Thinking on Scripture with Dr. Steven R. Cook

major-bible-themes

Episodes

Saturday Apr 21, 2018

Revelation 21:1-27 Then I saw a new [kainos = new in a qualitative sense] heaven and a new earth [not the first time it is mentioned in Scripture; see Isa. 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13]; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away [been destroyed], and there is no longer any sea [no oceans, but still rivers; cf. Rev. 21:6; 22:1-2].  2 And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem [perhaps what Jesus mentioned in John 14:1-3], coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband [prepared by God].  3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne [of Jesus], saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them [for all eternity], and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes [show of compassion]; and there will no longer be any death [no more separation]; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain [things associated with the present world]; the first things have passed away.”  5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new [He was the first creator; cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16].” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”  6 Then He said to me, “It is done [γίνομαι ginomai – perf/act/ind = i.e. the New Creation is complete]. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost [cf. John 4:10-11].  7 “He who overcomes [by faith in Jesus; see John 6:28-29, 40; 1 John 5:4-5] will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.  8 “But for the [unbelievers whose lives are characterized as] cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death [cf. Rev. 20:11-15].”  9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”  10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God [which is beautiful, like a bride at her wedding], 11 having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like [comparative words] a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.  12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.  13There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west.  14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb [though both are God’s redeemed people, Israel and the church are distinguished in the eternal state].  15 The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall.  16 The city is laid out as a square [like the Sacrificial Altar, the High Priest’s breastplate, and Holy of Holies; Ex. 27:1; 28:16; 2 Chron. 3:8], and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal [would roughly cover an area from Texas to North Dakota and Oklahoma to New York].  17 And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards [216 feet thick], according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.  18 The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.  19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald;  20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.  21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was [made from a] a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.  22 I saw no temple in it [which was used to point people to God], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple [God Himself is personally present all the time].  23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.  24 The [believing] nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it [perhaps multitudes of believers who were born during the millennium and enter into eternity, yet live outside the New Jerusalem].  25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) [perhaps implying we’ll never sleep] its gates will never be closed; 26 and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it [because all unbelievers have been assigned to the Lake of Fire], but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.  Revelation 22:1-21 Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal [without pollution], coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life [First seen in the Garden of Eden, Gen. 2:9; 3:22-24, and later Promised to believers, Rev. 2:7], bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing [qerapei,a - therapeia – healing, care, health] of the nations.  3 There will no longer be any curse [affecting the planet; cf. Gen. 3:17-21]; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; 4 they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.  5 And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.  6 And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place [or happen quickly].  7 “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”  8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things [as a witness]. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things [cf. Rev. 19:10].  9 But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.”  10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.  11 “Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.”  12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done [salvation is by grace / rewards are by works; cf. 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10-11].  13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end [all creation begins and ends with Christ].”  14 Blessed are those [believers] who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.  15 Outside [of paradise] are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying [i.e. all unbelievers].  16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”  17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost [salvation is free to those who want it].  18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book [such activity would indicate unbelief].  20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus [John agrees].  21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. Summary: The new heavens and earth will be the place for the New Jerusalem, which is described in detail. In the eternal state there will be no sickness or death, for the curse will be removed, and believers will fully enjoy the blessings of God.

Saturday Apr 21, 2018

And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it [Christ; cf. John 5:22], from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.  12 And I saw the [unrighteous] dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne [of Christ], and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the [unrighteous] dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds [good works ≠ God’s righteousness, which is given at salvation to those who by faith trust in Jesus as their Savior; cf. Rom. 3:21-28; 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9].  13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them [all unbelievers of all time] according to their deeds.  14 And death [which came into existence in the Garden of Eden] and Hades [the place for the dead] were thrown [together] into the lake of fire. This is the second death [eternal separation], the lake of fire.  15 And if anyone’s name [among all the unbelievers] was not found written in the book of life [and they will not be], he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:11-15) The great white throne judgment is for unbelievers only. The three major judgments stated in Scripture include: Christians before the bema seat in heaven (1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:10). This is a judgment for rewards, not salvation. The judgment of Gentiles (Matt. 25:31-46), both saved and lost. This judgment concerns entrance into the millennial kingdom. The judgment of all unbelievers immediately preceding the eternal state (Rev. 20:11-15).      Believers will not stand before the great white throne because we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, having trusted in Christ alone for salvation (John 3:16; 20:31; Acts 4:12; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5).  Salvation is based on the work of Christ for us (John 10:28), but eternal rewards are based on the works we do for Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:10). The “book of life” reveals if a person has eternal life (Phil. 4:3; Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27). Those who have eternal life will enter heaven and those do not, will not.

