the plus side the tree should be filled with figs by early summer. However, we are not really talking about fig trees here, are we? We are talking symbolically about the nation Israel, and our ability to find out the coming of the Lord, and this is one of our first clues that tell us we have the ability, like the Magi, to intelligently find out the signs of His arrival.

Here are just a few more things that might help you learn the maturity of the fig tree/Israel.

  • The Balfour Declaration (dated 2 November 1917) was a letter from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. Balfour Declaration, which declared that the British favored a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

  • The Six-Day War was fought between June 5th and June 10th, 1967. The war was against Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Rather than wait to be attacked, the Israelis launched a hugely successful military campaign against its perceived enemies. The air forces of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq were all but destroyed on June 5th. By June 7th, many Egyptian tanks had been destroyed in the Sinai Desert and Israeli forces reached the Suez Canal. On the same day, the whole of the west bank of the Jordan River had been cleared of Jordanian forces. The Golan Heights were captured from Syria and Israeli forces moved 30 miles into Syria itself. The war was a disaster for the Arab world and temporarily weakened the man who was seen as the leader of the Arabs – Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt. The war was a military disaster for the Arabs but it was also a massive blow to the Arabs morale. Here were four of the strongest Arab nations systematically defeated by just one nation.

I asked you keep in mind the context of Matthew 24, and it is Jesus, a Jew, answering Jewish questions. So the direct application is to the end of time, the end of God’s wrath upon the earth, the nations, and of Israel. This has nothing to do with the rapture, the snatching away of His church, but that is the very thing we use this verse for when we pull it out in an effort to shut someone up, isn’t it?

How much sense does it make for God to expect us to stay in a state of readiness if we have no clue about when He coming.

Matthew 24:35,36″Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. (36) “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

Look at the terminology used in the Amplified bible.

Truly I tell you, this generation (the whole multitude of people living at the same time, in a definite, given period) will not pass away till all these things taken together take place. Sky and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that [exact] day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:34-36 AMP)

When I read, “but of that exact day and hour” I come to the understanding that I have the ability – if I may use a golf term – to hit the green. I may not be able to put it in the hole, but hitting the green takes skills.

I strongly suggest you read all of Matthew 24 attentively. Apparently the Father wants us looking for His return, and we can see His intensity in verses 44 through 51.

Matthew 24:44 “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

So, even if I can’t make a hole in one, I am still supposed to be ready, looking for his return.

I want evidence that demonstrates that He is talking to the church.

The most compelling evidence we have that the Holy Spirit wants us – the church – to understand and know when He is coming, comes from Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica.

As regards the course and periods of time, brothers, you have no need of being written to. You know perfectly well that the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night; when ‘all’s well’ and ‘all is safe’ are on the lips of men, then all of a sudden Destruction is upon them, like pangs on a pregnant woman — escape there is none. But, brothers, you are not in the darkness for the Day to surprise you like thieves; you are all sons of the Light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 Moffatt NT)

The Contemporary English version translates verse 4:

1 Thessalonians 5:4 CEV (4) My dear friends, you don’t live in darkness, and so that day won’t surprise you like a thief.

The word darkness in the Greek also means shadiness or obscurity. If we are in obscurity, it is certainly not because of God. The word day can also be read as: a period of opportunity.

Substitute this phrase into the sentence and it messes up the theology of many. “But, brothers, you are not in obscurity for this period of opportunity to surprise you like thieves.” The opportunity being the rescue of His church and the launch of the time of wrath.

We have the ability to comprehend the time frame.

We are not excluded from knowing.

Matthew 13:10-11 MKJV And the disciples said to Him, Why do You speak to them in parables? (11) He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but it is not given to them.

Three gospel writers recorded the same thing, and repetition compels us to pay attention. It is given to us to know! We find this in: Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; and Luke 8:10.

Gill’s commentary on Matthew 13:10 explains: “but to them it is not given; to the wise and prudent, to the Scribes and Pharisees, to the multitude, to the bulk and generality of the people, to the rest that were blinded. Mark calls them “them that are without”; who are not in the number of God’s elect; nor within the covenant of grace, nor among the disciples of Christ;..

What does this mean? Some will simply not get it! God is not playing favorites, the ignorance is wide-spread.

Matthew 13:13 MKJV Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not; nor do they understand.

If Anna the prophetess, Simeon the priest, the Magi, and all the chief priests and scribes that Herod called in for questioning, had a knowledge, then why could not all Israel see, understand, and accept Him as the Messiah?

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.'” (Matthew 2:3-6 NASB)

I used to wonder why God was coming back with such a vengeance, and His own people are part of the target, but look at this – all the chief priest and scribes were called before Herod to explain what was going on, and they did. Based on collected information Herod had all the boys two years old and younger, in that particular region, slaughtered. That means the religious leadership had the same information that Anna and Simeon had. However, there is an intentional refusal to accept Jesus as the Messiah.

A momentary return to everyday life.

As I rejoined the senior group at McDonald’s this particular Tuesday morning, the man who leads the Thursday morning bible study was there. I pulled up a chair and he immediately says to me, “I want to talk to you about Lazarus the beggar and the rich man.” I responded with, “Wow, hi, good morning, but okay, fire away!” He proceeds to spew the doctrines of Hank Hanegraff, while excoriating Kenneth Copeland and Joyce Meyer for teachings that entertain the idea that Jesus had to be put in hell, which “by definition” has at least two compartments, blah, blah, blah. The intent of his tirade was not discussion, but to set me straight. I said nothing, and he ended with, “I just wanted to tell you that.” I sat there for a moment and said, “Okay, you told me.” That was all he accomplished, for he had changed no ones mind and several of us were little more than irritated at the delivery. He left shortly after that, and that is when I said to the remaining crowd, “now we can talk.”

Communication often leaves the door open for discussion and room for correction should it be appropriate. As a child, I had none of that. Mr. Bible study and I have had these talks before and I see it as role-playing game. He likes to play the role of an angry, obstinate father, who is not the least bit interested in your opinion. Not much of a game as only one person gets to play, and once they have played their hand no one is interested in playing anymore. Maybe this is what Gill is trying to point out. The Pharisees had their minds made up and there was no room for change or discussion in them.

Why am I telling you about “Mr. Bible study”, because he, like those pharisees, does not get it. When I spoke about Lazarus and the rich man, I described an unexplained mercy being shown to a beggar, not because he was a beggar, but because there is so much about this mans life we do not know, and yet God does. Now contrast this with the last judgment of the sheep and the goats, we have little background on those called sheep, until Jesus explains why he is letting them into the kingdom of heaven. Look this up in Matthew 25:31-46.

That period of opportunity is also our hope.

You can tell by the way 1 Thessalonians 5 opens that Paul is in mid thought, therefore there is a context that we do not pick up on without backtracking. I think that to some degree we are safe in jumping back to 1 Thessalonians 4:13, where Paul says, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.” There is that word again, hope. Paul goes on to explain what they are having hope in and why.

1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 NASB (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. (15) For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. (16) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (17) Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. (18) Therefore comfort one another with these words.

