When Jesus Comes Again

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:29-31  (KJB)

Matthew 24 through 25 is a sermon or discourse which Jesus delivered to His disciples concerning the last days.  The above verses are part of that lesson.  I know there are various interpretations of the whole discourse, but the following is mine.

Jerusalem was destroyed with the temple in the year 70 A.D. and it is assumed by some that that destruction fulfilled the prophecy of Matthew 24 and 25.  It seems to me to be a much bigger prophecy than that, and reaches even to our present day and time, and is to be completely fulfilled at a later date.

For the most part I believe the Olivet Discourse was delivered for the Jewish people.  The verses spoken above is speaking of the ending of what Jeremiah called “The time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), and the Lord Himself will come to earth, with His angels, and call His elect, those who have been redeemed during that most horrible time the earth has ever experienced; and receive them to Himself; from all the corners of the earth.

Jesus Himself said, “I will come again”.  Are you ready?

Just for a short sentence: The Church of Jesus Christ will we with Him when He comes again to earth.

Are We Seeing Things???

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; ‘When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.’  Verily I say unto you, ‘This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.  Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.”  Matthew 24:29-35 (KJV)

Jesus says in the above quotation, along with other things;  “…When ye shall see all these things…”  Thus I pose the question, “Are we seeing things?”  Christian our hope is not in this world.  It is in knowing Jesus Christ and being known by Him.  Trust not in politics or politicians; nor in government.

Jesus is coming soon.

-T.A.

Keep Your Eyes Open – Watch

“But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: 15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: 16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. 17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter. 19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. 20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. 21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: 22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. 23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.” Mark 13:14-23 (KJV)

KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN – WATCH

Daniel speaks of this in his prophecies (Daniel 9:27;  11:31).  Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled partly in Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century B.C. when he sacrificed a pig on the temple altar.  That was before Jesus was born, so this prophecy must be of another day.  The destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. did not involve an “Abomination of Desolation”.  Since Jesus was speaking of a future day, there must be a future one yet to come.  Daniel’s prophecy covered both events – that of Antiochus Epiphanes and the yet future “Antichrist”.

When this final one appears it will be following a time of peace – three and one half years – then this “Judas” will set himself up as God on the throne in Jerusalem and demand the worship of the Hebrews (2 Thes. 2:1-4).  At this time Jesus tells these people to “…Flee to the mountains”, and “…not go back to get his clothes…”.  He tells that it will be a time of great sorrow, unlike anything known to mankind (v. 19).  This will be a time when material possessions will not matter for protection, security, or safety.

Fleeing from the evil one to live in the hills, woods, and caves will be far better.  However, those of us who are presently “in Christ Jesus” do not need to fear this dark time – “we are not of the darkness” but of the light (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5).  We will be removed from the earth in order that God might deal with His people the Hebrews, and call them back to Himself.  Jeremiah the prophet calls this “…the time of Jacob’s trouble…” (Jeremiah 30:7).

Salvation is of our Lord.  Jesus Christ died for our sins; on the cross; was buried, and rose again.  He promised to come again and receive us unto Himself.  Call on the name of the Lord and you too will be saved from your sins and the wrath to come.

The “Elect” (v. 20) must surely refer to the nation of Israel, and/or those who have received Jesus as their Savior during this time.  There will be “False christ’s”, and “false prophets” who will be able to do mysterious deeds, and wonders and try to deceive the populace, and even, “If possible, even the elect.”  It will be a time for them that they must have their senses sharpened, and their eyes wide open.  Of course that is a good thought for all of us in our day.

Christian; Keep Your Eyes Open – Watch.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Do Not Fear; Be Watchful

“And Jesus answering them began to say, ‘Take heed lest any man deceive you: 6 For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. 8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.  9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them. 10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations. 11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. 12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. 13 And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”  Mark 13:5-13 (KJV)

DO NOT FEAR; BE WATCHFUL.

“There will come in the days of the future”, Jesus said, “times of trouble, and many will say ‘I am Christ”.  That will be a day for one to be watchful.  This appears to be a time following the destruction of the temple [which happened in A.D. 70], but the time Jesus is speaking of here seems to apply to another era of time.

Jesus warns the disciples and us of an approaching time when there will be many “anti-christs” who come for no other reason, but to lie and deceive, and to lead followers after them.  Whether it be in the time of the disciples or in our own time; be it 70 A.D. or 2010 the Word is the same, “BEWARE”, “TAKE HEED”.  These false christs are out for their own well being and not for the glory of Jesus Christ.

Jesus tells the disciples not to be afraid even though there will be earthquakes, famine, war, etc.  These are only “birthpangs” showing that the second coming of Jesus is near.  They would begin with less intensity, but as the time of the end draws near they will become more and more intense.

In looking at these things we need to be mindful that there is great reason to believe that Jesus is speaking of His second coming in the “Olivet Discourse” both here and in the gospel of Matthew.  There are some things, that,  we who are looking for the appearance of Jesus in the “clouds”, must learn from these passages of Scripture.  First of all, none of these signs Jesus speaks of has to do with the “rapture of the Church”, all the prophecy of Jesus coming for His Bride [Church] has been fulfilled.  Secondly, We too must be on guard, keeping up the watch, being alert, taking heed.  There are false teachers, false professors of Christ, and some who say they are the Christ.  Anyone who professes to be Christ is a liar.  Everyone will know when Jesus comes again, with the exception of the “Snatching away” of believers of Christ Jesus.  A third thing to learn is, we must always be sure we are ready, and that our friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors are ready to “…Meet thy God”.  We can know we are ready by drawing nearer to Jesus through everyday association with Him in prayer, His Word, and in so doing obedience to His Word.

During the time of what Jeremiah calls, “…The time of Jacob’s trouble…” (Jeremiah 30:7), there will be a persecution of the people of God unlike anything the world, or God’s people have ever known.  Those who believe in Jesus at that time will be put to death by the most horrid means imaginable, and in the last three and one half years of “Jacob’s trouble” the Hebrews will be in great distress, yet protected by God.  “But he who endures to the end shall be saved…” is not speaking of a salvation of works, but of those who already have salvation, and by the grace that saved them showing the power of their faith in God.  God gives grace which keeps us to the end.

We must be strong in our Lord.  No matter what the world may throw at us we must “…keep looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”  Even those of us who are looking for the “Rapture” must “…be ready to always give an answer for the hope that is in us” (1 Peter 3:15).  There is none of us who are immune to persecution. “Yea, and all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).  Live for Jesus Christ; He is coming soon.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Judgment of Nations

Matthew 25:31-46

The coming of the Son of man in His glory will be at that moment Zechariah the prophet describes, “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives…” (Zechariah 14:4; 16-19)

When Jesus Christ returns it will be to reign, sitting on His throne in Jerusalem. Some may desire to see this as all spiritual. However, if this is only spiritual, then, Jesus never came physically the first time, there was no physical body of death on the cross, that body was never laid in a tomb, and there was not a physical/bodily resurrection; therefore, we are yet in our sins (Read 1 Corinthians 15).

The prophets foretold the birth of a baby in a manger, not a vision, not an apparition, but a full in the body, flesh and blood baby who grew into a man. The gospel of Matthew gives many Old Testament prophetic references which foretell the birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection; and nearly as numerous as are the letters in this sentence.

To deny the bodily, physical return and rule and reign of Jesus Christ on earth is to make all His life a mockery.

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” Matthew 25:31-32 (KJV)

It is clear from verse 32 that the judgment initiated will be upon the nations which remain, as the prophet Zechariah has written,

“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.” Zechariah 14:16-17 (KJV)

The time of this event will be at the appearing of Christ in glory, and he will make all things right, before He sets up His kingdom upon the earth. The end of the Tribulation will take place at His appearing. Those who turned and fought against Him are already dead, and awaiting the Great White Throne Judgment which will take place following the Millennial reign (Revelation 20:11-15). The Great White Throne judgment is the final judgment.

It seems that there will be people groups or nations which remain will come before Him, humble themselves, and will receive mercy. At the same time will be those who will not humble themselves before Him, and will not be shown mercy.

These nations will consist of those people who have remained alive through the Tribulation on earth – including Israel – and have refused to receive the mark of the Antichrist (Revelation 13:15-18). There will be a separation of nations, “as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats”. There is more said of nations in the Revelation (Revelation 21:24-26; 22:1-2).

“And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:33-40 (KJV)

It could be in order for us to more clearly understand the sheep and goat separation, that we might want to see the difference between sheep and goats.

Sheep are an almost helpless animal. The only defense they have is to bunch into a circle head first. They always need clean, clear, and still water. They are afraid of water – of getting into the water. They do not know when their supply of grass is finished, they will eat grass clear to the ground, therefore they need their shepherd to move them to green pastures. They are in need of the shepherd. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them…” It is said that the shepherds of Israel, at least in Jesus’s day, new their sheep by name, and called them, and the sheep would come.

There is a story told, and I believe it is true; that if you run a flock of sheep through a livestock chute single file, having a board under the lead sheep, and letting him jump it, then, removing it, that the remaining sheep will continue to jump even though the board is no longer there.

Goats on the other hand are very self sufficient. They are in need of nothing. They will eat or try to eat anything they can get in their mouth. Just about any water is good for them. No common or ordinary fence will hold a goat. You get the idea. They are the complete opposite of the sheep.

In this story of Jesus and His placing the sheep on His right hand we can see why. First of all those who come to Jesus to receive His mercy and grace must come to Him broken and humbled by His Person, beauty, power, Majesty, mercy and grace.

The reward of the sheep is to “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”. How is it that they had received this inheritance? They were the called and chosen, from “the foundation of the world”.

These are shown faithful through the Tribulation. They ministered to Jesus during that time. When Jesus was hungry they fed Him. When He was thirsty they gave Him drink. When He appeared as a stranger they took Him in. When He was destitute and without clothing they gave Him clothing. When He was in prison they visited Him.

“How and when did we do this?”, they asked. “When you did it unto the least of these, My brethren, you have done it unto Me”, said Jesus. If we would notice, there is nothing said of who, what, when, where, or why concerning an individual. It is the fact that it was done. The question is not asked of the hungry, “Are you working to make ends meet?” or a response to that, “If you’re not working that’s your problem”.

The people of the nations who will be good to “His brethren” will be rewarded in that final day.

“And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” Matthew 25:33 (KJV)

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” Matthew 25:41-45 (KJV)

The sheep on His right hand have been rewarded for their humility before Him, and for their kind deeds shown to His brethren. The goats on His left hand are going to be shown something quite different.

