Galatians 2:1-5, Paul’s acceptance?

The NASB entitles chapter two as Paul’s acceptance by the Apostles.

A short side trip.

Is there a difference between the Apostles and disciples? Our mind quickly draws a picture of the twelve that Jesus picked out. Of course, there was Judas who had to be replaced, but effectively we are talking about the twelve disciples. Told to gather in Jerusalem, and wait there until the Holy Spirit came upon them, we see this:

Acts 1:14-15 NASB These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. 15) At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said,”

What we see here is a collection of what was loosely known as the disciples. But notice the quantity – about one hundred and twenty persons. Since women were not high on the priority list, they, except for Mary the mother of Jesus, were probably not counted.

This varied group became the church in Jerusalem. They owned no buildings, obtained no tax exemptions, and still found themselves threatened by the likes of Saul in a very short time. The early church, meeting in small numbers, in homes were very Jewish inhabit and tradition. And, they were many days distant from any of the church bodies that the new disciple Saul, would have established.

We learned, from Saul/Paul’s mouth, that:

  • For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:12 NASB

  • Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. Galatians 1:17-19 NASB

The information (the grace, mercy, and freedom) that Paul preached came straight from God. Mind you, there was that small interaction with James, but that did not account for much. And, I stayed with Peter for fifteen days.

What do we know about Peter?

  • Peter was the first one we see being sent to the Gentiles. However, Peter did not grasp what God was telling him and the Gentile evangelistic move on Peter’s part died.

  • There was the vision of the blanket coming down with clean and unclean animals in it. The voice Peter heard, he identified as Jehovah, told him to eat anything on the blanket. Of course, being a Jew, he could never eat anything unclean. The object lesson was yet to come, as God pointed out that Peter was never to call anything unclean that He had made clean.

  • As quickly as the vision came to an end, there was a knock at the door. The visitor pleaded with Peter to come to the house of this man’s master, one Cornelius, a Roman centurion, and yet a devout man. The implications show the centurion’s devotion to the Jewish way of life. (As Roman, he would have been considered a Gentile and therefore a worshiper of pagan gods. These attributes would have caused the centurion to be deemed unclean and untouchable by a Jew.)

Peter arrives at the Centurion’s home and begins to deliver his best message, but right in the middle of if the entire family receives the Holy Spirit and begins speaking in other tongues. Peter is baffled and says, well, I guess the Holy Spirit of God is not exclusive to the Jews. And with that, Peter disappears into the church council in Jerusalem, and we hear little else of Cornelius.

Back to Paul.

Galatians 2:1 NASB Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also.

A short stay with Peter, and a brief conversation with James. Paul’s stay in Damascus, we assume, lasted three years. Now fourteen years later Paul takes Barnabas, a Jewish convert, and Titus as well. And where do they go? To the council in Jerusalem.

Galatians 2:2 NASB It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.

It was because of a revelation that I went up”, this revelation is a mystery to us. We only know that it was a motivation for Paul to run this message that he preached to the Gentiles, past the church elders. This entire idea is a bit of a problem, for what did Jewish followers know of the Gentiles aside from the prejudice that was integrated into their thought life from their youth.

I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles”; I can read several layers of meaning into this statement.

  • To a degree, he is submitting to the church leadership.

  • He is doing a validation check. An underlying tone here could be the belief that they don’t get what Paul is teaching, nor do they teach it. Since we can understand that the church elders focused almost strictly on the Jewish community, Paul’s message may be heresy as far as they are concerned.

  • He is preaching that same message to them. Is it possible that his motives included having church elders expand their target audience?

but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.” Rarely do you hear anyone speak of Paul as a fearful man, and yet, there is that word, fear. An obvious aspect of this is that Paul had been preaching this gospel to Gentiles already, but wait a minute; having read a rather chronological record of Paul’s activities in the book of Acts, we know that Paul spent a tremendous amount of time in the Synagogues. Paul did not take his message to the Gentiles until he had his fill of beatings and attempts on his life at the hands of Jewish zealots. This fourteen year period of time then included the abuse and eventual migration to the Gentile community. Almost all of the new believers/followers of Christ were Jewish. In a moment we will see Barnabas and Titus. Note how Paul tells us that Titus was not compelled to become circumcised, indicating that he was not born Jewish, but says nothing about Barnabas. The implications are that Barnabas was a Jewish convert.

Galatians 2:3 NASB But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.

Now, here comes the real reason Paul is in Jerusalem, and it has little to do with acceptance.

So Paul, is in Jerusalem, having secret talks – if you will, with the church elders, because of the next few verses.

Galatians 2:4-5 NASB But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. 5) But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.

But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus.” How would you make these determinations?

  • False brethren

    Are you aware that witch covens have people planted in churches for the express purpose of bringing curses against your pastor and your church body? You might think that would be obvious, especially if they wore a long pointed hat. But you realize that they look like anybody. Unfortunately, most of our false brethren have submitted themselves to Satan’s work unwittingly. In being false they slip in quietly and once accepted to some degree, they espouse vehemently, things that are in opposition to the nature and character of God and His word.

  • secretly brought in,

    To be secretly brought in implies something intentional. Isn’t Satan intentional in his disdain and methods? We are not on a proverbial witch hunt, but what other groups might want to see our groups and churches disrupted? Surprisingly, our governments, with their Antichrist attitudes and laws could fit that description. What about other religious ideologies such as Islam? Islam has stated goals of killing off everyone that is not of their beliefs, and yet the Quran gives them the liberty to lie and deceive in order to infiltrate for the purpose of taking you down and putting you in submission.

  • to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus,

    This aspect becomes important went put in the context of Jew converting and becoming followers of the way. Really, they were and still are, adding the richness found in the Messiah; the same Messiah they have spent their lives waiting for. Traditional Jews (Paul was one,) despise this “Gentile” messiah, as they choose to believe we created Him. What they are doing is ignoring chapters like Isaiah 53, which speak of the tortures He endured to bring us this freedom called grace and mercy.

  • in order to bring us into bondage.

    Bondage, look the word up and you might find this: See Slave. The dictionary tells us that it is: Slavery or involuntary servitude; captivity; imprisonment; restraint of a person’s liberty by compulsion.

    So, Paul, in the course of teaching freedom, occasionally found people, integrated into their groups, that had the express goal of restraining, restoring traditions over freedom, and recapturing those who had been set free.

But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.” Because we know that Paul went to the council in Jerusalem, we have to assume that here too he sustained some pressure to change. If you read about Paul’s trials and tribulations, then you know that this was one of his major arguments. In reply, the council asked no demands of the Gentiles except that they stay away from eating animals with the blood still in them.

Galatians 2:6 MSG As for those who were considered important in the church, their reputation doesn’t concern me. God isn’t impressed with mere appearances, and neither am I. And of course, these leaders were able to add nothing to the message I had been preaching.

Based upon this statement, “these leaders were able to add nothing to the message I had been preaching.” we can assume that to some degree they understood the message, although they may not have preached it themselves. The Jerusalem council may have been apprehensive about letting the Gentiles into the synagogues, but that was not the issue, nor the question; the real question had more to do with economics, for example:

  • If they were Jewish converts, who then would buy the lambs for sacrifice? This is important if they all come to the understanding that Yeshua the Messiah became the sacrificial lamb. This question is not so important if they were merely Gentile believers.

  • And what becomes of the important rituals, rituals that probably required some temple fee? In scripture we see a man coming to Jesus and saying, if you will you can make me clean. Well, surely Jesus could and he did make the man clean, but, there is the demand of the law to go and show yourself to the priests. They, in turn, would decree you clean before the community and restore your rights. Jesus helped the man and gave him a stern warning which he ignored, and that was that he tell no one. Did any of you ever question why he would do such a thing? It was because the man was asking Jesus to circumvent the system; a procedure which could have got him prematurely killed.

  • And should these converts decide to leave the temple congregation, then the tithing collections will surely drop.

No, Paul stood his ground with these elders. His words surely rang true with them, as they also saw and heard things that were new and controversial. Having nothing they could add the conference was over and the three returned home.

Posted in Apostle Paul, bible study, Cult teachings, End times, false teaching, Galatians, God's character, grace, Hope, In Christ | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does king David reign over the Millennium?

Monday morning’s Men’s study started off with a tirade about king David reigning over the Millennium. In my notes I wrote, “try finding this in scripture; you can’t.”

Is my assertion correct? That can only be proved out by scripture, and we need at least two witnesses, so let’s try.

Ezekiel 34:24 will be the first witness we call to the stand.

therefore, I will deliver My flock, and they will no longer be a prey; and I will judge between one sheep and another. “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. “And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the LORD have spoken.” Ezekiel 34:22-24 NASB

When does this take place? Only after the victorious return of Jesus as the warring Messiah. When He returns He will conquer all foes and peace will be restored. Another piece of this understanding comes from Ezekiel 36:28

“You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36:28 NASB

Ezekiel 34:24 tells us that, “My servant David will be prince among them.” Does that mean that David will reign over the Millennium, or at the minimum, Israel?

The word prince is the Hebrew word nasi and means one lifted up, a chief, prince: – chief, and ruler.

Once again, Ezekiel 34:24 from the Complete Jewish Bible.

I, Adonai, will be their God; and my servant David will be prince among them. I, Adonai, have spoken. Ezekiel 34:24 CJB

The fact that the verse speaks of “them”, implies that God is speaking of David ruling. If that is the case, it is over Israel.

A piece of information that might help you see why I believe the word “them” applies strictly to Israel, would be the understanding that there are only three people groups to be considered. Those people groups are the Jews; the nations; and the church. Since the church is deemed to be in Christ, and He, as we see in the Revelation, is ruling and reigning, then I can easily assume that we, the church, are ruling with Him. This idea works out well during the millennial reign, as there will be another group of people still wandering around the earth during this time; that group is the nations. The surviving Jews will have come to accept Jesus as the Messiah; in the Millennial reign, and they will be the evangelists who go out to the nations, bringing healing in the form of leaves from the trees of life that grow along the river that flows out from under the throne of God.

Further evidence that there will people outside of the kingdom, comprising the ethnos, with the ability to make free choices, is found in Revelation 21.

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.”

How is it possible, in this Idealized world we call the Millennium, that there could still be people conjuring up such evil? It is possible because the merciful God has allowed them to pass into the thousand year reign (This concept that the merciful God would allow the nations/sinners to pass into the thousand year reign is also one that is challenged by the leader of the Monday morning study, as he, declares that all, from the nations, are doomed to the lake of fire.) It is also very assertable that the Ethnos/Nations/Gentiles are continuing to live, just as they had been since time began. The difference being, there is no Satan to influence or motivate us. The lack of Satan’s influence adds a bizarre twist because the vileness of Revelation 21:8 demonstrates the potential of an unchecked heart.

When I began to explain some aspect of scripture that referred to the nations, the religious fanatic I was speaking with, emphatically declared, these people are called the ethnos. He did this in a vain attempt to put me in my place.

The Hebrew word for nations is “go’ee.” It is from this word that the Jews derived the word goyim, a slang term for Gentiles.

Ethnos, on the other hand, is a Greek word, meaning a race (as of the same habit), or a tribe; specifically a foreign (non-Jewish) one (usually by implication pagan).

While my impetuous acquaintance seemed to imply that God would have nothing to do with anyone of colored skin, the fact that many Ethiopians (a dark-skinned race) can demonstrate a valid Jewish heritage, proves that color plays no part in the equation. Therefore, anyone that was not a Jew was of the ethnos and believed to be a pagan (This kind of narrow-minded thinking was easy for the Jews as they comprehended themselves to have the one true God. Now, whether they recognized Him and followed him or not is an entirely different story.)

What have I proved?

That David will reign as a chief, but so far, we can only prove that David will be a prince of Israel during the millennial reign. Beyond that, everything we know is circumstantial and unproven.

Does Ezekiel 37:23,24 prove anything?

Ezekiel 37:23-24 NASB “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. 24) “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.

It is possible that the reference to David is merely pointing to the Messiah, and David then, was simply a type of Christ? I know that is just a little hard to swallow considering how poorly David ran his life at times, and Jesus walked through this life without a failure we call sin.

It was Paul the Apostle that gave the oration we find in Acts 13. Here is just a portion.

Acts 13:34 NASB “As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I WILL GIVE YOU THE HOLY and SURE blessings OF DAVID.

J. Vernon McGee, states in his commentary, that this is what Peter said on the day of Pentecost. So, what did Peter then say?

Acts 2:34-36 NASB “For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, 35) UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.”‘ 36) “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom you crucified.”

He is telling us that David spoke of Jesus. Is it possible then that we are to be looking for Jesus to be walking in the blessing spoken of to David?

Nathanael, Philip’s brother, and one of the disciples said,

Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” John 1:49 NASB

This idea of Jesus/Yeshua reigning forever over the house of Jacob is also seen when the angel announces to Mary that she is to give birth to the Son of God, Jesus.

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31) “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32) “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33) and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Luke 1:30-33 NASB

Let me sum this up by saying, it is uncommon, to say the least, to preach such a message, especially if you are going to verbalize the peculiar idea that King David shall rule over the millennium.

Posted in bible study, End times, false teaching, Millennium, Prophetic, Revelation, The supremacy of Christ, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The evidence was so substantial that it .. Galatians 1:12-24

It almost seemed deceptive titling my last post, “It was not of man.” Having become carried away with verse eleven and never really covering the subject; I had to cut it short in hopes of keeping your attention. But, there is no way you can separate Paul’s undefined message of hope from where he got that message.

In my previous post, in focusing on verse 11, I discussed what I believed the message Paul spoke of, may have been. The hypothesis I presented was not a guess, but a logical, scriptural approach, to what Paul said and why. I made the case that Paul preached a message to the Jews that went right along with the lifetime of synagogue training, any proper Jew, would have received.

Since all Jews are awaiting the coming Messiah, then there has to be a fulfillment of all the events they associate with the end of time, such as an associated peace; a restoration of all things; a final judgment, and the endless reign of the Messiah. If this understanding played a role in what Paul said, then what could you say that would make this knowledge better? It seems the only thing that would or could do that is the knowledge that the Messiah has already come. One of the things we hear in church on Sunday mornings is that we are children of the kingdom now. However, because I am alive and breathing; living in varying degrees of pain, both mental and physical, I am aware that something is missing from this simplistic statement about “living in the kingdom.” Sadly, no one is really explaining this or how to achieve this state or condition.

