Sunday, July 26, 2009

Revelation 2:12-17 Pergamos

Ephesus had left its first love and Smyrna was being persecuted, but both had held on to sound doctrine and had not allowed false teachers and doctrines into the fold. Not so with the next church. Pergamos is the third church. It is a compromising worldly church. Pergamos was a major city in Asia Minor about sixty miles north of Smyrna. It was a center for temple worship with the cult of the emperor as well as Greek pagan mysteries. It was also the headquarters of the Babylonian mysteries at this time. One of the seven wonders of the world, the largest altar in the world, the great altar of Zeus was located here. It was a center of intellectualism with its
200,000 volume library and it was also a medical center. Aesculapius or Asclepius (depending on whether you prefer the Latin or Greek), the deity of medicine was also worshiped. The name Pergamos means “marriage”.

Verse 2:12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges.”

Christ presents Himself as the one who has a sharp-two edged sword. This kind of sword is especially dangerous as a weapon as it cuts both ways. It cuts hard and quickly. Truth is a sharp two-edged sword, and Christ is going to present them with some hard truths. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Heb. 4:12. What Christ has to say is going to cut to the quick. His flaming eyes can discern the thought and intents of their hearts, and they are not what they should be. Again we see a description of Christ that we saw in chapter one. This sword also will smite the nations when Christ returns at Armageddon. Rev. 19:15a “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations…..” There is a reference from Is. 11:4b that speaks of this “…..and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”

Verse 2:13 “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.”

The commendations are that they have works, and even though they dwell where Satan’s throne is ( the headquarters for the Babylonian mysteries had moved here and that is verified as it says that Satan lived there. It was a major center for pagan worship), they hold fast to Christ’s name and don’t deny Him, even when persecution was so severe that martyrdom was a possibility. In fact one of their own had been martyred. A man called Antipas.

Verse 2:14 “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.”

Now comes the criticism. They have those there (not everyone does, but they tolerate those who do) who hold to the doctrine of Balaam. Most people are familiar with the phrase Balaam’s ass. If you don’t know the story, read Numbers chapters 22-24. Balaam was an Old Testament prophet who was called upon by Balak, the king of Moab, to curse the Israelites. I have heard pastors call Balaam a false prophet. The interesting thing is, Balaam had dialogue with the one true God. He did prophesy for God. He was a true prophet in that he acknowledges God as His Lord and says that he could only say what God told him to say, which is exactly what he does. He is a true prophet of God, although not a Hebrew. God apparently had prophets outside of Israel. He is not exactly righteous in that he eventually helps Balak, but not through his prophesying. God told him to not curse the Israelites, and Balaam at first tried to obey by refusing to go with Balak’s men. But then he does go. God is angry and sends the angel of the Lord (the angel of the Lord is usually accepted to be the pre-incarnate Christ) to stand in the way. The ass sees the angel and won’t go past him. Balaam hits the ass to try to get her to go forward. The angel continues to block the way and Balaam continues to whip the ass. Finally the ass falls down and when Balaam whips her the Lord gives her the ability to speak (shades of Narnia). She asks Balaam what she has done to deserve the beating. Balaam says that she is mocking him and if he had a sword he would kill her. [I have serious problems understanding Balaam at this point. If my dog or cat were to start talking to me, I’d be too stunned to do anything. I certainly wouldn’t want to kill them. Imagine what you could do with talking animals?] Balaam shows no surprise that the ass is talking, which is most peculiar in my mind. Anyhow, back to the story. The ass asks him if she has ever done anything like this before in all the time that he has owned her. Balaam must admit that she hasn’t and at that point the Lord opens Balaam’s eyes so that he can see the angel of the Lord. Balaam falls on his face. The angel of the Lord chastises Balaam for having gone when he knew God didn’t want him to. He tells Balaam that if the ass hadn’t turned away from him the three times that she did, he would have killed Balaam and spared her. Balaam admits his sin and says he will return home. Now the angel of the Lord tells him to go ahead with the men, but that he will speak what he is told to say. Balak is glad to see Balaam, but Balaam warns him that he can only say what the Lord puts in his mouth. Balaam offers burnt offerings and then meets with God. God tells him he has to bless Israel, which he does. This infuriates Balak. Balak thinks that if he takes Balaam to another location he can curse them. So they go through the whole ritual again. This happens three times. Balak tells him to go home. Balaam then prophesies about what will happen in the latter days. (Here is the term latter days, so this is a prophecy we should look into later.) Then Balaam goes home. From Numbers 31:16 we learn that when the Lord would not permit Balaam to curse Israel, he suggested to Balak that he get Israel to sin by using the women to seduce and entice them to participate in the worship of Baal-Peor. As a result, the Lord caused a plague to fall on Israel which killed 24,000 people.

Pergamos was guilty of having those who held to this type of doctrine. Balaam taught Balak that he should encourage Israel to intermarry with the Moabites. This would bring pagan practices within Israel. They would be breaking the laws, and committing sexual and spiritual sins. Balaam was also guilty of being willing to curse Israel for money. These people must have been encouraging people to intermarry with non-believers as well as other “freedoms in Christ” that are not allowed and possibly were selling something for profit. There is no way of knowing what they might have been doing for monetary gain, but sexual sins and pagan practices were being practiced by some of the members, and probably being introduced into corporate worship. Today we have the same problem. The church has a divorce rate as high or higher than the world's. Sexual sins among pastors is prevalent. Things that should be considered pagan are being accepted in the church with no problems. For instance, the music that is used in the vast majority of churches these days is CCM which is basically, in many cases, rock and roll with so-called Christian lyrics. To see what I have to say about that, reference my thesis found at Besides the music, there are all sorts of weird goings on in some churches today that are not at all what God would approve.

Verse 2:15-16 “So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”

There are also Nicolaitanes at this church. We’ve already discussed who they might have been. They are told to repent or Christ will come quickly (again with the quickly) and fight them with the sword of his mouth (the two-edged sword of truth). This is why He describes Himself as He does at the beginning when addressing this church. There is nothing that defeats false doctrines more effectively that the truth. We are told to study to show ourselves approved unto God rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim.2:15. We can’t even recognize false doctrine much less fight against it without knowing the truth.

Verse 2:17 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”

Now he addresses the individuals again. To those that are opening to listening to the Lord and repenting and changing their way, there is a promise. Christ says the overcomer will eat of the hidden manna, and receive a white stone upon which is written a new name which no man can know except the one that receives it. The hidden manna is a reference to the manna that had been put in the ark of the covenant as a reminder of how God fed Israel in the wilderness. Christ taught that he was the “bread of life” or “living bread” that when a man eats of this bread will live forever. John 6:51. Christ is the hidden manna or source of life and nourishment for the Christian.

There are a couple of explanations for the white stone. Back then a person’s guilt or innocence was determined by the color stone that the “jury” put in the “pot”. A black stone meant guilt, a white stone meant innocence. Taken in that context, the white stone signifies our innocence before God as Christ has washed us white as snow. The other was a practice of the day when people would wear a white amulet on their arm. On the underside of the amulet was a secret writing or name that had been put there by the person giving the amulet. Only the person giving the amulet and the person wearing the amulet knew what the writing said. We know how God and Christ often renamed his people, Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Saul to Paul. He has a new name for each of us. He may also have something very personal to say to each of us that only we alone can know.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Revelation 2:8-11 Smyrna

Now we have the church at Smyrna. Smyrna was located about thirty-five miles north of Ephesus. It was in a powerful place for trade on the Aegean Sea, and was known for its harbors, commerce, and marketplaces. Today it exists under the name Ismir. One of John’s students, Polycarp, was a minister there until he was martyred about A.D. 155. Smyrna has for its root meaning "bitterness," and means "Myrrh," an ointment associated with death. We see in the meaning of the word a prophecy of the persecution and martyrdom which was to befall the members of the Smyrna Church.

Verse 2:8 “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive.”

Christ presents Himself as the first and the last (Alpha and Omega) and the one which was dead and now is alive. This last description as the one who was dead and is now alive is very important for this church, as they are the persecuted and martyred church. Notice how these first two descriptions of Christ, in the letter to the Ephesians and here, describe Christ as He was described in the first chapter of Revelation.

