Who is the elect and can they be deceived? Matthew 24:24.

This thought process was initiated by Pastor Jack Hibbs’ comments that we have been taught incorrectly, and how Matthew 24:24 conveys the idea that it is impossible for the elect to be deceived.

I cannot accept that as a true statement, and I did not want to merely make a statement that comes across as disappointment with my pastor, without giving you the exact words he used. So early this morning, 06/29/22 I went online to the YouTube video, Happening Now, with a chapter heading “The Bible’s present-day performance and reality, dated 6/26/22 and I transcribed what he said.

Pastor Jack began with, “I am speaking from my head and not my notes now.” Concerning Matthew 24:24.

“Jesus said, such days of deception are coming,

that if it were possible,

even the very elect would be deceived.”

Pastor restated his assertion by adding,

“That even my own,

my elect, would be deceived.”

Pastor said,

“What does that mean?”

He spoke to the audience about how this was freshmen logic, and that Jesus’ statement means,

“It’s NOT going to happen. It can’t happen!”

“Such deception will deceive people, if it were possible.

It would have to be so powerfully deceptive that it would deceive my own people,

which makes it impossible for my own people to be deceived.”

Pastor asked the audience,

“What is that thing that keeps us from being deceived?

It is knowing the Word of God.”

At this point, Pastor Jack went back to his notes.

Lately, I have played out some of these teachings, as though I am having a conversation. I am not making this stuff up, and in one case, the person I was conversing with, told me that his opinion superseded the Word of God, which I was showing him. I have the crazy understanding and belief that all the answers and wisdom are in the Word of God; therefore, I lean heavily upon it.

I will add that many of our modern Bible translations are pathetic, and yet, because my pastor, and the church I attend use the New King James Version as their primary Bible, therefore, I too use it, but know this, I keep my eyes open. A problem though, because on my computer I do not have the NKJV and, therefore, go with the NASB.

For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24 NASB)

One of the primary questions we should be asking as we read Matthew 24:24, is,

What is the context of Jesus’ directed statement?

We can find the context by looking at the beginning of the chapter.

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

So the context is engulfed in a Jewish-oriented response to a Jewish audience, the disciples. (We do not know how many people fell under the category of being a disciple on that day, and may well have been as many as 120 people.)

Is there a parallel in the Gospels, to Matthew 24:24?

Yes, there is, and we find it in Mark 13. I chose a passage where the disciples, just as they did in the first couple of passages of Matthew 24, asked Jesus to tell them when these things would happen and what would be the signs.

Tell us when is this to take place and what will be the sign when these things, all [of them], are about to be accomplished? And Jesus began to tell them, Be careful and watchful that no one misleads you [about it]. Many will come in [appropriating to themselves] the name [of Messiah] which belongs to Me [basing their claims on the use of My name], saying, I am [He]! And they will mislead many.”
(Mark 13:4-6 AMP)

In opposition to Pastor Jack’s statement, the Apostle Mark tells us that they will mislead/deceive many.

Alright, since Matthew 24:24 is oriented toward the Jews, could I then foolishly say,

Does this apply to me, or to Christ-followers today?

Actually, it does, especially in the sense that we are living in the last moments, moments filled with ungodly turmoil, and at the rapture of the church it will be the end of the age of grace and the entrance of God’s wrath upon the earth. Keep in mind that the church, is NOT subject to God’s wrath, and because of this, we will be caught up to meet Christ in the air. When that happens,

  • The antichrist will rapidly emerge on the scene;
  • The two prophets from God will suddenly appear on the streets of Jerusalem, and they will show great signs and wonders;
  • The final temple – the third one will be built;
  • And a high priest will officiate the offerings, sacrifices, and all the other things that go on there – for 1260 days.

Alternate translations of Matthew 24:24 read like this:

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (KJV)

(Italicized wording indicates that it was added for clarity. Those words can change the meaning of the sentence, so be aware of that.)

For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. (NLT)

(Contrast the NLT with the KJV. Notice that the NLT directs us, appropriately, to a Jewish orientation.)

… and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” (ASV)

(Here the translation conveys what the purpose truly is.)

Remember, the origins of Jesus’ response is to a Jewish audience, that asked Him two pointed questions,

  • Tell us, when will these things happen,

  • And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

Matthew 24:24 is merely a part of the answer to these two questions.

Quickly, before we deep dive, I want to point something out. One of the questions points toward “the end of the age.”

When does this take place and why does it matter?

The end has everything to do with the end of God’s wrath, as far as the Jew is concernedbecause this is where they finally get to see the Messiah they longed for return to save them.

For the church, our understanding leans more toward the beginning of the Millennial reign of Christ. Now, to be honest, it might also take us all the way to the end of countable time – the great white throne. The reason I do not lean that way is that Jesus’ response in Matthew 24:24 is oriented toward the Jewish community.

When Jesus said “false messiahs” –

There should have been an immediate correlation to Deuteronomy 13 chapter one, where it says.

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5 NASB)

So, Jesus defined what a false prophet/messiah is, and how to detect them. They will lead you go after other gods.

Do you not realize how subtle and yet complex that leading could be?

One of those potential “false messiahs”, as improbable as that seems, could just as easily be the high priest of the new temple. While Christianity does not speak of this – as this is extra-biblical information and a reason for many to balk at it, Islamic prophecies speak about how the high priest, by all acceptable standards, will eventually turn to Islam; follow the Mahdi – who may well be the antichrist; will perform signs and wonders, by duplicating what the two witnesses from God will have done during their tenure here on earth.

Hopefully, you are beginning to understand how important the role these signs and wonders play in our ability to understand this passage, and who this false messiah may be.

Great signs and wonders, what is He talking about?

Again, this is a Jewish concept; however, it is applied to the person giving testimony in defense of or against someone. In the case of God’s two witnesses, they will give testimony against Israel for their disbelief.

A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.” (Deuteronomy 19:15 NASB)

As an interesting side note, my oldest grandson asked me what I was studying. I pointed to Matthew 24:24 and read it to him. He said, I can’t disagree with that, which told me he did not grasp what the verse was saying. I will be bold in saying, I don’t think there are many Christians who grasp what this verse is telling them.

The two witnesses.

The thing I want you to pay attention to are signs and wonders.

“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire. When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.”
(Revelation 11:3-13 NASB)

A quick recap of the signs and wonders.

  • If anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.”

  • These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying;”

  • They have power over the waters to turn them into blood.”

  • And to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.”

So, what does the “false messiah” do?

He does the same thing as the two witnesses, with the same arrogance as the magicians of Egypt did.

“So Moses and Aaron did even as the LORD had commanded. And he lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood. The fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. And the blood was through all the land of Egypt. But the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret arts; and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said.” (Exodus 7:20-22 NASB)

If you follow the story of the plagues upon Egypt, you find the magicians copying many of the plagues, but there was one they dared not try, and that was the death of the firstborn.

Now, let’s talk about the elect for a moment.

Since we know that the answer Jesus gave is directed at Jews, and the usage of the term “elect” means chief priests, elders, high priests, and quite possibly rabbis,

Who is Jesus talking about when He says “ to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”?

He is talking about the leadership of Israel. So when Pastor Jack talks like he is talking about Christians, he is playing on thin ice.

Can a Christian be deceived?

Don’t be foolish, we live on the brink of deception all the time. Why else would Jesus’ first response to the disciples be this –

Jesus answered them, Be careful that no one misleads you [deceiving you and leading you into error]. (Matthew 24:4 AMP)

Considering that Eve did not have anyone else but Satan trying to deceive her, and she fell for it, what are your chances without being deeply embedded in the Word of God.

Let me ask you a question.

Did you voluntarily rush out and get vaccinated, on the basis of what your trustworthy government told you?

Then you were deceived. If so, just repent and put your trust in God once again.

So, is Matthew 24:24 telling us it is impossible to be deceived?

Hardly, and if you listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart, you know it is not telling you that; and Matthew 24:4 substantiates that, as I pointed out above.

There is nothing in scripture that tells you to chant some passage repeatedly and you won’t be deceived, that ability to fend off deception only comes from spending time in the Word of God, learning what His nature and character are, and putting your trust in Him.

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And the city has no need for the sun. Revelation 21: 10-27.

With this post, we will finish Revelation 21. Yeah, I know you want me to drag this out forever, but I sometimes think I heard the voice of the Lord, telling me, I will come back when you finish this study. So on that note, we have one more chapter, for what it’s worth.

The funny thing about that, hearing God’s voice stuff. His voice almost always sounds like my voice, and yes, I desperately long for Him to return to retrieve His church. So what could be an honest inspiration from the Holy Spirit may be nothing more than one of my internal desires.

If what I just said was my driving motivation, then you would think I would have recklessly plowed through the book of Revelation. Not that its any of your concern but I struggled most of my life with an undiagnosed learning disability, and, though I finally found out what the problem was, the only assistance I obtained was to sit, undisturbed, for up to three hours, so I could take my college chemistry tests.

So, hurriedly does not work for me, and I have to build word pictures in my mind. I have been learning and studying the Revelation alongside you, and have become quite adept at painting word pictures of the events.

As we enter this next portion, I must admit it sort of bores me.


Because, while I have childhood images from Sunday School of massive pearl gates, (try to imagine how big the oyster would have to be to hold such a pearl.) I have come to the conclusion that most of what I learned as a child, was erroneous. I suppose I should tell you, that I cannot stand the thought of talking just to talk, so I will try to find relevance to what we are about to see in scripture.

I long for you to gain what I have gained, and that is a passionate love and desire to see our heavenly Father and Jesus.

(Revelation 21:10 NASB) “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,”

Where is this Holy City now?

The obvious answer, from the passage above, is that it’s in heaven.

That’s great, now tell me, where heaven is?

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Ephesus, wrote, “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Then the answer lies in the location of this heavenly place. Once again we turn to Paul. The second letter that he wrote to the church that met in Corinth conveyed this, “while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NASB) 

So this place called heaven is currently NOT seen with the naked eye.

(Revelation 21:11 NASB) having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear Jasper.

The context is heaven; therefore, it is heaven that has the glory of God.

Camp here for a minute. Jesus is God, and we are in Christ. 

Because of that, could it be said that someday, we too will have the glory of God? 

The answer is yes. But take this to the next step; 

Since we are in Christ, shouldn’t we be emitting that glory now? 

We should; 

Then what prevents us? 

The only logical answer lies in the fact that we are walking around in broken vessels, which, admittedly allow other things to leak out between the cracks. But, that will change one day soon, as we will be changed.

(Revelation 21:12-13 GW) “It had a large, high wall with 12 gates. Twelve angels were at the gates. The names of the 12 tribes of Israel were written on the gates. (13)  There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.”

This imagery of the 12 gates would have been familiar to John.

““These are the exits of the city: on the north side, 4,500 cubits by measurement, shall be the gates of the city, named for the tribes of Israel, three gates toward the north: the gate of Reuben, one; the gate of Judah, one; the gate of Levi, one. “On the east side, 4,500 cubits, shall be three gates: the gate of Joseph, one; the gate of Benjamin, one; the gate of Dan, one. “On the south side, 4,500 cubits by measurement, shall be three gates: the gate of Simeon, one; the gate of Issachar, one; the gate of Zebulun, one. “On the west side, 4,500 cubits, shall be three gates: the gate of Gad, one; the gate of Asher, one; the gate of Naphtali, one.” (Ezekiel 48:30-34 NASB)

Interesting how this passage above does not show up in several translations. An acquaintance of mine began to point out how God seems to take an interest in groupings of three. The commentator Albert Barnes, said,” there does not seem to be any special significance to the number.” Since the Holy City is square, then it is highly convenient to place three on each side and name them with tribes of Israel. Ah, one other thing. When Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden, an angel was placed at the gate and prevented them from reentering and accessing the tree of life. Perhaps, these angels will have a similar function.

