Who are the dead that are brought before the Great White throne?

The imagery of the Great White throne comes specifically from Revelation 20. However, we also find this same throne of judgment, alternately described, in the parable we find in Matthew 25; this is the parable of the sheep and the goats.

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them. And judgment was given to them, and the souls of the ones having been beheaded because of the witness of Jesus, and because of the Word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast nor its image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand. And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4 LITV)

Sitting upon thrones judging, these are those that were martyred during the seven years of wrath upon the earth. Yes, they were killed, but they are resurrected at the beginning of the millennial reign – the first resurrection – and reign with Christ throughout the thousand years. They are not included among the dead gathered at the throne.

Appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene after re...

Appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene after resurrection, Alexander Ivanov, 1835 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:5 LITV)

With Christs death and resurrection came the age of grace. This period will end with the rapture of the church.

Those who have died prior to the age of grace:

Those who died in compliance with the Law of Moses

Those who died without the law, the nations

Maybe all have been in Abraham’s bosom much like the beggar Lazarus.

Because Jesus told us the parable about Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16), we know that there was a protected place separated by an impassable gulf, and that those not in the protected place are in torment.

Let me start by saying that this is a broad generalization. My example is the parable of Lazarus the beggar and the rich man. We find out that the rich man was a Jew, and as such, expected by those listening, to be in Abraham’s bosom, because for them, rich meant righteous.

In general, the nations would be considered outside of the law.

Did those who died prior to grace, have a chance? My response is, absolutely. I have spoken of this before with people. The problem is I am typically talking with religious people who absolutely will not allow God to work outside the limits they have placed on Him, nor will they listen to anything other than the tradition they understand. The responses have sounded like Hank Hannegraf’s in that they say it is blasphemy to suggest such a thing. Sounds like I am talking with Jews doesn’t it, but they are not. They are people who claim a relationship with Jesus, just like me.

Look, God did not begin the sacrifice for sin without reason. The sacrifice was symbolic of what His Son was to carry out, and as such, an example of hope. That hope came in the form of Jesus bringing grace to the dead as well. This could only happen because Jesus went to where they were and preached to them.

Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) (Ephesians 4:8-10 ESV)

Jesus went down there and took the keys.

.. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:18 ESV)

Jesus death on the cross and subsequent resurrection, brought the age of grace.

This grace period will end with the removal of the church from the earth.

The dead in Christ

Those alive at His return

Will rise from the grave.

We who are alive will be caught up to meet them in the air, and we will all be together with the Lord.

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 ESV)

The rapture: the removal of the church from the earth. The end of the age of grace and the beginning of the time of wrath.

Martyred Saints

Everyone else – “the nations.”

Matthew 25 tells us of the ten virgins – all invited to the same wedding. Five are ready and five are not. It is probable that this represents the condition of the church today, and therefore means that fifty percent are not ready, not watching for Jesus to return.

After the rapture I strongly suspect many will hear the wake-up call, but alas, the age of grace will be gone. Therefore. anyone coming to the Lord from this time on, will have to prove their allegiance to Him. It will, probably, cost them their heads.

Who else will come to Jesus during this time. There are no restrictions, all are welcome, and many of those left behind will see the benefit of coming to Jesus; a long-term benefit that far surpasses whatever pain and discomfort they are in. They will come from every nation, tribe, and tongue, and they will all die as martyrs.

The Apostle John, as he looked into heaven, saw the martyred saints before the throne on two occasions. On the second occasion their number was uncountable.

We are, at this point, only concerned with those that die during the years of wrath.

Let me make something clear. There are only three people groups in the world; the Jews, the nations, and the church. Because the church will be gone at the rapture we still have to consider the Jews and the nations. DO NOT assume, that the nations are merely Islamic terrorists. It merely means any one who does not belong to Christ and not a Jew.

Not everyone within the nations will be trying to kill you. They, likely, will be trying to escape from Islam just as you are.

