Wednesday, April 27, 2011

JESUS' GOLDEN GIRDLE

THE VISION OF JESUS CONTINUED--HIS GOLDEN GIRDLE


Revelation 1:13 (last part of verse)--“…One like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and GIRT about the breast with A GOLDEN GIRDLE.”

As Jesus appeared in a vision to the Apostle John, He was girt about the chest, the upper torso, with a golden girdle (or breastplate).  To be GIRT means to be encircled all around.  The golden GIRDLE, properly defined as a BREASTPLATE, encased Jesus around His chest and upper back, surrounding His upper body with a armor-plating made from pure gold.

The GOLDEN GIRDLE (breastplate) is yet another WORD PICTURE or REPRESENTATION of the RIGHTEOUSNESS of Jesus.  We can allow the scripture, itself, to DEFINE this concept.

Isaiah 11:5--“And RIGHTEOUSNESS shall be the GIRDLE of His loins, and FAITHFULNESS the GIRDLE of His reins.”

REINS refer to STRENGTH, and this strength is in His loins.  Even though the GIRDLE in THIS PASSAGE surrounds the area of the loins (the WAIST and THE SMALL OF THE BACK), we DO DISCOVER that THE GIRDLE represents RIGHTEOUSNESS.

The GOLD of this GIRDLE, or BREASTPLATE, shows DEITY, the GOLD representing GOD in all His glory.  Thus the GIRDLE, or BREASTPLATE, upon Jesus REPRESENTS the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF DEITY, the righteousness of God Himself.

The GIRDLE, or BREASTPLATE, shows us the PRIESTLY ROLE of Jesus.  To fully grasp this concept, we’ll turn to the Old Testament.

In Exodus 28:4, we find--“And these are the garments which they shall make (for the office of Tabernacle PRIEST); a BREASTPLATE, and an ephod, and a robe, a mitre, and A GIRDLE: and they shall make HOLY GARMENTS for Aaron your brother (Moses’ brother), and his sons, that they may MINISTER unto Me IN THE PRIEST’S OFFICE.”

There are many pictures, and MEANINGS, foreshadowed by the Tabernacle PRIESTS, attired in their Holy garments.  Before entering the Holy Place, or before approaching the Throne of God (represented by the golden altar and mercy seat) in the Holy of Holies, the Priest had to go through sacrifices, ceremonial cleansings, and be covered from head to toe in Holy garments.  If the Priest DID NOT follow this rigid preparation, he’d die from the POWER of God--Whose Spirit filled the Tabernacle. 

THE WHOLE PROCESS, PERFORMED BY THE PRIESTS, FORESHADOWS THE SACRIFICE OF JESUS, THE CLEANSING AND THE COVERING FOR SINS--ALL THESE PROVIDED BY THE SHED BLOOD OF JESUS--THAT WE MUST BELIEVE IN, RECEIVE--AND DO--BEFORE WE MAY BE READY TO APPROACH GOD’S THRONE.  (We’ll venture deeper into these Priestly preparations later in our study of Revelation.)

The GIRDLE, which surrounds the upper chest, SHOWS Jesus’ ROLE as our GREAT HIGH PRIEST.  We’ll examine a few more scriptures.

Hebrews 3:1--“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and HIGH PRIEST of our profession, Jesus Christ.”

Hebrews 4:14-15--“Seeing then that we have a GREAT HIGH PRIEST, that IS PASSED INTO THE HEAVENS, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession (confession).  For we have NOT a HIGH PRIEST which CANNOT be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in ALL POINTS tempted like we are, yet WITHOUT SIN.”

Jesus is our GREAT HIGH PRIEST in His GIRDLE OF GOLD.  In His role as our GREAT HIGH PRIEST, He's before God, making INTERSESSIONS for us.

Romans 8:34--“Who is he that condemns? IS it Christ that died?, yea rather, that is RISEN AGAIN, Who is even AT THE RIGHT A HAND God, Who makes INTERSESSIONS for us?”

The KEY thought is this--if Christ is INTERCEDING as a GREAT HIGH PRIEST, on our behalf at God’s Throne--He is CERTAINLY NOT condemning us!

The GIRDLE also carries with it the concept of GOVERNMENT.  This becomes clear to us in another Old Testament scripture.

Isaiah 22:21 (In this passage, we see the office of Shebna as it closes, and the anointing of the office passes onto Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah.)--“And I will CLOTHE him WITH YOUR ROBE, and STRENGTHEN him with your GIRDLE, and I will commit YOUR GOVERNMENT into his hand:  and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.”

We see there how the GIRDLE includes the functioning of government.

To summarize, the GOLDEN GIRDLE which encases Jesus about the breasts SHOWS His DIETY (GOD) and RIGHTEOUSNESS.  It SHOWS how Jesus is our GREAT HIGH PRIEST and that God’s GOVERNMENT is in His hands.

Before I close for today, I feel I need to DEFINE righteousness.  This may be a familiar term, and Christians use it REGULARLY, but WHAT DOES RIGHTEOUSNESS MEAN?

RIGHTEOUSNESS is a Godly quality, a part of God’s character.  We, as Christians, place our faith in the shed blood of Jesus, and God’s RIGHTEOUSNESS is imputed (given) to us. 

A Christian’s RIGHTEOUSNESS is NOT gained by SELF-EFFORT--it’s NOT something that we CAN WORK to achieve. 

Rather, RIGHTEOUSNESS is like a covering, THUS THE WHITE GARMENTS.  We GAIN that covering for our sin through our FAITH in Jesus Christ.  BUT WE MAINTAIN the whiteness, the purity, of these garments by our daily confession of sins, which is the washing, the cleansing, that keeps our hearts in right standing with God, and enables us to live lives free of guilt or condemnation.  In order to be part of the MARRIAGE of Jesus and His Bride (who is the Church), we MUST accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord and be covered in the white garments of God’s RIGHTEOUSNESS through Jesus.

I looked up RIGHTEOUSNESS in both Hebrew and Greek dictionaries (at the back of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance).  RIGHTEOUSNESS involves MANY facets, and I’ll do my best to define it.

RIGHTEOUSNESS is to be RIGHT, to be altogether JUST. 

RIGHTNESS is accomplished in TOTAL ACCORDANCE to the law (upholding ALL of God’s laws and principles), and it’s an ADHERENCE to a STANDARD of RIGHTNESS which is PROPER, FIT and CORRECT.

RIGHTEOUSNESS is to be UPRIGHT, both morally and in honesty. 

RIGHTEOUSNESS is "JUST"--meaning it’s FAIR and EVEN-HANDED.  It’s IMPARTIAL.

RIGHTEOUSNESS includes RECTITUDE--it’s UPRIGHTNESS in principles or conduct BECAUSE of a LOVE of what is RIGHT, and THE DESIRE to follow what is RIGHT.

RIGHTEOUSNESS is the quality of being JUST--to RENDER what’s DUE or MERITED.  On the GOOD side, REWARDS and BLESSINGS are given to those who MERIT or DESERVE an award, and it’s done with total FAIRNESS and IMPARTIALITY.  On the NEGATIVE side (for rejecting Jesus), punishments and judgments are rendered in accordance to the degree of rebellion or sin--and these sentences are given with FAIRNESS and IMPARTIALITY.  These DECISIONS are MADE with WISE DISCERNMENT, acting in a facet of RIGHTEOUSNESS known as GOOD JUDGMENT.

RIGHTEOUSNESS is LAWFUL.  It’s VALID and AUTHENTIC, LEGAL, and LEGITIMATE--it’s those things which are RECOGNIZED and PERMITTED under the LAW.  God’s RIGHTEOUSNESS is closely united with His LAWS, His MORAL precepts, His Godly PRINCIPLES.

HOLINESS is entwined with RIGHTEOUSNESS.  God’s character will NOT allow any stain or smudge of sin or rebellion.  The fallen, the impure, the prideful, the selfish (and ALL manner of CORRUPTION because of those things)--CANNOT abide in God’s POWERFUL and PURE presence.

Only the RIGHTEOUS may approach God’s Throne of Glory, and the ONLY WAY for mankind to be RIGHTEOUS is with GOD'S kind of RIGHTEOUSNESS.  That kind of righteousness COMES THROUGH FAITH in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  This is why believers receive a WHITE GARMENT, which covers their sinful flesh in the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF JESUS CHRIST--and it’s WHY Jesus is pictured in Revelation 1:13 with the GARMENT of righteousness, and with the GOLDEN GIRDLE of righteousness and deity.

This is Jesus, our GREAT HIGH PRIEST, the One Who holds God’s GOVERNMENT in His hands (which is a RIGHTEOUS government).

Most simply expressed, RIGHTEOUSNESS is RIGHT (to BE RIGHT, to uphold what IS RIGHT--which is MORAL and PROPER).

May you be found in His RIGHTNESS; may you be rewarded for those things you do in His kingdom to support and maintain this RIGHTNESS.  And it can be done ONLY through FAITH in Jesus!

I pray that you are clothed in WHITE GARMENTS.  I pray that you are ready for HIS MARRIAGE FEAST, glorious in your WHITE GARMENTS.

Have a beautiful day!  Yes, this might EVEN be THE DAY when our glorious SAVIOR descends into the air to Rapture His true Church!  We'll exchange our old bodies for glorified ones and be CLOTHED in WHITE, like our Lord!

Even so, come quickly, Jesus!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

THE VISION OF JESUS AND HIS WHITE GARMENT

THE VISION OF JESUS, IN SEVEN PARTS


BEFORE we jump into this study, looking at the vision of Jesus PHRASE BY PHRASE, I want to make sure we GARNER the CLEAR and ENTIRE picture of John’s VISION of our RESURRECTED Lord.  We'll see ALL the verses which reveal John’s awesome VISION of our Lord Jesus Christ.

After that, we’ll BACK-TRACK as long as it takes to study EACH ELEMENT of this vision IN DETAIL, to garner understanding about EACH symbol used.  By doing this, we'll get a deeper glimpse into the WONDROUS TRUTH ABOUT OUR AWESOME LORD.

There are SEVEN PARTS in the description of Jesus, and that should NOT surprise the Bible scholar who KNOWS about the MANY uses of SEVEN in the book of Revelation.  (MAKE NOTE--the SEVEN PART FEATURE of Jesus’ description relates to HIS BODY.  The SEVEN parts do NOT include His apparel, His clothes.) The SEVEN parts include His head, eyes, feet, voice, right hand, mouth and countenance (face).

Thus in the number SEVEN, we see a COMPLETE Jesus, PERFECT in all His powerful attributes.  Get ready to be AMAZED.

This is our Savior and Lord, a righteous God, a fearsome Truth-Bearer, an accurate Proclaimer of Holy Standards. We’re comfortable with pictures of a gentle and humble Servant, a Friend, and an Advocate--that we have in Jesus.  (I have the CLASSIC portrait of Jesus--a picture which brings much comfort and peace to my soul), BUT HERE--we’re ABOUT to discover another facet of our Jesus, uncovered in the elements of this VISION.  It serves as an INTRODUCTION to HOW Jesus will be PORTRAYED throughout this last book of the Bible.

Revelation 1:13-16--"And in the midst of the lampstands One like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle.  His head and His hairs were like wool, white as snow, and His eyes were as a flame of fire:  and His feet like unto fine (burnished, polished) brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters.  And He had in His right hand seven stars:  and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword:  and His countenance was as the sun shines in his strength.”

One might say that such a MIGHTY vision of our Lord is NOT comforting.  In fact, the symbolism which is ACTUALLY USED might stir up a sensation of fear and dread.  These SYMBOLS form a picture of Christ as He brings discipline, correction, rebuke and judgment.  When John saw THIS JESUS, he fainted.  Revelation 1:17.

Why is Jesus described with elements of FIRE, HOT BRASS, A ROARING VOICE, A SWORD (in His Mouth) and a face SHINING BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN?

When we arrive at the SEVEN letters to the Churches in chapters 2 and 3, we're going to discover elements of Jesus’ POTENT description REPEATED in those letters.  WHY?  Because, already, even in this EARLY PART of Revelation, Jesus BEGINS His ministry of bringing correction, and giving warnings of impending judgments.  Yes, even within a variety of Churches!  (Judgment must BEGIN at the house of God.  1 Peter 4:17.)

Jesus repeats in ALL seven of His letters to the Churches-- “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.”

The vision of Jesus Christ in chapter one is an INTRODUCTION to what will come later:  (For the Churches in chapters 2 and 3.  For Israel and the rest of the world in chapters 6 though 19.)

Are we ready to listen?  Will we have ears to hear what the Spirit says?


THE VISION OF JESUS--HIS WHITE GARMENT


Now, we'll focus upon the many details in this vision.  We’ll consider Jesus' clothing first, the EMPHASIS being upon His garment.

Revelation 1:13, the last part of the verse: “…One like unto the Son of man, clothed with a GARMENT down to the foot…”

The garment being described is a long robe which flows in deep folds down to Jesus’ feet.  (This robe is cinched-in with a golden girdle across the chest.)  We can assume that the garment is white because of what’s recorded ELSEWHERE in scripture.

The meaning of being covered in a white garment down to the feet is this:  "RIGHTEOUSNESS."  We also find that Jesus’ garment speaks of "LIGHT"--as recorded in the Psalms.  When John saw Jesus in the vision here in Revelation 1, we get THE CLEAR impression that His appearance conveyed BRIGHTNESS.  His feet glowed, His face shone like the sun.  And…

The BRIGHTNESS includes His garment.  Consider Psalm 104:1-2--“Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with honor and majesty.  Who COVERS Thyself with LIGHT as with A GARMENT:  Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain.”

Jesus’ garment, being white, shows the character of RIGHTEOUSNESS, because ALL through the scripture, WHITE is said to be just that (we’ll look at a few passages in a moment).

