Who are the Gentiles? Pt. 1

This is the first installment of 3 part note. As promised I want to share my thoughts on teachings going round that the term “gentiles” refers only to Israel, especially the lost tribes.

 

Let’s begin this with the letter of Paul to the church located in Ephesus.

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands. Ephesians 2:11 NASB

Paul is making a comparison here between Jews-the circumcised, and Gentiles-uncircumcised. There are some that teach that the “Gentiles” refers only to the northern kingdom of Israel. To clear up the misperception the first thing we need to understand is, who are the Gentiles?

 

We know from the scriptures that Paul’s ministry was predominately to the Gentiles:

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; Acts 9:15 NASB

Here the term “Gentiles” is the Greek word ethnos.

First thing to note is that “Gentiles” is a bad translation. It is an English language substitution for the Hebrew words, “goy” (singular) and “goyim” (plural) and the Greek words, “ethne,” (singular) or “ethnos,” (plural).

 

This word is best translated as “nations,”. This sometimes represents the nation of Israel, sometimes the dispersed ten northern tribes, sometimes non-Israelites, and sometimes everybody, as in “all nations.”

 

We don’t see the word translated as non-Jew, but this is how it is often used:

‘It will come about that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you that you may become a blessing. Do not fear; let your hands be strong.’ Zechariah 8:13 NASB

Here the house of Israel was among the nations, the non-Israelites.

In order to understand who this term “nations” is referring to we really need to understand who the Jews are. The Bible often makes a distinction between Jews and Nations:

But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. Acts 13:45-46 NASB

Here we see a contrast between Jew and nations. When the Bible talks about Jews, who is it referring to? Most people believe that the Jews are the 12 tribes of Israel, God’s covenant people. According to the scriptures that is not correct!

The term “Jews” was first used in the Babylonian captivity. The Babylonians called them Jews because they were from the land of Judah. As at when the the New Testament was written in the reign of the Roman kingdom there were only two tribes in the Palestinian area; Judah and Benjamin. There were certain individuals from other tribes, but for the most part, it was only the two tribes. It was only those two tribes who were called “Jews”, or Judeans .

 

A look at the history of Israel will throw more light on this. Israel became a nation at Sinai when Yahweh gave them His law and entered into covenant with them. They were called the “house of Israel”.

For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel. Exodus 40:38 NASB

Here the term “house of Israel” refers to the 12 tribes, the nation Israel.

All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. Ruth 4:11 NASB

Jacob married two sisters, Leah and Rachel. With these two women and their maids came 12 sons, who were the 12 tribes of Israel. They remained united until after the death of Solomon.

Now the LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not observe what the LORD had commanded. So the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. “Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. “However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.” 1 Kings 11:9-13 NASB

The text goes on to say:

It came about at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Now Ahijah had clothed himself with a new cloak; and both of them were alone in the field. Then Ahijah took hold of the new cloak which was on him and tore it into twelve pieces. He said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and give you ten tribes (but he will have one tribe, for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel)… ‘Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of My servant David whom I chose, who observed My commandments and My statutes; but I will take the kingdom from his son’s hand and give it to you, even ten tribes. 1 Kings 11:29-35 NASB

When Solomon died in 925 or 926 B.C., the northerners refused to recognize his successor Rehoboam. Subsequently, the north broke away and was ruled by the House of Omri. The northern kingdom of Israel flourished until it was completely destroyed, and its ten tribes sent into permanent exile by the Assyrians between 740 and 721 B.C.

