Christmas Day One Hundred One

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want peace to reign always in my heart; and in my home, family, friends, and in the world; I want the world to know the peace that comes only through faith in Jesus and His death, burial and resurrection, and that He is coming again and all will be made right.

But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.’ For the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.  For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.” Micah 4:1-5 (KJV)

Nation Shall Not Lift Up Sword Against Nation

“The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.” Isaiah 2:1-5 (KJV)

We are looking at the prophecy of Isaiah the prophet of Israel. At the time of Isaiah’s prophecy the nation was in a state of sinful rebellion against the Lord; and comfortable in their sin. They, the nation in general, had a pretense for worshipping God, but they enjoyed their other gods as well.

This prophecy of Isaiah is concerning a yet future event. What he speaks of has not yet happened. It will. Not one word of the LORD which He has spoken shall fail to come to pass.

What the prophet speaks of is what the LORD has spoken to him of. A day when people of all nations shall go to Jerusalem, and worship. To some extent we are able to see a precursor to this “Last days” event. There are many tourists which go to Jerusalem every year. Many Christians, Jews, and other religions find it to be a valued journey.

The day which Isaiah writes is one yet to come. It will be a day of peace. The prophet speaks of swords being beaten into plowshares; and spears into pruninghooks. In other words, “No more wars”.

How can this be? Many a world leader, and many a national leader have sought to bring peace, and utopia to the world; mostly by world conquest; yet to no avail. How will there be peace on earth? Because the Prince of Peace; the One who died for the sins of the world will come again, put an end to all evil; there will be no more murder, no fraud, no drug abuse, no AlQueda, no ISIS, no religion dominating the world by fear and dread. Evil will be put away.

Jesus will reign supremely from His throne in Jerusalem. All nations will flow into it, and they will bow before Him and worship.

To be a part of that, the best time to begin is now. Call on the name of the crucified, buried, and resurrected Jesus Christ, confess your sins to Him, and repent, and He saves you by His grace from the guilt, and condemnation of your sins.

The Mountain Will Move

Speaking previously in verse six, still through the prophet, God says, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.” We know that through much effort on our part at times, and through circumstances and events that that is so true. When we labor for God, trusting only in our own abilities and gifts, we fail. When we are reliant upon the LORD and trusting Him then there is no such thing as failure.

We look now at the seventh verse of this chapter:

“Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.” Zechariah 4:7 (KJV)

Zerubbabel is the king who is able to restore the destroyed Temple. There are mountains of obstacles. If we are a bit familiar with Israel’s situation this day we see many obstacles for the rebuilding of the Temple. There are questions as to where the Temple was located exactly; it is known to be on the same area as the Jerusalem mosque of Islam [Dome of the Rock].

This has great hope for the future day prophecy (Ezekiel 40-44). Though they had many obstacles during the building of the Temple during the days of Ezra, there is a world wide problem in these days. This just magnifies the words of verse six, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit“. Obstacles seem to make great opportunities for God to move for His own glory and our good.

The mountain like obstacles faced by the future day Zerubbabel will fall like crumbling rock, and will flatten before him. This “Zerubbabel” will be a leader of Israel in a future day who has a passion for Israel, and restoring the Hebrew worship to his people. It could be in a day very near. Not one word of the LORD will fail to come to pass. He has spoken, thus it shall be.

We see mentioned in verse seven, “…he shall bring forth the headstone” [or capstone] meaning the end of the building project. Zerubbabel finished the temple and there was great rejoicing (Ezra 6:16-18). Truly it is the “grace” of God that causes great rejoicing and celebration after so many years of absence, and trials.

Thank our LORD and God that we too can rest in the thoughts and promises of God, and that it is not by might nor by any power we may have, but it is always by the power of God’s Spirit that we can overcome, any mountain, or obstacle. If God has promised, it will be done. He has promised; it will be done.

-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

Joshua, The High Priest

In beginning this chapter there are five characters shown which we are to identify. The first is the LORD; then; the Angel of the LORD; then Satan; the angel who is speaking to the prophet; and Zechariah, the prophet. Zechariah is the one who is viewing the vision which is being written.

