The Three Greatest Trials of All Time

Wars; rumors of war; natural and man-made disasters; political, entertainment, and holiday events; exceptional economic fluctuations; lifestyles of the rich and famous; personal milestones—all captivate our interest.

However, for sheer suspense concerning innocence or guilt, right or wrong, and even life or death decisions, hardly anything arrests our attention like a sensational trial that grips an entire nation … indeed, the whole world. Some of which have long-term repercussions.

In the United States, we’ve come to call some of these historical trials: “The Trial of the Century.” It doesn’t matter that, by definition, there can only be one trial of the (a) century. Any court drama that grabs national and sometimes international headlines can be granted that title.

We are mesmerized by high-profile trials because it’s not our fate that hangs in the balance. We even get to choose sides. We reach our own verdict of guilty or innocent and impose our own sentence on the accused, sometimes before the trial begins. Some rely on the facts; others on the personalities involved. Some people like loopholes, others do not. Some put themselves in the place of the accused, or a witness, or a jury member, or prosecutor, or defense attorney, or judge. What would we do and say?

Top 10 Trials of the 20th Century

That is the title of an article posted online at the website of History Lists. The list was not necessarily arranged according to the author’s opinion as to the historical rank of the trials, i.e. from ten to one in prominence. Some of these were:

  • The Scopes Monkey Trial (1925): Should evolution be taught in the public schools of Tennessee as opposed to Biblical creation? Evolution lost that battle. Nowadays in most public-school systems, the Biblical account of creation cannot be taught—only evolution.
  • The Rosenberg Trial (late 1940s): Husband/wife Julius & Ethel Rosenberg found guilty and executed (1953) for treason, i.e. espionage in passing secret documents on the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. The Rosenberg’s maintained their innocence; claiming that they were arrested and convicted because they were Jewish.
  • The Nuremberg Trials (1945-46): Twenty-two Nazi leaders such as Herman Goering and Rudolph Hess tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Three were acquitted; twelve found guilty and executed; seven convicted and sentence to life or lengthy imprisonment.
  • Lindbergh Kidnapping Trial (1932): 20-month old son of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh kidnapped and murdered by Bruno Hauptmann. Although the title had been casually used before, this case was constantly referred to as, “The Trial of the Century.” Decades after Hauptmann was convicted and executed, legitimate questions arose as to his innocence.
  • O.J. Simpson Murder Trial (1995): Another trial with racial overtones. Many African-Americans wanted him to be acquitted even before the trial began. Americans were glued to this televised trial in the same fashion as a miniseries or a daily soap-opera. Hardly any other sensationalized trial generated such agony or ecstasy at the verdict.

Two trials of the 21st century also garnered international headlines: The Michael Jackson Trial of 2005. And Saddam Hussein’s capture and trial, 2004-2006.

(Charles Lindbergh & his son)

Top Ten Historical Trials That Shook the World

The above titled article authored by Matt Hayes and Igor Itkin, posted on 11-13-2012, can be found in the on-site location of ListVerse.com. The authors expanded the Trial of the Century concept to the top ten trials throughout history. However, this list ranks the ten trials, “that shook the world” in order of prestige, counting down from ten to the one most notable of all. These ten and dozens more can be found on other internet websites.

The authors cite a common denominator for all ten … that of an injustice against the accused. Whether these top ten were chosen because of that injustice or whether the outcome of the trials just happened to include an unjust verdict is difficult to ascertain. Yet one fact stands out: They did shake the very fabric of society at the time, with some of those repercussions continuing to our post-modern world.

Only six of them will be presented … each identified by its’ number rank.

Number Ten – Salem Witch Trials (1692): A few movies and T.V. programs have been aired and numerous books and articles have been written about this infamous trial.

Number Nine – Alfred Dreyfus Trial (1894): Many allege that anti-Semitism motivated the wrongful arrest, trial, and conviction of this Jewish official for alleged treason against France. Several years later, Dreyfus was exonerated on all charges.

Number Eight – Martin Luther’s Trial (1521): Charged with heresy, Luther was imprisoned and excommunicated. He escaped prison and remained in hiding for most of his life. His courage to confront the hierarchy of Roman Catholicism was the foundation of the Protestant Reformation back to the basic truths of the Christian message: Salvation by grace through faith in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice alone … not by membership in or keeping of unbiblical sacraments of a church organization.

Number Three – Joan of Arc Trial (1431): Another notorious trial of heresy with the Catholic Church verdict of guilty and execution by burning her alive at the stake.

Number Two – Trial of Socrates (399 B.C.): Accusations of corrupting social and moral values.

Number One – Crucifixion Trial of Jesus Christ (around 30 A.D.): Whether a believer in Messiah Jesus or a religious or secular unbeliever, billions were and still are familiar with what is undeniably (in terms of both human and divine impact) the most famous trial of all time.

(Depiction of Martin Luther on trial)

Introduction to the Three Greatest Trials of All Time

The crucifixion of Messiah Jesus ended the first of the three greatest trials of the ages. The other two have not yet taken place. But they, too, will surpass all other court cases because, like the trial of Jesus, each of them directly involves God. Each one was prophesied in the Bible long before the occurrence. Each marks the end and then a new beginning of three epic periods of God’s providential interaction with humanity. They will determine the destiny of all nations and peoples.

The trial of Jesus marked the end of the Old Covenant of Law and beginning of the New Covenant Age of Grace. It is the only event in history in which God, himself, was on trial … literally, not symbolically. The very Son of God (Second Person of the Triune God) stood accused. In the next two monumental court hearings soon to come, many people will be on trial.

Class action trials, so to speak.

The second trial will take place at the end of the Great Tribulation just before the magnificent Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus begins. In fact, he will be the judge. The verdict of this trial will be imposed on nations of the earth which oppressed and persecuted Jews all over the earth during the final generation of the last days in which we are now living … particularly during the Tribulation period.

The third and final trial of all time will include all raised to life unbelievers, those who are the unforgiven. It will take place at the end of the Millennium … the trial to end all trials. For this will be the beginning of ETERNITY. A glorious timeless and trial-less existence in heaven and the New Jerusalem for all of God’s people.

First Trial: Arrest, Interrogation, Verdict, and Execution of Messiah Jesus

To say that the trial of Jesus Christ was unique (one of a kind) would be the understatement of “the century.” Of any century. Indeed, it was God on trial; for a radical reason with far-reaching, everlasting results.

With his illegitimate arrest, illegal trial, and unwarranted crucifixion, Jesus Christ not only stood trial for mankind; he also suffered the penalty of a sentence for every person who ever lived.

“For the wages of sin is death… (both physical and spiritual)” (Romans 6:23a, parenthesis mine).

However, a verdict that can be overturned by a once for all pardon of sin and guilt (spiritual death—eternal separation from God;) if we only believe and receive the one Person who took that sin and guilt for us … Messiah Jesus.

“…but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).

He is the just for the unjust, the righteous for the unrighteous, the innocent for the guilty.

Here are some of the other remarkable differences in the trial of Jesus:

Predicted Hundreds of Years Before It Happened (In Parenthesis, O.T. & N.T. Passages)

The birth, life, death, crucifixion, and resurrection of the Messiah was prophesied dozens of times in the Old Testament. All fulfilled in decisive detail by Jesus of Nazareth. None more so than his trial—from the time he was arrested to when he arose from the grave.

Including but not limited to: rejection by his own people (Isaiah 53:3 … John 1:11); betrayal by a friend—one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot (Psalm 41:9 … Mark 14:17-20); beaten viciously (Micah 5:1 … Mark 15:19); silent before his accusers (Isaiah 53:7 … Matthew 27:12-14); unjustly tried and condemned (Isaiah 53:8 … Matthew 27:1-2); nails driven into his hands and feet (Psalm 22:16 … Matthew 27:35); dice thrown for his garments (Psalm 22:18 … John 19:23-24); given vinegar and gall (Psalm 69:21 … John 19:28-29); buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9 … Luke 23:50-56). And of course, his resurrection (Psalm 16:10 … Luke 24:1-7, 47).

Prophesied by Jesus, Himself

As recorded in the Gospels, at least three times Jesus predicted his death at the hands of his enemies. How could he have known with any degree of certainty that this would happen, let alone with the details he gave, unless he was the divine Son of God? In the first of these, we read: “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things… He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead” (Luke 9:22).

By that time, Jesus’s disciples, as well as thousands of the common people and many of the religious leaders, had heard of or had seen first-hand his tremendous teaching and magnificent miracles. Many believed in Him. Yet most still would not accept him as the Messiah, the Son of God. Despite the irrefutable evidence, they chose not to believe. Jesus knew they would reject him, and he knew that the result of that rejection would cost him his life.

Yet, the prophetic announcement was just one of several distinctive features of Jesus’s trial.

Jesus’s Trial from Beginning to End Was Illegal

It’s one thing to accuse and try an innocent person. Sadly, that happens. Even worse: when the innocent is found guilty for any number of reasons, such as inaccurate testimony—either deliberate or inadvertent. In that regard Jesus’s trial was not unique.

However, it’s a seriously different matter when the trial itself is illegal.

Jesus was tried in the middle of the night which was a violation of Jewish law. The Jewish Sanhedrin and its High Priest Caiaphas knew this. They also knew that for serious charges an accused must be brought to the High Council’s regular chambers; they tried Jesus in Caiaphas’ home.

(Jesus and the Sanhedrin, from the movie Jesus of Nazareth)

False witnesses were produced. Normally Jewish trials involved a sophisticated protocol of screening witnesses to assure that true justice would prevail. Nor was a prisoner to be struck or physically assaulted during a trial. In short, the entire trial was conducted surreptitiously without due process, a violation of the Law of Moses that the Jewish officials were so keen to enforce.

Because the religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus (knowing they needed permission from the Romans) before the Sabbath began, they circumvented all the Law’s procedures and principles. To the point where the Sanhedrin elected to cut to the chase and bluntly asked Jesus, “Tell us, are you the Messiah…?” (Luke 22:67; Matthew’s Gospel includes, “…Messiah, the Son of God”).

Jesus was then handed over to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate who further interrogated him. All born-again believers know (or should know) as do millions of unbelievers that Pilate knew Jesus was innocent of the crime of treason (the bogus reason given by the Jews, because they knew a religious violation of the Law of Moses was not a concern to the Romans). Moreover, Pilate could have released Jesus instead of Barabbas according to an annual tradition of freeing one Jewish prisoner on Passover. Do you know or remember what Pilate said and did after he capitulated to the demands of the Jews to crucify Jesus?

“Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!’ And all the people yelled back, ‘We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!’” (Matthew 27:24-25).

Not only were the Jews responsible for Jesus’s unjust death, so were the Romans (Gentiles). The Jews had the first chance to release Jesus, and the Romans had the last chance. Both were complicit in his death, as are we all.

Thank God! The story doesn’t end there.

“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (Ephesians 2:4-5, parenthesis in the text).

The Accused’s Right to Defend Himself; Jesus Was Silent Before His Accusers

The rule of law both civil and criminal (patterned after traditional Jewish law) was ingrained in the Roman Empire. Everyone had the right to a trial and to innocence until proven guilty. In today’s world all democratic nations are founded on this principle.

Would the accused (especially if they’re innocent) remain silent in their defense? At the very least the accused would seek a lawyer or advocate to speak for them.

Concerning the Messiah, Isaiah wrote: “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away” (Isaiah 53:7-8a).

In answer to the confrontational demand as to whether he was the Messiah, Jesus did speak. He also answered Pontius Pilate’s question as to whether he was the King of the Jews. Essentially, that’s all Jesus said. Isaiah’s prophesy of the Messiah being silent was a direct reference to the critical component of Jewish law … those accused had the right to speak, or to be spoken for by an advocate. To include as much evidence and time reasonably needed to establish that defense.

Jesus could have responded with a long dissertation demonstrating why he was, in fact, Messiah? He could have quoted passage after prophetic passage in the Old Testament, then cited (for example) three dozen miracles he had performed. Then asserted his rights that the “court” bring in some of those he had miraculously healed from crippling deformities and diseases. He could have produced proof that he was born in Bethlehem as prophesied by the prophet Micah; not in Nazareth as mistakenly assumed by the religious leaders. That he was a direct descendant of King David from the tribe of Judah. And he could have summoned Lazarus to testify that Jesus had raised him from the dead!

In that regard, Jesus did not by any stretch of the imagination offer a defense, let alone extensive evidence that he could have presented. His only reply was that of answering the crucial question of his Messiahship.

Here is part of Yeshua’s response to the Sanhedrin:

“…If I tell you, you won’t believe me. And if I ask you a question, you won’t answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated in the place of power at God’s right hand.

“They all shouted, ‘So you are claiming to be the Son of God?’

“And he replied, ‘You say that I am.’” (Luke 22:67-70).

Thus, Jesus was agreeing with them; he was, indeed, The Messiah—the Son of God.

Concerning the question(s) he could have asked them as well as their unbelief, he had already posed several probing questions to the religious leaders during his ministry that they could not answer. In fact, they were dumbfounded at his astounding questions and answers. That’s why the religious leaders were so jealous of Jesus. They also were envious of the common people’s responses to what Jesus said and did. For example: “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law” (Matthew 7:28-29).

(Please see Eye of Prophecy article, The Incomparable Power and Authority of Jesus Christ; posted 5-28-16).

Jesus also declined to defend himself in front of Pontius Pilate. Neither Pilate nor any other Roman official or court of law could imagine anyone not speaking up in their defense, especially when the accused’s life hung in the balance.

(Jesus before Pilate, from the movie, The Passion of the Christ. Barabbas is portrayed on the right)

As with the Jewish leaders, the only response Jesus gave concerned Pilates’s question, “…Are you the king of the Jews?”

Part of Jesus’s reply was, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world … You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into this world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true” (John 18:33-37).

Indeed, the offense for which the Jewish leaders tried Jesus was part of the Mosaic Law that warranted the death penalty, i.e. claiming not only to be Messiah, but (even more blatant to the religious leaders) saying that he was God’s Son. Though Jesus was completely man, he was also fully God. Therein lies the rub. If he was exclusively a human being, then he would have been guilty of the charge.

That was/is the crux of the matter. For two reasons: (1) The Hebrew Scriptures unequivocally state that the Messiah is divine (Isaiah 9, Micah 5, other passages). This fact was missed, dismissed, or erroneously explained away by many Jewish rabbis—then and now. Considering Jesus’s claim to be the (divine) Messiah, the very Son of God, the Jewish leaders and people should have closely examined their Scriptures to at least give him the benefit of the doubt. (2) This benefit of the doubt was denied outright despite the extraordinary evidence that Jesus had performed many miracles, not just one or two. For example, would they have believed Lazarus’ testimony? Perhaps. Would it have made a difference? No.

Jesus knew that the hearts of his accusers were rock-hard; their eyes irreversibly blind; ears irrevocably deaf. No matter if or how he defended himself, he would have been condemned. He didn’t speak a word in his defense. The only words he spoke affirmed the accusations.

What other trial in history resulted in the execution (and an excruciating inhumane one at that) of someone who was found innocent by the ruling court?! And this someone wasn’t just some-one. He was and is the Messiah, the Son of God. He is Lord and Savior for those who believe in Him.

Our Redeemer lives!

Jesus Stood Trial and Died Voluntarily

Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd… So I sacrifice my life for the sheep (referring to Israel, the lost sheep). I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold (Gentiles). I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd… I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded” (John 10:14-18, parenthesis mine).

Although Jesus knew precisely what would happen, he did nothing to orchestrate the sequence of events relating to his trial and crucifixion. As the Son of Man, he left that to the inexplicable, incomparable sovereignty of his Father, Almighty God.

As a man, he even asked his Father if there could be another way to accomplish God’s plan of redemption. Do you remember what he said in the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before he was arrested?

“Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will…. (Mark 14:36, NASB). Go ahead and finish Jesus’s words.

Yes, Jesus voluntarily laid down his life. As the Son of God, at any time he could have stopped what was happening to and around him.

Eternal praise to our God and His Messiah that this did not happen! All glory to Yeshua who did not send a legion of angels to annihilate those who had arrested him in the garden! Everlasting gratitude to our Lord for not saying I’ve had enough and stepping down from the cross! All power and dominion to the Son of Man for arising from the grave and conquering death once and for all! Go ahead, say it aloud with me. Amen! (Out of the Abyss, page 219)

Just after he was nailed to the cross, with incredible love even for those who crucified him, we read these stirring words:

Just before Jesus died on the cross, he uttered these amazing words that would forever change the course of history: “It is finished!” (John 19:30).

Those words meant the debt of sin had been paid once and for all.

It was a trial unlike any other before or since; the trial of a lifetime … yours, mine, everyone who has ever lived on this planet. One that determined our destiny of eternal life or death, depending on what we decide about Jesus—who he is and why he died. An unjust trial and sentence willingly endured by Messiah Jesus. His was the greatest sacrifice ever made by the highest price ever paid.

Second Trial: Judgment of the Nations / Trial of the Sheep and Goats

To some extent or another, several prior Eye of Prophecy articles have addressed God’s two universal plans for humanity: (1) Individual redemption for all—Jew and Gentile alike—who place their trust in the only source of salvation, the Jewish Messiah for all people. The final trial/judgment for all people who have died without acknowledging Jesus as Lord and Savior will take place at the end of the Millennium. That is the 3rd greatest trial of the ages, which will be discussed shortly.

(2) God’s second plan is Israel. It is tied into the first … salvation would come through the Jews and the nation of Israel, specifically through the Messiah. God’s Covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob first and foremost guaranteed that the Promised Land of Israel would always be the permanent inheritance (possession) of their descendants, the Jews. All nations of the earth that bless Israel will be blessed. Those countries that denigrate and delegitimize Israel would be severely punished (Genesis 12).

The final phase of this punishment will take place during the Tribulation culminating in the 2nd greatest trial in human history at the end of the Tribulation. This is commonly referred to as the separation of the Sheep and the Goats, as announced directly by Jesus. It will usher in his Millennial Reign.

Those who survive the Great Tribulation will stand before Jesus Christ, separated into nations or ethnic groups that supported Israel (the sheep) and those that fought against Israel (the goats).

Prior to this trial, God will have already destroyed the coalition of Gog/Magog nations in the early part of the Tribulation. Then Messiah Jesus will crush the ten-nation coalition led by Antichrist (Nero) near the very end of the Tribulation … Armageddon. (See Eye of Prophecy articles: End of the World Events … In Chronological Order, posted 2-25-17; and Armageddon & Messiah’s Return … An Amazing Sequence of Events, 2-3-18).

“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left” (Matthew 25:31-33).

In the rest of that chapter, Jesus explains the explicit criteria for this trial and the verdict.

Concerning the sheep who generously help the Jews:

(Matthew 25:40)

The brothers and sisters of Jesus are his Jewish kinsfolk in the flesh.

For those in the goat nations, it will be just the opposite. Their hostility toward God’s chosen people will result in: “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life” (Verse 46).

Judgment of unbelievers alive at the end of the Tribulation will be based primarily on their (national) treatment of Israel, as such treatment was though they had done it (good or bad) for Jesus himself—Israel’s King. Both the (sheep/goat) trial of the nations and the Tribulation pre-trial destruction of the armies of these anti-Semitic nations are found in several Old Testament prophecies. Such as:

“I will gather the armies of the world into the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will judge them for harming my people, my special possession, for scattering my people among the nations, and for dividing up my land” (Joel 3:2).

“The day is near when I, the Lord, will judge all godless nations! As you have done to Israel, so it will be done to you. All your evil deeds will fall back on your own heads” (Obadiah 1:15).

Right in the middle of the well-known prophecy that depicts the four Gentile world kingdoms, and the little horn’s (Antichrist Nero) sudden appearance (reappearance or return from the Abyss as found in Revelation 17) at the outset of the Tribulation, Daniel switches to a stunning vision of the Messiah:

“As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14, italicized to emphasize that Jesus will divinely judge and rule over nations).

Please see Eye of Prophecy article, Messiah’s Ascension & Coronation … Seen Long Before It Happened! Posted 5-27-17.

And the oft-quoted passage: “I will make Jerusalem like an intoxicating drink that makes the nearby nations stagger when they send their armies to besiege Jerusalem and Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. All the nations will gather against it to try to move it, but they will only hurt themselves” (Zechariah 12:2-3).

Third Trial: The Great White Throne Judgment

The Great White Throne Judgement was discussed in a very recent Eye of Prophecy article; however, with emphasis on the resurrection of dead unbelievers, only to face their eternal fate. (Resurrections / How Many Will There Be? One, Two, or Could There Be Three? Posted 10-27-18).

This final trial, verdict, and sentence is profoundly personal and permanent as found in Revelation 20:11-15, in contrast to the more corporate punishment of the sheep/goat nations which pertains to the treatment of Israel and the Jews. It ends the Millennial era and initiates the age of Eternity.

One of the exceptional features of this trial is that the verdict is not directly based on the offenses (sin) of those being judged … all unbelievers. Yes, you read that right.

Here is what all unbelievers are being judged by: “…And all were judged according to their deeds” (Revelation 20:13). It doesn’t say according to their sins. In fact, some of these acts were undoubtedly good deeds. Unless done from strictly a selfish motive or gain, no good deed or work (objectively defined by all involved) is a sin.

They were “judged” (measured or cross-examined) on the only defense that unbelievers can and will offer. This argument is based on the most perfidious perception and malignant misconception ever befallen humanity. Which is: The good things I’ve done should be given greater weight than the wrong things.

But the actual sentence (Lake of Fire) was based on something much more comprehensive, one with eternal consequences, which we will see in a moment.

During their life on this earth, what all the unsaved ultimately want to be measured by is their accomplishments, mainly through “good works” which they will try to argue should be enough to merit God’s approval. That will be their defense before Almighty God, who will not beg to disagree during this trial. That disagreement had already been unequivocally quantified:

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…” (Romans 3:23-25).

God is both just and fair. He will allow unbelievers at this final trial to be judged (measured) by their works. If anyone can prove to Him that their deeds are enough to earn and reach God’s perfect standard of righteousness, then they’re home free. Or are they?

“No one is righteous—not even one” (Romans 3:10). None of us has any innate or earned righteousness of our own.

“…The Lord is Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 33:16).

Thus, Messiah Jesus is the ultimate test of those on trial before the Great White Throne of Father God.

When the people asked Jesus what they could or should do to perform works acceptable to God, Jesus summarized the whole basis for right standing with God (righteousness) with these words: “This is the only work God wants from you. Believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29).

Therefore, the final sentence (Lake of Fire) of all unbelievers is based on what they did or didn’t do about Jesus—who had already been judged by God for their sins and the penalty thereof. That is why we read:

“And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). The unbelievers standing on trial before God had not accepted the only remedy that could have pardoned them from their sins … trust in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus holds the keys of death and the grave (Revelation 1:18). He conquered death when he arose from the grave. Only Jesus can unlock the door (prison) of physical and spiritual death.

He is the Book of Life. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).

He also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Summary

The Great White Throne passage doesn’t specify just how this trial will unfold. Will the Lord “cross-examine” every unbeliever one at a time? Though speculation, I would suggest that God will extend the opportunity to all those who want to speak up in their own defense to present their case. Most will simply remain silent, knowing the futility of their defense. Certainly some of the religious among them will step forward to remind the Lord of the great things they did for him.

Everything except the most important … to acknowledge and accept Jesus as their personal Savior. Only then, after it’s too late, will they bow their knee and confess with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).

Jesus mentions them: “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day (Great White Throne Judgment) many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws’” (Matthew 7:21-23, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

And what is the “will of my Father” referred to by Jesus? We’ve already read that: Believe in the one (Jesus) whom God sent.

Things to Ponder

Nobody needs to be tried as a goat or according to their works. No one need be sentenced to the worst fate imaginable—eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire. A guilty verdict that could have been set aside with the right answer to the life-changing, destiny-altering question posed in Jesus’s deposition of all people. One that must be answered in this life-time on earth.

“But who do you say I am?

“Simon Peter answered: ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’” (Matthew 16:15-16).

God loves you. Jesus died for you.

Say, “yes,” to him before it’s too late.

Grace and Law … A Biblical Balance

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Though not a major variation from most Eye of Prophecy articles, this week’s post is a slight departure.

Certainly not different in content, as I’ve touched on the Old Covenant of Law contrasted to the New Covenant of Grace through faith alone when it fit the main subject of several articles. In fact, the entire content of three articles discusses this topic in detail. See articles, Age of Grace, Part I, II, III (Posted 1-24; 1-31; & 2-7-15).

With a few revisions, today’s article is a reproduction of a letter I sent to a friend several years ago. Written in (tough) love and with consideration for the person involved; yet a message that unequivocally exposed the age-old error of adding works and law to Biblical redemption. Salvation so great and glorious that it needs nothing else except to believe and receive the essence and object of that grace: the powerful and precious sacrifice of Messiah Jesus to save us from our sins and give us eternal life with our Great God and Savior.

The modifications include paragraph restructuring; some changes or improvements in the wording; the obvious addition of sub-headings and pictures (for visual illustration). However, the heart of the letter remains intact.

If you’re uncertain about or even struggling with a Biblical balance between Law and Grace, hopefully this article (letter) will be of some help.

A Letter to a Friend Concerning the Old Covenant of Law & The New Covenant of Grace

Regarding your regular email commentaries to those on your address list, specifically regarding Grace and Law, I have remained silent. But no longer. Your most recent statement that, “…Some say we’re living in a period of Grace and the laws were done away with, NO, NO,” is simply not Biblical.

In fact, it’s walking on thin ice. It’s the kind of thinking that Paul warned the Galatians and Ephesians and Romans about in those epistles. Over and over the apostle Paul tells us that the Grace of God not only saves us but keeps us saved. Trying to keep the law to get saved or stay saved is not only impossible, but an affront to God.

You frequently quote part of Matthew 5:17 where Christ says, “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.”

But Paul says in no uncertain terms that Christ, himself, did away with the law. “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations….” (Ephesians 2:14-15, italics for emphasis).

So, who’s right: Jesus or Paul? Of course, that’s a senseless question because they’re both right; even though they’re saying what appears to be (at face value) opposite things.

Many verses in Scripture are completely stand-alone verses, such as John 3:16.

(Another of many Biblical stand-alone truths)

There are other passages, however, that must be compared, Scripture with Scripture (the whole counsel of God), and not quoted as a means to defend a viewpoint or position that is wrong to begin with; because the verse is used either out of context or apparently (if not adequately explained and understood) contradicts other passages. The Bible never contradicts itself. If there are two or more passages which seem to do just that, then they must be carefully analyzed, correlated, and explained together as a whole. As you well know, all cults are based on a handful of verses that, when not compared to other Scripture, will distort the main truths of the Bible (especially salvation) and create a whole new religion, which Paul calls a false gospel.

Why do you keep repeating Jesus words of fulfilling the law, unless you’re trying to “protect” the law or convince yourself and others that unless the law is of paramount importance in their lives, there’s no way to be born-again and/or successfully live the Christian life?

You went on to say in that email, “If we didn’t have the laws, how would we know when we were breaking God’s commandments, Laws?”

That statement is entirely correct. But the problem is that you are giving your audience the impression that the Law is still necessary to accomplish one or all of the following: (1) stay saved or keep God’s grace intact right up to the time of death, in order that one not lose or forfeit their salvation; (2) gain God’s favor/blessing; (3) those who are unsaved would think that grace without the law is not enough to be born again.

