The Father’s Instruction and The Prince of Life

“A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.”  Proverbs 15:5

“The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.”  Acts 3:13-15

May we always follow the instruction of wisdom that our earthly fathers have given us; and the instruction and commandments our heavenly Father has given us that we might be wise and clear minded in living life.

Since we know that Jesus was rejected by His own, and was crucified for our sins and the sins of the whole world; let us be faithful to Him, because He was buried, and He rose again and has redeemed us from our sins. May our lives be a testimony and a witness of His love, mercy and grace.

Wisdom, the Heart and the Kingdom

“Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding: but that which is in the midst of fools is made known.”  Proverbs 14:33
“When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, ‘Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And He said unto them,
‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.’ ”  Acts 1:6-8

Ask for the Lord’s wisdom and understanding that we who are redeemed might be faithful to Him and His will, His way, and His word.

Let us also pray for the zeal and diligence in telling others of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for our sins, His burial – taking our sins away, and His resurrection through which we are justified by God forever.

Let us also keep in mind and heart that He will come again for those who “Love His appearing”.

Christ, The Son Of The Blessed

“And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, ‘Answerest Thou nothing? What is it which these witness against Thee?’  But He held His peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, and said unto Him, ‘Art Thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’  And Jesus said,
‘I am: and ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.’
Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, ‘What need we any further witnesses?  Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye?’ And they all condemned Him to be guilty of death.  And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.”  Mark 14:60-65  (KJB)

He was silent through most of the mockery of a trial.  His silence was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy…

“He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7

However, when He is asked a direct question about His person, and who He is; He answers directly, knowing full well they would not hear.  Yet, He would not deny who He is.

If He would not deny His identity, His person, His God while He is being tried for crimes He is completely innocent of – He was guilty of no crime, but of being who He is.  Then, how can so many deny Him after being condemned to a cruel, slow, torturous death; having became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), to buried, then to rise again from death? How do you, O sinner, condemned soul continue to deny the Prince of Life?

I cannot keep silent about Him. I will not be silent about Him.  He is my Savior, my Lord, my King, and my God.

The Victory of the Lord’s Witnesses

“And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.”  Revelation 11:7-14

The ministry of these two witnesses will be short. A number of 1,260 days is what they will have. Really, we who are witnesses only have a short time, but most have longer than 3.5 years.

God does not allow them to be harmed until their testimony is finished. The “Beast” (not of those mentioned in 4:6-8) arises to wreak havoc and he has hated these messengers of God. According to 13:3 the “beast” receives a deadly head wound and is healed. This undoubtedly means he is a man struck in the head, is killed, and is raised supernaturally [using means of deceit] by the devil himself – “The beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit”. It is he whom, when their mission is finished, God allows to capture and kill them.

Where does this event take place? Their dead bodies are allowed to lay in the streets of this city. Here, God allows spiritualizing, because He does it, “Which spiritually is Sodom and Egypt”. What is this place? It is the city of Jerusalem, “Where…our Lord was crucified”. In verse 2 it is called the “Holy city” now in verse 8 it is called “Spiritually…Sodom and Egypt”. Sodom, a place of depravity and great immoral behavior. Egypt, a place of many gods, which are not gods at all, and the place which hated God’s people. Most of the problems for God’s people come within religion, within the visible Church. We can see that in the death of the two witnesses.

For many days the people “that dwell upon the earth” have been tormented by the prophets of God. The Word of God torments self-serving, evil, God-despising souls.

The Scripture tells us that the dead bodies of the prophets lay in the streets of Jerusalem for the whole world to see. Their depravity is shown in thinking they could be spiteful to an empty human body which lays decaying in the streets.

These are so evil in their hearts, that they rejoice and celebrate over the prophets deaths. Elijah the prophet was asked by King Ahab, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” The king accusing the prophet of the trouble. It was not the prophet who troubled Israel, but the kings vile and wicked ways. There is nothing more wicked, vile and evil than putting on the pretense of worship. Elijah answered back the king saying, “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim” (1 Kings 18:17-18). When these people see their “troublers” are dead they celebrate, glad because the “beast” has overcome them. What they do not realize is that God had protected them for 3.5 years. The unrighteous are rejoicing today when the righteous fall, or are removed through death or tragedy.

