How To Prepare For The Rapture

As soon as you perceive that the time for the rapture pls do the following in context with Matthew 24 since we must maintain our scriptural foundation.

  1. Locate the nearest mountain, if you are in Nigeria then you are in trouble – “Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains”
    2. Leave your country of residence – “Let those in the city get out”
  2. Be very careful because you may not make it alive – “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you…”
    4. If you are a foreigner don’t return back to your country – “Let those in the country not enter the city”
    5. Make sure you live upstairs – “Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house”
    6. Don’t have children or give birth to one – “How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!”
    7. Pray it happens in the summer – “Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.”
    8. Make sure you are a farmer that can abandon his crops – “Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak.”
    9. Don’t attend any marriage ceremony or organize one – “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage…

But most important you have to predate your human existence back almost 2,000 years from now because Jesus said it will happen;

“ Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” (Matthew 24)

 

According to my good friend Jordan Hardgrave this part of his blog will help.

 

Look in Luke’s account at one of the last examples Jesus uses to prepare his followers for the soon coming judgement.

“On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:31-32)

 

What happened to Lot’s wife?

Genesis 19:22-26

“By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land.But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”

 

Jesus is following the same train of thought the entire narrative. He is giving them a warning about the consequences of going back to or remaining inJerusalem when it was destroyed, and uses Lot’s wife looking back as Sodom and Gomorrah was being destroyed and turning into a pillar of salt as a warning that the same thing would happen to them if they also looked back.

 

Now that we have this understanding, let’s finally look at these verses and I think you will see with perfect clarity what Jesus is saying.

“Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.”(Matt. 24:40-41)

Let’s use Lot and his wife as an example of two people who were in a field, one taken and one was left.

Lot’s wife looked back and was “taken”, because instead of continuing to run away from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as she was instructed, she looked back, and was taken/destroyed by the fires of destruction.

Lot was “Left behind”, was spared, and continued to live.

Lot did not look back, he kept fleeing when Sodom and Gomorrah was being destroyed, Lot’s wife did not.

“These verses are describing a RESPONSE NOT a rapture EVENT.”

These verses are describing a response that two different people will have once they observed the signs.

 

I hope that by now you would have put everything in place to make the rapture according to Matthew 24. Like they say it could happen any moment even now. Be sure to have your kit in place or better study for yourself and realize that this place was not addressed to you. You are the first century Jewish Christian who needed to escape Jerusalem before the great fall of the city and temple in AD70.

 

Identifying The Second Horseman In The Book Of Revelation

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder,“Come!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword. – Revelation 6 (NIV)

 

In my precious blog I explained how the book of Revelation is more like an expanded form of the prophecy found in Matthew 24 but in more prophetic language. This chapter in particular gives a rundown of how the judgment would take place.

 

The first four seals the lamb opens are the four horsemen, and each is released from heaven to usher in various judgments on the land translated as earth. Strong’s defines the Greek word the (ge) means contracted from a primary word; soil; by extension a region, or the solid part or the whole of the terrene globe (including the occupants in each application):–country, earth(-ly), ground, land, world.

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon also defines it “a country, land enclosed within fixed boundaries, a tract of land, territory, region”

 

Now we will examine the second rider and its horse.

 

Now it will be worthy to note that in Matthew 24 that Jesus also gives a sequence with regards to fulfillment of those events that shaped the end of the old covenant age.

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. (Matthew 24 NKJV)

It is of no surprise that after the first rider, the next rider comes with a sword to take away peace. Wars and rumors of wars confirm the sequence of events.

The word “nation” here is the Greek word ethnos, which means, a race.

Did the disciples see nation rising against nation? Yes! Josephus writes that , “At Caesarea in AD 59 the Jews and Syrians contended about the right to the city, and twenty thousand Jews were slain.” At Scythopolis, over 13,000 Jews were killed.

 

Thousands were killed in other places, and at Alexandria 50,000 were killed. At Damascus, 10,000 were killed in an hour’s time. Jesus is speaking about the conflicts between Gentiles and Jews, which began to take place shortly after this time, and continued to the beginning of the great Jewish war with the Romans.

 

It is remarkable how these events fit into the timeframe that Jesus and how largely in the church many are unaware of them.

 

According to historical records, in the fall/winter of 67 AD a brutal civil war broke out in Jerusalem and Judea between the revolutionaries and those who wanted to maintain peace with Rome. Jerusalem was eventually divided into three factions led by [1] Eleazar, the leader of the Zealots [2] John of Gischala, who was over the Galileans, and [3] Simon, who was over the Idumeans. It remained this way until the city and temple was destroyed.

 

The Jewish people lived under terrible conditions. In one night 8500 people were killed, and their bodies were cast outside of Jerusalem without being buried. The outer temple was “overflowing with blood” and the inner court even had pools of blood in it. It was a massacre!

 

Steve Gregg, in his book “Revelation: Four Views (A Parallel Commentary),” quotes from J. Stuart Russell, who stated in (p. 106),

The Jewish war, under Vespasian, commenced at the furthest distance from Jerusalem in Galilee, and gradually drew nearer and nearer to the doomed city. The Romans were not the only agents in the work of slaughter that depopulated the land; hostile factions among the Jews themselves turned their arms against one another, so that it might be said that “every man’s hand was against his brother.”

 

These were the sights Jesus could see in his foresight while on earth. He saw that the people would be thrown into a sea of blood knowing that majority would reject the covering of the new covenant.

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” – Luke 19

It is indeed a sad thing to look into history and see how those events played and realize that it was something that which was preventable if they had embrace the new covenant. They rather preferred to hold on to the old covenant and its system of worship.

 

What is personally disturbing for me is to see modern end-time preachers preach that these horsemen are still coming forth in our time. They keep putting the prophecies of Revelation of out context to justify their uncanny abilities to stream together bible passages and tie them to modern news events.

 

In our generation we have witnessed conflicts and wars in various places and at various times. We have seen terrorist activities take place that has left some at loss in the wake of the disaster and it cannot be dismissed. The only problem is then taking these events into our timeline and declaring the nearing end of the world.

 

Our Lord’s prophecy was in relation to the end of that Jewish age which the disciples questioned him about. The presence of God’s kingdom has actually being finding expression though some have not realized some truth in this regard. We will experience the glory of the kingdom and peace will eventually reign over the earth.

 

 

 

 

Identifying The First Horseman In The Book Of Revelation

Some few years back I had written on Identifying the third horsemen in the book of Revelation as a response to a question asked by someone. You can read it here. I thought of covering the full scope of the prophecy by writing on the other horsemen.

So I am starting with the first horsemen in the blog post.

“I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.” – Revelation 6

Revelation 6, Jesus will showing John the vision of things to happen soon in the first century opened the seven seals of judgment. This was to begin a period of Tribulation period upon the land. When is the period of tribulation? Will it be the year 2019 or something still in the future?

For us to accept a present time or future period will be not see the bible through in complete narration.

Look at what Jesus told his disciple earlier before his ascension.

15 “So when YOU SEE standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’[a] spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—16 then let THOSE WHO ARE IN JUDEA FLEE TO THE MOUNTAINS. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the SABBATH. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I HAVE TOLD YOU ahead of time.

(Matthew 24)

Note the capitalized words. It is very who the audience of the prophecy is for and hence the need for them to be equipped with the information that will be beneficial when those turbulent moments arose.
If it were our time, how would a Nigerian flee to the mountains? How would an American hope that it didn’t occur during Sabbath when he doesn’t observe it?

