The sheer weight of experiential knowledge with which Jesus blessed the apostles, was a one time deal which has never quite been repeated again.
There have only ever been twelve accepted apostles, and there will never be any more of them!
But what about Rev 4:4, which says, ... "And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold."
Those twenty four elders represent the twelve original forefathers of old Israel, as well as the twelve apostles of Christ, as the chief representatives of God's two witnesses. (I've already explained who the two witnesses are, elsewhere.)
At no time in the Old Testament scriptures is the number 24 used to represent the foundation of God's kingdom, but there's more than ample evidence connected to the number 12. (see Exo 28:21; Jos 4:3; 1Ki 18:31)
The same thing can be said for the New Testament. (Mat 10:1,2; Mat 19:28; Rev 21:14) (Especially notice that there are only twelve foundation stones to new Jerusalem, representing only twelve apostles.)
At the end of one of His parables, the Lord once asked a very strange question ... "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luk 18:8)
I suspect that He already knew the answer to that, but posed the question for our sakes, so that we would one day consider what He'd meant.
When we consider that Jesus had all of the time He needed to observe the faithless behaviour of the human race, then what He was indirectly saying was, ... "Since I'm not going to be present in the end of days, and the apostles will be long dead, then how will the Church gain enough experience in the things of God, in order to survive to the end?"
The Church needs deeper experiences from God, in order to get closer to God, which is further explained in Rom 5:1-5, which says, ... "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein, we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
Waiting on God puts us on the path to more spiritual experiences, which in turn, leads to a more lively hope in God.
So what's the problem?
The simple fact that we're still living in the spiritually bankrupt night time, which Jesus spoke of in Joh 9:4 as, "the night cometh, when no man can work."
It's clear from all of this that the Church of our time is in dire need of a helpful and present guiding light, but since the end of that statement from Joh 9:4 says ... "when no man can work", then what possible answer can there be?
It's found in Rev 7:4, in the description given of the twelve times twelve thousand individuals, who will make up the 144,000.
As I explained in "Shadows of Bible Prophecy", one of the primary purposes of the 144,000 is to teach, and since they aren't really men at all, but newly created angels of God, then the comment "when no man can work" doesn't really apply to them.
I intend to explain more on this subject next week though.
To be continued ...
The apostles had great faith because of the experiences they had while following the Lord around, and also because they were witnesses to His resurrection.
Although they lived in relative poverty compared to the world we now live in, they were specially blessed by the presence of the Lord, and later went on to inspire others.
They were truly richer in Spirit. (Mat 5:3)
The more time they spent with Jesus, the stronger their faith became.
But relatively speaking, we now live in barren times!
Luk 6:24 says ... "But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation."
What this means in practical terms, is that a rich person will naturally first go to the bank whenever a need arises, but anyone who is poor has little choice but to turn to God.
The more often they turn to God, the more experiences they will have of His presence in their lives, and the stronger their faith will become!
The relationship between the experiences of the apostles, and the level of their faith, is undeniable when we consider the case of doubting Thomas.
At face value, it might appear that the reason he doubted, was because he was the only apostle who wasn't present when Jesus appeared to them after He had risen. (Joh 20:24)
However, the real reason was because he was just one of those people who refuses to believe something, unless they can see it with their own eyes.
He then said ... "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."
Eight days later, the Lord reappeared before them again, and said to Thomas ... "Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing." (Joh 20:27)
If Jesus hadn't allowed Thomas that experience, then he never would have gone on to become an effective apostle.
Joh 20:30 then goes on to say ... "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book"
For anyone who's interested, you can download the newest free e-book of these blogs from here ... http://www.qfpost.com/file/d?g=zrxpPH2wp
To be continued ...
A while ago, I saw a program about the apostle John, which claimed that he was a frail old man fleeing from the Romans, and living in caves when he wrote the book of Revelation. (Revelation is believed to have been written about sixty years after the crucifixion)
The program claimed that he was obviously delirious at the time when he wrote the book, but anyone who has read my work about Revelation should realize how false those claims are.
It's seems to me that a lot of ignorant documentaries are solely created to fill an hour of television time, for the purpose of making a quick buck.
They're created from an earthly perspective, and therefore can't take into account that when the flesh gets weaker, the Spirit gets stronger within us.
It seems much more likely to me, that by the time he wrote the book of Revelation, John would have been a spiritual dynamo!
This is further supported by historical claims that he actually lived to a ripe old age of something approaching one hundred and twenty years, which is symbolically supported by the words of Christ concerning John, when He said ... "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" (Joh 21:22).
Clearly, Jesus was saying that He could keep John alive until the second coming, if He wished.
But why John?