(Revelation 21:14 NASB) “And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

How appropriate.

(Revelation 21:15-17 NASB) “The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. (16) The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. (17) And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.”

If you can find an ancient map of the Middle East that shows the land promised to Abraham, and attempt to ascertain the land coverage using the scale of the map, it takes up most of the Middle East. Thankfully someone did the math for us, and it is about 1500 miles square.

(Revelation 21:18 NASB) “The material of the wall was Jasper, and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.”

Both of these images are of Jasper. The image that is impossible to find is pure gold like clear glass.

Dull JasperMulti-colored Jasper

(Revelation 21:19-20 NLT)The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.

Again I turn to the Apostle Paul.

Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.” (Ephesians 2:20 NLT)

How many disciples were there?

Yes, you are right 12, and so the city is built on 12 foundation stones.

(Revelation 21:21 NASB) “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”

I mentioned this to my wife. Her response was,

Why do you assume that God needs an oyster to make a pearl?

Okay, you got me, but having gone to the local fair, where a vendor allowed you to pick your oyster out of the tank for a fee, crack it open with a little help, and extract your pearl, I have an idea where pearls typically come from.

Do you know how they knew there was a pearl inside?

Because they put the irritant inside the shell, that caused the oyster to react and form a smooth surface around the irritant.

Then how big does the oyster have to be in order to make even one pearl big enough to serve as a gate? 

It’s a rhetorical question and does not require an answer.

Before I move on, this idea that a thing of great value and beauty must be formed because of an irritant has grabbed my attention. Unfortunately, my life has been filled with irritations.

How come I can’t see the beauty?

Maybe, I just don’t know what to look for.

(Revelation 21:22 NASB) “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”

Based on the instruction given to Moses, on how to build the temple, we can know exactly what it looked like.

but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.” (1 Corinthians 13:10 NASB)

Maybe I can apply this idea of the “partial” being done away to the temple. When Jesus died the curtain or veil, if you will, was torn from the top down and demonstrated that God was not there anymore. We now have full access to God through the Son. And, we are in Christ. So whatever He is, so are we. We, are also told that our bodies are the temple of the Lord. While there is a Holy City, there is no temple. I guess that means that the Holy Thrones are set right in the middle.

(Revelation 21:23-24 NASB) “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. (24) The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.”

This is another section that should have rung true with John.

No longer will you have the sun for light by day, Nor for brightness will the moon give you light; But you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And your God for your glory. “Your sun will no longer set, Nor will your moon wane; For you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And the days of your mourning will be over.”
(Isaiah 60:19-20 NASB)

There will never be darkness again, and no more shadows for the bad people to hide in.

Having worked the graveyard shift I slept during the day. I had to tape aluminum foil in the windows to keep out the sun. But here I go again, applying my brokenness to God’s environment. We may never experience tiredness or hunger again.

What does it mean when it says, “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.”?

If I applied two considerations “walk by its light” and the fact that Jesus, in this scenario, just a short time before this moment, killed without hesitation, all those who were fighting against Him; then my assumption would be, that this means these people are approaching Him humbly, listening to what He says, and obeying His law. While that might be true for a handful, many of these people, with their heads full of rocks, are still cursing God and ignoring Him. So, let’s set aside our assumptions and dissect the words.

The term nations still applies to those outside of Judaism, but that is a context-driven term, especially since so many of us Gentiles accepted Christ and were adopted into the family. I suppose that makes us Jews spiritually. So, let’s generalize and say that the Nations are those, still walking this earth after the seven years of wrath are over, and they have not yet come into the family. (Psst, many never will.)

Walk is the Greek word peripateō. It means “to make one’s wayto liveto conduct one’s self.”

This idea of conducting one’s self leans toward submission.

Do slaves lean toward submission?

Certainly, they do, but you will never have their heart. God is love. I know that love is hard to see at times, but it’s true. It was His love, over time, that gave me reasons to love Him back. And, He has adopted me and all my quirks, along with all the others that have come to Him.

Now the term walk also denotes following a way. Currently, in this intentionally dumb-ed down world we live in, where we can’t identify between a male and a female, it is becoming more difficult (the younger you are,) to find a proper way to follow.

Allow me to straighten something out for you. We were made in God’s image, and even if you don’t choose to believe it, He (God) placed His moral law in your heart. So, if you set out to murder someone and follow through with it, you had to work through an intense moral battle and determine that you would ignore God’s moral law. This is a brutal and confusing way to live; the evidence of this lies in the answers people give when asked, why did you do that? Oh, they know why, and yes, it was all of the above.

(Revelation 21:25-26 NASB) “In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; (26) and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;.”

It will continuously be light, for there will be NO night. Well, okay.

The gates will never be closed. Are you kidding me? 

Oh yeah, that broken human side of me creeps into the study. I always lock the car doors. At least there are massive angels standing guard at each gate.

Glory is the Greek word doxa and also means honor, praise, and worship. However, this looks, God accepts it.

Honor is the Greek word timē, which means value, esteem, and dignity. Therefore, it appears that honor has to be something precious.

In light of this, “they (the nationswill bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;”

“Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. In that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “HOLY TO THE LORD.” And the cooking pots in the LORD’S house will be like the bowls before the altar. Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the LORD of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts in that day.” (Zechariah 14:16-21 NASB)

What Zechariah describes is mandated. 

Do the nations have a right to refuse? 

Well, they have freedom of choice, but it is NOT God that gives them an out. Refusal means NO rain on your crops and He calls it a plague. I am unsure where I got the idea that they had a second chance because I don’t see it now.

“The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze and the earth which is under you, iron. “The LORD will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven, it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.” (Deuteronomy 28:23-24 NASB)

And I end chapter 21 with this.

(Revelation 21:27 NASB) “and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

This makes NO sense unless you can see it as a final recap that begins with the millennial reign and the Holy City has come down. If you try to make it chronological, then you still have people practicing abominations after the great white throne, and that is not a logical assumption.

So, the only place I can apply a statement like this is, as I described, during the millennial reign.

Remember, the gates stay open all the time. In my busted world, if I leave the door open flies and mosquitoes come in, that will not happen in God’s kingdom, as there are those angels to help keep pests out. 

Do you realize that God also has a plan of redemption for the nations during this time? 

 I am jumping ahead, but the answer lies in Revelation 22.

in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:2 NASB)

Remember that the nations are still mortals and can be killed or wounded. That doesn’t seem possible in a land where peace reigns, but maybe. The word healing associated with these leaves can be medically oriented or a service rendered by one to another. That service would then be the internal healing that allows that one, or perhaps many, to come into the family. 

For those who fret, as they say, no one comes to the Father except through Jesus; I ask you to think this through, as NO family member will overstep and go beyond the will of the Father, who has not changed His heart, and longs that every person comes back into the family/relationship.

Posted in angels, bible study, departure, End times, false teaching, God's character, mystery, Revelation, Rule the nations, straying from the truth, the nations, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Evidence of the Holy City coming down at the beginning of the millennium is scattered and, in a sense, hidden. Revelation 21:9-11.

 Back to Bible study

Finally, we have come to the New Heaven; and no, we are not in transition, “awaiting our resurrection to the New Earth,” as Randy Alcorn would tell you. That is nothing more than slop that people have made up.

Then why talk about the rapture of the church?

Because, in the chain of events before the New Heaven and the New Earth show up, we have to have the catching away of the church.

2 Thessalonians 2:3 tells us that the man of sin, the antichrist character, cannot come unless the church departs. A clear definition of this comes from the Geneva Bible, published in 1587.

On the other hand, the King James translation, which some will tell you is the only authorized Bible you should use, was decreed in 1769, almost two hundred years later. In case you haven’t heard, the King James Bible came to us because the State Church of England, the Catholic Church, ordered it rewritten to reflect their anger over people leaving the only recognized church, by their standards, for Protestantism. In the process of rewriting, 2 Thessalonians 2:3 was intentionally changed to read “except there come a falling away first,” and that was indeed happening.

So, the church’s departure initiates the seven years of God’s wrath. 

Some things that will happen in association with the rapture:

  • The catching away of the church.

    I use the terminology catching away, as it is a translation of the Greek word harpazoRapture, which many of us use, is a translation of the Latin word rapturo. It doesn’t matter which term you use as long as you get there, which, by the way, is through you accepting Jesus Christ into your life as your savior.

    This time with Him will last for seven years, the same time frame as the wrath of God is being poured out upon the earth. During these seven years, people will continue to come to Christ, take a stand for Him, and, sadly, have their heads cut off; they will be the martyred saints.

  • ¼ of the world’s population will be brutally murdered.

    This will be through several methods, including manufactured pestilence of every kind. This list includes injections, diseases, and death at the hands of humanity.

  • A massive war focused on the Middle East and likely involving President Putin of Russia will occur in the Jezreel Valley of Israel.

    While this war will be horrific, one-third of Israel will survive, and this character, Gog, will be killed on the hillsides of Israel. The battle will be ended as God sends a firestorm upon the combatants. No one of a sound mind can tell you precisely when this will occur, except to say that it will be very close to the church’s rapture.

  • The third temple will be rebuilt. Reports indicate that it can be rebuilt in about three months.
  • The two witnesses from God will show up and preach in the streets of Jerusalem.

    However, they only remain for three and a half years.

  • Amid this chaos, a man will rise and declare peace.

    Many will tell you that he, the antichrist, makes peace with Israel, but scripture does NOT say that. It says he will make peace with many. The many are most likely the nations that will be warring with Israel and taking a severe beating at the hand of God.

    All this most likely happens right after the catching away of the church and rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

  • The winds of the earth will cease.

    This will make the planet’s temperature rise by a deadly amount. Humans and plant life will die and suffer.

  • The water supplies will be poisoned and turned to blood.

    Literally? I don’t know. I just know it will be undrinkable.

  • The oceans will be poisoned as something massive will slam into them, and one-third of the ocean vessels will be destroyed.
  • A demon horde of locusts will be unleashed and sting people, making them want to die, but they will not die.
  • The economic systems of the earth will be destroyed.

    The Bible tells us that the global leaders who put their trust in money will all see the smoke arising from Babylon. Since Babylon was destroyed thousands of years ago, this represents greed and power. Sorry, but it will be gone.

  • And do not forget that 100-pound, fiery hail stones will batter the earth. 

At the end of seven years, the wrath ends. But, so many things will happen at the end of the wrath.

Here are a few:

  • Jesus will come back with a sword out of His mouth, and we will be with Him.

    The nations will have gathered for battle with the Lamb – Jesus, and those who came to fight with Him will be slaughtered in the Jezreel valley; this is the place we call the valley of Meggido.

  • The new Jerusalem will come down from heaven.
  • Jesus will be seated as a judge and reign during the thousand years of peace.
  • There will be NO MORE WARS.
  • The law of God will continue to be preached among the nations, and many will come to know Jesus.

    In other words, the nations – people will come to understand the nature and character of God. He is not out to kill you. However, the eternal torment made for Satan and those who followed him in the rebellion will also be filled by people who choose to follow Satan.

Between the killing that people will do against people and the things God is pouring out upon the earth, I cannot imagine how anyone survives.

It is NOT clear what we, the church, will be doing during the millennium, as we are in Him. But I am sure it will be grand.

Revelation 21:9-27 tells us the details of The New Jerusalem.

“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:9 NASB)

That deadly angel says, “Come here, and I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” I chose the term deadly, as this is the same angel that had been pouring out the wrath of God upon the Earth.

What is coming? 

You would be correct if you said the New Jerusalem, yet it is the bride.

I thought we were the bride?

We are, but here, we are as those bricks, made up of pure gold, that comprises the entirety of the New Jerusalem. We are also the shining city.