According to Psalms 104, the Lord’s garment includes the concept of HONOR and MAJESTY.  It also shows LIGHT.  Jesus RADIATES LIGHT and BRIGHTNESS, honor and majesty and RIGHTEOUSNESS. 

When we consider GARMENTS in scripture, we also DISCOVER how THE CHURCH is clothed, and out garments SHOW a covering of sin, as the Church is actually CLOTHED in Jesus.  GARMENTS upon THE CHURCH are also described AS WHITE.

In Matthew 22:11-13, we see that a person CANNOT be at THE MARRIAGE SUPPER, UNLESS they are covered WITH A WHITE GARMENT.  The person who attends the GREAT MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB (see Revelation 19:7-9) MUST BE ready and MUST BE COVERED in white!  This MEANS that the person MUST have his/her sins COVERED by the garment provided THROUGH FAITH in Jesus for the FORGIVENESS OF SINS.  That person must be MADE the RIGHTEOUSNESS of Jesus Christ  (2 Corinthians 5:21--where scriptures says God MADE Jesus to be SIN for us, so that we are MADE the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God IN HIM).

When we get to Revelation 16:15, we’ll discover how THE COVERING is NEEDED CONTINUOUSLY.  This SHOWS how we MUST WALK in daily CONFESSION of sin, receiving forgiveness. There MUST be a DAILY CLEANSING process, so the garment does NOT become STAINED and STREAKED WITH DIRT.  Revelation 16:15-- “Behold, I come as a thief.  Blessed is he that WATCHES, and KEEPS his garments, lest he WALK NAKED.”

To CONFESS SINS does NOT mean this--“Woe is me. I’m a miserable worm. I’m a poor and helpless sinner”--and it does NOT mean ACTING LIKE a worm either.

It SIMPLY MEANS that as soon as we are aware of sin in our lives, ANY SIN, great or small, that we CONFESS it.  We ADMIT we fall short of God’s glory.  We NAME the sin, IF we KNOW what it is.  Or if we DON’T remember HOW we sinned, then simply say, “I KNOW I sinned against You, Lord, at some point during my day.  I sinned against You by thought, word, deed and attitude.  And I KNOW that AS I CONFESS my sins, You ARE Faithful and Just, and You FORGIVE my sin by the precious blood of Jesus IN WHOM I place ALL my FAITH and CONFIDENCE.”  1 John 1:9.  (I say that little prayer DAILY--before I go to sleep at night.  Sometimes I confess sins MORE THAN once a day, IF I REALLY BLOW IT AND SIN IN A BLATANT AND OBVIOUS MANNER--usually I blow it by anger and bad language.  Ever do that?  None of us are free from our sin nature--NOT YET, on this side of eternity...)

When we LIVE and OPERATE like this, confessing our sins and wrong-doings, we make sure that our bright white garments are cleansed from EVERY STAIN and BLOT.  We also GROW in the character of Jesus, which He desires.  Thus, we keep our garments laundered, so that we are JOYFUL when we enter into the GREAT MARRIAGE OF JESUS and His Bride.  (This is NOT doing WORKS in order to have God accept us--this is SO THAT we'll NOT be ASHAMED at His coming with any unconfessed sins staining our garments.)

Living a life of CONFESSION of sins means that we are FREE OF GUILT and HEAVINESS.  Our consciences remain CLEAR and we can LOVE and SERVE God with pure hearts, plus we enjoy a PEACE that passes ALL understanding!

We have looked at WHITE GARMENTS which SHOW righteousness.  As Jesus is clothed in righteousness--SO ARE WE, as we place our faith in Him.

Now, we’ll consider a CONTRAST--this is what our OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS looks like WITHOUT Jesus.  How can a person be righteous WITHOUT Jesus?  It’s a SELF-IMPOSED attitude of pride and goodness.  It’s a posture of “holier than thou.”  It’s “self-righteousness.”  Very UGLY and quite DISGUSTING.

Here’s what Isaiah 64:6 (the first part of the verse) says about such SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS:  “But we are all as an UNCLEAN THING, and ALL OUR righteousness are as FILTHY RAGS.”

The King James spared us the LITERAL MEANING.  The ORIGINAL HEBREW did NOT spare a reader the TRUE PICTURE.  Unclean things and filthy rags are “USED menstrual cloths.”

If a person is tempted to stick their nose in the air in pride and self-righteousness--remember this scripture!  This is HOW GOD sees THE ACT and it IS NOT pretty.  Besides, “holier than thou” self-righteousness gives the world a very UGLY idea of Christianity.  It should NOT happen this way!  (I got on my soap-box about this ugly sin, because it’s so DETRIMENTAL to the Church’s witness to non-believers.  I think that’s why God used the most disgusting words in human language to convey His UTTER ABHORRENCE of self-righteousness.)

OH, HOW WE NEED JESUS!  And PRAISE GOD--in Jesus, we can trade the FILTHY RAGS for PURE WHITE GARMENTS OF HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS--which is always HUMBLE and MEEK.

Let us choose Jesus and HIS WHITE GARMENT!  Let us DAILY (and as often as we are aware) confess our sin, and KEEP those garments clean!

That’s not so hard, is it?

A clean conscience, lack of guilt and "the peace that passes all understanding" IS THE REWARD we’ll receive.  It’s a wonderful and delightful blessing.  I KNOW.  I live by this!

Will you do so, too?

Put on the WHITE GARMENT provided by Jesus (Who is clothed in RIGHTEOUSNESS), by your FAITH in Him.  You’ll NEVER be sorry that you did!

Monday, April 25, 2011

THE SON OF MAN IN GOD'S PLANS

Revelation 1:13--"And in the midst of the seven lampstands ONE like unto THE SON OF MAN..."


Why did Jesus NEED to become THE SON OF MAN?  And WHEN did He AGREE to do it--in the heavenly councils of a TRIUNE GOD?

Speaking of the Trinity, I've had people ask me:  "Where in the scripture do we see God as THREE PERSONS?"

I've also had people ask me:  "When did Jesus, the SECOND person of the Trinity, BECOME the SON OF GOD and the SON OF MAN?"  Was He ALWAYS this?  Or was that DECISION made just PRIOR to Him being incarnated by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary?

These are DEEP questions, neither one of them answered with a quick and flip response.  Instead, we need to dig into the WHOLE COUNSEL of God, as TOTALLY revealed in the entire Bible.  This is NOT easy to summarize:  but I WILL say this--it was FOREORDAINED from BEFORE the creation of the world.  In order to understand, we must consider the WHOLE CHARACTER of God.

I feel when we venture into understanding the Trinity, we’re woefully inadequate to really get a PROPER grasp upon it.  How can THREE persons of the Godhead be ONE?  (The concept of the TRINITY is something we’ll come to KNOW FULLY when we actually meet God face to face.)

However, in THREE places of the New Testament, when we look at them side by side, we CLEARLY see THE TRINITY.  I'll elaborate:

1 John 5:7--"For there are THREE that BEAR RECORD in heaven, the FATHER, the WORD, and the HOLY SPIRIT:  and these THREE are ONE."

We might MISS the significance in that verse if we're not careful to DISCERN.  WHO is called THE WORD in scripture?  Well, it's JESUS, of course!

John 1:14--"And THE WORD was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of GRACE and TRUTH."

One of the TITLES of Jesus is "THE WORD OF GOD."  We see that truth in Revelation 19:13.  "And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood:  and His NAME is called THE WORD OF GOD."

So when we put these three scriptures together, we see this:  THE WORD, Who is listed as ONE of the THREE in 1 John 5:7, is INDEED the second person of the Godhead, JESUS!  This is how the TRINITY is PROVED by correctly discerning God's Word!

So, yes, God exists in THREE Persons--the Trinity--and this has been TRUE from ETERNITY PAST.

There's an indication in Genesis 1:26 of the THREE Persons of the Trinity conferring together as they created man.  "Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness."  That PROVES God always existed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that they talked and communed together.  Also, the Genesis rendering of God is "ELOHIM," which is PLURAL--THE TRINITY.

We also see PRE-INCARNATION glimpses of Jesus in the Old Testament as "The Angel of the LORD," when He appeared to various people.  The clue that "The Angel of the Lord" WAS INDEED JESUS appears in the account of Balaam (with his donkey) in Numbers 22:23.  See also Numbers 22:31.

"The angel of the Lord" CARRIED A SWORD--Jesus is SHOWN with A SWORD in Revelation 1:16 and 19:15.  Therefore, it's Jesus--with His SWORD--Who is INDEED the Old Testament "Angel of the Lord."

When Balaam saw "the Angel of the Lord" in Numbers 22:31, Balaam bowed his head and fell flat on his face (which is the posture of worship).  "The Angel of the Lord" did NOT tell Balaam to STOP it.  "The Angel of the Lord" did NOT say "I am a only messenger, worship God alone."  Instead, "the Angel of the Lord" ACCEPTED Balaam's worship.  This show how "the Angel of the Lord" is shown to INDEED be God, the Pre-Incarnate JESUS, the SECOND person of the Godhead, Who carries the same SWORD that we see Him possess in other Bible passages.

Jesus, in PRE-INCARNATION appearances, was able to materialize from the spiritual to the physical, like angels do.

Where do we see angels who look like men?  Genesis 18:1-2.  The Lord, and two angels approached Abraham in the plains of Mamre.  They appeared as ordinary men.  The fact that they are extraordinary and supernatural shows up later in the chapter.  Two angels go forth to their appointment at Sodom and Gomorrah.  The Lord stays with Abraham and tells the Patriarch what's soon to befall the wicked cities.  Abraham intercedes, asking the Lord, "Will You destroy the righteous WITH the wicked?"  By the outcome of the story, we see how God will NOT do so!  God WILL NOT destroy the righteous with the wicked!

We ALSO see THIS in scripture:  "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:  for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."  Hebrews 13:2.  This refers back to the story of Abraham in Genesis 18, for one reference.  (I use these verses to show the truth that angels WILL appear before people--looking like men.)

Jesus, as the Pre-Incarnate "Angel of the Lord," also appeared to people in the form of a man.  (This pre-figured the time when Jesus would indeed be born of the virgin, Mary, and take upon Himself the actual flesh of a man!)

In the New Testament, we discover that Jesus laid down HIS GODLY GLORY in order to take the FORM of a FLESHLY MAN.  Philippians 2:5-11.

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who being in the FORM of God, thought it NOT ROBBERY to be equal with God:  but made Himself of NO REPUTATION, and TOOK upon HIMSELF the FORM of a SERVANT, and was MADE in the LIKENESS of men.  And being found FASHIONED as a MAN, He HUMBLED Himself (lay down His GLORY), and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  WHEREFORE God hath HIGHLY EXALTED HIM, and GIVEN Him a NAME which is ABOVE EVERY NAME:  that at the NAME of JESUS every knee shall bow, of things in HEAVEN, and things in EARTH, and things UNDER THE EARTH; and that EVERY TONGUE should confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, to the GLORY of GOD the FATHER."

Jesus, and the TWO OTHER PERSONS of the TRIUNE God (the Father and the Holy Spirit)--KNEW what would happen to mankind, BEFORE the creation of the world.

1 Peter 1:19-20--"But with the PRECIOUS BLOOD of Christ, as of a LAMB without blemish and without spot:  Who verily was FOREORDAINED BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD (before creation), but was MANIFEST (shown, appeared, revealed Himself in the flesh of a man) in these last times for you."

Revelation 13:8 says this (concerning the people who will worship the Antichrist):  their names ARE NOT "written in the book of life of the Lamb SLAIN from the FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD."  Again, a detail of that verse shows how the TRIUNE GOD KNEW (being omniscient--and knowing ALL things BEFORE they OCCURRED), that JESUS would ONE DAY be incarnated in the FLESH OF A MAN, and LIVE a life WITHOUT SIN--in order to die FOR MAN, taking God's punishment for sin UPON HIMSELF!

God--THE TRIUNE God--KNEW (from BEFORE the creation) WHAT Jesus would FREELY GIVE HIMSELF to do.  God KNEW that Jesus would PUT ON the flesh body of a man, DIE for THE SINS of mankind, and then LIVE FOREVER AFTERWARD in the RESURRECTED and GLORIFIED body of A MAN.  The GODLY TRIUNE agreement to the SACRIFICE of Jesus EXISTED BEFORE the creation (as clearly stated in 1 Peter 1:19-20 and Revelation 13:8).

Here's another question people ask me:  "WHY did God CREATE man--SINCE He already KNEW what would happen?"

We'll need to look further into ETERNITY PAST!  A mighty Cherub, named Lucifer, REBELLED against God in heaven.  Isaiah 14:12-17.  Ezekiel 28:13-19.  The SIN of Lucifer (Satan, the devil) happened BEFORE the creation of the starry heavens and the earth!  When Lucifer rebelled, sin and rebellion entered God's perfect heaven BEFORE the earth was ever formed.  And God faced a dilemma--what was He going to do about it?  Destroy Lucifer on the spot?  God had the POWER (and the REASON to do so), but but IF He did, what would the OTHER angels see?

The heavenly angels would see a God Who SQUASHED any creature--if they DID NOT obey His ordinances.  They would see a HARSH TASKMASTER--a God Who demanded obedience OR ELSE.  There would be NO FAIRNESS, no LOVE, no GRACE in such an action.  Furthermore, by immediately destroying Lucifer, God would act CONTRARY to His TRUE and FULL CHARACTER.  You see, God does NOT operate exclusively in JUDGMENT, WRATH, JUSTICE and PUNISHMENT.  God IS also LOVE, MERCY, GRACE and FAIRNESS.  How could God PUNISH SIN--and yet remain a God of GRACE, MERCY, LOVE and FAIRNESS?

God is INDEED love, but He is also totally HOLY and JUST.  If GOD so LOVED those who rebel, and ACCEPTED them IN SPITE of their sin, He'd VIOLATE His own HOLINESS and JUSTICE.  BUT, if God destroyed those who rebelled, just because He has the POWER and the RIGHT to destroy them, He would VIOLATE His own LOVE and MERCY.  God ALWAYS remains TRUE to His character.  He does NOT lie, and He's forever THE SAME.  "For I am the Lord, I change NOT..."  Malachi 3:6.  "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever."  Hebrews 13:8.

