Moving Past Guilt

Sarah a few years back, swung out on to the outer lane to overtake a slow moving van and collided head on with an oncoming truck. Her husband was killed on the spot and her son was paralyzed waist down. Years later, her sense of guilt continues to blame her cruelly over her fatal error of judgment. A feeble and pained voice within her keeps rejoining with the truth – that it was just a momentary mistake, which could have happened to anyone but could she accept that. 
 
A thoughtless, but awful mistake. Each time Sarah opens her front door and feels the emptiness and sense of failure especially each time she glimpses her child on the wheelchair, the painful critical voice returns, killing her with its persistent reminder of her past failure. It has brought her despair poisoned her career and the upbringing of her son, altering her life into a living nightmare.
 
We can be trapped in our yesterdays by guilt and regrets. Guilt is a negative feeling because of something we have done, or that we think we have done. The guilt is over sins that we committed and mistakes that we made and the regret is for things that we could have and should have done, but we did not for one reason or the other. Guilt in particular is so destructive that it ends up draining life and hope out of individuals. This is one of the enemy’s tool to keep people from living in the abundant life in Jesus.
 
There are many believers who are constantly driven by guilt. Some were introduced into the faith through the agency of guilt. As a result they have keep wearing fig leaves to cover their shame so that God would keep rewarding them with his blessings. Just as many have embraced various church activities to silence the voice of guilt in their lives, they have become drug addicts who keep taking harmful substance to suppress their feelings of inferiority. The problem being that one is never enough. So the addiction continues.
 
When people have an innate feeling of not being right with God, they go somewhere to ”make things right with God.” This is a state of self-righteousness that does not give us the opportunity to express the life of God. This has led many believers to experience issues in their health and they seem to find the goodness of God distant from them.
 
Research at the University of California Los Angeles confirms activity in the neural pain circuits, when a person suffers social rejection. A person suffers pain, when damaged skin cells cause nociceptors (pain nerve cells) to fire. It leads to depression, personality disorder and other related issues.
 
Religion is not the cure to guilt but a wholesome relationship; this is what Jesus offers us. The most dangerous enemy to the Gospel is sincere religious practices that suggest to people that God accepts them on the basis of their spiritual activities.
 
The dilemma of all religion are the questions that never gets answered: ”When is it enough?” When am I good enough? Have I fasted enough? Have I prayed enough? Have I read the holy book enough?” When is enough, enough?
 
If we rely on outward observances, there is always ”one thing you lack,” just as the case of the Pharisee, we continue laden down with guilt and shame.  We cant keep wearing the fig leaves of religion and self-righteousness and still expect to manifest His glory and life.
 
The law amplifies our guilt and shame but grace speaks us His gift of righteousness. This gift should be our clothing, one that radiates with glory and confidence. Paul described the law as “ Now if the ministry that brought death’ in 2 Corinthians 3. It ministered death because there was no perfection in that age. Since they couldn’t be made perfect they had to keep coming back with their best sacrifices.
 
Thank God in Christ that has been done away with. He has now perfected by his death.
 
“When he said, “You don’t want sacrifices and offerings,” he was referring to practices according to the old plan. When he added, “I’m here to do it your way,” he set aside the first in order to enact the new plan—God’s way—by which we are made fit for God by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus.” (Hebrews 10:9-10) The Message
 
God is not looking our sacrifices to perfect us. He wants us to appropriate the perfection in Jesus our sacrifice. We need to look beyond ourselves and look to him who has become our very life. All our mistakes and sins have been placed under the blood because there’s no way that we could ever pay for it completely.
 
Stop living in the past and stop putting everything off until tomorrow. Live your dreams. Start now and you are one day closer to being where you want to go. Jesus not only paid for your past, he also paid for your future. You can’t find life in your past. It’s time to move on.
 
If you stand before God with your “fig leaf” of everything you have done, you will never be free from the guilt and shame of your inadequacies. The only way you can enjoy your relationship and fellowship with him is when you present yourself to Him the way he has made you; Like the son glorious in righteousness.
Have a confident expectation of good in your life because of the fact that the Father now sees you as He sees Jesus.

 

Stop Paying Debts to God!

Many people are living their lives collecting and paying debts to God. They are dragged around with a lot of religious activities in order to keep a place in God’s good book. People are trying to settle their heavenly accounts so that on the last day their “Rapture Cheques” won’t bounce. In a bid to live their lives for God, they have no life to live at all.

God is not interested in all that. Jesus came to pay the price for all that concerns your destiny. Stop paying the price for the anointing. The anointing is not a reward of efforts but a gift of grace. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 ““Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (AMP)

The call to ministry should also not be seen as a way to pay back the debt that Jesus paid for you on the cross. Ministry should not be done from the posture of lack or the desire to fill a need that God has. God is all-sufficient. He owes no man and he not seeking any man to pay the debt of sin. Jesus gladly did that. He paid the price with unconditional love.

 

As scriptures say in John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

He didnt give Jesus because he was convinced that man would pay him back. He demonstrated in the highest level of faith by giving forth His only begotten Son. His son gave us forgiveness at the cross. We are not forgiven because we are sorry. We have been given the free gift of forgiveness because the offering for sin has been made.

Don’t give yourself the duty of paying God back with your life. Life the abundant life that He died to give you. Fulfill your dreams and be all that you were born to be. Remember that you are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus.

 

Your good works cannot do it, your long prayers and fastings cannot do it, your large offerings and cheques cannot do it and your church commitments cannot do it. The price has been paid.

In that one sacrifice on the cross, Jesus’ obedience and perfections rose as “a sweet aroma to the Lord”, which is what is emitted when the offering is burnt in the Old testament. This “sweet aroma” speaks of a savor of rest and pleasure to God. Jesus’ perfect sacrifice gave God so much satisfaction that He rested. That is why the work is finished.

Your job is to rest in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, knowing that what He did, He did for you as Paul said “Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma”. (Ephesians 5:2) You can rest knowing that God the Father is satisfied with you because His Son’s sacrifice has caused His heart to rest with regard to you. You can rest because Jesus is God’s satisfaction for you.

See Jesus not just as your example but as your saviour. He’s very interested in making things happen. Learn of Jesus in His grace and you will draw his rest into your life.

What Is The Book Of Life?

 

 

 
“Is your name in the book of life” is popular phrase we in some songs to remind us if we are truly in a relationship with performed in some evangelical meetings.
 
