People of The Living God

Hebrews 11

 

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October 2016



 

 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

BLESSINGS AND CURSINGS

Alfred King

        As Israel came to the border of the land of Canaan, the land promised to Abraham, Moses reiterated the commands and instructions from the Lord, reminding Israel of God’s divine intervention in their lives, delivering them out of the hand of Pharaoh.  He encouraged them by telling them that the time for the promised land to be possessed was now at hand and those standing there that day were determined by God’s providence to be those through whom the land would be possessed.  This was a solemn time but also a time of excitement.  There were challenges ahead.  There were battles to be fought.  There were dangers to be encountered.  But the God of Israel had promised to be with them and to fight for them.  Victory was certain as long as Israel remained faithful to God and walked according to the commands and instructions given through Moses.  This was the time that would change the history of Israel forever.  This was a new beginning.  This was the time when the promise to Abraham concerning this land would be fulfilled.  This was a glorious time, full of expectation, anticipation and a time when God would show His power and His sovereignty among the nations.  The nations in Canaan had already heard of the miracles God performed in the land of Egypt.  They saw now a people who had endured the hardships of the wilderness and had become a strong and fearful nation.  The people of Canaan were afraid as they realized they had no strength to stand before this nation whose God was Jehovah.

        Moses, knowing that he would only see this land from afar, for he was not allowed to enter in, gives his final words as the God-given mantel to lead Israel falls upon Joshua.  As suspense, wonder and awe permeated the atmosphere, Moses proclaimed to Israel the blessings they would experience in the new land, blessings that God promised would overtake them.  The blessings would be so plentiful and so bountiful that the people could not contain them all.  We find many of these listed in Deut. 28:1-13.

1. “The Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth.”

2. “Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.”

3. “Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.”

4. “Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.”

5. “Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.”

6. “The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.”

7. “The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land.”

8. “The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself.”

9. “And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee.”

10. “And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land.”

11. “The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.”

        All these blessings were promised to Israel but all were conditional.  The condition was that they observe all the instructions and commands God had given them.  If they turned from those commands and began to serve other gods, the gods of the Canaanites, they would forfeit God’s blessings.  Not only would they forfeit the blessings, but they would reap God’s judgment.  A record of the judgments of God (referred to as “curses” in Deuteronomy 28) follows the recorded blessings.  They are too numerous to list them all so we will only list a few that God declared would fall upon Israel if they turned from Jehovah.  Consider God’s warnings from Deuteronomy 28:16, “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:”

        Before we look at the curses upon an Israel rejecting their God, we might want to look at another nation that was established by God-fearing men.  These were men and women who sought to find a land where they could worship and serve God as they understood scripture to teach.  They had been persecuted in their homeland and sought to escape the tyranny of religious oppression and dogmatic religiosity that sought to conform men to their own “cookie-cutter” form of “Christianity.”  The religious tyrants would not allow the Holy Spirit to conform God’s people to the likeness of Christ Jesus, rather they preferred their own legalistic man-designed standard through which they endeavored to enslave men and create a people over whom they could rule.  After years of oppression, these Christians set out to find a land where they could serve the true God in freedom.  That land was destined to become the greatest nation in the history of mankind.  It is the United States of America.

        The blessings promised to Israel in Deuteronomy 28 were not only promised to Israel but they have been seen in America over the past couple of centuries.  It does not mean that there was not opposition.  It does not mean that there have not been injustices, inequities, murders, crimes, crooked politicians, and division and strife.  But the overall climate was one of respect for God and for God’s word.  Even in the Civil War, there were many Christians on both sides of the issues who believed they were fighting for a worthy cause.  While we look back 150 years and wonder how the issue of slavery could ever be considered “Christian” or “right,” there were many other matters of concern which entered the equation, and how we see things today is not how they saw the matter up close in their day.

        As Christians, most of us feel a certain respect for the fathers of the Great Reformation.  However, there were disputes that arose between “men of God” during the Reformation.  The dissension was so great over issues of doctrine that hatred and even murder was found among their ranks.  And yet, who can judge those men?  Who would say that the Great Reformation was not good for the church?  It awakened a new age and brought in the Gospel to a people void of truth; it was a light at a dark time in history and multitudes came to know Jesus Christ.  So while we don’t understand the thinking of men of those days, likewise we don’t completely comprehend the way Christians thought at the time when America was divided.

        Comparing America to Israel is not Biblical in the sense that God has replaced Israel with America as some teach.  However, the principles set forth in Deuteronomy 28 are for any nation who will make the Lord their God and honor Him by observing His word, applying it to that nation’s standards and values.  Therefore the instructions and warnings recorded in Deuteronomy are relevant to America because this nation was founded upon Judeo-Christian principles and, therefore, placed itself in a position to receive God’s blessings.  Consider the blessings listed in the beginning of this article.

1. “The Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth.”

        Has not America risen to this promised position?  This nation was the envy of the world a few decades ago and has been the world’s superpower for over sixty years.

2. “Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.”

3. “Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.”

4. “Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.”

        God blessed America’s crops and she has become the “bread basket” of the world.  She ships her bounty throughout the world.

5. “Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.”

6. “The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.”

        God has blessed in all the wars in which America has been involved, from the Revolutionary War through WWII.  (It is only after she refused to declare war and war became more political than necessary for defense that she has begun to be the loser.)

7. “The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land…”

        God has blessed America in every industry she has set her hand to and her blessings have blessed most other nations in the world.

8. “The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself”

9. “And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee.”

        America has been considered by the world as a Christian nation.  America was great because she was basically a moral people who believed in God.

10. “And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land.”

11. “The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.”

        America has been blessed in all these ways.  She was a lender nation; she knew no debt.  The blessings promised to Israel have been seen in America because the citizens had a reverence and respect for God and His word.

