Key Precept: The End begins with judgment.
“Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible…I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger. I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity.” (Isaiah 1393-13)
The end of the world is called “The Day of the LORD” because this is when YHVH the Creator seizes control back from the god of this world.
“For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head…But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.” (Obadiah 1:15-17)
“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness…For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another,” (I Thessalonians 5:1-11)
The disciples certainly had judgment in mind when they asked for signs of Jesus’ coming from heaven to end the existing world order.
And Judgment Begins at the House of God
“For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity…Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem…and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee…And the LORD shall be king over all the earth.” (Zechariah 14:1-10)
Peter relates this exactly.
“the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer…For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (I Peter 4:7-18)
The disciples obviously wanted to be prepared for the expected battle to take control away from the current wicked rulers in Jerusalem when they asked Jesus “what is the sign?”
When the clock strikes twelve? When you hoist your battle flag? When you blow the trumpet? There were only twelve of them, but they had every reason to believe that the hordes of people who surrounded Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem just the day before would join them, and they would overwhelm the Roman army’s defenses.
“And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to…the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples…Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me….All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass…And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” (Matthew 21:1-9)
But! YHVH’s Savior, true to his name, is merciful, and longsuffering. As the unalterable time of his sacrifice at Passover draws inexorably closer, he spends his time giving his enemies a chance to repent.
“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna / Save we pray! to the son of David / Our rightful King!”
Did they praise God and accept Jesus as the Messiah? No.
“they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? This is a revolt against Rome!” (Matthew 21:12)
Clearly Jesus supported the multitude’s public embrace of him as their true king. The current rulers, some of whom enjoyed Rome’s political backing, and some of whom chaffed at submission to the heathen overlords, were therefore forced into taking sides.
And sure enough, the next day it is crystal clear that Jesus has thrown down the gauntlet. Read the post Pick a Side if you think anyone who encounters the Christ gets to remain neutral. There is a war going on, and anyone found in no-man’s land gets caught in the crossfire.
“Take heed, and beware…for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth…Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment….your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves…a treasure in the heavens that faileth not…For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also…Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching [not for his coming, but watching over his business]…
- Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?…
- But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day…and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
- And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
- But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.
For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required…I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?” (Luke 12)
Jesus didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk. The religious rulers of his day experienced judgment before anyone else.
“when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying,
- If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?
- But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.
And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them [in outright rebellion to their authority] Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things…” (Matthew 21:23-27)
In the timeless strategy of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” a political alliance forms against this dire threat to their authority, composed of disparate groups who normally would be at odds with each other.
“Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders [respected authorities] of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.” (Matthew 26:3-4)
The disciples’ Q&A in Matthew 24 flows directly from the multitudes’ joyous acceptance of Jesus as their rightful king and the religious leader’s rejection of him followed by Jesus’ curse on Jerusalem documented in chapters 21-23. In that context, there can be no doubt that the disciples expected the destruction of the temple at the hands of Jesus himself in the next few days.
After all, the disciples knew their history.
“the LORD appeared to Solomon…I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually…
But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them; Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house…which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss…Because they forsook the LORD their God…” (I Kings 9:2-9)
The thing is, God chose Israel as a nation to represent him to the rest of the nations of the world, and unlike parents who cave in to temper tantrums of strong-willed children, he’s not losing control. Prophecy after prophecy states that he is going to do whatever it takes to gain Israel’s cooperation as his chosen rulers.
“But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine…
I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears.
Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth. Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD / I AM Self-Existent Eternal One; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God. Yea, before the day / time was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?…This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.
But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel…thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities…Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified. Thy first father hath sinned, and thy teachers have transgressed against me. Therefore I have profaned the princes of the sanctuary, and have given Jacob to the curse, and Israel to reproaches.” (Isaiah 43)
“Manasseh…did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, [made political / religious / marriage alliances with his neighbors] after the abominations of the heathen…
- For he….worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them…And he set a graven image…in the house…
- Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another…” (II Kings 21)
“The word that came to Jeremiah…the LORD hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened…Therefore…I will send…Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant…And this whole land shall be a desolation and…ye shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” (Jeremiah 25)
But Jesus did not immediately bring down judgment on Jerusalem. He told the religious leaders that judgment would fall on “this generation”.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!…ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?…Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. ” (Matthew 23:29-36)
Jesus then reinforced this time frame for the disciples who hadn’t heard, or hadn’t immediately clued in to, what he had told the religious leaders.