So the house of Israel was split into two kingdoms. The 10 norther tribes were known as the House of Israel. And the 2 southern tribes were known as the Southern kingdom or Judah:

But as for the sons of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. 1 Kings 12:17 NASB

Both of these kingdoms, Israel and Judah, became harlots and forsook the Lord:

“And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also. Jeremiah 3:8 NASB

They were both immoral and ungodly as they abandoned their covenant terms, but only Israel was divorced. Why was that? He did not divorce Judah, because it was through Judah that Messiah would come:

Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, “Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come. Genesis 49:1 NASB

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. Genesis 49:10 NASB

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” Micah 5:2 NASB

In Ezekiel we learn more about the sin of these two nations:

The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, “Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother; and they played the harlot in Egypt. They played the harlot in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and there their virgin bosom was handled. “Their names were Oholah the elder and Oholibah her sister. And they became Mine, and they bore sons and daughters. And as for their names, Samaria is Oholah and Jerusalem is Oholibah. “Oholah played the harlot while she was Mine; and she lusted after her lovers, after the Assyrians, her neighbors, Ezekiel 23:1-5 NASB

The Mother is the 12 tribe nation of Israel. The two daughters are the southern kingdom, Oholibah, and the northern kingdom, Oholah. These two kingdoms came out of Israel as a result of the two wives and two marriages of Jacob. The capital city of Judah was Jerusalem, and the capital of Israel was Samaria.

Yahweh was their husband until the divorce decree, which we can see that in Hosea. A divorce requires that the wife receive the bill of divorce, and then she was put out of the house. The house in this context is the land of Palestine, the bill of divorce is the book of Hosea, and the putting out of the house was taking Israel into the Assyrian captivity.

The word of the LORD which came to Hosea the son of Beeri, during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD.” So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. And the LORD said to him, “Name him Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. “On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.” Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And the LORD said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. “But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the LORD their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen.” When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the LORD said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God.” Yet the number of the sons of Israel Will be like the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered; And in the place Where it is said to them, “You are not My people,” It will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God.” And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, And they will appoint for themselves one leader, And they will go up from the land, For great will be the day of Jezreel. Hosea 1:1-11 NASB

“Jezreel” is from an agricultural term that refers to everything from the sowing to the harvest. So God refers to the first son as the sowing and harvest of Israel. He told Israel that He is going to sow them in the nations, but there will come a time when He will harvest them out again. He later tells us that the harvest will occur at the same time that the harvest of the house of Judah occurs. That harvest began with the Messiah and continued until the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

 

The second child, Lo-Ruhamah, demonstrates that they would be placed out there without the mercy of God. The third child demonstrates that they would be out there without the name of God. They would not be known as the “children of God”, which was the children of Israel. When they went into the Assyrian captivity, they were not known as the “children of Israel”. They were referred to as the “children of Omry”, who was a former king of Israel. So, when the northern tribes went into Assyrian captivity, they lost their identity as Israelites and thus became identifiable only as part of the nations.

Then the LORD said, “Thus will the sons of Israel eat their bread unclean among the nations where I will banish them.” Ezekiel 4:13 NASB

Israel is swallowed up; They are now among the nations Like a vessel in which no one delights. Hosea 8:8 NASB

As you can see here, Israel is among the nations, which here refers to the non-Israelites, she has been swallowed up. There is a clear distinction of both entities. But God promises that one day the two houses will be united:

The word of the LORD came again to me saying, “And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, ‘For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.’ “Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. “When the sons of your people speak to you saying, ‘Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?’ say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.”‘ Ezekiel 37:15-19 NASB

“Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the NATIONS where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms. Ezekiel 37:21-22 NASB

Notice that verse 21 says, “I will take the sons of Israel from among the NATIONS.” This is a promise of restoration.

Then it will happen on that day that the Lord Will again recover the second time with His hand The remnant of His people, who will remain, From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, And from the islands of the sea. 12 And He will lift up a standard for the nations, And will assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth. Isaiah 11:11-12 NASB

The Assyrians had scattered them, but God had promised to regather them. Here He promises to gather Israel, the 10 northern tribes and Judah, the two southern tribes. Now watch the next verse:

Then the jealousy of Ephraim will depart, And those who harass Judah will be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, And Judah will not harass Ephraim. Isaiah 11:13 NASB

Ephraim is Samaria. There is going to be peace between Israel and Judah. Jesus is the peace that ends the conflict.