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. The LORD said ot Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Zechariah 3:1-2 (NKJV)

The one who shows Zechariah that the high priest is Joshua is the angel who has been communicating with him so far. Just where Joshua fits in is only to be figured out from the study of these verses.

Joshua, the High Priest has come out of captivity with the first returning group. He is named by the prophet Haggai, as being the “son of Jehozadak, the high priest” (Haggai 1:1), and by Ezra the scribe (Ezra 3:2; 5:2). This is clearly an actual High Priest who is representing the nation of Israel, being restored to their land.

The Angel of the LORD must be a Theophany, or as I have stated previously, a pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ. This seems to be quite the picture. The High Priest Joshua standing before the Theophany of Christ, and Satan – the devil – standing at the right hand of Joshua. Satan is standing there in opposition to him. The devil hates the people of Israel, and he hates any of the Church of Jesus Christ. He stands opposed to any and all who will stand with the LORD and His Word, and His Son.

Joshua, also stands before the LORD in “filthy garments” (v. 3). This is significant in that Joshua the priest represents the nation; they too are filthy with their worship of idols, and their empty attempt to maintain their worship of God. When you turn from the LORD to worship anything else it is clear hypocrisy to “maintain” the empty worship attempts. The nation had committed spiritual adultery against the LORD, despised the sacrifices, despised the Sabbaths, despised their feast days, and worst of all despised the LORD God who had delivered them out of Egyptian bondage, and kept them secure.

God, the LORD, would do a mighty work in them again. He would deliver them from their filth, and filthy garments, restore them to their lands, and remove the reproach of the devil.

One thing I want to point out is that it seems some what odd that the LORD would say, “the LORD rebuke you Satan!” Maybe it is the power of His name, or the use of His name that causes the devil to flee. The Psalmist did write, “For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” (Psalm 138:2). It only shows that His Person and His name are equal. His Word is as good as His name.

These are all reassuring words for a nation which has come out of captivity. For them to have the Word of the LORD revealed to them concerning their future surely would give them hope, increase their faith, and draw them nearer to the LORD. Things are happening with the nation just as the prophets before the captivity had said. Isaiah warned them of it happening. Jeremiah warned them it was coming, and both tell us they would return. Jeremiah revealed that they would be in captivity for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10), and Daniel the prophet put great hope in this promise (Daniel 9:2, 24).

Satan has gone to great extremes to extinguish the people of Israel. There are examples in the Old Testament. Their wicked practices caused them to turn their backs on the LORD, thus, the LORD sent their enemies to conquer them, and humble them, to call on His holy name. My, how stubborn we human beings can be. Over and over and over again the LORD seeks them out, calls them to return to Him, and many times, for a short time they have; and there has always been a remnant of those who were faithful to continue with the LORD.

Into captiviity they were taken. Many times beaten, flogged, ravaged, and always pillaged for the gold and silver of the temple and other possessions. The LORD’s rebuke of Satan is powerful, and he is unable to combat the Word of the LORD. When we have an example of the LORD Himself speaking His Word to rebuke the devil, we can certainly do no better.

“A brand plucked from the fire…” is speaking of the nation and their being in the fire of the trials of captivity. Yes! We can even look through Scripture and find that many of them that went into captivity made good for themselves. They began to fit right into the society of Babylon, and Shushan, and there were many who had become so successful there they did not want to leave. They had turned their backs on the true God, honoring other gods, and were quite comfortable living in captivity. They were the “brand plucked from the fire”.

The previous paragraph shows us strongly the peril Christians face as we conform to society rather than being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Paul the apostle wrote many years following the return of the captives to Jerusalem, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 (NKJV). Woe be to the Christians today who become so comfortable, lethargic, and complacent to what goes on around us. We are pressured every day to conform to the idea of many gods, many roads, or ways to heaven, and don’t be so narrow minded. Just conform. Just get along. Don’t rock the boat.