I see two things intrinsically tied together. Our hope in being caught up to meet Him in the clouds, and the benefit of always being with the Lord because of that action. I do not see the idea of inconceivable images of Heaven and our time with the Father, as being our hope because our minds cannot wrap around those images. Salvation and therefore hope, at least for some, is deeply tied to our being caught up and extracted from a world gone mad. The Apostle Paul uses this term hope throughout the New Testament. An example of this is found in Acts 26:6 NASB “And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers;” This too is that hope which is demonstrated in our salvation from this world, into the arms of a loving Father who awaits our return.

Other signs we should pay attention to.

If you are paying attention to what is going on in the world, you surely have heard of the Shemittah and the Blood Moons. I recently asked two young men if they were aware of what the Blood moons were. Their answer was not only no, but they showed no interest at all. Here is brief synopsis:

The blood moons have come in a grouping of four, called a Tetrad. This stretches over a years period and has amazingly occurred in conjunction with Jewish feast days at least eight times. We are now in the last Tetrad that you and I will witness in our lifetimes, as documented by NASA.

Just for information sake, the last few of these Tetrads have come in:

  • 1493 – 1494: This corresponds with Spain’s persecution of the Jews which started in 1491 and included the confiscation of gold and their placement in ghettos. The Jews were being expelled in 1492 as Columbus sailed out in search of new lands financed by confiscated gold.

  • 1949 – 1950: 1933 saw an escalation persecution against European Jews, culminating in 1945 with Hitlers final solution. All the while Palestine, under shared control by British and Muslims, refused escaping Jews the ability to return. The significant event, Israel became a nation in 1948.

  • 1967 – 1968: The six-day war. I already presented some details about that.

  • 2014 – 2015: How has Israel been affected in the last couple of years? How about presently?

The Shemittah.

It comes from Leviticus 25:10:

And you shall make the fiftieth year holy, one year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee to you, and you shall return each man to his possession, and you shall return each man to his family. (Leviticus 25:10 MKJV)

It really operates on the principle of 49 plus one, that one being the fiftieth year. We are in that year now and it ends on September 13, 2015.

I looked at a website http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/562077/jewish/What-Is-Shemittah.htm, for an explanation of what the Shemittah is:

As soon as the Jews settled in the Holy Land, 1 they began to count and observe seven-year cycles. Every cycle would culminate in a Sabbatical year, 2 known as Shemittah, 3 literally: “to release.”

There was the release of debts:

At the end of seven years you will make a release. And this is the manner of the release: to release the hand of every creditor from what he lent his friend; he shall not exact from his friend or his brother, because the time of the release for the Lord has arrived. (Deuteronomy 15:12)

And, this was a method giving the land a chance to rest:

For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in its produce. But in the seventh year, the land shall have a complete rest, a Sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field, you shall not prune your vineyard, nor shall you reap the aftergrowth of your harvest. And [the produce of] the Sabbath of the land shall be yours to eat for you, for your male and female servants, and for your hired worker and resident who live with you. (Leviticus 25:3–6)

During the Shemittah year, the residents of the Land of Israel must completely desist from cultivating their fields. They also relinquish personal ownership of their fields; whatever produce grows on its own is considered communal property, free for anyone to take. This aspect of the Shemittah year is known as shemittat karka, “release of the land.”

This year on the Jewish calendar, 5775 (Sept. 24, 2014–Sept. 13, 2015), is the Sabbatical year.

It would have been beneficial to us to understand that God is working with time frames, and that His time frames are coinciding with the Jewish calendar and Shemittah years. We would have been so much farther in our understanding of not only God’s word, but His plans.

Is it possible that we should awaiting anxiously because of these events that are coming?

Absolutely! I have pointed out to you that God has demonstrated that He works in close proximity to these markers, and we are not in the dark. So yes, I would say it is time to get excited, and do not quit, but amplify. Pray against the enemies attacks as he is already putting pressure on the saints. Try to ignite a passion for Christ within people. Show them who Jesus is, not how violent we can become. Lead them to Jesus, because without Him now, their journey will be a deadly gamble. Violence will soon fill the streets, and our government is playing this as one of their intentional cards. You are seeing the Harlot of Revelation and the beast. The beast is Islam, and all this will come crashing down, but it will take seven years. Get ready now! Do not be like those of Matthew 25 who were not ready and waiting for Him.

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The Critics of Islam Were Right: An Apology to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Sam Harris, Bill Maher and Other So-Called Islamophobes


remso:

Eye opening information and critique.

Originally posted on The World Around Us:

For many Years I have asked people to do some Research and learn for yourselves what Islam is about. Personally I have been called a Nazi, an Islamophobe, a bigot, a moron among other things. As have many others who have dared to speak out against Islam. It is nice to know that the words of all the Islamophobes out there are being listened to. I came across the following story this morning and thought to Myself, finally someone is listening. Not Just to me but to every last one of those who value the freedoms of their country. Mike Dobbins Thank you for taking the time to learn foryourself the truth about Islam..

For years I was an apologist for Islam, as regrettably, many still remain. I only read books and believed those who painted Islam in a peaceful, glowing light. I made excuses for radical Muslims and lived…

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Killing Christians: persecution of Christians is worse than ever, so why is the Church growing?


remso:

Even in the midst of persecution, the church is growing. He is coming soon!

Originally posted on Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog:

KillingChristians

>> Join me for a discussion of Christian persecution in the Mideast during a special simulcast on April 19th.

We are living in a time of unprecedented persecution of Christians in the Middle East and around the world. The Lord Jesus warned His disciples that they would be persecuted, and that persecution would intensify as the time of His return drew near. Today, we are seeing His prophecies come to pass as never before.

Recently, my friend, Tom Doyle, published an important book titled, Killing Christians: Living The Faith Where It’s Not Safe ToBelieve. Tom not only describes the general wave of brutality against Christ-followers worldwide; he also tells specific, personal stories of believers boldly standing for their Savior — and courageously proclaiming the Gospel of forgiveness and eternal life — amidst such persecution.

This is one of the most intriguing conundrums of our time: the Church is actually growing amidst martyrdom. More and…

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Why was the beggar Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom?


Having made the post about Judas Iscariot, my father approaches me and says, I read your post about Judas. It was somewhat long, but tell me this: Why was the beggar Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom? The question was a little off topic, but I suppose I opened the door, as I had made the point about the beggar Lazarus and the multiple levels of hell theory. Still, it is a great question.

The question is really deeper than it seems. I know this because of previous conversations we have had. However, the answer may not be a simple one. To start with, we have to set up a starting point to work from and that is God’s character. This character is evident in the Son, Jesus Christ, and it is mercy.

I know already that the answer is going to be difficult for many to wrap their minds around because: (1.) mercy has never been a theme intentionally taught in religious circles. When I hear complaints about the sad state of the church today, I also hear this, why do they not preach on sin anymore. Perhaps that is because we are all very adept at sinning, however, few of us are any good at showing mercy? (2.) You have to work on the principle that God’s word is true, and this is a huge obstacle for many.

My desire is to never teach from conjecture. I am sure that most know what that means: A preponderance of opinion without proof. So, how do we find enough evidence to prove a point about subjects within a parable, especially when most of us consider the parables to be mere stories?

First, we will operate on the principle that Jesus, the Jew, was speaking to Jews, and it is probable that these men knew whom Lazarus the beggar was, therefore in most cases, we should assume that these are real people.

