Category Archives: Prophecy

Prophecy

New Seasons

Today I am a man without a job.  Not permanently- but it’s a weird feeling.  Yesterday was my last day at a job I have been blessed to have for the last 8 years.  I have met great people and had an excellent boss.  The Lord opened the doors for me to return with my family to my hometown of Southwest GA and a wonderful job opportunity there.  I will miss my family and friends here in Nebraska, but so look forward to new challenges that await back home.  Our life has gotten so hectic over the last year that I have been unable to really focus on my Biblical training or just life in general.  I look forward to new opportunities and returning to a church home where sound fundamental Bible preaching exists without the ever present ecumenical push by Pastors unwilling to stand strong on God’s Word and a clear cut plan of Salvation.  No – we are not all the same, No – we are not all in some pie in the sky church if we just “believe in God”, No – we are not all God’s children and just have different ways we come to Him.  My Bible plainly states by my Father that the ONLY way to Him is through His Son Jesus Christ and through the process of recognizing I am a sinner, asking for His forgiveness, turning from that sin, and asking His Son to be my Lord, Savior, and Propitiation for that sin and stand in my place!  It is not based on anything I have done, can do, or will do in the future to merit or to retain that Salvation.

As I see our Country continue to unravel and decline in moral and spiritual matters, I am saddened to know that we are most likely seeing a nation who is coming under judgment by a Holy God.  While it is so easy to get upset about Satan and his crowd ruining the spiritual fabric of this nation, I think we must realize that sadly much of this problem can be traced back to the spiritual cancer and decay within the walls of what once were fundamental Bible preaching and believing churches and institutions.  A revival of God’s people is greatly needed throughout the land if we would desire to once again see homes, churches, communities, and country following the old path and standing on God’s Word.  Until then, each one of us has the responsibility to do our part to lead our families in the way that pleases the Lord and seeks to fulfill His will in our own lives.

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The History of Biblical Interpretation

 When did Biblical interpretation come into use?  Why did it come into use?  Is there a correct or incorrect way to interpret Scripture; and, if so, are there consequences to its misuse and misapplication?  This paper will attempt to trace the early beginnings of Biblical interpretation through the post reformation era and the consequences on human history with each method. The majority basis for this discussion will be drawn from the work of Pentecost (Pentecost, 1958).  

 The topic of interpretation can be summed up in two schools:  Literal (also known as historical-grammatical) and Allegorical.  Both of these schools are very different in their approach to Scripture as will be shown.  The beginning of Interpretation as presented by Pentecost is generally held to be during the time of Ezra and the return of Israel from exile (Pentecost, 1958, p. 16).  Nehemiah, chapter 8, records that the people gathered together to hear the Scriptures read after being lost and neglected for many years.  Scripture records that, “they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8, KJV).  The need existed, due to the ignorance and neglect of Israel, to have the once familiar Scripture not only read to them, but also explained to them in detail.  The job called for a dissection of the Scripture and a presentation to the people in language they could understand and relate to as they had exchanged their native language with Aramaic while in exile (Pentecost, 1958, p. 16).  The job of Ezra would have been to read to them Scripture in the native tongue and translate its truth into the language of the people.  This task no doubt was a literal translation and explanation of Scripture as supported by Pentecost (Pentecost, 1958, p. 16).  It is clear that the method which Ezra executed, the Literal Interpretation, was indeed used by God to reach the people as Scripture records that the people understood what was read to them and became very sorrowful for their lack of respect and place of God’s Holy Word in their lives.  So much so, that Ezra, the Levites, and Nehemiah had to encourage the people to remain joyful in that the Scriptures had been found and had been declared unto them once again so that they could understand and obey God’s Word (Nehemiah 8:10-13, KJV).  Ezra’s approach to Scripture in a straight forward, literal rendering of interpretation gave the people God’s message as well as rendered results in God’s people.  The Literal Interpretation approach enabled God’s people to understand God’s Word in a straightforward sense by taking God at His word for what was required to have a relationship with Him.

The Literal Interpretation “gives to every word the same meaning it would have in normal usage, whether used in writing, speaking, or thinking” (Issues in Theology, 2012).  Unlike today where so many different types of commentaries, textbooks, and other study helps are available for review, Ezra would have had only the pure Scripture in front of him.  There was the absence of the huge volumes of literature that exist today that have perverted and twisted Scripture to make it conform and reach a goal or idea within a denomination’s belief system.  Ezra relied on Scripture and nothing but Scripture.  He read, believed, and presented the Scripture in the Literal method of hermeneutical practice.  Because of this, the people under Ezra had a clear and understandable Word of God.

Not only did Ezra practice a Literal interpretation of Scripture, but it can also be shown that the process of Old Testament Interpretation as a whole involved a Literal Hermeneutical approach.  While Rabbinism had flaws that would cause its end result to be incorrect, the method of its approach to Scripture was Literal. This fact is further supported by the Catholic Theologian Jerome who confirmed the Literal approach to Scripture as being Jewish (Pentecost, 1974). The problem, as stated by Pentecost, in their arrival of wrong Spiritual doctrine was not due to Literal interpretation of Scripture, but was indeed in their misapplication of that information (Pentecost, 1974).  Rabbinical interpretation of Scripture was completed under thirteen rules which were further amplifications of the previous seven rules of Hillel (Killian, n.d.).  These rules promoted a literal interpretation of Scripture and to this discussion there is no other conclusion.  The weakness to this system, however, was the practice of Letterism, which involved the strong held beliefs by the Rabbinical schools that every single item within the Scripture, including grammatical and numerical inferences, were there for a purpose and that from a text many meanings could be drawn out (Ramm, 1970).  These fallacies, along with the strongly respected existence of tradition laid a snare in which many interpreters of this time fell into thereby causing false application of Scripture (Ramm, 1970).

During the time of Christ, Literalism appears to have been the majority hermeneutical practice among the Jews (Pentecost, 1974).  This was also the case with the Apostles and New Testament writers (Pentecost, 1974).  In fact, during the first century, it is the Egyptian Jews who are first seen using allegorical application to hermeneutical principles in attempt to be more like the Greeks (Pentecost, 1974).  It is Philo who begins using the Allegorical approach to Scripture in hopes of marrying the Greek and Jewish belief systems together so that it would be accepted by what he considered to be a more advanced Greek society (Pentecost, 1974)..  The rise of Allegorism could be, in part, the result of a period of time in the first century in which many problems existed for Biblical interpreters during that time.  Included in these were the fact that there was no established cannon of neither the Old or New Testament texts; work was being built upon previously false translations of Scripture; rules previously employed by Rabbinical schools were wrongly applied to the texts; and there was abundant pagan and Jewish practices within society thereby further causing confusion and roadblocks to an honest attempt at interpreting Scripture (Pentecost, 1974).

The Patristic period saw the emergence of three different hermeneutical schools of thought late in that era that arose out of the chaos of differing philosophical, cultural, and religious beliefs (Pentecost, 1974). These schools were known as the Literal and Realistic; the Allegorical; and the Historical and Grammatical (Pentecost, 1974).  This period is generally held to be from the death of the Apostle John to the middle ages, 100-450 A.D. (McMahon, 2013).  It is during this time that the church underwent persecution from Roman emperors yet still became a legal religion under Constantine is 321 A.D. (McMahon, 2013).  Two cities that were of importance during this time in the teaching of hermeneutical processes were that of Alexandria and Antioch.

Aristobulus was part of the foundation of the Allegorical school of which beliefs Philo would eventually adopt and expand on false conclusions from poor exegesis of the Scriptures.  The goal of Philo, as already discussed, was to create an environment of perceived harmony among both Jew and Greek philosophy so that the educated Greek society would welcome the antiquated Jewish Mosaic law.  To accomplish this, Philo accepted and promoted earlier concepts of Aristobulus that Greek Philosophy arose from Old Testament teachings and that Greek philosophers, including Aristotle, were simply using tenets of philosophy already put in place by Moses and the Prophets earlier in time (Pentecost, 1974).  Philo had great influence with these teachings within the school of Alexandria and relied on the Allegorical method to mesh the two society’s religious and philosophical beliefs together (Pentecost, 1974).  This school of thought was further moved forward through the teachings of Pantaenus and Clement of Alexandria, who believed in divine origin of Greek philosophy and therefore the only way that Scriptures could be understood was through the Allegorical lens of interpretation (Pentecost, 1974).  Origen would later develop, at the school of Alexandria, the formal allegorical method by which Scripture would be exegeted.  His approach included a three point approach that acknowledged that:  (1) Scripture had a literal meaning but hid a higher idea; (2) Scripture had a moral meaning that could be used to edify the people; and (3) Scripture had a mystical sense for those of higher intellect who could draw from the deeper knowledge (Pentecost, 1974).

The sad reality of the heretical use of the Allegorical method during this time was that it was the answer for two other false approaches to Scripture.  The first was ecclesiasticism, which placed the church as the supreme authority of Scriptural interpretation (Pentecost, 1974).  Augustine was the first to use this approach which made Scripture conform to the church and its perceived interpretation of its content rather than the opposite (Pentecost, 1974).  The second false approach, as already discussed, was that of Jewish Letterism.  This was also a belief that the people desired to be emancipated from as well as other philosophical heresies of the time (Pentecost, 1974).  The dilemma seen with any of these approaches is that those seeking to know the reality and truth of Scripture are bound to the teachings of mortal men as divine proclamation.  The Allegorical method, in its attempt to fuse Greek Philosophy and Jewish Law, was a colossal compromise by early scholars which did great harm to Scriptural integrity and further deprived the people of this period from a plain and truthful view of Scripture.

The School of Antioch stood in stark contrast to that of Alexandria in that it rejected the Allegorical method and stood firmly for the use of a Literal interpretation of Scripture (Pentecost, 1974).  Diodorus of Tarsus is credited as the founder of the School at Antioch with a strong emphasis placed on the literal exposition of Scripture (Pentecost, 1974).  It was his student, Theodore of Mopsuestia, however, that was the true star pupil of the day with the ability to best represent this system to the world.  His study of Scripture was guided by  three steps:  (1)the sequence of thought of the writer; (2)the phraseology and separate clauses that are being used in the passage; and (3)an arrival of a properly exegeted passage that is capable of being understood and applied (Pentecost, 1974).  In the end, it was the Allegorical method of interpretation that prevailed due out of necessity for ecclesiasticism which Augustine presented that required the engine of Allegorical interpretation to make Scripture fit beliefs and practices of the church and ensure that the church would continue to maintain power and control over the people.  Had it not been for this political agenda, the School of Antioch could have changed history had it prevailed and possibly prevented centuries of heretical teaching and misfortune among all of humanity.

Following this period, and as the result of the School of Antioch being dismissed as heretical practice, a spiritual darkness from the seventh to sixteenth centuries ensued which produced nine centuries of silence from practically any fundamentally sound literal interpretation of Scripture (Pentecost, 1974).  During this period, there was no solid attempt to draw a correct view of Scripture, but rather a continued heretical practice of twisting the Word to fit the needs of the governmental church and its corrupted leaders.  There was, no doubt, a remnant of believers during these dark years who held a literal view and belief in Scripture, but the vast majority of subjects were trapped in the quagmire of misapplied and abused Scripture.

Thankfully, these long dark years of spiritual ignorance and corruption began to turn around during the time known as the Reformation Period (Pentecost, 1974).  It is during this time that people such as Valla rightfully concluded that Scripture, to be rightfully interpreted, must be viewed through the lens of the laws of grammar and language (Pentecost, 1974).  This would call for a literal interpretation hermeneutic, and thus popularity of this approach slowly began to gain traction.  Erasmus was another key person during this time who laid strong importance on the grammatical interpretation of Scripture, and thereby also shining light on the practice of a literalistic approach (Pentecost, 1974).  This Reformation Period was indeed the catalyst that caused the return to a literal approach to the interpretation of God’s Word.

It is also during this time in history that, as allegorical interpretation began to lose its grip on the world, that a new doctrine began to emerge among the reformers.  This doctrine would later be known as the Perspicuity of Scripture (Breshears, nd).  Simply defined, Perspicuity of Scripture implies that anyone of any intellect is able to read the Word of God and draw from it the means of Salvation and how to live a life pleasing to God (Breshears, nd).  With this idea came the growing desire to put Scriptures into the language of the common people, as well as a growing revelation among the people that the Governmental Church was not the voice of God.  With the new found freedom in private religious study came a growing public consensus that God’s Word is for every person – not just a select few who are said to speak on His behalf.

One of the key figures during this time was Martin Luther.  Luther believed strongly in the practice of a literal interpretation of Scripture, but also on the importance of using correct grammatical principles in this process (Pentecost, 1974).  Luther was very dedicated to seeing that the common person would have not only the Word of God, but the hermeneutical mechanics whereby to correctly discern and interpret its message (Pentecost, 1974).  Luther’s belief included the idea that traditions of the church were not necessary to understand the pure Gospel, but rather the Gospel could be understood by any person as it was God’s desire for every person to know Him and had written His Word in such a way that this could be accomplished by anyone desiring to know the truth (Breshears, nd).  Perhaps the greatest gift that Luther gave to the Reformation Period was his work of putting the Word of God into the German language – the language of the common people – in his own land and for the first time in history, allowing every man, woman, child, family, and community the ability to read and understand God’s message (Breshears, nd).  This act would be greatly rejected by the church, so much that it was viewed as an act of incompetence and danger placing Scripture into the hands of the unlearned laity.  In contrast, however, it would finally provide the people with the Spiritual freedom they had needed (Breshears, nd).

Martin Luther’s rules for interpretation were quite simple, yet very foundational to the Christian faith and practice.  Luther believed that the final authority of any interpretive measure rested in Scripture alone, and that Holy Scripture was all sufficient and without need for any further clarification or addition from the church, government, or mankind (Pentecost, 1974).  This also extended to each individual passage, whereby Luther rightly contended that every passage has but one very clear and definite meaning, and that other ideas or applications drawn from that intended meaning is simply man’s opinion (Pentecost, 1974).  This belief upheld the doctrine known as perspicuity of Scripture and in doing so, thereby greatly rejected allegorical interpretation as a valid tool and proclaimed it as heretical practice (Breshears, nd).  Finally, Luther was perhaps one of the first to maintain the ability, privilege, and right of believers to make private judgment in line with doctrine of spiritual priesthood of all believers and apart from the need of oversight or explanation of the church (Pentecost, 1974).  Martin Luther provided much fuel to the fires of the Reformation and helped bring a world out of Spiritual darkness.

John Calvin was also very instrumental in the Reformation.  Calvin’s defense against allegorical interpretation was so strong that it was said that no one had produced such a  stance in Philo’s method in over a thousand years (Pentecost, 1974).  While Calvin, like Luther, believed in the Perspicuity of Scripture, he also maintained that such knowledge came with a deliberate and consistent attempt to study and draw from God’s Word that which God desired for mankind to know.  He maintained that it was through the illumination by the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer that helped to bring about this understanding, and that the church was to be used as a nurturing element of every believer through its use of sound biblical teachers (Breshears, nd).  Calvin introduced the new exegesis known as grammatico-historical during this period which gave more credence to the Literal interpretation of Scripture.  His method reaffirmed the thought that the original Bible authors indeed had one concise thought for a passage, which could be literal or figurative, but not both at the same time (Pentecost, 1974).  He further stated that explanation of Scripture and application of Scripture are two separate actions, but the application of Scripture must always be in line with the explanation of the text (Pentecost, 1974).  Calvin’s work would continue to be used to help influence a new generation of scholars and preachers over the next two centuries, of which the truth of Scripture and need for Literal interpretation would continue to grow and gain popularity.

The Reformers held a critical and most crucial place in history in relation to turning a world of darkness back towards proper interpretation of Scripture.  Their work enabled the masses to once again begin viewing God’s Word as the supreme authority and without need of any additional aid or revision by the church, tradition, or other written works (Pentecost, 1974).  The Roman Church would attack this progress in 1545 with the Council of Trent (Breshears, nd).  The purpose of this council was to reaffirm the church and its sole authority of the interpretation and administration of Scripture.  Those who wish to continue to promote interpretations outside of the church were deemed to be heretical and punishable under law (Breshears, nd). Well into the 17th century, Protestants and Catholics continued to debate this position.  The foundational issues of the debate continued to be:  Who has the supreme authority to interpret Scripture? What method should be used to interpret? And how does one handle the unresolved unclear portions of God’s Word (Breshears, nd)?  Progress in the battle for religious freedom came very slow and with great assault from the opposing side.