God DESIRES a CREATION who (of their OWN FREE WILL) chooses to LOVE Him, to follow HIS PRECEPTS, to become a part of HIS GOVERNMENT--a creation who WILLINGLY CHOOSES to FELLOWSHIP with the Lord.

Lucifer had already brought sin and rebellion into God's heaven, so WHY did God create mankind, knowing all that?

(1.)  God FOREKNEW (because He KNOWS ALL THINGS) what would happen BEFORE He created the starry heavens and THE EARTH (which would be a home for His newly created man).  (2.)  God planned to DEMONSTRATE, in front of all the heavenly host, that a created being, man, would CHOOSE God's WILL, WAY and FELLOWSHIP, even by overcoming a dreadful sin-nature to do so.  (And of course, the ONLY WAY to overcome sin IS IN JESUS, Who had already planned to lay down His life for mankind!)

What do the angels have to do with all of this?

There's an INDICATION in the scripture of how GOD'S ANGELS WATCH--as God DEMONSTRATES His LOVE and perfect JUSTICE (through the UNFOLDING His centuries' old plan).  1 Peter 1:10-12--especially these words:  "things THE ANGELS desire to look into."

In this, we see that the angels WITNESSED how God created Adam and Eve in innocence and gave them a most perfect and wonderful home in the Garden of Eden.  But Adam, of HIS OWN FREE WILL decided to DISOBEY when Satan TEMPTED EVE (and she ate the forbidden fruit).  Adam, who was WITH Eve (Genesis 3:6), took a bite, too, and BOTH man and woman fell into sin.

Now what was God going to do?  Of course, He IMMEDIATELY promised the fallen couple that He'd provide a SAVIOR.  Genesis 3:15.

But the promise was NOT fulfilled overnight.  Centuries needed to pass as sin worked its destructive force upon the earth, energized by Satan and the rebellious angels.  God needed to  allow SIN and DEPRAVITY to FULLY MANIFEST itself--unfettered and unrestrained--upon the world BEFORE the Flood.  The heavenly angels saw the FULL RESULT of unchecked rebellion, and when God JUDGED, His action was RIGHT.

(There's so many pictures of God working in LOVE and GRACE--even as the PRE-FLOOD WORLD waxed exceedingly wicked:  The sacrifice given by Abel--which God accepted.  Enoch.  Methuselah.  Noah and the TYPE which is given in THE ARK.  There's not enough space to cover all those rich spiritual pictures today.  The study of Genesis, like that of Revelation, is rich in prophetic detail!)

AFTER the Flood, God worked at FIRST, in establishing a form of EARTHLY government--which eventually ended in rebellion (at the TOWER OF BABEL).  THEN God worked with a specific family, Abraham and his descendants through Isaac, to establish an EVERLASTING COVENANT with that bloodline (who would eventually bring Jesus into the earth--born in THE FLESH).  God's emphasis EXPANDED to an ENTIRE NATION, born of the TWELVE sons of Jacob (which became Israel), and God gave His LAW to them through Moses.  The WATCHING angels saw how sinful man COULD NEVER OBEY the LAW--man was PRISONER to His own sin, and even IF man tried, he constantly fell short of God's glory.

The WHOLE PROCESS of what God DID--from creation, through the fall, through God's promise of a Savior, through the EVERLASTING COVENANTS, through the working of the LAW, to the words of the Prophets, to the coming of Jesus--was to PROVIDE a DEMONSTRATION in FRONT of the WATCHING angels, which PROVED how God was MORE than FAIR as He dealt with the SIN problem.

There IS INDEED a creation who WILLINGLY chooses to FOLLOW and OBEY the Lord, and IN THIS AGE OF THE CHURCH, people are ABLE to OBEY, because Jesus has conquered SIN for us--He TOOK God's punishment for ALL SIN at the cross (and He also conquered DEATH by his RESURRECTION).  Then Jesus SENT the Holy Spirit--Who dwells inside each believer's heart and GIVES we TRUE CHRISTIANS the ABILITY to walk in God's HOLINESS and RIGHTEOUSNESS.  ALL of these blessings are THE ACTION of God's GRACE, which is UNTIED with the FAITH of believers IN JESUS--through which FLOWS the POWER--made AVAILABLE in His shed blood!  What VICTORY!  This is WHY Jesus, the SECOND person of the TRIUNE God, became the SON OF MAN!

When the angels EVENTUALLY WITNESS God THROWING Satan and the fallen angels (and ALL people who REJECT God and Jesus) INTO HELL, they will know that God's action is TRUE and RIGHT.  And WHEN the angels SEE HOW God separates EVIL from His Kingdom FOREVER, they’ll KNOW and UNDERSTAND all of God's LOVE, GRACE, GOODNESS, MERCY, FAIRNESS, HOLINESS, RIGHTNESS, and JUSTICE.  FOREVER, in ETERNITY, God will have a creation who CHOOSES of their OWN FREE WILL to follow and worship Him--the SUPREME POTENTATE Who is ETERNALLY RIGHT, and Who desires to FELLOWSHIP with His creation for ETERNITIES to come.  All darkness will be swallowed up in LIGHT!

Jesus is the Son of Man, having taken upon Himself a body of flesh.  Jesus is also the Son of God, ONE with Father and Holy Spirit, forever--from ETERNITIES PAST.  In the scripture, these TRUTHS are evident:

(1.)  Elohim (a plural God--the Trinity) was active in the creation, where God says, "Let US make man in OUR image"--which shows a TRINITY at work.  In Ephesians 3:9, we see that God created all things BY JESUS CHRIST.  In Genesis 1:2, we see the SPIRIT OF GOD (the Holy Spirit) moving upon the face of the waters.  TRINITY was DEFINITELY active in the creation!

(2.)  Hebrews 13: 8 says, "Jesus Christ is THE SAME yesterday, today and forever."  That TELLS us that Jesus has ALWAYS been the SON OF GOD--the second Person of the Trinity.

(3.)  Jesus took upon Himself THE FORM of a man--in a flesh body--when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and she conceived.  From that point forward, Jesus, as THE SON OF MAN, grew IN FLESH inside the womb, was born, and grew from a boy to adulthood.  The GOD-LIKE miracles that Jesus performed, plus the Transfiguration, happened through THE HOLY SPIRIT--Who operated INSIDE Jesus while Jesus lived in the flesh of an ordinary man.  Again, the FULL TRINITY was in action!

(4.)  In every way, Jesus IDENTIFIED Himself with man.  Jesus understands man's frailties--our weaknesses, our temptations--what we face in living within a flesh body (YET JESUS, BEING PERFECT, NEVER SUCCUMBED TO SIN).  Jesus SHOWS HOW man may live a VICTORIOUS life by the POWER of the Holy Spirit, and by that SAME Holy Spirit POWER, miracles CAN HAPPEN within the Church!  John 14:12.

I hope ALL these explanations helps us TO UNDERSTAND a FEW of God's deepest mysteries.  But always remember, that on THIS SIDE of heaven, we look through a glass, darkly.  Now, we know, IN PART.  When we meet Jesus face to face, we'll KNOW IN FULL.  We're all learning together as we look upon the very deep and mysterious precepts of God.

I hope this essay, based upon years of studying scripture, edifies you.  WHAT AN AWESOME GOD WE SERVE!  To our Lord be the glory, forevermore!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

SON OF MAN

JESUS IS THE SON OF MAN


“And in the midst of the seven candlesticks (LAMPSTANDS) one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breast with a golden girdle.”  Revelation 1:13

First of all, notice how this One, like the Son of man, is in the MIDST of the SEVEN GOLDEN LAMPSTANDS.  Jesus Christ is SHOWN in the MIDST of His Churches, local Churches everywhere, all through the long history of the Church.  (When we arrive at Revelation 1 and 2, we’ll see WHAT Jesus SAYS to these Churches, and NOT ALL of it is GOOD.  This shows, that WHILE Jesus IS ALWAYS in the MIDST of His Churches, those Churches SOMETIMES don’t listen to Him.)

In Revelation 1:13, we see ANOTHER TITLE of Jesus, one FREQUENTLY used for Him--"THE SON OF MAN."

Interestingly, this phrase originates in the Old Testament.  (By this time in our study, are you surprised to learn that fact?)

The FIRST time THE SON OF MAN appears in scripture is in Daniel 7:13.   “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, One like THE SON OF MAN.  In the New Testament, the phrase "Son of Man" is used 85 times in the Gospels.  For 83 of those times, Jesus Himself used the term while talking about Himself.  The phrase "Son of Man" shows us HOW our Redeemer HAD TO BECOME A MAN in order to save us from the PENALTY of sin (the penalty which is death--and God's judgment)!

No angel could redeem mankind from sin.  They are a part of God’s creation, but they do not bear any likeness to mankind.  Instead, they are supernatural entities who deliver messages, who wage spiritual warfare against the devil and his fallen angels, and who surround God’s Throne to minister to Him and to give Him constant praise and worship.  No angel is able to free mankind from the taint of sin.

God, Himself, even the TRINITY, in the DEITY of GOD, cannot redeem mankind from sin.  God, in His DEITY and HOLINESS, cannot save mankind--God, IN HIS DEITY and HOLINESS cannot TOUCH sin or corruption.  It’s totally AGAINST God in His GODLINESS.  And furthermore, God could NOT JUST SAY to a fallen man, “I forgive you. Come to Me.”  First of all, man in His sinfulness CANNOT survive in God’s HOLY PRESENCE.  The corruption of man, in sin, will KILL that man, should he be able to approach God’s Throne.  Exodus 33:20.

Plus, God cannot JUST SAY, “I forgive you. It doesn’t matter that you disobeyed Me and sinned.”  If God did that, it would VIOLATE part of God’s very nature.  He is NOT ONLY a LOVING God, but He is a JUST God.  God has a system of JUSTICE which will NOT tolerate even the SMALLEST dot of sin.  God has a GOVERNMENT which DEMANDS that ANY SIN be punished. And the PUNISHMENT upon sin MUST happen with FAIRNESS and JUSTICE.

Man CANNOT SAVE HIMSELF from sin.  Man is trapped in his sin.  Man is simply NOT ABLE to OBEY all God’s commandments, precepts and principles.  IN his sin, man IS WIRED to REBEL.  Oh, man may TRY to please God, because man has an empty “GOD-shaped hole” in his soul which begs to be filled with God’s presence.  So man will try TO PLEASE GOD by all kinds of religions and self-efforts, by trying TO BECOME GOOD ENOUGH so God will accept him.  But man CANNOT please God by his own efforts.  Man cannot DO GOOD WORKS and expect God to embrace him.

The sin issue has separated man ETERNALLY from God.  That’s what SPIRITUAL DEATH is--a SEPARATION from God, and that separation WILL be ETERNAL--UNLESS there’s some kind of SAVIOR.

JESUS IS THAT SAVIOR!

Since ADAM (a MAN) fell into sin, mankind’s SAVIOR must ALSO be A MAN.  But WHERE is the PERFECT AND SINLESS MAN who can DO the SAVING?  Not on earth, NOT in the DESCENDANTS of Adam!

God faced a critical dilemma.  How could He forgive man and restore him to RIGHT STANDING?  How could He act in LOVE and MERCY upon mankind, and at the SAME TIME maintain His JUSTICE and PUNISHMENT upon sin?

Jesus stepped forward.  The PLAN to save fallen mankind was MADE from BEFORE THE FOUNDATIONS of the world.  1 Peter 1:19-20.  BEFORE the world was created, Jesus KNEW He would be the SAVIOR.  And in BECOMING that SAVIOR, Jesus KNEW He must LAY ASIDE His GODLY GLORY for a season and BECOME a MAN, the PERFECT and SINLESS man (FOR US)!  Philippians 2:5-8.

THUS, THE ETERNAL GOD, JESUS, THE SECOND PERSON OF THE GODHEAD, LAID DOWN HIS GODLY ATTRIBUTES, AND TOOK UPON HIMSELF THE FORM OF A MAN.  This perfect and sinless man, Jesus, was worthy to DIE as the SPOTLESS SACRIFICE for THE SINS of ALL mankind.  He is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.  John 1:29 and 36.

Jesus started as a tiny baby, in Mary’s womb, and having been born, He lived and grew as any human does--except He was SINLESS and PERFECT.  Having NEVER SINNED, He LAY DOWN HIS LIFE to SAVE mankind, satisfying GOD’S JUSTICE and PUNISHMENT.  And that’s NOT all!  Jesus REMAINS in the body of a man, a RESURRECTED AND GLORIFIED man.  Revelation 5:4-7.  Jesus will RETAIN this MAN'S body FOR ALL OF ETERNITY!  And in addition, as Jesus was RESURRECTED and GLORIFIED at the Throne of His Father in heaven, Jesus returned to HIS GOD-POWERED ATTRIBUTES--Jesus is GOD, the SECOND PERSON of the TRINITY in the RESURRECTED BODY of a GLORIFIED MAN!

We see Jesus, as He CONTINUES in the form of a man, in Luke 24:39.  When the disciples FIRST saw Jesus, they thought He was just a ghost (or a spirit), and became frightened.  But Jesus said this--“Behold My hands and feet, that it is I Myself:  handle Me and see; for a spirit has NOT flesh and bones, as you see Me have.”

Look at Acts 1:3.  “To whom also He (Jesus) SHOWED Himself alive after His passion by many INFALLIBLE PROOFS, being SEEN of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”

In Acts 1:9-12, Jesus’ ascension into heaven is described.  He did so in His RESURRECTED body.  And He will return in His RESURRECTION body!

