I don’t like confrontation, nor do I like to embarrass myself, so typically I tell the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witness, that I am not interested, and they leave; but not today.
For years I have heard others talk about how they have disarmed every statement that the Elders have made. Few ever tell you that the elders gave their hearts to Jesus, but there is some twisted sense of pride, knowing that they dissembled their arguments.
As I stood there, merely trying to be polite, I heard my spirit crying out, God, I have no clue as to what to say. So, I simply listened to their pitch, which was well-rehearsed, about how Jesus called disciples to himself, anointed them to be Apostles and prophets, and how that church grew out of their ministry. But the church went a tremendously long dark time because there were no prophets. At this point, the red flags went up, but I was still constrained by the Holy Spirit.
The two elders alternated in sharing their parts of the story, but essentially they said, that “John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and conferred upon him the Melchizedek or higher priesthood. After this Joseph Smith was directed to organize the Church of Jesus Christ again on earth, … and that through Joseph Smith, Jesus again called forth the twelve Apostles.” (I got the quote directly from their pamphlet, The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.)
They then asked me if I wanted more information on Joseph Smith – the prophet; to which I replied, it isn’t about Joseph Smith, it’s about Jesus; while it is true the church did go through a dark time, and I made the point of talking about how there were four hundred years between Malachi and Matthew where no one seemed to hear God’s voice. But you need to understand something, Mr. Smith is not and was the only prophet in the earth. To prove my point, what do you do with the instructions God gave to Moses when Aaron and Miriam rose against him, for they too wanted to be deemed prophets.
Numbers 12:6-8 NASB He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. (7) “Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; (8) With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?”
I then told them how Jesus had appeared to me in a dream or a vision and laid out my life before me. Shouldn’t that according to God’s standard, make me a prophet as well? But don’t ask me to tell you what that title prophet means because no one listens to me. At this point, I brought up the most recent turn of events, as we found out, about a year ago, that my mother may have had pancreatic cancer. The Doctor would not say affirmatively without a biopsy and my mother refused the biopsy. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and told me, at best you will only have her for six months. Well, no one was willing to hear that. Two months later, the Holy Spirit told me to go say my goodbyes to her as she would be going home within the week. I called one of my brothers, who lives a distance away and told him that he needed to come quickly. Although he berated me, he still showed up the next day to say his goodbyes to mom. She died the following Sunday.
As for false prophets and teachers, I know one personally, and today he espouses that the church MUST suffer through God’s wrath – that event in which He pours out His wrath upon Israel and the nations. This conversation then evolved into how I believe that God is out to save people and bring them into the kingdom. This can be seen in Matthew 24 and 25, where the Shepherd calls all the dead to Himself; these are people that were not part of the church, and by church standards, not worthy of God’s mercy. He separates the group called into those he designates sheep and those he terms goats; The sheep are then invited into the kingdom. Stunned, they ask why? To which Jesus says, because when I was thirsty you gave me water; when I was hungry, you fed me; and, when I was in prison you visited me. In reality, these people lived outside of their selfishness. The goats did none of those things and were cast off into outer darkness to follow their chosen leader – Satan.
I then told the two young Mormon men, that I pray for them often, as I do not wish for them to have to endure God’s wrath when merely believing in Jesus Christ as their savior was the way into God’s eternal kingdom.
This led me to talk about the parable that Jesus told about the ten virgins. Do you realize that He was talking about the church today? I said, in a sense, you and I sit by some of those that make up the fifty percent. I looked into both their eyes. I asked, how is it that upon getting an invitation you would not prepare yourself, especially if you have a written invitation? These virgins ran out of oil, but did they ask politely? No, they demanded oil from the others, and not getting it, they went out into the night and tried to obtain oil from any of the households they could wake up. Obviously, they missed the entrance into the party, and I suppose, had to endure the potential wrath that is to come. I told them, that by the voice of the Holy Spirit, who speaks to me all the time, that I know that they have a comprehension of this Jesus I speak of. I also said I believe you have the potential of being one of those who will be caught up.
There is no Joseph Smith, it is all about Jesus, and His word. I love His word, but I don’t waste my time with false prophets.
They asked me if I would like them to come back with a book of Mormon, to which I said no, I can get several of those at the second-hand store if I needed one, but I don’t because I have Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
I told them that I had chosen to be polite and friendly, just as I must choose Joy or to not be bitter. I told them how my small group had broken up over bitterness, and how that the remaining brother, because of the Word of God, has talked lately about the changes he perceives God is making in his life.
I thanked them for indulging me and wished them a great day. As they walked away, I wiped a tear from eyes because having the Holy Spirit speak through me so powerfully, always does that to me. I then prayed a prayer, out loud, that I do not expect you to understand, but I said, God, just wreck their day. To me, that is when He steps into the middle of your life, changes everything, and turns your heart toward Him.
I noticed something about this entire process. Within moments of answering the door, the fear and intimidation left me. All the questions I had in my mind just went away as the Holy Spirit began to speak through me. Honestly, it was such a short time ago and I am struggling to remember what and how I said it. To me, that is a pretty good indication that it was the Holy Spirit because I am not that clever.
God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20-21 NLT)
God brings his law to “His people”, although they were not called Israel at this point, to show them how sinful they were.
Stop here and think about this for a moment. With little to guide them or show them a way to God, who were they? By the time Moses, as a baby, comes on the scene, most were, for all intents and purposes, Egyptians.
What if the only remaining family, that still held to the oral history – a history that takes them back to creation itself, is the one that brought Moses into the world? Do I know this is the way it happened? NO, but jump forward in time a bit, to where God’s people have barely escaped with their lives from Egypt.
Soon after setting up camp, Moses does not only the impractical but the impossible, as he goes up into the mountain without food and water. Gone for forty days the people effectively declare Moses dead.
Well, since God’s leader has to be dead, then it must be time for a return to what we know best, and they appoint Moses brother Aaron to make the god Molech for them.
Didn’t I just say Moses’ own family may have been the only remaining link to the oral history of these people; and what do we see?Aaron, at the demand of the people, gathers gold and fashions this half man – half calf altar with a hollow cavity and outstretched arms, that they used to sacrifice children.
Read through the account that Stephen gives to the Jewish council that is about to have him stoned to death.
“But our ancestors refused to listen to Moses. They rejected him and wanted to return to Egypt. They told Aaron, ‘Make us some gods who can lead us, for we don’t know what has become of this Moses, who brought us out of Egypt.’ So they made an idol shaped like a calf, and they sacrificed to it and celebrated over this thing they had made. Then God turned away from them and abandoned them to serve the stars of heaven as their gods! In the book of the prophets, it is written, ‘Was it to me you were bringing sacrifices and offerings during those forty years in the wilderness, Israel? No, you carried your pagan gods—the shrine of Molech, the star of your god Rephan, and the images you made to worship them. So I will send you into exile as far away as Babylon.’ (Acts 7:39-43 NLT)
In his speech, he says, “you carried your pagan god’s – the shrine of Moloch, the star of your god Rephan, and the images you made. ..” No one on the Jewish council disputed with Stephen over these words.
We are told in Exodus 32:28, that about 3000 men, and who knows how many women, died that day. Now, how sinful was Israel in this case? Sinful enough for at least 3000 people to die.
While that paints an ugly picture, Romans 5:20,21 has a more pleasant side to it.
“ But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.”
That being said, let’s look at Romans chapter six.
The NASB entitles this segment: Dead to Sin, Alive to God.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2 NASB)
What a great question: “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? Well, it makes sense; if sinning causes God’s grace to become more abundant, shouldn’t we just keep on sinning, maybe God will love us more? Don’t be foolish; sin will get you killed, and then you are no use to anyone.
Paul answers his own question when he says,
“May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”
Did you catch that? We who are in Christ, have died to sin. If you have died to sin, then theoretically, sin no longer exists to you. Sadly, we all know sin does still exist to us, so what is Paul trying to say?If you treat sin (Sin is an old English word meaning to miss the bullseye on a target – I include this terminology because it puts this idea of sin on an everyday playing field. It is common to all of us.) as though it is dead, then perhaps you won’t go out of the way to act out in sin. Try applying this concept to road rage, or having your own way – this also covers selfishness and showing mercy to others as Christ showed mercy to you.
Paul has more on this dying to sin.
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. (Romans 6:3-7 NASB)
“Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?”
My statement was, We who are in Christ have died to sin. Did that happen because we got baptized? I don’t think so, besides, there are many who did not get baptized, and yet this idea of dying to sin applies to them as well. So then, it leans itself to a spiritual concept. Since many of us cannot seem to comprehend this from a spiritual point of view, then it has to be put it into words people can relate to, such as:
Christ’s death on the cross.
His baptism in the Jordan, and in death; and that takes us to His burial.
Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20a. NASB “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;”
Having risen from the dead, Paul tells us in 1Corinthians 15:5-7, that Christ appeared to over 500 people. I point this out as it adds to the tangible evidence.
And although this is a little less tangible for most, His ascension into the heavens. Acts 1:11 is one of those places that speak of this.
“They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
Sometimes, visualizing a concept causes it to become more of a reality to you.
“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
Paul is using the Greek word baptízō here. It is a word that carries the meanings of to saturate and to overwhelm, but you cannot escape the fact that the word also means to immerse, submerge, and baptize. Based on this information, it is safe to assume that Paul is associating water baptism with Christ’s burial. In that case, it should prompt you to think more clearly about what you are doing when you get baptized. There is an old saying that goes a bit like this, “I am deadly serious.”
The phrase is intended to shock your thinking, as there are beneficial things that can kill you, like tractors and the edged implements that attach to them. While baptism is not going to kill you, you are putting yourself in a substitutionary state to demonstrate that you are burying the past, and rising to a new life in Christ. This life, whether you get baptized in water, or not, can if you will let it, change everything about your life; in the Apostle Paul’s case and in the lives of all the Apostles but one, it was deadly serious.
“ For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,”
This isn’t just focused on death, Paul also focuses on Christ’s resurrection. Our coming up out of the water represents such a moment of time. But here again, you probably did not grasp that concept the day you had your baptismal orientation.
What happened that day that Jesus resurrected? The writer of the letter to the Hebrews goes into great detail how Christ Jesus:
was restored to full Son-ship;
made the heir of all things;
now shines with the radiance of the Father;
is the exact representation of the Father;
upholds all things by the word of His power;
as our high priest made purification of sins;
has had all things put under his feet;
and ever makes intercession for us.
All this was done “so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.”
Paul opened this letter to the church in Rome by introducing himself as a slave of Christ Jesus. Many years ago, the singer/entertainer Bob Dylan came out as a Christian and made an album. One of the songs went like this, you may serve the devil, or you may serve the Lord, but you are going to have to serve somebody. Just know that you don’t have to be a slave to sin; however, if you are, it was most likely a choice you made.
Now, since we died with Christ, we shall also live with Him.