Post-Reformation would continue to be a time of growing and establishing, once again, the literal interpretation of Scripture.  Even the church and its attempt to silence the masses of their right to individual interpretation through laws and punishment was not enough to quench the desire for a man to know his God on a personal level through studying the written Word.  There were great men during this period who also stepped forward to drive the continued success of this method.  One of these men was John Augustus Ernesti, who proclaimed that the Bible must be interpreted with the same process and principles as any other book (Pentecost, 1974).  His school taught based on these principles which did much to strengthen the stand for a literal method of interpretation.  Ernesti also produced a work on New Testament interpretation wherein four principles were introduced that would become invaluable to the student: (1) only the literal sense of Scripture should be maintained; (2) allegorical and typological interpretations should be rejected except only in those cases where it is clear that the author intended for the passage to be interpreted in that light; (3) the Bible should always be interpreted just as any other literary piece would be; and (4) dogma cannot be used to arrive at a literal sense (Pentecost, 1974).  Ernesti’s work would be a beacon of truth in the interpretation of Scripture in whose reach would extend into modern times (Ramm, 1970).

The Post-Reformation period did much to continue to return the people to a literal sense of exegesis that was began by the work of the Reformers such as Lutheran and Calvin.  It must not be forgotten, however, that the origin of the literalistic approach to interpretation of Scripture began with Ezra many centuries before, but due to greed and a desire to control the people, the allegorical interpretive method was allowed to take traction and derail proper exegesis of Scripture for centuries.  It is therefore necessary – if not absolutely mandatory – that the student of the Bible today maintains the strong literal hermeneutical approach to Scripture.  The student of the Bible must guard against any attempt to be led down the road to allegorical interpretation that desires to spiritualize Scripture and bring people back into the bonds of having Scripture and doctrine mandated to them by heretical systems and teachers.  Truth – absolute truth – is to be found within the pages of Holy Scripture and is available for all who wish to partake.  God’s Word is not a spiritual gift that is hid for the few to know and understand, but rather a proclamation to the world to proclaim to every person how to have a personal relationship with Him.  Scripture is not relegated to mystical sayings and hidden meanings that must be defined by scholars and those in power, but rather is simple enough that a young child can draw from its waters without fear of drowning and the old saint can dive into its depths and never reach its end.  God’s Word is the source of life, redemption, and eternal abode.  The message of Scripture should be understood and interpreted in the same light as its true Author- literally.

References

Issues in Theology. (2012). Retrieved October 20, 2012, from Ezra Ministries: http://www.ezraministries.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Literal-vs-Allegorical-Interpretation_08_21_2011.pdf

Breshears, G. (nd). The Perspicuity of Scripture. Retrieved October 22, 2013, from Western Seminary: http://westernseminary.edu/papers/faculty/breshears/perspicuity.doc

Killian, G. (n.d.). The thirteen rules of Rabbi Ishmael. Retrieved September 2, 2013, from Betemunah: http://www.betemunah.org/rules.html

McMahon, M. (2013). Introduction to historical theology- The Patristic period. Retrieved September 2, 2013, from A Puritan Mind: http://www.apuritansmind.com/historical-theology/introduction-to-historical-theology-the-patristic-period-c-100-450/

Pentecost, D. J. (1974). Things To Come. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Ramm, B. (1970). Protestant Biblical Interpretation. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Cushing-Malloy, Inc.

 

 

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The Literal Method of Interpretation

The Literal Method of Interpretation

            The Literal method of interpretation stands in direct opposition of the Allegorical method discussed in the previous study.  The Literal method of interpretation is defined by Pentecost as “that method that gives to each word the same exact basic meaning it would have in a normal, ordinary, customary usage, whether employed in writing, speaking, or thinking.” (Pentecost, 1974)  In short, this could be stated in the more simple idea that God meant exactly what He wrote.  There is no need for trying to decipher words or phrases in search of some “deeper meaning”.  The Literal method also employs using both the grammatical and historical considerations of the passage, which helps to bring writing from antiquity into a more understandable meaning today as it also accounts for customs and practices of that time period. (Pentecost, 1974)

It is noted by Ramm that Ezra is considered to be the first of the Jewish Interpreters and therefore the first instance of using Biblical hermeneutics. (Ramm, 1970)  As this method moves throughout history, the key component of its practice is that the interpreters continue to use the Word of God as the Authority for interpretation and that interpretation is based in a literal rendering of the passage.  Some of the key rules developed during these periods in history are still in use today.  Ramm points out that these include:  (i)Words must be understood in terms of the sentence , and a sentence in terms of its context. (ii) Scriptures dealing with similar topics should be compared to relieve apparent contradictions. (iii) Clear passages should be given preference over one less evident if both are dealing with the same subject matter. (iv) Very close attention should be paid to spelling, grammar, and figures of speech.  (v) Logic can be used to determine the application of Scripture to problems in life not specifically treated, and (vi) God has chosen to speak in the tongue of man so that he can understand it.  (Ramm, 1970)

There would continue to be schools of Allegorists to emerge during this same time and would be in direct opposition to the Literal approach but much support can be given for the Literal method.  Some of these included by Pentecost are:  (i) The literal meaning of sentences if used as the normal approach for all languages. (ii) Any secondary meanings found in the passage are dependent upon the previous literal meaning of the terms. (iii) The majority of Scripture makes adequate sense when interpreted literally.  (iv) The literal approach maintains room for figures of speech, symbols, allegories, and types when the nature of the passage demands so.  (v) The literal approach is the only approach that offers a way to check and confirm the interpretation. (vi) This approach clearly fits with the nature of Inspiration of Scripture. (Pentecost, 1974)  One point to re-emphasize is the fact that the Literal method does allow for figurative speech.  When figurative speech occurs in the Scripture, the Bible student realizes that the purpose of the figurative speech is to reveal a literal truth but never at the cost of destroying the literal truth that is intended in the Scripture. (Pentecost, 1974)

The Literal approach is certainly not without its objectors.  Three objections are brought out by Pentecost concerning this approach:  (i) The Bible contains figures of speech. (ii) God is a spirit and therefore the teachings of Scripture are Spiritual in nature and are taught with earthly objects and human relationships. (iii) The Old Testament holds deeper meaning in its words than what they appear to literally contain. (Pentecost, 1974)  How is the Bible student to answer the critics on these objections?  Is there merit for these complaints of the Literal method?  In answer to the appearance of the figures of speech found in Scripture, it has already been shown that both the literal method and figures of speech can easily co-exist within the boundaries of sound hermeneutical practice as long as the Bible student realizes that the figures of speech are there to reveal a literal truth.  The student must remember that the Literal method includes the historical characteristics as well, which include figures of speech possibly found and known to the people of the period.  For example, all throughout Scripture the Lord is referred to as the “Shepherd”.  The Bible student clearly understands that the Lord is not a physical Shepherd in the sense of having sheep, a sheepfold, pasture, etc.  The figure of speech however is used to express the great and marvelous fact that the Lord very much has the duties and characteristics of a Shepherd towards His people.  No harm is done with the fact that this “picture” is used to teach the literal truth of God’s provision and protection for His children.  Literal methods of interpretation and figures of speech can be used in harmony.

The second attack on the Literal method employs the idea that, because God is a Spirit, there is no “tangible” teaching of literal things to be drawn out of Scripture.  There is merely “ideas” and “life mottos” that one can take and use to commune with God on a Spiritual plane.  God simply used earthly objects and human relationships understandable by carnal man to present Spiritual teaching.  This idea would be used to support the heretical Allegorical approach.  Things such as the Garden of Eden, The Flood, even Satan himself are “stories” to present a humanistic lesson to mankind.  This could not be further from the truth!  God, though existing in Spirit, very much longs for His creation to know Him and to know His Word.  It is not a Book of suggestions and ideas, but is a Living Book that is overflowing with literal truth for the Christian.  It is the Literal accounts of Biblical lives of God’s people and truths given to mankind inspired by the Spirit.  Sin is real.  The penalty for sin is real.  A real Hell awaits for all those who die without Christ.  What a sad account it would be if that is where it ended!  There is also the fact that Christ and His Sacrifice is real!  Salvation through His shed blood is real!  Heaven and the future Kingdom and new Heavens and Earth are real!  The idea of “spiritual” ideas and philosophies without tangible truths is totally unfounded.

           The last argument deals with the idea that there is more in the Old Testament that meets the eye.  Lessons and truths brought forth in the Old Testament and discussed in the New Testament seem to perhaps go deeper than realized at first glance.  Interpreters then use this idea to allegorize Scripture.  When the Bible student truly studies this relationship, however, the conclusion is arrived that shows the New Testament truths of the Old Testament are brought about through literal fulfillment.  Types are many times used in the New Testament to refer back to the Old Testament, yet this is not allegorization.  Just as with figures of speech, types are used to represent and teach a literal truth that can be used by the believer.  God has perfectly chosen the components of Scripture for mankind.  Its truths are real.  The Literal interpretive approach is the only vehicle through which the Bible student can arrive confidently at the intent and teaching of Scripture.

Bibliography

Pentecost, D. J. (1974). Things To Come. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Ramm, B. (1970). Protestant Biblical Interpretation. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Cushing-Malloy, Inc.

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The Dangers of Misusing Allegorical Interpretation

The Dangers of Misusing Allegorical Interpretation

            The proper interpretation of Scripture is crucial to the Bible student if he wishes to correctly know and apply Biblical knowledge to his life.  It is no different than attempting to read a road map with a distorted view or complete misunderstanding of which highways lead to the destination one needs.  If the wrong highway is chosen, then the destination could be missed by blocks or by thousands of miles.  In either case, the person fails to reach the destination.  It doesn’t matter how much they trusted in the map because, although the information was placed there correctly by the original writer, misuse and ignorance of proper utilization by the map user negated the true facts and caused him to err in his travel.  Such is a simple example of Biblical Interpretation.  When one fails to use the Literal Interpretation of Scripture and trusts in Allegorical “suggestions”, there is no end to the number of destinations one will arrive at.  One thing remains certain, however:  among all the many directions Allegorical Interpretation can take the Bible student, it will never deliver them to the true destination of correct Biblical Exegesis of Scripture.

Allegorical Interpretation can be defined as “the method of interpreting a literary text that regards the literary sense as the vehicle for a secondary, more spiritual and more profound sense.” (Ramm, 1970)  A simple paraphrase of this definition could be stated:  “read between the lines”.  Its belief is that the words are simply the method of delivery to the reader and its underlying tones and unwritten meaning must be gleaned by “experienced scholars” and delivered to the layman.  This lie has been propagated for thousands of years by Roman Catholicism who have taught its people that only the “church” can truly read and understand what Holy Scripture says and therefore must be the “voice of God” and the only one to distribute “knowledge” to the people.  This has created untold wars throughout history, but sadder is the fact that it has sent untold millions to an eternity of damnation.

The Bible student would do well to understand that, according to Pentecost, there are three real dangers associated with Allegorical Interpretation of Scripture. (Pentecost, 1974)  These are not mere “grey areas” of argument and debate but are indeed core problems with the very root of this Interpretive System.   The first danger associated with Allegorical Interpretation is that it does not interpret Scripture.  This makes it very easy for the interpreter to make very broad and even abominable uses of God’s Word.  It leaves the area of passage interpretation open to much speculation.  An account such as the Creation Story found in Genesis 1 is held by true Bible Students of the Literal Interpretative method as the documentation of the actual events involving actual people in history past.  Because of this, the student realizes the origin of sin in mankind, the reason for the depravity of man up until this time in history, and the future judgment as well as redemption that awaits different groups of people.  Not so with the Allegorical approach.  Much speculation and “fairy tale” characteristics are attributed to this account under that system.  God’s powerful and mighty Word is reduced to nothing more than a “bedtime story” for children that speaks of “make believe” events that help the reader to understand good and evil on earth, thereby rendering the transforming power of the Word as “none effect” in the heart of the unregenerate.

The second danger seen in the Allegorical Interpretative approach to Scripture is that it moves the Authority of Scriptures from the Word itself to mankind.  This is perhaps the most dangerous error of the three in that it takes God’s Sovereign and Omniscient power as Creator and delegates it to a product of His creation:  man.  There is the absence of the believer being “illuminated” by the Spirit as he reads the Scriptures in humble and authentic thirst for the Word and is replaced by total dependence upon a man and his view of the passage.  Intense study and prayer in search of Biblical meaning has been replaced by “soaking up” another man’s unfounded beliefs and opinions.  The student is easily led down the path of heresy because of the lack of personal diligence and labor in the pages of God’s Word.  His sword is “dull” so to speak, and he is simply unable to rightly divide the Word of Truth in this setting.  This has been seen throughout history with the endless number of Cults who have mislead countless numbers of people away from God’s true Word to that of manmade religion and idolatry.

The third danger of using Allegorical approach to Interpreting Scripture is simply that there is no way to test the conclusions of the Interpreter.  Without solid Literal Interpretation and a clear “black and white” approach to the passage, there is no way for the Bible student to reproduce the same meaning or message of the text in question.  It is opinion.  Just as in Science, if there is no way to repeatedly glean the same meaning from the experiment, then there is no way to fully rest in the satisfaction and security of its contents.  Allegorical Interpretation stands guilty of this practice time and time again.  Once again, its unfounded beliefs and practices have been used throughout history to twist and pervert God’s Word offering alternate views of the Gospel and of even sin itself.

The Allegorical approach to Scripture is a very dangerous practice.  Its conclusions are the attempts of man to create a Utopia on Earth and be “co-laborers” with God in the Redemptive process of mankind.  Its teachings lead people in spiritual darkness and in the end can deliver their souls to an eternity of hell and damnation.  The Allegorical approach to Scripture must at all costs be avoided by the Bible student seeking to know the truth.

Bibliography

Pentecost, D. J. (1974). Things To Come. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Ramm, B. (1970). Protestant Biblical Interpretation. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Cushing-Malloy, Inc.

 

 

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Hermeneutics and Its Critical Role to Biblical Interpretation

Hermeneutics and Its Critical Role To Biblical Interpretation

            The task of interpreting what the world views as the “antiquated literature” of Scripture has been one of special challenges down through the centuries.  Unlike other written works, however, man’s eternal soul and fate rests on its correct translation and application.  For this reason, a thorough understanding and working knowledge of Hermeneutics is an absolutely necessary tool for the Bible student.  Hermeneutics is simply defined as the science and art of Biblical interpretation.  While its definition may be simple, it correct use and application is something of a weightier matter.

The study of Hermeneutics accomplishes many things for the Bible student, of which the most important is without question to rightly understand what God has said to mankind in His Holy Word.  An improper or absent use of a hermeneutical principle can yield something as small as an ignorant idea to as something as serious as an occult teaching.  Another useful benefit of correct hermeneutical practice is that it helps the Bible student to better understand what the Biblical writers actually penned.  Whether it be a language, culture, geographical, or religious barrier, Hermeneutics helps to clear the picture of the past and translate the true meaning into the “thought” or “language” of today.

There are two basic approaches to the interpretation of Scripture:  Literal and Allegorical.  It is how one views these approaches that ultimately shapes his Biblical doctrine and Eschatological beliefs.  For example, if one approaches Scripture with the Literal approach, he would expect the Book of Revelation to describe events yet still in the future- including a thousand year reign on Earth by Christ Himself upon the throne of David.  The Literal approach takes God literally when it is possible to do so.  Literal interpretation takes God’s message delivered to the Writers and trusts exactly what has been penned down to have occurred or to occur exactly as it has been recorded.  There is little room for compromise or alternative definitions when the Bible student takes this approach.  The logical conclusion of Literal interpretation, therefore, is that the Bible student will come away from the study of the Scripture with a very definite and clearly defined view of the passage.  When the Bible student taking a Literal interpretative approach reads:  “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire,” it is with clear understanding that it is realized that a devastating and physical future judgment awaits those who reject Christ.  (Revelation 20:15, KJV) 1

In sharp contrast to the Literal interpretation of Scripture, the Allegorical interpretation leaves much room for misinterpretation and even gross misuse of Scripture.  The Allegorical method would move away from a “statement” that the Scripture is teaching to more of a global “idea” of the passage.  Literal words and sayings become nothing more than “pictures” and “symbols” used to support the view of the one doing the Interpretation.  Because of this, the logical conclusion of using this method of interpretation of Scripture can be summed up in one word:  chaos.  The Bible student who employs this approach to his studies does nothing more than put his faith in what or whom he is learning from.  Sadly this approach has been used to condone homosexuality, polygamy, drinking, and other Sociological problems of today.  It has also robbed the Bible student of the “blessed hope” of the future Rapture and Millennial Kingdom as this approach commonly denies the two events.  This approach commonly takes the Bible student from relying on the Holy Spirit for illumination of Scripture in personal study to a dependency upon “scholars” who claim to know how to interpret the sayings of old.  It is a means of Interpretation best left in the waste can of liberal teachers from which it originated.

Endnotes

1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.

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God’s Future Kingdom: The Best Is Yet To Come!