I have become rather emphatic regarding the New Jerusalem, the Holy City, and how it comes down at the beginning of the millennial reign of Christ. But, like most everything else, there is some challenge, or the enemy comes along, invading my thoughts with confusion and doubt. In moments like this, I must regroup mentally, find my evidence and reestablish my confidence.

Like everything in scripture, evidence of the Holy City coming down at the beginning of the millennium is scattered and, in a sense, hidden throughout the Bible. One of those places is the entirety of Revelation 22. Here, we find this river that starts small and quickly widens, coming from under the throne of God. Along both sides of this river, the trees of life grow. The leaves of those trees are for the healing of the nations. (See Revelation 22:2.)

When and where does this healing take place?

Only during the millennial kingdom, and so, I was right, the Holy City does come down at the beginning of the millennial reign.

If you have followed my posts for the last couple of months, you would be aware of how I have, over the previous twenty years, fought through erroneous teachings, such as only believers enter the millennial kingdom and the racist belief that’ no Jews enter the millennial reign.

“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.”(Revelation 21:10-11 NASB)

I suppose that is understandable if you are confused about when the Holy City comes down. But know this, it is not by my doing; as I pointed out, the leaves of the tree of life bring healing to the nations. However, after the great judgment seat and the Earth and heavens being burned with fire and replaced, there is no longer any need for healing for the nations, as they are healed, or they are gone, cast into the lake of fire – their names not being found in the book of life.

Perhaps the confusion is deeply embedded in the idea that we constantly apply our broken human understanding to Biblical concepts and events, such as the Holy City coming down and when. I see this happening when the earth is still horribly polluted, damaged, and has non-believing people walking around on it. God can and will handle all that, and it will not affect those living in that city.

Now, if He has to lift the Holy City off the earth to purge the earth with fire, then so be it, He will do so with the blink of an eye, and it may have all of us in it, still walking on the streets of gold, as it moves.

Should we care how God moves, lifts, or vaporizes the garbage under the Holy City to purge the heavens and the earth?

NO. If we struggle to know, much of our struggle is wrapped up in wanting to have answers for other Christians who have lived through the erroneous teachings as we did. We struggle because we cannot seem to grasp the hope that the Apostle Paul tells us we have though we try. (This becomes harder when some “brother” in Christ tells you not to waste your time talking about Jesus coming back soon, especially when the “Christian community has been preaching this gospel for well over 2000 years, and we are still here.) We can have that hope if we have our name in the Book of Life. The only sure-fire way to know if you have your name there is to accept Jesus Christ as Lord over your life.

It seems simple enough, doesn’t it?

Posted in 2 Thessalonians, Abyss, antichrist, apostasy, Babylon, bible study, departure, End times, false teaching, Geneva Bible, Gog, invasion, Israel, Magog, Prophetic, rapture, Revelation, Rule the nations, teaching a different doctrine, the nations, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture, thrones, war, wrath. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I have been on a rant about false teachers lately.

Seeing as I have been on a rant about false teachers lately I thought I should add one more.

    Two more guys I tend to respect were recently speaking on the subject “are there prophets in these last days.” Their answer leaned heavily upon the fact that God’s word is the final word on things to come; and, it has been made available, unlike when the Apostle Paul walked this earth, and there was NO printed Word so that every household could have sixteen Bibles and NOT study any of them.

    I happened to notice the comments associated with this teaching. A lady put up a “band-aid” sized banner, with pastel letters, spelling out “AMEN.” My spirit wrenched inside of me, and I wrote a comment for all to see.

    “While it is true that God’s Word is the definitive of all prophecy, did He leave the door open for us to speak into other people’s lives? Absolutely. (Try reading Romans 12:6; 1Corinthians 12:10; 1Corinthians 13:2; 1Timothy 4:14.) Those words, these two men spoke that day, implied that we are to keep our mouth’s shut when it comes to outward expression.”

I asked the question in the comments,

    “Have you ever worked through your broken self-esteem, your introverted tendencies, and subjected yourself to the ridicule of religious zealots, who believe you should not and cannot speak like this to people, most of which are believers?”

“It’s not so easy, is it.”

    At a small church, I attended, I gave a word to a person that had come up front for prayer. The man with the Doctorate in theology got there first and prayed his well-rehearsed words over this person, while I stood by waiting quietly. He walked away and I reached out and touched this person’s shoulder before they could walk away. I did what the Holy Spirit told me to do. I looked into their eyes and began speaking into their life. The reaction said it all, as God had reached down inside them and tears began to flow. When I give Words like this, they typically speak to me as well, and I often weep afterward, mostly because I am so deeply affected by the idea that God would use me.

    Mr. Doctorate, had apparently stopped to watch and judge me, and he immediately approached me, saying, “never tell someone, “the Lord is saying,” because there is nothing we do that is not entwined with our broken human nature, and therefore, may not be the Lord, but your brokenness motivating the word you speak.” While what he said is sound wisdom, I had already seen rubbish like that and had chosen never to speak to someone in that manner. I often say I believe the Holy Spirit is saying.”

    Here is the problem that all of us must face. That voice that you heard, and, therefore, believe is the voice of God, telling you to go to that person and tell them that the LORD is telling you that you are wearing too much gaudy makeup and your skirt is too short,is your voice. (In case you did not notice, I was being facetious.) As believers, we have the Holy Spirit, leading us, guiding us, and showing us things to come. So, yes, it may well be the Holy Spirit, but He convicts through the Word of God, not you. Oh, and you are NOT the judge, Jesus is, so leave the judgment and criticism out of the conversation.”

What did that voice sound like?

    If you are honest, you would say, it sounded like my voice.

How connected is your voice to your angry emotions and religious traditions?

    It is wholeheartedly connected, but it can be trained and controlled.

    One day at church, a dear lady, whom I only knew by eyesight, stopped me and said, “Why aren’t you doing what the Holy Spirit told you to do?

    Yikes, I knew what it meant to me, but what did it mean to her? So, I asked. Her response was very similar to the words the Holy Spirit had already been using to implore me about giving words to the church body.

    Speaking out like this was a gut-wrenching process for me, and I pleaded with God to find someone else. The Holy Spirit said, no, I want you, and I want your voice. Once I started, it went on for six weeks. Finally, after giving the first message to the church, my lady friend came to me and said, honey, no one beyond five seats could hear you. I thought I was yelling, so if I did that again, I would have to be louder.

    I remember the theme of the words I was giving to the church, and it went something like this, “Though you think you are sitting pretty, you have no idea what’s coming for many of you, and you will not be able to handle it. You need to feed on my word and strengthen yourselves.”

    That was the just of it, and it went on for six weeks. When He would speak to me, I would start shaking, overwhelmed by His presence. Finally, you could hear me down the street in the sixth week. Yes, there is a learning curve, but I never got to learn it as I was met at the door by the Pastor on the seventh week. He told me that several people told him that I made God sound angry. He continued to say, but I will say this. I listened to every word, and you could have taken those words directly from the Bible. Nonetheless, you will not speak out like that without my approval. That meant handing him a note with some rehearsed speech I believed I received from God while I was in the shower that morning. It never worked out like that for me. So when God would tell me to speak to the people, I would reply with, what will I say? And He would come back with, “start with, and the..” 

Are you kidding me, that’s all?

    “Yes, you will have to learn to trust me.” As you might expect, I was hurt and angry, not just with the people and the pastor, but with God. Sometime later, I left that church. In the meantime, a few ladies would give words, but it came across like we were supposed to be lying in the clover and daisies. For a warrior spirit, this meant nothing.

    I have not been to a church since that allows the Holy Spirit the freedom to do and say what He wants, mainly because all of the churches are afraid of what the Holy Spirit will do. And though we sing worship songs that plead for the presence of the Holy Spirit, I find myself internally saying; you will freak out if He does, and you will unleash the security guards on the one exhibiting the Holy Spirit.

    You need to get real and read about the prophets of the Old Testament. Samuel, the prophet, hacked King Agag to pieces. The effects of Samuel’s actions were that the elders would ask him, do you come in peace when he came to town? Isn’t that Fascinating!

    No doubt, there have been flakes in the church. Flakes are a given when you have broken people involved, especially those who have no manners and have not learned to keep their mouths shut while someone else is speaking, nor can they keep their inner struggles out of the word being given.

    Surprisewe are all broken; this is precisely why you and I need to trust the Holy Spirits’ ability to lead and guide us and why we are so effective with some people and not others.

There is always more, but let us end with this. 

Be careful about who you judge and what you say, 

as your very words will be your judge.

Perhaps you are secure in God’s love and grace and confident that you will not be subject to the wrath that is coming upon the world.

But all of us (believers) will stand before Jesus and be judged for our acts or lack thereof.

For example, imagine you idolize Calvin Klein underwear, which is all you wear because they make you feel sexy. Yet, on that day, standing before Jesus, those things we have made idols in our lives will be burned up, and you may end up standing there with no underwear. Get my drift? Good.

Posted in confidence, false prophet, false teaching, healing, Hearing God, Prophetic, spiritual gifts, strange doctrines, Thoughts, wise | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soul sleep and the transitional period. Where do we go when we die?

The motivation for writing, in this case, initiated with the study that I have been doing on the Revelation, where, at the moment, we are in chapters 21 and 22. Those chapters focus on a new heaven and a new earth.

I share these studies with the guys I sit with, and they always have questions. For example, one of the men asked about death and Heaven, which prompted him to buy a copy of the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn. I have a copy of that book but, until recently, never opened it. 

The chapter I pursued first started on page twenty-three. By the time I got to chapter five, page 41, I had run into this bizarre statement by Randy Alcorn, and to be honest, I was done. 

When a Christian dies, he enters into what is referred to in theology as the intermediate state, a transitional period between our present lives on earth and our future resurrection to life on the New Earth.

A Pastor I am familiar with, in his book Countdown, states that “a few cult religions believe in a soul sleep.” The problem is, the Bible does not use the phrase soul sleep; nor does it speak explicitly about an intermediate state or a transitional period as we believers await our “future resurrection” to our life on the “New Earth,” as Randy Alcorn stated. 

The possibility of this intermediate state or transition being the same as soul sleep is not that difficult to perceive. 

Because of the questions that believers ask and the conflicting statements from books and the pulpit, I have felt the need to look into the biblical understanding of death and our transition to our heavenly home. 

Our education into death begins by grasping that the soul never dies

  • The ultimate “death” is separation from God, in whose image you are made. 

    It would be best if you let that statement sink in. 

    Since all of humanity was made in God’s image, then consider the fool that says there is no God, all the while their soul cries out as it longs to worship Him, and, because you chose to turn a blind eye to God, the rocks will sing out the praises of God.

    So, what we call death is distributed – in a sense, between those who are followers of Jesus Christ and those who are not.

  • For the follower of Christ, there is a glorious hope, and it is to live in the presence of Love Himself.

    The Apostle Paul told us in 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 that we are merely living in tents of fleshand when those tents are taken down – destroyed, we are immediately in the presence of Jesus, clothed in the glory and garments of Heaven. 

    The phrase used is, “we have.” It is the Greek word echō. Thayer’s definition conveys that this word means: to have, hold, own, and possess – as in the sense of wearing a tent.

    One of the verses we focus on is 2 Corinthians 5:6. Here the thought process seems to run backward; as Paul says, 

    “Therefore we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” 

    If we apply a mathematical term, inverse, it is then easy to understand that we long to be clothed in our eternal bodies and be present with the Lord, an event that will happen instantly.

    While I can’t tell you if you will be hanging around in the clouds with Jesus or dancing on golden streets, I can tell you that the transition from here to there will be instantaneous.