There’s NOTHING in scripture to support THE SPECULATION that when Jesus returned to heaven, He resumed a “spirit-form.”  In fact, scripture points out how Jesus is the “FIRST BEGOTTEN OF THE DEAD”--Revelation 1:5--which simply means that Jesus is the FIRST MAN to receive a glorified resurrection body, and it’s THIS BODY that He CONTINUES to possess.

In Revelation 5:4, we’ll discover how a problem arises in heaven concerning a seven-sealed scroll.  “And NO MAN in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.” 

The problem was solved when A MAN stepped forward.  Revelation 5:7.  THAT GLORIFIED AND RISEN MAN IS JESUS!  (We’ll study the concept of a KINSMAN REDEEMER, in depth, when we get to Revelation 5.  Jesus is our KINSMAN (our relative)--He's identified with us in the ETERNAL and GLORIFIED BODY of a man.)

One of the MOST PROFOUND and DIFFICULT TO GRASP ideas stemming from our Revelation study is this--the KNOWLEDGE that RIGHT NOW there’s A MAN at God’s Throne!  JESUS--in His flesh and bone glorified body!

Very soon, we who are ONE with Jesus in His extended Body, the Church, will join Him there!

This very IDEA brings freedom, peace, thankfulness and extreme joy!

Have you been edified today? Are you thrilled?



Friday, April 22, 2011

THE LAMPSTAND

JESUS IS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD


Revelation 1:12--"And I (John) turned to see the voice that spoke with me.  And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks (lampstands)."

The blog two days ago introduced the SEVEN GOLDEN LAMPSTANDS, defined the symbol, and showed how thid spoke of the LIGHT OF JESUS (a LIGHT of WITNESS which testifies of Jesus' presence on earth) in the SEVEN CHURCHES (a list of the SEVEN Churches is recorded in verse 11).  The LIGHT of WITNESS was NOT ONLY those SEVEN CHURCHES which existed at the time of John (96 A.D.), but it refers to the COMPLETE CHURCH--from THE TIME of the writing of the book of Revelation UP TO THE PRESENT.  As long as the Church exists on earth, it will be the VESSEL through which the LIGHT of Jesus shines in this darkened world.

Today's blog will continue the subject of the LAMPSTAND, adding MORE fascinating details from the Word of God's.  We'll see BACKGROUND from the Old Testament, which will greatly enhance our understanding of the LAMPSTAND.


THE LAMPSTAND AND ITS MANY MEANINGS


We go back to Exodus and discover some directions, given by God to Israel, of FURNIISHINGS that the Lord wanted in His Jewish Tabernacle.  These were HIGHLY DETAILED instructions, and God emphasized how He WANTED those directions FOLLOWED in EVERY "jot" and "tittle."  WE CAN ASK WHY?  What WAS IT about these SPECIFICATIONS that are so VITAL and IMPORTANT?

We find that God wanted the LAMPSTAND to be constructed in a very SPECIFIC manner.  In fact, when reading about God’s detailed specifications for the Tabernacle, it can be rather boring--UNLESS we realize that every TINY detail is given for a SPECIFIC reason.  The Holy Spirit does NOT "waste words" in the Bible.  Everything written down has a REASON to be there.  It’s our HOMEWORK to DISCOVER those reasons.  The Bible is a LARGE BOOK OF CLUES, and like GOOD DETECTIVES, we'll examine EACH CLUE--and SUDDENLY, the Bible is NOT boring!  (HOMEWORK--READ EXODUS 25:31-36.)

God instructed the Israelites to make a LAMPSTAND of pure gold.  Gold, a soft and malleable precious metal, was to be beaten and molded into a DESIGNATED shape.  The LAMPSTAND was to have a MAIN UPRIGHT SHAFT, and out of that shaft, SEVEN BRANCHES.  Each branch was to contain bowls, with knops AND flowers.  (What is a knop?--they are BUDS of the flowers.)  Three branches would extend from one side of the LAMPSTAND, and three branches would extend from the other side.  The shaft itself would provide the SEVENTH branch.  Each branch was to contain THREE BOWLS made in the SHAPE OF ALMONDS, and those bowls were TO BE DECORATED with the beaten and molded shapes of ALMOND FLOWERS and their KNOPS (BUDS).  The LAMPSTAND was to be beaten and shaped from ONE PIECE OF GOLD.  Oil would be poured into the bowls by TABERNACLE PRIESTS, and it provided the fuel to LIGHT the LAMPSTAND.  The LAMPSTAND was THE ONLY source of LIGHT in the Tabernacle.

Why are these meticulous details so important?

The Tabernacle--as it’s described and set up by the Master Designer, God--is a spiritual picture of JESUS CHRIST.  EVERY MATERIAL used in the Tabernacle has spiritual meaning.  EVERY COLOR.  EVERY PIECE OF FURNITURE.  ALL of it POINTS to JESUS!

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!  The Tabernacle is an EARTHLY MODEL of GOD’S THRONE in heaven.  We’ll explore the Tabernacle in GREATER DETAIL later in our study of the book of Revelation.  Right now, the focus is the LAMPSTAND.


What are the SPIRITUAL MEANINGS contained in the LAMPSTAND?


(1.)  Beaten from one piece of gold:  Gold speaks of deity; it’s a picture of the ONE true God.

(2.)  One main upright shaft with six branches:  SIX is the number of MAN, who is joined to the ONE SHAFT, which is Jesus Christ.  Man, alone, as SIX--is sinful, imperfect, incomplete and in need of a Savior.  But man, joined with the MAIN SHAFT (Who is Jesus), is SEVEN, MADE COMPLETE--man can ONLY be made COMPLETE and PERFECT as he’s JOINED through GRACE and FAITH to JESUS!  The fact that the LAMPSTAND is beaten from ONE piece of gold SHOWS "UNITY", a ONENESS, which is ours IN JESUS.

In John 15:5, Jesus said this--“I am THE VINE (the main shaft of the lampstand), you are THE BRANCHES, he that ABIDES in Me, and I IN HIM, the same BRINGS FORTH MUCH FRUIT (the almonds, buds and flowers on the lampstand):  for WITHOUT ME, you can DO NOTHING.”

(3.)  The bowls, which are almonds, PLUS the knops (buds) and flowers:  These details show flourishing and continual fruitfulness.  The buds, the flowers and the fruit (almonds) are on the lampstand TOGETHER.  Joined to Jesus, by faith in Him, people experience ABUNDANT LIFE, and they are ALWAYS in various stages of spiritual growth.

(4.)  The almonds:  This is a symbol which shows RESURRECTION.  Almonds are one of the FIRST trees to bud out and blossom.  JESUS CHRIST is the FIRST BEGOTTEN of the dead, the FIRST PERSON to raise from the dead in a glorified body.

In Numbers 17:8, we see that AARON’S ROD is ONE out of twelve--of the children of Israel--and the ONLY one WHICH FLOURISHED.  This spiritual picture portrays FRUITFULNESS, and HOW a BARE DEAD ROD sprung to LIFE--showing RESURRECTION POWER, plus Aaron’s RIGHT and AUTHORITY to rule.  Jesus is the ONE Who brings FRUITFULNESS; He brought forth LIFE from DEATH (the RESURRECTION); and He has the RIGHT and the AUTHORITY TO RULE.  All these ideas are brought out in the picture of ALMONDS.

(5.)  There was ONLY one source of LIGHT in the Tabernacle, the LAMPSTAND:  Jesus is THE ONLY way through which mankind may come to God, or have a place in God’s heaven. John 14:6--”I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE:  no man comes unto the Father, BUT BY ME.”

(6.)  MOST IMPORTANTLY, the light of the LAMPSTAND:  Jesus is THE LIGHT of the world, and we believers, joined to Jesus, by faith in Him, ARE HIS LIGHT OF WITNESS to the world in this age of THE CHURCH.  This is WHY each LOCAL CHURCH is shown, in Revelation, to contain a LAMPSTAND.

Let’s look at John 8:12, where Jesus spoke about HIMSELF--“I am the LIGHT of the world:  He that follows Me shall NOT walk in darkness, but shall HAVE the LIGHT of LIFE.”

HOW LONG is Jesus to be the LIGHT of the world?  FOREVER is ONE answer.  But notice, in John 9:5--Jesus QUALIFIES that idea.  "AS LONG AS I AM IN THE WORLD, I am the light of the world.”

Yes, Jesus is THE LIGHT of the world, but He ADDED that AS LONG as He was IN THE WORLD, He would provide the LIGHT.  Is Jesus IN THE WORLD NOW?  Jesus is NOT PHYSICALLY PRESENT in the world, but YES, He’s STILL present on earth.  HOW?  It’s THROUGH HIS PEOPLE, the Church!

Let’s see what Jesus says about His people, the disciples.  We see something very important about these LIGHT-BEARERS--and NOW our attention turns to THE LAMPSTANDS in each local church.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16--“YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD (His disciples, the Church).  A city on a hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle to put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick (LAMPSTAND); and it gives LIGHT unto ALL that are in the house.  LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE BEFORE MEN, that they may SEE your good works, and GLORIFY the Father which is in heaven.”

Let’s look at another scripture, concerning the Church, and the LIGHT of the LAMPSTAND.  “For you were sometimes (once) in darkness, but NOW are you LIGHT IN THE LORD.”

And yet another scripture (speaking to the Church)--1 Thessalonians 5:5.   “You are ALL children of THE LIGHT, and children of the day: we are NOT of the night, nor of darkness.”

Again, more reference to the Church being THE LIGHT of Jesus in the present AGE.  “That you may be blameless and harmless, THE SONS OF GOD, without rebuke, in the MIDST of a CROOKED and PERVERSE nation, AMONG WHOM you SHINE AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD.”

We see, by ALL these passages, the Church is INDEED "light-bearers" of Jesus Christ to the world.  Therefore, the Church, as addressed in Revelation 1:11-12, is seen as the symbol of the LAMPSTANDS.  Do you remember the definition of the SEVEN LAMPSTANDS as given in Revelation 1:20?  “THE SEVEN CANDLESTICKS (LAMPSTANDS), which you (John) saw, ARE THE SEVEN CHURCHES.”

The symbolism is SO RICH, SO FULL, it’s astounding!  And it requires much space to explain all of it!

There’s A FEW MORE details I want to POINT OUT:

When we look at the Jewish Tabernacle and the role of the LAMPSTAND for Israel, we discover there’s ONLY ONE LAMPSTAND.  This concept is further pictured in Zechariah 4--ONE LAMPSTAND and TWO olive trees--(I’ll explain this in a moment).  The LIGHT of Israel’s WITNESS went out WHEN, they, as a NATION, rejected Jesus as their Savior, Lord and Messiah.

THEN--the Church WAS BORN, and became the LIGHT, instead of Israel.  When we see THE CHURCH, in Revelation, there are SEVEN LAMPSTANDS--"one" for each of the LOCAL CONGREGATIONS listed in Revelation 1:11.  We see LAMPSTANDS within EACH congregation of the Church--ALL throughout its 2000 year existence (because the SEVEN churches are a prophecy of COMPLETE Church HISTORY).

QUESTION:  What about Israel?  Is that nation TOTALLY abandoned, forgotten, and FOREVER DESTINED to be LIGHTLESS?  Absolutely not!  ISRAEL’S "LAMPSTAND" IS TO BE REINSTATED!

Romans 11 tells us about the ROLE of Israel, and the FUTURE for the Jews.  First of all, Israel is NOT totally cast away!  SOME in Israel, by the ELECTION of GRACE, come to KNOW Jesus as their SAVIOR.  The REMAINDER in Israel ARE BLINDED.  However, THE BLINDNESS upon Israel has a TIME LIMIT.

Romans 11:25--“For I would NOT, brethren (of the Church), that you BE IGNORANT of this MYSTERY, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that BLINDNESS, in part, is happened TO ISRAEL, UNTIL the FULLNESS of the GENTILES be COME IN (and enter the Church)."

When the FULLNESS of NON-JEWS (the Gentiles) have entered the CHURCH, and are SAVED--then BLINDNESS will be LIFTED OFF Israel, and GREAT NUMBERS of them will RECOGNIZE how Jesus WAS INDEED their Savior, Lord and Messiah.

The LAMPSTAND of Israel’s LIGHT and WITNESS will be RESTORED.  That’s what’s shown in Zechariah 4 (READ THE WHOLE CHAPTER).

In explaining Zechariah 4, we must keep in mind a FACT about Bible prophecy.  Many times, there was a fulfillment NEAR the TIME when the Word was FIRST SPOKEN.  This is the case with the LAMPSTAND which is seen in Zechariah.

After the Babylonian Captivity, TWO PEOPLE were INSTRUMENTAL in the Jews' return from Babylon--and for rebuilding the TEMPLE and RESTORING the worship and rituals.  They were Zerubabbel and Joshua.  These are TWO ANOINTED ONES who were greatly used by God, and energized by the Holy Spirit.  Zerubbabel represented the KINGDOM in Israel, and Joshua, as high priest, represented the priesthood.  (We see more of their story in Ezra, Nehemiah and Haggai.)  

However, there is YET a FUTURE fulfillment APPOINTED for Israel, and this makes Zechariah 4 a DUAL PROPHECY, containing TWO fulfillments--ONE "near' the time when the prophecy was given, and the SECOND fulfillment APPOINTED for the TIME OF THE END.

So yes, there is an "identical" LAMPSTAND to the one in the Jewish Temple (which is described in Zechariah), WITH the ADDITIONAL DETAIL of TWO OLIVE trees.  The prophecy pictures a LIGHT of WITNESS which will happen AGAIN in Israel during THE TRIBULATION.  The LAMPSTAND was JOINED to the TWO OLIVE trees, which shows a CONTINUAL supply of Holy Spirit OIL in the ministry of TWO FUTURE PROPHETS--the TWO WITNESSES which show up in Revelation 11.