Mark the last word quoted “See, I HAVE TOLD YOU ahead of time

Something was to unleashed upon the land of Israel as a form of judgment for rejecting their covenant partner and holding on to an obsolete system of worship was doomed to thrown away.

The book of Revelation is more like an expanded form of the prophecy found in Matthew 24 but in more prophetic language. Chapter gives you a rundown of how the judgment would take place.

The first four seals the lamb opens are the four horsemen, and each is released from heaven to usher in various judgments on the land translated as earth. Strong’s defines the Greek word the (ge) means contracted from a primary word; soil; by extension a region, or the solid part or the whole of the terrene globe (including the occupants in each application):–country, earth(-ly), ground, land, world.

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon also defines it “a country, land enclosed within fixed boundaries, a tract of land, territory, region”

In Matthew 27:45 you will see the word used in local application “over all the land unto the ninth hour.” This was when Jesus hung on the cross. The darkness was not all over the earth but that local region.

The White Horse
“And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.

Adam Maarschalk in his blog on Revelation 6 notes;

“The command “Come!” appears three more times, at the end of verses 3, 5, and 7. This command was not given to John four times, but to each of the characters mentioned in verses 2, 4, 5, and 8. We will notice, as each of the first four seals are opened, that Jesus is the One who opens them, but each of the four living creatures in turn calls forth some individual to execute judgment.”

The first of the four horsemen was given a crown and riding off in conquest. This horseman riding the white horse into battle is, also brought forth in Revelation 19:11-16. In Revelation 19:16 He is called the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” In both place this rider on the white horse is the Jesus Christ, time he appears in judgment theme and motif.

The fact that Jesus is depicted riding a horse while carrying a bow calls mirrors Habakkuk 3.
O LORD, were You displeased with the rivers,
Was Your anger against the rivers,
Was Your wrath against the sea,
That You rode on Your horses,
Your chariots of salvation?
9 Your bow was made quite ready;
Oaths were sworn over Your arrows. Selah

In Habakkuk 3 the Lord is represented coming on the clouds in judgment riding horses (v. 8) and carrying a bow (v. 9). This sight appeals to the Jewish mind as the presence of God when He rides on the clouds of heaven in the midst of the Glory Cloud (Psalm 18:14).

This horseman is said to be a “conqueror bent on conquest.” The Greek word translated conquest in v. 2 is the same word used in the letters to the seven churches translated overcoming and conquering (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). Revelation 3:21 reads, “He who conquers, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My Throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on His Throne.”

Jesus is again revealed as a conqueror in Revelation 5:5: “The Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered so as to open the Book.”

The saints were likewise expected to be on this conquest in the overthrow of that dark old age and system that enslaved people from true worship. Hence the promise of the saints sitting with him in his reign in the full manifestation of His kingdom.

This first seal judgment was fulfilled in early February 67 AD when Rome officially declared war on Israel, and Nero formally commissioned Vespasian as his general to lead the war to crush the Jewish rebellion. This took place 3.5 years before Jerusalem’s downfall in August 70 AD.

This was the essence; the declaration of the end of the age and that old world where darkness reigned. The Lord’s judgment began with the events that saw the countdown.

The following horsemen all show forth the results of this declaration which was the beginning of the tribulation period.

We are definitely not expecting this to happen in our time. This is rather a look back at how prophecy was fulfilled in proving the contents of the Bible and Jesus to be true and faithful.

See you in the next installment as we will examine further fulfillment of the prophecy in Revelation 6.

Credits:
Revelation Chapter 6 (Part 1) – Adam Maarschalk: September 3, 2009
https://adammaarschalk.com/2009/09/04/revelation-chapter-6-part-1/

Amazing Revelation of President Trump in the Bible? Surely Not

In a recent episode of Sid Roth’s “It supernatural” Michael Brown stood in as the anchor and Jonathan Cahn, author of the Harbinger was featured. President Trump was the highlight of Bible prophecy being fulfilled in our time.

 

This is the link to article with video: https://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/videos/amazing-revelation-of-president-trump-in-the-bible.aspx

He recently published a book titled “The Paradigm” . he explains everything that is happening to the USA is a repeat of history in mystery. He drew comparisons with Israel and the US knowing God, turning away from God, promoting immorality and lifting children as sacrifices to Baal. He explains further that there is a particular time that apostasy accelerates that the leaders begin to uphold evil over good. He believes strongly America stands currently at that point.

 

He points out that at that point the “Paradigm” becomes specific with dates. He draws comparison with Bill Clinton with Ahab in shared nature of evil acts. He sites Clinton as the first president to champion abortion. Then draws in his scandal too as a common link. He even goes specific to the point of stating that both Ahab and Bill Clinton spends the same number of days in political office/rule; 22 years.

 

At this point he is able to stun his audience with this thread of information. He seems to be going somewhere with these pieces of evidence from historical records. He is postulating that God is sending a prophetic warning concerning judgment for America, Israel and the whole world.

 

There’s a lot that he strings together in the pivotal events that occurs during the reign of former US president Bill Clinton. They eventually come to the conclusion that “The Paradigm” actually predicts President Trump and current events in the states.

 

He further says that Trump is the anti-type of Jehu, the warrior. He runs with craze to the throne. They both agreed that the personality of Jehu fits Trump in his characteristic demeanor. They call Trump “God’s wrecking ball” to fight against “Jezebel” who likened to be “Hilary Clinton”. The emergence of President Trump in the US elections that saw the defeat of Hilary Clinton was for them bible “paradigm” repeated.

 

Finally Jonathan states that as with the time of Jehu when he went to the city’s capital that the temple of Baal was fallen. In Trump’s rise the actual temple of Baal in the middle east fell too. At this point, one would become like “Is God saying here”

 

TV programs like this go a long way to show the research skills of people who can use the Bible to peddle their idea of the significance of events. The problem is that there are issues with these kinds of eisegesis.

 

Is there truth in any of these?

Firstly we have to admit and come to know that the USA is not in covenant with God as with Israel and as such is not a “godly” nation. Unfortunately all the old testament terms and conditions for blessings was only upon Israel. It is quite strange to bring in the outdated covenant that God has with Israel and draw it only to the United states of America.

 

Making America God’s covenanted nation must be quite an abuse to Christians in other countries who would just as much like it if God made a special deal with them. The reality is that no nation on the planet today has a covenant foothold with God. He doesn’t play favouritism with people much less nations.

 

What is also most important to note is that God is even done with that system of recognition. The cross symbolizes that God destroyed the law that was a wall of partition preventing other people, non-jews from having access to God. The events leading to AD70 proved God final decision in ending a system where one nation or tribe would stand as the centre of the universe. Hence the new creation, the man in Christ was born and he alone embodies the covenanted relationship with God. It is not nations but people.

 

While the historical events seems common, we may find out that there are many other events in many other places that could be drawn in such ways to demonstrate “repeat patterns”. The focus is not for us to draw on the mystery of dates but unearth the mysteries of the goodness of God as revealed in Jesus and keep projecting the future by the agenda of the kingdom of God here on earth.

 

If we always have to go back to the old testament to look for patterns to see the future, we will take our eyes of Jesus and build things based on shadows and not substance. There are certain possibilities that the future holds as the kingdom gathers momentum in revelation and knowledge. Our responsibilities is to keep our eyes open to that what the Spirit is showing us in the face of Jesus and speak forth His pronouncements over our nations and communities.