We have this assurance that the LORD has rebuked Satan. He can do nothing to one of God’s children without the permission of our Heavenly Father. Satan desired to sift Peter as wheat, but the Lord Jesus prayed for Peter (Luke 22:31-32). We too have an Advocate with the Father. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God. We too have been plucked from the fire. Our High Priest is Jesus. Joshua, as many of you know is the Hebrew name for Jesus. The names mean, “The Lord is salvation”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Taking a Measure

This week’s being the celebration of Israel’s 60th Anniversary, as a recognized nation among the United Nations, this is a fitting reminder of God’s hand on the nation that will one day rise up as the one, to whom all nations will go.  God’s richest blessings on Israel, and may they hear and receive their Messiah Jesus.

Taking a Measure

In the book of Daniel the false king Belshazzar saw “handwriting on the wall”. It was interpreted by Daniel as meaning, “You have been weighed in the balances and found lacking”. Belshazzar had blasphemed the LORD God by desecrating the articles of the LORD’s Jerusalem temple.

Some could look at this measuring line and possibly see a means of judgment, but when you look at the context of the message it is not of judgment, but a word of future glory for the city.

Hear the Word of the Lord through Zechariah the prophet:

“Then I raised my eyes and looked, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand. So I said, ‘Where are you going?’ And he said to me, ‘To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.’” Zechariah 2:1-2 (NKJV).

According to some this man, the surveyor, could be the Angel of the LORD, which in most scholar’s understanding means, that this “Angel of the LORD” is a manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ (pre-incarnate). The measuring is evidence of the Lord’s heart for the city of Jerusalem and the people of the city.

Just ask any builder; any responsible, accurate, careful builder will take measurements before they begin the actual building process. It would be quite foolish to measure as this gives us the picture, without an intent and purpose for building. It is sure evidence that God’s plan; and it is plan A, for He has no plan B; is to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, its temple, and recall His people – the Hebrews to this glorious place. It will see a glory even greater than that of Solomon; because a greater than Solomon is here (Matthew 12:42).

The city and the temple which God has designed for the reign of His Son will be the most glorious of cities and temples. Nothing will compare to it.

Who is the man with the measuring line? It would appear to be the pre-incarnate Christ giving hope, guidance, and assurance to the prophet and his people. We are not given the dimensions, but we can know that it will be practically immeasurable.

Surely this must be a word telling us of the restoration and rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Man and the Horses

THE MAN AND THE HORSES

“Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Sebat, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white. Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be. And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth. And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest. Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?” Zechariah 1:7-12 (KJV)

It seems that my view of these horses and the man among the myrtles is going to be a bit contrary to those who I would give the greater credit for their many more years of learning than myself. However, here is what I am seeing in Zechariah’s vision. An angel is speaking to the prophet, thus Zechariah calls him, “my lord”, as opposed to the “LORD” of verse seven and the following verses where Jehovah/YaHWeH is represented in the text. It does not seem clear to me that the Angel of the LORD is the one who has been riding on the “Red horse”.

It seems more clear that the rider on the “Red horse” is being held at bay by the man standing in the myrtles. Zechariah’s question as to ‘What are these?’, and the angel who was with him means to give him understanding. The man standing among the myrtles, does not seem to be on horseback, as do the others, and gives the answer, “These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth”. The walking ‘to and fro through the earth’ seems to me to be a clue as to their identity. This same phrase is used in the book of Job 1:7 and Job 2:2 where this is used speaking of the devil and the “sons of God”. There are similar horses mentioned in Revelation 6:1-8, and it has been said by some that the white horse rider of the Revelation is Christ, if He is seen as having already come the second time, or that He is visible only in His Church and that the Church will be victorious on the earth.

The myrtle tree is a lowly tree, and grows in the lowlands; the valleys, and hollows of the country. They could represent the lowliness of the nation of Israel. Here is the study note for “among the myrtle trees in the hollow. Myrtle trees wer associated with booth-making at the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev.23:33-44; Neh. 8:15) and with messianic blessing (cf. Is. 41:19; 55:13), and thereby possibly speak of restoration and blessing. Their location in the hollow has been thought to refer to a low place where such shrubs would flourish. Because of the lowliness (these shrubs would never exceed 8:ft. in height)commonness, fragrance (from white blossoms), and abundance in flourishing places, it is best to see these as representing Israel, God’s people. They are the lowly and yet enriched people. Their lowliness in thehollow could also refer to Israel’s current humiliation.” MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, p.1340.