        As we continue to see the decline of Christianity in America, we see the rise of crime, murders, rapes, burglaries, gang violence, road rage, etc.  Just today the news showed a motorcyclist using his helmet to break out the back window of a motorist’s car because of road rage.  Apparently the police are looking for the men involved in the altercation.  The daily news is filled with violent acts of men void of any knowledge of God and many people living in large cities are becoming more and more fearful as crime is becoming common even in daylight hours.  And yet with all these signs of God’s judgment, Christianity is being attacked more and more.  It’s not enough to have the Ten Commandments removed from our public buildings and prayer taken out of our schools, the agenda is to remove God out of our lives, out of our country and out of our minds.  As long as Christianity is preached or declared, there is this nagging conviction that men are living in sin.  But modern America loves sin.  They love promiscuity.  The shame of nakedness is foreign in America as her citizenry now publicly, flagrantly and proudly expose themselves in ways that years ago was only found in Playboy magazine.  Today, all you need to do is go to Walmart and you see it all around you.

        In returning to our lesson in Deuteronomy 28, we find that Moses gave warning to Israel of the curses that would follow if they turned from God’s word and followed the gods of the heathen.  Because the list is so long, we will here only refer to a few of those curses.  It would be to the advantage of the readers to read through Deuteronomy 28 for themselves and compare where we are as a nation.  Following is a list with a view of where America is today.

1. “Cursed shalt thou be in the city.” (Deut. 28:16)

        Our cities have become dangerous.  Gangs rule in many areas of our larger cities.  Consider these stats from the Washington Post comparing 2015 to 2014.  “The number of homicides in the country’s 50 largest cities rose nearly 17 percent last year, the greatest increase in lethal violence in a quarter century.”  Eleven major cities had an increase of murders of 50% or more.

2. “Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.  Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.” (Deut. 28:17-18)

        Why have evil men legalized murder of the unborn?  Is it the fulfilling of God’s promised judgment?  Why do we see so many “natural disasters” destroying our crops, cattle and property?  Are they natural disasters or God’s judgment?

3. “Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her.” (Deut. 28:30)

        The divorce rate in America is a disgrace to any society and sadly there is little difference among those professing Christianity and those who do not.

4. “Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand.”

      (Deut. 28:32)  “Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they  shall go into captivity.” (Deut. 28:41)

        As ISIS seems to gain members, many of America’s young people are being captivated with ISIS.  Drugs, sexual promiscuity, gangs, internet along with other addictions are taking our children from us and we are helpless to do anything about it.  We sit and mourn for them and long for their freedom.

5. “The Lord shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone.” (Deut. 28:36)

        America’s kings are several.  Worldly prosperity, pleasure, entertainment, luxuries, wealth, and many other kings now rule America’s citizenry.  God is a Sunday morning duty at best and certainly not the King and center of one’s life.  America serves other gods, none of which can save or grant eternal life.  They can only offer the pleasures of sin for a season.

6. “He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.”  (Deut. 28:44)

        America, once a debt-free nation, has become the greatest debtor nation of all time.  The national debt has risen to more than 19 trillion dollars, a sum beyond recovery except God intervene.  God will intervene if America will turn back to God.  God promised to hear if His people will call upon Him, pray, seek His face and turn from their wickedness.

7. “The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:” (Deut. 28:49-50)

        The thought here in verses 28 and 29 continues for several verses.  It deals with what this foreign hostile nation will do to Israel.  Today ISIS and radical Islam are certainly fulfilling this in our modern world and are destined to come to America in greater force as time goes on.  To think that America can toss God into the trash dump of religious folklore is to beg God to bring judgment upon her.  This she has done and continues to do.  America can boast of her super power, her military, her fruitful land, her bounty, her lavish economy but they are no match for God, and God is allowing the enemy to enter this nation unseen, undetected and unnoticed by many.  One Islamic leader said they would war a bloodless battle in America by infiltrating her schools, her courts, and her government.  They are succeeding.  The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have only emboldened the enemy.  They have served to cause other nations of the world to lose respect for America.  They have brought about a new hatred for her that she has not known before.  God’s judgment is being felt in America.  The hour is late and America’s hope hangs in the balance.  Those who know God must intercede for this nation.  Perhaps God will bring revival to His church and, through her, positively affect this nation.  Only God can change the course of America, and He will only do that if America returns to Him.

 

 

 

 

THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST

Armando Montes

        One early morning as I was getting up, I saw, by faith, a thread of blood close to my bed, coming from under the door of my bedroom.  As soon as I got dressed, I decided to follow it.  It led me to the main door of the building, crossed the parking lot, and soon was in the main highway.  It went up by mountains, down by valleys, by green fields.  I found myself caught up in the air going after the scarlet thread.  After so many miles, I recognized some places like the White House, Washington Memorial, Lincoln Memorial.  Suddenly I was following the scarlet thread over rough waters of the sea.  Many waters, many waters, some clouds in different sizes and shapes, a sunny sky and the glory of the Lord in His power and magnificence.

        After landing on the ground, the thread of blood took me through a thick jungle, a path that seems nobody has walked in before.  And then many voices began to praise the Living God, saying, “Glory to the Lamb, for Thou was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).  Then there was a very dark spot where no sunlight could penetrate because of the thickness of foliage.  And I heard voices, people talking in language I could not understand.  Suddenly, caught up in the air, I followed the scarlet thread over trees, mud huts, villages, cities, more rough waters, many waters, many waters.  Some golden fields were shining under the strength of the sun.  Then green fields, towns, cities.  As a cool breeze refreshed my spirit, I recognized the Eiffel Tower and the Seine River.  At the bottom of the tower there it was the scarlet thread.  It went through streets, railroads, tunnels and more rough waters, many waters, many waters.  In the distance there was a desolate place, a hill and on top of it an old rugged cross.  At the foot of the cross there was a fountain of blood.  And I heard a loud voice saying, “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness” (Zechariah 13:1).

        We know that this fountain is the precious blood of Christ.  Thanks be to God that this fountain is literally open.  God’s people can find daily cleansing in the blood of the Lamb.  But in the plan of Almighty God this fountain is going to be closed.  This is the time when the door of salvation is going to be shut.  Salvation will come to an end.

        In His infinite wisdom, our Heavenly Father chose the blood of His beloved Son as one of the means to cleanse and purify His people.  God’s children need to avail themselves of this great provision to walk holy and upright before the Lord.  Jesus is coming back to receive a spotless Church “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white” (Rev. 19:8).  “And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes?  And whence came they?  And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest.  And he said unto me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:13,14).