God’s Future Kingdom:  The Best Is Yet To Come

            God is a God of order.  Throughout over 6,000 years of human history, God has always fulfilled His word just as He promised.  These facts should bring comfort to the believer while issuing a cold warning to the unregenerate at heart.  The same God that sent His Son in millennium past to offer Salvation to His creation will soon judge in righteousness those who have neglected the call.  Included in this righteous judgment will not only be those unsaved peoples and multitudes throughout the ages, but also the architect of evil and immorality himself:  Satan, and his fallen band of angels.  Throughout the present time, Satan has been allowed dominion of this world, and “walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8, KJV).¹  There is coming a time soon when this domination will finally end.  That time will begin with the Millennial reign of Christ upon this Earth.  Daniel records that Christ will indeed be the ruler of this Kingdom, and that, while the period will last for one thousand years, the Kingdom itself will last for all eternity (Daniel 2:44; 7:18, KJV).

The future Kingdom will be one in which Righteousness will reign.  Isaiah records that it will be a time of peace without end, as Christ rules from the earthly throne of David to “establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever” (Isaiah 9:7, KJV).  Unlike today where sin abounds and evil appears to prevail, the future Kingdom will be a government which operates as God intended.  This will also be accomplished by Satan being bound by God in the bottomless pit for the entire 1,000 year period (Revelation 20:1-2, KJV).  This will be the first time in history where Satan is bound!  With the “accuser of the brethren” being subdued, Righteousness will flourish during this time, and sin will quickly be punished and put down.

Isaiah further records that the Kingdom period will be a time when “they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.  They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat…” (Isaiah 65:21-22, KJV).  It indeed will be a peaceful, joyous time when God will allow His people to enjoy the long awaited reign of her Messiah.  It will once again be a time in which man will work the land and enjoy the fruits thereof.  Even nature itself will respect its Creator as “the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock:  and dust shall be the serpent’s meat”  (Isaiah 65:25, KJV).  Both the human and animal kingdom will recognize and give honor to the Creator and Lord of all.

The inhabitants of this future Kingdom will be comprised of two groups of people alive at the end of the Great Tribulation.  First, those believers who are alive at the end of the Great Tribulation period will enter into the New Kingdom in their physical bodies.  These Gentiles will have accepted Christ as their Savior during the Tribulation period.  The Second group will be those Jews who have also accepted Christ as their Messiah during this period of time.  The Book of Matthew records these events (Matthew 25, KJV).  People will continue to procreate during this one thousand year reign, and those born during this age must accept Christ as their Savior just as has been the case throughout history.  This will, in essence, create a third group of people during this period, which will indeed be those who are unregenerate and in need of a Savior.

At the end of this one thousand year reign, Satan will be loosed for an amount of time in a final attempt to be like God.  Revelation records that Satan will be utterly and totally put down at this time and will be cast into the Lake of Fire for all of eternity (Revelation 20:7-10,KJV).  It is also at this time the new heaven and the new earth will be presented by God, along with the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21, KJV).  What a glorious time this will be as once and for all, God will have completed His restorative work of His creation!  The Jewish people will finally realize the promise of their physical land for all of eternity with Christ reigning from the throne of David on this new earth.  The church will inhabit the New Jerusalem, and will enjoy a city which needs no sun nor moon for light, “for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Revelation 21:23, KJV).  Every saint will have access to each place, and will forever be with their Savior and Messiah.  The relationship of the Kingdom to the new Heavens, Earth, and the New Jerusalem will be in complete harmony, as believers will travel to and from these locations throughout eternity in the worship and service of the Lord and Savior. 

These events still await in the portals of eternity future.  There has not been such a Kingdom set up at this time in history and cannot be established until all of God’s Word is fulfilled in the order of His timing.  God is a God of truth.  His Word does not return void.  As He has written, so shall it be.  Truly, the best is yet to come.

Endnotes

1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.

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The chronological events of the Second Coming of Christ

One of the dividing lines within the Christian community is without a doubt, the teaching of the Second Coming of Christ and its significance to the world today.  There are those who hold the Historical view that claim that all the end time events between the 1st and 2nd coming, including chapters 4-19 of Revelation, have already occurred and there is nothing in the future except that of Christ’s return.  The viewpoint of the Preterist says that all events concluded in 70 A.D. and Christ’s Second Coming is all that waits.  Still, others hold to a non-literal viewpoint of the book of Revelation and take an Allegorical approach.  All three preceding viewpoints do not take a literal view of Scripture as one should in reading God’s Word.  The Futuristic approach is undeniably the most accurate, most literal, and most sincere way to define and interpret the book of Revelation.   To hold a Futuristic viewpoint necessitates that those events mentioned after Revelation 4:1 are events that are yet unfulfilled and remain fully active in God’s prophetic time table.  One such event is indeed the Second Coming of Jesus Christ back to this earth.

The Second Coming of Christ can be seen in two stages.  The first stage of this event occurs at the Rapture, mentioned- though unnamed- in Revelation, chapter 4:  “…behold, a door was opened in heaven:  and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, come up hither…”(Revelation 4:1, KJV).1  Christ will descend out of heaven and the saints 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 4:17, KJV).  At this point, the church will be removed off the face of the earth and the seven year period known as the Tribulation will begin.  This event was indeed an occurrence to which the Old Testament Prophets were unable to see and recognize.  They were grounded in the fact of the Lord’s return one day to set up His Kingdom, yet could not foresee the Church and the age to which it would occupy.  For this reason, and by God’s design and perfect will, the Old Testament Scriptures prophesy and proclaim the Second Coming of Christ back to the earth, which event is still future and will culminate at the end of the last 3 ½ years at the campaign of Armageddon. 

The Second stage of Christ’s Second Coming is realized in Revelation, chapter 19, as John presents him coming in the clouds “on a white horse…and the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses…” (Revelation 19:11,14, KJV).  Christ will, at this time, physically return to the earth and his feet will rest on the Mount of Olives, causing it to split and make way for the enemies of Israel to flee into the Jezreel valley (Zechariah 14:4,5).  Christ is seen at this time returning with his saints to put down the rule of the Satanic trinity.  At this point, Jerusalem will have been invaded by her enemies, the women raped, and part of the city devastated according to the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 14:2, KJV).  The purpose of Christ’s return is so that he shall “go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle” (Zechariah 14:3, KJV).  This battle will come to full fruition in the Jezreel valley where Christ will put down the enemies of Israel.  That battle will be so great that the blood will flow up to the horse’s bridles for a distance of 176 miles (Revelation 14:20, KJV).  At the end of this campaign, Christ will make the trek of 176 miles to the land of Edom, unto Bozrah, where the fortified city of Petra will have served as the divine protection of the Jews during this period (Isaiah 63:1-3, KJV).  At this point, Ezekiel records that Christ will collect his people from Petra and will return unto Jerusalem, through the Eastern gate, and will ascend up into the Temple which he has prepared for the Millennial reign (Ezekiel 43:2, KJV).  With the beast and the false prophet defeated and thrown into the Lake of Fire and Satan bound one thousand years in the bottomless pit; Christ will rule from his throne in Jerusalem forever (Ezekiel 43:7, KJV).

            The Second Coming of Christ will indeed usher in the restoration of the Jewish people as a nation, and will also allow Righteousness to reign as God intended so many thousands of years ago.  God’s perfect will and plan will be accomplished.  The end-time events will finally culminate in the permanent judgment and punishment of Satan at the end of the one thousand year reign (Revelation 20:7-10, KJV).  Those that died without Christ will also stand before the Lord as Judge at the Great White Throne during this time (Revelation 20:11-15, KJV).  The final act of Christ in closing out this period will be a gift to those who know him as Savior of eternity future with a new Heaven, new Earth, and  New Jerusalem.  Until that time, it should be every believer’s desire, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus”(Revelation 22:20, KJV).

 

 Endnotes

1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.

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The components of the Tribulation period

The Components of the Tribulation Period

There remains in future events, a period of time that will be unlike any other ever witnessed on earth.  This period of time will usher in the culmination of God’s judgments, promises, and His will that was set in motion in eternity past.  This period of time is known as the Tribulation.  The book of Revelation records these events that will soon take place.  It is of great importance that the Christian read and understand the events to come recorded in this book.  The Scripture promises “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein:  for the time is at hand” (Revelation 1:3, KJV).1
To hear these words is indeed a privilege- to obey them is indeed a duty.

The events of Revelation involve two groups of people- Gentiles and Jews- yet centers on and honor bestowed upon its rightful owner:  “The Revelation of Jesus Christ…” (Revelation 1:1, KJV).  To correctly interpret the book, one must approach its content through a futuristic approach, which calls for the events after Revelation 4:1 to be viewed as unfulfilled prophecy that will literally take place just as God has recorded.  The key character in this passage, as has already been stated, is Jesus Christ Himself.  It is through Revelation that God unfolds (1) the Person; (2) the Power; and (3) the Program of Christ.  The Person of Christ reveals the God given authority and royalty of Christ as Judge and Lord of all.  The Power of Christ is shown through the workings of His will and His victorious triumph over the evil one and sin.  The Program of Christ is laid out in explicit detail of: “(1) the things that are seen; (2) the things that are; and (3) the things that shall be hereafter”(Revelation 1:19,KJV).  The “things that are seen” and the “things that are” were accomplished in chapters 1 through 3, while the “things that shall be hereafter” remain awaiting fulfillment.

The Tribulation period is set to begin at any moment at the inception of the Rapture, at which time God calls to His people to “come up hither” (Revelation 4:1, KJV).  It is at this point in time that the two groups of people remaining on earth, will, in essence, switch focus in the eyes of God.  The Gentile population has spent the last several thousand years in control of human history.  The focus now shifts to that of the Jewish people.  During this period of time, the priorities on God’s table of events will include:  (1)Evangelize the Jew; (2)Bring an end to the Gentile world powers- also known as the “times of the Gentiles”; and (3) Bring an end to the Satanic trinity.  The Jewish people, as a nation, has until now lived in a state of Holy deception due to their rejection of their Messiah at the first advent.  This will no longer be the case during this time, but God, through the work of the 144,000 Jewish male virgin evangelists, will go throughout the world proclaiming the true Gospel and through this time Israel will, finally as a nation, recognize her Messiah.  At the same time, Gentile powers will fall and those who rejected Christ and His offer of Salvation prior to the rapture will seal their fate as they are sent a “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 2:11-12,KJV).  The end of the Satanic trinity will also be brought about during the Tribulation period, with the Antichrist and the False Prophet being cast into the Lake of Fire.  Satan will be bound at this time for 1,000 years in the Bottomless Pit awaiting the final culmination of God’s plan, at which future time He, too, will be cast into the Lake of Fire.

God indeed is a righteous judge and a faithful witness.  What He says will come to pass will indeed come to pass.  The judgments that will come forth out of this period of time will indeed be the most horrific and severe judgments ever known to man.  There will be three sets of judgments meted out by God:  (1)The Seal Judgments; (2)The Trumpet Judgments; and (3)The Vial Judgments.  Through the work of the two witnesses, the holy angels, and even the satanic host themselves, God will bring about a holy and righteous judgment upon lost mankind.  Each set of judgments will increase in severity and horror.  The purpose of this period, again, is to make Israel see her true Messiah, but also to give men a chance to call upon God for He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).

The seven year period of time known as the Tribulation is but a short summons away.  The rapture could occur at any moment and this horrific series of events begin to unfold.  Christians should be ever aware of the times in which they live and “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…”(I Peter 3:14).  Having done that, all that is left to do is to keep looking up- until.

 

Endnotes

1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.

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Past and Present: The Church and its views on the Rapture

            In the Book of John is the first time found in Scripture of the promise of Christ taking his followers off of the earth:  “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3, KJV).1 The event described in this passage is the Rapture.  These words would have no doubt given much consolation to those with Christ at the time they were spoken, and for much certainty have given countless millions that same consolation throughout history.  Though almost two thousand years have separated the early Church from the present day, one thing remains common for both:  each expected that Christ could return at any moment.  Paul clearly believed that Christ could return in his lifetime and taught as such:  “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20, KJV). 

            Paul further explains the future event in which Christ will return for his own in Thessalonians:  “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.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:16-18, KJV).  Again, it is very clear that Paul expected that, indeed, Christ could return in his lifetime.  In writing to the people, Paul was clear to address the order of the reconciliation to Christ in the air:  those believers who had died would arise first and then those believers who were alive at that time would be caught up with them in the clouds to be with the Lord forever.  Paul, when writing this passage, places himself in the company of those Saints who would be living at the time of Christ’s return for his own.  Much hope and comfort arose from the fact that Christ would return soon.  The unannounced, imminent return has continued throughout the history of the Church.  The early church, as well as the present day church, have down through the ages, used this passage just as Paul admonished, “to comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:18, KJV).  It is indeed the hope of the Rapture that has warmed the hearts of those faithful believers who have suffered persecution down through the ages.

The promise of the rapture has been a “mystery” that was presented to the early church and remains a promise even to this day.  Paul admonished that “Behold, I shew you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, 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 15:51-52, KJV).  It is this “mystery” that Christ again promises to bring to pass in the last days in the book of Revelation:  “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10, KJV).   This “hour of temptation” is known as the Tribulation period, that will be a period of time unlike any other in which Christ will complete his program described in the book of Daniel:  “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy holy people and upon thy holy city:  to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24, KJV).

The rapture, as described in Revelation, chapter 4, is also confirmed by the absence of the church in Revelation 4:2 through Revelation 19:10.  The word “church” is found 19 times before Revelation 4:1, and 6 times after Revelation 19:11.  This great event awaits in the foyer of eternity future.  What an exciting and comforting time to come.  The promise of reconciliation, and the hope of rescue from this present age, is but a trumpet sound away.

 Endnotes

1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.

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The exhortations of Christ to His people

Throughout history, God has moved among His people.  No clearer is this seen than in the early years of Israel and her miraculous accomplishments of defeating her enemies, the establishment of a glorious temple, and the pulse of God within her very being.  As the church was later established and the call to evangelize the world went forth, there arose a distinction between those of the Jewish side and those of the Gentile side.  To the Jew, a Gentile was seen as someone who was not called to be one of God’s chosen people.  To the Gentile, they sought to know the very God of which the Jews proclaimed to be supreme.  An obvious question arose then, of to whom Salvation was granted.  How could a Gentile, who followed no Jewish law nor fulfilled the circumcision of the flesh, be granted access to the Father of the Jew?  No doubt this created quite a dilemma for the early church.

It is in Ephesians that the answer is given to the early church as to the nature of the Gentile:  “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being 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 night by the blood of Christ”  (Ephesians 2:11-13, KJV)1.  The Gentile, in his lost state, was quite a mess!  This verse can be easily applicable today for any person who is without Christ!  In the state of depravity, the lost man is:  (1) Separated from Christ; (2) Excluded from the inheritance of God’s Kingdom; (3) A Stranger to any promise of God; (4) Without any hope for the future; and (5) Totally without God in the world.  What a blessing that it did not stop there!  The Scripture ends with the glorious fact that through Christ is one brought into the fold.  It is through the shed blood of Christ that both are the same, for Christ “having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby…for through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Ephesians 2:15-16,18, KJV).

Jew and Gentile are now become “Christian”.  Two races of people brought into one common bond through the blood of Christ.  The Church now is found to be made up of a group of believers that are comprised of Jews and Gentiles together.  What then, is found concerning the exhortation of Christ to His church of believers?  God’s Word is rich with meaning and direction for the believer and his personal walk.  No clearer picture of Christ’s admonition to His church is found than the words presented within the first few chapters of Revelation.  In Revelation, Chapter one, seven churches are mentioned that are in Asia:  Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea (Revelation 1:11, KJV).  While these churches were literal churches that existed during the time of writing; they also represent the types of churches that can be found even today.  With that knowledge, there is an abundance of knowledge to be gained through the exhortation given by Christ to each.

The church of Ephesus was steadfast in their labor for the Lord.  They no doubt were quick to judge the intent of anyone speaking doctrine within the church to make sure that it was true and not evil.  Even so, the Lord says that they had left their first love and He admonishes them to “repent, and do the first works” (Revelation 2:5, KJV).  While this phrase could be open to speculation, no doubt the first love of any Christian should be the Lord and bringing others to know Him.  The exhortation to Ephesus, as well to all seven of the churches, was to “overcome”.  Even in today’s world, Christ continues to harold the call for believers to “overcome”!  Evil continues to reign on earth, false doctrine abounds, and God is continually put in the background for an increasing humanistic society; yet God calls for – and expects- His people to overcome!

While the exhortation to overcome resounds throughout all seven of the churches, Christ does contribute separate warnings and rewards to each.  In short, Christ exhorts his people today to go forth and sound the Gospel cry, making disciples and training them to go out and do likewise.  This is to continue until Christ’s return- which could happen at any day!

Endnotes

1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.

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Prophetic end game of the three Human family strands

            As previously discussed in this course, God has ordained three strands of the human family that have been present at different times throughout history.  Paul lists the three strands of the human family as being the Jews, the Gentiles, and the Church of God (I Corinthians 10:32, KJV).It is vital that the student of the Bible understands the origin and purpose of each of these strands so that a correct hermeneutical interpretation of Bible prophecy can be accomplished.  A  review of each origin is necessary to further discuss the prophetic implications with each group.