As I told the men I sit with, where we are reading a John Eldredge book entitled, All Things New, where he talks about a restored heaven and a restored us, I find it difficult at times picturing myself in this restored, heavenly scenario. Don’t get me wrong, I believe without a doubt, that this time of restoration is coming, but the question is, when? To be honest, I thought it would have already happened by now; but alas, we are all still here.

Is it possible the Jews feel the same way? Not that long ago, an acquaintance said to me, people have been saying this stuff (he was speaking of the rapture and how we should be looking for it,) for over two thousand years, so don’t get all worked up about it now. In truth, he is right, but hasn’t the Jew been awaiting the Messiah for even longer?

But, as you would have seen in the previous post, the evidence that the Messiah came is there – in the Torah and Tenach. The evidence was so substantial that it:

  • Compelled by His star that pointed to Bethlehem, the wise men came from the East to see the young boy born the King of the Jews.

  • Herod, having called the chief priests and elders of the Jews, demanded they tell him where this baby had been born.

  • And the chief priests and elders of the Jews, when summoned to Herod, answered him by reading the precise information from the Holy Scrolls. This information resulted in the death of many boys two years old and under in that region.

What do I get from all this? The Jews knew and yet chose not to believe.

If we comprehend the message that Paul preached, then where did he get this information, that he obviously missed in previous readings from the law and prophets?

I did not get my message from any other human. The Good News is not something I learned from other people. Jesus Christ himself gave it to me. He showed me the Good News that I should tell people. Galatians 1:12 ERV

It almost seemed deceptive titling my last post, “It was not of man.” Having become carried away with verse eleven, I had to cut it short and hope to keep your attention. But, there is no way you can separate Paul’s undefined message of hope from where he got that message.

In my previous post, in focusing on verse 11, I discussed what I believed the message Paul spoke of, may have been. The hypothesis I presented was not a guess, but a logical, scriptural approach, to what Paul said and why. I made the case that Paul preached a message to the Jews that went right along with the lifetime of synagogue training, any proper Jew, would have received.

Since all Jews are awaiting the coming Messiah, then there has to be a fulfillment of all the events they associate with the end of time, such as an associated peace; a restoration of all things; a final judgment, and the endless reign of the Messiah.

If this understanding played a role in what Paul said, then what could you say that would make this information better? It seems the only thing that would or could do that is the knowledge that the Messiah has already come. One of the things we hear in church on Sunday mornings is that we are children of the kingdom now. However, because I am alive and breathing; living in varying degrees of pain, both mental and physical, I am aware that something is missing from the simplistic statement about “living in the kingdom.”

As I told the men I sit with, (we are reading a John Eldredge book entitled, All Things New, where he talks about a restored heaven and a restored us,) I find it difficult at times picturing myself in this restored, heavenly scenario. Don’t get me wrong, I believe without a doubt, that this time of restoration is coming, the question is when? To be honest, I thought it would have already happened by now; but alas, we are all still here. Is it possible the Jews feel the same way? As an acquaintance said to me, people have been saying this stuff (he was speaking of the rapture and how we should be looking for it,) for over two thousand years, so don’t get all worked up about it. And yes, we have, but hasn’t the Jew been awaiting the Messiah for even longer?

But, as you would have seen in the previous post, the evidence that the Messiah came is there – in the Torah and Tenach. The evidence was so substantial that it:

  • Compelled by His star that pointed to Him, the wise men came from the East to see the young boy born the King of the Jews.

  • Herod, having called the chief priests and elders of the Jews, demanded they tell him where this baby had been born.

  • And what did chief priests and elders of the Jews do? They answered him by reading the information from the Holy Scrolls. The result was the death of many boys two years old and under in that region.

What do I get from all this? The Jews knew.

If we know the message that Paul preached, then where did he get this information that he obviously missed in previous readings from the law and prophets?

I did not get my message from any other human. The Good News is not something I learned from other people. Jesus Christ himself gave it to me. He showed me the Good News that I should tell people. Galatians 1:12 ERV

Wait a minute. Paul, an intelligent man; a man we have to presume had a knowledge of Isaiah’s word, could not see this on his own. The Jewish leaders were able to point it out to Herod, but they could not or would not see it.

How is it that no one else saw this amazing stuff in the scriptures? Anna and Simeon the priest did; two of them, for example, were in or near the temple when Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to be circumcised. Anna met them outside the gate; it was as far as Mary would have been allowed to go.

Anna, a prophetess, was there at the Temple. She was from the family of Phanuel in the tribe of Asher. She was now very old. She had lived with her husband seven years before he died and left her alone. She was now 84 years old. Anna was always at the Temple; she never left. She worshiped God by fasting and praying day and night. Anna was there when Joseph and Mary came to the Temple. She praised God and talked about Jesus to all those who were waiting for God to free Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38 ERV

And Simeon was a priest who, knowing what the scriptures said, awaited the Messiah.

And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.” And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed–and a sword will pierce even your own soul–to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:25-35 NASB

Both of these had been looking for the Messiah. So, the truth was made plain and available.

I already pointed out how the Magi/Wise men, from the East – The East was a region of Babylon, and these men were probably trained in the school that Daniel had established while a captive.) And, I brought out how the priests and elders were able to answer Herod when he demanded an answer. So, many knew of the advent and birth of the Messiah. Did they accept Him as such? Not a chance. Much of this stems from the veil that is over their eyes, preventing them from seeing the truth. None the less, the truth was there, and yet many could not see it, this includes Saul – soon to become the Paul that we Gentiles know of.

Obviously, Saul’s eyes were opened. You find this information in the ninth chapter of the book of Acts.

Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men, and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized;” Acts 9:1-18 NASB

Well, an obvious fact is that Saul had good men interact with him. Does that mean they told Saul the better way? We are not told the answer to that question, but we do have clues that could lead to an answer.

and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus,” Acts 9:19 NASB

The logical assumption is that he is at the home of Ananias, but the picture expands, as we see him “with the disciples who were at Damascus.”

The NASB translates this simple idea concerning the length of time as, for several days, when in reality the quaint little word “tis” can also mean some time or a while. Here is what we know; we do not know how long Saul stayed with the disciples. However, immediately we see Saul preaching in the local synagogue.

and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”” Acts 9:20 NASB)

Two things jump out at me.

  • He is preaching this newly learned truth, to Jews

  • And, he said, “He is the Son of God.”

As I said, some knew. Are you kidding me? No, I am not. So, when the scripture tells us that there will be a point at which the veil will be lifted off of, not only the eyes of all Israel but the whole world. Then we are being told that there is a blindness, placed in some cases by the enemy, Satan. But, there is also a deliberate action, much like racism, that is intentionally taught. Yes, that right, Jews are taught a separatist and discriminatory attitude that calls this Jesus we serve, the Gentile Jesus, and most will have nothing to do with the salvation message we non-Jewish, adopted branches, preach.

For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. Galatians 1:13-14 NASB

Saul was not defending the Torah and Tenach, he was defending ancestral traditions.

But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. Galatians 1:15-17 NASB

Saul’s sight restored, he stays for an indeterminate time frame, in Damascus, with disciples. Once again, what the writer of Acts 9:19 tell us?

Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus,” Acts 9:19 NASB

We hear the word disciples and what do we think? The guys who hung around with Jesus. But, that may not be the case. These disciples may have been mere followers of the Way.

Once again,

For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:12 NASB

I would think this would exclude the influence of the disciples of Jesus as well. But as I pointed out in verses 15 -17 above, Saul, did not consult with flesh and blood. We also see that he did not bring the disciples of Jesus into this either.

Three years pass.

Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. Galatians 1:18-19 NASB

Why would he have to add this next verse?

(Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.) Galatians 1:20 NASB

Because, for that day and time, no one went outside of standard traditions, and Saul told us that he had been zealous for their traditions.

Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ; but only, they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.” And they were glorifying God because of me. Galatians 1:21-24 NASB)

Why add this? Because, though there were Jews there, they were not Apostles. We will call them that, as a disciple is to broad a term, and the reference is specifically separating Saul, and his recent education, from those who had the influence of Jesus upon their lives. The Apostles, it seems, still held tightly to Jerusalem; held tightly to Jewish traditions – not that traditions are a bad thing unless they keep you from seeing the Messiah, and, finding the freedom in this perfect law of liberty – grace, thanks to Jesus, we now walk in.

There is one last clue, as Saul says, “ I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ.” It may have been a Jewish audience, but most of these people did not know who Saul, the former Pharisee, was.

No, this message Saul received, though deeply intertwined in scripture, came straight out of the mouth of the Holy Spirit.

Do you think he can teach us today? Absolutely, but I still need people to be a part of the fellowship in my life; for that reason, I cannot give up on the body of Christ.

Posted in Apostle Paul, bible study, End times, false teaching, Galatians, God's character, Hope | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It is not according to man. Galatians 1:11

Months ago, buried deep in the books of Daniel, Matthew, and Revelation, I began to feel the desire to go back to the richness of Paul’s letters. In all honesty, I love God’s word, but when I think about the concepts Paul was sharing with the new believers, and how radically different they were from anything the recipients had been taught, and knowing that this was the case with Paul as well; let’s just say, I am drawn to them.

In the book of Acts, we find Saul/Paul reciting his resume if you will. This description of himself includes: Being born of Pharisees; raised a Pharisee; confidently boasting that he was surpassing many of his peers in knowledge of the Torah, Talmud, and supplementary teachings; so zealous was I for what I understood to be God’s word, that I defended it violently, incarcerating those of the way, and, if necessary, having them killed. At the martyr of Stephen, we find a young Saul holding the cloaks of those who wished to throw stones.

Certainly, Saul was well-educated; we could probably say, he knew the law and prophets inside and out. And yet, Saul knew little of grace and mercy – conspicuous characteristics of God and His son Jesus. At some point in time – we know where this probably began, Saul began to be taught by Jesus himself.

(Consider for a moment, how that could happen outside of a personal revelation? As an example, we have Abram who described God’s movements as He walked between the halves of the bloody carcass. As God walked He described all that He would do for the man that followed Him. It was all a revelation; a dream. In Saul’s case, much of it may have happened instantaneously, as the men who traveled with him heard the noise that Saul heard, but could not distinguish it from thunder.)

What was Saul taught in his revelation of Jesus? The very things that Jesus demonstrated as He walked this earth.

Something else to keep in mind as you study: Jesus set aside His majesty and became a man, that means he was voluntarily on His own, as learned the Torah and Talmud, just as Saul did. And yet, something was distinctly different; Jesus found the grace and mercy in those words, not the legalism. Yes, I have heard the same traditional discussion that is spread around the church; talk that implies Jesus had God’s power inherent in him simply because of who He was (The argument can go much deeper and complicated, but that is essentially the ruse.) Given, He was born of Godly seed but that still makes him half man, and this entire process was for a specific reason – to redeem man through the blood sacrifice of a man, the God-man. Here is another of those intricate details that few latch on to. Yeshua, born of God’s seed, bypasses the one thing, apparently passed through genetics, that motivates us to do things our own way, therefore He was sin free. If he were to sin, it would have been through some serious temptation, much like Adam went through. We, in our simple little minds, love to call this motivation to do our own thing, sin.

Through Paul’s writings, we come to understand that we have goals to meet, such as: walking in love; these are referred to as the perfect law of liberty. And yet, we, almost daily, come short of fulfilling those goals, as we try to hit the mark. According to some, our missing of this mark means we have failed, and therefore subjected ourselves to the threat of hell’s flames. Our religiosity then categorizes our sins, forgetting that the price, large or small, was permanently paid on the cross and all sin was set aside. The circumvention this process is in direct contradiction to the laws of the universe. You see man/Adam, had given up the title deed to the earth, which God had put under his control. You wish to argue this point, then consider that Jesus was taken to the pinnacle of the temple and shown, by Satan, all the kingdoms of this world. Jesus did not argue that he was a fool for even saying that because Adam had given it away. But, a man, a sinless man, was going to take it all back in time. (All this is spelled out in veiled language, some of which we see almost immediately after man selfishly partakes of the forbidden fruit when God/Yeshua tells Eve, your seed will crush the serpents head.)

And yet, religion still compels all to come for forgiveness. Yes, this too I get, as the apostle, John informs us that we all sin daily.

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:6-10 NASB)

So, what then does this act of continuously asking for forgiveness look like? Perhaps forgiveness is enveloped in this idea of fellowship that John speaks of. In fellowship, there is something close what Adam had in the garden, where he walked and talked with God. It is also something our hearts long for, relationship restored.

The NASB entitles this next section – Paul, called by God,

and thus begins our look at Galatians 1:11

Galatians 1:11 MKJV And, brothers, I make known to you the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not according to man.

At this point he is not indicating what that gospel is; a gospel which he “preached” as he passed through the region on his missionary trips. However, he is making a distinction in that the message is not man’s message.

He received this message directly from the Father himself. For the skeptic, and there are always skeptics, I will ask the question for you, when did that happen? Quite possibly on the road to Damascus, as Saul was traveling with others; traveling, with the express purpose of bringing harm to any followers of “the way.” These were what the new “Christians” were called. Since Jesus informed all, who would listen, that he was “the way.” It stands to reason that new believers might take on the identification, “followers of the way.”

Since we know that Saul/Paul conveyed a message of “good news,” then it also makes sense to understand what the message was.

In a nutshell, the message is this:

Galatians 1:3-4 NASB Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

Some, as I have experienced, do not believe that the message, upon which we base our hope, is necessary or effective. This is especially true if one’s goal is to beat people into submission verbally. If you think about it, that was never God’s technique; He merely presented the options to Abram and said, “as for me.” This delivery method seems simple enough, doesn’t it? God telling man, regardless of what you do, I will carry out my plan.

Now, because we have invested time in God’s word, and understand His plan of redemption, we also understand that life here on earth functions more effectively when we follow God’s formula for success (The word formula is easily perceived as law. But as believers, under grace, are we under the law? No, it is now referred to as, “the perfect law of liberty,” and it works well when followed.)

James 1:25 NET. But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out — he will be blessed in what he does.