 

 

 

 

THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Part II

Fulfilled Prophecy

        One may ask how and when was the following prophecy fulfilled?  “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.  The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.  Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power” (Psa. 110:1-3).  The fulfillment was voiced by Peter on the day of Pentecost, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool.  Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:34-36).  Again, we read, “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (I Peter 3:22).  Again, “God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee” (Acts 13:33).  Again, “All things are delivered to me of my Father” (Luke 10:22).  Again, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18).  Again, “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever” (Jude vs. 25).

        Notice carefully the following texts, “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:20-22).  “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool” (Heb. 10:12, 13).  “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.  For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet (by their resurrection to damnation).  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.  For he hath put all things under his feet…and when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all” (I Cor. 15:23-28).

        In the above text we note that verse 24 should read, “Then the end,” for the word “cometh” is not in the original.  Millennists teach that instead of this being the “end” it is in reality only the beginning of a time of grace far superior to the grace under which we live today.  In this golden age, they say, that sinners will be converted after they see the return of Jesus Christ, the binding of Satan that takes away all temptations and sin, millions of righteous resurrected from the graves, the grand experience of seeing and hearing the patriarchs and prophets of old, the disciples and apostles of the first century, and above all, after meeting Christ face to face.  What an age of grace this would be!  But, brethren, this is only a fancied dream – not one text of Scripture can be found to sustain this happy hope.  If this were true, God would in the fullest of measure be indeed a “respecter of persons,” for in our time we have sin on every hand and we must overcome by faith; but in the millennium days one could look in any direction and see the miracle of the resurrection and the glories of the kingdom.  There is something very wrong with such an interpretation, for this would give the rejecter and unbeliever of today an infinitely easier environment in which to accept the Gospel.  A careful study of the writings of the Apostles, and the teachings of Jesus Christ, reveals that in this they do not concur.

        But, says one, “He shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.”  Where has a present fulfillment of this prophecy been made?  Answer: “And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matt. 21:44).

The Kingdom And The Church

        Another point to study is that quotation we hear so often with the assurance that this must be in the future, and therefore is to be fulfilled in the 1000 years.  It reads, “I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:29, 30).

        We will remember that in Matthew sixteen, Christ had asked Peter, “But whom say ye that I am?” (vs. 15)  Peter's response was satisfactory to Jesus and He replied to Peter, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock (of God, supplied) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:18, 19).  You will notice that the term “church” and the phrase, “kingdom of heaven,” are synonymous.  Why was Peter given the “keys” to the kingdom or the keys to the church?  Why, that he might “loose” and “bind” on earth, in pursuance of the power vested in him by Jesus Christ.

        Jesus then conferred upon the others the very same power, “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18:18).  Here, then, we find the same power and responsibility is conferred upon them all – but Peter being granted that power first would become Chairman of that body – and we do find that upon Peter rested many responsibilities the others were not called upon to perform.

Judging The Twelve Tribes

        In Matt. 19:27, 28, we read, “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?  And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  Here, let us remember that Jesus left the throne of His glory in the court of heaven to come to this earth to redeem man, and that at His ascension He returned to the right hand of the Father…where could there be more glory?  “We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. 8:1).  Just as surely as Jesus ascended to the glory He left, so surely the twelve apostles were to sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel and to perform their work at the same time that the Son was to “sit in the throne of his glory.”  This the apostles did…the gospel went first to the nation of Israel…then to the Gentiles.

        The above text is also quoted in Luke 22:28, 29.  I shall quote the 29th verse from the Greek-English New Testament Lexicon, by George Ricker Berry, for it lends a thought not found in the King James Version, “I appoint to you, as appointed to me my father, a kingdom, that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and may sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  The word from which “thrones” is derived has these meanings: “to sit, a stately seat (throne) by implication, power, a potentate – seat, a throne.” (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance).

        It is well known that in the days of the apostles, as in some foreign countries today, the place or position of a minister, priest, preacher or bishop was highly esteemed and greatly honored and respected.  It was in this sense that the apostles were to sit on “stately seats” and to judge the twelve tribes of Israel in their day and at the same time that Jesus was to “sit in the throne of his glory” (Matt. 19:28).  And who has taken a higher place of honor and respect, in all Christendom, than the twelve apostles?

        It is of interest to the careful student of Scripture to note that the word “regeneration” (Matt. 19:28) is derived from the Greek word meaning, “(spiritual) rebirth (state or act), i.e. spiritual renovation; spec. Messianic restoration: regeneration” (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance).  If this word “regeneration” always and only refers to the millennium we then must place Titus 3:5 in the millennium too, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

        The greatest time of “regeneration” to come to the Church was that regeneration which came right after the day of Pentecost, and further, we read that the apostles wrote “eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.”  They were to remain close to Him – near Him – they were to eat and drink from the same life-giving source of power, and we remember that the mere shadow of Peter brought life and healing (Acts 5:15).  Philip was carried away by the Spirit (Acts 8:39); Paul does miracles (See Acts 13:11; 14:10; 20:9,12, etc.).

The Millennium

        In our study of the “millennium” itself, we find all the information relative to it is contained in only one chapter of the entire Bible, and that is the twentieth chapter of the book of Revelation.  Whatever our final conclusion is on this subject, it must of necessity be in perfect harmony with all the rest of the Bible.  We must always be consistent.  We must always expound the dark places of Scripture by the clear ones, and always interpret the single texts of Scripture with the whole Scripture.

        It may surprise some to find for themselves that the teaching of the living righteous when Jesus comes and the resurrected saints at His coming will not be the ones who will reign a thousand years with Christ.  There is no Scriptural proof at all for this teaching.

        That the Bible teaches a reign of God's people on earth is not denied; but instead of it being in a future age, thank God, it is the present experience of all who are fully converted.  We have shown that in this dispensation, God's people are “in the kingdom of his dear Son” and possess its elements in their hearts now: “righteousness, joy, peace in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).  With Paul, Jesus left this record, “the kingdom of God is within you,” or as some render it, “the reign of God is within you.”  Possessing the kingdom and reigning through the grace of God is the same experience.  Paul said, “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:21).  Peter describes the believers as, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood (kingly priest-hood; that is, a priesthood of kings; supplied) an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).

