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

 

Not By Might…

It would seem that the prophet Zechariah was asleep at the approaching of the angel who is speaking with him through this prophecy. The prophet has written,

“And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep” Zechariah 4:1 (KJV)

It could be that the prophet has just been awed and overwhelmed by the things he has just heard and seen in chapter three. and now there is more to the prophecy.

In the verses of chapter four we find a message which is familiar with the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It is also familiar with the five books of the Law of Moses. The candlestick was a light for the tabernacle in the wilderness, and within the Temple after it was built. It was the daily task of the priest to keep olive oil in the bowls of the candlestick so it would never go dark. In the Revelation there is a candlestick [Lampstand] for each of the seven churches. Or is there?

The prophecy continues,

“And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.” (vv. 2-3 KJV).

The original menorah of the temple was one candlestick [lampstand] with seven branches, and each had a small bowl for the oil, and a wick for the burning to provide the light. It seems that what the prophet is viewing is heavenly. Does the Word of God not tell us that the design for the tabernacle came from heaven?

Where in the tabernacle and the temple the refueling of the branches was the duties of the priests; we have a picture here of a never ending supply of oil going to the branches from the two olive trees. There is evidently two pipes to supply the seven pipes which provide the oil (v. 12). From “two olive branches” come the two pipes; from these two – one from each side – come the provision of oil for the light of the candlestick.

Jesus said, “Out of your bellies shall flow rivers of living water”, an abundance, an overflow, never ending supply. The supply is God’s and is His to fulfill.

“So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 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.” (vv. 4-6 KJV).

It was the daily duties of the priests of Israel to tend to the oil of the lampstand, the bread, and the incense of the altar. Theirs was a task without end. However, when Jesus Christ came, lived, died on the cross, was buried, and bodily rose from the dead; the task of the priesthood is done. Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory fulfilled in these acts the work that was only pictured, foreshadowed, typical of the priesthood of Israel.

By the Holy Spirit, which is given by the Lord Himself, there is a never ending supply from God of power to overcome sin, darkness, wickedness, and every vile deed. There is power to live righteously, justly, holy, and given entirely to the Lord and His work.

We have seen in chapter three the introduction of Joshua the high priest, and now we find a king. Now, isn’t that a wonderful picture. Jesus Christ the holy, just and undefiled High Priest who became our sin offering Himself; and risen to life as the King of kings; full of grace, and power, and glory.

The might, the power of men such as Joshua and Zerubbabel is not sufficient to endure the task of the salvation of men, and the salvation of Israel. Thus it has been given, “Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit, saith, the LORD of hosts.”

In Jesus Christ the risen Lord of glory there is a never ending supply of the oil of the Spirit of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

His Kingdom Coming

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 13:44-52 (KJV).

We have looked at the beginning of the kingdom of heaven in verses 3 – 23; seen the opposition of the devil within the kingdom in verses 24 – 43; and lastly we will see the finished result of the kingdom in verses 44 – 50. The final thing we will see is the responsibility that those who are in the kingdom have with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

The finished result of the kingdom of heaven will be the final putting away of all that is evil and false. The complete redemption of all who are bought and claimed by the Redeemer. All the parables of Matthew 13 give us an outline, together, of the Church Age. First of all in the parable of the “Sower” we see individual’s responses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Secondly, in the parables of the wheat and the tares, the mustard seed, and the leaven; we see Satan’s opposition to the work of God in His kingdom, and his attacks upon it. Thirdly, we see the results of Judgment upon the “Treasure” [Israel], the Pearl [the Church], and the dragnet [Gentile nations]. This parable shows us that there is evil in the kingdom of heaven; the kingdom of Christ while He is not bodily present, and it will progress until He comes again.

In the following parables we see three items; the first being “a hidden treasure”; the second is “a pearl of great price [great value]”, and finally; “a dragnet”. We have mystery, beauty, and “What?”.

For some time and some odd reason many have looked at the parable of the “treasure” and said this treasure is Jesus Christ, and when you find Him you sell all that you have, then take that and buy to obtain Jesus. That may be a great sentiment, but we do not purchase Jesus. He is not for sale. If there is any finding to be done when it comes to the salvation of lost mankind Jesus will do it. Then, just what is the meaning of this parable (v. 44)?