The book of life is a popular concept in the Christian faith and is almost central to the theme of being in heaven. It seems a no brainer to say what it means to an average believer?
 
But in the light of recent events as a lot of things in the faith have been questioned in the discovery of the gospel of grace and the message of the kingdom, this too has come under the radar for review.
 
What is the book of life about?
The first thing I want to share with you is that the book of life is very Jewish in concept and practice.
 
September as it is the most important month for holidays in modern Judaism. These holidays are both spoken of in Leviticus chapter 23, and the reason they are so important is that they deal with the topic of atonement.
 
Most Jewish people attend synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as they likened to the observation of Easter and Christmas for Christians. The first holy day is Rosh Hashanah, the traditional Jewish New Year – mentioned in the Bible as the Feast of Trumpets.
 
In ancient times, this day was celebrated by blowing shofars (rams’ horns) and with sacrifices. Traditionally, it commemorates the creation of the world – or, more specifically, the creation of Man on the sixth day of creation. In synagogues till date, it is also customary to speak about the Akedah (the story of the binding of Isaac).
 
The second holy day, Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is the most important day in the Jewish calendar. In the Old testament, this was the only day when the high priest was allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies in the Temple. On this day, the high priest would take two goats. On one goat he would confess the sins of Israel and then send it into the wilderness to die as the scapegoat. The other goat was sacrificed on the altar and its blood was sprinkled on the ark of the covenant. In this way, atonement was made for the whole nation of Israel in one day.
 
Since the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD this changed the way things were done. Now with the absence of the Temple, rabbis throughout history have created ways for the Jewish people to observe the atonement ceremony even when it has been fulfilled by Jesus death on the cross as the lamb of God that took away the sin of the word.
 
The rabbis say that God opens two books on Rosh Hashanah: the book of life and the book of death. They say that God will immediately write the names of those who are righteous in the book of life and the names of those who are wicked in the book of death. They also say that most people will not fall into either category.
 
Therefore, according to the rabbis, Rosh Hashanah begins the Yomim Noraim (the Days of Awe); this is the 10-day period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. During this time period, Jewish people will begin to volunteer and give to charities in hopes that these good deeds will outweigh the bad deeds of the past year.
 
According to rabbinic tradition, on Rosh Hashanah the destiny of the righteous and the wicked are sealed. The righteous are written into the Book of Life, and the wicked are written into the Book of Death, but most people won’t be written into either book. These are given the ten days until Yom Kippur to exercise repentance and self-examination and then seal their fate. Then, on the Day of Atonement, everyone has his or her name inscribed into one of the two books.
 
This was the basic understanding of the book in biblical days especially coming from the Old testament paradigm. It was important to get yourself prepared for the atonement and so you qualify by your good works. But there was a prophetic dimension towards as used by God himself in the notable vision of Daniel as it regarded the last days of the Mosaic age.
 
“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. Daniel 12:1 NASB
 
“Now at that time”—We need to understand “what time” but we can’t unless we look back at the previous chapters. Let’s start with:
“Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.” Daniel 10:14 NASB
 
Daniel the Prophet was given a vision of what will happen to “your people” (the Israelites) in the latter days. This vision is of the future to Daniel, it is of the last days of Israel:
 
“At the end time the king of the South will collide with him, and the king of the North will storm against him with chariots, with horsemen and with many ships; and he will enter countries, overflow them and pass through. Daniel 11:40 NASB
 
The “at that time” of chapter 12 is the “latter days” of 10:14, and the “end time” of chapter 11. So Daniel 12 is talking about the “end times,” which we know is referring to the end of the Old Covenant dispensation. Unfortunately because mainstream has read itself into endtime passages in the New testament we have seen a plethora of failed endtime predictions.
 
The endtime spoken of Israel to Daniel corresponds with the last song written by Moses in Deuteronomy in the same message and spirit.
“For they are a nation void of counsel,
Nor is there any understanding in them.
29 Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this,
That they would consider their latter end! (Deuteronomy 32:28-29)
 
You can read more on it in Deuteronomy 32.
The vision continues…
 
“And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time” Daniel seeing a time of great trouble in Israel at the end of the Jewish age. Daniel tells us that during this time of distress some of his people will be rescued.
 
Jeremiah confirms the same thing in:
Now these are the words which the LORD spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah: “For thus says the LORD, ‘I have heard a sound of terror, Of dread, and there is no peace. ‘Ask now, and see If a male can give birth. Why do I see every man With his hands on his loins, as a woman in childbirth? And why have all faces turned pale? ‘Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it. Jeremiah 30:4-7 NASB
 
Jeremiah also spoke about a time of trouble and says, “There is none like it.” Then he says that this same time period of great distress is a time in which some will be saved. Jesus also talked the prophecies of old about this time. That is Hebrews tells the audience to hear the son.
 
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these (theirs not ours) last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:1-2) Paraphrase mine.
 
In Matthew 24 Jesus was answering the disciples questions about the destruction of Jerusalem. They wanted to know when it would be destroyed, and what signs would precede the end of the age and His Parousia, then he quotes Daniel:
“For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Matthew 24:21 NASB
 
He told them, “‘then’ there will be great tribulation.” The “then” is referring to the context of verses 15-20; when you see the abomination of desolation, which Luke tells us is Jerusalem surrounded by armies. This happened in A.D. 67 when Cestius Gallus, the Roman general, laid siege to Jerusalem.
 
This is made abundantly clear in the parallel text in Luke’s Gospel:
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. “Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled. Luke 21:20-22 NASB
 
Luke tells us here that ALL things which are written will be fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem. What does he mean by that? “All things which are written” refers to prophecy. All prophecy was to be fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem.
Daniel confirms the very same thing in:
“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. Daniel 9:24 NASB
 
Daniel was told that 70 weeks had been determined on his people Israel and city Jerusalem. The Hebrew word used here for “have been decreed” is chatha, which literally means: “to cut off.” The 70 weeks is symbolic. By the end of this prophetic time period, God promised that six things would be accomplished. One of the things that Daniel was told would happen by the end of that period was that God would “seal up vision and prophecy.” The Hebrew commentaries are in agreement on the meaning of to “seal up vision and prophecy”–they say it means: “the end and complete fulfillment of all prophecy” in this case as it relates to national Israel.
 