Their celebration is, however, short-lived, for when the 3.5 days have expired the people hear a voice from Heaven. Notice the words used. “Come up hither” the same words used in 4:1. There are similarities in the rapture of the Church and this, but they differ as well. The bodies of these prophets are seen by the world being resurrected and ascending into Heaven.

Probably for the first time in some time they recognize a power even greater than the “beast” and “Great fear fell upon them”.

These people “of the earth” are enemies of the prophets. They were thus the enemies of God but look at God’s mercy. It is shown in His sending the prophets to warn them. The people who are the enemies of the prophets are the enemies of God. Jesus said, “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward” (Matthew 10:41). If you have a problem getting along with the man of God, you have a problem with God. Certainly, these people “of the earth” had a problem getting along with “God’s men”.

“The same hour” judgment fell upon God’s enemies. At the opening of the sixth seal, there is an earthquake (6:14). At the ending of the sixth trumpet, which is the “second woe” there is another earthquake. This quake destroys one-tenth part of Jerusalem, seven thousand men are slain, and the remainder of those alive are fearful. One almost surprising thing is that those who remain give “glory to the God of Heaven”. Does this mean that they believe God and trust His way of salvation? Some think so. It does not mean that it was glory God received. It probably means, that they saw His power, but not believing Him.

It is sad, even today when the glory of God is seen through His mercy, grace, His people, and in creation, and people still reject Him and His Son Jesus. So sad it is too, to see such power displayed and yet they proceed after their own ways, hardening their hearts to God and His Spirit (Hebrews 3:7-11).  Maybe because they cannot see.

Remember the “woes” are mentioned in 8:13 and begin with the fifth trumpet in 9:1. The first “woe” is past in chapter 9:12 and the second begins. The pronouncement given in 8:13 is warning of the seriousness of these next three trumpet judgments. When this “second woe is past” it is like God is saying, “This was it. Your chance of repentance, of salvation, is past. There will be no more delay. No more prophets” (Amos 3:7). “The third woe cometh quickly” is certain to relay that message.

One great victory for God’s witnesses in any period of time is seeing the word of God, which was spoken, fulfilled.

Two Witnesses of God in the Chaos

“And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.”  Revelation 11:1-6 (KJV)

God who is rich in mercy provides man with every opportunity to repent and believe on Christ by sending His empowered witnesses to tell of His atoning love, and warn of His coming wrath to deal with sin unrepented of. In the day in which we now live we are witnesses to a people ever increasing in darkness, and away from God and His light.

This beginning in the chapter continues the interlude between the end of the sixth trumpet and the sounding of the seventh.

Previously in chapter 10, John is told, “Thou must prophesy…”. In verse one of our present chapter that seems to be exactly what John does. There is no reason to spiritualize the text here. To do so would only add confusion, and confusion breeds doubt.

“Measure the temple of God” does imply God’s ownership.

The “Reed” was used as a measuring rod. It measured about ten feet in length. This as we note is God’s standard of measure. Since the earthly temple was designed in Heaven it still must meet God’s expectations. All things must be measured by God’s standard, lest we get a false measurement. The temple, the altar, and the worshipper are measured as God’s evaluation of what is His.

As previously mentioned in chapter ten the “Little book” is possibly the Bible, the Word of God. The Scriptures when taught by God’s Spirit measure earthly things and people. The ten-foot rod when stood against any man shows by man’s stature how short he falls from God’s standard (Romans 3:23). We cannot attain God’s standard by fleshly works.

God practically ignores what is called “The court of the Gentiles”. The simple reason being that this “Court which is without [outside] the temple…” was not in the heavenly plan. What was the court of the Gentiles, had become a place for all kinds of idol worship.