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. 1 Peter 2:9-10 NASB

When Peter writes “To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia”, he is writing to the house of Israel who were “pilgrims” – they weren’t living in the land of their birth. If you look at a map, you will see that the areas of “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” was the very area that the Tanakh tells us that the house of Israel was taken to in the Assyrian captivity.

 

Now they are identified as “nations or Gentiles”. Peter is writing to these nations, who have become believers, and he calls them a chosen (race) generation. He says to them, “Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” 

 

This is a fulfillment of the promises that God made to the house of Israel through Hosea. The mission of taking the gospel to the nations is a fulfillment of the promises that He made in the Tanakh. Paul was a minister to the “nations”, which included the house of Israel.

Notice what Paul wrote the Corinthians:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 NASB

To this non-Jewish church he writes, “our fathers” – this is referring to the Israelites! This is because some of these Christians were from the northern 10 tribes of Israel.

If you look at Isaiah 60, you will see this is a Messianic prophecy. It concerns the restoration of Israel; the calling of the nations, and how the nations would view restored Israel:

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2 “For behold, darkness will cover the earth, And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you, And His glory will appear upon you. 3 “And nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. 4 “Lift up your eyes round about, and see; They all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, And your daughters will be carried in the arms. 5 “Then you will see and be radiant, And your heart will thrill and rejoice; Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, The wealth of the nations will come to you. Isaiah 60:1-5 NASB

Notice verse 5, “The wealth of the nations will come to you.” Who is the “you”? It is restored Israel. The prophecy said that when Israel was saved, the nations, non-Israelites, would also come to the light, and the nations, non-Israelites, would give their wealth to Israel.

These two groups hated each other, and the nations, non-Israelites, would have never wilfully given wealth to Israel. But in Christ they are now brothers. So out of love they do what they normally would never have done.

The northern kingdom of Israel is included in the term “nations or Gentiles” but it is not exclusive of it. We see in the Scripture that “nations” is used in distinction to Israel:

A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.” Luke 2:32 NASB

Here we see that “nations or Gentiles” are distinct from Israel.

“For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Yeshua, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, Acts 4:27 NASB

Again the Gentiles are a distinct group from Israel. Here “Gentiles” is non-Israelites.

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; Acts 9:15 NASB

Paul was to take the Gospel to the “nations” and to the sons of Israel.

and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. Acts 21:21 NASB

Here we have Jews who are among the “nations”, two separate gropes.

He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6 NASB

Here the LORD was going to use Jacob and Israel to be a light to the “nations.”

Then in that day The nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious. Isaiah 11:10 NASB

The “nations” non-Israelites, would then seek the Lord, when Ephraim and Judah were re-united:

And He will lift up a standard for the nations And assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth. Isaiah 11:12 NASB

Again we see the re-gathered Israel and Judah being used to reach the nations.

Egypt and Judah, and Edom and the sons of Ammon, and Moab and all those inhabiting the desert who clip the hair on their temples; for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart.” Jeremiah 9:26 NASB

It is clear here that “nations” does not mean Israel.

‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and will manifest My holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they will live in their land which I gave to My servant Jacob. Ezekiel 28:25 NASB

“But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went. Ezekiel 36:21 NASB

So “nations” and Israel are at times two distinct peoples. The “nations” include the house of Israel but also refer to the non-Israelites.

But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brethren. Acts 14:2 NASB

The term “Gentile or nation” at times is used of non-Jews. But these non-Jews could be Israelites. The “nations”, non-Israelites coming to faith in Messiah was foretold by the prophets:

‘They have made Me jealous with what is not God; They have provoked Me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation, Deuteronomy 32:21 NASB

We see that the LORD would provoke His people, Israel, with a foolish nation, non-Israelites.

If Israelites were really a “no people” and could be declared “my people,” then non-Israelites, you and me, who were “no people” could be declared “my people.” We were no people. We had no covenant claims on God. But now based on what Jesus has accomplished and we are part of His covenant people, grafted into the family of God.

Our text in Ephesians 2 is referring to non-Israelites and Israelites being united to the Jews and becoming one people in Christ. The body of Christ is made up of the re-gathered twelve tribes of Israel and many non-Israelites who have been called of God and trusted in Jesus.