Remember the previous parables. In the parable of the “Wheat and the tares” the field is the world. In this world “a man” is God in the person of His Son, and the “treasure” is true Israel. Hear the words of the Old Testament here: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:” Exodus 19:5 (KJV); another one would be, “For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.” Psalms 135:4 (KJV). When God called Israel to be His people and Nation He had a plan for them, and He still does. Warren Wiersbe says, “That nation was placed in the world to bring glory to God, but it failed. It became a nation hidden, a treasure not being invested to produce dividends for God. Jesus Christ gave His all to purchase the whole world in order to save the nation (John 11:51). On the cross, Jesus died for the whole world; but in a special way, He died for Israel (Isaiah 53:8). The nation suffered judgment and seeming destruction, but in God’s sight it is ‘hidden’ and will be revealed again in glory.” From the Bible Exposition Commentary, by Warren W. Wiersbe, p. 47, VOL. 1.

God is the Creator of the world; the Son as the man purchased the world with His own blood redeeming Israel, and all who will receive Him. One day, and it may be sooner than we all think, there will be a manifestation of Jesus Christ in the hearts and souls of the people of the nation of Israel. It will take some time and trial for them to realize their need, and to realize that their Messiah has been here already, but it will come.

Pearls are made through the much tribulation of the oyster. I don’t know all the mechanics behind the making of the pearl, but what we have all heard is that it begins with a grain of sand being on the sensitive part of its body. It senses the irritation, and gives off a substance which surrounds the irritation easing its aggravation, and after several times of this it becomes a pearl; a piece of jewelry which women seem to love and desire.

In the parable of the “pearl of great price” (vv. 45-46), it has seen the similar interpretation as the above “treasure”, the “pearl” being Christ Jesus and those who give up all they have, and purchase the pearl have made a great bargain. Again, there may be great sentiment in this interpretation, but Jesus Christ and His salvation is not for sale, and salvation cost us nothing. Let’s see some Scripture on this matter:

” Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:” 1 Corinthians 10:32 (KJV).

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:11-13 (KJV).

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Ephesians 4:4-7 (KJV).

“The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Psalms 14:2-3 (KJV).

In this parable of the precious pearl the “Merchant man” is truly representing Jesus Christ. Jesus saw the Church as being a precious pearl, and gave up the splendors and glory of heaven to come and redeem fallen men to God. If you use the interpretation of the pearl representing Christ then, you have mankind searching for and finding God. That contradicts the rest of Scriptures. In Scripture we always have God seeking for men. He came in the garden seeking for Adam, and it wasn’t or even isn’t that He doesn’t know where we are; it is important that we know where we are in relation to Him. The Bible says, “that no man seeks God” (Psalm 14:2-3; Romans 3:11). It was Jesus who said, “I came to seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). The Merchant man is the one who is searching.

God seeks after men – He is in pursuit of the souls of men. Jesus left it all up that He might purchase with His own blood the “pearl of great price” the pearl is one of great value. Precious means that it is rare. There is no other like it on earth, or anywhere else for that matter. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Acts 20:28 (KJV). The price He paid was not only in leaving the immediate presence of the Father, but becoming a lowly servant; taking on Himself the stench, the ugly, the weight, of our sins, and enduring the wrath of His own Father; then giving to us His righteousness

The pearl which the Merchant man seeks is the Church. The Church comes from the realms of mankind. The sea is most usually a picture of mankind. The oyster and the pearl are products of the sea. Read 1 Corinthians 10:32; Ephesians 2:11-13 and 4:4-7 again. The growth of the Church is unseen by the world, just as the pearl within the oyster. It is a unified product – just as the pearl is layered in its production, from beginning to end; so too is the Church.

Jesus once again goes to the sea, only in a bigger way. There are a lot of people who like and even love fishing. We look now at a peculiar catch. Keep in mind that we are to understand that the “kingdom of heaven” contains both the good and the bad [evil]; the true and the false. The good and true are the ones who are genuine believers. The bad and false are the ones in it for the wrong reasons – power, politics prestige; they are the hypocrites. The net is the kingdom and the fish represent people from all nations the Jew and the Gentile (Daniel 7:1-3; Revelation 13:1; 17:15).