Saturday Apr 14, 2018

     At some unknown time in the past Satan rebelled against God and led a host of angels to join to him (Isa. 14:12-14; Ezek. 28:11-18). Subsequently, he seduced Adam and Eve and led them in rebellion against God (Gen. 3:1-7). Satan was judged at that time for his actions (Gen. 3:14-15). Jesus pronounced Satan’s judgment in John 16:11, which judgment was secured at the cross when Christ died for our sins and released us from Satan’s captivity (2 Tim. 2:26; cf. Col. 1:13-14). Satan Cast out of Heaven      Halfway through the seven year Tribulation, there will be war in heaven, and the archangel Michael and his angels cast Satan out of heaven (Rev. 12:7-9). Satan Bound and Cast into the Abyss      Revelation 20:1-3 describes the future binding of Satan in which he is cast into the abyss and incarcerated for a thousand years. The reason for Satan’s imprisonment is that he will not be able to deceive the nations during the reign of Christ. Though Scripture is silent, it is assumed that demons are also incarcerated—or suppressed—during the reign of Christ. The Final Judgment of Satan      Satan is released after the thousand years of incarceration and immediately resumes his old activities of leading rebellion against God (Rev. 20:7-8). Satan and his armies are quickly defeated by God (Rev. 20:9), and he is cast into the Lake of Fire where he will be forever (Rev. 20:10). Apparently the demons are judged as well and assigned to the Lake of Fire with their leader (Matt. 25:41; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 1:6).

Saturday Apr 14, 2018

     The Bible reveals two aspects of God’s rule over His creation. The first is His universal rule in which He sovereignly decrees whatsoever comes to pass and “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11). There are times when God accomplishes His will immediately without the assistance of others (such as in the creation), and other times He chooses to work mediately through creatures, both intelligent (angels and people), and simple (Balaam’s donkey). Concerning God’s universal rule, Scripture reveals, “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all” (Ps. 103:19), and “Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps” (Ps. 135:6). Daniel writes, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth” (Dan 4:34b-35a; cf. 5:21; 1 Chron. 29:11-12).      The second is God’s earthly rule in which He governs through a human mediatorial administrator. The first account of such a rule is found in Genesis where the Lord assigned Adam and Eve to rule over the whole world (Gen. 1:26-28). Theirs was a mediatorial kingdom, which may be defined as “the rule of God through a divinely chosen representative who not only speaks and acts for God but also represents the people before God; a rule which has especial reference to the earth; and having as its mediatorial ruler one who is always a member of the human race.”[1] However, through an act of disobedience (Gen. 3:1-7), Adam and Eve forfeited their rulership to Satan, a fallen angelic creature, who rules through deception (2 Cor. 11:3, 14; Rev 12:9; 20:3, 8), blindness (2 Cor. 4:3-4), and enslavement (Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13). Since the fall of Adam and Eve, Satan has had dominion over this world and is called “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30; 16:1), “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2), and “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4). When tempting Jesus, Satan offered Him “the kingdoms of the world” (Matt. 4:8-9), and they were his to give. However, the Bible also reveals that Satan has been judged (Gen. 3:15; John 16:11), and in the future will be cast out of heaven (Rev. 12:7-9), confined for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3), and eventually cast into the Lake of Fire forever (Rev. 20:10). It must always be remembered that God sovereignly permits Satan a limited form of rulership for a limited period of time, always restraining him and his demonic forces, if they seek to transgress the boundaries He’s established for them (Job. 1:6-12; 2:1-6; Mark 15:1-13; 2 Pet. 2:4).      Subsequent to Adam and Eve, God has worked to reestablish His kingdom on earth through the promises and covenants offered to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3), the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10), the nation Israel (Ex. 19:5-6; Deut. 29:1-29; 30:1-10; Jer. 31:31-33), and king David (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4, 34-37). When Jesus came, He repeatedly offered the earthly kingdom to Israel (Matt. 3:1-2; Matt. 4:17; 10:5-7), a literal kingdom they could physically enter into (Matt. 5:20; 6:10; Luke 19:11; Acts 1:3-6). But they rejected Him and His offer (Mark 15:12-15; John 19:15); therefore, the earthly kingdom was postponed for a future time (Matt. 21:43; cf. Matt. 19:28; 25:31; Luke 22:28-30; Acts 1:3-6; Rev. 20:4-6).      We are currently living in the church age, which will come to an end when the church is raptured to heaven (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Afterward, there will be a period of time known as the Tribulation, which will begin when the Antichrist signs a seven year peace treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:24-27; cf. Revelation chapters 6-18). The time of Tribulation will come to an end when Jesus returns to earth to put down rebellion (Rev. 19:11-21) and establish His kingdom (Matt. 25:31; Rev. 11:15; 20:1-6). After His second coming, Jesus will rule the whole earth, from Jerusalem, on the throne of David (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4, 34-37; Jer. 23:5-6; 33:14-15; Dan. 2:44; 7:14, 27; Matt. 6:10; Luke 1:31-33; cf. Mark 11:9-10), He will rule absolutely with “a rod of iron” (Ps. 2:9; Rev. 19:15), and His reign will be marked by righteousness and peace on the earth (Isa. 11:1-9). Also, we know from Scripture that the earthly kingdom will last a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-6), and afterward will become an eternal kingdom (Dan. 2:44; 7:27; 1 Cor. 15:24). The word millennium is derived from the Latin words mille which means “thousand” and annum which means “year”. The word millennium translates the Greek word χίλιοι chilioi, which occurs six times in Revelation 20:1-6. The millennial kingdom will see Jesus seated on the throne of David, in Jerusalem, ruling over the world. He will rule the nations in righteousness, advocating for the poor and weak, as well as suppressing wickedness and rebellion (Isa. 9:6-7; 11:1-9; Jer. 23:5-6; 33:14-15). Satan will be bound during the reign of Christ (Rev. 20:1-3), and a new worship system will be implemented (see Ezekiel 40-46).   [1] Alva McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom (Winona Lake, Ind. BMH Books, 2009), 41. 