Verse 2:9 “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”

Christ commends them for their works. He tells them that He is very aware of the tribulation they suffer, and the poverty they endure because of their stand for Christ, but that they are rich in what counts, spiritual richness. This is in stark contrast to the last church, (Laodicea) which we will see is very wealthy, but spiritually poor. Christ prefers our spiritual richness to monetary wealth. He knows the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews but are really of the synagogue of Satan. One way of viewing this is that religious, zealous Jews had been persecuting Christians right from the start. Paul was one of the best before he became a Christian himself. Satan was using the Jews in Smyrna to do this. There was a large contingent of them in Smyrna and they were strongly opposing the church. They were directly instrumental in the execution of Polycarp. Another way of viewing this is that there were always groups (and still are today) of Jews, and Gentiles converted to Judaism, that said that if one were really to be saved, besides accepting that Christ was the Messiah, one had to observe O.T. Judaism…all of the laws, all of the festivals, etc. They were making salvation contingent upon observing the 613 laws rather than by Christ’s death. They were working for Satan putting people under the burden of the law again. Both of these groups qualified as the synagogue of Satan. A true Jew is one who accepts Christ as his savior, (Rom. 2:28 “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” ) and understands that he does not need to observe the 613 laws for salvation.

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

He now tells them to not fear the things they are going to suffer. That the devil will put some of them in prison where they would be tried (not only just a court type of trial, but trial in the sense of tribulation). They will have ten days of tribulation, but they should be faithful unto death. Luke 12:4-5. “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that hath no more that he can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him.” For this they will receive a crown of life. This is why the resurrection is so important to them. They need to have something to hold onto to get them through what they are suffering.

Verse 2:11 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”

Again Christ addresses the individuals in the church. To the one that listens and overcomes - in this case remains faithful to death, they have the promise that they will not be hurt by the second death. The first death is the physical death. Christians live twice and die once. Physical life, physical death, and eternal life. Unbelievers live once and die twice. Physical life, physical death, eternal damnation. The last is the second death which will take place in the lake of fire. Rev. 20:14. .

Monday, July 20, 2009

Revelation 2:1-7 Ephesus

Chapter 2

John has written the things that he has seen. Now he is going to write the things that are. The next two chapters cover the seven churches themselves. These cities were important for various reasons. Some were headquarters of a god’s worship. Some were important trade cities, some military. The point is, they were major hubs of one kind or another in that time. For a few centuries they were also important cities in Christianity.

The seven churches described in Revelation 2-3 are seven literal churches in Asia Minor (present day Turkey) at the time that John was writing Revelation. Though they were literal churches in that time and the letters are addressed to their spiritual needs and behavior at the time, there is also spiritual significance for churches and believers today. Here is another case of near and far fulfillment. Besides being types of churches that could be found then and now, it also applies to individuals and churches down through the ages. Individuals are the church and fall into these categories, and the churches (Christians as corporate groups) through the years have fallen into these categories also. I do not subscribe to the idea that each of these churches represents a time period of the church through the ages. These messages are timeless. I don’t think only one sin reigned in all Christendom for a period of time, then another sin reigned etc. I think all of these sins reign at all times. And there are always faithful martyrs and faithful remnants (who aren’t martyred).

The letters follow a pattern. With each church there is a salutation saying to whom the letter is written, a description of Christ that portrays him in a particular way, usually applicable to that particular church, praise for the church‘s strong point, criticism for their weakness and sins, an appeal to repent, a warning (or promise) of His coming, an admonition to be heeded, and a promise of blessing for overcomers usually for the next life, but with Philadelphia for this life also. The exceptions are Smyrna and Philadelphia who receive no criticism. These two churches are the faithful remnant. One will suffer martyrdom, the other will be preserved and protected.

The first church is Ephesus, the loveless church. Ephesus means to "let go," "to relax."
John had been the pastor of this church. Ephesus was the capital and largest city of Asia Minor on the Aegean Sea, where it was a great seaport. It was also the place of worship for the goddess Diana and an immoral city. Paul, who founded this church, warned it of what should happen, in his parting message.

"I know this, that after my departing shall grievous 'wolves' enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, 'speaking perverse things,' to draw away disciples after them." Acts 20:29, 30.

This prophetic warning was to come true as we shall see in this letter to the Ephesians.

Verse 2:1 “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.”

Christ portrays Himself as He did in chapter one. He who holds the seven stars and walks in the midst of the seven candlesticks. He is letting them know that he has been aware of what is going on in their churches. He is aware of the good and the bad. He is watching them with eyes that flame, and a two-edged sword in his mouth. He is going to give them the truth, which may hurt, and judge their behavior.

Verse 2:2 “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.”

Christ starts by giving them praise. He says he knows their works, their labor, their patience, and how they do not tolerate those who are evil. As per his prophetic warning in Acts, grievous wolves have entered in, and men in their own church have arisen speaking perverse things. They check out those who say they are apostles and have ferreted out the phonies. They have not borne those that are evil. They do not tolerate them in their church.

Verse 2:3 “And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.”

They have been forbearing with all that has been happening around them and to them. Again he praises their patience, and again praises their labor that they haven’t stopped or slowed down in their good works. This is a church that labors for the Lord, watches their doctrine, and endures mistreatment by others.

Verse 2:4 “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.“

However, He has something against them. They have left their first love. Everybody debates what that is. Is it love for Christ? Is it love for each other? Is it love for the lost? I think it is all of the above. People are so sincere in their love for the Lord, each other, and have a zeal to reach the lost when they are first saved. Over time, that genuine love is replaced by a feeling that one must have obligatory love. It is no longer genuine from the heart. I know a church (corporate church) that fits this description quite well. They labor diligently for the Lord. They have lots of good works. They watch their doctrine religiously (as the saying goes). They endure the mocking of the community. The problem? They have no true love for anyone outside of their tiny little church community. And I am not just talking lacking love for the unbelievers. They have no real love for other Christians who are not a part of their church, and sometimes even those that are in their church. They are judgmental and unloving to all alike. They do not merely not tolerate phony doctrines and teachers; they are just slightly above being barely civil to anyone outside their ranks. They outright accuse other Christians to their face of not being Christians, if they happen to disagree with their church in any way. They endure mocking in the community, but that mocking exists because they have been such a poor testimony for the Lord when it comes to love thy neighbor as thyself. They will hardly speak to the unbelievers in town and are barely civil to those who happen to attend other churches (Bible believing ones). They attend every meeting without fail; they are compelled to by the church. They are not necessarily there out of a keen love for worshiping the Lord, they are there out of habit and fear that they will be said to be backsliders, or worse, not really Christians, if they don‘t tow the mark. Many of their children grow up and leave not only the church, but Christ. That describes the corporate church as a whole. However, I know individuals in that church that are overcomers. They are loving, kind, thoughtful people who love the Lord. They treat other Christians and unbelievers all the same, lovingly. They are liked by non-Christians in the community and are a witness of God’s love. They do all the things that this church does well, and one thing more. They have not left their first love.

Verse 2:5 :Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

Christ tells them to remember from where they have fallen and to repent and do the first works. What are the first works? Perhaps the greatest work we should all be doing. Loving the Lord by loving people and bringing the unsaved to repentance. Mega-churches these days think that the way to evangelize is to entertain. That is not the way that Christ taught. We are to show love to people on a one-on-one basis and lead them to the Lord. It is the great commission. This is the greatest work, the work of love for humanity to bring them to the Lord. We are showing Christ’s love through and for us when we show it to others. If they will not repent of this lack of love and get back to the first works, Christ threatens them that He will come quickly. Coming quickly is how He will come at His 2nd coming. He will remove their candlestick from its place. That is a serious threat. Removing their candlestick means that they are being removed from His midst. They are being removed as His bride. They are being cast out with the rest of the world into judgment. Matt. 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, (that day = the Day of the Lord) Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name: and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” He warns them again to repent.

Verse 2:6 “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.”

He commends them again. They hate the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which He also hates. It is unusual to think of Christ hating anything, much less commending us for hating something. But notice it is not the Nicolaitanes themselves that He hates, nor approves them for hating, it is the deeds that He hates. That is something Christians have to keep in mind. So many Christians hate the person instead of the sin. We are to love the sinner, but we are commended for hating the sin. There is some controversy over exactly who the Nicolaitanes were. One theory has it that the Greek derivative of the word means “overcoming the people”, They take this to mean that there developed a clergy who lorded it over the people with such teachings as: the laity couldn’t understand the scriptures, the clergy had to tell them what it meant, they had to confess to the clergy, etc. This was a problem in the first century as there were those who believed they had divine authority over others. So this is a possibility. Another theory has it that they were a sect of Gnostics. There was a sect of Gnostics later called Nicolaitanes, but they were not from this time, so that would not be to whom He was referring. Obviously the Ephesians knew exactly about whom Christ was speaking. The Lord knew that we wouldn’t be privileged to have that information, so we can only draw from what little scripture tells us and try to extrapolate some idea as to who they were. There is another possibility of who these people might have been. There was at the time a deacon called Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. (Acts 6:5) As this is the only other scripture reference that would give us any idea as to what this passage is about, we must assume that it is the clue we have been given to help us understand. That and the warning in Acts to the Ephesians. It was said by Paul that men would arise from their own ranks that would speak perverse things to draw people away from the truth. We don’t know exactly what these perverse things were, but obviously someone named Nicholas (hence the followers being called Nicolaitanes) was doing something that was bad. It is quite possible that he was one of these people who thought he had divine authority over the people and claimed to be an apostle. Since the Ephesians were commended for watching their doctrines and not tolerating false apostles, it leads one to believe that this is what the Nicolaitanes were all about. However that is speculation based upon a very small amount of scripture.