I suspect that he must have had a terrible time until Jesus came into his life, and the extent of his gratitude towards the Lord for giving his life meaning was shown at the last supper ... "Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved." (Joh 13:23)
Although it isn't directly stated anywhere that John was the one who leaned on Jesus, the fact that he didn't mention who it was, combined with the tone of the statement, indirectly implies that John was referring to himself.
It's also conspicuously absent from the other three versions of the gospel. (Probably because John was the only one who considered it to be important enough to mention.)
Here was a young man who kept his heart on his sleeve, and must have been very close to the Lord.
As a metaphor, I'd have to say that the life of John stood for a symbol of long life, and that all we really need to do is to open our heart to God, to find a place of special protection.
You might remember that I once said that it's easier to destroy, than it is to create.
A good example of this was the sin committed by Adam and Eve, resulting in a domino effect which extended out to every other natural human being who would ever live, and binding the world under the power of sin.
Maybe we should call it the Humpty Dumpty effect.
Satan, Philosophers, humanists, false religions and all of the kings of the world, and all of their horses, haven't been able to remove the destructive effects of sin, which ultimately results in the collapse of any kingdom.
But then, Rom 5:15-17 says ... "For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the, judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ."
So God didn't need to use all of the powers of this world, and the angels of Heaven to undo the damage, but instead chose to accomplish it with just one man.
Just another case of God mocking the world through imitation, and by doing the impossible!
Comparing the exploits of Samson to Jesus reveals something very interesting.
When Samson stretched out his arms between the pillars of the Philistine temple, he brought down the power of the enemies of his own time, but when Jesus stretched out his arms on the cross, He completely destroyed the power of the kingdoms of Satan.
The same can be seen in the comparison between Solomon and Jesus.
Whereas Solomon only managed to fullfill half of the requirements of his mother's prophecy, our Lord managed to resist alcohol as well as the temptations of women.
The only fair conclusion we can draw from this, is that Jesus was stronger than Samson, and wiser than Solomon.
But surely, even though the continual abuse of alcohol can damage our judgement, is it really all that serious if the effect can be so subtle?
Considering that God's Spirit speaks to us in very subtle ways, I'd have to say that we need all of the good judgement we can get!
Of wisdom, Pro 8:1 says ... "Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?"
And also ... "Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets" (Pro 1:20)
An example of wisdom crying out, can be found in the life of Samson.
I'm sure most of us have heard the saying ... "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me."
Well someone should have explained that to Samson!
After being pressed by his own wife to reveal a secret, he relented and told her the answer, which ended up costing him dearly.
Pro 20:30 says ... "The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil"
Clearly we're meant to learn from our mistakes, and if Samson had been paying attention, he wouldn't have made the same mistake when Delilah pressed him for the secret to his great strength.
Pro 17:24 also says ... "Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth."
This tells us that all of the information he needed to protect himself, was right there in front of him all the time, and he just didn't notice.
But if the betrayal by his wife wasn't enough guidance from God to make him wary, then he certainly wasn't going to notice this next bit.
In old times, a persons name often had a deeper meaning, and although I suspect that Samson knew what Delilah's name really meant, he still just chose to ignore it.
Believe it or not, Delilah actually means "languishing", which in turn means "to become feeble".
Considering that the secret of his strength was the only thing that kept him from becoming feeble, perhaps he should have thought twice before revealing it to her.
Samson had powerful enemies, and under the circumstances he really should have smelled a rat.
In recent times it's been established that there's a correlation between alcoholism and disorders like Parkinsons disease, because drinking to excess destroys hundreds of millions of brain cells.
Although many seem to believe that the only price to be payed for a night on the town, will be the hangover they'll have to endure the next morning, I can't help but wonder if they're really losing much more than they bargained for in the long run.
In a warning given to Solomon by his mother, we see ... "What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows? Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings. It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more." (Pro 31:1-7)
I believe that this warning goes beyond any momentary perversion of judgement which might result from the excessive consumption of alcohol, and that she was really referring to an overall general loss of judgement!
Whenever anyone drinks to excess, they're really destroying an important part of their ability to perceive the world around them, but the effect can be so subtle as to normally go unnoticed.
It seems to me, that his mother's prophetic warning must have been a contributing factor to the attainment of Solomon's great wisdom, and would imply that he really did abstain from alcohol throughout his life.
It's just a shame that he didn't have the strength to resist the other part of that warning concerning women, and that's where he failed.
But this then raises the question ... If he hadn't abstained from alcohol, would he still have gone on to become the wisest natural man in history?
Somehow, I seriously doubt it!
To be continued ...
