It was a study of the prophecies many, many years ago which led Ron Wyatt to his profound belief in the accuracy of the Bible. The complete and extremely precise fulfillment of prophecies written thousands of years ago were to him a most overwhelming evidence of the Divine Inspiration of this Book. That, coupled with the archaeological evidences of the last few centuries, led to Ron’s work today.
One of the archaeological discoveries which provided him a most profound basis for acceptance of the King James Bible was the Dead Sea Scrolls. Containing fragments of every Old Testament Book but one, he saw that they were almost identical to the texts used in the translation of the KJV. Here, for the first time, were fragments written from before and perhaps during the time of Christ, which verified our Bible. The voices which cried out that the Bible was unreliable due to errors which occurred over the years were finally silenced — at least, for him.
With the knowledge that the Scriptures of the Old Testament were preserved uncorrupted in the texts used to translate the KJV, he then found evidence that these Scriptures were truly Divinely Inspired. In studying the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, along with other prophecies spread throughout the Bible, he discovered that all those already fulfilled had been fulfilled in an incredibly precise manner. He found no flaws in the chain of prophecies.
However, today we hear constantly of prophecy teachers who are presenting interpretations of prophetic events (which Ron believed to be already fulfilled) in a manner which places them in the future. And what we will attempt to do this issue, is present our beliefs- based on Scriptures- as to certain of the prophecies, as well as some of the symbolism used in prophecy. What you will discover is that we are of the belief that we are much closer to Christ’s return than most of the other interpretations. One thing we would like to stress is- PLEASE read the Scriptures presented in this text. They are the sole basis for our acceptance of any Biblical principle. DON’T skip though them and simply read our comments, because without the Scriptures, our comments are worthless.
WHY DO WE BELIEVE CHRIST’S RETURN IS NEAR?
With all the differing interpretations of prophecies relating to Christ’s return, the one thing most have in common is that they all agree that the time is near. Why NOW? Why at the end of 6,000 years? Why not at the end of the NEXT 1,000 years? There is a passage in the Bible which indicates that there is to be 6,000 years of the earth’s existence under sin, and then Christ returns:
2PE 3:3-10 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that ONE DAY IS WITH THE LORD AS A THOUSAND YEARS, AND A THOUSAND YEARS AS ONE DAY. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But THE DAY OF THE LORD will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
In this passage, Peter talks about the time when "the day of the Lord" will come (v. 10)- that the scoffers will be saying, "You expect us to believe He’s coming after all this time when everything’s going along as it has since the beginning?" (v. 3, 4). But he assures the reader that Christ WILL come, and he tells them a bit of information which he felt they needed to know- information which would assure that they had some idea of WHEN this would occur — and that information is that ONE DAY with God is equivalent to a thousand years, and vice-versa. Therefore, the "day of the Lord", which Peter was talking about, is to be understood as consisting of what WE know as 1,000 years.
Another point to be understood is that here, Peter makes reference to the fact that "by the Word of God" the heavens and the earth "were" (created). This reference to God as the Creator is what gives the "day as a thousand years" principle it’s complete explanation. Peter’s reference to God as the "Creator" is reflected in the fourth Commandment, and is the statement which identifies Him as the True God- the "Creator" of heaven and earth. He created it in six days and rested on the seventh.
EXO 20:8-11 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Types & Shadows- Vital to Understanding Prophecy
Is it possible that God’s creation of the earth in six days, (resting on the seventh), is the same principle reflecting the 6,000 years that this planet is to exist in a state of sin and bondage under Satan (resting during the last 1,000 years)? We believe this to be the case. Clearer establishment of this principle is seen when God gives the ordinances for the Sabbatical years:
LEV 25:2-5 Speak unto the children of Israel,… ,When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a Sabbath unto the LORD. Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a Sabbath of rest unto the land, a Sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.
The fourth Commandment speaks of the Sabbath rest for man- HERE we read of a Sabbath rest for THE LAND. Therefore, in typology, could this represent the 1/7 of time "rest" for the earth?
In the next passage, He further establishes a cycle of seven sabbaths which are followed by the Jubilee:
LEV 25:8 And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.
The Jubilee occurs AFTER the seven sabbatical cycles take place, or AFTER the land has had it’s allotted rest for 1/7 of the time:
LEV 25:9-13 Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession.
In "type" it appears that the earth is to have it’s Sabbath rest. In the Mosaic law, this was represented by the seventh year in which the land was not farmed. After seven of these cycles, the jubilee year was celebrated in which everything reverted back to the original owners- AND all slaves were set free. The number seven is used many times in the Bible and it is accepted by most people that this number, when used in symbolic language, represents perfection. Therefore, the symbolism represented by the jubilee seems to represent the time AFTER the completion of the earth’s existence in sin AND the final rest of the earth.
If indeed the Lord is to return at the end of 6,000 years, then there will remain a 1,000 year rest for the land. AFTER THIS, comes the jubilee when everything is restored. Is this a plausible concept? We believe it is.
Belief of the Early Church
What did the early church believe? Is this idea about Christ’s returning at the end of 6,000 years a "new" concept? No, far from it. In his book, Even at the Door, G. Edward Reid provides ample evidence of the early belief in this same concept in this excerpt from his book, p. 129: Justin Martyr (c. 100-c. 165) writes when discussing the millennium in his Dialogue with Trypho,
"We have perceived, moreover, that the expression, `The day of the Lord is as a thousand years’ is connected with this subject." (i.e., the 1,000 years.) — Justin Martyr, Dialogue With Trypho, Chapter LXXXI. Footnotes cite Ps. 90:4 and II Peter 3:8.)
Irenaeus (c. 130-c. 202) writes, "For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed; it is evident therefore, that they will come to an end at the six thousandth year," (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book V, xxviii, 3. Footnote cites II Peter 3:8.)
Hippolytus (died c. 236) writes, "For the Sabbath is the type and emblem of the future kingdom of the saints, when they shall reign with Christ, when He comes from heaven, as John says in his Apocalypse. For a day with the Lord is as a thousand years. Since, then, in six days God made all things, it follows that 6000 years must be fulfilled." (Hippolytus, Fragments From Commentaries, Section on Daniel 2, chapter 4.)
Prophecy: "Types & Shadows" in the Mosaic Law
After Christ died, the apostles went to great lengths to try to make the Jewish people understand the temporary purposes of the Mosaic law, "the handwriting of ordinances."
GAL 3:23-25 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore THE LAW WAS OUR SCHOOLMASTER TO BRING US UNTO CHRIST, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
The word "law" here also means "ordinances" and clearly refers to what the Jews called "the law", (the law of Moses)- it is not the Ten Commandments (the Law of God). Everything in those ordinances (Mosaic law) was designed to point forward to Christ and His work, both on earth and in Heaven. In Hebrews, Paul explains that there was no forgiveness in the sacrifices made under that law, but that they were designed to teach the people about the work of the Messiah:
HEB 9:23-10:1 It was therefore necessary that THE PATTERNS OF THINGS IN THE HEAVENS should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself…. For THE LAW HAVING A SHADOW OF GOOD THINGS TO COME, AND NOT THE VERY IMAGE OF THE THINGS, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
The "types and shadows" of the Mosaic law, which included the sacrificial system, were illustrations of the "things in the heavenly" (sanctuary). These things showed us how God operates.
PSA 77:13 Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary:…
As a God of total and complete order, and as a perfectly just yet merciful God, He explained the entire plan of salvation to man through the system of "types and shadows" of the Mosaic law. He does not just arbitrarily decide to do something without reason. He gave the nation of Israel the sabbatical years and the jubilee to impress major truths in their minds.
In the ordinances God gave to Moses for the establishment of the government of Israel, the jubilee was the time when the land reverted back to it’s original owners and all slaves were set free- everything was restored, so to speak. Of course, we know that Satan won temporary rulership over the planet by lies and deception when he persuaded Adam and Eve to disobey God by eating of the forbidden fruit and he still maintains his rulership. The TRUE Jubilee represents the time when the earth reverts back to its original "owner" and Creator, God, who then gives the promised inheritance to the saints.
MIC 4:8 And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even THE FIRST DOMINION; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.
And just as the jubilee year occurred AFTER the seven sabbatical cycles during which the land had it’s rest, the TRUE jubilee occurs AFTER the earth has completed it’s seven "typical days" which include it’s rest of 1/7 of that time, or one thousand years.
The picture now can be seen- if a day equals 1,000 years in "type or shadow", then the earth is to exist in sin for 6,000 years (1,000 years for each day of the active creation week). It is to observe it’s Sabbath rest of 1,000 years, during which time, the land is not tilled nor harvested- this is represented in "type" by the sabbatical year:
LEV 25:4 But in the seventh year shall be a Sabbath of rest unto the land, a Sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.
THEN, comes the true Jubilee, represented in "type" by the Jubilee year:
LEV 25:10 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
The TRUE Jubilee arrives- the land is restored to it’s original owner, God, Who then gives the promised inheritance to His people who live on the land (earth) throughout the ageless aeons of time.
The Millennium- the Earth is"Without Form & Void"
The subject of the "millennium" is where many people vary in thought. Many believe that the earth is held captive by Satan for 6,000 years, and that then Christ returns at the end of the 6,000 years and He and His saints live on the earth for 1,000 years. However, this is not what the Scriptures indicate. They indicate a time when the earth is completely desolate, uninhabited, and untilled:
JER 4:23-28 I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were BROKEN DOWN AT THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD, AND BY HIS FIERCE ANGER. For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end. For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black; because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.
2CH 36:21 …for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath.
This wonderful passage tells us that there will be a time when the earth will be completely desolate, and that this is the result of everything being "broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by His fierce anger". It also tells us that although the "whole land shall be desolate", that it will not be the "full end", which indicates quite plainly that it will again one day be inhabited. And finally, we are told, these events described WILL come to pass, and God makes this VERY clear by His statements, "because I have spoken it, and will NOT repent, neither will I turn back from it." This is NOT a conditional promise, it is a statement of FACT.