In the vision the prophet would be seeing that the devil had been a disciplining tool of God during the seventy years of judgment upon Judah. The red horse would be a symbol of blood shed; much blood has been shed during the battles and dispersion of the Hebrew people. The angel of the LORD is probably the Lord Jesus as a theophany – preincarnate manifestation. He is the One standing among the “myrtle trees”, but I do not notice Him on any of the horses.

These horseman could have been walking “to and fro throughout the earth” for the purpose of destruction of the Hebrews who had all been taken captive with the exception of a small remnant which Jeremiah followed into Egypt. With the rest of the earth at rest the angel of the LORD pleads with the LORD of hosts for mercy on all Judah, and mercy on Jerusalem since there has been seventy years of judgment.

It is not the horsemen who plead mercy. It is the angel of the LORD who pleads for mercy for all Judah and the city of Jerusalem. “…We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” 1 John 2:1; and “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25 (NKJV), and while He pleads with His Father He holds the demon legions at bay. The Lord Jesus is the reason for mercy upon the whole world, and for grace for all who will call upon His name. It is because of the mercy of God that His wrath has not fallen on us all.

Jesus Christ is returning one day on a white horse, and that is according to the Revelation of Jesus Christ chapter 19:11-16; and at that point and time will deal with those who “dwell upon the earth”, ie., those whose hearts are on material things, have refused the Lord, His Word and His messengers, and believe that humanity has the answer for all that ills the earth. He will rule with a rod of iron, and there will be no wars, and the earth will have plenty after His restoration.

It is by the cross of Jesus that He entered that spiritual darkness, experiences the wrath of the Father, pays our sin debt, and defeats the devil and his demons. In which He also pleads mercy for His brethren who have endured seventy years of judgment starting in Babylon then on to Ahasuerus, and to Cyrus who gave the first authorization for the rebuilding of the temple.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Called To Return

CALLED TO REPENTANCE

 

The purpose and reason for this study is to give Biblical evidence and support for the restoration and renewing of the Nation of Israel. There are many prophecies throughout Scripture which gives this support, however, this one may be the strongest. I find it sad to hear Christians who would tell us and who are teaching the masses that “the Nation of Israel is no more” or “God is finished with the Nation of Israel”. My decree as it has been for many years, and as I search all of the Bible, and see all the promises starting with Abraham, then David, and Solomon is this; “If God falls short of fulfilling the promises to Israel, then, we as Christians have no sure promise of eternity either”.

It is certain; God falls short of nothing. His promises will be fulfilled, both to Israel and to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is promise from God even in Zechariah’s name; it means “YaHWeH Remembers”. He did not forget Israel in their exile to Babylon, nor will He forget her in the Last Days.

Zechariah and Haggai were contemporaries. They both preached to the returning exiles to Jerusalem around the time of the rebuilding of the temple around 536 B.C., and had ceased due to the haters and critics, and then, around 520 BC they began to preach to encourage them to get with the rebuilding once again. Zechariah is most likely the younger of the two prophets. They were both sent by God to be encouragers of the builders, and to have them move their hearts and lives in repentance toward God. “Haggai’s primary purpose was to rebuild the temple; his preaching has a tone of rebuke for the people’s indifference, sin, and lack of trust in God. He was used to start the revival, while Zechariah was used to keep it going strong with a more positive emphasis, calling the people to repentance and reassuring them regarding future blessings. Zechariah sought to encourage the people to build the temple in view of the promise that someday Messiah would come to inhabit it.” THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE p.1337.

“In the eighth month, of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, The LORD has been very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, Thus says the LORD of hosts; Return to me’, says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will return to you”, says the LORD of hosts. “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts; Turn now from your evil ways, and your evil deeds”. But they did not hear, nor heed Me, says the LORD. Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? Yet surely My words and My statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they returned and said, “Just as the LORD of hosts determined to do to us, according to our ways, and according to our deeds, so he has dealt with us.” Zechariah 1:1-6 (NKJV).