Sunday Apr 08, 2018

"The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He." (Deut. 32:4) "Righteous are You, O LORD, and upright are Your judgments." (Ps. 119:137)      Righteousness and justice are related words. The former speaks of God’s moral character, whereas the latter speaks of the actions that flow out of His character. Whatever God’s righteousness requires, His justice executes; either to approve or reject, to bless or condemn. God is righteous by nature (Deut. 32:4; Ps. 119:137, 142; Isa. 45:21; John 17:25) and in all His ways (Ps. 145:17; Rev. 15:3).       Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ will return to earth after the seven year Tribulation (Acts 1:9-11; Rev. 19:11-21), and when He returns, He will sit on the throne of His earthly kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4, 34-37; Luke 1:31-33; cf. Matt. 19:28; 25:31) and will judge both Jews and Gentiles who opposed Him (Ezek. 20:33-38; Matt. 25:31-46). We know from Scripture that Jesus’ earthly kingdom will last a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-6).

Sunday Apr 08, 2018

     When God originally created Adam and Eve, He created them in His image (Heb. צֶלֶם tselem), to have personality, consciousness, self-consciousness, intellect, volition and emotion (Gen. 2:16-27). God formed Adam’s body from the dust of the earth “and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being [Heb. נֶפֶשׁ nephesh; Grk. ψυχή psuche]” (Gen. 2:7; cf. 1 Cor. 15:45). At that moment Adam became a living being. When Adam sinned through disobedience and brought sin into the human race, he also brought death, both spiritual and physical (Gen. 2:15-17; 3:1-8; Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21-22). Death means separation. Spiritual death refers to separation from God, and physical death refers to the separation of the soul from the body. The unbeliever who is alive on the earth is separated from God in time, and should he continue his entire life rejecting the Gospel message (John 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Eph. 2:8-9), then he will be separated from God for eternity in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15). At physical death, the soul is separated from the body. The body returns to the earth (Gen. 3:19), and the soul returns to God (Ps. 104:29; 146:4; Acts 7:59). Solomon states, “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7).      Death is not the final victor in life. God created the soul to be forever united with the body; therefore, God will resurrect (Grk. ἀνάστασις anastasis) each body that has died and will reunite it with every human soul. It is necessary to distinguish between resuscitation and resurrection. There were times when God raised, or resuscitated, a person back to life, but that person was subject to death, and eventually died again (John 12:9-10). When a person is resurrected, they never die, but live forever (John 11:25-26).       Concerning resurrections in general, Daniel wrote, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt” (Dan 12:1-2). Daniel is writing in general and referring to the resurrection of believers and unbelievers. The resurrection of believers means the body and soul will be reunited and spend eternity with God in heaven. The resurrection of unbelievers means the body and soul will be reunited and spend eternity separated from God in the Lake of Fire. We learn from other biblical passages that there are several resurrections mentioned in the Bible: The resurrection of Jesus (Matt. 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Rev. 1:5).[1] The resurrection of church age believers at the Rapture (1 Cor. 15:51–53; 1 Thess. 4:14–17). The two prophetic witnesses who are killed and resurrected during the Tribulation (Rev. 11:8-11). Old Testament saints (Job 19:25-27; Isa. 26:19; Ezek. 37:12-14; Dan 12:1-2, 13), and Tribulation saints (Rev. 20:4-6), will be resurrected at the beginning of Jesus’ millennial reign. The resurrection of all unbelievers at the end of the Millennium who stand before the Great White Throne before being thrown into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15). Those who are part of the second resurrection partake of the second death (Rev. 20:14).      