This temple is not Solomon’s temple or Herod’s temple. It is the temple of the “Seventieth week” of which Daniel writes, or what is called the seven years of tribulation (Daniel 9:24-27).

These measurements are certain to affirm that we fall “short of the glory of God” – we fail to meet His required standard for holiness. The only way to meet that standard is by trusting Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. Then, His holiness and righteousness are put to our account, because our filth of sin was put to His account upon the cross.

There is some disagreement to the time of these “Two witnesses” ministry. Some relate it to the first 1260 days (42 months, or 3 1/2 years), and others to the latter.

It would appear – at least to me – that the two prophets ministry is in the latter. I draw that conclusion by looking at the close of verse 2. Because the “Antichrist” leader allows the Hebrews to worship and then breaks his covenant with them in the midst of the week (Daniel 9:27); this happening the prophets would have been free to speak during the first half.

The message these men are given is preached near the end of the “second woe” (v. 14). While the vile and rebellious men of earth are enjoying their sin and having their way, God chooses not to destroy them without opportunity for repentance. God owes; lost, unredeemed, unrepentant humankind, nothing, except to fulfill His every word. These two witnesses are tormentors to evil hearts. It is still that way in the present. People do not want to be confronted with their evil ways.

The length of their ministry is 1260 days. Their days being listed last seems to imply the latter half of the “Seventieth week”. The seventh trumpet would bring in the “Day of the LORD”.

The power of God is the unction of their preaching. They are “Clothed in sackcloth”. This implies that their message is one of repentance and salvation. God’s mercy is astounding.

John the apostle is given the message that these are the “Two olive trees” and the “Two candlesticks”. The olive tree was the source of oil for the lamps – a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and candlesticks were instruments of light. Certainly, the two witnesses are Spirit-empowered and giving light in the darkness. This takes us back to Zechariah 4:2-3, 6, and 14.

Since they are standing before “The God of the earth…” they stand fearlessly. Verse five even tells us that if anyone could harm them, or even try, they have power to devour their enemies.

The powers they are given are from God. Elijah was one who prayed and shut up the heavens – it did not rain for three and one-half years. Moses is the one who turned the Egyptian waters to blood with the rod of God in his hand, and Egypt was smitten with plagues by his hand. Some have said these are Moses and Elijah. It would do us much good to remember that it was Moses and Elijah who appeared with Jesus on the Mount we call “Transfiguration” (Matthew 17:1-8).  Others have said Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24), and Elijah because these two never died, but were translated and would be in keeping with Hebrews 9:27. Jesus likened John the Baptist to Elijah (Matthew 17:11-13), but John Baptist said he was not Elijah (John 1:21). What did Jesus mean and what did John the Baptist mean? The same Spirit and fire of Elijah was on John, but he was not a physical “reincarnation” of Elijah. The same is true of these latter-day “Witnesses”. Our concern should not be on who they are, but upon the message, they preach. I see Hebrews 9:27 only stating the fact that death is a certain thing, except in rare circumstances. With the exception of a “Snatching away,” we will all certainly die.

God’s Word Today 081412

Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the LORD, saying, ‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee: Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is His name, great in counsel, and mighty in work: for Thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings: which hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, even unto this day, and in Israel, and among other men; and hast made Thee a name, as at this day; and hast brought forth Thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with great terror; and hast given them this land, which Thou didst swear to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey; and they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not Thy voice, neither walked in Thy law; they have done nothing of all that Thou commandedst them to do: therefore Thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them.  Behold the mounts, they are come unto the city to take it; and the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans, that fight against it, because of the sword, and of the famine, and of the pestilence: and what Thou hast spoken is come to pass; and, behold, Thou seest it.  And Thou hast said unto me, O Lord GOD, ‘Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses; for the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.”  Jeremiah 32:16-25 (KJV)

-T.A.