Through the various connections to the life of Samson, We can be pretty sure that Jesus was a Nazarite from birth, but although His rejection of the vinegar offered to him on the cross would seem to imply that He'd rejected it for that reason, the truth is really much stranger than that.
You see, it all comes down to what He'd said at the last supper ... "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come".
At the moment He tasted the vinegar, He then knew that the kingdom of God had finally arrived.
He also received all knowledge from God the Father, and even though He'd never tasted vinegar before, He instantly knew that it was the fruit of the vine He was tasting, and consequently, there was no need for Him to continue drinking the vinegar at all!
Instead, His reaction to that awareness is found in the Gospel according to John, which says ... "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (Joh 19:30)
Jesus didn't know that His ordeal had come to an end, until he'd tasted that vinegar! (i.e. the fruit of the vine)
No man can see God and live (Exo 33:20), and in effect, that's exactly what happened to the man Jesus Christ, because He barely had enough time to say "It is finished", before dying of shock.
In the Bible, the "eye" is symbolic of understanding, and since God is an invisible spirit, the only way for anyone to see Him, is if they can fully understand Him.
During His life, the Lord had to walk by faith as a man in order to be the author of our salvation, and was therefore denied much knowledge from God the Father, but the sudden infusion of infinite knowledge into His human mind at the moment when He tasted the vinegar, was enough to mercifully shorten His life, and thereby end His suffering on the cross.
Considering that the Lord was already close to death, and in a severely weakened state, it's understandable that it would have been enough to finish Him.
The possibility that the Lord was a Nazarite from birth is further supported by the shadow likeness in the life of Samson.
1) First of all, the births of both Samson and Jesus were heralded by an angel, and they were both saviours of Israel. Jdg 13:3-5; Mat 1:18-21
2) We also have to consider that both women should have been unable to bare a child, because the mother of Samson was barren, and the mother of Jesus was a virgin.
3) The name Samson actually means "sunlight", and a comparison to a couple of verses about Jesus, further establishes a strong symbolic connection between them. (see Mal 4:2 "the Sun of righteousness", and Rev 1:16 "and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.")
4) In Gen 22:17, God promised Abraham ... "That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies."
The Holy seed He was talking about was Jesus, and by extension, the Church. (Psa 22:30;1Jn 3:9;1Pe 1:23;Gal 3:29) The promise that the seed of Abraham would possess the gate of his enemies is another symbolic connection to the life of Samson. (Judges 16:1-3)
There's also a symbolic connection in these verses from Judges between Samson and Jesus, which further implies that Jesus will return around midnight of the seventh day of God. (Jdg 16:3)
5) Both Samson and Jesus were delivered to death through acts of betrayal,and Judas Iscariot and Delilah were both rewarded for their betrayal with a payment of silver. (Mat 26:14,15;Jdg 16:5)
7) Samson and Jesus were both blinded by their enemies. (Jdg 16:21;Mat 27:46)
In Samson's case, he was literally blinded, but the Lord was only spiritually blinded for a moment.
Jesus already knew how He was going to suffer, even before it happened, and the words "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" represent the darkest part of His ordeal when He was momentarily blinded to the truth.
It was just a temporary lapse, and at no time did God the Father ever really desert Jesus!
8) Samson sacrificed his life and destroyed the Lords of the philistines, and Jesus sacrificed His life and destroyed the power of Satan. (Jdg 16:30;Col 2:15)
To be continued ...
One of the things which has been disputed over the years, is whether or not Jesus had long hair.
After all, 1Co 11:14 says ... "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?"
But this really becomes a moot point when we consider that Jesus was possibly a Nazarite from birth.
In the description of a Nazarite given in Num 6:1-4, we see ... "And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: He shall separate himself from wine, and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing, that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels, even to the husk."
Throughout the history of the world, there's never been anyone more "separated to God" than Jesus.
But what makes it most relevant, is the connection to Mat 27:34 which says ... "They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink."
Offering vinegar to someone dying of thirst on a cross, is no kindness, and is meant to increase their suffering, because that kind of terrible thirst would normally compel anyone in that state to drink just about anything you offered them.
But Jesus still refused to drink!
Then looking at Lev 10:9, it says of the Levitical priesthood ... "Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generation"
But Jesus was also God's high priest, and according to Heb 9:11, He was also the new tabernacle as well ... "But Christ being come a high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building"
I suspect that the Lord would have abstained from consuming any of the fruit of the vine for those reasons, and His answer to John the Baptist in Mat 3:15 would seem to support that idea ... "And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness."
If however, we take a look at the last supper according to Matthew, it says ... "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth, of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." (Mat 26:26-29)
The use of the word "henceforth" would seem to imply that Jesus might have drunk alcohol before that time, but then intended to abstain from it until after He had risen from the dead.