The apostle John mentions the “first resurrection” (Rev. 20:6). The “first resurrection” actually occurs in several stages starting with Christ, and involves only believers who will live with Christ during His millennial reign and for all eternity (Rev. 20:4-6). It is called “the first resurrection” in the Bible, “not in the sense of being number one or prior to all resurrections, but in the sense that it occurs before the final resurrection, the resurrection of the wicked.”[2] The final resurrection is for unbelievers only who will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, which will occur after the millennial reign of Christ. Charles Ryrie states: "The resurrection of the just is also called the first resurrection and will occur in several stages, not all at once. The dead in Christ will be raised first at the rapture of the church (1 Thess. 4:16). The redeemed of the tribulation period who die during that time will be raised before the millennium (Rev 20:4). The redeemed of Old Testament times will also be a part of the resurrection of the just. Expositors are divided over when they will be raised, some believing that it will happen at the rapture when the church saints are raised, and others holding that it will occur at the second coming (Dan 12:2—the writer prefers the latter view)…all unsaved people of all time will be raised after the millennium to be judged and then cast into the lake of fire forever (Rev 20:11–15). At their resurrection they will apparently be given some sort of bodies that will be able to live forever and feel the effects of the torments of the lake of fire."[3]   [1]Unidentified Old Testament saints were raised after Christ’s resurrection (Matt. 27:50-53). There is some question as to whether these people were resuscitated and died again like Lazarus (John 11:43-44) and Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:52-56), or resurrected, never to die again. [2] John F. Walvoord, Major Bible Prophecies (Grand Rapids: Michigan, Zondervan Publishing, 1991), 379. [3]Charles C. Ryrie, “Resurrections” A survey of Bible doctrine (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1995), 182-183.  

Saturday Mar 24, 2018

     Jesus came into the world once. At His incarnation He added humanity to Himself (John 1:1, 14), walked among men and lived a sinless life (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 John 3:5). At His first coming, He repeatedly offered the earthly Davidic kingdom to Israel (Matt. 4:17, 23; 9:35; 10:7; cf. 2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4, 34-37; Luke 1:31-33), but His offer was rejected by the Jewish leadership and people (Matt. 11:20; Matt. 12:14; 27:22-23), so the kingdom was postponed for a future time (Matt. 21:43). Jesus then went to the cross and died for our sins (John 3:16; Rom. 5:6-8; 1 Pet. 3:18), was buried, and raised again on the third day (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Afterward, Jesus walked with His disciples for forty days after His resurrection and then ascended bodily into heaven as His disciples watched (Acts 1:9). Jesus promised to return again (Matt. 16:27; 19:28; 25:31), and this will happen after the time of Tribulation (Matt. 24:21, 29-30). The return of Christ is praiseworthy news to those who are in heaven and on the earth who love Him and look forward to His coming.  However, it is bad news to those who oppose Him (2 Thess. 1:3-10; Rev. 19:11-21). The major purposes of Jesus’ Second Coming include: Fulfilling Prophecy (Ps. 2:1-12; Isa. 11:1-5; Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 14:1-9; Matt. 19:28; 24:29-30; 25:31; Acts 1:11; 2 Thess. 1:6-10). Judging the world and establishing righteousness (Ps. 96:13; Isa. 9:6-7; Jer. 23:5; Matt. 19:28; 25:31-46; Rev. 20:4; 11-15). Rescuing persecuted believers from the Tribulation (Matt. 24:22). Bringing saved Jews into the Promised Land (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:18; 17:8; Ezek.; 37:21-25; Rom. 11:25-26). Fulfilling the promises of the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 34:25-27; 37:26). Judging the Antichrist and the False Prophet (Rev. 19:20). Casting Satan into the Abyss for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3). Establishing the earthly Davidic kingdom in Jerusalem (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4, 34-37; Luke 1:31-33; cf. Isa. 9:6-7; Jer. 23:5; Dan. 7:13-14; Rev. 20:1-6).

