Key Precept: As in any good book, the Bible stays true to its theme from its introduction, clarification through the middle, to the climax at the end:
Stepping stone on the path to eternal life: Stay committed through worsening circumstances.
He died doing the right thing.
Beginning: Genesis 3: “of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it…lest ye die…And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die…ye shall be as gods. And…she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat…And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said…Hast thou eaten of the tree…? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree [which she had eaten and I couldn’t abandon her]…Adam was not…in the transgression…Marriage is honourable…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear.” (Genesis 3:3-12, I Timothy 2:14, Hebrews 13:4-6)
If this perspective of the first Adam’s choice to die is startlingly at odds with what you were always taught, see the post Lust Kills, Love Dies for additional biblical proof that Adam was a hero.
Middle: Habakkuk 1-3: “O LORD, how long shall I…cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!...spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention…the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth…
End: Daniel 7:21-22: “the fourth kingdom upon earth…shall…wear out the saints of the most High…unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion…under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High.”
- “that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah / God’s Anointed the Prince / Zerubbabel governor of Judah shall be seven weeks [of years, i.e. 49 years], the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times
- and threescore and two weeks: [434 years] during which nothing is predicted
- And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah
There are various interpretations on how the 70 x 7 / 490 years plays out, especially the 70th week. I like the following chart because it shows the entirety of Daniel’s 70th week fulfilled in ~30-37 AD when Messiah confirms the new covenant with many. Jesus’ additional prophetic utterance on that generation is also shown in this chart, with the destruction of the temple 40 years after the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
Daniel’s four predictions are unquestionably fulfilled by Israel’s Messiah.
- He was cut off / severed from relationship with the nation of, ergo the God of, Israel, but not for his sins – for the sins of others.
- He confirmed the new covenant with many, accepted by masses of Jews as the Messiah and rightful king of Israel in the 3 1/2 years of his earthly ministry until
- He ended “the” sacrifice for sin, with 3 /12 years left in the 70th week.
- By the words of his mouth, by simply stating it would be so, he caused the desolation of the temple due to “the abominations” committed.
The first half of the 70th week is immediately followed by the second half of the 7-year period when even more Jews than previously accepted Yeshua / YHVH’s Savior as the promised savior from sin and death, fulfilling the prophecy that Messiah will confirm the covenant with many “for one week”.
Even many Jewish rulers accepted Yeshua during this time, demonstrated by Stephen’s vision of Yeshua’s readiness to return.
“And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake…And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel. Then said the high priest, Are these things so?
Don’t miss how Stephen follows his Savior in word and deed, confronting the rulers of the Jews with the same message knowing the consequences of inflaming their wrath would be his death.
Jesus speaking: “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…upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.” (Matthew 23:29-3)
Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”
This completely wraps up the timeline of Daniel’s prophecy as the 490 years is completed. The rulers could have also completed – fulfilled – the prophecy by calling out “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD / YHVH!”. The Roman overlords would have certainly immediately swept in and crushed this rebellion against their authority, bringing about the final element of Daniel’s and Jesus’ predictions of this happening to that generation.
But that didn’t happen.
“Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him.” (Acts 6-7)
Fortunately for the rebels, Yeshua has authority over time. So when, just like 3 1/2 years before, a critical mass number of rulers, or the right ones, failed to respond to Stephen’s announcement with “Baruch Ata Adonai! / Hail to the chief!, he extended the time of judgment on this generation – 40 more years to 70 AD, when the temple was destroyed.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees…All these things shall come upon this generation.” (Matthew 23:29-36)
The disciples had even diligently fulfilled Jesus’ assignment.
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14)
According to Paul, this had been accomplished by ~ 66 AD.
“the truth of the gospel…is come unto…all the world…” (Colossians 1:5-6).
But when “this generation” of leadership failed to welcome him as their Melchisedekian Royal High Priest, the day of his return was delayed even further, until the last possible opportunity for repentance.
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved:” (Matthew 24:21-22)
This great tribulation is often presented as a ruthless punishment on Israel for not accepting Christianity. However, if we stick with scriptural, instead of human, resources, we recognize it for what it is – God’s longsuffering love for his people.
“Behold, the whirlwind of the LORD goeth forth with fury…upon the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the LORD shall not return, until he hath done it, and until he have performed the intents of his heart: in the latter days…At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people…The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel…The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee…thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.” Jeremiah 30:23-31:7)
“What if [in the sense of “what’s it to you?“] God…endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction…that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory…Esaias also crieth concerning Israel…a remnant shall be saved…I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I [Paul] also am an Israelite.” (Romans 9:21-27, 11:1-2)
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ…Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief…This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” (I Timothy 1:1, 13-16)
“once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved.” (I Peter 3:20)
“there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men…The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, [certainly “love your enemy” doesn’t include] looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?…[On the contrary] account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you. (II Peter 3:3-15)
In contrast to the hermeneutical approach I’ve taken to confirm who does what, many prophecy teachers separate Daniel’s prophecies from Jesus’, wresting / torqueing scripture to do so.
Daniel 9:26-27 goes on to tell us that after Jesus’ death – sometime in the future – the “prince who is to come” will make a peace treaty with Israel for one week, which is seven years (Prophecy of The Future). But in the middle of this week he will break the agreement and declare that he is God. This seven year period is divided into two parts. Each part is three and one half years. The first 3.5 years are peaceful, and the last 3.5 years Jesus called the great tribulation (Matt. 24:21).
This imaginative play on scripture relies on Dispensational systematic theology, that “the Gentile Church Age” was interposed at the last minute “when the Jews rejected Christ.” An extremely popular teaching embraced by “Bible-believing” Christians is that the end times tribulation and judgment involve Israel only, and that Christians are raptured out before it all starts.
we the Church the Body of Christ have no relation whatsoever to Christ’s Second Coming. It is very dangerous to confuse the nation Israel with the Church the Body of Christ. We are to, “Study to shew ourselves approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). If we are to understand the Bible, we must separate the dispensations from each other…
At the rapture (which could happen at any moment), and before the seven-year Tribulation begins, God will secretly and instantly will remove from earth all people who have trusted exclusively in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour…
At His Second Coming, Jesus Christ will be coming for Israel: we have no relation to that event. Jesus Christ’s Second Coming is to rescue Israel from the Antichrist and her other enemies. When we understand dispensational Bible study, we see that we have nothing to do with God’s dealings with Israel.
