Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Urgent Words of Warning in the Letters to the Seven Churches – Revelation 2-3

It seems as though I am being drawn back again and again to the book of Revelation and especially the letters to the churches. Anyone familiar with me knows that I am expecting the Lord to return to take His family home very soon. The idea of “coincidence” and the signs of the times that have occurred in our times and are becoming increasingly prominent in today’s headlines just doesn’t hold water as I see things. We who claim to be part of the “church,” the body of Christ, need to be examining ourselves in reference to these letters. I believe the churches chosen to receive these letters are representative of the kinds of churches that have existed since it came into being. The words of warning and comfort are meant to challenge and encourage us on our spiritual pilgrimage while here on planet earth.

In my beginning series of blogs on Revelation, I just gave a thumbnail summary of these letters. I now feel the need to address these letters more in depth since the attack from the enemy is getting more aggressive and producing more victories more quickly than I actually thought possible.

We begin with the letter to the church at Ephesus.

Revelation 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

Jesus identifies Himself to the church at Ephesus as the one who “holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” This is a statement that He is the strength and authority behind His messenger to the church. He is aware of and concerned about what is happening in His churches.

Revelation 2:2-3 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

He is aware of their works/deeds/behavior/actions. He knows that they have labored, worked to the point of weariness. They have been patient (endured with hope and cheerfulness). They don’t have anything to do with those that are evil/worthless. They have been very careful to test those who claim to be teaching the truth of God and identify those who were teaching lies. They have endured and been steadfast. They have worked hard and toiled without giving up in honor of the name of Jesus.

Rev. 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Nevertheless--On the other side of the coin, Jesus isn’t happy with them. Why? They have left/laid aside/abandoned their “first love.” “Something can be lost by accident, but leaving is a deliberate act,” David Guzik.

I like this quote from Chuck Missler that really applies to this church—“Don’t be so busy in the business of the King that you have no time for the King.”

My friend Dixie wrote a poignant description of this church. “This church was a wife, but she had forsaken her first love. She had loved Him, but no longer did her eyes light up at the mention of His name. She didn’t want to talk with Him. She didn’t seek to hear His voice. She had no desire to spend time with Him. She didn’t look forward to His appearing. She no longer yearned for intimacy. She was attentive to her duties, but distant to Him. She was a housekeeper, but not His lover. Her work was more important to her than her relationship to Him. She was always busy, but too busy to have time for Him. He didn’t neglect her. He hadn’t forsaken her. He obviously desired a relationship of closeness with her and sought to reestablish it—hence, the letter. He desired an intimacy with her that is described in the Song of Songs which many waters cannot quench and money cannot buy, because both partners value it as invincible and priceless.”

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Deceived by "Miracles"

I want to go back to verses 9-12 of chapter two.

2Th. 2:9-12 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

These verses declare that when Antichrist comes on the scene, he will possess miraculous deceptive powers. I have talked with people who say they will get things right with God if they see the rapture take place. I do believe there will be many who come to saving faith during the last several years on planet earth, but I tend to believe that group will come from those who have not heard a clear presentation of the gospel and rejected it. That belief stems from the wording of these verses. These verses clearly indicate that those have rejected God’s message of truth as recorded in His word and declared by His Son Jesus will be sent a strong delusion to believe the lies of the Antichrist as attested to by his “miracles.”

Scripture is clear in declaring that God is not willing that any should perish and that the sacrifice of Jesus was sufficient for every sinner.

2Pet. 3:9 ¶ The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Rom. 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

1Tim. 2:3-6 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all….

Scripture is also clear that man can come to the point that God gives him over to his sin—He hardens his heart.

Rom. 1:24-26 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections….

2Chr. 30:7-8 And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see. Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the LORD, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.

Psa. 81:11-12 But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels.

Ex. 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.

We cannot question God’s rightness or righteousness in determining to “harden” someone’s heart or “give them over” to their sin. Point is made that they had chosen to reject God, so He is just giving them what they desire. I personally believe that decision is made in God’s omniscience. Scripture is clear that the Lord will not lose one who will come to Him in faith.

John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

This concludes the series from Thessalonians.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Powerful Restrainer

As we move on to Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul is encouraging this body of believers to continue growing spiritually in spite of the persecution and tribulation they are enduring. He reminds them that God will avenge them of their enemies “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels (1:7).” Point is made that these enemies of God will be “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (1:9).”

In light of that truth, Paul again wants to assure the believers that they should not fear having to experience God’s wrath when He pours out His wrath in vengeance on planet earth, the time often referenced in scripture as "the day of the Lord." Paul is very clear in stating that day will not come until the man of sin is revealed, the man more widely known as the Antichrist (2:3). The next verse goes on to say that the Antichrist will oppose and exalt himself above any being that is called “God.” He will even take his position in the temple of God [in Jerusalem] and declare himself to be “God.” I believe this is a direct reference to the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel and subsequently by Jesus.