Secondly, we have a recorded history of the ideals and traditions of the Jewish people. Thanks to Josephus, Tacitus and others like them, we can understand the mindset of the men that Jesus was dealing with, and it goes like this:

The Pharisees considered wealth to be a proof of a person’s righteousness. Jesus startled them with this story in which a diseased beggar is rewarded and a rich man is punished.” Life Application Study Bible

An aspect of this story that must be understood is that the hearers immediately registered that the rich man was righteous. That understanding was based in tradition, not scripture. It also tells you that many religious leaders had money, and this attitude helped to justify any dubious methods or lifestyle issues they had.

The rich man did not go to hell because of his wealth but because he was selfish, refusing to feed Lazarus, take him in, or care for him. The rich man was hard-hearted in spite of his great blessings.” Life Application Study Bible

Now, how do we know that the rich man did not go to hell because of his wealth? Because this one of the few things on which we actually have evidence, based upon what Jesus tells us transpired in the parable.

“And it happened that the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. The rich one also died and was buried. And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things. But now he is comforted and you are tormented.” (Luke 16:22-25 MKJV)

The rich man is in hell, separated from Lazarus, and yet his habitual routine of demanding from people “beneath him,” is still there.

Here is a part of that conversation:

“Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.”

The rich man is demanding that Lazarus get him some cool water and cross over into this area of misery, merely to comfort him.

Abraham responds with:

Luke 16:25 LITV …Child, remember that you fully received your good things in your lifetime, and Lazarus likewise the bad things. But now he is comforted, and you are suffering.”

Nelson’s New illustrated Bible CommentaryThe standard by which the rich man treated others was applied to him. In his lifetime he lacked compassion, so now there was no compassion for him.”

All we know about Lazarus is that he was a Jew, a beggar, and now in Abraham’s bosom, comforted. The mere fact that he is in Abraham’s bosom, should tell us that he was a Jew.

Therefore, we have two Jews; obviously from opposite ends of the monetary spectrum, but as Jews, both fall into the class of “God’s chosen people”. We tend to think that merely because they are Jews they should have an advantage. However, that is not the case, and the rich man finds himself, unexpectedly in a place of torment.

Since we have surmised that being the chosen people gains you no advantage, and your financial status is not a deciding factor in your destiny, what is the thing that stands out as the determinant of who receives God’s mercy? It would seem that living a selfless life style is.

I told you that many would have problems with the explanation and here is why: If Jesus is telling this parable then we know that the age of grace is not yet upon the world. Therefore, the only way for those under the Mosaic covenant to have any form of righteousness, even if temporary, is through their presenting themselves to priest, as the blood of the sacrificial lamb they have brought is poured out for their sins.

The only other option, and the one in which this parable then relies on while demonstrating God’s character, is mercy. That means that Lazarus, lacking any other evidence, is only in Abraham’s bosom, because of mercy.

My reasons for the usage of this passage in Matthew nay not be immediately clear, so stay with me as I explain how this fits the theme of God’s character and mercy.

For the kingdom of Heaven is like a man, a housemaster, who went out when it was early to hire workers into his vineyard. And agreeing with the workers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing idle in the market. And he said to them, You also go into the vineyard, and I will give you whatever is just. And they went. Again, going out about the sixth and ninth hour, he did the same. And going out about the eleventh hour, he found others standing idle, and said to them, Why do you stand here idle all day? They said to him, Because no one has hired us. He said to them, You also go into the vineyard, and you will receive whatever is just. But evening having come, the lord of the vineyard said to his manager, Call the workers and pay them the wage, beginning from the last to the first. And the ones having come the eleventh hour each received a denarius. And having come, the first supposed that they would receive more. And they also each received a denarius. And having received it, they murmured against the housemaster, saying, These last have performed one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day. But answering, he said to one of them, Friend, I do not wrong you. Did you not agree to a denarius with me? Take yours and go. But I desire to give to this last as also to you. Or is it not lawful for me to do what I desire with my things? Or is your eye evil because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last; for many are called, but few chosen.

(Matthew 20:1-16 LITV)

 If you look at Matthew 20:1-16 from a religious viewpoint, God can also be pointing out those that are angry at even the possibility of anyone making it into the kingdom of God without having to jump through all the hoops, that religion has put most through. (Note: this idea I am going to develop will not excuse your personal choices in this life, and, as you know, many of those decisions can and will cost you in terms of your health and personal losses.)

Having spent my life in church, I admit that I have my moments where I think I missed some great excitement, that otherwise would have been mine if I lived in the world. Because I am in recovery for anger and co-dependency, I am painfully aware of the damage the world has done to most, especially since I see many people I have come to love and appreciate get pulled back into old habits, which we call relapsing.

One of the statements I have heard repeatedly is that the White Throne judgment is the final judgment, and the time in which God sends everyone off to hell because their names are not found in His book. Sorry, but that is just not the case, and though it forces you to read your bible, you will not find that there. Allow me to show you.

Revelation 20:11-12 MKJV (11) And I saw a great white throne, and Him sitting on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And a place was not found for them.   (12) And I saw the dead, the small and the great, stand before God. And books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

 You need to find out who the dead are to understand this. As believers, the general idea is that we get caught up in the rapture, and are alive in Christ, therefore not subject to this judgment. From the time of Christ death until the rapture, all those who have died in Christ are also included as those in Christ, and therefore excluded. After the rapture, many will continue to come to Christ but since this is no longer a time of grace, they will have to prove their allegiance to God, and the nations (think Islam) will chop off the heads of those who do not comply with the global religion. You also need to know that there are only three groups of people in the world, and we need to name them: The Jews, the nations, and the church.

  • – Scripture tells us that many Jews will survive the seven-year period, and will turn to the Lord. They are therefore excluded from the dead before the throne.
  • – Followers of Christ throughout the seven years of wrath are called martyred saints; they will be killed, but are resurrected to heaven, hence excluded from the dead before the throne.
  • – Therefore, the only people who can be considered the dead, are the people God deems the nations, those who refuse to acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus, and those throughout all time that also refused Him.

It is these, the dead without Christ, which must come before the White Throne for judgment. Now, if you were religiously minded, you would easily assume that these would go immediately to hell, but that is not the case.

This is where we have to go to another source to see what really happens, and so I take you to Matthew 25.

And all nations shall be gathered before Him. And He shall separate them from one another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. And indeed He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats off the left. Then the King shall say to those on His right hand, Come, blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me. Then the righteous shall answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, and fed You? Or thirsty, and gave You drink? When did we see You a stranger, and took You in? Or naked, and clothed You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and came to You? And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you have done it to Me. Then He also shall say to those on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in; I was naked, and you did not clothe Me; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they will also answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to You? Then He shall answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into everlasting life. (Matthew 25:32-46 MKJV)

If you were paying attention, you saw that the nations, those who have not acknowledged Jesus as Lord, come before Him in judgment.

God does the separating and deems some as sheep and others as goats. Regardless, they are all considered to be from the nations. The sheep gain entrance into the kingdom, an act of mercy upon those who showed mercy. In response, they do the most amazing thing, standing there in awe, they say, what did we do to deserve this?

The goats on the other hand, are told, “Depart from Me you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels”, but why? Because they did little outside of satisfying their own selfish desires.

It is clear to me that the goats are those not found in the Book of Life.

 Revelation 20:15 MKJV And if anyone was not found having been written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the Lake of Fire.