The time of this judgment is at the end of the age, when God is going to make all things right. Evil will be judged and eventually put away. It will be a time when many will wonder, “What is going on?”, and “Why is this happening to me [us]? The Gentile believers will be separated from the unbelievers. It is not the end of the Church Age, but the end of the age of a “Mixed Multitude”. It will end the time of the tares infiltrating the wheat.

Jesus’s question as to the disciples understanding of the parables was pertinent. They needed to understand that the new thing He was teaching was coming from the old truths of the Old covenant. The new and the old never contradict but complement one another; or complete the other. The new may give fuller, and clearer understanding to the old. Scribes were given the task of writing the laws and preserving them; they, however, became preservers of man’s interpretations of God’s Word and laws, and in many ways fell away from the practice of these laws. The follower of Jesus needed to know and needs to know that there is a time for the study of the Word, and then, God gives us the time to proclaim the Word to those who need to hear.

The reference to the householder is that when he displays or shows the treasures of his house he shows the old and the new. The same is true with those who are followers of Jesus. I think this is Jesus telling us that the Old Testament is needed to be taught and preached as well as the New. Those who neglect the Old are prone to never have a good understanding of the New. Those who would teach only the Old, without the New, will never have a clear understanding of the Old.

“And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:53-58 (KJV)

After Jesus finished teaching these parables He went home to where He had grown up. A question that comes to my mind as I look at verse 54 concerning the phrase, “He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished…” is, “Does the statement mean that He taught them these parables, or is it just that He was teaching the people in the synagogue?? With verse 53 saying what it does, “When Jesus had finished these parables…”, and the and verse 54 adding, “…so that they were astonished…” it almost sounds as though it is speaking of the parables being taught by Jesus, to the people of his home town. It is clear that He “taught them in the synagogue” and in that reference is of the people. There is no doubt about His teaching the people in their synagogue. Therefore, that is probably the better understanding of it. Everything Jesus taught, wherever He was teaching was astonishing. The people of Nazareth did not understand where this young man, who grew up in their midst, could get such wisdom and understanding.

The people of Nazareth only saw Him as being the son of Joseph and Mary. Their eyes had been closed as to His true identity. After all as He was growing up He had brothers and sisters, James, Joses, Simon, and Judas, and sisters. These people were offended that He had such a wealth of knowledge of God, Scripture, and wisdom. He hadn’t really even been educated, at least not like the Pharisees, and Sadducees, the knowledgeable elite. It seems that thier offense went something like this, “Who does this guy think He is coming in our synagogue and teaching us?”

I am sure that Jesus’s heart was broken in their rejection of Him. He so desired that all would hear His voice and know Him, but He would not force any to follow. Jesus understood the attitude, and that it was their familiarity with Him growing up in their midst. Because of their rejection and rebellion against Him He could not, nor would not do “many mighty works there because of their unbelief”. Of course, this would be refering to the miracles He performed. It seems that the first miracle He did was in Cana of Galilee (John 2).

It is a sad commentary on a city, county, or country when they will acknowledge their war heroes, veterans, and sports stars, but they do not give any recognition to those who are given to the work of God. It just shows that the people “of the earth” have their hearts in another place.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Shall Not Be Moved

The nation has been a wayward nation. It has deliberately turned its back on God, and served its own gods which are idols; a means of worshipping devils or demons. It is a sad thing for a nation, in this case the Northern kingdom to walk away from God. It is, however, joyous to see that God is gracious, forgiving and still He is just.

YaHWeH [God] has been calling the spiritually adulterating nation to repent. He has been pursuing her. God will have His way with His people. Let us never forget that. He will be glorified through His people as well.

“If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto Me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove. And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.” Jeremiah 4:1-2 (KJV).

This call is clearly to Israel, the Northern kingdom. What is it to “return unto ME [the LORD]”? It is clear from these verses what the LORD expects. “Put away thine abominations…” is one of the clearly sought after things of the LORD. According to Strong’s the word “Abominations” has to do with the filth of idolatry.

 H8251shiqqu^ts shiqqu^ts; shik-koots’, shik-koots’; From H8262; disgusting, that is, filthy; especially idolatrous or (concretely) an idol: – abominable filth (idol, -ation), detestable (thing).” From e-Sword.