Dan. 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate….

Dan. 12:11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

Matt. 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place….

Paul then goes on to explain that there is a force that is preventing the revelation of the Antichrist until the time that God has determined (2:6). He then adds that though evil is already at work in this world, “that Wicked” whose coming is “after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” will not be revealed and allowed to rise to power until the restraining force is taken out of the way.

So, how do we identify this restraining force? It is a force that is in direct opposition to the works of Satan and possesses greater power and authority than Satan. According to scripture, that can only be the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that empowers the believer to overcome sin and serve as a restraining force to the world’s domination by “the rulers of the darkness of this world” and “spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

1John 4:3-4 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

Scripture is clear in declaring that every true believer is indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit of God.

John 14:16-17 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

1Cor. 3:16-17 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Eph. 1:12-14 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

In consideration of these promises of God, we know that the Holy Spirit cannot be removed without removing those whom He has sealed. This is a direct reference to the “rapture,” the resurrection/transformation of the saints that Paul wrote about in his first letter to the Thessalonians and to the Corinthians as referenced previously.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It's Not About Me

Even as Paul reminds the Thessalonians that they “know perfectly well that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night (5:2)” and “with sudden destruction (5:3),” he also reminds them that this day cannot overtake them as a thief because they are children of light and not of darkness. In other words, they have been told what to expect in anticipation of this day of the Lord.

Paul reminds these believers that they are not destined to experience God’s wrath; they are set apart to experience God’s salvation, His deliverance from the outpouring of His wrath on planet earth. This truth is a promise that believers should use to comfort and encourage one another (5:11).

It’s natural to question why God would choose to “save” anyone from experiencing this appointed time of wrath. It is because His Son, Jesus Christ, suffered that wrath on behalf of every person who would accept His sacrifice on the cross as the atonement for his/her sin.

1Th. 5:9-10 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

The Greek for sleep in verse 10 is different from that used previously that referenced death; it simply states to sleep. It is used as a contrast to “wake,” the Greek for which references being vigilant or watchful. Paul is affirming that whether the believer is being watchful or not, his/her position in Christ is sure; we will live together with Him. It’s all about what He has done—not what I am doing! Jesus has already suffered God’s wrath to spare those who have placed their faith in Him.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Thief in the Night

Paul goes on to declare that this teaching [of the rapture] should bring every believer great comfort. This truth should be a reason for gathering together in fellowship as we look forward to its fulfillment. It should encourage us to implore others to accept the gospel so as to be able to be part of this great ingathering. We should desire the coming of that day and encourage one another to live so as to be prepared and not ashamed at His coming. It should also be a truth that causes us to approach the Lord in prayer and personal communion regarding how best to serve Him as we look forward to this time of transformation and going to be with our Savior.

Paul reminds the Thessalonian believers that they had been taught that the day of the Lord, the time of God’s wrath, would come like a thief in the night with sudden destruction. He even compares it to a woman who suddenly finds herself overcome by labor pains. Then he states a very important truth.

1Th. 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

I think this is direct reference to the teaching that the Lord gave the disciples as recorded in Matthew 24. Jesus had clearly instructed His disciples regarding the signs that would precede His coming to earth to establish His kingdom. In that discourse He describes the time preceding His coming as one of such tribulation as has never been experienced on planet earth. Paul had been given revelation concerning the deliverance of believers from that time of wrath and had been faithful to instruct the churches accordingly. The key seems to be that the signs will be clear and you should be expecting to be taken home before that time of wrath begins. The beginning of this time of wrath is specifically identified in Revelation.

Rev. 6:12-17 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Rapture as Recorded in Thessalonians

Paul is declaring that when Jesus comes to take us to the place He has prepared for us,…

John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

…we who are still alive will be preceded in our translation from corruptible to incorruptible by the resurrection of the dead in Christ. This transition is more clearly explained in his letter to the Corinthians.

1Cor. 15:51-54 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

In the next section of verses Paul adds even more detail regarding this wonderful time of resurrection.

1Th. 4:16-17 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

The chronological flow as I see it is as follows.

1) The Lord will descend from heaven with:
a) A shout – The Greek indicates a “command.”
b) The voice of the archangel – Michael is the only archangel identified in scripture. He is designated as the “great prince that stands for the nation of Israel.” (Daniel 12:1)
c) The trump of God. – This would seem to reference the voice of God the Father. The voice of the Lord is described as a trumpet in Revelation.

Rev. 1:10-11 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last:

The Greek for the word trump references “a reverberation or vibration as well as a trumpet.” In that regard, it makes me think of thunder, and there are other scriptures that equate the voice of God with thunder.