As we ended our last study on Romans with this:
“knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; (7) for he who has died is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7 NASB)
My mind takes me to a time when I was about 12 years old. Some of the boys from church that I tried to hang out with, went down front to accept Jesus Christ as their savior, and so I joined them; however, I cannot remember a time when I did not know Him – thank you, Mom. So, let’s say that at my age currently, I have always known the Lord.
If that is the case, how did I have such a catastrophic moral failure at midlife?
Doesn’t Paul say, that he who has died is freed from sin? He does, and so the unmistakable fact is, the prodding that we have to sin is ever-present with us. The easiest way to understand “sin” is that it is genetic, passed down from Adam, and we will NEVER, while we live in these mortal bodies, be free from the attraction of “sin.”
If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:10-11 NASB)
And if we are giving this an honest look, then we have to admit that Paul also struggled with this embedded sin.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. (Romans 7:18-19 NASB)
Paul explains all this as we weave our way through Romans, but allow me to follow my train of thought.
Since I can’t escape the sin that is a part of me – short of death, then my relationship with Christ must give me another solution, and it does.
Pay attention to the phrase, “for he who has died is freed from sin.” Obviously, I did not die, Christ did, but through His human activity that took place, and because of His death and resurrection, He eliminated all spiritual penalties associated with that sin; and, as the sacrificial lamb/scapegoat, He paid for and canceled all – past, present, and future compensation for sin – things that we habitually associate with God and punishment.
Note: this action on the part of Christ does not get you off the hook with local, state, and federal laws, although there have been instances where it has.
The most significant impact Jesus’ death and resurrection has is when religious zealots want to try to put sin, and the guilt associated with that sin, back on you through manipulation. Hey, if you are going to a church that does that, GET OUT and find another church.
Moving on with Romans 6:8 – We shall also live with Him.
Romans 6:8-9 NASB Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, (9) knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.
Symbolically, we died with Christ when we got baptized or believed with understanding. In using the terminology “now if,” Paul may be trying to assuage some doubts, that he has, with the relationship some, who claim to be in Christ have demonstrated. In my own extended family circle, we have one who did all the religious things; however, it did not stop him from cheating on his wife several times; and, based on his actions, I would say that his fruit dies on the vine far too frequently. The Apostle John said something similar.
The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; (1 John 2:4 NASB)
Only a few paragraphs later, there is this cryptic passage.
Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this, we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:18-19 NASB)
Obviously, there are those in our congregations that really are not of us. But here is the problem with that, as Jesus said, we city folk can’t tell a stalk of wheat from the weed Downy Brome. Try to pull out the weed that looks very similar to wheat, and we may pull a few good stalks of wheat in the process. The details of this parable are found in Matthew 13:24-30 and I will leave you to pursue that.
There is, however, a context to Paul’s statement that he makes in Romans 6:8-9, as he is referring to what he had previously stated when he said, “he who has died is freed from sin.” Spiritually, in God’s eyes and the heavenly record books, this is blatantly true; if I can accept that Christ died for me, and have faith in all that He has done for me. (That is really quite a mouth full.)
What is it that gives first Paul, and now I, the understanding that we are now free from sin? Romans 6:9
“Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death is no longer is master over Him.”
Jesus Christ is never going back on the cross. The price He paid was enough; not the kind of enough that barely gets you through, but the kind that is seen as over-achievement.
Pay attention to the words “death is no longer master over Him.” While it is true that Jesus has conquered death and it is no longer master over Him, for the time being, death, and all its ramifications, still exists, humans continue to sustain injury and cease to breath; and, people still have the option of choosing spiritual death over life, this essentially brings about their separation from God. If death is no longer master over Him, then deathno longer has control over those of us who have chosen to follow afterJesus Christ.
Paul repeatedly makes this point about how our relationship is in Christ.
Romans 8:38-39 NASB For I am convinced that neither death nor life, … will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:22 NASB (22) For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ, all will be made alive.
Ephesians 2:13 NASB But now in Christ Jesus, you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
I am of the belief that this information should be retaught frequently because we forget who we are, and who we belong to. Remember, YOU are in Christ and dead to this world. As one who struggles with anxiety and depression, then I am talking to me as well.
Have you ever heard someone say, “Thanks, I needed that.” Well, I needed to hear this again, and so do you.
The NIV entitles this section – Death in Adam, Life in Christ
Here is a standard version of Romans 5:12.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people because all sinned— (Romans 5:12 NIV)
How about another translation that is a bit more relaxed, and perhaps, more comfortable to grasp.
When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. (Romans 5:12 NLT)
[A good question to ask here is: What was Adam’s understanding of death? Evidently, since God made the man in His exacting image, then Adam should have had an individual copy of God’s knowledge as well, but we don’t know that. Our presumption, although it clashes with the young earth crowd, is that Adam had to exist among the predatory dinosaurs. Since Adam named ALL the animals, then that would make sense. Considering that Adam had complete dominion over the earth, then I can safely assume that Adam could suppress any behavior with a word. Since we have nothing in scripture to enhance that idea, then I have to go with the theory that the first act of violence Adam witnessed was performed by God. Why tell someone you are will die that day, and then show them, after the fact, the death of several animals? That doesn’t make much sense, does it?]
And for contrast.
Here is how it works: it was through one individual that sin entered the world, and through sin, death; and in this way, death passed through to the whole human race, inasmuch as everyone sinned. (Romans 5:12 CJB)
It would seem to be common knowledge, even among the atheists, that sin came into the world through Adam. An acquaintance of mine would say, no; sin came into the world through Satan, or perhaps Eve. To think this way disregards God’s power and creative ability; and, it ignores the responsibility Adam had over the earth. In other words, through the transfer of dominion, or the entitlement that God gave Adam over the planet, Adam’s actions turned the Earth over to Satan.
[Having created this study and talked it over with a friend of mine, I briefly mentioned this comprehensive understanding of Adam to another small group. One lady said to me, “Why is any of that important?” I answered with, in scripture, it’s all important; and, unless you understand who and what Adam was, you will never comprehend the detail and depth of what Christ did for us.]
I have sat in teaching sessions where this passage is introduced, and Adam is labeled as treasonous.
I never really took the time to look up the word treason, but logically, I could grasp Adam’s actions in this manner. Is it a game-changing school of thought? Not really, but if you don’t understand the implications of Adam’s actions, you may never understand why God had to have a plan of action in place – that plan of action included putting His own Son on the cross to die.
Treason, according to Webster’s means: It is the offense of attempting to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance, or of betraying the state into the hands of a foreign power. If that is the case, then Adam, certainly betrayed the planet into the hands of a foreign power, Satan.
How would I define Adam seeing as his actions were so overwhelming?
Made in the image of God.
Wasn’t Jesus made in the image of God? Most certainly. And, we are told, Jesus was the second Adam. Wasn’t Jesus sinless, and therefore perfect in all His ways? Yes; can we then say that Adam was perfect, or as the Hebrew put it, GOOD?
In Genesis 1:26 we see God saying, “Let US make man in our image, according to our image…” (NASB) It would be beneficial for you to read the entire narrative, which ends with: “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31 (NASB)
Pay attention to the phrase, very good. The word very is the Hebrew word meh-ode’, which includes the terms exceedingly or greatly. Good, is the Hebrew word tob, which also means pleasant, agreeable, and excellent. So, if Adam was exceedingly excellent, could it be said that he was perfect? Seeing as Jesus was patterned after Adam’s image, then again, I can assume that Adam was perfect.
Both Adam and Eve, in a spiritual state, not unlike the angels, had dominion over everything that moved and breathed upon the earth. Genesis 1:26 CJB
The Amplified Bible says the man had “complete authority;”
The Contemporary English Version states that the man was like us (God.)
The English Standard translation tells us that man had dominion over everything.
And finally, the NLT says, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.”
And finally, he was human.
But that did not happen until Genesis 2:7 NASB
“Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.“
Since Paul is making a point about the contrasts between the first and second Adam, then there have to be similarities, doesn’t there? But we will cover those similarities momentarily.
What is the point of defining Adam, seeing as I was told this is unimportant?
To prove a point: That God is perfect and beyond sin, and yet can have the capability of introducing a tree of knowledge of good and evil without it affecting His own nature and character; that Adam was perfect, no less than Jesus was – made in the image of the Father; and, that Adam was God’s representative here on this earth. I could think of Adam as the key holder, and as such, he gave the entire planet away. [For those who can’t handle that idea, why did Satan say to Jesus, here are all the kingdoms of the earth and I will give them to you if you follow me. That kind of statement does not work unless it is accurate, and Jesus never argued the validity of the statement.]
Back to studying.
Romans 5:13 NASB for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
Imputed means = charged to the account of.
Do you realize that this applies to Adam and Eve as well?
Think about the process that sin applied in taking down Adam. Eve was first deceived, but Adam, standing within arm’s length of her, and certainly within earshot of the serpent that was talking to her, did nothing to stop what was about to happen. What did I point out earlier? That the spiritual creation of humankind was in God’s image, and that they had control and dominion over the earth and every breathing thing on it; this includes this serpent. And yet, what did Adam do? Nothing.
What was one of the first pieces of evidence that we had of this sin applying to man’s actions?
So indeed, our first example was Adam and Eve, but we are hard-pressed to see an immediate action against them. Another more dominant example came when Cain got angry that God would not accept his sacrifice of vegetables. Read this in Genesis 4: 4-7, where God says to Cain,
If you are doing what is good, shouldn’t you hold your head high? And if you don’t do what is good, sin is crouching at the door—it wants you, but you can rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7 CJB)
Unlike with Adam’s sin, Cain’s crime seems to be in our faces, as Able is struck violently in the head with a rock and buried, as though no one will find out. We also see Cain holding a bizarre conversation with God about people seeking to kill him, and his fleeing to a city called Nod.
One could argue that sin only got its foot in the door through Adam’s transgression, but even without sin being an integral part of their makeup, it got him. You see, sin is deeply embedded in selfish desire, and Adam chose to satisfy his own curious and immediate need that day.
Lacking any law, such as the tablets of stone given to Moses, was sin imputed to Adam?
Not just sin, but the corruption of all humanity from that day forward, as we all attribute and hold Adam responsible for this corrupted body we walk around in. Having been caught, doesn’t “the law” demand a penalty? Yes, and death was demanded – and Adam eventually died, in several different ways.
Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (Romans 5:14 NASB)
If there was a penalty, then there had to be a law, right?
If that was the case, what was the law?
Adam only had one demand placed upon him, don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in the center of the garden – for when you do, you will surely die.
Adam, knowing that something will change drastically, did nothing to shut up the serpent; did nothing to stop his woman from partaking, and then did it himself. So, yes, there was a “law.” Now, consider the word law for a moment. It is the Hebrew word nom’-os and has several unexpected alternate meanings: law (through the idea of prescriptive usage. That which is assigned); or, the observance of which is approved of God. So do these ideas fit the parameters by which Adam was supposed to live? Absolutely.