Verse 2:7 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”

He who has an ear to hear, let him hear. In other words, the person that is not only listening to the Lord, but desires to do what the Lord says. To that person, who will be considered an overcomer, Christ will give him to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God. When we get to Revelation 22 we will see that there is a river that proceeds from the throne of God, and on the banks of this river can be found many trees of the tree of life. There was only one tree of life in the garden of Eden. Adam as well as all of his descendants were barred from eating from it. Now there will be many of that tree, and the overcomers will be able to freely eat from them. Notice how this revelation is given by God the Father to Christ, who imparts the information through his angel to John, who writes to the angel of the churches, who is responsible for overseeing the revelation of this information to the church; however, it is the Holy Spirit that is saying these things. Here is just another scripture that shows us the tri-unity of the Godhead. This is God’s words, Christ’s words, and the Spirit’s words. All three are communicating this information.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Revelation 1:16-19

Verse 16 “And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.”

Christ holds seven stars in His right hand. We will see what these stars are a few verses later. Out of his mouth goes a sharp two-edged sword. God’s Word (truth) is compared to a two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12). The sword of the spirit is the word of God (Eph. 6:17) or truth. This is the sword of Jesus Christ who uses that truth to judge, “And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword that with it He should smite the nations.” Rev. 19:15. This speaks of the sword of truth and judgment that Christ is going to wield, and the truth is that judgment is going to come. His face was like brilliant sunshine. Again, just as his feet shone with the Shekinah glory, so does His face.

Verse 17-18 “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”

John falls down as a dead man when He sees Christ in all His glory. He does shake in his boots so to speak. This is reminiscent of Daniel’s reaction in Daniel chapter 10 when he saw a man whose appearance resembles that of the description of Christ here. (as mentioned in verses 13-15) Christ lays his hand on John and tells him to not be afraid, and again reiterates that He is the first and the last. Again, he claims the same title as God the Father. In Isaiah 44:6 it says, “Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” This scripture says that the Lord who is King of Israel, AND his Redeemer who is the Lord of hosts are the same first and last. They are both said to be God. This interchangeable name between the two of them shows their equality in the godhead and oneness of being. This is just one of many titles that they share. In Is. 9:6 it speaks specifically of Jesus but it calls him the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father. They are one and the same.

Christ goes on to say that it is He that lives, that was dead, and will live forever more. Again the triune thought of was, is, and will be. Christ has the keys of hell and death. It is Christ who has the power over these things.

Verse 19 “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.”

Christ tells John that he is to write what he has seen, what he is seeing, and what he will see. Again notice the triune thought. So now he is instructed to write what he has already seen, what he has seen and written about in this first chapter. The things which Christ will tell him which exist at the moment (the churches’ condition) which will be chapters 2-3, and the things which will be in the future which is basically the rest of Revelation.

It will be seen that when symbols are used and cannot be taken literally, there is an explanation given as to what the symbols represent. This is exactly the position taken at the beginning of this study, that everything should be taken literally and when symbols are used, they will be explained. John is told for what the seven stars in Christ’s right hand and the seven candlesticks stand. The seven stars are the seven angels of the churches. We studied back in Genesis how the angels and stars are tied to each other. We saw that stars represent angels. It is now stated outright that the stars are angels. They are the angels of the seven churches. This would seem to indicate that every church has an angel assigned to them. This should not be surprising, given that nations, (Dan. 12:1) nature, (Rev. 7:1) and people have angels having charge over them (Matt. 18:10, Act. 12:15). Why shouldn’t churches? In fact we are told that angels sit in on worship services.(1 Cor. 11:10) The seven candlesticks stand for the seven churches themselves. At this time Christ is in the midst of them, meaning He was still presently among them. In the O.T. the High Priest tended the lamp stands in the Holy Place. It was his responsibility to keep them trimmed and burning brightly. This is what Christ our High Priest is doing here. Trimming (chastising) the churches to keep them burning brightly.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Revelation 1:13-15

Verse 13-15 “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.”

In the middle of the seven candlesticks is one like the Son of man (Jesus). Christ had told His disciples that when two or three were gathered He would be in the midst of them. Here He is in the midst of seven candlesticks which we shall shortly see represent the seven churches. John sees Him in His glorified body. He is clothed with a garment down to his feet and a golden belt or sash around his chest. This speaks of somewhat regal attire. His head and hair were white, and compared to wool and snow. This description matches the description of the ancient of Days in Daniel that we previously studied. His eyes were like a flame of fire. This would be a sign of judgment. Nothing is hidden from His eyes. His feet were like brass as if they were burned in a furnace. Probably glowing or shining. (The Shekinah glory would shine out of Him). These feet will tread or stomp or trample out “the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” Rev. 19:15. His voice is now compared to the sound of many waters. Think of the thundering of Niagara Falls. First it was compared to a trumpet. Now many waters. This is loud. When God speaks it is said to thunder. This voice is one that will make you shake in your boots. (which is almost how John responds). This is Christ not in His persona as the Lamb, or the Priest or the King, but as the Judge. Daniel refers three times to the Ancient Of Days. In Chap. 7:13, he distinguishes between the Son of Man and the Ancient of Days, but in verses 9 and 22 he associates the Ancient of Days with judgment, and as God the Father has committed all judgment to the Son (John 5:22), and the Father and the Son are one, the title Ancient Of Days is used for either one. The title Ancient of Days is applied to the Son of Man at the time He assumes the judgeship (Dan. 7:9-10), and since Revelation is all about judging, it makes sense He would appear in this form. This also matches the description of the “man” in Daniel 10:5-6 that we had already covered and supposed that it was the pre-incarnate Christ.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Revelation 1:10-12

Verse 10 “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.”

John was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard a great voice. This voice was as loud and blasting as a trumpet, but it was not a trumpet blast. This is merely a simile, a grammatical device. A voice as of a trumpet. John was in the spirit. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and was given a vision (the book of Revelation). It says that this happened on the Lord’s day. The day that Christians now worship (Sunday) was never called the “Lord’s Day” historically until a hundred years after John. It was always referred to as “the first day of the week”. This is the only time this phrase is ever used in scripture, and since it was not used by Christians at the time to refer to a Sunday worship day, it is unlikely that John would use a term with which they would not identify. Actually I don’t think it matters if it was a Sunday or not. I am going to put forth another idea of what this might mean. Of all the languages that I have studied, and I have studied a few, English is the only one that I have studied that uses apostrophe “s’s” to denote possession. In every other language that I have studied, and of course I haven’t studied them all, possessions are done this way. The hat of Mary. The car of Bob. So another way of saying the Lord’s day would be to say, The Day of the Lord. Considering that that is exactly what John is about to see, The Day of the Lord, it really wouldn’t be a stretch to say that he was in the spirit (given a vision) on the Day of the Lord. I don’t think it matters either way as it isn’t crucial to the message. It’s just another possibility.

Verse 11 “Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.”

The voice announces Himself to John. Christ is now repeating what He said before only with a slightly different twist. Christ says that He is the Alpha and Omega, the first and last instead of the one who was, is and will come. Calling Himself the first and the last, while essentially meaning the same thing as alpha and omega directly correlates to God calling Himself the first and the last in Is. 41:4, 44:6, and 48:12. This shows that the Father and the Son are one. Now He gives John some instructions. He tells John to write what he sees. To write it in a book and send it to the seven churches in Asia. Then He lists the seven churches that were already mentioned.

Verse 12 “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;”

John turns to see the speaker. What he sees is seven golden candlesticks or lamp stands. These would be the type that were displayed in the temple. Large candlesticks that were more like floor lamps filled with oil.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Revelation 1:7-9

Verse 7 “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen”.