The OLIVE trees are defined in Zechariah 4:14-- “THESE ARE THE TWO "ANOINTED ONES" that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”  In Revelation 11:4. they are called "the TWO OLIVE TREES (the Holy Spirit's OIL), and the TWO CANDLESTICKS (LAMPSTANDS) standing BEFORE the GOD of the earth."  This is almost WORD FOR WORD identical!  In Zechariah, the ONE LAMPSTAND is Jesus--as He is prophesied to arrive from the one nation of Israel.  In Revelation, the TWO LAMPSTANDS show THE LIGHT OF JESUS which will FILL the TWO WITNESSES as they PROPHESY for 1,260 days.

The LAMPSTAND again, in this instance, is JESUS, the Lord of the whole earth, and the TWO ANOINTED ONES are INTIMATELY joined to Him.  The LIGHT of these TWO PROPHETS' "witness" brings recognition to Israel--that INDEED, Jesus is TRULY their Savior, Lord and Messiah.  The LIGHT in Israel is DESTINED to be turned on again!

What I wanted to point out, IN YET ANOTHER WAY, is HOW the LIGHT, which dwells in the Church, will NOT be the LIGHT during the terrible Tribulation hour (we will have been Raptured before that time).  The LIGHT will return to Israel through the MINISTRY of the TWO WITNESSES!

Yes, INDEED--God will ALWAYS have His WITNESSES, regardless of the DISPENSATION through which He performs His WORK and WILL.  In a future study, we’ll see twelve thousand FROM EACH of the TWELVE TRIBES in Israel--in Revelation 7.  We’ll also see EVEN MORE concerning the TWO ANOINTED ONES, who are God’s prophets--in Revelation 11.

The LIGHT of the Church will be finished on earth BEFORE "that Day of the Lord" ARRIVES--and then THE LAMPSTAND will be REINSTATED in Israel.  There’s NO OTHER way to interpret these scriptures, as SHOWN by the clearly recorded Word of God!

Today’s lesson is a LONG ONE, by necessity.  However, I'm positive that you were NOT bored.  God's Word is amazing!

Be exceedingly blessed and nurtured--today and always!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

LAMPSTANDS, THE CHURCH AND LIGHT

CHURCHES, CANDLESTICKS (LAMPSTANDS), LIGHT


First of all, a quick look at Revelation 1:11 (which will be brief a review)--“Saying I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, What you see, write in a book, and send it to the seven Churches which are in Asia (Turkey); unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodecia.”

In verse 10, John heard a voice speak to him, a voice that had the resonance of a trumpet.  Here, in verse 11, the person doing the speaking is identified by the words He says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.”  We’ve already studied how Jesus is the Alpha and Omega--the TERM USED is ONE of His many TITLES.

Jesus instructed John to write down what he SEES.  This is an interesting CLUE--John NOT ONLY received the DICTATION of words to write, but ALSO John SAW the POWERFUL events of Revelation, as the FUTURE unfolded in front of his eyes.

John was to send the BOOK, that he received and recorded, to SEVEN Churches located in Asia Minor (now known as Turkey).  The seven Churches are listed in AN EXACT ORDER, which shows them NOT ONLY as local Churches at the time of John--Churches who needed help, encouragements and warnings--but that these Churches, IN THE EXACT ORDER they’re presented, describe CHURCH HISTORY.  The seven Churches, and the characteristics they possess, provide a PROPHECY which covers the entire AGE OF THE CHURCH on earth.


THE SEVEN CANDLESTICKS


Revelation 1:12--“And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me.  And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;”  (We’ll discover, as we continue into verse 13, that Jesus stood in THE MIDST of these candlesticks--BUT FIRST, "what" are they?)

John turned, expecting to see the One Who spoke to him, the One Who had the voice that sounded like a trumpet.  BUT the FIRST THINGS John SAW were SEVEN CANDLESTICKS.  Why candlesticks?  Why SEVEN of them?

The Greek word for candlesticks is “luchnia” and it MEANS "light bearer."  There are so many references to the “light-bearer” throughout the scripture, that it’s hard to find a place to begin.

In the Jewish Tabernacle, and later the Temple, there existed a “light-bearer,” a seven-branched lampstand (Menorah).  This was the ONLY source of LIGHT in the Tabernacle/Temple, and it pointed to Jesus Christ as the ONLY source of light--"the LIGHT of the world."  (In my next b;og, I’ll bring us BACK, to ELABORATE upon the lampstand as it’s found in the Old Testament and HOW it relates to Jesus, but first, let’s continue.)

The term "candlestick," which first appears in Revelation 1:12, is DEFINED and EXPLAINED in the SAME chapter.  Let’s take a quick look at Revelation 1:20.  “The mystery of …the seven golden candlesticks…”  [There are also "seven stars" in this verse, but we’ll focus upon the SEVEN CANDLESTICKS for now] “…the seven candlesticks which you (John) saw ARE THE SEVEN CHURCHES.”  Do you remember the list of seven Churches in verse 11?  EACH ONE of those Churches has a candlestick, or a “light-bearer” within them.

Here’s the obvious and simple MEANING of the seven candlesticks.  They represent the SEVEN CHURCHES--and the SEVEN Churches PICTURE the COMPLETE CHURCH as it exists down through history.

The Church offers LIGHT to the world during its time on earth.  What light?  The LIGHT of JESUS CHRIST, and Jesus is THE LIGHT of the world.  JESUS operates THROUGH THE CHURCH by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It’s the LIGHT OF JESUS which is seen within the Church.

The King James translation of the Bible PORTRAYS the symbol as SEVEN CANDLESTICKS in Revelation 1:12.  BUT this is an unfortunate translation for the Greek "luchnia," the “light-bearer.”  In the days of King James, the common understanding of “the light-bearer” was indeed a candlestick, a light provided by a candle, held upright in a piece of pottery or brass--a saucer-like implement with a handle upon it.

The USE of a candle NEVER occurred in the BIBLICAL UNDERSTANDING of this term.  The correct word is THE LAMPSTAND.  (Other Bible translations use LAMPSTAND--The Revised Standard, The New American Standard, The Amplified Bible, and even The Good News For Modern Man.)

The LAMPSTAND was part of the furnishings inside the Jewish Tabernacle/Temple.  It was beaten out of one piece of gold, and was comprised of a main upright stem and seven branches which held oil.  The oil was fed into the lamp from bowls which were constantly filled by priests in the Jewish Tabernacle/Temple.

The use of OIL in the LAMPSTAND for illumination is very significant.  Oil in the scripture is a picture of the Holy Spirit.  So therefore, the SEVEN LAMPSTANDS are the COMPLETE CHURCH, the LIGHT-BEARER of JESUS, a WITNESS to the world.  THE SOURCE of the LIGHT, the OIL for the LIGHT, is the HOLY SPIRIT, Who LIVES INSIDE each INDIVIDUAL who makes up the CHURCH.


There are SEVEN WAYS in which OIL is like the HOLY SPIRIT.


(1.)  Oil abolishes friction and smooths over.  The Holy Spirit smooths out any arguments or dissensions--He brings peace within the body of Christ.

(2.)  Oil heals.  Wounds are cleansed, healing is facilitated, the body is restored, by the application of oil--by the presence of God’s power in the Holy Spirit.  Anoint with oil and pray in faith in Jesus’ name--the Holy Spirit provides healings.

(3.)  Oil lights or illuminates.  The light of the Holy Spirit helps us to understand God’s Word, and the deep mysteries contained within it.

(4.)  Oil warms.  The presence of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, provides a warmth to one’s soul.

(5.)  Oil invigorates, stirs up circulation, the life-giving flow of blood (when used as a body rub).  The Holy Spirit invigorates, prompts, encourages God’s people to action.

(6.)  Oil adorns--poured upon heads as an anointing in great feasts, or in times of sorrow and grief.  The oil of gladness, poured out by the Holy Spirit, brings great joy in times of celebration or thanksgiving--brings the balm of comfort in times of great distress and suffering.

(7.)  Oil is used for polishing.  Have you ever rubbed oil upon the barrel of a rifle, or upon silver to help it shine?  The Holy Spirit brings a polishing into our lives--our flesh is scrubbed and rubbed, until the crud and the lumps are replaced by the fruit of the Spirit--and we shine with the light of Jesus.


The LAMPSTAND in the Jewish Tabernacle/Temple was oil-filled.  The Church is Holy Spirit filled!

The LAMPSTAND is a picture, a symbol, for Jesus Christ.  The LAMPSTAND as APPLIED to the CHURCH, shows HOW JESUS is preached and made known to the world through the ministry of the Holy Spirit WITHIN this great BODY OF CHRIST.

Before we leave the concept of the LAMPSTANDS, I want to take time to PRESENT Jesus, as shown in the Old Testament USAGE of that symbol.

This will take another blog to complete.  Be ready to learn even more!

Have a peaceful and quiet day in the presence of Jesus’ LIGHT.  Be blessed and enlightened by His presence.



Monday, April 18, 2011

IN THE SPIRIT ON THE LORD'S DAY

"I (John) was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet."  Revelation 1:10


"IN THE SPIRIT"


The Apostle John states that he was IN THE SPIRIT on the Lord's day.  What does this mean?  To begin, let's do a quick review.

In a previous blog, the INTRODUCTION TO REVELATION, I touched upon the FOUR times where John is said to be IN THE SPIRIT.  Each time the phrase IN THE SPIRIT occurs, John was taken to a DIFFERENT vantage point, a DIFFERENT LOCATION, and to a DIFFERENT TIME, where the prophetic vision unfolded in front of his eyes.

(1.)  John received a VISION of Jesus Christ on Patmos on the Lord's Day.  John saw Jesus in special way--the Christ Who SPOKE words which SOUNDED like a trumpet, a Jesus Who came arrayed in ALL His powerful glory.  The vision given to John employs many symbols to convey truths about the risen Lord.  (It happened on THE LORD'S DAY, which I'll explain in a moment.)

(2.)  John was IN THE SPIRIT at the Throne of God AFTER he heard a voice like a trumpet say "Come up hither, and I will show you things which MUST be hereafter."  Immediately, John found himself in HEAVEN.  Revelation 4:1-2.

(3.)  John was IN THE SPIRIT in the wilderness, where he saw MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT--an evil empire and religion which overtakes the world during the GREAT TRIBULATION.  Of course,  that wicked empire and religion exists on THE EARTH during the Tribulation.  Revelation 17:3.

(4.)  John was IN THE SPIRIT on a great and high mountain, from which he viewed the NEW JERUSALEM descend out of heaven to occupy the NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH--this event occurs AFTER the Millennium, and the final judgment of those who rejected Jesus.  It's the beginning of an ETERNITY with God in absolute perfection.  Revelation 21:10

In each place where John was IN THE SPIRIT, he saw THE FUTURE.  Each NEW LOCATION offered a DIFFERENT SEGMENT of God's dealing with the world and mankind.


IN THE SPIRIT ON THE LORD'S DAY


Many commentators of the book of Revelation explain THE LORD'S DAY as this--John received the prophecy on a Sunday.

There's a belief that the early Church commonly called Sunday "the Lord's day," because Jesus rose from the dead on that first day of the week.  Sunday is also the EIGHTH day in a weekly cycle--seven days pass--and we arrive at another Sunday.

Sunday is the FIRST day of a new week, but the EIGHTH day AFTER the WHOLE previous week.  EIGHT in scripture pictures a "new beginning."  The 8th day of a week's cycle, plus Sunday being the 1st day of a new week, certainly shows a "new beginning."  Thus THE LORD'S DAY can be explained with this understanding.

But IS there MORE?  What does John, receiving the prophecy on a Sunday, ADD TO OUR INSIGHT about the book of Revelation?

The fact that THE DAY was Sunday adds NOTHING to Revelation's impact.  Could there be an alternative interpretation?  Remember--the Revelation is declared a PROPHECY in chapter one verse four.  Let's consider THE LORD'S DAY from a PROPHETIC PERSPECTIVE.

With that in mind, it's MORE CONSISTENT, with our DEEPER exploration into PROPHETIC implications, to take a fresh look at THE LORD'S DAY.  In receiving the FULL VISION of the book of Revelation, John was taken IN THE SPIRIT to the LOCATIONS where he could WITNESS Revelation's events UNFOLD in front of his eyes.  He was taken IN THE SPIRIT to the FUTURE where THE LORD'S DAY played out before him.

It's very possible, by this understanding, to see THE LORD'S DAY as another way of saying "THE DAY OF THE LORD."

"The day of the Lord" is a phrase which is carefully defined by scripture, in great AMOUNTS, so much so, that there's NOT ENOUGH ROOM to FULLY explore it in today's blog.  To fully show ALL the aspects of "the day of the Lord," I'd need to write a complete BOOK!

The DAY OF THE LORD is a phrase we find all over the Old Testament, and there are many SYNONYMS for this phrase, too.  So WHAT IS this day of the Lord?

By carefully examining the BIBLICAL DEFINITIONS, we discover the day of the Lord REFERS TO the final 70th WEEK OF YEARS which is yet to be fulfilled upon Israel in our present world system.  The 70th WEEK is a SEVEN YEAR span of God's judgment upon the world, in which He will deal with Israel, those Jews who have denied that Jesus is their Messiah.  (The 70th WEEK is defined and explained in Daniel 9:24-27.  MUCH LATER in our study, I'll delve into more detail about Daniel's amazing prophecy.)

I'll offer several quick BIBLICAL descriptions of THE DAY OF THE LORD:

Isaiah 13:6--"Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a DESTRUCTION from the Almighty."

Amos 5:18--"Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord!  To what end is it for you?  The day of the Lord is DARKNESS, and not light."

Zephaniah 1:14-16  (Please read to the very end of that chapter--I didn't want to take up space by quoting the whole passage--it's a POWERFUL picture of what the DAY OF THE LORD really is.)--"The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord:  the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of WRATH, a day of TROUBLE and DISTRESS, a day of WASTENESS and DESOLATION, a day of DARKNESS and GLOOMINESS, a day of CLOUDS and THICK DARKNESS, a day of the TRUMPET (Revelation's trumpet judgments) and ALARM against the fenced cities, and against the high towers..."