        The very things many people are looking for and expecting in some fancied future age-to-come are being enjoyed by God's people at this present time.  The writer of Revelation, in the first century declared, “Jesus Christ…the prince of the kings of the earth…hath made us kings and priests unto God…in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:5, 6, 9).  Jesus Christ was made “after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb. 5:10), and “this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God” (7:1) was both priest and King.  Jesus occupies the same positions, for the above text tells us that He was made “after the order of Melchisedec.”  John on Patmos testifies that we are “kings and priests”; let no one deny his testimony, for it would weaken all the rest of his writings.  We are “kings” now in a spiritual sense, for we can conquer Satan at his worst, our own desires and our appetites and our natures, through Jesus Christ the source of all our power.  Paul wrote, “I keep under my body” (I Cor. 9:27).  The “wise man” said, “He that ruleth his spirit (is better) than he that taketh a city” (Prov. 16:32).  We are also “priests,” for we present ourselves before the throne of grace to obtain the merits of Calvary – the shed blood.  To the Romans, Paul wrote, “sin shall not have dominion over you” (Rom. 6:14).  Yes, we reign over sin, if our connections are truly with the power of God's strength.  In another sense, we reign over all those who hear the Gospel by our preaching, for by rejecting the minister of Jesus Christ, they have rejected Him.  No teaching is more clear than this in all the Bible.  It must be agreed by all who have studied the book of Revelation that it contains much that is symbolic; still when it comes to “a thousand years” it is accepted as literal and a period of time definitely set at 354,000 days or 365,000 days depending on whether we use the Jewish calendar or our Gregorian calendar in our calculations.  With many, it is exactly 1000 years to the very day – a position in itself that is of great uncertainty.  We are told “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (II Peter 3:8).  Taking the term in its symbolic sense, we see that it refers to a period of time without exact limitations as to time.  This period may be termed a season or day of the Lord.  This is “the day of salvation” – but it has lasted now some two thousand years; therefore, the exact length of the Lord's seasons relating to the future is not given in the Word.

They Lived And Reigned – Who?

        Now what did John see?  “I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus…and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4).  If we inquire who or what lives and reigns with Christ during that period, we must use only the words and meaning contained within the verse itself.  Our man-made theories are not sufficient, and the answer is that John saw, as he stated, “the souls of them that were beheaded.”  The word “souls” is the antecedent of the pronoun “they,” and makes its meaning crystal clear.  According to the text, he did not see the living saints of our time, nor the ones to be resurrected at His coming, reigning with Christ or Christ reigning with them.  He saw “the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands, and THEY LIVED AND REIGNED WITH CHRIST A THOUSAND YEARS.” (caps. supplied)

        As surprising as it may be, only the “souls of them that were beheaded…reigned with Christ a thousand years.”  If we insist that “souls” here means, “persons or people,” then we would have, “I saw the persons of those persons” or “I saw the people of those people,” etc.  If the persons or beings themselves were seen in vision – why did he not say that?  If the persons of living saints were the ones he saw, then the first part of this sentence is superfluous.  But so it does not read.  We must take it as it reads, and believe it as it reads, without adding our own personal views, no matter how dear that view may be or how long we have held it.  We must be willing to “grow in grace and…knowledge.”

        We are merely told that John saw the souls (lives or life principle) of the beheaded ones.  That Christ reigns at the right hand of the Father is a fact.  That the life of those referred to, as well as the life of all saints, “is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3, 4), is also a scriptural fact.  Therefore since Christ reigns, the life reigns with Him, until He who is our life shall appear; then shall the persons to whom this mystery of life is given, appear in glory with Him.  At that time the mystery of the life that is hid in Christ, shall be re-united with the resurrected body, and that reign shall begin and last forever and ever (see Eph. 2:1, 6).

        A careful reading of the entire twentieth chapter of Revelation will show that this reign (vs. 4) was before the resurrection of the literal dead, and that this resurrection is composed of both good and bad, for some are found written in the book of life and some are not (vs. 11-15).  This fact must not be overlooked or minimized, for it is fatal to the whole idea that the living saints, along with the resurrected ones, will reign with Christ for a thousand years.

        It is also a fact that the clause, “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished” (vs. 5), is not found in the Vatican MS., and consequently is of disputed authority.  However, it neither adds to, nor detracts from, the strength of the argument.  “This is the first resurrection,” connects in sense with the fourth verse, but as previously studied, this first resurrection is that spiritual resurrection of which Paul wrote, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Eph. 5:14).  Paul also wrote for our admonition and learning, “he loved us, even when we were dead in sins…and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-6).

        It was sometime before the 1000 year period that these saints were “beheaded,” and it was their faith and belief in Jesus Christ which brought on this persecution.

        It is evident from a study of the entire New Testament that whatever this 1000 year period is, or when it commenced, IT DOES NOT BEGIN WITH THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST – THIS IS CERTAIN.  The day in which the saints will arise from the dead is called by Christ Himself “the last day.”  Notice this in the following, “And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.  And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day…No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:39, 40, 44).  We also observe that this “last day” is called “the day of judgment,” (Matt. 10:15; 11:24; Mark 11:6; Matt. 12:36) etc.  Therefore, there shall be no millennial interval between the resurrection and the judgment; they will take place on one and the same day – the last day.  “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).  “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” (Matt. 16:27).

        It is clear also from Scripture that the present mixed state of things will continue, as is, to the Day of Judgment, and will be immediately succeeded by that day.  The tares and the wheat will grow together until the harvest, which is the “end of the world” – the last day – the Great Day – the Judgment Day (See Matt. 13:30-42).  The Lord of the harvest will then send forth the reapers, who are the Angels, to gather up the tares, and to bind them in bundles, to burn them, and to store the Wheat in His barn.  So, again, the chaff will remain mixed with the grain till the Judge comes to “purge his floor,” and to winnow the one from the other.  The good and bad fish will remain together in the net of the professing Church till it is drawn to shore, and then the good will be gathered into vessels, and the bad be cast away.  The bad and good guests will remain at the table together till the King comes to see them all, and to cast the man without the wedding garment into outer darkness.  The wise and the foolish virgins slumber and sleep (in the Church) till the midnight cry is made, and the Bridegroom comes: and they that are ready go into the marriage, and the door is shut.