    Please don’t ask me about the reasons behind God associating us back with our physical body, as I don’t have much more information than you do. Still, it is clear that God gave us these bodies, with sensation and emotion, for a reason and will, therefore, restore them in a condition far better than what we left them in.

    Having said all that, I can picture Jesus sitting at the sea shore with the disciples, eating fish. In His immortal body, He doesn’t have to, but He did.

    Is it because He could still enjoy it and the fellowship – an emotion?

    Nobody ever tries to tell you that in His last days on earth, He could not feel the distress the disciples felt. They had Him, lost Him, gained Him back, and now He was going back to the Father once again. What a roller coaster of emotions. Perhaps none of this could be experienced without the body.

The death of those outside of a relationship with Jesus is different. 

  • Again, your soul never dies. 

    So, if you are unfortunate enough to make it to the great white throne, there is the sad possibility that your name is NOT listed in the book of life. If that happens, you will be cast into the lake of fire, right behind your fearless leader – Satan. You will experience eternal separation from God and the eternal agony designed for Satan and his fallen angel horde. 

    While the believers are taken immediately into the presence of Jesus, this is not the case for those who would not follow Him. 

  • I contend that, for the non-believer, the dead know nothing. 

    What does that mean? 

    It means your soul just lies there, somewhere, without a thought. Most people think of this as being asleep. I don’t know about that because I have all kinds of dreams, some of which fall under the category of demonic if you ask me. But whether asleep or simply thoughtless makes no difference, as you are, for whatever amount of time that takes, doing nothing, going nowhere. 

    What evidence do I have for the statement above? 

    How about Ecclesiastes 9:5, for one. 

    “The living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward, nor are they remembered.” (NLT)

    I am aware that some could interpret this otherwise, so I found other witnesses. Psalm 146:3-4 is an excellent one.

    “Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; In that very day his thoughts perish.” (NASB

    Remember, it is two or three witnesses, so let’s look at one more. It doesn’t matter how many pieces of evidence I put up here, as some of you will never change your mind. Psalm 115:17 also bolsters the idea of a thoughtless condition. 

    “The dead do not praise the LORD, Nor do any who go down into silence;” (NASB)

    It seems obvious that the dead would not praise the Lord, but how do you know that? Considering how some who “come back from the dead” see and feel horrendous torment, why wouldn’t they want to praise the Lord?

I feel as though I have done an adequate job of giving you an understanding of death and how the dead know nothing, and I backed my assertions with scripture.

Am I now to be considered a cult religion by some Pastor just because, in his book, he deemed those who believe there is a soul sleep as a religious cult, and he does it by saying, “a few cult religions believe in a soul sleep.”? I don’t think so, for I believe in scripture, God’s word, and a relationship with Jesus. And, as this Pastor often tells the audience, I preach the pure Word of God. But obviously, for some Pastors, that is not the case. If this does anything, it moves men like this Pastor into the category of false teachers, who may need correction or be ignored because none of us have the right to make Biblical-sounding statements that have no Biblical basis. 

You follow whoever floats your boat because I am not the church police. But at least get yourself skillful with scripture and judge for yourselves. If what they preach is consistently wrong, and you follow them, then in time, what they say will weaken your faith and undermine your understanding of God’s character.

Posted in 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Abyss, bible study, death, gentiles, Hell, judgment, judgment, know nothing, pastor, Revelation, strange doctrines, straying from the truth, teaching a different doctrine, the nations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Who are these people and why are they now having an impact? Rev 21: 8-10.

When the Apostle John was given the Revelation dream or the vision, he tells us, the reader,

 “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,” Revelation 1:10 NASB.

A few years ago, I sat in the living room of a man that led a group study in his home. Truth be known, only three of us met there, but this night there were just two of us. I don’t remember the book’s subject matter we had been reading, but the homeowner said to me, I have never been filled with the Holy Spirit. This conversation makes me think about an interaction that Paul and another brother had.

“It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.” (Acts 19:1-6 NASB)

The subject of the Holy Spirit can be the focus of heated arguments and fights, as false teachings have created an atmosphere of fear and distrust. The bottom line here is that we fear what we do not understand. I do not intend to pursue the subject of the Holy Spirit because it is a study in itself. However, I do want to make an observation about the Spirit, which the Apostles pretty much had to figure out as they went. 

With that thought in mind, what do you think John meant when he said, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.”?

Having had a few moments like this, let’s just say, he was lost in the moment. That moment may have been initiated through a time of prayer, or through an open conversation with God, which is also a prayer.

I will add that during my times of pursuing the faith movement, which I don’t do anymore, Brother Copeland came out on stage and continued speaking in tongues. Kenneth motioned for a man who taught in other sessions that weekend and had him take over the teaching for several minutes. It was a most interesting and unusual meeting. Later Brother Copeland explained, I had been in the back talking with God in my spirit, and I got lost in the moment. When I came out here on stage, I simply did not want to leave that moment. The Holy Spirit worked it out beautifully as Jerry Savelle, taught this portion placed in his lap beautifully, and in time handed it back to Kenneth. Kenneth explained that the Holy Spirit does not, and did not take over his body, he said, I merely did not want to step out of God’s presence. You see, it is our choice to let God envelop us in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

I can just about guarantee that the disciples figured out that Jesus is God. Imagine the moment John realized that those conversations that John had had with Jesus, as he laid his head on Jesus’ chest, he was having them with God. It is easy to visualize him, in that cave, reliving that moment now. A couple of my old fishing holes have islands in them. You can throw a rock from end to end; Patmos is quite a bit bigger than that, and may well have other prisoners trying to exist on it. How fortunate John had a cave for shelter. Now imagine yourself very focused, when suddenly you hear a voice, and it seems to be coming from behind you; that would make me jump unless I knew it was an integral part of the vision.

The vision may have been long, nothing short of scary, and exhausting. But, finally, this is all coming to a glorious end. The old earth has passed away, along with the heavens, and they are both made new. The final judgment has come and gone, ending Satan’s career permanently and those who chose to follow Satan by their refusal to follow Jesus. And, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain1.” All the anguish, fear, and pain associated with life are gone forever.

Now we move on to Revelation 21:5,

“And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” (Revelation 21:5 NASB)

With a statement like this, “I am making all things new.” you would think God could not be talking about people, as we have already been made new. If He is, consider how the end of judgment has come through the Great White Throne. If Matthew 25 applies here, then those deemed the sheep, whose names are written in the book of life – gain entrance into the eternal kingdom that has been awaiting them from the beginning of time.

Oh, by the way, no one comes into the heavenly kingdom with their old, broken nature. You need to get that idea out of your head. The problem, for many, is the manner in which some of these people are changed. Many think that this change only happens through water baptism; however, the thief on the cross blew that religious belief out of the water.

The Greek word for new is kainos, and it can also mean fresh or unworn. So it becomes easy to visualize that people, the earth, and the heavens will be cleaned up, including all the space debris out there.

Every time I pause, as I am contemplating the end of the Revelation, I envision the wastefulness and destruction we have unleashed upon this earth; it is more than a little disgusting that you have to find someone else’s debris almost everywhere you go. As messed up as I think this planet is, I can still see that there is beauty and wonder in the mountains and the trees. None of this matters, nor is God asking our opinion about what we would like to see. I just know from scripture it will be the most spectacular, and relaxing garden setting that anyone could imagine and somehow be just what our hearts needed.

To the thief on the cross, the newness was about to become a reality, as Jesus said, “this day, you will be with me in paradise.” The religious explanations for what Jesus said have to add to the idea that, while the thief may be momentarily relaxed and comforted, there has to be an accounting for his sins. Considering that Jesus is God, don’t you would think He would have discussed that with this man if it had been necessary, or, Jesus could have done a supernatural download of information into the man’s head (Yes, I am being sarcastic about that download stuff.)

The word Jesus used for the place He was inviting this man next to Him to is the Greek word paradeisos and it was understood by many to be the most spectacular garden you could imagine. I tell you this because we are told in scripture that heaven is beyond our wildest imaginations.

(In Dubai’s small but very wealthy nation, there is a garden that must have come out of Alice in Wonderland. In the pictures I have seen, it has the feel of giant lollipops, gumdrops, and the best of the Rose Parade floats. It is eye candy and lavishly absurd, especially when considering that their water supply is from the ocean and must be desalinated.)

So, for this man on the cross, whom we call the thief, there was no holding zone – purgatory, as all of his shortcomings, were instantly erased. This man was changed (in the twinkling of an eye,) made new, and went straight to paradeisos when he died. For those hung up on details, the question is, when did this change happen? That is not clearly defined, but it happened. Perhaps it was when the thief told the other, “do you not fear God?” This was very like one of those Peter moments, for when Jesus asked “who do men say that I am,” Peter responded with, “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” As Amir Tsarfati, recently taught, in his teaching “Get behind me Satan,” that NO ONE in Israel would recognize or teach what Peter said. But the thief on the cross said it. I contend that this statement indicated an acceptance and acknowledgment of the deity of Christ.

Now, as for Jesus. I was asked, where then did Jesus go when He died?

The mystery of the gospels and the New Testament lies in all that this God-man did. A massive clue and part of the answer comes from the book of Acts. Peter, preaching boldly to the thousands on the Day of Pentecost, quoted from Psalms 16:10, when he said of Jesus,

For You will not leave My soul in hell; You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”

The Holy Spirit would not have made a statement like this unless Jesus had gone to hell. You can play word games, hoping to convince others that Jesus was being held in Abraham’s bosom. The problem with that logic is that there is no corruption recognized there.

Why would Jesus, a sinless man, go to hell?

Because Satan had Him falsely accused as a blasphemer because He said He was the Son of God; the high priest – the law of the Jewish community, had Jesus scourged, based on those false accusations, few lived through such punishment; and, He died a criminal’s death on a Roman cross. Satan thought he owned Him. If you recall, Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if He would just bow to him in worship. If Jesus had done that it would have been game over for everyone, and, without a doubt, Satan would have owned Him. But, praise God, none of that happened. Look at what Paul said.

And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a sepulcher. But God raised him from the dead:
(Acts 13:28-30 KJV)

I used to drive quite a bit for a job I had and I entertained myself by listening to “Christian” radio. One of those voices was the Bible Answer Man, Hank Hannegraf. I did not like him. Hank would say, those who teach that Jesus would have gone to hell are blasphemers and false teachers. Obviously, Mr. Hannegraf did not have all the answers.

I do not see how, even for a moment, that Jesus’ adventure into hell, in any way diminishes His Godhead or authority, as He stripped Satan of all his “power and authority”, took away his keys, preached to the captives, and set the prisoners free.

Does that sound diminished?

Hardly. All this may have taken place right before that dear man on the cross died. You know, the one who has been promised to be with Christ in paradeisos. So run a streak of logical thoughts and tell me where that “thief” on the cross went when he died. He went where Jesus went when the Father, only seconds later, reached down His mighty hand and pulled His own Son out of hell. A son, by the way, who voluntarily put Himself through this mire, just for you and I.

Do you know how hard it is to type when your eyes are filled with grateful tears that long to be with the one who did all this for us.

And he also said,

It is finished!

I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End.

To all who are thirsty

I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.

(Revelation 21:6 NLT)

This is like listening to a sports announcer do the after-game wrap-up. It’s over, and yet, having spoken these words so long ago, He saw fit to cry out to those who thirst for His love, come.

Revelation 21:7 NASB “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”

Obviously, the NASB uses the word overcomes, but so do about half the translations. The translations, many of which were meant to be at an elementary school understanding, will say, “Those who win the victory.” I have to tell you, I have days in which I feel like I did neither. But as I wrote I kept hearing these words screaming within me, but you have overcome in Jesus. It might also be said, in Christ, you are a victor.

If you could do a word search for the simple phrase, “in Christ” you would find that Paul used this phrase at least 26 times, which kind of implies he was serious about the fact that, as believers, we are in Christ.