 

The church is not keep being occupied by the mysteries of the old covenant but feed on the glorious revelation of Jesus to project life and hope to our world.

 

What are your thoughts?

 

 

 

No More Slaves But Sons

One of the most difficult concepts that the Jewish leaders gave serious resistance was the idea of sonship that Jesus professed. It was one of the major reasons why they wanted him to be crucified. For a man to claim sonship with God was too high and close to a relationship with the highest being, who was far away in dignity too holy for a man to lay claim to.

This was one of the major highlights in the epistles of Paul. The book of Galatians is filled with the idea of sonship all over as he was determined to keep the church on track in journey to unveil her true identity. Certain people had crept in to drag the body of Christ back into the Mosaic law. It is identical to stripping people of their true nature into a form of worship that placed man outside the scope of family, which is one of the pillars of the faith.

In Galatians 4:5-8 Paul explains;

to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[a] Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[b] Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces[c]? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

 

The word “redeem,” comes from the common terminology of Paul’s day. It goes back to the marketplace where slaves were regularly sold. It literally means: “to buy out of the marketplace” or “to ransom from slavery.” The slave had no way of personal deliverance in this case. He was held in bondage, hoping that someone might redeem him. Redemption involved a price and a person to pay the price.

Then he says

“That we might receive the adoption as sons” – The word “adoption,” found here and in Romans 8:15, 23; 9:4 and Ephesians 1:5, is compounded of two words: “sons” and “placing”; so that we may take it as signifying the act or ceremony of placing the sons of God in the position appropriate to that high and holy relationship and of investing them with the honor, wealth, and glory, which is the good pleasure of the Father to give them.

Adoption was defined by Roman law and widely practiced in Roman life. Several Roman emperors adopted men not related to them by blood in order to give them their office and authority. When a son was adopted, he was in all legal respects equal with those born into his new family. He had the same name, the same inheritance, the same position, and the same rights as the natural-born sons. God sent His Son, who by his divine nature was the Son of God, in order that we, who are not His children by nature, might be His children by adoption and thus receive the full rights of sons. We have the same name, the same inheritance, the same position, and the same rights as the one who is Son of God by virtue of his divine nature.

In Romans 8 Paul talks about adoption there:

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again;rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry, “Abba,[b] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” – Romans 8:15-16 (NIV)

Paul tells the Romans that they had “received a spirit of adoption.” Young’s literal translation reads, “Ye did receive a spirit of adoption.” But notice:

In Galatians 4:6 (NASB) he says

“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

With this verse Paul broadens his reference to the benefits of sonship which belong to the believers. The change from first person (we) to second person (you) shows that the adoption received by those under law (v. 5) was also received by the Non-Jewish audience.

Then he says to the church at Galatia, “And because you are sons” – how did they become sons? The only answer is faith:

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith” – Galatians 3:26

Now, since the Galatians had believed in Jesus Christ, crucified for their sin (Galatians 3:1), they were “sons of God.” And being sons, God had sent forth the Spirit of His Son into their hearts. This means that every believer, every son of God, has the Spirit of His Son within him. In fact, Paul states this in:

 

“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” – Romans 8:9

Then, we see in Galatians 4:6 the outcome of God’s Spirit in our hearts. It is in the words “crying, Abba, Father.” The participle “crying” is grammatically tied to the word “Spirit,” so that it is the Spirit who does the “crying.” But the point is that He utters this cry within our hearts so that we understand not that God is the Spirit’s Father, but rather, ours. In other words, the first ministry to us that the Spirit performs after regeneration is faith – He assures us that God has become to us “Abba.”

 

“Abba” is an Aramaic word for father. Significantly, the only other place in the Bible where “Abba, Father” appears is in Mark 14. On the eve of His crucifixion, the Lord was deeply troubled in the garden of Gethsemane. He prayed:

 

That the Lord addressed His Father, “Abba, Father” in His moment of deep distress reveals that “Abba, Father” is an expression of the greatest intimacy between father and son. It is an expression of total dependence on the Father.

The word Abba appears in certain legal texts of the Mishna as a designation used by grown children in claiming the inheritance of their deceased father. As a word of address, Abba is not so much associated with infancy as it is with intimacy.

 

As Paul puts it in Romans 8, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” – I believe He does this by giving us faith. He gives us the ability to trust in God, to depend upon God. As our new Father, we look to Him to meet our every need.

 

Galatians 4:7 (NASB) Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

 

Because we are sons, we are heirs. We are heirs only through “Christ.” We are not the cause of our birth into the family of God. Christ is. Sons don’t work for the inheritance, they are born into it.

 

Today realize that everything you ever need in life has been provided by the Father and He has brought you into His family. Don’t go about thinking that you have to produce “High spiritual performance” for God to bless you with the best things in life. He has already provided everything and brought you in to enjoy all He has.

 

Know that He is delighted just like every good earthly father to see his children live off his goodness. He didn’t call you to come and work for him, you were called into a life of abundance. You are a joint heir with Christ. If you don’t know you will live like one under the law where all you expect God’s blessings based on how good that you can be.

 

God’s goodness towards you is based on how good He is and not how good you can be. As a son you have a right to expect the best things in life because your heavenly Father has got you covered in His plans and purposes. Don’t let anyone cheat you into thinking that you have to prove yourself because God can be favourably disposed towards you. You are His delight! Celebrate in that revelation. You are a Son!

 

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

 

 

The Rainbow: God’s Color Of Grace

After the floods of judgment receded in Noah’s time God gave a promise to Him and it was represented by a rainbow.

God told Noah
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
– Genesis 9:8-12

I had always wondered what the rainbow signified growing up as a Christian. Until the revelations of God’s grace began to flood my heart I started to receive and learn of the true nature of God. This has led me through various moments of awe in really getting to know how has employed every means to express His love towards man even from the Old Testament. Jesus came and gave us full dose because he was the brightness of the glory of the Father.

It you take note what the scripture above says that Rainbow was a sign of the covenant.
The Hebrew word for rainbow is qesheth which means an archer’s bow. I discovered that in ancient times that when a warrior wants to surrender that if he is an archer that he turns his facing as an act of peace or peace.

God’s promise to Noah was symbolized by Him surrendering his tool of judgment for His peace guarantee the covenant.

The rainbow is a bow, yet without arrows, and is not turned downwards towards the earth, but upwards towards heaven. It is a picture of heaven receiving the judgment for sin that righteousness would be imparted towards the man in various shades of colours. This is the picture of the New covenant.

As Bible scholar John Gill states concerning the rainbow, “as it has in it a variety of beautiful colors, it may represent Christ, who is full of grace and truth, and fairer than the children of men; and may be considered as a symbol of peace and reconciliation by him, whom God looks unto, and remembers the covenant of his grace he has made with him and his chosen ones in him; and who is the rainbow round about the throne of God, and the way of access unto it.” *

The rainbow was picture and type of Jesus in the Old testament. It is a covenant of grace. God surrendered not because He is weak and defeated but He wants His mercy to prevail so that His goodness will lead us to Him.

Another interesting thing about the rainbow is the fact that is colorful. This makes it a beauty to behold. But there is more to it than the colours because of what it represents.
Peter said in 1 Peter 4:10:

“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

Peter used the word “manifold” in describing the grace of God. The Greek word for manifold is “poikilos”. The word can also be translated as “divers”, as in “divers kinds of tongues”, used to describe the many different dialects of tongues that can be spoken.
In this verse he speaks of every Christian receiving the gift of grace, and how each one is then responsible to minister that grace to one another, “as good stewards of the manifold grace of God”. Now, it is God’s grace that is colorful, that manifests in different people as they minister to many different cultures and situations.