Conditional Promises vs. Prophecy of Future Events
Throughout the Bible, we read of promises God made which were conditional on obedience. It is extremely important not to confuse prophecies of events that will (or have) occurred, with God’s promises of things which would have come to pass if certain requirements were met (or would not come to pass if the requirements were NOT met). A good example is Jonah’s being called by God to warn Nineveh of it’s impending destruction:
JON 3:4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
When the people of Nineveh heard God’s warning through Jonah, they repented and the destruction was averted.
JON 3:5,10 So the people of Nineveh believed God,… even to the least of them: And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; AND HE DID IT NOT.
This principle is explained in Jeremiah:
JER 18:7-10 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; IF THAT NATION, against whom I have pronounced, TURN FROM THEIR EVIL, I WILL REPENT OF THE EVIL THAT I THOUGHT TO DO UNTO THEM. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; IF IT DO EVIL IN MY SIGHT, that it obey not my voice, THEN I WILL REPENT OF THE GOOD, WHEREWITH I SAID I WOULD BENEFIT THEM.
Since the Lord was speaking directly to Israel at this time, this demonstrates that this principle applies to all nations, including Israel.
"Prophecy" ALWAYS Comes to Pass
Prophecy, as opposed to conditional promises, tells of events that will occur, regardless. In Daniel, for example, a statement is included in one of his prophecies which gives emphasis to the fact that the events will occur:
DAN 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to…, and to…, and to…, and to…, and TO SEAL UP THE VISION AND PROPHECY, and to…
Therefore, we understand the difference between "conditional promises" and "prophecy"- "prophecy" presents events which WILL come to pass.
But returning to the 6,000 year principle, we need to study a great deal more. After all, this concept provides the entire basis of all present day belief in the return of Christ at this particular time. With the "day of the Lord" being a literal 1,000 year period, we know from "types and shadows" that this "Sabbath for the land" shows the earth has NOT had it’s Sabbath rest for 6,000 years. Yet, present day interpretations of events nullify the principle because they place the saints on the earth during this time.
THE Millennium- Where are the Saints?
The question now is "where do the saints live and reign with Christ" for the 1,000 years"? The Bible tells us that we need to study God’s Word for understanding:
2TI 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
The ENTIRE Word of God must be taken into account. Both the Old Testament AND the New Testament must be studied carefully for the entire picture.
ISA 28:9-10 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? … For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
ALL the information on a subject must be gathered from the entire Bible. And therefore, we find information on the subject of the events of the millennium NOT just in Revelation, but all through the Bible. The popular concept is that Christ will return at the end of 6,000 years and then reign on earth for 1,000 years with the saints.
But when the disciples wanted to go with Christ when He was about to leave (to return to heaven) Christ TOLD them WHERE HE WAS GOING, and WHERE HE WOULD TAKE THEM when He came for them:
JOH 14:2-3 IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE ARE MANY MANSIONS: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
And can we be sure His Father’s house is in Heaven?
HEB 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto THE CITY OF THE LIVING GOD, THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM, and to an innumerable company of angels.
GAL 4:25-26 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which NOW is, and is in bondage with her children. But JERUSALEM WHICH IS ABOVE IS FREE,…
When Christ returns at the end of the 6,000 years, He receives the saints, both those dead and those still alive:
1TH 4:16-17 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: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
The saints meet Him in the clouds, and return with Him to His Father’s house, where He has prepared a place for those who are His.
Prophecy: "Silence in Heaven" for "Half and Hour"
In Revelation, when the 6th seal is opened, it presents the events on the earth just prior to the return of Christ:
REV 6:12-17And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, THERE WAS A GREAT EARTHQUAKE; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and HIDE US FROM THE FACE OF HIM THAT SITTETH ON THE THRONE, and FROM THE WRATH OF THE LAMB; For the GREAT DAY OF HIS WRATH IS COME;…
Their anticipation is of great fear- yet, Christ hasn’t returned yet or else the wicked would now be dead. THEN, the 7th seal is opened:
REV 8:1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, THERE WAS SILENCE IN HEAVEN ABOUT THE SPACE OF HALF AN HOUR.
In prophetic time, a day is for a year (Eze 4:6); therefore, an hour is 1/24th of a year, or about fifteen days. A half hour, then equals about eight days. What is this "silence in heaven about the space of half an hour", or almost eight days? When Christ returns, He brings ALL His angels with Him:
MAT 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and ALL THE HOLY ANGELS WITH HIM,…
What do these angels do?
MAT 24:30-31 …and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And HE SHALL SEND HIS ANGELS with a great sound of a trumpet, and THEY SHALL GATHER TOGETHER HIS ELECT from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
There is "silence in heaven" during the time Christ and "all the holy angels" are gathering the saints. Christ never sets His foot on the earth at this time:
MAT 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Like some lightning which travels from cloud to cloud, east to west- never striking the ground- Christ returns in the air and His saints arise, meet Him in the air, and go with Him. Then, the saints, the angels and Christ return to Heaven, thus ending the "silence" in Heaven, symbolically spoken of in Revelation 8:1.
What happens next? We return to the passage in Jeremiah we read earlier:
JER 4:23,25,27 I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light…. I beheld, and, lo, THERE WAS NO MAN, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. 26 I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and ALL THE CITIES THEREOF WERE BROKEN DOWN AT THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD, and BY HIS FIERCE ANGER. For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.
The wicked upon the earth have been slain by the 7 last plagues and "brightness of His coming" (2Th 2:8). Everything is broken down; the "whole land" is "desolate". Yet, it is not the full end of the earth.
ISA 45:18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited:…
Satan Bound for 1,000 Years
REV 20:1-3 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
Satan is "bound" or restrained, for 1,000 years in the "bottomless pit". Where is this "pit"? This is "symbolic" language and the word "pit" (phrear) simply means a "pit". We know from this verse, that it is somewhere where he cannot deceive anyone, and what better place than the completely desolate earth? After all, he is STILL the "prince" of this planet, and we will soon see that he hasn’t given up even at this point. We are told that at the end of the 1,000 years, he is to be "loosed" or relieved of his restraints for "a little season", which is an unspecified but short period of time.
Where are the Wicked for 1,000 Years?
We have already learned that the wicked are destroyed when Christ returns. Isaiah wrote of this same event, and he wrote:
ISA 24:19-22 THE EARTH IS UTTERLY BROKEN DOWN, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again. And IT SHALL COME TO PASS IN THAT DAY, that THE LORD SHALL PUNISH THE HOST OF THE HIGH ONES THAT ARE ON HIGH, AND THE KINGS OF THE EARTH UPON THE EARTH. And THEY SHALL BE GATHERED TOGETHER, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be SHUT UP IN THE PRISON, and AFTER MANY DAYS SHALL THEY BE VISITED.
Unlike the group of saints who are taken with Christ without seeing death, the wicked upon the earth when He returns, are all slain. Though dead, they are symbolically termed "shut up in the prison". And not only are men termed there, but also the "host of the high ones that are on high", which are Satan and his fallen angels. The wicked suffer "the first death" and their "prison" where they await their judgment, is the grave. Satan and his "high ones", or the fallen angels, do not die at this time for only MAN is appointed to die the "first death" as Paul wrote:
HEB 9:27 And as IT IS APPOINTED UNTO MEN ONCE TO DIE, but AFTER THIS THE JUDGMENT:
Satan and the fallen angels are also termed "gathered" and "shut up in the prison" because with the earth desolate and no man upon it, they no longer have anyone to tempt, – for 1,000 years, all they can do is think about what lies ahead for them.
Again, remember that above, in Isaiah, reference is made to "that day", which we believe represents "the day of the Lord", "the day of His vengeance", etc, which is actually 1,000 years. So, here we learn that during that 1,000 years, the earth will be utterly broken down, that the wicked, NOW DEAD, as well as the "host of the high ones that are on high", (Satan and the fallen angels), are figuratively termed "shut up in the prison", which we earlier decided was the desolate earth. And finally that after "many days" they are "visited". This implies that the wicked will be resurrected, which we will shortly see DOES occur.
The Judgment of the Wicked
Meanwhile, as we continue the passage in Revelation 20, after Satan is "bound", or confined, we learn where the saints are:
REV 20:4-6 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and JUDGMENT WAS GIVEN UNTO THEM: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and THEY LIVED AND REIGNED WITH CHRIST A THOUSAND YEARS. But THE REST OF THE DEAD LIVED NOT AGAIN UNTIL THE THOUSAND YEARS WERE FINISHED. THIS IS THE FIRST RESURRECTION. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such THE SECOND DEATH HATH NO POWER, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
And here is the "millennial reign" of the saints with Christ. The saints are with Christ in heaven, where He prepared a place for them. This place is called "New Jerusalem." They are referred to as those who arose in the "first resurrection", which implies a "second resurrection" will follow at some point in time.
The First Resurrection
Another very important thing is mentioned here:
Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power…
The SECOND DEATH has no power over these who partook in the first resurrection. What is this "second death"? We shall soon see that the wicked are resurrected at the second resurrection (which takes place at the end of the 1,000 years) to receive their just reward, which is not to "eternally", but to suffer the second death, which is accomplished by fire.
What do the Saints Do for 1,000 Years?
What do the saints do in heaven for 1,000 years?
1CO 6:2-3 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
The saints somehow participate in the judgment of the wicked. For 1,000 years, this process takes place- the records of the deeds of the wicked are gone over and their punishment is decided.
But doesn’t the Bible say that CHRIST is the judge of the wicked?