Resurrection – Unbelief and Hardness of Heart; Mark 16:9-14

“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils. 10 And she went and told them that had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And they, when they had heard that He was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. 12 After that He appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
14 Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen.”  Mark 16:9-14 (KJV)

By the testimony of verse 9 the resurrected Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene.  Who is this Mary?  She is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke,

“And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils” (Luke 8:2).

This Mary had been terribly bound, and was probably involved in great evil.  The Lord Jesus had freed her and cast the demons from her.  By His great glory He appeared to her first and gave her  the privilege of telling the sceptical disciples of the resurrection.  When she came to the disciples and told them they did not believe her report.

According to verse 10 the disciples were in mourning and were weeping.  They were quite sorrowful over the death of Jesus.  Why, O why, would they not believe Mary?  Would not her countenance be aglow with joy?  Would not her words have been filled with excitement?  Saying,  “Our Lord’s grave is empty, He is alive.  I have seen Him.  He has spoken to me.”  I think I would have at least been curious.  This would have, of course, been after Mary has been to the tomb, found it empty, went to Peter and John, they run to see it empty, and then return, as John writes,

” Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.”  (John 20:10).

They were not even curious enough to begin a search, they “…went away again to themselves”.

After appearing to Mary Magdalene Jesus appears to two who are walking together.  Luke tells us is was to Emmaeus.  Luke gives us more details of this appearance by Jesus.  These two did not recognize Him.  He shared with them the words of the Prophets concerning Himself, and only when He had broken bread at their table did they recognize Him.   When He first appeared to Mary, she did not recognize Him.  She thought Him to be the gardner.  Maybe due to the sadness, mourning, and tears His identity was covered to them, and maybe due to spiritual influence from Him.  They had been blind to the words Jesus had spoken concerning His rising from the dead, and now they were blind to its reality.  Only by the power of God did they know Him.  Only by the “Drawing” of the Father, and His will can anyone know Him.  These two told the disciples that Jesus was risen, and still they do not believe.  By this time Peter and John had probably already seen Jesus alive due to the words of Luke in chapter 24 verse 34,

“Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.”

When they came to those who had not yet seen Jesus alive the remainder would not believe.  We sometimes jump all over Thomas because he would not believe unless he witnessed the resurrected Jesus personally, but all of the disciples had the same attitude.  Blessed are those who have believed though they have not seen.

Why did Jesus rebuke them for their unbelief?  He had spoken to them many times of His death and resurrection, but they had not heard.  They had had a wrong attitude toward Him.  He was their source of deliverance from captivity of Rome.  He was their hope for amounting to something in “His kingdom”.  Judas was not the only one following Him for the wrong reason(s).  They found it hard to believe that their “Messiah” would even die.  If He was not going to die there was no need for a resurrection.  So in their mind all the problems of the Hebrews were over; then He died.

Jesus rebuked them, because they had not believed His Word.  “Destroy this temple, and in three day I will raise it again”.  You can imagine that now that He has appeared to all of the disciples, they now believe.  Would I have been any different?  Knowing what I know of myself, and having grown up in Missouri [the Show-Me State], I doubt it.  Knowing what I now know, by the testimony of so many witnesses and the testimony of God’s Word, Yes I believe He is risen.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Numbers – 022011

Reading today from Numbers 34 – 36.

These chapters deal with the borders of the land for the nine tribes and the half tribe on the West side of the Jordan River when they pass over;  the cities of refuge where one who accidentally kills may flee, and stay until the death of the high priest; with intentional murder; and the final chapter of Numbers deals with a land issue for the daughters of Zelophehad.

I want to look at the issue of murder according to chapter 35 and verses 30-34,

“Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.  Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.  And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest.  So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.  Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.”  Numbers 35:30-34 (KJV)

The murder of an individual shall be dealt with by the putting to death of the killer.  One is not to be put to death for the crime only by the witness of one.  There is to be no ransom paid for the murderer.  He is to be sentenced to death.  The blood that he has shed defiles the land; and God dwells in the land; “…For I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.”.