“THIS generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:34)
Punishing only one generation, like limiting a beating to 40 strokes, was established within the Mosaic code as a mercy.
“The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” (Deuteronomy 24:16)
And punishing Israel by cutting them out of the land when they forsook the LORD their God who gave them was also established within the Mosaic code.
Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them…The Lord our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying…I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them… Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God…And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying, Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land…walking through this great wilderness: these forty years…until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host.” (Deuteronomy 1-2)
This first occasion of punishment on “a generation” sets the precedent for the length of the sentence. It is forty years, the average remainder of the lifespan of the responsible parties, the mature adults, from age 20 and upwards, who live, on average, until seventy years of age.
And fulfilled it was, 40 years after the beginning of YHVH’s Savior’s ministry with the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.
Knowing the backstory of Jesus’ statement, the disciples were surely filled with frustration. Not again!! Like the Jews in the exile, they would be asking when is this war going to end?!
“And it came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, the tenth day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to enquire of the LORD, and sat before me.” (Ezekiel 20)
The exact date is given for a reason so let’s pull it into context. Years cycle around so let’s check out the month and day, like December 25th, or February 14th.
“in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem: And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire. And brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about. Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude, did Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carry away. But…left of the poor of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen.” (II Kings 25:8-12)
Aha! Naturally the Jews memorialized the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem.
By referencing the “seventh year” rather than the “26th year of King Nebuchadnezzar”, the Jews are obviously maintaining Jewish time-keeping. This would be the seventh year from the destruction of Jerusalem. Why is this significant?
People who don’t read the Old Testament don’t realize that not only did sabbaths occur every seventh day, but also every seventh year and after every 7 x 7 years, i.e. every 50th year.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD. Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land…
The sabbath is far more significant than the day of the week used for worship services – Friday for Moslems, Saturday for Jews, and Sunday for Christians. By ceasing all work to focus on the LORD God, this is an act of faith in God’s promise to provide for all our needs, a public show of the value of relying on one’s relationship with the LORD God rather than one’s own works, and, like a date night, constant strengthening of one’s relationship not only with him but with his people.
And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every [indentured servant] man unto his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you:” (Leviticus 25)
Oh wow. Talk about redistribution of wealth and environmentalism. This is about as leftist as they come. Had it happened? Maybe among some weird hippy types living out in some desolate rural area. Like the poor of the land left to bring back a desolate wilderness laid barren by years of war and poor farming practices before that.
But not the materialistic urban folk who only pay lip service to God’s word while exploiting their parishioners for their personal power and wealth.
“all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees…To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths [of years]: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.” (II Chronicles 36)
So we can deduce that in this sabbath year the elders were asking for a blessing, probably a jubilee with its forgiveness of debt and return of possessions to every man back in Jerusalem.
Now that we have the background to the elders inquiry, notice God’s reaction.
“Are you KIDDING me!!”
“Then came the word of the LORD unto me, saying, Son of man, speak unto the elders of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the LORD God;
Are ye come to enquire of me? As I live…I will not be enquired of by you!
Wilt thou judge them, son of man, wilt thou judge them? cause them to know the abominations of their fathers…
I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them. Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them. But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness…I lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them…Nevertheless mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness.
But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols: I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that / be united with “I am” / the LORD your God. Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me:
Wherefore say unto the house of Israel…Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the LORD God. And I will cause you to pass under the rod…And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me…and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD…and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed [repent]…
Then said I, Ah Lord God! they say of me, [What are you talking about?] Doth he not speak parables?” (Ezekiel 20)
The next generation of religious leaders who went into exile still didn’t get it. Even after Ezekiel’s many, many warnings had come true in the exile. Notice that the sentence has been extended from the original forty years of one generation in the wilderness to seventy years in exile. The punishment fits the crime.
“The word of the LORD also came unto me, saying, Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house / dynasty of rulers. Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing, and remove by day in their sight; and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they be a rebellious house…And I did so as I was commanded: I brought forth my stuff by day, as stuff for captivity, and in the even I digged through the wall with mine hand; I brought it forth in the twilight, and I bare it upon my shoulder in their sight…Say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD God; This burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel that are among them. Say, I am your sign: like as I have done, so shall it be done unto them: they shall remove and go into captivity. And the prince that is among them…I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there. And I will scatter toward every wind all that are about him to help him, and all his bands; and I will draw out the sword after them. And they shall know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 12)
Clearly the current generation of rulers was not repenting and turning to the LORD. Under the circumstances, the 70 years’ exile covered not only 70 missed sabbatical years, it also allows time for the next generation to come to maturity in the additional 30 years beyond the basic 40 years, for them to choose to serve the LORD God instead of their lusts.