        These parables show that the present mixed state of things will continue till Christ comes; and that then a full and final separation will take place: and they teach us plainly the solemn truth, that there is no Millennial gulf between Time and Eternity.

        “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth…And the devil…was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:7-10).

        As the time for the coming of Christ draws near, Satan redoubles his effort to now “deceive the nations,” as we see on every hand today – and here John seizes upon an Old Testament picture, where the greatest army ever gathered for battle is mentioned (Ezek. 38 & 39) Gog and Magog.  These multiplied thousands come up, and are wholly overthrown.

        This final effort of Satan ends in utter defeat and he is cast into the lake of fire.  This ends forever the power of the devil upon earth, for the very next scene is the “great white throne” and the resurrection of the countless dead of all ages.

        It is clearly taught in the Scriptures that there shall be a “resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15), and Jesus confirmed this when He said, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28, 29).

        In this resurrection and judgment scene (Rev. 20:11-15), “the dead small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works…and whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

        In this judgment scene the utmost accuracy is to be observed; each individual is to be examined, and then the book of life is examined to see if his name is found there; and if not, that settles the matter, he is cast into the lake of fire.

        No mention is made of another chance to exercise faith or to repent of wickedness, for from this just judgment of God, who “judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart,” there is no appeal.  This is the final and eternal separation of the one who, entering the Garden of Eden, wreaked his wrath upon our first parents and brought the whole human race down to sorrow and death.  But this night is about over – when, we do not know – but the very day has been set on the calendar of God, of this Paul assures us, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:30, 31).

        Thus the Word of God speaks; may we have the faith and courage to believe it, and to let our Savior reign in our hearts and lives, to the saving not only of ourselves, but that others might be saved, too.

 

 

 

 

MIRACLES OF GOD IN THE TRAVELS OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL

Harry Miller

(Study Number 8)

        If we love the Lord with all of our hearts, our minds, and our strength, we will not find it hard to keep His commandments.  Neither will there be any place in our hearts for idols or covetousness.

        All of the Ten Commandments were given for man's good – not for his bondage.  To serve idols is not only to rob God, but it is to bring one's self into bondage to satanic powers.  These powers not only mar the temple of the Holy Ghost, but they make sport of it, and wherever they are able to do so, these evil powers fight the work of God through vessels which will yield to them.

        God's law of respect to parents taught a great fundamental that would be a blessing to any nation which practiced it.  The respect of law and order should start in the home.  If this had been carried out, there wouldn't be so many rebels in the world today (II Tim. 3:1,2).

        Another of God's laws which men disregard concerns the Sabbath: “The Sabbath of the Lord” (Rev. 1:10); the “Lord's day” (Matt. 12:2-8).  The son of man is the Lord of the Sabbath (John 1:1,2).  He created it.  Man needed a weekly lesson to remind him of the POWER of the Holy Ghost.  God CREATED the earth in six days and rested on the seventh.

        All things are possible with God.  This is a foundation for great faith, but men have failed to keep the “sign,” and have forgotten the mighty power of the Almighty God.  Since God blessed and SANCTIFIED the SEVENTH day, WHY is it that men keep another day?

        Without law, it is impossible to have government.  With any law, there must be a power to enforce its precepts; therefore, with the setting forth of the law, there must be included the penalty for the violation of the law.  The wages of sin is death – therefore, death is the penalty men pay for breaking God's laws.  And bear in mind that the wages of sin is STILL DEATH; Christ did not set aside this law, neither did He destroy ANY LAW OF GOD (Matt. 5:17,18).

        In Exodus 23:10, 11 we read of the Sabbath of the land: the land was to be given a rest every seventh year.  This, too, was for man's benefit.  Men of science tell us that if this thing had been followed out, we would not have the many destructive insects found in our fields today.

        Israel was given many things that pointed men to the eternal rest, or Sabbath of the Great God.  Man's labors and man's toils are all wearisome.  We must learn to cease from our own works AS GOD DID FROM HIS, and enter into that true state of perfection, where, by seeking FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, these other things will be given us without human effort or struggle to attain them.

        The fertile plain at the foot of Mt. Sinai became a vast, open schoolroom for the children of Israel.  Here for twelve long months they were to receive numerous instructions from heaven.  Eternal knowledge and wisdom would pour forth, and those who “had an ear to hear what the spirit sayeth” would be greatly benefited.

        The call of God was not only for these people to be prepared to enter the hills of Palestine, but they were to take hold of eternal things to such an extent that they could enter into “His rest,” a place yet to be acquired by the people of God.  It was necessary that they should receive a great deal of instruction, and so God gave them innumerable object lessons and also many plain directions for the daily needs of those who seek eternal life.

        The camp, their dwellings, their place of worship, hundreds of their daily acts, all had great significance.  Those who were seekers of God's truths were baptized in a deluge of the wonders and mysteries of great things to come.  But it seems that only a few of the people acquired much understanding concerning the works of the Lord; for their many rebellions were a direct testimony against their belief in the Lord of Glory.  If they had believed God, they would not have fallen into the many temptations and snares that so commonly beset man.

        The community plan of living was a great hedge about Israel.  Here they were made to know that they were a family, and that God had set them apart from the rest of the world.  Their lives were not bound down to commerce, or to the customs of the heathen about them; but there in God's camp, they were taught that every affair revolved around the tabernacle of God, and that the pillar of the fire of His Presence was in their midst.  Day and night the King of Glory overshadowed them.  They should have realized that they had but one mission upon earth, and that was to serve the King of Glory.

        The history of the world could have been one great witness to the glory of God if these believers of Jehovah had lived up to their own testimony.  They told Moses, “All that the Lord hath said that will we do.”  But within the space of forty days, they had begun to fear, and soon they fell into the old idolatrous ways to which they had been so accustomed in Egypt.  From the Living God who shook the mountain, they turned to the worship of the golden calf.  They were like so many people today who claim to love God, but acually they are serving gods of gold.

        The anger of the Lord was kindled against the idolaters, and if it had not been for the intercession of Moses, the whole camp would have been destroyed by the fire of God's wrath.  This great transgression was forgiven, but the Lord warned Moses that the angel of His Presence would go before them and that they had better beware.  Before Him, their works, and not their testimony, would be the things that counted.