JOH 5:22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son
The question must now be, what part do the righteous play in this process if Christ is the judge? The Scriptures make it quite clear what their part is. But to fully comprehend this, we must stop for a moment and think about something. Suppose you arrive in heaven and discover that someone you loved very deeply and believed would surely be in heaven, ISN’T THERE. How would you feel? God has made provisions that we should understand why each and every person who ISN’T in Heaven, is lost.
1TI 5:24 Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.
We all know that God knows everything that takes place- no sin can be hid from Him- so what does this verse mean? It means that the SAINTS will see and understand why each of the wicked is lost. Their sins, no matter how secret they were when on earth, will be revealed for all the saints to see:
2TI 3:9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.
1CO 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
REV 15:4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
Notice the second & third verses above, for they indicate that when "all nations", "every man" or all the saints, come and glorify His Name and worship before Him, it is AFTER His "judgments are made manifest". In other words, those who are to live eternally with Him, actually SEE the records of the deeds of those who are lost; they understand WHY they are lost and agree that His judgments are just and right. The knowledge that this would occur was even known by Isaiah, who wrote:
ISA 3:14 The LORD will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people,…
Judgment Takes Place in "His Father’s House", "New Jerusalem"
And that this judgment process takes place in New Jerusalem was written about by David:
PSA 122:3-5 Jerusalem is builded as a city that is COMPACT TOGETHER: Whither the tribes go up,… For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.
That this CANNOT be referring to the Jerusalem on earth is obvious. There are no thrones set in the Jerusalem on earth. And the description of the city, "compact together", can be curiously compared to the description of New Jerusalem given in Revelation:
REV 21:16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The Holy City, New Jerusalem, is a perfect cube- it is as wide as it is high and long- "compact together".
The Events of the END of the "Day of the Lord"
In Daniel we read of events of the "day of the Lord" which go a step further than the judgment, and mention the culmination of the "day of the Lord", or the 7th 1,000 year period:
DAN 7:22 … the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
Here is absolute confirmation that the saints do not receive the promised kingdom until AFTER the "judgment" is "given to the saints of the Most High". But their "possessing the kingdom" here marks the final culmination- what happens BEFORE this to the wicked, the fallen angels and Satan?
The Second Resurrection- "Gog and Magog"
REV 20:7-8 And WHEN THE THOUSAND YEARS ARE EXPIRED, SATAN shall be loosed out of his prison, And SHALL GO OUT TO DECEIVE THE NATIONS which are in the four quarters of the earth, GOG, AND MAGOG, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan goes out to again "deceive" the "nations"- who are these nations?
JOH 5:28-29 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; AND THEY THAT HAVE DONE EVIL, UNTO THE RESURRECTION OF DAMNATION.
If ALL the dead, both righteous AND wicked, were resurrected at the same time, why would John write of two resurrections? Revelation makes it clear that they are not resurrected at the same time- READ THIS AGAIN:
REV 20:5-6 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
The wicked are resurrected at the end of the 1,000 years. And these are the "nations" that Satan goes out to deceive.
Everything in Its Proper Order
How does Satan try to deceive them? Before we get to that, we need to understand more about the series of events which occur. Paul tried to explain this:
1CO 15:23-26 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. THEN COMETH THE END, WHEN HE SHALL HAVE DELIVERED UP THE KINGDOM TO GOD, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
The series of events of the 1,000 years close with Christ gaining the victory over ALL enemies, the last of which is death. How does Christ victor over "death"? This final victory is gained by the elimination of sin, for death results from only one thing- sin:
ROM 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; How does He eliminate sin? By the utter destruction of Satan, the fallen angels and the wicked who are resurrected at the end of the 1,000 years.
The LAST Great Battle- the Destruction of the Wicked
The wicked are all brought forth from their graves (REV 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them:…) and, led by Satan, they surround the saints:
REV 20:8 And [Satan] shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and COMPASSED THE CAMP OF THE SAINTS about, and the beloved city…
But wait a minute! Wasn’t the earth completely desolate for the 1,000 years? Yes, it was. But here, we learn that Satan gathers the wicked about the "camp of the saints" and the "beloved city". We have already learned that the wicked are resurrected in the 2nd resurrection, so that explains THEIR presence on the earth, but WHERE did New Jerusalem come from?
REV 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven,…. The city, New Jerusalem, descends to the earth.
But where are Christ and the saints? We go to 2 other prophetic passages. Here, although he doesn’t mention New Jerusalem, Zechariah writes about a time when "HE" (Christ) comes, and that THIS time He has ALL the SAINTS WITH HIM. And THIS time, He is coming to "fight against those nations" -called "Gog and Magog" in Revelation, or the resurrected wicked:
ZEC 14:3-9 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against THOSE NATIONS, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south…. And the LORD shall be king over all the earth:…
Before the Holy city descends to the earth, Christ’s feet touch the Mount of Olives which splits, displacing the land in all directions, preparing a great plain for the city, New Jerusalem to set upon. Enoch, before the flood, also prophesied about Christ’s return at THIS time:
JUD 1:14-15 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 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….
Again, we have more evidence that when Christ returns WITH HIS SAINTS, it is to pronounce judgment upon the wicked. And since He is "coming" with His saints, this is absolute evidence that wherever He was, His saints were with Him.
Revelation tells of New Jerusalem descending to earth. We know Christ and the saints have been in New Jerusalem for 1,000 years, but are they in the city when it descends? No. Zechariah tells that Christ’s feet touch the Mt. of Olives and a very large plain is formed. Christ and the saints, it appear, arrive BEFORE the city. Both Zechariah and Enoch tell of Christ returning WITH HIS SAINTS to "fight against" the nations and "execute judgment upon all."
At this time, the resurrected wicked, led by Satan, make one last attempt to overcome Christ and the saints:
REV 20:9,10,14,15 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
The fire from God destroys the wicked, including Satan and the fallen angels.
ISA 66:24 … they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched;…
ISA 47:14 Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.
The "Fire" Which Destroys the Wicked
This fire is described by David:
PSA 11:6 Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.
Isaiah, too, wrote of this "day" (events contained within this last 1,000 year period):
ISA 34:8-10 For it is the DAY OF THE LORD’S VENGEANCE, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.
Again, we have the phrase, "for ever and ever", which does not mean throughout eternity, but instead for a continuance of time that is of unspecified duration- no one "walks there" until the fires have burned EVERYTHING completely. The stress is on the permanence of the situation. There is no reprieve, no turning back, no rectifying the situation.
MAL 4:3 And YE SHALL TREAD DOWN THE WICKED; for THEY SHALL BE ASHES UNDER THE SOLES OF YOUR FEET in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.
SODOM & GOMORRAH- A Very Important Evidence!
God knew that the time would come when the belief would prevail that the wicked "burn throughout eternity" and He provided us an example that would very clearly demonstrate that these fires DO reach a point where they cease to burn. Jude wrote:
JUD 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, SUFFERING THE VENGEANCE OF ETERNAL FIRE.
God preserved Sodom and Gomorrah for this last generation- why? So that people could see the "vengeance of ETERNAL FIRE". Is that fire STILL burning? Of course not. The original Greek words for "eternal" and "everlasting" which refer to the fires employed in the punishment of the wicked, do NOT mean fires that burn "without end, throughout eternity". The Greek words, when speaking of this fire, show NOT that the fires burn "forever", but that their effect is not temporary, but final, and the phraseology shows that its purpose is not remedial but retributive. The fires which burn the wicked do not burn throughout "eternity", but they DO burn everything completely. Nothing remains of the wicked, nor of Satan and his angels. There is no reprieve from this final sentence. They are utterly destroyed.
2TH 1:7-9… THE LORD JESUS shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In FLAMING FIRE TAKING VENGEANCE ON THEM THAT KNOW NOT GOD, and that OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who SHALL BE PUNISHED WITH EVERLASTING DESTRUCTION from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
The reward of the wicked is complete destruction, which takes place, we learn as we continue this same passage:
10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
Their final punishment, destruction in the fire, is witnessed by the saints who are in New Jerusalem:
PSA 37:34 Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, THOU SHALT SEE IT.
The Destruction of Satan
But it is the destruction of Satan that will be the crowning event of Christ’s victory. Before the wicked are destroyed, even THEY will witness the downfall of Satan:
EZE 28:14-19 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. THOU WAST PERFECT IN THY WAYS from the day that thou wast created, TILL INIQUITY WAS FOUND IN THEE. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I WILL DESTROY THEE, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I WILL CAST THEE TO THE GROUND, I WILL LAY THEE BEFORE KINGS, THAT THEY MAY BEHOLD THEE. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I BRING FORTH A FIRE FROM THE MIDST OF THEE, IT SHALL DEVOUR THEE, AND I WILL BRING THEE TO ASHES UPON THE EARTH IN THE SIGHT OF ALL THEM THAT BEHOLD THEE. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and NEVER SHALT THOU BE ANY MORE.
Isaiah wrote about the resurrection of the wicked and how they will finally see Satan for what he really is:
ISA 14:9-16 Hell from beneath is moved for thee TO MEET THEE AT THY COMING: IT STIRRETH UP THE DEAD FOR THEE, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, ART THOU ALSO BECOME WEAK AS WE? ART THOU BECOME LIKE UNTO US? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. How art thou fallen from heaven, O LUCIFER, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that SEE THEE SHALL NARROWLY LOOK UPON THEE, and consider thee, saying, IS THIS THE MAN THAT MADE THE EARTH TO TREMBLE, that did shake kingdoms;
After the resurrected wicked see Satan for who he really is, it happens
REV 20:9-11 … fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
The fires burn until they are all completely destroyed. There "was found no place for them"- in other words, they no longer "exist". They are utterly consumed.
In speaking to Satan, the promise was made through Ezekiel that he would one day "be no more":
EZE 26:21 I will make thee a terror, and THOU SHALT BE NO MORE: though thou be sought for, yet SHALT THOU NEVER BE FOUND AGAIN, saith the Lord GOD. Of the wicked, it is said that one day they "shall be as though they had not been"
OBA 1:15-16 For THE DAY OF THE LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and THEY SHALL BE AS THOUGH THEY HAD NOT BEEN.