            The first mention of a group of people in God’s Word is that of the Gentiles.  It is in Genesis, chapter 10, in dealing with a post flood world that says “by these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands…” (Genesis 10:5, KJV).  Because no other nation is mentioned up to this point, the assumption must be that the Gentile is the first strand of the human family and the first group of people God placed here on this earth.  That would further declare the fact that Adam, Noah, and even Abram, were Gentiles.  While it is not until Genesis, chapter 10, that “Goyem”, or “Gentile” is named, it is evident through study of the first twelve chapters of Genesis that Gentiles alone made up the entire human family for almost two thousand years.  While many choose to think that the early Patriarchs were “Christian” or “Jew” the fact remains that Noah, Enoch, Adam, and other righteous God fearing men of this early time in history were of the Gentile nation.

Gentiles have been on this earth throughout all of human history.  It is the Gentile who brought the first sin into the world, who committed the first murder, but who would also give rise to the strand of human family who would bring forth the Messiah.  The period of Gentile domination on this earth is termed the “times of the Gentiles”.  This period began with the Babylonian captivity (Daniel 1, KJV), and will end with the defeat of the Antichrist and his kingdom in Revelation.  The Prophetic outlook for this strand of the human family is bleak.  In a time of history where humanism abounds, the Gentile world and powers of today seek to obtain a society and world where the human is god- a place where power and authority comes from a world governmental system, and not from the Creator of the Universe.  Such a system will continue to culminate into a final worldly system of governmental and religious control, headed by the Antichrist.  It is the fate of this Gentile world that these powers will finally be put down and destroyed in Judgment by Christ as He returns at the Battle of Armageddon.  Encapsulated throughout this Gentile domination can be found all the false doctrines and humanistic religions of the ages.  Man will finally see that he is indeed but a vapor on God’s stage of time and eternity.

The second strand of the human family to appear on the scene is that of the Jew.  It is clear through previous discussion and study that the first Jew was indeed a Gentile.  There are also actually two other titles that are announced in the Old Testament prior to the introduction of the “Jew”.  In Genesis 14:13, “Hebrew” is used of the Gentile Adam.  The second title given is that of “Israel”, which is given to the Gentile Jacob in Genesis 32:28.  Finally, “Jew” is used for the first time in II Kings 16:6.  To realize that the Gentile does indeed precede the Jew and is even responsible for the ancestral origin, the logical question then becomes why God had to bring a second group of people into existence.  What could He do with the Jew that He could not accomplish through the Gentile?

Perhaps the answer to the dilemma above could be as simple as God wishing to set apart a race of people who could be wholly dedicated to Him and His statutes.  The beginning of such a relationship can be seen in Genesis, Chapter 12.  A very important covenant is given by God that would forever change human history.  A “Line of promise” that would extend from the first recipient, Abram (Genesis 12:1-3, KJV), to Isaac (Genesis 26:3-5, KJV), and later to Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15, KJV).  God promised to “make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great:  and thou shalt be a blessing:  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in the shall all the families of the earth be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3, KJV).  This Covenant required no duty or commitment on the part of the Jew.  It was all on the shoulders of God for fulfillment.  This would be the first of several covenants that would develop a specific relationship with God and the Jew.  In the end, the fact still remains that God had pre-ordained the promised Messiah to come through the Jewish line and for that reason alone was sufficient to weave this strand into the human family.

What great misunderstanding and heresy has occurred over the years in relation to Israel and Bible prophecy!  As always the case, the misunderstanding and even the improper translation of people and events of the Bible has created a “world without Israel” mentality.  Perhaps is this no clearer seen in today’s religious circles than that of the “Replacement Theology” movement.  In an attempt to account for what appears to be Israel in an ever declining state as a nation and no longer in God’s favor, false teachers have concluded that God’s hand has been removed from Israel, and that all of her blessings and promises have been given to the Church.  What a toxic lie of Satan this has been.  Through this false teaching, other ill taught doctrines such as “Kingdom Theology” and “Faith Movement” have sprung up in an ever growing pharisaical and dark religious society.  The fact remains that God’s covenants and His protection remain on Israel.  She still will be brought to prominence as God has promised.  While Israel will indeed be the recipient physically of these covenants, there are spiritual application and blessings that can be derived by the third strand yet to be discussed.  Yet again, a proper understanding of each human strand and their prophetic destiny is a necessity for the overall big picture of end times events.

     The third strand of the human family is that of “Christian”.  This strand is not seen in the physical, earthly realm in its origin.  There is no human “flesh” or ancestral line that can be traced back to history past, but it does hold within its strand previous members of both the Jew and Gentile race!  Instead, this strand occurred through the miraculous creation by God through Christ and His completed work on the Cross of Calvary.  The Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 2, describes this new strand:  “for he (Christ) is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broke down the middle wall of partition between us…for to make in himself of twain one new man…that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross…through him we both have access by one spirit unto the father…” (Ephesians 2:14-18, KJV).

     The Christian, as described by Paul, is that person, whether Jew or Gentile, who has accepted Christ as Savior and becomes a Child of God.  In God’s eyes, that person, though still owning physical, cultural, and ethnic traits on Earth, is no longer seen as “Jew” or “Gentile” but as “Christian”.  The fact must also be stated that it is not being “Jewish” that will gain entrance into the Kingdom, but rather being a blood washed repentant sinner that will create the “new man” and conversion to that of “Christian”.  It is not a partial payment for redemption, as can be construed from the Messianic Jewish movement of today, where one believes that Jews indeed have a “separate path” that can be obtained through ordinances and practices in addition to God’s Salvation.  This combines law and grace, which thereby comes no remission of sins.  What then, is the eschatological fate of this strand?  Where a new strand is made of members of two previous strands, how then does God fulfill his end time plan for the ages?  The simple answer to that is there is yet another player on the prophetic stage of end times events with a different part and function.

A review of the origins of the three strands of the human family has been completed.  Through Scripture, it is plain that Gentile, Jew, and Christian are three separate strands of the human family with different functions and origins.  What then, awaits them in the future days?  It is important to remember that Gentiles first populated the Earth and were the sole inhabitants until the Jews were called out of the Gentile ancestry by God.  It then became a time of co-existence for these two groups until the third group, the Christian, came into being during the Church age which began with the resurrection of Jesus Christ and will continue until the Rapture of Christ’s Church from the Earth.  At this point in time, during the Church Age, is the only time in which all three groups will exist together on the Earth.  The three specific groups have three specific futuristic roles that will play out in God’s End Time Prophetic scenario.

As discussed earlier in this course, there are two phrases that are associated with the Gentiles:  the “times” of the Gentiles and the “fullness” of the Gentiles.  The “times” deals with that period of time from Daniel’s captivity through the future to Christ’s return.  The Gentiles rule the Earth due to Israel’s hard heartedness to God and His Prophets.  The “fullness” of the Gentiles is that point in time when the last Gentile on earth, known already by God, will accept Christ as His personal Lord and Savior.  Once that is accomplished, the Rapture will happen, and the Tribulation period will soon begin.  During this period known as the Tribulation, God will bring an end to Gentile world domination.  There awaits in the future an evil Satanic Trinity of the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and Satan himself will meet their final doom.  The Antichrist and False Prophet will be used to run this Gentile world system but will meet with utter destruction in the end.  It is also during this time that key players throughout history will finally receive God’s judgment.  These players include a heretical, satanic religious system that has existed and flourished on this planet for thousands of years.  As it has traveled through different stages, locations, and even names, this mother-son cult will finally be destroyed as God’s Word will reign Supreme and judgment of this great satanic system will finally occur.  Another Satanic religious system encapsulated within this Gentile strand that will be destroyed during the Tribulation is the Islamic system.  To date, there are approximately 58 moslem states.  All of these states have one satanic goal in common:  to destroy Israel and the Jewish people.  Ultimately, the Koran calls for the total annihilation and death of the infidels:  “Slay the idolators wherever ye find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush.  Fight against such of those who have been given the scripture and believe not in Allah nor the last Day…go forth, light-armed, and heavy-armed, and strive your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah!”  (Sura 9:5,29,41, Koran)².  Islam has been used, and will continue to be used, throughout the world by Satan to fight against Israel and the Jewish people.  Unrest will continue throughout the Middle East as “wars and rumors of wars” increase as the end approaches.  It will seem as if Israel will be annihilated, yet God will intervene and will ultimately wipe the Islamic world out of existence.

Another key player that will be destroyed within the Gentile world is Edom.  Esau and his descendants have continued to be at war with the Jewish people throughout history.  The modern day Palestinians are indeed descendants of the Edomites of Scripture as discussed earlier in this course.  Obadiah records the judgment that awaits Edom.  The two reasons why they will be judged stem from the pride of their heart (Obadiah 3, KJV), and violence against Jacob, or Israel (Obadiah 10, KJV).  Obadiah describes in the future that “as thou has done, it shall be done unto thee:  thy reward shall return upon thine own head.  For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been (Obadiah 15-16, KJV).  Study reveals that the final calamity of the Palestinians will happen at the end of the Tribulation period, when Christ returns and empowers the Jews to overtake the Palestinians.  They will be totally destroyed at that time. 

As for the Jews, they will also enter into the great time of trial known as “Jacob’s trouble” in which God will punish the many centuries of neglect and distortion of His Word and rejection of His Son, the Messiah- Jesus Christ.  It will be a great time of trial and suffering for the Jew, but it is also through this great torment that the Nation as a whole will finally recognize her Messiah.  God will, in his sovereign grace and knowledge, will remember the Covenants promised to the nation of Israel and His judgment promised to all of her enemies.  No other time has existed in history which has held such horrifying and agonizing judgments for mankind on this earth as those that will occur during this time period.  It is a time of reckoning, judgment, but yet still a time of grace and victory for His people Israel.  The Millennial Kingdom will finally be established at the end of the Tribulation period.  Armageddon will have been fought, the Beast and the False Prophet thrown in the lake of fire, and Satan bound for one thousand years in the bottomless pit.  Israel will flourish and be the recipient of all of the promises made to her by God and will be restored as a “light to the nations”.

With the Gentile and Jewish prophetic outlook complete, there remains yet one member to discuss.  That member, as previously discussed, is a new strand created by God through members of the previous to groups- Jews and Gentiles.  This group has been formed through the completed work of Christ on the Cross of Calvary and His redemption of all who will come to Him.  This group, known as “Christian” and collectively as the “Church” awaits a time not too distant in the future.  This event in the future will be unannounced, and yet it is the hope of every Christian on earth.  That event is the “Rapture” of Christ’s Church off of this Earth to be with Him in the heavenlies.  Though almost two thousand years have separated the early Church from the present day, one thing remains common for both:  each expected that Christ could return at any moment.  Paul clearly believed that Christ could return in his lifetime and taught as such:  “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20, KJV).  In writing to the people, Paul was clear to address the order of the reconciliation to Christ in the air:  those believers who had died would arise first and then those believers who were alive at that time would be caught up with them in the clouds to be with the Lord forever.  The promise of the rapture has been a “mystery” that was presented to the early church and remains a promise even to this day.  Paul admonished that “Behold, I shew you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, 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 15:51-52, KJV).  Also in this mystery is the promise of Christ removing His bride before the Tribulation period:  “Because thou has kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10, KJV).  The rapture is also confirmed by the absence of the church in Revelation 4:2 through Revelation 19:10.  The word “church” is found 19 times before Revelation 4:1, and 6 times after Revelation 19:11. 

The seven year period of time known as the Tribulation is but a short summons away.  It is within this time frame that all three strands of the human family will reach their prophetic end game.  Christians will precede that horrific event with the Rapture into the heavenlies to be forever with the Lord, and Jews and Gentiles will enter into that devastating time of judgment.  Following this dreadful time in history, the millennial kingdom will be comprised of two groups of people alive at the end of the Great Tribulation.  First, those believers who are alive at the end of the Great Tribulation will enter into the new Kingdom in their physical bodies.  These Gentiles will have accepted Christ as their Saviour during the Tribulation period.  The second group will be those Jews who have also accepted Christ as their messiah during this period of time.  These events still await in the portals of eternity future.  There has not been a kingdom set up at this time in history and cannot be established until all of God’s Word is fulfilled in the order of His timing.  All three strands of this human family continue to travel on the path of God’s Sovereign plan and will.  To understand these three strands and how God intends to deal with them in the future, is to clearly understand God’s prophetic events in the last days.

Endnotes

1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.

²Quotations taken from the Koran.

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Esau and the history of the Palestinian people

            The chaos and violence of the modern day Middle East can be traced back through centuries of anger, bitterness, and deceit.  Why all the struggle?  Why do nations continue to advance through history at arms with each other, without any real reconciliation that will last and no solution presently on the table to their territorial and genealogical crisis?  Ironically, one of the answers can be found in a solution as simple as a passage of Scripture!  Romans, chapter 9, declares “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:13, KJV).¹  A passage such as this many times can present problems for the immature and unlearned believer.  What appears to read as God the Father saying that He “hates” someone could not be more wrongly interpreted!  God declares in John 3:16 that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, KJV). Thank God for the “whosoever”!  The “whosoever” encapsulates the halls of eternity past and future!  Salvation for any and all who will come to Him through the shed blood of His Son.  What, then, is the correct response to this passage?  Does God “hate” Esau?  God’s Word is true and yet there seems to be a conflict between these two passages.  The reality is that “hate” as used in this verse is not the emotional “hate” that the world is so abundantly familiar with, nor is  this a flaw in the character of an Almighty Sovereign God!  It is speaking in relation to the evil actions and rebellious line of descendants that would proceed through the seed of Esau.  These actions would defy the true God and would wage war against the apple of His eye- Israel.  The key to understanding today’s Middle East activity rests in the simple declaration- “Jacob have I loved, but Esau I have hated” (Romans 9:13, KJV).

            The record of the birth of these two brothers, Jacob and Esau, is recorded in Genesis 25.  God records three important and interesting points about them.  First, the Bible states that “the children struggled together within her” (Genesis 25:22, KJV).  Even before birth, there existed a strife already developing between the two.  Secondly, God shares with Rebekah that “two nations are in thy womb…” (Genesis 25:23a, KJV).  Here is a disclosure by the Creator Himself that two groups of people would arise from these two small babes yet in her womb.  Thirdly, a declaration is made against modern culture and customs of the time in that “the elder shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23b, KJV).  God’s prophetic Words would remain true, and the brothers would be born and develop just as prophesied.

            One of the early roots of bitterness between the two brothers would spring from the Birthright which Esau held by tradition, yet was promised to Jacob by God.  Rather than trust God for His timing and provision in the transfer of the birthright, Jacob takes a human, fleshly approach to obtain the promise through bribing his brother Esau with food:  “And Jacob sod pottage:  and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:  And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint…  And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright…and he sold his birthright to Jacob” (Genesis 25:29-31, 33b, KJV).  Jacob cunningly used the lust of the eyes and flesh to lure Esau into his trap.  Esau, thinking in the flesh and wanting immediate gratification for his hunger, eagerly sells and despises his birthright (Genesis 25:34, KJV).  Jacob would later yet again use deceit to obtain the blessing from his father Issac that God had promised  (Genesis 27, KJV).  Because of his sinful way of accomplishing this, further bitterness and anger would take root in the heart of Esau.  This would lead to Jacob fleeing the land for fear of his life.

It is important to understand the history of these two brothers to understand why events unfolding in the Middle East today can be traced back in origin to God’s Word and these two brothers.  Esau would later be reconciled to Jacob as recorded in Genesis, chapter 33.  The brothers would dwell in the land together and would eventually bury their father, Isaac (Genesis 35:29, KJV).  It is then after these events that the land can simply not bear both families due to their number (Genesis 36:6-7, KJV).  Esau is recorded as dwelling in the area of Mount Seir (Genesis 36:8, KJV).  Scripture also records that Esau is “Edom” and fathered the Edomites in Mount Seir (Genesis 36:8-9, KJV).  Of those descendants was Amalek, who would become a major source of struggle for the people of Israel (Genesis 36:12, Exodus 17:8, KJV).  Scripture records that “the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Exodus 17:16b, KJV).  Agag, the king of the Amalekites and descendant of Esau, would bring much trouble to the house of Israel when Saul is disobedient in totally destroying them as ordered by the Lord through Samuel (I Samuel 15:3,8-9 KJV).  Saul spares King Agag alive, which brings God’s rejection on Saul as King and his reign.  Samuel would have to faithfully complete the task left for Saul in the execution of King Agag (I Samuel 15:33, KJV).

Another descendant in the line of Esau is that of Haman.  Esther records that “After these things did King Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him” (Esther 3:1, KJV).  Haman was a descendant of King Agag, of the Amalekites.  Haman would be a tool of Satan in an attempt to wipe out the Jews.  God would preserve the Jews through a humble heart of His servant Esther.