Our freedom of choice was never removed; in many, like some wild stallion, there is a refusal to submit to the reigns. Jesus said, take up the cross and follow me. How do you exempt yourself from a submission to the one who gave his all for you? So yes, there is a “law of liberty;” and, I have chosen to submit myself to it. In doing so, I have found that it works for me, not against me.

I keep emphasizing that the Apostle Paul spoke to Jews first and foremost.

You might think that the modern “Christian” community would understand this by now. I know this is not the case, as I recently sat in an adult Sunday morning class that chose to use approved literature from a “Christian” vendor. The books used were misleading and inaccurate in their presentation and questions. Sadly, no one challenged the text, and when I did, many angrily disputed with me. In time the Apostle Paul modified his approach and took the message to the Gentiles; he did this because he was repeatedly and violently attacked by the religious, and traditional Jews.

The startling revelation here – is that the Gentiles would not have heard the words of the Torah and therefore would not have known of God’s promise to Abram and how there was to be a restoration of all things. Paul is working with blank slates and needed to bring the Gentiles up to speed.

Information about Paul’s audience plays a critical role in our understanding of the things Paul is writing; for the reasons, I explained. So, when he says, “I made known to you the gospel which was preached by me,” he is not telling the Jews something new, they already understood the far-reaching aspects of Paul’s message.

I have bounced around the edges of this message for two posts and now a third, so, what was the message that Paul shared with the Jews as he entered the Synagogues?

Common sense tells us that it had to be one that was pertinent. An aspect of those pertinent messages came from the law, but as Gentiles, we see little redemption in those restrictions. If that is true, and they are merely restrictions and not a pattern of the good things to come, then how or why would the Jews see the redemption and restoration of all things in them? Other writings, that pointed to salvation from this present evil world, could be found in the works of David and the prophets: Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel jump to mind.

King David said, “.. You were a forgiving God to them, And yet an avenger of their evil deeds. Psalm 99:8

Was he only talking about a momentary, present forgiveness, or is this a reference to some future time when all things will be set aside?

Isaiah prophesied, “Thus I will punish the world for its evil And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless.” Isaiah 13:11 NASB

The context of Isaiah 13:11 puts this at the end of time, as He is punishing the world for evil. This theme is also spelled out in the writings of the prophet Joel and in the Revelation, but we cannot count the Revelation yet because we are focused on a message that would have been relevant to the Jewish community.

As a matter of fact, the message was so relevant that many believed, while others, conspired to have Paul beaten and stoned. In the Revelation, this punishment upon the earth is the judgment and wrath of God being poured out.

The Christian community should be rejoicing as we are not subject to wrath because we are in Christ (There are always exceptions and the parable of the ten virgins spells that out for us. If I take this parable literally, the ratio is 50 percent who will be left behind when the catching away of the church comes.) Israel, on the other hand, has reason to be concerned, as they kept chasing idols and turning their backs on God.

One of the proofs of God’s anger against Israel is found in the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

Yet you said, ‘I am innocent; Surely His anger is turned away from me.’ Behold, I will enter into judgment with you Because you say, ‘I have not sinned.‘“ Jeremiah 2:35 NASB

So, God will enter into judgment with Israel, but when? The prophet Joel tells us that God will enter into judgment with the nations. He does this for the way they treated His people, Israel.

I will gather all the nations And bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there On behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; And they have divided up My land.” Joel 3:2 NASB

Some would say, but Israel is no longer scattered? Is that true? No, and though the reasons may have changed, the vile hatred coming from the nations is still there.

Isaiah tells us of new heavens and earth, along with so much more; when does that happen?

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. 18) “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing And her people for gladness. 19) “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the sound of crying.” Isaiah 65:17-19 NASB

The obvious answer to the question, “when does that happen?”, is some obvious future date; a hope anchored on something. The Jews understood that something, to be the coming of the expected Messiah. When you read the story of the Magi, you find Herod questioning the Magi as to why they had come. In a panic, Herod calls upon the chief priests and scribes, demanding when and where this Messiah was born, that the Magi were looking for. The information they give him is taken in part from Micah the prophet.

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” Micah 5:2 NASB)

Yet Israel was looking for the Messiah; one who would come conquering and rule with an iron fist over Israel’s oppressors. They did not want this:

A child?

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7 NASB)

Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him? This was the exact opposite of what they saw in “king” Saul.

For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” Isaiah 53:2-3 NASB)

And yet that is how God opted to bring Him into the world. Now comes the hard part. How do you show the Jews that the God-man, who had the flesh stripped off his back, was God himself, and now reigns with the Father until the day He returns as the sword-wielding conqueror Israel expected?

I do not know if this applied during the time of Paul but it certainly is true today, Isaiah 53 is a forbidden section of scripture in the Synagogues. A Messianic rabbi, a street evangelist if you will, shows Jews Isaiah’s words from Isaiah 53 in the Talmud, and has them read it aloud. Many recognize and admit that this could have only been Jesus the Christ, and accept Yeshua as the Messiah they have longed for.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging, we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5 NASB)

There it is, the good news. Perhaps, in a way, more for the Jew than the Gentile, but the common ground is that there will, someday, be a relief from this evil world; a relief from this sin infested body I cannot shake, and a peace that I have never known or comprehended outside of relationship with Christ. The Jews knew this was coming but judgment hung over their heads. The Gentiles knew nothing of this hope and that is one of the reasons we and Israel, have been so infested with idolatry. We have all been seeking peace and a hope. All of that and more is found in Jesus/Yeshua when you come to Him.

Posted in Apostle Paul, bible study, End times, Galatians, grace, Hope, judgment, parables, Prophetic, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why would someone feel it is necessary to control us? Galatians 1:6-10

While I wrote these studies on Galatians about three weeks ago; since then, so much has happened. As you probably gathered from my last post I had a bit of a verbal collision with my pastor. Whatever definitions I might understand from scripture that defines a pastor, there has only been a couple that even came close, and this one, in my mind, isn’t one of them.

An example could come from the sermon many years ago, where he is telling the audience how the shepherd intentionally snaps the leg of the little sheep that continues to stray. He said all this with a horrifying gusto. I can remember sitting there in shock, and thinking, if this who or what God/Jesus is really like, then no thank you. As I have given this idea more thought over the years, the practicality of such a scenario is ludicrous, especially if you look at scripture through befitting, Jewish eyes. You see, the shepherd, in Jewish society, is trying to make a living, and, he does so by selling unblemished lambs for three reasons: food, clothing, and sacrifices. The sacrificial lamb had to be without spot or blemish as mandated by the law of God. Breaking the leg of a valuable sheep seems counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Not only that, but the idea of breaking the leg of one of the lambs also seems to go against everything I understand God to be – grace and mercy. Since breaking the leg of one of the sheep might fall under the category of wrath, and WE are not subject to wrath, then the idea gets more absurd. A couple of scriptures for you to look up, on your own, would be 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9.

Now, to be fair, I talked with a lady from church whose family had raised sheep in Texas; she responded with, oh yes, it was a common method of controlling young sheep. Well, that sounds horrid, but not being a farmer, castration sounds horrid also, and we don’t do that in our churches, or, do we?

How appropriate then is this line from verse 6 – I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” Give yourself a moment to think about things that have been said and done in the name of religion. I am not just talking about history; I am talking about NOW. The things done to me, and said from the pulpit, are nothing more than methods of control. Why would someone feel it is necessary to control us? I can think of many – all of the reasons have some deep insecurity attached to them. The reality is, the person acting this way does not trust the Holy Spirit’s ability to lead and guide us and therefore does not believe God.

John 16:13 KJV Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

The NASB entitles this section, No Other Gospel.

Galatians 1:6-10 KJV I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7) Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9) As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10) For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

  • Verse (6) “I marvel,”

    Marvel is the Greek word thaumazō; from G2295; to marvel, wonder: – am amazed (1), amazed (15), amazement (1), astonished.

    Considering the context, the usage of word amazed doesn’t fit the scenario unless Paul is simply that shocked. The two significant usages, as we can see from KJC are marveled and wonder. An example from Matthew:

Mat 21:19-20 KJV And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. 20) And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!

The Word Study Dictionary also expresses the idea of being struck with astonishment or admiration. Since the people, Paul is writing to have allowed themselves to be removed from the one who called them to grace (This, of course, is Jesus Christ.) Paul is not conveying an attitude of admiration.

  • that ye are so soon removed from him”

    Keep in mind that Paul is writing to a generalized region called Galatia. Since this is not a specific church body, then you can assume that a significant number of people, across the region, had walked away from the freedom/grace that is in Jesus. I would love to say, “you should know,” but recently sat in an adult Bible class, where we read from a purchased book, focused on the Acts of the Apostles. Since the majority of the book of Acts was focused on Paul; In the book of Acts, you can see that Paul’s primary influence was on Jews. Since his intent was never to pull them away from the truths in the law and the prophets, then these are Jewish converts that returned to the abundance of man created laws and oppressive traditions.

  • that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:”

    While evangelists and pastors may think they are the ones who called you into the grace of Christ, it has never been anyone other than the Holy Spirit/Jesus himself.

    If the gospel is the good news, what other good news could there have been?

  • Considering that these were, in the majority, Jewish converts, then the message used to draw them back could easily have been “Come back to the synagogue; we are God’s people; you are God’s people. Reject this Jesus, a man – hung like a common criminal, and called, by Pilate, the king of the Jews.” The point here is that there was no other gospel – no good news. It was a pull to come back to traditions and a way of life, filled with bondage.

    These days we have a multitude of variations on the gospel, as some, while preaching freedom and forgiveness in Jesus, will hold you in bondage and never forgive you; even to the point of lording over you as a judge. This lording over people in judgment is in opposition to what the Word says, such as, all judgment has been given to the Son.

    The word another is the Greek word heteros and means (an-, the) other or different:altered, else, next (day), one, (an-) other, some, strange.

    This (idea of another gospel) leans more heavily upon the idea of twisting the gospel of Christ; the message that Paul delivered to them.

    Contributing to the idea that Paul is talking about a twisting of the gospel, the translators, or editors, placed the continuation of verse 6 in verse 7, where it says, “Which is not another;.” Seeing the verse unbroken may help you understand that Paul is talking about a twisting of the gospel of grace.

    that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another;”

    Having experienced a twisting of the gospel of grace on many levels, I can tell you that it takes on many forms, most coming under the cloak of religious guidance.

  • (7) Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.”

    If, as Paul says, it is not another gospel, then it is some perversion of the gospel of grace.

    Allow me just to say, that anything or anyone that strives to put you under the law is not only perverting God’s grace but attempting to put you under bondage. In doing this, they have essentially exercised witchcraft on you, which is a form of slavery and manipulation through words and curses.

    Pervert is the Greek word metastréphō; fut. metastrépsō, from metá (G3326), denoting a change of place or condition, and stréphō (G4762), to turn. To turn about from one direction to another. In the NT, to turn into something else, to change.

    At our men’s Monday morning bible study, the leader recently spent far too much time on Matthew 25. In doing so, he focused on the great white throne judgment (this can also be found in Revelation 20.) A cursory read will demonstrate the true nature and character of God, as in Matthew 25 where the sheep, a part of that vast crowd, obtain mercy. The sheep receive this mercy because they performed some simple act of mercy or generosity. The goats, on-the-other-hand, are sent off to eternal separation and flames of torment with Satan. In the Revelation, the Holy Spirit is trying to make the point that Jesus is God and deservedly angry with those whom he does not find written in those books before Him. These are sent off to that same eternal torment and separation. Just because the sheep who obtain mercy in Matthews exposition is not apparent in Revelation 20, does not mean they are not there. Simply put, they are not an aspect of the context in Revelation 20. The bible study leader still, many weeks later, persists in sending everyone who stands before the great white throne to hell. Since this is unquestionably in opposition to the heart and nature of God, and, it is a perversion of the gospel of Christ.

    but there be some that trouble you” Trouble is the Greek word tarassō; from a prim. root ταραχtarach-; to stir up, to trouble: – disturbed (1), disturbing (2), stirred (3), stirring (1), terrified (2), troubled (9). The Word Study Dictionary tells us this: tarassō is, “Figuratively used of the mind, to stir up, trouble, disturb with various emotions such as fear, put in trepidation.” I might rewrite this to read: there will those who will disturb and stir up your emotions through a twisting of the gospel.

  • (8) MSG Let me be blunt: If one of us–even if an angel from heaven!–were to preach something other than what we preached originally, let him be cursed.

(Moffatt NT) Now even though it were myself or some angel from heaven, whoever preaches a gospel that contradicts the gospel I preached to you, God’s curse be on him!

I don’t know if this is merely Paul expressing his disdain for anyone who might teach or preach anything other than what he has already said, or, this is the heart of God. Since God is love and longs that everyone should be saved, why would He want someone to be cursed? What evidence do we have then of God drawing a line in the sand?

Matthew 12 lays out a scenario in which Jesus casts out a demon. The Pharisees attributed his actions to Satan. Verses 31,32 tell us His direct response.

Matthew 12:31-32 KJV Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. 32) And whosoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

Plainly we can see that God does draw a line, and blasphemy is it. I doubt Paul knew of this declaration by Jesus. If he did, and this was an aspect of what he wrote, then it would have been by direct revelation through Jesus.

One other piece of evidence might be drawn from the Revelation.

Revelation 21:8 KJV But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

While the verse takes in much more than blasphemers, it scares me, as I have: lied, wanted to kill, been unbelieving far too often, and spent the majority of my life feeling trapped by fear.

One other thing you need to consider if you are, to be honest in trying to decipher what is being said. Look at the verse once again.

Galatians 1:8 KJV But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

Now, ask yourself, how many translations are there? Do they vary? Of course, they do, and one of the reasons for that is the variations a Greek word can carry depending on the defining word associated with it. This is one of the reasons why I used the Message in conveying the intensity of verse 8. I love how Eugene Peterson interpreted what Paul is trying to convey and therefore said, “Let me be blunt.”

“or an angel from heaven”

This seems simple enough, but analyzing words opens doors to understanding. Angel is the word aggélous. The Word Study Dictionary tells us: A messenger, an aggelous, is one who is sent in order to announce, teach, perform, or explore anything;

Matthew 11:10 KJV For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

Matthews gospel tells us that Jesus explained to the crowd, that the messenger/aggelous was John the Baptist.

In Luke 7:24 John the Baptist had sent messengers to Jesus. KJV And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

In Luke, the messengers were men sent from John.