The Inheritance of the Saints
It is finally over. No longer does sin or its results exist anywhere in the universe. The earth is restored to its Edenic state after the fires that destroyed the wicked, have cleansed and purified the earth. Satan has been destroyed:
ISA 14:7-8 The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing. Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.
Never again will sin and rebellion raise its ugly head:
NAH 1:9-10 What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time. For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.
Could ANY of the saints rejoice if they knew that their loved ones and friends who had not been taken when Christ came, were burning throughout eternity? Of course not. The saints have seen the records of the "lost"; they have seen them receive their just reward, which is utter destruction. They have seen Satan and his angels also receive their just reward, which again, is destruction.
ISA 25:8-9 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, THIS is OUR GOD; WE HAVE WAITED FOR HIM, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
He wipes away all tears- and as this passage continues, we again are told the final fate of the wicked:
ISA 26:14 THEY ARE DEAD, THEY SHALL NOT LIVE; they are deceased, THEY SHALL NOT RISE: therefore hast THOU VISITED AND DESTROYED THEM, AND MADE ALL THEIR MEMORY TO PERISH.
The Earth "Restored"
It is NOW that the saints inherit the land:
ISA 60:18-21 Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.
From the time of Abraham, the promise was made of the inheritance of the land called Canaan- the "promised land". Here was Mt. Zion and Jerusalem. And here is where the Holy City, New Jerusalem will be. But at that time, the land they inherit won’t be as it is today- it will be as the Garden of Eden.
ISA 51:3 For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and HE WILL MAKE HER WILDERNESS LIKE EDEN, AND HER DESERT LIKE THE GARDEN OF THE LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.
Purified by the fires that destroy Satan, the fallen angels and the wicked, the land is restored. The results of sin are gone forever.
ISA 35:10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
The saints themselves will be free of the results of sin- no more will sickness exist; no more will there be sorrow; there will be no pain of any sort:
ISA 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
ISA 40:29,31 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength…. But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Man cannot, in his wildest dreams, conceive of what God has planned for those who are faithful to Him:
ISA 64:4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.
When Will Christ Return?
If the concept that Christ will return at the end of 6,000 years is accurate, then we are almost at that time. While most people look to 2000 AD as the "dawn of the new millennium", the truth is that this 6,000 year period is over at some time around 1997. See our newsletter #7 for a complete explanation.
Based on the information from the Biblical account, Adam was created in 4004 BC. Four thousand years later, in 4 BC, Christ was born. When Dionysius Exiguus, in the 6th century, created the calendar which we now use, he made an error in reckoning — this was known at the time it was developed, but it continued in use because the purpose of the calendar was to correct the date of Easter due to a dispute in the early church. This calendar continued in use all these years. It was based on the year of the birth of Christ, which was considered to be year "1", and actually the evidence shows that He was born in 4 BC. But since this calendar does not include a year "0", (year 1 BC is directly followed by 1 AD), the error is only 3 years instead of 4.
So, are we "setting a date"? No — there are always human errors to take into account. Then, there are also "unknowns" which prevent us from being confident in our calculations. We were not meant to know the exact time- only when it is near. There is also a Scripture that indicates that the time will be shortened. The disciples asked Christ 3 questions in one sentence:
MAT 24:3 …, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and OF THE END OF THE WORLD?
His reply included a statement which we believe may refer to the time of His return:
MAT 24:22 And EXCEPT THOSE DAYS SHOULD BE SHORTENED, there should NO FLESH BE SAVED: but FOR THE ELECT’S SAKE THOSE DAYS SHALL BE SHORTENED.
What does all of this mean? It doesn’t mean 1997 will be the year; it doesn’t mean that we can set the date- it only means that we have enough evidence to know that we are extremely close. Do we DARE attempt to set a date when we have the words of Christ, Himself:
MAT 24:42,44 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come…. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
ANOTHER IMPORTANT PROPHECY
There is another prophecy which we will discuss this issue- the "70 weeks of Daniel". Again, our beliefs are different from many of the popular interpretations. We believe this is a very important prophecy- but before we discuss it, we need to have a basic understanding about "Israel."
A Little Background on "Who was Israel?"
When the appointed time came, God chose Abraham to be the beginning of the nation of people who would be called "His" people. The name "Israel" was given to Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, after he wrestled all night with the unseen assailant, who was actually the Lord:
GEN 32:24-28 Jacob… there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day…. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he [Jacob] said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more JACOB, BUT ISRAEL: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
To Jacob was given the same promise given to first his grandfather Abraham, and then his father, Isaac:
GEN 35:11,12 And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.
And it was Jacob’s sons and two grandsons whose names were given the tribes of Israel. But who exactly were these people and why were they so special? When Abraham was called out of his father’s country, we learn that idolatry was so universal that his own family worshipped idols:
JOS 24:2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood [Euphrates River] in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and THEY SERVED OTHER GODS.
But because of HIS complete faithfulness, Abraham was chosen to father the people to whom would be given the great honor of being God’s representative people. They were to preserve the knowledge of Him, and they were to be faithful to Him, SHEDDING HIS GREAT LIGHT TO THE ENTIRE WORLD.
GEN 18:18 … Seeing that ABRAHAM shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and ALL the NATIONS of the earth SHALL BE BLESSED IN HIM?
God gave great and wonderful promises to these people IF ONLY THEY REMAINED FAITHFUL TO HIM. These promises were CONDITIONAL on their obedience, and many things promised, never came to pass because of their failure in this respect. Remember our discussion about "conditional promises"?
A Nation Divided
In time, Israel came into the "promised land" and settled. Demanding a king, they received one. After a while, the nation divided into two kingdoms, called Judah (the southern kingdom) and Israel (the northern kingdom) also called Ephraim. Both kingdoms had their own kings. In about 697 BC, the kingdom of Israel/Ephraim fell heir to the terrible promise God had made just before they entered Canaan:
DEU 4:25-27 When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and YE SHALL HAVE REMAINED LONG IN THE LAND, AND SHALL CORRUPT YOURSELVES, and MAKE A GRAVEN IMAGE, or the likeness of any thing, and shall DO EVIL in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke him to anger:… YE SHALL SOON UTTERLY PERISH FROM OFF THE LAND whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed. And the LORD shall SCATTER YOU AMONG THE NATIONS, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen…
The Downfall of "Israel/Ephraim"
They had fallen into idolatry and were cast off as God’s people. Assyria took them into captivity:
2KI 17:6-9,18 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them… in the cities of the Medes. For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God,… and had feared other gods, And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the LORD their God,… Therefore the LORD WAS VERY ANGRY WITH ISRAEL, and REMOVED THEM OUT OF HIS SIGHT: there was NONE LEFT BUT THE TRIBE OF JUDAH only.
To ensure that Israel/Ephraim never returned as a nation, foreign people were brought in to inhabit their cities:
2KI 17:24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria INSTEAD OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.
Why did this happen? The ten tribes that were Israel/Ephraim had made an alliance with the Syrians and the result was their complete downfall:
ISA 7:8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, THAT IT BE NOT A PEOPLE.
And it came to pass. As a nation, they were no more. However, those who of Israel/Ephraim who remained faithful, WOULD be heirs to the promise. Only the nation as a collective people were cast off.
The Captivity of "Judah/Israel"
Judah didn’t fill her cup of iniquity quite as quickly as did Israel/Ephraim. In 605 BC and again in 586 BC, Judah went into captivity by the Babylonians as fulfillment of a promise God had made at Mt. Sinai. First, He told them through Moses:
LEV 25:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD. Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.
Then, He told them what the result would be if they did NOT observe the sabbath of the land:
LEV 26:33-35 And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.
For 70 years, they remained in captivity. And during this captivity, Daniel was given the prophecy which laid out the fate of the nation of Israel- the prophecy of the "70 weeks of Daniel", which will now be examined.
THE FINAL FATE OF "JUDAH/ISRAEL"
Like the northern kingdom of Israel/Ephraim, Judah too was to lose its place of honor as being the chosen nation of God. Instead of being a light unto the entire world, they had become selfish, believing they ALONE were to be the heirs of the promise. "As a nation" they would fall – but this is no way meant that the faithful individuals, both among Israel/Ephraim and Judah were cast off.
A good example to explain this is to look at America. This nation was founded as a Christian nation. For many years, the principles of God were observed. It was the nation which would complete the spreading of the gospel to the entire world. However, in time, as we all well know, as a Godly nation, America fell. Today, it must be a pure abomination in God’s eyes. However, God’s people are STILL in the nation, and they STILL continue to do His work.
Thus it was with Israel. The leadership of the nation was its downfall. Our downfall is due to our leadership. The entire point here is that we must here view Israel "as a collective body of people"; as a nation. But the pronouncement of its fall did not pronounce the doom of the faithful among it. And here is the prophecy which foretold of its doom.
DAN 9:24-27 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
The Beginning of the "70 Weeks"
To Daniel, God gave the prophecy of events which would culminate in the downfall of the nation of Israel as His chosen nation. This prophecy had a time which marked its beginning and a length of time until its end. It was to end after "70 weeks", which we all understand in prophetic language to equal 490 years.
Are the "70 Weeks" Separated in Time, or are They Continuous?
Some interpreters take a portion of this prophecy and carry it forward in time. However, if your boss told you that you were given two months to complete a project, would you work on it seven weeks, then tell your boss you’d complete the final week of work in ten years? There is nothing in this prophecy to indicate that the time periods are divided. Like the seventy years Israel was in captivity, the time continued until it ended.