Because God is pouring out his wrath on the earth, many will die from those events alone. However, the armies of the Antichrist, empowered by Satan himself, will still be actively killing off opponents if Islam.

Scripture tells us that three and one half years into the time of wrath, the beast will turn up the heat. Jesus called this a time of “great tribulation”. In other words, if you think it is bad now, it will get worse, and sadly, there are people in the world that are thinking, it could not get much worse, but it will.

The time of wrath has ended and everyone settles into the millennial reign.

Will there be any dead during this time? Absolutely.

And if the family of Egypt does not go up and present themselves, then on them there shall be no rain; there shall be the plague with which the LORD afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths. (Zechariah 14:18 ESV)

The plagues we see in the Old Testament, killed off thousands at a time.

One of the questions I get is: will there be any sinners going into the millennial reign?

The prophet Zechariah tells us that there will be, for leaders from among the nations will continue in their arrogance.

And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:16-18 KJV)

How is it possible that anyone would be left of the nations which came against God?

If you have paid attention to the world going on around you, then you would know that an accepted practice among practitioners of the Qur’an, is the rape of Kafirs, that would be anyone outside of Islam, even Muslim women that do not cover everything but their eyes are not safe. This is not intended to be a bashing session, this is open teachings and practices of Islam. As soon as a Muslim child can comprehend it is taught to hate Jews, Christians, and anyone outside of Islam. The desire and ability to kill Kafirs is indoctrinated into Muslim children at a very early age. So, what am I doing? Assuming, but I am basing my assumptions on logical, demonstrated events and facts.

How does that apply to the possibility that God would leave any “enemies” alive? God is merciful. We do not see many Muslim women engaging in combat, and here in America, we do not put teen boys into war. That is not the case with Islam. Even worse though, is the anger and violence instilled within preschool age children. It is possible that God does not hold these, that did not take part, responsible for the actions of those that did.

Because we see God’s directive in Zechariah 14:16-18, we know that those that chose not to bow before of their own free will, will be made to bow before Him, for seven days, during the yearly Feast of Tabernacles. Failure to do so will be costly, and the second offense brings death by plague.

This then really answers three questions, does it not?

Sin can and will be brought into the millennial reign, but without Satan’s push. People will die, even from old age. And not everyone is slaughtered by God during the time of wrath.

One last point about sin that appears to happen during the millennial reign.

Why does Paul have to point out this list of sins that will not get to enter the kingdom?

Think about it. Christ having died and rose again, put away all sin, therefore we will not be judged for sin, but we will be judged for what we did with God’s Son, Jesus Christ. I accepted him into my life and He gladly received me; from that point on I am covered by his blood, and when God looks at me, all He sees is the blood of His Son.

If there is sin in the millennial kingdom, it is certainly not coming from Satan, he has been bound for the thousand years; it is not coming from believers, nor is it coming from the previously martyred saints, for they now reign – as law keepers – over the earth with Christ. There is still one large cause, which you cannot ignore – the Nations.

Consider 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV)

      • sexually immorality

      • idolaters

      • adulterers

      • men who practice homosexuality

      • thieves

      • greedy

      • drunkards

      • revilers – those who seem to have the habit of degrading people.

      • swindlers

Paul wrote this letter to a church body, many of whom were Jewish converts. Ascertaining the context takes you all the way back to chapter 5:1, where Paul addresses what he has heard about them. And in essence, Paul is telling them to handle it. You will see this as you follow his logic. But, as I pointed out, this is a letter to the church and not necessarily applicable to a scenario in heaven.

The scenario we see in Revelation 22:14,15 is:

Revelation 22:14-15 ESV (14) Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. (15) Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

John is describing those who have washed their robes. That washing of robes may have come through our acceptance of Christ during the age of grace, or it may be an aspect of the martyred saints, but because of its placement in the story there is the possibility that the nations will have this opportunity as well. Having washed their robes, they have access to the tree of life, and entrance into the city through the gates. (This is that tree spoken of in the garden, the same one Adam and Eve had to be prevented from accessing.)