So who are the Gentiles?

It’s meaning must be determined by its context, which means we examine the text in his context and structure.

To be continued…

Is The Coronavirus the Judgment of God?

In many Christian circles, there are talks that the recently WHO declared pandemic COVID-19 could be a judgment from God on the nations of the world as a result of sin, homosexuality and probably high level of immorality.

 

The alarming rate of the Coronavirus has led many to believe that God intends to do a purge on all unbelievers using this plague. They rely on examples of cases in the scriptures where it was recorded that God used plagues or disasters to judge people with evil.

 

The million dollar question is this? Does a good God use evil to kill people?

 

If there is any person that best reflects the nature of God to know if he does such, we need to see Jesus. The scriptures tells us that Jesus is the best replication of God’s character.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being..” (Hebrews 1;3b)

Jesus told his disciples in John 4 that if they had seen him, they had also seen the father. A close look at the ministry of Jesus, one would see that one major aspect of his teachings was to put proper light on the nature of God as father.

The journey from the old testament shows us that disasters and plagues were attributed as acts of God. One significant place is in the book of Job, where the main character stated “…the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)

 

Now we have read that book and we all know what Job didn’t see behind the scenes. God blessed but God didn’t take away anything. The accuser and enemy did. Job didn’t know that. This concept has on its own formed many doctrines bothering on the nature of God in connection to unfortunate events.

 

The concept of the wrath of God as found in the new testament had a strong connection to the expressions of curses found in the old covenant. In the book of Deuteronomy 28-32 we see Moses calls out the curses on Israel and spoke about a generation that would see catastrophic events play out.

For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them.

O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! (Deuteronomy 32: 28-29)

 

When Jesus arrived on the scene, he merely told the Jewish people of his time that those events prophecied by Moses and other prophets was due upon that generation that didn’t recognize his visitation to them. They rejected the messiah sent to them for their deliverance.

 

For the days will come upon you when your enemies will barricade you and surround you and hem you in on every side. They will level you to the ground— you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.” (Luke 19:43-44)

 

The Apostles recognized the times that they were living in and preached the good news of salvation to as many Jews possible within a short time to get them out of a worship system that was doomed to fail. They rejected Jesus, his disciples and the messages that was God’s rescue plan for them.

 

Paul in one his letters expressed his frustrations realizing what was ahead of the Jews.

I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my [a]countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.  

What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law [d]of righteousness. 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, [e]by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:

“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense,
And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

(Romans 9:1-5, 3-33)

 

Relating the “wrath of God” to the same Jews, he writes in 1 Thessalonians 2:

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, 15 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, 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.”

 

Clearly we see the “the wrath” was to come upon, following the timeline of the writing of that book. This is a confirmation to the prophecy of Moses and others that a time would come when Jerusalem would be destroyed. It has nothing to do with people 2,000 years after. This was fulfilled when the Romans attacked and destroyed Jerusalem in ad70. God’s salvation was to get them out so that they would not be objects of that catastrophe. John’s revelation followed same theme. This theme of “judgment” is same throughout the entire new testament.

 

None of it involves God sending Bird flu, Ebola or Coronavirus to existing nations on the earth to underscore God’s anger. As James rightly puts it,

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17 NIV)

 

Jesus faced death-threatening situations like tempest on sea. He calmed the waters, knowing it was not God’s plan to kills his disciples. He healed the sick because He knew that God would have them healed. It would be absurd for us to this as the act of God while humanity battles the act of God.

 

The Spanish Flu from 1918-1919 infected 500 million people and killed as many as 50 million. Yet humanity moved on with a solution and conquered that virus.

 

It is important for us to know that this is not setting up an arrival of an “Antichrist” or the end of the world. With the gift of inspiration mankind will record another victory because God loves humanity. God has given us the victory in Christ.

 

Let us be guided in the faith of Jesus and not the fear of the enemy. As Paul wrote:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

God has given us the victory in Jesus!

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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.