With the goats there has been no humility before the Son of man. They only come because they had to do so. They are now under His authority, and must give an accounting of their lives, and deeds. They may not have received the mark of the Antichrist, but they were not about to be marked by any other; even Jesus. They are their own person. They are individualists.

The individualist is without excuse before holy God. Those of us who work hard to make a living in this life have, and we ought to have, a respect for others who work hard to gain in this world; however, many of those same people who work hard at physical labor, work hard also to gain favor with God. That will not cut it. That is your way, not God’s way. God’s way is Jesus Christ His Son, and His death, burial and resurrection. Any work that the Christian does is from salvation, not for salvation.

Where the “sheep” needs good grass to eat, the goat will eat almost anything. They have been known for eating, at least, chewing on tin cans. How does this fit the analogy of the sheep and goats. Christians are given the Word of God for our eating nourishment, and pleasure, and we are to grow through the reading and study of what God has said, and minister to one another. The goat on the other hand does not have to have a set menu. Grass, straw, tin cans, any ole thing will do.

Like the people today who eat to live healthy, or gain healthy life stats; so too does the Christian eat that which is for their health and well being. When I use the word “eat” concerning the Christian, of course, I am using the analogy of Prophet Ezekiel, and the Apostle John when they are told to “eat the scroll” (Ezekiel 3:1-3; Revelation 10:9). Jeremiah the prophet also said, “Thy words were found and I did eat them…” (Jeremiah 15:16). The sheep, those who love God, and keep His word, His commandments; love His word, devour it, desire to know God and His Word better.

Like the goat, those who merely have a works based faith will still devour things that are not spiritually good for them, and neglect the Word of God. They may enjoy a good camp out, fellowship, working at a fund raiser for a needy family. They may give all their time and devotion to always being busy for good causes and things; however; they do not know God.

Jesus said to them, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels…”. The truth of this matter is that they did not care for the brethren of the Lord. That would be all those who will believe in Him, and could also be reference to the Jewish people.

“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Matthew 25:46 (KJV)

These are entering “everlasting punishment” because they have refused to give glory to the Lord. Though that may not be said specifically; it is definitely implied throughout all of Scripture – “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”; (Romans 3:23) “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God…” (1 Corinthians 10:31); “…He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (2 Corinthians 10:17).

Paul has written to the Church of Ephesus saying, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV). If you will note the word “grace” and the phrase, “Not of works”, and the phrase, “Lest any man should boast”. If any one could gain heaven, God’s favor by good deeds, then the work of Jesus Christ would be meaningless, and unnecessary. Those boasting of their good deeds for salvation will be quickly cast into “everlasting punishment”. We must understand that every individual of every nation at this judgment will give an account through their nation; but no individual will go into “everlasting punishment” who has received the faith of Jesus Christ.

Let’s look at the term “everlasting punishment”. There are so many people who have the illusion that when this life is over, then, that is it. The Lord of heaven and earth, the Creator of all; and the One who inspired, breathed out the words we call the Bible, the Word of God, said, “everlasting punishment”, and that is what He means. Then, there are some who would try to tell us that God is too merciful to cast unbelievers into torment forever, that surely they only are tormented for a short time and then they are annihilated. God cannot destroy that which He created to be eternal. You and I are eternal beings. Eternal, from the foundation of the earth in the mind of God; eternal from conception in spirit and soul; without Christ bodily raised, cast into eternal torment; with Christ bodily raised and enjoying his presence and glory forever.

“Life eternal” is given to the righteous. We do not often think of this much, but all people are going to be raised bodily from their graves; the good and the evil. The good, which are those who have faith in Jesus Christ will go into His glory. The evil will be cast into eternal judgment with their eternal body. There is a verse in the Revelation which tells us this, “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” Revelation 20:12-13 (KJV). It could be said that eternal death is given to the unrighteous. Death does not mean annihilation, but separation. Eternal life given to those whose faith is in Jesus Christ will be a life of glory. We do not even fully understand what “Glory” is all about, but when we see Jesus face to face for the first time in His glory we will get a better understanding, and that will be glory.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

A Reckoning In Stewardship

Matthew 25:14-30

We live in an era of time where traveling is rather easy, spontaneous, and quick in arriving at our destinations; at least compared to the days Jesus walked as a man with us. This story should be one of familiarity with our day. It is, however, a story of our Lord and Savior, His departure into the heavenlies, leaving with us His power, presence, and glory to share with others.

“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.” Matthew 25:14 (KJV)

Jesus the King of kings descended in the incarnation of a new born babe, laid in a manger, and revealed to the lowest, common people, shepherds, and finally to the “wise men” who came from the East. Jesus grew as a child just as any child, yet He never sinned. Yes, that means that He faithfully obeyed His mother and adopted father [Joseph], and without so much as a whimper.

This child became a man who was called liar, deceiver, healer, king, physician, etc.. This man was sent by the Father in heaven to be the propitiation for the sins of mankind. He is the justifier. He is the Savior. He went to the cross bearing the sins of all the world. He not only bore our sins, but bore the wrath of God’s judgment upon sin. I am not sure many realize the tremendous pain, spiritual darkness, agony, and the rejection of God the Father. Why do I call these things to our remembrance? To get us where we are going.

When Jesus was with the disciples He told them that He would go away, and a Comforter would come (John 14:15-26; 16:5-16). Our Lord when He ascended (Acts 1) left with us His Spirit who should up in power on the day of “Pentecost” (Acts 2), and empowered the Church to do His work on earth. The goods which our Lord left us was the work of the ministry, the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the only true change effect in the world.

“And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.” Matthew 25:15 (KJV)

There was a period of time when dealing with spiritual gifts were a hot subject within many local churches. It should still be a matter of church operation, and it is a means of keeping church unity. When all members know their ministry; their task, and do it with all their heart; they will not be jumping into another area attempting to drive others to do their will. When the child of God is living by the Spirit of God, filled with the Spirit, performing their spiritual gift by the Spirit, then there will not be so many complications, combat situations, and/or beaten and defeated church members.

As Christians we have not only been given spiritual gifts, but we have also been entrusted with much material goods in this world as well. Just as we are STEWARDS of the spiritual gifts given us by God; as He has seen fit; so too, have we had distributed to our care material things to use as God would lead us. In this world, and particularly in the United States of America, all have been richly blessed. Even the poorest of the poor of all USA citizens would be counted wealthy in some parts of the world, just simply because they live here. Among Christians God has distributed wealth as he sees fit. In our verse above, Jesus says, “… to every man according to his several ability…”. Paul the apostle writes in 1 Corinthians 12:11,

“But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” 1 Corinthians 12:11 (KJV)

We can see by this that the Lord is the one who has that determining wisdom to distribute as He pleases. It is not as the servants please. In the world of humanity there are some who can handle wealth, use it wisely, invest it wisely, and grow that small portion they were given. Though it is not said in this text the willful giving of the STEWARD is wise in sharing it with the less fortunate.

Some people are going to start crying “Well God is not fair”. Who are we to determine fairness? God has been accused of being unfair since the fall of man, and nothing has changed since then. Hear the cries of the people to whom Ezekiel preached, “Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?…’Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?” Ezekiel 18:25, 29 (KJV). The Creator of the universe has the authority, and all rights to distribute gifts and material things as He so pleases.

With great expectations we look for His soon return. Looking for that soon return means we are to be, and ought to be ever faithful in the tasks He has given us.

“Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.” Matthew 25:16-18 (KJV)

Looking at the three above servants we see them go to immediate action. At least that seems implied. Their lord left, and left them in charge of these talents, or material wealth. The idea of the lord was that when he returned he would receive gain from what he had left them. He gives them no indication as to when he will return, but that he will return is understood.

One question that came to my mind in looking at this story is, “How well am I handling the goods which my Lord has left me?” I fear sometimes not too well. My salvation is secure through the blood of Jesus Christ, but my works for His kingdom and glory pale in comparison to His mighty work in me and for me.

The first servant was given “five talents” and went and did business with the same. It could have been the “Stockmarket” of the day, and he invested wisely, and this tells me that God and His Son Jesus are in favor of wise investing in material things; but I do want to emphasize “Wise Investing“. The lottery and gambling of any form is not investing. A home or house, land, business [legal and legitimate business], and others are good investments most of the time. This first servant doubled his talents.

The second servant was given “two talents”, and he also doubled his gifts. Now that is pretty wise investing. That is what God would have us do, realizing where we got it all in the first place.

The third servant who received only “one talent” probably thought, “What’s the use? It’s so little it will never amount to anything. So, I will just bury it in the ground”. If he had no personal use for it, then why did he not take it and do something with it; put it to work. You could say this is one example of someone being a double servant. This man was servant to the lord who left him with the talent, and he was also servant to the single talent. The servant let the minute amount he had determine his actions, rather than do something which would increase it.

What a blessing to use what God has given us and be blessed in seeing it used for the glory of His name. Whether it is spiritual gifts, or material things both have been left to us as the STEWARDS of God, to increase His kingdom, His glory, His power, and bring many lost souls into His kingdom.

“After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents” Matthew 25:19-28 (KJV)

The lord has been away for some time, and he returns to find some to bless, commend, and give. These servants appear before their lord with what they have done while he was away.

Everyone is a STEWARD of what they have. It has been given by God to all human beings to be STEWARDS of this planet and creation. It has also been given us, by God, to be STEWARDS of the blessings of this life. The problem arises when mankind has chosen to rebel against God, and chose to go his/her own way. Though mankind is basically in rebellion against God we are all still STEWARDS of all created things. We are not doing real well, mostly due to the sin condition in the hearts of all humanity.

Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden the devil has had a hand in disguising his plans and purposes, and making them appear to be man’s and usually for the evil of the planet, mankind, and the universe.

There is coming a day of RECKONING. A day when all will give an account of their lives, and what they have done with what they have. We are not responsible for what we do not possess, but we are responsible for what we touch, and control. We are responsible for our personal relationship with the Lord. We are responsible for our sins. We are responsible for our family’s well being. We are responsible for our neighbors well being. We are responsible as citizens of the town, State, and Nation in which we live. We are responsible, and an give an account for every word we speak – good or bad. Here in the United States we have been given much, and with much comes much responsibility, and accountability.

Notice the justness of the lord. He tells the servant whom he had given “five talents”, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord”. He was a responsible and good STEWARD with what he had been entrusted, and he was rewarded for his STEWARDSHIP. The servant who had received “two talents” was told, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord”. He too was rewarded for his faithful STEWARDSHIP. The third servant was foolish with what he had received and buried it in the ground, and gaining nothing. It could give reference to Jesus’s words, “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” Matthew 5:15-16 (KJV). This servant took what he had been given and hid it, buried it in the ground to rot, rust and/or decay. Could it be correct to say, “A gift unused is a gift abused”?