In other words, do you fully understand why Jesus said he came to fulfill the law, which is the Mosaic Law? What did Jesus mean by saying that? A correct understanding will reconcile and balance what Jesus and Paul taught.

Jesus said this to emphasize and fully confirm that it was he, and only he who fulfilled the law. Which totally qualifies him as the only one who could make the once and for all sacrifice for our sins. Christ said this to reinforce the fact that no human being could ever fulfill the law either as a means of salvation or to keep us saved, or to gain favor/blessings during our walk with the Lord. When he says, “I came to fulfill the law,” the emphasis is on “I,” … Christ, himself.

He didn’t say or mean that he fulfilled the law in order that we, too, must strive to fulfill it. Just the opposite: he fulfilled it because we couldn’t. He did that in our place, then paid the penalty for our sins by dying in our place.

Once he fulfilled the law, there was no need for any of us to try or keep trying to satisfy it ourselves; we can’t … never could and never will. The New Covenant of Grace focuses on Jesus alone. Conversely, for us to stop relying on (impossible or at least inconsistent) obedience to the Law that could never save us in the first place, nor guarantee our salvation … keep us saved. Daily and life-long obedience to the Lord and His Word will then come more naturally (supernaturally).

The Moral Law of God Will Always Remain … But Not as The Means of Redemption

Christ is saying that the law itself will never be abolished.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” and other commandments will always be God’s moral standard of conduct; however, no one can or ever will keep the whole law. Break one law and you break them all, as you know. Of course, the Ten Commandments are still a moral standard and compass that is every bit as applicable today as it was when the law was given. But what about the hundreds of years before the law was given, going at least back to the time of Abraham? How were those folks made right with God, when there was no law?

You are thinking and saying that the Ten Commandments are still relevant, which they obviously are. However, you are mistaken when you think that Christians (me or any other believer who emphasizes Grace) deliberately sin because Grace is always there to forgive and forget. Of course, we shouldn’t see Grace that way or abuse it. However, most wrongs that we all do does not involve an elaborate mental process of thinking that I’ll go ahead and sin, knowing that God will forgive. I (and most Christians I’ve talked to or read) simply do not think in those terms, any more than you do.

According to Jesus and Paul, the most grievous sin of all is the sin of the Pharisees, whom Jesus called sons of the devil, sons of hell, hypocrites. Why? Because not only did they consider themselves righteous by keeping the law, they also were making others “sons of hell” by telling them that the only way to gain God’s favor and forgiveness was by keeping the law of Moses. And not just the Mosaic Law, but dozens of requirements that they added to the Law. That’s why they rejected him; to them the Mosaic Law was the only way to God.

Jesus told the religious leaders: “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life” (John 5:39-40).

Then he made this startling statement (indictment) about the self-righteous religious leaders: “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me” (John 5:45-46).

How could Moses condemn anyone for keeping the law? Because they placed the law above the only way of true righteousness—faith in Christ (and before Jesus came, faith in the promise of his coming).

The only thing abolished is: keeping of the law or fulfillment of the law to be saved and to stay saved.

In fact, that never existed in the first place … meaning salvation through the law. But neither is trying to live the Christian life ever successful or even recognized by the Lord through self-effort attempts to conform to the law. That’s why Paul told the believers in Galatia that they were “foolish.” (Galatians 3:1).

He went on to say, “Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the Law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ (grace through faith) … How foolish can you be … why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” (Verses 2-3).

Paul continues: “Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child (meaning Christ as a final prototype of Isaac) who was promised….” (Galatians 3:19). Scripture is crystal clear that the law was only temporary. It’s purpose was to show us just what sinners we are, so that we will stop trying to keep the law as a means of salvation or as a means of trying to please God and keep in good standing with him after we’re saved.

We can try all we want to “fulfill” the law or any rules and regulations that we impose on ourselves and others, and it will do us absolutely no good, whatsoever. In fact, it only leads to frustration and failure.

Unbelievers in general as well as Mormons, Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and even some born-again Christians are constantly trying to earn God’s favor by keeping/fulfilling the Mosaic law or whatever precepts they follow. Frankly, that’s an insult to God because it contradicts and replaces the source of a right relationship with God … Jesus Christ. Paul tells us that when we make the law our primary focus and falsely believe that maintaining it will keep us in good standing with God, we are “crucifying Christ” all over again.

The Apostle Paul had much more to say:

“But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law–I stopped trying to meet all its requirements–so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die” (Galatians 2:17-21, italics for emphasis).

Keeping the law is a result of our salvation, not the means. When we trust in the Lord, we acknowledge that his grace is more than enough for us to be born (again), to live, and to grow in Christ.

Legalism v. Living by Grace

Christians who have a legalistic mindset are those who live by a list of do(s) and don’t(s), including the law and other things they think must be followed. They (erroneously) believe that God’s favor is earned by good behavior.

True Christianity is expressed by those who live in gratitude for the (free) gift of grace and eternal life. They realize that “keeping the law” or “fulfilling the law” is impossible on anything approaching a consistent and regular basis. For you to tell others that Christ came to fulfill the law without explaining what that means or without explaining that both salvation and the Christian life, itself, is through grace and grace alone, is to confuse and mislead them. Cults do that all the time. They take one or two verses and make an entire doctrine out of them, without fully explaining them or without comparing them to the whole counsel of Scripture.

A few years ago, during a two-hour conversation I had with a devout Mormon, that’s exactly what he was preaching. He maintained that the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross (which true believers accept as a gift, through the grace of God) is simply not enough. To enter God’s complete favor, this man insisted that: “the commandments must be kept.” For him, the commandments were the Mosaic Law plus all the rules/regulations/requirements of the Mormon church.

But it doesn’t matter whether this man was a Mormon or Catholic or misguided Protestant; the fact is he placed the “law” above the grace of God. The Age of Grace is nothing more than completion of the ancient promise God made to Abraham; this promise of the Messiah and redemption through him (by faith) would come through Isaac. Not through Hagar’s son Ishmael, both of whom were symbols of the law. You know that, but unfortunately you still want to mix law with grace.

Paul explains the ultimate purpose of the law: “…The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we would be made right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian” (Galatians 3:24-25).

Going back to the last part of what Jesus said concerning the law and the prophets: “I have come to accomplish their purpose.” His statement is that he came to fulfill the purpose of the law. That purpose is presented in the verse just quoted in Galatians.

Absolutely, Jesus fulfilled the law. Only the Son of God could do such a thing, which qualified him to be the one and only perfect sacrifice for our sins. He fulfilled the law so we wouldn’t have to, either to get saved or to stay saved; or to earn his favor or anything else that we try to obtain through our merit, worth, good works, or whatever. God knew that we could never, ever in a thousand lifetimes completely keep the law. That’s why the Levitical sacrificial system was given as a foreshadow of the ultimate sacrifice for sins through Messiah, himself … the only sinless person in all humanity.

Nor did Jesus abolish the Law. What Jesus replaced (did away with) was the purpose of the Law.

Is obedience better than sacrifice? Yes, but only when we understand what obedience truly is. Which is: we obey because we want to obey; not just because the Law tells us that we must. In that respect, Paul said that the Gentiles didn’t even need the law, because conscience was their law. Innately we know right from wrong. What the law did was to make it “official.” Meaning that if we have any doubt as to the consequences of breaking God’s moral laws, the law will erase all doubt that (for example) it’s wrong to steal.

We obey because we love the Lord, and we love him because he first loved us. We also realize that we disobey (all too often). And then we even better comprehend why Jesus kept the entire law … to qualify as the absolute, perfect sacrifice for those who could never even come close to keeping (fulfilling) the law. Which includes complete forgiveness for breaking God’s laws for those who have placed their trust in Jesus.

There is no condemnation whatsoever for those who are (born-again) in Christ Jesus, including condemnation for failure to keep/obey the law. (Romans 8:1). Jesus took that condemnation for us; the penalty of sin was poured out on him.

Technically, it’s not our sins that will send us to hell; rather it’s rejecting the perfect sacrifice for those sins. That’s crystal clear in Scripture. The legalistic Galatians were giving people the impression that the law (and fulfilling it) was as or even more important than God’s grace. In doing so, they were preaching a false gospel.

Please, don’t get me wrong or misunderstand: I am NOT saying that the Law is unimportant. I’m just saying what Paul said (and what Jesus pointed out to his disciples and to the Pharisees).

Here’s how Paul puts it: “…You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you” (Galatians 1:6-8). Then he goes on to explain in detail what that different gospel was/is. In a nutshell: mixing law with grace. The two simply do not go together.

That doesn’t imply the law is invalid. It only means that when you add keeping of the law to salvation through faith in God’s grace, then you have a destructive hybrid that will send those who mix the two straight to hell. Millions of people down through the ages have sadly died in their sins because they wouldn’t let go of works (keeping or fulfilling the law or just doing good deeds in general) as the way of achieving a right relationship with God.

So, when someone tells a believer (and certainly an unbeliever) that keeping the law (because Christ did) is imperative to, in some measure, earn God’s favor or forgiveness, then they are doing exactly what the legalistic Galatians were doing. They were imposing impossible standards of obedience to the Jewish laws, with the insidious implication that salvation and staying saved depended upon performance as opposed to our position in Christ.

God doesn’t measure us by our performance. If he did, no one could possibly measure up. He relates to us exclusively through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son; then our faith to believe and receive that gift which is exactly what the Grace of God and the Age of Grace is all about. Same thing with the Christian life. He doesn’t grade us based on how well we keep or don’t keep the Mosaic Law. It is our position in Christ and Christ (through the Holy Spirit) in us that guarantees the eternity of our salvation.

The Lord doesn’t look at us as law-keepers. Rather as fruit-bearers.

Said Jesus: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, NASB). Meaning … can do nothing right (in God’s sight).

There’s Danger in Adding Law to Grace

Paul also told the Galatians that he, “feared for them.” Those who were trying to put the fear of God into others for not meticulously complying with legalistic rules and conduct, best be afraid for themselves. As Paul described it: “…fallen away from God’s grace” (Galatians 5:4).

For sure, abusing and misusing God’s grace is wrong. Deliberate, planned sinning just because God will forgive when confessed, is a serious error. But the falling away from God’s grace was a twofold danger about which Paul warned the legalistic Galatians. (1) Falling from grace does not mean loss of salvation to those Galatian believers who truly had been born again. Rather, it means a falling away or departure from the Grace of God as the basis for Christian living, in favor of legalistic rules and behavior. (2) However, it also applied and was a warning not to mislead unbelievers who were/are on the bubble of whether to rely exclusively on the grace/mercy of God. Or to take matters into their own hands and devise ways to help God show his favor (grace) to them … by first observing the Law of Moses.

(A pause here before continuing this letter to my friend with a notation that the following was italicized for even more emphasis).

The best thing any of us can possibly do is to say, “Lord, I can’t do this (meaning keep His law); please, you do it through me.” And, yes, that is possible only when we yield to Him, but that yielding is not a matter of keeping rules, whether imposed by the law or by ourselves or by others. By the very fact that we say that we can’t do this on our own, we are yielding to the grace of God that says he will do it through us. That’s the difference between Works and Grace. Works (keeping the law and doing good) says, ” Thanks anyway, but I’ll do this myself, because it’s up to me to see that it’s done.” Grace says, “I’ve tried, but I can’t do it. Thank you, Lord, for doing it for me, all the way to the Cross. Your grace is sufficient to get me through this day, no matter what happens.” (And that also means if I mess up, i.e. disobey).

Once more, read what the Holy Spirit through Paul says, “You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years. I fear for you … I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things, for I have become like you Gentiles–free from those laws…” (Galatians 4:10-12).

What an astounding statement! Paul is telling the legalistic Jews that the law no longer had any hold on him; he was free from the law just like the Gentiles who made no effort whatsoever to keep the Jewish law in the first place. Thus, the only thing that would/could save the Gentiles and condemn them if they refused, was believing in and accepting the Grace of God through the gift of salvation … by Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection. Paul wanted the Jews to understand the same thing (salvation was by grace through faith plus absolutely nothing else) regarding redemption and as the means of living the Christian life.

The observance of certain days, etc. was just one example of many that Paul could have given. In fact, he also talked about Galatian Jews who had demanded circumcision for the Gentiles to be saved or stay saved. In other letters he wrote (such as Romans), Paul talks about eating certain food and drinking (wine). In other words, he includes all those things that legalistic Christians impose on themselves and others including the Law of Moses.

Paul rebuts that by explaining that if the Galatians are going to insist on circumcision (or anything else that they demand obedience to), then they must keep the entire law ALL THE TIME. (Galatians Chapter 5). And if they can’t (which is obvious), then stop trying to convince themselves and others that they must continue keeping the law in order to be righteous and stay righteous through their own effort, merit, or self-worth, including good works. Good works and obedience are a heartfelt RESPONSE to and RESULT of our salvation, not a means to it; nor a means of maintaining a right relationship with the Lord.

Trusting in the Grace of God Is A Much Better Way—It Is the Only Way of Redemption & Living the Christian Life

We are not only saved by GRACE, we live by it every day, or at least we should. There would be no need for grace or forgiveness if each of us could “fulfill the law.” The Lord, through Paul, is telling us to stop trying to keep the law as a condition before, for, and after salvation by grace.

Jesus blasted the Pharisees for their self-righteousness which they claimed was achieved (exclusively) by adhering to the law. But especially their mindset that the law was above (more important and more rewarding) and better than the Son of God, himself; who introduced a whole new “law” … the Law of Grace. The Law of Grace says that the old law is no longer the way to righteousness with God; in fact, it never was. Instead, it was trust in the Lord’s forgiveness via shedding of innocent animal blood, a forerunner of the ultimate sacrifice through the blood of Messiah Jesus.

Faith in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice is the NEW WAY, the new law. In fact, Paul terms it: “the law of Christ.” The Law wasn’t even given to the Jews until Moses, hundreds of years after Abraham died. It was Abraham’s faith that was credited to him as righteousness.

“And it is impossible to please God without faith…” (Hebrews 11:6). If that precept applied to obedience, the verse would read: “without obedience….” But it doesn’t say that.

For example, should we expect a special blessing or God’s favor or the certainty of our salvation just because we obey the commandments such as, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor.” No, it’s expected that we keep the commandments. But in the age of Grace, it’s imperative that we do not insist that our relationship with the Lord depends on our law-keeping performance. That’s exactly what the legalistic Jewish Christians were doing and why the Holy Spirit through Paul reminded and warned them that the Christian life (from start to finish) is lived in, by, and through the grace of God.

Trusting the Lord IS obedience. Because it comes from the heart, not from an external, superficial sense of obligation to keep the law to obtain God’s favor.

Of course, obedience is important; but because we, in fact, disobey, then how much obedience is necessary (considering our frequent disobedience) in order to please God? Do you know how much, does anyone? But even a little faith (trusting the Lord) as small as a mustard seed can move mountains … meaning that God will honor that faith and do great things for/through us.

I truly am saying these things for your benefit, not to condemn you. You do well in your emails when you talk about Jesus as our source of salvation. Unfortunately, you dilute that when you constantly tell your family/friends that grace is not enough (that is what you are telling them whether you realize it or not). That they have an obligation to obey the Ten Commandments and the laws of the land (which is true). BUT NOT AS A MEANS OF SALVATION OR STAYING SAVED OR GETTING TO HEAVEN or any other favor that the Lord might bestow on them.

(My letter ended with some kind remarks to my friend and an invitation to dinner)

Things to Ponder

Though this friend has since departed the earth, I believe the letter did help clarify the balance between Law and Grace.

As recorded in the Bible, God’s letters to us are far more important.

Listen to the Jewish Apostle Paul … a devout Pharisee and defender of the Law of Moses until he met the risen Messiah:

“If the old way (Covenant of Law), which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way (Covenant of Grace), which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which remains forever! (II Corinthians 3:9-11, parenthesis mine).

It was God’s very Son who established the everlasting New Covenant foretold by Jeremiah.

Resurrections / How Many Will There Be? One, Two, Or Could There Be Three?

Let’s begin with a three-question quiz; a Q&A for eternity.

The choices are: Yes___, No___, I don’t’ know___.

Is there life after death?

If so, will there be a bodily resurrection of the dead?

If we live forever, will everyone be in heaven with God?

For those who selected, “No” to the first question (now or at any time in their life), the next two questions would be irrelevant to them. Why? Because it’s evident they haven’t read the Bible or don’t believe what it says if they have? Even if they acknowledge the Bible as God’s Word, it’s apparent that they prefer the temporary enticements of this world to the incomparable paradise of everlasting life in heaven.

Scripture is crystal clear that the answer to the first two questions is a resounding, “Yes!” With the answer to the third question a solemnly sad, “No.”

For believers in Messiah Jesus, Heaven awaits us. For unbelievers when they die … Hell. Followed by the “second death” (eternal separation from God) in the Lake of Fire after they, too, are raised from their graves. They remain under God’s wrath for not believing and receiving God’s Son as personal Savior (John 3:36).

The promise of Romans 8:1 applies only to believers: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

As does, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of underserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory” (Romans 5:1-2).

If you answered, “I don’t know” to one or more of these questions, my response would be, “Why? Don’t you want to know? Don’t you want to be sure?” The Bible plainly states that we can know, we can be sure.

Why is that? Because the historical fact is that Jesus Christ arose from the dead, attested to by many who saw him and were with him.

“…Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died” (I Corinthians 15:3-6, italics for emphasis).

In addition to this greatest miracle of all time, the Bible is replete with numerous other miracles performed by God and by His Son. As well as hundreds of prophecies that have come to pass, with 100% accuracy. Such mighty miracles and perfectly fulfilled prophecies cannot be found in any man-made religion or so-called sacred texts. Nor can their adherents be certain of where they will spend eternity, because all man-made religions and cults are based on self-worth or good deeds. They cannot know for sure if they’re good enough or have done enough.

In stirring contrast, God’s salvation is a matter of believing and receiving Messiah Jesus as Lord and Savior, who did for us what we could do for ourselves. Who was and is what we could never hope to be without him.

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (II Corinthians 5:21).

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle John says, “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life” (I John 5:13).

Concerning the third question in the quiz, let’s look at:

The Righteous (Saved) & the Unrighteousness (Unsaved)

When the Lord bodily appeared to Abraham as the Pre-Incarnate Messiah and confided in Abraham his intentions to judge Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham asked God to reconsider if there were but 10 righteous people in the city. Said Abraham: “…Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” (Genesis 18:25, a rhetorical question).

Hundreds of years later after God chose Moses to deliver the Israelites, we read:

“Then the Lord came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh. The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, ‘Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty…” (Exodus 34:5-7a).

Who are the guilty … the unsaved, the unrighteous according to God? Numerous Bible passages answer that question, both Old & New Testament. The guilty are those who have refused to place their trust in God’s simple yet profound plan of redemption. A plan that began when God shed the blood of an innocent animal to provide clothing for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). Clothing necessary because their sinful disobedience had taken away their innocence (exemplified by their nakedness) and had exposed them to God’s guilty verdict of death … both physical and spiritual. Remember, the word death throughout Scripture means separation, not annihilation.

A plan culminating in the once for all substitutionary sacrifice of God’s own Son, Messiah Jesus; to replace the Old Covenant of the Law which required ongoing animal sacrifices to cover the sins of the people.

The Bible is decidedly clear that God divides people into two human hemispheres: the righteous and the unrighteous … believers and unbelievers. And it is by faith in the Lord’s gift of salvation through His Son that gives us right standing with God … righteousness. The same faith through which God declared Abraham righteous long ago also saves us today.

The only difference is that Abraham and Old Testament saints were looking forward to Messiah’s redemptive remedy for sin. The truth of which was foreshadowed in the Levitical Sacrificial System; though offerings to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were already underway before the Law of Moses. Thus, Jesus’s once for all sacrifice is adequate for all people—past, present, and future. However, we must make that salvation personal.

Resurrection in the Old Testament

God’s creation plan of eternal existence for every person ever born has not changed, except for one thing: RESURRECTION!

A bodily resurrection … for both the saved and the unsaved.

The New Testament offers considerable testimony regarding the resurrection of the dead. But there is also ample evidence in the Old Testament, as God systematically revealed his plans to the prophets.

Messiah Jesus definitively declared: “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25). Before that dynamic disclosure, even the prophets didn’t completely comprehend how the unrighteous could stand before God one day and the righteous would live with God forever.

Would it be a literal resurrection of the body, or in spirit only? Would there be a single resurrection for both the righteous and unrighteous, or more than one … separated by time and space? The prophets and those who listened to them and followed the Lord faithfully didn’t know all the details; still, they believed God and his promises.

“All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth” (Hebrews 11:13).

Said Jesus to his disciples about the many who didn’t believe in him: “…For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand” (Matthew 13:13).

Then a few verses later: “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it” (Verses 16-17).

“All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had planned. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us” (Hebrews 11:39-40).

Despite his great suffering and despair because he had done nothing wrong to deserve the loss of his family, possessions, and health, Job believed that God would vindicate him. Despite not knowing why these things happened, and despite coming up with inaccurate cause and effect correlations and conclusions (by both Job and his “friends”), Job uttered an astounding affirmation of faith and hope.

“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!” (Job 19:25-27).

I, too, am overwhelmed with this terrific truth: Resurrection … body, soul, and spirit!

King David (along with Isaiah) understood eternal life as well or more than anyone in Old Testament times, including the remarkable revelation that the Messiah would die for our sins and be raised again bodily.

(Words of King David from Psalm 23, that begins with “The Lord is my Shepherd.” This Psalm is known by many, including unbelievers)

In the first Gospel message preached after Christ ascended to heaven, Peter emphasized above everything else the resurrection of Jesus from the dead—to prove that he was the Messiah, the Son of God. In part of his message to the crowd (of which 3,000 would accept Jesus as Savior that day) Peter quoted David, “For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave” (Acts 2:27, quoting Psalm 16:10).

Peter went on to say: “…David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us… David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection… God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this” (Acts 2:29-32).

Both Elijah and Elisha raised a boy from the dead. However, like a handful of resurrections recorded in the New Testament, those raised (for example, Lazarus by Jesus) died again. Thus, many observant Jews believed that resurrection was possible; yet most refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, let alone that his resurrection would be permanent … forever!

See Eye of Prophecy article, There’s Resurrection … And There’s Resurrection! (Posted 3-19-16). Which is a comparison of Old and New Testaments resurrections to the once for all resurrection of Messiah Jesus.

Will There Be More Than One Resurrection of the Dead? If so, How Many?

To eliminate suspense or to confirm what you may already know (but can you explain your answer?), the question will be answered now; then supported with examination of some decisive passages.

There are TWO (types of) Resurrections. However, there will be three separate times when these two resurrections take place. That is not a contradiction!

In Revelation Chapter 20, the return to life of the Tribulation saints is called the “first resurrection.” There’s also the resurrection of the dead in Christ that occurs at the Rapture, which precedes the tribulation believers. Then, after the Millennium, Revelation 20 dramatically describes yet another raising of the dead—those who are unbelievers.

First (foremost) we need to remember that the Rapture and physical return of Messiah (Zechariah 14 and Revelation 19) to the earth are separate events. Please see Eye of Prophecy article: Messiah’s Return & The Rapture (Same or Separate Events?) Published 12-3-16. And, End of the World Events … In Chronological Order! (2-25-17) Also, Armageddon and Messiah’s Return … An Amazing Sequence of Events. (2-3-18).

Let’s examine the chronological order of these three resurrections. With documentation and commentary to show that the first two are bundled together in what the Bible labels the “first resurrection.”

(1) Resurrection of Believers at The Rapture

After the risen Messiah ascended back to heaven, 1st century believers eagerly expected him to return any day. Though 2,000 years have gone by, the reality of his imminent return (at any moment) is as relevant today as then. In fact, his return is more imminent that ever, considering other Biblical prophecies unfolding in the 20th and 21st century, paramount of which is the rebirth of the State of Israel. (See Eye of Prophecy article: Just How Imminent is Messiah’s Imminent Return? Posted 1-18-17).

For unbelievers who have ridiculed Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world as well as his return, and for some believers who sometimes wonder when and even if this will happen, let’s not forget what the Apostle Peter said not to forget:

Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, ‘What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created’” (II Peter 3:3-4, emphasis added). *Note: the italicized words are rendered “first” or “first of all” in several Bible translations. Later, you’ll see the importance of this as we analyze the first resurrection.

Peter continues: “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends. A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come unexpectedly as a thief…” (II Peter 3:8-10a).

Like many of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I am so eager for that day to arrive. On the other hand, I’m eternally grateful that the Lord has waited this long. Because the question (thought) is: If he had returned before I was born, then would I have been born … let alone born-again to experience the Rapture? Note: Thanks to one of my sibling sisters for that thought/question.

Including this week’s post, 42 Eye of Prophecy articles in the category of The Rapture deal extensively with this spectacular subject. Such as: The Tremendous Transfiguration of Believers, posted 7-23-16. And, of course, the first five articles published in July/August 2013; concerning the What, Why, When, Who, and How of the Rapture. Since the purpose of today’s article is to clarify the number of resurrections, discussion of the Rapture will be limited.

Beginning with an excerpt from Why the Rapture? In italics:

Primary Purpose: Resurrection (both dead and living believers) with a spiritual body equipped to live forever.

Secondary Purpose: Sparing believers from the tribulation. And giving unbelievers one last chance (up to seven years) to accept the true Messiah over the false Messiah….

If Jesus had not arisen from the dead, there would be no credibility to his or the Bible’s claims that redemption comes exclusively by God’s grace (unmerited favor). But Christ did arise, so all the Biblical truth and promises about salvation in Christ are true….

Perhaps the most absorbing is the Apostle Paul’s introductory use of the term, “spiritual bodies.” Think about it: Aren’t these two words mutually exclusive? How can there be any such thing as a “spiritual body.” Our earthly bodies are flesh and bone; they house our soul and spirit, which are anything but physical. Has anyone ever seen the spirit of another human being? Have you ever seen your own soul?

See Eye of Prophecy articles, Spiritual Bodies … A Contradiction of Terms? Part I & II. Posted 9-26 & 10-3-15.

Continuing with the excerpt:

But for Paul, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, a spiritual body is a perfectly “natural” fact that will one day be physically experienced by all who have been raptured … not virtual, computer-generated, or cybernetic reality, but actual reality. Just how real is the new resurrected body? Jesus, himself, showed us how awesomely real it is: After he arose from the dead, he walked, he talked, he ate with his disciples, and he could be touched! How real is that?

Listen to what Paul says, “It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised in glory … They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies” (I Corinthians 15: 42-44).

I see this spectacular change taking place in the same light (pun intended) of what happened to Jesus during his transfiguration on the mountain, when Elijah and Moses appeared with him (Matthew 17: 1-7). In fact, I believe the term transfiguration is the best way to describe what will take place at the Rapture. Why transfiguration? Webster’s Dictionary defines transfiguration as, “a change in form or appearance….”

How will this transfiguration take place? The question concerns only the transfiguration itself, not the chain events of the Rapture as explained in I Thessalonians 4. For a detailed account of the fascinating sequence of the Rapture and approximately how long it could take, please read Eye of Prophecy article: The Shout Heard Around the World (4-22-17). Which expands on the older article, How the Rapture (will take place).