Saturday Mar 24, 2018

     Why the Tribulation? Because Jesus Christ is coming back to earth to set up His millennial kingdom and He must put down rebellion. God’s wrath will destroy the rebellion of: 1) Satan and his angels, 2) unbelieving Israel, and 3) unbelieving Gentiles. At the close of the Tribulation, Satan will be defeated and eventually bound (Rev. 12:7-9; 20:1-3), all unbelievers will be destroyed (Rev. 19:19-21), leaving only believing Jews and Gentiles to enter His kingdom on earth (Rev. 19:19-21; cf. Matt. 24:29-25:46). In spite of all the satanic rebellion in the world during the Tribulation, God remains sovereign and in complete control (Rev. 17:17; cf. Prov. 16:4). He also reveals His love and grace during the time of the Tribulation, which is extended toward: The 144,000 Jews He saves and calls to service (Rev. 7:4-8). The martyrs who have died for their faith in Jesus (Rev. 7:9-17). His two prophetic witnesses whom He resurrects (Rev. 11:11-12). The nations to whom He sends His gospel message (Rev. 14:6-7). Those who enter into His kingdom after the Tribulation (Rev. 20:4-6).      In all the judgments, God is righteous and just, whereas men are wicked and “deserve” wrath (Rev. 16:6-7; cf. 19:2).  Rather than turning to God, the rebellious will: Try to hide and flee from Him (Rev. 6:15-16) Seek a horrible death rather than conform to His will (Rev. 9:6) Not repent of their rebellion (Rev. 9:20-21) Rejoice and celebrate at the death of His servants (Rev. 11:7-10) Side with the Satan (Rev. 13:3-4) Blaspheme and curse God’s name (Rev. 16:8-9, 11, 21) Make war with Jesus Christ (Rev. 19:19) The Tribulation will come to an end when Jesus returns and puts down all rebellion and establishes His millennial kingdom in Israel.

Sunday Mar 18, 2018

     In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus describes the period between His first and second coming (Matt. 13:25-30, 36-40). We know this to be the church age in which we currently live."In general, Matthew 13 speaks of the entire period between the first and second comings of Christ without reference to the rapture or the particulars of the church as the body of Christ. It describes the sphere of profession of faith and the mingled picture of good and evil. The dual development of both good and evil throughout the age, climaxing in judgment and separation, characterizes the period."[1] Dr. Chafer argues there are nine signs given in that section: False Christs (vs. 5) Wars and rumors of wars (vs.6) Famines (vs. 7) Pestilences (vs. 7) Earthquakes (vs. 7) Martyrs (vss. 9-10) False prophets (vs. 11) Abounding iniquity and cooling ardor for Christ (vs. 12) The gospel of the kingdom to be preached in all the world (vs. 14)[2] He also argues there are four additional signs given in 2 Peter chapters 2-3: Denial of the Person and deity of Christ (2:1) Denial of the work of Christ that He bought us when He died on the cross (2:1) Moral apostasy over departure from moral standards (2:2-22) Departure from the doctrine of the second coming of Christ and the judgments related to it (3:1-13)[3]      The rapture of the church will bring the church age to a close. It is at this time that Jesus will call all Christians from the world to heaven (1 Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Thess. 4:13-18), leaving only a professing church behind (i.e. not true Christians such Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other groups who take the name “Christian”). “This event will bring to a close the purpose of God in terms of the church as a separate company of saints, and the departure of the church will set the stage for the major events leading up to the second coming of Christ to the earth to set up His millennial kingdom.”[4] The Period of Preparation      The removal of the church from the world will allow evil to prosper in new ways without restriction. Evil embraces religion, and there will eventually come a worldwide religion described as Babylon the Great in Revelation 17. This will be the time when Israel’s blindness will be removed and many will be saved (Rom. 11:25-26). Like the Jewish apostles who started the church, so there will be Jewish evangelists who will convert many to Christ during the time of the Tribulation (Rev. 7:4-8). It is also during this time that there will emerge a confederation of European nations that will form the basis for a one world government where Antichrist will rule (Dan. 7:7-8). The Period of Peace      The Antichrist will rise to world power and broker a seven year peace treaty with Israel and her surrounding hostile neighbors (Dan. 9:26-27). It is implied in Scripture that the Jewish temple will be rebuilt and animal scarifies will be reinstituted (Dan. 9:27; 2 Thess. 2:3-4). The Period of Persecution      The Antichrist will break the peace treaty with Israel half way through the seven year Tribulation and will take political control of the nations of the world and set up a global economic and religious system which he controls (Rev. 13:7, 16-17). This begins the period of worldwide persecution known as the great Tribulation (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21; Rev. 7:14). During this time the Antichrist will set himself up in the Jewish temple as god (2 Thess. 2:4) and will persecute all who do not worship him (Rev. 13:8, 15). God will pour out great judgments upon the earth and the vast majority of mankind will be destroyed (Revelation chapters 6-18). The troubles of the world will cease only when Christ returns (Rev. 19:11-21).   [1] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 313. [2] Ibid., 313. [3] Ibid., 3:13. [4] Ibid., 314.