Many times people limit God and His grace, placing Him within the box of our religion, culture, our race, our status, our denomination, etc. His grace is so beyond our ability to fathom, and beyond our ability to use up. The finished work of the cross provides for every single need and God parcels out His grace not according to man’s worth, but according to His love.

When John had a revelation of heaven, he saw something that further enlightens the heart of the true nature of God.

“Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3 And He who sat there was[a] like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.” – Revelation 4:2,3

God decorated His throne with the rainbow and not with tools of war to exact judgment. He garnished his office with a hung-up bow to let you know that you can come boldly to Him without fear or reservation. We don’t find a ledger or calendar of sins on his wall but the sign of the covenant of His peace. Halleluyah!

Isaiah prophesied of our times he said in Isaiah 54:8-10:

“In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,” Says the LORD your Redeemer. 9″For this is like the days of Noah to Me, When I swore that the waters of Noah Would not flood the earth again; So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you Nor will I rebuke you. 10″For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the LORD who has compassion on you”.

Jesus came and fulfilled all of the demands of the law and voluntarily laid down His life as the perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world. God’s anger plunged into the heart of His Son, He was propitiated, or satisfied and we no longer have to see Him as “The angry God”.
This new covenant is just like the waters of Noah where His covenant of peace will not be shaken. You are eternally secure in Him and He has nothing against you.

God’s rainbow represented a covenant of promise to Noah. God’s rainbow of grace still hangs in heaven and it now represents the covenant promise between Father and Son. You are in Christ, so His colorful grace is in you.

Footnotes:
John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, adapted from Online Bible

 