John Darby’s Dispensationalism was examined in the post The Separating Church where its popularity was attributed its teaching that Christians – who are all Gentiles – will not suffer the Great Tribulation which is aimed solely at Israel for rejecting and crucifying Jesus Christ. Instead, Gentile Christians will be instantaneously raptured off the earth before the trouble starts.
Much is made by Dispensationalists of Paul’s statements to the Corinthian church about “the last trump.” Despite the fact that the only series of trumpet blasts documented in the New Testament are in Revelation, Dispensationalists refuse to associate their Gentile Church with these. They assume another, undocumented set of trumpet blasts heralding their removal from the troublesome task of fighting to retake dominion of the earth.
Whaaat?? Isn’t that the the exact opposite of the theme of the Bible? Not to mention history and current events??
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [in context this is clearly a euphemism for die], 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 15:50-52)
The Apostle Paul spoke of the Rapture as a “Mystery” in 1 Corinthians 15:51-54. A “mystery” is a new truth that a New Testament writer reveals as part of God’s Plan for the church age. This supports the notion that the Rapture is for the church and is a separate event from that of the Second Coming.
The Second Coming was predicted in the Old Testament (Daniel 12:1-3; Zechariah 12:10; 14:4). Paul would not identify the Rapture as a mystery if it was revealed in the Old Testament. His rabbinical training and his mentor Gamaliel would have precluded this possibility from the record.
Thus because the Rapture is a “mystery”, it is a newly revealed event and it is distinct from the Second Coming of Christ Jesus. This understanding supports the Pre-Trib Rapture view, which places the Rapture before the Tribulation and the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation.
The attack on “Dispensationalism” is Satanic-inspired.
When we begin at the beginning and systematically compare the above Dispensationalist’s statements to Paul’s statements in scripture, we find a remarkable number of discrepancies with scripture. Who is Satanic-inspired?
Not only is this frankly unscriptural, it begs the question – who on earth is available to lead the unsaved – including our own loved ones – to salvation if the Holy Spirit who indwells believers has left during the Adversary’s last and worst rampage on earth? This is beyond cowardice. This is betrayal of the LORD of hosts on par with Judas Iscariot.
This blog has perseverated on Dispensationalism because so many Christians who claim to be fundamentalists basing their faith and practice on biblical truths are Dispensationalists. The Rapture doctrine demands the scrutiny of anyone who complaisantly believes both in it, and in their salvation through identification with Jesus Christ’s death. You can’t have it both ways.
The History of the Rapture
This doctrine is new; it was never taught or even discussed prior to the 1830’s. It seems to have first come from a “prophetic vision” by Margaret Macdonald, a woman in 1830, who was a part of the cult group the “Irvingites,” while having an emotional experience…After that, another cult group called the “Millerites,” predicted the return of Christ on October 22, 1844. It did not happen; that should have been a clue, but this would not die. [Miller…went on to play a role in the founding of the Seventh Day Adventist Church]…
At the same time, this belief was then picked up by Irish born…John N. Darby…who took this new fad to America in 1862 to 1877….He was, in fact, a failed lawyer who was very “intolerant to criticism” and prideful. This should be another clue…He then developed a poor method of biblical interpretation called dispensationalism (The Problem with Dispensationalism!)—another clue…
The very popular commentary of the Bible he produced…the very first study Bible, given out to just about every preacher and evangelist beginning in 1909, and one we still have today, The Scofield Study Bible.
Where are the Bible passages for this? Is this not clear in Scripture? Many people think so, but take a look for yourself. The most popular Bible references are John 14:2–3; 1 Corinthians 15:49–55; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-7. The best thing to do is read the passages in their context and you will clearly see for yourself what they say…
Then this was further popularized the book, Jesus Is Coming by evangelist William Blackstone… This work sold more than one million copies…in 1957, when respected Theologian from Dallas Seminary, Dr. John Walvoord, wrote a book called, “The Rapture Question”…it seems he did not check his facts and read into the passage a presumption he saw as fact because it was in his favorite work, Scofield Study Bible. But he did not declare it a dogmatic fact, but left it open for further research and debate…Then, the rapture gets popular with the publication of Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth, which sold over 15 million copies;
So if someone insists this is a valid doctrine, ask for the Scripture references, then ask for any solid biblical scholarship on it. You will find none as I did not. Yes, many great people think this is true and teach it passionately. They get so caught up in it, pun intended, they do not look it up.
The Late, Great Planet Earth is a best-selling 1970 book by Hal Lindsey with Carole C. Carlson, and first published by Zondervan. The New York Times declared it to be the bestselling nonfiction book of the 1970s. [Emphasis added.] The book was first featured on a prime time television special featuring Hal Lindsey in 1974 to 1975 with an audience of 17,000,000…it was adapted…during 1976 into a film narrated by Orson Welles…Lindsey and Carlson later published several sequels, including Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth and The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon.
The Late, Great Planet Earth is a treatment of dispensational eschatology. As such, it compared end-time prophecies in the Bible with then-current events in an attempt to predict future scenarios resulting in the rapture of believers before the tribulation and Second Coming of Christ to establish his thousand-year (i.e. millennial) Kingdom on Earth. Emphasizing various passages in the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation, Lindsey originally suggested the possibility that these climactic events might occur during the 1980s,
foretold a Soviet invasion of Israel (War of Gog and Magog)
Lindsey also predicted that...the European Union, was destined (according to Biblical prophecy)…to become a “Revived Roman Empire” ruled by the Antichrist…
America would not be a major geopolitical power by the time the tribulations of the end times arrived…
It is now 2020 and America is still the world’s major geopolitical power.
the Tribulation or the Rapture would occur no later than 1988.
According to the Bible’s judgement on prophets, Hal Lindsey is a false prophet. But he’s still going strong, because he and other rapture teachers like him give a false hope of evading suffering.
And what is it that the Church — or all true believers — is watching and preparing for? The “Blessed Hope” that the Apostle Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.
When we read that passage we find resurrection of the dead and transformation of the living, AKA the rapture, but where is the description of this as the “Blessed Hope”?