But how was the SIN being imputed?
Perhaps it was not – for God does not lie, and surprisingly, we don’t see Cain being burnt up by lightning or some other hideous and painful death. This train of thought blows holes in many of the teachings that conveniently don’t hold tightly to scripture, insisting that Adam belongs in hell. Sadly, even with NO imputation of sin, there was no escaping the immediate penalty, death, and Abel experienced that truth. Unfortunately, death reigned over Abel, and what did he do wrong, nothing, except being Cain’s brother?
Romans 5:14 goes on to say, this death even reigned over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam.
Remember how I went into great detail about Adam, to demonstrate the authority and power he yielded; and, at the same time, contrasting him with Jesus, the second Adam – come from God. Doesn’t a conversation like this tell you that there was so much more going on here in Adam’s actions than any mere flannel board bible story could convey?
Romans 5: 14 ends with Adam, a type of Him who was to come. What does the word “type” mean?
From Webster’s, the word type means “1. The mark of something; an emblem; that which represents something else. 2. A sign; a symbol; a figure of something to come; as Abraham’s sacrifice and the paschal lamb (the sacrificial Passover lamb) were types of Christ.” [Italics mine.]
Both of these examples: the Abrahamic sacrifice and the paschal/Passover lamb, were representative of the blood that covered our sin, the payment of death made on our behalf by Christ, and the protective covering that we are afforded through our relationship and faith in Him. (We previously covered how Christ saves us from the wrath of God through Him.)
Since Adam was a symbol of Christ, and he failed, then how did he represent Christ Jesus?
He came from God, and so did Jesus.
Adam was not born of man, and neither was Jesus. Keep in mind that WE have this sin motivation built into us. Neither Jesus nor Adam had sin driving them. Wait a minute. Adam failed, and so did Satan/Lucifer, and yet, Jesus did not, and we are told that He was tempted in every way, just as we are. What’s the difference? We are driven to sin, and they were not. One gave in to the temptation, and the other did not.
Take a moment to ingest this slowly.
Romans 5:16 CJB No, the free gift is not like what resulted from one man’s sinning; for from one sinner came judgment that brought condemnation, but the free gift came after many offenses and brought acquittal.
“ No, the free gift is not like what resulted from one man’s sinning;”
“ for from one sinner came judgment that brought condemnation;”
“but the free gift came after many offenses and brought acquittal.”
For if, because of the offense of one man, death ruled through that one man; how much more will those receiving the overflowing grace, that is, the gift of being considered righteous, rule in life through the one man Yeshua the Messiah! (Romans 5:17 CJB)
Because of one man, we are subject to death, how much MORE will those receiving the overflowing grace … I can’t say this any better than this translation puts it. Christ Jesus, through His death and resurrection, but perhaps Eugene Peterson’s Message can.
If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides? (Romans 5:17 MSG)
Note the words, “those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life- gift.”How have you received Him?
Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. (Romans 5:18 NLT)
Whether we sinned or not?
I know, it’s impossible not to sin. Simply falling short in some area of your life or relationship with people or God would qualify as missing the mark; and we, if unprotected, would be under condemnation. Wait a minute. If we ARE ALL under condemnation, then wouldn’t WE ALL be destined to hell? Fortunately, a serious read of the Bible demonstrates that not all go to hell. As a matter of fact, it is only those who choose to reject Christ Jesus that go to hell.
What else does Romans 5:18 say? “but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.”
Clearly, not everyone chooses to enjoy this new life. So how do I perceive what happened here? Jesus’ choice to choose the cross brought life to everyone, but something else must happen, you must accept that this was done on your behalf and put your trust in Him.
Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19 NLT)
A key phrase in Romans 5:19 proves my point, “one person obeyed God,” and because He obeyed, many will be made righteous. Now it is our turn to follow His lead and obey Him.
God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. (Romans 5:20 NLT)
“God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were.”
“But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.”
So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:21 NLT)
Death is still in our faces, BUT, so is LIFE. We can’t stop this body from dying, but our souls can live eternally with Christ in Glory. Why? Because through Jesus grace RULES, whether you see it or not, and because of Christ Jesus, WE have right standing with God, and that gives us eternal life when we put our faith in Him.
Spend any amount of time, in church and someone will tell you that you are just a sinner, saved by grace. Often, they take it a step further and point out how you are only one step away from hell’s flames because of your sin.
Is that the case?
Let’s find out what Paul says about it. Know this; chapter five is
not meant to stand alone. It is part of a saga that began with Paul
opening his definitive letter to the church in Rome – a church
comprised of Jewish believers who were holding fast to traditional
and legalistic values, with the words:
I, Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ.
does Paul’s admission that he is a slave of Jesus Christ, affect our
reading of, in this case, chapter 5?
If you thoroughly understood what it means to be a slave, you would cringe at reading that word. The implications of slavery are horrifying And yet, Paul identifies with being a slave to this Christian community. It may add to your understanding if you read Paul’s letter to Philemon, another Jewish believer, who was also a slave owner. Notice that neither here in Romans, or in his letter to Philemon, that Paul does not put down the ghastly treatment and ownership of another human, for it was commonplace. However, we need to know that to identify or speak out against a way of life where 1 in 10 people in Rome was enslaved, was unheard of.
There are so many bits of information that explain to us who Paul is really writing to. I think I covered a touch of history, and how that the Roman’s, under Claudius, expelled the Jews for their insurrections. Apparently, the Jews attributed their revolts to one the Roman’s called Chrestus – Christ Jesus. So Paul then is writing to a primarily Jewish community of believers, who were treating the Gentile converts like slaves, in attitude and mannerisms.
I suppose I included this bit about Paul and slavery because, it seems, Paul was not afraid to speak out against tradition and social behaviors, especially when those practices seem to go against God’s will.
a good deal of what we have read in Romans, to this point, is engaged
with addressing traditions, mental attitudes, and religious ideals of
in chapter five, we have this somewhat eye-opening statement.
since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have
peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.
Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of
undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and
joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. (Romans
since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith,”
mere fact that the sentence starts with the word, therefore,
tells us that something essential and defining was previously
Briefly, we have an
answer from Paul when he says,
“ We have peace
with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”
the quotation above beg the question,
what happened to create, not only the righteousness in us but what
did Jesus do?
Fortunately, Romans 4:25 spells out rather succinctly what happened.
Jesus was handed
over to die for our sins, and he was raised from death to make us
right with God. (Romans 4:25 ERV)
This being made
right by God didn’t just happen; it took some participation on our
part, and Paul, in Romans 5:1-2, makes that clear.
“ Because of
our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved
privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look
forward to sharing God’s glory.”
As I stated in beginning, some, feeling threatened, will condemn you to hell simply because you live outside the grace they are comfortable with; but what did Paul say? Our faith in Jesus and the price he paid on our behalf, has gained our acceptance into this righteousness. The other half of this paragraph says, “Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand.”
Where is the threat in that?
is none. Consider how God has consistently dealt with those He calls
His own. He says to them, as
This approach says I will hold up my end of the bargain, regardless
of what you do.
Can there be negative results for not following God and His ways? Indeed, yes, at some point, He laid down the law, and along with that He points out following Him is good, and NOT following Him brings pain and destruction.
Behold, I set before
you today a blessing and a curse: A blessing if you obey the
commandments of Jehovah your God which I command you today, and a
curse if you will not obey the commandments of Jehovah your God, but
will turn aside out of the way which I command you today, to go after
other gods which you have not known. (Deuteronomy 11:26-28 MKJV)
I suggest that you read Deuteronomy 11 and 28. In chapter 28, God
lays out the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience.
If your life seems like it is out of control, then take a look at
those blessings and curses. While we who follow Christ are not under
the law, the law, like gravity, certainly plays a role in our lives.
If you have chosen to function within the realm of the curses, you
subject yourself to a tremendous amount of destructive effects.
Romans 5:2 ends with,
we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
writing to the church in Colossae, said,
“For to them, God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,” (Colossians 1:27 MKJV)
our hope, an eternity filled with peace; free from the bullies of
this life; and a life spent with the Father. That last part takes on
a different meaning if you have been abused or been given some
horrendous example of fatherhood. If this was you, let me say, I
understand. However, I have found God to be a good Father and one
that you can trust and count on. If we can set the dysfunction aside,
we begin to see that hope is the backbone of our beliefs. I get it,
for dysfunction took on a different meaning when I was accosted
within the church community by a friend, and a pastor, about what
they believe is a false hope. I don’t think they disagree that
there is hope, but they certainly disagree that this hope we long for
is anywhere in the near future.
I give you Paul’s voice as pertaining to hope.
Thessalonians 5:8 MKJV But let us, who are of the day, be calm,
having put on the breastplate of faith and love and the
hope of salvation
for a helmet.
Salvation can take on a variety of meanings depending upon the circumstances. I am not in dire need, nor under a threat of death, but many are. Perhaps you are as well. If that is the case, I pray that the Holy Spirit gives you a strength that you did not know could exist within you, so that you stand strong in the face of the enemy. Why would that be important, because WE HAVE HOPE? Hope that the restoration of all things will come and that Jesus Christ will reign as the Messiah that the Jews have longed for.
next verse began to be a problem for me when I figured out that I
could think for myself.
5:3-4 MKJV And not only this, but we glory in afflictions
also, knowing that afflictions work out patience, (4) and
patience works out experience, and experience works out hope.
Why would this be a problem for me? Because I was raised to keep sticking your face out so that they could slap it off if they wanted to. I found no comfort or peace in that attitude. I was also told that if I defended myself, that I would be handed over to my Father and his belt. That kind of treatment makes the idea of afflictions even more painful.
what Paul wrote has had an impact on me, then I should be well
established in a hope based in the peaceful reign of Jesus. But then,
there are these bizarre words:
glory in afflictions.”
in their right mind, would do that?
who has come to understand, thoroughly, what Christ has done to and
for us. Sometimes we all need a reminder.
have been made righteous in God’s sight.
have peace with God
are we righteous, and have peace with God?
of what Jesus did on our behalf.
of our faith, that we put in Him.
Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved
privilege (grace) where we now stand.
way to read this comes from the NLT.
can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know
that they help us develop endurance. (Romans 5:3 NLT)
there it is, this peculiar manner in which we handle life’s
problems, thanks to hope, causes us to have perseverance, and proven
speaks of judgment, particularly, the Bema seat of Christ. Said in
menacing tones, this can be very disheartening. Two things about this
so-called time of judgment that I have come to understand: 1. The
Bema Seat is a time for Christ to give back to us. It is not about
some ominous, detrimental judgment, as most proclaim. 2. Jesus said,
you will be judged, as you judge. A question, how
do you judge others;
harshly, critically, and without mercy? Well, that is what I did, and
six months later, those very words came back to judge me. In that
season, my world turned upside down and ended. The comfortable world
I knew came to a crashing halt. Because of all this judgment, I have
learned perseverance that I did not think I was capable of, and, I
have had to establish and demonstrate my character repeatedly.
that afflictions work out patience, and patience works out
experience, and experience works out hope.”