Daniel’s vision begins with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and is fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred in A.D. 70:
“So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. Daniel 9:25-26 NASB
 
The fall of Jerusalem was far more than the fall of a city, it was the end of an age. That is why Jesus said it would be a, “great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
 
So how does the book of life come in all this?
 
Remember that before their names are inscribed, they needed to repent and prepared against the atonement. The arrival of the Messiah, his death and resurrection was the moment of preparation that Israel largely ignored. They counted themselves not worthy of eternal life (Acts 13:46) and so despised the Spirit of grace by embracing the law. It was a bad move.
Let’s go back to Matthew and notice what he said in the next verse:
“Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Matthew 24:22 NASB
 
This is the same thing we saw in Daniel 12:1, “And at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued”–So Daniel, Jeremiah, and Jesus all talk about this same time of great tribulation when God will save His people. Jesus tells us exactly when this time was to be:
 
“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until ALL these things take place. Matthew 24:34 NASB
 
Yeshua here, very plainly and very clearly, tells HIS DISCIPLES that ALL of the things He had mentioned would come to pass in THEIR GENERATION. For some strange reasons most views hold it that it will over that generation and into ours. This is so clear that it takes a confused assistance to hold to a futuristic eschatology.
 
Jesus could have said, “That generation.” But He didn’t! Jesus is saying that everything that He has spoken about will happen before the generation that He was speaking to would pass away.
 
So Daniel is talking about a time that the generation that Jesus lived in would see all these things fulfilled.
“And at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued”–the “your people” here are Daniel’s people, the Israelites. At the time of The Great Tribulation all the Israelites that are found in the book will be rescued.
 
The rescue here we need to understand is just beyond the escape from the fall of the city and the temple. It was a transition into the kingdom that had long expected that the Messiah would bring.
 
Throughout Matthew’s gospel Jesus continually warned the Jews of their coming judgement because of their rejection of the Messiah. Most of Jesus’ parables deal with the kingdom of God or the destruction of Jerusalem because of their rejection of that Kingdom. In the build up from chapter 21 through chapter 24, you will notice the unfolding of the judgement theme.
 
43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. – Matthew 21:43 NKJV
 
John the Baptist at one time also told the Jewish leaders the same thing when they showed up his baptism of the people.
 
“…You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. – Matthew 3:7b-8 KJVV
 
Noticed that Jesus also spoke about the kingdom and those who wouldn’t enter. Only those recognized by the lamb would be see able to either see the kingdom or enter in hence the term “born again”. It was about being reborn into another family, the family of the Father through the working of faith.
 
What is this “book”?
Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Philippians 4:3 NASB
 
The “book of life” is only mentioned here and in Revelation in the New Testament. This verse in Philippians 4:3 clearly states that it was those of faith whose name were written. This is distinction of those who embraced the life of Jesus against those who rejected the salvation provided through the finished work of Jesus. These people were qualified by Jesus finished work and are such were those marked for the full manifestation of the kingdom.
 
But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning THE KINGDOM OF GOD and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Acts 8:12 NKJV
And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:21,22 NKJV
 
So we find more mention of the book of life in Revelation, why? Because the book of Revelation deals with the theme of judgment that Daniel and Jerusalem spoke about that would see a deliverance for a chose few. The reason why its few is bcause majority of the Jews rejected the kingdom and it was given to the Non-Jews through the hands of Paul.
 
All who dwell on the earth (ge-land) will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. Revelation 13:8 NASB
 
The “all” here refers to the Jews who pledged allegiance to the Roman government in their rejection of the Lordship of Jesus.
“The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. Revelation 17:8 NASB
 
We also learn that those who aren’t in the book of life are consigned to the lake of fire:
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15 NASB
In Revelation 21:27, we see that only those who are written in the book can enter the New Jerusalem, which typifies the New Covenant and the kingdom. Old covenant Israel was held in the Old Jerusalem that was under slavery and could not inherit the promise.
and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 21:27 NASB
 
I want you to look at a verse that seems to have caused much confusion:
‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. Revelation 3:5 NASB
 
This statement has been the source of controversy for generations. Can a believer lose his salvation? Could one of God’s children be blotted out of the book of life?
That statement employs a figure of speech called “litotes,” which is extremely common in literature. Litotes makes a positive affirmation by negating its opposite.
 
There is no explicit statement in Scripture that anybody will have his name blotted out of the book of life. The Lord is rather declaring the impossibility of being thrown of the kingdom, strengthening the sense of the security of our salvation.
 
The book of life confirms our citizenship in the kingdom, a work of grace fulfilled by Jesus through his finished work. It is not a physical book but a documentation in the heart of the Father we are His and we share his life.
 

 

 

That is why the John uses is “biblos zoe”. Zoe speaks of the life, nature and substance of God in our being. Jesus fulfilled all the feasts including the Atonement his sacrifice and return so that we are all documented in His unfailing and eternal love and life. Halleluyah!

Bible Study And Expectations

 
 
One of the main thing we must understand in our study of the New testament texts is that the writers assumed that their readers understood the First Testament, which was the only written materials as at that time. Though majority were not literate enough to read on their own.
 
Every week they attended the synagogue they heard read to them the Law and the Prophets. Each time it pointed to the coming Messiah and the world He would introduce to them.
 
Unfortunately they did this for more than 30 years not realizing that He was around. Their eyes were not opened. The New testament writers employed heavy use of the first testament to bring them to the realization that He had come and that he would return within their time to establish that new heaven and earth that Isaiah wrote about. Did they receive them? Largely No!
 
As long as they were not willing to see John and Jesus they would not embrace the truth that was dawned on them. Instead they persecuted the disciples and provoked the Romans in their own quest to make national Israel the kingdom. That was their redemption route.
 
The end; Their lost everything when Jerusalem became hell itself and it was too late to revert. But these events were foretold by the prophets and Jesus along with his disciples echoed so that that generation would end up in misery but truly enter God’s kingdom.
 
When Jesus in Matthew spoke of the sun being darkened, the moon not giving its light, and the stars falling from heaven, He was not referring to the end of the solar system, but of the complete dissolution of the Jewish state.
 
He used what is termed as apocalyptic language. This was common among the Hebrew prophets. There are multiples passages where mention is made of the destruction of a kingdom and government using language which seems to set forth the end of the world. One of such:
 
The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw. (Isaiah 13:1)
 
In this chapter God is talking about the judgement that is to fall upon Babylon. The word “oracle” is the Hebrew word massa, which means: “an utterance, chiefly a doom.” This introduction sets the stage for the subject matter in that chapter.
 