  • Romans 3:22  God puts people right through their faith in Jesus Christ. God does this to all who believe in Christ because there is no difference at all.
  • Ephesian 2:7 “so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
  • Philippians 3:9 “… not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ,”
  • Colossians 1:28 “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.”

I hope you got the general idea that we believers are, by adoption, in Christ. All we need to do is believe and trust. I would like to tell you this is easy, but we have an enemy and he is always blasting us with doubts about our relationship. This blasting is always one-sided, as it never comes from the Father because He loves you. Alright, now the peculiar part.

Revelation 21:8 NASB “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

If I did not lose you, you have a general idea that the world, as we understand it, is over. Revelation 21:1-7 paints that picture for us. If it’s over, that means all the judgments are past and the only persons left are those whose names are written in the book of life.

Take a look at the Contemporary English translation, and pay attention to these alternate words.

“But I will tell you what will happen to cowards and to everyone who is unfaithful or dirty-minded or who murders or is sexually immoral or uses witchcraft or worships idols or tells lies. They will be thrown into that lake of fire and burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (CEV)

This book of life thing is not exclusive to particular denominations, as some believe, for we can see mercy being shown to some, through Matthew’s account2.

Then who are these people and why are they now having an impact?

If you have read the Revelation with the intent of understanding, you noticed that many passages look backward into history. By doing this those scriptures are giving you the background and reasons for God pouring out His wrath upon Israel and the nations. Examples of this can be seen in,

  • (Revelation 12:1-6 NASB)

    Here, it speaks of a sign. This astronomical sign was a reality and reoccurred recently. The woman is Israel, and the child is Christ. Satan tried to kill Christ but failed, and three and a half years after starting His ministry on earth we see Satan try again. This time he thought he got Him, but a short time later we see Him caught up to heaven. The rule over the nations primarily points to the millennial reign. The visual of a red dragon is created through words. The horns and heads were and will be world rulers and leaders. Angry that he could not kill Jesus, Satan went after the woman who fled into the wilderness where she *had a place prepared by God so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. This is significant because it puts this final attempt in the second half of the seven years.

  • (Revelation 12:7-9 NASB)

    Satan was thrown down to earth. The passage tells us that there was war in heaven, but it does not specify when this happened. Indeed, this happened long before the birth of Christ. Still, the plans and attempts to derail God’s plan continued throughout the centuries. It was Satan, in the form of a four-legged serpent, who deceived Eve in the garden. So, the deception has been an ongoing process.

  • (Revelation 12:10-11 NASB)

    And finally, the retribution of Satan against Israel and God’s people. The scriptures, having just told us that Satan was thrown down, tell us that Satan goes on a rampage against anything that looks like Jesus.

    The passage says, “…Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down…” It is a little confusing and puzzling at best when the Holy Spirit sees fit to say things like “they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony,” and “rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them…. knowing that he has only a short time.” For many of us, the battle has been deadly. Oh, sure, by the Father’s standards, we overcame, but it does not look like we did as an outsider looking in. (Yes, I let my humanness get involved in Bible study.)

With all that in mind, Revelation 21:8 describes people from among the nations that walk the earth through the millennium and up to the great white throne. This is the time frame that includes Jesus coming back to earth as the warring Messiah, the beginning of Christ’s millennial reign, and the final judgment at the end of those thousand years. This description works because the Holy City comes down quickly, and Jesus’ throne is set in the middle of the city, where He reigns along with the martyred saints through the thousand years. So, in the simplest of terms, that one verse is a recap and description of the kind of people that continue to live with their free wills intact throughout this time.

I get it; this clashes with what you have been taught. If only we would read our Bibles, we would be less prone to accept false teachings that lead you astray from truth and create a massive hole in what you think the character of God is.

1Revelation 21:4

2Matthew 25: 31-46

Posted in bible study, false teaching, God's character, In Christ, Israel, judgment, Revelation, Rule the nations, the nations, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture, thrones, wrath. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Rev 21:4.

With this post, we heroically move forward, hopefully beyond verse four, but first, I feel the need to recap where we are in this journey.

We closed out our last look at Revelation 21, discussing verse three, which reads like this.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, (Revelation 21:3 NASB)

If Jesus is seated on His throne in the New Jerusalem, as the millennial reign begins. Isn’t it possible that the promised peace has come? Since the followers of Christ will stand alongside the martyred saints that were resurrected, are now immortals, and cannot be harmed. So then, death too should be done away with, right?

Why ask such a lengthy question?

Because I was recently asked,

if these things have been done, why does seem that they are being done again at what appears to be the end of time, after the great white throne?”

With a question like that, the following statement would be, I don’t see a need for things such as we see in Revelation 21:4 after the end of judgments.

and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 NASB)

Let’s break this down, as usual.

  • “ He will wipe away every tear from their eyes;.”

    This is a continual process.

    Why? Because, for the believers who have struggled with heartache and loss, as I have, those things that caused sorrow or agony will be put behind us, just as the Father puts our sins behind Him, never to be seen or heard of again.

    While the thousand years roll by, there will be those from among the nations that will suffer pain and loss. But, with Jesus sitting on the throne, comfort will be given to those from the nations that may need comfort. And healing, which comes from the leaves off the tree of life, can also be brought. Of course, I don’t understand all that healing implies. Still, as we saw in the Genesis account, the tree of life brought immortality, so there has to be more to what these leaves do than providing a primitive bandage.

    And one last thought on the tears.

    The dead, having been resurrected, are now standing before the great white throne. Matthew’s account tells us that these are the nations and conveys that some have their names written in the book of life because of their works.

    Those works are explained as acts of kindness – something that Jesus would do, like giving someone a drink of water, a blanket, or a visit to a prisoner.

    What are the probabilities that these called sheep are so profoundly and emotionally touched that they cry?

    Pretty good, huh? Jesus will also wipe the tears from their eyes.

  • “There will no longer be any death;.”

    I already pointed out that a few from the nations will die.

    We have an example in Isaiah 65.

    No longer will babies die when only a few days old. No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life. No longer will people be considered old at one hundred! Only the cursed will die that young!” (Isaiah 65:20 NLT)

    No more unexpected loss of children; Adults will live full lives, well past one hundred; but, there seems to be a catch as the passage tells us that only the cursed will die young, as in one hundred.

    Cursed is a horrible word choice as the Hebrew word qâlal primarily lends itself to someone being of little account. My granddad used to say, of particular people, “they ain’t no account.” I suppose, in his world, they had borrowed money and never paid it back, or perhaps they were the wrong skin color.

    I cannot imagine the Father even thinking that way. He seems to find the good in everyone, and thankfully He found it in me. I have a grandson who stopped breathing when he was three days old; this is NOT a good sign, but it led the doctors to the cancerous tumor sitting on his brain stem. One of the scary things we were told is that this cancer looks very similar to brain stem tissue, and to cut into the brain stem would be cataclysmic for my grandson. Most of the tumor got removed, and the rest was killed with chemo. The end result – my grandson, who just graduated from high school, is affected on his left side like a stroke victim. We just watched him get publicly awarded for being a mentor to new students in the program. School administrators all raved about how much they loved him, and I love that they loved him. You know what, though, not everybody can tolerate the repetitious things he says and the occasionally painful high fives he gives. Because of all these things, they might consider my grandson of little account, and some might think he is worthy of death. As you can imagine, I do not feel that way at all. I long to see the day when he finds a place where he can continue to bring his vitality to others.

    How do I comprehend this?

    Well, here it is, May 26, 2022, and only a couple of days ago, a troubled young man killed more than 20 people, most of which were, in a sense, babies. So naturally, far too many politicians jumped on the anti-gun bandwagon and screamed that people should not have guns. So this evokes the next question.

    Is God going to take away all weapons?

    The answer is yes, as Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3 both speak of the nations beating their swords into plowshares. (Do not get hung up on the idea that everyone has swords because that would be odd at best, but many people, including little gangsters, have guns. The weapons will be made into farming tools.) I do not think this is a voluntary act on their part. Remember, Cain, killed Able with a rock.

    The Hebrew origins aligned with the word plowshares are uncertain; however, we are told that a mattock, which is a pick for turning over the ground, is an alternate usage.

    And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” (Isaiah 2:4 NASB)

    The usage of the term nations indicates that they will still have their broken natures, this is the same instincts that brought about what we see in Genesis 6.

    God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them, and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.” (Genesis 6:12-13 NASB)

    What’s the point here?

    Weapons are now repurposed as farming and gardening implements. The passage gives us the final word when it says, “Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” This tells me that organized war is done and that NO one will be teaching the other how to fight.

    How is this cessation of fighting possible?

    Because Isaiah 2:4 tells us that “ He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples.”

    The Hebrew word for judge shâphaṭ means to decide controversiesact as law-giver, condemn, punish, and vindicate when necessary.

    Might some heinous acts demand the death penalty?

    Based on what we see on the news, I would think so. While Isaiah 11 exhibits mercy, there is one line that conveys how he dispenses justice without fanfare.

    “And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.” (Isaiah 11:3-4 NASB)

  • the first things have passed away.”

    What does that mean?

    You would think we should know the answer to this.

    I wish I could tell you that the law goes away. It might be safe to say, in a sense, that it does because, after the great white throne and the end of all judgment, there would be no more need for the law.

    How is that possible?

    Because for the Christians, our broken natures from Adam will have been changed at the church’s rapture, right before God’s wrath gets poured out. (See 1 Corinthians 15:52).

    If you have been able to follow along with me, you would understand that many from the nations will come to a knowledge and acceptance of Jesus Christ. However, the methods of gaining salvation seem to vary, as the leaves of the trees of life will bring healing to the nations (although, it would be foolish to think that number includes all of them.) I can understand this because a vast number whose names will not be found in the book of life will be deceived and try to kill God at the end of the thousand years; therefore, Only those who have their names in “the book of life” will make it into the kingdom after the Great White Throne.

    So while there may not be a need for a proclaimed law, that law, written upon our hearts, is nothing less than the moral character of God. Since we are in His image, His character is our character, and we will live by those motives.

    Don’t even consider the idea that sin would again infiltrate the heavens as it did with Satan. I think it’s safe to say that God will not tolerate this scenario again. It appears that the motive to commit treason will be eliminated with Satan.

    What other firsts could we consider?

    According to Isaiah 25, the veil that covers the eyes of all people will be lifted.

    You might try to angrily argue, I know the Lord, follow him, and, like Paul, pray in the Holy Spirit more than you all, so you are not talking to me. Don’t you wish? Paul’s gospel says differently.

    “For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
    (1 Corinthians 13:12 NASB.)

    The truth is, you have no idea what an unhindered communication with God would be like. Now apply this idea to Adam, and you can better understand the death he brought upon himself and us. Someday soon, we will obtain what Adam had before the fall. So this could easily be one of those issues that will pass.

    Ponder this thought.

    As I sit here writing about the hope that is in me, I am painfully aware of how this broken, sin-ridden flesh fights against the things of God; therefore, I do something like this and let the words speak to me as well.

    Will there be a day in which Satan’s voice does not permeate my thinking?

    Absolutely, and it may begin, for the believers, at the rapture. For everyone else, you would think that it should definitely start at the start of the millennial reign of Jesus because Satan will be locked up during this time and unable to afflict people. But it is painfully apparent that human natures continue to be broken for the nations, and their minds work far too freely. The evidence for this can be found in Revelation 21, as God sees it necessary to say,

    and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” – Revelation 21:27 NASB.

    As I have mentioned, there are those trees of life along the river that come from beneath God’s throne. We are told that the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations. Just thinking about what this healing can mean boggles my mind, so I accept that it does. So, this moves the idea that Satan’s voice can no longer invade our thinking to the time beyond the throne of judgment. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s look of life can come in. Having given myself over to the King of Kings, I have every confidence that my name is in there. How about you?