“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 4:16-17)
When we look up “Blessed Hope” we discover the following passage
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” (Titus 2:13)
OK, so the blessed hope is the resurrection of the dead in The Promised One / Messiah / Christ at his appearing on earth, but does it prove the claim that, for the first and only time in history, believers will not experience tribulation?
Not according to the Bible.
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also…and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:1-5)
“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints;” (Romans 12:12)
“We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you…For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel…to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel…whereof I Paul am made a minister; Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:” (Colossians 1:1-24)
“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father…And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost. So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad…how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” (I Thessalonians 1:3-10)
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? (II Thessalonians 2:2-5)
Someday soon, Jesus Christ is going to leave heaven and call for those who are watching for His return to leave this earth and meet Him in the air. This even includes those who have died during this Church Age…
Those who are left behind will be the ones who experience the “Day of the Lord,” which begins with the great Tribulation. You don’t want anyone you know or love to be in that number…
And how do you make certain you’re ready to experience the “Blessed Hope” and miss the “Day of the Lord?” Simple. [Emphasis added.]
Recognize that you’re a sinner who has fallen short of the standard that God has set. (Every human being has!) Confess your sinfulness and ask God to forgive you. Accept the free gift of pardon that Jesus Christ purchased for you with His atoning death on the Cross. Believe God’s promise (“…whosoever believes in Him shall not die but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16) and receive His pardon in your heart. Then ask God to make of you what He wants you to be. Thank Him for giving you eternal life with Him.
You are now a part of God’s forever family and have just changed your eternal destiny. Now, you are one of those watching for the “Blessed Hope.”
Hal Lindsey’s use of the “Sinner’s Prayer” as a legitimate means of salvation without crucifying the flesh is consistent with his anti-biblical promise that Christians are promised a soft life.
The following passage is used by Dispensationalists as proof of a pre-tribulation physical removal of believers with their resident Holy Spirit.
- “…be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled…as that the day of Messiah / Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come
- a falling away / apostasia: defection, revolt first,
- and that man of sin be revealed / apokaluptó: to uncover, reveal, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (II Thessalonians 2:1-4)
The fact that apostasia most likely has the meaning of physical departure is a clear support for pretribulationism. If this is true, (Dr. Tim LaHaye and I believe that it is), then it means that…Paul teaches…that the rapture will occur first, before the Day of the Lord commences. It is not until after the beginning of the Day of the Lord that the Antichrist is released…This is the only interpretation that provides hope for a discomforted people. Maranatha!
For starters, these teachers have got the Day of the Lord all mixed up with the Reign of Antichrist, which in itself tells us just unqualified they are to teach anything about either event. The reign of antichrist has to occur prior to the Day of the Lord’s Christ.
Secondly, a basic investigation of how apostasia is translated reveals that the claim that this word has the meaning of a physical departure is just a flat out lie. This Greek word is only used one other time, and that in absolutely a spiritual context.
- Original Word: ἀποστασία, ας, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Phonetic Spelling: (ap-os-tas-ee’-ah)
Definition: defection, revolt
Usage: defection, apostasy, revolt.
Acts 21:21: they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
This one investigation into the pre-tribulation rapture teaching should shock us into awareness of “because they received not the love of the truth…God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Even human armies execute soldiers for desertion. Should God shrug it off when eternal life for the people his son died to save is at stake?
The argument of the passage itself does not allow a pre-tribulation rapture interpretation. Paul is assuring Gentile converts that the sight of Antichrist in the temple is a sign that Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus will shortly return to rescue them. Ergo, believers must be on earth to see it.
Moreover, using one verse to prove one’s private interpretation is a violation of the scriptural – and legal -requirements for at least two witnesses to establish truth. Anyone who cares at least as much about the truth as police investigators or psychiatric providers determining a course of action in this life can extend their investigation of the veracity of the pretribulation rapture doctrine to the other witnesses provided in scripture.
What we find is that the other passages describing the climax of human history unquestionably direct the action of falling away with the faith, defecting to the enemy whose lies they choose to believe.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (I Timothy 4:1-2)
Phonetic Spelling: (af-is’-tay-mee)
Definition: to lead away, to depart from
Usage: make to stand away, draw away, repel, take up a position away from, withdraw from, leave, abstain from.
Luke 2:37: she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
Luke 4:13: when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
Luke 8:13: They on the rock are they, which, for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
Luke 13:24-28: Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able….shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
Acts 5:34-37: stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up…Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
Acts 15:37-38: Barnabas determined to take with them John…But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.
Acts 19:8-9: he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly…persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples,
Acts 22:28-29: Paul said…I was free born. Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.
II Corinthians 12:7-10: there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me…For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
II Timothy 2:15-19: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker…and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
Hebrews 3:12-13: 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.
II Peter 3:15-17: “…account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.”
- Original Word: ἐκπίπτω
Part of Speech: Verb
Phonetic Spelling: (ek-pip’-to)
Definition: to leap out
Usage: I fall out, fall off, fall away; hence in nautical language: I fall off from the straight course; of flowers: I fade away, wither away; I fall from, lose, forfeit; I am cast ashore; I am fruitless.
Romans 9:6: Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.
Galatians 5:4: Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
As for the claim that rapture prior to tribulation is the only interpretation that provides hope for a discomforted people! Talk about taking a verse totally out of context. Read the surrounding passage in which Paul comforts the Thessalonians.
“we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels…When he shall come to be glorified in his saints…Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ…he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work..” (II Thessalonians 1-2)
Paul never spoke of a Rapture.
Many Christians believe in a future End Times event when all true believers still alive before the end of the world will be taken from the earth by God into heaven. The term describing this event is the Rapture.
The English word ‘rapture’ derives from the Latin verb ‘Rapere,’ meaning ‘to carry off,’ or ‘to catch up…’
The term ‘Rapture’ first became popular in the United States toward the end of the 19th century through teachings on…dispensationalism by John Nelson Darby, an Irish evangelist. The rapture theory continued to grow in popularity among evangelicals largely due to a preacher named William Eugene Blackstone (1841-1935). His book, Jesus is Coming, sold more than one million copies…
The Rapture theory gained even greater interest during this time due to the books of Hal Lindsey. In The Late Great Planet Earth Lindsey predicted an imminent Rapture based on global conditions at the time…
the popular Christian book series based on the events surrounding the Rapture is the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins…
What Paul discussed was not “rapture” as a group event but “change” as an individual transformation, from corruptible to incorruptible. This concept is so clearly expressed in “the change” as euphemism for menopause, when women stop experiencing the monthly corruption of potential new life, that it is hard to comprehend how this got so distorted into “I’ll Fly Away.” Other than loving the lie that Jesus’ followers don’t need to follow Jesus into battle against evil.