        The sin offering which Moses made prevailed for a covering for the camp, but it was quite evident that each man must “work out his own salvation with fear and trembling.”  The angel of the Lord would be a great blessing to them as long as they obeyed, but when they disobeyed, he was a swift judge, and punishment was severe.

        In the days of the early church, this same power was still manifest, for when Ananias and Sapphira tried their little trick before the angel of the Lord, they were cut down dead.  Many people seem to think that such things only happened in Old Testament times, but bear in mind that the same God rules today, and the power of the holy angels has not diminished.  Just as great obedience will be demanded today as was demanded in the days of old.

        The reason man can so flagrantly sin today is that the power of God is not manifest, for most of the present-day church is so dead, it is void of anything supernatural.

        But when this power of the Mighty God is restored, there will be great judgment in the earth.  Many people will stumble over the severity of His judgment.  We read, in the book of Revelation, that men will “blaspheme” the God of heaven for the plagues that have come upon them.

        The greatest sin of the last day is the sin of breaking the everlasting covenant (Isa. 24:5; II Thes. 2:3).  This sin is to become of such world magnitude that it is known as “the falling away:” a real end-time sign.

        Too many people forget that we as Christians have entered into a covenant, or agreement, with God.  We have made a conditional contract with the Lord, just as Israel did before Sinai.  We, too, have said, “All the words which the Lord hath said we will do.”  No man who has ever had a genuine “born again” experience would deny that when we “touched the Lord” by faith, we made Him great promises.  These promises are VOWS in the eyes of heaven, and these vows are taken as due at face value, by the atonement of the Saviour.  Time, however, will prove the validity of a contract, and the loyalty and faithfulness of those who have made the promise is brought to light.  The loyalty and faithfulness of Job was in question before the hosts of heaven, but TIME, through its many tests, brought to light this man's true stand; and the righteousness of the Lord's redemption of Job was vendicated in the eyes of all heaven.

        God cannot be a partaker of any man's sin.  For Him to clear the guilty merely by edict would make Him a partaker of the sinner's sin, but no place in Holy Writ is such a doctrine taught.  Repentance is taught in both the Old and New Testaments.  Repentance is more that just a godly sorrow for sin; it is a complete turning away from, or forsaking of sin that is involved.  Only on the grounds of repentance can any sinner be cleansed by atonement.  It is true that atonement can only be made by the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world; so when Christ died, He died for any man who was TRYING to serve God.

        Much blood was shed in Israel: blood of lambs, of goats, and of bullocks.  These were for a continual burnt offering which pointed forward to the One who would come and make the true sacrifice.  Yet all of this blood prevailed only for those who OBEYED the commands of the Lord.  The others fell into unbelief and perished in the wilderness.

        We are told that “all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition” (I Cor. 10:11).  Therefore, it would be well to make an earnest study of every phase of God's work with these ancient believers who failed to ENTER into His “REST.”

        Before interpreting the many strange object lessons given through Israel, it would be well for us to bear in mind that any such interpretation should never be used to prove a docrine.  Doctrine should stand only upon the apostles.  Too many people have fallen into many errors by putting human interpretations upon mystical things.  The “hidden (mystical) things belong unto God.”  Let us not be presumptuous like the many false prophets who always try to make the word of God say what they have devised.  There is a law by which every interpretation can be faithfully judged, and that is this: if the interpretation agrees with the PLAIN words of Jesus and the apostles, it is truth.

        The ninth and tenth chapters of the book of Hebrews tell us that the tabernacle which Moses built was a “figure” of the true tabernacle which the Lord made.  This tabernacle is called “heaven.”  The tent or tabernacle in the wilderness was a two-room building, so constructed that it could be taken down and moved from time to time.  Its floor was the earth, and its walls were of acacia boards covered with gold.  These boards rested upon sockets of silver and the sides were held together by rods of gold which bound the whole building into one unit.

        There were no windows, and only one door to the outside.  Between the two rooms there hung a heavy curtain which was known as the “vail.”  The first compartment was known as the “holy place,” and the second was called the “most holy.”

        About the tabernacle building, there was a large yard, or court, which was contained within four walls of canvas curtains.  It looked much like a seven foot fence, except, that instead of boards, the sides were made of canvas.  These canvas walls obscured the view of the curious.  Only the priests were allowed within this enclosure, to give service to God.  This was a picture of the true worship of our God today, for the natural man perceiveth not the things of God, for they are foolishness unto him.  God has hidden the glorious things from those who are merely curious.

        Instead of the Levitical priesthood serving the Lord now, every true believer is a priest unto our God.  When the priests were first ordained to their ministry, each one was brought to the door of the court where Moses (who is also a type of Christ) stripped him of his clothes and washed him.  Then he was given the garments designed by the Lord.  This is a type of conversion; being born again; being made a child of God.  The man then became a priest;  not going about doing as he pleased, but working under the high priest, at his direction and guidance according to the laws of God.

        Too many people today think that in serving God, they can go according to their own plans and heart's desire, but such is not the teaching of scripture.  “God is a spirit; and they that worship Him MUST worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

        Before the priest can minister in the tabernacle (which is a type of heaven), he must first pass the brazen altar of sacrifice.  Brass speaks of judgment.  Every idol must be consumed before we are fit to serve in the true tabernacle.  Upon the brazen altar must be burned sacrifices, some of which are a “sweet savor” to the Lord.  Drunkenness, thievery, adultery, hatred, and pride, are base sins which man casts down at the foot of the cross.  These come under the blood of the sin offering of Chris.  But when a man willingly yields his plans, his ambitions, his family, his all, as a sacrifice, this is a “sweet savor” unto the Lord.  All heaven must acknowledge the quality of such a sacrifice.  God is thus honored in the eyes of the mighty ones of Glory.

        Upon the brazen altar in the wilderness, the “daily sacrifice” was made.  This was for a covering for the sins of the whole camp.  It typified Jesus, as the Savour, dying for the “sins of the whole world.”  As long as Jesus makes this daily sacrifice, divine judgment is kept from destroying the sinning world.

        The day is coming when this mediation of Christ will stop.  Then the “door” shall be shut, for “the day of salvation” will have ended; then the mighty judgments of God will pour forth upon this sinning old world.