Sunday Mar 18, 2018

Israel Past      The history of Israel begins with God who chose the nation to be His representatives from eternity past. Israel was created by God (Isa. 43:1, 15), and He loves them with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:1-3). God chose them because of who He is, not because of any greatness or goodness in them (Deut. 7:6-8). Israel began with a unilateral covenant which God made with Abraham, promising “I will make you a great nation” (Gen. 12:2). The Abrahamic covenant was later expanded with the Land Covenant (Deut. 29:1-29; 30:1-10), the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:14-24), and the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). Though Abraham had children by different women (Sarah, Hagar, and Keturah), the Abrahamic promises were restated only through Isaac (Gen. 17:19-21) and Jacob (Gen. 28:10-15). Because of a crippling encounter with God, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, which means “he who wrestles with God” (Gen. 32:24-30). The sons of Israel (i.e. Jacob) went into captivity in Egypt for four hundred years as God had foretold (Gen. 15:13), and remained there until He called them out through His servants Moses and Aaron (Ex. 3:1-10). God delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage through a series of ten plagues that destroyed Pharaoh and the nation (Exodus chapters 5-14). Then God entered into a bilateral covenant relationship with Israel at Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:1-8), and gave them 613 commands—which comprise the Mosaic Law—and these commands are commonly divided into moral, civil, and ceremonial codes. Israel would know blessing if they obeyed God’s commands (Deut. 28:1-15), and cursing if they did not (Deut. 28:16-68). The nation of Israel remained in the wilderness for forty years while God tested and humbled them (Deut. 8:2-5). After Moses died, God brought the Israelites into the land of Canaan (i.e. the land promised to Abraham) under the leadership of Joshua (Deut. 31:23; Josh. 1:1-9), and there the land was divided, giving a portion to each of the descendants of Jacob. After Joshua died (Josh. 24:29-31), Israel repeatedly fell into idolatry and suffered divine discipline for their rebellion (read Judges). This went on for nearly 300 hundred years as Israel fell into a pattern of idolatry, after which God would send punishment, then the people would cry out to God, Who would relent of His judgment and send a judge to deliver them, then the people would serve God for a time, and then fall back into idolatry. The period of the Judges is marked by people who did not obey the Lord, but “did what was right in their own eyes” (Judg. 17:6; 21:25). Samuel was the last of Israel’s judges, and then the people cried for a king because they wanted to be like the other nations (1 Sam. 8:4-5). God gave them their request (1 Sam. 8:22), and Saul became the first king in Israel (1 Sam. 10:1). Though Saul started well, he quickly turned away from the Lord and would not obey God’s commands. Saul reigned for approximately 40 years and his leadership was basically a failure (1 Sam. 13:1; cf. Acts 13:21). Later, God raised up David to be king in Israel (1 Sam. 16:1-13), and David reigned for 40 years and was an ideal king who followed God and encouraged others to do the same (1 Ki. 2:10-11). God decreed David’s throne would be established forever through one of his descendants (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4), and this is Jesus (Luke 1:31-33). Solomon reigned for 40 years after David (1 Ki. 2:12; 11:42-43), and though He was wise and did many good things (ruled well, built the temple, wrote Scripture, etc.), he eventually turned away from God and worshiped idols (1 Ki. 11:1-10), and the kingdom was divided afterward (1 Ki. 11:11-41). The nation was united under Saul, David, and Solomon.      Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, ruled over the two southern tribes (Judah) and Jeroboam ruled over the ten northern tribes (Israel). Israel—the northern kingdom—had 19 kings throughout its history and all were bad, as they led God’s people into idolatry (i.e. the “sins of Jeroboam” 1 Ki. 16:31; 2 Ki. 3:3; 10:31; 13:2). The ten northern tribes came under divine discipline because of their idolatry and were destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. Judah—the southern kingdom—had 20 kings throughout its history and 8 were good (some more than others), as they obeyed God and led others to do the same (they were committed to the Lord like David, 1 Ki. 15:11). However, Judah repeatedly fell into idolatry—as the 10 northern tribes had done—and were eventually destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The dispersion of Israel was promised by God if they turned away from Him and served other gods (Deut. 28:63-68). Since the destruction by Babylon, Israel has been under Gentile dominance (Luke 21:24; Rom. 11:25). After a temporary regathering under Ezra and Nehemiah, Israel continued under Gentile dominance with the Medes & Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Because of their rejection of Jesus as Messiah, God disciplined Israel again in A.D. 70, and the Jews were scattered all over the world (Jam. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:1). Israel’s current state is one of judgment (Matt. 23:37-39). Israel Present For nearly 1900 years God has faithfully kept His word to disperse Israel because of their idolatry (Deut. 28:63-68) and their rejection of Jesus as Messiah (Matt. 23:37-39). Now, since 1948, Israelites are back in the Promised Land; even though the majority of them are atheists who reject God. This could be a fulfillment of prophecy in which God has regathered His people before the time of the judgment of the Tribulation (Ezek. 20:33-38; 22:17-22; Zeph. 2:1-2). Logically it makes sense that God will regather Israel as a nation (Ezek. 36:22-24) before He regenerates them and gives them a new heart (Ezek. 36:25-28). Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum argues two regatherings of Israel. The first is a regathering of Jews in unbelief, which sets the stage for the Tribulation. The second regathering is in belief, which prepares them for Messiah, who will rule over them during the millennium. "First, there was to be a regathering in unbelief in preparation for judgment, namely the judgment of the Tribulation. This was to be followed by a second worldwide regathering in faith in preparation for blessings, namely the blessings of the messianic age. Once it is recognized that the Bible speaks of two such regatherings, it is easy to see how the present State of Israel fits into prophecy."[1]      As Christians, we are glad to see Jews returning to the Promised Land and support the nation of Israel. This support is by no means a blanket endorsement of all Israel does, for the nation may behave immorally like any other nation. However, we recognize that God is working to set the stage for prophetic events, and that Israel being in the Promised Land is a part of that. Israel Future      Israel has a future hope because of the promises and covenants God made through the patriarchs and prophets (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:18; 17:8; Deut. 30:1-10; 2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:33-37; Jer. 31:31-33). Though unbelieving Israel is currently under divine discipline (Matt. 23:37-39), God’s covenants and promises are still in effect (Rom. 9:1-5), and will remain in force until Jesus returns and is accepted as their Messiah. Once Messiah returns, Israel will possess all of the land that was promised to them (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:17; 17:26), and they will possess it “forever” (Gen. 13:15).[2] In addition to possessing all the land, Israel will benefit from a descendant of David, seated on a throne in Jerusalem, ruling over them forever (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4). This descendant is Jesus Christ (Luke 1:31-33).   [1] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology, Rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1994), 716. [2] Covenant theologians often argue that God has already fulfilled His promise to Abraham that his descendants would possess the land (Josh. 21:43-45; Neh. 9:8). God was faithful to bring Abraham’s descendants into the Promised Land, and though they eventually came to control it under the reign of Solomon (1 Ki. 4:21-24), they did not possess it all, and this seems plain from other biblical passages (Josh. 23:5-7; Judg. 1:21, 27-28). In addition, it was stated in Scripture that Israel would possess the land “forever” (Gen. 13:15; cf. 17:8), and this has not happened. God will, in the future, give Israel possession of all the Promised Land, and they will possess it forever.  