The most important thing that must be understood is the time which marks its beginning. It is stated that it begins "at the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem". If this referred ONLY to the building of the temple or the physical act of building the city, it could have only needed the word "build" – but it stipulates, "restore". How could Jerusalem be restored? As the center of the Jewish nation it would never be restored until it was again the center of their government. Just because the Jews were allowed to return there and build their homes and the temple didn’t mean it was "restored" – it wouldn’t be "restored" until they were once again able to restore their government as God had decreed at Mt. Sinai, under the Mosaic law.
Which "Decree" Marks the Beginning?
Cyrus’ Decree in 535 BC. – the 1st Decree-
In 537 BC, the Persian general, Cyrus, conquered Babylon and set his uncle, Darius the Mede, as governor over Babylon. In 535 BC, two years later, Darius died and Cyrus became king. This was exactly 70 years after the captivity began in 605 BC, and Cyrus issued the decree which freed the Jews to return to Jerusalem to build the temple. Here is that "decree":
EZR 1:2-4 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
Another account of this decree is given when Darius searches for and finds the decree of Cyrus:
EZR 6:3-5 In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices… and let the expenses be given out of the king’s house: And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and place them in the house of God.
This decree did two things, basically –
1) it freed the Jews to return to Jerusalem; and
2) it commanded them to build the temple.
Cyrus’ decree provided funds for the project and restored the vessels from the temple which had been taken to Babylon. But no provisions were made for the restoration of the Jewish economy.
Darius’ Decree in 520 BC – the 2nd Decree
In 520 BC, Darius I ("the Great") now king, located the decree of Cyrus. He then issued a decree, showing that Cyrus’ decree was still in force, and he made some of his own additions. However, this decree only concerned the building of the temple, the vessels and the sacrificial animals. This entire decree is in Ezra 6:1-12, the first part of which restates Cyrus’ original decree. The following was added by Darius:
EZR 6:8-12 Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king’s goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered. And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail: That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons. Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this. And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed.
Artaxerxes’ Decree in 457 BC – the 3rd Decree
Then, in 457 BC, Artaxerxes issued a decree, which was quite comprehensive:
EZR 7:12-26 Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time. I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee. Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to enquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand; And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem, 16 And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem: That thou mayest buy speedily with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meat offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem. And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren, to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God. The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem. And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king’s treasure house. And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily, Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them. And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not. And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.
There are a few things here which make this decree the one which marks the beginning of the 70 weeks
1) It gives Ezra the ability to collect all the gold he wants from even among the king’s subjects, and they will give it as a "freewill offering"- Ezra 7 :16
2) It says Ezra can use whatever is left over for any purpose he deems necessary – this will allow the people to rebuild the entire city. Ezra 7:18
3) It makes a provision for the priests, Levites, etc., so the temple can be in constant operation. Ezra 7 :24
4) It instructs all of his vassals around Judea to give Ezra whatever he has need of – no questions asked. Ezra 7:21, 22
5) It reinstates the same policies that the 2 prior kings gave in their decrees.
6) But finally, it allowed Israel semi-autonomous rule under the "law of thy God"! Not only that, they were told to: EZR 7:25 "…set magistrates and judges, which may judge ALL THE PEOPLE THAT ARE BEYOND THE [Euphrates] RIVER, all such as know the laws of thy God; and TEACH YE THEM THAT KNOW THEM NOT."
The only decree which provided the means for Jerusalem to be "built" and its government "restored" was that of Artaxerxes. Only this decree gave them the ability to rule themselves and be subject to the Law of their God.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1985 Ed.) Vol. 17 page 947, without mentioning Artaxerxes by name, mentions Ezra’s coming to Jerusalem, which we know was with the decree of Artaxerxes. Here, from a secular source, we can see the impact of the decree which Ezra carried with him from Artaxerxes:
"Ezra continued these measures and stressed the reading of the Law, the observance of the sabbath and the prohibition of mixed marriages. Thus, the separation of the Jews was insured, and the uniqueness of their faith was maintained". And with this, we now have the beginning of the "70 weeks of Daniel" – 457 BC.
WHAT ABOUT NEHEMIAH’S "DECREE"?
Some have wondered about the "decree" of Artaxerxes given to Nehemiah – however, there was no decree issued at this time.
Nehemiah was Artaxerxes’ cup-bearer, and he simply asked for some "time off" to go work on his homeland. The king said "OK, but when will you be back?" Nehemiah was allowed to go because it was in compliance with the king’s decree of 457 BC:
Neh 2:4-8 Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it. And the king said unto me,… For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.
Nehemiah asked for the wood ONLY because it had been promised by the three royal decrees- no new "decree" was issued here. The old decrees were merely enforced or complied with.
THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROPHECY
With the date of the decree now known, we look at the prophecy to see what was to occur in the "70 weeks," or 490 years:
DAN 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city,
490 years were "determined" or dedicated to Daniel’s people, the Jewish nation, and his "holy city", the center of the government, Jerusalem. If the 490 "weeks" (years) began in 457 BC, its culmination would have been in 34 AD.
…to finish the transgression,:… – in this "70 weeks" the Jewish nation rejected the Messiah, the one all the "types and shadows" pointed to. Their great "transgression" was finished.
…and to make an end of sins,:… -the word "chattath", translated here to read "sins" is translated "sin offering" 116 times in the Bible. All sin offerings were to cease when the True Lamb of God was sacrificed. This occurred in spring of 31 AD.
…and to make reconciliation for iniquity,:… -All men could now be reconciled to God through the Sacrifice at Calvary, if they only accepted His offer.
…and to bring in everlasting righteousness,:… -This d does not mean that sin was to be era dictated during the "70 weeks" of this prophecy. It means that by Christ’s righteousness and death on the cross, the end of sin was guaranteed.
ROM 4:17 …God, who quickeneth the dead, and CALLETH THOSE THINGS WHICH BE NOT AS THOUGH THEY WERE.
This tells us that God makes statements of fact which He knows WILL occur and He therefore states them "as though they were". The action or event which guaranteed "everlasting righteousness" occurred. An example:
JOH 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
We know that those of Christ and John’s day died and went to their graves, to be resurrected when Christ returns. Yet, here they are said to have "everlasting life". Christ, Himself, made this clear:
JOH 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I WILL RAISE HIM UP AT T HE LAST DAY.
The inheritance of eternal life comes at its designated time:
EPH 1:3,10,13,14 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,… THAT IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE FULNESS OF TIME HE MIGHT GATHER TOGETHER IN ONE ALL THINGS in Christ, both which are IN HEAVEN, and which are ON EARTH;… In whom ye also trusted,… after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of PROMISE, which is the EARNEST of our INHERITANCE UNTIL THE REDEMPTION OF THE PURCHASED POSSESSION,…
If your bank guarantees you a loan, you could say, "the money’s in the bank", or "it’s a done deal", which means it’s as good as if the money was actually there because of the promise. For us, the "earnest", or guarantee, of our salvation is the "Holy Spirit of promise", and Christ will "redeem" that "promise" "in the "last day."
…and to seal up the vision and prophecy,: … -the prophecy was "sealed"- or "made sure". It was NOT a "conditional promise". This portion of the prophecy is the proof that it was to be completed in the "70 weeks"- NOT at some later point in time.
…and to anoint the most Holy.:… -the term here, "most holy" (qodesh qadashim) is NEVER used to characterize a person – it ALWAYS applies to the Most Holy Place, or at LEAST an article in t he Most Holy Place. THIS IS THE PROPHECY OF CHRIST’S BLOOD "ANOINTING" THE "ARTICLE IN THE MOST HOLY PLACE", WHICH WAS THE ARK OF THE COVENANT. His Blood fell upon the Mercy Seat, "anointing the Most Holy," making "reconciliation for iniquity", making an "end of sin [offerings]", and bringing "in everlasting righteousness" by virtue of His sinless life.
DAN 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks:…
– this takes us to the subdivision of time referred to as the "Messiah", at the e nd of 7 + 62 "weeks", or 483 years – 27 AD. Christ was born in 4 BC, so therefore in 27 AD , He would have be en 30 years old. What happened when He was 30 years old? He began His ministry:
LUK 3:22-23 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. And JESUS himself BEGAN TO BE ABOUT THIRTY YEARS OF AGE,..
And when Christ began to preach, He made the announcement which showed that the time mentioned in the prophecy had arrived:
MAR 1:14,15 …Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, THE TIME IS FULFILLED, and the kingdom of God is at hand [within grasp]: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
…the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times…. – the "street", and the "wall" WERE indeed built in "troublous times". Thirteen years a fter A rtaxerxes decree, Nehemiah, his cup bearer, hears very troubling news:
NEH 1:2-3 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.
Read Nehemiah to learn of the difficulties they experienced in rebuilding the wall.
DAN 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself:…
– after the second subdivision of time, which was the end of the 483 years, " Messiah sha ll be cut off" – this term "cut off" indicates that the time of the Messiah, when His ministry began, was d istinguished from the other "time" – it began here.
In the first part of the prophecy, it states that 70 weeks are "determined" upon Daniel’s people – yet the Hebrew word this is translated from, is stated by Strong as meaning "to cut off",- by implication, "allotted, separated or decreed". In the above verse, "cut off" again implies that the time is "allotted or separated" and does not in any way imply the death of the Messiah.
The implication is therefore, "after the 483 years, the time of the work of the Messiah begins". But this time allotted is not for His benefit. Whose benefit was it designated for? Christ told His disciples:
MAT 10:5-7 … Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But GO rather TO THE LOST SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
The time which began here was the personal work of the Messiah, Himself, and it was dedicated to the Jewish nation. The last week was termed "cut off" or separated because it was a subdivision of the "70 weeks."
…and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary;… – here, we learn of "the people" of a "prince" or leader who "shall come", and will destroy the city and the temple. No time period is stated here. This prophecy is of an event which doesn’t necessarily occur during the "70 weeks", which ended in 34 AD. It was in 70 AD when the army ("people") of Titus, the Roman general (the "prince") destroyed Jerusalem and burned the temple. Here, the result of the rejection of the Gospel message is foretold.