Odd how that all works out. Our relationship with Christ allows for us to have these character traits in our lives; so that, when troubles arise (which Jesus guaranteed would come as you follow Him,) we would have the patience to endure the problem, no matter how deadly. This patience turns into experience, and experience causes even more hope to arise in you.
In looking at Romans chapter four, it initiates with a question.
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, according to the flesh, has found? (Romans 4:1 NASB)
The NASB does not improve my understanding, for the language is outdated, and stated in a backward manner. So let’s try the Message.
So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? (MSG)
The Message goes a little too far, as it rephrases the question and almost sets it aside. But on the plus side, it forces us to look at the context, which we find in chapter three. However, we really need to go back to Genesis 15 to do that.
The biggest question that must be answered is, what did Abraham find?
In trying to figure out what Abraham found, we find some things he was not.
He was not that strong in faith, for he:
After being told to leave his family in Haran, took his time in following the Lord’s commands. God had to speak to him several times.
Doubted that God would take care of him, as he told the Egyptian king that Sarai was his sister. In doing this, Abraham lied.
And even though he could see God’s hand upon his life, he still doubted, as he listened to his wife’s prompting, and went to have sex with Hagar. (Consider something: After all these years of not making a baby, how do you know if the problem is with the man or the woman? Since Hagar got pregnant, we now know where the problem lies.) Ishmael was not to be left out, as the blessing over him carries some similar terminology to what God had said to Abraham, in that Ishmael would also be the father of many nations. Those nations are, to this day, a thorn in Israel’s flesh.
Paul tells us in Romans 4:2 that it was not good deeds that made him righteous. Because of that statement, we can eliminate his being circumcised as the thing that made him righteous.
For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. (Romans 4:2 KJV)
The NLT makes this idea of good deeds more clear.
If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. (NLT)
In Genesis 15, God spoke to Abram (his name had not been changed as yet,) in a vision. Abram’s response to this plan of making him great was to say I don’t even have a son. God seems to know the direction that Abrams’ heart is going, and says,
Then the LORD said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” (Genesis 15:4 NLT)
Almost as though God is sealing the deal, (while still in the vision,) God takes Abram outside and shows him the stars of heaven, and tells him, your descendants will be numbered like the stars. Because of this moment, Abram believed God.
What did Abram believe?
That he would have descendants, but not through the servant woman.
Those descendants will be innumerable.
And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith. (Genesis 15:6 NLT)
The new way of thinking, as the Message puts it, is that the righteousness of God comes only through faith.
Romans 3:22 tells us:
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. (NLT)
Romans 3:24 states:
Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. (NLT)
Information like this opens up a world of problems to those who are immature in Christ. Think about this: We are informed that, through Christ, God made us right in His sight, BECAUSE, Christ paid the penalty for our sins.
Does that sound like a bad thing? Not at all, right?
Then why would this righteousness in Christ be such a negative thing?
Because, Many can hear a statement such as, “we are made right with God,” and say, then why is there a punishment of hell for anyone?
The answer simply put, we all choose to follow a leader. Some, through the act of intentional non-compliance, will follow Satan to his doom.
But there is always mercy.
When we studied Romans 2:12-15 we looked very deliberately at some simple words.
For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; (Romans 2:12 NASB)
The word without is the Greek word anomōs and means lawless, but it also can mean one who is not amenable to (the Jewish) law. The word amenable means one who refuses to be held in check by the law, or non-compliant.
What’s the problem here?
For one, we are not talking about Jewish law, as we live under Jesus’ Messianic law, the perfect law of liberty. And secondly, this idea of not being held in check can apply to any of us. You see, we have a built-in problem and its called sin. Since sin seems to have desire as its biggest motivator, you would think we are doomed.
Romans 4:4-8 Paul continues the discussion of the futility of trying to earn your way into God’s graces.
Romans 4:9 asks, is this for the Jews only? They seem to think so, however, God Paul points out how Abram received his declaration of righteousness, and it was not through circumcision, an event associated with Jewishness.
Romans 4:10 very distinctly spells out the chronology of events.
But how did this happen? Was he counted as righteous only after he was circumcised, or was it before he was circumcised? Clearly, God accepted Abraham before he was circumcised! (Romans 4:10 NLT)
The participation in circumcision happened when Abraham was 99, and it was:
Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith. And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised, but only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised. (Romans 4:11-12 NLT)
As Paul states, this makes him the righteous father of both the circumcised and the uncircumcised – the Jews and the Gentiles. With the addendum, “only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had.” Simply put, Abraham believed God.
If this last statement seems daunting, consider this:
Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was not based on his obedience to God’s law, but on arightrelationship with Godthat comes by faith. (Romans 4:13 NLT)
Paul continues to present a logical path.
If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. (Romans 4:14 NLT)
Knowing that we could not obey the law on our own, we are given the hope that comes through faith; that and the Holy Spirit.
What an impossible task the Jews have placed upon themselves.
“For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)
So the promise is received by faith.
It is given as a free gift.
And we are all certain to receive it,
whether or not we live according to the law of Moses,
if we have faith like Abraham’s.
For Abraham is the father of all who believe.” (Romans 4:15-16 NLT)
Paul then tries to explain what God was trying to say to Abram, and to us.
“That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him,
“I have made you the father of many nations.”
(Try to picture Abram, receiving this message. It was in a dream, however, a very vivid dream, but the reality is that Abram was married without children. I am sure he tried, it seems to be instinctive, and yet, no children. Lacking MRI machines and fertility doctors, how would Abram know the reasons why? And because of that, he may have looked around to see if God was talking to the right person.)
This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing; but then, how would Abram have known that about God?
Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham just kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations.
(When God started talking to Abram, he was already seventy-five years old. )
For God had said to him,
“That’s how many descendants you will have!”
And Abraham’s faith did not weaken,
(Weaken? What about Hagar? I keep forgetting, God’s vision is much better than mine. And He is the one who places our sins/failures into the sea of forgetfulness.)
even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—
and so was Sarah’s womb.
Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise.
(Circumcised at 99. God had to remind Abraham that he and his wife would have this son, and the son through the servant girl, was not it. Abraham, although already deemed righteous, has the circumcision performed upon himself. Apparently, as soon as he healed up, he tested the waters with Sarah once again. Nine months later, at the age of 100, Abraham becomes the father of Issac.)
In fact, his faith grew stronger,
and in this, he brought glory to God.
He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.
And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.” (Romans 4:17-22 NLT)
This story begins in Genesis chapter 12 when Abram is seventy-five years old. In Genesis 16, Abram is eighty-six when he sires a son with Hagar. Finally, in Genesis 21, when Abraham is 100 years old, Issac is born by Sarah. Over the course of 25 years, there have been many opportunities for doubt and despair, and yet God continually looks to the future, and, overlooks our faults.
Here is where we come in.
And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit.
It was recorded for our benefit, too,
assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
He was handed over to die because of our sins,
and he was raised to life to make us right with God. (Romans 4:23-25 NLT)
So, an aspect of our belief, would be to comprehend that God raised Jesus from the dead; that He died because of our sins; and, that He was raised to life to make us right with God. None of this happens in and for us, without faith.
I and the Church, in general, is going through changes – we have been for some time now. These events/changes affect each of our lives differently. For some, mainly the people who don’t care, the changes make no difference. These are the kind of people who think the world revolves around them. (The problem with thinking like that is that if you call yourself a Christian, then your mentality is one that does not align with the Word of God. We are talking about the Word which describes the calling that is upon all of us who follow Christ.)
Let’s make a quick distinction here.
Everybody, especially when it can make them an extra dollar, claims to be a Christian. An example of this might can be seen in the music industry, or when a televangelist is trying to sell their latest book or album. One thing is for sure; when labeling yourself a Christian becomes a death sentence, you will see this trend come to a screeching halt, as only those who know Christ, and are sincere, will risk being killed.
The events that surround my life have occurred over the last couple of months. I have wanted to talk about them, but I struggle with insecurities about telling you all about the problems I go through. So, in a sense, I have been sitting on this, halted by the Holy Spirit. But now I feel I have the freedom to share it, and, I think you need to hear it, and consider your own lives.
What kind of changes have I personally been experiencing?
A clash in Church
A brother in Christ decided to give a somewhat, angry Word to the body recently. The problems that transpired in this process were many. Having been raised in a Pentecostal, charismatic, holy roller atmosphere, myself, I am accustomed to people presenting “words from the Lord” like this, and it was not uncommon for some to sound downright hostile.
The brother that gave the “unexpected” Word that morning started in a very theatrical manner, and others thought the same thing. It seemed as if he was presenting his credentials in the third person, just like a movie, proving that God had ordained what we were about to hear. (There was a “brother” at this Church, years ago, who had an earned Doctorate in Theology. I tried talking with him on several occasions and he was little more than rude. In spite of his rudeness, he did admonish me with some advice, that I have clung to. He told me, that when you introduce the Word, which may be from the Holy Spirit, as though it is “a Word from the Lord,” you are adding an element, that in theory, says, it is mandatory that everything I am saying, is appropriate and must be accepted at face value, and that is inappropriate.) And that is precisely what this brother in Christ did.
As he began to read the scripture that was motivating him, his presentation turned ugly. He was now using very angry tones, and it was his tone that seemed to set off alarms in the Pastor and his missionary brother – who happened to be there that day. The pastor’s brother, having spent time in third world nations, has seen peculiar things, and the manner in which this man tried to give the word to the church body, was no different. Together, the Pastor and his brother asked the man to sit down, to which the man loudly replied, No!
Several seconds passed, and now the man and the Pastor are telling each other to be quiet in Jesus name. Scripturally, we have authority over demonic activities in the Name of Jesus. Assuming that what we were seeing was demonic, hence the commands in Jesus name back and forth seemed appropriate, but what happens when what you are experiencing is coming out of the desire and heart of the speaker. (Everything contrary to the Word of God is demonically oriented, but as Christians, we are not supposed to be possessed, and therefore telling what you think is a demon to stop, is a futile exercise.)
Since the man giving the Word would not sit down and has now turned his attention exclusively against the Pastor, saying, “you are a false teacher, and I can prove it,” the Pastor retaliated by saying, brother, now it’s time for you to leave the building. Another lady, who had been sitting nearby, jumped up and shouted into the man’s face, “you shut your mouth in Jesus name.” At this point, he shut up, and walked toward the door – escorted of course. His final gesture was to scream out, “your blood is not on my hands,” and that ended it.