The Edomites would be attacked by the Nabataeans of Arabia, descendants of Ishmael.  The remnant of remaining Edomites would escape from their dwelling in Petra and flee for their lives. This attack would be in response to God’s judgment on the Edomites for their prideful heart.  They would settle around the southern half of Judea and would become known as the Idumeans, which is Greek for “pertaining to Edom”.  From the Idumeans would emerge another adversary of God’s people:  Antipater.  This Idumean would become a powerful Roman official and would be given the power to extract taxes from the Jews, making him unpopular. ² Unfortunately, the more evil accomplishment of this descendant can be seen in his offspring- Herod the Great.  At 15 years old, Herod would become Governor of Galilee.  He would eventually become King and reign for over 30 years.  Herod the Great was full of jealousy and rage.  He would have many people killed in defense of his throne, including some his own children and his wife.  He also would murder many of the rabbis and set up his own “high priest” to protect the control of the Temple.  This high priest would also later be killed out of Herod’s jealousy of his growing popularity among the Jews.  The descendants of Herod the Great (and thus descendants of Esau) were no less amiable to God’s people.  Herod’s son would later have John the Baptist beheaded; Herod’s grandson would kill James, the brother of John; and Herod’s great-grandson would later be a persecutor of the Apostle Paul.

As it has been shown to this point, Esau and his descendants have continued to be at war with the Jewish people throughout history.  There still remains bitterness and animosity towards the Jewish state by her enemies unto this very day, in the form of the Palestinian people, who are the descendants of Esau.  Yasser Arafat, once the Leader of the Palestinians and first President of the PLO, an organization with the goal of displacing the Jews and taking their land, is a descendant of Esau.  His ancestry also includes the El-Husseini family, who are also descendants of Esau.  The modern day Palestinians are indeed descendants of the Edomites of Scripture.  With this knowledge, one can gleam from God’s Word the future demise that awaits these people.

Obadiah records the judgment that would come against Edom.  Two reasons for their judgment would stem from the pride of their heart (Obadiah 3, KJV), and violence against Jacob, or Israel (Obadiah 10, KJV).  Obadiah describes in the future that “as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee:  thy reward shall return upon thine own head.  For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been (Obadiah 15-16, KJV).  There awaits a day in the future, when God will destroy Edom for her wicked actions and hatred of Israel.  Centuries of intoxicating power over God’s holy mountain- the Temple Mount- will bring about their demise.  Ezekiel proclaims the desolation of the Edomites- modern day Palestinians:  “I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 35:4, KJV).  Ezekiel 25 and Jeremiah 49 also speak of the time when Edom will be utterly destroyed.  God will, for His name’s sake, fulfill His promises to Israel and her enemies.  The world today seeks for a political answer to the troubles of the Middle East.  God will provide a just and righteous answer:  “But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness:  and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.  And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them;  and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it”  (Obadiah 17-18, KJV).  Study of God’s Word reveals that the final calamity of the Palestinians will happen at the end of the Tribulation period, when Christ returns and empowers the Jews to overtake the Palestinians.  They will be utterly and totally destroyed to never be a burden to God’s people again!  Until that day, God will continue to use Kings and Authorities as He wills, to bring about His Righteous and Sovereign plan for mankind.  There awaits an eternity with a loving God for those who will trust and obey His requirement of forgiveness through the shed blood of His Son on the Cross.  For all others, including Satan, his evil angels, the atheists, the humanists, and even the unregenerate Palestinian people, their awaits an eternity of torment and pain.  As a nation, Edom’s fate is sealed.  As individuals, God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  There is, therefore, so much more the dire need to reach these heathen and satanically deceived people before God calls His people home to be with Him and judgment begins. 

            Endnotes

1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.

²Josephus. Flavius.  William Whistom, translator.  (2003)  The Works of Jospehus:       Complete and Unabridged, Updated Edition (17th printing).  The Antiquities of the Jews.  The Wars of the Jews.  Peabody, MA:  Hendrickson Publishers.

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The rise and fall of Islam in the last days

            Even though the words “Moslem” and “Islam” are not mentioned in the Bible, these two Satanic, yet important terms, must be understood by the Bible student if one desires to have a correct interpretation of the End Times.  Just as the word “Rapture” is not mentioned, one can easily see this concept in Revelation 4:1.  Likewise, as one studies the Scripture and the geographical lands in which are mentioned, one will discover that the very lands that God states in His Word that will rise up against Israel in the last days, are indeed the present day lands which are largely Islamic in nature today.  What then, should the student of God’s Word know and recognize about this false religion known as Islam, and its followers, the Muslims?  A manageable way to grasp this topic is to look at Islam from 3 viewpoints:  (1)Islam’s past; (2)Islam’s present; and (3)Islam’s future.  By understanding the foundation, its core beliefs, and its god, one can then more clearly see the system at work in present day society and have a better understanding of its future path.  When God’s people aligns these facts then with Scripture, very easily one can see the ultimate end of such an heretical false religion.

            The Past of Islam can be traced all the way back to its founder- Satan.  In his dominion strategy to rule the world, Satan attempted the first world religion and government at Babel about 4,500 years ago.  Because God would intervene and defeat this attempt, Satan would then have to develop yet another strategy in attempt to gain power.  Satan’s “mother/son” cult would be uprooted and eventually settle in Rome where it exists to this day; however, another deadly false religion founded by demonic beings would be that of Islam.  This “religion” would not be founded by Mohammed, but rather have its beginnings almost 1,500 years prior to him coming on the scene, during the time of Ishmael.  Arabia, the land to which Ishmael and his seed would populate, was full of tribal type people.  These people were violent fighters and would battle brother against brother.  A brother who could overthrow another brother and take his tribe was said to be a “Great Islamic Fighter”.  The term “Islam” means that of submission, as was the result of one brother violently taking over another until the weaker submitted his will and people to the stronger.  These tribes were very violent and occultic, and housed over 360 gods at the “kaa’ba”.  Mohammed, the proclaimed “prophet” of Islam, was born in 570AD.  His father was the Sheriff of the kaa’ba and was given the responsibility of protecting it.    Mohammed would later clean out all the gods from this place except “Allah”, the moon god.  In July of 610 A.D., Mohammed would set up this god in a religion and call it “Islam”.    This religion would spread quickly by the sword all across the globe and continues to do so until this very day.

With the background of Islam’s past, it is easy to see the further developments at the present.  To date, there are approximately 58 moslem states.  All of these states have one satanic goal in common:  to destroy Israel and the Jewish people.  The “koran”, the holy book of Islam, proclaims the death and destruction of the infidels:  “seize them and slay them wherever  you find them:  and in any case take no friends or helpers from their ranks” (Sura 4:89, Koran).²  Further admonition is given to the followers to avoid non believers of Islam:  “O you who believe!  Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors:  they are but friends and protectors to each other.  And he among you that turns to them for friendship is of them” (Sura 5:51, Koran).  Ultimately, the Koran calls for the total annihilation and death of the infidels:  “Slay the idolators wherever ye find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush.  Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the last Day…Go forth, light-armed, and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah!” (Sura 9:5,29,41, Koran)  The people of Islam today are taught that only Muslims know the way and all others are infidels and must be killed.  With indoctrination this evil and deep, it is easy to see how Satan has been able to amass such numbers in his ranks.  Were it not for God’s Word and the infallible truths of Bible Prophecy, it might well appear that Satan is gaining ground for a future mutiny of civilization and authority.

So what is the role of Islam in the End Times events?  More importantly, what is the end that awaits for the Islamic nations?  It is clear through a quick review of the past and present of Islam that it indeed is a growing force of evil that continues to multiply- to some extent even daily, as new converts are brought into its evil grasp throughout the world.  Islam has been used, and will continue to be used, throughout the world by Satan to fight against Israel and the Jewish people.  Unrest will continue throughout the Middle East as “wars and rumors of wars” increase ever the more as the time of the end approaches.  It will seem as if Israel has reached her demise in the jaws of her enemies, yet God will intervene through key events that will ultimately and completely wipe the Islamic world out of existence.  The irony of such events will be in the person and course of action God will take to help complete His purpose- The Antichrist.

The book of Daniel speaks of a time in which Antichrist will promise peace to the Jewish people.  It is during this time, a Satanic Antichrist will be used to destroy a Satanic False Religion.  Ezekiel records that this time will be a period of time when they dwell safely in the land, with “unwalled” villages (Ezekiel 38:8, 11, KJV).  The only time recorded in future events where Israel will dwell safely is during the first half of the Tribulation period.  Scripture records that “at the time of the end shall the king of the south (Egypt) push at him; and the king of the north (Syria) shall come against him like a whirlwind…” (Daniel 11:40, KJV).  Antichrist, in an attempt to uphold the “peace treaty” which he has confirmed, will fight back against these Islamic countries attempting to wipe out Israel.  Early during this first half of the Tribulation period, Egypt and Syria will be destroyed.  Egypt, with a population of 88 million people and growing; Syria, the 5th greatest military power in the world, will come to an abrupt end and their existence will be no more.  Ezekiel 39 further prophesies that 5 out of every 6 of the remaining Islamic nations will be destroyed in battle as well.  Syria, Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Libya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia- all destroyed!  With the vast majority of the Islamic nations destroyed, Islam will become inoperative.  The demonic force that, for centuries, has sought to destroy Israel and her people will be brought to a fraction of its former existence.

There will remain at that time, two players left on the world stage awaiting judgment:  Babylon, and the Edomites.  Babylon will be destroyed in the last judgment before Christ returns.  Obadiah records that the Edomites (“Palestinians”) will make it to the end of the Tribulation, and then will be destroyed:  “and the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it” (Obadiah 18, KJV).  God, in His infinite knowledge and sovereignty, will bring an abrupt end to the enemies of His Word.  Nations will be destroyed to be remembered no more.  Islam, a force through the centuries that has been a murderer and blasphemous opponent of God’s people, will be no more.

The players are on the field.  The sides have been chosen.  There awaits but the rapture of God’s people and the revealing of the antichrist to culminate the final stages of these prophetic events.  God’s Word, in God’s way, in God’s time.  Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Endnotes

1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.

²Quotations taken for the Koran.

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Ishmael’s Islamic invasion and the end times

            The purpose of this paper is to summarize the key elements discussed through the lectures given this week by Dr. Jimmy Deyoung.  This summary will be divided into five different sections:  (1)Satan’s Dominion Strategy; (2)Ishmael’s True Legacy; (3)Islam’s Satanic Trio; (4)The Islamic Invasion; and, (5)Islam and the Final Solution.  It is necessary for the student of Bible Prophecy to have a firm grasp of the understanding of these key elements, as they indeed play a vital role in the present times and will increasingly continue to do so as the Second Coming of Christ draws closer to fruition.

(1)Satan’s Dominion Strategy:

In the Book of Genesis, Chapters 1 and 2, a detailed account of God’s creative power and glory are given.  It is stated that “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth”  (Genesis 1:1, KJV).¹  At the end of the Seventh day, God once again records that  “Thus the heavens and earth were finished, and all the host of them” (Genesis 2:1, KJV).  With the completion of Creation, God says that the product “was very good” (Genesis 1:31, KJV); with a more powerful translation out of the original that translates “abundantly excellent”!     With this powerful opening statement by God Himself, it is crystal clear that God’s Creation was beautiful to His joyful satisfaction, and unadulterated.  What then, and who, is responsible for the chaotic turmoil which now exists some six thousand years after the “perfect” world?  Quite clearly, the answer to such a question can be shown, without a doubt, to be Satan.  Satan, created as the Angel Lucifer, would leave this perfect creation and through wicked pride and deceit, help bring about the fall of mankind.  The next logical question in this sequence then remains:  why?  Why would a created being who stood in the very presence of an almighty and perfect God do anything to jeopardize his existence and place in the heavenly realm?  Like mankind, Angels were created and given the gift of free will.  Without free will, mankind and angels alike, are nothing more than robotic beings at God’s disposal and command.  God, in His sovereign grace and mercy, allowed created beings to exercise their choice to follow and obey, or despise and reject.  In the Book of Isaiah, Satan’s reason for disobedience is told:  “For thou has said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:  I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14, KJV).  The reason for Satan’s actions?  PRIDE.  A pride of self, coupled with a deep seated greed to be worshiped in place of and over God Almighty.  How could this be accomplished?    Satan would use three approaches to attempt to usurp God’s authority:  Confusion, Contamination, and ultimately- Control.

As Adam was given the dominion over all creation by God, this no doubt enraged Satan and his jealousy grew deeper with his bitterness toward God.  Satan saw this as an opportunity to  use confusion and cast doubt in the minds of God’s first two members of the human family.  This confusion would develop through a series of lies told to Eve in regards to what God did and did not say in reference to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Satan asks Eve: “Hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden”  (Genesis 3:1, KJV)?  Eve, slipping in recollection of the command, answers to Satan, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:  but 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” (Genesis 3:2-3, KJV).  God never told Adam and Eve that death would come in the “touching” of the tree, but rather through eating of the fruit of the tree.  This further weakened Eve’s stance which would eventually give way to the fall as she would not only “touch” the tree, but partake of the forbidden fruit as well.  It would seem at this point, that Satan would claim victory, but God in His sovereign omniscient grace had already made provision as he announced to the serpent:  “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15, KJV).  This first mention of a Messiah coming to redeem God’s people no doubt crushed the momentum of Satan and his quest for power.  His attempt at confusion had been thwarted to a degree, and now there existed another scheme in his wicked heart:  contamination. 

God had disclosed the plan for redemption to Satan:  a coming Messiah to be brought through the seed of a woman.  God, in His infinite knowledge, had already planned an earthly way to bring forth His heavenly Son through which to pay the price for mankind’s depravity.  In Satan’s mind, what better way to combat and destroy the chances of this coming Messiah than to contaminate the very vehicle through which he would enter the world- the human womb.  Satan would enact his second strategy:  the contamination of the human bloodline through mingling the seed of fallen angels with the seed of man, producing an impure and mixed race.  Genesis records that “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” (Genesis 6:1-2, KJV).  Time prohibits further exposition of this verse, other than to say that the “sons of God” used in this scripture deals specifically with Angels and is translated exactly as such in corresponding passages such as Job 1:6, Job 2:1, and Job 38:7.  Satan attempted to ruin the human race through his fallen angels having sexual intercourse with human women.  This would have possibly been a progressive and ultimately victorious campaign, had God not already seen his plans and had a remedy for this wicked immoral action:  The Flood.  In Genesis, chapters 5 and 6, the bloodline is given from Adam to Noah.  Genesis 6 records that “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God”  (Genesis 6:9, KJV).  The phrase “perfect in his generations” does not reflect that Noah lived a sinless life, but that his bloodline was pure and uncontaminated by the genetic warfare of Satan.  God would destroy this second attempt at Satan’s dominion through the Flood, as he would deliver through the Ark, a perfect family, untainted by demonic seed, from which to repopulate the Earth and continue with His plan of the future coming Messiah.

Satan’s third strategy for power transcends to modern day times.  While the first two have been failures for him in obtaining the power and worship he so desires, the third strategy is still in play today, and is intermingled with the affairs of men at this very moment.  The strategy is quite simple, but yet quite boisterous- to take control of the world through its governmental and religious systems and to demand worship and obedience by all.  This is seen very early in the human family, as Satan would use Nimrod as a pawn in an attempt to control the world.  This place, named “Babel”, is the first mention of a Kingdom in Scripture (Genesis 10:10, KJV), and would also be the first mention of a King- that individual being Nimrod.  It is at this point in history that Satan would establish the first one world government and religion in relation to a satanic plan to rule the world.    Scripture records that this first attempt is dealt with by God Himself, who confounds the language of the people, so that there is no longer one spoken language, but several.  In their disobedience to God in regards to populating the earth, the people had desired to remain in one place, and make a name for themselves there and be mighty.  God answered this rebellion as well, in scattering them abroad across the globe.  A note of importance in relation to Babel and its one world religion is that it still exists today.  This religion, best described as a “mother/son cult”, was based on Semiramis and her son, Tamuz.  This cult was later moved to Pergamos, and then to Rome, where it resides today.  This one world religion has been used by Satan throughout history to draw people away from the true Gospel message.  It will continue to do so throughout the Tribulation until its final destruction (Revelation 17:16, KJV).

Satan has continued through the centuries to attempt to dethrone and replace God.  He has been unsuccessful and will continue to be defeated as proclaimed by God’s Word, until the final scene where once and for all he will be put down and cast into the lake of fire forever (Revelation 20:20, KJV).  For now, his evil actions continue in an unquenchable wicked desire for power and authority.  While he realizes his time is short, he continues to do his utmost to destroy as many of human race as he can in an attempt to fight against God in his bitterness.  His desire for power will continue to move him forward toward his destruction, but sadly will also continue to send billions of lost souls to hell with him.