Being highly placed in government, Daniel was certainly aware of the cultural shift in the next generation. His worry over their lack of repentance comes through in his prayer on their behalf.
“In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans…I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the LORD God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes…at this day…all Israel, that are near, and that are far off…have trespassed against thee…we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.“(Daniel 9:1-19)
But despite the Exile itself being ended as promised after 70 years, Daniel was dismayed to learn that this was not to be the end of chastening. Punishment of “the house of God” was being extended exponentially – 70 x 7, or 490 years.
“the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning…informed me…Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city,” (Daniel 9:24)
Why? For the same reason as punishment had been extended from 40 years in the Exodus to 70 years in the Exile. The transgression, the sins, the iniquity had increased. This was not a news flash, people. This was forewarned by Moses at the very beginning of YHVH’s covenant with his people. Exponentially increased judgment.
“if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments…that ye break my covenant…
- I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague…ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you
- And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
- And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.
- And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things…I will punish you yet seven times for your sins.
- And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me...I will chastise you seven times for your sins.
If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me…if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.” (Leviticus 26)
Therefore, more time was needed:
- to finish the transgression,
- to make an end of sins,
- to make reconciliation for iniquity,
- to bring in everlasting righteousness,
- and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Daniel 9)
As detailed in the posts Forgiveness of Sin and Redemption and Restoration, when anyone sins, i.e. does something un-right-eous, there is a disruption in the “right-ness” of that person’s relationship / connection not only to God, but to other people and the world system, which spreads and contaminates every dimension, not just moral.
Can we not recognize how un-right behavior is destroying our world, and that to fix it we can’t just bemoan what others are doing but we must change our ways? If we dispose of trash in the oceans and it washes back up to our beaches and we clean it up only to dispose of it back in the ocean, what have we accomplished?
The equivalent situation occurs in relationships. Think of the effects of a married couple divorcing. There is exponential damage over time on not just on them but on their children and grandchildren and society as a whole due to the divorce limiting the parents’ ability to put time and attention and effort into not only child-rearing but positive activities in society as a whole like recycling and volunteerism. This spreads like a disease and takes exponential effort over the passing of time to restore to rightness.
Following the pattern provided by the LORD’s explanation to Ezekiel, what had come to pass by the end of the initial 70 years’ exile was that the children of the exiles, or at least a critical mass number of them, hadn’t repented and chosen to serve him. And as anyone who has experienced a broken relationship knows, a relationship can’t be restored single-handedly. Until both parties want the relationship, it won’t happen.
Not many Jews answered the call to return to the Promised Land when they were freed from the Exile, only about about 15% of the total number taken into captivity. This would have been a much smaller percentage of the total population explosion during the post-war captivity.
As regards the number of Jews deported by Nebuchadnezzar...12,000 men, or in all 36,000 to 48,000 souls…about one-fourth of the population…was led captive into Babylonia…The actual return of the exiles was consummated by Ezra, who assembled at the river Ahava all those desirous of returning. These consisted of about 1,800 men, or 5,500 to 6,000 souls…Ezra and Nehemiah succeeded, after great difficulties, in establishing the post-exilic Jewish community…
The generation of Israelites born during the Exile can be understood in comparison to America’s Baby Boomer Generation, They would have far out-numbered their wartime parent generation. In the midst of peace and plenty they had even less motivation to feel a need for repentance. We can deduce from the extended length of chastening that there was exponential rebellion against the righteous lifestyle demanded by YHVH, not just from increased number,s but also from increased exposure to the influences of the heathen culture in the Exile. By the end of the original 70 year judgment there was more damage that needed reparations and more bondage that needed redemption from their chosen masters.
And even for the people who returned to re-establish YHVH’s temple and worship, once they got back home, they didn’t change their cross-cultural ways.