Let’s look at this third servant for a moment. What has been given him? An opportunity to expand his life’s work, and mostly that of his lord. An opportunity to do well for his family, yet he has shunned his gift. According to Jesus the words for him is, “Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents”. “Wicked and slothful servant…” those would be sad words indeed to hear from the mouth of our Lord. We must understand something, and that is that what we have been given; we have not earned; it is a gift. This life is a gift. Every breath we breathe is a gift. Every beat of our heart is a gift. What do we do with what we have? The “wicked and slothful” servant lost what he had hid in the ground, and it was given to the one who had been given the “ten talents”.

I can almost hear, “Well, that just ain’t fair.” “That’s not right.” “That’s not fair.” According to whom? You. Are you the one who determines what is fair, just or right in this world. If I were the owner of a large ranch or farm and hired people would I not have the right as the owner to pay what was fair and agreed on by all who work for me. I could pay according to what I saw in the individual. Much work and done well would warrant that I pay well. Little work, and work done without care, and done badly would warrant little pay, and maybe even firing. That may not be right for a nation which has labor laws, minimum wages, and laws which govern wages; but it is so in a land that is truly free.

Our God is just, right and good, and He will judge, and award as He sees fit. He will award those who will be faithful STEWARDS of what He has given. The first and greatest thing He has given is salvation in His Son Jesus Christ. What will you do with Jesus?

“For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 25:29-30 (KJV)

Some may like to think that there is no eternal punishment. Go ahead and think that if you must. You are not in agreement with God and His Word, therefore you are sadly mistaken. God has given an eternal soul to all mankind, and the Revelation says, speaking of those who are without faith in Christ, “There was found no place for them…” (Revelation 20:11), meaning no place in the presence of God; no place in heaven; no place in the glory of God. There is only one place and that place is the place Jesus Himself describes as the place “…where the fire is no quenched, and the worm dieth not” (Mark 9:44-48), and Jesus says in the above verse, “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” If this is not an eternal place, then, tell me why is there “weeping and gnashing of teeth”?

Could someone say, “Well this only proves that we can never really know if we are saved,” or someone else might say, “Doesn’t this prove that we could lose our salvation?” Not at all. It proves that true believers will be faithful STEWARDS of grace, salvation, and good works. It proves that we have a Savior who never breaks a promise. He will complete what He has begun. A false faith – faith built on show, pretense, or hypocrisy; faith not on Jesus Christ will not save you. a false hope – hope without the promises of God; will not save you. The faithful STEWARDS of the grace of Jesus Christ will endure to the end, and be saved by the cross of Jesus Christ.

Jesus’s description of hell, “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” is probably the most accurate description we have ever heard. Do you know that Jesus warned more about hell, than he spoke of heaven? Do you know that He went to the cross in order to save all those who will believe in Him from their sins which causes them to go there. Open rebellion against God is rejecting the only means of salvation He has offered to us; and that is the cross of Christ, His burial, and His resurrection. Do not rebel against Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Being Ready In Delay

Matthew 25:1-13

As I have studied the Olivet Discourse there have been several questions which have crossed my mind. Some of those questions I have written down, some I remember without writing them down, and some just continue to come to my mind. There is one thing I want to be sure of and that is that I interpret what Jesus said correctly, and “Rightly divide the word of truth” as Paul taught Timothy.

In studying throughout the Gospel according to Matthew, I am carrying the theme; because I see it in the writing, the genealogy, the tone, etc.; that of JESUS THE KING. There were some who wanted to force Him to be king; however it was not the time. There were some who refused to see Him as the King, and hated Him. The theme, JESUS THE KING, continues throughout this study of the Olivet Discourse.

Some of the questions I have asked myself in this study are obvious to most men who study the Word. First of all, To whom is Jesus speaking? Secondly, what is the Abomination of desolation? Third, when will this take place? Fourth, has it already taken place or is it yet a future event? Those are some of the questions I asked concerning the twenty fourth chapter.

When I came to chapter twenty five I asked some more.

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” Matthew 25:1-4 (KJV)

The first question I asked here is “Who are the ‘ten virgins’?” Secondly, “What are the lamps and what is the oil?” Thirdly, “Where is the Bride?”; “Has the groom already came and taken her to his home, and now has come for the wedding party?” My last question for here, but not exhausted, is “Could these ‘ten virgins’ represent Israel and Judah, and that 50 percent of them will believe Jesus?” Like I said they are only questions. Most of this study is going to come from my own heart, I pray fed by the Word and the Spirit of God, and not from commentaries – though that is not a bad thing – and I pray that there will nothing be written here that will lead any astray from God and His Word.

The last time I presented a study where Jesus had referred to the ‘kingdom of heaven’ was in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew. There are about seven parables which Jesus gives, and each of them (except the first) begin with, “The kingdom of heaven…” Luke mentions the “Kingdom of God”, and some ask the question; “Is there a difference between the ‘kingdom of heaven’, and ‘the kingdom of God’?” Of all the explanations I have heard on this; those who say there is a difference, and those who say there is no difference; I find confusing. It seems to me that they are dealing with the same “Kingdom”, and Luke was seeing the kingdom as being overseen by the Father, and Matthew seeing it after “All things were under His feet…”, after the cross and resurrection; and being ruled by our Lord and Savior.

In the first five verses of this chapter we have “ten virgins”. Virgins are seen as a symbol or type of purity. Here they represent what in the modern day wedding would be called bridesmaids. The largest wedding party in which I was a participant, was made of of one bride, one groom, six bridesmaids, and six groomsmen. My brother and I were two of the six groomsmen. The way I have understood the Jewish wedding is like this: The vows have been made a year or so before the consummation of the couple. Time is given for the groom to return to his home, prepare a place for he and his bride to live, and have a means of living the first year together without being apart, in order to get to know one another better, and grow in love with each other. After that year of the groom working, and preparing a home he would return for her at an unappointed time, and she was to be ready; the sound of the herald crying, “The bridegroom is coming, the bridegroom is coming” was all the warning she received. That brings me to the question, “In this picture, where is the bride?” Has she already been taken to the home? and now it is time to bring the wedding party together for the Marriage supper?

Leaving that final question unanswered, for now; I will proceed with the study. The ten virgins representing a people who should be prepared for the coming of the bridegroom; however, only half of them are ready; one half having their lamps and oil with there lamps, and half having the lamps but no oil. In this there is another question: What is this oil? Oil is necessary for the burning of the lamps, needed to provide light should the bridegroom come in the night. Some have said this is the symbol or picture or type of the Spirit of God [Holy Spirit]. If this represents the Holy Spirit does that mean the five lose the presence of the Spirit? Does it mean that the Spirit of God can be purchased since we are told later, “…but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy…”?

It seems to me that this parable likens the ten virgins to the nation of Israel, and/or maybe Israel and the nations. It could be Israel and the nations, since the number 12 seems to always represent Israel alone. In the events of chapter twenty four we looked at those signs and the times as being part of the time of Jacob’s trouble, or what is known to Christians as the Tribulation period. It seems that thought must continue here, and to be near or at the end of the Tribulation. If that is the case, then the bride is in the home of the bridegroom, and he is returning for the prepared wedding party to take them home for the wedding supper.

At any rate, there were five wise and five foolish. Five were prepared and five were unprepared. Could it be that only half of the survivors of the Tribulation will be going to the Wedding/Marriage Supper of the Lamb? What of the other half. I have written on that a little in the previous study (Matthew 24:36-44); ” Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” Here is the paragraph where I dealt with that:

“On that day it seems there will be a separation which takes place in that moment; at least in that very day. Two working side by side – one will be left to live on in the kingdom of Jesus because of their faith in Him, and the other will perish. Matthew’s gospel mentions two men in the field, and two women at the mill, and would probably cover every situation of the workers in that time to come. It leaves us to understand that no gender, or workplace, is without the separation. One believes and is left to live on in the Kingdom or our Lord, while the unbelieving perish, and await the final judgment.”

On that day no one will be able to stand before the Lord without being prepared. Prepared in His grace. If the foolish virgins would have been ready they would not have left, and they would not have needed to go seek more oil. When Jesus comes again to this earth, there will be no second chances for being prepared. What happens to the five foolish virgins, or the half who live through the Tribulation yet are not prepared for His coming? They will perish. The believing will continue to live in the Millennial reign of our Lord and Savior.

As Christians today, we must live faithfully, always be ready; for we do not know when our Lord comes. Even when it seems that He has delayed or is not coming; He will come.

“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” Matthew 25:5-6 (KJV)

In these two verses we find the five foolish, and five wise virgins sleeping. There is nothing wrong with sleeping in its place. There was one occasion where Jesus chided Peter, James, and John for sleeping when they should have been praying (Matthew 26:36-46). You would think that people who know the coming of the Bridegroom is near would be awake, alert, and waiting in anticipation for His appearing, but that does not seem to be the case here.

There are those who have changed their beliefs due to the fact that Jesus has not returned yet. I am sure most of them would not agree with me on that, but they have grown weary of the wait, and have thus fell asleep, and so they believe now, that the Lord has already returned, and that His kingdom is in charge of the present world administration, economy, and power; or something like that. Or they believe that through God’s kingdom on earth [the Church] things will get better and better, and then Jesus will return. That, it seems to me, to be asleep at the wheel.

The herald of the bridegroom has come with the shout, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh”; He is near even at the door (Matthew 24:33). Waking from their slumber and sleep they are practically stunned to find that the bridegroom is coming. If they weren’t then why were they not prepared. They never believed he was coming. Paul the apostle wrote in Romans 13,

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Romans 13:11-14 (KJV)

The cry of the herald was, “Go out to meet him”. Being unprepared the foolish cannot, therefore leave to find their preparations. While they are away searching, the bridegroom comes and goes home without them. The lesson in this for the Christian of today is don’t be unprepared for the coming of the Lord. Don’t give up on His coming. He said, “I will come again”. Be a part of those who love the appearing of the Lord, and await it with anticipation.

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:12 (KJV)

“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 (KJV)

The reason for using James 1:12 and Revelation 2:10 is for anticipation of our Lord’s return. Anyone who does not love the coming/appearing of our Lord; most likely does not know Him, is out to sleep and slumber and will be very rudely awakened one day to find themselves without preparation.

“Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.” Matthew 25:7-10 (KJV)

Jesus has said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38 (KJV). The presence and gift of the person and power of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Christian will be like rivers of living water, having an effect in the lives of other people around us. Springs send forth water to the nourishment of the recipients down stream from them. The recipients down stream cannot produce the spring water themselves. The water flows from God through the spring cave, and the only way for the recipients to be producers of this water is to become a spring producing the water, and that can only be done by God.