(2) Ishmael’s True Legacy:

Today there exists a great misunderstanding of the origins of the Arab world.  This creates confusion and deception within even the body of Christ for those who remain uneducated as to the Arab world and its role in the end time scenario.  One of the largest deceptions in relation to this topic is that of its foundation stemming from Ishmael, a son of Abraham.  In Genesis, chapter 16, it is recorded that Hagar, an Egyptian handmaid, is given to Abram by his wife Sarai in order to have a child.  Hagar would bare a son and his name would be Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-16, KJV).  Egypt is the most populated Arab country in the world.  God’s Word states that Hagar was Egyptian- before the birth of Ishmael!  How can a man father a nation who’s mother was already a citizen of that nation?  It simply can not happen.  In Genesis, chapters 10 through 12, also are recorded the names of other Arab nations that appeared on the scene five hundred years prior to Abraham!  Nations such as Phut (modern day Libya) and Babel (modern day Iraq) were on the earth long before Ishmael.  Further study of God’s word also reveals that Ishmael did not father modern day Jordan, nor did he father Esau, who would become the Palestinian people.  God says that Ishmael will not be a father of a world of nations, but rather God records that:  “as for Ishmael…I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly:  twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation”  (Genesis 17:20, KJV).  God says that Ishmael will father a Nation- singular.    Further exposition of his descendants would uncover that this indeed was fulfilled, and that Ishmael fathered Arabia only (Genesis 25, KJV). 

While the Arab world did not spring from Ishmael, the Islamic faith in many ways did.  Fifteen hundred years before Mohammed, Arabia was a tribal country.  They were taught to take things by force, and when victories occurred, the victor was referred to as a “Great Islamic Fighter”.  Islam as a word had already appeared on the scene of history long before Mohammed!  It’s meaning was that of “submission” and has never meant “peace” as proclaimed by deceptive people today.  Mohammed would later claim to be a direct descendant of Ishmael and would set up the religion of Islam in 610 A.D.  This “faith” would spread by the sword like fire out of control in the first 100 years.  Today, it is estimated that 1 in 4 people are Islamic, and those numbers continue to rise.  Satan desires to destroy the Jews and be worshiped in Jerusalem.  He continues to use the Islamic faith to bring that closer to completion.

(3) Islam’s Satanic Trio

In Matthew, chapter 24, the disciples ask the Lord questions concerning His future return.  They inquire as to when it will happen, what will be the signs of his coming, and the signs of the end of the world.  Jesus answers to them first and foremost, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew 24:4, KJV).  Jesus warns them immediately of the deception  that will come into the world- even the churches- after he leaves.  In Revelation, the False Prophet is described as deceiving the people with signs, wonders, and miracles (Revelation 13:11-15, KJV).  Enter Mohammed, 6th Century, with a “new” religion which is ushered in to heathen people with the same characteristics of deception.  The Satanic trio of Islam is seen through the diviner, the diety, and the doctrine.  Mohammed, the “diviner”, would be used by Satan to set up this new false religion.  A religion based upon the demonic “deity” of Allah, the moon god.  The “doctrine” is that of demons, and teaches that through Islam, or “submission” one is brought into a correct relationship with Allah.  Mohammed took a bold step in destroying over 300 gods that were part of this people’s belief system.  He would be ran out of Mecca for being a man of slaughter and would go to Medina.  He would later return with an army and slaughter thousands of people, reinforcing the fact that Islam is not a religion of peace, but of the sword and of war.  It is of importance to note that Allah, the moon god, was in existence long before Mohammed would begin Islam.  In fact, this same demonic deity was worshiped by the father of Abraham in the land of Ur of the Chaldees.  As so many times, Satan’s lies and false religions are repackaged to be resold to new groups of people throughout history.

Islam as a doctrine is a very demonic doctrine.  It has great danger today in the fact that so many Christians try to merge the god of Islam and the God of the Bible into one God for the purpose of “getting along” and finding common ground.  This is a great abomination and an attack on the Sovereignty of God.  Islam’s god is not like the true God!  Three simple questions that can be asked concerning Allah are:  (1)Is Allah triune like the God of the Bible?  The answer is NO.  (2)Does Allah have a son that he sent to the world?  The answer is NO.  (3)Is Allah involved with redemption for the world sent through that son?  The answer is NO.  The doctrine of Islam is demonic.  It’s “holy” book, the Koran, is anything but that.  The Koran is an unholy, unbiblical writing that calls for the destruction of the true God and His people.  This false religion has increased rapidly through history, and is moving closer to that great day in the future in which the God of the Bible will crush Satan’s attempt at power and authority through this evil and wicked system.

(4)The Islamic Invasion

A part of the deception of Islam that makes it so readily received by those unlearned in the Faith is the fact that it “accepts” the reality and life of Jesus.  The Koran mentions Jesus 25 times; therefore, true Muslims believe in Jesus but do not accept the fact that He is the means of Salvation.  On the contrary, every time a work is mentioned of Jesus in the Koran, it is said to be done by Jesus through the power of Allah.  The real problem for Christians trying to merge the two faiths together lie in the fact that the Koran teaches that Christ did not die on the cross, nor did he resurrect from the dead, which is the fundamental truth of the believer’s hope for eternal life.

This “invasion” of Islam can actually be seen on different levels.  First, there exists today, a tremendous increase in “converts” to this religion throughout the world.  Its doctrines and laws are being spread like wildfire throughout the continents.  The world is being “bullied” into accepting this faith and its laws.  Freedoms are being ripped from governments and replaced by the law of Islam, which promises death to the infidels and those within their own belief who neglect or abandon the faith.  Fear and the sword have driven this faith around the globe.  Satan would appear to have obtained a victory in his attempt to control the world, yet the end is not yet come.  While the present day may seem bleak, there exists, in the future, a reckoning of this great sin and judgment of it propagator.  Before this can happen, however, there will be another “invasion” of this demonic system in the future, when these nations will arise in number against Israel and seek to destroy her.

(5)Islam- The Final Solution:

So what awaits the future fate of Islam?  Quite simply, the wrath and judgment of Almighty God!  The Book of Daniel speaks of the fate of two of the lands to which Islam is key today:  Egypt and Syria.  Daniel, chapter 11, speaks of the “King of the South” (Egypt); and the “King of the North” (Syria), being destroyed ironically by the Antichrist in response to him upholding the Peace Treaty that he will have in place at that time with the Jewish People.  This will no doubt wipe out much of the Islamic world at that time due to the size of these territories.  The final solution for Islam can be read and understood in the Scriptures of Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation, and Obadiah.  In short, all the other Islamic countries except Babylon and the Palestinians will be wiped out at the Rapture or shortly thereafter.  Seven years later at the end of the Tribulation, Babylon- modern day Iraq- will be destroyed.  Finally, at the culmination of these events and at the Second Coming of Christ, the Palestinians will be destroyed, who sought, hated, and have tried to destroy God’s people through the centuries. 

The end is coming.  Satan, the world’s leaders, even blasphemous “Spiritual leaders” can talk it away, but God’s Word is true.  Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

Endnotes

1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.

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Ishmael and the origin of the Arab world

            What one believes will always determine what one does.  One’s misplaced belief in errant “truth” can lead to confusion and evil deeds, such as when the Jews- believing in their lineage and political/religious system- cried for Christ to be crucified in their ignorance and hardheartedness (John 19:15, KJV).¹  Their arrogance led to their spiritual blindness that has continued throughout history.  In like manner, it is extremely important to be correct in one’s belief of the Arab World and its origins.  To have a skewed understanding of the creation and goals of the Arab World leads only to further misunderstanding of God’s Word and future end time events.  For this reason, this paper will look at the Origins of the Arab World and the gross misunderstanding that Ishmael is her forefather.

            To understand the depth of conflict that exists today between Israel and her neighbors, it must be understood exactly just who Ishmael was.  Abraham and Sarah would have a son that would carry on the promise of the Covenant given to him by God in Genesis, chapter 12. Because of their old age, and unbelief on their part, they thought it necessary to attempt to assist God in the fulfillment of this promise.  Sarah, worried about conception in her old age, convinces Abraham to take Hagar, her Egyptian handmaid, and bear a son with her to provide the son of promise (Genesis 16, KJV).  This being completed, a son is born unto Sarah and Abraham through Hagar, and is named Ishmael.  God lovingly reproves Abraham after this mistake, and reaffirms the promise that he and Sarah will still bear a son who will be the son God intends to pass His Covenant promises through to Abraham’s offspring (Genesis 17:15-19, KJV).  God, being faithful to Abraham and showing kindness and mercy to Hagar, the birth mother, graciously promises to not leave Ishmael without a legacy and promises to Abraham “I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly:  twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation” (Genesis 17:20, KJV).  This promise would indeed be fulfilled, but not the way the worldly history has recorded it. 

Ishmael would father 12 sons as recorded in the book of Genesis who would be “princes” with “castles”, over their “nations”  (Genesis 25:16, KJV).  One could be mislead into believing that, indeed, these sons were to be the foundation of the Arab world, especially with the reference to “nations”.  There appears to be a conflict within the two passages of Genesis 17:20 and that of Genesis 25:16, but a closer study and rendering of the original language yields a clear picture of Ishmael and his descendants.  God’s Word records that Ishmael “dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria…” (Genesis 25:18, KJV).  The land of which the verses describe is that of Arabia.  With this knowledge, one can easily study and find that the terrain of this country of that day was a dessert land.  There were no castles during this time in history, though Genesis 25:16 clearly records the use of the word.  What, then, is the correct rendering of this verse?  Did God make a mistake?  Is the Holy Scripture with error?  On the contrary!  What presents within this passage is a personal influence of culture of the Bible interpreters of that day.  In 1611, when the King James Bible was translated, there abounded princes, and castles, and nations.  The writers simply transposed some of their local culture into events of the past.  A more realistic rendering of the passage in comparison to the original Hebrew would be “twelve chiefs, according to their tribes, living in tents”.  Now there is harmony with the two verses!  There is no conflict.  Indeed, Ishmael fathered 12 sons who would become chiefs of their tribes, and who would live in tents in the dessert of Arabia.  They were “Arabs” of Arabia, known as Bedouin.   Ishmael fathered one nation only- Arabia, as God records in His Word.

            Not only is there plain Biblical truth that Ishmael was not the founder of the Arab World, but the Bible itself speaks of these other nations, referred today as “Arab”, long before Ishmael’s existence.  For example, as previously discussed, Ishmael was born to an Egyptian handmaid (Genesis 16:1-4, KJV).  Egypt existed before Ishmael, and is considered to be the most populated  Arab nation in the world today.    Other countries, such as Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Libya, and Iraq are also listed in God’s Word as being on the scene of history 500 years prior to the life of Abraham.  Once again, countries existing before the before of Ishmael could in no way ever have been founded by him.

In its rush to group nations together under the cloak of “Islam”, the world has labeled countries as being “Arab” that do not fit the proper definition.  The proper use of “Arab” has always been in relation to Arabia, and the Bedouin people, who are nomads.  Today’s use of this word includes any country who is Islamic and speaks the arabic language, which still does not represent countries such as Iran who are greatly influenced by Islam, but do not speak arabic.  In short, it is very important to understand Ishmael is not the father of the Arab world, and this is not a war through history of “Isaac and Ishmael” that so many have wrongly labeled as such throughout history.  Many of these nations were in existence prior to Ishmael’s birth, and attempts to name Ishmael as their founding father is to misrepresent God’s Word and to incorrectly interpret God’s Scripture.

Endnotes

1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.

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Jacob and Esau: Forefathers of modern day strife

            No other family feud has played such an important part in World History than that of Jacob and Esau.  It would be a prophetic declaration upon which the ages of history would unfold, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:13, KJV).¹  To gather a fuller understanding of the strife that plays out today, one must return to the origin of these two brothers, tracing their lineage and relationship with God.  It is then that a correct interpretation of modern day events can be made, and a clearer picture of End Time events given.

            Rebekah, being with child, inquired of the Lord why there was a struggle within her womb (Genesis 25:22, KJV).  The Lord answered, “Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23, KJV).  From the very beginning, it was God’s plan that two nations would come forth from Rebekah’s sons.  It was also proclaimed that the elder son, Esau, would serve the younger son, Jacob.  This truth was contrary to culture and practice of the people of that day.  The oldest son always held the post of power and executive status of the family.  This decree would would kindle the fires of animosity and bitterness that have continued to burn unto this day.

Even though God had decreed that Jacob would be served by his older brother, Esau, and later be chosen by God to continue the Covenant of his father Abraham, it was not enough for him to wait in faith for its fulfillment.  On the contrary, there arose a desire to assist God with this promise.  In Genesis, chapter 25, one of the first acts of deception among the twins is seen when Jacob tricks Esau out of his birthright.  Esau, being famished from working in the field, returns home to the smell of a good home cooked meal.  Jacob, being the cunning deceiver, offers to trade him a good meal for what Esau believes to be a useless birthright at the time.  This decision would give Esau temporary joy in part of a full stomach, but would soon turn to bitterness and a despise of his birthright in the end, which would slowly continue to fuel the fires of bitterness between the two.  Jacob, in refusal to see things done on God’s timing, would have a birthright, but at a cost never intended by God. 

With the birthright now tied to Jacob, Isaac’s death would provide further blessings that would allow Jacob to realize the full potential of his inheritance.  Because he had taken the birthright through deceit earlier, it would now require even further deceit to maximize its worth.  In Genesis, chapter 27, unfolds a sad picture of pride, rebellion, lies, and greed.  Isaac, being old and dying, chose to give his blessing to Esau, in spite of having full knowledge of God’s words to Rebekah (Genesis 27:1-4, KJV).  Rebekah, overhearing the conversation, purposed to see that Jacob would receive the blessing instead (Genesis 27:5-10, KJV).  Rebekah and Jacob would then proceed to trick Isaac through a savory meal and a costume display that would no doubt rival any present day Broadway production (Genesis 27:11-25, KJV)!  The Plan would work, and Jacob would receive the blessing from Isaac, that would include being blessed agriculturally, having Esau’s people as well as other nations to serve his people, and a protective curse that would fall on anyone who raised a hand against him as well as a blessing to anyone who would bless him (Genesis 27:26-29, KJV).

The anger and grief that would then follow has continued to escalate through the centuries.  Esau, coming in from his hunting and with a meal promised to his father, finds the blessing already given to an imposter (Genesis 27:31-33, KJV).  Esau is devastated, and Isaac, being dejected and crushed over the deception, yields to Esau that “thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above; and by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck” (Genesis 27:39-40, KJV).  The bitterness and anger that existed between the two would cause a separation for a period of time, as Jacob would flee to Padanaram under Isaac’s direction to the house of Laban (Genesis 28:1-9, KJV).  This period of time would of more than 14 years would be the training ground for Jacob spiritually, as he would  prosper under the Hand of God (Genesis 30:43, KJV); be called to return to Bethel (Genesis 31:13, KJV); have his name changed to Israel (Genesis 32:28, KJV); and be reconciled unto his brother Esau (Genesis 33:1-20, KJV).

With the reconciliation would come greater blessings for Jacob, and the growth of the brothers’ possessions would cause a strain on the land which would lead to an eventual need to separate for more real estate (Genesis 36:7, KJV).  Jacob would remain in Israel, and Esau would depart unto Mount Seir.  Thus, the fulfillment of Genesis 25:23 continues with the separation of the brothers and the establishment of two nations as God promised.  The House of Jacob, now known as “Israel”, would remain in the land which God had promised to him, the land of Canaan.  The House of Esau would relocate to Mount Seir to the city of Petra, which God would also institute a name change to “Edom”.  Esau would then become the “father of the Edomites” (Genesis 36:9, KJV).  Amalek, one of the descendants of Esau, would later become enemies of Israel and God describes their conflict as one which the Lord would “have war with Amalek from generation to generation (Genesis 36:12; Exodus 17:16, KJV).  These descendants of Amalek, from the “House of Esau”, have continued to exist through the present day in regards to this prophesy.  The modern day name for this people is the Palestinians.  Mount Seir is that area which encompasses the lower third of modern day Jordan, which is also the location, as already mentioned, of the city of Petra.

            The ultimate destiny of the House of Esau remains yet in the future, where God has promised a complete and total annihilation of Esau’s descendants (Obadiah 15-18, KJV).  The House of Jacob, or “Israel”, will finally possess all the land of the Covenant and realize all of its promises by her God- including her Messiah.  Thus, the final fulfillment of God’s prophecy shall be completed in the sovereign words of God, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau I have hated” (Romans 9:13, KJV).

Endnotes

1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.

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The fullness of the Gentiles: An hour glass to end time events

            There exists yet in eternity future, a series of events that will occur before the ushering in of God’s Kingdom and a glorious time known as Eternity Future where the Believer will spend an eternity with God.  One of the most anticipated and exciting of these events is that of the Rapture of the Church, in which believers in Christ will be taken off this Earth prior to the time of Tribulation that will follow thereafter.  It has long been studied by many faithful students of God’s Word, the matters that surround these events.  The timing of these events- especially that of the impending Rapture- are held by the true Bible believing students to be a mystery, and therefore a call attention, for “the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not”  (Luke 12:40, KJV).¹  That being said, there is a phrase common to the Bible student of prophecy which bears some understanding if one is to correctly piece together future end time events.  That phrase is known as the “Fullness of the Gentiles”.