Merely telling you this story grieves me, as we lost a good brother in the Lord that day. I am not asking most of you to understand what I am saying, but I am telling you that giving Words to the body is and should be considered a biblically sound practice; as long as it is in order, and this man was not.
Men’s groups are shutting down.
A group that I was invited to attend had chosen to use a video teaching series of a well known “faith” teacher. I used to be heavily involved in the “faith” movement, but I no longer believe that God has any interest in what kind of car you drive, or, how big your house is. Keep in mind that I went to see if there was a mutual fit, and there was not. Several times, I was asked for my opinion, and so I gave it. (My neighbor calls my delivery as one of being “matter of fact.”) My comments were accepted by some and chastised by others, and so, after three sessions, I left that group. Subsequently, I was asked by the leader to attend the last meeting of that group, as he wanted input from the men about what they wanted to see and hear in the future, should the group reconvene. Because I felt that I needed to show my respect for the man who was leading it, I returned for the evening.
Another instance of groups shutting downwould be one I have been a part of for several years now.
Recently one morning, one of the men announced: “Today, is my last day here.” His reason: because we don’t spend enough time in the Word of God. The disturbing aspect of this decision is that we three had been a part of a, church-sponsored, men’s bible study, that incessantly wasted our time, espousing ridiculous themes, and never developing them. In other words, like the man that got tossed out of Church said, the leader of that Monday morning group, was a false teacher.
Disgusted after several years of learning nothing from this man, we pulled off to form our little group. (This small group formation was not an overnight thought process; and, it turns out we had all been thinking about quitting, but where to go next was a problem.) I was one of the primary persons that pushed to have these meetings so that we could get into the Word of God more adequately.
My friends reasons for leaving, according to him, had more to do with how much time we wasted talking about feral hogs and people hunting them. Strangely, this friend that accused us has spent more than his fair share of time talking about his life as an outlaw biker, the bars he went to, and the people that he hurt. Did we shut down the group because of that? NO.
I didn’t say a word in my defense, as the Holy Spirit pointed out to me, that my mouth, would be doing little more than pointing fingers and tattling. But, let me explain something here. On a previous occasion, I had mentioned how neuropathy was keeping me awake as my the nerves in my feet attempt to come back to life at night. In response to that statement, a brother says to me, what are you watching before you go to sleep at night, because that can keep you awake with your mind racing (obviously he wasn’t listening.) So, at the previous meeting with the guys, before this guy quits on us, I showed them what I look at before I go to sleep, just to get a laugh – feral boar hunting videos. Well, as usual, this went far beyond what I intended, with conversations about how we could go on helicopter hunts and shoot some ourselves. Yes, it turned into a waste of time, but, the idea was that we, could do something together.
You see, for two years we have been sharing our lives and the associated pains, with each other, as we integrate our lives into the Word of God. Well, thanks to one man, the dynamics of the group changed.
Just in the last few weeks, our worship leader’s daughter quit. She got a full-time job at a church they used to be a part of. Her leaving shouldn’t be a consideration for most people, but I was there when her father first got hired to be the worship pastor. And, I was also there when the new Pastor fired this same worship pastor a few years later. Since the old Pastor had been asked to come back three years ago, he rehired the former worship pastor back again.
Leaders getting caught doing illegal or immoral acts.
This is more like saying, I pay attention to news sources; not all of which make the headline news. But it seems like every week there is a pastor embezzling the church; molesting some innocent, or changing the Biblical standards and making some act, that God calls bad, into something he wants us to accept. This kind of activity is a part of what constitutes apostasy.
Well, enough of my rant. I just needed to talk I suppose. What is important, is how you deal with issues like this. We are called to love; called to forgive the unforgivable, and to generally demonstrate the love of Jesus to people; that is so hard to do when we are acting out in rage and anger against someone, who we think deserves it.
The two us that remain have dealt with this brother that left differently. I am not going to lie to you, I was furious. But the man stills sends messages asking his foolish questions. I was constantly admonishing him to change his bible study habits but to no avail, as he still jumps from front to back, taking things out of context, in order to make them fit whatever new doctrine he is trying to develop. My remaining friend, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with him. So he gets to ignore the brother, and I get the Holy Spirit saying to me, “I won’t let you ignore him. You are going to answer his foolish questions in the most logical and sound manner that you can.”
So while it is the flesh’s desire to bring wrath upon people, I hear the Holy Spirit saying, “Don’t you understand, Christ took all the wrath upon himself; if that is the case, then who are you to try to put it back on people.”
Folks, we need to figure this out and lead people to the real Jesus of the Bible, not the religious one.
I received a message, which read sort of like this – I say sort of because I had to make it legible.
“I told some people that Jesus fights two battles, one by himself, and then Armageddon.” These people responded with, “are you sure.” To which he said, “yes, turn your bible to Isaiah 63:3,4, and then look at Revelation 19:13.”
I am not sure how my acquaintance integrated this point about “The blood on his cloak,” but he added, some say it’s the blood of the saints, while others say it is His blood. To this my friend responds, “not so, it is the blood of His enemies.” To this statement, those people who asked him agreed and left. Apparently, my acquaintance took this last statement to a couple of Pastors at a Calvary Chapel and they agreed.
So let’s look at Isaiah 63:3,4.
Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like the one who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the wine trough alone, And from the peoples, there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger And trampled them in My wrath; And, their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, And I stained all My raiment. (Isaiah 63:2-3 NASB)
An obvious aspect of this passage is that at least the lower half of the garment of the Messiah is soaked in blood. The scriptural narrator asks,
“Why are your garments like the one who treads in the winepress?”
Consider that there was a time that people actually stomped the juice out of grapes. If they were smart, they would lift up any outer garment so that it would not get covered in juice. Perhaps, in the process of making juice, some would splash up onto your clothing, but to merely allow your clothing to become completely inundated with this blood-red juice is preposterous.
What does this victor, coming from a battle, soaked in the enemies blood, say about the description we see in Isaiah 63:2-3?
It says He went into the battle prepared, and that He really did not care about the outcome of His clothing. Perhaps, knowing that He would win, His blood-soaked clothing then becomes a symbol of victory and conquest.
Based upon what the passage says, can we figure out who this is? Absolutely. So, what clues are we given that identify who went into the bloody battle?
Who is this who comes from Edom, With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, This One who is majestic in His apparel, Marching in the greatness of His strength? “It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”(Isaiah 63:1 NASB)
With garments of glowing colors,
One who is majestic in His apparel,
Marching in the greatness of His strength.
It is I who speaks in righteousness,
Mighty to save.
All of these descriptives, speak of Jesus.
Who is with Him in Isaiah 63:3-4?
Perhaps the question is, does anyone have to be with Him? The answer to that is NO. But for the doubter, I refer you to Exodus 12:12 NASB, where it says,
“For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments–I am the LORD.”
The verse above, makes it quite clear, that there was NO death angel, it was Jesus, and He slaughtered all who were not covered by the blood.
So the answer to the question, who was with Him, is NO ONE else.
Revelation 19:13 is the other reference given by my acquaintance, but I will add verse 14 for clarity.
He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. (Revelation 19:13-14 NASB)
Though we can’t be sure at this point, it sure sounds like the same blood covered person that we saw in Isaiah 63:3-4.
We must step back a bit to Revelation 16 where we see the end of the final judgments being poured out of the bowls. Because of a vial, which is part of the sixth bowl, the preparations for the Battle of Armageddon are made.
Revelation 16:12-16 NASB (12) The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east. (13) And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; (14) for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. (15) (“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”) (16) And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.
In Revelation 16:17-21 The seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “It is done.”
While there are still horrendous things happening, the central focus is Babylon, or should I say, the Babylon system. (Keep in mind, that it is the love of money, that is the root of all evil.)
Chapter 17 and 18 of Revelation focus on the downfall of the Babylon system.
There are some very telling facts about this greed and lust.
Revelation 18:3 NASB “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.”
The system collapses in one hour.
Revelation 18:9-10 NASB (9) “And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, … For in one hour your judgment has come.’
If you have been watching the news, this should sound familiar as the economic system completely collapses. This is notable as the oceanic shipping comes to a complete halt. Revelation 18:11-17 NASB
There is an aspect of this next verse that I find deeply troubling, as it implicates the wealthy of the earth in the death of the innocents.
Revelation 18:24 NASB “And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.”
“All who have been slain on the earth.” This should be an eye-opening statement for everybody.
So, as we come into Revelation 19 there are no more judgments to be poured out, merely the termination of the judgments.
Watch what happens.
Revelation 19:1-2 NASB After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; (2) BECAUSE HIS JUDGMENTS ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality and HE HAS AVENGED THE BLOOD OF HIS BOND-SERVANTS ON HER.”
In Heaven, they are rejoicing. The Babylon system is gone; His judgments have come; And, He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants.
How can it be said, “it is done,” especially since there is one more battle to be waged?
By Heaven’s standards, this mess is done, for God always looks toward the future (Abraham is a good example of that.)
Revelation 19:6-9 NASB Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. (7) “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” (8) It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (9) Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.”
I have heard sermons and sang songs about the marriage of the Lamb since I was a child. Some have conveyed that at the rapture of the church, we get to sit down to a seven-year meal. Sadly, that is not the case, and the meal does not sound so appetizing either. Let me demonstrate.
Revelation 19:11-13 NASB (11) And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness, He judges and wages war. (12) His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. (13) He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
Look at that, He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood. Everything about Him is brightness and glory, and His name is the Word of God. Pure majesty. But now watch this. Here, He is not alone.
Revelation 19:14 NASB And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean were following Him on white horses.
I cannot make absolute statements that compare what we see in Isaiah 63 and Revelation 19, and say, they are the same thing. (But there are some strong similarities.)
Watch the descriptions as they unfold.
Revelation 19:15 NASB From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.
From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations. The saints, clothed in white, otherwise known as the bride, are a part of the army that comes with Him, but we never see them in battle. There might be two adequate explanations for that.
Since we are in Christ, then we too partake in this battle.
The most reasonable alternative to a group battle is that sword that proceeds from His mouth.
So, if you have been waiting patiently for the marriage supper of the lamb, then enjoy this visual.
Revelation 19:17-18 NASB (17) Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in mid heaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, (18) so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men, and slaves, and small and great.“
Meat-eating birds are called to eat the flesh of mighty men, horses of war, those who sit on them, and everyone else – both great and small, that chose to fight against God that day.
I have had this discussion before, how that He only kills the fighters that day. Invariably, the religious come against me with their tradition, and false teachings they have learned.
But here is what the Scripture says,
Revelation 19:19-21 NASB (19) And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. (20) And the beast was seized, and with him, the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. (21) And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse and all the birds were filled with their flesh.
So what do we see in Revelation 19:19-21?
The beast, which is the Antichrist, a Muslim leader.
The kings of the earth. This can be Muslim kings but may include the Presidents of Venezuela, or the leaders of China and North Korea.