The scripture also pictures HOW the day of the Lord divides into TWO portions of three and a half years.

There's THE BEGINNING OF SORROWS--the first half--Matthew 24:8 and Mark 13:8.

The following terms relate to the SECOND half, the FINAL and extreme WOES of the last three and a half years--THE TIME OF JACOB'S TROUBLE (Jeremiah 30:70), THE GREAT DAY OF HIS WRATH (Revelation 6:17), THE OVERSPREADING OF ABOMINATIONS (Daniel 9:27) and THE GREAT TRIBULATION (Matthew 24:21).

I can sum this up by saying, that WHEN John received THE REVELATION, and was IN THE SPIRIT ON THE LORD'S DAY, he was taken into THE FUTURE by a vision.  John ACTUALLY SAW AND HEARD the events of THE DAY OF THE LORD.  John saw and knew what's coming!

Think about this....Do we know what's coming like a freight train upon the world?


ADDITION: AN INDEX
SCRIPTURES TO HELP US UNDERSTAND THE DAY OF THE LORD:

(I've listed the exact verses in many of these references.  To get the full context, read the verses before and following each reference.)

The day of the Lord----Isaiah 2:12; Isaiah 13:6-9; Ezekiel 13:5; Ezekiel 30:3; Joel 1:15; Joel 2:1, Joel 2:11 and Joel 2:31; Joel 3:14; Amos 5:18, Amos 5:20; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 1:7; Zephaniah 1:14 to the end of the chapter; Zechariah 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4--read on through to 1 Thessalonians 5:11; and 2 Peter 3:10.

The seventieth week----Daniel 9:24-27
The day of God's vengeance----Isaiah 34:8 and Isaiah 63:1-6.
The time of the end----Daniel 12:9
The hour of His judgment----Revelation 14:7
The end of this world----Matthew 13:40 and Matthew 13:49
The indignation----Isaiah 26:20-21
The time of trouble such as never was----Daniel 12:1
The days of the Son of man----Luke 17:26
Sudden destruction----1 Thessalonians 5:3
That day----1Thessalonians 5:4
Wrath----1 Thessalonians 5:9

The beginning of sorrows----Matthew 24:8, but also read the whole chapter; Mark 13:8, but also read the whole chapter. I'll include Luke 21 to the list--for a comparison. (The Olivet Discourse which Jesus spoke to His disciples, giving a prophecy for His people, Israel.)

(A NOTE--Compare the "beginning of sorrows" to the seal judgments in Revelation 6. The first mentioned, false christs (the white horse). The second mentioned, wars and rumors of wars (the red horse). The third mentioned, famine (the black horse). The fourth mentioned (from the account in Luke 21:11), pestilences (the pale horse). The fifth mentioned, martyrdom (souls under the altar). The sixth mentioned, earthquakes in diverse places, fearful sights and signs from heaven (the sixth seal shows an earthquake, black sun, red moon and falling stars.)

(I'LL ADD THIS INSIGHT--what we see in OUR PRESENT TIME, BEFORE the TRIBULATION of THOSE SEVEN YEARS.  We see FORESHADOWINGS of things to come.  HOWEVER, in the FIRST HALF of the DAY OF THE LORD --the "sorrows" -- "the birth pangs" will proceed to ACTUAL FULL TERM LABOR, which will bring the BIRTH of JESUS' KINGDOM upon the earth.)


THE LAST HALF OF THE SEVEN YEAR TRIBULATION:


The time of Jacob's trouble----Jeremiah 30:7
The great day of His wrath----Revelation 6:17
The overspreading of abominations----Daniel 9:27
The great tribulation----Matthew 24:21 and Matthew 24:29
Affliction, such as was NOT from the beginning of creation which God created unto this time----Mark 13:19
The days of vengeance----Luke 21:22

Happy studying!


THE VOICE OF A TRUMPET


Before we move forward to Revelation 1:11, I want to devote a bit of time to THE VOICE which the Apostle John heard behind him. The voice SOUNDED LIKE a trumpet.  How can a voice sound like a trumpet?

I think of mutes, used by jazz players, as they coax sounds out of their trumpets.  Really talented musicians make their instruments ACTUALLY SAY words.  I'm sure you're familiar with this.  Trumpets can say, "Hello Dolly," or any number of phrases as a tune is played.

Let's take a closer look at THE VOICE which John heard.  WHO spoke in a "trumpet-like" voice?

We jump forward for a moment, to Revelation 1:11.  The ONE with the trumpet voice said, "I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last..."  In a previous blog, teaching upon Revelation 1:8, we saw that the Alpha and Omega is identified as Jesus.  Therefore, here in Revelation 1:10, and continuing into verse 11, this SAME Son of God SPEAKS with THE VOICE of a trumpet!

We see further evidence of this in Revelation 4:1.  A door opened in heaven.  Then the Apostle John POINTS BACK to chapter one when he said--"and the FIRST VOICE which I heard was, as it were, OF A TRUMPET talking with me, which said..."  This time THE VOICE said, "Come up hither, and I will show you things which must be hereafter."

The trumpet voice in CHAPTER ONE belongs to Jesus.  We can safely say that the trumpet voice of CHAPTER FOUR was like the FIRST trumpet voice that John heard.  This is INDEED the voice of Jesus--the Lord and Savior speaking--Who called John up from the earth and into heaven.  (When we return to Revelation 4 to look at this passage in detail, we'll note how THE ACTIONS--given here--show a TYPE of the Rapture of the Church.)

I'll add another insight:  This is THE TRUMP OF GOD which is blown in only TWO places in the scripture.  (1.)  At Mount Sinai in Exodus 19--and (2.)  At the Rapture of the Church.

(1.)  I'll direct your attention to Exodus 19:19, "And when THE VOICE of THE TRUMPET sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spoke, and GOD ANSWERED him by A VOICE."

Notice how the VOICE of a TRUMPET, waxed long and loud (we can imagine a shofar here--the ram's horn trumpet).  This TRUMPET is also linked closely with the VOICE OF GOD, who SPOKE to Moses (like the sound of a TRUMPET).

(2.)  THE TRUMP OF GOD also appears in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.   "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."

In this place we also see the SHOUT OF JESUS coming simultaneously with the blast of A TRUMPET.  I can imagine the sound of a shofar (the ram's horn trumpet) which is blended with THE VOICE of Jesus, which also SOUNDS like a TRUMPET--as we've seen in Revelation 1:10, and again in Revelation 4:1.

The long blast of a VOICE of a TRUMPET, combined with JESUS SHOUTING, also sounding "like a trumpet."  We can get an idea of what we are so SOON to hear!

I'll end our look at the TRUMPET VOICE on that note. (No pun intended, LOL.)

Aren't you growing excited?  I know I am!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

JOHN ON PATMOS

JOHN--ON THE ISLAND OF PATMOS


"I, John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."  Revelation 1:9

AFTER the introductory PHASE of the first 8 verses of Revelation one, John introduces himself to his audience of readers.  The fact that it took so long to bring himself into the picture, shows how John's PRIMARY focus is NOT upon himself, but upon JESUS, Who is the SUBJECT of the Revelation.

John did NOT begin recording the Revelation with HIMSELF at the forefront.  The first two verses barely mentioned how John received the prophecy and bore record of the Word of God. Then, the focus shifted to THE PEOPLE who would RECEIVE the prophecy, and to the SEVEN CHURCHES of Asia.  After ALL that, the message continued--and brought GLORY to Jesus Christ.

John did NOT BEGIN by saying, "Hey, I'm John, and LISTEN to WHAT the Lord TOLD ME."  Somehow, in an opening like that, a SHIFT occurs, which essentially brings ATTENTION TO JOHN, HIMSELF.  In effect, it's like saying, "Hey, I'm John and I'm pretty IMPORTANT--because the Lord CHOSE ME to receive a WORD.  Just listen to what I HAVE TO TELL YOU..."

Have you ever heard teachers and prophecy experts do this?  I have.  I'm very CONSCIOUS of what a TURN OFF this is.  It sounds full of pride, and in an approach such at that, Jesus must take a back seat.  (I also know that some people might say something like that in ignorance, NOT REALIZING that THE WAY they phrase their words sounds prideful.)

John was a HUMBLE servant of the Lord.  He showed His LOVE and HONOR of Jesus by keeping THE FOCUS of the message upon THE LORD.  I mention this because I feel, as teachers of God's Word, the PRIMARY emphasis must always remain upon JESUS.

[I do admit--I've had a few FANTASTIC experiences--with the Lord bringing special messages to me (which PROMPTED me to study the scripture, especially PROPHECY):  (1.)  My conversion experience--from "religious church-goer" to BORN AGAIN.  (2.)  Dreams of the END TIMES and "great tribulation."   (3.)  Audibly hearing the Lord's voice, plus having dreams and revelations--about THE RAPTURE.  Although my experiences are TRULY EXCITING and demonstrate how God works with His people, WHEN IT COMES TO TEACHING THE BIBLE, I've learned a valuable lesson--KEEP THE FOCUS UPON JESUS AND THE WORD.  Jesus is the ONE who's WORTHY of GLORY.]

The Apostle John KNEW THIS LESSON, too.  He's to be commended for His humble spirit.  He wrote ONLY that which the Holy Spirit told Him, and recorded ONLY what God allowed Him to see or hear.

NOW TO CONTINUE--John said he was a BROTHER--speaking of the family of THE LORD.  He's a BROTHER to Christians in the SEVEN CHURCHES who RECEIVED the Revelation.  And he's a Christian BROTHER to ALL who enter the body of Christ--from the EARLY CHURCH right up to THE PRESENT.

John was a COMPANION (a co-participant, a fellow partaker) in TRIBULATION.

We must remember--AT THE TIME John received the Revelation (about 96 A.D.), the EARLY CHURCH was suffering under powerful PERSECUTION.  Religious Jews were after them.

But most of all, the cruel Romans brought trouble, pressures, jail time and martyrdom.   Romans hounded the new faith built upon Jesus, because they wanted NOTHING to be elevated above their own CAESAR WORSHIP.  They were also afraid that a powerful new religion would diminish their power and control.

TRIBULATION is a word which means EXTREME PRESSURE, a heavy pressing down and burden.  Those in tribulation are afflicted, and in anguish.  They suffer a long list of troubles.

Make note, that as long as the CHURCH exists ON EARTH, there will be tribulations and troubles.  READ JESUS' WORDS JOHN 16:33.  He said His followers would have tribulation in the world, but BE OF GOOD CHEER.   How can we be happy in tribulation?  This is important--BECAUSE, since Jesus OVERCOME the world, so shall we!

HOMEWORK--MORE ABOUT TRIBULATION:  Acts 14:22, Romans 5:1-5, Romans 8:35-37, Romans 12:12, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 2 Corinthians 7:4-6, 1 Thessalonians 3:3-4, 2 Thessalonians 1:4, and Revelation 2:9.

These are the common "tribulations" that are IN the world--what we see and experience as everyday worldly troubles.

(Again, this is NOT referring to that SPECIFIC TIME of the JUDGMENTS--called THE TRIBULATION--which will fall FROM God's Throne upon a wicked and rebellious world who have ignored or rejected the Gospel of Jesus as preached by the Church.  THIS SPECIFIC TIME of TRIBULATION is also called THE 7OTH WEEK of Daniel, which is APPOINTED to last SEVEN YEARS.  It is well known in the Old Testament as THE DAY OF THE LORD or THE DAYS OF VENGEANCE OF OUR GOD.  THIS SPECIFIC TIME is NOT be the ordinary days of "tribulations" that the Church now faces upon this earth.  I pray this DISTINCTION is clear to you!)

In the next blog, I'll elaborate upon THAT SPECIFIC TIME, and a DIFFERING SET of DEFINITIONS--concerning THE DAY OF THE LORD.


JOHN WAS ON AN ISLAND CALLED PATMOS.


Patmos is a small island just off the coast of Turkey, a rather rocky and unappealing place.

It's provocative that Patmos means "treading"--to step upon, to walk over, to press down with the feet, to trample.  Therefore, John received the Revelation at a place called "treading" , a CONCEPT which speaks of God and Jesus in THE ACT of JUDGING a very wicked and cruel world.  The book of Revelation teaches (from chapters six to nineteen) about A TIME when the world is being TREAD DOWN by God and Jesus in THE ACT of JUDGING.

In Isaiah 63:3-4 (especially focusing upon the first phrase in verse 4):  The prophecy shows Jesus treading upon enemies in the APPOINTED TIME of God's judgment.  "I have TRODDEN the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with Me: for I will TREAD them in My anger, and TRAMPLE them in My fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon My garments, and I will stain all My raiment.  For THE DAY OF VENGEANCE is in My heart..."

The Revelation--which John received on Patmos ("treading")--the prophecy gives FULL DETAILS of "the winepress" which is trodden.  Revelation 14:15-20. Isaiah 63:3 ADDS to this picture, showing WHY Jesus' garment is stained with blood in Revelation 19:13.  This is a POTENT and OMINOUS portrayal of Jesus, a vision of judgment, something NOT experienced by the Church (and so DIFFICULT for us to comprehend--because we're NOT used to seeing Jesus AS A JUDGE--and full of God's vengeance)!


JOHN WAS ON PATMOS FOR THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS.


There are two possibilities to explain this.

(1.)  Many scholars feel that John was on Patmos BECAUSE of His preaching the Word.  They say John was sentenced as a PRISONER to Patmos, which is PERSECUTION, PUNISHMENT and EXILE upon him--for courageously preaching and teaching about Jesus.

(2.)  John could have been on Patmos, NOT as a prisoner, NOT in exile, but SO he COULD MINISTER to brothers in Christ who WERE exiled there.  If John CHOSE to go into exile TO PREACH and MINISTER to his imprisoned and persecuted brothers, then he was indeed a SELFLESS and COMPASSIONATE man.