(In trying to depict believers ascending to heaven artists have inadvertently corrected the prevailing premise that the entire Rapture sequence will happen in the blink of an eye. Only the actual transfiguration will be that quick. Those left behind will hear and see the entire sequence of the Rapture)

Read with me the Apostle Paul’s second revelation of the Rapture, following the entire sequence of this extraordinary event as first disclosed in I Thessalonians Chapter 4:

“But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It (the transformation or transfiguration) will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown, for when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed” (I Corinthians 15:51-52, parenthesis mine).

One more excerpt from Why the Rapture?

To live on this earth requires a special kind of body that God so wonderfully, uniquely, and masterfully created: one that can breathe life-giving air; drink life-sustaining water; eat life-growing food; feel life-producing pleasure and life-warning pain; see and hear life-enabling sights and sounds; produce life-perpetuating children; and know life-changing truths. However, the bodies we currently possess are not in any way, shape, or form adequate to live forever in the new earth and the new heavens that the book of Revelation so majestically portrays.

God has promised and will give us a brand new “heavenly body.” One that far surpasses the limitations of our earthly space suit. One immune to pain, sorrow, suffering, sin, disease and most of all, death itself. (See Revelation 21:4). One that can “leap tall buildings with a single bound and is faster than a speeding bullet!” Okay, a little facetious here; but isn’t that the underlying idea of Superman? Christ is the only “Super Man” who ever lived, and he will give us a heavenly body like his, to enable us to do extraordinary things, above and beyond our wildest expectations. I, for one, want to fly! And I’m not talking about jumbo jets.

Now for the other well-known passage that describes the Rapture’s startling sequence of events.

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words” (I Thessalonians 4: 16-18, italics to emphasize the Greek word, harpazo).

As clearly indicated by Paul, this resurrection applies only to believers in Messiah Jesus—the saved; those declared righteous by God, both Old and New Testament saints. See article, Old & New Testament Saints … Is There A Difference? (Published 7-7-18).

In I Thessalonians Chapter 5, Paul continues with more details on the Rapture that triggers the Day of the Lord, which encompasses the Tribulation and the Millennium.

“For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever” (I Thessalonians 5:9-10).

This is one supporting passage for those of us who ardently believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of true believers in Christ. The anger of God referenced by Paul in this verse is in the immediate context of the Rapture and the Day of the Lord—which includes God’s final judgment (wrath, anger poured out on the world) during the Tribulation.

(2) Resurrection of Tribulation Saints

“…And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their forehead or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

“This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.) Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-6, parenthesis in the text).

Two integral features of the passage just quoted will be clarified to hopefully eliminate any confusion even among Bible scholars and teachers. One is whether the resurrection of believers at the end of the Tribulation (those who “had not worshipped the beast … nor accepted his mark…”) is exclusively the “first resurrection.” If it is, then what do we do with the Rapture resurrection of believers? This will be discussed under Part A to follow.

The other focal point of this passage: whether only the Tribulation saints will reign with Christ during the Millennium. Which, in turn, would presumably (absent astute analysis and careful correlation of this passage to other passages) exclude hundreds of millions of believers, both living and dead who will be caught up to heaven before the Tribulation begins … at the Rapture. This will be covered in Part B to follow.

(A) First Resurrection

There are two (main) reasons to conclude that the first resurrection identified in Revelation Chapter 20 includes all believers … those raptured before and those who died during the Tribulation. They are: (1) The Greek word translated first; (2) Other key phrases in the text itself.

A (1) Greek Word for First:

There are over a dozen Greek words in the New Testament conveying the concept of first in succession, one (of many), principal, prototype, etc. In Revelation 20, the Greek word employed by John is: Protos. This translated Greek word is found frequently in the New Testament. For example: 156 times in the New American Standard Bible.; sixteen times in the book of Revelation.

Thayer’s Greek Dictionary contains three applicable definitions for protos.

*Note: Whenever there are two or more meanings (variations thereof) for any defined word, the context of the passage—compared to other passages if necessary—will determine the primary or best application.

Protos is defined as: “1. first in time or place. a. in any succession of things or persons. 2. first in rank. a. influence, honor; b. chief; c. principal; 3. first, at the first.”

This multiple application of the Greek word protos is affirmed by its English translation.

First is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as: “preceding all others in time, order, or importance.”

Protos—translated as first (resurrection) in Revelation 20—is (should be) the key application or meaning of rank, influence, chief, principal; a prototype but not necessarily first in chronology. The secondary application of protos in Revelation 20 does relate to sequence, but in contextual contrast to the next (2nd) resurrection, which is that of unbelievers at the Great White Throne Judgment.

The primary contextual meaning is that of chief in rank or honor, because raising of the Tribulation believers is part of the preeminent resurrection of all believers … vital extraordinary events during the end times Day of the Lord. Both of which (Rapture and Tribulation saints) precede the 2nd resurrection, which is also an important event (at the end of the Millennium). But one without the prominent eternal joy and triumph of the resurrection of all believers, beginning with the Rapture and culminating with the raising of the Tribulation saints seven years later. Both of which are components of the “first resurrection.”

Instead, the second resurrection (of unbelievers) will be one of hopeless gloom and eternal doom, as every one of them will be thrown into the Lake of Fire along with Satan (and the Antichrist and False Prophet, who were consigned to the Lake of Fire before the Millennium begins).

In Revelation 20, the pyramid order of protos (first) is that of principal, chief, or first in rank; secondarily, that of chronology—both of which are in the immediate context of and comparison to the 2nd resurrection of the unbelieving dead in Christ.

It’s the predominate meaning in some other New Testament passages where protos is used.

Such as: “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking…” (II Peter 3:3, NASB). *Note: Recall, this verse was quoted earlier from the NLT with the wording that of “most importantly” instead of “first of all.”

The “first” (of all) is not primarily referring to chronological order; rather it’s applying to what is foremost important to understand. We sometimes blend the two together in a common English phrase: First and foremost.

Although the resurrection of believers at the Rapture and those at the end of the Tribulation take place at separate times, that doesn’t mean they are two DIFFERENT resurrections, which are separate or distinct in rank, i.e. a first then a second kind. In fact, they are the same type or in the same category (in contrast to resurrection of dead unbelievers). Both are part of the first resurrection of the dead in Christ. The only thing that makes these resurrections of believers distinctive is that of knowing (or not) when they will take place. The Rapture will happen without warning; whereas the Tribulation believers will be raised as part of an exact enumeration of events during the last days of the Tribulation.

A (2) Key Phrases of the Text:

Other wording in Revelation 20 is also of vital importance to realize both raptured and tribulation believers are part of the first resurrection.

To wit: “Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power…” (Revelation 20:6a, italics for emphasis).

Although the immediate reference is that of the Tribulations saints being raised to life again, the broader context of Revelation 20 includes a sequence of events: Satan imprisoned in the Abyss for a thousand years; bodily resurrection of Tribulation saints; the Millennial reign of Messiah; release of Satan for the final battle of all time; and the raising of the unbelieving dead in preparation for the Great White Throne Judgment and their 2nd death in the Lake of Fire.

John is classifying the resurrection of Tribulation saints as the “first”; but is doing so in the general succession of events and in specific juxtaposition to the subsequent (next, or second) raising of the (unbelieving) dead.

In fact, immediately after he employs the term first resurrection, we find the following in parenthesis—highlighting this contrast: “(The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.)” (Revelation 20:5).

Hence, John extended and incorporated the first resurrection to all believers, not just those at the end of the tribulation. He does so with the all-important phrase of those, “who share in the first resurrection.” Who else could John have been referring to but those who were already in heaven having been raised from the dead at the outset of the Tribulation (Rapture). This sharing convincingly combines both set of believers into the first resurrection. It is the resurrection of the saved that happens first and foremost; to be followed by the (2nd and final) resurrection of the unsaved.

Do you see that … first and foremost?!

B. Reigning with Messiah During the Millennium

The question of whether just the Tribulation saints will reign with Messiah throughout the Millennium has already been answered by amplification of the scope (sharing) and inclusiveness of “first resurrection.”

Of course, Raptured believers will rule with the Lord during his magnificent Millennial reign as King of all kings. This is cemented by the wording of the last part of verse 6:

“Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death hold no power; but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6, emphasis added).

Early in the book of Revelation, we read:

Who are the “us” of this verse? None other than all believers (both dead and alive) when Revelation was written and all those who would become believers thereafter. (Also, see I Peter 2:5).

(3) Resurrection of Unbelievers

Indeed, this is the third resurrection that will take place in chronological sequence. However, it is still the second resurrection concerning prototype or rank or principal. With the Rapture and Tribulation believers’ part of the first (type of) resurrection.

“And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it… I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne… The sea gave up its dead and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15).

These verses expand on what was revealed earlier in verse 5: “The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.”

John doesn’t specify this Great White Throne Judgment as a (the) second resurrection. Rather he refers to the eternal fate of all unbelievers as the, “second death.” Nonetheless, the passage is crystal clear that all those standing before God had been raised from their graves. Because this takes place 1,000 years after the Tribulations saints are raised from the dead and because it comes after the first resurrection which we’ve already covered, it must by default be the second (the one to follow the first) resurrection of the dead.

Things to Ponder

In his breathtaking description of the resurrection of believers, then transfiguration and transportation of both the living and the (raised) dead in I Corinthians 15 and I Thessalonians 4, the Apostle Paul didn’t use the term, first resurrection. He didn’t need to; it was understood that this was the resurrection spoken of by Old Testament prophets and by Jesus, himself—the one that is first and foremost in rank.

On the other hand, John in Revelation labels the resurrection of believers who died during the Tribulation as the first. But he did so in the immediate context of and contrast to the ensuing resurrection of unbelievers. John also says that (all) those who “share in the first resurrection” will reign with Christ for a thousand years. Therefore, all believers—those at the Rapture and those raised seven years later—will participate in the first resurrection.

Officially, however, the first resurrection in a body that would live forever was that of our Lord and Savior, Messiah Jesus.

“But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection. Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back” (I Corinthians 15:20-23).

When does Messiah return (come back)? Answer: during the Day of the Lord. Which begins with the Rapture (resurrection, transfiguration) and culminates with his majestic bodily return to the earth, seven years later. Both of which include resurrection of dead believers, all of whom share in the first resurrection.

The first (foremost … most significant) resurrection is unto eternal life. The second resurrection is unto eternal death … the living dead as it were.

Except for one thing, both pre-Tribulation and Tribulation believers in Messiah Jesus have everything in common, which includes partaking in the (first) resurrection.

What is that one thing?

Tribulation saints were unbelievers with everyone else on earth the moment after the Rapture.

They did not heed the warnings of Scripture; thus, they will not be spared from the Great Tribulation.

However, the Lord is so loving and merciful.

He is the God of second chances!

Ambassador Nikki Haley & The Truth About Israel

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A Surprising Announcement

On October 9, 2018, Nikki Haley (age 46) unexpectantly resigned as United States Ambassador to the United Nations but will remain at her post until year’s end.

Amid rumors regarding her reasons (including possible preparation for a presidential bid in 2024), Haley simply said that she needed, “to take a little time off.” Citing her six-year tenure as South Carolina Governor and what will be almost two years as U.S. Ambassador, she also explained: “I have given everything I’ve got these last eight years. And I do think it’s good to rotate in other people who can put that same energy and power into it.”

Whether they acknowledge it or not, the giant world organization known as the United Nations lost an ambassador for truth and justice. And Israel—one tiny nation among the 193-member nations of the UN—has lost a watchman (watchperson if you prefer!) who often defended Israel during UN General Assemblies and against anti-Israel UN organizations such as UNESCO, UNRWA, and the Human Rights Council. Supported by many anti-Semitic NGOs, these agencies have sponsored baseless resolutions against Israel for decades. Including a UN resolution (silently) endorsed by former US President Obama just weeks before he left office.

See Eye of Prophecy article, United Nations Downsizing of Israel (Resolution 2334) Posted 1-7-17.

In fact, Haley presided over the recent U.S. departure from Israel-bashing UNESCO and the hypocritical Human Rights Council of the United Nations, both of which continually refer to Israel as Palestine and make fraudulent claims that distort the true heritage (sites) of Israel. Ironically, UNESCO is the agency that identifies and declares “heritage” sites all over the globe. They constantly rewrite history by, for example, alleging that Jewish sacred sites (like the Patriarch’s Tomb) belong to the Palestinians because they are within “occupied Palestine.” Even going so far as labeling some of these Jewish fixtures with Arabic names.

*Note: Seriously! The Patriarchs buried in that tomb are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who are Jewish through and through. Which also proves that the Jews of Israel were there LONG before the Arabs … by some 2,500 years.

Please refer to Eye of Prophecy article: UNESCO / “Theatre of the Absurd” Against Israel. Published 10-29-16. Also: What Is Palestine & Who Is a Palestinian? Posted 12-2-17.

Nikki Haley understood that her job was to first and foremost represent the United States. She also skillfully used her ambassador platform to defend Israel whenever the opportunity arose.

(Ambassador Nikki Haley at her United Nations seat)

Haley rigorously defended our Executive Staff’s rulings on international issues such as the Iran Nuclear Deal, despite not being in full accord with President Trump on some matters. She staunchly supported Trump’s decision to shutter the Palestinian Liberation Organization Office in Washington D.C. as well as reduced funding of the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which illegitimately and illogically expands the definition of refugee to successive generations of the original Palestinian refugees. With considerable doubt that Arabs in late 1940’s Israel were refugees at all, as they were not forced from their homes by the Jews. Instead, they voluntarily left Israel at the behest of the five Arab countries that attacked the Jews the day after Israel declared Statehood on May 14, 1948.

Moreover, Israel’s sovereign right to statehood had been approved by the United Nations resolution (back when the UN was not antagonistic toward Israel) of November 29, 1947. And not to forget that the Arabs rejected their right to autonomy afforded by that same UN declaration because they would not under any circumstances consider a state alongside a Jewish nation. That mindset has not changed to this very day.

See Eye of Prophecy article: Palestinian Refugees … Are They Really Refugees? Published 1-27-18. Also, The” Right of Return” … For Palestinians or Jews? Posted 4-7-18.

Referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ constant tirade against the United States for declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and for the soon to be released U.S. drafted Middle-East peace deal (without Abbas even knowing the details of that deal) that Abbas alleges will favor Israel, Nikki Haley said: “All they’ve done is have their hand out asking for money … badmouthing the U.S.”

Said Haley during an interview with Fox News: “(The Palestinians) have not come to the table on the peace deal—why should we have a PLO office. Why would we continue to fund the Palestinians?”

Early into her position as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley launched American support of Israel on a global level. In a March 2017 address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, she boldly declared herself as the (United Nations) “new sheriff in town … the days of Israel-bashing are over.”

In a subsequent 2018 speech to AIPAC the audience warmly welcomed Haley, with standing ovations for her unwavering support of Israel. In that meeting, she said: “Some people accuse us of favoritism towards Israel. There’s nothing wrong with showing favoritism towards an ally… Our approach to Israel is tied to one major idea—the simple concept that Israel must be treated like any other normal country.”

Regarding a trip Haley made to Israel in June 2017, accompanied by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, she commented: “I went to Israel to see firsthand the country the United Nations spends half its time on. Unfortunately, I’m not kidding—it’s ridiculous. It seems like the rough breakdown at the UN is half the time on Israel and half the time on the other 192 countries.”

Haley’s assessment is an understatement. For example, since 2009, UNESCO has passed 71 resolutions condemning Israel and only two criticizing other nations. That elevates the theater of the absurd to a whole new level.

International Praise for Nikki Haley

President Trump applauded her performance as Ambassador, saying that, “she’s done a fantastic job … we’re (still) in the process of solving a lot of problems.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often praised Nikki Haley’s unequivocal promotion of Israel. Regarding her resignation, he said: “I thank Ambassador Nikki Haley for leading an uncompromising struggle against the hypocrisy at the UN and on behalf of the truth and justice of our country.”

(Nikki Haley & Benjamin Netanyahu)

Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin said that Haley’s ambassadorship, “…will be remembered as a turning point in the U.S.’s approach to international organizations and the bias they often show against Israel.”

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres published a statement expressing “deep appreciation” for Nikki Haley.

Despite some disagreements (undoubtedly over Israel!), French UN Ambassador Francois Delattire gave Haley a glowing accolade: “Nikki Haley is one of the most talented, most authentic U.S. government officials that I have ever met.”

Naturally, there were dissenters such as Amnesty International, whose representative brooded: “We hope that Nikki Haley’s shock resignation will bring an end to the current low point in relations between NGOs and the U.S. mission to the U.N. and that her successor will work to repair the relationships. Under her tenure, human rights organizations like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch were singled out by her simply for having a different opinion, including on the importance of the Human Rights Council.”

Indeed, Haley did offer a singled-out alternative! However, one dramatically diverse from these and other organizations whose opinion is anything but different. In fact, theirs’ is the same old opining of anti-Semitic groups, anti-Israel nations, and NGOs on a global scale. In a nutshell, their perpetual pathetic position and cleverly couched opinion is that Israel as a Jewish State shouldn’t exist in the first place.

On behalf of Israel, which has precious few allies in the United Nations, Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN said about Haley: “We appreciate the new spirit of ambassador Nikki Haley; she has been very important and helpful. We work very closely with ambassador Haley and her team. We see similar issues and understand the challenges and threats. That’s why you see the cooperation because we come from the same values.”

(Israeli Ambassador to UN, Danny Danon)

Speaking on behalf of the huge Christian evangelical support for Israel, Pastor John Hagee exclaimed: “Nikki Haley has been an example of a shining city on a hill for the nations of the world to follow. Her uncompromising leadership will be missed by lovers of peace and friends of Israel. She was a voice and not an echo. We are very grateful for her service to America and for her unwavering support of U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Other tributes came from U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Lindsay Graham, from Vice President Mike Pence, and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Ambassador Haley didn’t eulogize Israel just because her boss, President Trump, did. In fact, her defense of Israel often exceeded the U.S. President and his Executive Staff’s support for Israel.

With sincere gratitude for her tenure as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations as a platform to defend her country and the one and only democratic nation (that just happens to be Jewish) in the entire Middle-East, Nikki Haley stated: “All I’ve done for Israel is tell the truth.”

Let’s examine more closely what that truth concerning Israel is all about. But first:

What is Truth?

Not to worry. This isn’t going to be some complicated philosophical dissertation. It’s going to be profoundly simple.

Either there’s a universal (source of) truth or there isn’t. If there isn’t, then what’s true for me may not be true for you. If so, truth does not objectively exist. It’s subjectively reduced to perception and preference. If I perceive something to be cold that is (in reality) hot, then the independent truth that it’s hot is irrelevant. It’s cold to me … that’s all that matters. I perceive and prefer it that way. Moreover, such an analogy pales in comparison to such things as good and evil.

Truth becomes what each person thinks is true; or wishes to be true. And so on….

Do you see how precarious this relative approach to truth is? More than that: it’s dangerous. For example, see Eye of Prophecy article: Can a Murderer Be a Martyr? Posted 1-30-16. Which relates to Palestinian Lone Wolf Attacks on Israelis, publicly praised or privately approved by most Palestinians because they presuppose the lies about Jews to be true. And either from ignorance or deliberate distortion of the truth about Israel, they make up many of these lies themselves.

As best they can, most people of this world vigorously defend their right to freedom (to the death if necessary), especially the right to choose actual truth or even perceived truth. Yet so many also disregard, or criticize, or reject outright the Bible and the God of the Bible (who gave us free will) when He declares that this liberty comes with a responsibility to choose … eternal life or death. That eternal life comes from believing and receiving God’s Son, Messiah Jesus, as personal Savior and Lord. Eternal death—separation from God forever—results from rejecting Jesus as The Way, The Truth, and The Life—no one comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6).

(Patrick Henry along with many of our founding fathers acknowledged the God of the Bible and Biblical principles including parallels between the formation of ancient Israel and the United States. Several publicly professed personal faith in Messiah Jesus).

Let’s simplify even more. The God of the Bible begins His Word to humanity by declaring: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Then, on the sixth day of creation: “So God created human beings in his own image … male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

Therefore, the right to life comes from and belongs to the Creator. The created (being) has the God-given privilege to believe as he/she chooses. But we do not have the inalienable right to (eternal) life with our Creator God apart from the conditions that He has revealed to us as absolute truth in His Word. Truth that we can accept or reject; with the choice determining our eternal destiny, as well as the course of human events on earth. Concerning such things as life-giving birth or life-ending abortion, blessings or curses, liberty or tyranny, peace or war—all under Scripture’s umbrella truth of good and evil.

The God of the Bible asserts: “…I am the First and the Last; there is no other God. Who is like me? Let him step forward and prove to you his power… (Isaiah 44:6-7a).

And, “This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer and Creator: ‘I am the Lord, who made all things. I alone stretched out the heavens. Who was with me when I made the earth! I expose the false prophets as liars and make fools of fortune-tellers… But I carry out the predictions of my prophets! … When I say of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,’ he will certainly do as I say. He will command, ‘Rebuild Jerusalem’; he will say, ‘Restore the Temple’” (Isaiah 44:24-28).

Which is exactly what the yet unborn Persian King Cyrus would do some 150 years later! He would authorize the Jews exiled by Babylon to return to Israel and rebuild the Temple.

Truth (fact): Only the God of the Bible has performed mighty miracles (still does); and has foretold the future hundreds of times with 100% accuracy to prove that he alone is God. Is there any other religion or god or prophet who can do that? If there were, then the so-called sacred texts of man-made religions like Islam would have said so. But they don’t, because they can’t.

Truth is God. God IS Truth. And the God of the Bible IS God. Either we believe Him, or we don’t. If we don’t then the only alternative is to try to manufacture our own truth.

Which is exactly what Pontius Pilate did when he facetiously asked Jesus, “What is truth?” With the clear inference that this kind of truth is whatever fits the moment or is manipulated to justify a life of doing things our way, apart from God and absent His Truth.

Inevitably, however, we do not make the Truth. It makes us … into believers or unbelievers. The choice is ours, but we must choose. According to God, neutrality is not an option.

Truth or Consequence?

Truth: “And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life…” (John 3:36a)

Consequence: “…Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment” (John 3:36b).

The Bible is replete with such truth as found in hundreds of passages, both Old and New Testaments. Just one more for today’s article:

One of these magnificent rewards is eternal life in heaven (John 3:16). Another is the awesome realization that there is absolute truth upon which we can stake our lives and eternal destiny while on this earth and after leaving it. There is a universal standard of right and wrong, good and evil. God has given us this truth beginning with the Ten Commandments and then extending to God’s marvelous plan of salvation for mankind, as found in God’s Word, the Bible.

What Is the Truth about Israel?

Getting back to Nikki Haley’s statement regarding the truth about Israel. Certainly, she is no prophet. Nor has she supported Israel by necessarily referring to the Bible as proof of God’s Promised Land Covenant with Abraham—Israel’s God-given right for the Jews to inherit and inhabit Israel forever. However, she has defended Israel’s heritage based on these Biblical patterns and principles.

Please see recent Eye of Prophecy article, Israel’s Controversial Nation-State Law. Posted 8-11-18. Which explains in detail why Israel was, is, and always will be a Jewish nation. A nation that affords equal rights to her minority citizens as well as self-governing authority to her Palestinian non-citizens.

To that end, this week’s article is not primarily about Nikki Haley. It is, like several prior Eye of Prophecy articles with emphasis on varying aspects of Israel’s birthright as a sovereign nation, a condensation of those articles that explain the truth in contrast to the lies about Israel.

Nevertheless, I believe Haley could be considered a Watchman for Israel after the pattern of prophets like Isaiah and Ezekiel. Not on that level, only in that fashion. Not unlike those of us who have taken on the mantle of Watchman: reminding the whole world that God’s eternal plan and consummate destiny for humanity goes through Jerusalem … His Holy City in the Holy Land of Israel. As Jerusalem goes, so goes the world.

“O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord. Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth…. Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see” (Isaiah 62:6-7 & 10, italics for emphasis).

(Israel’s national flag. Another specific example of not only symbolic, but literal fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, as the last phrase of the above quoted verse states)

Prayer on behalf of Israel—including salvation to the Jew first (Romans 1:16) which is an integral part of God’s work in and for Israel—is the most important attribute of being a Watchman for Israel.

Israel has been reborn as a nation! Some are needed to defend this rebirth and to explain the whys and wherefores of such an amazing fulfillment of prophecy. Against insurmountable odds, the Jews have returned to Israel in great numbers and made Israel to bloom and grow again, literally and metaphorically. No other people or nation on earth that was completely crushed has been restored like the Jews and Israel. Just as the Lord God said long ago (not once but dozens of times) would happen.

For example: “But the mountains of Israel will produce heavy crops of fruit for my people—for they will be coming home again soon! … Your ground will be plowed and your crops planted. I will greatly increase the population of Israel, and the ruined cities will be rebuilt and filled with people… O mountains of Israel, I will bring people to live on you once again. I will make you even more prosperous than you were before. Then you will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 36:8-11).

Watchman on Israel’s walls are needed to preserve and promote Israel’s right to those foundations and walls that house their government—the Knesset. On the land which they have built sacred synagogues, beautiful galleries, grand theatres, contemporary concert halls, modern restaurants, seaside skyscrapers, and luxurious beach hotels. Exemplified in and by Tel Aviv … the modernization of Israel to rival the large cities of the world in kind and quality.

Facts on the ground truth that Israel’s miraculous restoration in/as the Promised Land can no longer be denied. No matter how big the lie that Jews do not have a right to this land or how often the lie is told that they are merely “occupiers” in Palestine—a nation that never existed in the first place. Nor were the Arabs called Palestinians until the Palestinian Liberation Organization under Yasser Arafat began referring to themselves by that appellation around 1964.

Palestine is Israel. More accurately: Israel is Israel! Period. Not just Israel’s geographical boundaries with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. But the full scope of the original Promised Land as described in the Bible. The entire chronicle of Israel, both Biblical and secular, clearly demonstrates and documents that truth. To ignore these fundamental facts is both an affront to the true and living God as well as a denial of the extraordinary evidence of God’s unfolding plan and purpose for Israel.

Such truth as God’s enduring promise and warning: “I will bless those who bless you (Israel) and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you (Abraham and his descendants as a people and nation)” (Genesis 12:3, parenthesis mine).

Or when the Lord, who is called the Holy One of Israel, solemnly speaks against those who would dare to destroy Israel: “…There I will judge them for harming my people, my special possession, for scattering my people among the nations, and for dividing up my land” (Joel 3:2).

And then there is rural Israel and Old Jerusalem, the “ancient city.” There you will find the long, storied past of Israel, with its patriarchs, judges, prophets, kings, and divinely appointed destiny of land and people.

Old Jerusalem divided into four quarters: Armenian, Muslim Arab, Christian, and Jewish. And Temple Mount, the most holy place of Judaism where the temples once stood. Where now the Islamic Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque stand, built by Muslims for the sole purpose of replacing Jewish history with Arabic tradition, some of which is myth. Despite the glaring fact that Jerusalem is not once mentioned in the Koran. I repeat for emphasis: Not once! How then could Jerusalem be the third holiest site of Islam, or a holy site at all to Muslims?

Please see Eye of Prophecy article, The Myth of Al Aqsa Mosque (4-16-16).