Wail, for the day of the LORD is near! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. (Isaiah 13:6)
 
Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises, And the moon will not shed its light. 11 Thus I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. 12 I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold, And mankind than the gold of Ophir. 13 Therefore I shall make the heavens tremble, And the earth will be shaken from its place At the fury of the LORD of hosts In the day of His burning anger.
 
This is a historical event that took place in 539 B.C. When the Medes destroyed Babylon, the Babylonian world came to an end.
 
It is highly important for the church not only to read the apocalyptic texts but make every effort to read scripture with scripture to understand the commonness of language as employed thousand years back.
 
The idea of speaking forth a coming doom using global economic, social and political indices is not in line with expectations from the scriptures. The scriptures is basically about Jesus. The revelation of Him from it is to introduce us to the world that resides in Him and endless possibilities that exist by the power of His Spirit.
 
Grace greetings.
 

In Like Manner” Will Jesus Come Back Physically?

 

After Jesus resurrection he spent forty days teaching them and commissioned the disciples to proclaim the Gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the remotest part of the earth, and then He leaves them and ascends to the Father:
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. (Acts 1:9 NASB)
Now this same event was captured by the same author of the book of Acts in the gospels. We learn from Luke’s account that it was while Jesus was in the act of blessing them with uplifted hands that He departed from them and went into heaven:
And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 And it came about that while He was blessing them, He parted from them. (Luke 24:50-51 NASB)
So we see that it was while he blessed them that he departed. It seems a little different. Now of course the same author cannot be confused. The harmony of scriptures is to understand the narrative from the mind of the given author
In continuation he also stated that:
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. (Acts 1:9 NASB)
It sounds like while they are talking to Jesus He begins to float upward and ascends into a cloud and disappears. This is the basis for the expectation of a physical return of Jesus coming on physical clouds. This line of thinking also connects the following verse that says
10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1)
Now I must say this that if we do not understand the language of the first three quarters of the Bible, we will never understand the last quarter which is the New Testament.
Now I have dealt with the clouds aspect in one of my previous blogs but today I want to address the aspect of “in like manner”.
First of all it would interest you to know that the disciples were not star-gazing Jesus watching float into the stratosphere.  Let’s look at that verse again.
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. (Acts 1:9 NASB)
The word “Looking on” is the present active participle of the Greek word blepo. Which, according to the Biblical Greek dictionary, is used abstractly, i.e., there was no object at which the disciples were looking; thus it may well mean simply “in their sight,”
Also Jesus is then said to have been “lifted up,” or in the KJV “taken up” which is the Greek word epairo. This word in its passive form, figuratively signifies the lifting up of someone in dignity. It basically describes the exaltation of an individual.
A right understanding of that place would be that Jesus is exalted to the right hand of God, a position of superiority over and above created being. What is the essence of this exaltation? Remember the prophecy from Daniel?
 
“I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. 14 “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)
In this event Jesus wanted his disciples to know that He had left for good, as opposed to the way He appeared and reappeared during the forty days after the resurrection. It was time for the Holy Spirit to guide them to the next phase.
Then we see two angels who were present to witness and tell them of his return.
11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11 KJV)
Now there’s the word that keeps coming up in many heated debates. They said that he would return in like manner.
The words “in like manner” are the Greek phrase hon tropon. When you examine the usage of hon tropon in the New Testament, it is clear that this phrase does not mean: “exactly the same in every detail,” but has the idea of: “similar in some fashion.”
We will see examples of this phrase as it was used:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a (hon tropon) hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! (Luke 13:34 NASB)
Did Jesus want to gather Jerusalem in exactly the same manner as (hon tropon) a hen gathers her chicks? Nah.
The coming was described in various ways that could end with varying ways to look out for if it to be taken in the way it is worded without doing a proper exegesis.
 
This is how Matthew describes His coming:
“For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:27)
This is totally different than what Acts 1:11 describes. So which way is it, visibly in a cloud or like lightning?
Paul also describes Christ’s coming this way:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
This is not “in like manner” as Luke describes in Acts.
Paul also states that:
and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 NASB)
This is still different than Acts 1:11. In this place we have angels and flaming fire dealing out retribution. This is different from what we see in Acts.
Notice what John says in his prophetic writing:
And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. (Revelation 19:11)
John has Jesus coming on a horse, not a cloud. Looking at all of these how can anyone honestly say that that Jesus is going to come EXACTLY how He left when they read Acts 1:11? When you compare Scripture with Scripture, it just doesn’t agree.
The emphasis of Acts 1:11 is that Christ’s coming would be a cloud coming, just as He left in a cloud, so He would come in the clouds. That is the manner that Luke is communicating that actually brings about a harmony with other verses of scripture.
This coming on the cloud is an apocalyptic symbol for coming in judgment. Look at Psalsm
The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.” (Psalms 110:1 NASB)
The exaltation of Christ was for him to receive a kingdom that would be shared with the saints. He would be there till all enemies be made his footstool. Jesus told the disciples that when the temple was about to be destroyed that they should understand that the kingdom had drawn near already. Those who opposed the kingdom were the ones who would end up in the destruction that mirrored the plagues of Egypt. This is the reason all other verses use a judgment theme and not about a physical body appearance.  
 
An good understanding of the language of Scripture will help us see that His coming was not to be physical, but a coming in judgment on that old covenant world and administration so that the new and eternal would reign in His grace.
Blessings.

 

THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS

“Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. (Acts 3:19-21)

According to the prophecies from the Old testament it is clear that Israel will be redeemed, her sins will be forgiven, then the times of refreshing will come when she turns in faith to Jesus the long expected Messiah.

“The period of restoration of all things” is not a reference to a time in the distant future from us now. I will show why?

The word “restoration” here is from the Greek word “apokatastasis”.

The word apokatastasis (restoration) means to restore, to set back to the original position. It is to bring back to a proper state what was out of place. Now in the text on its own you may not see the nature of what is being restored and that is why context is key.

The theme of the book of Acts becomes important to understand the message. The book of is about restoration in redemption. The Acts of the Apostles is a journey of the restoration of the Israel of God, the church in Jesus. Many times we tend to forget the scriptures were written in covenantal language and references.

Do you remember the question that the disciples asked Jesus in chapter 1?