How does any of this relate to the beggar Lazarus and the rich man? I believe that in the parable we get to see what God deems a sheep and a goat. I also believe it demonstrates the selfish actions of the rich man, and what it cost him. Lazarus, as a poor beggar, may never have had the opportunity to help anyone but himself during his lifetime, but we do not know that. We only know that God knows the heart and saw something that we could not see.

I told you that the answer would make many upset. I realize that some of that will emanate from the White Throne judgment conclusion alone, but the main thing is the idea, that God himself, would give mercy to someone who did not abide by all the rules I had to abide by. For the believer, our wage, in a sense, is eternity. My work day has effectively been all my life, and the reward has never increased, it is still eternity and a life with the Father. However, at the White Throne judgment, there are those who did not live by religious restriction, relaxed and merely lived a decent life, occasionally acting out of selfless motives while helping others as they could. This means that God, like the vineyard owner, brings them in at the last-minute, and pays them the same reward that I am being paid, and they did not have to live the austere life.

What does this parable about Lazarus tell me? That God has mercy on whom he will.

Posted in Hope, Things I have never noticed before, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Judas, is he lost forever?


English: "The Judas Kiss", (Mark 14:...

English: “The Judas Kiss”, (Mark 14:45) by Gustave Doré. Judas kisses Jesus in order to betray him to the guards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus made a statement about Judas that we Christians seem to feel is very damming. If those words are to be understood as they stand, and they are the verdict, then he is gone forever; what if we really do not know the answer to that? No one seems to believe that there was any mercy available for Judas. I can understand why though and I believe it comes from John 17:12 where Jesus said of Judas:

While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gave me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” John 17:12 KJV

The only other place that we see this term used specifically toward a person, is the son of perdition (the antichrist) reference, that we find in Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonian church.

2 Thessalonians 2:3 KJV (3) Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

The word perdition, as the dictionary defines it is a hard one to accept because it carries such finality. PERDI’TION, n. [L. perditio, from perdo, to lose, to ruin.] 1. Entire loss or ruin; utter destruction.

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, © 1984, 1996, Thomas Nelson, Inc. However, defines perdition like this:

  1. apollumi (G622), a strengthened form of ollumi, signifies “to destroy utterly”; in middle voice, “to perish.” The idea is not extinction but ruin, loss, not of being, but of well-being. This is clear from its use, as, e.g., of the marring of wine skins, Luk_5:37; of lost sheep, i.e., lost to the shepherd, metaphorical of spiritual destitution, Luk_15:4, Luk_15:6, etc.; the lost son, Luk_15:24; of the perishing of food, Joh_6:27; of gold, 1Pe_1:7. So of persons, Mat_2:13, “destroy”; Mat_8:25, “perish”; Mat_22:7; Mat_27:20; of the loss of well-being in the case of the unsaved hereafter, Mat_10:28; Luk_13:3, Luk_13:5; Joh_3:16 (Joh_3:15 in some mss.); Joh_10:28; John_17:12; Rom_2:12; 1Co_15:18;

Our passage about Judas being the son of perdition is included, and opens the door for us to consider the possibility of mercy being shown to him.

The Contemporary English Version translates Jesus comment about Judas in this fashion:

John 17:12 CEV While I was with them, I kept them safe by the power you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost, except the one who had to be lost. This happened so that what the Scriptures say would come true.

If I were to make an assumption, then it leans toward God needed someone to fulfill prophecy and Judas was it.

How different was Judas in his beliefs about who Christ was from the others, not much really.

We know that Judas was known to take money from the money bag, but no one seemed to care. Perhaps that was because Jesus-through prayer-made sure that they always had enough, and did not have to care.

If Judas Iscariot was just a useful implement that God could merely pull out of the toolbox, then we are all being pushed into a gray area that convolutes the character of God, and really gives none of us a choice in our relationship with God. This convoluted logic goes against God’s declarations such as we find in John 10:9, where He says, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

We know what Judas did, but why and how do we know any of that?

Someone had to tell them, and they probably shared that information expressly to hurt them, now that Jesus is gone.

In Matthew chapter 26, verse 16 we find: “from that moment on he sought a fitting opportunity to betray Him.” What triggered this drive in Judas? You walked with this man Jesus for three years, how could you not fall in love with Him. Now you want to betray him; it does not make any sense. The verses just before this may shed some light on Judas motivations.

When Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper, a woman came up to him as he was eating dinner and anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume. When the disciples saw what was happening, they were furious. “That’s criminal! This could have been sold for a lot and the money handed out to the poor.” When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened. “Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me. When she poured this perfume on my body, what she really did was anoint me for burial. You can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired.” (Matthew 26:6-13 MSG)

Matthew tells us that the disciples had a small meltdown over the monetary value of the perfume and what could be done with it, not just Judas. Why did any of that matter, it was not theirs to make a decision about. This might have motivated Judas if he were trying to finance a rebellion against Rome, but we do not know that.

What else was said that is highly significant?What she really did was anoint me for burial.” If this man sitting here, having perfume rubbed on Him is the Messiah we have waited for, we do not need Him talking about an eminent death. Jesus had told them all along what was going to happen, he merely left out names as He told them the story. Yet, they all anticipated him rising up as the victorious, Messiah king that would bring them freedom from Roman oppression. Is it possible that Judas was merely trying to force the masters hand. Jesus had already told them that he would be handed over and betrayed during the Passover (Matthew 26:2) someone had to fulfill that role.

Matthew’s gospel records the incident where Judas makes the deal to betray Jesus:

Matthew 26:14-16 AMP Then one of the Twelve [apostles], who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests (15) And said, What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you? And they weighed out for and paid to him thirty pieces of silver [about twenty-one dollars and sixty cents]. [Exo_21:32; Zec_11:12.] (16)   And from that moment he sought a fitting opportunity to betray Him.

Since the Amplified gives us possible references that might elaborate, let us pursue that.

Exodus 21:32 AMP If the ox gores a manservant or a maidservant, the owner shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

We have to stretch the imagination somewhat to find a typology for Judas in this, but I suppose the concept is there. If Judas can be substituted for the ox, then Judas would have to be stoned. I tend to take the bible literally, and since Judas was neither an ox or stoned, this does not fit. However, the reference to Zechariah’s words/prophecy fit what transpired, with a remarkable precision.

Zechariah 11:12-13 MKJV   (12) And I said to them, If it is good, give My price; and if not, let it go. So they weighed My price thirty pieces of silver. (13) And Jehovah said to me, throw it to the potter, the magnificent price at which I was valued by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of Jehovah. [Mat_26:14-15; Mat_27:3-10.]

The Message by Eugene Peterson, gives us this take on verse 12, and I think it makes the connection very well.

Zechariah 11:12 MSG Then I addressed them: “Pay me what you think I’m worth.” They paid me an insulting sum, counting out thirty silver coins.

Sounds very similar to what Matthew said, doesn’t it?

Matthew 26:14-15 ESV Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests   (15) and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver.

After the betrayal, what did Judas do?

He tried to give the money back. Thrown back in their faces, the Pharisees bought the potters field with it, and buried Judas there. Once again, let us look at Matthew’s gospel:

Matthew 27:3-10 ESV Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, (4) saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” (5) And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. (6) But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.”   (7) So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. (8) Therefore, that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. (9) Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, (10) and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”

It still echoes what Zechariah spoke: “And I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of Jehovah”.