I already pointed out that there will be survivors among the nations going into the millennial reign, and that they will come to Jerusalem once a year and bow for seven days, as they take part in the feast Tabernacles. They will bring their selfish nature and choices with them into this period. Having been changed in the twinkling of an eye, we will not bring our old, sour natures into the millennial kingdom, so Paul and John are not talking to us; washed by the blood of the lamb, the martyred saints will no longer have their old natures, so they are not being addressed by Paul and John either.

Who then is John, in particular, speaking about? The nations, they are the only ones left, and though they no longer have Satan pushing them to make lousy decisions, they have habits and patterns they are accustomed to following. Therefore, God has to set the boundaries for who can and cannot have access to “the tree of life” and the city.

Look at how clearly John paints the picture of what potentially continues outside the city – “Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Perhaps this answers the question of why God would want or need so many to reign over the earth. Scripture does not tell us how they administer justice, nor does it tell us how swiftly. Even still I can see God’s mercy, because I would have consumed then like dust. None the less here they are, still milling about doing selfish stuff.

I was asked, how then do they come to know God? It would seem that there are two possibilities, but only one makes sense. I will explain. If God saw fit to rebuild everything, including the temple, why then would there not be the opportunity to sacrifice for sins? Here is the problem I have with this. Jesus, was the last sacrifice. However, it seems there is another way.

Revelation 22:2 ESV through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

I looked up the Greek word for healing, and one of its meanings is cure. Rather enlightening. Beyond this I can only guess, as I have nothing more that clarifies how people will come to an acceptance of God’s kingship, but it is clear that they do.

Here is the grand finale. After a thousand years of peace – maintained by an innumerable amount of martyred saints who will reign over the earth – Satan is released and deceives the nations. We make the assumption that this means all, but that is never the case. There are plenty of examples of the bible using the word all, and yet it is clear that not “all” were there; such is the case with the three Hebrew children on the day they were tossed into the fiery furnace. Daniel was not there. Therefore, not “all” those among the nations will be deceived. I know, you still do not see how that would be possible. Look at this example in Acts 13.

Acts 13:6-12 ESV When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. (7) He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. (8) But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. (9) But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him (10) and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? (11) And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. (12) Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Sergius Paulus saw the power of God and believed. There is nothing to exclude the nations from seeing the power of God, hearing the word about Him, and believing.

Do you not see it? God is still giving these people the chance to choose whom they will willingly serve. True, in earlier ages they could choose not to bow, but that grace is now gone.

I am thoroughly convinced that Jesus is coming shortly; why take the chance, when turning your life to Him is as simple as the thief on the cross who asked Jesus to remember him. Ask Jesus Christ to come into your life. Give it all to Him and know that your home in eternity is guaranteed.

Posted in End times, Hope, In Christ, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Did Jesus walk this earth as a man, or did he have supernatural traits?

As I work through a bible study I struggle to give it a title that draws people in. It does not take me long to get thoroughly disgusted because this idea of making things marketable, is part of what has brought our churches to the apostate condition they are now. I thought my title should be, “Are you out Jesus, superhero capes?”

This was the actual question was proposed before the group – “did Jesus walk this earth as a man, or did he have supernatural traits?” It is a fair question, but sadly, it comes out of misinformation, a lack of proper teaching, and a failure of people to read their bibles for themselves (that of course implies that in reading you are reading for depth, asking questions of what you read, and looking up the answers for yourselves.

Let me give you an example of the misinformation we spread.