        The Passover sacrifice was instituted for the “first-born.”  It pictured the blood-covering for those who are born again.  This was a mighty sign of the new birth, and of the power of the blood of Christ for His people.

        The second piece of furniture in the court was called the “laver,” which was also of brass.  It was made of the mirrors which had belonged to the women.  It was shaped like a huge goblet, the bowl or basin part being filled with water.  Here the priest, before he went into the holy place, must wash both his hands and his feet.  As he looked into the water of the laver, his own features were reflected back and he saw himself through the water.  This represents the experiene we have as we look into the water of the Word, and see our true condition.  Then, by the grace of God, we cleanse ourselves “with the washing of water by the Word” (Eph. 5:26; Rev. 7:14; Heb. 10:22; I John 3:3; I Pet. 1:22).

        The hands speak of ministry; the feet, of a walk with God.  These must be clean upon entrance into the “holy place.”  Bear in mind that the priest was a “washed man” before he was permitted to put on the holy garments, yet each time he came to the holy place, he must again be washed.

        The Lord Jesus spoke of this truth the night of the last supper.  You remember that Peter, after being told that he could have no part with Jesus unless he be washed, said, “Lord, not my feet only, but my hands and my head.  Jesus sayeth unto him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean” (John 13;9,10).

        After washing, the priest was ready to enter the door of the tabernacle, where five pillars held up the beautiful hangings of fine-twined linen, woven with blue, purple, and scarlet.  (Its outer covering was of goats' hair.)  The priest entered a large room where no sunlight ever shone, where the only light was that which came from the seven lamps of the golden candelabrum.  He was now closed within the realm of the person of the Almighty; only a thin “vail” separated him from the great Presence.  No words were here spoken.  The priest's acts must be strictly according to law; one slip or careless step, and death would strike him down.

        It was here that through carelessness the two sons of the high priest met instant death when they offered “strange fire” before the Lord (Lev. 10:1,2).  The actual Presence of the God of Glory filled the Tabernacle.  Those who approached Him must of necessity strictly abide by law.  No man could ever see His face and live.  No one could possibly come before Him presumptuously, without suffering the violence of a fiery end of life.  Men must fear God as well as love Him; great esteem and reverence is demanded by the powers of heaven whenever He is revealed to any of His creatures.  Lightness and frivolity in the presence of God is a base manifestation of profound ignorance.  Such things were never practiced under either the Old or New Covenants, according to scripture.

        The “holy place,” and “the most holy” were “patterns of things in the heavens” (Heb. 9:23).  It seems evident from this that in the heavenlies there must be two distinctly different realms.  Is it possible to find PLAIN STATEMENTS of Christ and the apostles that confirm such a belief?

        Let us first consider the “most holy” place, since it is easier to define.  In the ninth chapter of Hebrews this is called the “Holiest of all,” and it is said that into this apartment went the high priest alone, but once a year, and as long as the tabernacle was standing upon this earth the Holy Ghost was signifying that the WAY into it was not yet manifest.  When Christ, our high priest, came to obtain eternal redemption, He took His blood, once, into the holy place of the “more perfect tabernacle.”  Here He appeared before God, and today remains there as our mediator.

        This Holy Presence, where Christ is, cannot be seen by mortal man.  “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto: whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (I Tim. 6:16).  Not until the day of resurrection, when mortals shall be made immortal, will man be ready to enter the “most holy.”  It is then that the Lord shall present men “faultless before the Presence of His Glory.”

        After His resurrection, Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene.  When she fell to the ground before Him and was about to clasp His feet, He said, “touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father, and your Father, and to my God and to your God” (John 20:17).  As the High Priest, untouched by anything that was earthly, He must first appear before the Father with His own blood.

        In Revelation, chapter twelve He is pictured as the “man child” which is caught up to heaven.

        Daniel 9:24 tells us that here He makes an “end of sins” and that He shall “anoint the most holy.”

        This brings an end to the reign of the devil who is cast out into the earth.  (Rev. 12:9).  It is also a fulfillment of John 16:11, which says that the “prince of this world IS judged.”

        Satan, “as lightening,” fell from heaven.  Thus the sanctuary was cleansed ONCE AND FOR ALLL; the work of the High Priest was complete over all the powers of darkness.  Now the task of bringing many sons unto Glory lay before Him, and as the years roll by, He leads them on to His rest.  This is His work today.

        Because of numerous erroneous things many latter-day Christians have been taught, it is now most difficult to determine the location of the second compartment of the heavenly sanctuary.  Is there a place, or realm, between the earth and the place where the Father sits upon His throne?

        We find this promise, given to the overcomers of the early Ephesian Church: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches: to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7).

        Man once lived in this realm of Paradise; here was perfection; here, also, was THE TREE OF LIFE.  Paradise was not destroyed – man was just driven from it.

        Many people believe that Eden was merely a physical place, located somewhere between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, and that, at the time of the flood, this place was destroyed.  But the evidence of scripture does not bear out this idea.  There is no record of the closing, or destruction, of Paradise.  As a matter of fact, we have good reason to believe that it still exists, for after man was driven out ot this realm, God “placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to KEEP THE WAY of the tree of life” (Gen. 3:24).

        Remember that inside of the earthly tabernacle the board walls were covered with a beautiful covering of blue, purple, and scarlet, and woven into the cloth were the likenesses of the CHERUBIMS (Ex. 26:1; 36:8).

        The apostle Paul said that he had the experience of being “caught up” (caught away) to the “third heaven.”  He said that he went INTO paradise, and there heard words which it was unlawful for man to utter.  It can be readily understood how easy it was for Paul to desire to be “absent from the body and be present with the Lord,” for he had been given a taste of the glories that are in store for the faithful.

        In Luke, the sixteenth chapter, Jesus gives us an account of a true happening in a realm beyond the grave.  To say that this is a “parable,” and therefore untrue, is the equivalent of saying that the parables which Jesus gave were fables.  But there is a vast difference between a parable and a fable.  A fable is a pure out-and-out myth, or lie.  Christ never used myths, fables, or lies to teach truth.

        Those who would try to do away with the existence of Paradise must do violence to much scripture.