We know that Jesus sent Judas away saying, “what you have to do, go and do quickly.” Therefore, Jesus was not blind sided in any way. Judas, having made the agreement to betray Jesus kissed Him on the cheek. How is it possible that those who came for him did not know who Jesus was that night?

If mercy was shown to Judas, where can we find that?

Matthew 27:3-4 CEV tells us this about Judas: that “when he learned that Jesus had been sentenced to death, he was sorry for what he had done. He returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and leaders and said, “I have sinned by betraying a man who has never done anything wrong.

When Jesus was crucified that day there were two thieves also crucified with him. As the day began they both cursed him, shouting, if you are the Son of God then get yourself down off that cross, but Jesus did not respond to them. One of them, seeing something different about the man Jesus, who is now unrecognizable, says, let him alone, for this man has done nothing wrong as we have, and he asks Jesus to remember him in paradise when He goes there. This tells me that at least this one thief had some knowledge of who Jesus was and had previously ignored Him, as most did. Some will argue against that, it has already happened, but you have to ask yourself:

  • How probable is it that the thief would have seen the signage above Jesus head indicating that He was the king of the Jews, and given the circumstances, why would that affect you now?
  • Assuming the thief could not see the signage, what other things might have convinced him that day? Perhaps the massive earthquake that opened graves and many dead people came to life and walked around town; How about that permeating darkness that fell over Jerusalem and probably the whole earth, that just happened to come as they sunk His cross in the ground. Was it the centurions recognition that this was the Son of God, because they are not affected by anything, or was it the strange calmness in the way He spoke to the one He called Father, that got his attention.

The point here is that we give this thief mercy, a man who recognized that he sinned and in a sense repented, just as Judas did, and yet no one excoriates that thief, eliminating all hope for him.

As we started our morning bible study, the topic was eternity.

That seemed safe enough and the potential for it being a positive study was good; that quickly proved incorrect because somehow it swung around to Judas and levels of hell and now we are no longer teaching the bible but some derivation of Dante’s inferno.

Judas has died. Bereft over his actions that might have been motivated by the hope of pushing Jesus to become the King they anticipated, Judas hung himself. Many will tell you that to do that is self-murder and you have condemned yourself to a fiery hell, apart from God for eternity over that act. How about showing some mercy for people whose mind is so sick, tired and damaged, that they cannot see any other way out.

How quickly did you forget that the “Law” called any man cursed that hung on a tree, and that is precisely where we find Jesus that day, hanging on a tree? Not only Jesus, but also the thief that asked for mercy and obtained it, or do you only have capabilities for handing out mercy to one person in your lifetime.

You want examples of mercy under the law where all of this transpired, look at this:

Isa_49:25 But so says Jehovah, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the fearful ones shall escape. For I will contend with him who contends with you, and I will save your sons.

Isa_61:1 The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is on Me; because Jehovah has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

I am not brainless; I know what some of you are thinking, because I have heard the arguments already. You think you can limit God and his abilities to your way of thinking, and therefore declarations such as: “to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” are merely spiritual metaphors and not to be taken literally. Then what am I supposed to do, just rip a few more pages out of my bible because you have chosen what is right and believable.

What are we to do with?

Revelation 1:18 LITV and the Living One; and I became dead; and, behold, I am living forever and ever. Amen. And I have the keys to hell, and of death.

Do you think that the demons holding those keys just amicably handed those keys over to Jesus? I think He snatched them out of their hands in a way that shook them to their core, and they cleared out of His way as He threw the gates open.

Or the prophet Hosea’s words:

Hosea 13:14 LITV I will ransom them from the hand of Sheol; I will redeem them from death. O death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your ruin? Repentance is hidden from My eyes.

The leader and at least one other chimed in agreement, that there are two different levels to hell. As the casual observer, I can tell you that my mind always seems to go back to college literature class, in which we had to read, and write on, The Inferno by Dante Alighieri. It was interesting to learn how political this book truly was, and how he denigrated corrupt politicians by placing them in the varied and torturous levels of the hell he described. Is this purely a creation of Dante’s? I do not know because the Catholic Church as well as Mormons practice forms penitence to relieve loved ones from possible punishment.

What do we know from scripture about “levels of hell”? We have to go to the parable that Jesus told to find out anything about it.

“There was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. But at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus whose body was covered with sores, who longed to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. In addition, the dogs came and licked his sores. “Now the poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. And in hell, as he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far off with Lazarus at his side. So he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in this fire.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things and Lazarus likewise bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish. Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us, so that those who want to cross over from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ (Luke 16:19-26 NET.)

Do you really believe that Jesus would be incapable of crossing a miserable gap? Think this through for a moment. Jesus did not just take the sins of the world upon Him, He became sin, and that is just a bit different is it not? Satan thought he had won and Christ was finally defeated. This should ring loudly since we just celebrated the season in which Jesus died and rose from the dead (we call it Easter.) Therefore, it is possible that Jesus was dragged to whatever level involved the torment. Moreover, if we choose to place Judas there, then Jesus preached once again to him.

I tried, that morning during bible study, to point this possibility out, especially since we had turned the topic of eternity into an ugly reprimand about our deficiency in the field of evangelism. When the bible study goes this direction the subject of how to respond to rebuttals comes up, and one of the men will inevitably point out how foolish it is for people to respond with, I have time and so I think I will just wait. If Jesus captured the keys to hell, then he was there releasing captives that wanted freedom. Can you imagine Judas saying to Jesus, I have time, let me think about it for a couple more years. Judas, just like me, would have run into His arms.

I can only speculate about what happened to Judas, but if I am going to err, then I am going to do it on the side of mercy, because I too long for mercy. I also think that our beating Judas, as the dead horse, is doing nothing more than showing people an inappropriate character of God, the same God that supposedly lives in us.

God sent His only Son into a world that not only hated Him, but also refused His love continuously, for one reason, to rescue those who wanted this everlasting life.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18 KJV)

I do not know how I did it, but in a sense I brought this back to what I had hoped the mornings bible study would really talk about, our glorious, everlasting life in Him. As you can see in the passage above, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have this everlasting life, and you no longer have to worry about your destiny, you can know. His name is Jesus, and He is coming sooner than you think.

An addendum. As this has obviously been on my mind, I have been talking about it, primarily from the view point of our being just a little less critical, and more understanding. Certainly there are some issues that can be black and white, but our judgmental attitudes need to stop.

Two days in a row I have spoken about this subject, and both times I have been interrupted and told I am wrong. How am I wrong, if I read it to you from scripture? If anyone is wrong, it is God, who promoted the idea through His word. Perhaps we should all be tearing pages out of our bibles because, these two men, much like many others, disagree with God. Seems like a common problem, doesn’t it? So it is really not God that has the problem is it; it is humans and their lack of knowledge or arrogance in that they refuse to accept the truth.

One of my acquaintances pointed me to this: (John 17:12 NASB) “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” He had to add, Judas was not saved, and therefore a subject of Satan. I contended that no one was saved, as salvation did not come until after the cross, so your logic does not hold up.

I also pointed out what John 10:28,29 said: John 10:28-29 NASB “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. (29) “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Interesting, what does that say about Judas? Here we go, back to the argument that Judas was never one of them, and that I need to look at the context more intently. Perhaps the Holy Spirit should not make such bold statements, as they tend to make God look foolish. But that is not the case, is it. God is not the liar.