Photo by Jared Erondu on Unsplash

The Goodnews About Hell Pt. 3

I was doing my research on when the church actually embraced the doctrine of eternal conscious torment seeing the shocking translations of the words, Hades, Sheol and Gehenna. I found a fantastic article that in my own estimation couldn’t have been a better compilation of facts well research without any form of bias.
Please remember that I am not using this medium to draw any conclusions for you. This is for those who are open hearted. This is to stir us up to study, not for disputes.
This article was put together by the guys at Brazen Church. Though most of it was contributed by Julie Ferwerda.
Enjoy!
The Irony of “Orthodoxy”
When you begin to study Church history you quickly realize that “orthodox Christianity” is an oxymoron. Merriam Webster defines orthodox as, “conforming to established doctrine, especially in religion.”[i] You might also hear it defined as “right doctrine.”
Orthodox suggests that there are certain truths and doctrines that have always been peacefully and consensually agreed upon, accepted by the majority of “people like us” throughout all the centuries. And as the story goes, various groups of “heretics” have attempted to tamper with this “right doctrine” throughout history, only to fail miserably as the truth remained undiluted over the centuries.
These are the assumptions many of us grew up believing. We were handed an absolute narrative, told that it has withstood the test of time, and invited nicely to never question it ever… or else. Mainstream Christianity wants us to think there has always been a harmonious consensus, and those who question are not simply disagreeing with their pastor… oh no! 
You are going against 2,000 years of what “those who follow the Spirit of God” have always believed and accepted as truth.
While tradition and orthodoxy have been instrumental in preserving certain truths — and indeed, there is a profound beauty to be found in sacramental liturgy — the reality is that for centuries, Christian Orthodoxy preserved itself through fear and control, opting to protect it’s doctrinal “truth” through the active suppression of opposing ideas.
What’s particularly ironic is that the modern Evangelical Church tries hard to distance itself from the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church while the core of it’s theology comes directly out of the councils, doctrines, and creeds established by the early Roman Catholic and Latin Church.
The truth is that since the very beginning, Church history has been rife with unrest, conflict, and even bloodshed — primarily over matters of establishing orthodoxy. And with today’s easy access to the annals of Church history, it’s time for us churchgoers to rethink the myth of orthodoxy, and begin re-evaluating what we’ve been taught.
For instance, many Christians insist that if you question hell, you are rejecting what has always been agreed upon by the Church, yet the doctrine of eternal torment was not a widely held view for the first five centuries after Christ, particularly in the early Eastern Church, the Church of the early apostles and Church fathers such as Paul, Clement of Alexandria, St. Gregory of Nyssa, Origen, and others.
What we do see during this time is the expansion and proliferation of pagan myths about the afterlife, which were then repackaged as eternal, fiery torment in the Western (Catholic) Church, primarily by Latin theologians and Church leaders from Rome. It seems this was most likely motivated by political expediency. The idea of eternal torment was a prime tool for controlling the average churchgoer with fear and was congruent with secular mythologies of the time. Later, pop culture added fuel to the fire (pun intended) through imaginative works like Dante’s Inferno.
That Awkward Moment Eternity Slipped In
The invasion of Hell into Church doctrine ultimately starts with the invasion of “eternity”. Words like “eternity, eternal, everlasting, etc” don’t truly exist in scripture. Rather, these words are all derived from the root word Aión which means “an Age” or “Eon”.
Take a phrase like aionas ton aionon. This phrase shows up several times in the Greek New Testament (Romans 20:10, for example) and has been traditionally translated as “forever and ever”.
But here’s the problem. Aión means “Age”, not “forever”. And even worse, tonmeans “of”, NOT “and”. For example, Abraham was the father of (ton) Isaac. ALL THREE WORDS of this phrase are completely mistranslated. What it actually says is “Ages of the Ages”.
We see this root word Aión every time we see “eternal”, “eternity”, “forever”, “everlasting”, etc. All of these words revolve around the concept of Ages.
So why are we telling you this?
Because “Ages” played a crucial role in the way early Church fathers viewed life. It was a highly significant paradigm to how they viewed God, this life, the afterlife, etc.
Due to the history of the Biblical text and the numerous influences in its popular translations, we’ve been left with a very Plato-esque focus on this concept called eternity. But that was not the paradigm of the “orthodox” church until St. Augustine, a student of Plato, funneled Christian doctrine through Plato’s teachings of the “eternal soul”.
Plato made several philosophical arguments that have ironically come to define our mainstream Christian paradigms.
1. First, Plato believed that the soul was separate from the body and that the soul was fundamentally pure but tends to become deformed through association with the body.
2. Second, like his teacher Socrates, Plato believed that the soul itself was immortal, thus necessitating an eternal destination for the soul after the body dies.
3. Third, Plato proposed that good actions result in a reward in this life, but more importantly, a greater reward after death. Similarly, bad actions result in consequences in this life, but even greater punishment after death.
Plato linked some of his ideas to prevailing Greek mythology, including the locations of Hades and Tartarus. In Greek mythology, Tartarus is the location deep below Hades where the Titans were enslaved and the wicked were tormented. According to Plato, this is where divine punishment was meted out.
It is of this philosopher that St. Augustine remarked,
“The utterance of Plato, the most pure and bright in all philosophy, scattering the clouds of error . . .”
These ideas proposed by Plato are not from the Bible. They are Greek philosophy. BUT we have spent centuries reading them into the Biblical text and even translating the Biblical text through their lens.
But if we go back before the time of Augustine, we find 5 centuries of Church fathers who never carried this lens.
How Hell Invaded Church Doctrine.
The big point we are building up to here is that the early church fathers DID NOT believe in eternal torment. We aren’t talking about the first guy or two post-Paul. We are talking about the first 5 centuries after Christ.
Let me repeat that, just so we are clear.
Eternal torment was not a pillar of church doctrine for the first 5 centuries after Christ.
Dr. Ken Vincent, retired psychology professor from Houston Community College, and author of over one hundred books in the fields of psychology and religion, notes:
The first person to write about “eternal hell” was the Latin (West) North African Tertullian (160–220 A.D.), who is considered the Father of the Latin Church. As most people reason, hell is a place for people you don’t like! Tertullian fantasized that not only the wicked would be in hell but also every philosopher and theologian who ever argued with him! He envisioned a time when he would look down from heaven at those people in hell and laugh with glee! [ii]
Out of the six theological schools in Tertullian’s day and beyond (170–430 A.D.), the only school that taught the doctrine of eternal torment or hell to its students was the Latin (Roman) school in Carthage, Africa. Four of the other five taught that, through the death and resurrection of Christ, all people would be saved through restorative judgment and reconciliation in a plan of Ages.[iii] This teaching was called, “Universal Salvation” or “Universal Reconciliation.” Dr. Vincent says,
By far, the main person responsible for making hell eternal in the Western Church was St. Augustine (354–430 CE). Augustine…was made Bishop of Hippo in North Africa. He did not know Greek, had tried to study it, but stated that he hated it. Sadly, it is his misunderstanding of Greek that cemented the concept of eternal hell in the Western Church. Augustine not only said that hell was eternal for the wicked, but also for anyone who wasn’t a Christian. So complete was his concept of God’s exclusion of non-Christians that he considered un-baptized babies as damned. When these babies died, 
Augustine softened slightly to declare that they would be sent to the “upper level” of hell. Augustine is also the inventor of the concept of “hell Lite,” also known as Purgatory, which he developed to accommodate some of the universalist verses in the Bible. Augustine acknowledged the Universalists, whom he called “tender-hearted,” and included them among the “orthodox.”[iv]
Not only was Augustine somewhat the champion of the hell doctrine in the Western Church, he also had a major influence on the onset of religious bigotry and hate campaigns in the following centuries.
In the 1907 book, Lives of the Fathers: Sketches of Church History in Biography,written by Frederick D. Farrar, who was Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen of England, we read about Augustine:
The advocacy of hell came primarily on the scene with Augustine: In no other respect did Augustine differ more widely from Origen and the Alexandrians [Eastern Church] than in his intolerant spirit. Even Tertullian conceded to all the right of opinion.
[Augustine] was the first in the long line of Christian persecutors, and illustrates the character of the theology that swayed him in the wicked spirit that impelled him to advocate the right to persecute Christians who differ from those in power. The dark pages that bear the record of subsequent centuries are a damning witness to the cruel spirit that actuated Christians, and the cruel theology that impelled it.
Augustine was the first and ablest asserter of the principle which led to Albigensian crusades, Spanish armadas, Netherland’s butcheries, St. Bartholomew massacres, the accursed infamies of the Inquisition, the vile espionage, the hideous bale fires of Seville and Smithfield, the racks, the gibbets, the thumbscrews, and the subterranean torture-chambers used by churchly torturers.[v]
Samuel Dawson, author of, The Teaching of Jesus: From Mount Sinai to Gehenna a Faithful Rabbi Urgently Warns Rebellious Israel, says:
Most of what we believe about hell comes from Catholicism and ignorance of the Old Testament, not from the Bible. I now believe that hell is the invention of Roman Catholicism; and surprisingly, most, if not all, of our popular concepts of hell can be found in the writings of Roman Catholic writers like the Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), author of Dante’s Inferno. The English poet John Milton (1608–1674), author of Paradise Lost, set forth the same concepts in a fashion highly acceptable to the Roman Catholic faith. Yet none of our concepts of hell can be found in the teaching of Jesus Christ![vi]
Following on the heels of Augustine, the greatest influence on today’s hell theology via most modern Bible translations came from Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. Jerome translated this tainted version of the Scriptures from a very inferior Latin text in the late 4th century:
For over a thousand years (c. AD 400–1530), the Vulgate was the definitive edition of the most influential text in Western European society. Indeed, for most Western Christians, it was the only version of the Bible ever encountered. The Vulgate’s influence throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance into the Early Modern Period is even greater than that of the King James Version in English; for Christians during these times the phraseology and wording of the Vulgate permeated all areas of the culture.[vii]
What was the problem with Jerome’s Bible? It was heavily influenced by Latin hell-inventing theologians like Tertullian and Augustine.
When you realize that the hell doctrine was so late in being adopted by the Church (and hence, Scriptures), the poorly constructed walls of orthodoxy begin to crumble. It was several hundred years after Jesus and the apostles that men began formulating many of these new Church doctrines and creeds, many still a part of Evangelical Christian orthodoxy to this day.
Had our old English Bibles been translated directly out of the Greek instead of Latin, it’s very probable that the doctrine of eternal torment would never have found its way into our modern Bibles and theology at all. Many of these doctrines were strong-armed into the Church through major dissension and even bloodshed, with intolerant, oppressive Church leaders insisting that they were “led by the Spirit” on such matters.
The Afterlife According To Gregory
While we’ve been telling you a lot about what early fathers didn’t believe, I think it would be helpful for us to look at what some of them did believe.
We are going to look briefly at St. Gregory of Nyssa, who lived from 335 to 395 AD. In addition to being canonized, St. Gregory served as the Bishop of Nyssa and is known for his significant contributions to both the doctrine of the Trinity and the Nicene creed.
In other words, this guy is one of the founding fathers of church orthodoxy. If you aren’t aware, the Nicene creed serves to this day as the universal statement of faith for not only the Catholic church, but most anyone who would call themselves “Christians”.
St. Gregory DID NOT believe in eternal torment. But let’s not stop there. What he DID believe in was universal salvation — that all would ultimately be reconciled to God.
For it is evident that God will in truth be all in all when there shall be no evil in existence, when every created being is at harmony with itself and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; when every creature shall have been made one body.
St. Gregory, like many in his day, believed that we were on a progression through the ages, where at the end of the Age, those who had purged themselves of evil in this life would enter into the blessedness of the Age to Come, while those who hadn’t would be passed through cleansing fire, after which they would also enter into that same blessedness.
Whoever considers the divine power will plainly perceive that it is able at length to restore by means of the aionion purging and atoning sufferings, those who have gone even to this extremity of wickedness.
And in another quote:
Wherefore, that at the same time liberty of free-will should be left to nature and yet the evil be purged away, the wisdom of God discovered this plan; to suffer man to do what he would, that having tasted the evil which he desired, and learning by experience for what wretchedness he had bartered away the blessings he had, he might of his own will hasten back with desire to the first blessedness …either being purged in this life through prayer and discipline, or after his departure hence through the furnace of cleansing fire.
In other words, St. Gregory is saying that God gave us free will, so that in tasting evil, we would realize how wretched it is and hasten back into a righteous state of blessedness — or as we might say here at Brazen Church, hasten into the abundant life Jesus came to show us — and that this hastening to blessedness will come either in this life, through prayer and discipline, or in the life to come, by passing through cleansing fire.
This isn’t a renegade theologian firing shots at Christendom thousands of years into orthodoxy.
This is a FOUNDER of orthodoxy. This is a man responsible for forging the unifying statement of faith for all of Christianity. This is a man who attended the first ever council of the Church in Nicaea.
And THIS MAN, this founder of the faith, not only shows no traces of a belief in Hell — He actually believed ALL WOULD BE SAVED. And while not all of his contemporaries shared his belief that all would be saved, the opposing belief was that the wicked would be destroyed… NOT tormented forever.
Conclusion
It shocks me to hear people argue that the doctrine of Hell has been the definitive belief of Christendom since the days of the New Testament. Such a claim demonstrates a fundamental ignorance of Church history and is a testament to how extensively St. Augustine’s doctrine influenced the orthodox church.
The idea of eternal torment comes primarily from Greek thought — a merging of mythology and the ramification of belief in an immortal soul.
For 5 centuries, Christian doctrine remained unaffected by Hell until St. Augustine forcibly inserted it into orthodoxy, using a combination of power and violence to ensure it’s survival. Since that time, we’ve seen the gradual evolution of Christian doctrine in and around this concept, until today, the average believer has no idea that the concept of eternal torment isn’t even Biblical.
This doctrine of Hell has been used for centuries to control the masses with fear. Today, it prevents the world, both Christian and non-Christian alike, from seeing a loving Father.
A Christianity with Hell is a Christianity that must inherently be full of fear, and yet 1 John 4:18 tells us:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
So there you have it. Pls take your own time to do your own research to confirm if the above is true. Let your heart guide into the truth about the nature of Father with a balanced view of the revelation that the scriptures provide.
Sources
You can read more on their articles refuting the hell doctrine here