As children we learned about David and Goliath. The story always came with visuals, as well as verbal descriptions. The image painted of David was that he is a cute, little 12-15 year old, red-headed child; whom, by the way, amazingly killed a bear and a lion. David, at this size and imagined age, is now so strikingly confident that he is willing to take on a man of enormous size. We get this image of David reinforced by adding that King Saul took his massive armor and placed it around David. The armor would, at this age, have fit like a trash can, either that, or Saul was just a little man. Problems any of us should have with this, is that Saul, when anointed as King, was head and shoulders above anyone around him. That would put Saul at close to seven feet tall. Would you attempt to put armor that fit on you, a man who potentially is 6’10” tall, on a boy of only five feet tall, at best? Not a chance. I would not have allowed him out on the battle field either. But David was not five foot tall, he was probably closer in height to Saul. Let just assume he was 6’4” tall, and plenty big enough to take a bear and a lion. David’s resume was all verbal, but the bear and lion are probable, and great selling points. Saul, looked at him, heard what he said, saw a confidence in his eyes, and hesitantly said yes, go get him. Where is the possible hesitancy coming from? From the fact that if David loses, we all lose, and as King, the Philistines will molest him, and when done mount his head on a pole; not to mention what they will do to the others.

So, how did Jesus present himself here on earth?

Philippians 2:5-8 KJV Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (6) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

The word reputation – A two-part Greek word, meaning: to make empty, and an obsolete reflexive pronoun that can be translated as he.

He emptied himself. Now the question where and when did this happen?

John’s gospel tells us that He/Jesus was the Word; that the Word created all things, and was there with him, in the beginning. There was no arrogance, no flaunting, it was an interdependent, fluid state of being. Paul explains: “Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” To be honest, I cannot explain how this relationship worked or what it looked, I just know it did. I can also find out that Jesus had a free will, just as the angels did.

At the proper time He took upon himself human form.

and took upon himself” – took is the Greek word lambanō, and means to take in very many applications, literally and figuratively – to get hold of. What does this tell me? That he knew exactly what He was doing, and He knew how tough it was going to be.

With that free will, in a move to recover man on earth, He chose to stop to being who He was. He submitted himself to human birth, had to have his diapers changed, accepted discipline, childhood all that goes with it. And yes, if he had a bicycle he would have fallen off of it, just as we did.

the form – Form is the Greek word morphē, and means: shape; figuratively nature: – form. This tells me that He did not look like any man we have ever seen prior to that decision.

The nature of the man originated in the garden before the fall, and was an exact duplicate of the Father, but there was a huge and obvious shift; it all surrounded the choice and act of eating that fruit. There is a possibility that it went deeper than that, all the way down to the man’s DNA, and every human produced from Adam, from that time forward, carried that damaged DNA. If scientists took a random sampling of DNA from people, and every one of them had that same damage, how would you know it was damaged? Kind of reminds me of an old Twilight Zone television show, where everyone had a duck like face. We were introduced to a patient, wrapped in facial bandages, as they all awaited permission from the doctor to remove the bandages after another attempt to do plastic surgery on this sad but beautiful blond lady. Her malady, she was different, she looked like a human, and she was very distraught. It ended with a handsome fellow who had come to accept his looks taking her away to be with others like them. The point is, if we all looked like ducks, then duck faces would be normal. Sin, an integral aspect of who we are, became normal to us.

of a servant,” – The Greek word doulos means: a slave (literally or figuratively, involuntarily or voluntarily.

In a recent bible study the idea of our being a slave came up. The context: We had touched upon Paul declaring that he was a slave for Christ; as such, how much room did that leave him to decree, “I will do what I please!” Not much, as slaves do what they are told. And yet, as slaves, God does not treat us poorly; He still gives us the freedom of choice, and one of those choices is to return to the previous slave owner.

While the idea of being a slave sounds bad; implemented by man it typically is, this is not the case with God. Our submission leads to freedom, hope, and eternity with Him.

Time to refocus.

How does this apply to Jesus?