“that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed…the invisible things of him from the creation of the world…even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:…they…changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man.” (Romans 1:19-23)
“Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remaineth…and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail…Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” (Hebrews 1:10-12, 12:26-27)
As detailed in Everything New is Old Again, Paul drew every bit of his teaching from the Old Testament. When we don’t add the word “rapture” up into heaven to scripture, but stick with “change” from mortal to immortal, we understand that this was a known phenomenon just as clearly described in the Old Testament as every other aspect of salvation.
Enoch was a prophet/priest/king whose transformation from mortal to immortal without going through physical death was timed to coincide with the end of his exceptional “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” while he preached of coming judgment to the most wicked population ever to walk the face of the earth.
“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Gen 5:24)
“there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ…Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:13-14)
Elijah is a major spokesman for God who established his credentials during a time of vicious persecution of God’s people. His transformation, like Enoch’s, can be seen as a reward for an exceptional life’s service under fire, not an escape from it. The timing of his transformation signals not the beginning, but the end, of the enemy’s reign of terror.
“Elijah…said…the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And the LORD said unto him, Go…anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. (I Kings 19:9-17)
“And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal….And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” (II Kings 2:1-12)
Since this instant change from corrupt to incorrupt is documented in the Old Testament, why don’t dispensationalists base their teaching of the future recurrence of this phenomenon on them? Their silence has thundering implications. They don’t want to admit the evidence for believers experiencing tribulation prior to the change.
So instead of referencing Enoch’s change experience, they wrest scripture to reference Noah’s experience.
Look at what Jesus says:
Matthew 24:37 “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be…
This disappearance spoken of by Jesus…is called the “Rapture” by those who know about it.
It is simply a “taking out” or “taking away” of Believers in Jesus Christ from the earth.
Uh, no. Noah and his family remained on the earth. Or we wouldn’t be here. You may recall that they repopulated the earth. They were not raptured out.
The days of Noah are referenced by Jesus because they are famous for unimaginable wickedness, giants, and the corruption of all human and animals flesh, i.e. hybridization. See the posts Seed of the Serpent and Mark of the Beast for details. For now, just note that diverting attention from the true examples of the “change” by Enoch and Elijah and the true reason Jesus references the “days of Noah”, the false prophets of Dispensationalism have left their followers in the dark about the worst era of history coming upon mankind.
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
This explains prophecy teachers’ obsession with monitoring wars and disasters. According to them, Christians can feel a great sense of relief when things really get bad, because they’re expecting an airlift out.
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was.
But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. [But not by some imaginary rapture!] Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them…the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (II Timothy 3)
“He who is taken away” is most assuredly the Holy Spirit, but not in the form of the Church being raptured up to God. According to Daniel and Jesus, it is in the form of the God’s people falling away to the enemy, led by corrupt leaders who ally with the enemy. We like to blame all persecution on the villainous Roman emperors and communist governments, but poseurs in our midst who out for personal gain do a whopping amount of damage to us.
- And now ye know what withholdeth / katechó: to hold fast, hold back that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only
- he who now letteth will let /the same word katechó: to hold fast, hold back until he be taken out of the way.
- And then shall that Wicked be revealed…[for who he really is] after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
- And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
- And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.“ (II Thessalonians 2:2-12)
Anyone who had to take the dread course Statistics in college understands that the only way to understand the complex code at the end of the course is to begin at the beginning, learn each of the simple segments of the equation, and fit them in the right order.
And the only way to get the right answer is to get every single element of the code correct. That’s why this blog book began at the beginning and ground its way through the entire Bible before tackling the end.
We can’t move the players around to fit our script. Just like
- Jeremiah’s prophecy of 70 years came to pass then was expanded to Daniel’s prophecy of 70 weeks of years,
- so too Daniel’s 70 weeks, although fulfilled in part by Messiah, had to be expanded by Messiah to ensure the cooperation of the other signatories to the covenant.
And we have to maintain the players and the order of events as Jesus gave them to us in the final version of the script. And doesn’t it make sense that Jesus focuses his war council on his disciples’ battle plan rather than the enemy’s? His followers are not only the target of his teaching, but most importantly, his followers are also the target of the conflict that began and ends time.
The disciples had clear understanding from scripture and Jesus’ own personal revelations to them of the reason why Jesus wasn’t able to establish his kingdom in their time as well.
Until the kingdom leadership anointed by God falls in line behind him, he can’t return to reclaim the kingdom of heaven and earth.
“if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” (II Timothy 2:12-13)
“Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering / obedience / submission / bowing of the people be.” (Genesis 49:8-12)
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel…Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.” (Numbers 25:10-13)
So when Jesus wraps up his tirade on the rebel religious leaders with “Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord,“ we should recognize the stress driving his anger. We shouldn’t visualize him shouting a curse like a political radical, but weeping in heartache, as he is escorted off the premises by security.
The Lord Jesus Christ was not only warning them of disaster, but directing their attention to their own well-known, legally witnessed plan of rescue from what would be disaster after disaster of their own making.
“In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God…
- The Lord liveth;
- and blessed be my rock;
- and let the God of my salvation be exalted / lifted up….
- yeah, thou liftest ME up …
Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.” (Psalm 18)
Did you catch that? The purpose of leadership in the kingdom of heaven and earth is to witness of God’s love for the whole world. The whole point of taking on mortal flesh was for the Savior to redeem all mankind and restore dominion to humanity!
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let THEM have dominion…And God blessed THEM, and God said unto THEM, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion…over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28)
“For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him.
But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus…bringing many sons unto glory…For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto / share your power with my brethren…And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me…Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house…But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (Hebrews 2:5-3:6)
YHVH’s Savior Empowers Humans To Reclaim Their Own Dominion Through Battle
As he has done throughout history, YHVH’s Savior shares the kingdom, the power, and the glory with his brothers, the sons of God who stand in battle with him against the Adversary.
“Abel…Enoch…Noah…Abraham…Isaac…Jacob…Joseph…Moses…the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens…and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented…wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise…that they without US should not be made perfect…“(Hebrews 11)
And “us” are the people previously known as Gentiles.
“remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles…aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Mashiach Yeshua ye are… fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household / chosen servants of God;” (Ephesian 2:9-19)
We lose our identity as Gentiles / Not the People of God when we identify with Yeshua haMeshiach King of Israel.
There is a chasm between Christianity and Judaism created by Christianity’s narrow focus on Jesus Christ as the only Christ / Messiah / anointed one versus biblical Judaism’s faithfulness to the written word of many messiahs.
- The word “Messiah” is an English rendering of the Hebrew word “Mashiach”, whose translation is “Anointed”. It usually refers to a person initiated into G-d’s service by being anointed with oil. (Having oil poured on his head. Cf. Exodus 29:7, I Kings 1:39, II Kings 9:3).
- There are many Messiahs in the Bible. Since every King and High Priest was anointed with oil, each may be referred to as “an anointed one” (a Mashiach or a Messiah). For example: “G-d forbid that I [David] should stretch out my hand against the L-rd’s Messiah [Saul]…” I Samuel 26:11. Cf. II Samuel 23:1, Isaiah 45:1, Psalms 20:6…
- in Jewish thought, the Messianic idea is not the most crucial. However, in Christian thought, the Messiah is paramount.
I put it to you that Christianity’s hyper focus on Jesus is a cheap escape from personal responsibility. Severing Christianity from Judaism allows – not just Dispensationalists, not just Catholics, but also Protestants with Martin Luther’s doctrine of grace – to toss out the clear scriptural demands to identify with haMashiach by becoming hamashiach – a holy, righteous servant of God.
“Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth,” (Isaiah 42:1-10)
This came to pass with Cyrus the Great, king of kings of the Persians.
“Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him…I will…open before him the two leaved gates [of Babylon]…that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel…That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil…Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!” (Isaiah 45)
It is utterly inconsistent with the clear statement of scripture to deny that Cyrus is an Anointed One for the purpose of witnessing of the LORD, or to believe “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16) and also believe that Abraham was the only anointed prophet during the scattering of nations from the tower at Babel. We are specifically told that Noah was a preacher of righteousness, and we know he lived for 350 years after the flood, You can’t possible assume that Noah only had one disciple who went west and no-one else else who went east. History belies that bigotry. We should expect corruption over time, exactly as happened with Judaism and Christianity, but historical evidence demonstrates the same foundational biblical truths are found in Zoroastrianism as in the first books of the Bible, confirming that God’s word was spread throughout all the Gentile world before Christianity came into play.
Zoroastrianism is an ancient Persian religion that may have originated as early as 4,000 years ago. Arguably the world’s first monotheistic faith, it’s one of the oldest religions still in existence…
The prophet Zoroaster (Zarathrustra in ancient Persian) is regarded as the founder…thought to have been born in what is now northeastern Iran or southwestern Afghanistan. He may have lived in a tribe that followed an ancient religion with many gods…similar to early forms of Hinduism.
Zoroastrianism shaped one of the ancient world’s largest empires—the mighty Persia Empire. It was the state religion of three major Persian dynasties.
Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, was a devout Zoroastrian…He ruled by the Zoroastrian law of asha (truth and righteousness)…The beliefs of Zoroastrianism were spread across Asia via the Silk Road, a network of trading routes that spread from China to the Middle East and into Europe.
Zoroastrian concepts, including the idea of a single god, heaven, hell and a day of judgment, may have been first introduced to the [that generation of paganized] Jewish community of Babylonia, where people from the Kingdom of Judea had been living in captivity for decades.
When Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 B.C., he liberated the Babylonian Jews. Many returned home to Jerusalem, where their descendants helped to create the Hebrew Bible…
The Faravahar is an ancient symbol of the Zoroastrian faith. It depicts a bearded man with one hand reaching forward. He stands above a pair of wings that are outstretched from a circle representing eternity.
Fire is another important symbol of Zoroastrianism, as it represents light, warmth and has purifying powers. Some Zoroastrians also recognize the evergreen cypress tree as a symbol of eternal life…
Fire—along with water—are seen as symbols of purity in Zoroastrian religion.
Zoroastrian places of worship are sometimes called fire temples. Each fire temple contains an altar with an eternal flame that burns continuously and is never extinguished.
The basic tenet of Zoroastrianism is that there is a major battle between good and evil…the god of wisdom and light, Ahura Mazda, and the evil being, Angra Mainyu…
Our role in living is to do good deeds and fight for what is righteous. In order to do that, we must follow three basic commandments.
– good actions (spreading love and kindness, healing the sick, sharing Zoroastrianism to others)
– good speech (speaking what is true, not lying)
– good thoughts (not judging people, desiring to do good, not plotting bad events against others)
The observance of the Laws of the Vendidad is an important pillar of the Zarathushtri religion. This includes the concept of menstrual seclusion (the woman is in a state of impurity during menstruation and must stay away from all religious objects including the household fire, and also stay away from her husband during those days) and the dreaded impure state of NASU the corpse is in after death, only touchable by the Nassesalars (corpse-bearers) who may then be purified by ritual means. The Vendidad also carries strong moral injuctions against the acts of homosexuality and prostitution, prohibiting these immoral acts.
Faith, and Hope in the coming of the Saoshyant (Saviour) has sustained our religion through the centuries. We firmly hope, and pray, that Ahura Mazda sends the Saoshyant to the earth to defeat evil and further righteousness (Ashoi). The Zarathushtri religion was the first to proclaim that Ahura Mazda will send the Saoshyant, born of a virgin, and many other religions took on this belief.
We firmly believe that when the Saoshyant comes, the final spiritual battle between the forces of good and evil will commence, resulting in the utter destruction of evil. Ristakhiz, the ressurection of the dead will take place – the dead will rise, by the Will of Ahura Mazda…The Final Judgement of all souls will commence, at the hands of Ahura Mazda the Judge (Davar), and all sinners punished, then forgiven, and humanity made immortal and free from hunger, thirst, poverty, old age, disease and death. The World will be made perfect once again, as it was before the onslaught of the evil one. Such is the Frashogad (Frasho-kereti), the Renovation, brought on by the Will of Ahura Mazda, the Frashogar.
Faith and Hope in in the coming of the Savior is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
“That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” (Matthew 12:14-21)
But it also applies to those who are chosen to take on his name / attributes / power.