Sunday Mar 04, 2018

"They will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (Luke 21:24)      The word Gentile translates the Hebrew גּוֹי goy and the Greek ἔθνος ethnos. The Hebrew word goy is used in a general sense of any ethnic group of people who reside in a known territory, and so it used to refer the descendants of Abraham (Gen. 12:2; 17:4-6; 21:18), the nation Israel (Ex. 19:6; Ps. 83:4), and others, such as the “Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites” (Deut. 7:1; cf. Josh. 23:13; Judg. 2:21, 23). However, over time, the word Gentile—both in Hebrew and Greek—came to be used in a technical manner of any people group who were not sharers of the covenant promises God made with Israel (Eph. 2:11-12).[1] Biblically, the Gentiles were generally marked by wickedness (Deut. 9:4-5), idolatry (2 Ki. 17:29), and detestable practices such as child sacrifice, divination, and sorcery (Deut. 18:9-10).      The nation of Israel, under the Mosaic Covenant, was promised blessing by God if they obeyed His commands (Deut. 28:1-15), and divine punishment if they did not (Deut. 28:16-68). Over the centuries since their deliverance from Egyptian captivity, Israel repeatedly disobeyed God and accepted the values and practices of the nations around them (Ps. 106:33-40). Eventually, God disciplined His people, using Gentile nations (Ps. 106:41-43), and sent Israel into Babylonian captivity for seventy years (Jer. 25:8-12; cf. Ezek. 12:9-13; 17:20). During the time of the Babylonian captivity God revealed to Daniel that there would be great Gentile kingdoms that would follow Israel’s fall and which would dominate world history (Dan. 2:29-45; cf. 7:1-28). These kingdoms were the Babylonians, Medes & Persians, Greeks, and Romans. However, God would eventually establish His own kingdom on earth, and this was revealed to Daniel as well (Dan. 2:34-35; 44-45).      The Babylonian captivity that occurred in 586 B.C. marks the beginning of what Scripture refers to as “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24; cf. Rom. 11:25), a period of time in which Israel—particularly Jerusalem—will be under Gentile dominance until the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of the seven year Tribulation. “The Times of the Gentiles can best be defined as that long period of time from the Babylonian Empire to the Second Coming of the Messiah during which time the Gentiles have dominance over the City of Jerusalem.”[2] Though God is currently accomplishing His plans in the world through Gentiles, He still has future plans for His people, Israel. This is made clear in several places in Scripture (Rom. 9:1-5; 11:1-2, 5, 25). Jesus stated, “Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). The use of the word until means the dominance of the Gentiles will eventually come to an end, and when it does, God will once again work through the Jews to accomplish His plans in the world.   [1] Though many aspects of God’s covenants refer to Israel alone, the Lord promised that Gentiles would be blessed through Abraham (Gen. 12:3), and this blessing came through Abraham’s descendant, Jesus. The result is that Gentiles who have believed in Jesus as Savior are partakers of the spiritual blessings of God; for Scripture reveals, “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off [from covenantal blessings] have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13; cf. 19-22). [2] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah : A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, Rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 21.

Sunday Mar 04, 2018

     The word Sabbath (שָׁבַת shabath) means to cease or rest. It is recorded in Genesis that God “rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (Gen. 2:2). That is, God ceased His creative activity of the universe, the earth and mankind. God did not obligate anyone to keep the Sabbath as a special day of rest until He formed the nation of Israel after they were delivered from Egyptian bondage (Ex. 16:23-30). The keeping of the Sabbath was a part of the Mosaic Law given to Israel and was to give them rest from their labor (Ex. 20:8-11; cf. Deut. 5:12-14). The Sabbath was a sign of the Mosaic Covenant (Ex. 31:12-17). God pronounced the death penalty upon all who profaned the Sabbath (Ex. 31:14-15; Num. 15:32-36). Biblical violations of the Sabbath included gathering manna (Ex. 16:23-30), kindling a fire in one’s home (Ex. 35:1-3), gathering wood (Num. 15:32-35), carrying a load (Jer. 17:21-22), or engaging in business (Amos 8:4-6; cf. Neh. 13:15-21). Jesus declared “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27); however, over time, Jewish religious leaders invented additional commands for the Sabbath, and it was these additions that made the Sabbath a burden rather than a blessing. As Lord of the Sabbath Jesus declared that acts of necessity and compassion were permitted on the Sabbath (see Matt. 12:10-14; Luke 13:10-17; 14:1-6; John 7:19-24). Jesus kept the Sabbath as the Mosaic Law prescribed, but not according to rabbinic tradition, for which He and His disciples were wrongly attacked (Matt. 12:1-8; John 5:1-9, 16; 9:14-16; Mark 3:1-5; Luke 13:10-17; 14:1-6). The Sabbath was obligatory for Israel alone, and only for the duration of the Mosaic Covenant, which has been replaced with the New Covenant (Heb. 8:6-7, 13). The Sabbath in the Present Church Age      Christians are not under the Mosaic Law (Rom. 6:14), but under the Law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2). God’s commands for Christians living in church age do not obligate us to keep the Sabbath. Christians are warned against setting aside certain days, especially if they think that doing so will merit God’s favor (Gal. 4:9-10). "Following the resurrection of Christ, there is no record in the New Testament that the Sabbath was observed by any believer, even in error. Doubtless the multitude of Judaized Christians did observe the Sabbath; but no record of such observance was permitted to appear in the Word of God. In like manner, following the resurrection of Christ, there is no injunction given to Jew, Gentile, or Christian to observe the Sabbath, nor is Sabbath-breaking once mentioned among the numerous lists of possible sins."[1] Worship on Sunday      We know from Scripture that Christians met on Sunday, the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2), and it’s possible they did this because it marked the day of the Lord’s resurrection. However, there is no divine command found in Scripture that requires us to gather on Sunday; rather, the Christian is free to observe all days alike, as every day is an opportunity to love and serve the Lord (Rom. 14:5-9).   [1] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 290.

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