Another argues, how then were the Old Testament saints saved? I responded with, they were only atoned for their sins through a sacrifice, and their atonement was only temporary. The response to that was, Oh no, look at Hebrews 11 were it says they were saved. So let us look at Hebrews 11 for a moment.

Hebrews 11:1-2 NASB Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (2) For by it the men of old gained approval.

Who are they gaining approval from, and what does that buy them? The answer is not so clear, is it. Certainly, in stories like Jephthah, and Gideon’s, we can see that approval was gained, not only from God, but Israel itself – at least for a time. But none of that equates to the confidence we have in salvation. Let us continue.

Hebrews 11:13 NASB All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

None of them received the promise of everlasting life with the Father. That only comes with an acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Well how did that happen then, as they did not have that opportunity? That means Christ went into the place of captivity and demonstrated that He was the awaited Messiah, giving those trapped there the opportunity to receive Him. They did, and look at how Paul explains that:

Ephesians 4:8-10 NASB Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” (9) (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? (10) He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)

 I realize that this pokes big holes in the traditions of many, but maybe God needs to do that now and then.

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Israeli scholar says 1st century Jews awaited Messiah who would die & rise again. Argues “third day resurrection” an idea that pre-dates Jesus.


remso:

Just ponder the opener to the blog.

Originally posted on Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog:

“The Messiah Before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” a fascinating book by Dr. Israel Knohl of Hebrew University. “The Messiah Before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” a fascinating book by Dr. Israel Knohl of Hebrew University.

This is the week of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of First Fruits. Millions of Jews in Israel and around the world are celebrating the story of how the Jewish people were saved from the “angel of death” in ancient times if they put the blood of a perfect slain lamb on the doorposts of their homes in Egypt.

This is also the week of Good Friday and Easter. Billions of Christians around the world are celebrating the death of Jesus of Nazareth, and His resurrection from the tomb three days later, and the belief that all mankind can be saved from the “angel of death” in our times if we, too, trust in the blood of a perfect slain Passover Lamb.

But did the Jews of the first century really believe the Messiah would one day come…

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What is the most controversial prophecy in the Hebrew Bible, and why read it at Passover?


remso:

I need to give this some thought. I have often made assumptions, only to have to change course later on. Joel Rosenberg’s writings are almost prophetic, but always insightful.

Originally posted on Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog:

The Great Isaiah Scroll on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The Great Isaiah Scroll on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The actual Great Isaiah Scroll (source: The Israel Museum). The actual Great Isaiah Scroll (source: The Israel Museum).

(Central Israel) — Have you ever been to the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem? Have you ever seen the Great Isaiah Scroll on display there?

It is absolutely breathtaking. And it contains what many believe is the most controversial prophecy in the entire Hebrew Bible.

“The Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) is one of the original seven Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Qumran in 1947,” notes the Israel Museum on its website. “It is the largest (734 cm) and best preserved of all the biblical scrolls, and the only one that is almost complete. The 54 columns contain all 66 chapters of the Hebrew version of the biblical Book of Isaiah. Dating from ca. 125 BCE, it is also one of the…

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Some thoughts on my pastor’s recent “teaching” and what I know and see in Revelation 6:2


I was so excited to hear that we were eventually going to get a series on Revelation. I love Revelation and I was looking forward to what pastor had to say. Tonight was about the fourth in the series and he opened with Revelation 6:2. In his opening statements he said, many of you are going to disagree with what I am about to say; I did.

Revelation 6:2 KJV And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

He began his explanation of the passage by telling us that this is a representation of Jesus Christ, touching briefly, on why he felt this was the most logical interpretation. He stated, that the church is still here at this point and has not left the earth as many believe happens at the beginning of chapter four.

Pastor did not say where he got his information from, but it sounds very similar to Jameson Fausset and Brown’s, as you will see.

Revelation 6:2 – A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown

Evidently Christ, whether in person, or by His angel, preparatory to His coming again, as appears from Rev_19:11, Rev_19:12.

bow — (Psalm_45:4,5).

Where David speaks of God’s arrows being sharp, but makes no mention of the bow. While it seems logical to assume a bow, we are looking for evidence and this is not explicitly what we need.

crown — Greek, “stephanos,” the garland or wreath of a conqueror, which is also implied by His white horse, white being the emblem of victory. In Rev_19:11, Rev_19:12 the last step in His victorious progress is represented; accordingly there He wears many diadems (Greek, “diademata”; not merely Greek, “stephanoi,” “crowns” or “wreaths”), and is personally attended by the hosts of heaven. Compare Zec_1:7-17; Zec_6:1-8; especially Rev_6:10 below, with Zec_1:12; also compare the colors of the four horses.

and to conquer — that is, so as to gain a lasting victory. All four seals usher in judgments on the earth, as the power which opposes the reign of Himself and His Church. This, rather than the work of conversion and conviction, is primarily meant, though doubtless, secondarily, the elect will be gathered out through His word and His judgments.

As you can see, the definitions used by JFB have to correlate with Christ’s continuing work in the earth or the analogy does not work. I have a huge problem with this and pastor’s interpretation.

When I am trying to understand a difficult passage I rely on several methods: I compare commentaries, look at the context, let scripture define scripture by finding other texts such Zechariah’s prophecy that help to define what I am reading, and rely on the Holy Spirit as Jesus tells us in John 14:26.

John 14:26 NASB “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

I acknowledge that I need the help of teachers also, just as the Ethiopian eunuch confessed this to Philip as he tried to understand the prophecy of Isaiah.

Acts 8:29-31 MKJV   Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near and join yourself to this chariot. (30) And Philip ran there to him and heard him read the prophet Isaiah, and said, Do you indeed understand what you are reading? (31)   And he said, How can I unless some man should guide me? And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.

Let us break Revelation 6:2 down a bit and then go into some details.

And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. (Revelation 6:2 KJV)

Behold a white horse.

John McArthur gives a clear explanation, so I will defer some of this to him (even though I am not his biggest fan.)

white horse. The animal represents an unparalleled time of world peace—a false peace that is to be short-lived (see note on Rev_6:4). This peace will be ushered in by a series of false messiahs, culminating with the Antichrist (Mat_24:3-5).

If you think about it, the earth has never had any lasting times of peace, but several countries have quieter than others, and America was one of them. It does not take much more than common sense to see that peace within this nation is slipping away fast. This is an entirely different picture if you live in the Northern African nations, Egypt, and most of the Middle Eastern nations as Islam and ISIS proclaim their idea of peace while killing you.

From the “for your information” files: The howstuffworks.com website, informs us that Australia compiled data to indicate the time and country that was the most peaceful, and the year was 2009.

“Once all the data is compiled, the country with the lowest score is declared the most peaceful. In 2009, New Zealand was crowned the most peaceful country in the world, followed by Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Austria. The United States came in at number 83.”

This information is based on factors such as:

  • Relations with neighboring countries
  • Number of homicides per 100,000 people
  • Estimated number of deaths from organized conflict
  • Level of disrespect for human rights
  • Number of heavy weapons per 100,000 people
  • Number of jailed inmates per 100,000 people
  • Military capability/sophistication
  • Ease of access to weapons of minor destruction
  • Potential for terrorist acts

“the most publicized peaceful era is the Pax Romana. Latin for “Roman peace,” this period of roughly 200 years was made famous by the 18th-century historian Edward Gibbon in his landmark book “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” .”