You will notice that the word “disgusting” is used, and “abominable filth”. That only shows us the way God sees this adulterous relationship between His people and the gods of the nations. There must be a “Putting away” of all that is vile, unclean, detestable and idolatrous in God’s sight before there can ever be cleansing, renewal and a return to God. When will the people of God come to the place to learn that to depart from God is about the easiest thing we can do. It can happen just by dropping our attention away from the LORD, and putting it someplace else.

In calling the Northern kingdom to return God intends for a true repentance in returning; not as the Southern kingdom of Judah who gave acknowledgement by words, but not in action. Judah gave a lip service to the LORD, but in truth their hearts were far from Him. That is why earlier we see God referring to Judah as being treacherous (Jeremiah 3:11). God does not approve of hypocritical lip service or pretense. Even Jesus says, “Why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Those who have a true love for our Lord do not serve Him to gain anything from Him; however we do serve Him with love knowing who he is, and because of His wonderful gift of grace.

Jehovah’s call to Israel to return is for them to turn from their sin, and to Him. We are to worship God and Him alone. There can be no honor given to other gods, which are not gods, but demonic representations of men’s desires. “If you will return, O Israel, then return to Me” is the desire of God’s heart. This could be for their return to God’s land from which they have been carried away captive. There will be no return to the land unless they return to Him could be the meaning.

return unto me; with thy whole heart, and not feignedly and hypocritically, as Judah did, Jer_3:10. Some render the words (and the accents require they should be rendered so) “if thou wilt return to me, O Israel, saith the Lord, thou shalt return” (l); that is, to thine own land, being now in captivity; or, “thou shalt rest” (m); or “have rest”; so Kimchi interprets the last word; see Jer_30:10, and these words may very well be considered as the words of Christ, and as spoken by him, when he entered upon his ministry, who began it with calling the people of the Jews to repentance, and promising to give them rest; and all such who return to God by repentance, and come to Christ by faith, find spiritual rest for their souls now, and shall have an eternal rest hereafter, Mat_4:17,” FROM JOHN GILLS EXPOSITION OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE, e-Sword edition.

 If you will put away these abominations, “Out of My sight” then you will not be moved from the promised place. God would speak to the prophet concerning the return of the people in seventy years (25:12; 29:10-14; Daniel 9:2). This time in captivity would be a time of chastisement, cleansing, and bring glory to the LORD. During this time the Babylonians and the Persians would mistreat the captives, and in this God would be glorified by His wrath and judgment upon the nations for thier evil doing on the people of Israel; both the Northern and Southern kingdoms.

If you will now, notice what happens when the people do return. It is first to be a speedy return, ie., when they realize that they are away from God, they are not to merely speak of returning, but quickly return, and not to the land, but to God, then they will go to the land, after the seventy years have been fulfilled. When they have returned to the LORD, then they will “swear, ‘The LORD LIVES’…” This “swear[ing]” is more than an oath. It seems to be a very full and genuine heart change, realizing the greatness of the LORD our God. Strong’s gives us this concerning the word, “Swear”:

H7650 – sha^ba‛; shaw-bah’; A primitive root; properly to be complete, but used only as a denominative from H7651; to seven oneself, that is, swear (as if by repeating a declaration seven times): – adjure, charge (by an oath, with an oath), feed to the full [by mistake for H7646], take an oath, X straitly, (cause to, make to) swear. From e-Sword.

 The people of Israel will truly see the living LORD, and they will see that He is truth, and He is righteous in all His ways and truly just. When the nations of the world see what God has done for the people of God they will rejoice in Him, and “In Him they shall glory”. They will boast only of the LORD, and His greatness, they will celebrate in His glory, they will shine for His name. John the Revelator wrote,

 “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:22-27 (KJV).

 “And the nations…” is the phrase we need to see in the previous verses. The nations of the world; those who have been saved by the blood of the Lamb; will gather in that new city, and will celebrate the glory of the Lord.

The word that is needed for our day of 2008 is “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” JESUS (Matthew 4:17). The LORD is calling for the return of those who have gone astray, serving false doctrine, false gods, and false christs. He is also calling those who have never known Him to call on the name of Jesus Christ, and He will save you.

-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