In the society of today there are many who argue against what we call capital punishment, or the death penalty.  Supposedly it is because of the value of every man’s or woman’s life.  After all the question is, “What good does it do the one who was murdered? or his/her family?”  Certainly the family grieves over the loss of the loved one.  To plead for the life of the murderer and in the end give him his life is to place greater value on the murderer’s life than the murdered individual.  It leaves pollution upon the land; and God cannot dwell there.

The only redemption for the murderer is his own blood.

What should the Christian’s response be for murder?  To obey God’s will and His law.  We rejoice not in the death of the murderer, but we should rejoice in God’s dwelling among us in the person of His Son and His shed blood for us.

Remember to read Numbers 34 – 36 for today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Journey To Rest

Acts 9:26-31

It was at Saul’s feet the stoners of Stephen laid down their garments.  I suppose he was responsible for caring for their clothing while they stoned a man to death.  That sounds so heartless, because it is, and it was, however; at least it seems to have been this event; his hearing the word from Stephen, seeing and hearing his dying testimony; which had an impact on Saul coming to faith.

When Jesus confronts Saul as he is traveling to Damascus to capture, persecute, and jail Christians; Jesus says to Saul, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Acts 9:4-5 (KJV).  His “kick against the pricks” is evidence that before the Lord confronted him he was deeply under the convicting power of the Spirit of God.  Saul met Jesus Christ on that day, and he has been a blessing to Christians, the Church and the world ever since; because of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

THE CONVERSION OF SAUL, AND THE CHURCHES REACTION (v. 26).  Upon his salvation Saul is led to a man named Ananias, who shows Saul the way he is to go for the Lord.  He is received by the disciples of Damascus.  Saul had spent time in Damascus preaching the gospel.  He was new to it for sure, but he started in faith and kept on faithfully until the day he died by losing his head at the hands of Rome.

The church of Jerusalem was reluctant to receive him into their midst.  He had been their persecutor, he had shown them nothing but hate, and now he’s wanting to come into our fellowship.  Can you understand their doubtful thinking about him?  I can.  He had received orders from the religious establishment of Jerusalem, and it was in Jerusalem where most of the persecution was still going on, and Saul had been the chief persecutor.

The Jerusalem church could not believe that their chief persecutor was now one with them.  The disciples there – not the apostles – were afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple of Jesus now.

It is an awesome thing when one who has been against the church of Jesus Christ is changed and begins to walk, live, serve and glorify our Lord.  Their testimony will be one of glorious change and the glory will belong to Jesus Christ.  The glory will not return upon the professing individual, but go to the Lord.

BARNABAS RECEIVES SAUL, AND ENCOURAGES HIM AND THE CHURCH, AND THEY WALK AND WORK TOGETHER (vv, 27-28).  Barnabas sees the rejection Saul experiences, sees a life who has been changed by the blood of Jesus Christ and takes Saul and makes him his disciple.  The call of the great commission of Jesus Christ is to “Go and make disciples” there are more than twelve disciples; there are only twelve apostles; thirteen counting Saul – who later became Paul.  We are not commanded to “make apostles” but disciples which is a “follower of Jesus Christ”

Known as an “encourager” Barnabas walks along side Saul when no one else will.  He even takes him to see the apostles, and Saul shares with them his testimony of how he met the Lord on the road to Damascus, and they are told of his bold preaching in Damascus.  After his visit with the apostles he is then seen leaving and entering the city with the apostles; they have received him as one of themselves.

The work of an encourager is a great work, and is much needed in the work of Christ and His Church.  We all need someone to come alongside us, to pick us up when we are down on occasions.  There are also occasions where we need to be the encourager, and pick up a friend, family member, church member, or a neighbor who needs to just get things clicking and right between them and the Lord.

SAUL’S PREACHING IN JERUSALEM IS BOLD, AND HE IS RUSHED OUT OF TOWN TO HIS OWN TOWN (vv. 29-30).   Why is it a lot of preachers think they are called to popularity.  Jesus was popular while He did His miracles, but when He got bloody and doctrinal concerning His body and the blood many of “His disciples left Him” (John 6:60-68).  If popularity, or drawing a crowd, was the agenda of our Lord, the message would not be so hard and difficult for people to hear and believe.  The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the simplest message ever proclaimed, yet people do not want to hear it.