Endtime prophet claim the Rapture is coming April 23

I stumbled upon one article and claim from a Christian numerologist with “strong convictions” that the rapture has come close to occur.

The prophet by name David Meade informed the U.K.’s Daily Express newspaper that on April 23, the sun and moon will be in Virgo, as will Jupiter, which represents the Messiah.

 

He sites his claim from his interpretation of Revelation 12:1–2. He believes that it describes the beginning of what is known as the Rapture and the second coming of Christ.

Now this is what that passage reads;

“And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.”

The first sign of the Zodiac is known best by her Latin name Virgo—the Virgin, a young maiden holding a leafy branch and/or a small sheaf of grain. In the Mazzaroth, the Hebrew name of this constellation is Bethulah, which also means: “Virgin, and she holds a branch in her hand.”

In the passage, the woman is represented as Virgo so according to Meade, the alignment represents “the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” marking the Rapture, the belief that Christ will bring the faithful into paradise prior to a period of tribulation on earth that precedes the end of time.

Meade said he believes the so-called Planet X, which is also known as Nibiru, will appear above the sky on the April date, causing volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and earthquakes.

Off course NASA repeatedly debunked such claims as they have done with so many failed endtimes predictions stating that the said Planet X is a hoax.

Speaking to the Express, Meade described it as “a unique once-in-a-century sign exactly as depicted in the 12th chapter of Revelation. This is our time marker.”

I believe that this will just fall among the statistics of another failed predictions.

John’s revelation here is another brilliant piece that underscore how the Jews saw and communicated concepts. They believed that the signs of the Zodiac was the handwriting of God communicating his plans and purposes.

Notice that place in Revelation that John says, “a great sign appeared in heaven.” The word John uses for sign was the term used in the ancient world to describe the constellations of the Zodiac. John’s model for this vision of the Church is the constellation of Virgo which does have a “crown” of twelve stars.

All of the twelve stars are visible ones that could have been seen by observers. It seem likely that the twelve stars also represent the twelve signs of the Zodiac, from ancient times regarded as symbols of the twelve tribes of Israel; in Joseph’s famous dream his father, mother, and the twelve tribes were symbolized by the sun, the moon, and twelve stars of constellations (Gen. 37:9). So this is quite with the Hebrews back in the days.

That vision was a replay on the birth of Christ.

In his book The Birth of Christ Recalculated, Ernest Martin says, “In the period of Christ’s birth, the Sun entered the head-position of the Woman about August 13, and exited from her feet about October 2. But John saw the scene when the sun “clothes” or “adorns” the Woman. This surely indicates that the position of the Sun in the vision was located somewhere mid-bodied of the Woman—between the neck and knees. “The only time in the year that the Sun could be in position to “clothe” this celestial Woman (to be mid-bodied) is when it was located about 150 and 170 degrees along the ecliptic. This clothing of the Woman by the Sun occurs for a 20 day period each year. This 20 degree spread could indicate the general time when Christ was born. In 3 B.C., the Sun would have entered this celestial region about August 27 and exited from it about September 15.

If John, in the book of Revelation, is associating the birth of Christ with the period when the Sun is mid-bodied to the Woman, then Christ would have had to be born within that 20 day period. From the point of view of the Magi (who were astronomers), this would have been the only logical sign under which the Jewish Messiah might be born—especially if He were to be born of a virgin. Even today, astrologers recognize that the sign of Virgo is the one which has reference to a messianic world ruler to be born of a virgin.

The birth of Jesus the Messiah was one of the striking and intriguing events of human history. God had the handwriting on the walls of the skies for ages past and wise men who could read travelled all the way to the location of his birth.

None of this connects to a future rapture of the church. The following verse where the dragon wanted to attack the child gives full support to the events that saw Herod kill all children below the age of 2 years.

True believers only one message. It is the message of hope and joy to the world based on the redemptive work of Jesus for all men. We don’t have the mandate to speak of forth coming destructions and catastrophes.

Ours is a message of grace.

Grace to you.

I will glad to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

 

Atonement and Jesus Finished Work

One of Israel’s annual feast was known as Yom Kippur. The theme of the feast is centered on atonement. It was a day that atonement was made for the priest and his family, the community, the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting, and the altar. It was a solemn day.

It was only on that particular and singular day of the year that the high priest was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple and stand before the presence of God’s glory.

The author of Hebrew highlights this:

Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. Hebrews 9:6-7 NASB

The Ark was the most significant object in Old Covenant worship. When the high priest approached the ark with blood, he was fulfilling something that was representative of Christ finished work. When the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled on the mercy seat, the glory of God appeared.

 

The purpose for the Ark of the Covenant was to symbolize God’s visible throne on earth. It was like heaven on earth. His manifest presence would dwell in a cloud between the wings of the cherubim above the Mercy Seat. It was also from there that he would commune with Moses and the high priest who heard His voice from between the wings of the cherubim (Num. 7:89)

 

“You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you. “There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel. Exodus 25:21-22 NASB

 

The cloud that sat on the Ark typified the presence of God. The Ark of the Covenant symbolized God’s visible presence on earth.

 

Interestingly during the lifetime of Jesus on earth, when the priest went into the Holy of Holies the room was empty. The ark of the covenant was not there, and neither was God’s presence. The ark went missing at some point in Israel’s history.

 

The climax came when Jesus died on the cross.

 

Do you remember what happened in the Temple on the day of Passover?

And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Mark 15:38 NASB

When the temple veil was rent in two it exposed the fact of the empty vain worship that had been going on for 400 years. The Holy of Holies was empty. Jesus spoke about this with the woman at the well. He spoke about the coming of the true worshippers. The presence of God no longer resided in the Temple. A new body was to host his presence and that is the body of Christ.

On the 14th of Nisan, the day of the Passover sacrifice Jesus fulfilled Passover as the real lamb of God who was cut off from Israel as he surrendered himself to death as a sacrifice for sin. In doing so atonement was now no longer achieved through the two goats as offered at Yom Kippur.