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you...Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake / namesake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin…But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me; And ye also shall bear witness…he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” (John 15:16-27, 16:8)
“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said…lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” (Act 13:46-17)
I spent 60 years defining myself as a Christian while, as a biblically literate individual, struggling with the inconsistencies between the Bible and Christianity – even the brands that claim to be rock solid Bible-believing followers of Jesus Christ. See the previous post Everything New is Old Again for details.
The new covenant doesn’t do away with the tiresome commandments of the old, it empowers God’s people, the saints of the Most High, to fulfill the commandments! And this is what sets God’s people apart from all the other nations!
“Peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” (Hebrews 12:14)
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah…I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people [in a theocratic kingdom].” (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
“I shall eat the passover with my disciples…And he took…the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you…And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is…chief, as he that doth serve…Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint / make a covenant unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:11-30)
Christianity has degraded the whole purpose of the new covenant with the false gospel that Jesus’s death took away the punishment for sin so we can go about our merry way secure in the knowledge that, since we ‘asked Jesus to come into our heart’, no matter what we do, we don’t face judgment. This is a dreadful lie.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized / immersed / merged into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?…our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him [now!] alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body…but yield…your members as instruments of righteousness unto God…Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But now being made free from sin…become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, WHO WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH – BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT!! ...For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, WHO WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH – BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT!!!…For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, IF so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ / Mashiach, he is none of his [mashiachs].” (Romans 6, 8:1-9)
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled…as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright…afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears….For ye are…come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling…
See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire….
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines…Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.“ (Hebrews 11-13)
In another biblical contradiction to what is commonly taught in “Bible believing churches” to justify the segregation of biblical prophecy from Christianity, “thy [Daniel’s] people” can’t be limited to the Jews or Israel.
As a eunuch, Daniel was disqualified from leadership in the Israelite theocracy.
“He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 23:1)
“And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death…cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.” (II Chronicles 26:21)
If Daniel’s condition is an unknown factoid readily dismissed for its disturbing sexual content, check out Daniel chapter one where his status is stated no less than seven times.
Castration was an overwhelmingly common practice in ancient times. It’s primary purpose in warfare was to eliminate potential revolutionary leaders from the conquered nation’s royal household, while preserving valuable ministers as slaves to the conquerors. Of course, the practice in general slavery also provided sex slaves for not only homosexual but the common bisexual men.
Early visual images, dating from the fourth millennium BC, from Uruk and associated with Inanna (Ishtar), display three types of human figures: men, women, and what anthropologist Susan Pollock has called “genderless figures,” because they lack hair and genitals. A text dating from the reign of Hammurabi of Babylon (1792–1750 BC ) says explicitly that the goddess of Uruk makes eunuchs…suggests that eunuchs were already by then a widespread phenomena and castration an ancient custom…
In Assyria, eunuchs with such titles as rab sha reshi (“chief eunuch”), rab shaqe (“chief cupbearer”), or sukkallu (“second highest official in the empire”) held the highest recognized authority after the king; and they were often referred to as “the great ones”…from the beginning of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, eunuchs came to dominate civil service. Eunuchs were appointed as governors of major provinces…served as the king’s personal attendants…The royal bodyguard which accompanied the king on his travels and campaigns was made up primarily of eunuchs. Many eunuchs served as army officers, the “chief eunuch” sometimes even replacing the king as supreme military commander on long and dangerous campaigns. Eunuchs were also sent as foreign envoys…Only one official, the castrated superintendent of the palace, had permanent direct access to the Assyrian king…even the crown prince could not come into his presence unless the astrological signs were favorable…
the tradition of using eunuchs as highly-trained and important officers in royal service certainly was passed on from the Assyrians to the Babylonians and then to the Persians…also the Bible relates how, when Nebuchadnezzar first captured Jerusalem in 605, Ashpenaz his rab-saris (REB: “chief eunuch”) had charge of selecting well-bred, handsome youths among the Israelite captives to be taken to Babylon to be made into court servants; and then he oversaw their care, renaming, supervision and training (Dan 1). When Nebuchadnezzar returned again (587) and Jerusalem was totally destroyed the following year, the Babylonian king was again accompanied by his “Rab-saris,” or chief eunuch (Jer 39:3, 13, NRSV)…
in a long passage that the Greek historian Xenophon (c. 435–c. 354) wrote about Cyrus (II) the Great (559–530)…since eunuchs are deemed disreputable by other human beings, they therefore need a master as a protector…if he is trustworthy to a master, there is nothing to prevent even a eunuch from having the first position…It is especially on the ruin of their masters that they have given evidence of their being faithful, for none have shown more faithful deeds amidst the misfortunes of their masters than have eunuchs.
During the reign of Darius I (521–486), after the Persian navy captured the islands of Chios, Lesbos, and Tenedos (along the western coast of Asia Minor), the sailors rounded up all of the best-looking boys and then made the “most-favored” into eunuchs, to bring as presents to the king, along with beautiful girls as well for his harem (Herodotus, Persian Wars 6.31–32). The provinces of Babylonia and Assyria sent as tribute to Darius a thousand talents of silver, along with five hundred boys to be made into eunuchs (Herodotus, Persian Wars 3.92).
“the effeminate eunuch embodied shame, impotence, and social deviance” in the ancient world, and was often viewed as “a threatening liminal figure [neither male nor female],” as “something . . . monstrous [and] alien” (Herodotus, Historiae 8.106). Then Jews, made eunuchs by circumstances beyond their control, were forced to leave their families and religious communities behind, and they had to make for themselves a new home in a new land. As Ringrose notes, “All historical eunuchs were ambiguous figures.” Their services were valued, and yet they were often despised.
Daniel’s People Are The International House of God / The Hebrews
Daniel served in the Babylonian and Persian governments, so “his people”, while including his nation of origin, also included all the Gentiles in their four empires, AKA “times.”
“And the LORD gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand…And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans…among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names [adopted into the Chaldean nation]: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar.” (Daniel 1:2-7)
“Then the king Nebuchadnezzar…made Daniel…ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon…It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom…three presidents; of whom Daniel was first:” (Daniel 2:46-48; 6:1-2)
“Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron; And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.” (Isaiah 45:1-5)
Henry Kissinger would be a good example of the equivalent role in our time. His nation of origin was Jew, he was forced by war to emigrate from his country of birth, he became a naturalized citizen of another country, but his circle of influence grew to include the whole world.