6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

The restoration was linked to the kingdom. The only problem with the disciples as at this time was the scope of the kingdom. They thought the identity of Israel was limited to Jews as such they never knew that Non-jews were a part of the Messianic work. Paul came along and presented it that the Israel in prophecy that was to be restored was both the Jew and non-Jew called gentiles. This was important as the prophecy to Abraham was to bless all the world in the seed. That seed is Jesus.

This restoration was spoken of through the writings of the old testaments and that is why there was an expectation in that regard. This was to be fulfilled when the Messiah came on the scene. This is the reason that we see Peter mentions Jesus as the one appointed.

James quotes Amos 9 as proof that God was fulfilling His promise to “rebuild the tabernacle of David that is fallen down” one of the things that was restored or being reconstituted through the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus. The tabernacle of David had to be restored for the Gentiles to be saved. The Gentiles were being saved. The lineage of David being restored was necessary for the nature of the kingdom.

This restoration was a precursor to the return of the Lord, his Parousia in particular. This has nothing to do with causing lions and cats to sit down on the same grazing field. It is the restoration of all things structured by the kingdom through the kingdom in Jesus the Messiah. This reconstitution is about the setting of heaven on earth fulfilling the prayer of Jesus “thy kingdom come’. The return of the Lord in the judgment of that old covenant age in ad70 has presented to us a perfect structure of all things in Jesus; this is simply redemption in its full consummation.

1 PETER 3 IS NOT ABOUT GOD DESTROYING THE EARTH

 

One of the quick-run-to place that people use to justify a destruction of the heaven and earth is in 1 Peter 3.

First things. Consider that this letter was not written with the intention of completing a “Bible” that should be read to far away 2,000 years later. It was written to a specific audience long ago. If we don’t understand what it meant to them then do we understand what it should mean to us.

The context of Second Peter 3, starts with verse one.
Dear friends, this is NOW MY SECOND LETTER TO YOU. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want YOU to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles (2 Peter 3:1-2).

Now note the emphasized words.

In this letter, Peter intends to remind HIS readers about some specific words and commands given from
(1) the Old Testament,
(2) Jesus, and
(3) the apostles.

In the following verses he lays out the prophecies from of old.
Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4).

The historical context of Peter’s writing is between AD 30 and AD 70. At that time, the Jews were bringing severe persecution upon the Christians. The Christians were clinging to the hope of Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 that judgment was about to come upon Jerusalem and the religious system. That was the Parousia. The return they understood. Not the one to happen sometime in 2017. Christians then were being mocked for believing that Jesus was actually coming to bring judgment upon the Temple.

But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth [Ge] are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly (2 Peter 3:5-7).

Peter responded to the mocker’s statements by showing how God has judged before and affirming that God will judge again.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. (2 Peter 3:8)

In other words it would be in moment when it would all pan out.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with YOU, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

In Matthew 24:34, Jesus said that the long held prophecies would come to pass within a generation. It was something that could have happened just after the cross but He chose to wait until the last moment of the forty-year prophecy so that people would have more time to repent.

If people could look at the content from this perspective I personally belief the message becomes clear and will echo the truth of fulfillment. God is not in a waiting mood to destroy the earth with floods, hurricanes and fires. That was never conveyed as a message from the Bible. It’s not a message from the altar of ignorance to assume so and cause people not to see God in His true grace and beauty.

JESUS AND THE FEAST OF PENTECOST



These seven Feasts represent and typify the sequence, timing, and significance of the major events of the Lord’s redemptive career. It is remarkable that there are seven in number of which seven stands for the completeness and perfection of the finished work of Jesus.

To properly understand the feast we are making use of typology. This will afford us the opportunity to draw out truth in seeing the connection of both covenants. Where the old Covenant stand as types and shadows which prefigure something in the New Covenant. They are listed in chronological order in Leviticus 23.
As we have seen, these feasts are a study in typology. The feasts of the Lord actually convey two forty year exodus periods, the type and the antitype. The first exodus period is when Israel was removed from bondage to Egypt at Passover, and they were put in the wilderness on a physical journey to a physical promised land.  The antitype was a spiritual exodus fulfilled through the church.

This exodus period ran from the Cross to A.D. 70, a forty year period. In this exodus, the spiritual Israel, left the bondage under the Law of the sin and the death (Ro. 8:2) and begins a forty year spiritual journey to a spiritual inheritance; the Kingdom of God, also known as the New Heavens and New Earth.

In our previous series, we looked at the first three feasts, which were: Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. We saw that Passover pictures the substitutionary DEATH of Jesus as the Passover Lamb. The Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures the DELIVERANCE from bondage. FIRST FRUITS pictures the RESURRECTION of Jesus the Messiah.