Does this surprise anyone – peace through oppression?

“Despite all the drawbacks of modern living, we really are living in the most peaceful time in recorded history. But remember, it’s all relative.” http://history.howstuffworks.com/historical-events/most-peaceful-time-in-history.htm

Look at the passage again, but this time in the amplified bible.

Revelation 6:2 AMP   And I looked, and saw there a white horse whose rider carried a bow. And a crown was given him, and he rode forth conquering and to conquer. [Ps. 45:4, 5; Zech. 1:8; Zech. 6:1-3.]

Psalm 45:4,5 is the only place where God is referenced as having sharp arrows, but there is no bow in the description, so that does not fit, nor assist our understanding. Zechariah 6:1-3 does not work either, although there is the mention of white horses. The problem with using this to help define Rev 6:2 is that these are attached to chariots and are specifically from before the throne of God. The verse that speaks specifically to Rev 6:2 is Zechariah 1:8, and I will give you the context to read.

Zechariah 1:8-12 MKJV I watched by night. And behold! a Man riding on a red horse, and He stood among the myrtle trees in the ravine. And behind Him were red, sorrel and white horses. (9) Then I said, O my lord, what are these? And the angel who talked with me said to me, I will show you what these are.   (10) And the Man who stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are those whom Jehovah has sent to walk to and fro through the earth. (11) And they answered the Angel of Jehovah who stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and behold, all the earth sits still and is at peace. (12) Then the Angel of Jehovah answered and said, O Jehovah of Hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah against which You have cursed these seventy years?

Zechariah sees something that puzzles him, but what should be so puzzling about riders on horses. The symbolism might be part of the answer, but what I suspect may have been more predominant would be the question, what is their purpose? An inquisitive read of the passage and something like a Strong’s concordance will give you the answers to the question.

Zechariah asks a question of the angel addressing him, who in turn, asks of the man among the myrtle trees. My personal belief is that this is Jesus.

Here is where it takes a sinister turn, “And the Man who stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are those whom Jehovah has sent to walk to and fro through the earth.” It all sounds so benign until you look up the word sent. Sent is the Hebrew word shâlach, and means forsaken or cast away. Who are the main characters in scripture that have been cast away, Satan and one-third of the angels. Then this rider is at the least a fallen angel–we like to call them demons, and they are bent on destruction and deception.

He that sat on him had a bow

Note how McArthur says: “this is a false peace that is to be short-lived”. This statement is very important to me because it bears witness with evidence. My convictions that something is true are based on scripture, common sense, an understanding of what is going on in the world, that I educated myself on what Islam believes, and some interesting revelations coming to light from Jewish interpretations of future events.

Using the naïve, method of interpretation, every hero arrives on a white horse to save the day; so why not here? The problem is that this rider has an archers bow in his hand. In contrast with Revelation 19, where another white horse rider shows up, this one is carrying a sword. and it clearly identified as Jesus. Jesus never shows up using a bow, He has always been represented using a sword, unless, as I pointed out earlier where David describes sharp arrows.

Again, I defer to McArthur:

He who sat on it. The four horses and their riders do not represent specific individuals, but forces. Some, however, identify this rider with Antichrist. Although he will be the leading figure, John’s point is that the entire world will follow him, being obsessed with pursuing this false peace.

Is it mandatory that you read the Qur’an and understand Islam, its prophecies and how they parallel –almost to the letter what we believe in bible prophecy? No, but I would prefer that we, like the Berean’s, would pursue knowledge and ask questions.

I believe that John wrote with the full intention of his reader’s being able to understand what he was telling them, even if it would not apply to them. We see one possibility given by Keener, who paints a similar, and yet historical time also lacking peace.

From The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament – Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener

Rev_6:2. “The very image of an archer on a white horse would strike terror into the heart of a pro-Roman reader. The only mounted archers of antiquity were the Parthians, whose tactics and skills had made them Rome’s most feared enemies; old Persian armies, whose heirs the Parthians were, always included sacred white horses. Although the Old Testament uses the “bow” as a symbol of judgment by battle more generally, Roman readers would think of this eastern nation that had defeated them in some recent wars; Parthians’ skill as archers was common knowledge. Other contemporary apocalyptic writers (Similitudes of Enoch) also suggested a dreaded Parthian invasion, hence ancient readers would have readily understood that this horseman meant conquest and war.”

We have been warned about false teachers. I am not saying my pastor is a false teacher, but the day will come when they, will intentionally try to lead those that mindlessly follow astray. If I were your pastor, I would admonish you to look these things up for yourselves.

What is the point? The point is that time is short and I think it is safe to say that the white horse rider is already upon us, taking peace from the earth. You do not have to be Einstein to see that. Are you ready? If not try praying this: Jesus, I give my life to you. I receive your life, and everything you did so that I can have a life with you, into mine. Open your mouth and say it, and you are his.

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“How do you kill 11 Million people?” You lie to them.


I was asked for my thoughts on the book, “How do you kill 11 Million people?”

The answer, of course is laid out there in the book, so I suppose the real question is, do I agree with the authors assessment, and the answer is yes. I could not read the book without seeing instantly the correlation with this United States of ours, the nation I describe as a fully loaded freight train, going downhill fast, with no brakes.

On page 19, Andy Andrews makes the statement, “What we need to understand is how eleven million people allow themselves to be killed.” The author goes on to say that “this is an obvious oversimplification”, but is it. I do not think so.

The author is right; you lie to them.

Speeches written to appease the specific audience; pledges to cut taxes; the berating of previous administrations for their abuses of presidential/executive actions, and then the subtle affection for redistribution of wealth, a socialist ideal.

Many of us screamed about the evils of President Obama, but he was elected anyway. Up for reelection, once again, we screamed, decrying the horrors of his first four years, and he was still reelected. What does that tell you? No one really wants to know the truth.

Andrews noted that, an educated population accepted their salaries and avoided the uncomfortable truths, like, an insolvent Federal Reserve, but then those that run it do not care so why should I?

He stated, “And when the Nazis came for their children, it was too late.” I can see the impact on our schools; a change that started long ago, but grossly clear with common core.

It may be too late, but we can still pray.

The theme of this book is what I have told anyone that will listen for several years now. The plans are in place, the papers signed, the armaments distributed, and everything you took comfort in will be gone in a moment of time. We, as a church, foolishly talk about the time of tribulation that is coming. Tribulation is here. It is the one thing that I can assure you of based upon what Jesus said. Yet, we know that impossible as it may seem for some, it will get worse.

A strange irony, on the same day you handed me Andy Andrews book, I picked up a copy of Night, by Elie Wiesel. He describes from a personal point of view, a similar, and yet more horrific scene. One in which, German officers politely took quarter in the homes of the Jews. However, that did not last long.

Wiesel tells of a Jewish man, Moishe Beadle, not Hungarian born, therefore a foreigner, and because he was a foreigner, he was one of the first taken. Watching those Jews being taken people sighed and said, what can we do, for such is war? The deportees were soon forgotten. Rumors would come, saying they are in another city and faring well, but that was not the case. Months passed but somehow Moishe Beadle had made it back into town. Now, no longer quiet as before, he went around telling any that would listen of the atrocities and how they were made to dig their own grave, and then made to offer their necks to German pistols. Moishe Beadle had somehow escaped with only a gunshot through the leg. Still, no one would listen as he told of the atrocities and treated him as if he were a madman.