They are assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
The beast was seized, along with the false prophet, and these two, very specifically, were seized and thrown alive into the lake of fire. The rest – those gathered for war, were killed with the sword that comes out of Jesus’ mouth.
On August 11, 2019, Pastor Jon Maurer’s sermon was:
“A couple of things I wished I had known about reading the Bible.”
The irony of this is, I already knew these things. Simply put, I learned them in the school of hard knocks, and I am not done with my education. At this point in my life, I have been studying and looking at scripture intensely for twelve years. In the process of reading scripture for this time period, is that I wrote about what I perceived and strived to get an accurate picture of who God and Jesus is, that and I asked God a lot of hard questions. All of my questions were answered.
A friend of mine recently asked me, how do you study, and could you lead us in a Bible study? What my Pastor delivered that following Sunday morning, was a plainly worded, concise technique for study, and so I included that information to along with my overview of the first four chapters of Romans. As a side note, isn’t amazing how the Holy Spirit orchestrates events in the background.
By the way – I realize that I could be writing to the theology trained student, as well as, those who may never pick up a Bible, and so I try to keep it intelligent and yet simple.
Notes I took on Pastor Jon’s sermon.
The Bible was written for us, not to us.
This is a significant statement, as it moves scripture out of the hallowed halls and into our hands.
It removes the sterility that we have imposed on scripture, and it is a unique perspective from which to start any Bible study, as this makes scripture very personal.
The meaning of the text is embedded in its original, historical context.
Context comes in two forms. One of those is in the passages themselves; for example: In Matthew 24 and 25 Jesus is answering questions that the disciples asked. (Remove the idea that at this point there were only twelve. Now, when the context began there have been twelve or fewer, but let’s try to imagine the possibility of more) The context of Jesus’ answer initiates in Matthew 21, where Jesus, in fulfilling prophecy, is about to enter Jerusalem, riding on an unridden donkey – the high-end vehicle of the day. Wow, the disciples were excited; Judas is elated, and the crowd is going crazy. Why? Because they perceived Him as the warring Messiah scripture spoke of. But follow the story, for what did He do? He threw people out of the temple courts and entered into a three day, verbal battle with the same people, that would soon have Him killed not realizing that they were offering Him up as the Passover sacrifice. (You should intently consider the idea and meaning of Jesus, that afternoon, being offered up as the Passover sacrifice. Remember, the Passover was initiated while God’s chosen people are still slaves in Egypt. It was the blood of that lamb, painted on the doorposts of each home, that prevented the death of the those incorporated because they were under the covering of the blood.Note: I used the word incorporated because we got outstanding men like Caleb, who was not a Jew when this process started.)
The other form of context is the historical and cultural side. In the case of Jesus, in Matthew’s gospel, the disciples – Jews, were so undone by the last three days, knowing full well that Jesus’ actions could spill over on to them also, had no idea what to say as they walked relatively quietly away to the Mount of Olives. They said to Jesus, look at the mind-blowing construction techniques of the Temple. This thing should stand forever is the implied remark. Jesus responded to that with this:
“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.” 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 24:1-3 NASB)
The disciples asked two pointed questions; both of which were explicitly Jewish oriented.
So the question you should ask next is, what does that look like for us today? Perhaps at this point, I should tell you that the Pastor’s overall theme was, understanding the writings of the Apostle Paul, based on his letter to Philemon.
In the study on Romans, that I have included, I cover, to some degree, the historical context on the Book of Romans. A massive piece of evidence comes from Romans 1:1, where Paul begins his typical introduction. Here he says, I Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ. Again, I cover this below. This thought process also works exceptionally well when studying the book of Romans.
The Bible is a context-rich form of communication.
What does that mean?
It means that everything has an initiating question or point of conversation, and though directed at a specific audience at the moment, it still has implications for us today.
For example, the book of Revelation is charged with context. It is a book written to Jews, using terminology that would have been common to them, and yet it applies primarily to us today. The imagery is nothing new to a Jew and has common ties with the prophecies of Daniel among others – hence, the context. (Naturally, we struggle with multi-headed beasts, although we are more than eager to watch bizarre things like that on the movie screen.)
Context is what links us back to the original thought and intent.
Chuck Missler used to say, “The Bible is an integrated, coded, message system.” That means, that the messages in the scripture, though thousands of years apart are integrally linked by God, into one all-encompassing picture, in which God wins.
Pastor Jon’s tips: (Every week he has tips. These are designed to give you a practical way to put the sermon into action.)
Get a Bible reading plan – like the You Version app.
In reality, this means be deliberate in your reading. If necessary, force yourself to invest quality time daily.
Dig into the Bible passages that make your radar go off, and then dig a little deeper.
I have a friend that seems to bounce back and forth in scripture. I understand why he does it, but when he asks questions, they are combinations of multiple thoughts and contexts. Sadly, he is often confused.
No one is telling you to ignore boring passages, however, when you find a passage that speaks to you dismantle the verse; look at the Hebrew or Greek definitions of the simplest of words in a concordance, and find their meanings. Then, look for other examples of the same thing.
A tip – Since much of what we read, is prophecy, then you need to understand that to the Jewish mindset, prophecy is not a one-time event. The Jews looked for, and found acceptance in, patterns and repetition; therefore, when reading something prophetic, look for the parallels. Daniel and Revelation are good examples of such similarities.
Read for transformation.
Try to understand the author’s original intent; this will be necessary for us to apply the text to our lives today.
Having been raised in the church, I had heard all the stories. There were many things that bothered me, and, as some would say, I felt like I was losing my faith. You see, church/religion built an image in me of an angry God. Read, say, John’s gospel, and you quickly see that Jesus – God’s representation upon the earth, demonstrated and vocalized the fact that God is love. John’s gospel is one which also gave me the direct association and recognization, that Jesus is God. You may not get what I just told you, but this transformed my thinking and life.
Another aspect of my religious education, involved David, the shepherd. Did you catch how I did not refer to him as the shepherd boy? That is because he was not a boy. Sorry if that blows your entire understanding of theology out of the water, but an aspect of our growing into maturity is to comprehend the reality of situations and deal with it. Why am I comfortable saying these things? Because, as you read for transformation, you will become aware that Davids resume, was read to Saul by one of his trusted people, who told Saul that he knew a man, who had killed a bear, and a lion, with his bare hands; and, the man is a skillful guitar player, who can calm your nerves. (Right, they didn’t have guitars back them, they were Lyres.) So, all Saul knows is that David is a man – perhaps a young man, but that is irrelevant. Saul, upon meeting David, hires him and makes him his ARMOR bearer as well. David then traverses back and forth between Saul and his families sheep farm. On one of those missions, his father, Jesse, gives him a care package for David’s brothers. However, on this occasion, Goliath, of the Philistines, is standing on the battle line daily and cursing the God of Israel. Sadly, no one in Israel, even their king, Saul, who scripture tells us was head and shoulders above any man in Israel, dares not to challenge the beast. Has anything physical changed about David since he has met Saul? NO. So why then does Saul refer to David as a youth? Could it be that is because David was a young man and not a seasoned veteran? Did Saul forget about the bear and the lion? And then, there is that malarky about David being four foot tall, and the upper body plate armor merely fell to the ground around him. Got real, if that was a reality, Saul would have never offered for the same young man that was his armor-bearer, to wear his armor. You should know the rest of the story, as David kills Goliath by cutting his head off with the big man’s own sword. I skipped some details, but you can read those aspects on your own.
That being said, let’s look, once again, at Romans, and see how and if it can transform us.
What follows are the notes I made for myself to lead the Bible study.
The letter to the church in Rome opens, and Paul, as he always does, introduces himself. However, this introduction has a slightly different tone to it.
In Romans 1:1, he says, “a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News.”
This introduction, especially to what we will learn to be a majority Jewish community of believers, establishes Paul’s attitude, humility, and a touch of arrogance, all at the same time. It should speak to a Jewish understanding of slaves and how the Jews treated the Gentiles (which was right up there with slaves.) Shaul/Paul had every reason to brag about his understanding and Jewishness.
What rights does a slave have?
First off, think about the response of the hearers two thousand years ago, when:
Slavery was not an issue and the reality was that slavery was a common and accepted way of life.
Slaves had no standing in the community.
Slaves had NO voice about anything. There, of course, may have been benevolent slave owners, and in Paul’s writing to Philemon, he plays upon that idea.
To speak out against slavery was scandalous.
You no longer had any claim to parental rights.
And it was almost as if you could not be seen.
This introduction by Paul is crucial because of the audience, as we will soon see.
If the Jews saw the Gentile believers as nothing more than slaves, then how were they treating these new converts?
Where is the love?
In Romans 1:9-12 we see Paul stating one of the reasons for writing this letter,
“that he may impart to them some spiritual gift, for the purpose of establishing them; and that he (Paul) may be encouraged together with them by mutual faith.”
What do you think this passage is trying to say?
At this point, I would be sitting in front of you, able to see your facial expressions as you begin to comprehend the abhorrence of such a mentality; and, I want to hear why you think Paul would have said this.
I have a policy of not asking questions without having an answer, and I think the answer is that he wants to get his Jewish brethren completely submerged in this gospel of mercy and grace; and, to make them understand that God has leveled the playing field, and no one gets priority simply because of heritage. Paul’s wanting to lay hands upon, share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them more fully, and by the laying on of hands, show them love, and actually impart a spiritual gift of understanding, just as he had received.
Having recently sat through at least three weeks of history on Rome and the Roman Church, you would think I would have had enough, and been smarter for it. That did not happen, and I looked at it once again.
The overview tells us that Paul wrote this letter to the church in Rome, a place he never visited, around Fall of 57 AD.
We are told that Paul was writing to a vibrant church body when he wrote this letter. ??
The Epistle itself gives us scant clues about the Roman believers, except for Paul’s reprimands.
Historically, we have this:
Rome was under the governance of Nero (37-68AD), but one of the most disturbing leaders Claudius, the adoptive father of Nero, was also alive and ruling.
Nero, after his father’s death, became the sole Emperor in 54AD.
This immediately gets my attention, for Emperor Claudius had made it known that the Jews regularly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus – a Grecian derivative name for Christ and therefore ordered the expulsion of the Jews from Rome. What these insurrections looked like, I do not know.
Edicts, such as this, apparently only lasted until the death, or incapacitation of the Emperor who had them written. Because documentation indicates that the Jews began returning to Rome in January of 53AD, a full year before Nero is declared Emperor, we must assume some incapacity or the death of Claudius.
Does this mean Nero served in a dual leadership position over Rome? Perhaps.
So by the time Paul writes this letter to the church in Rome, they have been actively operating as a thriving church.
What is my take away from this?
Since Christ’s death is the division line for time, this is a relatively short period.
How did the church spread so rapidly?
Strangely, we have Saul/Paul to thank for that.
“Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” (Acts 8:1 NASB)
What clues do we have that help to define this body of believers?
Their association with Chrestus, as the Greeks put it.
So they were followers of Christ. And, because we can associate the church with the Jewish expulsion and come back, then we are looking at a church with a mix of Jew and Gentile believers.
There are statements such as:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16 NASB) Why emphasize the Jew and then the Greeks, unless there are Gentiles in your audience? In Romans 1:19-21 Paul is recapping how God dealt with the Jews in the beginning. This would be wasted energy to a church filled with Gentiles – people that may not have a clue about Jewish history. The remainder of Romans chapter one is ablaze with admonishments about the Jewish patterns of unbelief. Again, it is evident that there is a strong Jewish influence in this body of believers.
Why emphasize the Jew and then the Greeks, unless there are Gentiles in your audience?
In chapter two, Paul begins to make a turn, as he is now including Gentiles believers in the conversation.
When he talks about judgment, that can apply to anyone, however, to a body of believers, in which Hebrew (I assume) is the primary language, we could have some horrendous learning curves issues. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. (Romans 2:9-11 NASB)
In chapters three and four, Paul defines how God levels the playing field.
We assumed for years that this always applied to the world; when in fact, Paul, in chapter four, is still trying to convince the Jews that they are no better off merely because of their heritage. This relationship we have with God works by faith. Sadly, the realization that the Gentiles can demonstrate faith and a place in eternity must be alarming to some.
A brother in the Lord frequently argues that the church will go through the tribulation. I hate to admit it, but a book I am reading takes my brothers’ side in this argument.
It is written by Rabbi K. A. Schneider, a Jewish Christian, The book “The Book of Revelation Decoded,” tells us that what we see as the result of the seals being opened in Revelation 6, are divided into two parts, the judgments, and wrath. The wrath aspect, according to the Rabbi, is attributed to the bowls that the Revelation tells us are poured out.
I do not know if the Rabbi’s perceptions are from personal study, or this comes from some traditional Jewish perspective of which I am not aware. I have an inquiring mind, and I need to know. Lacking sufficient evidence about ancestral beliefs, I will look into the Biblical wording about these events more closely. You see, I do not think that a reasonable man should argue with scripture, and that is what we may be seeing here. The result, this division of horrors that God is going to pour out upon the Earth may be the Rabbis attempt to avoid and work around New Testament passages such as Romans 5:8-10.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:8-10 NASB)
If I was the argumentative type, I could say, Romans 5:8-10 also speaks of eternity, as it too is salvation. The problem with that kind of thinking is that we are making God out to be very obscure, which I have come to understand that He is NOT. No, these passages are straightforward, and even more so when you look up in a concordance the meanings of the simplest of words, like saved.
Alright, what about this passage. “For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 NASB) Here, Paul speaks about how they turned to God; ceased to serve idols, and now serve a living and true God. But Paul is also addressing how they, too, know that there is a hope of a future with Christ in a peaceful eternity. And, because of that hope, they now wait (as if in intermission) for Jesus Christ, the Son; whom God raised from the dead, and who rescues us from the wrath to come. This waiting is not one where you do nothing but lie around getting fat; we are proactive, encouraging others in the faith and hope. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 demonstrates that they comprehended how and why a person could have this kind of understanding. Lacking such information makes this life in Christ nothing more than a vague assumption.
In trying to argue against a mid-tribulation rapture of the church, here are some of the points I try to make.
We, as a church, have created our own problems on this issue, and here is why.
We use the word tribulation as though it is trivial; and, we use it to describe everything – including God’s wrath, that seven-year period that we see in the Revelation.
What do I mean by trivial? Some of us think it is tribulation if you have to put a new propeller on your ski boat to get more speed out of it. Try having your family blown up in front of you as you attempt to worship the Lord. Jesus told us, in this world, you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world. An understanding that griefs are going to come, on a daily basis, is necessary information; it is information that lets me know horrendous things have the potential of coming merely because I follow Christ (I suppose the reality of a statement like this means you are proactive in your beliefs and others know what you stand for. Note, most of the problems Jesus had while he walked this Earth, came from RELIGIOUS folk, but it does not exclude the random drive-by shooting that takes the life of an innocent young science major, and a young father to be.)
We ignore passages, such as the ones I pointed out above. 1Thessalonians 1: 9-10; Romans 5:8-10. And, we ignore Jesus words when he says,
What a terrible time it will be for pregnant women and nursing mothers! For there will be great distress in the Land and judgment on the people. (Luke 21:23 CJB) Here, in The Complete Jewish Bible, they use the word judgment and not wrath; however, the NASB uses the word wrath.
Wrath/judgment is the Greek word orgē and means desire (as a reaching forth or the excitement of the mind), that is, (by analogy) violent passion (ire, or [justifiable] abhorrence); by implicationpunishment: – anger, indignation, vengeance, wrath.
If I am going to try to assess proper usage for one or more of the words that can be used to define orgē, then I have to look at the context. So let’s use passion as a test. Passion is a feeling of warmth and emotion toward something or someone. We often associate passion with love; however, my college professor had a passion for plants, and I could definitely tell that there were plants he dearly loved – like Japanese Maples. God, it would seem, has a passion for those He has chosen, even if means judging and punishing them for their refusal of Him and their choice to follow other gods.
This judgment is also directed at the nations (those outside of Judaism) because the nations have done their fair share of killing God’s people and ignoring God. So it is easy for me to see that God’s orgē is certainly one of anger, indignation, vengeance, and wrath. In other words, a violent and justifiable passion, that looks a lot like wrath.
What else did Jesus say about wrath and judgment? “Whoever trusts in the Son has eternal life. But whoever disobeys the Son will not see that life but remains subject to God’s wrath.” (John 3:36 CJB)
Jesus said these words while standing amid religious Jews – (Scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees.) These Jews, in general, did not trust the Son.
Some might say, how do you know that? Matthew chapter two records that someone reported to King Herod, that a large caravan of Magi, were coming from the East. Just the sight of these men and the potential message they could bring, caused Herod grief, so when they arrived and began asking around, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” Herod immediately summoned the Jewish elders and experts in the Torah and inquired who was this King of the Jews that had been born. The elders answered promptly, for they knew with precision what the scriptures said about Jesus being born in Bethlehem and when. But did they follow after Him, as these Magi did? Not a chance.
John 3:36 states that, “Whoever trusts in the Son has eternal life.” Are there any assertions in the passage, as to what that eternal life encompasses? Not in this part and not at first glance. You have to pay attention to the context. “But whoever disobeys the Son will not see that life but remains subject to God’s wrath.” In the second half of the verse, we have those who are disobeying the Son. This disobedience is a direct correlation to God’s chosen people. Fortunately, we who are “in Him” through adoption, are also God’s chosen. The difference is that we have put our trust in the Son, and therefore have this eternal life. Disobedience, it seems, subjects you to God’s wrath. And, there is the implication that these disobedient ones never put their trust in Him. So I could say that trusting in Him eliminates the threat of wrath.
And then, there is Paul’s assertions in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 Now, brothers, we want you to know the truth about those who have died; otherwise, you might become sad the way other people do who have nothing to hope for. For since we believe that Yeshua died and rose again, we also believe that in the same way God, through Yeshua, will take with him those who have died. When we say this, we base it on the Lord’s own word: we who remain alive when the Lord comes will certainly not take precedence over those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a rousing cry, with a call from one of the ruling angels, and with God’s shofar; those who died united with the Messiah will be the first to rise; then we who are left still alive will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we will always be with the Lord. (1Th_4:13-17 CJB)
There is an interesting statement in the middle of this paragraph, and it goes like this: “When we say this, we base it on the Lord’s own word: we who remain alive when the Lord comes will certainly not take precedence over those who have died.”
Since Paul did not hang out with Christ he would, therefore, have to be trusting what at least one of the disciples told him; that, or we have to assume that Christ, perhaps on the Damascus road, explained in detail all the things He told the disciples. This idea of the Damascus road event plays into the descriptions from many who have died and come back from the dead; they explain how there was an immediate download of information.
While that’s a fascinating theory scripture tells us that testimony has to be at the hand of two or three witnesses.
Do we have those witnesses? It would seem so.
Does what they say align with scripture? Now that becomes a problem. Because much of what we understand comes from the mouth of Jesus, or we are merely accepting tradition. So, while it sounds good and reasonable, I can’t make a doctrine out of a dead persons testimony.
So what did Jesus say, and how can we be sure?
There are apparently, only two references in the NT, and John 11:25-26 is one of them. Yeshua said to her, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life! Whoever puts his trust in me will live, even if he dies; and everyone living and trusting in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 CJB)
And in 1Thessalonians 4:13, there is a reference to the fact that anyone who puts their trust in Jesus, will live, even if they die. Jesus took it one step further when he said, as if from another angle, “everyone living and trusting in me, will never die.”
Questions and answers: What do I make of a statement like, everyone trusting in me, will never die?
A believer never dies spiritually. Although, the reality is that no human ever really dies. Death then is merely a permanent separation from God, and that is what we see in the final judgment. an intentional break in the relationship, could easily be seen as a form of death (this break in the relationship is not on God’s part, and there is nothing set in stone until that final day, although the enemy would like you to believe that.)
This idea of spiritual death is another point that many would argue.
Consider what Adam put himself through in the garden. Having heard and ignored God’s directive about “that tree,” he watches the only woman he has ever known eat a fruit, that causes death. Rather blunt, but true. Adam, having listened to everything the serpent said to her, watches to see what would happen. For all he knows, death is immediate, but then, they had never experienced the death (as far as we know,) of anything. What Adam cannot see is what is going on inside her spirit; nor can he see the cellular effects on her body (this is not a movie where someone ancient has been kept alive and looking young through the “magic” of makeup. So that when death comes they disintegrate into a pile of ashes.)
Can the physical body die?
Indeed, and many have, but many, having put their trust in Christ (we see this even in the OT,) will not be hindered by timing issues or the quantity of dirt piled above you, when the call comes. Perhaps because they have a few extra feet to travel, they will lift off first and we, who are alive, will rise with them.
Then where are these dead in Christ now?
Paul did not tell us directly, but the credible argument is, that when you are absent from the body – dead, then you are present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8.
Based on Paul’s presentation, we can understand that physical death puts you immediately in the presence of the Lord.
Another thing to look at is the statement we find in 1Thessalonians 4:16. “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.”
It would be rare to find a reference to some aspect of the Lord’s return, or, the Day of the Lord, without a corresponding scriptural background in the OT. Jesus, in Acts chapter one, told the disciples that He would come back again for them, just as He left. The correlation is found in Zechariah 14, where we see Jesus returning to the Mount of Olives and physically touching back down; this is dramatically different from the catching away of the church, for when He comes for His church He will not physically touch down, but we will be gathered to Him in the air, in the clouds.