Which deals with Muhammed’s alleged visit to Jerusalem and ride to heaven on his steed. Plus, the misleading myth that the Al Aqsa Mosque was the “farthest mosque” or that this alleged mosque was even in Jerusalem, because (once again) Jerusalem is never mentioned in the Koran. This is just one of many lies about Jerusalem foisted on an all too gullible world to distort the truth about the historical existence of Solomon’s Temple and later Herod’s Temple on Temple Mount. In fact, the Al Aqsa mosque was built decades after Muhammed died.

Other Truths (Facts) vs Lies (Myths) about Israel

Both Palestinian factions (bitter rivals that claim they want a Palestinian State with both groups demanding rule over that state) Hamas of Gaza and Palestinian Authority of the so-called West Bank have adopted the sinister strategy of the perpetrator assuming the role of the victim. Making the offender the offended.

This is especially true concerning the appalling accusations (lies) against Israel most often heard from Palestinians, Muslim nations, and even several non-Muslim countries: (1) Jews are “settlers occupying” Palestine; (2) Israel is an apartheid state; (3) Israel and the Jews are racist.

Another myth is that Israel is constantly “murdering” Palestinians. With the disturbing deception and warped logic that when Palestinians are killed while murdering Jews with knives, guns, vehicles, mortars or while trying to infiltrate Israel by breaching the border fences of Gaza, the Palestinians are the victims and Israelis the criminals.

In addition to the ones already addressed, there are multiple mutually exclusive truths/lies about Israel, nearly all (if not all) of which I’ve covered in several prior Eye of Prophecy articles. For purpose of this week’s article, we’ll look at only one more of those:

Ethnic Cleansing/Apartheid

Myth (lie): Israel and Jewish Israelis are engaged in systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs via an apartheid mentality.

Both concepts can lead and have led to genocide, the worst of which was the horrendous Holocaust. And who was it that suffered by far the most innocent civilian deaths at the hands of the Third Reich, hell-bent on achieving the diabolical Final Solution. Easy answer: The Jews … six million of them. Which makes it inconceivable that anyone, even Israel’s worst enemies, would compare modern-day Israel to World War II Germany or Benjamin Netanyahu to Hitler. More than that: This comparison is manifestly evil.

Let’s pause for a moment and look at Webster’s definition of Apartheid which literally means, separateness: “racial segregation: a policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of So. Africa.”

The first feature that should grab our attention is the last part of the definition relating to what took place in South Africa years ago. In fact, the very idea of apartheid related to South Africa; however, subsequently became a generic term applicable to other regions of the world. Intrinsic in the concept of separateness and those practicing discriminations and segregation is that apartheid is administered by a minority race or ethnic group (by economic power and military might) over the majority race of a country.

(One of many segregation signs posted in South Africa before apartheid was eliminated)

Truth (fact): Israel isn’t remotely guilty of ethnic cleansing or apartheid.

Immediately we see that apartheid could not apply to Israeli Jews, for they are the majority. But even if they were in the minority of Israel’s total population, there is NO evidence whatsoever of discrimination, segregation, or intentional economic deprivation of the Israeli Arab citizens of Israel. Nor of Arab non-Israeli citizens—now called Palestinians.

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip do not have the right to vote in Israeli elections or to hold office, only because they are not citizens … no different than any other democratic country. They have chosen not to be citizens of Israel, primarily because they loathe Jews and hate the very existence of Israel. On the contrary, the 1.8 million Arabs who are citizens of Israel have the right to vote and to serve in the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) and other administrative positions. They can attend Israeli schools and have freedom of movement throughout Israel. They work in Israeli businesses (as do tens of thousands of Palestinians who have work permits). They can start and run their own businesses or farms … on and on we could go.

If Israel is apartheid or guilty of ethnic cleansing, then I simply don’t understand the meaning of those terms.

For decades I have studied both Biblical and secular Middle-East history and current events. With due humility, I can honestly say that I am not prejudiced concerning race or ethnicity, and that includes Palestinians. I’m sure much of that (if not in its entirety) has to do with being a born-again believer in Messiah Jesus, the Jewish Savior. Two good friends of mine through the years were Chinese and African-American, respectively. Two of my best buddy fellow Caucasians were the least bigoted men I’ve ever known.

My expose of the Palestinian agenda is simply that of stating the facts and declaring the historical and contemporary truth in much detail (as did Nikki Haley in a more limited way, albeit on a much bigger platform) of what Israel is all about, and what’s really happening in the Middle East—including but not limited to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. To that end, dozens of Eye of Prophecy articles provide an abundance of Scripture and secular documentation and commentary.

For example, The Real Reason for Palestinian Terrorism, posted 9-30-17.

Also: Ethnic Cleansing of Jews … The Real Palestinian Agenda (9-17-16). Here is an excerpt from that article (in italics):

Benjamin Netanyahu is a consummate diplomat in all of the positive connotations of political diplomacy. He is firm but fair; passionate in his pursuit for true peace in Israel but objectively realistic of the obstacles to peace; completely committed to Israel, but considerate of any reasonable coherent demands made by the Palestinians and by surrounding Arab nations. When it comes to a matter of Israel’s survival, which is still an all too real threat facing the only Jewish nation in the world, Benjamin can tell it like it is.

Nevertheless, I was dumbfounded as I watched this video and listened to his words. My incredulity was not of being aghast that he would characterize the actual Palestinian agenda—whether it be from the Palestinian Authority or Hamas—of “ethnic cleansing” of all Jews in Israel. Rather, it was astonishment of how bravely accurate and daringly appropriate the phrase is to explain the real reason why Palestinians have rejected a two-state proposal on any terms but their own.

Personally, I would not have used the phrase, ethnic cleansing, because it conjures up the more common image: forced removal of ethnic or religious groups of people from a given territory. Yet, the more I thought about Netanyahu’s use of the term, the more I realized how it reliably reflected the true Palestinian narrative.

Later, to validate my eventual agreement with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s choice of words (ethnic cleansing) exposing the fact that it is the Palestinians who harbor an apartheid mentality against the Jews, I provided the following evidence and quotes:

For example: In 1996, just three years after his farcical participation in the Oslo Accords (signed on September 13, 1993) with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (moderated by US President Bill Clinton), PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat uttered these words at a public press conference:

“We Palestinians will take over everything … You understand that we plan to eliminate the State of Israel, and establish a purely Palestinian State … I have no use for the Jews, they are and remain Jews.”

Can anything be more callously clear? It’s equally clear to this very day: The Palestinian Authority and Hamas have every intention to continue Arafat’s atrocious agenda.

Then later in that article:

If anyone thinks that “cleansing” is too harsh of a description, I will once again quote the words of Palestinian Authority President Abbas, as cited in a couple of previous Eye of Prophecy articles. “We must not permit the filthy feet of the Jews to desecrate our holy places.” He was referring first and foremost to Temple Mount. Do you see the connection, the irony? Clean those filthy feet of the Jews by removing them completely … ethnic cleansing.

Summary

Mahmoud Abbas, who replaced Arafat as President of the Palestinian Authority also has said that if a Palestinian State is established alongside Israel, then no Jews would be allowed to live within those borders. If that isn’t ethnic discrimination and racist bigotry, then I don’t know what is. Furthermore, it’s the exact opposite of what the Jewish Nation-State of Israel currently is and allows: Arab residency throughout Israel to include Arab Israelis (and Palestinians) working in Jewish offices and factories.

(One of several Israeli businesses in the Barkan Industrial Park of Judea/Samaria–the West Bank–that employs thousands of Palestinians and Jews working together. On 10-7-18, a former Palestinian employee of one factory shot and killed two Jewish employees and wounded a third. The woman killed was a mother of a young child, the man killed a father of three)

One last excerpt from the above quoted Eye of Prophecy article:

A subtler strategy of ethnic cleansing is the removal, desecration, or denial of physical and cultural evidence that the targeted group has any valid historical existence in the land in question. The Palestinians have done all these things to Israel by excavating and then removing valuable Jewish artifacts from and around Temple Mount, Hebron, and Bethlehem. Also, the rewriting of Israel’s history in Palestinian school curriculum, maps that depict Israel as “Palestine” (a state that never has existed), and in daily rhetoric denial of Israel’s legacy and heritage in the land.

During a trip to Israel in 2006, my sister and I drove a rental car throughout the land; also took several taxis. Two of them stand out in my memory. Each of those two taxi drivers were independent, i.e. they owned their own taxi business. One was half Jew and half Egyptian, a citizen of Israel who supported the existence of the state of Israel, the Jews, and even knew much about Biblical prophecy concerning Israel. Another driver was an Arab Israeli (citizen of Israel). I asked him several questions. In one response, he acknowledged that the Arabs were better off (standard of living) in the State of Israel.

However, he, like so many other Israeli Arabs and nearly all Palestinians, still disdain Israel and the Jews simply because they are Jews and have done what the Arabs never came close to doing: renovate, replenish, and restore the land of Israel.

I developed some admiration for this 60 some year-old Arab taxi driver in the short visit with him, if for no other reason than his demeanor and balanced bluntness. Nonetheless, one thing was clear in his words and written on his face: despite his preference that Israelis govern Israel, he was envious of their success. I left his taxi with the understanding that he reflected the mindset of most Arabs and Palestinians in Israel. Minus (in his case) the radical hatred.

Things to Ponder

Temple Mount is the highest point of Old Jerusalem, with the higher hills around Jerusalem (like the Mount of Olives) part of what is called Mount Zion. Read with me what the true and living God has to say about Zion:

“…I am exceedingly jealous for Zion, yes, with great wrath I am jealous for her. Thus says the Lord, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain’” (Zechariah 8:2-3, NASB).

Then, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Behold, I am going to save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west; and I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they will be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness’” (Zechariah 8:7-8, NASB).

As for me, I have staked my salvation and eternal destiny on the God of Israel and His Son. The Lord willing, I shall continue to give a clear witness for Messiah Jesus (Revelation 19:10). I will confirm and defend the truth of the Good News—the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:7).

And I will with the prophet Isaiah shout to all who have ears to hear:

I will keep my place on Jerusalem’s walls as a Watchman for Israel.

Will you join me? If all you do is pray, that’s more than enough. In fact, it’s, by far, the ultimate way to watch over Israel.

Sha’alu Shalom Yerushalayim. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6).

Messiah’s Amazing Appearances Before He Was Born

The Incomparable Influence of One Man

No other person on the face of the earth has impacted humanity like Jesus of Nazareth. He altered the keeping of time itself and changed the course of history.

Who else healed deadly diseases instantly with a touch or a command; made the lame to leap, the dumb to speak, the deaf to hear, the blind to see, and the dead to rise. And in whose name, his disciples did the same.

Miracles that proved Jesus is who he said he is: God’s Incarnate Son.

His phenomenal Virgin birth into this world and stunning resurrection from a sacrificial death are still celebrated every year by billions, even those who have never received him as their Savior and Lord.

The Christian faith is global … crossing national, social, and racial lines. No other creed on earth claims followers from virtually every nation; religions are restricted mostly to ethnic groups or within the confines of certain countries. But then the Christian faith is not a religion or cult. It is a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Messiah Jesus.

No other belief system offers a Savior as the exclusive source of salvation, nor do their followers want one. Because that would mean the principles and procedures demanded by their dogmas or religious leaders or philosophical pundits need not be kept and membership in their organization would be unnecessary. If a Redeemer was necessary to do for them what they could not do for themselves, it would mean that the adherents were incapable of earning their god’s favor or meriting eternal life or experiencing a high enough level of self-enlightenment. Which, in turn, would insinuate that their belief system was flawed.

In one of several spectacular visions that John recorded in the book of Revelation, we read this about Jesus Christ and his remarkable redemption for mankind that is truly universal in scope.

“…You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth. Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels… And they sang in a mighty chorus:

‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing’” (Revelation 5:9-12).

This powerful passage is looking back with deep indebtedness to Messiah’s First Advent (appearance); and looking forward triumphantly to his Second Advent (return appearance). Both Advents are the heart and soul of the Christian faith—a New (and better) Covenant birthed from a Judaic Old Testament heritage which also experienced appearances of the Messiah.

(Jesus came first as the sacrificial Lamb of God for redemption. He will return as the Lion from the Tribe of Judah to rule and reign on the earth)

God’s Interaction with People Through the Ages

In last week’s article, we looked at some extraordinary events in which God the Father not only spoke to, but appeared to men, specifically Abraham and Moses. However, when the Lord manifested himself he always concealed his glory (essence of pure light and holiness) mainly through fire or dense clouds. Purpose of which was to protect the on-looker.

We also examined an event in which the Lord appeared up-close and personal to Jacob and even wrestled with him. With convincing evidence that this man was the Lord but could not have been God the Father for the two reasons given: (1) God is Spirit only; (2) unless the Lord veils his glorious presence, no one can look on him and survive.

It was one of several Old Testament events in which the Lord appeared as a man, with the default conclusion that this man could only have been the 2nd Person of the Trinity, God’s Son, Messiah Jesus. There is no one thing that Judaism takes issue with more than the Christian belief that God has a Son, and his Son was (Virgin) born as a human being. Non-Messianic Jews, both observant and secular, do not believe in the Triune God, despite the Hebrew Scriptures plainly stating that God has a Son.

Messiah Jesus’s pre-birth Epiphanes were prototype previews to prepare the Jews (and Gentiles) for his once-for-all arrival as God the Son in human form. Immanuel … God with us! To overlook or dismiss these marvelous manifestations is to miss the Old Testament revelations of the Pre-Incarnate Messiah—who was, who is, and who is to come again. Whom God’s angels jubilantly heralded at the appointed time in history:

The Jewish author begins the book of Hebrews with:

“Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.” (Hebrews 1:1-4).

Just a brief commentary on that magnificent passage before we examine some of the Pre-Incarnate appearances of Messiah Jesus.

  • The many ways in which God spoke to Old Testament men and women included visions, dreams, audible voice, tangible manifestations of his glory (shrouded to protect those to whom he appeared), through his messengers the angels. AND in human form of God the Son.
  • Through the prophets refers not only to God speaking directly to the prophets, but also the prophets’ inspired written record of God’s words to our ancestors. Meaning the ancestors of 1st century Jews, some of whom were not prophets.
  • All of which prepared the way for God’s “final days” revelation of himself directly through His Son. The final days apply to the last age or epoch of God’s interaction with humanity via the New Covenant that the Lord promised through Jeremiah. It is the Age of Grace, in which we are still living; one that will lead directly to the soon-to-come Day of the Lord and Kingdom of God on earth.
  • What makes this revelation of God through Jesus Christ different than the Pre-Incarnate appearances of Messiah? Answer: It is permanent, in that the Son of God was born as Jesus of Nazareth, who is still alive; having risen from the dead! He is the eternal God/Man radiating God’s own glory and expressing the very character of God.

That is why God the Father’s last appearance was to the prophet Ezekiel, a younger contemporary of Jeremiah, through whom God had announced the New Covenant. Later, we’ll look at Ezekiel’s exceptional encounter with the Lord.

After Malachi there were no more prophets, until God spoke to John the Baptist over 400 years later. Said John the Baptist about the Incarnate Christ:

“I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one (meaning to begin with), but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God’” (John 1:32-34, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

Do you remember what God proclaimed at Jesus’s baptism in an audible voice for all to hear?

Correct: “…You are my beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased” (Luke 3:22, NASB).

Though Jesus is God the Son, he lived and spoke as the Son of Man; to validate his appearance to and existence in the world was that of flesh and blood. That he came to do the will of his Father, not the least of which was his excruciating death on the Cross for your sins and mine.

John the Baptist also said this about Jesus:

Just a brief pause to more fully express my love for Messiah Jesus and never-ending appreciation for what he did on the Cross. If you are a child of God, I think the following excerpt from my second book, Out of the Abyss will also be meaningful to you. Referring to Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and what is called the Passion of the Christ (in italics):

Yet, it was the temptation scene that dealt the first Messianic blow to Satan’s plans, because that was the devil’s first opportunity to create an antichrist right then and there; to, in one fell swoop, twist and turn the true Messiah into Satan’s messiah.

Eternal praise to our God and his Messiah that this did not happen! All glory to Yeshua who did not send a legion of angels to annihilate those who had arrested him in the garden! Everlasting gratitude to our Lord for not saying I’ve had enough and stepping down from the cross! All power and dominion to the Son of Man for arising from the grave and conquering death once and for all! Go ahead, say it aloud with me. Amen! (page 219).

Examples of Messiah’s Pre-Incarnate Appearances

Time/space only permits examination of a few. Two others were covered in last week’s article: (1) Jacob realized that the man he wrestled with was the Lord. The primary purpose: to confirm God’s perpetual covenant made with Jacob’s father Isaac and grandfather Abraham by blessing Jacob.

(2) The appearance of the Lord as a man to Abraham and Sarah along with two angels in the form of men. Purpose of which was to reaffirm God’s guaranty that Sarah would conceive and bear the promised child Isaac … fathered by Abraham, as opposed to Ishmael through Hagar.

Nothing short of astonishing is that the ultimate Promised Child (Messiah Jesus) through Isaac was the very one who appeared to Abraham that day!

These events also were detailed in a previous Eye of Prophecy article, Does God Really Have a Son? Part II (Posted 11-7-15). A third Pre-Incarnate manifestation of God the Son in that article will be the first of the examples presented in this week’s post. I’m using that episode again because it was the first appearance of God (the Son) as man to more than just one or two people at a time. Though the description in Exodus Chapter 24 is brief, it is nonetheless electrifying. Here is an excerpt from the above-mentioned article (in italics):

Moses & The Seventy Elders

Did you know that the Ten Commandments (along with other features of the Mosaic Law) had been given directly by God to Israel even before Moses ascended Mt. Sinai and received the stone tablets upon which the “finger of God” wrote the Ten Commandments? You can read about that in Exodus Chapter 20. In fact, when God delivered the Commandments to the people, his thunderous voice so frightened them that they pleaded with Moses: “…You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” (Exodus 20:19).

Prior to that God had given explicit instructions to Moses that the people were not to ascend Mt Sinai or even touch the mountain—upon the pain of death. But then the Lord made a temporary exception that Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s elders could accompany Moses in a climb up the mountain; for the express purpose of meeting with God to worship him and to celebrate the Covenant that all the people had agreed to, “…do everything the Lord has commanded” (Exodus 24:3). Listen to the short, but stunning description of what transpired:

“Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel climbed up the mountain again. There they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself. And though these nobles of Israel gazed upon God, he did not destroy them. In fact, they ate a covenant meal, eating and drinking in his presence!” (Exodus 24:9-11).

Later, God again veiled his presence in a dense cloud of fire and smoke on the mountain. God called (and spoke) to Moses from within that cloud.

Although Moses doesn’t provide a detailed description of “The God of Israel” in this scene, it is fully obvious that who/what they saw was a man… Why can I say that? Because the passage says, “under his feet…” with the clear connotation that they were the feet of a man….

Yet we also know that Moses, himself, was not allowed to look on (the face of) God directly. That fact is inescapably evident from the equally well-known story of what happened when Moses subsequently pleaded with God to, “…show me your glorious presence” (Exodus 33:18).

Why would God make an exception and allow Moses and a group of more than seventy Israelites to stare directly at him and survive? …Or a better question: Was it an exception at all?

There is only one explanation.

Which is the same answer for all the Old Testament appearances of God in human form: It is not God (Spirit) the Father, but rather God the Son who physically appeared to Abraham, to Jacob, to Moses and the elders. And later to Joshua, Gideon, Daniel, Zechariah, and others. Then to arrive for the final time in human form as Jesus of Nazareth…. With the providential purpose to demonstrate that God would appear in human flesh once and for all.

Purpose/Timing of Messiah’s Appearance on Mount Sinai: To ratify and celebrate the Covenant of the Law that included the Jewish festivals and Levitical sacrificial system. Which would be a foreshadow pattern of a far better Covenant, mediated by the heavenly High Priest who came to earth and provided the final (perfect) sacrifice of all time as God’s Son Incarnate. Messiah Jesus was the one man who would perfectly keep and faithfully fulfill the Law of Moses. How appropriate for God’s Son to meet with Moses and the elders on this momentous occasion!

Gideon and Samson

Those who have read the book of Judges know that between Israel’s previous national leader Joshua and Israel’s first king Saul, God chose eleven men and one woman (Deborah) over a period of about 300 years to rescue Israel from her enemies; whom God had allowed to conquer portions of the Promised Land because of Israel’s disobedience. For two of these judges (Othniel & Jephthah) we read that, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him,” and “At that time the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah” (Judges 3:10 & 11:29, respectively).

Yet regarding Gideon directly and Samson indirectly, something even more dramatic occurred. Most Jews and born-again believers, but also secular Jews and millions upon millions of Gentile unbelievers know at least something about Gideon and/or Samson.

Concerning Gideon, what was that saga? Correct: Gideon twice testing the Lord’s promise through the wool fleece. Also, the Lord whittling Gideon’s army from 32,000 to 10,000 men; then down to 300 elite warriors.

And Samson? An even easier answer: His supernatural strength to (for a time) bring an entire nation to its knees. Philistia—the Philistines, Israel’s archenemy. Until that is: he let Delilah cut his hair. Even then, the Lord returned Samson’s strength to him one last time. With each of his hands pushing against a pillar, Samson brought down a pagan temple, killing more Philistines as he died than when he lived.

Yet, I would venture to say that most people, including observant Jews (even Rabbis) and Christian students of Scripture pay little attention to who it was that appeared and what took place when these two Jewish heroes were chosen to deliver Israel.

Gideon

Beginning with: “The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. So the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years” (Judges 6:1).

As the Israelites did before and would happen after Gideon’s tenure as Israel’s 5th judge: “When they cried out to the Lord because of Midian, the Lord sent a prophet to the Israelites…” (Verses 7-8).

Followed by the Lord reminding his people that even though He had delivered them from Egyptian slavery, they still followed pagan gods and would not listen to him (Verses 8-10).

Abruptly, God ends his verbal chastisement of the people with a promise to mercifully rescue Israel yet again, this time through Gideon; with a dynamically different beginning to this deliverance. You may want to read the entire account, as only a portion will be provided for sake of time/space:

“Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah … Gideon was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress…. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!’” (Judges 6:11-12, emphasis added to show that “the” angel of the Lord appeared as opposed to an angel).

Following Gideon’s response, we read, “Then the Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!’” (Verse 14). The Lord also said, “…I will be with you…” (Verse 16). *Note: The Lord would use (enhance) whatever courage and initiative Gideon possessed to accomplish a stunning victory over the Midianites.

In this astonishing appearance of the Lord to Gideon, it’s crystal clear that he is not God the Father. Instead, it was a man (the angel of the Lord … also referred to as the Lord) who “sat beneath the great tree…” and spoke with Gideon face to face. None other than the Pre-Incarnate Son of God.

During this opening scene (even before Gideon twice asked God for more signs … the fleece), Gideon also asked for a sign. Here’s what happened after Gideon asked the Lord to wait while he prepared an offering:

“Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and bread with the tip of the staff in his hand, and the fire flamed up from the rock and consumed all he had brought. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he cried out, ‘Oh, Sovereign Lord, I’m doomed! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!’” (Judges 6:21-22).

Do you see what’s going on here? Like those before him, Gideon knew that no one could meet with God “face to face” and live. Whom they described as the angel of the Lord, or a man, or the Lord, or even as God; because they didn’t yet grasp that God also was appearing to them as the 2nd Person of the Trinity—Messiah Incarnate. Nor did God expect them to know at that time. The Father was preparing them and their descendants for the permanent arrival of his Son in the flesh.

However, by the time the entire Old Testament had been written, the people could and should have made the general composite connection of these appearances to the coming Messiah. Then, specifically after Jesus was born of a Virgin (conceived by the Holy Spirit) and indisputably provided first-hand evidence of his divinity (profound teaching, powerful miracles) neither Jews nor Gentiles to this very day have a valid reason for their unbelief. There are only inexcusable excuses. Especially after Messiah Jesus arose from the dead.

Samson

God’s choice of Samson to be Israel’s 12th Judge also began with the angel of the Lord appearing. But not directly to Samson; instead to his mother (before Samson was born) and then to his mother and father together. The following verses are enough to show that it was a phenomenal appearance of God’s Son, the Incarnate Messiah.

“The woman ran and told her husband. ‘A man of God appeared to me! He looked like one of God’s angels, terrifying to see… he didn’t tell me his name” (Judges 13:6, italics for emphasis to verify that the person she saw was a man, whose majestic form she could only describe as an angel of God, of which there’s no record that she had ever seen an angel before).

Later, when her husband, Manoah, also met the Man of God and asked him to reveal his name, the Man replied: “Why do you ask my name? … It is too wonderful for you to understand” (Judges 13:18).

(Who else had asked the man who appeared to him for his name, with the Pre-Incarnate Son of God effectively inferring it wasn’t yet time to know his name? Answer: Jacob).

Continuing with the passage: “The angel of the Lord did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. Manoah finally realized it was the angel of the Lord, and said to his wife, ‘We will certainly die, for we have seen God!’” (Verse 21-22, emphasis added).

His wife wisely replied that if the Lord had intended to kill them he wouldn’t have accepted their offering. As with Gideon the Lord consumed their offering with fire, but also disappeared just like he did in front of Gideon.

Purpose/Timing of Messiah’s Appearance to Gideon and Samson’s Parents

Returning to Messiah’s Pre-Incarnate appearance to Gideon:

“It is all right, the Lord replied. Do not be afraid. You will not die. And Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and named it Yahweh-Shalom (which means ‘The Lord is peace’)” (Judges 6:23-24, parenthesis in the text).

Almost always when the Bible speaks of peace in Israel (and the whole world) it is in the immediate context of the Messiah. For it is only the Son of God, Messiah Jesus who will finally rescue and save Israel (and the whole world from extinction during the Tribulation). Who will establish God’s Kingdom on earth—a kingdom of justice, righteousness, and shalom … peace.

The immediate purpose for the Messiah’s Pre-Incarnate appearances to Gideon and Samson’s parents was to demonstrate that he would (through these two judges) deliver his people and restore peace again to Israel. He can do such things against all odds, i.e. Gideon’s 300 men against a vast army, or with just one man’s supernatural strength against an entire nation—Samson.

The period of the Judges was a representative forerunner of the subsequent era in Israel’s history with no kings and/or prophets—all the way from Malachi to the present time. Interrupted by the appearance of the Incarnate Messiah himself (Jesus) who would have rescued Israel from Rome had his people not rejected him. They were managed by governors and religious leaders … as it was in the period of the Judges. Even during Israel’s two exiles (Babylonian for 70 years and Diaspora for 1,900 years) Jews sometimes served in high-profile positions as advisors, assistants, administrators, and ambassadors … as did Daniel and Nehemiah.

So, too, modern-day Israel is led by (elected) officials but with one major difference—as a sovereign state reborn from the floods of dispersion and the fires of Nazi death camps. A nation and people now defended by a mighty military … the Israeli Defense Force. Still, the principle is like the time of the Judges. Israel’s sovereign protection is ultimately through God the Father … not by military might alone. And her redemptive rescue (past and future) through the angel of the Lord—God’s Son, the Incarnate Messiah Jesus. With Israel’s final restoration, both physical and spiritual, achieved by that same Messiah upon his return … Israel’s final king, the King of all kings!

Ezekiel’s Remarkable Meetings with God the Father and God the Son

One of the most astounding appearances of God the Father was his last, when Ezekiel gazed upon God’s glory more than once. What made these events even more amazing is that both the Father and the Son (Pre-Incarnate Messiah) were there! It is another familiar passage of Scripture, to include the four angelic Cherubim—the same living beings seen by John as described in the book of Revelation.