Have you ever been run out of town for your preaching?  I have not, but there are some places I have not been asked to return.  I am grateful for the church where I am currently pastor.  The Carr Lane Baptist Church maybe small in number, but we are big in heart for hearing the word of the Lord.  When a preacher can stand in the pulpit week after week, Sunday after Sunday, and preach expository messages straight from Scripture, and you hear no negative comment, and you hear an “Amen” ever once in awhile you just got to know that they are hearing God, and not you.

The preacher when he is preaching the word of the Lord can boldly proclaim the message of God without fear or favor to those who are listening; and will glorify the Lord in the preaching.  An Old Testament Prophet name of Jeremiah was one who convinced me that I needed to come out of my shell, preach the word and be faithful to the Lord.  Jeremiah says, “Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.”  Jeremiah 1:17 (KJV).  When you know you are delivering the word of God you have nothing to fear.  Be bold, proclaim from the rooftops what God says in His Word.

Though Saul did get rushed out of town it was for a greater purpose.  He would return to Jerusalem at a later time, and then be shipped to Rome.  Saul’s/Paul’s message of Jesus Christ was not loved nor appreciated.  Check your message; if you have crowds following you; change your message to the message of Jesus and Saul.

THE CHURCHES OF JERUSALEM THEN, HAD REST (v. 31)  It was because of the change in Saul’s life that there was rest in the Jerusalem churches.  The persecutor of persecutors was now one of them and being persecuted.

A few years ago I took the thirty first verse, disected, prayed, and developed a sermon, and called it  THE THREE R’s FOR THE CHURCH getting the idea from what used to be the words for education Reading, ‘Riting’ and ‘Rithmetic; but changing that to be Reverence, Rest, and Results, as three points for the sermon.  You can see the Reverence, “walking in the fear of the Lord”; the Rest in, “Then had the churches rest…” and the Results, “in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.”  Acts 9:31 (KJV).

There is little fear of God, even in church these days we live in.  There is more talk of “perfect love casts out fear”, so we don’t fear God.  NOT!  John’s writing has absolutely nothing to do with the reverence and fear of God.  It does have to do with the condemnation of our sins, the lies of the devil, the lies of friends and family.  It has to do with everyday events of life.  Someone has said, “When we fear God; we need to fear nothing else.”  If there is no fear of God, there will be fear of all else.  Paranoia, schizoprenia, trouble and danger lurking behind every closed door, fear of darkness, fear of storms, fear of failure, fear of bankruptcy, fear of world financial failure.  When even the child of God is not right with Him, out of His fellowship, we too can be fearful of these things.

Rest has come to the Jerusalem churches because the one who pursued them unto death was now one of them.  He now was being persecuted.  He had been pushed out of town; but unto a great endeavor of preaching the Word elsewhere; to his own home of Tarsus.

Results, come when the Christian and the church practice their faith, and live by that faith through their everyday lives.  We have seen examples of this multiplication earlier in the book – 3000 saved on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), more were saved according to Acts 4:4.  It seems that people were being saved everyday in the early church.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to baptize at least one every Sunday during a worship service, maybe even more?  Remembering it is the Lord who adds daily to His church.  It is not programs, or money, but by and through the faithful witness of the Spirit of God through His faithful witnesses.

The rest you need can be found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.  You may despise the gospel right now but realize, as did Saul, that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose again the third day that we all who call on His name have eternal life with Him.  Call on His name believing Him, and trusting Him with all your life, confessing your sins and repenting of them.

-Tim A. Blankenship

This is the study notes for a sermon preached in the morning worship at Carr Lane Baptist Church on October 12, 2008.

THE JUDGMENT OF THE SON OF MAN

THE JUDGMENT OF THE SON OF MAN

Revelation 14:1-20

By the promises of God’s Word, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, shall bring an end to sin and He will reign on the earth, and in the hearts of men.