        If there is no realm between earth and the place of God's throne, then where is the city of God?  Where is the general assembly of the first born?  Why does the writer of the book of Hebrews tell us “ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, and to the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the Spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb. 12:22,23)?

        If there is no Paradise, there is no city above.  But why, then, would Paul say, “Jerusalem which IS ABOVE is free, which is the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26)?  Many people look for the new Jerusalem to be a restoration of the ancient city now known spiritually as “Sodom and Egypt where our Lord was crucified,” but we are told that Jerusalem shall come down from God OUT OF HEAVEN, and this occurs AFTER a new Heaven and a new earth are brougt forth (Rev. 21:2).  According to scripture, the heavenly Zion would certainly seem to exist today.

        The Lord has said that He hath “set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night…till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth…For behold I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.  But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy” (Isa. 62:7; 65:17).

 

 

 

 

THE FULLNESS OF TIME

Curtis Dickinson

        The appearance of Jesus is easily the central event in the history of mankind as is attested by the dating of all events as either B.C. or A.D.  All time is measured by the entrance of the eternal into its bounds.  Most significant in this regard is the ending of one age and the beginning of another, in which we now live.

        Jesus began His ministry with these startling words: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

        The Jewish leaders understood exactly what He meant, that their regime was coming to an end, and early on set out to destroy the One who stated it.

        In the midst of Paul’s great argument that the Old Covenant (which he termed “the law”) is no longer in effect, he stated: “When the fullness of the time came God sent forth his son born of a woman” (Gal. 4:4).

        This “fullness of time” had nothing to do with conditions among nations (the Gentiles), with their politics, their wars and economic problems.  It had everything to do with the nation of Israel and the covenant God had with them.

        The ancient nation was to be no more.  God had been faithful to them, but they had failed to keep covenant with Him and, according to His promise, they were to be cast out.

        “Therefore I say unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matt. 21:43).

        To make sure they understood this to refer to a complete end of the then existing religious economy, He pointed out that the temple, the center of their nationhood and religion, was to be destroyed totally and that judgment was to fall upon that generation.

        “And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and offerings, he said, As for these things which you behold, the day will come, in which there shall not be left here one stone upon another” (Luke 21:5,6 Cf. Luke 21:20-24).

        The time of the special privileges, special protection, special blessings, special homeland and special relationship with God for the 12 tribes had been fulfilled (Cf. Rom. 9:4-5).

        It was the fullness of time for the Old Covenant.  Jeremiah had promised a New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34).  Moses, at the inauguration of the Old Covenant, said that it was limited in time.

        “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him shall ye hearken” (Deut. 18:15).

        Peter said that this prophet was Jesus (Acts 3:23).  The Old Covenant had given way to the New Covenant established through Christ, who had symbolized His death in the bread and cup of the last supper, saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood” (Matt. 26:28).

        The Old Covenant was kept in force continually by the blood of the sacrifice applied to the Ark of the Covenant behind the veil in the Holy of Holies.  At Christ’s death this veil was torn away by divine power, signaling the end of both sacrifice and covenant.

        The covenant with Abraham was a covenant of promise, promising the coming of the “seed” through which all nations were to be blessed (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14).  That seed was Christ (Gal. 3:16), and through the atonement attained by His death and resurrection all nations have been blessed indeed.  The Old Covenant was “added,” explained Paul, because of their transgressions (Gal. 3:19).  It was to be in force until the seed (Christ) should come.  It was parenthetical, and never intended to be perpetual.  It was typical foreshadowing the eternal things that were to come through Christ.

        The Old Covenant required a High Priest and daily sacrifices and offerings.  The priest had to be replaced from time to time, as they grew old and died.  In Hebrews it is explained that we now have a High Priest who does not need to be replaced, for He is Christ, Who is immortal (Heb. 7:23,24).  The rites of blood sacrifices ended as Christ became the fulfillment of all such sacrifices.

        “In which will we have to be sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Heb. 10:10).  Christ was both Priest and Sacrifice.  “For such a high priest became us…who needeth not daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people; for this he did once for all, when he offered up himself” (Heb. 7:26,27).

        Those who want to make Judaism and the atheist state of Israel the focus of God’s concern are doing so at the price of debasing the work of Christ in establishing His new covenant, His church and His own Priesthood and reign (Matt. 5:33,34,38,39,43,44; 9:16; Luke 16:16; John 1:17; Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:19,25; 4:4,5,31; Heb. 7:11,12,18,19,22; 8:6-8,13).

        It was the fullness of time for the racial privileges of the seed of Jacob.  Paul writes that once there was a separation between nations (Gentiles) and the commonwealth of Israel, “But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ, for he is our peace, who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances.”  And now all the household is one, “being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:14-20).

        Therefore, under the New Covenant national distinctions are wiped out completely.

        “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.  There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus.  And if ye are Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:27-29).

 

 

 

 

LINDA JEAN HOYLE

 (September 2, 1944 – September 2, 2016)

 

        Sister Linda Jean Hoyle, who has been a member of People of the Living God since 1993 passed away on September 2, 2016 in her home.  Sister Linda left us on her seventy-second birthday.  She had a massive heart attack shortly after supper and, having finished her work here, the Lord took her to be with Him.

        Sister Linda was raised in a Methodist church and, being told she was saved, joined the church.  However, she felt there should be more to being a Christian than what she was experiencing in her life.  Her husband was given a magazine from an Amish man entitled, “The Testimony of Truth” and after reading it she signed up to receive it each month.  Being somewhat busy with her job, she set them aside at first.  However, her job changed and she was scheduled to work at night.  She decided to take the magazines to work with her so she could read them on her breaks.  She began to see there truly was something more to being a Christian; it was a walk with God.  As she read her eyes were open to truths she had not seen before as the Holy Spirit gave witness to the truth.  Later she, along with her husband, Gary and daughter, Sarah visited “People of the Living God” in McMinnville, Tennessee.  During that visit, she knew she was to be a part of this ministry.  The family went back to Indiana and sold all they had and moved to Tennessee.  She never looked back, knowing God had called her and blessed her.

        Sister Linda was a prayer warrior.  She loved to pray and serve others.  She has been one of the cooks for People of the Living God and she will certainly be missed.