Galatians 4:14 KJV And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.

Paul, here, points out that the people, of the region of Galatian, received him as an aggelous/messenger.

James 2:24-25 KJV Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25) Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

Here, the messengers/aggelous were men from Israel under the leadership of Joshua.

Malachi 2:7 KJV For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.

Malachi speaks of the priest as an aggelous/messenger of God. A rewrite of this verse could read like this: For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the one who is sent in order to announce, teach, perform, or explore.

Does this imply that the priest is untouchable or above all reproach? Not at all, but it is not our place to judge and execute judgment against them. I suppose that is why we have these horrific church hierarchies – to displace bad priests/pastors. It seems all we can and should do is pray; pray that the Lord of Hosts can straighten this brother out or remove him. Having done all that, all we have left is to move on in most cases.

  • Verse (9) KJV As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

    Verse 9 is merely a repetition of what Paul previously said.

  • Verse (10) KJV For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

    Paul had to speak harshly to the Christians in Galatia because they were in danger. He did not apologize for his straightforward words, knowing that he could not serve Christ faithfully if he allowed the Galatian Christians to remain on the wrong track.” Life Application Study Bible

    The Greek word for persuade is peíthō, meaning to persuade, particularly to move or affect by kind words or motives. [WSD] We don’t know what he said or how he said it, but I have never pictured Paul speaking in a manner that was anything other than straightforward and to the point. The statement he just made is an example of that – “I have said it before and I now repeat it: whoever preaches a gospel to you that contradicts the gospel you have already received, God’s curse be on him!” Moffatt NT

    Please is the Greek word aréskō meaning to fit, adapt, or please. Having recently been accosted by a pastor who told me, with the admonition that his was a Godly council, that I should not pursue or study Eschatology for the next five years. If I took his “so-called” Godly counsel to heart, then I would be attempting to please a man, for I can assure you that what he gave me was nothing less than demonic. Paul asserts, “I am not trying to please people. I want to please God. Do you think I am trying to please people? If I were doing that, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (CEV)

    So, much like Paul does – with an adamant declaration, I emphasize, once again, As we said before, so I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel different from or contrary to that which you received [from us],” (AMP)

    Since I was not there and could not listen to Paul orations, then I must trust his words given to us in the Bible and presume the tone and inflections in his voice. I have to establish in my mind that these words are the basis and foundation of what I believe and charged to understand. Therefore, when a pastor accosts you, telling you that eschatology (end times teachings) does not and cannot change people, and, that you should not study it or speak of it, then he is operating in contradiction to God’s word. This subtle opposition moves him into the category of a false teacher, and he needs to repent publicly.

2 Timothy 3:16 AMPC Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action),

The point being made here, in 2Timothy, is that eschatology can and does change people. We can know this because it is the spirit breathed Word of God. If you stand around waiting for the changes to happen, you may not see them.

2 Peter 2:1 BBE But there were false prophets among the people, as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly put forward wrong teachings for your destruction, even turning away from the Lord who gave himself for them; whose destruction will come quickly, and they themselves will be the cause of it.

The subtlety of what they say can catch you off guard, especially when they speak in an authoritarian manner, and add, I am telling you this because I love you; sadly, this is what most of them do, and we are expected by them to accept what they say without question. Shouldn’t this be proof enough that we desperately need to be invested in the Word of God.

Posted in false teaching, Galatians, God's character, grace, Hope, In Christ, judgment, Thoughts on scripture, wrath. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Galatians 1:2-5. To settle all claims against him and to designate where he obtained this information on grace on mercy.

In verse one of this letter to the Galatians, we have Paul introducing himself. In so doing he spells out with one word, that he was sent by, and is a messenger of Jesus Christ and God the Father. That one word was apostolos – Apostle to us Gentiles. In proclaiming this he is immediately trying to settle all claims against him and to designate where he obtained this information on grace on mercy. To the skeptic (this tends to be religious folk,) there is much to argue over, especially since you may not have any concept of how or why God talks to us. With Paul, we have the dramatic incident where he was knocked to the ground and made blind. Jesus spoke to him and this could be the place where all his instructions and definitions began.

Something we seem to overlook when considering who Paul was. He tells us when he went by the name Saul, that he was a rising star among the ranks of the Pharisees; he was well versed in the law and the prophets, and, he was so zealous for the religious tradition of the Jews, that he went around arresting, torturing, and having many followers of this new “religion” -believers in Jesus Christ, imprisoned or killed. [You can find this testimony in the 26th chapter of the book of Acts.] In Acts 7:58.59, Saul/Paul held the cloak of those who stoned Stephen to death.

You might wonder how someone so deeply invested in rules and tradition could find anything that looked like grace and mercy in the books of the law, and yet, these very books became the basis for our freedom.

In Matthew, we see Jesus, quite successfully standing his ground with the adversary, Satan by quoting portions of the Law back to Satan. If the law, this oppressive collection of writings we like to control people with, could bring peace, freedom, and a momentary respite from Satan’s onslaught, then couldn’t it do that for us? Perhaps this understanding will give you a greater insight into words like this: “Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.”

With that let’s dive into Galatians again.

Galatians 1:2-5 NASB and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: 3) Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4) who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5) to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.

  • and all the brethren who are with me

    Acts 16:6 NASB They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia;

    It was on Paul’s second great missionary tour, about A.D. 51, that, he in company with Silas and Timothy, passed through from Lycaonia in Phrygia and Galatia, and planted the seeds of the Christian faith (Act_16:6). From The People’s New Testament (B. W. Johnson)

    This region then called Galatia is now modern-day Turkey

    A piece of evidence we have for who these brethren were comes from Acts 18 where we see Priscilla and Aquilla. Having spent some time in Ephesus he may have picked up some followers there, and there is always Dr. Luke to record everything.

    Acts 18:23 NASB And having spent some time there, he left and passed successively through the Galatian region and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

  • “To the churches of Galatia”

    As we saw in our example from Acts 16, Paul was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia Minor, the region called Galatia.

  • “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,”

    Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible tells us to look at his comments on Romans 1:7 where Paul uses similar terminology.

    Romans 1:7 EMTV To all those who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Grace to you – χαρις υμιν; May you be partakers of the Divine favor, the source whence every blessing is derived.” “..the several acceptations of this word grace which occur in the sacred writings.”

    When I look up this word grace in the Word Study Dictionary I get a rather extensive definition. I only included 1-4, but I made the lettering of the things I thought applied most directly. I gave you the large paragraphs as there are things in there that can add to your understanding. [I apologize as it makes this post so long.]

1. The word χαριν signifies in general favor or benevolence, but especially that favor which is powerful and active and loads its objects with benefits. Luke_1:30: Fear not, Mary, thou hast found Favor, χαριν, with God. Luke_2:40: And the child grew – and the Grace of God, χαρις θεου, the favor of God was upon him. Luke_1:52: And Jesus increased in Favor, χαριτι Grace, with God and man. Act_2:47: Having Favor, χαριν, Grace, with all the people. Act_4:33: And great Grace, χαρις, Favor, was upon them all. The apostles were at that time in universal favor with the multitude. In this sense, the word occurs in a great variety of places, both in the Old and New Testaments.

2. Hence it is often used for the blessing which it dispenses; for, if God be favourably disposed towards a person, his beneficent acts, in that person’s behalf, will be a necessary consequence of such favor. John_1:14: Full of Grace and truth; accomplished in all spiritual blessings. John_1:16: And Grace upon Grace: he who is full of the most excellent blessings, confers them liberally on all believers. Act_11:23: When he had seen the Grace of God, i.e. had the fullest evidence that they were richly endowed with heavenly gifts. 1Co_1:4: For the Grace of God which is given you – the Divine blessings conferred upon you. 2Co_9:8: God is able to make all Grace abound toward you; i.e. to enrich you with every benediction. This is also a very common acceptation of the word; and in this sense the word grace or favor is now generally understood among religious people. The grace of God meaning with them some Divine or spiritual blessing communicated.

3. It is sometimes taken for the whole of the Christian religion, as being the grandest possible display of God’s favor to a lost, ruined world: and in this sense it appears to be used, John_1:17: For the Law was given by Moses; but Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ: where the term Grace is evidently opposed to Law; the latter meaning the Mosaic, the other the Christian, dispensation. Act_13:43: Barnabas persuaded them to continue in the Grace of God; i.e. to hold fast their profession of the religion of Christ. Rom_6:14: Ye are not under the Law, but under Grace – ye are no longer under obligation to fulfill the Mosaic precepts, but are under the Christian dispensation. See also Rom_6:15; and see 2Co_1:12; 2Co_6:1; Gal_1:6; Col_1:6; 2Ti_2:1, Titus_2:11: The Grace of God, that bringeth salvation unto all men, hath appeared. The Jewish religion was restricted in its benefits to a few; but the Christian religion proposes the salvation of all men; and the author of it has become a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Heb_12:15: Looking diligently lest any man fall from the Grace of God – lest any man apostatize from the Christian religion, and the blessings of pardon and holiness which he has received through it. 1Pe_5:12: This is the true Grace of God wherein ye stand – the Christian religion which ye have received is the genuine religion of God.

4. It signifies all the blessings and benefits which Christ has purchased, and which he gives to true believers, both in time and eternity. See Rom_5:15, Rom_5:17, where the grace of God is opposed to death; i.e. to all the wretchedness and misery brought into the world by Adam’s transgression. 1Co_16:23: The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all – May every blessing purchased by Christ’s passion and death be the portion of you all. Gal_5:4: Ye are fallen from Grace – ye have lost the blessings of the Gospel by submitting to circumcision.

J. Vernon McGee tells us, This is Paul’s formal greeting that he used in most of his epistles. The word grace (charis) in this verse was the gentile form of greeting in that day, while peace (shalom) was the religious greeting of the Jews.

Many commentaries state something similar when they say; this was a standard greeting for Paul; evidence for the commonality of his greeting is demonstrated in his letters as he opened with this statement five times. While that is evidently true, this was anything but a typical statement to Paul. He had learned what grace was, and it was probably something he had little to no concept of before his conversion.

We sing songs with the phrases like, I once was lost, but now I am found, and, who saved a wretch like me. The comprehension of what you were before you accepted His grace can often be the driving force in the impact you now want to make on others.

  • Verse 4. “who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age,”

    The greeting, deemed so common, included the name, Jesus Christ. In this case, Paul includes a brief definition of what Jesus did for us.

    He gave Himself for our sins … that in itself sounds great but it is not compulsory to live here on this earth. Varying translations convey different implications and meaning; for example:

    The Amplified Classic version tells us – [That it is Jesus] Who gave (yielded) Himself up [to atone] for our sins [and to save and sanctify us], in order to rescue and deliver us from this present wicked age and world order, in accordance with the will and purpose and plan of our God and Father-

    The idea of “in order to,” leaves the door open to some choosing not to partake in this rescuing.

    The American Standard Version conveys the idea that He might. who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father:”

    This in no way means that deliverance is merely something at God’s whim. No, the effort has been for all and available to all. Clearly, not all choose to accept deliverance. This is the case with many of the Jewish people.

    The majority of translations use the word might. I understand that God desires to rescue. If it is within His capabilities to save us, why doesn’t He just do it? The answer is because He has never circumvented a human’s free will, and we have a choice.

    In speaking to Joshua, he said, choose you this day whom you will serve. You can find this in Joshua 24:15.

    If it helps I have an analogy that came to me one day. Imagine that the earth is a great big adoption agency. God comes down, looks around at all the people, and knows immediately that He must have them all. In order to do that He pays the ultimate price, which happens to be the blood of His only son, who gave His life voluntarily, knowing full well the implications and ramifications, but the Son, and the Father, knew that the end result would be so glorious, that Jesus paid with His own blood. Having signed the adoption papers He loudly calls for everyone to jump in the truck. (There was a time when we could fill the back of the truck full of people and go off to town.) Some come quickly, while others take their time deciding if this comfortable life at the adoption agency isn’t better. One young kid with purple hair, says okay, but I don’t take out the trash. He quickly learns that there are responsibilities and that this new found life and the grace associated with it, does not give us license to act irresponsibly. Unfortunately, because of deception, life’s hurts, misunderstandings forced upon them by others, or just their unwillingness to change, a few do not get into the truck. For us, the truck is an analogy of our trip we will someday make to heaven when He calls His church back home to Himself. The payment, of course, was the price for Adam’s transgression, blood. The adoption agency is this planet we live on. If you understand the story of Adam’s transgression, then you know that Adam, by his actions, signed the earth away to a fallen and mutinous angel named Lucifer.

    Our life here is not to try and win back a conquered earth, as it will be restored by fire. Our job is to tell people that this God who paid the price for us, has our best interests in mind. If you understood His character, and most of us don’t, then you would tell people that His goals are based in salvation, and since you have come to understand His love for you, then convey that.

    Odd, how salvation means something different to everyone. Oh sure, there are similarities in every life story, but in the end, our stories are all as individual as we are. Most of the time, we can easily just call these struggles life. For me, I would say that the damage I have sustained has shown its ugly head through a need to feel useful. Some have seen the gifts or capabilities I have but the door has never fully opened, as far as I can tell, and therefore I am not teaching. Others, see nothing but the damage my past has caused, and though our life and relationship with Christ are entrenched in a God who has paid the price for our damage (past, present, and future) some will never let you get beyond your mistakes. God has forgiven and forgotten your mistakes; try to center your thinking around that.

  • Verse 5 really needs no explanation and can stand on it own. to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.”

    One of the occasional topics at church is worship. In worship, I try to recognize that it is to God that all glory belongs. But, in worship, God, through the Holy Spirit, tries to show me that same glory, now resting in me. How do I know that? I know that because the Word of God has taught me that in accepting Jesus Christ, I have come to be “in Him.” If I am in Him, then wouldn’t His glory rest upon me as well? You would think so, and yet, it seems that is rarely the case. Perhaps, we just don’t realize it.

Posted in Apostle Paul, Galatians, God's character, grace, Hope, In Christ | Leave a comment

A study on Galatians, chapter 1:1. Now the truth, I have to ask myself? Am I doing this for me, or for some vindictive pastor who can see no good in me?

At our Monday morning Bible Study, we have been going through the leader’s end times teachings and thoughts for the last three years. I conservatively tell people that it was a solid two year period, just to be on the safe side. Several of us formed a spin-off group and would meet on Wednesdays for coffee with the intent of discussing some of the fallacies we had encountered the previous Monday.