Unlike Temple sacrifices or the Yom Kippur events where sin is only covered over for a time, the Messianic sacrifice came with the promise of forgiveness of sins through grace given by God. This was a one time event for each person’s lifetime and not a continual series of annual observances and animal sacrifices.

The Day of Atonement speaks of blood sacrifice. Blood sacrifice was centrally tied to the sin issue. The substitutionary death of an innocent lamb was required, since an atonement (covering) for sin was to be made only through the blood:

 

‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’ Leviticus 17:11 NASB

The Old Covenant was just a forerunner of something greater, a type and shadow that stood as a provisional measure until the fullness of time when God would institute the New Covenant. The author of Hebrews says the “law made nothing perfect,” “it was only a shadow,” and it had many faults. It only covered sin, it didn’t take sin away!

Jesus fulfilled the anti-type of Atonement as the High Priest and the sacrifice!

 

The New Covenant is far superior to the Old Covenant in that it affords true forgiveness and cleansing from sin. Atonement means to cover. It does not pay for or do away with; it covers. That means that is still there but behind the scene.

There is no atonement (covering) for sin under the New Covenant. There is no need for one. The sin issue was settled at Calvary. The Messiah was not our atonement– He did away with our atonement. To say we have an atonement, is really inaccurate and is never taught in the New Covenant. Jesus has reconciled us to God. He no longer covers our sins, He takes them away:

 

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 NASB

The Old Covenant was a shadow of good things to come. The New Covenant is the substance. Under the Old Covenant, the payment for sin was anticipated; under the New Covenant, it is realized! Under the Old Covenant, the sacrifices were provisional and recurring. Under the New Covenant, the sacrifice of Jesus is eternal and totally sufficient. Under the Old Covenant, men’s lambs could only cover sin, but under the New Covenant, the lamb of God took away sin!

There is no blood sacrifice, no Temple, no priesthood, and no adherence to the Levitical protocols. Christ has been offered as a sacrifice for sin. His is the only sacrifice for sin today. His sacrifice has ensured that the essence of atonement has been fulfilled; We are the delight of the Father and that we have been reinstituted into a kind of life that exists without the sting of sin and pangs of death.

There is nothing that we could have done to achieve this new state. This is John says:

“…He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” 1 John 2:2b

 

No amount of self-punishment or crying can atone for sin. Jesus finished work has done more than atonement. It was a dealt blow to sin. Now we have the victory. In this new creation truly old things have passed away including “Atonement”

The Good News About Hell Pt. 2

Like I stated in the first post in this series, the word “Hell” cannot be found in the scriptures but from the KJV’s rendition of the words and some other older English translations. Sheol, Hades, Gehenna and Tartarus which have a different meanings was conveyed as a place of eternal torment with full consciousness.

 

The English language is often very limited when trying to express certain concepts and they get lost in translation. A perfect Biblical example of this is the multiple Greek words translated to the single English word “Love”.

 

Definitions are very important. We cannot assume a theory or doctrine on what cannot be properly defined.

Agape is a special version of love that speaks about God’s love toward humanity. Phileo speaks about brotherly love and Eros refers to sexual love or desire.

Just like the sample above with “love”, the English word “hell” is unilaterally translated from the Greek and Hebrew words Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus, each of which have different meanings.

 

Now let’s look into some actual words with original language renderings with their root words.

  1. Sheol (H7585)
    שׁאל שׁאול
    she’ôl she’ôl
    sheh-ole’, sheh-ole’

From H7592; hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranian retreat), including its accessories and inmates: – grave, hell, pit.

  1. Hades (G86)
    ᾅδης
    hadēs
    hah’-dace

From G1 (as a negative particle) and G1492; properly unseen, that is, “Hades” or the place (state) of departed souls: – grave, hell.

  1. Gehenna (G1067)
    γέεννα
    geenna
    gheh’-en-nah
    Of Hebrew origin ([H1516] and [H2011]); valley of (the son of) Hinnom; gehenna (or Ge-Hinnom), a valley of Jerusalem
  2. Tartarus (G5020)
    ταρταρόω
    tartaroō
    tar-tar-o’-o

From Τάρταρος Tartaros̄ (the deepest abyss of Hades); to incarcerate in eternal torment: – cast down to hell.

For our study today in this blog we will have a closer look at the word use for Gehnna using scriptures in the New testament.

Using the NASB, we see 13 references:
Matthew 5:22 – Gehenna
Matthew 5:29 – Gehenna
Matthew 5:30 – Gehenna
Matthew 10:28 – Gehenna
Matthew 18:9 – Gehenna
Matthew 23:15 – Gehenna
Matthew 23:33 – Gehenna
Mark 9:43 – Gehenna
Mark 9:45 – Gehenna
Mark 9:47 – Gehenna
Luke 12:5 – Gehenna
James 3:6 – Gehenna
2 Peter 2:4 – Tartarus

 

You will notice then that the full conversation of “Hell” comes down to 12 Gehenna mentions and 1 mention of Tartarus.

Tartarus is not a normal Greek word. Like Hades, it’s the name of a place/person in Greek mythology, appearing in writing 700 years before Christ as part of the Greek poet Hesiod’s Theogony. It denotes a dark place below even Hades, and accordingly, is the only one of our 4 words to have “eternal” torment inherently linked to it.

I personally don’t think it is sufficient to use Greek mythology to defend our views of God and his operational standards. Due to the history of the Biblical text and the numerous influences in its popular translations, we’ve been given a very Plato-esque focus on this concept called eternity.

 

Interestingly 2 Peter 2:4 isn’t talking about people. It’s talking about where God sent fallen angels. Many people have used to state that men would also join angels in eternal judgment in the pangs of burning fire.

GEHENNA – A HISTORIC PLACE OF PERPETUAL BURNING
Gehenna accounts for 12 of the 13 Hell mentions, and most importantly, it comprises 100% of Jesus’ alleged references to “Hell”.

So what is Gehenna?
It’s a valley. A literal valley. A physical, geographic location. It’s known as The Valley of Hinom. The section of this valley referred to as “Gehenna” was well known throughout Israel as an evil and dark place, used for a variety of evil acts throughout Israel’s history. In the time of Hosea, we see the account of the rebellious Israelites. It was there they committed child sacrifice there to honor the pagan god Molech (Molek), as seen in 2 Chron 28:3.

“Moreover, he burned incense in the valley of Ben-hinnom and burned his sons in fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had driven out before the sons of Israel.”

 

Later, in 2 Kings 23:10, it says that King Josiah “desecrated Topheth, which was in the Valley of Hinnom, so no one could use it to sacrifice their son or daughter in the fire to Molek.”

This valley was known as a place of fiery torture and sacrifices to honor pagan gods. When King Josiah burned down the evil altars, the location remained a site for burning pagan artifacts as the country was purged of idolatry. As time went on and there were no more idols to burn, some accounts suggest the people of Jerusalem began dumping and burning their trash in the valley.

 

When Jesus refers to Gehenna as “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” in Mark 9, he is making a clear connection to the valley’s historic past, using the language of Isaiah 66:

“And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”

 

That very place on its own was speaking about a forth coming judgment. So Jesus used the very words that would resonate in the minds of the average Jew.