When the horror began, the community still chose not to believe it, because they were told it was for their own good and they had no evidence to prove the Nazis intended to harm them. Moishe Beadle did.

Yellow badge Star of David called "Judens...

Yellow badge Star of David called “Judenstern”. Part of the exhibition in the Jewish Museum Westphalia, Dorsten, Germany. The wording is the German word for Jew (Jude), written in mock-Hebrew script. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stripped of their possessions and identified with the yellow star of David,  the Jews were moved into ghettos. Outward facing windows were sealed, the ghettos were surrounded by barbed wire, and yet they felt somewhat secure in this. As threats of death against them rose, they found reasons to think it was logical under the conditions.

They were told they were being moved away from the front lines when the Nazis began to herd them all at the train station. After standing in the hot sun for hours, they were even momentarily grateful for being pushed into the cattle cars and out of the hot sun, where the doors were then nailed shut. These trains took them all the way to Birkenau where many were cremated that very night.

Oddly, one woman on the train eventually began screaming out the flames and pointing in a particular direction. Everyone looked but there was nothing to be seen, and nothing could be done to shut her up. In time, some viciously struck her in the head to shut her up and soon she grew silent. As the trains came closer to the camp and were not yet visible she began screaming once again. This time no one struck her, but as the camp came into view, everyone could see the flames and smell the acrid smell belching from the stacks of the crematorium.

My point is that this woman acted as a prophet; somewhat pointless as there was nothing much that could be done, even if they did understand what God was telling them. Elie Wiesel, told how even as they arrived at the camp, some of the young, strong men, had knives and began to rally an attack against the Nazis, but the elders talked them out of it thinking that all would be okay. It would never be okay.

That screaming woman on the train saw something unexplainable that horrified her and could only communicate it in the manner she did. For that she was treated just as poorly as many of the Old Testament prophets, and there was nothing to confirm her word. Moishe Beadle, a victim and eyewitness of the violence that was to come, was treated as a madman and ignored.

I bought another book that disturbs me even more than these because the underlying motive permeates the church still today.

In the book, When a Jew Rules the World, by Joel Richardson, he opens chapter one with, “Just three years before his death in 1546, Martin Luther, the great Protestant reformer, wrote an anti-Jewish treatise titled On the Jews and their lies.” Joel goes on to say that this debate about how they should treat the Jews living among them went on for over a thousand years.

Luther offered his solution, holding nothing back about he really felt. In Martin Luther’s, own words:

What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews? … First, their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder of stone of it. And this ought to done for the honor of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians …

Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed. For they perpetrate the same things there that they do in their synagogues. For this reason they ought to be put under one roof or in a stable, like gypsies, in order that they may realize that they are not masters in our land, as they boast, miserable captives…

Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer-books and Talmuds in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy and taught…

Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more…

To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden – the Jews… Next to the devil, a Christian has no more bitter and galling foe than the Jew.[i]

Having read this for the first time, I will tell you that I am sickened by it. Joel Richardson states, “Most Christians who read Luther’s words for the first time are shocked. Tragically, Luther was far from alone among notable Christian leaders in his hatred and abuse of the Jews. .. his attitude was actually quite common among Christians throughout an overwhelming majority of Church history.”

Even more tragically, roughly five hundred years after Luther wrote his hateful treatise, Adolf Hitler would rely heavily on Luther’s proposals as the basis of his own ‘final solution,’ resulting in the death of two-thirds of the roughly nine million Jews who were living in Europe at the time.”

While we choose to sing the praises of Luther and the life-changing treatise he nailed to the Wittenberg door, he was at the same time filled with a vile hatred of my people, God’s chosen people. Though God has scattered them, and continues to punish them for ignoring him, they are still the root-stock to which I – as a believer in this Jew that will rule the earth – am little more than a branch. God has never given up on his people, but I am now forever tainted in my thoughts toward this hateful man called Martin Luther.

You will be chased out of the Jewish meeting places. And the time will come when people will kill you and think they are doing God a favor.

(John 16:2 CEV)

[i] Bruce Delmont, ed., On the Jews and Their Lies by Martin Luther (1483-1546) (Lulu.com), 165-66

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Are there prophets in the New Testament church?


I am reminded – far too often – that my blogs are long. Although, it grieves me, I reduced ten pages down to two. What I am doing is answering a question in my mind and hopefully yours, about the reality and validity of the prophetic.

The short answer is yes, and you will never convince me otherwise. Prophets are given to the church body – according to the measure of Christ – to build it up.

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;” (Ephesians 4:7-14 NASB)

We cannot and should not argue with truth. The book of Revelation is not written to the Old Testament Jews, but to the New Testament church. In it we find this word:

And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10 KJV)

Paul attests to the validity of prophets in his first letter to the church at Corinth by telling us that God has placed them in the body.

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:27-28 KJV)

We also find the prophets affirmed in 1Corinthians 14.

If anyone considers himself a prophet or gifted with the Spirit, let him understand that what I write to you is a command of the Lord. Anyone who disregards this will be himself disregarded. To sum up, my brothers. Set your heart on the prophetic gift, and do not put any check upon speaking in ‘tongues'; but let everything be done decorously and in order. (1 Corinthians 14:37-40 Moffatt NT)

1 Corinthians 14:1 KJV Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

1 Corinthians 14:3 MKJV (3) But he who prophesies speaks to men for building up, and exhortation, and comfort.

Take the time to read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. I will only point out that it is making clear that the prophet is a legitimate spiritual gift, and along with the others, is speaking by the Holy Spirit.

but it is the same God working all things in all”; “For through the Spirit is given..”to another prophecy”

The Holy Spirit testifies that Philip’s own daughters were prophets.

..and started next morning for Caesarea, where we entered the house of Philip the evangelist (he belonged to the Seven, and had four unmarried daughters who prophesied). We stayed with him.” (Acts 21:8-9 Moffatt NT)

Also within the frame-work of the New Testament we have Agabus. Led by the Holy Spirit to Paul, he testified that hard times would come for Paul.

While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.‘” When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:10-13 ESV)

The Holy Spirit affirmed the prophetic in the New Testament church as Peter addressed the crowds of Jewish worshipers on the day of Pentecost, quoting a portion of Joel chapter 2. I will leave it up to you to look up the original and its context.

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; (Acts 2:14-17 ESV)

Not only is it a valid and active gift, but God gives the prophetic a place of prominence.

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:28 ESV)

We are told to desire the higher gifts and prophecy  is one of them.

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:28-31 ESV)

The gifts, including the prophetic, are given for the edification of the body.

He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Ephesians 4:10-14 ESV)

Just to clarify a point here. Prophecy, does not necessarily equate to being a prophet. The book of Revelation tells us that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Since the testimony of Jesus and his word is one in the same, then speaking his word – in his authority – would constitute the deliverance of a prophetic word.

Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
(Revelation 19:10 ESV)

Call them what you want, cynics, pharisees, or grouches who just like to fight, I do not really care. I just know that it grieves my spirit to hear them come against God so adamantly. They will answer for their choices, but in the mean time we need to become more educated. You will only do that by spending time in His word.

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