Because of the fallacies, I found myself buried in end-times teachings almost continuously. Now that is not a bad thing, and my local group deemed me the expert. Expert was hardly the case, but I would answer questions as best I could, and thanks to the Holy Spirit, they were usually correct answers. There is a distinct satisfaction when you see the impact as the Holy Spirit is the teacher (and yes, he uses people.) I suppose what I noticed the most was that I was missing my journeys through the letters of Paul, Peter, James, and John.

One of those topics became evident as I began to read through Paul’s letter to the believers in the region of Galatia (We call it the book of Galatians.)

Galatians 1:6-9 KJV I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7) Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9) As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

As you can see, there is an emphasis on a gospel message. Since the word gospel the Greek word for good news, then you have to ask, what was the good news to these people Paul preached to? If we were to trek through the book of Acts, we would find that for years, the first place Paul went when he came into a village, was the synagogue. It is easy to presume and correctly so, that Paul preached this good news to the Jews he found there. Since the Jews were the holders of the promises of God, you would think that they already had the good news, and they did, but they also had the law; a collection of laws that were enhanced by the addition of man-made laws designed to control the people.

To a people who may have realized they were entrapped by man’s laws, this message of grace and mercy was a Godsend. If you heard Paul’s words and allowed them to change you, how could you, or would you go back to the bondage that man and his hierarchy bring? Truth be known, you wouldn’t have, unless, you had been deceived in some way. And that seems to be the basis of this letter.

Galatians 1:1 NASB Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead),

“Paul an apostle – See the note at Rom_1:1. This is the usual form in which he commences his epistles, and it was of special importance to commence the Epistle in this manner because it was one design to vindicate his apostleship, or to show that he had received his commission directly from the Lord Jesus.” [Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible]

Romans 1:1 NASB Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

From John Gill’s commentary on Romans 1:1 – “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,…. The name of the author of this epistle is Paul, who formerly was called Saul. Some think his name was changed upon his own conversion; others, upon the conversion of the Roman deputy Sergius Paulus, Act_13:7; others, that he was so called from the littleness of his stature; but rather it should seem that he had two names, which was usual with the Jews; one by which they went among the Gentiles, and another by they were called in their own land; See Gill on Act_13:9. ” [I show you the Complete Jewish Bible translation.]

Acts 13:9 CJB Then Sha’ul, also known as Paul, filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, stared straight at him and said,

The Jewish translation took on a new meaning to me recently as I was trying to find some background information on Matthew 24:36 and I came across this website, In explaining about the New Moon at the beginning of the Jewish New Year, this comes up:
“In Y’shua’s day, the moon was so important that a Jewish festival was proclaimed at the beginning of every month (Talmud Tractate Chaggigah 17b;
Shavuot 10a; Arachin 10b). This was called the New Moon Festival and in the B’rit Chadashah, Rabbi Sha’ul (Paul) makes note of it (Colossians 2:16).”

Almost Instantly I gained an understanding of Paul’s impact on the Messianic Jewish community.

Gill’s comments on Acts 13:9 – Then Saul (who also is called Paul),… He was called by both these names; as he was a Jew by birth, his parents called him Saul, that was his Jewish name, and by which he went among the Jews; and as he was a citizen of a Roman city, Tarsus in Cilicia, he went among the Romans, or Gentiles, by the name of Paul, a Roman name; and it was usual with the Jews to be called after this manner, that is, to have one name among themselves, and another among the Gentiles: it is a rule with them (n), that “the Israelites out of the land, their names are as the names of the Gentiles;” yea, their names differed in Judea and Galilee; a woman went by one name in Judea, and another in Galilee (o): and it is observable, that Luke calls the apostle by his Jewish name Saul, whilst he was among the Jews, and only preached among them; but now he is got among the Gentiles, and was about to appear openly to be their apostle, he all along hereafter calls him by his Gentile name Paul: though some think his name was changed upon his conversion, as it was usual with Jewish penitents to do; when a man repented of his sin, he changed his name (says Maimonides) (p),”

Although we do not see the phrase, a servant of Jesus Christ, here in the first verse, the idea is there cloaked in the expression, “but through Jesus Christ and God the Father.”
More from Gill, “A servant of Jesus Christ”; not a servant of sin, nor of Satan, nor of man, nor of Moses and his law, nor of the traditions of the elders, but of Jesus Christ; and not by creation only, but by redemption, and by powerful efficacious grace in conversion; which is no ways contrary to true liberty; nor a disgraceful, but a most honourable character; and which chiefly regards him as a minister of the Gospel:

Being a servant of Jesus Christ is the simplest aspect of this introduction, but Paul added another characteristic when noted that he was “an apostle, sent by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead.”

Gill explains, “called to be an apostle”: an apostle was one that was immediately sent by Christ, and had his authority and doctrine directly from him, and had a power of working miracles from him, in confirmation of the truth of his mission, authority, and doctrine; all which were to be found in the author of this epistle, who did not thrust himself into this office, or take this honour to himself, of which he always judged himself unworthy, but was “called” to it according to the will, and by the grace of God:”

In my naivete, wrote: All this introduction seems like an unusual and unnecessary proclamation, but, having spoken before a large audiences, you realize it carries much weight when they have an idea of who you are and what your credentials are.

Credentials, by the way, often come through the acceptance of someone trusted who bears witness to why you should be standing before this group.

At the church I attend, we had a man come and give his testimony. The unnerving aspect of this was that he had formerly produced pornography, and not that long ago. Fortunately for him, someone vouched for him and pastor trusted that he would be alright.

Give some thought to how Jesus was received when He said things not so dissimilar to Paul’s introduction. The pharisees were willing to stone Paul and did one occasion. Jesus got come backs like, “we know who are father is!” [John 8:39-41 KJV]. The implications of this heinous statement were quickly understood, as this all fell back to Mary, His mother. With a backbone of steel, she stood her ground and insisted that God was His Father. How much easier it would have been to say, Joseph was the father, but he wasn’t and she and Joseph both knew that. The result of her holding her ground was a hellish amount of opposition, and this caustic comeback was proof of that.

While there are few, if any, Apostles today, in spite of fact that many like to be called by that title, there are an uncountable number of people who have been sent on small, seemingly insignificant personal assignments. Without the fame and acclaim that comes with a title, we ignore them, and, in some cases ridicule them.

apostolos; from G649; a messenger, one sent on a mission, an apostle: – apostle (19), apostles (52), apostles’ (5), messenger (1), messengers (1), is sent (1).

Paul, in Romans 1, described himself as a servant. Since a servant can also be a messenger, or, one sent, then apostolos fits.

Having spent most of my life in religion I can tell that I have seen it all. At one church I attended, popular prophetic evangelists came to the church and made a big deal about our pastor, pronouncing that he was an Apostle. Apparently because he planted a church and it happened to grow. I just thought he was a pretty cool guy that would ride motorcycles with us. Without all the accolades we too have been sent; some, too large audiences and some to individuals. It makes no difference the size of the crowd, as long as you did your job.

Posted in Apostle Paul, bible study, Cult teachings, Deception, false teaching, Freedom from sin, Galatians, God's character, Hope, In Christ, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My notes as I prepared to teach on the Discipline of Fasting by Richard Foster.

I had been asked by my pastor to teach a couple of sessions out of one of the books from which he was yet to pick. When he named off the potential authors, I cringed internally as my pastor can turn anything into legalism. He settled on The Discipline of Fasting by Richard Foster.

Considering my understanding of discipline and the belt my father used to administer that obedience, my stomach was turning. Add to that a verbal image portrayed by the pastor, in which he told us that the shepherd would snap the leg of the sheep which kept running astray. I can’t remember anything about that story that would help to give it a redeeming quality. However, in relating this story to a friend recently, I pointed out how it was the shepherd’s purpose and intent to sale unblemished lambs to the surrounding Jewish community, a necessity for sacrifices. Having broken the lamb’s leg, it was now a cripple and unable to survive on its own. The shepherd was now responsible for this offending little one and would have to carry it to water, food, and set it down to do its normal business as all lambs do. In the process of holding and caring for this lamb, the shepherd and the lamb build a tight bond, one in which the lamb becomes fondly and permanently attached to the shepherd. I image that the shepherd could develop a strong attachment for that particular sheep. You should not have to dig that deep to figure out that the shepherd is Jesus in the larger picture, and, the pastor in the smaller picture. We are the “offending” sheep. I can remember thinking that this is not the God that I have come to know, and, I did not want this pastor to ever get that close to me, and yet he has. Most recently, he asked me to lead this book study.

Under the pretense of discussing the lesson that I was to teach, the pastor asked me a question that he did not want an answer to. The question was: Why do you teach on Eschatology so much, and where do you get your conclusions. (I suppose it is important to note that pastor has never heard me speak, nor does he know what I teach, therefore these questions were really based upon things I shared with him personally in a previous meeting.)

Considering that he never gave me the chance to refute his assertions I will defend my actions now. I teach on end times and eschatology because (1.) I have always wanted to understand. (2.) Having sat under a false teacher for about three years, during which time, he would focus on one thing for as much as six months. I would make notes and then go home and research his assertions to find out if they are in scripture; I could rarely find anything he claimed to be the truth. (3.) Having spent the majority of my life in churches, I became thoroughly disgusted with religion. The solution was to take my bible and read it for myself. I started doing this with a strong determination in 2007 when I started working for a building materials store. I cannot remember a day when I did not spend at least 30 to 45 minutes each day reading and writing. In writing I would make notes; challenge what I read, and ask God questions. Not surprisingly, God began to speak to me. In addition to reading my bible, I ran across an author named Joel Richardson. He had written a book called the Islamic Antichrist. After reading that book the bible just started to come alive; there was not a book of the Bible that gave me trouble after that. My friends, perhaps sarcastically, began to call me the expert on end times things. I don’t buy into that, but I am not afraid to answer questions, although some questions require a little research.

As to the concept of only teaching on Eschatology, my pastor, was himself in a semi-retirement, as I taught for almost a year on the book of John at another church.

So, with that introduction, I was supposed to lead the group discussion on Chapter 4, The Discipline of Fasting this last Wednesday. When I walked into the room pastor is the only one there. He had taken the seat at the center of the table, and I could not help but notice that he had notes on the same topic. An aspect I failed to mention, I gave him a copy of my notes, to which he blurted out, you can’t teach this, it’s too much. Again, he had no interest in asking my intent. He repeatedly said he was worried about what I was going to say and would I offend everyone. Apparently, he took actions into his own hands and pushed me out; blindsided, I said nothing. 

Here is what I believe I would have taught.

On the subject of Fasting, can I speak from experience?

Yes, but for only three days.

In the second paragraph of chapter 4, Richard Foster tells us one of the reasons why there is a disregard of fasting.

With the decline of the inward reality of the Christian faith, an increasing tendency to stress the only thing left, the outward form, developed.” Foster goes on to say, “And whenever there is a form devoid of spiritual power, the law will take over because law always carries with it a sense of security and manipulative power. Hence, fasting was subjected to the most rigid regulations and practiced with extreme self-mortification and flagellation.”

There is another aspect of this world that has distracted us from fasting, and that is HedonismHedonism, according to the dictionary, is the pursuit of pleasure – sensual self-indulgence. It is the ethical theory that pleasure (in the sense of the satisfaction of desires) is the highest good and proper aim of human life.

Food falls into this category.

It almost sounds like I am advocating the law. However, operating under the law or laws is not what we are trying to convey.

Jesus, speaking to men under the law, said in Matthew 6:16-18

“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17) “But you when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18) so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. [NASB]

As Richard Foster explains, “these words of Jesus do not constitute a command. Jesus was giving instruction on the proper exercise of a common practice of his day.”

When we start to emphasize a discipline, a common argument heard within the church might be, we are not under the law and therefore have no clear mandate to fast. And yet, Richard Foster makes a good point when he says, “Our freedom in the gospel, however, does not mean license; it means opportunity. Since there are no laws to bind us, we are then free to fast on any day.”

Then what Biblical direction and encouragement do we have?

Jonah – The prophet eventually delivers a prophetic word to a hated people, hoping that they will be destroyed by God. God, however, had other plans.

Jonah 3:4-10 NASB Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5) Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. 6) When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. 7) He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. 8) “But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. 9) “Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.” 10) When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.

Richard Foster told us of Britain in 1756. The King of Britain called for a day of solemn prayer and fasting because of a threatened invasion by the French. John Wesley tells us “that every church in the city was more than full, and a solemn seriousness sat on every face.” That invasion wrote Wesley in one of his footnotes, was averted.

Look up the word fasting in the New Testament, and you will find instances such as this:

Matthew 17:21 Where Jesus said, “..this kind (of demon) does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Whether the act of fasting makes you fearless, gives you power, or perhaps an insight into what is going on in peoples lives, or merely the knowledge that God has your back, I don’t know.

What gave the disciples the skills or abilities to cast out demons; perhaps Jesus had been schooling them in prayer and fasting. The evidence for this comes from Mark’s gospel, chapter 6, where we see Jesus sending out the disciples with the instructions that they had power over unclean spirits. What we don’t see is the fasting. However, we can safely assume that those who went out were equipped by example, for upon their return, they reported that the demons responded to their commands.

Mark 6:13 And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.

Luke 10:17 KJV And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.

Acts 13:2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

While fasting may have been a standard within the Jewish community from which they came, it still played a part in the clarity of decision, and prophetic word, that caused Barnabas and Saul to be sent out.

I want to point out 1 Corinthians 7:5 independently because translations have become part of the problem as we try to understand and perhaps integrate fasting back into our lives. The context of the verse is an admonition for marriages. In this case, the separation, perhaps under the guise of fasting (a Jewish tradition,) has been used to deprive the other of some relational aspect of the marriage. Paul, who knew too well that this takes place, instructed that in doing such, with the intent of punishing the other, opens the door to Satan because of their lack of self-control. Self-control? Yes, as this would push you to overflow your own rivers banks into areas that you should not go. The problem is that you do not get the word fasting when you use most newer translations.

1 Corinthians 7:5 NASB “Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

The King James version, as well as several literal translations, used the word fasting.