…and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined…. – still speaking of the destruction of the city and temple, we are told it will occur like "a flood", overwhelmingly – and everything WAS completely destroyed. The entire city of Jerusalem was desolated. The siege lasted five months and about 110,000 Jews died, with about 97,000 taken prisoners.
DAN 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week:… -"he", th e Messiah, "confirmed" the "covenant" with "many " for "one week", or seven years.
From the beginning of Christ’s ministry, until 3 1/2 years after His death, the Gospel message was dedicated to the Jews. Thus, for seven years, the work of the Messiah was personally dedicated to Daniel’s people. At the end of this time, which also marked the end of the "70 weeks," the Gospel was taken from the Jew to the Gentile.
The permanence of this situation is seen when Paul explains that once the Jew was a natural part of the "vine." But now, the Gentile could be grafted into the "vine" by their faith. Not only that, but the JEW, from now on, would ALSO HAVE TO BE GRAFTED IN, even though they were once a natural part of that "vine":
ROM 11:17,19,20,23 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;… Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
BUT, this shows that ONLY the nation was doomed- salvation never ceased to be available to the individual Jew.
…and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,… – in the "midst" of the week", (3 1/2 years after His earthly ministry began), in spring 31 AD, Christ died on the cross. The veil of the temple was rent, signifying that the sacrificial system had come to an end. The True Lamb of God had been slain.
…and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate,… -because of their rejection of the Messiah, the house of Israel was to be desolate- no longer were they the chosen of God as a nation.
ACT 13:46,47 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
Christ’s sadness at this event, even though it would not occur until after His death, is seen in His statement:
LUK 13:34,35 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! BEHOLD, YOUR HOUSE IS LEFT UNTO YOU DESOLATE: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
…even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. – the "consummation" means "the end", which indicates that, just as Israel/Ephraim was cast off as God’s people, never to return, so it was with Israel at the end of the "70 weeks". As a nation, they had received the greatest light that had ever been on this planet. They had been those who had been the caretakers of God’s Truth. They had been those who were to shed His great Light unto all the earth. They were those who walked with the Savior and had the full dedication of His ministry. But "as a nation", they had demanded His death. And the prophecy ends with the promise that all the things spoken of in the prophecy WILL be poured out upon "the desolate" nation who rejected the Lord.
(-At this point, I want to make a very important note*. Although Israel was rejected as God’s chosen nation, keep in mind that this was speaking of the "nation". The leading men and influential people were those responsible for their downfall. Never forget that the Gospel was FIRST spread by Jews. The disciples and apostles were Jews. Without those faithful men, who preached the Gospel with boldness in the face of dangers and hardships we can only imagine, we, today, would have no knowledge of Christ. Every book in the New Testament is written by a Jew. This MUST be understood when discussing this prophecy of the Jewish nation.)
Thus concludes the prophecy of the fate of the NATION of Israel. In 34 AD., the "70 weeks" of time given to the nation was finished. The Gospel was taken from them. It was 36 years later before the city suffered the destruction promised as a result of their failure. BUT, God still maintained His people. Though the literal nation had failed, provisions were made for ALL who called upon His name to become a member of His "nation, both Jew AND Gentile:
ROM 9:6,8… For THEY ARE NOT ALL ISRAEL, WHICH ARE OF ISRAEL: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
GAL 3:29 And IF YOU BE CHRIST’S, THEN are YE ABRAHAM’S SEED, and HEIRS according to the promise.
A Note on the 1st Subdivision – the first "7 Weeks"
The first subdivision, "7 weeks" ended 49 years after the beginning of the prophecy, which would place it about 408 BC. Was there anything that happened about this time? Well, in Nehemiah it states:
NEH 12:22 The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers: also the priests, TO THE REIGN OF DARIUS THE PERSIAN.
"Darius the Persian" was, we believe, Darius II, (the son of Artaxerxes) whose reign came to an end in about 406 BC. The Biblical record of the priesthood closes during his reign. And we learn that by this time, the "restoration" of the government and the building of Jerusalem has been completed. Therefore, the first subdivision of the "70 weeks" – the first 49 years – comes to a close.
The prophets ceased at this time, as well. For the first 49 years, Israel was under the good graces of the Persian kings and were able to "build and restore Jerusalem". God arranged this to ensure that Israel would be able to complete its task. But with the closing years of Darius II, the Persian kingdom began to lose its strength and might. The Bible then remains silent as to the Jewish nation from this time until just prior to the birth of Christ.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF UNDERSTANDING THE "70 WEEKS" OF DANIEL
There is one very important reason why it is important to understand this prophecy, especially today. There are many folks out there who have taken the last "week" or 7 years of this prophecy and placed it in the future. They explain that we still have either 3 1/2 years or 7 years before Christ returns, based on their interpretation of this prophecy. They tell of events which MUST come to pass which require either 3 1/2 years or 7 years BEFORE Christ can return. This causes many people to believe there is much more time still left before His return. But we see nothing in this prophecy that has not reached its fulfillment over 1,900 years ago.
There is a great danger in trying to predict exactly how the unfulfilled prophecies will be fulfilled because IF WE ARE WRONG, we are in grave danger of completely missing the entire event, not recognizing it when it occurs. There is grave danger in trying to predict events which MUST occur BEFORE the Lord comes, because if we believe certain things still have to happen, or certain time periods still have to pass before the second Advent, He may take us quite by surprise. People tend to procrastinate if they think they have plenty of time to get something done. How many of us are living our lives the way we would if we knew Christ would be here tomorrow? NOW is the hour of salvation- NOW is the time to live as if we expected Him any minute. After all, how many people will die tomorrow? or even today? Look at the terrible tragedy which just occurred in Oklahoma City- for those people, there is no more time. When Christ returns, He says:
REV 22:11,12 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly;….
All decisions are final when we die. There is no second chance. Nor will there be a second chance for those alive when He returns.
Every person needs to consider carefully – have we fully dedicated our lives to Him, or do we just make a weak showing of it, thinking that when things start to get rough, we’ll become more serious about the matter? If you think about ANYTHING in this newsletter, it needs to be this- what if you should die tomorrow? Are you ready for the Lord to come today? Because Christ, Himself, tells a very somber parable about those who are NOT ready- and the important thing to keep in mind here is that He is talking about THOSE WHO PROFESS TO BE BELIEVERS- He ISN’T talking about non-believers versus believers in this passage.
Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh… But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
Don’t skip over the Scriptures – READ them, for only THEY have the power of life in them. The point Christ was making is quite evident. The virgins were ALL invited to the marriage. ALL of them EXPECTED to be there. These represent BELIEVERS,- those who profess to be Christians. Yet the "foolish virgins" figured they had plenty of time to get the extra oil that would be needed, just as the "foolish Christians" figure they have plenty of time to prepare for His coming. But just as the "foolish virgins", calling to the Lord for admittance when they found the door shut, were denied entrance, the "foolish Christians" will be met with horrifying words when they call out to the Lord:
MAT 7:22,23 …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…
MAT 25:42-46 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? When shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
The average Christian who is experiencing a relatively good life, with a family he loves, doesn’t want to face the reality that the time is almost at hand for all things to end, or change, when Christ returns. Therefore, the most popular ministries of the day are those that put many "time prophecies" between our present day and the coming of the Lord, making it appear that we can continue as we are for a number of years at the minimum. Does this reflect the general uncertainty of the events that will take place at the coming of the Lord?
One devoted Christian parent had become convinced that family life would be terminated at His coming; this thought had been presented to him by his pastor in reference to Christ’s statement that there will be "no marriage in heaven" (Mat 22:30). This individual, naturally, was less than enthusiastic about an event which would disrupt a loving family relationship and therefore he verbalized his desire that Christ would delay His coming so he could enjoy his young family for a while. He was quite relieved after reading Isaiah 11:6-9.
While family life may be different in Heaven, on the "earth made new" it obviously will involve our young children, building houses and planting vineyards. (Isa 65:21-23). Only a misunderstanding of Scripture can make us reluctant to welcome our Lord. Those we love and we ourselves will finally be freed from the dangers and uncertainties of this mortal life. We are told that if we put family, positions of honor, or possessions in a higher "value status" than Christ (Mat 10:37, Mar 10:17, 21, 22) are not worthy of Him.
While we are to "occupy till I come" (and it is not appropriate that we should sell everything, dawn white robes and wait for Christ’s coming on the highest hill top we can find), we should "watch and be ready" and "keep our lamps trimmed and burning". The Bible is full of "object lessons" of what to do and what not to do. Here is one that is appropriate for the subject under discussion:
Act 24:25 And as he [Paul] reasoned of righteousness,… and judgement to come, Felix trembled and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee".
There is no record of Felix calling for Paul or any one else, and he most likely died a lost man, having passed up the best opportunity Divine love and mercy could give him. We can not postpone making things right with our God for any reason; that includes watching for some popular prophetic event to happen and then get "serious."
THE "ARK" IN REVELATION
There is another reference to the Ark of the Covenant in the major prophecies- this time, in Revelation. We will examine this by reading the verse prior to its mention, to establish the time being referred to:
REV 11:18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
This makes it clear that the time this refers to is just before Christ returns. Now, let’s read the next verse:
REV 11:19 And THE TEMPLE OF GOD WAS OPENED IN HEAVEN, AND THERE WAS SEEN IN HIS TEMPLE THE ARK OF HIS TESTAMENT: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
The "Ark of His Testament" here referred to is NOT the one on earth, but the great original, in Heaven. What does this mean? It means that just before Christ returns, His people are figuratively represented as having their attention directed to the true Ark in Heaven.