In his initial appearance to Ezekiel, God called him to be a prophet. Ezekiel (at the age of 30) even gives us the place and date on which his prophetic ministry began … calculated to be July 31, 593 B.C.

Wrote Ezekiel: “…while I was with the Judean exiles beside the Kebar River in Babylon, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God” (Ezekiel 1:1).

The second appearance took place on September 17, 592 B.C, about six years before the Babylonian Empire destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple. During this gap of a little over a year between visions, the Lord instructed Ezekiel—who had been taken captive in Nebuchadnezzar’s second invasion of Israel—to warn Judah of its final destruction, which occurred in 586 B.C.

The following passages demonstrate that both God the Father and Son were present in these two majestic manifestations to Ezekiel, the second of which was a detailed account of God’s Shekinah glory (presence) leaving Solomon’s Temple.

God the Father: Confirming it was the Father because his glory was (similar to Moses) enshrouded by, “…a huge cloud that flashed with lightning and shone will brilliant light. There was fire inside the cloud, and in the middle of the fire glowed something like gleaming amber” (Ezekiel 1:4).

Then in the second incident we read: “Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel was there, just as I had seen it before in the valley” (Ezekiel 8:4).

Before God’s presence departed from the Temple, we read, “Then the glory of the Lord rose up from above the cherubim and went over to the door of the Temple. The Temple was filled with this cloud of glory, and the courtyard glowed brightly with the glory of the Lord” (Ezekiel 10:4).

God the Son: In these startling scenes there is someone else that Ezekiel beholds. Our first clue is Ezekiel 1:4, already quoted, where he sees in the magnificent cloud of fire and light, “something like gleaming amber.”

Then, he beholds the source of this gleaming amber.

“Spread out above them (the cherubim) was a surface like the sky, glittering like crystal” (Ezekiel 1:22, parenthesis mine).

“Above this surface was something that looked like a throne made of blue lapis lazuli (remind you of Moses and the seventy elders seeing that same kind of beauty). And on this throne high above was a figure whose appearance resembled a man. From what appeared to be his waist up, he looked like gleaming amber, flickering like a fire. And from his waist down, he looked like a burning flame, shining with splendor. All around him was a glowing halo, like a rainbow shining in the clouds on a rainy day. This is what the glory of the Lord looked like to me. When I saw it, I fell face down on the ground…” (Ezekiel 1:26-28, parenthesis mine).

In the subsequent episode, Ezekiel again saw the cherubim, the glory of the Lord, and this (same) man whom Ezekiel also described as a burning flame from the waist down and gleaming amber from the waist up (Ezekiel 8:2).

Later, the man appears once again with the Lord (the Father). Ezekiel writes: “Then the glory of the God of Israel rose up from between the cherubim, where it had rested, and moved to the entrance of the Temple. And the Lord called to the man dressed in linen who was carrying the writer’s case” (Ezekiel 9:3).

God the Father spoke to Ezekiel on subsequent occasions, as well as other contemporary and post-exile prophets but he did not appear to them. However, the Pre-Incarnate Christ continued his appearances up to the time of Malachi, again to Ezekiel on April 28th, 573 B.C. The setting was Ezekiel’s vision of what would be (in the end times Tribulation) another Temple. In this vision from God, Ezekiel again saw, “…a man whose face shone like bronze standing beside a gateway entrance. He was holding in his hand a linen measuring cord and a measuring rod” (Ezekiel 40:3).

Purpose/Timing of Messiah’s Appearances to Ezekiel

To prepare Israel for the Old Covenant yielding to the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah a few years earlier. Exemplified by the fact that the Lord’s glory (presence) had left the Temple and wouldn’t reappear until (in the form of) the Messiah would arrive as prophesied by Isaiah and other prophets. But only for a short time, because the 2nd Temple would also be destroyed (foretold by Daniel, also by Messiah Jesus) and the Temple would then be embodied as Messiah himself.

Jesus is the heavenly Temple, of which the earthly tabernacle and temple were but patterns. With the 3rd person of the Triune God, the Holy Spirit, indwelling all believers in Messiah. Concerning Jewish and Gentile believers alike: “Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord” (Ephesians 2:20-21).

Individually, believers are:

That’s why both God the Father and God the Son appeared to Ezekiel! For Israel to carefully consider and prayerfully ponder how much better the New Covenant would be. Even more important: to recognize the Messiah of that New Covenant when he arrived as God (the Son) Incarnate.

Still, the Lord gave his people another 600 years or so to prove to themselves and to him that they could keep the Law of Moses as what they perceived to be their source of right standing with God. Which they couldn’t or wouldn’t … nor their ancestors or descendants, right up to this day.

One day soon all that will change. The tens of thousands of Messianic Jews on this planet will become millions upon millions. For you see it won’t be long until, “…all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, ‘The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness. And this is my covenant with them, that I will take away their sins’” (Romans 11:26-27).

That began when the Incarnate Son of God died on the cross and three days later arose from the dead. And now our generation has experienced the rebirth of national Israel, with the return of Messiah as imminent as ever before. To rescue the remnant of Jews from the Antichrist and Gentile nations during the Great Tribulation and restore Israel spiritually to her God.

All who have believed and received Messiah Jesus as personal Savior will see him as he really is: fully glorified as he was in Old Testament times and on the Mount of Transfiguration.

We will see him as John saw him: “…He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves… And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance” (Revelation 1:13-16).

John continues: “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he … said, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last'” (Revelation 1:17).

And then Jesus said:

Things to Ponder

Of Jesus, the Apostle John wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1, NASB).

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, NASB).

There are other Pre-Incarnate appearances of Messiah Jesus. Like the episodes we’ve examined, each was for a special reason. With the ultimate purpose: To demonstrate that neither Judaism nor the Jews should be surprised, dismayed, or even insulted that Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the Son of God. For at least three reasons:

First: the Hebrew Scriptures irrefutably declare that God has a Son. Second: This Son is the Messiah, because the Bible is equally transparent that Messiah would be divine (Isaiah 9 and other passages). Third: Jesus fulfilled all Messianic prophecies in meticulous detail.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). And then he said, “…Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!” (John 14:9).

The Jewish Apostle Paul, who saw the risen Christ after Jesus had ascended to heaven, boldly and beautifully proclaims: “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God…” (Colossians 1:15).

And, “For God in all his fulness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross” (Verse 19-20).

Do you really want to know the Lord and his great love for you? Do you understand God’s only requirement for your redemption?

“Jesus told them, ‘This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29).

Do you believe Jesus? Do you believe in Jesus?

Then open the door of your heart and invite him to be your Savior and Lord. If you do, God will immediately give you eternal life, because:

“…this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life (I John 5:11-12).

Did God Really Appear to People? When & How?

High Holy Days

It’s too early to wish you a Merry Christmas, so I won’t! Although it’s just a matter of a few short weeks before Christmas merchandising begins.

The month of Kislev (November/December) is also when Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication is celebrated on the Jewish calendar. As important as Hanukkah and Purim (February) are to Israelis and Jews the world over, neither is one of the seven festivals ordained by God in the Torah.

For Judaism and Jews, even the secular among them, four of these festivals bear more significance than the others: Passover, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.

Passover is observed during the month of Nisan (March/April). The Christian counterpart is Good Friday and Easter Sunday—when the Passover Lamb of God, Messiah Jesus was slain for the sins of the world, then arose from the dead three days later to seal the New Covenant God made with Israel almost 2,000 years ago. The other three commemorations take place in the Hebrew month of Tishrei (September/October … occasionally into early November), making it the single-most important month of the year for Jews … the High Holy Days.

Rosh Hashana—Jewish (civil) New Year Feast of Trumpets, Tishrei 1.

Yom Kippur—Day of Atonement, Tishrei 10.

Sukkot—Feast of Tabernacles, Tishrei 15-21.

Then one extra-day called Simchat Torah that means Rejoicing in the Torah, which is all the Hebrew Scriptures, but more specifically (especially for Orthodox Jews) the five books of Moses and The Law.

Today’s Eye of Prophecy article posted on September 29th is the 6th day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the 20th day of Tishrei. This is also the time of year in which many Christian scholars (me included) believe that Messiah Jesus was born. Some narrowing it down to the seven-day Festival of Tabernacles.

(Jews celebrating Feast of Tabernacles in a Sukkah, a makeshift hut or tent)

Whatever month/day a person is born is important to them … it’s their birthday!

On a brief personal note, this time of the year is meaningful to me for another reason: my birthday was yesterday, September 28th. Long before learning what day on the Hebrew calendar I was born; my favorite numbers were and still are three and seven. My email address contains those numbers … 773. When I discovered my Hebrew calendar birthdate, those numbers became even more relevant (for me). I was born on the 3rd day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the religious (original) Hebrew calendar. And in a Hebrew year that contains two sevens (as does the current Jewish year … 5779).

Jesus’s exact birth date would be great to know. Yet, it is not as imperative (to know) as is remembrance of the fact that he came into this world and why. Sadly, many who honor the Christmas season don’t know why Jesus was born and/or ignore the reason in favor of just celebrating the season. For example: among other magnificent names and titles ascribed to him (such as found in Isaiah 9:6-7), the coming Messiah would be Immanuel—God with us.

“As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’

“All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: ‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means God is with us’” (Matthew 1:20-23, quoting Isaiah 7:14).

Messiah would literally “tabernacle” among his people.

No Sacrificial Offerings … No Redemption

Notably, the Feast of Tabernacles is the final of the seven ordained feasts which makes it exceptional for that reason alone. Sukkot brings together the six previous festivals of the year by remembering everything the Lord did for his people before, during, and after the Exodus. Beginning with Abraham, God manifested himself (appeared), then dwelt among them in the Tabernacle’s Holy of Holies and later the Temple, from the time of Moses to the time of Ezekiel … approximately 700 years.

First, the Lord redeemed his people physically from Egyptian slavery and spiritually from themselves—through the atoning sacrifice of the Passover Lambs. He provided everything they needed in preparation for their entrance into the Promised Land (given to them as a perpetual inheritance) to serve him and to be a conduit of God’s Word and the light of his salvation to all people.

In spectacular fashion, he gave them the Law of Moses with universal moral decrees found in the Ten Commandments (written by the finger of God on stone tablets) as well as civil and ceremonial regulations. Included in the Covenant of the Law was the (mandatory) Levitical sacrificial system; on-going atonement for sins of commission and omission—individually and as a nation. Setting apart Israel from the pagan nations that idolized many man-made gods, whose standards or lack thereof resulted in self-absorption, immorality, slavery to sin and to each other (tyranny).

(Scene from Movie, The Ten Commandments)

Judaism continues to adhere to the Law of Moses as the ultimate means of redemption, despite the loss of the Temple and the all-important sacrificial system. That is the subject of the last two Eye of Prophecy articles: God’s New Covenant with Israel … Minus the Temple, Part I & II, posted 9-8 & 9-15-18.

It’s good that many Jews continue to observe the festivals enacted by their (and our) Creator—the God of the universe; also called the Holy One of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. From the Patriarchs came the Promised Child to bring salvation to the Jew first, then to the Gentiles.

Yet, they keep these festivals without the required sacrifices, most notably Passover, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. Why? Because they are in denial that Messiah has already come; that the New Covenant promised through Jeremiah arrived two thousand years ago with the birth, life, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. That his sacrifice was the once-for-all redemption for sin, freely given to all Jews and Gentiles who would believe and receive him as personal Savior.

The substitutionary sacrifice of God’s Son, Messiah Jesus, not only ended the repeated offerings for atonement, it solved the otherwise unsolvable dilemma of (practicing) Judaism. As first expressed in Eye of Prophecy trilogy Where is the Temple? (Posted 11-29-14 through 12-13-14). And repeated in the articles listed above. As follows:

No Temple, no sacrificial offerings. No sacrifices, no atonement forgiveness of sins. No forgiveness, no redemption. No redemption, no right standing with God.

Except for tens of thousands of Messianic Jews around the world, to this day Judaism cannot or will not make the cause and effect connection between rejection of their Messiah Savior to the subsequent loss of the Temple and sacrificial system. Even though both Daniel and Jesus foretold these ominous events and in the order of their occurrence: Messiah would be killed, then Jerusalem and the Temple destroyed (Daniel 9 and Matthew 23-24).

This week’s article and next week’s sequel will examine one other point of denial or dismissal, one that comes in two parts:

(1) Judaism’s denial that Jesus is the Son of God or even that God has a Son, with a corresponding conclusion that Messiah is not divine. As alluded in several Eye of Prophecy articles and thoroughly covered in two articles (Does God Really Have A Son? Part I & II posted 10-31 & 11-7-15): not just the New Testament, but the Old Testament emphatically and incontrovertibly declare that God does, in fact, have a Son. That the Son is also God, with compelling evidence that God’s Son is the Messiah; therefore, the Messiah is of divine origin.

Although there are more, the most recognizable passages are: Psalm 2 & 110; Micah 5; Isaiah 9. With, of course, New Testament Scriptures identifying Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God, e.g. Matthew 1, Luke 2, John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1, and many other passages, not the least of which is John 3:16. Plus, the historical fact that Jesus precisely fulfilled dozens of Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. All in keeping with crystal clear testimony that the true and living God is one God in Three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—as found in several portions of Scripture.

Beginning with Genesis in which the Lord says, “…Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us…” (Genesis 1:26, emphasis added). Culminating with the last book of the Bible: Revelation—in which God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ (the Son) are all mentioned.

(2) Accordingly, most Jews, even those knowledgeable in the Hebrew Scriptures, have overlooked, minimized, or dismissed altogether several amazing Old Testament events that had one thing in common: In addition to God’s appearances to people (in other than bodily form), the Lord ALSO appeared on select occasions as a man. What has been termed: Pre-Incarnate Appearances of Messiah Jesus.

It’s not just non-Messianic Jews. Many students, teachers, and commentators of the Bible don’t always grasp or differentiate between the distinct ways in which God communicated or interacted directly with people in Old Testament times. Meaning which Person of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit appears and/or speaks to someone (however, with consensus that the Holy Spirit never appeared, rather He “came upon” people or inspired the writers of Scripture). Or the difference between an angel of the Lord and the Angel of the Lord who manifested themselves in human form on special occasions.

I suppose an Orthodox rabbi would respond: If Christians would simply discard their belief that God has a Son and the Holy Spirit is not the third Person of the (non-existent) Trinity, then there wouldn’t be any confusion over the Lord’s palpable appearances to people.

That skeptical viewpoint is precisely the point (theme) of this and next week’s article that begs the question: How does one explain those differences considering what Scripture plainly teaches about God (the Father)? To wit: God is Spirit; moreover, no man or woman can look on God and live to tell about it. In many of the Lord’s manifestations as a man, the person or people to whom he appeared voiced relief that they did not die from that direct encounter with the Lord. Why did they not die when they knew from even before Moses’ era that a face to face (so to speak) meeting with God would be fatal?

We’ll look at both types of the Lord’s astounding appearances; this week focusing on God the Father’s direct meeting with people. (Plus, a third means of God’s indirect interaction with people through angels). With an emphasis next week on the powerful Pre-Incarnate Epiphanes of the Son of God—Messiah Jesus.

God (the Father) Speaking and/or Appearing to People

Normally these engagements were with the Patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—or God’s prophets; in visions or dreams or audibly (or personally!).

Regarding the non-tangible events, the Bible is not always clear whether God the Father spoke to someone externally (audibly) or they internally processed the Lord’s message through inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Nor does that really matter, as Scripture plainly indicates the person heard precisely what God was saying, sometimes answering back. Frequently, the Lord conversed in the first person … I, my, me. God even spoke to a child, although the child didn’t at first know that it was the Lord speaking to him. Do you know the name of that child?

Correct: Samuel. Who would grow up to be one of Israel’s greatest prophets.

Beginning with Adam and Eve, who experienced first-hand the awesome presence of God in the Garden of Eden; with the obvious implication that the Lord spoke with them from the time they were created, though they could not see him. Obvious, because right after they sinned against God, we read the following with the clear connotation that Adam and Eve weren’t at all surprised that the Lord showed up and spoke to them. In fact, they foolishly hid themselves thinking the Lord wouldn’t find them.

“When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. Then the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He replied, ‘I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.’ ‘Who told you that you were naked?’ the Lord God asked…” (Genesis 3:8-11).

You probably know the entirety of that scene, one that changed mankind’s destiny; yet one that God would remedy with his awesome plan of redemption and restoration.

Later the Lord spoke audibly to Cain. Do you know or remember the reason? Hint: It had to do with the first murder in the world.

Next up was Noah and again the subject was sin and wickedness, but not Noah’s.

“So God said to Noah, ‘I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth! Build a large boat…’” (Genesis 6:13-14a). Before, during, and after the Great Flood, the Lord spoke to Noah several times.

In the post-Flood era, Abram (God later changed his name to Abraham) was the next person with whom God spoke: “The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country … and go to the land that I will show you’” (Genesis 12:1, capitals in the text as in many other passages because it was YHWH, himself speaking).

Whenever LORD is capitalized in Scripture (over 6,000 times), it is a substitute for Yahweh, God’s Holy Name … I AM.

In the next five verses of Chapter 12, we read that Abram obeyed the Lord and journeyed to this land, called Canaan at the time. Later we’re told that Abraham’s faith in God and obedience to what the Lord told him to do was “credited to Abraham as righteousness;” right standing with God—forever (Genesis 15:6). It is this same faith (trust) that is the basis of redemption for all people—first in God’s promise of the Promised Child (through Isaac), then in the Promised Child, himself—Messiah Jesus whom God sent at his appointed time in history.

Some forget that Abram and his family (virtually all the people of his time) worshipped many gods … polytheistic. I’ve convinced that one of the reasons—most likely the main or only reason—that Abraham believed it was, in fact, the LORD (the true and living God) who had graciously chosen him to be the progenitor of a nation in a land promised to Abraham and his descendants was because God spoke to him. No other (man-made, non-existent) god had ever spoken to anyone. They can’t … they’re not real. However, hundreds of times we read in the Bible that, “God said.” Or, “I, the Lord, have spoken.”

Soon after Abraham and his family (including Lot) arrived in Canaan, something even more breathtaking took place—though most people including observant Jews and even we believers in Yeshua tend to take for granted. We do so because we read that God spoke to people so often, which is amazing enough; but is not quite the same thing as what comes next in Abraham’s life.

“Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘I will give this land to your descendants.’ And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the LORD, who had appeared to him” (Genesis 12:7, italics for emphasis). Where and why did Abram build an altar? He built it there because the LORD appeared to him (there).

Astounding! God appeared to Abraham, but not bodily. Otherwise Scripture (as it does in many scenes in which the Lord shows himself in person as the Preincarnate Christ) would have said so. Nor does that chapter tell us how the Lord’s appearance was manifested. Later, however, when the Lord appeared again to confirm His covenant with Abram, God’s presence was revealed in a “flaming torch” (Genesis 15:17).

And, of course, many—both believers and unbelievers—know that God tangibly appeared to Moses in/from a blazing bush. A bush that burned without being consumed; the purpose of which was to protect Moses from God’s glory. Even then, Moses could only get so close to the bush. Obviously, this was no ordinary fire. Nor any ordinary god!

“There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of the bush… When the LORD saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’

‘Here I am!’ Moses replied.

‘Do not come any closer,’ the Lord warned. ‘Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God” (Exodus 3:2-6).

Before Moses knew that it was the Lord God talking to him from the fire, he began by saying, the angel of the Lord (appeared to him).

The word angel means messenger. That is what angels are: messengers and agents of God who speak and act on behalf of the Lord. In just a few seconds, Moses knew full well that it was God himself who was there, speaking to him … not one of God’s angels. This is one time when the angel of the Lord turned out to be God. However, notice that God wasn’t there in bodily form, another indication that it was God the Father who met with Moses.

Face to Face

God spoke with and appeared to Moses far more than any other person in history. So much so, Scripture tells us in the context of Moses’ eulogy: “There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10).

When the Lord summoned Moses’ brother and sister (Aaron and Miriam) to stand in front of him alongside Moses, he admonished them for challenging Moses’ authority: “And the Lord said to them, ‘Now listen to what I say: If there were prophets among you, I, the Lord, would reveal myself in visions. I would speak to them in dreams. But not with my servant Moses. Of all my house, he is the one I trust. I speak to him face to face … He sees the Lord as he is…” (Numbers 12:6-8).

However, whether these face-to-face encounters were on Mt. Sinai or at/in the Tabernacle or elsewhere, Scripture is abundantly clear that God’s presence (his holy, brilliant, lethal light… as he is) was veiled by a dark cloud or fie. Why? Because no man can look directly at God and survive.

In the scene just described, the Lord told them to meet him at the Tabernacle. “Then the Lord descended in the pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the Tabernacle. ‘Aaron and Miriam!’ he called, and they stepped forward” (Numbers 12:5).

As many people know, it was in a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night through which God (his very presence) led his people for forty years in the wilderness.

The one time that God permitted Moses to look at God’s unshielded glory, he was not allowed to look at God straight on.

“Moses responded, ‘Then show me your glorious presence.’ The Lord replied, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you … But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live … As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen’” (Exodus 33:18-23).

*Note: God the Father is Spirit … always has been, always will be. That’s why he sometimes used anthropomorphic terms, ascribing human features to himself, i.e. hand, face.

(God’s glory passing in front of Moses took place when Moses climbed Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments on stone the second time)

From Abraham’s time (even before God told/reminded Moses) those who subsequently believed in the Lord—including the entire nation of Israel during Moses’s ministry and thereafter—knew that no one could look on the LORD and live to tell about it.

Thus, Scripture is unequivocally clear that whenever God’s actual (proximate) presence appeared to people, his glory (the very essence/holiness of God) was concealed in some fashion. For example, when the Lord met with Job, he spoke and protected Job from God’s glory through a whirlwind.

God the Father’s manifested appearances ended with the prophet Ezekiel, who witnessed “the glory of the LORD” depart from Solomon’s Temple, even before the Temple was destroyed some six years later. At the beginning of his ministry, Ezekiel witnessed God’s glory that radiated from within, “…a huge cloud that flashed with lightning and shone with brilliant light. There was fire inside the cloud, and in the middle of the fire glowed something like gleaming amber” (Ezekiel 1:4).

Yet, there are several other events in which the Lord appeared to someone as a man. Was this man, God? Answer: Yes and no. Yes, he was God. No, he was not God the Father. He was God the Son. The Bible is not contradicting itself, as Scripture is equally transparent that God is Three in One.

In the remainder of today’s article and in the entirety of next week’s sequel, we’ll look at some of these remarkable occurrences. Beginning with one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. Talk about “face to face!” This encounter was so up-close and personal that the person touched God.

I’m thinking that some of you already know which one.

Read with me a portion of this extraordinary episode: “This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break…. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!’

But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’

‘What is your name?’ the man asked.

“He replied, ‘Jacob.’

‘Your name will no longer be Jacob,’ the man told him. ‘From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.’

‘Please tell me your name,’ Jacob said.

‘Why do you want to know my name?’ the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.

“Jacob named the place Peniel (which means ‘face of God’), for he said, ‘I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared’” (Genesis 32:24-30, parenthesis in the text).

There’s no doubt whatsoever: Jacob knew that this mysterious man was God. Who but the Lord had the authority to change Jacob’s name to Israel or Abram’s name to Abraham, or Sarai to Sarah? Who but God had the sovereign power to bless Jacob, thus confirming God’s covenant with Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob. A covenant that would create an entire nation, a nation that would be called Israel. In the context of when this scene took place, it’s also deductively evident that Jacob wanted the man’s (God’s) immediate blessing to spare Jacob from the wrath of his brother Esau, whom he would meet that very day.

What Jacob didn’t know, nor others who had subsequent encounters with the Lord in human form during Old Testament times: this man with whom he wrestled was the Incarnate Son of God. The God/man who could have easily defeated Jacob in a minute but wanted to test Jacob’s perseverance to obtain the blessing. The same man who would arrive once-for-all as Mary’s child—the Son of God, Son of David, and Son of Man (Messiah) to establish God’s New Covenant with Israel. A Covenant that would also extend to Gentiles who believed and received this man as their Lord and Savior.

That’s why Messiah (Jesus) didn’t reveal his name to Jacob. His entrance into the human race that he created, permanently taking on human form and bearing a human name (in addition to all his divine titles) wouldn’t take place until the appointed time, over a thousand years later.

God Interaction Directly with People Via His Angels—angelic beings

In lieu of God the Father or God the Son (whose description is sometimes the angel of the Lord, as opposed to an angel), some of the Lord’s messages to or actions on behalf of people came through angels. With these angels appearing either as a man or in their actual angelic form (heavenly beings/bodies), depending on the situation.

One example of angels in the form of men were the two who met with Abraham and Sarah. Along with a third man, who was clearly the Lord himself—the 2nd Pre-Incarnate appearance of Christ to Abraham. The first being that of Melchizedek. (See Eye of Prophecy article, Melchizedek … A Man of Mystery! Posted 3-3-18).

Abraham knew convincingly that this third man was the LORD, because he called him by that very title. And exclaimed during his intercession for Lot and his family: “…Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” (Genesis 18:25).

An example of angels materializing (crossing dimensions) in their created form is first found in the book of Genesis following God’s indictments against Adam and Eve. “So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden … After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:23-24).

(See Ezekiel Chapters 1 & 10 & Revelation 4, for description of Cherubim–living beings–which are somewhat accurately depicted in this painting)

One other well-known scene is that of angels (as angels) descending and ascending on Jacob’s stairway or ladder; a real occurrence but experienced as a dream or what could be termed a vision while asleep … rather than a fully conscious (awake) encounter. Also, when Gabriel approached Daniel in real-time and place and conveyed to him some of the most astonishing end-times revelations found in the Bible (see Daniel 8 & 9).

Something I hadn’t fully realized until writing this article: There aren’t that many instances in the Old Testament in which angels appear to men in their angelic form. At least not compared to the number of Pre-Incarnate appearances of Messiah Jesus. However, there are several angelic appearances in the New Testament, including Gabriel to Mary to announce that through her the Messiah would be conceived by the Holy Spirit. And before that, Gabriel’s announcement in the Temple’s Holy of Holies to Zechariah that he and his wife Elizabeth (in their old age) would conceive a son whose name would be John (the Baptist).

And not the least of which are angels appearing at the birth of Jesus, in his anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, at his resurrection, and immediately after his ascension back to heaven.

“So they went in (to the tomb), but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, ‘Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!’” (Luke 24:3-6).

Although appearing as men, their dazzling attire left no doubt that they were angels.

He is risen, indeed!

Things to Ponder

Yeshua never sinned. He perfectly kept and faultlessly fulfilled the Law of Moses. Thus, he alone qualified as the once for all substitutionary offering to atone for our rebellion against God. The Father accepted that incredible sacrifice; the innocent for the guilty, just for the unjust, righteous for the unrighteous and will pardon the penalty of sin (eternal death—separation from God) for all who believe and receive His Son as personal Savior.

From the time when Jesus of Nazareth came into this world and altered time itself (B.C. to A.D.), the greater majority of people have refused to believe that Jesus is both man and God.