From the Word Study Dictionary – The Greek word is nēsteía; to fast. A fasting, fast, abstinence from eating, generally for want of food (2Co_6:5; 2Co_11:27). In a religious sense of the private fastings of the Jews (Mat_17:21; Mar_9:29 [TR]; Luk_2:37) to which great merit was attributed, the Pharisees practiced often, sometimes twice a week (cf. Luk_18:12; Sept.: Isa_58:3 ff.; Dan_9:3). In their longer fastings, they abstained only from better kinds of food. The Jews used to call such a fast “The great annual public fast of the great Day of Atonement” which occurred in the month Tisri, corresponding to the new moon of October.

Now, look at the KJV which did include the word fasting.

1 Corinthians 7:5 KJV Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

The point is that we do have an example of fasting in the New Testament, although with a negative spin.

Richard Foster, under the heading of “The Purpose of Fasting” states, “It is sobering to realize that the very first statement Jesus made about fasting dealt with the question of motive.” We are given Matthew 6:16-18

“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17) “But you when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18) so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. NASB

Foster goes on to say,

Fasting must forever center on God.

  • It must be God initiated, and God ordained.
  • Every other purpose must be subservient to God.

“Our avoidance of fasting has much to do with the condition of the heart; the heart, therefore, needs to be firmly fixed before you go there.” There are secondary purposes in fasting, and fasting, according to Foster, reveals the things that control us. We are very good at covering up what is inside of us. We do it with food and other “good” things, but in fasting these things surface. If pride controls us, it will be revealed almost immediately.”

Things you might expect to find:

  • Anger
  • bitterness
  • jealousy
  • strife
  • fear

If they are within, they will surface during fasting. Foster explains, “At first we will rationalize that our anger is due to our hunger; then we will realize that are angry because the spirit of anger is within us. We can rejoice even with this knowledge as we know that healing is available through the power of Christ.”

Concerning direction and instruction, few passages speak more clearly than Isaiah 58:1-14

Yes, I get it, the generalized idea is that the Old Testament represents the law, and some act as though it should be avoided, but do not forget that our freedom sets us free to fast. It is not, therefore, a law to us, but an addition to our lives which are increasingly beset with troubles. I might also add that fasting is a tool and a weapon, as we are that thing that restrains in the last days, and if fasting assists in that battle, then so be it (Amen.)

2 Thessalonians 2:7 AMPC For the mystery of lawlessness (that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority) is already at work in the world, [but it is] restrained only until he who restrains is taken out of the way.

I am convinced that this is the faith-filled church, standing against the enemies onslaughts. You do not have to look far to see how this is playing out around you. On a daily basis, our freedoms are progressively being stripped away, even to the point where your thoughts, expressed on social media, can and will be used against you. All someone has to do is say, that offends me, and you can find yourself in handcuffs for hate speech. Can you see why we need every arrow in our quivers; fasting is one of those arrows, and, as you will see from Isaiah, it is a powerful one.

Isaiah 58:5, in the NASB, begins with:

“Is it a fast like this which I choose,

a day for a man to humble himself?

Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed?

Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the LORD? 6)

“Is this not the fast which I choose,

To loosen the bonds of wickedness,

To undo the bands of the yoke,

And to let the oppressed go free

And break every yoke?

Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry

And bring the homeless poor into the house;

When you see the naked, to cover him;

And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

The word flesh means just that in the Hebrew but can also mean blood relations. Albert Barnes commentary explains, To hide oneself from them may denote either, first, to be ashamed of them on account of their poverty or humble rank in life; or, secondly, to withhold from them the just supply of their needs.

Values and benefits of Fasting (from Foster’s book.)

Fasting helps us keep our balance in life. “How easily we begin to allow non-essentials to take precedence in our lives. How quickly we crave things, we do not need until we are enslaved by them.” Paul wrote, “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything” 1 Cor. 6:12.

Foster again, “Our human cravings and desires are like rivers that tend to overflow their banks; fasting helps keep them in their proper channels.” Others, according to Foster, have written that fasting gives us an increased effectiveness in intercessory prayer.

  • Guidance in decisions
  • Increased concentration
  • Physical well being

Let’s camp here for a minute. What do we ingest in our bodies? A few ingredients from an instant macaroni and cheese product: Glyceral monostearate; Calcium carbonate; Sodium triphosphate; Sodium phosphate, and medium chain triglycerides. Perhaps the occasional purging of some of these cryptic products would be a benefit to us.

  • RevelationIn this case, Revelation is primarily referring to Godly insights, but it could mean other things as well.

The Practice of Fasting

We are admonished by Foster to walk before we run. With that said, I cannot imagine trying to take on a water or juice fast for seven days, while continuing to work as a high voltage electrical worker. Having fasted for three days, I know how those three days felt. On day two, I can assure you that no one needed to be around me; and on day three, I was so weak I felt like all I could do was lie in bed and rest; everything exhausted me. In no way was I in any condition to deal with the outside world, let alone my wife.

Could I accomplish much if I merely fasted a meal? With purpose, of course, I could. I do it frequently with television and now the cell phone. You have to keep in mind that the body is, as Foster puts it, like a spoiled child, and a spoiled child does not need indulgence. So, perhaps then, you can understand Paul a little better when he says, “I pommel my body and subdue it. 1 Cor. 9:27.

Foster states, “If family obligations permit it, devote the time you would normally use eating to meditation and prayer.”

Let me end with some wisdom from Richard Foster.

Although the physical aspects of fasting intrigue us, we must never forget that the major work of scriptural fasting is in the realm of the spirit. What goes on spiritually is much more important than what is happening bodily. You will be engaging in spiritual warfare that will necessitate using all the weapons of Ephesians 6.” Foster goes on to say, “I do not want to leave the impression that all fasting is a heavy spiritual struggle.”

Fasting can bring breakthroughs in the spiritual realm that will never happen in any other way.”

We all seem to understand that Jesus would get alone, in the garden, apparently for the purposes of finding the nature, and character of the Father; and to, commune with Him. In so doing he could come to know the Father’s heart. Some would argue that Jesus, whose relationship with the Father has always been, would have known the Father’s heart already, and merely drawn from that knowledge. The problem with that is that we forget that Jesus set aside the glory he had with the Father to become a man. Another way of putting this, Jesus willingly stripped himself of heaven’s advantages and continued to remain in that state, as a man. That would mean He had to sort this out, just as we have to. He had one small advantage that we don’t have, no Monday night football to distract him.

While changing the world around us is a good thing, I need to seek to learn His voice. You see, in Proverbs, we are told that wisdom cries aloud in the streets. The impression I get from that is, the Holy Spirit/the Father is talking all the time. If I am not hearing Him, then I need to get in tune.

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An essay from entitled: No Man knows the Day or the Hour.

This is taken, in its entirety, from Hebrew The direct web address is:

I happened to find this information mere hours before Rosh Hashana began on Wednesday, 9/20/2017 and it took my breath away for several reasons.

  1. I have been trying to convey to believers that Jesus, the Jew, said things that a Jewish audience understood without hesitation. We, on the other hand, really have no clue at all, and part of the reason for that is this false idea that God has replaced Israel with us broken Gentiles.

  2. Knowing that Rosh Hashana, the highest of holy days in the Jewish community, was about to take place, and, knowing that it is also called the Feast of Trumpets, I immediately made the correlation with the coming of Jesus in the clouds to gather His church. The time frame closed at sunset on Friday 922/2017.

To be honest I was greatly disappointed to wake up on earth Saturday morning. Does the fact that I am still here mean that the information included here is invalid? Not at all. It might mean we have another year, or it might mean that the creator of the timing and the controller of the clock, has other plans. None the less, we are there, in the ballpark, playing out the last inning. Keep in mind that the seventieth week of years – the time of God’s wrath has been on hold for over two thousand years. No worries, no matter what comes, because God is in control.


From: Tony Galli
Subject: No One Knows The Day Or Hour


At the Time of the End, the wise shall understand. Dan 12:10

Understanding the expression “No man knows the day or hour” is not possible
by simply taking the English translation literally, because in the book of
Daniel and the Book of Revelation, we are given EXACT descriptions of
timing, relative to KEY events – such as the shutting down of the altar
sacrifices in Jerusalem at the MID-POINT of the 70th week. Dan 9:27

Jesus was asked, “When shall these things be?” Matt 24:3

His answer ties us into a very specific event (The Abomination of
Desolation) which can be measured on our calendars: “When you therefore
shall see the Abomination Of Desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet,
stand in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand:)…” Matt 24:15.

[My comment: This takes place 1260 days into the seven years of God’s wrath.
That has not initiated yet.]

It is now clear that “no man knows the day or hour” does NOT mean “no man
knows the day or hour” as we read it from a modern-day English perspective.

From his book “Signs In the Heavens” by Avi Ben Mordechai, he devotes a
chapter to explaining what “no man knows the day or hour” truly means from
a rabbinical Hebraic perspective. It is a figure of speech.

The following chapter contains edited excerpts from Avi Ben Mordechai’s
commentaries and builds on them aiming to explain that the Holy Bible does
in fact, reveal the “day and hour” or “exact timing” of our Lord’s Return.

No One Knows the Day or the Hour?

Christians over the centuries have separated themselves from their Hebraic
roots causing the misunderstanding of key Jewish biblical idioms. An idiom
is also a figure of speech. When Y’shua (Jesus) uttered His famous words
concerning the Messianic Era in Mattityahu (Matthew) 24:26, “No one knows
about that day or hour, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but
only the Father”, He used a common Jewish figure of speech referring to a
specific Jewish Festival
In essence, He was saying, “I am coming for My
Bride on such and such a day! Be watching!”
What day could the Jewish idiom
be referring to? Keep reading!


Y’shua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah) was Jewish and lived a
Torah-observant Jewish life. Evidence suggests that He communicated to His
audience in the Hebrew language, in Hebraic ways. What does it mean to
communicate in Hebraic ways? It means to think and talk like a Jew. In
Y’shua’s day it meant to speak in the language and idioms of the day. Those
who heard the Lord speak knew what He was saying and usually what He was
alluding to unless He was speaking in parables, which had their own
Of course, today’s generation of believers struggles to
understand His words and concepts. Speaking, thinking and acting like the
Jewish Rabbi He was helped His mission in bringing the gospel message to
“the lost sheep of the house of Israel”
(Matt 15:24).

Y’shua was quoted in Mattityahu (Matthew) 8:11 as saying: “I say to you
that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places
at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven”
. Since we are talking about Jewish idioms, have you ever considered the meaning of these words? Specifically, our Lord used and confirmed common Jewish ideas about the Day of the Lord – the millennium – and its relation to the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) in Z’kharyah 14. In speaking, Y’shua referred to the Festival and its traditional guests of honour, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’acov, called the ushpizin (uoosh-piz-zin) or seven shepherds (exalted
guests), invited into every succah (tabernacle) at the Feast of Sukkot in
the fall of the year. The seven shepherds in descending order are
1. Avraham (Abraham), 2. Yitzchak (Isaac), 3. Ya’acov (Jacob), 4. Mosheh
(Moses), 5. Aaron, 6. Yosef (Joseph) and 7. HaMelech David (King David).
By mentioning the feast and three of the seven shepherds, His audience
immediately understood the allusion to the Messianic age – “Millennium” or
“Day” of the Lord.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).
Again, in this simplistic phrase Y’shua, the Son of Miriyam and Yosef,
spoke of two things: His Deity (by calling Himself the subject of the
prophet Dani’el’s vision) and His mission (by calling Himself the One God
Who spoke to Mosheh on Mount Sinai) as it is written in Dani’el and
Yechezk’el (Ezekiel):

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was One like a Son of
Man, coming with the clouds of Heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days
and was led into His presence (Dani’el 7:13-14).

For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I Myself will search for My sheep
and look after them (Yechezk’el-Ezekiel 34:11ff).

In the Gospel narrative of Luke 23:31, Y’shua said: “For if men do these
things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” In this
verse Y’shua points His audience, who had portions of the writings of the
Prophets memorized, to the verses in Yechezk’el (Ezekiel) 20:45 to 21:7.
Without question, Y’shua’s hearers knew He referred to Chevlei HaMashiach
or Ya’acov’s Trouble in the Great Tribulation and warned His audience that
what they do to Him in hardness of heart now, God will do to the nation in
judgment later.

Y’shua’s encounter with Natan’el (Nathanael) is recorded in Yochanan (John)
1:47-48: When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, “Here is a
true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false”. “How do You know me?”
Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the
fig tree before Philip called you”.

Again, our Lord used a strong figure of speech pointing to a widely taught
Jewish expectation concerning the resurrection and the millennium. In
brief, He told Natan’el that he will be alive on the Last Day to inherit
the land promised to Avraham (Bereshith-Genesis 17:8). From Y’shua’s words,
Natan’el understood he would participate in the resurrection since “that
Day” was yet future. This is understood in the first-century Jewish figure
of speech, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree”, which
refers to life and study of Torah in the millennium (Midrash Rabbah
Genesis, Rabbah Song of Songs). Y’shua also told Natan’el that he is like
righteous Avraham who received his reward for trusting God. This is
understood because of the phrase, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there
is nothing false”. The millennial concept of the fig tree is found
throughout the Tanach including Z’kharyah 3:10: “In that day each of you
will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree”, declares the
LORD Almighty. For this reason, Natan’el responded emphatically to Y’shua
and His words, saying: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; You are the King of

God through HaMashiach Y’shua spoke to the Jews in many portions and in
many ways (Hebrews 1:1-2) relying upon known figures of speech, common
expectations and direct thoughts from Talmudic and Pharisaic teachings. The
concepts I addressed only scratch the surface, so-to-speak. Every phrase
and word from the mouth of the Lord meant something to His audience. He
spoke with precision. With that as a basis, let us go on to one of the most
interesting Jewish figures of speech misunderstood by the Church over the
years. It concerns Y’shua’s phrase, “No one knows about that day or hour,
not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”. In
context, He refers to the home-taking of His bride, the beginning of the
Messianic era and His millennial reign as King of kings over all the earth.
To understand this concept, we begin by examining its foundation.


Chapter Five described the annual Jewish Festival of Trumpets or Rosh
HaShanah – the first day of the seventh month. A few themes linked to this
Jewish festival is resurrection, repentance, kingship, coronation and a
marriage feast. This chapter shows another theme and convincing proof that
Rosh HaShanah is not only the start of “The Day of the Lord” (Millennium,)
but is also the day of the resurrection! It has to do with the moon and its
29-day cycle of renewal.

