Thursday, October 21, 2010

Revelation 21:3-5

Verse 3 “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”

Now a voice from heaven announces that God’s tabernacle (New Jerusalem) will be not above man shining down on him, but with man. He will dwell on the new earth (which will be large enough to contain this city) and everyone will be His people. They will actually live in the presence of God. He will never again separate Himself from mankind.

Verse 4 “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.”

Everything that will have passed will have been painful for everyone. God will comfort them and remove their sorrow and possibly memories of what has transpired, so that they do not grieve. Their joy at being in the presence of God will help them to forget the past, if He does not remove the memories. And in time, memories fade, and there is all of eternity ahead in which there is time to forget. All the former things of this life will be no more, so there will be nothing to remind us of it. There will be no more death. Death was never a part of God’s plan, it was the result of man’s sin. Now death and pain will no longer exist. They are of the past, and everything of the past that happened in time will be no more. God’s people and creation will be entering into eternity where there is no time, as we live it today. We think in terms of years, but in eternity that would be an impossibility after a while.

Verse 5 “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”

Now the occupier of the throne (either God or Yeshua) says that everything is being made new, not renovated or made over, but entirely new. New heavens and earth, new concept of life (no death or illness, or pain, or sorrow), new concept of time, eternity. Then He reiterates that these promises are true and will be fulfilled. We are told that not one jot or tittle will pass from God’s word until heaven and earth pass away and all is fulfilled. Matt. 5:18. After all is said and done, there will be no need for the Scriptures anymore, so God's Word as far as the Bible, can pass away, as the earth and heavens will. I believe Jehovah's Witnesses believe that this earth will go on forever, and if one takes some verses alone without considering all of the verses on this subject, one might be inclined to agree. However, there are other verses such as this in Matthew and these in Revelation that show us that the present earth and heavens will pass away. After all of the Law is fulfilled and the Word of God is completely fulfilled, the heavens and earth will pass away and new ones will be created. There will always be an earth, just not the same one. This earth will not pass away until everything written in God's Word is fulfilled, but those words will eventually be fulfilled, and then all things will become new.

Many people have a problem with the idea that the world will go back to temple worship during the millennium. It must be remembered that Israel was promised this time of being a premier nation under the rule of the Messiah, and they will bring the gospel to the rest of the world (as originally intended). It hasn't happened yet, and God keeps His promises, so this must happen. That is part of the purpose of the millennium. As the Torah (first five books of the Bible) and temple worship is what identifies the nation of Israel, and given that the world will be in a barbaric condition and need these sort of rules for survival again, this is the way the world will function - under the law. It isn't a matter of grace not being given, grace has always been given (check out what it says about Noah), but just as Judaism did not work very well the first time around, Christianity did not work very well either. Our concept of grace and freedom have led to an enormous amount of paganism in the church, just as there was in Israel, so our way of worshiping God is no better. People need stringent guidelines to keep them in check. The laws of the Old Testament are God's governmental laws. Christ will be the King on the throne, and every government has to have rules. God has already created those rules for the nation of Israel, so they will come into effect again. Since freedom from temple worship and indwelling of the Holy Spirit has not seemed to keep people from straying off the path, temple worship procedures will come back into practice. At the end of the millennium, after judgment, only those who are followers of God will go on into eternity with Him. We will see that there will be no more temple, and we have been told death, pain, etc. are no more, so it appears that the Torah will no longer be necessary. The prophecies will have been fulfilled, the history of Israel will be irrelevant, and the gospel will no longer have to be preached. It says that until the heavens and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle of the law will, until all is fulfilled. It does not say that the law will never pass away, just that it won't until it has 1) been fulfilled, and 2) after the heavens and earth pass away, which they now do.

Getting back to the words being faithful and true, having delved into everything from occult teachings to conspiracy theories in the course of my research, I can say that there is much that can sway a mind that is not firmly rooted in the Word of God. Knowing that it is faithful and true, and knowing that history, archeology, and 100% fulfilled prophecies prove that it is faithful and true, is what has kept me from straying off course when the lies start worming their way into my brain. Studying these lies of Satan to learn what is being said so as to 1) refute it and 2) to know what the enemy is planning, is a dangerous occupation and should never be taken up by anyone who has not studied God's Word in depth and for a long time. What saves a person from being deceived are the warning bells that sound when you realize something is not in alignment with the Word of God. This will not happen if you do not have a thorough understanding and familiarity with God's Word from beginning to end. That is just another reason why I initially began this study of end times in the book of Genesis.