The foolish virgins ask the wise to share their oil. They cannot share in that sense because it would leave them short. Every believer needs their own oil, their own preparations; their own personal relationship with the Lord, and their own labor of love, or the good works which follow their faith. It will be no different on that last day when the Lord comes again.

If this is reference to the nations of the world and Israel together, as the possible wedding party, then we need to conclude that only half the survivors will enter that Marriage Supper. According to the Revelation, chapter nineteen the “bride has made herself ready”, and he continues, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9). Why, Oh why will people not hear the call? Why will people not realize that sin has been dealt a death blow by the cross of Jesus Christ? Why will we Christians not proclaim the coming of the Lord, warning the lost dying world of our coming King to judge and put away sin forever? That day will come and the door will be “shut” forever.

“Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 25:11-13 (KJV)

Could it be that on that day of the “Marriage feast” there will be those survivors show up to say, “Let us in. We too believe. We too survived the tribulation – the time of Jacob’s trouble?” The Lord says, “I know you not”. Jesus has said before, “I never knew you. Depart from Me ye workers of iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23; Luke 13:27).

It is one thing to say, “I know the Lord”. It is quite something else to know and say, “The Lord knows me” and for Him to say, “I know you. Come on in” on that great day when the Lord comes. How do we know we are known by Him. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them” (John 10:27) and He said also, “I am the good shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine” (John 10:14). So both knowing Him, and being known by Him is of the utmost importance. You cannot have the one without the other.

Since we do not know the day, or the hour in which Jesus will come again; no matter how slow the approaching may seem to us; we must be ever vigilant to live, work, play, worship and praise in the name of the Lord. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Only those who know Him and are known by Him can do all for His glory. Let’s do it whether, in our thinking He delays His coming, or not; all for His glory.

-Tim A. Blankenship
 
 

 

Discernment Of The Times

 “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Matthew 24:32-34 (KJV)

Jesus has given a previous lesson on the fig tree (Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:11-14, 20-24). Jesus being hungry saw a fig tree with leaves, and when He arrives at the tree to eat some figs finds that it is a hypocrite tree. It is a fig tree, it advertises that it has figs by its having leaves, but there are no figs on the tree. Mark says that it was not the season for figs, yet the leaves indicated that there were figs on the tree. In some places of the Old Testament Israel is likened to the fig tree (Hosea 9:10), and is almost always named in association with them in their blessings or cursings (1 Kings 4:25; Jeremiah 8:13; Joel 1:7, 12; 2:22; Micah 4:4; Habakkuk 3:17; Haggai 2:19; Zechariah 3:10).

When Jesus cursed the fig tree, because it bore no fruit, it was a representative curse upon the nation of religious Israel. They were pretending to have spiritual life, but they were dead; because they had refused to recognize their Messiah, trust Him and believe. By Jesus cursing the fig tree He declared that the old ceremonial, legalistic, religious practices of Judaism were fruitless and cursed and dead. How can I say this? Mark’s Gospel places this cursing of the fig tree between Jesus entering the temple on a late evening (Mark 11:11). Jesus then left and went to Bethany, and the text says, “And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.” (Mark 11:12-14). Then following the curse of the fig tree we find Jesus in the temple overturning money changers tables, because they had defiled the temple, and made the “house of prayer” a den of thieves (Mark 11:15-19). Matthew’s Gospel tells us that the chief priests and elders asked Him where He received the authority to say and do the things He did? He refused to answer, because they refused to answer His concerning the prophet John the Baptist.

The Bible is the Holy Spirit inspired, inerrant, infallible decree of God to mankind; of God, His righteousness, justice, peace, sovereignty, power, and love for mankind; it also tells us of our own wickedness, or our need for repentance, and faith. I say this to emphasize that each verse of Scripture is placed in an order; which God has prescribed; to make the point that He wants to make. It would, therefore, seem to me that the placement of verses 12 – 14 of Mark 11 where they are would be declaring that the religiosity, hypocrisy, and godlessness of the of the Aaronic priesthood is cursed; at the least their godless legalism, and hypocritical acts; they will forever remain fruitless.

If you notice in the above verses of Matthew 24 Jesus only refers to the leaves, and no fruit. It could be that Jesus is referring to the realization of a renewed State of Israel. If this is so then, we have seen this take place in a generation of time. May 14, 1948, and in those sixty years there have been many things take place which should cause us to sit up and take notice. The increase of those things which Jesus tells us of in verses 4-8 of chapter 24. We must remember that these signs are signs of the Second Coming of Jesus in His glory, and not for the rapture of the Church.

Even if the signs or their increase of intensity is what Jesus is referring to it is evident that the time is short. Truly Summer is near, and Jesus is at the door. The generation of which Jesus refers would probably be the generation which sees these signs fulfilled. If the fig tree in this case is Israel, then it would refer to the generation of those living during the time Israel is back as a Nation.

24:34 this generation. This cannot refer to the genreation living at that time of Christ, for ‘all these things’–the abomination of desolation (v. 15), the persecutions and judgments (vv. 17-22), the false prophets (vv. 23-26), the signs in the heavens (vv. 27-29), Christ’s final return (v. 30), and the gathering of the elect (v. 31)–did not ‘take place’ in their lifetime. It seems best to interpret Christ’s words as a reference to the generation alive at the time when those final hard labor pains begin … This would fit with the lesson of the fig tree, which stresses the short span of time in which these things will occur…” From The MACARTHUR Study Bible, p. 1440 (NKJV).

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24:35 (KJV)

Jesus saying, “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” gives us direction toward verse 35. Verse 35 assures us of the power of the Word of God. It is powerful. It is unchanging. It is inerrant. It is infallible. It is eternal. Can’t all these things be said of God Himself? Yes! His Word is His character. His Word is His voice in a dark world. His Word is His message of Himself to mankind. His Word is His Law, His History, His poetry, songs, and laments. His Word is also His message of faith, repentance, and future events.

Let’s look at what God in His Word says of what He says:

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” Psalms 19:7-11 (KJV);

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” Deuteronomy 4:2 (KJV);

“And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” Deuteronomy 8:3 (KJV);

“Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that He may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 9:5 (KJV);

“But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” Deuteronomy 30:14 (KJV);

” And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.” 1 Samuel 3:1 (KJV);

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.” 2 Samuel 22:31 (KJV);

“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” Psalms 33:6 (KJV);

“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” Isaiah 40:8 (KJV);

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11 (KJV);

“Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.” Jeremiah 1:12 (KJV);

“The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:28-29 (KJV);

” For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord GOD.  Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying,  Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.  Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 12:25-28 (KJV);

“In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:2 (KJV);

” Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.” Hosea 4:1 (KJV);

“And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.” Amos 8:12 (KJV);

“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6 (KJV).

 

We should be comforted, encouraged, and exhilarated to know that God gives so much power and authority to His Word, and has given it to us to know Him, grow to love Him, and live for His glory. It is also wonderful to know that everything which God has spoken will be fulfilled, and that there is no ending to His word and/or His promises.

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 24:36-44 (KJV)

There are some who try and date the Second Coming of our Lord. It has always been ended with embarassment, and loss of credibility. Why is it that we cannot believe what Jesus has taught us; “No man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only, knows the day and hour”. He gives us a clue as to the conditions of the times, but still without a date.

Some have looked at this verse and indicated that since Jesus didn’t know the day or hour this was surely evidence that He was not divine. Jesus was divine, but limited His knowledge as a man, to only what the Father would have Him know. It would seem to me, that now that He is seated on the Father’s right hand, and all things have been “Placed under His feet”, that Jesus would definitely know the day and hour of His coming.

Jesus gives us some signs to look for before that great and notable day of the Lord comes. There is the sign of Noah. Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD, and God called him to build a huge boat, with its inhabitants being the animals of the earth, and eight human beings – Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives. The days of Noah were evil. Everyone was going about life without much thought and little to no thought of God. They were wealthy, comfortable, and there seems to have been no war; all is well! At least on the surface. Then Noah comes along, hears the Word of the LORD, obeys, and begins building this large floating boat, and ark for deliverance. Not only is Noah preaching to the people around him, but the building of the ark itself is a message to the people. Let’s hear what the writer of Hebrews says of this;

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Hebrews 11:7 (KJV)

The culture of Noah’s day was probably very similar to our own. Jesus describes it as, “…before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage…”. To see this and read it just seems like the casual, everyday thing. People were going about their daily task, play, work, as though everything were fine. Jesus is most likely getting us to see that cultural laws had become common place. Cultural law basically being if it is alright for the culture your in then it is right. We could look at this way – if exchanging marriage partners is culturally okay, then it is okay to practice for all; if homosexuality and same sex marriage is acceptable then, it should be acceptable for all; if giving the unborn babies up on the altar of abortion is the going and approved thing, then by all means don’t over burden yourself; if prostitution is just another way of making a living, and can be unionized, then don’t criticize those who must earn their keep by slaving themselves out for pleasure oriented people; you see the phrase of the cultural elite is “You got to go along, to get along”.

As long as you don’t “rock the boat” or “make waves” you are an okay sort of person. However, if you speak out about these culturally acceptable vices, and call them “evil”; the culturally elite will turn that around on you and call you the “evil”. Remember Isaiah the prophets words, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20 (KJV). There has been a changing of words and semantics plays a large part in our understanding. It used to be that the word “Gay” meant “Happy, merry, cheerful”. Now the word “Gay” is used culturally to define a deviant lifestyle which is growing more and more acceptable by our world, and culture.

That is probably the like of Noah’s day. The cultural thing is to be accepting of all fads, frauds, and failures; with one exception, and that exception being those who will have the courage and boldness to say what is right and wrong. That day when Jesus comes back to earth to set up His kingdom will be a dramatic day. Most of those who hold power positions will be put down. Every nation who exalts itself against the God of heaven will fall. Every individual who exalts themselves against the Lord Jesus will crumble and bow in His presence. There will be no humility here from these; they will be pleading for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them.

On that day it seems there will be a separation which takes place in that moment; at least in that very day. Two working side by side – one will be left to live on in the kingdom of Jesus because of their faith in Him, and the other will perish. Matthew’s gospel mentions two men in the field, and two women at the mill, and would probably cover every situation of the workers in that time to come. It leaves us to understand that no gender, or workplace, is without the separation. One believes and is left to live on in the Kingdom or our Lord, while the unbelieving perish, and await the final judgment.

Jesus gives us these words to cause us to be “watchful” and vigilant concerning the matter of His Second Coming. Though this Sermon on Mount Olive is probably a message solely for the Jewish people it should have a profound impact on the Body of Christ – the Church. Though there are many preachers who use these words of two being together and one taken as refering to the rapture of the Church, the rapture of the Church does not seem to be mentioned in the sermon; at least in this part of it. We are uncertain of when the LORD may return, but we can know that since these signs are having to do with the Second Coming of Christ and not the Rapture, then the Rapture of the Church is closer. Therefore, we are to be ever vigilant, and diligent to do the works that will glorify our Lord.