I WANT TO ADD AN IMPORTANT THOUGHT--Scripture doesn't make it clear which case is actually the truth.  No firm arguments may be raised FOR or AGAINST either of these ideas.

The point I want to make is this--sometimes, opinions are formed and DOCTRINE is established, WITHOUT a clear reason WHY.  We should be careful NOT to form an OPINION, or espouse a DOCTRINE, unless we can back it SOLIDLY and IRREFUTABLY with SOUND BIBLE PROOF.  Only THEN can we stand in THE TRUTH!

Have a wonderful and blessed day in Jesus!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

OUR ALMIGHTY GOD

REVELATION 1:8--"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."

I've already explained in a previous post about how Jesus is the Alpha and Omega--and about the eternal aspect of God as JHVH, the Hebrew tetragrammaton, which is translated in our English Bibles as Jehovah. BUT JUST A QUICK REVIEW:

Verse 8 is full of TITLES for Jesus Christ. As the Alpha and Omega, Jesus is the same as the English rendering of A and Z. Jesus is THE BEGINNING; He is THE ENDING--and in His ETERNAL aspect, He KNEW what the END would be from the very BEGINNING.

This CONCEPT is repeated in the phrase, "saith the Lord, which IS, and which WAS, and which IS TO COME." As ETERNAL GOD, Jesus exists in the HERE AND NOW, the PRESENT.  He has ALWAYS EXISTED, in the PAST. He will ALWAYS exist, on into THE FUTURE, and for ALL ETERNITY.  He KNOWS the beginning and the end, and everything which is in between.

Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end, and Jesus IS the ETERNAL GOD.  Jesus is revealed here as the SECOND PERSON in the TRINITY, the GODHEAD.  Jesus has EQUAL STANDING with the ETERNAL GOD, Jehovah.  Jesus is ONE with Jehovah--God, the Father of the Old Testament.  This is SEEN in the description of the Hebrew tetragrammaton, JHVH--the Lord which IS, which WAS, and which IS TO COME.

When Jesus claimed ONENESS with God, the Father, He caused the Jewish priests and elders, the scribes and the Pharisees, the ruling Sanhedrin, to respond in shock and anger, so much so that they took Him to Pontius Pilate to be crucified.  What did Jesus say?  We find part of the answer in Luke 22:66-71 to Luke 23:1.  HOMEWORK--READ THIS SCRIPTURE.

Jesus was led in to face the COUNCIL of elders, chief priests and scribes.  They asked Him--"Are You the Christ (the anointed one, the Messiah)?  Jesus replied, "If I told you, you will NOT believe.  And if I also ask you, you will not answer Me, nor let Me go."   Jesus went on to add words which must have enraged that council.   "Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the RIGHT HAND OF THE POWER OF GOD."

The council then asked Him, "Are You the Son of God?

Jesus answered, "You say that I am."  (I'll explain what He REALLY said below.)

Another picture of this scene is recorded in Matthew 26:63-66.  PLEASE READ THIS, TOO.

The council asked Jesus the same question, this time calling upon God's name "I adjure You BY THE LIVING GOD, are you the Christ, the Son of God?"

Jesus gave the same answer, proclaiming that He will sit at God's right hand and come again in the clouds of heaven.  The scribes and elders tore their clothing (an act of shock, responding in horror).  They said, "He (Jesus) has spoken blasphemy, do we need any further witnesses?"  And they carted Jesus off to see Pontius Pilate.  What was it that enraged them so?

We'll understand a little better when we backtrack to a scene at the Garden of Gethsemane.  This time we'll look at John 18:3-6.  PLEASE READ IT THAT SCRIPTURE, TOO.

Judas Iscariot, the traitor of Jesus, led a band of chief priests and Pharisees, with lanterns, into Gethsemane.  Jesus, knowing what was happening, asked them, "Whom seek ye?"  They answered, Jesus of Nazareth, and Jesus responded (pay attention to how He said it), I am He."  As soon as Jesus said unto them, "I am He," THEY FELL BACKWARDS ONTO THE GROUND.  (There was some kind of power in the words, I AM, which caused these people to be bowled over backwards.  I'll explain further below.)

I now ask--"What did these people experience when Jesus proclaimed , "I AM HE," in both the Luke account and in John's account? Why did the scribes and elders proclaim blasphemy as seen in the Matthew account?

In the English, we can miss what Jesus TRULY said to these people.  He spoke the words "I AM."  These WORDS are the EXACT phrasing as what God proclaimed to Moses in Exodus 3:14 at the burning bush.  "And God said unto Moses, 'I AM THAT I AM': and He said, 'Thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.'"

The words I AM are the Hebrew equivalent of JHVH, the tetragrammton, the name Jehovah.  JESUS SAID HE WAS GOD.  This so ENRAGED the elders and scribes (the Jews have a tradition that they will NEVER utter God's name)--to SPEAK GOD'S NAME was considered blasphemy.  And to make it worse, Jesus boldly stated with His I AM (Jehovah) that HE IS INDEED GOD.  The scribes and elders hauled Him off to be crucified FOR THEIR that Jesus had committed blasphemy.

In John's account, these are the words that Jesus spoke:  "I AM He," had such POWER, the very NAME OF GOD, that the people FELL OVER BACKWARDS to the ground.  They must NOT have known WHAT hit them, because they did NOT accuse Jesus of blasphemy at this point in Gethsemane.

There was NO mistaking it, when later, before the council, Jesus said I AM again.

This IS SCRIPTURAL PROOF of HOW Jesus and God (Jehovah) ARE ONE.  JHVH.  I AM.

God (also Jesus) is THE ALMIGHTY.  I'll point out DEFINITIONS in the Greek for "the Almighty."

God (also Jesus) are these things in the list below:

He's God--the ABSOLUTE and UNIVERSAL sovereign.

God (also Jesus) is ABSOLUTE--the complete and perfect supreme Authority.

God (also Jesus) is FREE from any restriction or limitation.  He's therefore UNLIMITED.

He's the unconditional and absolute monarch.

God (also Jesus) is UNIVERSAL.  He's the supreme being Who is MASTER of the WHOLE UNIVERSE.

He's a supernatural being Who preserves HIS SAME IDENTITY no matter what changes happen upon the earth, or any other region of His creation.  God (also Jesus) NEVER changes--He's the same yesterday, today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8.

God (also Jesus) is SOVEREIGN.  He's the ETERNAL RULER, the KING, the MONARCH, and He has SUPREME AUTHORITY.  NOTHING is ABOVE God (also Jesus).  No created thing can ascend above God--no angel, no man or woman, no living animal.

The roots in the Greek word for ALMIGHTY show additional and supporting concepts.  God (Jesus) is Almighty in ALL MANNER of ALWAYS--thorough and totally and forever (always). 

God (also Jesus) is Almighty in VIGOR, in DOMINION (supreme authority), in POWER and STRENGTH.

When we delve deeply into shades of meaning in the original languages, our understanding of God's qualities and character is GREATLY ENLARGENED.  I suggest you mediate upon the long list presented above.  Then answer these questions.

Do you feel more SECURE in this very uncertain world?  Can you TOTALLY give yourself into God's ALMIGHTY and capable hands?  He's THERE FOR US, no matter what.  He is FOREVER our REFUGE and STRENGTH.  Doesn't this give you the strength and courage to face any situation you may encounter?

This certainly helps me, especially in this week when so many end time SIGNS have happened around the world.  GOD CARES ABOUT EVERY LITTLE DETAIL OF OUR LIVES.  Big or little, it doesn't matter--God cares for us in everything!

Please be abundantly blessed, encouraged and joyful.

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Do you feel encouraged and strengthened by this Word?  I certainly do!  WE SERVE AN ALMIGHTY GOD.  WE TRUST AN ALMIGHTY SAVIOR.



Friday, April 15, 2011

WHEN JESUS RETURNS WITH THE CLOUDS

WHEN JESUS RETURNS TO EARTH WITH THE CLOUDS


In frightening times of uncertainty, my thoughts always center upon, and revolve around, a wonderful promise of Jesus--that since He departed to heaven, rest assured, He WILL return! Christians have been waiting for Him to come back for almost 2000 years.  And yet my HOPE never wavers.  The worse this world system becomes, the more outrageous our government gets, the MORE I desire the return of Christ.

We find the promise, of which I point out, in Acts 1:9-11--"And when He (Jesus) had spoken these things (to the gathered disciples), while they beheld, He was taken up; and a CLOUD received Him out of their sight.  And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, SHALL SO COME IN LIKE MANNER AS YE HAVE SEEN HIM GO INTO HEAVEN."

As I shudder at what our leaders and lawmakers currently do in our Capitol, I also settle my nerves with this thought.  "Fear not, Jesus is coming soon. Fear not, He has NOT left us desolate and abandoned.  He will take care of our every need.  And He will take us soon to our eternal reward."

The event of Christ's PRECIOUS RETURN that I look FORWARD TO with such joy and expectation is the "blessed hope" of the Church, the HARPAZO spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, our being caught up together in the CLOUDS, to meet Jesus in the air, and to PROCEED FROM the clouds to our MANSIONS that He's prepared for us in His Father's home--as declared in John 14:1-3.

The scripture we'll BEGIN to study today, Revelation 1:7, speaks of A TIME that's about SEVEN years AFTER the Rapture of the Church.  In this passage, joy is NOT the RESULT of Jesus' return.  Instead, we see a combination of deep sorrow and utter terror prophesied in this verse.  It's BECAUSE this event in the Second Coming of Jesus TO EARTH will happen AFTER a horrible SERIES of calamities, judgments and woes fall upon a sin-laden world--which is under the absolute dictatorship of the Antichrist!

Jesus will return to this EARTHLY scene with POWER and MIGHT, and He'll be WIELDING a sharp sword which brings about a FINAL and AWESOME judgment.

Let's now read Revelation 1:7--"Behold, He comes with the clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.  Even so, Amen."

"Even so, Amen."  These words summarize and end the verse 7 with both assurance and blessed relief.

In other words, regardless of HOW this passage PICTURES a sorrowful and a terrifying time (for THOSE who witness THIS ELEMENT of Christ's return to SET HIS FEET upon the EARTH)-- even so, let it happen.  The word AMEN means, "yes, let it be so."  These words often mark the ending of a prayer, and just like an answer to prayer, this PROPHESY will be fulfilled.  Jesus will DESTROY the enemies who have just about TOTALLY DESTROYED THE EARTH.  His Second Coming will bring BOTH judgment and rescue!

We notice that Jesus will come back to earth surrounded by CLOUDS.  Whenever we consider the events of our Lord's Second Coming, it's almost automatic that we think of Him coming in the clouds.

Jesus, Himself, proclaimed this FACT in Matthew 24:30--"And than shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall the tribes of the earth mourn, and they see the Son of man coming in THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN with power and GREAT GLORY."

Let's also consider Matthew 26:64--"...Hereafter shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN."

Jesus coming with THE CLOUDS is also pictured in the Old Testament.  We'll look at Daniel 7:13--"I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man came WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before thee."

The context of the Daniel passage is upon a time when the Antichrist dictates to the world, for the prophecy is referring to THE END of the "little horn's" dominion.  The "beast"--also a reference to the Antichrist--is slain, his body destroyed and given to the burning flame.  And as for the rest of the "beasts"--world REGIONS under the Antichrist's control--they had their dominion (their authority to govern) taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time (meaning that world regions will survive into JESUS' KINGDOM upon the earth, and these world regions remain on earth for the time and season of the Millennium). 

This passage from Daniel then goes on to describe the Son of man coming in THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN--to the Ancient of days, God, the Father--who THEN gives to Jesus the DOMINION, and glory, and a KINGDOM.  We understand by this, that the coming of Jesus pictured here IS that one at THE END of the "Great Tribulation"--in which Jesus returns IN THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN--at which TIME, Jesus RECEIVES His KINGDOM in the Millennium.

Let's consider another scripture, this time Hebrews 12:1--"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a CLOUD of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us."

The CLOUD of witnesses is a different kind of cloud than what we see in the passages quoted above.  What (or WHO) are these witnesses?  They are a CLOUD of people who have already passed into heaven by their deaths, and are immediately in the presence of God.  Once there, white garments are given to them, which is A PICTURE of the RIGHTEOUSNESS they enjoy through their faith in Jesus.  In heaven, these witnesses shine white, and a large group of them resembles a cloud.

We also need to remember that whenever the GLORY (the "shekinah") of God is mentioned in scripture, it's appearance is like a CLOUD.  When Jesus, on the Mount of Transfiguration, was GLORIFIED in front of Peter, James and John, He was OVERSHADOWED BY A BRIGHT CLOUD, the cloud of God's "shekinah" PRESENCE--His GLORY.  Matthew 17:5.

By looking carefully at THE CLOUD which comes WITH Jesus in His return to earth, THREE KINDS of clouds can be in view.  What are they?

(1.)  Natural clouds, white puffy cumulus in the sky.

(2.)  The "shekinah" cloud--the GLORY of God in His PRESENCE.

(3.)  A cloud of witnesses, an array of SAINTS (the Church dressed in white), who are returning to earth WITH JESUS.

(4.)  And let us NOT forget the powerful clouds of angels--who'll be there, too, as Jesus returns.

In the following section, I'll be focused upon people who experience grief and sorrow at the Second Coming of Jesus.  Why do these people MOURN at the coming of Jesus to earth?


THOSE WHO PIERCED JESUS


Another small detail from Revelation 1:7.  I'll quote it again to maintain the context.

"Behold, He comes with the clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.  Even so, Amen."

The focus here is the LAST EVENT in a SERIES of things which will transpire in the return of Jesus Christ.  (1.)  The Church will be caught up--HARPAZOED--to be with Jesus in heavenly mansions at least SEVEN years PRIOR to the scene in this verse.  (2.)  The unfolding of the Great Tribulation will have transpired.  (3.)  The armies will THEN be gathered at a place called Megiddo for the final war known as Armageddon.