What is the significance of this "Ark"? Since everything Moses was directed to have made for the earthly tabernacle was made according to the design of those same things in Heaven, we know it represents the throne of God:
HEB 8:1 … We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of THE THRONE OF THE MAJESTY IN THE HEAVENS; 2 A minister of THE SANCTUARY, and of the TRUE TABERNACLE, WHICH THE LORD PITCHED, and not man…. 5 Who serve unto the EXAMPLE AND SHADOW OF HEAVENLY THINGS, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, SEE, SAITH HE, THAT THOU MAKE ALL THINGS ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN SHEWED TO THEE IN THE MOUNT.
What is the importance of God’s True Throne in Heaven at this particular time? Beneath His Throne lie the great originals of His Eternal Law, the Ten Commandments, just as the earthly Tables lie beneath His earthly throne, (the Mercy Seat), in the Ark of the Covenant. And it is at this time in earth’s history, that many who call themselves "God’s people" have decided that His Law is no longer binding upon them. And it is now that His TRUE followers bring to the attention of the world that His Law is the only true standard of righteousness.
ISA 58:12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
The ONLY time God spoke directly to the people was when He spoke the Ten Commandments (Exo 20):
PSA 89:34 My covenant will I not break, NOR ALTER THE THING THAT IS GONE OUT OF MY LIPS.
Christ, too, said:
MAT 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
The Mark of the Beast and God’s Law
This is probably the one question we are asked the most- what do we believe will be the mark of the beast? Many theories are out there regarding this, so how do we know what to look for? The good news is that when it arrives, God’s people WILL recognize it. But yes, we do have an opinion as to what this will be.
First, we must go to the passage which speaks of this "mark" and learn as much as we can from this:
REV 13:11-18 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
This study cannot be comprehensive due to lack of space, so we will have to only study basics here. What we have learned is that a "beast" or power, arises which at first appears "lamblike" or docile. However, its true nature will be revealed when the time comes that it "speaks" as a "dragon", which ultimately represents Satan. Now, what could be construed as "speaking as a dragon"? Well, Satan is ruthless and forces himself on us. Christ, on the other hand, allows us freedom of choice. "Speaking as a dragon" is simply forcing man to actions which contradict God’s law. This becomes apparent when we read of the "mark of the beast" which forces man to accept laws or dogmas. If man fails to accept this "law or dogma", he cannot buy or sell, and ultimately, he faces death.(v 15).
For just a moment consider – some of the theories today about the mark of the beast include the idea that we receive computer chips implanted under our skin, or numbers in a large computer, etc. Back during WW2, many people and children received numbers tattooed on their skin, against their will. Was this something unforgivable by God? The reason this question is asked is because we soon learn in Revelation that only those who do NOT receive the mark of the beast are in Heaven.
REV 14:9,10 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
If such a law was passed that all mankind had to receive a computer chip or a number, do we believe that is cause to be lost? ONLY if by its acceptance we agree to comply with laws or dogma that contradict God’s Law.
Mark of the Beast- In Forehead or Hand
This mark is said to be received on one of 2 places- either the forehead or the hand. This sounds vaguely familiar, doesn’t it? It should, because right after God, Himself, spoke the Ten Commandments, the people were instructed about these LAWS:
DEU 6:7,8 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And THOU SHALT BIND THEM FOR A SIGN UPON THINE HAND, AND THEY SHALL BE AS FRONTLETS BETWEEN THINE EYES.
This command is again repeated in Deu. 11:18.
In symbolic language, to "be a sign upon thine hand", implies the people are to comply with these laws through their actions. "Hand" signifies actions". They are to be as "frontlets between your eyes", or forehead. This implies "belief" and reverence for God’s Laws. Not only are the people to comply with His Law, they are to acknowledge in their hearts that it is righteous.
The "mark of the beast" is said to be received "in their hands" or "in their foreheads". The implication is that this mark can be received in two ways. One, by active compliance with the "requirement" of this "mark" while not actually believing it to be right – this is receiving it "in the hand". Those who know that this "mark" is in violation of God’s Law, but who accept it to avoid persecution, receive it "in their hand". Those who agree with it in their hearts and minds, even though it is a direct violation of God’s Laws, receive it "in their forehead". Either way, they lose their eternal life.
REV 14:9,10 …If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation;…
The "Identity" of the Mark of the Beast
It is our belief that the "mark of the beast" is the enforcement of a law which will be a direct violation of one of God’s Laws. If this sounds farfetched, let’s read about this "beast" whose "image" is formed which produces the "mark of the beast". This "beast" is first spoken of in Daniel:
DAN 7:25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and THINK TO CHANGE TIMES AND LAWS: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
This astounding "beast" thought himself of the authority to change "times and laws". Well, isn’t that done every day in governments? Of course, it is. And Christ, Himself said to honor civil authority:
MAT 22:17-21 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
We are expected to obey civil laws UNLESS they contradict God’s Laws. Therefore, this "beast" who thought himself powerful enough to change "times and laws" must be "someone" who thought he could change God’s law.
Has this happened? Yes, it certainly has. We won’t state "who" this was for it won’t be much longer before this will be made quite clear to the entire world. We WILL say that this "beast" came into full power as a religious power with control over civil affairs in 538 AD. This same "beast" received the "deadly wound in 1798.
REV 13:2-4 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw ONE OF HIS HEADS AS IT WERE WOUNDED TO DEATH; AND HIS DEADLY WOUND WAS HEALED and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
This same beast persecuted the true saints of God, trying to enforce his dogma on them. Paul told us that the end would not occur until this "beast" was revealed:
2TH 2:3,4 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
This "power" is here symbolically termed a "man" – a "man" who has the nerve to claim he IS God (and therefore has the power to forgive sins). He claims that his "house" is the "temple of God." (Remember, in John’s day, church buildings were called "temples" – the congregation was called the "church." Therefore, the term "temple" in no way implies a Jewish temple.) Every religious leader claims his "house" is the "house of God." Has such a "man" appeared on earth yet?
Certainly. This "man/beast" has been in existence for over 1,400 years. This "man/beast" has claimed the authority to change God’s "times and laws," which "he" has done by "official decree." Today, many, many millions of people follow these "times and laws."
But when the time comes that civil authority "makes the image to the beast," or passes laws that agree with "his" version of God’s "times and laws," then, those who accept this corrupted version, either by their actions alone, or their actions and belief, receive the mark of the beast. And it is at that time that we believe the Tables of Stone, written by God, Himself, will be brought forth for all the world to see. All mankind will see that God has NOT changed His Laws – WHY would He have allowed Christ to go through such agony if changing His Law was an option?
For hundreds of years, this false version of God’s Law has been forced upon men. Many have lost their lives over it. To escape this persecution, many fled to the land which is depicted in Revelation as the lamblike beast with two horns. But, this "power" which once protected the religious freedom of men is said to "speak like a dragon," forming the "image to the beast" which made these changes in God’s Laws. Finally, it is this lamblike beast which gives power to the "image." The "mark of the beast" is soon pronounced to be the law of the earth and those who do not accept this "law" cannot "buy nor sell."
This has already occurred on local levels in parts of the world. In the past, those who did not comply with the "beast" were hunted down. Those who turned them in to the authorities were at liberty to take their homes and their belongings. In fact, this was one of the tactics used to locate the "offenders." If the "offenders" did not recant their beliefs and conform to those of the "beast," they were ultimately put to death. Yes, this has already occurred and is fully documented in history books.
Will that happen again? Revelation says that those who refuse the "mark of the beast" will not be able to buy or sell. Yes, it will happen. Will these also suffer death? Maybe there will be a few martyrs- but Revelation speaks of those who are redeemed ALIVE from the earth when Christ returns; therefore, we KNOW that many escape death.
God’s Mark also Received by His People
Ezekiel wrote of the same time, only he wrote of those who received GOD’S mark:
EZE 9:4-6 And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and SET A MARK UPON THE FOREHEADS OF THE MEN THAT SIGH AND THAT CRY FOR ALL THE ABOMINATIONS THAT BE DONE IN THE MIDST thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: SLAY UTTERLY OLD AND YOUNG, both maids, and little children, and women: but COME NOT NEAR ANY MAN UPON WHOM IS THE MARK; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.
This was a vision given in symbolism. It hasn’t occurred yet and can only be referring to the time when Christ returns for His saints. The wicked receive the "mark of the beast" while the righteous, rejecting this mark, receive "God’s mark" or seal. And when the destruction begins, they are not harmed.
Receiving God’s "mark", we believe, is the same event as the "sealing of the 144,000":
REV 7:1-3 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
The "sealing" of God’s people occurs when the angels are told to hold back the final strife until God’s people are sealed "in their foreheads." No one receives God’s mark "in their hand."
Then, we learn that these, God’s people, do NOT suffer martyrdom because they are redeemed alive:
REV 14:1-5 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads…. And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. THESE WERE REDEEMED FROM AMONG MEN being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
Are the 144,000 Literal Jews?
Revelation is written in prophetic language – some things are literally stated while others are presented in symbolism. God knew what He was doing in revealing these things to man in this manner. We are told that the Scriptures are ONLY understood with the aid of the Holy spirit:
1CO 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Man also must be firmly grounded in the Scriptures, both of the Old Testament AND the New Testament, for they are ONE BOOK. The types and shadows of the Old Testament tell the story of the Redeemer and His taking away the sins of the world. The New Testament is Christ revealed. Those things which were hidden in types and shadows are clearly revealed.
So, who are the 144,000 who are said to be of the 12 tribes? First, we must take note of the NAMES of those tribes given in Revelation: Juda, Reuben, Gad, Aser, Nepthalim, Manasses, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulon, Joseph, and Benjamin. (See Rev. 7:5-8)
Did you note that Dan is missing, as well as Ephraim? Did you notice that Joseph is included as well as Manassas, one of his sons? It would seem logical that the inclusion of Joseph would cover all of the descendants of his sons. So why was Manasses included and Ephraim NOT included?