Now John addresses what Christ had told the disciples back in the Olivet discourse. Christ will come with clouds (we saw that sign) and every eye shall see him. This will be a glorious, brilliant coming that nobody will miss. Everyone on the planet will see this happening. The Jews are separated out here for special mention when he says “and they also which pierced him”. Zech. 12:10 “And I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced and they shall mourn for him as one mourned for his only son. Everyone will wail because of His appearance. The Jews will realize they missed out on their Messiah and mourn for their loss, and the rest of the world will realize that Christianity is true and that it is too late for them because judgment is about to fall.

Verse 8 “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”

John now writes what Christ has spoken. He says that He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending. He says of Himself that He is, was, and will come. This is like God the Father who was described as the one who was, is, and will come. He is the source of our beginning, and the source of our ending. He uses the Greek alphabet letters to denote beginning and end as alpha is the first letter of the alphabet, and omega is the last.

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

John introduces himself. He is our “brother” (in Christ), and companion in tribulation, the kingdom (millennial) and patience of Jesus Christ. Tribulation is expected for Christian and we will all reign in the millennial kingdom. Now here is the first mention of patience (as I said earlier). What is this patience all about? Is it patience waiting for the Lord’s return? Actually yes, that is exactly what it means. But what some don’t understand is that it isn’t the simple patience of waiting while you lead a normal life, it is that patient endurance that will require so much faith when it would be so easy to give up hope that He will return.

John had been exiled to the isle of Patmos because he was preaching the gospel. John is the only one of the twelve apostles that died a normal old age death rather than being martyred.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Revelation 1:4-6

Verse 4-6 “JOHN to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

This is the salutation. John is writing to the seven churches in Asia. We will see that the number seven is repeated in many forms throughout Revelation. Seven is the number of perfection, the number of God. It will be used over and over. The seven churches are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. They were all located in what is today the very western part of Turkey. John salutes them with grace and peace from “him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ.” First he speaks of God as the one who has always been, is, and always will be. God is eternal. He is the “I AM”. The one who has always existed and always will exist. Then he mentions the seven Spirits before the throne. Some people believe this is speaking of the seven angels which blow the trumpets, but that would seem to be out of place here. First, in Revelation, angels are always referred to as angels, not spirits. Second, this personage is inserted between the Father and the Son. That place is reserved for the Holy Spirit which is the third member of the Trinity. It would be completely out of order to introduce the Father, then a group of angels and then the Son. We can find an answer to the seven spirits in the O.T. Isaiah tells us of these seven spirits or the seven-fold character of the Holy Spirit in chapter 11:2. “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him (Christ), the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. There is a slightly different reference in Zech. 4:2-10. It refers to the seven lamps on the candlestick, followed by the statement that it is not by might, nor power, but by His spirit that things are accomplished. The seven lamps are the eyes of the Lord which see everything on the earth. Since only the Trinity is omnipresent, this must be a reference to the Holy Spirit. This is two references in which the Holy Spirit is spoken of a having a seven-fold character, so it would seem likely that this reference is to the Holy Spirit also.

Then John mentions Jesus as the faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead (Christ is the first fruits of the resurrected) and the prince of the kings of the earth. He is mentioning the three important events of Christ’s life. His death, resurrection, and 2nd Coming as King. Then John praises Christ for what He did for us, loving us so much that He died and washed our sins with His own blood. Through His death and resurrection, He has made us kings and priests unto God, Christ’s Father.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Revelation 1:3

Verse 3 “Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”

This is the only book in the Bible that has a blessing attached to it. That indicates its importance in God’s eyes. Many people, in fact many pastors, do not even read or study this book as they feel it is irrelevant to Christians. From personally being told this by more than one pastor, and having been brought up with this belief, I can say without prejudice or rancor that this attitude comes from believing that they won’t be here when all these things take place. It is an unfortunate side effect of that belief. Growing up I saw this attitude in many, many people as a result. The blessing is given to those who read, hear, and keep the words of prophecy in this book. I guess if you don’t think you will have to endure anything in it, the blessing is irrelevant, as there is nothing you have to “keep”. The blessing is for those who not only read and understand, but keep the words in this book. If you can’t understand, you can’t keep the words. Therefore, to understand, it must be that it has to be taken as literally as possible. This is the only way that everyone could have the same understanding. The words of most importance, as we will see, are the words that keep coming up, and that is for Christians to overcome and patiently endure to the end. The blessing is that they will know what is coming, live accordingly, and possibly escape those things which lie ahead (as Christ had told them to pray in the Olivet discourse). We are told that the time is at hand. Once Christ died on the cross, it enabled the next phase, which will lead to the end, to start. We shall shortly see what that is.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Revelation 1:1-2

Finally we are getting to the book of Revelation. We could have taken a lot more time in the O.T. prophets, but where we need to fill in more details, we will just go back as needed. Since this is an end times study and most people think this is the only book that covers that subject, I’m sure most will think it is time that I finally got around to going over this book. You will see that all that we have reviewed so far, though, makes the book of Revelation far more understandable now than it would have been had we not done all of these preparatory studies.

Revelation Chapter 1

Verses 1-2 “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.”

This book is commonly known as the Revelation of Saint John the Divine, but that is only because he is the one who wrote it all down. The first verse tells us whose revelation this actually is. It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show us His servants what will shortly come to pass. The word “Revelation” or “apokalupsis” means “unveiling”. This book is considered by many people to be a book that cannot be understood by the average person. It is considered mysterious, cryptic, frightening, and in general just plain confusing. But that is not what Christ intended. This was supposed to be understood. He expected that the average reader/listener would understand it, because He presumed that we would all have studied the entire scope of the scriptures thus far, and that the symbols, signs, and terminology would all be familiar to us. Unfortunately many Christians never read or study their Bible so when it comes to understanding this book, they are totally lost. The book of Revelation is an unveiling or revealing of information and truths of what is to come. It has been given by God the Father to Jesus Christ to show to his servants, us, what is shortly to come to pass. This book is intended for Christians (not unbelieving Jews), as it was given to Christ to give to His servants and that is us. We are the ones for whom the information is vital.

The word shortly is translated in Luke 18:8 as speedily and in Acts 12:7 and 22:18 as quickly. So the phrase “shortly come to pass” can be taken several ways. First it can mean that the events will happen soon in the normal sense of soon, or second it can mean that it will happen soon from God’s perspective. It has been two thousand years, but in God’s eyes and in terms of eternity, that is a short time. One day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. A third way it can be interpreted is to mean that the events being outlined will happen quickly once they being to happen. So the question as to how to take this statement is,…… is John speaking of when things will happen or how things will happen? Since nobody but the Father knows the day or the hour, John couldn’t for certain say that the time was near in the usual sense. And it has been almost 2,000 years, so we can rule out the idea of the normal sense of soon. The two ideas left are: 1) soon in terms of God’s perspective, and that certainly works, and 2) soon in the sense of it will happen quickly. It will be seen that most of the events that will be outlined in Revelation refer to that time period of three and a half years after the abomination of desolation, so there is reason to say that this phrase can mean how things will happen, which is quickly.

This revelation was given by God to Christ who gives it to an angel who signifies it to John. It was signified to John. The word “signified” means to make known by signs. The book of Revelation is a book of signs. Signs that we are meant to study and then recognize as they come to pass. It is God’s way of letting us know what events we will have to look forward to (unpleasantly so in most cases), so that we won’t be deceived. Remembering the warnings by Christ from the gospels, it has all been given to us so that we might not be deceived. When you travel someplace you get directions from signs. Whether they are a map, written words, or objects for which you are told to look. By that way, you get to your destination without mishap or getting on the wrong road. So it is with this journey. We are to follow the signs so that we don’t get on the wrong road.

This revelation is sent to John. It is pretty much agreed upon that this is the beloved disciple John, who was pastor to the church in Ephesus before being exiled to Patmos. In the gospel of John, he related that when Peter asked about John’s future, Jesus asked Peter if John were to still be alive when He returned, what business was it of Peter’s. John 21:22. This wasn’t saying that John would still be alive then, it was saying that even if he were, it wasn’t Peter’s concern. However, in showing John the Day of the Lord and His return, John did in essence remain alive to see the Lord’s Second Coming. It was a sort of prophecy about what would happen to John at Patmos.