(4.)  Revelation 1:7 is an OVERVIEW of the FINAL event, the return of Jesus to earth with His Bride, and the armies of heaven, to establish the Throne of Jesus upon the earth, which will BEGIN a time known as the Millennium. 

When Jesus returns during the Armageddon scene, people who WITNESS the event will NOT be thoroughly overjoyed to see Him.  There will be TWO responses--and RIGHT NOW--we'll consider only ONE of them.  This response, we MIGHT SAY will be a joy OF SORTS, more like a RELIEF that the trouble is over, BUT it's ALSO something that's profoundly OVERSHADOWED by guilt, sorrow and weeping.

They who pierced Jesus will see him!  Who are these people?  How do they respond to His coming?

When we study the Gospels, and the CRUCIFIXION of Jesus, we see TWO groups of people who took part in it.  One group is the Romans who ruled over Israel, who FORCED the Jews to bow their knees to their dominion.  The second group are the Jews, a group of zealous religious people who FAILED TO RECOGNIZE that Jesus was their promised Messiah.

Jesus not only suffered under the cruel hands of the Romans at the time of His crucifixion, but sadly, He drew horrible retribution under the narrow-minded religious fervor of the Sanhedrin--the chief priests and elders--who felt they were protecting Judaism and God's laws.  The Jewish council REJECTED Jesus as God and Messiah.  They accused Him of blasphemy and handed Him over to the Romans who would carry out the crucifixion.  BOTH Jews and Gentiles stood GUILTY in the death of Jesus--because Jesus came TO DIE for BOTH groups, Jews and Gentiles--for ALL mankind!

In Matthew 27:16-26, there's a terrible scene where we see Pontius Pilate (the Roman governor), offer to release a prisoner (scheduled for crucifixion) and asked the Jews who they wanted to set free, Barabbas or Jesus?  The Jews clamored to have Barabbas set free.  Later, Pilate washed his hands before the multitude of fanatical Jews and said that he was innocent of the blood of a just person (Jesus).  The Jews replied, "His blood be upon us, and on our children."  Then Pilate released Barabbas and sent Jesus to His death.

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, and all through the long age of the Church, a QUESTION has been asked many times over.  Why are the Jews so scorned and persecuted?  ONE ANSWER--they ASKED to be HELD ACCOUNTABLE for the death of Jesus, and their children, too. 

There's a SECOND reason for all the scorn and persecution: the devil SEEKS to destroy Israel BEFORE Jesus returns.  Satan KNOWS how God will be RESTORING the Jews to their COVENANT PROMISES in the events of Jesus' Second Coming.  The devil figures if he can wipe Israel off the map, then he can PREVENT Jesus' return, and STOP the fulfillment of prophecy.

In the Old Testament, in Zechariah 12:10-11, we see a picture of the sorrow and mourning of THEY WHO PIERCED JESUS--THE JEWS.  Zechariah's prophecy is one which ADDS DETAILS to the scene--when Jesus returns on His great white horse with His Bride, and the armies of heaven with Him, to establish His Kingdom on the earth.

"And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications:  AND THEY SHALL LOOK UPON ME WHOM THEY HAVE PIERCED, and they shall MOURN for Him, as one MOURNS for HIS ONLY SON, and shall be in BITTERNESS for Him, as one that is in BITTERNESS FOR HIS FIRSTBORN.  In that day shall there be a GREAT MOURNING in Jerusalem, as the MOURNING of Hadadrimmon in the VALLEY OF MEGIDDON."  (Megiddo, Armageddon.)

Israel will WEEP over their ancestral FAILURE to recognize Jesus as their MESSIAH.  They will literally CRY and MOURN because of the SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS which prevented their FOREFATHERS (AND THEM, TOO) from knowing Who Jesus really is.

In other scriptures we see Jesus, in the act of setting up His Kingdom, and He will be WIPING TEARS from the eyes of His people, and COMFORTING those who MOURN in Zion.  We can picture that climactic event, when Israel PREPARES to enter the glorious Millennium with their Messiah--as Jesus RESTORES the THRONE OF DAVID which has been promised to them. Jews will CRY over the One they'd formerly rejected.  Tears stream down their faces and their hearts are HEAVY within their chests.  Jesus will do THIS for them:

"To appoint unto them THAT MOURN in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes--(Jesus will lift the rebuke of the world off Israel)--the oil of joy for mourning--(their sorrow will be turned into laughter)--the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness--(no longer will they be crushed and oppressed in the earth, but they will sing the praises of their Messiah)--that they might be trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified."  Isaiah 61:3.

I know I quoted a verse (above) that we sing in our Churches.  These beautiful words INDEED APPLY TO ALL in our Christian congregations who receive the hand of blessing from our Lord.

BUT this verse will ALSO RECEIVE ITS FULFILLMENT--when Jesus wipes the tears of sorrow from His people, Israel, AFTER His great return.  THOSE WHO PIERCED HIM will receive grace, comfort and joy.  And they will be invited into that promised time, when their MESSIAH rules the WHOLE EARTH from THE THRONE OF DAVID in Jerusalem.

THEY WHO PIERCED JESUS will cry, lament, sorrow and mourn as, with their eyes, they behold Jesus coming in great glory in the powerful scene at Armageddon.  Israel will experience heaviness and guilt.

But all praise be to Jesus!  He'll wipe away tears, comfort them and lift them up.

In the next segment of my blog, we'll look at the SECOND group of people who witness Jesus at that FINAL ACT of His second coming--THE EARTH DWELLERS.


THE EARTH-DWELLERS


Let's refresh ourselves with verse seven:  Jesus Christ's return will occur in a backdrop of CLOUDS.  Every eye will SEE this return, speaking about the EVENT of His Second Coming which coincides with the final Tribulation battle called Armageddon.

Two kinds of people (in verse 7) SEE Christ's return.  We looked at the first group, Israel, in the previous segment.  The Jews, those whose ancestors PIERCED JESUS at His crucifixion, will sorrow, lament, weep and mourn at the return of THE ONE Who they NOW realize was truly their Messiah.  Christ, in His love and compassion, will wipe tears from their eyes.

In this section, we'll finish Revelation 1:7.  We'll look at a group of people who are called ALL THE KINDREDS OF THE EARTH.  We'll discover how this group DWELLS UPON THE EARTH (I call them the EARTH-DWELLERS).

As we continue studying Revelation, we'll grow MORE AWARE of this group of people, FIRST mentioned here in chapter one, verse seven--"all the kindreds of the earth."  These people will WAIL because of Jesus Christ, and their WAILING will involve TERROR.  Christ's climactic return will bring a final judgment upon this group.  WHY?  AND WHO ARE THEY?

When the seven seals are broken, when the seven trumpets blast, when the bowls of God's wrath are poured upon the earth, "the kindreds of the earth" REFUSE to REPENT of their murders, their sorceries (with ties them to BOTH drugs and the occult), their fornications (including promiscuity, adultery, a lengthy list of sexual misconducts), and they REFUSE to repent of their thefts (cheatings, extortions, defrauding laborers and the poor, etc.).  The EARTH-DWELLERS harden their hearts against God in the same way Old Pharaoh did when God sent plagues upon Egypt.  The EARTH-DWELLERS, by hardening their hearts, insure their own destruction.  Pharaoh's armies drowned in the Red Sea, the EARTH-DWELLERS will face a God Who'll annihilate them at Armageddon.  Therefore, they WAIL in agony over that which will NOW befall them.

Should we feel sorry for these people?  Of course, with the LOVE of God in our hearts, we REGRET and MOURN that these people were so stubbornly set AGAINST God (especially when we KNOW how Jesus paid THE ULTIMATE PRICE to set them free).

But as we consider the CORRUPTION these people perpetrated upon the earth, when we remember how God reached out to them time and again, beseeching that they would REPENT, and that they HARDENED THEMSELVES against God EVERY time, WELL THEN, we come to understand that these people BROUGHT God's WRATH down UPON THEMSELVES.  They REFUSED to heed ALL WARNINGS.  They MAKE their OWN CHOICE and they will pay the penalty.

[I want to make note at this point that there's a THIRD GROUP of people who live through (or more likely get martyred in) the Great Tribulation (who are NOT mentioned in Revelation 1:7).  This group is known as TRIBULATION SAINTS.  These people, NOT part of the Church, were NOT READY when Christ appeared to CATCH UP His Bride in the "Rapture."  Unlike THE EARTH-DWELLERS who REFUSE to REPENT, the TRIBULATION SAINTS will REPENT and COME TO FAITH in Jesus Christ during the FIRE of the great judgment.  The TRIBULATION SAINTS who MANAGE to LIVE THROUGH the most awful time on earth, will enter the Millennium, along with repentant Israel, at the climactic return of Jesus Christ.]

This is how scripture DEFINES the EARTH-DWELLER:  "And ALL that DWELL UPON THE EARTH (shall WORSHIP Antichrist)...WHOSE NAMES are NOT written in the book of life of the Lamb (Jesus)."  Revelation 13:8.  The EARTH-DWELLER is a CHRIST-REJECTER.  The NON-BELIEVER.  The UNSAVED.  Revelation 17:8.

The EARTH-DWELLERS are those concerned ONLY for THIS LIFE upon the earth.  They spend their time DWELLING upon mortal and earthly existences.  They do NOT consider a future in eternity, because ALL they see are THE LIVES they EXPERIENCE in the HERE AND NOW.

Revelation 1:7 calls these people "all kindreds of the earth," but in other places in Revelation they're seen as "those who dwell upon the earth"--they're the SAME group of people who FOCUS upon earthly matters.

I looked for the word "dwell" in the Strong's Concordance.  I want you to see the definition and the ROOT of a word translated in English as DWELL.  We understand HOW, in English, "dwell" MEANS to live and reside somewhere.  But in the original language "dwell" carries a DEEPER meaning.

In the Greek, "dwell" is KATOIKEO, which is to DWELL with a peculiar emphasis.  The word "katoikeo" is formed from a ROOT, "kato" which carries the FURTHER understanding of "opposition" and "intensity."

Thus those who DWELL UPON THE EARTH harbor an OPPOSITION, which is seen to be AGAINST God.  They also possess an INTENSITY--the STRENGTH of their HATRED, their HARDENED HEARTS, which are set in OPPOSITION AGAINST anything that has to do with God. 

Also, the EARTH-DWELLER lives by seeking "after"--the things of this world--they SEEK worldly prestige, knowledge, sciences, leadership, success, material possessions--ALL the things that THIS LIFE can give them.  The EARTH-DWELLER lives with a focus--"desiring and touching upon" EARTHLY REWARDS--they want to be President, leader, boss or a star.  They want to be rich; they want to be famous.  They want to own everything they can get their hands upon.  They want to have power; they want to have control.  The EARTH-DWELLER lives "against" and in "opposition" to the set standards, morals, rules, laws (anything that would restrict them from obtaining what they want)--they are APART from God and SEEK to remain that way.  ALL THESE SHADES OF MEANING ARE INCLUDED IN THE ROOT WORD "KATO."

The EARTH-DWELLERS can be said to be SELFISH.  They may be full of PRIDE.  They may be NARCISSISTS; they may be FILLED WITH DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR.  They may be CRUEL; they may be VIOLENT.  These people would think nothing of STEPPING UPON OTHERS in their EARTHLY AMBITIONS.

By understanding WHO and WHAT an EARTH-DWELLER is, we can question ourselves, DO WE WANT TO BE ONE? 

Not unless we want to face Jesus, at His return, with TERROR jolting like electricity through our nerves, and settling like a clamped vice upon our racing hearts.

At the return of Jesus, the earth-dwellers WAIL.  Having joined forces with Antichrist, they'll get the same judgment as he does.

True believers of Jesus Christ ARE NOT "kindreds of the earth."  Instead, Christians are PILGRIMS on this earth, ALIENS, FOREIGNERS.  Hebrews 11:13.  The Church is IN the world, but not OF it.  John 17:15-16.  The HOME of the Church is in HEAVEN.  We have MANSIONS being prepared there.  John 14:2-3.  The Church looks for THE CITY OF GOD, that has FOUNDATIONS, whose BUILDER and MAKER is God.  Hebrews 11:10.

Let's take the time right now to THANK God that we've seen THE TRUTH about the Jesus Christ.  We NEVER need to FEAR the heavy hand of God in judgment.  We REST in God in PERFECT PEACE, because Jesus has SET US FREE.

And while we have the time, LET'S PRAY FOR PEOPLE.  Pray for those who live in opposition to God.  Pray that God's Spirit will remove cataracts which BLIND people to God's LOVE, MERCY AND GOODNESS.  Pray that these people will come to understand that a Christian life is NOT BORING, that it's NOT JUST A SET OF RULES which restrict fun and enjoyment (by the way, Christians DO enjoy FUN in life, a PURE fun).

Let people see HOW being SET FREE from the wages of sin and death brings absolute PEACE, and a JOY of living, that they NEVER IMAGINED could exist.  That they can KNOW what it means to SOAR LIKE EAGLES.  Unless a person actually experiences a TRUE Christian life, they fail to comprehend it's many blessings.  PRAY THAT THEY COME TO KNOW WHAT THIS LIFE REALLY IS--BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE FOR THEM.

ALL GLORY BE TO HIM, FOREVER AND EVER.  AMEN.

Be blessed!  Be joyful!  Have a beautiful and positive day!  (I say this to myself as much as to you--BECAUSE a litany of PERILOUS end time ISSUES surround us every day:  more earthquakes, the Middle East on a fine hair-trigger of tension--with Russia ready to stocking nuclear fuel rod's into Iran's reactors, and a President who panders to Muslims (who just gave a speech on the U.S. deficit which has enfuriated so many people!).

In the precious name of Jesus, keep looking up.  For our redemption draws near.