“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 24:45-51 (KJV)

Here are words of direction, and correction, and comfort. One of the things that Scriptures tell us will happen before the Lord comes is people who doubt – “scoffers” -that Jesus is returning, “Where is the promise of His coming?” they say. There are even some who have heard the one’s who have given up on the Lord’s return and who want to spiritualize His coming, who say, “Jesus already returned and set up His kingdom”, or they say, “The second coming of Jesus is when you were born again”, and there might be a few poor souls who say, “The second coming of Jesus is when you physically die”. These, at least to me, just seem to be a different way of scoffing at the coming again of our Lord and Savior. If the Scriptures which foretold the first coming of Jesus were fulfilled literally, then how can we not believe that those same Old Testament prophecies, which also tell us of the second coming, will not also be fulfilled literally.

It is the heart that has grown cold to the words of the second coming of Christ when the life gets hard, the heart grows cold. When a professing child of God begins to give up on the promises of God they will also begin to grow cold toward others, and in their thinking believe that the way you live doesn’t really matter. If the Lord is not returning “What use is there of this life”, and if the promise of the Lord’s return were not genuine, and His return were a lie, then truly, would life be worth living? I would have to answer YES! to that question.

The faithful Christian would lose nothing in remaining faithful to the Lord, His Word and His promises. Several years ago I would not have agreed with what I just said, but the life of a Christian is worth living. However, Jesus did come the first time; He did live a sinless life, and performed many miracles, and pleased the Father in heaven. He went to the cross and voluntarily laid down His life for all men, taking the judgment for our sins, died, and was buried, and three days later was raised to life to eternally rule and reign; and give eternal life to all who will believe in Him.

Only the unbelieving could turn away from the truth of the return of our Lord, and the setting up of His kingdom on earth. The things of this world will come to an end, and His Kingdom will be forever.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Abomination Of The Temple

“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand: ) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.” Matthew 24:15-18 (KJV)

The Abomination which makes desolate was mentioned by Daniel the prophet, as Jesus says. Daniel the prophet wrote, “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” Daniel 9:27 (KJV). ALSO SEE DANIEL 11:31. The apostle Paul writes of an abomination of desolation in 2 Thessalonians 2:

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (KJV)

The temple was destroyed as Jesus said it would be in 70 A.D. Titus a Roman general ordered many trees laid up against the walls of the temple, fueled to accelerate the fire, and the excess heat cracked the white marble stone, so that it crumbled, melting the gold which was imbedded in the seams, and the Eastern front, in order for Titus and his troops to collect the gold. Is this the “Abomination of desolation” of which Jesus is speaking? There are some who think so, and some of those same people will even tell you that Jesus came back at that point and time. Yes, that’s right, there some who believe that the second coming of Jesus has already come and gone. Isn’t the wonderful peace we have on earth really amazing? Isn’t it great how the serpents are harmless to children playing over their dens? It is really amazing to see the lion and the lamb eating straw together these wonderful days. Now I am being sarcastic for a reason, and that is to make the point that Jesus has not yet returned. The destruction of the temple is not the “Abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet”.

Would not Jesus had mentioned it being the Abomination when he told his disciples, “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (v. 2)? That was fulfilled in the 70 A.D., but not the “Abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel”. Some might even want to remind us of an abomination of desolation which took place during those 400 years of silence when Antiochus Epiphanes set himself in the temple, sacrificing a pig, and declaring himself as God. If Jesus, however, is reminding them that it was spoken by Daniel the prophet; Jesus sees it as yet a future event, but going beyond that of the destruction of the temple of 70 A.D.. It is yet, for a day and time that is to come.

It is for a time of which Paul has written. One will come making peace with Israel, and that is according to Daniel; “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week:”. With the world in such an upheaval right now; in wars, poor economical outlooks, crime on the increase, the love of many growing cold, right becoming wrong, and wrong becoming right, the technology and science of man being exalted, and attempts of dethroning the God of the Universe; is the world not ripe for a world ruler to come on the scene and seemingly put an end to these things? Human ingenuity, human kindness, humanity itself is being exalted over all things. “We can save ourselves” is the words we sometimes hear.

Jesus says, “When you see the abomination…stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand: )” Jesus is not giving a command for the believer in tribulation to “stand in the holy place”. The “holy place” will be the position of the “abomination of desolation”, the Antichrist; when you see him standing in the holy place. These seeing this take place will be the Jewish people who have not yet believed, but will find it abominable for a man to be declaring himself as God. That is what makes it abomination. I may not have needed to explain that to anyone but myself, but there it is. I needed to ask myself, “Who would be standing in the holy place?” Looking at the following instruction which Jesus gives, it becomes clear that the Antichrist is the one who is standing in the holy place. Jesus’s instruction is, “Whoso readeth, let him understand”. He wants, desires greatly for His people to understand of what, and of whom He is speaking.

The command Jesus gives is for one to flee. The covenant maker, has now broken his covenant, taken away the sacrifices, and exalted himself in the place of God. For this to take place there is going to be a rebuilding of the temple. It is being spoken of by many Jewish people of Israel during these days. To my knowledge and understanding the Jerusalem temple has been destroyed at least three times; Solomon’s temple was destroyed by the raiders of the Babylonian army, then Ezra the scribe went and oversaw the rebuilding of the temple (Read the book of Ezra), then it was destroyed again, and rebuilt by Herod the great and never was completed, and this was the temple which Jesus foretold would be destroyed; which happened in 70 A.D..

“And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:19-31 (KJV)

The days of the Abomination will be sad and troubled days for the Jewish people. The one to whom they had turned for peace and safety, is now proclaiming himself as their god. Women with babies fleeing for their lives and the lives of the babes. This will be a time when all Jews will be told to bow and worship or perish. These babies will be used as means of coersion to persuade the mothers to worship the Beast. Using them, threatening death to the babe, if they do not worship. This would be a terrible plight for any mother. It will be another time of “Rachel weeping for her children”, only this time it will not be because of the birth of the Lamb of God; but the pretentious act of the Beast of hell.

Jesus says here, “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day”. A Winter flight (that means fleeing, not flying) would be hazardous, cold, and difficult. The Sabbath would catch them in their rituals, worship, sacrifices and dedications, thus shortening their response to flee time. Would it be safe to say that this day will not take place in the Winter or on the Sabbath day? I ask this because Jesus gives instruction to pray that their flight not be in either of these times. Usually the things for which Jesus instructs us to pray; we receive.

This time will be the last three and one half years of the tribulation, and Jesus calls this “great tribulation”. The first 3.5 years seems to go well for the Jewish people, and some of the people of the earth. The Gospel of the kingdom is being preached by 144,000 Jewish preachers traveling the world over, and the gospel reaches the whole world. It seems that every ear will hear of the coming, the nearness of the glorious appearing of our great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. The thing is these 144,000 witnesses and their converts will be subject to death when they are captured, and be put to death. These will be hated by the “earth dwellers” – those whose hearts and ties are bound toward the things of this world, and who hate God and His truth.

It is clear from our text that though evil will be seemingly having its way, that God is still superintending, and will only let things go so far as fulfills His will (v. 22). “Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved…” The people of the earth will be so deceived they will believe they finally are free, having their way without God and there may be a time of seeming prosperity among the “earth dwellers”, but it will also be short lived. When I refer to the “People of earth” or “earth dwellers” be reminded that these are those who love the world, themselves, and are only out to get all they can, “And can all they can get”.

Thomas Ice has written on the “Earth dwellers” in Midnight Call magazine;

“When we survey the eleven uses of ‘earth dwellers’ in Revelation, we see an interesting composite that develops. Not only are they to be tested in order to show their true metal (3:10), they are clearly identified as those who are persecuting and killing believers during the Tribulation (6:10). Many of the judgments of the Tribulation are targeted for the earth dwellers (8:13).” Thomas Ice, MIDNIGHT CALL Magazine, August, 2008, p.15, titled “The Earth Dwellers of Revelation”.

It is great to know that God is never out of control. “but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened”; God knows how much chastening the people of Israel needs, how much will be necessary to complete the work He began in them.

As they have fled Jerusalem to the place God prepares for them, and they are protected by God, there will come false prophets, and false christs to them saying, that they know christ is in the desert, or that they themselves are christs.

-Tim A. Blankenship
 

 

A People Being Prepared

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:9-14 (KJV)

The birth pangs coming on the world are small in comparison to what is going to come. There will be an unprecedented increase in storms, earthquakes, other weather related catastrophes; unlike anything the world has ever seen. This all for the purpose of God’s redemption of His people, His nation called Israel. It is my belief that we are seeing these birth pangs this very day.

The nation of Israel is being attacked daily by cowardly terrorist who believe their only sure way to eternal blessing is by the taking of the infidel – Jews, Christians and pagans – if they cannot convert them to Islam. Jesus said, “see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” 24:6. The world over is seeing these things take place, and we should see them as God’s invitation to repent of our sins and trust His Son as our personal Lord and Savior.

We must realize that these words are being spoken to the Jewish people; particularly to the disciples at this time to make them aware that He has not come to set up His earthly kingdom just yet. That the people of Israel have a time coming for cleansing and repentance. Let me give you three things for now that let me know that this is a message for the Jew: 1) When we look at the text of Matthew we see the genealogy of a King – the King of the Jews; 2) the mention of the “Abomination of desolation” in verse 15; and 3) “Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” verse 16. These are clearly references to Jewish people.

There will be a point before the judgment proceeds with the nation of Israel where the Church will be taken out of this world. For some reason some want to call it a “Secret Rapture” or some other word such as that. There will be nothing secret about millions of people missing. That is why Jesus has cautioned us, warned us many times “I am coming again”, “No one knows the day or the hour”, “In such an hour as ye think not; the Son of Man cometh”. His coming for His bride is imminent, ie. sudden, and without further notice. What is secret about that? What worldly thief announces his coming? None. If any home owner knew a thief was coming they would be ready and prepared. We know Jesus is coming again for His bride; we need to be ready for His appearing, and for His call, “Come up here”.

On that day when millions disappear then, there is going to come a time of persecution on the nation of Israel. There will be a time of peace for about 3.5 years. Then that peace will be broken by the false peace maker, and that is when they will need to flee to the mountains.