The fourth feast our focus for this installment is known in Hebrew as the feast of Shavuot, which means “weeks.” It is found in our main text in Leviticus 23:15-22:
‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. ‘You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD. ‘You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the LORD. ‘Along with the bread you shall present seven one year old male lambs without defect, and a bull of the herd and two rams; they are to be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD. ‘You shall also offer one male goat for a sin offering and two male lambs one year old for a sacrifice of peace offerings. ‘The priest shall then wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering with two lambs before the LORD; they are to be holy to the LORD for the priest. ‘On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations. ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the LORD your God.'” Leviticus 23:15-22 NASB
In this feast God instructed Israel to count seven weeks from First Fruits and then the day after, this fourth feast was to be observed:
Seven weeks are 49 days if you add one day “the day after,” and it brings the total to fifty days. This fourth feast was to occur precisely fifty days after First Fruits.
Scriptures lets us know that during these 50 days between the Resurrection and Shavuot, Jesus met with His disciples many times, and on the 40th day He acceded into heaven. He had told them to stay in Jerusalem and “…wait for what the Father had promised.”
for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:5 NASB
During the period between the Ascension and Pentecost didn’t do anything but the selection of the twelfth apostle as recorded by Luke’s gospel. It seems he was reconstituting Israel through the foundational Apostles. The number twelve is the perfect number to bring about the antitype of the earthly one. With the reconstituted foundation, a new Israel was ready for Pentecost.
This was the instruction on the feast.
“And you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks, that is, the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year. Exodus 34:22 NASB
Thus, Shavuot marked the BEGINNING of the SUMMER WHEAT HARVEST even as Israel’s earlier Feast of First Fruits marked the beginning of the SPRING BARLEY HARVEST.
The Talmud referred to this festival as Atzeret, meaning: “CONCLUSION.” They viewed Shavuot as the conclusion of the Passover season and of the seven-week spring harvest since there are no other major Jewish holy days until the autumn.
In the Greek language Shavuot was known as Pentecost, meaning: “fiftieth” since it was celebrated on the 50th day from the Feast of First Fruits.
According to Jewish calendar fifty days has the essence of Jubilee. Jubilee is a fifty year concept that has to do with releasing the captives.
‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. Leviticus 23:15 NASB
Just like the feast of first fruits Pentecost has no date either.
History of the Feast of Shavuot
In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt enroute Canaan, they arrived in the Sinai desert and camped opposite Mount Sinai. Moses was then told by God to gather the Israelites together to receive the Law:
In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 When they set out from Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; and there Israel camped in front of the mountain. 3 And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 5 ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. ‘These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” Exodus 19:1-6 NASB
In verse 6 we see something that was echoed in the new testament writings by Peter:
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9 NASB
This was God’s plan for Israel. They substituted the Abrahamic covenant and got a new one at the foot of the mountain.
Now back to Exodus encounter:
So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD had commanded him. 8 And all the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD. Exodus 19:7-8
Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. 19 When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. Exodus 19:18-19 NASB
Moses then went up alone on the mountain, and as he neared the top, a mighty voice announced the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19:20-25; 20:1-21). That day was the very first Shavuot, the first Pentecost.
If you do the calculations of the datings you will discover that the Law was given on the sixth day of the third month of the biblical religious calendar, which is the month of Sivan (Sive-in). That day is exactly 50 days after the crossing of the Red Sea.
Shavuot is called the season of the giving of the Torah in Hebrew, because this is the literal day that God revealed Himself to the people of Israel as they stood at the base of Mount Sinai. Shavuot at Mt. Sinai is sometimes considered the day on which Judaism was born. It was Israel’s marriage with Jehovah. Though it wasn’t a very pleasant ceremony when you consider all the darkness, blackness and tempest.
On Shavuot/Pentecost, the Israelites were instructed to wave two loaves of leavened bread. Leaven symbolizes influence. They were to take no leaven from Egypt, they were to break from the influence of Egypt. The leaven from Egypt was a type of mixture. But at Pentecost two loaves of leavened bread indicated that both houses of Israel who are to influence the world with the Word of God.
According to Rabbinic tradition during the counting of the Omer, Psalm 67 was recited daily because it is composed of exactly 49 Hebrew words which correspond to the 49 days of the Omer count. The Psalm was considered seasonally appropriate because of its harvest motif that it embodies necessary for that feast.
God be gracious to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us– Selah. That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; For You will judge the peoples with uprightness And guide the nations on the earth. Selah. Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You. The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us. God blesses us, That all the ends of the earth may fear Him. Psalms 67:1-7 NASB
So in the year our Lord was crucified they are reciting this Psalm each day as they come to Shavuot or Pentecost. They never knew it was finding fulfillment in their time.
So we see that in the book of Acts 2 a remarkable account that ended as a fulfillment of the type of what the Shavuot/Pentecost represents.
The New Covenant anti-type of Shavuot is–Pentecost
Interesting to note is that of the seven divinely appointed feasts that were given to Israel, THREE were decreed by Yahweh as “SOLEMN FEASTS.” It required the presence of Jews in the Holy City on those three major festivals which was in obedience to the Torah as God commanded Moses:
“Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. Deuteronomy 16:16 NASB
Tacitus, the Roman historian, commented of the Feast of Shavuot and wrote, “The Holy City, with a population then of about six hundred thousand, exploded into between two and three millions because of the pilgrims.” That is why we find this account in the book of Acts.
And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 NASB
On the very day that the Jews from around the world gathered in Jerusalem to reaffirm their commitment to the Mosaic covenant and still practicing the shadow, the Holy Spirit descended upon Israel to offer the promise of the New Covenant to all who will believe. A New Covenant was officially unveiled.
And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Acts 2:1 NASB
The release of the Spirit on Pentecost confirmed the new covenant. It was a change of order. The relevance of the temple has begun to shrink and decrease. The center of their worship will no longer be the old Temple, but the place of prayer and worship, the body of Christ through the Spirit wherever they may be.
And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Acts 2:2 NASB
What happened at Pentecost was outstanding. First, there was a loud sound, like the sound of a mighty, rushing wind, but only “like” it. There was no wind, just the sound. This perhaps “tornado-like” sound seems to be that which drew the large crowd to the place where the disciples were gathered. The pilgrims in Jerusalem heard something out of the ordinary. Contrary to what many have been taught, it wasn’t the sound of loud prayers that drew people’s attention.
Luke uses this particular word here to stress the life-giving breath of God, as symbolized by the wind. They were empowered with life to enter into the kingdom.
And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Acts 2:2 NASB
Notice that this wind filled the “House“. The question that is asked here is what house? In Luke’s writings the Temple is elsewhere referred to as “the House” (Luke 11:51): 
“your (Jerusalem’s) House” (13:35)