All He ever seemed to say was, “I only do what I hear the Father tell me.” He placed himself in submission to the Father. Apparently, the Father gave him the freedom, and we can see this spelled out in Isaiah 61.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion– to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:1-3 ESV)

As Jesus walked this earth, this is exactly what He did. He did not need another word spoken, the directive was already there. There is one huge exception. He did not come to proclaim the day of vengeance of our God. He came as the good shepherd and he came to heal and restore. Wow, if Jesus was a slave, what an exciting job he got. But he was not a slave, He was a beloved Son

Alright, let us apply this to ourselves.

Since you struggle with the word slave, how about employee.

Romans 6:22 Phillips 22 But now that you are employed by God, you owe no duty to sin, and you reap the fruit of being made righteous, while at the end of the road there is life for evermore.

Having worked at several jobs I can tell you that broken people are the same everywhere you go.

Can we speak freely? If you are being paid to do a job and you are standing around, avoiding the responsibilities that the job demands, and yet still picking up a paycheck as though you did what you were asked to do, then you are stealing.

There is a payment for everything; for Christ, there was the joy set before Him, knowing that many would follow, and there would be an eternity of peace and joy for those who come.

Romans 6:23 Phillips 23 Sin pays its servants: the wage is death. But God gives to those who serve him: his free gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:18-19 NASB and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. (19) I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

Life Application New Testament Commentary says of Romans 6:18. It is impossible to be neutral. Every person has a master—either righteousness or sin. A Christian is still able to sin, but he or she is no longer a slave to sin. This person belongs to God. Believers are set free from the control of their evil desires and their selfish habits, free to become enslaved to righteous living. We serve the righteous God who is in the process of transforming us to become more like him so that we can one day share in glorious resurrection to eternal life. That’s not a bad master to have!

So the short answer to the question, “Did Jesus walk this earth as a man, or did he have supernatural traits?” is NO, he had no supernatural help or traits. Yes, that means that everything he did, he did as a man. Yep, he had to work through the same fears and pressures that we do, but hey, He did it, and succeeded. Oh yeah, He had to decide that following after the Father was the best way to go; this is the same decision that we have to make. I am glad that I made this decision long ago. It is not that difficult, you just have to decide to put Him in charge. Jesus, I give my life to you, you are in charge now.

Posted in In Christ, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Problems with a parable

I want to talk about a parable that has been on my mind. The reasons why will become clear.

I am using Eugene Peterson’s Message for the parable,

Common vineyard (ca. 1910)

Common vineyard (ca. 1910) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

not because I am thrilled with it but it is broken down in a clear way, and he uses a dollar, something we can relate to. However, the parable, no matter what the translation, has nothing to with money; it is more about the manager’s choice to pay everyone that worked, our future in eternity, and how poorly we react when things do not go the way we thought they should.

Jesus had been talking about end times, so this parable is just a continuation of the theme.

“God’s kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work. “Later, about nine o’clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage. They went. “He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o’clock. At five o’clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, ‘Why are you standing around all day doing nothing? ‘ “They said, ‘Because no one hired us.’ “He told them to go to work in his vineyard. “When the day’s work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, ‘Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.’ “Those hired at five o’clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, ‘These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.’ “He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’ “Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.” (Matthew 20:1-16 MSG)

If we could equate our relationship with Jesus Christ to work, in what form do we get paid?

Our payment then would come in our salvation – a hope of being snatched off this earth before all hell breaks loose, and eternal life with the Father.

Is there anything that impedes that relationship?

There are always things that can pull your attention away from God, but overall, it is not that difficult, unless you start thinking too hard, complicating a simple life of loving people with religious rules, and become confused to the point where you are unable to sort out things like tribulation, resurrections, judgment, and who the dead are brought to the white throne at the end of the thousand years.

It is really not that difficult but I get into these conversations with people who are just stuck and refuse to consider truth. The unsettling conversations that I have had (they are unsettling because of the intense lack of mercy I meet) are about the dead brought before the white throne. Many have the understanding that all those brought before the throne, are judged immediately and thrown into the lake of fire with its eternal punishment. Sorry, but that is just not the case, and here is why.