While the people have just returned from exile, as the prophet of God that he is, he calls immediately for repentance. This is usually the first message of the prophets of God. This is an observation which only the LORD could or even would give. No false prophet ever calls for repentance, or a return to God. Zechariah’s prophecy ministry begins around 520 BC.

God gives the message to this prophet, and the first word He gives is, “Return to Me, and I will return to you”. He had first reminded them of their “fathers” who had forsaken Him, and served idols. Even though the people of God often have forsaken the Lord, God still is merciful, and longs for His people to return to Him. That is true within the Church as well. There are Christians who are in the world and carnal [of the world], and not living or walking in the glory of the Lord of life. His call to them is, “Come out from among them and be separate”.

The evidence of God’s judgment upon those who will not hear and heed the message of God’s Word is the exile. The ‘fathers’ of the exiles had loved and enjoyed their comforts, their security, their economy had been good, or so they thought. There was an enemy lurking at their door, they turned a deaf ear to God’s prophets, and many died and many went into captivity, and many lingered behind in poverty. When things look good, peaceable, comfortable, and secure be careful it is about to change. “When they say “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3 (NKJV).

What is applicable for Israel is applicable for the Christian as well. Repent. We must return to our God. The Psalmist has written, “It is time for Thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void Thy law.” Psalm 119:126. With our economy having been good for so many years, and the cows have all gotten fat, the eagles are no longer soaring through the air hunting their food but feasting on dead chickens; could it be that the judgment of the USA is not far around the corner? We are having our society saturated with false gods, false doctrines, and false security; and some are wondering, “Where is God in all of this?” The answer to that question is, He is near, and will soon be here. When a nation has gone from being the “bread basket” of the world, feeding the world, to a food to fuel consumer, making our own food prices skyrocket, then the judgment of God is already upon us.

The LORD would be Just in the destruction of Israel. And He would be just as Just if He were to destroy us all. However, He will not due to the promises of His Word, and the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ. He has instead called for those who are His, “Return to Me; and I will return to you.”

-by Tim A. Blankenship

 

THE WRATH OF THE LAMB

THE WRATH OF THE LAMB

Revelation 6:1-17

In chapter six begins a series of judgment upon the earth. A judgment unlike anything anyone has ever seen. We have all seen some of the movies of the destruction of the earth. We are constantly being warned of the destruction of the earth, if we do not stop using gasoline vehicles, etc. People living in fear of what is called “The greenhouse effect” caused by the earth warming. People living in fear of nuclear war, and destruction of the earth. Let me just say here; We need not fear these things. What we need is a good, old fashioned fear of a Holy God. The end of sin is going to come by Him and no other hand. We can be assured of that. We can either go on in fear of these former things mentioned or rest in peace with God as our Savior, our Lord and Redeemer.

In near past there has been books written about the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. We see them here in the first four seals which are opened by the Lamb. In the opening of these seals we see the judgment of the Great Tribulation beginning upon earth. (Keep in mind, that there is no more mention of the Church – the twenty four elders, and the wife of the Lamb – until we get to chapter nineteen.) There is a “White horse and rider”, a “Red horse and rider”, a “Black horse and rider”, and a “Pale horse and rider”. The horse is a symbol of strength, and the rider is the one in control of the horse.

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. 2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. Revelation 6:1-2 (KJV).

The Lamb, the only one found worthy toopen the seals of the book (5:5), opens one of the seals. One of the “Living ones” (4:6) invites John “Come and see”. If these “Living ones” give John the invitation in the order they are listed in chapter four, there may be a connection with each of the first four seals. The first “Living one” was “like a lion”, the “King of beast”, and here we find a ruler ruling completely the opposite of godliness. This “Living one” would be grieved by this, but indicating to John its (the rider on the white horse’s) short lived deceptive rule. Could this be a possibility?

The sound of “Thunder” is warning of an approaching storm. The storm coming is one of judgment and gloom upon the face of the earth.