In this period of slightly less than 30 days, the moon goes from darkness
to light and back to darkness again. This is not a haphazard occurrence
attributed to evolution or science. God planned it for many reasons, one
being as a picture of resurrection and renewal. With each cycle of nearly
30 days the ancient rabbis understood that the moon was being reborn or
“born again” (Sefard siddur, Mussaf for Shabbat and Shabbat Rosh Chodesh,
p. 509 and 646-648).


In Y’shua’s day, the moon was so important that a Jewish festival was
proclaimed at the beginning of every month (Talmud Tractate Chaggigah 17b;
Shavuot 10a; Arachin 10b). This was called the New Moon Festival and in the
B’rit Chadashah, Rabbi Sha’ul (Paul) makes note of it (Colossians 2:16).
Even in the Tanach, King David provoked King Sha’ul (Saul) over it (1
Shmu’el-Samuel 20:5). In the coming millennium, the gate of the inner court
of the Temple facing east shall be opened on the new moon
(Yechezk’el-Ezekiel 46:1). And finally, in the millennium all nations will
celebrate the New Moon festival every month (Yeshayahu-Isaiah 66:23)
. It is
obvious from the Hebrew Scriptures that in the millennium God has no plans
to do away with His system.

Since it is so important, exactly what is a new moon? It is the opposite of
a full moon. Every month the moon goes through a complete cycle of renewal
called Rosh Chodesh, the head or beginning of the renewed month. Twelve
times a year on Rosh Chodesh, the moon always starts off with its disk
being very dark to the naked eye. Over the course of 15 days, it gets
brighter and brighter until it finally reaches a full white-faced disk or
full moon. Over the next 15 days, it becomes darker and darker and finally
becomes invisible to the naked eye again.

The ancient rabbis saw a great lesson in this. Just as the moon has no
light of its own but receives its light from the sun, so we too have no
light of our own and must receive it from God. As the moon goes through a
near 30-day cycle of dark to light to dark, so we need constant spiritual
renewal and repentance. Like the moon, we too must be reborn or “born
again” into HaMashiach and constantly renewed through repentance. This is
why God called it a faithful witness in the sky (Mizmor-Psalm 89:37).

If the moon is so important to God, why do we pay so little attention to
it? We have lost touch with God’s faithful witness in the sky. But Y’shua
and the people of His day never lost touch with it. And as I previously
noted, not only was the new moon necessary for the Jewish calendar, it was
also a monthly festival celebrated with a feast fit for a king! So, when
Y’shua said His famous words in Mattityahu-Matthew 24:36, it had
far-reaching implications. Here are the words of Y’shua in a few different

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of
heaven, but my Father only. (KJV)

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the
Son, but only the Father. (NIV) But of that day and hour knoweth no one,
not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only. (ASV)
About the exact time, however, and the hour, none knows – not even the
messengers of Heaven; but My Father alone. (Fenton Modern English

Failing to think like Y’shua and taking phrases out of Jewish context can
lead one to misunderstand His words.
For example, in many places of the
B’rit Chadashah Y’shua knew the future and talked about it openly. In one
instance He warned His talmidim (disciples) about their future saying,
“See, I have told you ahead of time” (Mattityahu-Matthew 24:25). His
context concerned the tribulation, the destruction of the Temple, the rise
and fall of false messiahs (antichrists), etc. If He knew the future in
Mattityahu 24:25, and the context concerns the Day of Trouble, why would He
suddenly speak as though He did not know the future in the same context
just 11 verses later in Mattityahu 24:36? Was He confused? Or was He making
perfect sense in light of the customs of the Jews?

Since the subject of our discussion is the new moon and figures of speech,
realize the phrase, “Of that day and hour no man knows” refers to the
sanctification or setting apart of the new moon. Without this
Sanctification, the Jews had no way of determining God’s “appointed times”
or moedim.

Twelve times a year a new Jewish month (Rosh Chodesh) was announced to the
We have no system like it today. We look at a calendar to determine
the first of the month; the Jews, however, looked at the moon.
This system
of chronology was given to the Jews to know precisely when the Holy
festivals (moedim) would fall (there are still eight of them; seven
appointed times and Shabbat).
The moon was the faithful Jewish calendar or
witness in the sky and 12 times a year was sanctified as the basis of the
Jewish stellar calendar.


Because the moon was so important for Jewish date – setting, the authorities
in charge of announcing the new moon in Y’rushalayim took great care to
ensure the first day of the month was announced on time. To correctly
announce the first day of the month, established by the new moon, was one
of the Sanhedrin’s greatest responsibilities. They had to ensure the people
knew when the first of the month began 12 times a year! Therefore God said
to the leaders of Israel:

These are the appointed times of the Lord, holy convocations which you
shall proclaim at the times appointed for them (Vayikrah-Leviticus 23:4).

In other words, God gave the Sanhedrin authority to announce and sanctify
the new moon to the people. Its proclamation on earth was supported by God
in Heaven (c.f. Mattityahu 18:18-20 where the Jewish context supports a
believers’ Sanhedrin as seen in Acts 15). As soon as the new moon was
announced, the first day of the month began. Once the beginning of the new
month was established, the festivals and weekly Shabbats for the upcoming
month were sanctified for observance. In Hebrew, those observances have
always been called “appointed times” or moedim, literally “a sacred and
set time”. From God’s perspective, the appointed times belong to Him
(Midrash Rabbah Numbers, Vol 2.21.25, p. 852) and no one has the authority
to change the celebration of an appointed time. To do so was a serious
matter and great sin. Appointed times had to be kept because of their
Messianic implications.

Further, in Vayikrah (Leviticus) 23:4, notice the phrase, “holy
convocation“. The phrase in Hebrew is mikraw kodesh, better translated,
“holy convocation and rehearsal”
. In other words, God’s appointed times are
actually “holy rehearsals” set apart to reflect events in the Messianic
era. God said to the people, “Pay attention! On this day I am going to do
something! Wake-up! The Jews were to know and practice all of God’s mikraot
or holy convocations. This is the essence of Rav Sha’ul’s (Paul’s) words that the
Shabbat, new moons, and festivals, “are a shadow of things to come; the body
of Mashiach” (Colossians 2:17).

Twice a year, in the spring and fall, there were several appointed times
and specific days of holy convocation dedicated to the Lord. The new moon
was the key in being able to fulfill those set times, holy convocations and
rehearsals. For example, when the new moon was announced on the first day
of Nisan, also called Aviv, the people knew when to observe the holy
convocations and set times of the 10th (Shemot-Exodus 12:3), 14th and 15th
(Shemot-Exodus 12:6; Bamidbar-Numbers 33:3), 16th (Vayikrah-Leviticus
23:15), and finally the 21st. In the same way, when the new moon was
announced on the first day of Tishri also called Ethanim, the people knew
when to observe the Holy convocations of the 1st (Vayikrah-Leviticus
23:23), 10th (Vayikrah-Leviticus 23:26), 15th (Vayikrah-Leviticus 23:39),
and 22nd (Vayikrah-Leviticus 23:36). Thus from the announcement of the new
moon to the festival dates which followed, it was only a matter of counting
the right number of days. In a moment you will understand how this applies
to the phrase that Y’shua spoke concerning His coming again.


The Mishnah also referred to as the Oral Law, dealt with the legal
elements of daily Jewish religious life, in Hebrew called Halachah. In the
treasure of the first and second-century Halachah, we find many explanations
to help us understand the Torah, particularly in Y’shua’s day since it was
still oral then. In volume two called “moed” or festival, tractate Rosh
HaShanah teaches us about the Sanhedrin and its selection process of two
witnesses who would tell us when the new moon arrived. Once a month the
Sanhedrin discussed when to proclaim the new moon. They did this through
the agency of two witnesses, the element of all legal transactions in

One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any
sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the
mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. Deut 19:15

The men were important because, by their witness, Israel celebrated God’s
appointed times. They had to be of good character and were always treated
with great honour. They had special privileges such as authorization to
ride into Y’rushalayim on horseback on the Shabbat to bring the good news
of the new moon festivities! The men had special status because they were
the confirmation that Y’hudah (Judaea)  depended on for the correct timing
of the new month and the festivals.

Rosh HaShanah Chapter 2, Mishnah 5 reads: There was a large court in
Jerusalem called Beth Ya’azek. There all the witnesses used to assemble and
the Beth Din used to examine them. They used to entertain them lavishly
there so that they should have an inducement to come. (The witnesses were
allowed to break the Shabbat travel restrictions for this one purpose lest
they might be reluctant to come and give the essential evidence of the
sighting of the new moon).

Continuing in Chapter 2, Mishnah 6: How do they test the witnesses? The
pair who arrive first are tested first. The senior of them is brought in
and they say to him, tell us how you saw the moon – in front of the sun or
behind the sun? To the north of it or the south? How big was it, and in
which direction was it inclined? And how broad was it? If he says (he saw
it) in front of the sun, his evidence is rejected. After that, they would
bring in the second and test him. If their accounts tallied, their evidence
was accepted, and the other pairs were only questioned briefly, not because
they were required at all, but so that they should not be disappointed,
(and) so that they should not be dissuaded from coming.

In qualifying the witnesses, the Sanhedrin used the following criteria:
They never arrived at the same time.
They were never questioned at the same time.
There were always two new witnesses each month.

In short, the two qualified witnesses usually stood before the Nassi or
President of the Sanhedrin (Jewish High Court) to give account of the
moon’s appearance prior to its becoming total dark (Moed Rosh HaShanah,
Chapter 3, Mishnah 1). Just before the moon’s disk enters total darkness,
there are tiny slivers of white on the edges of the waning disk. These were
called the “horns” of the moon. Correctly sighting the “horns” (on the
waning crescent) determined the beginning of the new month. Once the two
witnesses were qualified and questioned, if the President (who had
knowledge of astronomy) was convinced their observation was accurate, he
publicly sanctified the start of the new month.

After careful scrutiny to determine the official arrival of the new moon,
the Nassi or President of the Sanhedrin proclaimed Rosh Chodesh with the
words: “Sanctified”, and all the people repeat after him, “Sanctified,
sanctified”. After the proclamation, the Sanhedrin ordered watchmen on the
nearby hillsides to light fires and thus inform the Jews in all of Y’hudah
(Judaea), Shomron (Samaria), Egypt, Babylon and the galut (diaspora) that
the new month had begun. That started the festival of the New Moon and
counting of the next 29- days to the next new month proclamation.

Again, once the Sanhedrin set Rosh Chodesh, or the beginning of the new
month by sighting the new moon, the rest of the festivals were calculated.
However, the seventh month, Tishri, was particularly important because it
was the only month that had a holy convocation or appointed time on the
first day of the month. This posed a unique problem. The first day of
Tishri was the appointed time called Rosh HaShanah, the Feast of Trumpets
(Vayikrah-Leviticus 23:24). Yet no one could begin observing the festival
until they heard those famous words from the President of the Sanhedrin,

No one in Israel could plan for the first day of the seventh month Tishri,
called Yom Teruah or the Feast of Trumpets (also called Rosh HaShanah).
When they knew how many days to count to a festival, that would be easy.


This was unique to Rosh HaShanah and dependent upon the testimony of the
two witnesses. Prophetically, we are informed of two important witnesses
during the Great Tribulation:

And I will give power unto My Two Witnesses, and they will prophesy 1260
days, clothed in sackcloth. Rev 11:3

Of course, anyone could look up into the twilight or early morning sky and,
if they looked hard enough, see the new moon or at least its “horns”. And
certainly, an astute observer knew when about 29- days were completed since
the previous Rosh Chodesh. But recall, ONLY THE SANHEDRIN NASSI had the
authority to proclaim the first of Tishri, which was already established as
a technical procedure. Once proclaimed, the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh
HaShanah) commenced. Until that public announcement by the Nassi, everyone
had to wait before they could begin the observance of the festival. No one
could begin the festival beforehand! Thus, we can more clearly see the
analogy Jesus made with His words: “But of that day and hour knoweth no
man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” was in regards to
this important festival of Rosh HaShanah.


To educate, train and equip for study both the Jew and
Non-Jew in the Rich Hebraic Heritage of our Faith.

Please visit the Hebraic Roots Global Network
Web Site located at:

Eddie Chumney
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l

Posted in bible study, End times, false teaching, In Christ, Matthew's gospel, parables, Prophetic, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A response to a comment, three years late.

I wrote this in response to a comment. I am including it for your benefit as misconceptions and false teachings run rampant. I rarely talk to anyone who has a firm grasp on what happens after the seven years of wrath. I hope you find this beneficial, and yes, it is long.

Well, here it is three years since you wrote your comment and I am finally responding to it. I wish I could tell you why but I cannot remember now. Perhaps I can chalk it up to not having enough time at that point, but as I had only recently been fired from my last job back then, you might think I had nothing but time. Perhaps I did not have a clear answer and needed to develop a concrete response; or, maybe I just forgot. Regardless, another comment, just a few days ago – three years later, has brought your comment to my attention once again.

Let me add, that in the process of learning how to deal with my thoughts on “paper” and then subject myself to potential criticism, was quite challenging. I can tell you that I did not handle criticism well back then; I am not sure I manage it well now, but I certainly deal with it differently now. Having read another bloggers advice I have responded, deleted and blocked several caustic and religious “Christians.” However, I did not do that with yours as you were not hostile. I also felt that people who are reading my blog needed to see what the other questions are.

Your question/and interpretative challenges you put forth are not new to my world. Recently, as I sat among the men in Monday mornings “Bible study” the leader, unprovoked by me, proffered this very assumption, and he did so as though it was doctrine. As I have done with you I challenged his premise from the Word of God; however, he disregarded it. Considering how we are to make the Word of God the final authority on questions and challenges, our morning teacher chose to ignore what the word of God had to say and added, then I am stating my opinion, and that is all that matters. While opinions can often be important and valid, they are not all that matters, especially when you are alone with that idea. Fortunately, all these interpretative challenges will become clear someday as they are tested with fire before the Bema seat of Christ.

For now, let me offer a response.

You said, “Are we not told in Revelation, that when Jesus returns and throws the anti-Christ and false prophet into the lake of fire that He kills “the rest” with the sword from His mouth?”