We find the last judgment in two places, Revelation 20:11-15, and Matthew 25.

Revelation 20:11-15 NASB (11) Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. (12) And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. (13) And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. (14) Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (15) And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

This passage comes across like a movie we once paid to see but is now on television, and they had to cut out some of the scenes we liked for the sake of time. This section of Revelation has a huge variable in it, which you find in verse 15. It says, “and if”. This is reminiscent of math class and it’s “if then” statements. Scripture tells us of books, not just one, so Jesus/God is probably reading from the only book important to Him, the Book of Life. I suppose “if” a name is not there, “then” it has to be in the other, and those in the other book have an appointment with hell. But keep in mind that Jesus was here on a mission and at this stage in the plan, it did not include judgment.

Revelation 20:11-15 is describing the same throne as Matthew 25:31-46. The exception is that Jesus, in Matthew’s gospel, fills in the background, explaining that there are sheep, and that they obtain mercy, but we do not see this aspect in Revelation, we only see judgment.

Matthew 25:31-46 NASB “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. (32) “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; (33) and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. (34) “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (35) ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; (36) naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ (37) “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? (38) ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? (39) ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ (40) “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ (41) “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; (42) for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; (43) I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ (44) “Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ (45) “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ (46) “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The first question I need to discuss is: How are these the same scenario?

If this is a misconception, it is a common one. Look at the terminology we see in Matthew’s gospel: “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.” Now, contrast this with Revelation 20: “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.”

Both exude the power and presence of a glorious king taking the throne, exactly what Israel was looking for. However, Revelation – the premier book that demonstrates God’s judgment upon the earth, and the rewarding of the steadfast – shows you the side willing to clean house, and taking the throne. Let there be no doubt that Jesus was and is the express image of the Father, both here on earth, and there in eternity. So, if you see God as sitting on the throne you would be right, because Jesus and the Father are one. However, this is Jesus here.

We find Matthew’s gospel using the phrase, the Son of Man. That is the terminology Jesus used in reference to Himself. Our impression, as the dead are brought to the throne, is still that of a shepherd who cares for a flock. My thought is, why these two personas? God has always loved his human creation, but it is obvious that it did not love him back. Here is where my human thinking gets in my way, for I think back on a relationship I had with a dog that could care less about me. Fortunately, God does not sink to our level of thinking, and no matter how lousy we have treated him, he still loves us and gave his only son, so that we could have the opportunity for a restored relationship with Him. That is why Jesus is portrayed a bit more gently in Matthew’s gospel.

Is Christ now on His throne?

Currently yes, we see him seated at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us.

Hebrews 12:2 NASB fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Having the ear of the Father, Jesus is constantly running blockade and defending us to the Father as Satan fires off our failures at the throne like a mortar barrage, to defame and convict us.

Hebrews 7:25 NASB Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

That does not mean He stays glued to the throne.

  • We certainly see Him in the clouds, as He comes to snatch His church away;

  • we see Him at the end of the time of judgment (we mistakenly call it “the tribulation”.)

  • We see Him in the end, riding a white horse and slaughtering those who would choose to fight against Him;

  • we see Him standing upon the mount of olives as it splits in two, and we also see Him reigning in the new Jerusalem.

  • One last example of Jesus apparently off the throne. He is showing up in the dreams of Islamic’s on a consistent basis. They know who He is, and they either turn to Him or he directs them to someone who can explain who this Jesus is that they saw.

I can see where some might try to exclude Jesus from the throne of Revelation 20:11 because it talks about “Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them”, and we cannot perceive of Jesus as being or doing this.

Do you not recall how John defined Jesus?

John 1:1-3 NASB In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

John 1:14 KJV And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Jesus was and still is that Word, and he spoke this way about himself all the time.

John 8:51 NASB “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.”