This list is NOT according to the original list of tribes. If we are to accept the premise that the 144,000 are literal Jews of descent of the tribes listed, then we are to understand that NO ONE from the tribe of Dan or Ephraim are to be included. This one, you will have to decide for yourself. This is a point that we don’t believe to be necessary to understand. Therefore, we will not present our beliefs on the subject. The important things we MUST understand, which concern our salvation, are made clear.
God’s Last Message to the Church
In the messages to the "seven churches" in Revelation, which represent the 7 conditions of the church from the time of its beginning with the apostles, until the time when Christ returns, the last message is given to God’s people. And it is frightening:
REV 3:15-21 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I WILL SPUE THEE OUT OF MY MOUTH. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
This message is NOT given to the non-believer. It is given to the CHURCH!; to those who claim to be God’s people. Does He say, "I’ll see you shortly, when I come"? No, He says we are "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Is that true of US? US? We had all better give it a good deal of consideration because IF it IS true of us, we are in grave danger. Just as the remnant of fabric on the bolt is identical to the fabric at the beginning of the bolt, so God’s true people will be of the same faith that was given by Christ and the apostles. Has that "faith" changed?
In the early days of the Christian church, after the time of the apostles, heathen practices crept into the church in an effort to make Christianity more popular with the large number of heathens. Down through the ages, these practices continued to remain, becoming deeply embedded in the minds of the faithful. For example, the word "Easter" never occurs in the original Greek text of the Bible. The word "Easter" was substituted for "passover" in Acts 12:4. The word actually comes from the name of the goddess, Ishtar or Astarte (called Ashtaroth in the Bible). We recommend that you get the book, "The Two Babylons" by Alexander Hislop and learn about some of the corrupt practices which crept in over the years.
But are these things really important? Does God really care how we worship Him? Just remember the description of those who receive God’s mark in Ezekiel:
EZE 9:4 And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men THAT SIGH AND THAT CRY FOR ALL THE ABOMINATIONS THAT BE DONE in the midst thereof.
When we began this newsletter, we asked Richard Rives to write an article. We discovered that he had just finished one, and we were amazed that he had written it on exactly the same subject. The following is his condensation of his much longer and in depth paper- and we feel it is a very appropriate message to close this subject with.
Another Jesus by Richard Rives
In the Book of Second Corinthians, the Apostle Paul expresses his concern that some teachers were preaching "Another Jesus":
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him." (2Corinthians 11:3-4).
We are instructed, when approached by a false teacher to "bear with him". In the Greek manuscripts the word used for "bear with him" is "anechomi" (an-ekh’-om-ahee) which has been translated "to hold oneself up against". We should stand firm against false teachings.
What would be considered "another Jesus"?
The Greek word used in this scripture verse is "allos" meaning different. So what we are considering is a different Jesus; not the Jesus of the Bible, not the only begotten son of God the Father; but "another Jesus": an impostor.
It should be remembered that paganism dating back to the time of the "Tower of Babel", included the veneration of the pagan gods’ son. Many times the son was considered to be a savior, mediator between god and man. He was one member of the pagan trinity: the father, the son and the mother. Down through history, pagan gods and goddesses, by what ever name, have simply been the renamed sun gods and goddesses of antiquity. Whether the Nimrod, Semiramis, and the son Tammuz of the Chaldean mysteries, or the Osiris, Isis and the son Horus of Egypt: they are all the same. Most importantly, they all oppose the Biblical Creator and His only begotten Son, the Biblical Jesus.
How would one differentiate between the Jesus of the Bible and "another Jesus"? The answer is that the purely Biblical attributes of the true when compared to the extra-Biblical attributes of "another Jesus" will reveal the impostor. There is no other way to discern. Today there are worldly wise philosophers, "vain in their imaginations" (Romans 1:21) who teach ways that oppose the ways of God: "Another Jesus".
Many pagan practices that have absolutely no scriptural basis are being taught as the worship of the true God and Christ. These practices have not only been accepted but have become commonplace in many organized churches. Those who refuse to participate in those practices are considered strange and narrow- minded. These practices, introduced gradually by false teachers, have been accepted through tradition and have absolutely no scriptural basis. We have no excuse for ignorance. We have been fairly warned.
"there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies….". (2Peter 2:1)
We must search the scriptures to find out the truth. The truth that the ways of the LORD prescribed for His people have not changed, nor will they change. The truth that the only thing that has changed is that as believers we are no longer under the death penalty for disobedience if we come to the Father in the Name and Blood of the Son.
Activities that were unacceptable to the LORD 6000 years ago and unacceptable to His Son Jesus 2000 years ago are still unacceptable today. Christ said:
"This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:9).
The prophesies of the Bible have come true: the time has come when sound doctrine is not endured. People receive teachers who tell them what they want to hear. Things that are wrong are justified, explained away: disregarding the warning:
"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20).
Fables and the traditions of men are substituted for the truth. We were plainly told:
"after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2Timothy 4:4)
"in vain they do worship me teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:9)
The Greek word translated "in vain" is (maten) meaning "to no end, fruitless, folly, a futile attempt".
"Christianized" pagan activities, traditional inventions of men, are not in honor of the Biblical Jesus. He does not accept them as worship. Are these practices in honor of "another Jesus"? What "Jesus" prefers the commandments of unrighteous man over those of the Father? Not the Jesus of the Bible! He said:
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-19)
Heaven and earth have not passed away. His ways have not changed no matter what man’s tradition teaches. Although believers are no longer under the death penalty resulting from the transgression of the law; there are penalties for rejecting it and blessings for adherence.
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (Col 2:8)
In order to worship in "spirit and in truth.." (John 4:24), the traditions of men and so called "Christianized" pagan practices that have no Biblical authority must be rejected. Believers must remember what the Bible teaches about blending pagan practices with worship that is pleasing to God.
"This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." (Galatians 5:9)
Believers must "speak the word.." (Philippians 1:14):
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." (2Timothy 3:16)
COMPROMISE IS NOT LOVE
Today, intolerance of compromise is considered lack of love for one another. The truth being just the opposite. If one really cares about someone he should tell them the truth, whether it makes him popular or not.
"Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." (Proverbs 27:6)
When one receives a reproof it is not usually accepted as pleasing conversation. The question arises: should the truth be spoken even if it is not pleasing; or should truths be withheld because they are unpopular? The Bible gives the answer:
"He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding." (Proverbs 9:10)
It is difficult to proclaim error in a way that is pleasing to those who, through the traditions of men, participate in activities never prescribed nor authorized by the Father, Jesus, His son the Messiah, or the believers that walked with Christ. Most people are not aware of the deception that has crept in. Many teachers, however, who have studied the Bible and secular history, are well aware of the origin of "Christianized" pagan practices yet they proclaim them to be accepted by the Biblical Jesus. The apostle Paul calls them
"unruly and vain talkers and deceivers…..whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake." (Titus 1:11)
Those concealing the truth in order to uphold the traditions of men should be told, but not in a pleasing way: Pagan tradition was never authorized by the Jesus of the Bible – you are preaching "another Jesus". Some teachers who honestly do not know, those who love the truth, will not receive reproof as a personal attack, but will "receive the word with all readiness of mind" (Acts 17:11): and search the scriptures to find out the truth.
Do we really love the truth?
Those that do will not be satisfied to remain like those, who, "willingly are ignorant". (2Peter 3:5) They will study in order to search out the truth and then respond to it. The truth must be proclaimed:
"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:" (Ephesians 4:15)
The Biblical Jesus.
This type of activity has been taking place throughout history. In the days of Solomon, he had to wisely proclaim:
"Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." (Ecclesiastes 7:29)
Activities proclaimed by God to be abominations are now performed in the name of Jesus. Who authorized these things?
Not the Biblical Jesus, His disciples or first century believers. The Biblical Jesus stated:
"If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not." (John 10:37)
Only "Another Jesus" could support such activity.
Blending of pagan practices with the prescribed worship of God was never accepted. A good example is when Aaron built the golden calf during the Exodus:
"he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD"……."And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them:" (Exodus 32:9-10)
The proclamation of this pagan tradition to be in honor of the LORD did not make it acceptable. Christ said:
"he that hath seen me hath seen the Father." (John 14:9)
The proclamation of pagan traditions to be in honor of Christ, who is one with the Father, will not make them acceptable. Pagan practices by whatever name are still pagan practices. The Bible makes it clear
"I am the LORD, I change not…." (Malachi 3:6)
Should believers participate in ways that are opposed to Biblical instructions? no! absolutely not! The answer is unavoidable; so, many try to justify and make excuses. One common excuse: Although this activity is pagan in origin it has been "Christianized" and that is not what it means to me.
If we want to worship "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24), what it means to us makes no difference. What it means to our heavenly Father should be our concern. He does not change and he does not accept pagan tradition by whatever name. Remember, He said that such activity is in vain.
In accordance with Biblical instructions we must hold fast the faithful word of sound doctrine. A small amount of research using historical reference books or any good encyclopedia will reveal the pagan origin of many non-Biblical practices. This common type of reference material is available at public libraries. Those who have poor eyesight or difficulty in reading, for whatever reason, can simply ask. It is no secret; most theologians are well aware of the pagan origins of some activities now proclaimed to be "Christian". The secret is: why this is being accepted. Most importantly, a study of the Bible will reveal that there is no Biblical support for many of today’s "Christian" activities.
Our Creator has plainly instructed us as to what is pleasing to Him and as to the type of worship He accepts. Activity in opposition to His instruction is sin. It is our responsibility to adhere to that instruction. King Solomon, a man of great wisdom stated:
"Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
Although salvation is
"by grace through faith…….not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:9)
"sin is the transgression of the law" (1John 3:4)
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans 6:2)
Practices in opposition to the acceptable ways of the Biblical Christ can only be in honor of "Another Jesus."