            From the onset of this study, there must be a clear understanding of two similar – but different- phrases concerning the Gentiles:  The “times” of the Gentiles and the “fullness” of the Gentiles.  Simply defined, the “times” of the Gentiles deals with that period of time from Daniel’s captivity through the future to Christ’s return.  It is a time in which Gentiles rule the Earth due to the hard hardheartedness of  Israel to their God and His Prophets.  Their rejection of God’s Messiah put them on a track of “blindness” as a nation during this time, so that Gentiles could be recipients of God’s Salvation as well as provoke them to jealousy over their God with the hopes of them returning to the truth (Romans 11:11, KJV).  That is not to say that Jews are unable to be saved during this period.  God’s gift and calling remains that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”  (Romans 10:13, KJV).  During this time, the Jews remain scattered across the world, and turmoil and strife abound in the Land which God had promised to them.  Their unbelief continues to keep them from possessing all the Land that God gave in His Covenant with Abraham, and the majority of Jews still await a Messiah and yet another Temple.  It is, however, God’s plan that Israel, as a nation, will not realize her Messiah until the “fullness” of the Gentiles has been accomplished.  The “fullness” of the Gentiles is that point in time when the last Gentile on earth, known already by God, will accept Christ as His personal Lord and Savior. Gentiles, in the book of Acts, are recorded as coming to Christ, and have continued to do so throughout history.  As already stated, this program to reach the Gentiles was largely due in part to the stiff necked hearts of the Jews.  Israel was to be the “light to the nations”, but her unbelief in God’s Messiah had delayed that mission. This “last soul” in reality, remains a deterrent to the Rapture call to this day, as  God remains “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, KJV).   It would seem, then, that one of the catalysts for the return of the Lord would indeed be a more deeply committed Christian to the business of winning Souls. 

In conclusion, this “fullness of the Gentiles” remains an hour glass to end time events.  If Souls continue to be won, then God will continue to mercifully grant time for more sheep to be added to the fold.  If, on the other hand, there continues a decline of spiritual hunger on the part of the world and hearts remain cold and bitter, it can be seen as a sign that, indeed, the believer’s redemption is at hand, even at the door.

           Endnotes

1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.

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The Church and its relationship to Christ

            The correct understanding of God’s ordained human families upon Earth is mandatory for the serious Bible student who desires to have a correct focus and picture of prophetic end times events that still yet await in the future.  One of the foundations of this understanding is the realization of the three strands of human families:  the Gentile, the Jew, and the Christian.  It is from these three strands God calls out His members of His “Church”.  This Church Age begins with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and will continue until the Rapture of the Church from the Earth.  This period of time will be the only time in history where Christians will be on the earth.

            Prior to this Church Age, only Gentiles and Jews were on the Earth.  There were no Christians.  It is not until the Day of Pentecost in Acts, Chapter 2, that the Church comes on the scene¹  (Acts 2, KJV).  Because of this, the point is clear that the people of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts, Chapter 1, were not included in this new creation known as the “Church”, but were either Gentiles or Jews.  After this introduction of the Church in Acts, Chapter 2, however, the door is now opened for all of mankind to have the opportunity to be included.  From this point on, all who will receive Christ become “Christian” and in God’s eyes no longer hold the title of “Jew” or “Gentile”.  In short, the Church is made up of Jews and Gentiles who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, thereby becoming “Christians” and have been baptized spiritually into membership of God’s “Church” :  “For by One Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free:  and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:13, KJV).  Because of this their now exists the three human strands on Earth at this time:  Gentiles, Jews, and Christians.

            There are many similarities between Christians and the Church.  Both groups are comprised of individuals from all nations, races, and lineages who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.  Both are made in the “spiritual” realm, meaning that Christians are made so through the Holy Spirit, once a Jew or Gentile accepts Christ.  There is no physical “birth certificate” that can be seen in the transformation of the Christian.  It is a work done on the inside through the Holy Spirit.  Likewise, the Church is a world wide spiritual body of believers of all nations, races, and lineages who have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.  There is no physical address that exists on planet Earth where all of the Church in its entirety gathers.  It is composed entirely of the professing Christians. 

            Another similarity seen of Christians and the Church is in its function.  Just as each individual Christian has parts of the body with different duties, such as the legs, arms, feet, etc., so the Church also has these same features.  While the Christian’s physical members fulfill the duties for which they were made, so the Church, made up of individual Christian “members” also functions as a whole through the talents, gifts, etc. of each individual Christian:  “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11, KJV).  Every Christian has a function in Christ’s Church!  When Christians neglect their functions, the Church suffers.

Perhaps the most unique similarity of the Christian and the Church as seen in their relationship to Christ is the commands of each by Christ Himself.  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 9:5, KJV).  He would later proclaim to believers that “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14, KJV).  The command would continue “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:  and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19,20, KJV).  While this command was given to the eleven disciples, there is no doubt that this was meant for all believers, and the church as a whole once it was established, as evidenced by “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20, KJV).  Christ meant for these eleven men to go out and make other followers of Christ and teach them to do the same.  This is for certain the most important charge ever given to mankind- that of proclaiming the Gospel message to a lost world on behalf of its Risen Savior! 

The Christian and the Church does indeed have a very special relationship with Christ.  It is Christ who has bought the Christian with His blood, and has established a Spiritual collective body of these believers as the “Church”.  While Gentiles, Jews, and Christians will continue together on this Earth through the Church Age, it is the Christians, in the body of the “Church”, who will one day soon Rapture out of this world to be with the One who loved them enough to give His life a ransom for many.  Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

 Endnotes

1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.

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The Spiritual tapestry of early Jewish history

            In 1991, a record price of $264,000 was paid for a Quilt at Sotheby’s auction.[1]   The quilt, created by Lucinda Ward Honstain in 1867, was comprised of 40 separate individual blocks that were sewn together to create a magnificent piece of American History.  Each block acted as a “mini historian” to the many encounters in the artist’s life, whether from social, political, or cultural setting.  The quilt would later be named the “Reconciliation Quilt”.[2]  The quilt today is greatly admired by scores of people, as it gives an insight to the past and a snapshot of what life was like during the time of the artist from her own personal perspective of being alive and present during that age in history.  While this man made article is indeed a national treasure and encapsulates early American History, a much greater work is seen in the early history of the Jewish people.  While blocks of fabric are weaved together to create an inanimate object of great value, it is the lives and stories of the Patriarchs and other Jewish personalities from so long ago that are the foundation of that beautiful and priceless strand of the Human family known as the Jewish race.  To understand the history of God’s majestic work in the Jewish past, is to understand with greater certainty, the authority and sovereignty of His work yet remaining in the future.

            Perhaps no other human name is better recognized throughout all of history than that of Abraham.  Though he possessed great wealth and riches in the eyes of the world, he also possessed something far greater in the eyes of God- faithfulness.  Abraham’s deep desire to depend on God is certainly one of the defining qualities that God saw when He chose this man to be the non binding party in a Covenant that would guarantee Land, Nationhood, and Blessings (Genesis Chapter 12, KJV).[3]  Originally known as Abram, or “exalted father”, God changed his name to Abraham, meaning “father of a multitude” in Genesis 17 that foretold one of the key aspects of the Covenant to be made with him- the fact that he would indeed be the forefather of a vast multitude of people (Genesis 17:5, KJV).  God’s grace is demonstrated in the life of Abraham very profoundly in the details of the Abrahamic Covenant.  The fact that the covenant was an unconditional covenant, requiring absolutely no effort or commitment on Abraham’s part for its fulfillment is quite amazing.  Abraham, as well as his descendants, were given the promise of land by God Himself.  The fact that only 30,000 square miles of the 300,000 square miles promised has been possessed is not a problem for God.  He has promised the land, and His promises will come to full fruition.  The Covenant also called for a Nation (Genesis 17:4-8, KJV).   Abraham would be the father of many nations as well as have many kings come from his lineage- including Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  Along with Land and Nationhood, there was also the bestowal of blessings to any who would bless Abraham and his descendants, as well as a stern warning  of curses that would abide on any who would curse him.  Abraham was indeed chosen by God to birth the Nation that would be known as Israel.  Abraham, with a faith and dependence on God, is a wonderful example for believers today, as well as a very important thread in the tapestry of early Jewish history.

The next great figure in early Jewish history would be that of Isaac, Abraham’s son.  As a test of Abraham’s total loyalty to God, he is asked to sacrifice Isaac and proceeds to do so without argument until God stays his hand at the very moment he is about to kill Isaac on the altar.  This is another great example of trusting God completely on Abraham’s part, but Isaac must also be given credit for believing in God’s plan as well.  Isaac was a young man at this time, and would have no doubt been taught the major aspects and blessings of the Covenant made with his father.  He had also been taught from an early age that the line of promise would continue through his seed as promised to his Father by God (Genesis 21:12, KJV).  This early foundation of God’s Word built into his young life without question gave him the faith and courage to answer the test just like his father.  While Abraham held the knife, it was Isaac who allowed himself to be bound and laid on the altar in obedience. 

Isaac’s mission in the Jewish nation was to continue with the Covenant began with his father, Abraham, almost a century earlier.  God appears to Isaac and confirms this promise and continued agreement (Genesis 26:1-5, KJV).  Although Isaac was abundantly wealthy from his inheritance passed down from Abraham (Genesis 25:5, KJV), including a solid spiritual foundation, he is not without fault and mistakes.  God’s grace is evident in Isaac’s life amid such failures, such as when he follows the half truth of his father and claims his wife to be his sister to keep from being killed (Genesis 26:9, KJV).  The failures of Isaac show his humanity, yet his successes through God show his tender heart toward serving Him.  Isaac, as his father Abraham, frequently built altars and “called upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 26:24, KJV).  Isaac desired to know and do the will of the Lord.  It is that holy ambition and zeal that makes his thread so valuable in the tapestry of Jewish history.

The third personality, in what is so often referred to as the “Patriarchs”, is Jacob.  Over 30 times in God’s Word, the names of “Abraham, Issac, and Jacob” appear together, many times directly from God as He is speaking (Exodus 2:24; Exodus 3:6,15; Exodus 4:5; Exodus 6:3,8; Exodus 33:1; Leviticus 26:42; Deuteronomy 6:10; Deuteronomy 34:4; Jeremiah 33:26; Matthew 8:11, KJV).  God puts much emphasis on the fact that the Abrahamic covenant was instituted with Abraham, passed down to his son Isaac, and reaffirmed once more with his grandson, Jacob.  It is interesting to note the differences in Isaac and his son in regards to their birth.  Isaac, meaning “laughter”, was born after years of promise and much anticipation on the parts of his parents, Abraham and Sarah.  Abraham had stumbled in trying to speed up the promise of offspring by having a child with Sarah’s maiden, Hagar.  He learned that God’s timing is always right, and that God had another heir in mind for the continued promise, that being through the seed of Isaac.  Perhaps Isaac had seen the struggles and heartaches that are associated with making decisions outside of God’s will and in the flesh.  No doubt this would have given him the foresight and patience to allow God to do His will, in His way, in His time.  Twenty years later Jacob is born, but the circumstances of his birth are not without problems.  Rebekah learns that two nations are within her womb awaiting birth (Genesis 25:23, KJV).  Jacob, meaning “supplanter”, or “one who grasps the heel”, would be the youngest of the two, yet would be the one to whom God would bless and entrust the Covenant relationship. 

Jacob, like his father, Isaac, and grandfather, Abraham, would be one to follow God and obey His commandments.  He had a close relationship with God, and relied on Him for protection in order that he may continue to live and serve Him (Genesis 28:20-22, KJV).  While Jacob trusted the God of his forefathers, he also felt the need to assist God in getting what had been promised to him.  Grace abounds in the life of Jacob through the fallacies of his misdirections.  Perhaps the biggest failure on Jacob’s part was indeed the “buying” of the birthright from his older brother, Esau (Genesis 25:33, KJV).  Jacob attempted to buy something he had already been promised by God, but was not accepting of God’s timing.  To further compound the issue, Jacob and his mother would trick his father Isaac for the blessing reserved for the elder brother (Genesis 27, KJV).  Through all of these mistakes, God allowed Jacob to continue with the promise that he would still help fulfill the covenant and continued to bless him and his descendants.  In addition to the intense struggle that would ensue with his brother Esau (Genesis 27, KJV), Jacob would also struggle with his father in law, Laban (Genesis 29-31, KJV), and then ultimately with the Lord, Himself (Genesis 32:22-27, KJV). One of the biggest blessings seen in the life of Jacob would certainly be the confrontation with the Lord and the changing of his name to “Israel”, which translates, “a prince of God” (Genesis 32:28, KJV).  God had given Jacob what he did not deserve- a chance through God’s wonderful grace to be found usable in the service of the King!  A moment in God’s plan where He once again shows that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29, KJV).  If God’s faithful Sages of early Jewish History are the threads He used to bind Israel’s tapestry together, then without a doubt, the obedience and faithfulness of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be the foundation in which everything is secured.

As the called out body of Christ, the Church is made up of born again believers.  These believers, according to Romans, chapter 12, have many different functions, but act as a whole.  Just as each Christian is a “member” of the body and may serve different purposes within the body, so is the case with early Jewish history, as God would choose some of His leaders to take on different roles than what is perhaps expected, but that would, in the big picture, accomplish the furthering of His master plan.  One great example of this is seen with the next personality- Joseph.  Joseph would be Jacob’s favored son, but more importantly, Joseph would be God’s favored servant in the line of promise.  While Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew the immense privilege and blessing of communing one on one with God through His audible voice, this is not the case with Joseph.  It would be through dreams that God would choose Joseph and relay His will for Joseph’s life (Genesis 37, KJV), which no doubt required a greater amount of faith and courage on Joseph’s part!  Joseph’s relationship with God, however, was not weakened in the smallest amount due to the lack of physical signs by God to prove he was chosen for a purpose.      No matter how rough and unfair the times and challenges may have seemed, the Scripture gives no record of Joseph ever becoming bitter or dismayed that God had lost control of the situation.  On the contrary, Joseph handled himself with integrity and humility as he was rejected by his brothers and sold into slavery (Genesis 37:28, KJV); falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:14, KJV); unfairly imprisoned by Potiphar (Genesis 39:20, KJV); and forgotten by Pharaoh’s chief butler (Genesis 40:23, KJV).  Joseph is indeed a picture of a faithful man of God who may not understand God’s methods, but always trusts His plans.  God’s grace abounds in the life of Joseph through all of these ordeals.  Joseph faithfully completes the task given to him by God, to continue the line of promise and to protect the family.  Further proof of his faithfulness and God’s blessing is found in his offspring, which would include such wonderful and mighty leaders  as Joshua, Deborah, Samuel, Gideon, and Jephthah.

While Joseph would be a leader sent ahead to save the children of Israel and prevent annihilation from famine,  Moses would be a different type of leader, who would be used by God to deliver the Israelites out of a different situation altogether- Egyptian bondage.  A new king had risen up who “knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:8, KJV) and became very hostile toward the children of Israel and took them into bondage to prevent being overcome by them.  Moses, through the divine appointment and protection of God, would be born to Jewish parents, escape an ultimatum from the Pharaoh to be killed, be preserved through the ordeal of being hid and alone in the river’s edge, and be delivered into the Palace to live as the Pharaoh’s son (Exodus 2, KJV).  This “reeds to royalty” childhood would place Moses in the peculiar circumstance of seeing his fellow Israelites beaten, abused, mocked, and made to labor intensely without mercy until one day, while seeing a brother beaten, Moses retaliates and kills the Egyptian.  This would set off a series of events that would ultimately drive Moses to the wilderness where God would be waiting.  God had not forgotten His people, neither had He forgotten His promises.  It would be through the circumstances of Egyptian slavery that Israel would turn again and seek the face of God, and God would “hear their groaning and remember His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob (Exodus 2:24, KJV).  Moses had a very faithful relationship with God, yet he felt inadequate, at best, for the task.  God’s grace is seen in Moses as He tenderly leads him to be the kind of deliverer God needs.  Ultimately, Moses’ temper and disobedience would prevent him from entering the Promised Land, yet God would lovingly take him up to the mountain top so that he might get a glimpse of what he had desired to achieve for God.  While he would not enter the Promised Land, Moses still had the amazing privilege of delivering God’s law to the people; introducing the feast days to the nation of Israel; overseeing the building of the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, and all of it’s furnishings; and being the vessel used by God to pen the first five books of the Bible.  Moses was definitely a golden thread in the tapestry of Israel’s history.