THERE IS COMING A PERIOD OF TIME, AROUND THE WORLD, WHEN THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS, WILL SUFFER PERSECUTION (vv. 9-10). It seems that this will be a period of time after which a world ruler has come on the scene, and will establish peace with Israel, and between Israel and other nations. Anyone who refuses to accept this new world ruler, and has chosen to believe the Word of God, the exclusivity of faith in Jesus Christ alone, and refuses the work and ministry of this world ruler will be the one’s who suffer.

We know according to the Revelation that there will be 144,000 Jewish men (Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-5) who will become believers in Jesus Christ, carry the message of Christ to the world, and will be hated and despised. These will probably be called and set apart very near the beginning of the rule of the world leader.

Right now in our day when we speak of persecution we think of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, parts of Africa, and other parts of the world. This day that is coming will mean that believer around the world are going to be hated, despised. There will also be many who once professed faith in Jesus Christ who will turn away from the faith, and turn on their family and friends, exposing their faith to the authorities who will have them killed. Those “departing from the faith” will really, only be showing that they never really knew Jesus; nor has He known them – in His own words, “I never knew you”. John the apostle said, “They went out from us because they were not of us” (1 John 2:19).

The Christians in the USA can yell and protest when we feel we are being treated wrongly. For years now there has been a powerful influence from Christian groups who espouse moral beliefs and convictions, and relied upon politics and political machines and machinery to accomplish their purposes. I sometimes refer to this as “the woman riding the beast” (Revelation 17:1-5), which refers to a religious influence with seeming control over a political government. Our trust must be in Christ alone. No political machine; whether it be Republican, Democrat, Independent, Constitutional is the answer to the ills of the USA government; or of the governments of the world. What that will get us is a One World Ruler, the Bible has called Antichrist. This leader hates Christ, and His followers, and he will be filled with the devil, seeking to destroy the very work of God; and seek to take the place of God. He will seek to destroy the 144,000 as well as all who convert and believe in Christ. As a matter of fact it appears that all 144,000 will be martyrs for the kingdom of Jesus Christ (Revelation 14:1-5).

Those who depart from their professed faith will turn on their mothers and fathers who have believed, and report them to authorities of the world ruler. The “Offended” ones of whom Jesus speaks are those who because of the persecution, and maybe the popularity of the world ruler, and his chrisma will turn from their “faith”, and follow the lie. They are more intrigued by antichrist and his seeming power, than they are Christ and His real power. This can take us back to the parable of the sower which Jesus teaches in Matthew 13. There are two types of soil presented which does seem to receive the seed, but then one is burned up from heat or persecution from the sun, so bears no fruit. The second soil which receives the seed is thorny, brushy, weedy, thus is choked out because it gets no light from the sun, showing a heart that is caught up in the worldliness of wealth, power, prestige, politics, popularity, and even technology. This bears no fruit for the glory of Jesus either, thus does not know Him.

DURING THE TIME THAT IS COMING, THERE WILL BE FALSE PROPHETS OF UNPRECEDENTED PROPORTIONS (v. 11). These false prophets will tell the world to believe the world ruler. Trust him. He knows the way through our wars, tribulation and trials. Just trust him. Jesus has warned us just a few verses previous to “Take heed that no one deceive you”, and that “All these are the beginning of sorrows”.

That time will be a time of great deception. Paul the apostle writing to the Church of Thessolonica writes, “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 (KJV). There will not be one word of truth spoken about, truth of, or truth spoken by this individual and/or his government, yet he will be given the power and ability to deceive multitudes of people and nations with their leaders.

There are multitudes of people of our day who will flock to an individual leader because he/she may have a very influential personality, charismatic, powerful speaker, or good looks, and yet speaks whatever people want to hear. Because of the image he presents many will be moved to him, despite the contradictory words he speaks in different cultures and societies. That can be clearly seen in the USA’s political arena right now for the elections of 2008, concerning one very popular, young, and fast moving candidate for President of the United States. He has came into the political scene with a vigilance unlike any I have ever seen. I am just saying that this candidate is a good example of what is coming.

The false prophets will point to this coming one wold leader as the epitome of goodness, righteousness, and the answer to all the world’s problems. They will endeavor to make him appear as though he were Jesus Christ Himself, or a likeness of Him. Anti-christ does not just mean “against Christ” it can mean, “In place of Christ” or “Instead of Christ”. Because God has sent a “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie”, then these will be able to easily convince the deluded.

Why would God allow or send a “strong delusion”? The answer is given – “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” The people having seen the power and heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, rejected Christ, and chose their own way, their own destiny; therefore God sends them the “strong delusion” and they cannot then believe. They will continue in their state of condemnation. By their own choice.

THOUGH LAWLESSNESS SHALL ABOUND THE FAITHFUL WILL ENDURE TO THE END (vv. 12-13). The Spirit of God has always been at work in the world, but not as He has been working since the departure of Jesus in the clouds (Acts 1:9-11). Jesus had promised that He would send the Comforter (John 14:16; 16:5-16) when He returned to the Father. We read in the Old Testament of the Holy Spirit coming on certain individuals, however, the Spirit of God doesn’t seem to abide with them, or continue with them, it is for occasional needs that arise. The Spirit came on Saul who had just been chosen as the first king of Israel (1 Samuel 10:9-12), and it is seen in Samson one of the judges of Israel (Judges 14:5-6), and there are other Biblical examples of the appearances of the Spirit of God upon His chosen people. The Spirit of God came on these individuals as the need arose, and to put away evil from Israel.

There has been evil in this world since the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the garden. The Spirit of God has kept that evil in check, though not violating the will of man. We can see the power of God throughout the Old Testament in the flood, in the call of Abraham and Sarah, the bondage of Joseph to Egypt, and eventually the bondage of Israel in Egypt as slaves. We definitely see God’s delivering power as the Pharoah is confronted to let God’s people go, and by his will he refuses, thus opening a floodgate of judgment upon Egypt; until finally after the death of his son Pharoah breaks, lets the children of Israel go, only to then change his mind, sending his army after them to kill them or bring them back; and the army of Egypt perishes in the Red Sea.

There has been lawlessness, evil, and sin since the fall, and it has always been kept to a minimum by the work of the Spirit of God. That may be hard for some to see and understand, however, when we realize that human beings are totally depraved – not meaning that we are as sinful as we could be, but that if we were left to ourselves, without God, we grow increasingly worse in wickedness – we might get better understanding of the hindering of evil by the work of the Spirit of God. It is almost horrifying to think what the world would be like without God’s intervention in human affairs. Those who want that will one day see what the world will be like without God. Atheists cry for a world without God, evidently thinking the world would be a better place, without Him. Thinking mankind is getting better, progressing in knowledge [science], technology, and medicine the non-theist mind believes that mankind can solve his own ills and problems and have peace on earth. But first, in the thinking of the non-theist, there must be no God.

During the time for which Jesus is speaking of there will be such lawlessness as has never been seen before. We think that things are bad now with men killing their wives, wives killing their husbands, mothers and fathers killing their children, children killing their parents, parents and step-parents raping, molesting and killing their children; yet, with all of this the Spirit of God reigns, rules and overrules for now. We are only seeing the introduction of what is to come, a prelude, a very small sample of the horror which will come on the world. Maybe using some exaggeration; that day will make this day look like the millennial reign of Christ in comparison.

As Christians before this day comes we must be ever vigilant in proclaiming the gospel message of Jesus Christ. We don’t want any of our loved ones; family, friends, or close relatives, or even those who may have made us their enemies to go through the event that is going to try those who “dwell on the earth” and be the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). We are to love the appearing of the Lord (2 Timothy 4:8). It seems that the appearing of the Lord is getting to be the farthest thing from many professing Christian’s hearts and minds. We want to see Jesus, and to see Him face to face.

There will be a multitude who will believe in Jesus Christ after the disappearance of the Church. It will probably be the largest number of people believing in such a short period of time, that has ever happened in the history of salvation. This time will not be peaceful for those who believe. Their live’s will be in constant jeopardy; any property they own will probably be lost – taken by the hater of Christ; and any business(es) owned by believers will be confiscated and given to the estate of the Christ hater. In order to live many will flee to remote areas, to the mountains and the hills, and will be trusting their lives to the hands of God. They will be unable to buy or sell, therefore groceries, and goods will be hard to come by (Revelation 13:16-17). However, no matter what comes their way, they will endure to the end. They will endure to the end of their lives. They will endure to the end of the tribulation. They will endure till Christ comes again.

Let me pose this thought or question for the Christians who are citizens of the USA and other free nations, of 2008: If I will not stand for Christ today when I have freedom, why should I believe I would stand and speak for Him when those freedoms are gone? If I am ashamed to speak for Him today, I will certainly be ashamed of Him when I have no freedom. In fact Jesus said, “If you are ashamed of Me I will be ashamed of you before My Father in heaven.” (Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26)

The apostle Paul writes, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (KJV).

Surely the Christian of 2008 can see that we are in perilous times for sure. We too must endure though the times be evil. Jesus is coming soon, and we need to be ready.

THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM WILL BE PROCLAIMED TO THE WHOLE WORLD (v.14). There are many who believe and teach that Jesus cannot come again until the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed and received all over the world. There are only a few places on the earth where the gospel has not been preached. During the time of suffering, the time of tribulation, the gospel message may contain the message of the coming of Christ’s rule and reign upon the earth. It would be a means of preparing the believers for that day.

The “gospel of the kingdom” does need to be spoken today (2008), but it is not heard much from the pulpits of our churches. May God have mercy toward those pastors/preachers who neglect to tell of the glorious kingdom of Christ on earth.

Pastors and preachers are saying, “I want to preach practical messages that people can use for their everyday life. I don’t see any practicality to preaching of ‘pie in the sky by and by'”. How could anything be any more practical than getting people ready for Christ’s coming? Preacher, one day they are going to look you in the eye and say, “Why didn’t you tell us? Why didn’t you tell us that Jesus was coming again? Why didn’t you tell us we needed to be ready?”, then what will your answer be? “Well, it wasn’t practical to preach”. The truth is friend, YOU DON’T BELIEVE IT. What are you doing behind that sacred desk where you are supposed to be proclaiming the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27-28).

The message of the kingdom of Christ as continued to be proclaimed since Jesus gave the commission to go into the world. Where one has failed or fallen, God raises another to continue. God has always had a remnant of people. The message will continue right up until the end of the time of trouble that is coming on the earth, and possibly right through the Millennial reign of Christ on earth.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Beginning of Sorrows

In looking at the Olivet Discourse we see that the disciples are still without understanding concerning the death, burial and resurrection; and they are still looking for Him to set up an earthly kingdom at that present time. The thought of the temple being destroyed was beyond their thinking and curious minds. The temple; to the people of Israel represented a security, and the presence of God.