Job 40:9 Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?
Psa. 29:3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth:

Then again, this could be a special trumpet used by God in announcing His purpose.

2) The dead in Christ shall rise first. – The Greek indicates that the word dead is referencing “a corpse.” In other words, Paul is making it clear that it is our earthly bodies that will be physically resurrected to immortality. This is just as it was with Jesus.

3) We who are alive will be caught up together with them (those who had preceded us in death). – The Greek for “caught up” implies being “seized, taken by force.” This just means that this is according to God’s plan and on His timetable; we have no choice as to the timing or the method.

4) We will meet the Lord in the air. – Notice that the reference is to meeting the Lord “in the air”—not on the earth.

5) So shall we ever be with the Lord. – From that point on we will never be separated from the physical presence of the Lord.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Future Events Recorded in Thessalonians

The Apostle Paul wrote two letters to the Thessalonians primarily addressing events that are yet to happen—the rapture and the pouring out of God’s wrath on planet earth in preparation to establishing Messiah’s Kingdom.

Paul wastes no time in addressing their expectation that Jesus, the resurrected Son of God, would return to deliver believers from “the wrath to come.” In fact, he praises them for the boldness with which they had shared their faith.

1Th. 1:8-10 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

The question stands out, “What wrath to come?” In his letter to the Colossians, Paul clarifies that it will come on the children of disobedience.

Col. 3:6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:

John the Baptist used this phrase in reference to the Lord separating the wheat from the chaff and purging the floor to determine who would enter the kingdom of heaven, the Messiah’s kingdom (Matthew 3:1-12 and Luke 3:1-9). When I was doing my study on the book of Revelation, one of the side studies I did was on the references to God’s wrath in scripture. I am not going to list all the verses here, but I will share some of my observations from that study.

• It is directed toward the wicked, the disobedient, the ungodly, the unrighteous, and the adversaries/enemies of God.
• It’s a time of God’s righteous judgment.
• It’s a time that will cause men to tremble with fear.
• It is a time of God’s vengeance.
• It is a time that some will escape.

These believers were suffering persecution to the point that they thought that the time of God’s wrath had already begun. Paul reminds them that they had been taught to expect tribulation.

1Th. 3:4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.

Paul continues to remind them of the truth they had been taught and encourage them in pursuing a life of faith and obedience. By the middle of chapter 4 it becomes clear that these believers were concerned that those who had died since becoming Christians had missed the rapture.

1Th. 4:13-15 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

The introductory words of this section identify the truth that he is about to teach as one that is very important. Paul doesn’t want anyone to be without knowledge or understanding of this truth. Paul reminds this body of believers that the death of a loved one who has placed faith in Christ should not produce a sense of hopelessness. We have a confident expectation of resurrection to life as evidenced by the resurrection of Jesus. It is at our resurrection that we will be given our glorified bodies. This is when our bodies are changed from mortal to immortal.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Garden of Eden and Jerusalem

As I have continued my journey in the study of scripture, I have begun to be impressed more and more that there is a connection between the Garden of Eden and Jerusalem. I began to reach this conclusion after thinking about why God would have chosen Jerusalem as the one place on planet earth that He would directly connect to His name.

1Kings 11:36 And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there.

When He called Abram, there was a specific place that God promised to give him as a possession for his descendants, the land of Israel. When He tested Abraham’s faith by commanding him to sacrifice his son Isaac, it was on the mount later to be known as the temple mount in Jerusalem. When He sent His only Son Jesus as our Redeemer, He was sacrificed as our Passover lamb in Jerusalem. Over time I began to think that this place was directly associated with God’s purpose for man since creation. And where did He place the first man of His creation? In the Garden of Eden.

It was also interesting to me that Jerusalem seemed to have other circumstantial evidence pertaining to this train of thought. I remember hearing Chuck Missler point out at one time how all language from Jerusalem going East read from right to left, while all languages west of Jerusalem read from left to right. It’s like there are directional arrows pointing toward Jerusalem. Yes, you could choose other places along that longitudinal line, but not from the perspective of the Word of God. Also significant in scripture, is the defining of east, west, north and south as determined from the position of Jerusalem or Israel. There is a quote predominant on the home page of that declares the Jewish tradition that Jerusalem is the center of the world.

"As the navel is set in the centre of the human body, so is the land of Israel the navel of the world...situated in the centre of the world, and Jerusalem in the centre of the land of Israel, and the sanctuary in the centre of Jerusalem, and the holy place in the centre of the sanctuary, and the ark in the centre of the holy place, and the foundation stone before the holy place, because from it the world was founded."
Midrash Tanchuma, Qedoshim.

I also remember a verse standing out to me in my reading of Ezekiel.