Further, John identifies himself as having been the eyewitness to the fact that this is the word of God that he is writing, and the testimony of Jesus, and that he actually saw what we are about to read. Remember he is writing from the perspective of having already had the entire vision when he writes this introduction. John also bore record of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ in his gospel. Here he is saying that he wrote only what he actually saw and heard. He makes a point of saying numerous times (I haven’t counted them although I have heard it said that they amount to a number that is a multiple of seven, and the number seven is important in Revelation) I heard, I saw, I beheld, I looked, etc.. He was writing exactly what he heard and saw, so we shouldn’t spiritualize things in this book simply because they may sound bizarre at first. We have to look for a literal interpretation first. The symbols that are spiritualized are either defined in Revelation itself, or are symbols that have occurred in other scriptures, so we can use those to define the symbol.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Problem of Dispensationalism

Before getting into the Book of Revelation, there is one concept that needs to be addressed. This concept seems to be a stumbling block for some in accepting a straightforward literal understanding of the scriptures. That is the doctrine of dispensations. There is a branch of Christendom that teaches that God has dealt with mankind through different means at different times and these are referred to as dispensations. It is said that the covenants, as well as the Law determined how God dealt with the people and that now, since Christ's 1st coming, it is the time of grace, that the law no longer applies. Dispensationalism also seems to teach that there is an abrupt ceasing of one dispensation to go to the next. Under this belief the church must be gone before God deals with Israel, thus the need for the church to be gone before the 70th week begins. Let’s see if that is the case.

To begin we will go over the major covenants. First there was the Adamic covenant which promised a redeemer after the fall. The sign of this covenant was the beginning of sacrifices, as this (an animal sacrifice) was what was required to literally cover Adam's and Eve's bodies, as well as their sin. It was the sacrifices which taught that there needed to be a blood sacrifice for sin. The reason this was necessary was that when they sinned, their lives became forfeit by death. Their death was the necessary punishment to satisfy God, as that was the rule He had established and He had to carry it out. In actuality it was a blessing, as had God not required death as the punishment, man would never have had the chance for redemption. It is only through our death that we can move on to a sinless body again. On the other hand, Satan had won their souls by getting them to reject God in favor of him. He then owned them, as he owns all of us until we accept the Lord. As the life is in the blood, (Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”), their life or blood was forfeit to both God (that was the penalty for disobedience) and their souls to Satan (by their making him their new master). By all rights, Satan was owed their lives immediately and could take them by inflicting death, but God arranged for a substitute, as it was not His will to have them die right then. This explains why during the temple days there were two goats sacrificed at Yom Kippur. One was slain and offered on the ark of the covenant, and the other was was taken out to the desert and given to Azazel, the demon of the desert. Satan was forced to accept this arrangement. He can have a person when they die, if they have not accepted God's substitute(Yeshua) for their sins and lives. Whenever anyone offered a sacrifice, it was in faith that there would one day be a redeemer who would offer the ultimate sacrifice that would once and for all be sufficient to cover their sins, redeeming their souls and thereby freeing them from the claim of Satan. As Yeshua would keep the law perfectly (a much harder proposition than Adam had been given) His soul would not be forfeit to Satan, so to offer His blood in our place would cover our sins. So He had to die and shed His blood, but Satan could not claim His soul.

The Adamic covenant overlaps the next covenant, in fact it overlaps them all until the New Covenant which is the last one. However, sacrifices will be re-instituted during the millennium. Many people have a real problem with this as Christ was supposed to be the ultimate sacrifice, so there should no longer be sacrifices. It is in understanding that sacrifices didn't cover sins and were only to remind people of their sins and the need for Christ's sacrifice, that it can be reconciled that God would again have the sacrifices at the temple. This is explained more fully further on.

The next covenant was the Noahic covenant. This established that God would never flood the earth again to destroy it. The sign of this covenant was the rainbow. This covenant still exists today, so it overlaps all of the following including the New Covenant. With the earth in all probability reverting back to an antediluvian state, this covenant sign would disappear as it requires the particular atmospheric conditions that exist in the present world to become visible. However God's bow also exists over His throne, which will be here in New Jerusalem when the millennium begins.

Then there was the Abrahamic covenant which said that God would make a nation of Abraham that would be so large it would be like numbering the stars. He would give them the land which we now know as Israel as an everlasting possession, and the redeemer would come through this nation. He signed this covenant with circumcision. This covenant will continue through the millennium.

There followed the Mosaic covenant which said that God would make Israel a special people out of all people. They would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This also came with a blessing and curse for obedience and disobedience. The sign of this covenant was the Sabbath. Again, this covenant is still waiting to be fulfilled in completion. It is said that Christ’s resurrection on Sunday superceded the Sabbath, but this is an eternal sign. The excuse is that the church is not Israel so the Sabbath doesn’t apply to us. My questions are to those who say this….How are Messianic Jews supposed to deal with this discrepancy, do they observe the Sabbath, or Sunday, and why if it is one of the commandments, and we as Christians are supposed to keep the commandments (“If you love me, keep my commandments”) does the church completely ignore this one. Two more questions are, why will people be again commanded to observe the Sabbath, not Sunday in the millennium, and why was Christ expecting His followers (who were not just Jews but Christians as we have already discussed) to be observing it at the time of the tribulation which is still future? (Pray that your flight be not on the Sabbath day). I do not intend to get into a discussion on this (be forewarned if you want to, that I won’t do that, as it is too lengthy a subject to debate right now) but the questions do beg to be considered. (later) This covenant also will last through the millennium.

Then the Davidic covenant said that God would establish David and his descendants as the rightful kings of Judah. The greatest sign that would confirm this would be the giving of the Messiah (a Virgin will conceive) who will reign on the throne forever. This covenant is still to be fulfilled also, as Christ has not been crowned King of Kings yet and given the Kingdom. That will come with the millennium. He was the Lamb, now He is the Priest, and shortly He will reign as King. This covenant is eternal. Christ will always sit on the throne.

The last major covenant is the New Covenant. Christ established a permanent way of reconciling us to God by His death and resurrection. He wrote the Law on our hearts. The sign of this is the Holy Spirit who helps us to keep that Law. This covenant is also eternal.

So we can see that the covenants overlap each other, in fact they all continue through the millennium and some beyond. God does not abruptly stop one thing to start the next.

It is said that up until the time of Moses that God dealt with man by man's own conscience and that was one dispensation. When God gave the Law, that was another way of dealing with man, so that was another dispensation. Then when Christ came, God instead of dealing with man by the Law, is dealing with man by grace. This is yet another dispensation. I would argue that God’s way of offering salvation and dealing with man has always been by grace through faith, right from the start. "For by it (faith) the elders obtained a good report.... By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous (grace)....By faith Enoch was translated....By faith Noah....prepared an ark...and became heir of the righteousness (grace) which is by faith." Heb. 11:2-7 "By grace Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord." Gen. 6:8. "By faith faith he sojourned...through faith Sara...these all died in faith." Heb.8-13. Read Hebrews 11, it is all about everyone from Abel on down being justified by faith through the grace of God. That is exactly how we are justified.

The sacrifices that began with Abel were never sufficient to cover man's sins, Heb. 10:4. They were a substitute for us because of Satan's demand for our blood, which was rightfully his, and as a remembrance for mankind that our blood was forfeit due to our sin, and that we needed a redeemer who would be the ultimate sacrifice. Heb. 10:3. The faithful O.T. people died looking forward to the promise, not having yet received it, and it was counted to them as righteousness, by faith through God's grace. Heb. 11:13,39.

The Gentiles, before and without the law, did those things contained in the law, showing the law written in their hearts when their consciences bore witness and accused or excused them. Rom. 2:14-15. The Law (10 commandments) was given to make people more aware of their sins, not provide a means of salvation. Romans 3:20. "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." As to the other 613 laws for the Jews, these were written to keep them healthy, producing children, and spiritually accountable. The reason Gentiles were not compelled to follow all these laws was because they were only for that reason, to make a great nation that could rule the world, to make a healthy nation into which the Savior could be born, and to be the spiritual guide for their lives. The church is not a nation (at least not in the same way), and we do not have to bring the Messiah into the world, so we don‘t need the laws for health and expansion of a people. We have the Holy Spirit to be the spiritual guide and conscience for our lives, plus the rest of Scriptures. We don’t need all the laws that God demanded of Israel. Thus there are very few rules that we were given in Acts that we are to follow. In the millennium laws will be enacted again. Why? After the world is destroyed, there will be few people left, and living conditions will no doubt be barbaric again. Disease could become a problem that could wipe out what people are left in the world. Therefore dietary and hygienic laws will be crucial to keep people alive. Also the world will need to be repopulated, so these laws will be instrumental in providing that ability.

People say we are no longer under the law (10 commandments), we are under grace. People were never under the law to keep it for salvation. That is misunderstanding the whole concept. No flesh could be justified by the law. It was to accuse us of our sins, and it still does. And as to keeping it, we are more expected to keep it than the Jews ever were, because we have the Holy Spirit to help us. Rom. 8:1-5,9-15 Christ has written the Law on our hearts. Heb. 10:16. Christ summed up the law in two commandments. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matt. 22:37-40. "If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15. We are expected to keep the commandments. The Law still condemns us, just as it did the Jews. The only difference being, while they had to have the faith of looking forward to the redeemer and offered sacrifices, we have to have faith to look back to the redeemer who was our sacrifice. We have the advantage of the Holy Spirit so that we can actually keep the Law, if we so choose to walk in God‘s path of obedience. But God has not been dealing with us differently when it comes to salvation. The only reason the church exists apart from Israel is because of Israel's rejection of Christ as the Messiah.