 

When we look at Israel’s history, we see times when Gehenna was described literally a place of perpetual fire. We see a dump filled with so many bodies that the worms would never die from lack of sustenance. The valley contained so much trash, thrown out from the besieged city’s walls, that the bodies would burn perpetually without end.

 

Having settled on the historical background of Gehenna, let’s look at what Jesus says about this place.

Matthew 5:30 “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell (Gehenna).”

Remember that dead bodies were literally thrown into this dump during the time of Isaiah and would be again just 40 years after Jesus spoke these words, when the Romans besieged and destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. Jesus was not addressing the afterlife, he is using a well-known landmark to illustrate how significant the judgment of rejection of the Messiah would lead them to.

Jesus is literally saying that cutting off your hand will be less damaging to your life than loosing your entire life and risk being thrown out of the kingdom. The disciples indeed experienced this firsthand in the severe persecution that broke out post AD30.

Jesus used the most disgusting location in Jerusalem to illustrate how miserable their lives would end up being shut out of the kingdom. The path to destruction was paved by the fabrics of self-righteousness. The cursed fig tree symbolized that very well.

 

This same concept presents itself in the only non-Gospel use of Gehenna, used by James in James 3:6,

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell (Gehenna).

 

Does this look familiar? “Evil from one body part corrupts the whole body.

Jesus’ same teaching on cutting off body parts accounts for 6 of our 12 Gospel mentions of Gehenna due to the story being repeated several times in the Gospels. The James reference gives us a 7th

Jesus used Gehenna in another place to make a point.

In Matthew 23:15 we see Jesus refer to the Pharisees as “Children of Gehenna” and later in verse 33, queries, “how will you escape being condemned to Gehenna?”

This place serves to handily solidify the argument for Jesus referencing literal Gehenna as a meaningful symbol of judgment.

The Pharisees were the epitiome of self-righteousness. They closely followed every part of the Law and made a continuous presentation of their cleanliness and piousness. You can imagine the irony Jesus comes and calls them children of the sewer – telling them that for all their pomp and circumstance, their own “righteousness” won’t be enough to save them from the dung heap. That alone was a slap on the face.

Some of those listening to him definitely and eventually experienced what he said when their own dead bodies was dumped into the burning place as Jerusalem itself became Gehenna during the Roman siege that was ahead of them.

In John 8, the Pharisees responded to Jesus’ teaching by boasting that they were sons of Abraham. They took pride in their lineage, and here is Jesus calling them children of the dung heap.

That’s our 8th and 9th Gehenna references. John the Baptist warned them a time was upon them when their claim to the lineage would not help them. He said that there was a wrath to come and that the fire would consume every tree that doesn’t bring forth good fruits.

The 10th and 11th Gehenna references are found in Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:5, where Jesus says:
“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”

 

If you read Matthew 10:28 out of context, you’ll end up insecure and anxious. But read this verse in context and you’ll end up secure and confident of your Father’s great love.
Matthew 10:7-8 and Luke 21 gives us a complete picture to look at.

 

Now I am going to lay it the way that Paul Ellis narrates the summary in one of his blog post on Matthew 10:28.

He writes…

  • Go out and reveal the kingdom by healing the sick and driving out demons (Matt 10:7-8).
    • But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Lu 12:1). Those guys have the key to knowledge but have not used it to help themselves or others enter the kingdom. Woe to them!
    • Since you’re going to be sheep among wolves, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves (Mat 10:16).
    • Understand that you will face opposition. You may even be persecuted and tortured (Matt 10:17).
    • If these men have persecuted the head of the house (i.e., me) how much more will they persecute the members of his house (Matt 10:25).
    • But don’t be afraid of these men because a day of reckoning is coming when their hypocrisy will be exposed for the sham it is (Matt 10:26).
    • Ha – you want to know who to be afraid of? It’s not these clowns who can only hurt your bodies. There is One far scarier than these guys – One who is able to destroy both body and soul (Mat 10:28).
    • That scary One is your Father who loves you and cares for you (Mat 10:29).
    • As you encounter the opposition of wicked men, remember that Almighty God is for you and will vindicate you. So don’t be afraid (Mat 10:30).
    • Jesus is not sending a mixed message to his disciples. He is not saying be afraid and don’t be afraid. There is no fear in love. Rather, he’s putting persecution into perspective.
    But someone may still ask “What about the destroying of the body and soul in Gehenna (not hell)?
    Let’s look at that word “destroy”.
    Destroy (G622)
    ἀπόλλυμι
    apollumi
    ap-ol’-loo-mee

From G575 and the base of G3639; to destroy fully (reflexively to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively: – destroy, die, lose, mar, perish.

That’s a word of finality. It’s not a word of continuous torment.
Those killing the followers of Christ between the cross and the fall of Jerusalem were the unbelieving Jews according to both Jesus and Paul. Jesus spoke to the religious leaders in Mat. 23:31-36, “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. FILL UP, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of GEHENNA? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them YOU WILL KILL and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon THIS generation.”

Paul said in 1 Thess. 2:14-16, “For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who KILLED both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to FILL UP up the measure of their sins; but wrath is about to come upon them to the uttermost.”
Notice the scriptures there doesn’t tell us about a spirit being tormented in Gehenna eternally.

See below the definitions of soul:
Strongs 5590 psyxḗ (from psyxō, “to breathe, blow” which is the root of the English words “psyche,” “psychology”) – soul (psyche); a person’s distinct identity (unique personhood), i.e. individual personality.

Thayer: [can be] the soul (Latinanimus), a. the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our soul, heart, etc. (R. V. almost uniformly soul); for examples from Greek writings see Passow, under the word, 2, vol. ii., p. 2589b; (Liddell and Scott, under the word, II.

 

The soul as used in the NT can either mean the inner life, the hopes, dreams, thoughts desires, and plans of a person.

Let’s see its use in Acts 14:2, 21-22 it was the unbelieving Jews who stirred up trouble for the believing Jews and so they needed their hopes strengthened,

“But the THE UNBELIEVING JEWS STIRRED UP THE GENTILES and poisoned their minds against the brethren… And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, STRENGTHENED THE SOULS of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

 

What does all this mean? It means that the unbelieving Jews had hopes and dreams and plans of removing the Roman rule from their nation. They believed that the kingdom was due to be received in their time. The Messiah was to ensure that happened. Unfortunately Jesus did not fit that bill. They had to have him crucified.

 

Their deepest expectations in their souls was that God would rescue them from Rome. Jesus on the contrary warned them to flee the coming wrath of Rome instead (Matthew 24).
They would lose everything; their houses, lands, wealth, friends, family, and even their lives. Their heritage as Jews was about to go up in flames. Their dream of the physical kingdom being restored to Israel would be destroyed. Their world would come to an end.

 

Their only hope and deliverance would be to trust Jesus and not the law, depart the Old Covenant System and flee when they saw the Roman armies approaching with their eagle war banners waving in the wind (Matthew 24:28, “For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”)

 

So the passage in Matthew 10 is not about God but the Romans being the ones to end their hopes in flames. God on the other hand would be their strength, hope and encouragement despite the persecution that lay ahead of the disciples. That is why he says;

 

“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s WILL.”

Clearly this aspect fails to convey a doctrine where spirits would eternally tortured by a physical fires throughout eternity, time without end.”

 

As seen above it will take a good level of objectivity to see through these scriptures and reassess if this doctrine holds any form of truth in it.

 

We’ll continue in the next installment.

 

Grace greetings.

 

 

 

 

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