But Matthew wasn't the only one to remember the events of the last supper!
The description of the last supper according to Luke, appears to contain even more details than remembered by Matthew, which tells me that Luke's recollection was probably more accurate ... "And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until, it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you." (Luk 22:15-20)
Firstly, you'll notice that He didn't use the word "henceforth" when referring to His cup, but simply said "For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come."
And secondly, since the cup He passed around at the end of the meal represented His own blood, it's highly improbable that He would have drunk from it Himself.
If all of this isn't enough though, then there's still Luk 5:30, which says ... "But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?"
The Pharisees really had it in for Jesus, and if there was any way that they could have accused Him of drinking alcohol, then they certainly would have.
Clearly, according to Luk 5:30, Jesus wasn't taking part in the drinking, which is why they had to settle for accusing His disciples!
In fact, as far as I can tell, the only place in the scriptures which plainly refers to a time when the Lord may have consumed alcohol is Acts 10:40,41, which says ... "Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead."
But that's really just in accordance with what He'd previously said at the last supper.
To be continued ...
In an action movie set in the ancient world, the heroine cried ... "Do you want to live forever", just before jumping from a great height.
Along the same lines, some time ago I came across a website where the subject of discussion was eternity. One of the people involved in that discussion notably said something like ... "But surely you'd eventually become bored".
For an earthly human being, I suspect that this is a very true statement, because earthly minded individuals are driven by selfish lust and greed, and are a bit like a runaway fire which can never be satisfied, until it's burned up everything in its path.
1Ti 6:5-10 says of this ... "Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through, with many sorrows."
The apostle Paul said of himself ... "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Php 4:11-13)
We all need to develop this same attitude, in order to become a better person who is adaptable enough to live forever.
Also, those who have a worthwhile purpose in life will always have a reason to live, and the selfless nature of our Christian faith thereby also prepares us for eternity as well. (1Co 10:24)
Isa 9:7 tells us that there will never be an end to the increase of God's kingdom, which means that there will always be new children of God being created, and that those children will need help from those who have already graduated to the status of angels.
That's part of the reason why the Godhead is likened to the institution of marriage, because after parents have lived through their own youth, they then get to live vicariously through the experiences of their children.
Jesus supported this when He said ... "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth" (Luk 15:7)
On top of all that, we also have promises from God's word which implies that we'll never get bored. (e.g. Job 36:11;Psa 16:11;Psa 36:8)
2Co 8:15 says ... "As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack."
We'll all continue to receive whatever good things we need to continue cheerfully living our lives.
Of all the stories from the Bible, one of my favourites is found in Mat 14:14-21, which says ... "And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need, not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and broke, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children."
The moral of this story, is that God has infinite resources to draw upon, and can even do those things which completely contradict our own interpretation of reality.
For my own part though, I think it'd just be nice to know that everyone around me in heaven would have an honest concern for my wellbeing.
Back in high school, I did a brief stint in the army cadets, and learned a lesson in life during a camp outing. One cold evening, a lantern was strung up on a tree, and after being spread out amongst the surrounding bushland, we were all expected to return to the lantern.
Sounds simple enough, except there were others who were appointed to catch us.
At first, it all seemed too easy, moving from one outcrop to another in the dark, but about half way back to the light something unexpected happened.
Somebody launched a flare high into the sky!
The people who were looking for us, all started drifting towards the area where the flare would come down for a better look.
Unfortunately for me though, I was a bit too exposed, and one of the searchers came uncomfortably close to where I was lying in some grass.
In an attempt to obtain better cover, I moved myself slightly to one side towards a small nearby bush, but the rustling of the grass caught the attention of the searcher, and I was discovered.
He then said, ... "If you hadn't moved, I never would have seen you".
So I never did make it to the lantern, but the experience did teach me something.
Sometimes the difference between life and death, can be something as simple as knowing exactly the right thing to do, at exactly the right time!
During the great tribulation, only those who'll know to stay still, will survive long enough to reap the harvest.
If we take another look at Gen 9:13, we see ... "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth."
According to Strongs concordance, the word used here as "token" actually means ... (in the sense of appearing); a signal (literally or figuratively), as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, evidence, etc.: - mark, miracle, (en-) sign, token.
The word token has essentially the same meaning as "ensign" (i.e. God's ensign), which is defined as ... a flag; also a sail; by implication a flagstaff; generally a signal; figuratively a token: - banner, pole, sail, (en-) sign, standard.