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

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 Goodnews About Hell Pt. 1

As promised on my personal Facebook page I want to start a mini series on Hell.

This is one of those hot bottom topics when it comes to debating certain doctrines in the Christian faith. So it won’t be something that people can easily agree on. Nonetheless it will be good for us to establish whatever we believe and profess after subjecting it to objective review.

We should always ensure that our faith is standing on tested truth and not passed down theology that can’t be reviewed because we are simply trying to protect our ideologies of who God is and how he does he things.

The first thing to note is the shocking fact that the word “Hell” is not in the original language of the Bible. In all honesty this a bad translation coming the KJV and some older translations.

Now I must let you know that I grew up believing and teaching that hell was a place reserved by God to eternally torment those that reject Jesus.

Whenever we used the word “hell” we meant that is eternal conscious torture with no merciful pause or end to the suffering. So when we stated that “People choose hell,” what they really mean is “People choose never-ending fiery conscious agony.”

This installment will focus on scriptures references to the use of the word translated “Hell”

In the KJV “Hell” is mentioned 54 times. “Hell” is found 31 times in the KJV Old Testament where it is translated from the Hebrew word “Sheol.”

 

OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCES
The Old Testament uses the word “Sheol” to refer to a place in the depths of the earth. The expressions “go down” or “brought down” are used twenty times in connection with Sheol.

The “depths of Sheol” are mentioned six times (Deut. 32:22; Ps. 86:13; Prov. 9:18; 15:24; Isa. 7:11; 14:15).

Four times Sheol is described as the farthest point from Heaven (Job 11:8; Ps. 139:8; Isa. 7:11; Amos 9:2).

Often Sheol is parallel with the “pit” (Job 17:13-14; 33:18; Ps. 30:3; 88:3-4; Prov. 1:12; Isa. 14:15; 38:18; Ezek. 31:14-17).

Nine times it is parallel with death (2 Sam. 22:6; Ps. 18:4-5; 49:14; 89:48; 116:3; Prov. 5:5; Isa. 28:15,18; Hos. 13:14; Hab. 2:5).

Sheol is described in terms of overwhelming floods, water, or waves (Jonah 2:2-6).

Sometimes, Sheol is pictured as a hunter setting snares for its victim, binding them with cords, snatching them from the land of the living (2 Sam 22:6; Job 24:19; Ps. 116:3). Sheol is a prison with bars, a place of no return (Job 7:9; 10:21; 16:22; 21:13; Ps. 49:14; Isa. 38:10).

People could go to Sheol alive (Num. 16:30,33; Ps. 55:15; Prov. 1:12).

But nowhere do we see Sheol as a fiery place of torment. 

In the KJV New Testament the word “Hell” is found 23 times. It is translated from the word “Hades,” which is the Greek equivalent of Sheol (the place of the dead), 10 times. It is translated from the Greek word” Tartaroo” once, and 12 times from “Gehenna.”

Now we must also know that Gehenna was a place that had become identified in Jewish minds as a dirty and ill-fated place where useless and evil things were destroyed.

It was a defiled place as it also became the garbage dump of Jerusalem. It was a place where fires burned continuously. Off course you would find repulsive and ugly worms ate at the garbage. That became the symbol of judgment in Jewish expression and writings.

Gehenna is used 12 times in the New Testament, 11 in the Gospels and once in James, which says the tongue is set “on fire by Gehenna.” The 11 in the Gospel are not speaking of final punishment, but of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. Every use of Gehenna (except for the one in James) is from Jesus speaking to Jews that live in or around Jerusalem. It is never used of Gentiles and never used outside the Gospels because Gehenna was the city dump outside Jerusalem.
So none of the KJV’s uses of “Hell” have anything to do with a fiery place of torment.

The NASB has the word “Hell” 13 times. ESV has it 14 times and Young’s Literal Translation does not have the word “Hell” in it, not once.

 

This fact alone should get to study and mirror the attitude of the Berean Christians.

 

We’ll take it from here in the next series…

 

Grace greetings.

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.
 

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.

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