While you are correct, it does say that, but the hypothesis is misleading because you ignored the context, which we find in Revelation 19:19.

Allow me to explain.

Revelation 19:15-19 NASB 15) From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16) And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” 17) Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in mid-heaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, 18) so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.” 19) And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.

What do we see here?

  • Jesus, with a sword in his mouth.

    With that sword He will strike down the nations, AND, He will rule them with a rod of iron.

    Why would there be a need to rule them if it is only believers that go into the Millennial kingdom? Remember, we believers were changed in the twinkling of an eye.

    Yes, I noted your comment that apparently only believers enter the Millennial reign.

    I have covered this in more detail toward the end.

  • An angel invites the birds to come and eat the flesh of kings, commanders, and so on, at the great supper of God.

  • And finally verse 19, the most telling of all as it says, “And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.”

    So, who is fighting against Jesus at this point in time?

    Is it all the nations, with all their citizenry? NO, it is the beast; the kings of the earth, and their armies. Why do I know this, because the context tells us precisely who is involved and therefore killed.

For the sake of context let’s go ahead and use Revelation 19:20,21 as well.

Revelation 19:20, 21 NASB And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. 21) And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

Based on what we see in Revelation19:19, we know that there is a large army amassed against Jesus and the saints with Him. It is evident from Revelation 19:20 that only two persons are thrown into the lake of fire at this point; the beast (known to us as the Antichrist,) and the false prophet who deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. And, they are thrown alive into the lake. Therefore the remainder: kings; commanders, and the army are those that are killed; no one else.

Assuming that we could not perceive the context, could we then build an argument on logical thought and patterns?

When you look at Revelation 19:21 NASB, it unquestionably states that the rest were killed, and that sounds compelling doesn’t it? And yet, the word rest/loipoi means remaining ones: – other, which remain, remnant, residue, rest.

The word rest, when we look at the Greek definition, is not so definitive because it allows for others remaining, which can easily include those from Israel if I don’t follow the context. But there is a context, and it specifically points to those armies collected to fight against Jesus Christ.

Some of that “logical” evidence and pattern shows up in Zechariah’s prophetic word, as God has gathered the nations against Jerusalem for punishment.

Zechariah tells us that at least one-third of Israel makes it through the onslaught. I, however, cannot comfortably say that these Jews are those that have gone into hiding, and the reason for that is verse nine as you can see by this statement, “I will bring the third through the fire, Refine them as silver.., and test them..” This refining is not an example, in my mind of people in hiding. Now if I compared the plight of these Jews with someone like Corie Ten Boom, a woman who helped many people avoid the wrath of the Nazis, many, not knowing the whole story, might think that she escaped and did not have to go through the “fire.” But, we are aware from her testimony that she was caught, tortured in the prison camp, and lost family members to the Nazis.

Zechariah 13:8-9 NASB “It will come about in all the land,” Declares the LORD, “That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. 9) “And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.'”

Isaiah 66 tells us of what appears to be the same scene, and yet, it is not all but many.

Isaiah 66:15-16 NASB For behold, the LORD will come in fire And His chariots like the whirlwind, To render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire. 16) For the LORD will execute judgment by fire And by His sword on all flesh, And those slain by the LORD will be many.

Still trying to define who “the rest” would be, there is this:

Zechariah 14:1-4 NASB Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. 2) For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. 3) Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. 4) 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, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.

Since we know that this is an important and defining battle will every person including women and children come and join in the fight?

The obvious answer is NO. We already see examples of this when we look at the Islamic world. Children are taught from the age of understanding, to hate and kill the Jew and anyone who is not a Muslim. The news used to show us young boys about age seven learning to shoot AK 47s’, but it is not practical to place children on the front lines of battle. So, while there will be those with a violent hatred against anything that represents a god other than say, Allah; not all will come to battle and therefore not be included as a combatant, and not killed.

There is no struggle to understand this, and, I don’t have to go looking for other scriptures to prove my point any further because I stayed true to the context.

Consider, if you haven’t already, that death is separation from God, and is much more than the cessation of breathing, as the spirit ever lives on.

Before I move on to another aspect of your note to me I have to address this statement more fully,

You added a defining factor when you continued with: “That is, everyone who took the mark of the beast.”

You said this in conjunction with this statement: “Are we not told in Revelation, that when Jesus returns and throws the anti-Christ and false prophet into the lake of fire that He kills “the rest” with the sword from His mouth?“ This implies that only those with the mark are destined for separation from God, and it also implies that those receiving the mark desired to be in compliance with the beast, but that is not the case as most are merely trying to save a life, their own.

The passages from Revelation 19 that initiated this response, tell us in verse 20 that they were deceived. There is no reason to believe that the deceived are doing anything but weeping at the realization of their fate. You can see from the same verses you referenced that no one else is thrown into the lake of fire at this time, and, there is no denying that at some point those who received the mark and worshiped the image of the beast, are judged, but that is not done here in Revelation 19:21.

What if this is not a government, like the USA, and most people in America assume, that is imposing this mark upon people?

(By the way, taking the mark does not condemn you to hell’s flames; it must include the worshiping of the beast and the image of the beast.)

Islam does a modified version of this marking already, as they victimize conquered peoples.

They call it a Jizya tax, and you are made to wear an identifying band around your arm or head. Without paying this tax you cannot buy or sell under their regime, and it is intentionally made impossible. Allegedly, there is a way around this tax, and that is to convert to Islam. To do so, you must deny Christ, His deity, and proclaim that there is no god but Allah and that Mohammad is his messenger. Often they, at this point, treat you as an unworthy coward and kill you anyway.

So, let me ask you a question.

Do Muslims have to take this mark? In most cases, as with women, they are mandated to wear a burka out of compliance, but all of us can see that this is not standardized.

Therefore, I can safely assume that it is only those outside of Islam that must comply like this.

Perhaps I am being far too presumptuous in attributing this designation to Islam, but what other groups, outside of governments, have the capability and desire to globally mark a specific group of people?

I offer you the passage that shows that this taking the mark we speak of is a three-part equation.

Revelation 14:9-11 NASB 9) Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10) he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11) “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

Even as I read Revelation 14:9-11 I can see that there is a point at which those who “ worship the beast and his image and receive a mark on his forehead or on his hand,” will drink the wine of God’s wrath, and they will be tormented with fire. I think it is safe to presume that this is the lake of fire seeing as it matches the description we have of the lake of fire and its purpose.

You added,

It would thus seem that the 1000 years is began with only believers.”

Since I already know that many Jews survive the wrath of God, can I also assume that they too are believers?

There several problems with the idea that the thousand years is begun with only believers and that Jews would be deemed Christians as they enter.

    1. I have to assume from the statement that the Jews are included as believers/Christians.

      However, we are never told that there are Christians, living among the nations, that go into eternity.

      What we do understand is that there are those who warm seats in church buildings that will not go up when Jesus comes for His church. Since John saw the beheaded around the throne in heaven twice, we understand from what he related that their number was uncountable. These people are given the title of saint. The saints only get that title as they are martyred for their testimony, but their numbers are not included among those going into the Millennial reign.

      A defining statement about the saints is made in Revelation 20:4,5, where the martyred saints are brought back to life; this is labeled the first resurrection.

      The Jews, on the other hand, will not accept the title of Christian as that is a Gentile creation. What they do accept is Yeshua as the Messiah and they would never, with a free choice, agree to be called a Christian. Should they choose not to receive Yeshua then I suppose they would be intermingled with the nations. However, since God lifts the veil from their eyes and all peoples, we can safely assume that most remaining Jews would come to accept the true Messiah.

    2. Another problem arises as you have these “believers” going into the Millennium and then living the despicable lives we see in Revelation 22:15.

      How is that possible that God would allow these fractured believers into the city where no despicable person can enter; only to later go out and do what Satan did – use his free will and choice to act in opposition to God? The logic doesn’t work unless it is the nations going into the Millennial reign along with their vile hatred for God, then Revelation 22:15 makes sense.

    3. The other problem, and it is common in the Western/Gentile church. We ignore or do not realize that there are only three people groups, at any given time, in the world. They are The Jews; the nations, and, the Church.

      Yes, some Jews can be considered among the Church, and time will prove that out, as they too will be caught up with the Church when Jesus comes in the clouds. Sadly, the Jews, right now, lean more toward the side of the nations as they too will be the targets for God’s wrath alongside the nations.

      The nations and the Gentiles are effectively the same things in God’s eyes. In the Western, “civilized” church, we see ourselves as set apart. However, the only thing that sets us apart is our acceptance of this adoption status we have been given. Simply because the “world” does not accept this adoption status, we presume that forgiveness does not and cannot cover their sins as well, but that is not true. The only thing anyone will be judged for is, what that person did with Jesus. That’s all.

      At some point, multitudes of these people (the nations) will come into relationship with God. This is all laid out in scriptures by prophets, like Ezekiel. The key here then is the leaves of the trees of life, for the healing of the nations. Healing is the Greek word therapeía; attendance (specifically medical, that is, cure); figuratively and collectively domestics: – healing,

Since we, the church, with our brokenness; twisted ideas; legalism; and prejudices, are not allowed to bring this junk/sin into eternity with God, then, we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and so will those who partake of the leaves that give eternal life.

Consider the process here. The nations, in general, do not have access to the trees of life as that would give them immortality without change. But the entire purpose here is to bring these people on the outside into relationship. However, God is not going to allow them to bring their garbage with them as they come into a relationship with Him during the Millennial reign.

There is coming a day when Jesus will return in the clouds to gather His bride back to himself. As you know we call that the rapture, therefore the “believers” should effectively be gone. You should also realize that not everyone that warms a pew will be caught up to be with the Lord. I know this because the Word tells us that he comes for those who are waiting for Him.

    1. I am assuming that you when you say believers are then referring to those who continue to come and accept Jesus as their hope and salvation during the time of wrath. Calling them believers might make sense but is inappropriate as Scripture never refers to them as believers; it does, however, call them saints.

This idea of saints can and does cause some confusion as it seems the church is also referred to as saints. However, the word is only used in the Revelation and is always used about those martyred for their testimony. After the rapture, grace is gone. What those who come to Jesus have to live with is something comparable to living under the law as Israel did in the wilderness.

Revelation 12:11 NASB “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

It seems like you asked many questions, however, as I looked at your note you have been making statements; statements that do not align with the Word of God, and I felt they needed to be addressed.

The final thing I want to address is what seems to be your question.

I am curious as to where you get the idea that mere compliance, or not getting the mark, will be enough to enter into the 1000 year reign of Christ.”

In response to this question how about, we start with Matthew 25:31-46. This is effectively the same story as Revelation 20 where we see the Great White Throne. The players are all the same but they have different names. The Judge is the same but Matthew conveys him as a gentle shepherd in contrast with the angry God of Revelation. Matthew’s gospel focuses on the outcome of the sheep, while Revelation 20 speaks to those not found in the books.

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

In verse 34 he tells the crowd entitled the sheep “to come inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” They obtain this mercy because they acted like the nature and character of Jesus/God. The judge, which is only Jesus, explains:

‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36) naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’

If you have read this, did you ever notice how shocked they were?

When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40) “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

If these had been deemed as such before the rapture, making them “believers’, then why didn’t they go up with the church?

Another thing that gives me the freedom to talk about non-compliance as an entrance into the kingdom is the process of martyrdom itself. What are the things that define them as God’s possession?

Revelation 6:9 NASB When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;

The mere fact that these are found underneath the altar is indicative of God claiming them as His own.

Revelation 12:11 NASB “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

Twice now we have seen the term testimony, but what does mean and what does that look like under extreme pressure?

The word testimony is the Greek word marturía meaning to witness. A witness, certification (Joh_1:7), testimony (Mar_14:55-56, Mar_14:59; Luk_22:71), that which someone witnesses or states concerning a person or thing (Act_22:18; 1Ti_3:7; Tit_1:13).

Paul, while still known as Saul, is told by God to go to Damascus where a devout man, a Jew named Ananias, was sent to Saul. After Ananias prayed for Saul, he received his sight. Shortly after this Saul has a dream/vision. In that vision he is told:

Acts 22:18 NASB and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’

What are the ramifications of this? Saul, in talking about the Messiah Jesus would be subject to death for several reasons: The Jew’s had been taught to reject Yeshua. Some proof of this happened when Herod is told the Magi are coming. Their numbers were large enough to cause some alarm, and so he demands that the Jewish leadership tell him what is going on. They said that the scripture called for the king of the Jews to be born in Bethlehem. While this information got Herod’s attention, the Jews made no effort at all to visit this king of Jews born in a manger. Herod, on the other hand, had all the boys in that region, two and below, killed.

Saul had other problems as well, as he had essentially been a hit man for the Jewish council. Now, this should not have scared the Jews who held to tradition, but converts could have to run for their lives. This Saul was now making converts himself, another reason to kill him.

So what does this idea of testimony look like, especially to a Coptic Christian living in the Middle East?

Let’s assume you are a Christian living in the once quiet little Syrian town of Aleppo. Perhaps our first question is, what is it about these people that tell others they are “Christians”?

Imagine ISIS overruns your quiet little burgh, and you cannot escape. They take you captive, and, after having some fun with you by torturing and raping your wife and children and then dismembering them slowly, they demand that you convert and give allegiance to Allah. After a morning of such wasteful frivolities, they have had enough and needed to move on. A sword is placed to your neck with the command, comply – worship Allah or die. You reply with a simple no. Seconds later your bruised and battered head rolls away from your body.

What just happened?

Did you, by your non-compliance, affirm that there is a God greater than an invented name called Allah? Or, did you, by denying the one accept the other? Is it possible that God is not the least bit interested in our church-related methods of mandated compliance, and does not care if your name is on a list of those who publicly made motions of acceptance in some religious service?

I have an ex-son-in-law who did all that, and yet lives a life of lies and deceit. I am not his judge, and I do not know his heart, but I can tell you that when his fruit falls off the tree, it is already rotten and immediately begins to stink up the yard and the lives of those with which he interacts.

What this tells me, is that God is looking at the heart and the motives, and that, which only He sees, is what matters. I decided long ago, after spending a tortured lifetime in the organized church, that if I must err then let it be on the side of mercy. Funny how that works, for I hear Him constantly telling me, good job and well done because you acted just like I would have.

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