Now, continuing with the shadow likeness of Gen 9:15,16, we see ... "And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. "
In much the same way that the rainbow of Noah's time was a reminder that God should never again fatally flood the Earth, the 144,000 (God's bow) in the cloud, will signal the end of the flood of Islam against God's people in the latter days, along with the assurance that it'll never be allowed to happen again.
Even though Islam will rise again later on at the second resurrection, it's clear from all of this that the rebellion will come to nothing, and will be put down very quickly.
This is really just a further extension to the symbolic likenesses in the story of Noah.
Immediately after the great flood, another shadow of future events can be found in Gen 9:13-16 ... "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the water shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth."
I bet you didn't know that the rainbow is just another connection to the group of the 144,000. (The Hebrew word for "bow" which is used in these verses, is the same as the "bow" which fires arrows.)
In Shadows of Bible Prophecy, in the chapter about God's ensign, I explained how the "bow" is really a symbol of that particular group, and how it's also a symbol of teaching, but let's just take a closer look at those verses from Genesis again, to see what we can learn.
The words ... "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth."
Although the Lord Jesus was the living embodiment of the covenant between God and men, the 144,000 are meant to be a token of that covenant in the latter days.
Gen 9:14 continues with ... "And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud"
This is symbolically connected to Mat 24:30, which says ... " and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Mat 24:30)(also see Rev 1:7)
What this tells us, is that the bow (144,000), will be seen in the clouds of the saints when the Lord appears, and that also tells us that they'll rise up to meet the Lord in the air, at the beginning of that fateful one hour period when the world will be converted to the faith.
1Th 4:16 supports this with ... "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first"
There's no evidence to support the idea that the 144,000 will literally die during the great tribulation, but as I've explained before, there's every reason to consider them to be dead in Christ for having given up their lives for the kingdom of heaven. (You don't need to literally die, in order to be dead in Christ!)
At the beginning of the hour, the 144,000 will rise up to meet the Lord, along with those who were martyred during the great tribulation, then at the end of the hour He'll send forth His angels, to gather His remaining elect from around the world. (Mat 24:31)
So the 144,000 will survive until God's harvest begins, but won't actually take part in the harvest themselves, because their own work will already be done.
To be continued ...
Jesus said ... "The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, a greater than Solomon is here." (Mat 12:42)
The wisdom of Solomon was part of a gift which was largely given to the Jews (Deu 8:18), for the purpose of keeping their nation alive during the times when they would drift away from God, whereas the wisdom of Jesus pertains to the acquisition of spiritual wealth.
For an example of what I mean, Ecc 5:19 says ... "Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God."
But this clearly only applies to the work of men, and has nothing to do with the new creature of the Spirit which we aspire to become.
Contrary to the understanding of Solomon, Jesus said ... "And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection." (Luk 8:14)
So we've really been given the choice between the Spiritual and material worlds.
At one time, a young man who wanted to follow the Lord asked ... "what lack I yet?" (Mat 19:20)
The Lord replied ... "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me." (Mat 19:4)
After the young man had left, He then said to His disciples ... "Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
There are those within the Church who seek to mislead others into their own belief, that God wants us all to become materially wealthy, but that's a big mistake.
1Co 5:11 even goes as far as to say ... "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no not to eat."
Covetousness is a serious enough sin by itself, but leading others to do the same thing, is much worse!
Rom 14:13 also says ... "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way."
The wisdom of the Old Testament concerning the value of material wealth, was only a shadow of the New Testament and the true riches of Christ, and there are many verses which bare witness to this.
(Mat 6:20 ; Rom 2:4 ; Rom 11:33 ; 2Co 8:2 ; Eph 1:18 ; Eph 3:8 ; Col 1:27 ; Col 2:2 ; Heb 11:26 ; 1Ti 6:8 ; Heb 13:5)
And then there's the well known verse of Luk 16:13 ... "No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Covetous individuals also cause damage to the message of the Gospel, by giving the world a reason to criticize, and that's why the most knowledgeable of the apostles chose to work, rather than to live on the proceeds of fleecing God's flock.
In chapter 9 of 1Corinthians Paul said ... "If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?" (1Co 9:11)
He then gave another reason for not living off the flock as ... "lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ." (1Co 9:12)
So what's changed?
Is it now okay to hinder the gospel?
Despite what I've already said though, there really are times when we can be sure that God has spoken to us, and although there have been greater miracles in my life, there's one lesser memory which comes to mind.
I suffered for years with manic depression in my youth, but thankfully it almost entirely disappeared when I received the calling from God, but just like anyone else, I still have the occasional bad day, although it's nothing like it used to be.
The change in my state of mind is what the Lord meant when He said ... "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." (Joh 13:17)
But returning to the incident I was referring to, while driving along one day, and in the midst of a bout of deep, dark depression, I said to God ... "it's just cruel".