Henry A. Kissinger, in full Henry Alfred Kissinger, (born May 27, 1923, Fürth, Germany), American political scientist, who, as adviser for national security affairs and secretary of state, was a major influence in the shaping of U.S. foreign policy from 1969 to 1976 under Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. In 1973 he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace with Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam for their efforts to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the Vietnam War.
Kissinger’s family immigrated to the United States in 1938 to escape the Nazi persecution of Jews. He became a naturalized citizen in 1943. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II and in the postwar U.S. military government of Germany. After leaving the service, he entered Harvard University, where he received a B.A. (1950) and a Ph.D. (1954). In 1954 he joined the faculty as an instructor, becoming professor of government in 1962 and director of the Defense Studies Program from 1959 to 1969. He also served as a consultant on security matters to various U.S. agencies from 1955 to 1968, spanning the administrations of Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Kissinger’s Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy (1957) established him as an authority on U.S. strategic policy. He opposed Secretary of State John Foster Dulles’s policy of planning nuclear “massive retaliation” to Soviet attack, advocating instead a “flexible response” combining the use of tactical nuclear weapons and conventional forces, as well as the development of weapons technology in accordance with strategic requirements…
Kissinger’s reputation as a political scientist led to his role as…assistant for national security affairs. He eventually came to serve as head of the National Security Council (1969–75) and as secretary of state (September 1973–January 20, 1977).
Daniel’s spiritual position in the Gentile kingdoms should be instantly recognized as being the same role as Joseph in the Egyptian Empire – a Melchizedekian priest-king for all people from all nations. See the post The Order of Melchizedek for details.
“Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt…and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt…And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands…And Joseph said…God…hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:41-44, 57; 45:8)
Like Joseph, Daniel’s people are the Hebrews. That includes us Gentile believers, folks. See the posts Father Abraham and Everything New is Old Again for details.
“neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off [what a pun!].
Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD [instead of the political ruler], to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, [instead of trusting in the political ruler for status, safety, prosperity like the eunuchs in ancient courts] every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The LORD God, which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others.” (Isaiah 56:4-8)
Isaiah’s promise to give eunuchs an “everlasting name” is not about fame. It’s about granting the power of everlasting life. This reflects ancient pagan practices of making sacrifices to the gods to extend the length, and improve the quality, of their ancestors’ afterlife. Details on this practice in the post Mark of the Beast. Biblically, this reflects YHVH’s promise that the Adam’s Seed would sacrifice himself to restore all humanity to life.
So if a man died without having a son, that meant not only the end of his family line, but also an end to his human essence in some mysterious and undefined way…It was believed that having a son was the only way a man could ensure his existence after passing away.
Having clarified that the Hebrews are God’s people, that doesn’t eliminate Israel as the lead ethnic group in the united states of Hebrews. The fact of a new covenant with Israel doesn’t completely do away with the other many everlasting covenants made with Israel. These remain in force after only part of the “If…Then” Covenant at Mount Sinai was fulfilled by Yeshua.
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people…Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 8:8-10, 9:12-15)
“remember that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh…aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ…who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us...For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:11-19)
Once we understand that Daniel’s people are the Hebrews – all the spiritual sons of Abraham from all nations – we get a whole new perspective on his prophecies.
“And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house [blood dynasty] of Jacob, and tell [another entity] the [adopted] children of Israel…IF ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people…And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” (Exodus 19:3-6)
“they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of [the Hebrew] Abraham, are they all children…That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed…Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles...they be called the children of the living God.” (Romans 9:6-8, 24-26)
“Peter, an [Messianic Jewish] apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers [newbies, previously Gentiles]…Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time…ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy…Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (I Peter 1:1-5, 2:9-12)
In contrast to many current religious leaders who demonstrate just enough biblical literacy to be dangerous, Yeshua’s disciples were solidly grounded in the entirety of Old Testament prophecy so had a depth and breadth of context in which to fit Jesus’ terse reply to their question of timing. Just like Jeremiah’s prophecy of 70 years’ incarceration was extended to 70 x 7 years of parole, so Yeshua broke the bad news that, despite the fulfillment of Daniel’s 70 weeks, “the end is not yet.” (Matthew 24:6)
Just think where the Gentile would be, or more accurately, wouldn’t be, if Jesus had returned when Stephen saw him poised to do so, and passed judgment on the rulers, including the Pharisee Saul / Paul. Are we beginning to understand the multiple reasons why Jesus delays his return?
“and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit…And Saul was consenting unto his death.” (Acts 7:58-8:1)
Even when opposing the Christ, like all the other world rulers YHVH used to chasten and conform his people into his image throughout the preceding 490 years, Saul / Paul accomplished YHVH’s will as recorded, though not understood, by Daniel.
“How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?
- And I [Daniel] heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be…
- when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.
And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:7-9)
“Jesus came and spake unto them, saying,
- All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
- Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:17-20)
“As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
“And I [John] saw another mighty angel come down from heaven…And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth…lifted up his hand to heaven. And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever…
- that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
- And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book…Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” (Revelation 10)
We have more than the two requisite witnesses to a truth: Daniel, Luke documenting Paul’s memories, John, and an angel from heaven.
The End Doesn’t Happen Until The Holy Power Is Scattered Throughout the World
Saul / Paul exemplifies for all who claim to witness of the Christ by bearing his name / identity that this entails suffering, and a self-sacrificing love for people whatever ethnicity they may be, however much they may have harmed us.
“he is a chosen vessel / messianic one unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel…great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16)
“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites…Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 9:1-5)
Nobody can deny the persecution that all the apostles did in fact experience, including suffering and martyrdom, and that their Christ-likeness is what spread the Gospel through the known world.
They were killed because they claimed to be eyewitnesses of Christ’s death and resurrection. They all died because of an unwavering, unrelenting claim that Christ rose from the grave…This article doesn’t cover all the evidence so you might want to check out 14 Evidences for the Resurrection of Jesus and 14 References.
The gruesome death of the apostles…is one of the greatest gifts God ever gave to the Church. It contributes much to Christian apologetics by answering the question “How can you be sure of the resurrection of Christ?”