There were always Gentiles that sojourned with Israel and believed, and there have always been Jews who have been Christians. The difference in the supposed way of God’s dealing with us is that the manifestation of how the remembrance is made has been changed. We have the Lord's supper. They had Passover. We have the ultimate sacrifice that doesn't need repeating. They had to constantly be reminded of the need for an ultimate sacrifice for their sins by the offering of animals. God took forty years to give plenty of time for the gospel to go out into the world before he eliminated the temple worship. There was an overlapping of the start of Christianity and the removal of the sacrificial system. Israel overlapped onto the "church age". By trying to pigeonhole God into a box to try to comprehend how God deals with man, people have created situations that they then have to try to reconcile scripturally, and that can lead to some major errors in interpreting scripture. If you believe in dispensations where there is a clear line drawn at one point in time and that God abruptly changes His dealings with mankind, you end up having to force scriptures to accommodate that position. If on the other hand you realize God has always dealt spiritually with man in the same way, by grace through faith, it allows God to work with both Israel and the church simultaneously and allows the scriptures to flow freely without being twisted up into knots.

Part of the problem lies in not understanding that Israel, as a nation, and the church are not the same type of entities. One is physical, one is spiritual. While the nation of Israel is being punished as a nation, that has nothing to do with how God deals with us on the matter of our salvation and the church’s need for cleansing, purging, refining, or rewarding. The church exists as a body and the bride of Christ due to salvation, individual salvation. Salvation is the prerequisite to being part of that body. It fulfills the spiritual part of the covenant with Abraham. It is not a nation in the same way Israel is. It is a spiritual entity. It consists of both Gentiles and Jews.

The nation of Israel on the other hand is the result of a covenant with Abraham for a physical nation of his physical, biological descendants. It is a physical entity. This physical part of the covenant will be fulfilled because of a promise made to Abraham about his biological descendants, due to his faith. The two can and do overlap, as they are not dependent upon one another. They exist on different planes and they can and do exist together. Israel already exists as a nation. It is not yet a holy nation, as they have to accept the Messiah for that, but the fact remains that they are again a nation. So already the church and Israel overlap. God started dealing with the Jews when He brought those dry bones back together and created a nation. The time of the Jews has begun. The end has not yet started, but God’s dealing with the Jews has begun. The time of the Gentiles is yet to be fulfilled. If that line of demarcation was so abrupt and explicit, the church would already be gone. So why is it so difficult to accept that the church will go into the tribulation? We have already begun the time of transition from this age into the age of the millennium where Israel will be the leading nation. We simply have to go through that period of cleansing. Just as the temple was finally destroyed after a period of time, when God turned from the Jews after preparing the Gentiles to take over the role of taking the message to the world, God is going to cleanse (punish) the church and is preparing the Jews to take over again as the ones who will bring the message of salvation to the world. Can it not be seen that there is a pattern? Apostate nation of Israel, Christianity comes in. After a period of time for transition, the temple is destroyed and Israel is punished. Christianity takes over. Now let’s see the reverse. Apostate Christianity, the nation of Israel comes in. After a period of time for transition, the temple is rebuilt and Christianity is punished. Israel will take over. Perfect symmetry. Of course when Christianity took over for Israel, God did not destroy the world, which He will do this time.

So we can see that while it might be nice and neat to think that God has boxed us into boxes when dealing with us, that isn’t the case. When it comes to salvation, He has always dealt with man in the same way - by grace through faith. What has had to change through the ages is the way man has had to respond to God. Man had to sacrifice and live by the law written on his conscience, then man had to sacrifice and acknowledge the law written on stone, as well as follow a multitude of rules for the sake of establishing a healthy, righteous nation into which the Savior could be born. Then man no longer had to sacrifice, because there was the ultimate sacrifice, and the law written on stone was transferred to his heart. The multitude of rules were no longer needed as the Savior had come. We are now free to observe the law, which they couldn’t do before in the same way we can now. What has changed is our response, not God’s way of dealing with us.

When it comes to the nation of Israel, it is a physical, corporate, biological, governmental entity that people are born into, with a destiny tied to a promise to a man’s physical body as well as his spiritual being. When it comes to the church, it is a spiritual, corporate entity that individuals choose to enter into with a completely different destiny tied to a promise to a man‘s faith alone. These two are not mutually exclusive, nor are they dependent upon each other. They can exist separately, and they can exist together. There is a small part of the church that is also of the nation of Israel. They can and do exist simultaneously and God deals with both simultaneously, as they are being dealt with for different things. Hopefully this explanation will settle the problem that the doctrine of dispensations seems to create for people and prevents them from accepting the clear teachings of Christ and His apostles.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Rapture/Resurrection

The verses concerning the rapture and resurrection are the next thing that we will study

1 Cor. 15:20-25.
Paul says that every man will be resurrected in his own order. First Christ, then those that are Christ’s at His Coming. Here Paul puts the resurrection at the Second Coming. We are told in 1 Thess. 4:15 that the rapture does not precede the resurrection. So this would put the rapture at the Second Coming after the resurrection. Next we are told in Corinthians that “the end” will come. Up to this point, when we see the phrase “the end” it has meant that entire 70th week period. If that is what is meant here then pre-trib rapturists would finally have a verse in their favor. But we have seen a lot of scriptures that do not point to that being the case, so now we must see if this verse can be reconciled to the others without having to twist the verse totally out of order and context. We cannot build a theory around this one verse alone in the face of all the others that don’t say this, but if there is no way to reconcile it, then we have to reconsider what we have understood up to this point. Let’s look further.

By simple grammatical rules, “the end” in this verse is referring to that time when Christ will have delivered up the kingdom to God, when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. That He will put all enemies under His feet. From what we have already studied and will study in Revelation, we know that antichrist rules and reigns until the very end of the 70th week. It is then that Christ finally delivers the kingdom to God and starts to fully reign as the one and only King. So now we see there is no discrepancy. This is referring to the very, very end, when all is concluded and the kingdom of God will begin. Therefore this verse is putting the timing of the Second Coming at the end of the 70th week.

1 Thess. 4:13-18. Paul says in verse 14 that those who died in Jesus will be brought back with Jesus when He returns. In verse 15 it says that by “the word of the Lord” in other words according to scripture, that we who are alive until the 2nd coming of Christ will not go before those who are resurrected. Notice that this says that those who are alive at the 2nd coming, will not be raptured before the resurrection. The resurrection occurs at the 2nd coming according to this scripture. Then the rapture follows. Again, this happens at the Second Coming according to "the word of the Lord".

Now in verse 16 and 17 we are given information that we have seen before. We just need to recognize and accept it. The Lord will descend from heaven, and with a shout (thundering), with the voice of the archangel (angels in attendance), with a trumpet blast, and the dead in Christ will rise first, then those who are alive and remain (until the Lord’s 2nd coming) will be caught up in the clouds (angels gather his elect from the four winds) to meet the Lord in the air. This is exactly as described in Matthew, Mark, and Luke and even the Psalms. Everyone agrees that this is the rapture in this verse. Clearly this is the same that Matthew, Mark, and Luke give of the Second Coming where the elect are gathered, so this confirms that the passages in the gospels are about the rapture.

2 Thess. 2:1. This is the third time we have seen this scripture. The first was because it spoke of the Day of the Lord. The second time was because it spoke of the 2nd coming. Now it speaks of the rapture (gathering - notice the use of the same word as in the gospels). The reason it has fallen into all three categories is because all three events are connected. As Paul says, by “the word of the Lord”, the 2nd coming is first, the gathering next. We also know that the signs of the Day of the Lord precedes both of these events and that they kick it off.

1 Cor. 15:51-52. We are told that we won’t all have to die. That some shall be changed without having to go through death. This will take the space of time that a twinkling of an eye takes. It will happen at the last trump. The last trumpet blast by God. Here is a problem. This is the last trumpet blast. There are no more trumpets after the last trumpet blast at which time those who are alive and remain will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. So the trumpet blast that occurs at the Second Coming must also be the last trumpet blast. Therefore, the trumpet blast for the rapture, and the trumpet blast for the Second Coming are the same trumpet blast. We will see when this last trumpet blast occurs in Revelation.