As I study this portion of Scripture a question comes to my mind. What of the ark of the covenant? Historians have told us that the ark of the covenant was hidden by Jeremiah in Egypt, or other such stories. In Jerusalem, in the time of Jesus, however, there is a temple, and there is a Holy of Holies within the temple. There is a “veil” which was torn during the crucifixion of Jesus (27:51). The ark of the covenant always represented the presence, power and glory of God. During the time of Jesus was the ark of the covenant behind the veil that was torn from the top to the bottom? Does it matter?

For the temple to be destroyed would be catastrophic for the Jewish people. In the hearts of most of the leaders of Israel, the presence, power, and glory of God seemed to be of little significance; after all, they had their temple, their sacrifices, feast days, Sabbaths, and special days.

“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matthew 24:1-8 (KJV)

In verse one as we saw in the last study/message Jesus departs from the temple. Again, this is Matthew’s last mention of Jesus in the temple, and now he has Him departing from it. Even if the ark of the covenant is present behind the veil, the real glory of God has left. The ark of the covenant was only a shadow of the Lord Christ. Made of wood, representing man. Covered in gold representing the purity and deity of God; and within was the law of God – the Ten Commandments – given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai, Aaron’s rod that blossomed (Numbers 17:10), and a sample of the manna (Exodus 16:33). Many probably do not, nor will they want to see it; but this event of Jesus departing the temple is a very sad event; but one which speaks loudly of a coming judgment upon those who rejected Him.

Without God in the temple it was being left desolate (23:28), just as Jesus had said. Being left desolate the temple, then, would become subject to defilement, desecration, and destruction. Always evidence of God’s displeasure and departure.

In A.D. 70 the destruction of the temple was fulfilled. There was not one stone left upon another. These gleaming white marble stones were cut with precision, where each one fit perfectly as the building was being erected. The largest stone which was cut out measured 40 feet in length, by 12 feet wide, by 12 feet high, and weighed up to 100 tons. The East side of the temple was plated with gold, and as the morning sun rose it could be seen from many miles away. The temple had been forty years in the building and it was not completed at the time it was destroyed.

To see these massive stones, and hear the words of Jesus, it would be hard to imagine that that temple could be destroyed, and not one stone be left upon another. However when the temple fell, almost forty years later, it was just as Jesus said. Not one stone was left upon another.

A Study Bible note says,

24:2. not one stone shall be left here. These words were literally fulfilled in A.D. 70. Titus, the Roman general, built lare wooden scaffords around the walls of the temple buildings, piled them high with wood and other flammable items, and set them ablaze. The heat from the fires was so intense that the stones crumbled. The rubble was then sifted to retrieve the melted gold, and the remaining ruins were ‘thrown down’ into the Kidron Valley. See notes on 22:7; Luke 19:43.” THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, NKJV, p. 1438.

It goes to show, when God says something is going to happen; it will happen; and just as He has said.

We are all somewhat curious about the future. We have that curiosity and the only way we know the future, or at least a part of it is by God’s revelation. The disciples were curious, and so asked Jesus, “When will these things be?”, and this was after they were the one’s showing Jesus the temple (v. 2); probably because they were in awe of its beauty and size. I am somewhat amazed by the architecture of the old European variety. There is an old church building in France which was started in its construction in 1100 A.D., and was completed around 1500. It is a massive piece of art, and craftsmanship. It still stands today, but for how much longer only God really knows. It is much greater to be in awe of the One who has shaped and formed and built all things from nothing.

The disciples asked Jesus three questions. Question 1: “When shall these things be?”; Question 2: “What shall be the sign of thy coming?”; and Question 3: “…of the end of the world?” When the disciples, awed by the glory of the building, saw that Jesus was not; they asked Him, “When shall these things be?” With psychics giving people false hope for the future just to gain a few dollars, people still reading their horoscopes, and some flocking to seminars where they can learn how to build their own future by building on themselves; we need a clear word from God on the matter of what the future holds. As has been said, “I don’t know what the future holds; but I know who holds the future.” We can trust and know; when we know Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior; that anything that is in our future is in the hands of the Almighty God, our Creator.

The only reason people go to psychics, palm readers, fortune tellers, necromancers (People who claim to communicate with the dead), and witches is to keep control of their lives themselves. I am forever grateful that the power of the control of my future is not in my hands, but the hands of my heavenly Father. Now, don’t misunderstand me. That does not mean that I can sit down and do nothing. As a responsible man, and Christian man; I still must be vigilant to tend to my regular business affairs, spiritual life, and see that my family grows in the Lord as well. I must be a responsible steward of all that God has blessed me with, and God help me, and forgive me where I haven’t been. God will reveal as much of the future that I need to know, as He wants me to know. He most likely will not tell me when I will die; when my wife, or my children will die; or the death of anyone else for that matter. He can, and He has before with others, but there is nothing that tells us He must do so.

The disciples equate the destruction of the temple with the end of the world [age]. A question we might ask is “Why would God destroy the Temple?” It was the center of worship for the Jews. To the Jew, it was the place where God dwelt. The place where they could meet God, and for some they thought to contain Him only in the temple for themselves, leaving them free to live as they pleased.

Why would God destroy the temple? To save Israel. God will destroy buildings, houses, lands, livestock, even lives to save a soul. Jesus did not tell His disciples when the temple would be destroyed. The destruction spoken of here would take place some years in the near future; it was; and there will be another one built, sometime yet in our future. Instead of telling the disciples “When” these things would come to pass, Jesus mentioned to them some signs of things which would happen before the return of the Lord.

Then in verse four Jesus begins answering the questions when He says, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” With the world experiencing the many forms of catastrophe which we all have seen it is no wonder there are those proposing things which are really “Get rich quick” schemes and scams. Even worse though are the spiritual charlatans who propose the many ways to God; than any way is good as long as you believe. Some give you a promise: “When you send in your offerings to me, then, God will multiply for you, your offering a hundred fold”. None of these false prophets warn of sin, death, and judgment; and certainly none of them call for repentance, and faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. There are many in the world out to deceive and to get what they want from anyone who will follow them.

Jesus’s words are, “Take heed that no man deceive you”. In this world there is only one hope and His name is Jesus Christ Son of the Living God; who died on the cross for the sins of the world, was buried carrying our sins away, and rose again as evidence that He is the God incarnate who created all that there is.

There are even some of them who say they are christs, and there are some who will tell you they have the christ spirit or something like that, but what they teach and say is contrary to the true Christ – there is only one – and His name is Jesus, Son of the Living God. The teaching of these male and female charismatic speakers are indeed fascinating, even captivating, but lies meant to lead you away from the truth. Even Oprah has her own gospel now, and it may include Jesus but not the Bible Jesus who died, was buried, and rose again. For if she really believed in Him she would not be promoting other ways to God. The kind of message she and others are proclaiming are leading many souls away from the truth of Jesus Christ right into the arms of Lucifer. Jesus said, “Take heed that no man deceive you.”

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:” Matthew 24:6-7 (KJV)

If we take a look around the world of 2008 we find wars going on in many nations. Oun own nation the USA is at war with two nations – Iraq and Afghanistan – and working toward another with Iran, due to Iran’s arrogance, and their hatred for Israel and the United States, and their threat that nuclear power would bring to the world. The president of Iran has vowed to destroy Israel. We need not fear that happening; it won’t; because God has promised otherwise, and we have seen His Almighty hand of deliverance before.

Jesus tells us in the verse above, “See that ye be not troubled…”. There is a war going on in our own nation. It is not a war with guns, bullets, and bombs; but a war of thoughts and ideas; a war of right versus wrong – what is right and what is wrong – even getting where wrong is considered right, and right is considered as wrong. Let me give you a for instance; in the minds of some citizens of the USA same sex marriage is a good thing for those who want to practice that perversion of a sexual relationship, and if you are silent and will support it by your silence saying on occasion, “I see nothing wrong with it”, then you are good. On the other hand if you oppose this perversion of a sexual relationship, and warn people that it is against the norm, or against God and right, then you are bad. According to a number of these same sex marriage advocates to be against their marriage or union and speak against it is “Hate speech”. That is only one instance of wrong being right, and right being wrong. There are others. You could call it a “Culture war”, but I think it better called a “Spiritual war”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Jesus Leaves The Temple

“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple:” Matthew 24:1 (KJV).

Beginning chapter 24 one must go back to view a little bit of chapter 23. Chapter 23 is a discourse Jesus had with the Scribes and Pharisees, condemning their legalistic, condemning practices of the people. Jesus refers to them as “Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites” seven times, and one of the “woes” pronounced Jesus calls them “blind guides” (v.16).

These were the ones who secured the temple and loved to be called “Rabbi” or in our area it would be similar to a PHD. or a doctorate in theology. Arrogance of their education, and wanting, desiring it above even, a right attitude with the Lord.

Chapter 23 ends with a lament from Jesus over the city of Jerusalem.

 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Matthew 23:37-39 (KJV)

 There are a few things we need to see concerning Jesus leaving the temple. This phrase “Jesus went out, and departed from the temple” seems almost permanent. In Matthew’s Gospel this would be the final time Jesus visited the temple, before His cross in Jerusalem. Luke’s account of Jesus’s lament over the city does not mention all that Matthew records; they are different (Luke 19:41-44). Following Matthew’s account Jesus leaves the temple not to return again until He comes in His glory as King of kings (23:39).

Let’s consider why Jesus left the temple. He departed because He, His life, His message, and His Father had been rejected by the one’s to whom He first came. “He came unto His own; and His own received Him not” (John 1:11). Two times Jesus had came to the temple and found it to be full of profiteers, who were gouging the people out of their mammon and means; and He drove them out. Matthew’s gospel (chapter 21), Mark’s gospel (chapter 11), and the gospel of Luke (chapter19) has Jesus driving the “money changers” out of the temple in the latter part of His ministry; the apostle John records Him driving out the money changers early in His earthly ministry. The only plausible explanation is that Jesus cleansed the temple twice, and they never received the message. He very strongly, without wavering, was saying to them, “My house is to be a house of prayer for all people, but you have made it a den of thieves.”

Jesus spoke very strongly to all who came to Him. He did not withhold what He should say for fear that someone might be offended. Some were, especially those who were guilty of the charges; those were mostly the religious leaders who were given to their systems of belief, and refused to hear the message of Jesus. These so called spiritual leaders were angered by the clear, simple, and direct teaching of Jesus. He spoke with authority; as though He knew what He was saying and that He had it on direct authority from heaven. He did.

Jesus knowing that He had been rejected by His own and that the time of His crucifixion was drawing near; looked out over the city and pronounced this lament toward Jerusalem. The lamentation was from a broken heart, grieved that for many years and at many and various times they had rejected the prophets of God, even killing them. They were basically refusing the comforting, sheltering, loving of the Father. The warning preaching of the prophets were God’s call to gather under the sheltering wings of God, “but you would not”.

