As in any good book, the Bible stays true to its theme from its introduction, expansion through the middle, to the climax at the end.
The take-home message: Winners stay in the battle through worsening circumstances.
“Beginning: “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 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)
Middle: “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.” (Habakkuk 1-3) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)
End: “the fourth kingdom upon earth…shall…wear out the saints of the most High…unto the end. And [then!] the kingdom and dominion…under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High.” (Daniel 7:21-22)
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!
“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 / battle…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)
“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)
“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)
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.
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)
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?…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…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?…
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…
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 Germany, his country of birth, he became a naturalized citizen of America, 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.
“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 YHVH’s Unique Power OVER DEATH Is Scattered Throughout The World BY God’s Faithful Followers
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, to be despised, rejected by family and friends, to lose our self-importance to identify with YHVH and his Savior, 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 title of this post 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.
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.)