And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: 3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. 14:1-5 (KJV).

To begin with I want to point out the seven divisions within chapter fourteen;
1. One hundred and forty four thousand sealed ones on Mount Zion (vv. 1-5);
2. God’s closing testimony to earth: “The everlasting Gospel” (vv. 6-7);
3. The angelic announcement of Babylon’s fall (v. 8);
4. The doom of the worshippers of the beast (vv. 9-11);
5. The second beatitude of the Revelation deals with those who die in the Lord (vv. 12-14): ALSO SEE “THE HAPPY DEAD” WHICH WILL FOLLOW THIS STUDY;
6. The harvest of the earth is reaped (vv. 14-16);
7. The fulness of God’s wrath and vengeance poured out (vv. 17-20).

In these verses we find that the sealed 144,000 Hebrew witnesses have been protected throughout the final half of the seventieth week of Daniel. We see them standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb at His coming, at the end of the tribulation period. NOTE: Some very well known Bible teachers place this scene in Heaven.

These 144,000 are the same as those mentioned in chapter seven. These will aid Christ [not that He would need any] in setting up His millenial reign on earth.

The NIV, NAS, and the Amplified Bible read “…having His name and the name of His Father written in their foreheads” (v. 1). This does not imply it is a different group, but it does clarify and give more detail of whose seal it is – the Father’s and the Son’s.

There is music in Heaven. God surrounds Himself with heavenly sounds ringing out praises to Him. The 144,000 were given a “New song” no one else could sing. A song of deliverance and praise to God. In chapter 5:9 the “Living creatures”, and the twenty four elders sing a “New song”. There are several times in the Bibles hymnal [Psalms] where the Psalmist mentions singing a “New song” (Psalms 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1). It is a given fact that man is to praise the Lord in “New song”. The idea of a “New song” requires a changed heart and life. Certainly these remnant of Israel are changed.

Just as God led Israel out of Egypt and protected them in the wilderness for forty years He also protects and provides for this remnant, even to keeping them alive for their appointed position on earth. Only the redeemed can sin a “New song”, and theirs is one only they can sing. They could be singing the Song of Moses (EX. 15) from a whole new perspective.

These are pure before God. They have not committed immoral acts against God. They are free from spiritual and physical fornication and adultery. They follow the Lamb. They are pure, even as He is pure (v. 5). That is what it means to follow the Lamb. O, that the Church today would “Follow the Lamb”. These are “Redeemed from among men” clarifies verse three “Were redeemed from the earth”. They did not indulge in the harlotries of idolatry and worship of the beast. They stood as an open testimony to God’s goodness, grace and power to save.

“…First fruits…” to some may cause confusion by causing them to think this is referring to all the redeemed. It could be referring to their position in the earthly kingdom of Christ. It could also tie in with Revelaiton 20:5 where it reads, “This is the first resurrection”. Where the time of the resurrection of all who are in Christ is ended. The “First” implying a second resurrection which will follow.

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. vv. 6-7 (KJV).

There could be as many as seven angels mentioned from verse six through verse twenty. There are certainly six. Why six? Remember six is the number of man. Angels throughout Scripture and time have been servants and messengers to man as well as his protectors. For example see Genesis 18 and 2 Kings 6:8-23. If verse thirteen’s “Voice” is from an angel that would be the seventh, however, we cannot reasonably conclude the “Voice” to be angelic, but rather the voice of the Spirit of God.

God is merciful. This is His closing act of mercy, lest there be some who will hear. The “Everlasting Gospel” is: 1) Fear God; 2) Give glory to Him; 3) The hour of judgment is come; 4) Worship your Creator.
This isn’t really an opportunity for those of earth to repent as it is assurance to those of God that He will have His way.

And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. v. 8 (KJV).