Yet unbelieving Gentiles ascribed human characteristics to their pagan gods, e.g. Zeus, Venus, Mars. Modern-day comic-book (and other genre) movies do the same thing. Both super heroes and super villains are imbued with supernatural powers, able to transform themselves into whatever suits the writer’s and director’s fancy and whatever entices audiences. With an underlying implication that is anything but subtle: these characters possess God-like features in the flesh. But when it comes to the real thing, the real-deal; so many dismiss and even ridicule any thought that God would become man through the Son.

Most Jews to this day believe it’s an anathema to claim that God has a Son; thus, except for Messianic Jews, they do not believe that the coming Messiah (for believers, His return) is Divine.

As we’ve seen and will see more of next week, this conflicts with the indisputable evidence found in the Hebrew Scriptures: God appeared to men not only as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but also in the form of a man. When that happened, the people whom the man met in person recognized that they had come “face-to-face” with God. Yet, this man couldn’t have been God, the Father, because God is Spirit, and no one can look on him and live. Moreover, when God the Father (his glory) did appear before men, it was never in bodily form.

Why is it so difficult to apprehend and accept clear Biblical truth that God is one God in Three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Especially when we see perceptible examples (albeit not totally adequate to explain the Trinity) in nature. Such as water in three forms—liquid, ice, and gas. Or the essence of the sun itself, visible only by its burning rays (light) and felt only by its heat.

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God…” (Colossians 1:15).

The people involved in these direct Old-Testament encounters didn’t realize at the time that their face to face meeting with the Lord was the 2nd Person of the Godhead, the coming Messiah. Nonetheless, by the time the entire Old Testament was written, all of God’s people could have and should have known that the man who appeared personally to some of their ancestors was Divine—the Lord. Just as King David said he was.

While teaching in the Temple, Jesus presented David’s astounding proclamation regarding the Son of God (Psalm 110) as a question … a probing challenge. In doing so, he identified all three Persons of the Godhead:

“…Why do the teachers of religious law claim that the Messiah is the son of David? For David, himself, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said, ‘The LORD said to my Lord, Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.’ Since David himself called the Messiah, ‘my Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?’” (Mark 12:35-37).

Jesus’s question was rhetorical. The answer was obvious. David had already announced that God has a Son (Psalm 2). And this Son (of David) was also David’s Lord, as much as “the LORD” (God the Father) was David’s Lord.

Though David’s Lord was a descendant of David, he also preexisted David. As the prophet Micah later said: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past…. And he will be the source of peace” (Micah 5:2 & 9).

Messiah Jesus said the same thing regarding himself and Abraham. “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!’” (John 8:58).

Don’t miss next week’s sequel. More of God’s physical appearances to people will be identified, some of which even ardent students of Scripture sometimes fail to recognize as the Pre-Incarnate Messiah (Jesus).

Hopefully, with two significant results: (1) To demonstrate especially to the Jews and Judaism that these appearances were a prototype preview to prepare 1st century Jews (and Gentiles) for the stunning reality of God in human form—in the person of God’s Son. (2) The correlation of these encounters to God’s choice of Israel and the Jews to accomplish his magnificent plan for them, for the entire human race.

God’s New Covenant with Israel … Minus the Temple (Part II)

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The New Covenant as Described by Jeremiah

In a few prior Eye of Prophecy articles, when citing the Old Testament revelation of the coming New Covenant, I normally quoted Jeremiah Chapter 31 directly. Which I will do again; however, from the book of Hebrews—which beautifully contrasts the Old Covenant Sacrificial System with the once-for-all sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God, Messiah Jesus, for all people. As follows:

“But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises. If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said (Then the writer quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34):

‘The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them, says the Lord. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people … And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins’” (Hebrews 8:6-10, 12, parenthesis mine).

For you see, the Lord did remember the people’s sins under the Old Covenant; hence, the need for constant atonement through continual sacrifices required by the Law of Moses.

God’s Love for And Discipline of Israel

Though sometimes severe, the Lord’s discipline was rooted in his love for his special possession Israel and for his chosen people—the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. From the perspective of the last days, Daniel wrote that the subjection of the Jews would accomplish a divine purpose:

“…In this way, they will be refined and cleansed and made pure until the time of the end, for the appointed time is still to come” (Daniel 11:35).

This persecution reached its apex during the horrific Holocaust of World War II. See Eye of Prophecy article: Two-Thirds of the Jews Killed … Past or Future? (Posted 9-19-15).

God’s passion for Israel is eternal and his plan for her, though interrupted by Israel’s disobedience, will not be denied. In the immediate context of Babylon’s imminent invasion of Judah, but also looking ahead to Israel’s subsequent exile to many nations (later called The Diaspora), God promises through Jeremiah:

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me … I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land” (Jeremiah 29:11-14).

*Note: The “disaster” referred to is both stated and implied in the Old Testament as complete annihilation of Israel. God would never let that happen, though many Jews would be murdered by merciless Gentile nations down through the ages. As well as Israelites killing each other (sometimes with huge casualties) in civil wars after Israel split into two kingdoms. Nor would the Lord eliminate his people himself; though he threatened to do so on more than one occasion—but for getting their full attention concerning the seriousness of the contemptible things they had done.

For example, see Exodus 32, the well-known incident depicted below in which God threatened to wipe them out and start over with Moses and his descendants.

There are several passages in which the Lord guarantees Israel that he would never perpetually reject, abandon, and certainly not eradicate them. Soon after announcing the New Covenant through Jeremiah, the Lord reassured Israel:

“I am as likely to reject (forever) my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature! This is what the Lord says: Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away (permanently) for the evil they have done. I, the Lord have spoken!” (Jeremiah 31:36-37, parenthesis mine).

Earlier in that same chapter before the marvelous New Covenant is announced, the Lord states:

“Is not Israel still my son, my darling child, says the Lord. I often have to punish him, but I still love him. That’s why I long for him and surely will have mercy on him. Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Mark well the path by which you came. Come back again, my virgin Israel; return to your towns here. How long will you wander, my wayward daughter? For the Lord will cause something new to happen—Israel will embrace her God” (Jeremiah 31:20-22). *Note: Those signs and guideposts and markings are literally along the highways, in the streets, and on the buildings of the reborn nation of Israel.

God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is (finally) materializing before our 20th and 21st century eyes, i.e. the return of Jews to the Promised Land of Israel from nations all over the world. This is in preparation for the completion of the Lord’s covenant with King David, as well as the climactic culmination of the New Covenant by which all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26).

(Another joyous group of Jews making Alijah to Israel; Alijah literally means “going up” or going home … from other nations to Israel)

God’s Four Major Covenants

The Lord has created four prominent covenants with Israel and the Jewish people (to make them a conduit of God’s Word and salvation to all peoples). In chronological order: Abrahamic Covenant, Mosaic Covenant of Law, Davidic Covenant, and New Covenant of Grace.

It’s interesting to note that the first and third covenants were made with one man and his immediate descendant(s): Although those two covenants obviously included all of God’s people as beneficiaries, His unconditional covenant (Promised Land & Promised Child) was constructed directly with Abraham, then Isaac, and finally Jacob—father of the twelve tribes that would become the nation of Israel.

Subsequently, God’s covenant with David was unconditional (extended to Solomon for the duration of his life/reign) but conditional for all subsequent kings of Israel. Unconditional because an everlasting King would one day rule forever on David’s throne … a perpetual dynasty.

“…Furthermore, the Lord declares that he will make a house for you (David)—a dynasty of kings!” (II Samuel 7:11). Then in verse 16: “Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.”

In one of the most well-known passages of Scripture (one of my favorites quoted several times in my articles), we read this powerful prophecy of both the first and second advent of the Messiah. Listen carefully to the titles ascribed to him:

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Which is why the Lord frequently cites Abraham (also Isaac and Jacob) and David (including Solomon) as the reason why He will faithfully extend those unilateral covenants to Israel as a nation. As a result, the remnant of Israel and Gentile believers will be richly blessed—both now, and especially beginning with the Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus.

However, the Davidic Covenant was applied conditionally to the succession of Israel’s kings, if they would continue to obey and serve the Lord. None of the kings of the northern tribes followed the Lord; consequently, that kingdom ceased to exist 208 years after Solomon’s reign ended. Because several kings of Judah (at least in part), particularly Hezekiah and Josiah, sought the Lord’s guidance and served him willingly, the southern kingdom was spared for another 136 years.

(Depiction of the angel who killed 185,000 Assyrian troops overnight in a miraculous victory for and deliverance of Judah and King Hezekiah in 701 B.C. The southern kingdom would last for another 115 years)

*Note: The kings of the ten northern tribes (called Israel) did not descend from David, rather mostly from Jeroboam; whom God chose as their first king because the Lord knew that the northern tribes would revolt against Solomon’s son Rehoboam, which is exactly what they did.

In contrast to the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants, the Covenant of the Law was not given to just one man. Although the Law was given through Moses it was to all of Israel. It was a conditional covenant with the entire nation of Israel, with direct nation-wide consequences for obedience or disobedience. Thus, it was necessary for all of Israel to agree to the terms of this covenant. And why God would (and later did, via the New Covenant) revoke this agreement if the people failed to keep it.

“Then Moses went down to the people and repeated all the instructions and regulations the Lord had given him. All the people answered with one voice, ‘We will do everything the Lord has commanded’” (Exodus 24:3).

A little later we read: “Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people. Again, they all responded, ‘We will do everything the Lord has commanded. We will obey’” (Verse 7).

Alas, as both Biblical and secular history painfully record, the people wouldn’t (nor couldn’t) keep the Covenant of the Law. Therefore, the New Covenant began with the death, burial, and resurrection of Israel’s (the whole world’s) Messiah. Said Jesus to his disciples just hours before he was nailed to a cross:

This remarkable covenant would be for all people. However, unlike the Covenant through Moses, it would be unconditional—to parallel the covenants with Abraham (everlasting possession of the Promised Land) and David (eternal dynasty) and to merge and fulfill those covenants. Under the New Covenant, there was nothing that Jews (or Gentiles) need do except simply believe in Messiah Jesus and receive him as personal Lord and Savior. Salvation is to be received as a gift from God’s grace, not earned by doing anything, including keeping the Law of Moses—which no one has ever done or ever could do, except Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The New Covenant is so much easier and so much better and so much more permanent (as in forever) than the former covenant through Moses. In the very next chapter after announcing the New Covenant, Jeremiah refers to it as an everlasting covenant.

“And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land” (Jeremiah 32:39-41).

This everlasting covenant is mentioned by one other prophet prior to Jeremiah. In the context of the entire passage (chapter), it’s clear that the everlasting covenant will be a new one which would consolidate and bring to fruition the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants (See Isaiah Chapter 61).

The eternal New Covenant would be the all-important spiritual component and counterpart—salvation through Messiah Jesus—of the unending land and dynasty covenants with Abraham and David, respectively: From Jerusalem the capital of the Promised Land of Israel, Messiah will rule and reign forever.

Israel’s National Rejection of Their Messiah

Alas, it’s taken nearly 2,000 years for God’s people to (begin to) recover from the reason why their second temple was destroyed, and why they were exiled to the four corners of the earth. Jesus knew this would happen. And it broke his heart. He also predicted the fall of Jerusalem and the utter destruction of the Temple, which took place less than 40 years later.

First, Jesus’ poignant plea for Jerusalem and the people he and his Father formed as a nation separated to God; a people to whom he brought the New Covenant and for whom he would die:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’” (Matthew 23:37-39, NASB). In Hebrew, the last sentence reads: Baruch haba b’shem Adonai.

Your house being left to you desolate is what would happen to Israel (dispersion) as/when the Temple was destroyed. In the very next chapter, we read Jesus’ graphic description of the Temple’s fate:

About 40 years elapsed from the onset of Jeremiah’s ministry—during which time he foretold the New Covenant and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple—to when that Temple was destroyed. It would be a prophetic preview of Israel’s rejection of the New Covenant (their Messiah) followed by the subsequent destruction of the 2nd Temple and (this time) complete loss of the sacrificial system, and (this time) a horrifically long dispersion.

Remarkably, this was the same time-frame (40 years) from when Jesus established the New Covenant and foretold the fate of the 2nd Temple, to the time when that Temple was leveled by the Romans.

The destruction of the rebuilt temple was a painful but residual (cause and effect) result of a new and better way (Covenant) in which God would once and for all redeem and reconcile fallen humanity. One that did not need a temple and repetitive animal sacrifices to maintain ongoing atonement for sin.

The New Covenant would be God’s love and law written on their hearts, not just on tablets of stone. It would come through forgiveness of sins by believing and receiving Messiah’s substitutionary sacrifice on a cross, so dramatically described by Isaiah: “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:5-6, NASB).

The reason the Babylonian captivity was so (relatively) short and the temple subsequently rebuilt is because the Lord was giving Israel one more opportunity to demonstrate that they could faithfully keep the Law of Moses.

The people didn’t. They couldn’t.

Led by Zerubbabel, over 42,000 Jews returned from Babylon to Israel and rebuilt the Temple. About 80 years later (August 4th, 458 B.C.), Ezra guided a much smaller contingency of former exiles to Israel and found that the Jews had, “…taken up the detestable practices of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites.” (Ezra 9:1).

Ezra was both dismayed and appalled at what he found. The following is just a portion of his lengthy prayer to God:

“I prayed, ‘O my God, I am utterly ashamed. I blush to lift up my face to you. For our sins are piled higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors until now, we have been steeped in sin. That is why we and our kings and our priests have been at the mercy of the pagan kings of the land. We have been killed, captured, robbed, and disgraced, just as we are today. But now we have been given a brief moment of grace…. He has given us security in this holy place. Our God has brightened our eyes and granted us some relief from our slavery’” (Ezra 9:6-8).

Ezra continues: “And now, O our God, what can we say after all of this? For once again we have abandoned your commands! Your servants the prophets warned us…. Now we are being punished because of our wickedness and our great guilt. But we have actually been punished far less that we deserve, for you, our God, have allowed some of us to survive as a remnant” (Ezra 9:10-11 & 13).

However, Israel’s loss of their second temple and catastrophic dispersion to nations all over the earth in 70 A.D. was NOT far less than they deserved. It was as God said it would be through Moses (as alluded in last week’s article regarding the fourth and harshest phase of the seven-times over discipline):

“If in spite of all this you still refuse to listen and still remain hostile toward me, then I will give full vent to my hostility. I myself will punish you seven times over for your sins” (Leviticus 26:27-28, italics for emphasis).

The Earthly Temple Gives Way to the Heavenly Temple

In the closing portion of last week’s Part I article, I wrote:

“Summarily revisiting the first heading of this week’s article: Judaism Is Still in Denial … Of What & Why?

“Of what? Of the overwhelming evidence that the New Covenant (of Grace)—implemented when Messiah Jesus died on the cross and arose again from the dead—was providentially connected to and resulted in the subsequent destruction of the Temple, because God’s people rejected their Messiah.

“Why (still in denial)? Because they cling to the Law of Moses as the ultimate means of redemption, despite the cessation of the Old Covenant sacrificial system.”

In fact, the Jews were in the beginning stages of denial before their exile to Babylon. They had not come to terms with the fact that God’s presence (Shekinah glory) in Solomon’s Temple had been withdrawn six years before the Temple was razed by Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel Chapters 8-11). Nor did God return to the Temple for some 600 years, when the Son of God (God the Son) first stepped foot in the rebuilt Temple.

(Depiction of Jesus with the religious teachers in the Temple. Even at the age of 12–when this scene took place: “All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers” Luke 2:47)

In one of his visions of both the first and second coming of Messiah, the prophet Zechariah, who recorded his prophecies during the rebuilding of the Temple, wrote: “Then the angel of the Lord spoke very solemnly to Jeshua and said, ‘…If you follow my ways and carefully serve me, then you will be given authority over my Temple and its courtyards… Listen to me, O Jeshua the high priest, and all you other priests. You are symbols of things to come. Soon, I am going to bring my servant, the Branch’” (Zechariah 3:6-8).

As we’ve already seen, neither the priests of Israel nor most of the people followed the ways of the Lord and carefully served him. This disobedience continued to and through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, even if they had, they were still only symbols of the coming Messiah (as the Tabernacle and the earthly Temples and the sacrificial system only shadow patterns of the New Covenant to come). Indeed, God did send the Branch, none other than Messiah Jesus, only to be denied by his own people.

“He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God” (John 1:10-13).

In Jesus’s time, the lamentable lip service condition of Judaism had not changed. So much so that Jesus blasted the Pharisees; calling them hypocrites and comparing them to vipers and to tombs that were white-washed on the outside but full of death (spiritual) on the inside.

Twice, Jesus purified the Temple in a manner we would describe in modern terms as: cleaning house.

“When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers … and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. He said to them, ‘The Scriptures declare, My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have turned it into a den of thieves’” (Mark 11:15-17).

Messiah Jesus is the real (heavenly) Temple of God. He contains and expresses God’s glory (his very essence) because he is God—the Son.

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation” (Colossians 1:15).

“For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).

“So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come (through the New Covenant). He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever” (Hebrews 9:11-12, parenthesis mine).

In turn, those who have believed and received Messiah Jesus as personal Savior are also individual temples of the Lord indwelt by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

The following is excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article: Where is the Temple? Part III. Those remarks were meant primarily for the Jews, but also for all Gentile unbelievers. (In italics):

Where is the Temple?

…Does the question even have an answer? The answer to that question depends upon whether anyone earnestly and honestly searching for the truth will agree that a New Covenant is necessary and is in place. For, without the sacrificial offerings, the Law can only judge. Without a replacement to the Old Testament system of Atonement that ended with destruction of the Temple, the Law can only condemn.

However, for all who agree that Jesus is the Messiah who arrived on the scene of history as Biblically prophesied; …that he died and rose again as the ultimate perfect sacrifice for their sins; then place their complete trust in his redemptive atonement thereby entrusting their eternal destiny to his finished work on the cross, they will have positively answered the question.

Let’s get personal: If you prefer to stake your eternal destiny on your ability to keep the law, then you still haven’t answered the question. Indeed, there is no answer to your dilemma. Why? Because the Law of Moses demands perfect compliance—with continual sacrificial offerings as a divine solution for noncompliance, either willfully or carelessly.

Which is why, “…the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God. This new system was established with a solemn oath. Aaron’s descendants became priests without such an oath, but there was an oath regarding Jesus. For God said to him, ‘The Lord has taken an oath and will not break his vow: You are a priest forever.’ Because of this oath, Jesus is the one who guarantees this better covenant with God” (Hebrews 7:18-22).

…God still gives us free will, the option to choose. But concerning atonement, redemption, salvation: forgiveness is available only through the shedding of blood. The Old Covenant was a temporary shadow. It is gone, along with the Temple. Will you choose the Old or the New?

Also see Eye of Prophecy articles, The Cross and the Torn Curtain, Part I & II. (Posted 2-6 & 2-13-16).

A Third Jewish Temple?

Will there be another Jewish Temple? According to Ezekiel and Daniel the answer is an absolute, Yes.

*Note: Although Ezekiel’s Temple (Chapters 40-48, with Ezekiel 47:12 highlighting the ongoing existence of that Temple) will be the final Temple, it may or may not be the (third) rebuilt Temple constructed early in the seven-year Tribulation period. Which is the one that both Daniel and Jesus said would be desecrated by Antichrist. The temple described by Ezekiel in extraordinary detail could be a 4th Temple. Also, there will not be a temple in the (heavenly) New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:22). Only in the earthly Jerusalem.

But why? If the New Covenant did away with the need for a material Temple and the Levitical sacrificial system, what will be its purpose? Because time/space in this week’s article doesn’t permit extensive elaboration and because I’ve written about this (in detail) in a few Eye of Prophecy articles, observations will be limited to an excerpt from one of those articles.

From, A Third Jewish Temple Part II, Posted 5-3-14 (in italics).

As follows:

So what about the 3rd rebuilt Temple and/or Ezekiel’s Temple? Just as the earthly city of Jerusalem will remain forever, so will Ezekiel’s Temple. To support this conclusion, we read the following: “In the end, the enemies of Jerusalem who survive the plague will go up to Jerusalem each year to worship the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, and to celebrate the Festival of Shelters. Any nation in the world that refuses to come to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will have no rain” (Zechariah 14:16-17).

The annual Festival of Shelters or Booths (Sukkot in Hebrew) is the only festival in which God will require that all nations send representatives to attend. Why? Because the Festival of Booths is a remembrance of God’s provisions, protection, but most of all his presence among his people … going all the way back to Israel’s wanderings for forty years in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land.

Though it’s crystal clear in Scripture that the sacrifice of Messiah’s blood and life was once and for all time to replace the Levitical sacrificial system, that doesn’t mean that animal sacrifices will not be resumed. According to Daniel Chapter 9, sacrifices and offerings will be reinstated during the seven-year treaty (Tribulation) with Israel. It’s just that the reason or purpose for them will be changed and understood by all after the Tribulation. Everyone will plainly comprehend that animal sacrifices are not the means of/to salvation; instead they will be a means of remembrance for what Christ accomplished in the past.

We know that sacrifices will continue after the Millennium begins, because in that same 14th Chapter of Zechariah which explains that nations (their representatives) must attend the annual Festival of Shelters, we also read:

“…All who come to worship will be free to use any of these pots to boil their sacrifices…” (Verse 21, italics for emphasis).

Also, see Eye of Prophecy article, Sukkot … The Forever Festival! Published 10-22-16.

Things to Ponder

I love Israel and the Jews because God loves them (and you and me) and has given me and many other believers a love for his chosen people. Not chosen because they’re special. Instead, special (set apart) because they are chosen. To bring us God’s Word and the light of God’s salvation through Messiah Jesus, who is the God/Man—the Son of David from the tribe of Judah—who makes us right with God.

Hear the words of God the Father through his prophet, Jeremiah: “In those days and at that time I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. In that day Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this will be its name: The LORD is Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 33:15-16).

Messiah Jesus IS our righteousness!

Said the Lord to Israel: “Listen to me, O my people, while I give you stern warnings. O Israel, if you would only listen to me!” (Psalm 81:8).

Hundreds of years later, the Father said the same thing, this time about the Mediator (I Timothy 2:5) of the New Covenant, Jesus of Nazareth: “…This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy! Listen to him” (Matthew 17:5, italics for emphasis).

And long before that, Moses wrote about the great Prophet (who would also be the final High Priest and King of all kings) to come:

“Then the Lord said to me… ‘I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him. I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf’” (Deuteronomy 18:17-19).

This message is found in God’s New Covenant with Israel … extended to Gentiles.

“…And that message is the very message about faith that we preach. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved … Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect … For ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved’ (quoting Joel 2:32).

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10:8-14).

God’s New Covenant with Israel … Minus the Temple (Part I)

Judaism Is Still in Denial … Of What & Why?

The good news about the Good News (Gospel) is that tens of millions of Gentiles and tens of thousands of Jews have accepted Messiah Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord in just the past 50 years or so.

The not-so-good news: Despite the stark reality that the Temple and the Levitical Sacrificial System ceased to exist in 70 A.D., most Jews hold on to some form of Judaism—Ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed, Liberal, or even secular (Jewish identity without religious overtones). Yet, there’s no workable way to circumvent the fact that Old Testament sacrifices (in and near the Tabernacle, then later the Temple) were an integral feature of the Law of Moses—required by the Lord as the Hebrew Scriptures explain in extraordinary detail.

Contemporary Judaism is still in denial that without sacrificial shedding of blood there can be no atonement for sin. Thus, redemption (of which they’re never sure of) for today’s Jews involves a variety of practices, principles, and promises that not all Rabbis agree on, i.e. those which are essential or just recommended. Such as observing Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement … a few days from now on September 19th) for sins to be forgiven and for each Jew to remain inscribed in the Book of Life. However, the Biblical Day of Atonement required animal sacrifice (as did all the other sacred festivals) plus the Scapegoat on Yom Kippur. See Eye of Prophecy article: Yom Kippur / With or Without Atonement? Posted 10-15-16.

Even more consequential: Denial that the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah has already come to pass; two thousand years ago, when Israel’s Messiah was crucified (shedding his blood), buried, but then arose from the dead. A once-for-all sacrifice to permanently replace the Levitical system as the ultimate avenue of atonement.

Through the ages, God’s punishment of his special possession Israel and his chosen people the Jews has been severe. For the very reason that they are his chosen people. To whom much is given, much is required. To the extent that some Jews have said (paraphrasing): “Do we have to be so chosen!” Or, in one of my favorite films (top five), Fiddler on the Roof; the main character’s playful (yet solemn) request of God. Said Tevye, the milkman:

“I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t you choose someone else?!”

(Scene from Fiddler on the Roof, released in 1971; Tevye–played by actor Topol–in the foreground)

So, too, were God’s bountiful blessings equally serious (generously good, sincerely special) in prospering and protecting Israel when they as a nation trusted Him to provide their needs and obeyed his commandments, all of which were fair and just.

In Leviticus Chapter 26, we find the blessings of God for obedience; but also, four phases of God’s (seven-times over) punishment of Israel for disobedience … each stage harsher than the one before. With, however, the same reason for God’s increasingly tough discipline of his people: “And if, In spite of all this, you still disobey me (verse 18); If even then you remain hostile toward me and refuse to obey me (verse 21); And if you fail to learn the lesson and continue your hostility toward me (verse 23); If in spite of all this you still refuse to listen and still remain hostile toward me” (verse 27).

The final consequence was, by far, the worst: “I will scatter you among the nations… Your land will become desolate and your cities will lie in ruins” (Leviticus 26:33).

That is precisely what happened some 600 years later when Assyria conquered and exiled Israel’s ten northern tribes; only after several prophets warned Israel to return to the Lord. Warnings that fell on deaf ears. Then 136 years later, Babylon crushed the remaining two southern tribes (Judah and Benjamin), utterly demolished Solomon’s Temple, and marched most of the survivors to Babylonia.

Nonetheless, through the prophet Jeremiah, God promised that the exiled punishment of the southern kingdom would last only 70 years, which is exactly the lapse between Judah’s deportation to Babylon and completion of the 2nd Temple in 516 B.C. In his mercy, God had given his people another chance to trust, and obey him. Which they did … sort of, intermittently and only for a few decades.

By 400 B.C., they had (as a nation … most Jews) again abandoned the Lord in heart and spirit, having become legalistic. Not sincerely loving and faithfully following the Lord; rather that of lip service through rote sacrifices based more on pagan-like superstitions and wrong suppositions (just do the sacrifices and God is obligated to protect and prosper us). See the book of Malachi. Followed by 400 years of silence until the Lord spoke to Israel once again, stirred the people’s conscience, and prepared the way for Messiah through John the Baptist.

The Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants to interrogate John.

“…Are you the Prophet we are expecting?”

“No.”

“Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?”

“John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah: ‘I am a voice shouting in the wilderness. Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’” (John 1:21-23).

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one I was talking about when I said, A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me’” (John 1:29-30, also see Micah 5:2).

Not Once, But Twice

Then in 70 A.D. the unthinkable happened. For a second time—incredibly on the same calendar day (9th of Av) when Solomon’s Temple was demolished—the 2nd Jewish Temple was destroyed.

Once again, the Jews were evicted from the Promised Land of Israel, this time by the Romans. As they eventually realized: this dispersion would be far more austere and longer-lasting than their first exile. God’s discipline administered seven-times over continued until the Gentile domination of the Jews (which was the means of chastisement) would come to an end. Which took place in the miraculous Six-Day War of 1967; Jerusalem was liberated, and the Holy City reunited with the Holy Land of reborn Israel.