Ezek. 5:5 ¶ Thus saith the Lord GOD; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her.

And this verse in Deuteronomy.

Deut. 32:8 When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.

It was like there were several pieces of circumstantial evidence that would support the significance of the location of Jerusalem and the land of Israel.

Much to my surprise I discovered from listening to Jimmy DeYoung recently that he very firmly believes that they occupy the same piece of land. He brought up another piece of scriptural evidence that I had not thought of before. Ezekiel 28 is a passage of scripture concerning the king of Tyre. This “king” is identified as one who had “been in Eden the Garden of God” and was “perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” This is obviously not referencing the human king of Tyre at that time; it was making reference to the spiritual force behind the throne of the earthly king of Tyre, the entity we now identify as Satan. The scripture only records three intelligent beings as dwelling in Eden—Adam, Eve and the serpent. Scripture is clear in identifying the serpent.

Rev. 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan….

In context with the positioning of the king of Tyre in the Garden of Eden, Ezekiel 28 also makes reference to “the holy mountain of God.” In the study of scripture one usually finds that scripture defines itself. As the prophet Daniel is praying on behalf of his people, we find that he makes reference to God’s holy mountain.

Dan. 9:16 O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain….

The prophet Isaiah also identifies Jerusalem using this same terminology.

Is. 66:20 And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD.

This just affirms my belief further that Jerusalem and the Garden of Eden are one and the same in the mind of God. I think the preponderance of the evidence is too significant to overlook.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Coming Kingdom

In chapter 65 the prophet begins to give us a description of the coming kingdom.
• It would seem that no one will die before age 100 and will still be considered a child at that age. (v20)
• Every person will enjoy the fruit of their labor. (v22)
• God will anticipate their every need. (v24)
• Wolf and lamb, lion and calf will dwell in harmony with one another. (v25)

The prophet declares an amazing revelation from God in chapter 66, verse 8. I will again excerpt from my journal.

Is. 66:7-9 Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.

The “she” who travailed is identified as Zion/Jerusalem/Israel in verse 8.

“before” she travailed – The prophet is using the illustration of a woman giving birth to explain his message. Travail in Hebrew means to “writhe in pain.” This is obviously a reference to labor pains. Because of my interest in prophecy, I can’t help but make some connections here. The Lord Himself used the terminology of birth pains in His Olivet Discourse to describe the times that would precede His second coming. Before Jesus could come the second time, He had to come the first time. I believe He was the man child being referenced in verse 7. This same terminology is used in the book of Revelation in reference to His birth.

Rev. 12:5 And she (Israel) brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

Verse 8 seems to jump forward in time to the rebirth of the nation of Israel of which Isaiah has spoken so many times, the time when they will turn in faith and repentance to God and enjoy His blessings for eternity, never to reject Him again. Israel was reborn as a nation in one day through the declaration of the United Nations on May 14, 1948. Since that time the Jewish population in Israel has continued to grow.

“as soon as” Zion travailed – This indicates that labor pains would precede the birth of the nation. In God’s perspective of time, those labor pains could include the whole of their persecution since being dispersed by the Romans. I would tend more to relate that to the gestation period, the time preparing them for birth, and the holocaust of World War II as the actual birth pains.

I like the wording of the New Living Translation for verse 9: Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth and then not deliver it?” asks the LORD. “No! I would never keep this nation from being born,” says your God.

This is all seems to clear to me from a position of hindsight, but I can’t help but wonder what the people of Judah and even Isaiah himself understood this to mean.

This concludes my postings from the prophet Isaiah.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Coming of the King cont. - Isaiah 63

Continuing with chapter 63…To whom is God’s vengeance directed? Another excerpt from my journal.

Is. 63:5-6 And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.

The Lord is still speaking. The Hebrew for the word help was enlightening--to surround, i.e. protect or aid. Uphold means “to prop, stand fast or sustain.” Obviously, it is not the Lord needing help or sustenance; He is amazed that there is no one willing to aid and sustain His people. In His own strength the Lord steps in (as He always does in behalf of those that are His) and saves and sustains His people. (Note: The word me is not in the Hebrew at either point in verse 5.)

Who is the Lord treading down? Those who are His enemies; those who comprise the armies of the Antichrist.

Rev. 19:19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.

“bring down their strength” – Strength is a reference to their blood, according to the Hebrew, and the scripture tells us that the life is in the blood.

Lev. 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

I believe this is the “supper of the great God” referenced in Revelation.

Rev. 19:17-18 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.

Though people may deny it, the truth doesn’t change. Jesus is going to physically return to planet earth to destroy the kingdom of the “god of this world,” Satan, and to establish His eternal kingdom. The words of the Apostle Peter come to mind again.

2Pet. 3:3-9 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.