At that moment I reached over and turned the radio on, only to discover that the song which was playing was "Cruel to be kind".
Pro 15:23 says ... "A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!" (Also see Isa 50:4)
How very true that statement is!
So how could I know that it came from God, and not the devil?
Because it was really uplifting to know that God was close at that moment, and it would have been counter productive for Satan to lift my spirits, since his intention is to destroy us.
In fact, I don't doubt for a second that Satan was fanning the flames of my depression all along.
As Jesus said ... "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand" (Mat 12:25)
The closer you get to God, the easier it'll be to recognise His voice and the less confusing it will become, because in time of great need, you'll find yourself in the position where your choices are limited, and the most acceptable path will be laid out before you.
If you ever make the mistake of pushing too hard for an answer, then you might even receive a very clear, but cruel answer, because we're meant to trust God, and to wait upon Him.
The cruelty however, doesn't come from God, but from the other guy!
And what exactly do I mean by pushing too hard for an answer?
When I was much younger, and attending a weekly Bible study group, we all became aware of a phenomenon which happened far too often to be attributed to coincidence.
For instance, somebody would be talking about a particular verse of scripture, while at the very same moment, someone else would accidently open their Bible to the same page, and the verse would be the first thing to catch their eye.
It's easy to see from this, that it's just one small step away from opening the Bible every time we need an answer from God, and that just isn't the right way to go about it.
Luk 8:18 warns ... "Take heed therefore how ye hear".
God isn't some oracle that we can invoke at will, but rather a friend who'll be there when you need Him the most.
The Lord also once said, ... "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign" (Mat 12:39)
But this doesn't mean that He won't answer us in accordance with Jas 1:5-7, and that wise guidance can take many forms.
One good example of somebody doing the right thing, would be the prophet Daniel, who at one time patiently waited three whole weeks for an answer.
Fortunately for most of us though, God doesn't usually keep us waiting for long, unless the answer isn't important enough to warrant an immediate reply.
During the time when I went astray from the Lord in the pursuit of material wealth, I received all kinds of convincing signs which led me to believe that I was going in the right direction, but which eventually proved to be lies.
In the final end however, the fruit of those signs manifested itself amongst the feelings of betrayal I was feeling against God.
After all, nobody feels grateful for receiving gifts of false hope.
Now don't get me wrong!
I never sought to become rich, and really just wanted to be self sufficient, but God had different plans for me, and wished that I'd learn to become more dependant upon Him instead.
I'm sure a lot of others have also experienced this kind of thing, and wondered whether or not it came from God, or the other guy.
The reason why we can receive messages from both God and Satan, is because of Jas 1:8 which says ... "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."
For as long as we have one foot in God's kingdom, and the other in the world, then false messages will continue to come our way.
But is that really the way it was meant to be?
Not according to Jas 4:8, which says ... "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded."
Jas 1:5-7 basically spells it out for us, ... "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord."
To be continued ...
A few weeks ago I came upon a morning show, and the subject of the discussion was whether or not religion should be blamed for many of the wars and other evils in the world, and the person who was claiming this is a self proclaimed atheist.
This person has released a book, explaining in simplistic terms exactly how wrong the majority of us are for believing in God.
For instance, one little statement made by the person in question, which we're supposed to receive as wisdom is ... No atheist ever shouted "God is great" before running off to war.
That's possibly true, but only because the average atheist worships their own belly!
Php 3:17-19 says ... "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)" (Also read Act 20:29)
But these verses also reveal that atheists seek out positions of authority, for the purpose of enriching themselves.
In fact, the typical atheist belief can be summed up by the words of Paul in 1Co 15:32 ... "if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die."
Show me someone who doesn't believe in a just and righteous God, and I'll show you someone with very little, if any conscience.
No doubt, the blame for many of the wars which have been fought down through history, can be laid at the feet of atheists who rose to positions of power, within the greater religions.
Before the word "atheist" was even invented, Jude said ... "To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Jud 1:15)
So the atheist who sparked my response here, falls into the category of those hypocritical ungodly sinners, who have the audacity to point the finger of blame at God.
Now someone might reply to all of this by saying ... "But I know an atheist, and he really isn't that bad."
My answer would then have to be ... "Are you really sure that this person is what they claim to be?"
Rom 3:4 says ... "let God be true, but every man a liar"
In Joh 8:44, Jesus said of the devil ... "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
The first one that Satan lied to, was himself, when he allowed himself to believe that he could overcome the will of God? Clearly human beings aren't much different, so what we say, isn't really as important as what we do! (Mat 21:28-31)
It's quite possible that there are people who would claim to be an atheist, while secretly hoping that somebody will prove them wrong, but a true atheist is someone who has altogether rejected the concept of God from their heart and mind.