Very much unlike their favored, God annointed king of old, they would not flee to the wings of God, “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wing.” Psalms 17:8 (KJV). “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.” Psalms 57:1 (KJV). “I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.” Psalms 61:4 (KJV). By these few verses from the heart of David we see that they were far from having the heart of king David, and far from the heart of God.

Jesus’s departure from the temple was very similar to the capture of the ark of the covenant in 1 Samuel 4. The ark of the covenant was a symbol of the power and presence of God. There was great and grave evil in the camp of Israel, and were foolish in sending the ark out to the battle in the first place, because they were attempting to use God in their evil. When the ark was taken, and did not come back with the defeated troops of Israel, as “his heart trembled for the ark of God” (1 Samuel 4:13), Eli died when he received the news of the captured ark. His sons Hophni and Phineas also died, and then Phineas’ wife had a son, and she died in child birth, naming the son “Ichabod” meaning “the glory is departed”. When Jesus left the temple that day; the Glory of God was departed from it, and would only return to it when they would look upon the One whom they pierced.

There are other places of Scripture which mention the departure of the glory of God from the temple. Ezekiel mentions the glory of God much in the closing chapters of his prophecy. Chapters 43-48 mention much about the return of the glory of God to the temple; speaking of the Millennial Temple; when Jesus returns in all His glory to set up His reign upon the earth. However, nearer the beginning of the prophecy, Ezekiel mentions the departure of the glory, because they have departed from God, as the nation, and gone into captivity. The prophet wrote, “Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims.” Ezekiel 10:18 (KJV). Jesus Himself was the physical manisfestation of the Glory of the LORD, as the writer of Hebrews says, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” Hebrews 1:1-3 (KJV). The apostle John mentions Jesus being the glory when he wrote, “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.” John 1:14 (KJV)

The glory incarnate was rejected by His own people. They crucified the Glory, buried the Glory, thinking the Glory was finished. The work was finished. The work which the Father had given His Son to do, was finished. He died to live again. He died that all who believe in Him might be saved. Jesus rose again. Now, the Glory of God lives in His temple; which temple we are, who profess Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

-Tim A. Blankenship
 

 

JESUS IS OUR PROVIDENCE

JESUS IS OUR PROVIDENCE
Revelation 7:1-17

For some there will be a problem in this chapter. We see two distinct groups of saints. A number of one hundred and forty four thousand is given for the first group and , “…A great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues…” (v. 9) of the other group. Of the latter group it is said that they, “…stood before the throne, and before the Lamb…”. These seem to be martyrs who died for their faith during the early part of the tribulation.
One thing we can be assured of, is that, no matter what happens on earth, God always has a remnant of people who are faithful to His cause.
It almost seems that chapter seven gives us a break from the words of judgment, and shows us His grace and the destination for all who have faith in Christ Jesus. Chapters fourteen and twenty one, seem to have like purpose. There are going to be some who read this now, “There were no divisions by chapters and verses in the original writings.” That I would agree with, but does it not seem very directed that every seven chapters (and some in between) provides a “rest spot”?

And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. Revelation 7:1-3 (KJV).
“In contrast to chapter 6 which seems to give the chronological sequence of major events of the great tribulation, chapter 7 does not advance the narrative, but directs attention to two major groups of saints in the tribulation” JOHN F. WALVOORD.
Some have tried to use verse 1 as proof as the Bible’s lack of scientific accuracy, implying that “Four corners” would mean the earth is square. It is only speaking of the four points of the compass – North, East, West, and South. There you have the “Four corners” of a somewhat round earth. The winds of the earth are mysterious. Who controls the wind? Is it merely cool and hot, or is there a divine hand in it? All of creation is in God’s hand. Wind can aid the sailor at sea, and it can help a car get better gas mileage or worse, depending on the direction you are travelling. I am not sure what the significance of the angels “holding the four winds of the earth” is. Unless, it might be to give a reprieve from judgment for a few moments. A time to stop, think, contemplate, all that is happening, and is about to happen. It is for sure to give time to seal the 144,000 messengers of God, and postpone judgment until they are sealed.
These verses give us clear evidence that the control of the wind is in the hand of God. SEE Matthew 24:31. It could almost seem that satanic forces are trying to use the wind to hinder the placing of the seal of protection upon the people of God.
This break, actually a parenthesis, in the judgments give us reason to contemplate the purposes of God. The purpose of the judgments is for sin to have its way and run its course to its end while God redeems a chosen people from sins bondage. Oliver B. Greene says this of chapter 7, “Chapter 7 of Revelation is parenthetical. In this chapter we look away from the breaking of the seven seals, in order that the Spirit might enlighten us concerning the sealing of a chosen group of evangelists to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the teeming millions who never heard the Gospel of the Grace of God. After the Rapture, these 144,000 will do what the Church should have done during the Dispensation of Grace. God has never been without a witness on the earth, and He never will be” From “The Revelation” commentary by Oliver B. Greene pp. 223 & 224.
These 144,000 messengers are to be sealed with the seal, “in their foreheads”. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is sealed by the Holy Spirit “Until the day of redemption” (Ephesians1:13-14; 4:30). These messengers are untouchable until God’s work for them is finished.

And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. 5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. 6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. 7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. 8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand. Revelation 7:4-8 (KJV).
In these verses we find that God names a specific group of people and a specific number of them. This is referring specifically to the nation of Israel. Some would like to spiritualize this and come to the conclusion that these and the “Numberless multitude” mentioned later represents all redeemed people of all the ages. There is nothing said about these being the Church, however. If we keep in mind that the Scriptures deal with three distinct people groups we will not spiritualize the text. The three groups are the Hebrews, the Gentile, and the Church of Jesus Christ.
It is quite evident that both groups mentioned here are groups who will be in the “great tribulation”. This group of Hebrews who number 144,000 are identified by their tribes. It seems two tribes are omitted and two added in their place. The two tribes omitted are Dan and Ephraim. In the book of Hosea “Ephraim” is another name given for the Northern Kingdom, and Dan was located within that kingdom. Jereboam set up two golden calves; one in Bethel and the other in Dan. Ephraim never had a godly king who trusted the Lord God. This could be the reason, at least, a partial reason for their apparent absence. SEE Deuteronomy 29:18-21.
Most likely, there is no Hebrew living who knows to which tribe they belong. Some would ask, “If that is the case, how will they be brought together for this purpose?” That is a good question. The answer is rather simple. Although, the genealogical records have been lost, God knows the genealogy of every living being. He will bring it to pass.
Who are these 12,000 times 12 tribes which equal 144,000 Hebrew men? “Watchtower” people say they are. Seventh Day Adventists say they are. Mormons say they are. Herbert W. Armstrong used to say that the people of the Worldwide Church of God was. They are all wrong. None of them are, unless there is a Hebrew male among them who will not leave in the rapture, and they are appointed and called by God as such. These are people chosen from the nation of Israel whom Jesus refers as the “Elect” in Matthew 24 -25. In “The Olivet Discourse” of Matthew 24 and 25, it could be, that, Jesus is speaking of the “Time of Jacob’s trouble” we know as the “great tribulation”. The “Elect” He mentions is possibly the 144,000 and possibly others who will believe at that time.
What is this seal in these messenger’s foreheads? These 144,000 are sealed with the name of God “In their forehead” (14:1).
There would appear to be a problem with this interpretation. The Holy Spirit removed with the Church at the rapture seems to be invalid if people are going to be saved during the tribulation. Keep this in mind. People were saved before the coming of the Holy Spirit taking up residence in the Church. People will be saved in the same way after the removal of the presence Spirit in the Church. Even in the time of great sorrow God has a people, the 144,000, who will preach the gospel of the kingdom. The gospel of the kingdom is the Kingdom of Jesus’s rule and reign on earth. It is the long awaited and promised kingdom of David.
We end up with confusion when we spiritualize Scripture and try to make the Church Israel. Romans 9 – 11 deals specifically with the nation, the people called Jews, and Paul writes there that , “…all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26). Verses 4-8 are the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise.

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. Revelation 7:9-10 (KJV).
It seems that the ministry of the 144,000 is quite effective.
Matthew 24:14 says this gospel must be preached to all nations before the end comes. There seems to be a distinction between the gospel of grace and the gospel of the kingdom. The gospel of grace has to do with the death, burial, resurrection, ascension and second coming of Jesus Christ. The gospel of the kingdom has to do with Jesus coming [His second coming] to set up the earthly kingdom of David.
These mentioned in verses 9 and 10 are converts of the witnesses, and who give their lives for the faith. These are some of the same ones mentioned in 6:9-11. They are “the great multitude” too numerous to even count. They stand “before the throne” and “before the Lamb”. The “white robes” show they are clothed in righteousness, and the “palms in their hands” symbolize their victory. Notice, they worship before the throne.

And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. Revelation 7:11-12 (KJV).
If we keep in mind that chapter seven is not in chronological order we can see a complete ascription of praise around the throne. As a matter of fact this scene could be placed at the end of the book when the redeemed of all the ages are gathered around the throne worshipping God and the Lamb.
We have “all the angels” and, the “twenty four elders” – representing the believers of the Old Testament and the Church. We also see, once again the “Living ones”, and the martyrs of the faith during the tribulation. They ascribe to God perfect praise. There is a sevenfold ascription of praise as in chapter 5.

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 7:13-14 (KJV).
One of the “elders” asks John, “What are these which are arrayed in white robes?” John’s answer is one of wisdom, “Sir, you know”.
The elder then tells us clearly who these are that are mentioned in verse 9. They “came out of great tribulation”. The Church down through the centuries has endured tribulation, but not like that which is called “great tribulation”. And it will not experience it. It would serve absolutely no purpose.
Notice, that it is also very clear how these became redeemed people. “And made them white in the blood of the Lamb”. It is still by the blood of the Lamb – the Lord Jesus Christ – that folks are saved in the “great tribulation” not by “works of righteousness”.

Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Revelation 7:15-17 (KJV).
There is eternal bliss for those who die a martyr’s death for faith in Jesus Christ.
1. Serving Him continually;
2. He shall dwell among them;
3. No more hunger;
4. No more thirst;
5. No more suffering from the elements;
6. He shall feed them – “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…”;
7. He shall lead them to “Living fountains of waters”;
8. He shall wipe away all tears.
It is very clear how one is to enjoy this eternal bliss”. By placing faith in the blood atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of all mankind.
JESUS IS OUR PROVIDENCE

Edited for tags, and some spelling by t.a. 03/25/10