After the death of Moses, God would need another strong and faithful man to lead His people.  That need would be filled in the man of Joshua, who is chosen and commissioned by God in Deuteronomy 31:23.  Joshua had received “on the job training” under Moses as his assistant, soldier, and scout.  He had also been exposed to the rebellion of Israel as he would witness first hand the hardened hearts of God’s people.  Joshua’s mission would be to continue to lead God’s people and carry them in to the Promised Land.  Grace is seen through Joshua’s story in the strong leader that God allowed Joshua to become.  He would take over leadership of a rebellious people  after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years with Moses.  Courage would be the cry of the hour, and Joshua would answer the call with a tremendous faith in his God.  His relationship with God would be one of total reliance, as he would seek to do God’s will and lead with a spirit of wisdom given by God (Deuteronomy 34:9, KJV).  Joshua would be a valuable part in Israel’s history.

             Israel would once again defy God and be rebellious upon Joshua’s departure from the scene.  God’s Word says that the time following Joshua that “there was no king in Israel:  every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25, KJV).  To protect His people from possible total destruction, God showed grace once more in the practice of raising up Judges to serve as the person to rebuke, but yet deliver, Israel from her horrid sins and spiritual adultery.  God’s Word says that “the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge:  for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them” (Judges 2:18, KJV). 

God, being a gracious and merciful God, provided the way for Israel to return to Him and to live righteously and be His people.  He provided the leadership, wisdom, boldness, and strength in the personage of Judges.  The judge would deliver Israel out of the hands of the oppressors and once again set their eyes upon God.  Unfortunately, “when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way” (Judges 2:19, KJV).  Victory for God’s people was short lived.  Their hardened hearts were all to quick to return to a sinful state of humanity when no Godly leader was present.       Gideon would be a judge that God would raise up in times such as this.  God chose Gideon to judge Israel, and to deliver Israel from her enemies, the Midianites.  For seven years, the Midianites had fought and conquered Israel, causing Israel to live a defeated, and cowardly life.  Israel was so trodden down and oppressed that they “made dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strongholds” (Judges 6:2, KJV).  Israel had nothing that the Midianites had not taken from them:  land, food, livestock, shelter, and riches had all been robbed from Israel’s coffers because of their defiance of God.  Alas, a prophet is sent by God to announce deliverance when Israel cries out unto the Lord for help (Judges 6:6-10, KJV).  Gideon is visited by an angel of the Lord and given the charge to deliver Israel from the Midianites (Judges 6:11-13, KJV).  Gideon’s relationship with God could be classified as “weak” in the fact that he is quick to make excuses and offer God other alternatives than himself to bring the people into battle.  His insecurity in himself created eventually a deeper dependence upon God.  It took great courage for Gideon to fulfill his Godly charge, and God allowed him to hone his spiritual muscle in the first task given to him in destroying the idols of his father’s house. (Judges 6:25-32, KJV).  God’s grace is also seen in the patience God shows with Gideon as he works through his own insecurity, unbelief, and even fear.  Perhaps one of the most applicable lessons from this historical Jewish figure is the fact that God does allow him to ask “why” (Judges 6:13, KJV).  There is a vast chasm of difference between a humble and reverent cry to God why things happen, versus the disrespectful and prideful heart that demands a response from God.  God no doubt recognized the hurt and discouragement in Gideon’s own heart, and was gracious with him to allow him time to realize it was truly God speaking to Him.  Gideon would indeed deliver Israel from the hands of the Midianites, and would serve as Judge for forty years over Israel (Judges 8:28, KJV).  A timely character is found in Gideon.  Another great example that no matter how weak the man or common his background, God can raise up His man for the job in any age, under any circumstance.

Judges would continue to rule Israel for over 300 years.  Israel would continue to rebel and follow false gods after the death of the judge, until God would allow them to be delivered and conquered by her enemies until she would once again turn to God and cry out for help.  Samson is another great Jewish character who is God’s answer to those cries.  Israel had rebelled against God and had been delivered to the Philistines for forty years (Judges 13:1, KJV).  God appoints Samson to be the deliverer of His people before birth (Judges 13:5, KJV).  As Samson would grow up, he would try to do a lot on his own, apart from the power of God.  Included in his downfalls would be a temper problem and his weakness to not allow his personal desire overcome his devotion to God.  Samson’s mission was indeed to deliver the Israelites from the hands of the Philistines, but Samson’s anger and the results of it would prevent that from happening.  The Nazarite vows that were placed on Samson would become, over time, less important to him in his quest for personal glory and satisfaction.  His willingness to disclose to Delilah one of the sources of his power (Judges 16, KJV) would be the ultimate mistake that would sever God’s power from his life for a time.  Imprisoned, with eyes gouged out, Samson would once again find God in the darkness.  Grace is seen in Samson’s story in the fact that all who will return to God can be forgiven and restored.  God later used Samson to mount a great defeat of the Philistine leaders as he would destroy them in the ruins of their false god’s house (Judges 16:23-31, KJV) which would grant a partial freedom to Israel.  The tapestry of Israel’s history is rich with “second chance” warriors for God, and a great comfort to all who have ever fallen in service of the King and have been restored.

The last man to be used as a Judge over Israel was Samuel.  Born to Hannah and Elkanah, Samuel would be an answer to a prayer of infertility (I Samuel 1:1-28, KJV).  In thankfulness of the magnificent blessing of a son, Hannah returns Samuel to the Lord to be of service to Him in the temple.  It is while growing up under the leadership of Eli that Samuel would be called by God to serve Him (I Samuel 3, KJV).  One of the first trying tasks would be to deliver judgment on Eli for the lack of disciplining his wicked sons.  This would give Samuel great courage and confidence in the Lord, and he would remain close to God all through his life.  He was faithful in service in that he “did let none of his words fall to the ground” (I Samuel 3:19, KJV).  Along with being the last Judge for Israel, other missions for Samuel would include turning Israel from idol worship, defeating the Philistines (I Samuel 7, KJV), placing Saul, Israel’s first King, on the throne (I Samuel 10, KJV), and later anointing David, God’s chosen King, for the throne of Israel (I Samuel 16, KJV).  Grace is seen in the life of Samuel, as he is a great picture of what any person can attain in total surrender to God.  Samuel was used mightily from his youth to accomplish many victories for God.  He loved Israel, but yet he was always faithful to deliver the message to the people whether it would be accepted or not.  No compromise can be seen in the life of Samuel and his standing for the Lord.  God’s Word declares that “Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life” (I Samuel 7:15, KJV).  A rich and deep study can be found in the person and life of Samuel.  A mighty man used of God that faithfully accomplished his tasks and became a most valuable thread in the tapestry of Jewish history.

Perhaps one of the hardest tasks Samuel had in his life was to anoint a King who God was not ready to place over His people; but, due to the insistent cries and complaints of the children of Israel to be like like all other nations, would allow them to have what they so desired.  Saul would be anointed to be King by Samuel and would be Israel’s first earthly king.  Saul’s mission and mandate from God would be to lead Israel in the right path (I Samuel 12:23, KJV).  Saul’s relationship to God was broken at best.  While he was indeed allowed to be King by God, his disobedient, impatient, and arrogant attitude would prevent him from continuing in the throne.  God had provided leadership, security, and fellowship with Israel, but Israel had rejected Him.  They wanted a physical, human “warrior” to be a representative to the nations.  Grace is seen through these events in that, even with the rejection of God Himself by His own people, God would not forsake them in the days ahead (I Samuel 12:22, KJV).  God would also lovingly and mercifully through Samuel set forth the requirements to have a successful and long lasting kingdom:  “If ye will fear the Lord, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the Lord your God:  But if ye will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall the hand of the Lord be against you, as it was against your fathers” (I Samuel 12:14-15, KJV).  This would be very clear in the life as Saul as his impatience while waiting for Samuel to offer a burnt offering overcomes him and he breaks God’s law and performs this task himself.  In this act of rebellion, God announces judgment through Samuel to King Saul:  “Thou hast done foolishly:  thou has not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee:  for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.  But now thy kingdom shall not continue…” (I Samuel 13:13-14, KJV).  While Saul would have the honor of being the first earthly King of Israel, sin would keep Saul from fulfilling God’s plan. 

One of the most richest and valuable properties of God’s Word is that of balanced disclosure.  It is within the pages of Scripture that one reads the magnificent accomplishments of human vessels in the service of God and is also privy to the failures of those same human vessels.  God, in giving the Word, opens grace and mercy in its pages to show people generations removed from the actual accounts, that God chooses to use human people to accomplish His will.  These humans remain the same as humans of today- prone to failure and mistakes in the service of the Lord.  One of the greatest people in all of God’s Word to have such an open life before the reader is that of David.  While David would be prone to failures in his personal life, it is without a doubt that God chose him to be king of Israel:  “the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people” (I Samuel 13:14, KJV).  It is with David whom the Lord would establish the Davidic Covenant declaring “thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee:  thy throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16, KJV).  Through early beginnings as a shepherd boy, David would be chosen by God to be His King (I Samuel 13:13-14, KJV).  His mission would be to lead God’s people and begin a prophetic covenant that still has a futuristic fulfillment.  David’s heart as a victorious warrior would show great courage and dependence upon his God.  As a Psalm writer and poet, he would share his victories, his failures, and his despairs with the reader.  David, as a natural man, endured all the emotions of men today.  Unfortunately, these emotions would lead to adultery and even murder.  Grace is seen in the life of David through all of his misdirections, and his tender heart towards God.  Amidst the many trials and stumbles in his life, God still chooses to call him a man after His own heart.  Countless pages could be written on this early Jewish personality.  As King of Israel, he would serve the Lord faithfully, and would give honor and glory to Him before his people.  His heavy involvement in war would prevent him from building God’s temple, yet he would father the next strand in the rich tapestry of Jewish history.

Wisdom is a valuable quality.  Godly wisdom is a priceless gift.  Solomon, David’s son, would be a man who was blessed to possess both.  Such wisdom would still not perfect Solomon to the point of being without sin and failures in his life, as he was yet still a man.  He was chosen by God through Nathan the Prophet for a Godly mission- to reign upon his father’s throne and continue the will of God for the nation of Israel.  Just as any other government that rules a people, there would be power struggles.  Solomon would see the promise of his kingdom attacked before he would ever take the throne in the plots of Adonijah, another of David’s sons (I Kings 1:5-9, KJV).  This attempt would be put down as David would call for Solomon to be anointed King while David was dying (I Kings 1:30-40, KJV), and would be placed on the throne after his death (I Kings 2:12, KJV).

Solomon would be a man who loved the Lord, and desired to follow Him.  When asked by God what Solomon desired of Him, his reply was to “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad…” (I Kings 3:9, KJV).  God was pleased by Solomon’s request and answered, “I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee any arise like unto thee.  And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honor:  so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.  And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days” (I Kings 3:12-14, KJV).  The grace that God had shown to his father David, would now be extended to Solomon.  Scripture records that Solomon indeed enjoyed the gift of wisdom that was unchallenged throughout his reign, and that people from all over the earth came to hear his wisdom and counsel (I Kings 4:29-34, KJV).  A product of this wisdom would include mercy in his judgments and in his dealings with Israel.  While Solomon would not refrain from warfare and capital punishment to defend his kingdom, he would also grant mercy, giving ample chance for a window of correction, such as in the case of Adonijah’s attempt to take the throne promised to Solomon (I Kings 1:52-53, KJV).

The largest task given to Solomon by God would certainly be the building of the Temple. There was a great promise that was attached to its completion and continued obedience to God by Israel and her king:  “Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform thy word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father:  And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel” (I Kings 6:12-13, KJV).  Solomon would complete this task, and would also receive yet another confirmation of the covenant promised to his father David of an eternal kingdom upon Israel forever (I Kings 9:1-5, KJV).  Solomon, like his father David, sought to please God and do His commandments.  While he would yet falter in his personal life like his father with fleshly desires, God would chasten him in love and continue to use this willing servant to fulfill the covenant began with his father.

            Israel’s history is rich with those who chose to be used by God for His work.  A common thread that runs throughout the lives of each individual is the fact that they were indeed human vessels with imperfections just like people today.  Nothing qualified them over any other human being in a worldly sense other than their relationship with God and their willingness to perform the tasks assigned to them.  The tapestry of early Jewish history is so very rich in promises, and warnings, that can be spiritually applied to the church and individual believer today.  The same power that rested upon these early characters remains available to the believer today if one is willing to follow God and obey His Word.  Today’s believer has the wonderful grace and blessing of having the entire counsel of God’s Word set before them to be ingested at a moment’s notice, and not having to wait for a prophet to deliver a message from God. 

If one would desire to study and appreciate the Reconciliation Quilt today, they would have to drive to Lincoln, Nebraska and view it in a museum.  If that same individual would desire to study and appreciate a much older and precious work in the antiquity of the Jewish Nation and its people, they would simply need only to pick up a copy of God’s Word and begin to read its pages.  The quilt holds no spiritual merit and will eventually return to dust.  God’s Word is alive and waiting to reveal an eternity of beauty and grace to all who will receive.

 


[1]“The Reconciliation Quilt.”  Folk Art (Fall 2003).

[2]“The Winter Art Show.”  American Heritage 43, no.1 (February/March 1992).

[3]All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible Version, Royal, 1971.

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The grace of God as seen in the Jewish lineage

            The plan of God as shown through the line of the Jewish race is one that faithfully and lovingly records God’s compassion for the World and the fact that He, indeed, is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, KJV).¹          One need only to look at the many ways in which God tenderly and mercifully deals with this group of people to see a glimpse of just how He, even today, is always gracious in showing kindness and extended grace to those who are lost with the opportunity for eternal redemption.

            God’s Word clearly sets forth the introduction of the Jewish race on the worldly scene.  There are actually two other titles that are announced in the Old Testament prior to this introduction of “Jew”.  In Genesis 14:13, the first occurrence of the word “Hebrew” is used in the Bible when describing Abram.  Next, the familiar name of “Israel” is assigned to Jacob in Genesis 32:28.  It is not until II Kings 16:6 that the very first mention of the term “Jew” is recorded in Scripture.  With this understanding of Scripture, it is easy to come to the conclusion that the first Jew was indeed a Gentile.  The logical question that then surfaces is:  Why the Jews?  Why did God foresee the need to establish a new line in the human family?

In Genesis, chapter 12, a very important covenant is given that would literally change the face of human history forever.  This covenant would begin a “line of promise” that would extend from the first recipient, Abram (Genesis 12:1-3, KJV), to Isaac (Genesis 26:3-5, KJV), and later to Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15, KJV).  In this covenant, God promised to these men to “make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great:  and though shalt be a blessing:  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3, KJV).  A true picture of Grace is seen in the Covenant with these men.  In short, they are given a promise of which no action on their part is required or even accepted.  There would, of course, be other Covenants to follow which would be conditional, but the most important one of all, that would provide a land and nation rested solely upon God’s shoulders.  Grace indeed is receiving what is not deserved, and in this case, a great nation is promised through the line of promise to these Patriarchs.  Perhaps the reason God gave birth to a new line in the human family is as simple as setting apart a race of people that would be wholly dedicated to Him and His statutes.  In the end, the fact still remains that God had pre-ordained the promised Messiah to come through the Jewish line and for that reason alone  was sufficient to weave this strand into the human family.

All throughout the remainder of God’s Word, the relationship continues of a Father lovingly caring for His children as seen in the nation of Israel.  On many different occasions, her rebellion against God as a nation should have been enough to destroy her, yet God showed tender mercy in dealing with her peculiarities.  In I Kings 18, a wonderful example of God’s grace is shown at Mount Carmel.  Elijah, delivering a message from God over Israel’s disobedience and Baal worship, builds an altar and charges the false prophets to do the same.  A showdown is staged where the real God would answer by fire to prove His existence.  Rather than punishing and dealing harshly with His people, God tenderly allows them to see His power and majesty as the false prophets call out to no avail for Baal to answer by fire.  When Elijah calls out to the God of Israel, He overwhelmingly answers the call, and makes a powerful, miraculous showing that He is still there for His people (I Kings 18, KJV).  They immediately turn to Him and their relationship restored.  Where judgment abounded and punishment required for rebellious actions, Grace did much more abound for Israel!  So is the case time and time again as her rebellion would take her in and back out of the land.  This has continued to this present day, yet God’s grace is always ever present to any who will receive it.

There exists in the picture of Israel, a spiritual application to Christians today.  Though the Church would not come into existence until Acts, chapter 2, Israel’s disobedience, ignorance, and even foolishness can be seen in the Church today- down to the individual believer.  Times may frequently occur where the Christian finds many opportunities for “Baal” worship:  sports, money, fame, work, media, and others.  God is many times neglected and His will negated in the lives of the believer.  But, just as seen with the nation of Israel, God is a God who allows Grace to have its work in the life of the believer.  The Holy Spirit does His work of always conforming the believer to that of his heavenly Father.  Just as God chose Israel and tenderly nurtured, protected, but admonished her, so is the case in the life of the believer and in the Church today.  God has chosen to cover, with the blood, any and all who will come to Him.  The Grace that Israel experienced can be had by all if only asked for.

Endnotes

1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.

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