The only separation between He and the Father, was His choice to be a man, and that was because it was the only way to pay the ransom for this world full of people who the Father loved.

So picture this: The earth has been filled with peace for a thousand years. I cannot even imagine what that will be like. Christ reigns upon a throne in the new Jerusalem, as nations continue to come before him once a year and bow in obeisance during the feast of tabernacles. Even then, there is no forced compliance to accept God as the ruler of your heart, however there is a consequence if you do not. These people are still considered the nations. The thousand years comes to an end with a last battle, and now it is time to clean house. This is where we are as we look at Revelation 20, the Great White throne.

The dead are brought before the throne. At this point you need to keep your inventory straight.

  • Since the death and resurrection of Christ, all who have died in Him, are already in his presence, so we are NOT talking about them.

  • Prior to Christ’s death, those that died were either in torment, as the rich man was, or they were in Abraham’s bosom. Our definitions of where they are and condition comes from the parable about the beggar Lazarus, the psalmist’s declaration that the dead know nothing, and Jesus telling the thief on the cross that he would be with Him in paradise.

We are merely making assumptions that Paradise is the only place that Jesus “visited” upon his death. Seriously, think about what transpired there on the cross? Christ became sin, He did not merely take it on as a boxer might, He submitted himself as the sacrificial (“scape”) goat and took all the world’s sin upon himself. That goat was led off into wilderness or killed. This is what Leviticus is trying to tell us. The priest had to lay his hands on the head of the goat and they certainly laid their hands upon Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:21 Moffatt NT (21) For our sakes He made him to be sin who himself knew nothing of sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

What changed that permitted anything different to happen to those incarcerated either in Abraham’s bosom or torment?

This is not a time to try to argue details, I hear that garbage all the time. It is time to accept the fact that God is beyond your control, and He did something so beyond your comprehension that you cannot explain it, so you fight against anyone that breaks with your tradition. That explanation was Jesus Christ, and He changed everything. What do we have to prove that, or as the cantankerous guy at bible study demanded, show me that in the bible! He was directed to Ephesians 4:7-10, to which he replied, where is that in my bible? My guess is that you can see the problem, but don’t laugh, it is a common one.

Ephesians 4:7-10 NIrV But each one of us has received a gift of grace, just as Christ wanted us to have it. (8) That is why Scripture says, “When he went up to his place on high, he led a line of prisoners. He gave gifts to people.” (Psalm 68:18) (9) What does “he went up” mean? It can only mean that he also came down to the lower, earthly places. (10) The One who came down is the same as the One who went up higher than all the heavens. He did it in order to fill all of creation.

Verse seven establishes that we are talking about Christ. Verse eight, in this translation, states that “he led a line of prisoners.” Other translations read, “he led captivity captive”, but how does that make any sense when they moments later refer to Him going up, and if Christ is going up, where is He going and why is He taking these “captives” with Him? The explanation comes when you go the source of the reference Psalm 68:18.

Psalms 68:18 NIrV When he went up to his place on high, he led a line of prisoners. He received gifts from people, even from those who refused to obey him. The LORD God went up to live on Mount Zion.

If you look at parable of the beggar Lazarus and the rich man, where do you find Lazarus? Resting in Abraham’s bosom. Does it sound like he is a prisoner, or captive? No, but that would probably be your first impression of the rich man’s destination. He is across a chasm that cannot be crossed, at least by Lazarus, which he was demanding Lazarus to do. There is no doubt in my mind that Christ was not only put there, but led those willing to come out with Him free, as he rose to the Father.

Revelation 1:17-18 (MKJV) tells us, “…, Do not fear, I am the First and the Last, and the Living One, and I became dead, and behold, I am alive for ever and ever, Amen. And I have the keys of hell and of death.”

My commentary typically sounds like this, “were the keys merely lying on a shelf up in heaven and Jesus simply had to go get them?” Not hardly, Satan had them and Jesus went to where he was and took them forcibly. Freedom was then offered to those trapped there, and obviously, many chose to follow Him out – who would not?