Moses wrote about this more devastating exile, as also contained in Leviticus 26. From this additional prophetic description, it’s evident that the Lord is not restricting Israel’s punishment to what would inevitably happen to them at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians.

“And for those of you who survive, I will demoralize you in the land of your enemies. You will live in such fear that the sound of a leaf driven by the wind will send you fleeing. You will run as though fleeing from a sword, and you will fall even when no one pursues you… You will die among the foreign nations and be devoured in the land of your enemies. Those of you who survive will waste away in your enemies’ lands because of their sins and the sins of their ancestors” (Leviticus 26:36-39).

In conclusion of this long-term punishment, the Lord states: “…At last the people will pay for their sins, for they have continually rejected my regulations and despised my decrees” (Verse 43, italics for emphasis).

From the passage and in historical hindsight, we know that this scattering among the nations was different than (in addition to) the Babylonian captivity for at least two reasons: (1) Length of time vastly longer than the 70-year Babylonian captivity. However, encoded in Leviticus 26 was the precise duration of this discipline, discernible only by realization that the seven times over (four separate phases) represented an actual measurement of time. (Please see Eye of Prophecy trilogy: Seven Times Seven to the 4th Power, followed by The Omega Generation. Posted 1-25-14 through 2-15-14).

(2) Harshness of the punishment that exceeded anything experienced during the seven decades in Babylon. During the Babylonian exile, the Jews were treated with relative kindness by their captors. The Babylonians certainly did not demoralize their Jewish captives. Nor in their captivity were they devoured by the Babylonians, i.e. deprived of property, persecuted, or randomly killed just because they were Jews, or killed at all. Nor did the Jews (other than growing older) “waste away” in Babylon.

Not so after the Diaspora inflicted by the Romans. Jews were banished to multiple countries (that part of Leviticus says, many nations as opposed to just one nation—which would be Babylon). Although some prospered, for nearly 2,000 years they collectively were mocked, bullied, harassed, oppressed, mistreated, and murdered in the aggregate millions by Muslims, Crusaders, Eastern European and Russian pogroms, Inquisitions, and the most horrendous of all—the Holocaust.

As painful as it is, God’s chosen people the Jews must ask themselves: Why did the second destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple result in a bitterer and longer (by far) punishment than the exile to Babylon? For that matter, what might the Jews have done so wrong in the first century that would result in God withdrawing his protection of them, and for so long.

Many Jewish scholars (rabbis) contend that the factional disunity among 1st century Jews is what (exclusively) caused their demise. However, that same kind of dissension existed before the Babylonian captivity. Furthermore, the Old Testament prophets are clear that it was Israel’s defiance of God and rejection of his prophets (messages) that led directly to the nation’s punishment at the hands of Babylon; not internal disunity—which was only a by-product of disobedience. It was also rejection of God’s final Prophet, greater even than Moses, that precipitated the devastating Diaspora at the hands of the Romans. This Prophet was also Israel’s final High Priest and ultimate King. He was none other than the long-awaited Messiah.

(Depicts Roman destruction of 2nd Jewish Temple & Jerusalem)

Moreover, what are the repercussions absent their Temple and the Levitical Sacrificial System? If Judaism is to be practiced properly as found in the Law of Moses, these (and other) questions need to be addressed with a great deal of uniformity among today’s Jews … which they have not.

Is There a Correlation Between Israel’s Rejection of the New Covenant & the Loss of the 2nd Temple?

The answer is Biblically and historically crystal clear: because Israel as a whole (although thousands did believe) rejected their Messiah … Jesus of Nazareth. This was even more evident after the Temple was destroyed, because they had missed or ignored Daniel’s prophecy that not only would it be razed again, but Messiah would arrive before the Temple’s demolition.

Here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article: Who is Messiah? (Posted 3-29-14; also detailed in a few subsequent articles).

“After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One (Messiah) will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple….” (Daniel 9:26).

This verse is quoted mostly for the benefit of God’s chosen people, the Jews, but also for Gentile unbelievers. Even if you ignore or overlook the historical evidence of Jesus’s claims to be the Messiah (Son of God), his teachings, his miracles, and his awesome, miraculous resurrection from the dead, this prophecy in Daniel came to pass in its totality when the Roman Generals Vespasian and Titus attacked Israel and Jerusalem under the direct orders of Nero Caesar. Of equally profound significance: this passage tells us that the Messiah will be killed BEFORE Jerusalem and the Temple are destroyed. If you have any regard for historical facts whatsoever; and especially if you are a Jew that believes that the Torah … for Christians what is called the Old Testament … is the Word of the true and living God, then you must agree that Messiah, himself, arrived on the scene of history before 70 AD.

In the Eye of Prophecy trilogy: Where is the Temple? (published 11-29 through 12-13-14), a thematic premise based on God’s Law given through Moses was stated and amplified in all three articles. As follows:

No Temple, no sacrificial offerings. No sacrifices, no atonement forgiveness of sins. No forgiveness, no redemption. No redemption, no right standing with God.

Here is an excerpt from Part I of that trilogy, which prefaced that premise (in italics):

But with this article … meant to dutifully challenge (with consideration, courtesy, respect, and even reverence) the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with a poignant but probing question: Where is the Temple?

What happened to it? How can any Jew embrace and practice Judaism without the ancient sacrifices, which is the fundamental reason the Tabernacle and then the Temple was built in the first place? Did the loss of the Temple affect the very core of the Jewish faith? If so, how and to what extent? …has God also done away with the very heart of his redemptive plan for mankind through Israel—reconciliation and salvation by the sacrificial shedding of blood?

Where is the Temple? isn’t meant to be answered by a literal location. Because we know that the Temple isn’t (anywhere). It’s gone. But why? Was there a more far-reaching purpose why God allowed the Temples to be obliterated? …Who, if anyone; or what, if anything, has replaced the Temple for two thousand years?

In short, how can the Jewish faith function without adhering to the entire Mosaic Law; which clearly was an equally balanced two-tier foundation of: (1) Obedience to God’s Word … pillars of laws, commands, decrees, regulations. (2) Sacrificial Offerings … the cornerstones of atonement by, blessing from, and relationship with God … how (else) can a Jew or anyone be reconciled to God?

The answer is found in the New Covenant; however, to this day most Jews still deny that it has arrived. Although the 9th of Av is still mourned by millions of Jews, implications over loss of the Temple are not written about or discussed much at all even among observant Jews. Both religious and secular Jews long for Messiah to come, to bring about Israel’s final redemption, yet they differ as to what that redemption is or how and why it will come about. Nor is there much interest or effort in Judaism to match up this redemption with the New Covenant announced by Jeremiah.

(Please see the second-most visited Eye of Prophecy article to date: Where is Messiah … Is He Already Here? Posted 6-25-16).

The first century Apostle Paul—a devout Jewish Pharisee whose life was dramatically changed by his personal encounter with the risen Christ—passionately wanted his people to realize that the New Covenant had arrived. Wrote Paul:

“Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way (the New Covenant), they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law (Old Covenant). For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God” (Romans 10:1-4, parenthesis mine).

Here is an excerpt from Part III of Where is the Temple? (In italics):

The Lord fully understands the natural bent of mankind: That of trying to earn God’s favor, trying to merit salvation and eternal life by performance, by innate worth, by good works; instead of simply agreeing with God and accepting his grace … the wonderful, matchless gift of God’s own Son as a substitutionary sacrificial payment for all the wrong things we have done.

Thus, God gave the Law for two reasons: (1) as dependable as the conscience of man can sometimes be, it is not constantly adequate or endlessly reliable to unerringly distinguish right from wrong. Hence, it was necessary to establish universally objective moral and spiritual laws (summarized in the Ten Commandments) so that no one would excuse immoral behavior by saying they didn’t know it was (for example) wrong to steal. (2) To give men and women every chance possible to earn their salvation by obeying these laws perfectly. But because no one has ever kept the Law in every point, the Law ended up sentencing us to everlasting death.

How sadly ironic: the only thing earned is physical and then spiritual death (separation from God forever). “For the wages of sin is death….” (Romans 6:23a).

As asked and answered by Paul, “Why, then was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised….” (Galatians 3:19) Paul goes on to identify this ultimate child of promise as Messiah Jesus.

Things to Ponder

Summarily revisiting the first heading of this week’s article: Judaism Is Still in Denial … Of What & Why?

Of what? Of the overwhelming evidence that the New Covenant (of Grace)—implemented when Messiah Jesus died on the cross and arose from the dead—was providentially connected to and resulted in the subsequent destruction of the Temple, because God’s people rejected their Messiah.

Why (still in denial)? Because Judaism still clings to the Law of Moses as the ultimate means of redemption, despite the cessation of the Old Covenant sacrificial system.

Yet, we must not as many have done—particularly through the insidious Replacement Theology that falsely claims the Christian church has replaced Israel physically—ever stop longing and praying for Israel’s final redemption. Beginning with one Jewish heart at a time, culminating with the entire remnant of Israel being saved.

“Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it” (Romans 11:11-12).

Again, the Apostle Paul says: “For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead!” (Romans 11:15).

*Footnote: Eye of Prophecy articles that have two or more parts (published in successive weeks) are normally planned. But not all of them. Originally this week’s article was not intended to be in two parts. As the author, it’s sometimes difficult to choose between the better continuity of one article (read in its entirety) that perhaps is too long. Versus extending the topic over two (or more) articles with the undesirable possibility that only one of them will be read.

I’ve chosen the two-part option with optimistic expectation that you won’t miss next week’s article. To even more fully grasp this all-important subject of salvation to the Jew first that is so intricately linked to what they think and have done about the loss of the Jewish Temple and Old Covenant Sacrificial system of atonement. And most of all: whether they recognize that their Messiah has already come as Savior, sent by his and the Father’s great love for his people (and the whole world). And will soon return … this time as King and Judge.

Italy’s New Government / A Thorn in the EU’s Side

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Other than Israel, there is no country in the world that has garnered as much attention in the past few months than Italy. Which is yet another development that tracks with Biblical end-times prophecy, because the Antichrist beast-king who returns from the Abyss is none other than the Roman (Italian) Emperor Nero.

I’ve provided an abundance of Biblical and secular historical evidence to support this premise, as found in my second book Out of the Abyss and many of the 53 Eye of Prophecy articles posted in the Category of Antichrist.

Although it’s natural to assume that the Antichrist will be a (modern-day) man born a few decades before the Rapture, that is not what the Bible tells us. Rather, the beast-king that John saw from the Isle of Patmos had already lived and died (in the 1st century A.D.) BEFORE John saw him in the image of a beast. However, he would return from the Abyss.

In unveiling the mystery of the beast and the woman sitting on the beast, the angel said to John: “Why are you so amazed? … I will tell you the mystery of this woman and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns on which she sits. The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon (abruptly or at any time) come up out of the bottomless pit… And the people who belong to this world … will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died” (Revelation 17:7-8, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

Early Christians (1st through 4th centuries) knew the identity of the Antichrist, as the Bible provided convincing clues both before and after Nero’s reign from 54 to 68 AD. Passages such as: Daniel 7, 9, 11; Zechariah 11; II Thessalonians 2; Revelation 13 & 17; in correlation with 1st century events.

Please refer to Eye of Prophecy article, The Legendary Return of Nero. Posted 4-4-15. Which includes details of the Nero Redivivus Legend … his revival and reappearance.

(Colossal statue of Nero erected in 2010 at Anzio, Italy–his place of birth. The letters on the pedestal spell NERONE, which is modern Italian for the Latin name, Nero. The reason for this statue is explained in Eye of Prophecy article, Antichrist and Anzio … What Do They Have in Common? Posted 4-29-17)

Nero will generate a world-wide following for one reason only: what the world will perceive as a miraculous return from a 2,000-year old grave, because his “…fatal wound was healed!” This mortal wound (Nero’s servant killing him with a sword, as Nero didn’t have the courage to do himself in) had already been healed before the world witnesses his return. As a result: “The whole world marveled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast…” and “they also worshipped the beast” (Revelation 13:3-4).

For those left behind at the Rapture, this miracle is that of Nero rising from the grave (in his original body) … the healing of his fatal wound. His sudden reappearance will stun the world as much or more than the disappearance of hundreds of millions of born-again believers.

Global allegiance to and worship of a revived Roman Emperor will be a twisted facsimile of the pre-Rapture world-wide following of Messiah Jesus as found in the Christian faith. That’s one reason why the beast-king of Revelation is called The Antichrist (I John). His opposition to the true Messiah is also a perverted imitation of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, a lie that most of the world will believe (II Thessalonians 2:9-12).

However, widespread loyalty to Nero will not result in a One-World Government, because the Bible clearly indicates that his political and military domain will consist of and be limited to a coalition of ten nations … Daniel 7, Revelation 13 & 17. See Eye of Prophecy article, One World Government, posted 5-28-15.

Ten Nation/Kingdoms That Give Their Governments to Antichrist Nero

With one exception, the identity of these ten contemporary nations cannot be known with complete certainty. Would you care to venture a guess which nation, beyond doubt, can be determined in today’s world?

Hint: Its capital city is the subject of Eye of Prophecy trilogy, The Shameful Saga of the Great City (Revelation 17); The Cunning Makeover of the Great City (Revelation 17); and The Humiliating End of the Great City (Revelation 17). Posted 5-26, 6-2, & 6-9-18. If you haven’t yet read those articles or still don’t otherwise know, then a stronger hint: The title of today’s article gives it away!

ITALY.

The Antichrist king who reappears from the Abyss is both the composite beast and one of the seven heads (kings) of the beast; five of whom had already died before John saw his vision of the beast (Revelation 17:9-11). Once again, Out of the Abyss and several Eye of Prophecy articles provide detailed documentation to demonstrate that these kings were seven Roman emperors of the 1st century, the fifth of whom was Nero. For example, see articles: Exposing Antichrist’s Identity … More Compelling Evidence Part I & II (Published 3-18 & 3-25-17).

Part of the angel’s encoded disclosure of the beast’s identity in Revelation 13 (the number of the beast calculated through Hebrew gematria) and Revelation 17 (his geographical and biological origin) stipulated that the seven heads of the beast were not only seven kings (Roman emperors) but also “seven hills where the woman rules” (Revelation 17:9). These are the seven hills of Rome, Italy. Consequently, it’s a sure thing that Italy will be one of the ten nations that submit their government and military to Nero.

(The Seven Hills of Rome)

With reliable rationale provided, I have in one previous Eye of Prophecy article proposed the identity of all ten nations, with a total of seven of these countries willingly yielding their authority to Antichrist Nero very soon after his return. With the remaining three acquiescing only after he persuades (understatement) them to join his federation.

To that end, I’ll provide an excerpt from that article, “One Ring to Rule Them All…” (posted 11-21-15). At that time, I did not indicate that Italy would obviously (without question) be one of the ten nations; the intent then was to present compelling criteria why all ten nations were the most feasible choices.

As follows (in italics):

Those who have read Out of the Abyss or even a few Eye of Prophecy articles are aware that I rarely engage in much, if any, speculation. Instead, the theme/subjects of these writings are based on historical and Biblical evidence (facts). If there is any conjecture (what if), it is derived from historical and contemporary events that logically, reasonably, and feasibly fit into the Biblical prophecies that give us extraordinarily strong clues, but not necessarily specific details.

In that context, I will issue a disclaimer that the identity of the ten nations (kingdoms) presented in this article most certainly is supposition, as no one knows with absolute certainly who they will be. If, however, we subscribe to the premise that I and many other students of Biblical prophecy endorse—that the return of Messiah Jesus is as imminent as it has ever been because we are living in the last of the last days—then this speculation is as Scripturally sound as can be.

In other words: If Christ were to return today or even in the next few months or years, select identification of these ten nations would be as viable as any time in history. I believe you’ll see that the choice of these kingdoms is based on Scripture, reasonable deduction, and a cogent correlation of what is taking place in today’s world.

Later in that article, the first introduction of the Antichrist in Scripture is provided as found in Daniel Chapter 7.

…Some 2,500 years ago, the Lord gave to Daniel the first and perhaps most amazing prophetic disclosure of these ten kingdoms and their kings, in the context of what is also the initial introduction to the Antichrist in Scripture. The ten kings are referred to as horns and immediately follow Daniel’s (now famous) vision of the four beasts which are the world empires: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Read with me the description of the last beast:

“Then in my vision that night, I saw a fourth beast—terrifying, dreadful, and very strong … It was different from any of the other beasts, and it had ten horns. As I was looking at the horns, suddenly another small horn appeared among them. There of the first horns were torn out by the roots to make room for it. This little horn … was boasting arrogantly” (Daniel 7:7-8).

“…This fourth beast is the fourth world power (Rome) that will rule the earth … Its ten horns are ten kings who will rule that empire. Then another king will arise, different from the other ten, who will subdue three of them. He will defy the Most High and oppress the holy people (Jews) of the Most High. He will try to change their sacred festivals and laws, and they will be placed under his control for a time, times, and half a time (3 ½ years)” (Daniel 7:23-25).

In Out of the Abyss, you’ll find compelling evidence to explain and confirm that the “sudden” appearance of the little horn (Antichrist) and his “difference” from the other ten kings fits precisely with Nero and his abrupt reappearance from the Abyss. And the reason he is so different is because he doesn’t arrive (reappear) on earth by natural birth, as would be expected of a modern-day born Antichrist.

(Note: Also, see subsequent article, Sudden Appearance of Antichrist … Why So Different? Posted 1-21-17)

There will not be a Revived Roman Empire during the Tribulation, meaning one that is a reproduced replica of the once mighty realm of the Caesars. Instead there will be a Revived Roman Emperor, whose dominion will be Roman in appearance (the fact that he is a once great Roman Caesar), and will be a confederation of six powerful European nations plus one non-European kingdom, plus three other dominant nations that will, through force and threat, become part of this ten-kingdom unification.

That article, “One Ring to Rule Them All” details the three major end-times’ world coalitions and the nations of which they consist during the Tribulation. All of which have as their primary agenda: invading and conquering Israel. Those alliances are: Gog/Magog (utterly crushed by God himself) during the early part of the Tribulation; the Antichrist’s ten-nation regime solidified by the middle part of the Tribulation; the Kings of the East during the latter part of the Tribulation. With the last two alliances defeated decisively by the King of all kings, Messiah Jesus, at Megiddo … Armageddon.

(Shows a portion of the vast Megiddo Valley, including the prominent hill or small mountain, lower right …  from which we get Armageddon. Har in Hebrew is mountain or hill)

The Proposed Identity of the Ten Nations

Continuing with “One Ring to Rule Them All” article:

From where did Nero and all the Roman Emperors rule and reign? Easy answer: Rome, Italy. To what does Italy and twenty-seven other countries belong in today’s world? Another easy answer: The European Union. When the Common Market increased to ten European countries years ago, many prophecy scholars equated it with the ten nations who give their authority to Antichrist.

But then the Common Market morphed into the European Union… That doesn’t mean, however, that all these nations will align themselves with Nero upon his astonishing return (from the dead, as the world will see it); or that Nero would automatically choose more than ten kings and kingdoms (nations) that Daniel 7 and Revelation 17 clearly state will be the core of his coalition. More (countries) is not necessarily better. There can be as much or more unity and cohesiveness concentrated in ten powerful nations than in twenty, or thirty, or however many. There would be less language barriers, less cultural differences, fewer number of people and governments to argue with or galvanize into a strong centralized cohesive force.

Although Nero could very well establish his sphere of influence from the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, his initial reappearance will be in/at Rome. Where else would it be? His amazing return from the underworld as a Revived Roman Emperor would lead him immediately to Rome, from where he and the mighty Roman Emperors ruled for centuries….

…Six of these nations (that collectively dwarf the remaining twenty-two countries of the EU) will eagerly agree to give Nero, all, “their power and authority” (Revelation 17:13). The seventh kingdom that will voluntarily surrender its allegiance to Nero may surprise you, if for no other reason than it’s not part of Europe. We’ll get to that shortly!

Another reason that the six nations in particular and the EU in general will follow the Beast is because nearly 50% of Europeans who claim religious affiliation are Roman Catholics. As many Bible scholars believe (including me), the woman on the beast in Revelation 17 is the Roman Catholic Church headquartered in none other than Rome.

Now for some supporting statistics; with these figures possibly changing (slightly) since that article was written nearly 3 years ago. Continuing with that article, the six European nations willingly aligned with Antichrist Nero will most likely be:

In order of population rounded off to millions:

Germany: 81 million (1st)

France: 66 million (2nd)

United Kingdom: 65 million (3rd)

Italy: 61 million (4th)

Spain: 46 million (5th)

Belgium: 11 million (9th)

Total of 330 million (close to the current population of the United States). Representing 65% of the total EU population of about 508 million.

European Union Rank in Military Might:

United Kingdom: 1st

France: 2nd

Germany: 3rd

Italy: 4th

Spain: 11th

Belgium: 14th

*Note: Belgium is selected over Poland (38 million population and a higher military rank) for several reasons, but the most notable is that the EU headquarters is in Brussels.

Thus, the six EU nations who very likely will be part of Antichrist Nero’s confederacy are: United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Belgium….

I then provided rationale regarding identity of the seventh kingdom to yield its allegiance to Antichrist Nero. Continuing in that article:

Based on two extremely significant factors, I believe that the seventh kingdom voluntarily aligned with Nero and the other six (European) and three unwilling members will be:

An Arab Coalition Known as the Persian Gulf States: Headed by Saudi Arabia and composed of Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Iraq, Qatar, and Kuwait (Seven in all!). Though they will provide some military assistance, the more substantial contribution from this Arab kingdom that will unify as one entity is that of … you guessed it: Money. The combined oil wealth of these nations is staggering—just what Nero needs to fund his ten-nation Leviathan that will do battle with the kings of the east, with Israel, and inevitably Messiah, himself.

The two factors or reasons for including this Arab coalition as one kingdom are found in Scripture and in the contemporary phenomena of what’s happening all over Europe, but especially in the six nations selected.

  • Scripture: Referring to the Antichrist, the prophet Daniel tells us: “Instead of these, he will worship the god of fortresses—a god his ancestors never knew…. Claiming this foreign god’s help, he will attack the strongest fortresses. He will honor those who submit to him, appointing them to positions of authority and dividing the land among them as their reward” (Daniel 11:38-39).

…This god referenced in Daniel is, I firmly believe, the god of Islam, Allah. Nero will feign allegiance to Islam and the Muslim agenda to generate as much support as possible from Islamic sources … in this case primarily from the wealth of the Muslim Gulf States.

  • The Astonishing Increase of Muslims in Europe: Hardly a day goes by without media focus on the refugees pouring into Europe; but also the years of Muslim immigration to Europe, especially to the six EU nations identified as soon-to-be members of the Antichrist’s massive merger.

So, we now have seven of the ten kingdoms in place, which leaves the three countries who will be forced to join the monstrous alliance of the beast. However, once they become part of Nero’s fold, it’s logically evident that they will be a formidable addition… and will do so with increased enthusiasm.

Are you ready?!

The Three Remaining Nations Will Be: Australia, Canada, and The United States.

“Really … the United States?” you question. Yes, Canada and Australia, too.

Why?

…These countries are fiercely democratic and independent. They will not readily join forces with what they undoubtedly will perceive as totalitarian, nor a tyrant no matter how enthusiastically he will be welcomed by a world in chaos and confusion. However, the United States, and to a lesser degree Canada and Australia, will experience a substantial loss of population when millions are taken in the glorious Rapture.

Which is the primary reason that the United States will not be able to economically or militarily do anything about the Russian-led (Gog/Magog) invasion of Israel soon after the Rapture… And certainly not to Nero’s agenda of establishing a powerful dictatorial ten-kingdom federation to include these three countries that, though considerably weakened, will still exert an impressive influence on this global scene of temporary anarchy. The natural resources and technology of these three countries would be enticement enough for Nero.

As independently self-sufficient as these three nations are and still will be (to a lesser extent), they also will not want to lose their standard of living and Western way of life … all of which will have been shaken to the very core by global upheaval caused by the sudden disappearance of hundreds of millions the world over.

Consequently, America, Canada, and Australia will inevitably yield their political, economic, and military allegiance to Nero and the other seven nations…. Their capitulation to Nero’s invitational-style demand (please join us … or else) to enter his coalition will be reluctant at first; but then they will participate enthusiastically when they see the astounding accomplishments of Nero’s early program to pacify Europe during the first year or so of the Tribulation.

*Note: It’s also quite possible that select countries from Central America (Mexico) and South America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru) will merge with the United States and form a national coalition of “The Americas.” If so, it will still be just one of the ten nations (kingdoms) aligned with Nero.

As mighty as the six European nations aided by the Arab Gulf States will be, when you include these three weakened, but still formidable and viable nations, Nero will field an economic and military giant that even the mighty Eastern kingdoms will not take on. Not, that is, until the very last days of the seven-year Tribulation.

(The Persian Gulf States unified as one of the ten nations aligned with Antichrist. Iran and Yemen are enemies of Saudi Arabia and will be part of the Gog/Magog coalition. Pakistan is not considered a gulf state)

Now Then, What About Italy and Its New (Different) Government?

Once again, excepting Israel—which has been in the world headlines for decades, particularly in the past few years, and will be right up to the soon-to-come Rapture—Italy has recently been of utmost concern to many nations, particularly those in the European Union.

Why this angst over Italy?

On June 1, 2018, the Italian government swore in its new Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, a relatively unknown (until a few months before Italy’s national election) 54-year old law-professor who had no political experience at any level of government. You might think: How is that possible?

For the same reason that Donald Trump—with no political pedigree—was (against all geopolitical odds) elected President of the United States. And the reason he was elected can be summarized in one catchword: Populism. Although Trump ran on the Republican ticket, he considers himself to be a Populist. His platform principles: to be a people’s president who would “drain the swamp” (of bureaucracy in Washington D.C.), change the status quo, take back the country for the people, and “make America great again.”

Trump’s political persuasion fits the frame of the populist movement gaining momentum all over the world, especially in Europe. With, however, only limited success in terms of nations electing a people’s government. In past elections the prominent western European countries of France, Netherlands, and Germany came close to voting a populist candidate (coalition government) to Prime Minister or President. Some eastern European nations have already installed such governments: Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, and the Czech Republic—called the Visegrad Group. Also, in Austria, and now the western European nation of Italy.

You may want to read Eye of Prophecy article, Globalism or Populism … Which Will Antichrist Prefer? (Published 9-16-17).

Here is an excerpt from that article (in italics):

People and countries all over the world, especially western nations, are more polarized than ever before. These extremes have created a mentality of “us or them” with virtually no political or social or interpersonal conciliatory balance for the greater good of a state or nation.

We seldom communicate rationally or politely anymore, particularly on social media. We rant and rave. We yell and curse. We clash verbally and physically. It’s not, “I’m a Democrat (or Republican), but I respect your opinion.” Instead: “I’m a Democrat and the Republican Party shouldn’t even exist; it’s a threat to this nation. President Trump is not (my) president.” Some Republicans said the same thing about President Obama.

…In today’s world—ready to explode and in some places has already exploded—if hatred could be registered on a meter, the needle would be deep into the red zone.

A rational polarization that at one time afforded some measure of point, counterpoint (agree to disagree) between individuals, groups, and entire nations has become irrationally dangerous to the point where there is no middle ground, no buffer zone, and no safe haven.