The other verses about the rapture are ones that we have covered when going over the Second Coming. They are the verses in Matthew 24:30-31, 40-41, Mark13:26-27 , and Luke 17:34-36, 21:27-28 which speak of the Son of Man appearing on the clouds and with a trumpet blast, the angels gathering His elect from the four winds, and the one taken, one left. After seeing the parallels in these scriptures, how it can be denied that they are all talking about the same event is a mystery to me. It is clear that they are all speaking of the same event as the same things happen each time.

We already have a timeline from the 2nd Coming scriptures. Here again is the Reader’s Digest condensed (as it were) version of the order of events are as follows:

Beginning of sorrows
70th week begins
Temple is built
Restrainer is removed
Abomination of desolation
Great tribulation
False prophets with signs and wonders
Tribulation cut short of the 3 ½ weeks
Day of the Lord begins as-
Son of Man returns and resurrects/raptures the elect

These following last couple of things are still to be more fully covered, but just to give you a preview, we will see that they occur after the Lord returns.

Punishment poured out on the nations
Marriage feast of the Lamb
Son of Man comes down with saints to earth (from New Jerusalem) at Armageddon

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Second Coming of Christ Pt. 9

Now we need to put together all of the signs of the 2nd coming from all of these scriptures in the working order that they have been given to us. This is a timeline that can now be drawn out like a map and into which we can insert the things, in their proper place, that we still have yet to study.

Beginning of Sorrows
False christs.
Wars and rumors of wars.
Nation vs. nation, kingdom vs. kingdom, ethnic group vs. ethnic group
False prophets
People’s love grows cold
Gospel preached in whole world
Then the end shall come.

70th week begins
Christians need to endure to the end.
Apostasy - itching ears, doctrines of demons
Mocking and rejection of God and His word
Belief in evolution
Increase in wickedness - days of Noah, days of Lot

Midpoint of 70th week
Jerusalem surrounded
Restrainer removed
Abomination of desolation
Jews flee Judea
Great tribulation (known in the O.T. as Jacob's trouble)
Jerusalem trodden by Gentiles until end
False prophets show great signs and wonders
Delusion to all who won’t believe the truth/ if possible elect are deceived
Tribulation shortened - doesn't go the whole 3 1/2 years

Day of the Lord - starts sometime after tribulation ends and before end of 70th week
Fearful sights and wonders in heaven
Sun darkened
Moon gives no light
Stars fall
Heavens parted (rolled up like a scroll)
Nations in upheaval
Seas and waves roar
Men’s hearts failing for fear
Powers shaken in heaven
Things coming on the earth
Earth trembles and quakes
Earth’s foundations moved
Elements burned up
Devastation in heaven
Earth burned up
Smoke and fire
*Notice how the above signs, taken from the Scriptures about the 2nd coming exactly parallel the scriptures in both the O.T. and the N.T. that speak about the Day of the Lord. There is no question that this is the exact same event spoken of in those scriptures and is definitely the Day of the Lord. We will see these signs again in Revelation and by then should easily recognize them. They do not occur multiple times. These horrific events are a one time deal only. They will be devastating in their consequences.

2nd Coming
Sign of the Son of Man
Brightness of His appearing
Antichrist's reign comes to an end
Tribes mourn
Son of Man comes in clouds with great glory and power
Trumpet blast
God thunders
Angels gather elect - the rapture
One taken, one left
*All of the above signs are connected with both the 2nd Coming and the rapture, as we shall confirm even more next. There is no mistake that the rapture occurs at the time of the 2nd Coming.

Very end of 70th week - this will become more clear in Revelation
Lord comes with the saints at Armageddon

With this basic outline, we will see how easily the events of Revelation fit in and make perfect sense. But we still have a few more things to cover before we begin studying the book of Revelation.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Second Coming of Christ Pt. 8

Now we go back to a scripture we have already covered with the Day of the Lord.
2 Thess. 2:1-12. The Lord returns and then we are gathered together to him. This is the order given in the verse and now that we have looked at Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we see that this is the same order that they gave. The Lord returns and gathers the elect. As we have already covered this scripture, it seems unnecessary to go over it in detail again, but Paul verifies that he understands the 2nd coming and rapture just as given by Christ to the disciples. The Thessalonians thought the Day of the Lord either had begun or was about to begin. Paul told the them not to be worried that it had begun as it couldn‘t have yet, as there were signs that had to precede it. He then tells them what events must happen before the Day of the Lord can begin and they follow the same pattern as laid out in the gospels. But just as each of the disciples/apostles added to the information, so Paul adds some. He tells us that another sign will be the apostasy of the church. Then the tribulation. And he gives us the information about the restrainer, which coordinates with Daniel’s information.

Just as a reminder, this scripture says that during the 70th week, after the abomination of desolation, there won’t be multitudes of people coming to the Lord during this time. This says that there won’t be any coming to the Lord. They will all believe the lie. They may not take the mark out of other reasons (Jews won’t believe in Christ until he returns, but they won’t accept antichrist either as many still believe in God and righteousness, and some people are simply anti-New World Order- those who will help but not be sincere), but this clearly says that if you haven’t accepted the Lord before this, you won’t during the tribulation or Day of the Lord. Those who don't take the mark will probably make it into the millennium, but they won’t be part of the bride of Christ as they didn't believe the truth in time.

2 Peter 3:3-13. Peter mentions the 2nd coming in the context of it being mocked, and he goes on to describe the end and Day of the Lord, so I will include it in this section even though it also covers the Day of the Lord, (since the Day of the Lord precedes the 2nd coming.)

First Peter warns that in the last days (end times) there will be scoffers (of God and His word and His coming) who will walk after their own lusts. They will mockingly ask where is the promise (evidence, announcement) of His coming. For (and this is interesting) they say that since the fathers fell asleep (since the beginning of time) all things continue as they were (this is the definition of uniformitarianism - an evolutionary teaching, God actually included here the fact that evolution would be taught in our age) from the beginning of creation (or the beginning of the big bang in their belief system). They are willingly ignorant (deliberately ignore) of the fact that the Bible teaches that the heavens were created first, then the earth was created out of water and was in the water (before land and such were brought forth) and that the world that was then (before the flood) was overflowed with water (the entire earth was flooded) and the world that existed then perished. Noah’s flood accommodates all of the geological fossils and strata and all of the “evidence” for evolution. It is merely that they choose to interpret the evidence to accommodate their belief system. Which is a problem with interpreting scripture also. People approach scripture with a theory in hand and look for the verses to back it up rather than studying scripture to see what it straightforwardly says and take their belief from there.

But the heavens and earth which exist now, also by the word of God, are being kept in store and are being reserved to be destroyed by fire on the day of judgment (Day of the Lord) and the damnation of ungodly mankind.

Next Peter says that we should not be ignorant that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. I happen to believe that Ussher’s chronology is fairly accurate as to how old the earth is. I believe from Adam to Abraham there was roughly 2,000 years. From Abraham to Christ there was 2,000 years, and from Christ to us there has been 2,000 years. During each period God revealed Himself further to mankind. I believe the earth is 6,000 years old. And I have a reason for believing that other than just his chronology. It has to do with God’s laws and observances. He created the world in seven days. Six were for work, one was for rest. He demanded that Israel observe this week. He also created a seven year week for them. Six for the land to be worked, the seventh for the land to have a rest. If the world is indeed 6000 years old, and we know the end times are here and the Lord is close to returning, then the world would have 6000 years for mankind, and one thousand years for the Lord (to reign). We know that the millennium is called a time of rest for the world and Christians to enter into. It would be another type of week where each day is a thousand years. In other words, one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. In a seven day week, the last day is the Sabbath (or rest) Day belonging to the Lord. In a seven year week, the seventh year is the Sabbath year, belonging to the Lord. In a 7000 year long world, the seventh millennium would be the Sabbath or Day of (belonging to) the Lord. Most of the time people think of the Day of the Lord as a short period just before the millennium where God pours out his wrath. What if the entire period is a Sabbath “day’s” rest - the Day of the Lord? A Sabbath for the earth (and mankind). Before the Sabbath began in temple days, right before sundown (when the Sabbath day began) the priests would do a thorough house cleaning to make sure that everything had been cleansed for the Sabbath day. So we see that just before the Sabbath “day” of the millennium God cleanses the earth. Patterns are one of God’s chosen ways of teaching us. Perhaps this is a pattern too. And actually this understanding of the Day of the Lord as being the entire period from the time the heavenly signs start until the Great White Throne Judgment makes some scriptures more understandable.