I feel as though I could go on for days about the things that came first and will pass away; some were arbitrary, but some came because I fell in love with my Father once again. He is all that I need.

Posted in bible study, End times, God's character, healing, Heaven, judgment, judgment, Mercy, Our being caught up, Prophetic, rapture, rapture, Revelation, the nations, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What can we know about Heaven?

When it comes to heaven, our primary source of information comes from the book of Revelation. Yet, by consensus, Revelation is one of the most perplexing books of the Bible, outside of, say, Leviticus and Numbers.

If you want to understand a concept like death, a book like the Revelation, or a construct like Heaven, you should search for corroborating evidence and attestations from the Bible and consider the context.

One other piece of information, which applies to the idea of Heaven that I am going to dive into momentarily, is that this Bible and the book of Revelation, where many of the references to Heaven make their home, is to understand that the Revelation is a Jewish centric book.

Evidence for this assertion comes from Revelation 1:2, where we immediately encounter the proclamation that all of this is “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” This pronouncement should make us concentrate on the fact that the book of Revelation is focused on a Jewish man, God’s Son, and the journey He is taking us on.

The second thing that plays a role in how you read and understand the Revelation is that John, for the longest time, focused his attention on the Jewish believers. In other words, John’s primary audience was Jewish believers for the longest time.

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)

Their staying in Jerusalem was not fearlessness but a dedication to the Jewish community of believers who accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah. John maintained that strong Jewish connection and motivation. However, he assumed the reins of one of Paul’s established churches with a large congregation of Gentile believers alongside the Jewish followers.

Thirdly, look at the terminology that John uses in Revelation 2:8,9.

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” (Revelation 2:8-9 NASB)

Why say something like this unless there are Jewish believers there. Gentiles did not go to the synagogue; Jews did, and it would be foolish to use terminology that would make no sense to the Gentiles.

These same concepts apply to the entirety of the Bible, and you see strong evidence for that in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. You also see comparable evidence in the letter to Hebrews – Jewish believers. So, if your Gentile mind is struggling, it will be better for you if you can see it through the eyes of a Jew. (That may sound impossible for some, but you may have to trust the Holy Spirit if you get stuck.)

The motivation for writing about Heaven initiated with the study I have been doing on the Revelation chapters 20-22. These chapters focus on the end of judgment and the new heaven and a new earth. I share these studies with the guys, and they always have questions. Heaven was one of those questions.

One of the men asked about death and Heaven, which prompted him to buy a copy of the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn. I have a copy of that book but have never opened it. The first chapter I read started on page twenty-three. By the time I got to chapter five, page 41, I had run into this statement by Randy Alcorn.

When a Christian dies, he enters into what is referred to in theology as the intermediate state, a transitional period between our present lives on earth and our future resurrection to life on the New Earth.

The Oxford languages dictionary tells us that “theology is the study of God and religious belief.” While Wikipedia conveys the idea that it is “the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief.”

So, for someone to say it is referred to in theologythey might as well be telling me that it is the opinion of others; this is effectively what Randy Alcorn conveys to me when he starts talking about a transitional period. I refuse to accept your opinion as something more reasonable than an understanding of the word of God. What matters is what God has to say about it. If your opinion enhances my understanding, great, but you better come up with scriptural witnesses to back up your opinion.

I have read through the entire Bible and have done much studying. Not once did I find the terms transitional or intermediate. I have at least 30 translations of the Bible, and some border on being woke, yet none of them used those terms. So again, I am stuck with the idea that this “transitional or intermediate period” is something that religious folk did with their spare time as they looked for ways to make the Bible more complicated. Now, I can see things that I might interpret as transitional or intermediate, but since scripture does not make a doctrine out of vague allusions, neither am I.

Oh, doctrine, by the way, is “anything taught.” Just because I teach, it does not make it right or Godly. When doing Bible study, a couple of rules are context and applicable scriptural witnesses. So these two terms by Alcorn lean toward strikes one and two in my book.

Alright then, let’s examine this part of Randy Alcorn’s statement.

a transitional period between our present lives on earth and our future resurrection to life on the New Earth.

Just the fact that I am standing here on earth, as a Christian awaiting the call to go home, indicates that I am in transition (I am thinking of my permanent home in heaven, which is with the Father. The details are of minor importance because I will own nothing and be happy about it. I no longer have to fear anything because I will be immortal, untouchable, and, as I said, with the Father.) The problem is, most of us do not seem to know that.

But that does not seem to be what Randy Alcorn is saying. Instead, he implies that we go to some transitional place when we die.

Why would you write something that conflicts with the Apostle Paul’s assertion that our separation, as followers of Christ, from this physical body puts us in the presence of the Lord?

“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord–for we walk by faith, not by sight–we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8 NASB)

I get it; Paul’s statement is written in reverse, as Paul acknowledges “that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” But it is not that difficult to comprehend the inverse that for the believer,  we are instantly in the presence of the Lord at death

A quick definition. Death is a complete and total separation from His presence. It is not God who has done this; it is you by your rejection of Jesus Christ.

Let’s talk about resurrection for a moment.

In the Revelation, we are told the martyred saints are raised from the dead – in other words, their bodies are reattached to their spirits. Why I do not know. You see this first resurrection in Revelation 20, verses 4 and 5.

“Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.” (Revelation 20:4-5 NASB)

These martyred saints reigned with Christ for a thousand years. I suspect that means they rule over the earth with Him. Ah, but what of the believers? I don’t know. I know that we are in Christ, but what that means exactly is not spelled out for us.

Randy Alcorn said we are in “a transitional period between our present lives on earth and our future resurrection to life on the New Earth.”

Surely that means that we are next on the list to be resurrected, right?

We already lost out on the first resurrection opportunity, so maybe we will be next. Wait a minute; Revelation 20:5 tells me that the rest of the dead get resurrected at the end of the thousand years.

Dead? It is unmistakable that we who are in Christ never die. As I was sitting with my friends, talking about Revelation 20, I was asked, when do we die, and where do we go? The answer was, we don’t. The Word of God never deems us to be dead (for those who love to argue, the scripture tells us that we were dead in our sins, but having accepted our redemption through Christ, we do not live enslaved to sin anymore, do we.) Revelation 20:12,13 tells us that the dead are resurrected and brought before the great white throne at the end of the thousand years. They are raised to life again for the sole purpose of standing before that throne. Matthew’s gospel in chapter 25 tells us that the nations are brought before the same throne, and it makes no mention of whether these people were dead or not. Why do you suppose that is? Because the soul never dies, and they are being identified by that soul and its actions. So, the second resurrection, the last resurrection, has nothing to do with believers who, according to Randy Alcorn, are in a transitional phase when we die.

I am not very familiar with other religions, but one of the Cults believes wholeheartedly that their works may earn them a resurrection to a planet of their own. This bizarre familiarity naturally raises serious concerns about Mr. Alcorn’s teachings and even more serious concerns about those pastors who rave about Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven.

I asked the question, at what point does this tired body release its hold on the spirit?

When we physically die or depart with the catching away of the church. I have no idea or care about the body’s importance in this transition as mine is old, fat, and hurts everywhere. I do, however, know that Jesus had Thomas touch His scars to prove that He was real, and Jesus sat on the beach and ate fish with the guys. Apparently, it takes a body to do those things. Death for those that are not believers is quite the opposite.

“For the living know that they shall die; but the dead do not know anything, nor do they have any more a reward; for their memory is forgotten.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5 MKJV)

Let’s say you are proficient with the scriptures and can easily see a context to this verse that leans toward understanding your fate. You might be right; however, if you were to look up the Hebrew for the words know and anything, you would realize that it refers to those whose fate is death without apparent hope.

To know is the Hebrew word yâda’ and carries the meanings of perceiving, see, distinguish, recognize, and consider. In other words, in this example, the dead did none of the above.

The Hebrew word for anything is me’ûmâh. It also means a speck or anything at all. So, neither do the dead consider, but once they are dead, they think nothing.

Since Ecclesiastes is marginal as a witness, I suppose you need another to hopefully convince you about this dead “know” nothing stuff.

“Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; In that very day his thoughts perish.” (Psalms 146:3-4 NASB)

First off, the psalmist talks about mortal man “in whom is NO salvation.” This is not a judgment call; it is simply an observation. While the believer returns to the Father, the mortal man returns to the dust, where his very thoughts perish, on that day. Again, the critic might say, of course, in time, we forget about that person unless they made some decisions that we live by. But a statement like this shows that you missed the fact that their thoughts perish, not yours. As I pointed out with the example from Ecclesiastes, the thought process ceases.

Consider this, if you are transitioning do you know where to?

Dear Lord, I hope so; this is one of the reasons that we learn that Jesus died on a cross for our sins. I believe in that sacrifice that gives me eternal hope in heaven and a life with the Father.

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13 NASB)

On page 42 of his book Heaven, Randy Alcorn says,

usually when we refer to heaven we mean the place that Christians go when they die. This is what I am calling the present or intermediate Heaven.”

Paragraph two, according to Randy Alcorn, says,

“by definition, an intermediate state or location is temporary. But,… still, the intermediate or present Heaven is not the place we are made for – the place God promises to refashion for us to live forever.”

This place we are living in is only temporary. Consider what the writer of Hebrews tells us.

All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:13-16 NASB)

Having seen them?

How could they have seen heaven or the millennial kingdom? They could not unless they saw it through faith. Jacob saw a ladder (of sorts) coming down out of heaven, and the angels were ascending and descending on that ladder. The Apostle Paul, in 2Corinthians 12:2, tells us that he was caught up to the third heaven.

What does that mean?

We will allow Paul to explain.

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago–whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows–such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man–whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows–was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4 NASB)

It sounds like a vague reference to someone who doesn’t want to identify themselves. Paul is merely trying to keep the focus on Jesus as the Apostle John frequently did in his writings.

Three things jump out at me when I read this passage.

The first is caught up. Many people rant because the word rapture is not in the Bible, and it is not unless you are familiar with the Latin Vulgate, in which case they used the word rapiemur. In our Bibles, the New Testament uses the term Harpazo, which means the same thing and implies a rapid snatching away. The word harpazo is used 18 times. One of those speaks about a wolf snatching a sheep.

“He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.” (John 10:12 NASB)

Luke 24:51 is a gentler depiction of harpazo, as it shows Jesus returning to the Father gently and slowly. However, the Apostle Paul used the term in 1Thessalonians 4:17 to describe a rapid, almost violent removal of the saints out of harm’s way.

Secondly is the focus on “the third heaven.” Seeing as we have NO further “witnesses” and NO direct instruction on how to comprehend this, I would not make a big deal out of it or start a new church based upon the phrase. However, if we were so inclined, we could dig into the scriptures and find things that may clarify.

Heaven, as used here, is ouranos. According to Mounce’s dictionary, it conveys

  • The visible heavens and all their phenomena,

Matthew 5:18; Matthew 16:1; Matthew 24:29;

  • The air, atmosphere, in which the clouds and tempests gather, the birds fly, etc.,

Matthew 6:26; Matthew 16:2-3;

  • And, heaven as the peculiar seat and abode of God, of angels, of glorified spirits, etc.,

Matthew 5:34; Matthew 5:45; Matthew 5:48; Matthew 6:1; Matthew 6:9-10; Matthew 12:50; John 3:13; John 3:31; John 6:32; John 6:38; John 6:41-42; John 6:50-51; John 6:58.

In the Old Testament, the word used is sha^mayim or sha^meh and is defined as 1) heaven, heavens, sky; 1a) visible heavens, sky; 1a1) as an abode of the stars; 1a2) as the visible universe, the sky, atmosphere, etc.; 1b) Heaven (as the abode of God)

An example is Genesis 1:8.

“Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.” (Genesis 1:6-8 NASB)

Since we effectively don’t know where God is, let us assume that He lives somewhere in the expanse of the heavens above the waters of the earth that we call the atmosphere. The UCAR Center for Science Education tells us that “Earth’s atmosphere has a series of layers, each with its own specific traits. Moving upward from ground level, these layers are called the troposphere; stratosphere; mesosphere; thermosphere; and exosphere. The exosphere gradually fades away into the realm of interplanetary space.”

Does God need a humanly defined, breathable atmosphere in which to survive? NO, so we could find Him anywhere, but something seems apparent. He chose to put this planet at just the appropriate distance from the Sun so that the plant and human life would be able to live and coexist. We have not done an outstanding job of that, but that is irrelevant because all of creation became severely damaged and corrupted and handed over to our enemy, Satan. There somewhere among the atmospheres, God saw fit to send His Son to become a bloodied sacrifice on our behalf. What kind of person would do that? An unusual and loving one for sure. No matter what “heaven” He lives in, we will be welcomed there, with Him someday soon.

The third thing I wanted to point out from 2 Corinthians 12:4 is the word Paul used, translated as “Paradise.” This Greek word paradeisos is a word that the Muslims also use to explain where a martyr goes when he dies in Jihad. When Paul wrote these words, there were no Muslims, so don’t lose your mind over it. The word aptly describes the world that Adam walked in and had dominion over before the entrance of sin. Mounce’s definitions explain that it is “a park, a forest where wild beasts were kept for hunting; a pleasure-park, a garden of trees of various kinds; used in the LXX for the Garden of Eden; in NT the celestial paradise.”

Examples of the word paradise usage include the brief conversation that Jesus had with the thief on the cross when He said, this day, you will be with me in paradeisos(Luke 23:43). In Revelation 2:7, Jesus’ letter to the church in Ephesus told them, “To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.” Paradise = paradeisos. I can’t begin to tell you the impaired things I have heard as “learned” people have tried to explain where Paul went.

Paradise is where The Apostle Paul also went. So I must tell you; you would be hard-pressed to get me to leave such a place.

Our old Testament “role models,” although skewed, like Samson or slightly less than brave, like Gideon, all seemed to understand that “The LORD God planted a garden.” A place “of abundant trees, water, fruits, and vegetables-where conditions for life are maximized.” (Word Study Dictionary) And this garden conveys Heaven for them, and they put their hopes in the God that did this, just as He has asked us to do.

Hebrews 11 speaks to this very hope.

  • having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”

They understood that this earth, in its present state, is transitory, intermediate, and NOT permanent. And they also knew that this was NOT their home; heaven is.

The psalmist, most likely King David, said this.

“Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; Do not be silent at my tears; For I am a stranger with You, A sojourner like all my fathers(Psalms 39:12 NASB)

Again we hear from King David.

“For we are sojourners before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope. (1 Chronicles 29:15 NASB)

  • For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.”

There is no doubt that many longed for this heavenly country; what is not clear is how this got explained to them. It seems that God demonstrated this idea of sojourning by having them live it out; this is why we see Abraham, Moses, and Jacob speak of the temporary nature of their journeys. They were always looking for their permanent home, and none of them spoke of an intermediate destination.

  • they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”

That better country is the heavenly one. And what a shock, as the millennial kingdom also has the Holy City sitting in its middle. That sort of says that heaven begins with the millennial kingdom.

One last thought.

Just a few days ago, as I was writing and trying to work this out in my head, it occurred to me that we would be caught up in the rapture and spend seven years with Jesus – doing what? If, as I have come to realize, that heaven is paradeisos or Paradise, the most spectacular garden you have ever experienced, won’t it be a bit of let down to have to return to the earth that won’t be purged with fire and restored to its original condition for another thousand years? But then it occurs to me that heaven will be excellent as long as I am with my Jesus, and I will be.

If I must get stupidly technical, then I suppose that the seven years of mind-blowing beauty, like the thief on the cross was promised, could be deemed a transitional or intermediate place. Again, that would stink if I had to migrate through this earth once again. No one seems to speak about this Holy City made of translucent gold, and considering its size, it will consume the entire Middle East. You could put quite a garden in there, but I digress.

Obviously, God is deeming the entire migration until the great white throne judgment and a few seconds or minutes after that because that small gap in time is where the earth and the “heavens” are burned up and replaced. Ah, once again, my broken thinking comes into play as I try to assign God a specific time frame within which to work. But, considering that He spoke the worlds into existence, who am I to say. And, again, I am reminded that where He is will be heaven.

Now, since this treatise emerged from several painful paragraphs from the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn, let’s address this horrid statement – “our future resurrection to life on the New Earth.

If you are reading this, you are not dead, broken perhaps, but as I addressed in this attempt to understand heaven, death is nothing less than the complete separation from God. There is only one place that happens, and it is at the great white throne. If you read Matthew 25, where we see the sheep and goat judgment, mercy is being demonstrated for some. The Bible clearly defines only two resurrections, the martyred saints at the end of the time of wrath and the dead who are brought before the throne at the end. Never are we Christians treated or seen as dead. And, if you are not dead, you can pull out your sword of the spirit and fight for the kingdom by telling someone, as I did the other day, that God loves you so much.

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And God himself will be among them. Revelation 21:3.

So, in Revelation 20, Satan, having been released from the pit, makes a last-ditch effort to kill off God and His people. Satan was only able to accomplish an attack of this size by deceiving the nations.

If you are wondering, Revelation refers to all those coming into the kingdom as these “people.” These people who have come to God borders on uncountable. It’s fascinating about these “nations.” which are also uncountable, as only those who do not have their names written in the book of life fall for the deception.

For months now, I have been saying that all those caught up in the rapture and the martyred saints are now immortals, just as Jesus is; and death cannot touch Him or us. By bringing up this immortal aspect, I am reminding myself that heaven is real, and it will be a time of peace. That means no fear, and I don’t know if you noticed, but the level of fear and anxiety is rising.

Chapter 20 closes as all judgments are ended, and Satan is permanently tossed into the lake of fire.

In trying to wrap our minds around heaven, we now migrate into chapter 21, where we read.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”
Revelation 21:1-2 NASB)

Yes, the old earth burned up. But, if that concerns you, I would like to remind you that as followers of Jesus, it will not matter what happens to this polluted planet we now stand on. Why, you might ask? Because we are immortal, just like comic book characters, and we are safe within the arms of the Father. My guess is that this new earth will be technology-free and look very similar to the planet that Adam first encountered. Add to that thought the promise we have about heaven.

But as it is written, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,” nor has it entered into the heart of man, “the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
(1 Corinthians 2:9 MKJV)

Your mind can’t even conceive of an idea that surpasses what God has in store for us. This thought makes me aware of the movie Avatar. Please spare me the religious negativity, as I was in awe of plants that lit up as the characters touched them or those which produced music. A tree of enormous proportions spiraled to the sky and could be walked on, and another that emanated light. I also happen to think that riding a dragon would be very cool. But my thoughts show my limitations. Let’s simply say that I long for this time with Jesus.

The Holy City has been restored to its appropriate location; it’s spectacular and filled with colors. Suddenly, a great voice from the throne is heard. Most translations say the same thing; however, the Moffatt translation says the voice came “out of the throne.” Since the grandchildren practice their non-listening skills, if I have the freedom to step in, I make sure they can hear me, and I am not trying to be pleasant at those moments. So forgive me for a moment as I consider the possibility that the furniture just spoke. I can’t disprove it. 

The Greek word used to convey this voice coming out of the throne is the word thronos. Terms to define this include to seat. A seat, usually high and having a footstool, a throne as the emblem of royal authority.

Just knowing this tends to push my thoughts toward the idea of God doing the speaking.

Well, what did He or it say?

Revelation 21:3 NASB “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,”

Let’s break this down.

  • Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men,”

    Since we, in our previous study of Revelation 21:1 and 2, saw that the Holy City had already come down; and that Jesus and the martyred saints sat as judges over the earth for a thousand years, you might think that it would be safe to say that “God” was among men.

    Remember, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one and in unity. One thing that is clear to me is that Jesus sits on a throne, in the Holy City, on earth and is approachable. 

    That does not mean that the nations get to dance into the throne room and disrespect Him. Oh no. A piece of evidence for what I just said comes from Revelation 22:15, and yes, it seems ludicrous to consider that this activity level could still exist during the millennium. 

            “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.” ( NASB)

    I just cut that thought short as I remembered that we are looking at Revelation 21, where it seems that the story has moved beyond the thousand years. Undoubtedlynothing like this “Outside are … everyone who loves and practices lying” could exist beyond the great white throne.

    Having discussed this with others, I have pointed out how God’s people (I see this terminology applied to those who are coming and going in and out of the Holy City during the thousand yearsduring this time are taking the leaves from the trees of life and bringing healing to the nations. Healing is more than a simple bandage; this is an internal and eternal change where the brokenness and propensity to sin are removed.

    Remember that after the fall of humanity, Adam and Eve were prevented from accessing the tree of life in the center of the garden. Surely, you have asked why that had to be. If they had taken from the tree of life in their newly broken condition, they would have been the evil and immortal gods of the universe. The leaves from the tree of life, improperly applied, would allow these people to be immortals and yet keep their ways that conflict with God. 

    If you are good students of the Bible, then you know that NONE of what I just said is clearly defined in the Revelation. You have to come to this understanding by looking at what happened with Adam in the garden and then applying what you know from Paul’s letters about how Jesus took our sins upon himself and is NOW offering this same relief to the nations throughout the thousand years.

  • “ and He will dwell among them,”

    Here again, the Father and the Son seem to be seated in the Holy City.

         And the peoples will say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob: and he will give us knowledge of his ways, and we will be guided by his word; for out of Zion the law will go out, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3 BBE)

    In this phrase, “the house of the God of Jacob,” God is the Hebrew word’ elōhiym and is plural. This plurality is one of the ways we come to understand that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are one. All three have a seat and can sit upon the throne. Since the Holy Spirit is the helper who leads and guides us into all truth, it might explain why we don’t see Him seated at all. 

    We can make foolish arguments about how God sits exclusively above all sin. One of the verses that are used to push horrendous negativity is this.

         “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?” (Habakkuk 1:13 NASB)

    To understand verse 13 and why he says this, you have to go back to verses 2 and 3. Habakkuk is ranting about God not hearing his prayers while evil things and violent behavior go on all around him; not so unlike today, which is increasing in violence every day.

         “How long, O Lord, will your ears be shut to my voice? I make an outcry to you about violent behaviour, but you do not send salvation. Why do you make me see evil-doing, and why are my eyes fixed on wrong? for wasting and violent acts are before me: and there is fighting and bitter argument.” (Habakkuk 1:2-3 BBE)

    So Habakkuk makes a massive assumption if he believes that God cannot look at sin. If that were true, we would NOT be here. Remember, God so loved a world that did not want nor love Him that He sent His only Son to die a violent death on a cross so that the world through Him could be saved. Try to explain how He could do that without looking. And there is also the example of God returning to the garden, calling out for Adam, even though the man now represented sin. 

    And one more thing, while we are forgiven of our sins, we perpetually continue to sin. Please don’t assume that your sin has to be murder for it to be deemed a sin. Gluttony is a sin, and there are many of you guilty of that. Besides all that, we are told that if you thought it, you did it, and with that, you can throw your argument that you never murdered anybody right out the window.

  • and they shall be His people,”

    This statement is oriented toward the Jewish people. To put it bluntly, they rejected the Messiah. Scripture tells me that when Jesus returns, riding a white horse and having a sword come out of His mouth, at that time, the veil over their eyes and hearts will be lifted, not only from Israel but the entire world.