Right off the bat, I have to warn you, this study is eight pages long.
I am used to reading my own work, and I can fly through it, and it makes sense to me, but I work very hard at making my posts readable. In comparison, a book study that I am involved in is using an author who writes in a style that I equate to getting your teeth pulled; it is painful, and that particular author has to keep working over a subject matter when I, the reader am ready to move on.
Enough warning, let’s dive in as I attempt to understand the time of wrath.
Seals, trumpets, and bowls – Who, what, when, where, and how.
All this has a context, which begins with the end; the end of the Church age, that is. Revelation chapter three ends with a commentary on the last church age, the Laodicean church. Physically, this church is long gone, but spiritually, it is us. We have lost our first love, and many of us should take this as a warning.
Revelation, chapter four opens with, “after these things.” The things are the churches. Why say after? Because Jesus would have returned and, we, the church, are caught up to meet Him in the air, ever to live forever with Him.
Chapter five of theRevelation has John looking at the sealed scrolled and lamenting, as are the others because no one can open the seals. At this point, the Lamb – looking as though it had been slain walks on the scene.
That lamb is none other than Jesus Christ.
John 1:29 AMPC The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him and said, Look! There is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world! [Exo 12:3; Isa 53:7]
Isaiah 53:7 AMPC He was oppressed, [yet when] He was afflicted, He was submissive and opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep, before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.
While all we know, at this point, is that there is a scroll with seven seals. The seventh seal opens the arrival of the seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet unleashes some extra things and the seven bowls. The seven bowls are the last of God’s wrath, and brings Jesus, riding upon a white horse into the scenario, where He administers a swift and deadly justice. With the end of God’s anger being poured out, the millennial reign is set to begin.
So, with that, let’s see if we can define these events. (Yes, I jumped the gun and posted a detailed look at the first seal already, but bear with me.)
The first seal – The Antichrist
Revelation 6:1-2 AMPC THEN I saw as the Lamb broke open one of the seven seals, and as if in a voice of thunder I heard one of the four living creatures call out, Come! (2) And I looked and saw there a white horse whose rider carried a bow. And a crown was given him, and he rode forth conquering and to conquer.
Pay attention – A rider on a white horse, carrying a bow, symbolic of war, but the rider has no arrows. This rider also has a crown, symbolic of authority and rulership.
There is one ideology in the world right now that fulfills both of these characteristics, and that is Islam. They claim to be the religion of peace, but peace is only achieved when all bow before Allah, the ruling authority, pledging allegiance. What I am telling you, is a clearly stated goal and purpose of Islam.
So what is Islam doing as we speak, conquering, just as the Qu’ran describes?
A white horse. In Zechariah 6:1-8, we have red, black, white, and grizzled bay horses like the four winds of heaven, ministers to do God’s will. White seems to be the color of victory (cf. the white horse of the Persian Kings) like the white horse ridden by the Roman conqueror in a triumphant procession. RWP
It was interesting to find out that the former leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, frequently portrayed himself as this rider.
The second seal – War and murder
Revelation 6:3-4 AMPC And when He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature call out, Come! (4) And another horse came out, flaming red. And its rider was empowered to take the peace from the earth so that men slaughtered one another, and he was given a huge sword.
The NASB implies that this rider takes peace from the earth and that men would slay each other with the sword. “Its rider was given the power to take peace away from the earth and make people slaughter each other.” They are both correct. Being given the power to take away peace does not mean that you do. However, both translations convey violent and bloody imagery. One correctly describes making people slaughter each other with the sword. If, as I have stated on many occasions, this is Islam, their primary means of death seem to be the sword and bombs. These weapons are not only directed at those they deem infidels but each other as well – this killing of each other is Biblical and can be found in references to the descendants of Ishmael.
Genesis 16:12 AMP And he [Ishmael] will be as a wild ass among men; his hand will be against every man and every man’s hand against him, and he will live to the east and on the borders of all his kinsmen.
None of this excludes the bully factor and the general passion many have for violence.
The third seal – Famine
Revelation 6:5-6 NASB When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. (6) And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”
J Vernon McGee and many others say this black horse represents worldwide famine. J Vernon McGee then quotes several speakers, saying,
“in 1798, the Rev. Thomas Malthus concluded that “the power of population is infinitely greater than the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man.” His prediction had little weight in his day.
In 1959 the United Nations’ seventy-seven-nation Food and Agriculture Organization met in Rome to talk about “the fight against hunger and malnutrition.” At this meeting, Toynbee declared: “Sooner or later food production will reach its limit. And then, if population is still increasing, famine will do the execution that was done in the past by famine, pestilence, and war combined.”
Sir John Boyd Orr, at one time the Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, warned, “I shall finish my office by giving a last warning to the world. If it is not solved, there will be world chaos in the next fifty years.”
Even in the late 1700s, the elite was concerned about their ability to eat; that theme has not stopped, and we now have serious concerns about engineered weather. Here is America, we had the wettest winter, extending into early summer. This rain has decimated corn crops and ruined others. Now, once again, it is blisteringly hot, and new crops, if they were able to plant, are frying. Famine is coming; there is no doubt about that.
The Fourth Seal – Death
Revelation 6:7-8 NASB When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” (8) I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death, and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
Let me get this straight. The first seal brings the Antichrist, but he appears to be coming in the middle of warfare, most likely with Israel. If this is the Gog/Magog war of Ezekiel 38,39, then those who are still here will already be witnessing tremendous bloodshed. Let alone, the carnage that the Antichrist will bring. The second seal brings war, murder, and once again bloodshed. The third seal brings about a global famine, and people will die because of this. And now, as though nothing worse could happen, this fourth seal, from multiple sources and reasons, brings about death to a fourth of the global population.
Death comes at the hands of humankind – utilizing a sword; famine; pestilence; and by wild beasts.
The Fifth Seal – Persecution of the Saints.
Revelation 6:9-11 NASB When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; (10) and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (11) And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
Think about the process. Christ returns for His church, and many of them rise to meet Him in the air. The result of that is that WE then live with Him forever. NOW, when the church rises many who thought they should go, will still be here. That will bring about tremendous grief. The numbers will include many from so-called charismatic churches; many from the Latter Day Saints; many from the Mormon church, and sadly, the largest population of so-called Christians – will come from the Jewish community.
We are told that when the church is removed, that the veil that has covered so many eyes, keeping them from finding the truth in the Gospels, and Jesus as the Messiah, will be lifted. This lifting of the veil will come off of everyone’s eyes. People will come to Jesus by the thousands.
2 Corinthians 3:13-18 NLT We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. (14) But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. (15) Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. (16) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (17) For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (18) So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
One more passage on the veil.
Isaiah 25:7 NASB And on this mountain, He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.
The Sixth Seal – Cosmic and ecological disaster.
Revelation 6:12-17 NASB (12) I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair and the whole moon became like blood; (13) and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. (14) The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. (15) Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; (16) and they *said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; (17) for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
A great earthquake
The earth is experiencing large earthquakes on a daily basis. One that concerns me, would the earthquake associated with say, the Yellowstone National Park supervolcano. It has a magma pool that seems to be about half the size of Wyoming. Something of this magnitude could easily put us all into a polar winter. Mount St. Helens in Washington State, blocked out the sun for days when it blew.
The sun became black.
Volcanic activity, either caused by a volcano or spewed by a volcano can easily block out the sun. Documentation on recent volcanoes has demonstrated global temperature drops.
The moon became like blood.
With smog and soot, we currently have in the sky, the moon frequently has a dark orange, almost blood red look about it. This could easily be the result of air quality degradation.
And, the stars of the sky fell to the earth.
What we call shooting stars are small pieces of rock or dust that hit the Earth’s atmosphere from space. But that is not what the verse says.
This would probably be a good time to interject some literary clarity. As Rabbi K.A. Schneider points out in his book, The Book of Revelation Decoded, John saw many things which had no explanation; John used terminology that goes like this, “it was something like,” in other words, it might like shooting stars, but could be asteroids, or actual stars falling from space. We don’t really know for sure. Just pray that you do not have to experience these events.
A brief interlude
Chapter six has ended, but there is one more seal to be broken.
The headline caption over the next few verses reads The 144,000 of Israel Sealed. This could be a major point of contention, seeing as the Latter Day Saints (The Jehovah’s Witnesses) believe that some of their elders are the 144,000. I want to ask them if they are all Jewish virgins because that is a qualification.
“After this, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree.” (Revelation 7:1 NLT)
I am interrupting here because I have a question. What would happen on the earth if the winds ceased to blow?
Chuck Doswelli, a research meteorologist since the mid-1970s gives us an answer. He begins by saying, “This is a purely hypothetical situation, impossible ever to realize on a global scale.” Interesting how God is not terribly concerned with things like the laws of physics. Mr. Doswell went on to explain the hypothetical situation.
“if the winds everywhere were to cease, the Earth’s unequal heating distribution would eventually result in a huge increase in the temperature differences between the poles and the equator, as well as between the land and the sea, eventually to the point where most of the planet’s surface wouldn’t be able to support life as we know it: cold regions would become extremely cold, and warm regions would become extremely hot.”
And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: from the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed. (Revelation 7:1-8 NASB)
Things to note about Revelation 7:1-8.
An angel having the seal of the living God.
Satan also has his imitation seal, which he will try to get the whole world to receive, along with the worship of the beast (the Antichrist,) and to worship the image that will set in the rebuilt temple in old Jerusalem. (I said old Jerusalem because there is a new one coming down out of heaven.)
This angel, which may be Yahshua, says, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.”
The admonition is to not harm the earth, sea, or trees. Considering that horrendous warfare may have been going on the entire time, how would you expect the earth, sea, and trees to not suffer? However, this damage that is coming, is from God. Alright, another point of clarification: God frequently uses people and nations to bring about His judgments. Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar are just some of those examples.
“And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:” Twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of:
Did you notice the difference? Dan is completely out of the picture, and, Manasseh, one of Joseph’s sons has taken his place.
The most notable piece of evidence we have on Dan comes from Judges 18.
Judges 18:26-28 NLT So the men of Dan continued on their way. When Micah saw that there were too many of them for him to attack, he turned around and went home. (27) Then, with Micah’s idols and his priest, the men of Dan came to the town of Laish, whose people were peaceful and secure. They attacked with swords and burned the town to the ground. (28) There was no one to rescue the people, for they lived a great distance from Sidon and had no allies nearby. This happened in the valley near Beth-rehob. Then the people of the tribe of Dan rebuilt the town and lived there.
The men of Dan took this mans idols and priest and made them theirs.
The next thing we see during this interlude is John’s second look at the martyred, in heaven, before the throne.
The NASB entitles this section: A Great Multitudefrom Every Nation.
Revelation 7:9-17 NASB After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; (10) and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (11) And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, (12) saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” (13) Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” (14) I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (15) “For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. (16) “They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; (17) for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”