“the princes came to me [Ezra], saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass…I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God, And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day. And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem. And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments…behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.” (Ezra 10)
When the Babylonians expelled the Jews from Judea, they destroyed the Temple completely. Jewish law stipulated that certain important aspects of Jewish religious life — most notably animal sacrifice — could only be performed at the Temple in Jerusalem…
This new focus gave rise to a new class of professional clergy within Judaism, the rabbi…a spiritual leader tasked with explaining God’s expectations to the common people. Early rabbis compiled the Talmud, a series of writings that further explain the Torah…
During the period of captivity, Jews continued to…develop their religious traditions, many of which became distinct from their origins, due to the influences of the local culture…
the deportees…personal fortunes were undoubtedly better than those who remained behind…
Many of the exiles, finding themselves in comfortable circumstances, assimilated into Babylonian society in ways that concerned the pious among them. Ezekiel denounced such men as “a rebellious house,” and parts of the Book of Isaiah written during exilic times likewise expressed concern over the adoption of Babylonian traditions.
“I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick; Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom, Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the LORD, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom…ye are they that forsake the LORD, that forget my holy mountain…” (Isaiah 65)
So it would have been a grave disappointment to the disciples, but not a shock, to learn that the extension of 70 years punishment to 70 x 7 years punishment was extended yet again. This time, indefinitely – waiting for the religious leaders to call on YHVH for salvation.
The interconnectedness of the biosphere expands the consequences of humanity’s fallen nature to the earth itself.
“The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word…The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left. The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.” (Isa 24:3-6, 19-20)
“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven [don’t forget this means angels as well as lights in the sky] fell unto the earth…and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man...said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? [It’s at this point that Antichrist offers himself as an alternative to kneeling before Messiah/Christ.] (Rev 6:12-13)
“Give Trump credit…He…became the twenty-first-century master of divisive rhetoric…The Nazis did not overthrow the Weimar Republic. It fell into their hands as the fruit of Hitler’s satanic ability to mesmerize enough Germans to trade their birthright for a pottage of scapegoating, short-term economic gain, xenophobia, and racism. It could happen here…”
20 serious points of comparison between the early Hitler and Trump:
Neither was elected by a majority.
Both found direct communication channels to their base…—the Nazi Party gave out radios with only one channel, tuned to Hitler’s voice, bypassing Germany’s news media. Trump has an online equivalent… tweets…
Both blame others and divide on racial lines…Again and again, Trump uses “racially tinged messages calculated to divide whites from people of color.”
Both relentlessly demonize opponents.
They unceasingly attack objective truth. “Both Trump and Hitler maintained a relentless assault on the very idea of objective truth,”
They relentlessly attack mainstream media.
Their attacks on truth include science.
Their lies blur reality—and supporters spread them.
Both orchestrated mass rallies to show status.
They embrace extreme nationalism.
Sounds like a black hole.
Heavy stuff. This is where most people choose to reject the Bible on the basis of “A good God wouldn’t send anyone to hell.” Admittedly, the idea of burning for eternity is absolutely horrible. That doesn’t mean it’s not true. The easiest way we can understand God is to put ourselves in his place. Do you have children? We’re not talking about damnation over breaking some arbitrary rules against feeling good. Can you imagine watching your beloved children suffer at the hands of evil people? What punishment is appropriate for someone who deceived most of your children into hating you and running away from you in order to betray and trap them into a lifetime of misery and eternity separated from you, while torturing and murdering as many of your faithful children as he can? The attached clip from Game of Thrones shows scenes of horrific cruelty. I don’t recommend you watch it, but if you do, you can always click off. Unlike the millions of real life victims of persecution.
The God of the Bible is not a wuss. His war banner reads “Vengeance is mine, I will repay!” His fight is with Satan and his angels, but he will take down anyone who joins them.
And he rewards those in his service.
“Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
- This goes back to: “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth…Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out.” (Rev 3:11-12) The concept of being “kept” goes back to Yeshua’s prayer for his disciples on the night he was betrayed. They all suffered tribulation and most were martyred, so this can’t mean “raptured out of the Great Tribulation” as is often taught.”In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world …And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, [Why? So they don’t suffer? No! The Father had to abandon his son to suffering, and Yeshua had to suffer torture and death. Being “kept” means being guarded from giving up faith in God in the face of personal suffering.] that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. (Joh 16:33, 17:11-12)
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep / inactivated, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (I Thessalonians 4:13-17)
“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit…The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we [those of us who have joined identity with YHWH’s Promised Savior Jesus Christ] shall also bear the image of the heavenly…flesh and blood cannot the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep / die physically, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (I Corinthians 15:40-52)
“And when he had opened the seventh seal...I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets…and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake…
- The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
- And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea:
- and the third part of the sea became blood;
- And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died;
- and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
- And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
- And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
- And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit…And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth…And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.