It’s: Democrat OR Republican; liberal OR conservative (left or right); black OR white; federal OR state; poor OR rich; socialist OR capitalist. So much so that (for example in the United States) we now have physical clashes between the far “Alt-right” and the ultra-left “antifa” (anti-fascist)—as seen in the recent Charlottesville and Berkeley demonstrations.

…The most far-reaching polarization—increasing with kaleidoscope intensity—is the conflict between national sovereignty and international supremacy on Planet Earth. It is global in its scope and fateful in its implications; a socioeconomic and geopolitical rift that is preparing the earth’s population for the soon to come Antichrist.

Although many consider Great Britain to be part of Europe, some do not, especially most Brits themselves. Hence the vote to approve “Brexit” in June 2016—with England’s actual exit from the European Union still pending. (Please see Eye of Prophecy article: Brexit … What’s It All About? Published 6-18-16).

The British—who have never adopted the Euro, instead have kept the English Pound as their currency—approved withdrawal from the European Union is an endeavor to reestablish national autonomy, relatively free from dominance of the European Union.

Italy’s new administration is patterned after Great Britain’s exit from the European Union, without the exiting part … at least not yet. Which makes it (sort of) a hybrid government between globalism and populism; however, with a sworn objective of distancing Italy from the EU’s collective political and economic supremacy, particularly through such countries as Germany and France. In fact, the new Italian government blames the EU for Italy’s financial woes, which Prime Minister Conte assures that his government will alleviate without further EU intervention.

In a June 1, 2018 article by well-known author Soeren Kern who frequently writes for Gatestone Institute, he said that Italy’s, “…new government has pledged to pursue a host of populist policies, including reclaiming national sovereignty from the European Union over issues ranging from border protection and immigration to economics and finance. For now, however, it has abandoned previous plans to hold a referendum on whether Italy should abandon the euro.”

He also stated: “The government’s program is outlined in a 39-page agreement called ‘Contract for a Government of Change.’ A two-page synthesis closely resembles U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s ‘Contract with the American Voter.’”

As anticipated, several EU officials issued scathing criticism of Italy’s populist government, with Soeren Kern summarizing one of those comments: “…EU Budget Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said that financial markets would teach Italian voters a lesson not to pick left-wing or right-wing populists.” And that was one of the milder reactions.

In another Gatestone Institute article posted on August 6, 2018, Italian journalist Cesare Sacchetti wrote, “It is not farfetched to think that Italy’s ‘government of change’ will try to break the euro and leave the monetary union. Such a move would likely cause a domino effect on the whole structure of the euro, which could collapse without the presence of its third-largest economy.” *Note: Despite Italy’s large debt-to-GDP deficit (130%), it is still the 3rd largest economy in Europe.

It’s no secret that President Trump and Prime Minister Conte mutually admire the other. Both leaders extol national sovereignty. Both are critical of the European Union’s inordinate influence over international trade policies (much like China’s) that are detrimental to and have adversely affected United States’ (and Italy’s) trade deficits. With Prime Minister Conte, it’s Italy First, following the precedent of US President Trump’s platform … America First.

(Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Oval Office, 7-30-18)

An Italian Sports Legend

Prime Minister Conte isn’t the only national hero to catapult Italy into the international limelight.

Just a few weeks ago (July 2018), Professional golfer Francesco Molinari became the first Italian to capture one of golf’s four major tournaments by winning the British Open. The British Open is the oldest of these four majors which also include: The Masters, The U.S. Open, and the PGA. For that reason, plus the fact that golf was invented by the United Kingdom, nearly all Europeans and some Americans and other non-European nationalities consider the British Open as the most prestigious championship in golf. To the extent that the proper way to refer to it is simply, “The Open.”

Age 35, Molinari is now up to 6th in the world golf rankings. Although born in Turin, Italy, ironically, he moved to England a few years ago with his wife Valentina and their two children. Among other accolades Francesco received for his impressive victory, of paramount importance was being the first Italian to win any major, let alone The Open. And it came just a few weeks after Italy’s astounding and unlikely change of government. Both events thrust Italy into the global spotlight, where I believe it will remain during these last days of the end times.

(Francesco Molinari and his wife with the Claret Jug–the trophy for winning The Open Championship)

In keeping with today’s underlying theme that the resurgence of international attention on Italy/Rome is yet another harbinger of the (more so than ever) imminent Day of the Lord—Rapture; reappearance of Antichrist; Great Tribulation; return of Messiah Jesus; and his Millennial Reign—here is another excerpt from the previous quoted article, Globalism or Populism … Which Will Antichrist Prefer? Beginning with the sectional heading of that part of the article:

Antichrist Will Appeal to Populists and Globalists, To the Common Man and to the Elite

Another irony is that these extremes will enable Antichrist Nero to capture the attention of many left behind at the Rapture. Both the far left and far right and everyone on a sliding scale in between will realize that there is no geopolitical or social solution to such polarization; only one man can bridge the chasm. This false messiah won’t need a world government or a world religion. Although he will assemble a ten-nation coalition for military purposes, his global appeal will extend far beyond individual differences, political poles, national boundaries, and international coalitions.

I went on to say in that article:

During the first half or so of his fourteen-year reign, Nero found enormous favor with the common Roman citizen and (to a lesser extent) with the nobility—including the Roman Senate composed mostly of the wealthy elite—despite his enactment of laws that favored the middle and lower class more so than the upper class. The masses adored him during most of his reign. When he began to display his base nature of gross immorality, brutality (mostly against Christians), and disregard for the everyday affairs of the Roman Empire, many still revered him … even after his death.

When Nero returns, one of his first accomplishments will be a seven-year treaty with Israel (most likely between Israel and the Muslim world). During his rise to power—propelled by world-wide allegiance because of his amazing reappearance—he will curry the favor of both the elite and the common person … just as he did during his first reign as Roman Emperor…. It’s evident that many segments of society will adore him: the lower and middle class because of any number of sweeping changes he will make for their benefit; but also, celebrity politicians, entrepreneurs, artists, actors, and athletes.

…For the globalists, Nero will unify and consolidate many (but not all) peoples and nations into a world utopia mentality as he almost did for the Roman nobility and masses with his pursuit of the Pax Romana. For the populists and nationalists, he will appear to champion individual rights by promoting personal pride and national identity, as he did with the greater populace of Rome. Before he destroys the Vatican, Nero will conciliate Roman Catholicism with Islam. (Pope Francis is already setting the stage for such an appeasement. See Eye of Prophecy article, The Vatican and Islam … A Perfect Match for Antichrist; posted 6-4-16).

Things to Ponder

Let’s do one last quote from Globalism or Populism

The irreconcilable polarizations are: Good and evil, truth and lies. Though Nero will deceive billions into believing evil is good and his lies are the truth, he will not succeed in merging these opposites together. Good and evil are forever separated by their very definition and essence. The ultimate solution is not coexistence. Only Messiah Jesus—Son of God, Son of David, and Son of Man—can and will eliminate the Satanic opposite of all that is good, and right, and just.

“But then the court will pass judgment, and all his (Antichrist) power will be taken away and completely destroyed. Then the sovereignty, power, and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be given to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will last forever, and all rulers will serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:26-27, parenthesis mine).

“Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, ‘It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah…” (Revelation 12:10).

“In that day, the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place” (Isaiah 11:10).

Will There Still Be Unbelievers Throughout Eternity?

“Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7, NASB, italics for emphasis).

“Breath of life” and “a living being” helps us to better understand and deeply appreciate all of God’s creation, especially his final (6th day) crowning achievement: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27, NASB).

God’s creation of plant and animal life is of dazzling variety and complexity; however, the human race is (using space science terminology) light years above animals. Human attributes of inductive and deductive reasoning; creativity in multiple areas of life, including the arts, sciences, industry; intentional (as opposed to instinctive) love and hate; and paramount of all—language (speech); exceedingly surpass the most intelligent of animals, e.g. dolphin, chimpanzee, elephant.

Though every form of life has a body and (sadly) we humans sometimes act like animals, it’s the intangible that makes all the difference.

It’s the eternal existence of the human soul and spirit that identifies us in the image of God and vastly separates us from the animal kingdom.

To Be or Not to Be … In Heaven (A Revisit)

That is the title of Eye of Prophecy article posted 5-6-17. In italics, the following is an excerpt:

According to Scripture, every person was born (created) to live forever. That is what is meant when God breathed life into Adam (and Eve) and they became a “living soul.” (Genesis 2:7, KJV). Soul, person, being … all convey the idea of infinity, of time without end. That’s one reason we’ve conceived the expression human being. We don’t say that about animals, i.e. animal being.

Shakespeare’s statement of, “To be or not to be; that is the question,” is, indeed, a profound reflection. A living soul will always “be.” To be born is to be, and be, and be….

However, there is a dissimilarity where someone will spend that eternal existence … heaven or hell. Thus, there is a distinction whether a person will experience eternity in life or eternity in death. Indeed, there is an existence of eternal life and the equally clear Biblical teaching of eternal death, which is not an oxymoron. Death means departure—the body from the soul at physical death and subsequent separation from God forever, which is called the second death in Scripture.

We are all born spiritually dead. The only way we can pass from that spiritual death to life is to be born-again, which is accomplished when we believe and receive Christ Jesus, who IS life.

“And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life” (I John 5:11-12).

Although the Right to Life comes from God alone, because God is the author of life itself … God does give each person the right to choose where he or she will spend eternity. Thus, if a person rejects God’s invitation to believe and receive the pardon purchased by Jesus, they have chosen (eternal) death … to remain forever separated from God. But even that death is a continuation of existence. It’s a death-like absence from all that is right and good and beautiful.

The Greatest Hope of Mankind

Can you think of any higher hope of humanity than that of eternal life? It’s a longing not just for a better life, but for one that’s perfect. For the irreligious, I suppose it’s mostly to extend and even enhance the pleasures of this life forever and to eliminate the displeasures! (See Eye of Prophecy article, Fountain of Youth & Fountain of Life … Is There a Difference? (Posted 3-31-18).

Most people on Planet Earth are religious to some extent or another; and every religion has some form and place of ethereal existence. With exception of the Christian faith (which is not a religion, rather a personal relationship with the Triune God), every religion and cult has a common thread: hopefully good deeds will outweigh the bad to qualify the members for their version of paradise. However, each religion also sets itself above and apart from competitive religions by the premise that unless you belong to that belief system, you have essentially no chance of reaching whatever desired afterlife is presumed by its adherents.

As for me, I have staked my eternal destiny on the Omnipotent Triune God—Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and in His Word … the Bible. No other “religion” offers a Savior, who did for me (all of us) what I could not could not do for myself: pay the penalty of my sins to restore me to my Creator and make me right with Him. Furthermore, that Savior, Messiah Jesus, arose from the dead to prove that he is who he said he is.

Moreover, the God of the Bible is the only One who even dares to frequently predict the future; with hundreds of those prophecies coming to pass (100% accuracy) and more awaiting certain fulfillment. Who has performed miracle after miracle to demonstrate that he is the only true and living God. There is a glaring absence of prophecies and miracles (real-life as opposed to mythical) in every religious text, except the Bible.

As is said: What more evidence do we need?

Scripture is replete with precious promises of redemption and a glorious (eternal) life in heaven and the New Jerusalem, for all who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ.

Said Messiah Jesus to his disciples (and for all subsequent believers in him) just hours before his crucifixion and resurrection three days later:

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14:1-3).

Before we explore eternity and answer the question posed by this week’s Eye of Prophecy title, let’s revisit the:

Magnificent Millennium

“Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge…

“Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection (at the Rapture … completed by the resurrection of Tribulation saints). For them the second death (eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire) holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4 & 6, parenthesis mine).

The following is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, The Magnificent Millennial Reign of Believers with Messiah (Posted 7-15-17). In italics:

There will be responsibilities and activities assigned to all believers during the Millennium, yet not all may be judges as such. With our wonderful new spiritual bodies and minds and hearts, there will be no competition or complaints among believers as to who does what in the Kingdom of God on earth. Obviously, The Lord’s delegated duties to his people will be distributed perfectly; for example, like he assigned 72 pairs of disciples to preach the Kingdom of God during his ministry on earth.

In our Millennial reign with Messiah as joint-heirs with him, we will all be priests of God and of Christ as quoted earlier. Indeed, as soon as we are born-again, we are given that privilege while still here on earth. Yet, that is for a short time and our “priesthood” is often limited and sometimes blemished because we are still fighting a spiritual battle with Satan, with the world, and with ourselves … our flesh and sin nature (See Romans Chapter 7).

Not so in the Millennium. Our re-created spiritual bodies in Christ will enable us to praise, worship, and serve the Lord undefiled. But serve him we will, as opposed to the misconception of unbelievers and even some believers that Christians will have nothing better to do than drift along on clouds playing harps! Don’t get me wrong … there will be the most beautiful music imaginable in heaven!

Or the misunderstanding that the Millennium will be absent any human imperfections … things that cause discord and conflict. The first part of the Millennium will be near perfect, as even unbelievers still alive at the end of the Great Tribulation will acknowledge and bow down to Messiah Jesus as King of all kings and Lord of all lords. But slowly and surely, even though Satan will not be able to exert his influence on earth, people will once again rebel against God’s truth, even as Christ Jesus rules from Jerusalem. This will lead to the final battle of the ages, as found in Revelation Chapter 20.

(I’ve posted this picture a few times before, as it is one of, if not my favorite. Notice the people from ages past and present)

That article briefly covered one of Jesus’s many parables, that of investing in the Kingdom of God as found in Luke Chapter 19. I went on to say:

If you are a believer in Messiah Jesus, you will share in his inheritance. Among other things, Jesus has inherited the nations of the earth and will begin his literal rule and reign over them upon his glorious return to Jerusalem.

“People from many nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’ For the Lord’s teachings will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem. The Lord will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore” (Isaiah 2:3-4).

Our King will grant authority to believers—Jews and Gentiles alike—to be his assistants, ambassadors, emissaries, judges, administrators; and, when and where necessary, his disciplinarians (by the best and purest example of tough love) in establishing his extraordinary Divine Monarchy on Planet Earth.

Although under different conditions, a parallel Old Testament precedent is when Moses, “…chose capable men from all over Israel and appointed them as leaders over the people. He put them in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. These men were always available to solve the people’s common disputes. They brought the major cases to Moses, but they took care of the smaller matters themselves” (Exodus 18:25-26).

Where did we read about resolving disputes? Oh yes, Isaiah 2:4: “Settle international disputes.” The really big international disagreements will mostly be arbitrated by Jesus, himself. But there will be a whole planet full of more “common disputes,” that believers will handle. We will even judge angels! (I Corinthians 6:3).

In the greater context of this week’s topic and also concerning the Millennium, please permit one other excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article: Messiah’s Millennial Reign … Incredible Changes on Earth (Published 12-30-17).

When the curse is cancelled at the glorious Second Coming of Christ, even the animals will undergo an extreme makeover. The full nature and extent of these internal (temperament) and external (perhaps fewer or no fangs in predators) changes remain to be seen. The Lord’s magnificent plan of redemption is not only for people who place their personal trust in the Redeemer, but also for the entire earth and all living things. Everything will come full circle back to the beginning … even better!

…Some of this restoration will take place during the Millennium; some not until after the 1,000-year epoch, which is the beginning of what many Bible scholars simply call “Eternity.” Such as:

I then quoted one of those Eternity passages: Revelation 21:1-4, which will be reserved for the latter part of today’s article.

Regarding the renovation of the animal kingdom, listen to this incredible prophecy from Isaiah:

“In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm … for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord” (Isaiah 11:6-9, parenthesis mine).

(One of several lion/lamb pictures, which is still a reliable representation of Isaiah 11; even though the lamb is actually juxtaposed to the wolf in the passage. I believe the reason for the lion/lamb combination is because Messiah Jesus is both the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and the Lion from the tribe of Judah who will return as King of all kings)

The Final (Post-Millennial) Battle on Earth

I (and others) have written much about Armageddon. For example, see Eye of Prophecy article: Armageddon & Messiah’s Return … An Amazing Sequence of Events (2-3-18).

Virtually all unbelievers and even some Christians think that Armageddon is the final war of all time. It is not. There is a Post-Millennial battle, albeit one that is anti-climactic in its conclusion. One that is given only a short passage in Revelation, compared to the lengthy account (several chapters in Revelation and passages in the Old Testament) of the Tribulation turmoil leading to and including Armageddon.

Remember, the devil will be imprisoned in the Abyss for the entire 1,000-year duration of Messiah’s reign. Yet, even during the absence of Satan—the very source and personification of evil—people all over the Globe will once again rebel against God and Messiah Jesus. Which (pathetically) speaks volumes about the self-reliant, self-indulgent, self-righteous defiance of those who refuse to accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord, even though he will have brought unparalleled and unprecedented peace, prosperity, and justice to the earth.

“When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations—called Gog and Magog—in every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle—a mighty army as numberless as sand along the seashore. And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city…” (Revelation 20:7-9a).

Before we examine the last part of verse 9, which abruptly concludes this short passage about the final Gog/Magog campaign (the same emblematic name as found in Ezekiel 38 & 39, but not the same coalition of nations/armies … with time/space not permitting a more detailed explanation), let’s ask the question:

Why and how will Satan “deceive the nations” and “gather them together” one last time?

Answer: Like Armageddon, the same way in which Satan duped even the enemies (kings of the east) of his man of sin—Antichrist and his ten-nation confederation—to join forces against Messiah Jesus who has returned to earth.

“And I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs leap from the mouths of the dragon (Satan), the beast (Antichrist Nero), and the false prophet (identity to be determined during the Tribulation). They are demonic spirits who work miracles and go out to all the rulers of the world to gather them for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty…. And the demonic spirits gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place with the Hebrew name Armageddon” (Revelation 16:13-14 & 16; italics in the text, parenthesis mine).

By the time of Armageddon, the entire world will know beyond any doubt that the supernatural plagues of divine judgment were caused by Almighty God, yet the unsaved will still not repent and turn to the true Messiah, Jesus. Actually, they realize God’s intervention early in the Tribulation …the sixth seal judgment, which is the first catastrophe from God himself.

As follows:

No sensible ruler, general, or army would dare take on Jesus as he descends through the sky on a white horse; along with the host of heaven—believers, also on white horses (Revelation 19). No matter how many millions of troops or how great the firepower, how does anyone do battle with something (Someone) so transcendentally powerful? Unless, that is, they are persuaded to do something irrationally reckless: Attempt to defeat a heavenly King and his army, both of whom are indestructible. When common sense says that they should be waiving a white flag of surrender as they look up to the heavens from the Valley of Megiddo.

This is exactly what the unsaved on earth will consider yet again in their increasingly hardened hearts and convoluted minds, during the last phase of the Millennium. All they need is a little help from their friends. From, “…evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world … from mighty powers in this dark world … evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Satan’s warped deception of unbelievers at Armageddon and then again at the Post-Millennial final battle of all time is that of convincing entire nations and armies that God’s people can be defeated, even though the Son of God is personally (on earth) defending his people.

Think again Satan and those who want to “break their chains from God” (Psalm 2). With a short but not so sweet ending (for the Millennial rebels) here’s what will happen:

“…But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them. Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:9b-10).

That’s the swift and decisive end to the final mutiny of man against the Lord and his people—Jewish and Gentile believers.

Revelation Chapter 20 concludes with the Great White Throne judgment in which all unbelievers will be raised from the dead. Only to be judged for having rejected their only hope of redemption and eternal life … Messiah Jesus; thereby, deliberately choosing to be separated from God—eternal death in the Lake of Fire.

It’s Time for Eternity!

Revelation Chapter 21 begins with what is commonly referred to as: Eternity.

A time of astounding alterations for the better, even more so than during the Millennium. A time of boundless beauty; of tremendous tranquility; of exceptional existence; of a phenomenal paradise; of…. Well, the Bible says it much better and in more detail. With promises that even our imagination can’t keep up with.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:1-2).

The next two verses are equally, if not more stunning. They refer to God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—dwelling in the new Jerusalem (a city which essentially merges heaven and earth … to whatever degree is yet unknown). It will be as is sometimes said about outstandingly good things that we see or experience in this life, yet pale in comparison to what it will truly be throughout eternity: “Heaven on earth.”

Continuing: “…Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people … He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever!” (Revelation 21:3-4).

There’s more!

“And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new! And then he said to me, ‘Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.’ And he also said, ‘It is finished! I am Alpha and Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious (believers, whose victory is that of being redeemed by the blood of Messiah Jesus—Revelation 1) will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children” (Revelation 21:5-7, parenthesis mine).

It doesn’t get any better than that. Right?

“Of course, right!” you reply. Which also has been my response, with one (minor) mystery, but certainly not to the point of worry or doubt. Nonetheless, an enigma which cannot be dismissed as though it’s not in the text. One that confronts us in the very next verse of Revelation 21. However, a puzzle that can be solved with a little dose of spiritual insight.

That paradox is presented in the title of this week’s article:

Will There Still Be Unbelievers Throughout Eternity?

First, you may want to scroll back a few sentences and read Revelation 21:5-7, that ends with: “…and they will be my children.” Let’s pick it up with the next verse:

“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshippers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

If we anticipate that eternity is to be picture perfect in every way including absence of evil, then what about the verse we just read? What about the men and woman whose lifestyle described clearly shows they are not believers? Those who are rejecting life-changing salvation through Messiah Jesus like all those who were judged at the Great White Throne Judgment that had already taken place.

One explanation is that the verse (in fact) refers retroactively to those unbelievers at the Great White Throne judgment in contrast to believers who, as the passage describes: “inherit all the blessings” (of eternity). If this was the last verse in Revelation to describe all those who HAD ALREADY been judged, then this application is feasible. But it’s not the last reference to such people in Revelation. Plus, the factual sequence that Revelation Chapters 21 & 22 depict Eternity, which begins after the White Throne Judgment.

Immediately following Revelation 21:8 (“But cowards, unbelievers…”) John portrays the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-27) in dramatic detail, including its shape and size—1,400 miles in length, width, and height. His description contains one of the most-well known and oft quoted features of the New Jerusalem: “…And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass” (Revelation 21:21 … streets of gold as is said).

John continues: “And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the earth will enter the city in all their glory. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city” (Revelation 21:23-26).

[*Note: The passage says, all the nations. However, several times when the Bible says, “all,” or “every” it is clearly referring to the greater majority. We can understand the difference between all (every single person or nation) and the majority by the context and comparing the text to other similar passages and patterns in Scripture. For example, concerning the Antichrist (Nero): “…And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation” (Revelation 13:7).

We know that doesn’t mean every single person or nation because other Bible passages explicitly explain that Antichrist will have enemies, those that oppose him … on both a personal and national level. Thus, the every in that passage means everyone who yields to him, willingly or unwillingly. When they submit, then he will rule over them.]

This is just one of several passages in Scripture that state directly or strongly imply that the cycle of humanity—birth, life, and death—will continue on this present earth (during the Millennium) and the new earth throughout Eternity.

“Wait a minute!” you say. “Didn’t the Lord tell us that there will be no more sorrow, crying, pain, or death?”

Yes, he did, but with a specific application. I’ll get to that in the closing remarks.

Let’s continue. As we just read: Nations (people of those nations) will still inhabit the earth and (some of) their kings will be permitted entrance to the New Jerusalem. But not all kings will be allowed to enter nor all people “walk in its light.”

How can we draw that conclusion? Answer: From the very next verse.

“Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27). Meaning that unbelievers (the unsaved) will be confined to the earth and not ever allowed to step foot in the New Jerusalem … until or unless they personally acknowledge Messiah Jesus as Lord and Savior.

To reinforce this fact, Revelation distinguishes yet again (for a third time) between the saved and unsaved.

“Blessed are they who wash their robes (analogy for salvation through Messiah Jesus). They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. Outside the city are the dogs (symbolism for the unclean … unsaved)—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshippers, and all who love to live a lie” (Revelation 22:14-15, parenthesis mine).

Remember, all three of these passage that refer to unbelievers take place after the Millennium, when “Eternity” begins. The sequence is unmistakable.

The Lord will continue to allow every person born on (the currently old and then the new) earth to exercise free will—to choose between eternal life or eternal death … the Lake of Fire. Some will choose wrongly.

(The choice between life and death began in the Garden of Eden, continued with God’s chosen people in the above passage, still relevant today and will be extended throughout Eternity)

Does the existence of unbelievers (graphically depicted in the language of these passages, i.e. sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters, etc.) diminish, disturb, or disrupt in any way the exceptional eternal existence of believers (“God’s people” … Revelation 21:3-4)?

Absolutely not.

For one thing, I’m convinced that the number of unbelievers will be few and far between (literally on the earth). It will be just the opposite of today’s world and certainly during the Tribulation in which unbelievers greatly outnumber the Tribulation Saints. To validate that observation, here is the last part of a passage quoted earlier in today’s article: “…so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord” (Isaiah 11:9).

Another reason is that believers will have the freedom to move (live) between the New Jerusalem and the new earth. The “presence” of unbelievers will have no adverse effect, whatsoever, on the heavenly quality of eternal life for believers.

Unlike today’s world, there will be no more war or subjugation of entire peoples and nations by other rulers and nations whose people are ruthlessly wicked. On the contrary, the relatively few unbelievers will be justifiably shamed, shunned, and segregated for all the right reasons of separating evil from good. Satan will be in the Lake of Fire, unable to ever again deceive and galvanize (in demonic ways) these unbelievers together, as he had done for thousands of years on national and international levels… culminating at Armageddon, then one last time at the final Gog/Magog war.

Individually, they will be stigmatized for what they are: foolish, stubborn, and unrepentant—despite the treasures of the purest and perfect life, liberty, and love staring them in the face. Freely given by the source of all light and truth … God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Nor will believers have anything to fear from unbelievers. With our new eternal spiritual bodies, we will be impervious to harm or pain and certainly to death.

Summary

In addition to perpetual free will, another reason the Lord will allow the existence of unbelievers is for contrast. Why loving and following God in all his holiness (truth) and goodness (gracious blessings) is infinitely better than wickedness conceived and practiced by those who want to be completely independent of God.

Also, the Lake of Fire will be a reminder of the terrible fate of those who preferred and will say (literally or in their heart), “I did it my way.” Ever so tragically, they will get their way … what they wished for—nothing to do with (separated from) the Lord.

Lest anyone thinks this is speculation or just one teacher’s opinion, listen to God himself as he speaks (graphically concerning Eternity) in the last three verses of the book of Isaiah:

“As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain, so will you always be my people, with a name that will never disappear, says the Lord. All humanity will come to worship me from week to week and from month to month. And as they go out, they will see the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me. For the worms that devour them will never die, and the fire that burns them will never go out. All who pass by will view them with utter horror” (Isaiah 66:22-24).

Things to Ponder

So, what about, “no more death?”

I’m glad you reminded me!

It’s true, there will be no more death. But for whom? That is the eternal question.

Let’s read the passage again.

“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever’” (Revelation 21:3-4; italics for emphasis).

However—whether now, or during the Millennium, or throughout eternity—once an unbeliever dies there is no second chance of eternal life. There will only be eternal death.

The text is positively plain. This powerful and precious promise from the Lord applies exclusively to his people. It is the consummation of so great a salvation freely given to those who believe and receive Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior … Jew and Gentile alike.

“For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:6-10).

Amen and Hallelujah!