In the Temple area, apart from the Holy Place and the court of the priests, there was a courtyard for the men of Israel, a further courtyard which women also could enter, and an outer court for Gentiles. Each courtyard was surrounded by walls in which were large porticoes where people regularly met for prayer. There were thirty spacious rooms around the Temple Court, described by Josephus and called oikoi, houses. Later these became a general meeting place for disciples (Acts 3:1, 10-11; 5:12).
Their presence at this time in the Temple would explain how the crowd gathered so quickly and could witness the “sound” (2:6), and how such a large group of disciples could be together (120).
And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. Acts 2:3 NASB
What is the significance of these tongues of fire? Throughout the Scriptures, fire is always a sign of God’s presence among His people. Recall that God spoke to Moses out of a burning bush.
God regularly revealed His presence by “fire.” He did it to Abraham (Genesis 15:17); when God led the people of Israel out of Egypt, there was a pillar of fire that went before them.
The presence of God was signified by fire at Sinai (Exodus 19:18; 24:17) and at the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:38), and Moses could say that God “spoke out of fire on the mountain” (Deuteronomy 4:11) at the giving of the covenant, so that they saw no likeness of God, only heard His voice. Moses stated, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Deut. 4:24). Similarly in Ezekiel 1:27; 8:2 God reveals Himself in “the likeness of the appearance of fire”. This would suggest that the fire is here a symbol of the presence of God.
God had changed the order. The manifestation of the flaming presence of God is no longer positioned over a tent or ark. This time it is over PEOPLE. Why? Because they are the new tabernacle and the temple of God. God is descending in fire on the new temple of His people by His Spirit.
By this they were enabled to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. This is Peter rose in defense when the Jews considered them drunk:
“For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; Acts 2:15 NASB
The third hour is nine o’clock in the morning. It is the time of the morning sacrifice that the Holy Spirit is being poured out:
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Acts 2:4 NASB
The arrival of God by His Spirit in His permanent power and distinctive presence in His people was fulfilling the promise of the Spirit given to Israel. Pentecost is the fulfillment of that promise, and the Church—the true Israel.
Pentecost: Type and anti-type
Fifty four days after the first Passover in Egypt, the Law was given to the natural Israel at Mount Sinai, written upon tables of stone. In fulfilling the type fifty four days after the final Passover Jesus was sacrificed and the Spirit was given to the “Israel of God,”. A new law written in the hearts of believers.
“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Jeremiah 31:33 NASB
On the first Shavuot/Pentecosr, the Law was given 3,000 people died for worshiping the golden calf, signifying the covenant of the Law that brought death but On the first New Covenant Shavuot/Pentecost Day, the Spirit was given 3,000 people received life and were added to the Church of Jesus the Christ (Acts 2:41), signifying the new covenant of the Spirit brought life:
who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6 NASB
We see here that the New Covenant is LIFE, but the Old KILLS:
But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, 2 Corinthians 3:7 NASB
On the first occasion, and 50 days after the Feast of First Fruits, God came down to Moses on Mt. Sinai to bring the Law. In the giving of the Law, God established the nation of Israel. As His covenant people, they were destined to become a people manifesting the righteousness of God. They would become a “royal priesthood and a holy nation.” Both the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai and the giving of the New Covenant through the Holy Spirit to the 120 in the Temple were events that occurred on the very same day of the lunar calendar, the sixth of Sivan, the Day of Pentecost.
Pentecost was the fulfillment, the anti-type, of the type given to Israel. The giving of the Law at Mount Sinai involved the Aaronic priesthood, the sacrificial system, the Tabernacle, the Sabbath days, the festivals, the civil and ceremonial laws, and the Ten Commandments. All of them were to teach about Jesus:
Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me; Psalms 40:7 NASB
The Tanakh known as the law was pointed men to Christ.
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. Galatians 3:16 NASB
All the promises that God made to Israel are fulfilled in Christ. All believers are in Christ and share all that Christ is and has. Jesus fulfilled Israel.

The feast is highly significant as it was also the undoing of what happened at Babel. Despite our language and cultural differences by the Spirit all have been brought in Christ. 

Credits:
– Judaism 101
– Feast of Pentecost, David Curtis

JUDGMENT TO BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)

This is one of those scriptures that throws a divide on the implications on embracing the grace message. For those who argue for a balance in preaching the grace message based on the exclusion of a forth coming judgment this is one go-to-place in the scriptures.
As always context is key to understand Peter’s message. It will be improper to do a positional doctrine without examining all the elements in the verse and the surrounding verses.

Let’s put some flesh to the passage now.

12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning THE FIERY TRIAL WHICH IS TO TRY YOU, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that YOU PARTAKE OF CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If YOU ARE REPROACHED FOR THE NAME OF CHRIST, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet IF ANYONE SUFFERS AS A CHRISTIAN, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
17 FOR the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now
“If the righteous one is scarcely saved,
Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.
When looked at context you will see Peter addressing the fact the believers of the first century in his time were going through severe persecution. This is also evidenced in other places in the New Testament. Paul’s letters seem to convey this lot.

Peter tells them that FIERY TRIALS is about to come against them. He asks them to rejoice as they partake in a form of suffering for their stand on the gospel. He tells them it is necessary because Jesus tells his disciples of it in the Olivet discourse.

9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. (Matthew 24)

This fiery trial is based on decisions taken against the church by their Jewish brethren and leadership. Then in vs 17 he first says “for” which means “because”. His precious statement links what he is about to say in vs 17.

This dilemma is because “the time has come”.  When Peter said “the time has come” he uses the word “kairos”. This word means more than just time. It “frequently refers to time for decision in eschatological references.

The persecution of the church refers to an appointed time for fulfillment. Fulfilment of what the Lord told them as signs on the end of the old covenant/creation in Matthew 24.
Now not only did Peter say the appointed time had come, he said the time had come for “the judgment” [to krima] had come. The definite article is present in the greek but strangely absent in many Bible translations.

What judgment is he referring to?

In Matthew 16:27-28 Jesus said he was going to come in judgment to reward every man before his generation passed away.

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 28 Verily I say unto you, THERE BE SOME STANDING HERE, WHICH SHALL NOT TASTE OF DEATH, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

This scripture puts it very clear that this was an event that was due upon that generation and not in our time.

Paul also echoed this too;
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world (oikoumene, ) in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men”

The root word Oikoumene, used for “world” in this passage, actually means “inhabited or civilized world,” not world as in global planet earth. This is the same Greek word used in Luke 2:1: “Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.”