- And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, [i.e. a specific appointment time] for to slay the third part of men. (Revelation 8-9)
- “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever…And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: (Revelation 11:16-19)
And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
And I saw…them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying…all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” (Matt 25:41)
Notice the categories of beings listed in John’s vision of heaven described in Revelation chapters 4-5,7,20-21.
- Almighty God: a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
- Human elders who rule with The Consecrated One/Messiah/Christ: And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold…And they sung a new song, saying…thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
- Humans from every nation who remain faithful despite persecution: …an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel [this works out to be about 1% of the current world’s population of Jews, or about 50% of the current world’s population of Messianic Jews] and…a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb…These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
- Sons of God: He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
- Spirits: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
- Holy Beasts, i.e. living beings who don’t fall into a known (by humans) category of creature, identified by features “like” and “as” known beings: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind…And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him…and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
- And the first beast was like a lion,
- and the second beast like a calf,
- and the third beast had a face as a man,
- and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
- Messiah, the sacrifical Lamb, the star of this event: in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain…the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb
- Heavenly angels: And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
- Dead individuals from the sea and hell: …And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works…
- The unholy beast (describing another one of those unknown creatures), always paired with the human false prophet: And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
- The devil: And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
- The unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death…
- And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
So who goes to hell? The short list includes the devil, for sure, also the enigmatic “beast”, the false prophet, the abominable, and, to sum it up, “whosoever was not found written in the book of life.” How do we make sure we are written in the book of life? What is this book of life?
According to the following psalm describing the development of a human embryo, God keeps a register, a log book of all human beings ever conceived. An aside note – if we take our convictions from the Bible, then this establishes that life begins at conception.
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psa 139:14-16)
From Moses we learn that that God will blot out, from this book, the names of people who have sinned grievously against him. This would account for individuals who are “not found written in the book of life.”
“And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” (Ex 32:31-33)
Centuries later, in the letters written to the congregations that were under great pressure to forsake Messianic Judaism (or nascent Christianity depending on your viewpoint), we find the same potential to be blotted out of the book of life.
“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write…I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead…He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” (Rev 3:1,5)
The threat of being blotted out of the book of life gives us to understand that the members of the Sardis congregation were in the same set of circumstances as the members of Moses’ congregation. Both groups had not yet overcome the obstacles to resisting the lures of lies in order to believe the hard truth spoken by Lord Yeshua Messiah. Both groups had yet to decide whether to
- surrender to an easier life in alliance with, i.e. in slavery to, the gods of this world, or
- take up the fight for reclaiming our territory.
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God…lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Messiah/Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end…And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (Heb 3:12-19)
The apostle Paul relates his willingness, like Moses, to be accursed – sacrifice his eternal destiny which would involved being blotted out of the book of life – to save his beloved people.
“I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Messiah/Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites…(Ro 9:2-4)
However, neither one of those men, nor any regular human, can trade places with another. There is only one, the man Yahweh’s Chosen Savior/Messiah Yeshua/Christ Jesus. In the following passage referencing the book of life, notice the lack of boundaries between two authors – David as a sinful human and the sinless Consecrated One/Messiah/Christ, confirmed as such in later references. This is a poetic means of demonstrating David’s merged identity with Messiah, made possible because Messiah took on David’s human identity.
“Save me, O God…I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me…They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away. O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee. Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel. Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children…But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation…And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily. Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink…Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them. Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents…Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.” (Psa 69:1-29)
Here we find that there is not only the book of the living in which are written the names of all humans born into this physical dimension and from which the names can be blotted out, there is also a second book in which are written the names of the righteous who are born again into the spiritual dimension. In context, the righteous are those who acknowledge their need for a savior/Yeshua/Jesus and put their trust in The Consecrated One/Messiah/Christ’s atoning sacrifice for sin.
“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Ro 4:3)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Joh 3:16)
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:4-9)
The general life book lists those individuals who came to life physically, die a physical death, and are resurrected to face an accounting for their actions while alive. Interestingly, the Egyptian Book of the Dead describes this same fate.
Does this include hybrid human/angels? I don’t know, but a bigger problem is that no-one can face God and claim to be righteous on the basis of their own works.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Ro 3:10-14)