Babylon is practically a synonym for wickedness and all sorts of evil. Babylon, in our text can refer to three or four different earth agencies: 1) An actual city; 2) Political power and intrigue; 3) Economic power and banking; and/or 4) Religious power – one world religion.

We know from the study of history that the actual city of Babylon has already fallen, although, there were reports when Saddam Hussein was ruling Iraq, that he was rebuilding it. The other three we can see though, and greatly increasing. The Babylon of mankind’s politics will crumble to nothingness, the economy of the world banking conglomerates will crash, and the world’s religion will only add fuel to Hell’s fires. Just as surely as John sees it proclaimed, everything that man builds to exalt himself over God will crumble. It is as good as done. It is written – So it shall be. “Forever, O LORD, Thy Word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).

And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. vv. 9-11 (KJV).

This third angel spells out clearly the doom that the worshippers of the beast will face. Their doom is not of short duration. It is for ever and ever, everlasting.

The Bible mentions nothing of the soul’s annihilation, but it does of eternal souls. If the soul of man could be annihilated why does hell’s fires burn forever? Why doesn’t God put them out after the souls are all burned up?
We as Christians need to believe what God says in His Word about hell, just as surely as we believe about salvation and eternity in Heaven. Some say that in the Scriptures Jesus mentions hell more than He does Heaven. Hell is a place to miss, not to flee into. Every lost soul is living in condemnation on the road to hell, and some of them would repent and believe if only someone told them of Jesus.

When it comes right down to it all those who reject Christ are worshippers of the beast. We can do nothing for those who reject Jesus, but we must tell them and let Jesus and the Holy Spirit do the saving.

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. vv. 12-13 (KJV).

The “Patience of the saints” is that they who trust Christ during this darkest hour will be delivered. Just as surely as the worshippers of the beast suffer forever and ever, they who “Follow the Lamb” (v. 4) shall enjoy eternal bliss. They are the ones who “Keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus”. The keeping of the commandments does not save, but they are saved to keep the commandments [to obey them] (Eph. 2:10).

Verse thirteen provides the second “Beatitude” of the Revelation. “Blessed” meaning happy. This encouraging word is to those who are in tribulation and their lives are in danger. To serve the Lord in the darkest hour of human history will cost the lives of many, but God would have us know that all they who go through the great tribulation, keeping the commandments by faith in Jesus, if they should “die in the Lord”, they are “Blessed”.
What benefits are there for them who “die in the Lord”?

1. God’s promise of happiness;
2. They rest from their trials and labor;
3. Their works stand as a testimony of their faith.

And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. 16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. vv. 14-16 (KJV).

If you were to read Acts 1:9-11 you would find how Jesus ascended up from this earth; “A cloud received Him out of their sight”. Verse eleven ends by saying, “…This same Jesus… shall so come in like manner…”

The “Sickle” – In verse 14 Jesus holds judgment in His hands. This verse refers to Him as “Like unto the Son of Man” – this was a title Jesus used to refer to Himself. The “Golden crown” on His head should leave no doubt in our minds that this is Jesus.

In verse 15 we have the fourth angel. He comes out of the temple (heavenly) and speaks unto the “Son of man” the judge of men. He is worthy to judge men.
The ripe harvest has to do with overripeness – drying, rotting, decaying fruit. The time of judgment upon the wickedness of the world.

When Jesus comes for the Church He will come “With a shout, the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God” (1 Thes. 4:16), not with a sickle.
Here Jesus comes with a sickle of judgment and wrath upon the tares of the field [world] (Matthew 13:40-43).

And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. 19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. vv. 17-20 (KJV).

In verse 17 we find the fifth angel and in verse 18 the sixth angel of chapter fourteen.
These verses certainly deal with the fulness of God’s wrath. The men of earth are likened to overripe grapes cast into a winepress under the feet of the husbandman [owner]. This event is given in fuller detail in 19:11-21.

Be saved by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, or your blood will be on Him in judgment and wrath. Get ready to meet Jesus as Savior, or you will certainly meet at THE JUDGMENT OF THE SON OF MAN.