These first four seals are introduced by the “Four living ones”. It appears that the first four are done by man after God Almighty removes His messenger of restraint [the Holy Spirit] in order that sin might work its course. THE END OF SIN IS DEATH. The fifth seal has to do with martyred souls, during the reign of the evil one, because of their faith in God (See 12:11 and 20:4). I will try and deal with this in more detail later. The sixth seal then, is clearly of divine origin. The seventh seal is not mentioned until chapter eight, and it is opened to begin the judgment of the “Seven trumpets”.

What John sees is a rider on a white horse. There are two possible reliable interpretations of who this rider is: 1) He is Jesus Christ active in His Church taking the gospel and conquering the world – this view is held by those who see the Revelation as history; 2) He is the “Man of sin” referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, 7-10. Notice this rider is said to have a bow. There is, however, no mention of arrows. “He went forth conquering and to conquer” and it could be that he is conquering through persuasive and deceitful speech which would be suitable for the “Son of perdition”.

It would not make sense for the Lamb to be the one opening the seals and also the one riding the “White horse”, nor, would it make sense for the awful tragedies following His conquering, if it was for His kingdom. For Christ to appear here as conquering by peace, or whatever reason, and then appearing again in chapter nineteen, with His sword for war, would not make much sense either.

It appears to me that this rider is none other than the man who will deceive the world with his lies. With the deceitfulness of lies and trickery the world will follow him to their death.

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. Revelation 6:3-4 (KJV).

The second “Living one” says, “Come and see”. This seal fits with Jesus’s words in Matthew 24:6-7, “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. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places”.

This will be the real thing. The second “Living one” was “like a calf” which may represent “Service”, and war would definitely be the oposite of one who is serving. One with a servant’s heart is not usually given to war, and would be one to ease the pangs of famine, pestilence, earthquakes and such. He would certainly not be one to initiate them.

This horse is red. The color of blood, and that is for a reason. The peace, of the rider on the white horse promised and seemed to give, is very short lived. There is bloodshed, war. His work is to “Take peace from the earth”. Who is to say whether this rider of the red horse is not the same as the rider of the white horse, and the following riders as well. The rider beign the man and the horse representing a power/political agenda. It just might be a possibility. This rider on the red horse is given a “Great sword”; an instrument of killing and war.

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. Revelation 6:5-6 (KJV).

John, then sees, with the opening of the third seal, another horse and rider, and is called by the third “Living one”, “Come and see”. This third “Living one” has a face “like a man”. It is in the heart of man to cheat, deceive, and defraud other men. It is in the heart of the God-man Jesus Christ to deliver us from these things, but here it becomes a judgment of men upon the earth. We have heard of and seen things like this in the United States in recent disasters. People charging exorbitant fees for the removal of trees and debris from streets. Charging more than regular prices for generators and such because of excess needs. It just seems to me, that in these times there should be generosity, not greed. During this coming time of judgment there will be excessive greed and no generosity.

This horse is black. Black represents suffering. Famine, plague, and all kinds of suffering are caused by war.

Jesus also referrs to this in Matthew 24:7, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places”. These seals seem to fit perfectly with the apocalyptic words of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Famine does come often as a result of war. Economic hardship is there too. Notice the cost of food. The presence of the “balances” seem to indicate injustice in price. A penny was a regular days wage. This verse if written today could read, “It costs a days wages to purchase a loaf of bread”. Can you imagine paying 30 – 50 dollars for one loaf of bread?

The balances [scales] of verse five have to do with marketing – selling and purchasing for the purposes of business. These scales under the rule of an unscrupulous ruler would be unjust.

Imagine the stealing, killing and chaos going on because of this rule. Anarchy would be the proper term.

And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. Revelation 6:7-8 (KJV).

We are now to the fourth seal, the fourth horse and rider, and the invitation of the fourth “Living one” to “Come and see”. This fourth “Living one was like a flying eagle”. This “Flying eagle” would represent the Omniscience of God and ability to see, and oversee all things.

What John sees now is a pale horse, a pale gree, ghastly color symbolizing sickness and death. Sickness and death would certainly follow a famine. Notice, though, the power given unto the rider. He has power to kill one fourth of the earth. If the population of the earth is around six billion that means he would be destroying 1.5 billion people.

The sword, hunger, torturous death, and the use of wild beasts to kill are his instruments of death.