Remember, we are still trying to keep the inventory straight. So, who are the dead?

  • After the Harpazo – the rapture – all who die in Christ, the martyred saints, will be resurrected. This is the FIRST resurrection. (This is another place where we make huge assumptions. We religious tend to think that when we leave the earth we take the opportunity and method of salvation with us; we do not.) These martyred saints are no longer considered among the nations or the dead and reign over the earth for the thousand years.

  • The only people left are those whom we consider to be among the nations. This is the second resurrection. It does not matter your language or nationality, what matters here is that technically you died without a “formal, religious” recognition of God in your life.

These, brought before the Great White throne are those among the nations whom have died since Christ arose from the dead. This includes all who partook in the last rebellion, a strong determinate of which leader you intend to follow – there will, by the way, be no survivors in that last battle.

So, now that we have that sorted out, why do any of them gain mercy, and entrance into heaven?

This is where our parable of Matthew 25 kicks in hard.

  1. Because these did not do any of the mandatory religious acts we consider necessary, at we are not aware that they did.

  2. Having lived an unswerving life of devotion with a payment of heaven as my reward for not breaking any of the rules, these are coming in at the last-minute; even worse, God has brought them back to life and given them another chance.

  3. It seems that all they did was act in a manner outside of selfishness.

This may be a little too graphic, but I need you to think through something. God’s judgment falls upon those that what? Take the mark, AND, worship the beast. Those that do not are beheaded, or in general, martyred in some horrific fashion, all because they would not worship the beast. You cannot let this idea of a “beast” get you confused. It may be that the beast is Islam. I happen to find that very plausible, and by the way, Islam’s primary method of dealing with non-believers is, yes you got it – beheading. Since many of these “Christians” – they are in many cases given that title by Islamic fighters – are not so Christian by American church standards, so their last gasps for breath may merely be to deny the tenets of Islam and die. Ask yourself, is it possible that a merciful God sees that as a rejection of the enemy and an acceptance of Himself, the one true God? Even if it isn’t, having pointed out what Jesus does – as He sits upon the final throne – separating people because their heart moved them to act in a manner that God had actually prescribed. What was the answer when Jesus asked, “what is the greatest commandment? Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself.

I am sorry, I know this makes so many mad; Jesus would have made you mad as well then. Treat this as your wake up call, because time is short and God is calling you to set people free, not enslave them. Show them this Jesus.

See why a person could have a problem with Matthew 25. It is not because God’s word is disputable or untrue, but because it challenges our religious ideas. It also demonstrates a mercy that is beyond our comprehension, and opens the door for fools to try to gamble with God.

When I began to look at the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, I knew nothing about them, outside of what Jesus testimony was, and He points out, by the voice of the rich man’s demands, that the true nature of the man, was still strong and clear, even in hell. Having watched so many in recovery make great strides only to crash and burn, repeatedly, you come to realize that it is not so easy for a cow to change its spots. It is possible to live a life as a moral person, but in reading about God’s reasons for destroying the earth, the blatant evidence of selfishness and violence take precedent. It is much like swimming upstream in a strong current. Can you do that for a lifetime? Some do. I am not a strong swimmer, and not willing to take that chance, especially when I know that simply turning my life over to Christ, submitting to his will, puts me in his care, and Jesus said, I will never lose one of them.

Posted in End times, Hope, In Christ, Prophetic, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Deception, End times, Hope, In Christ, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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


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…

View original 508 more words

Posted in Thoughts on scripture | 1 Comment

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


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

Originally posted on Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog:


>> 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…

View original 1,167 more words

Posted in Thoughts on scripture | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Hope, In Christ, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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


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…

View original 1,014 more words

Posted in Thoughts on scripture | Leave a comment

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


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…

View original 844 more words

Posted in Thoughts on scripture | Leave a comment