On the surface, the story of Cain's life appears to portray him as an evil man, but a closer inspection reveals that it's really a tale of redemption.
Gen 4:5-7 says ... "But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him."
The statement ... "and thou shalt rule over him" was really a prophecy that Cain would eventually master his own sin nature, and return to the fold.
At an earlier time in one of my e-books, I explained the symbolic connection between Cain and the nation of the Jews, so the prophecy also applies to their final redemption as well.
It seems to me that Cain must have felt real remorse over the death of Abel, or else he wouldn't have received grace from God which kept him alive.
Gen 4:14,15 says ... "Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him."
Of all the people in that ancient world, there were none wiser than Enoch, and we can be certain that he knew how to tell the difference between the righteous and the wicked.
So if you'd been in the position of Enoch, would you have allowed a wicked man to marry your daughter?
And neither did Enoch!
What he saw in Cain, was someone who'd been tormented and humbled by an unforgiving world, until it had transformed him into a new man.
A righteous man who'd finally learned to master his sinful nature.
Cain must have had plenty of opportunities to turn aside into some wicked settlement or another, where nobody would have condemned him, but he'd clearly chosen to endure his solitary punishment until it was fulfilled, rather than accepting a life of wickedness.
This person we'd normally consider to be an icon of wickedness, was really a beacon of hope to anyone who might think of themself as beyond God's forgiveness.
1Ti 5:8 says ... "But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."
This spiritual principle explains why Cain had to suffer for so long, because even most heathens know better than to wildly attack a member of their own family.
Whatever physical mark he may have had upon him though, it's clear that the blemish on his soul and his reputation, was the real reason why nobody would have trusted him, and since he was the oldest living descendant of Adam and Eve, we can be sure that his reputation followed him wherever he went.
The severity of his sin, is the reason why it took so long for him to be welcomed back into the fold, because it was necessary for him to prove that he'd changed his ways, and was no longer unreliable.
Although I can't remember where, because it was a long time ago, I once heard a criticism of God's word that went like this ...
Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel, but then after the death of Abel, the Bible says ... "And Cain knew his wife" (Gen 4:17)
So where did his wife come from?
But this was really just a weak comment , because the rest of the verse gives us the clue to the answer as ... "and she conceived, and bore Enoch".
First of all, there isn't a long bloodline attributed to Cain, because he was an outcast for hundreds of years, but the descendants of Adam and Eve continued populating the Earth, so his wife obviously originated from the continuing offspring of Adam and Eve.
Cain undoubtedly decided to name his firstborn son (Enoch) after his father in-law, who was the only one kind enough to forgive him, and to allow him a place in his own family.
His father in-law was the Enoch we're all familiar with, as the one who was taken away by God (Gen 5:24), and the evidence of that is revealed by comparing the names of the descendants of the Enoch taken by God, with the direct descendants of Cain.
For example, both of them had a direct descendant whose name was Lamech.
Cain waited as a vagabond on the Earth for somewhere around five hundred years, before a man of God appeared, and had compassion on him.
To be continued ...
While working on the series concerning the descent of new Jerusalem, a line suddenly popped into my mind ... "If she be a wall", ... and I immediately recognised it as a verse from the Song of Solomon.
So after going in for a closer look, I discovered certain strong connections which add further support to the idea of the 144,000 representing the wall of new Jerusalem.
There are connective links which symbolically point toward the 144,000 and the rest of the Church in Son 8:5-10, but special attention should be paid to verses 9 and 10.
The constant reference to "she", as represented by different parts of the city, stands for different parts of the bride of Christ. (the Church)
The palace of silver stands for the main body of the Church, and the door is given as an example of those Christians who would appear to be least in God's kingdom.
The words, ... "and if she be a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar" tells us that those people will also appear in a glorified state!
You should also read Lam 2:8-18, which makes references to the wall of Jerusalem as if it were a person.
One of the predictions I've made in my e-books, concerns the eventual dominion of democracy over the world, and the last few weeks have shown some interesting developments in that direction, as the radical Islamist government of Egypt was overthrown by the people.
In the near future, we can also expect the four corners of the globe to fall under the march of democracy.
The Islamic state in Egypt only came to power because it deceived the people into believing that it didn't have extremist views, and it only revealed its true nature after stealing power to itself.
Although it's clear that radical Islam just can't compete with democracy in a head on confrontation, this instance reveals that they aren't above using such deception to gain control, and that's also how the plan concerning the antichrist will come into effect.
It's only the magnetic influence of the antichrist, which will place the democratic world of that future time under their control.