Now we are told that (although it has taken 2000 years) the Lord is not slow to keep His promises. It is merely that He is so very long suffering toward us and not willing that any should perish, that He holds back.

Then Peter says that the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night (unexpectedly and suddenly without warning, but only to unbelievers) in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, the elements will melt with heat and the earth and all its works will be burned up. There will be great devastation in the heavens. We know the sun and moon go dark. What is going to happen to them? We shall see. The earth will be burned up. Fire will destroy this time, not water.

Then we are given a warning that seeing as all of this will happen, how should we be behaving and speaking. We should be looking forward to this regardless of the devastation, because we look forward to the new earth (a renovated one at this time, just as the new world after Noah) and new heavens where righteousness will be the way of life. We will see how the heavens may change in other scriptures.

Jude 14-15. Enoch - an antediluvian patriarch prophesied about the 2nd coming of Christ. This is interesting as the first coming had not taken place yet. He said that the Lord would come (return) with ten thousands of his saints (us) to execute judgment on all. This is because of the world's gross ungodliness. We will see later that this will be truly fulfilled at Armageddon when He does come with His saints riding behind Him. Many point to this as confirmation that the church must have been raptured previous to the 2nd Coming as the saints come with Him. This verse doesn't contradict a rapture at the 2nd Coming. There are two ways of looking at this verse that fit perfectly with what I have been teaching. First is the one already mentioned, we will see in Revelation that when Christ comes at Armageddon, it will be with the saints in tow. But there is another very rational explanation. When Christ comes to earth, he will be bringing all the saints that have died in the Lord up to that point to resurrect them from the graves. So He will be bringing His saints with Him. Again, there is no discrepancy here. There is another thing that must be understood about the Coming of Christ. It isn't a momentary thing that happens and is over in a second. When Christ comes, first He will take the time to resurrect the dead. When that is accomplished, He will meet the raptured saints in the air. From that vantage point, in New Jerusalem which will be orbiting the earth, He will continue to pour out His wrath on the nations. This will all take time and will encompass the minimum time of a month, possibly more. Then He will come down to earth itself at Armageddon with the saints accompanying Him. In relating this, I jump way ahead of myself into Revelation, but the apparent discrepancy of His having the saints with Him at His Second Coming here had to be reconciled, so it was necessary to cover some material that we are not really ready to cover yet.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Second Coming of Christ Pt. 7

Now we go to Luke. Luke split the Olivet message up when writing about it and inserted it into two different places in his writings, but the information is still there. Because we have both Matthew and Mark’s writings, we can put Luke’s in the correct order.

Luke 21: 7-36, 17:22-36

1st warning: Don’t be deceived.
False christs.
Wars and rumors of wars.
The end is not yet.
Nations rise against nations, kingdoms against kingdoms.

Fearful sights and wonders in the heavens. The others didn’t have signs in the heavens at this point, but we need to look closely at how Luke qualifies these. It is as if he jumped the gun and put them in early, as then he says “But before all these things”, in other words, “I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself”, and he goes back to the order that Matthew and Mark give.

Don’t answer when brought before judges, let the Holy Spirit speak through you.
Will be betrayed by parents, brothers, kinsmen, and friends to the death.

Have patience. Instead of saying that we should endure to the end, he simply says that we will need to have patience.

When Jerusalem is surrounded by armies, the abomination of desolation is about to occur. There is a little more information given here. Before the abomination of desolation, Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies. There will be some sort of military battle going on against Israel. For those who know to expect this, it will be the warning for them to do the next item listed - flee.

Those who are in Judea should flee to the mountains. Now they are told where to flee. There is speculation that they will flee to Petra in Jordan, or what used to be called Edom. There are some scriptural reasons for believing this, but we won’t go into them now. We’ll run into this again in Revelation, so we can deal with it more there.

Some will be killed or taken prisoner. This is what will happen in the tribulation.

Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled. (This verse is completely in context of the chronology of events, so it cannot be moved in the timeline.) The time of the Gentiles has not been fulfilled yet as of this time - after the abomination of desolation and within the tribulation. Again, this is where Luke puts it. The time of the Gentiles is not fulfilled, or the fullness of the Gentiles has not yet come in. The “fullness of the Gentiles coming in” is a phrase that Paul uses in Romans 11:25. He says that Israel will be blind until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. So as of this point (the tribulation), Israel is still blind, according to Paul. Rev. 11:2 says that the court of the temple will be given to the Gentiles, as well as the holy city, to be trodden down by the Gentiles for forty-two months. The use of the same words is not coincidence in these verses by these three different authors. This is God’s inspiration for our benefit of ferreting out the truth.

By simple substitution, as you would use in a geometry theorem, we can rephrase Luke’s verse like this. The holy city, Jerusalem, will be trodden down for forty-two months (after the abomination of desolation, as that is where Luke puts it) by the Gentiles, and Israel will be blinded until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled (forty-two months later).

If you didn’t follow that, here it is again. Luke says that Jerusalem (the holy city) will be trodden down by Gentiles after the tribulation until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled. Revelation says that the treading of Jerusalem by the Gentiles will last forty-two months. So Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles for forty-two months. The treading of Jerusalem continues (for forty-two months) until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled. Israel is blind until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled (after the forty-two months). So the fulfillment of the Gentiles comes at the end of the forty-two months, which we will eventually see starts at the abomination of desolation. After that time, Israel’s blindness will be lifted. Some teach that one of the reasons that the rapture occurs before the 70th week is that the time of the Gentiles is over and this is the time for the Jews. This verse in Luke when in conjunction with Romans 11:25 and Revelation 11:2 says otherwise. The Jews will be blind until those forty-two months are over and they see Him whom they have pierced when He makes a visible appearance in the sky with clouds and angels to gather His elect. (when the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled). We will get more into the forty-two months in Revelation.

There will be the following signs in the following heavenly bodies:
The sun.
The moon.
The stars.
Nations in upheaval.
Seas and waves roaring .
Men’s hearts failing them for fear.
Things are coming on the earth.
The powers of heaven are shaken.
This time there is more Day of the Lord signs, which only verifies that it is the Day of the Lord to which it refers.

The Son of man comes in a cloud with power and glory.
When this happens, redemption is near - for Christians.
The parable of the fig tree.
This generation will not pass away till all is done.
2nd warning: don’t let this day come on you unexpectedly.
3rd warning: watch and PRAY that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things. We are now told that we should be praying that we can escape ( by God’s miraculous protection) out of all that is going to come upon the earth, so that we may live until the Lord does return. Only those who have not been guilty of all the apostasy that has been going on in the church, who as we will see in Revelation are overcomers, will be worthy to escape. The rest will suffer greatly at the hand of antichrist and from the things that will befall the earth.

(Chapter 17)

We have seen the following signs before, and can place them in their proper place with the events listed in chapter 21.

1st warning: don’t follow false christs.
As lightning shines from one part of heaven to the other, so will be the Son of man when he comes.
As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in that day, eating, drinking marrying, etc.

As it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be. The same day that Lot left Sodom, it was destroyed. So it shall be on the day the Lord returns. The problem in Lot’s day was homosexuality. Homosexuality is becoming so prevalent these days that it sometimes seems every other person is one. It is just one more sign of the times that lets us know the end is near. The day that Lot was rescued, Sodom was destroyed. The day that Noah got in the ark, judgment began. The day the Lord returns and removes us, will be the day when His judgment on the nations begins. We will see that judgment begins with the house of the Lord, then goes to the Jew, then is lastly poured out on the nations.

In that day those who seek to save their lives will lose it and those who lose their lives will preserve it. Saving your physical life will require taking the mark of the beast. To do so will mean the loss of eternal life. In losing their physical lives, and refusing the mark, they will save their souls.

People who are side by side, one will be taken, one will be left.
Where the body is there will the eagles be gathered. The placement of this verse after the one taken, one left, would seem to lean toward the interpretation that the eagles are Christians and the body is Christ to whom they are gathered.

Just as Mark gave us a little more information than Matthew, so Luke gives us a little more yet. We keep getting more information, so that we can work out the details as to what is going to happen. It is similar to putting a jigsaw puzzle together. You have to fit the pieces together, but they must fit exactly.

As a last note, Luke was a Greek physician. I have been getting comments that this discourse was meant only for the Jews, and I asked the question, what if one of the disciples was not a Jew, what would that mean about to whom this discourse was aimed? Well, Luke accepted this discourse as being pertinent to Christians or he would not have included it in his gospel, as the New Testament was being written for the sake of believers. It is believers that are told to look for the 2nd Coming of Christ. The Jewish population will not be looking for His return. They will only acknowledge Him once He has returned. This is what scripture teaches, and this is what we must accept.