Surely Ceasar Augustus did not carry out the census in every nook and cranny of the planet earth. This world was their civilized world that was under the radar of their control.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” (Matthew 24:9)
Why would the apostles be hated in all nations if they had not preached the gospel in all nations? They were hated by all nations because they preached in all nations. What they did they preach that would stir up that hatred? The gospel had at its foundation the fact that the Mosaic laws were no longer a determining factor for salvation and relationship with God. This did not go down well the Jews who all their lives were born into it for centuries. The gospel at its best was blasphemy at the worst for them hence the persecution.
The gospel going round the Roman empire was to give the Jews everywhere the opportunity to embrace the redemption in Jesus and escape the wrath that was to be unleashed. That wrath was the day of judgment demonstrated in the removal of that old covenant world.
It needs to be noted that Peter said that the judgment would “begin at the house of God”; and would include those “who do not obey the gospel.” In their reference as Hebrews, the house of God refers to the temple. Jesus told them in Matthew 23 that the house would be left desolate.
Those who do not obey the gospel are not believers who sin. They were Jews who refused to accept the gospel of Jesus. Paul talks about them and still presents the theme of judgment on them in 1 Thessalonians 3.
4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all YOUR PERSECUTIONS AND TRIBULATIONS THAT YOU ENDURE, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since it is a righteous thing with God to REPAY WITH TRIBULATION THOSE WHO TROUBLE YOU, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 IN FLAMING FIRE TAKING VENGEANCE ON THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW GOD, AND ON THOSE WHO DO NOT OBEY THE GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe,[a] because our testimony among you was believed.
If you pay a close attention to the above statement by Paul you will see the harmony with Peter’s:
The church was being persecuted by the Jewish leadership and it was time for wrath (expressions of the law) to fall on them. That was the judgment. This theme runs throughout the scripture from Cain and Abel, Ismael and Isaac etc.
The judgment occurred at the “house of God” and it was found wanting from the cross when it’s veil was torn apart. The cross made it obsolete and it became known in scriptures as the synagogue of Satan (Revelation 3:9).
Daniel prophesied the same event in chapter 12 as occurring for times, time and half a time (3 1/2 years which was the length of the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans) and when the power of the holy people were shattered (the Law and city).
It is also important to understand the word “judgment” is not always as we use it in the English language. The word itself, krino, means to separate. 
In those events that occurred at the end of that age there was a separation going on even in the midst of the persecution of the church.
Jesus used the metaphors of the 10 virgins, the wheat and the tares, the sheep and the goats and others to teach the separation to distinguish those who were true Jews of faith (Galatians 3:7), and who were the Jews of the flesh, the apostate murderers of Jesus and the saints.

Ad70 demonstrated who the true sons of God were. It brought about the kingdom which demonstrated the full manifestation of sonship in the image of Christ. We are not waiting for any judgment to happen in the church of Christ. We are rather living in the endless kingdom age expecting the knowledge of the glory of the Lord to cover the earth as the waters covers the sea.

RIGHTEOUSNESS AND RESURRECTION

There is a strong connection between righteousness and the resurrection of the dead. Adam’s death caused man to lose right standing before the Father. This further led man into darkness a biological death where he was trapped in Sheol/Hades/Hell. Jesus resurrection and ascension reversed that pattern. That is why no one under the old covenant age no man could attain resurrection.
Paul mentions about attaining that resurrection.
10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3)
But before that he said.
7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. (Philippians 3)
What things did he count as gains to but now a loss for Christ.
4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (Philippians 3)
Paul is clearly speaking justification by faith alone.
 
Paul explains two kinds of righteousness:
1. Self-righteousness by the law that leads to death and damnation.
2. God’s righteousness given through faith which ends in life and salvation. This is the righteousness that Paul now identifies with, that which comes by faith in Christ.
 
So this is how he explains it;
In verse 8, Paul tells us he is no longer trusting in his own righteousness in order that he may gain Christ. (Why he left the Law)
In verse 9, he tells us that to gain Christ means to receive His righteousness. It is not something we work for. It is a free gift.
Then he goes on in verses 10-11 to explain further what it means to gain Christ.
 
To gain Christ means: “Receiving his righteousness, knowing him, knowing the power of his resurrection, knowing the fellowship of his suffering, and being make like him in our death to sin.”
What is the end result of the gain?
in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:11 (NASB) 
 
Paul left the law to embrace Christ knowing that it would lead him to attain something; “the resurrection from the dead”
This was a hope to him as that time. This hope was spiritual based on the nature of gains of being in Christ.
 
Righteousness is a spiritual reality with tangible impact in our lives. Shouldn’t the resurrection also be?
 
The Greek word that Paul uses here for “resurrection” is exanastasi. This Greek word is only used here in all the New Testament. It is the word anastasis, which means: “resurrection.” with the preposition ek in front of it which is the equivalent of “out”. This is literally, “the out resurrection out from the corpses.”
 
The resurrection of the righteous will take them out of the total number of those dead.
But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!” Acts 23:6 (NKJV) 
This is how it is captured in the Youngs literal version.
6 and Paul having known that the one part are Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, cried out in the sanhedrim, `Men, brethren, I am a Pharisee — son of a Pharisee — concerning hope and rising again of dead men I am judged.’
7 And he having spoken this, there came a dissension of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees, and the crowd was divided,
8 for Sadducees, indeed, say there is no rising again, nor messenger, nor spirit, but Pharisees confess both. (Acts 26)
 
The Sadducees embraced a doctrine of humanism and did not believe in the realm of the spirit. They rejected the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead ones seeing that they didn’t believe in angels or Spirits too.
Paul clearly made his position known that he believed in that resurrection and he also believed that it was about to happen. This is why he said this.
“I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will (about to be is omitted in English translations) be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. Acts 24:15 (NKJV) 
So his message to his brethren he was being persecuted because he preached a resurrection to happen? Why?
The Jews had not embrace Jesus as the Messiah. They believed that Messiah would bring an end to Mosaic age and usher them into the kingdom age where the dead ones would be resurrected. For them to accept Paul’s message was for them to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. That would mean that they were wrong all the while and for them to leave Moses and embrace Jesus. They couldn’t so they kept holding on to the worship at the temple in Jerusalem which eventually came crumbling in ad70.
 
“And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7 “To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, HOPE TO ATTAIN. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. 8 “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead? Acts 26:6-8 (NKJV) 
 
The resurrection from the dead was a promise to the Fathers and also known as the hope of Israel. This is so because Adam was the first father who had this promise. This was what they hoping to attain.
 
This is exactly what Paul was explaining in his letter to the church at Phillipe. No one could attain this under the law that produced self-righteous which still resulted in sin-death. He was hoping to attain at the end of that old covenant age that was already dawning on them hence the message of the kingdom being at hand was essential for them be ready for a new dispensation.
 
In the age of righteousness, the righteous dead ones would be alive with Christ, no more separation at death anymore.  
 
In his classical teaching on the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 Paul sheds light on the nature of the resurrection.
 
35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.
39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.
40 There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.
 
If you look closely at the verse above you will note that there is nothing here about a physical resurrection for each of us. On the contrary, it is obvious it is a spiritual invisible body raised at the coming of Christ, which will then be repeated as each of us pass through physical death in our future.
 
Like a seed of wheat or grain which possesses an outer shell, when it falls to the ground, the outer shell dies and erodes, yet a plant filled with life emerges, so too is the resurrection. For every seed is embodied in its shell, and then another form/body emerges.
 
It is an immediate reality, a spiritual one with tangible realities. We have already put on immortality in our spirits BEING the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. What the law could do not grace has attained for us. That is how we attained resurrection. Halleluyah!

 

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