         “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart, I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34) (NASB)

    When Jesus comes back to reign, as Revelation 19 points out, two-thirds of Israel will have been killed.

         ‘One-third of you will die by plague or be consumed by famine among you, one third will fall by the sword around you, and one third I will scatter to every wind, and I will unsheathe a sword behind them. (Ezekiel 5:12 NASB)

    The word Plague is interchangeable with pestilenceThe ISBE defines pestilence as “any sudden fatal epidemic. The word is most frequently used in the prophetic books, and it occurs 25 times in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, always associated with the sword and famine.

    Since virtually any outbreak lately of pestilence, like a baby formula shortage, is always manufactured, it is easy to picture where these future pestilence events will come from. Here is a clue, forced inoculations are a weapon.

    And the scriptures speak in terms of survivors.

         “Yet, behold, survivors will be left in it who will be brought out, both sons and daughters. Behold, they are going to come forth to you, and you will see their conduct and actions; then you will be comforted for the calamity which I have brought against Jerusalem for everything which I have brought upon it.” (Ezekiel 14:22 NASB)

    The point being this relatively small number of Jews, His people, will fall in love with their Messiah, and yet, it is evident that the number of people entitled to enter the Holy City is beyond counting. These are all God’s people.

  • And God Himself will be among them,”

    I like this verse because it is befittingly in the face of Israel and the nations.

         “They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God. “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd, and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them. “They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David, My servant, will be their prince forever. “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. “My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. “And the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel when My sanctuary is in their midst forever.”‘” (Ezekiel 37:23-28 NASB)

    Since I know that this theme, where God is among His people, is rampant throughout the scriptures, I could potentially leave this right here. I will not do that because we are told, by God, in the law, that NO ONE is prosecuted on the word of one witness. This law sets a precedent for proof, and we have to apply it to the Word of God. 

         “My eyes will be on those of good faith in the land, so that they may be living in my house; he who is walking in the right way will be my servant.” (Psalms 101:6 BBE)

    We are focused on Revelation 21:3, where it says, He will be among them. “Them” is His people. You become His people through this relationship where you accept Jesus and the forgiveness offered.

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They will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the LORD,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it. Revelation 21:2.

Let’s assume you read my last post and now have a confidence that allows you to describe how:

  • The surviving Jews enter the millennial kingdom and become evangelists.

    In that day … the survivors of Israel.” (Isaiah 4:2 NASB)

    “For out of Jerusalem will go forth a remnant … survivors.” (Isaiah 37:32 NASB)

    “…There will be those who escape, … Even among the survivors …” (Joel 2:32 NASB)

  • The beast (which is the antichrist) and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire, while Satan is locked up in Hades, where he cannot bother anybody for a thousand years.

    Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:1-3.

  • People from the nations that are NOT believers and did NOT fight against Jerusalem and Jesus at His triumphant return will enter the thousand years with their free wills intact.

    Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.” (Zechariah 14:16-19 NASB)

    Because there are many among the churches that believe only Christians come into the millennial kingdom, here are a couple more passages that speak in opposition to this belief.

    … and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, …. (Jeremiah 3:17 NASB)

    Many nations will join themselves to the LORD in that day and will become My people. … (Zechariah 2:11 NASB)

  • The entirety of the thousand years will be peace. This is only one verse among many that speak of this.

    I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate harmful beasts from the land so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. “I will make them and the places around My hill a blessing. And I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing. “Also, the tree of the field will yield its fruit, and the earth will yield its increase, and they will be secure on their land. Then they will know that I am the LORD when I have broken the bars of their yoke and have delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. “They will no longer be a prey to the nations, and the beasts of the earth will not devour them, but they will live securely, and no one will make them afraid. “I will establish for them a renowned planting place, and they will not again be victims of famine in the land, and they will not endure the insults of the nations anymore. (Ezekiel 34:25-29 NASB)

  • By the time the great white throne judgment comes along, multitudes from among the nations will have come into the kingdom and are now called God’s people.

    It is hard to imagine who is left to stand before the throne. One of the things that became clear as I did this study is that in Matthew’s account of the great throne, Jesus (the only judge) finds good deeds listed for some, and they obtain mercy and enter the eternal kingdom.

  • The thousand years are expired; Satan is released; and deceives all those whose names ARE NOT written in the book of life.

    This tells me that many from the nations chose to NOT have their names written in the book of life. To be honest, this is unbelievable that someone could choose to walk away from God’s love. So, Satan deceives an uncountable number from the nations, and they surround the Holy City in an attempt to kill God and His people. God responds by killing them all with fire. Do you understand what death is? Most think it is merely the cessation of breath and heartbeat. Ah, but your soul never diesAs a non-believer, you merely go to sleep as you await whatever happens next. Unfortunately, even if it’s a wait of several thousand years, that next event is to stand before the Great White Throne.

  • Scripture tells us that the next event is the great white thronethe final judgment, which has Jesus Christ as the judge.

    The only people standing before this throne are dead people. Scripture says nothing about sinners; they are simply dead. They weren’t “Christians,” or they would have gone up in the rapture, and we far too quickly forget that Jesus took ALL sin upon Himself on the cross; therefore, their sin was forgiven. Alright then, why are they standing here?

    Since each of us has God’s moral code written upon our hearts, (Think about the logic of that. We were made in God’s image, so it only stands to reason that His moral code is written there also. It also stands to reason that the choice of following after the one who made you or tossing Him aside has repercussions,then, you are only judged based upon what you did with Jesus; and it was Jesus who paid that sin price for you. In Matthew’s gospel, chapter 25, we see Jesus calling the nations before Him. Nations suddenly equals the dead.

    All of them standing there are judged by what is written in those books, and Jesus is looking for good deeds. Those deeds are explained in Matthew 25, and I will let you go there and pursue that on your own time. But it is evident that the simplest acts that demonstrate God’s love, which is an aspect of that moral law written upon our hearts, had its wanted effect. While it is not explained, those who demonstrated these acts of love apparently have their names written in the book of life. (Do not ask me how or why their names are written there because I do not know. I just know it happens because I see it in scripture.) Matthew’s gospel tells us that the “sheep” are the first to be dealt with and given entrance into the eternal kingdom. (Don’t worry, Jesus is going to allow anyone to bring their broken human nature into the eternal kingdom, and so they will be changed at some point.) Those NOT found in the book of life were cast into the lake fire.

  • The final judgment is over. The next thing that happens is that the earth is burned up along with the heavens. But not to worry, because believers are now immortals and can’t be harmed. That and God makes the heavens and the earth new.

    Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.” (Revelation 21:1 NASB)

Where does this Holy City go when the earth burns?

Maybe nowhere. Maybe it is heavenly, spiritual, and according to scripture, more real than what we see on earth and untouchable by fire. Maybe, it’s hovering in the sky, just waiting for the command to descend.

With the end of the time of wrath, I know that the New Jerusalem (God’s Holy City) will come down to earth, and this may happen within minutes of Jesus’ return.

How can I be so sure?

The end of warfare can come about with a Word from Jesus. The changes will begin.

Jesus, alongside the previously martyred saints, will sit as the judge during the millennial reign. Doesn’t it stand to reason that He will sit in the new Jerusalem? Amir Tsarfati, a Jewish believer and evangelist, will tell you, “We DO NOT have control of the temple mount in Jerusalem.” I would think that would be a necessity if Jesus were to sit on the throne of David. (Spare me the theological arguments and corrections, as they don’t really matter while I try to make a point.) The point here is that the place and the city in which Jesus will be seated is NOT here yet, and the only place and time that can happen is after Jesus returns and conquers everything.

Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4 NASB)

So, when Jesus comes back to earth at the end of the time of wrath, where does, He sit as the judge?

“It shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land,” declares the LORD, “they will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ And it will not come to mind, nor will they remember it, nor will they miss it, nor will it be made again. “At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the LORD,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the LORD; nor will they walk any more after the stubbornness of their evil heart.” (Jeremiah 3:16-17 NASB)

Jerusalem, but not the place we now see, as that will be destroyed. It will be the New Jerusalem that lies within the Holy City, which is currently absent. This line from Jeremiah chapter three, “and all the nations will be gathered to it,” is the lead in verse to the sheep and goat judgment of Matthew 25. It has a context, and that is the final judgment.

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. (Matthew 25:31 NASB)

Standing before the Jewish high priest, who could not recognize Him as God, spoke of that throne.

But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.” (Mark 14:61-62 NASB)

And in the book of Hebrews, Jesus is described as the one who upholds all things by the Word of His power and is seated at God’s right hand.

in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:2-3 NASB)

So, Jesus, as we speak, is seated at the right hand of the Father. He is, by the way, ever making intercession for us.

Doesn’t such a picture imply something noble, worthy of a judge?

I know I am making a broken human assumption, and NO, we don’t need special seats to judge, but we all picture a throne. And most of you realize that such a magnificent place can only exist when Christ comes to reign.

In Revelation 19:3-5, we see a chorus of voices rejoicing because they see smoke rising up from her. That “her” is Jerusalem as the sin and rebellion are squeezed out of her, and God’s wrath is finished. Revelation 19:5 tells us that he heard a voice coming from the throne; however, that throne is in heaven, and there is a good chance that this voice was coming from The New Jerusalem that comes down from heaven. We have to look outside the Revelation to get more details on this.

In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, …” (Zechariah 14:4 NASB)

And here our introduction ends, so let’s move on to Revelation twenty-one, verse 2.

Revelation 21:2 NASB “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”

While Zechariah 14:8-11 does not speak of a throne, he tells us that Jesus will be the king over all the earth and where this Holy City will be placed.

And in that day, living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter. And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one. All the land will be changed into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem, but Jerusalem will rise and remain on its site from Benjamin’s Gate as far as the place of the First Gate to the Corner Gate and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses. People will live in it, and there will no longer be a curse, for Jerusalem will dwell in security. (Zechariah 14:8-11 NASB)

At 1500 miles square, there is much ground to level.

As for the dimensions of the Holy City, most translations use the term stadia, but stadia does not translate into an exact measurement in English. For me, it is like meters and feet. So, the CEV version works best for my understanding.

The city was shaped like a cube, because it was just as high as it was wide. When the angel measured the city, it was about fifteen hundred miles high and fifteen hundred miles wide.” (Revelation 21:16 CEV)

According to Ezekiel 48, this measurement is the exact same on each side. I found several versions of maps, and most differ, but here is one. Some show the land engulfing all of Saudi and North to encompass Turkey. By looking at old maps and their distance equivalence indicators, I can do no better than 600 miles.

Here is a thought for you. We always make the assumption that Adam stayed in one small garden area. When in fact, the landmasses were all combined. I don’t speak of this much as I do not handle ridicule well. One day my mildly autistic grandson said to me, “the entire earth was a Pangaea.” This was a new vocabulary word moment for me, and my grandson knew what it meant. I looked it up, and it means that what we consider continents were at some point all combined into one landmass. I told my grandson, “I have believed that for many years, and my bible tells me that this was the case.” That did not impress him, but it impressed me. In case you don’t believe that I will show you.

Two sons were born to Eber; the name of the one was Peleg, for, in his days, the earth was divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan. (Genesis 10:25 NASB)

Divided is the Hebrew word pâlag and literally means to split. So, we have evidence of an earthquake so massive that the continents physically split apart; and people wonder how Egyptian glyphs ended up in the walls of the Grand Canyon in Arizona and other places. Having joined landmasses may explain why are there commonalities between the megalithic stonework of Sacsayhuaman, Cusco, Peru, and Baalbek in Lebanon?

Just remember, brides, are always at their best on their wedding day. So the New Jerusalem will be spectacular.

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