“Then shall they deliver you [Christ’s followers] up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another…And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:9-14)
What we find when we don’t just hop and skip over Bible passages like a Chinese menu, choosing only the ones we like, is that ALL followers of YHVH’s Savior are called to witness of the resurrection of Christ through our faith that we too will be resurrected. And the greatest evidence of our faith in resurrection to a higher quality of life is our willingness to give up the lesser, though admittedly valued, benefits of this life, even to die if called to follow in that path.
“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And…became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him…to become the sons of God…we are the children of God:…if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Hebrews 5:7-8, John 1 :12, Romans 8:16-18)
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ…unto the church of God which is at Corinth…Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;” (II Corinthians 1:1-10)
“I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach [talk about, debate] Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death…stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” (Philippians 1:12-30)
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (I Peter 5:8-10)
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an [even just one] ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the [Gentile] churches. (Revelation 2:9-11)
I plagiarized the theme of the Bible from the Dresden Files book series by Jim Butcher. Beyond the basic escapism of well written mystery stories, the author vividly portrays hyper dimensional beings which helps me better conceptualize that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness in high places,” to understand what the early pagan converts understood.
Most of all, I like how the protagonist, Harry Dresden, portrays the essential right-eous character of self-sacrifice and perseverance against insurmountable odds in the face of death. You just don’t find heroes like him in contemporary Christian writing, fiction or otherwise. Unfortunately, the main focus in Christian writing is on what sins a character doesn’t commit rather than what acts of faith they commit to. Unlike the imperfect leaders in the Bible like Adam, Moses, David and Paul.
And we just don’t find spiritual heroes in real life either. And so, although YHVH’s Savior could have wrapped up the history of the world, thanks to a self-centered, self-serving, and self-indulgent bunch of religious leaders, humanity has been forced to endure 2000+ years of Middle Earth Times and still counting. Pardon me, but what a sorry bunch of cowards and deserters.
It can’t be that difficult to grasp that there are so few truly qualified leaders in the spiritual domain prepared to assume positions in God’s government.
The End comes when God’s ministers are prepared for the transition of power.
Surely we understand this on the lesser level of human government. When Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, his existing staff made it possible for him to immediately take over the government. Concurrently with writing this post, President Trump has been refusing to cooperate with a peaceful transition of power. This raises serious concerns for the ability of the incoming leaders to maintain the stability of the American government.
Democrats are growing increasingly alarmed as Mr. Trump repeatedly…suggests that he might not accept the results if he loses…
“He’s clearly accelerating his effort to set up a challenge to an outcome that is unfavorable to him…”
“Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus,” Mr. Romney wrote. “Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable.”
Surely we understand that on the far more powerful spiritual plane we mere mortals need to develop our spiritual abilities. Read a few of the Dresden Files books if you are drawing a blank here.
In God’s kingdom, we are meant to transform into the likeness of our Savior by following the same process he underwent – submitting our will to the will of the Father. And it’s not any more comfortable than a drug addict trying to kick a heroin or methamphetamine habit!
It is no different from any child developing social skills and self-control through mastering self-will through ever higher levels of practice, practice, practice. As one of my son’s high school teachers explained, “You decide if you want to work at a fast food restaurant or in a profession by how you apply yourself now.” You have to give up the comforts of sleeping in, staying up late to watch captivating television programs or play video games, and partying with friends. You have to withdraw into your own wilderness to study and acceptance rejection of family and friends who resent your changes. And frankly, only a small percentage of humanity does develop increased levels of ability and knowledge we call professionalism.
I had to quit going to prayer meetings, and every time someone asks me to pray for someone’s affliction, I have to bite back my response. “Please pray for God to….” How about you personally put yourself out like take a meal, spend time comforting and exhorting the afflicted, provide some financial support? God is not a vending machine! Christianity has devolved into a Name it and Claim it magical process even by the most devout.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God…
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office…according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness…Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.” (Romans 12:1-14)
So, we are stuck on a hamster wheel until spiritual leadership muscles up.
“And Jesus answered and said unto them…all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet…(Matthew 24:6)
“Comes to pass” describes a circular wheel passing over and over again, as in a printing press. The past informs our knowledge of the future. The Savior didn’t come up with new prophecy in Matthew 24. This list of catastrophes is the standard MO of biblical chastening of God’s people, whether the geopolitical state of Israel or the international body of believers.
“Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement…then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:4-8)
Ideally, these disasters drive humans from every walk of life, not just the Jewish religious leaders, to call out to the Most High God for salvation who they learned about from those who have merged their identity with YHVH’s savior.
“Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth…I will publish the name / ways of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he…
For the LORD shall judge his people…See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me / my name / family.” (Deuteronomy 32)
I don’t know about you, but I’ve a got a good life on this earth and I’m happy and at peace. I am loved by my family, I have more friends than I can keep up with, I make a very comfortable living and have a fulfilling career. I’m in no rush to have it end. Unlike untold millions of other people throughout history, I am not calling out for Jesus to save me from persecution or death.
I have to admit that redemption – of God’s People, of all Creation – is delayed by the lack of his people’s interest in it.
What will it take?
Absolutely not the prosperity gospel.
The right response to tribulation. God forgive us, we are not finding in church.
I’ve heard it on Audible.
Voices filled my ears. Thousands of whispering voices whispering secret, obscene things, vicious poisonous lies, horrible truths…I felt the pressure of those voices coursing into my head like ice picks…and there was nothing, nothing I could do to stop them. I felt a scream building…
And then a strong hand slammed down on the crown of my head, and a deep voice thundered [Clean what is unclean!”]
I opened my eyes to find Michael kneeling over me…His eyes were closed and his lips were moving…he murmured, “Lord of hosts, be with this good man and give him the strength to carry on.’
I didn’t feel anything mystic, there was no surge of power, or magic…just Michael’s quiet, steady strength, and the sincerity of the faith in his voice…I clenched my jaw…and pushed away the memory of those tiny, horrible words…the stinging tears…
“All of you, hear me,” he said quietly. He stood between them – fallen angels, monsters, and mortal fiends – and me. “You think your power is what shapes the world you walk in. But that is an illusion. Your choices shape your world. You think your power will protect you from the consequences of those choices. But you are wrong. You create your own rewards. There is a judge. There is justice in this world, and one day you will receive what you have earned. Choose carefully.”
He was in that moment a messenger, and no-one who heard him speak could doubt it.”
(From Skin Game, The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher.)