In my small circle of close Christian friends, practically all of them (erroneously I believe) ascribe to the theory that a true Christian cannot be deceived. When the passage in Matthew 24 comes up ("if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."), I have been told that while it may say that it is possible, it does not really indicate the possibility that they can be. I disagree. First it must be noted that the words "it were" are not in the original manuscripts. They have been editorially added by the translators, which is why they are in italics. They were trying to be as accurate as possible, but things do not always translate well, so they would add words to try to make the flow of the sentence more grammatically correct in English. They however did not want to deceive, so they italicized words that were not there in the original language. So it actually reads "if possible, they will deceive the elect." Now either way, I say that the word "if" implies the possibility, however the words "it were" changes how the verse is perceived by these people. For example if I say, "if possible, I will go to town tomorrow," I am not saying it is impossible. I am saying if circumstances allow it, I will go to town. Therefore it depends on the circumstances. If I say, "if it were possible, I would go to town tomorrow" it appears as if it is not possible at the outset, however if conditions were to change and it were then possible, I could still go. However there still seems to be a problem in the grammar. "If it were possible" implies a condition exists that has already happened in the past that might prevent my going, yet the conditional grammar that should accompany that to be consistent should be "I would" (as I used). Instead we see the words "they shall" which is not a past tense, is used. In fact this implies a positive declaration that there will be some who succumb to the deception. The fact that the words "it were" are not in the original should be taken into account. It says, "if possible, they shall deceive." This implies it is possible and that it will happen in some cases. Otherwise, why bother saying it at all? How will they be able to deceive? God tells us. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." Hosea 4:6. People are deceived and destroyed because they do not know what God's Word says and therefore do not realize that what they are accepting as truth is in fact a lie.

Back to my friends, if I were to ask them if they believe they are truly saved, they would give a resounding "yes." And I would agree, as I know them and believe it to be true based on their fruits. However, I also know that more than a few of them have been deceived doctrinally. A couple in particular because they have, over the course of a long period of time, listened to a self-proclaimed Bible teacher who has proven himself to be a false prophet. Some of the others simply do not question the doctrines that their church lays out for them, and have never studied to see if they are truly what the Bible teaches. As for the false prophet, luckily for him he does not live in ancient Israel. What would happen to him if he did? Deut. 13:5 "And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death." This man predicted the Lord's return some years ago and obviously was wrong. He predicted again, and I know he will miss again based on the date he has given, as we are not even in the tribulation period yet. Since he has already missed once, and does not have confidence in his own predictions, he has also set forth a third date if this second one fails (which it will). My friends who follow this man's teachings do not believe it is possible for them to be deceived, as they are true Christians, and yet as I sit there and talk to them, I know that they are already deceived, in that they have followed this man, whose teachings are so unscriptural as to be absurd in some cases. Given that he is a proven false prophet, they should never have listened to him to begin with. So the very thing they think is impossible, has in fact already happened. They are deceived. When I questioned one of the doctrines this man teaches and asked what they did with not only the verses that contradict it, but literally whole chapters that contradict it, I was told they had never studied this part of the Bible. See my point about knowledge? Had they had even a passing working knowledge of the Bible from start to finish, this man would never have infiltrated and changed their beliefs. Nobody, nobody, is beyond being deceived. The danger lies in believing that you cannot be. Am I scared for my friends in the days ahead? You had better believe it. They do not have what they need at their disposal, namely a working knowledge of the entire Bible, not just the New Testament gospels and epistles. The only recourse we have against this possibility is to 1) "study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Tim. 2:15. Know what God's Word says. 2) be a Berean and check everything against Scripture (which requires having a working knowledge to begin with) Acts 17:11 "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." 3) do not trust others to do your research for you. They may not be trustworthy. Do not run to a commentary, or a teacher/pastor for answers. Do not be lazy. Your salvation depends upon you, not them. This may seem to contradict my writing this and you (for those who read this) reading my blog, but one thing that I always preach is to not take my word for it. Check it out yourself. Reading other's words is fine as long as you check what they say against the Scriptures. Sometimes it helps our own studies to get other's insights on the Scriptures, and access the knowledge they may have about history, geography, science, or any other number of things. This is all right provided you do not rely on anyone's word, including mine, without verifying things, and finally 4) pray, pray, pray for truth and to not be deceived.

Some people make the mistake of studying other things first and then coming to God's Word. The problem with this is that then God's Word is viewed through the lies of the other belief systems or the bias of the person's interpretation. Thus the truth becomes distorted. How does a bank clerk become adept at recognizing counterfeit money? Is it by handling counterfeit money? No. There are too many different ways of counterfeiting to do that. A person who learns to spot counterfeit money is never given that money to study at all. They are given real money and they must study every inch of it. In so doing, they recognize the real thing, so when something comes along that has something amiss, they spot it immediately. It is a much easier process to do it that way. One would miss a great deal the other way, as one would never be sure what is actually real and what is not, because the real thing was never studied. The same holds true for the Word of God. One needs to approach it with a blank slate. No commentaries, no trying to make it fit with so-called science (Everything can be reconciled between Scripture and true science. See to get any answers you might need for that.) There should be no trying to mesh different religious beliefs with it. The only book that is inspired by God and has the truth is the Bible. And that book has told us that there is no revelation beyond it, so any of these books (or people) that have "new revelations" that have come after the Bible are from false prophets. It should not be superseded by them.

I have digressed from Revelation, but the whole concept of Christians being deceived was a recent issue of concern for me, so I felt led to write on it as it seemed to suddenly be relevant to this verse.

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