Keep in mind Christian, that God does not have wrath in mind for those who have trusted Jesus. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.” 1 Thess 5:9-10 (KJV).

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. Revelation 6:9-11 (KJV).

The Lamb opens the fifth seal to reveal “Souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held”.

There have been Christian martyrs ever since the near beginning of the Church. These are a different set of martyrs, unless of course you see this as merely historical, and that, in my opinion, does not fit with the rest of scripture. Who, then, are these martyrs mentioned in verses 9-11?

The Church is in Heaven praising and worshipping God around the throne as seen in the twenty four elders. Whereas, man has been allowed (after the translation of the Church), by the coming of the rider on the white horse, to have his way on the earth to the point of destroying the human race; these martyrs are those who opposed him and died for the faith believing God’s Word and bearing testimony to that affect.. These martyrs are people who believe God and reject the rule of the “man of sin”, or “son of perdition”.
The cry of these who were slain is for justice upon the unrighteous. These, are at this time without resurrection bodies. Yet, it is said, “White robes were given unto every one of them” (v. 10). It is not known how a spirit can support a robe, but they do seem to have some type of body. They are waiting to receive their resurrection bodies at the last part of “The first resurrection” (Revelation 20:4-6). (EXPLANATION: The first resurrection began with the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and those who came out of their graves (Matthew 27:52-53); it continues with the translation [rapture] of the believers, dead and living (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), before the time of judgment begins in Revelation six. The first resurrection ends when all those who died because of faith during the judgment will be raptured and given resurrection bodies.) These martyrs are told they must wait until all who will die for the faith have died.

And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? Revelation 6:12-17 (KJV).

The sixth and final seal of chapter six is opened by the Lamb and now begins the intervention of the divine judgment. The Lamb of God “Slain from the foundation of the world” is now wreaking judgment upon a God-hating, Christ rejecting world. As far as a time frame on this there is no certainty, but let me lay out a small outline of a proposed time. The first four horses and horsemen would represent the first three and one half years of Daniel’s seventieth week (Daniel 9:24-27). The fifth horse and horseman would be at the end of this three and one half years, partly due to the “prince” of Daniel breaking the covenant, and causing the death of all who believe in Jesus Christ. The sixth seal would then begin the latter half of the three and one half years, with the seventh seal continuing the judgment upon the earth, and the “Inhabiters of the earth” (8:13 & 12:12). The “Inhabiters of the earth” are those whose heart is on the things of earth, rather than God and His Christ.

Earthquakes are not in the power of man, nor are the other celestial bodies in the realm of human control. The earthquake is probably one so violent the whole world shakes. Every living thing feels the shaking, heaving and volcanic eruptions which take place.

The sun is darkened. There appears to be no reason to see these as symbols of something else. It is simply divine judgment upon mankind. The moon turns as red as blood. Stars fall to the earth. We have meteor showers all the time, but this will be a spectacle of catastrophic proportions, such as never seen before, nor, will be again. Not only is the earth shaken, but it seems the entire solar system is shaken. Only the divine could accomplish that. Hebrews 12:25-29 could be a reminder and warning to God’s people of what is truly important. The Almighty God is doing this in order to build an unshakable kingdom.

When faced with this divine judgment the people of earth flee from God. Notice there is no economic, social or religious group which receives special favor among the unrighteous. Each is equal before the judgment of God. Many times today, when we face divine judgment we flee to God – at least that is the heart of a child of God. Because of the hardness of heart by sin these flee from God and cry out for death rather than to face holiness. They cannot hide. Even in death they will face their Creator and His eternal judgment.
From whom are they fleeing? From the Lamb and His wrath. The gentle, meek, bloodless (because He shed His for us), Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.
For those who believe that God is only love, and would never consign anyone to eternal judgment, you have never read the Revelation or either have chosen not to believe it. The Revelation makes it quite clear that the One who died for our sins will also severely judge those who reject His gift of eternal life.

Who shall stand in the great day of His wrath? Only the redeemed of the Lord.
BEHOLD. THE WRATH OF THE LAMB.

Edited for tags by t.a. 03/26/10