The idea of God helping humanity to travel to the heavens might seem a bit strange, but there's some evidence from the past, which implies that it wouldn't be the first time that He's helped the world to achieve a better understanding of the universe around us.
A while ago, I tuned into a documentary about Sir Isaac Newton, in which the commentator referred to him as perhaps the greatest scientific mind of all time.
But the question I'd like to put to everyone, is this ...
Was it the mind of Newton himself, or was it really the mind of Christ working with him?
Around that time in history, the world was trying to separate itself from the ignorance of the dark ages, and along with the work of the Protestant reformation, it's clear that God would definitely have approved of Newtons work in the area of physics, and there are further details about his life which lend even more support to this idea.
Not only was he a devout Christian, but it's also believed that he was a lifelong celibate, and spent some of the latter years of his life trying to determine the date of the Lord's return from the scriptures.
After attempting to understand Bible prophecy though, he finally had to admit that those things just wouldn't be understood until the time of the end was near.
The overall evidence would seem to imply, that he might even have been a member of the 144,000!
For a while now, I've wondered whether or not the entire group will be sealed just before the great tribulation, but with the existence of the apostles Paul and John, and also Newton, it's possible that some have already been sealed throughout the history of the Church.
Of one thing we can be certain though.
Even if this is true, Satan's time is running short, and he's frantically trying to prevent the last of them from being sealed!
Apart from being set free to explore, and to populate the universe, the vessels of earth will also be able to replenish the Earth, because there are likely to be vast untapped reserves of precious metals and minerals in the asteroid belt alone.
In reference to the building of a house, Pro 24:4 says ... "And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches."
Of course, for the people of that time to launch space ships, it would surely require the use of science, and that in turn raises the question, ... "But won't the science of humankind be destroyed at the time when Christ returns?"
That's true, but there's some evidence which implies that the science of the world will return again, by the end of the millennial kingdom.
Eze 10:1 says ... "Then I looked, and behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims, there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne."
In Shadows of Bible Prophecy, I explained how the verses relating to the one shown above, concerning the cherubims, are a symbolic description of jet planes under the control of men, around the time of the first resurrection.
From another way of looking at it though, the cherubims also stand for the technology of the world, and the throne in the heavens above them, is therefore a connective link which points to the descent of new Jerusalem (the seat of God's power) at the second resurrection as well.
This in turn, implies that the cherubims (technology) will also be present when God's throne appears in the heavens.
From that time forward, the science of this world will be at the service of God!
But does God really need the science of this world to build His empire?
After all, someone who has the ability to stop the sun in the sky, for nothing more important than to mock His enemies, or to gently lower a mountainous city from the sky, certainly isn't going to need the modest achievements of the human race to achieve His goals.
Pro 22:6 says ... "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
At long last, humanity will have finally learned the fear of the Lord, and will continue to progress at it's own rate, but with flashes of inspiration from God to help them along the way.
There was a time when I was a big fan of science fiction novels, but as a Christian, I soon realised that those stories were becoming impossible for me to read, and it wasn't because the stories included space colonies etc.
Let's face it, we all like to hear a good yarn now and then.
What offended me so much, was the anti-God message which often came with it, whereby those of our faith were referred to with disdain.
But I'm quite sure that none of those fiction writers could ever have dreamed up a world like the one which is coming, where people like themselves will be trapped on Earth, while those who they'd treated contemptuously, will be free to reach out to the stars.
It also seems very likely that those of us who are newly created angels, will be given the job of watching over them. (Dan 4:13; 4:23)
I'm sure it'll be more interesting than sitting on a cloud and playing a harp all day.
In the beginning, God said to Adam and Eve ... "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." (Gen 1:28)
Clearly, God doesn't have anything against the expansion of the human race.
And Isa 9:7 also says ... "Of the increase of his government (i.e. empire) and peace there shall be no end".
But there's obviously no way that any empire could possibly continue to expand forever, wherever the living space is limited, and that's where the rest of the universe comes in.
Then we see in Lam 3:36, ... "To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not."
This simply means that God won't interfere with the goals of mankind, if those goals aren't wicked, and are in accordance with His will, and any other good parent would do the same thing.
They would in fact, help their children in whatever ways they could.
Lam 3:33,34 says ... "For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth"
So why are we prisoners of the earth?
Although there are obviously spiritual reasons for this, we also can't ignore the material reason behind the statement.
In a word ... Gravity!
The reason why the space race came to a crashing halt, was because of the ridiculous expence of escaping the Earths gravity field.
Jesus wasn't kidding when He said ... "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."(Joh 8:36)
Free from sin, and free to explore the universe!
To be continued ...