Revelation 19:1-2 1 After this I heard a sound like the roar of a great multitude in heaven, shouting:
“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God!
"the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting" (New International Version - NIV)
"like a vast crowd in heaven shouting" (New Living Translation - NLT)
"a great voice of much people, saying" (King James Version - KJV)
"a lot of voices in heaven, and they were shouting" (Contemporary English Version - CEV)
"the loud voice of a vast throng in heaven, saying" (Holman Christian Study Bible - HCSB)
Stong's Exhaustive Concordance:
[a sound] like - ὡς (hōs) - Adverb
Strong's Greek 5613: Probably adverb of comparative from hos; which how, i.e. In that manner.
[the] roar - μεγάλην (megalēn) - Adjective - Accusative Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 3173: Large, great, in the widest sense.
of a great - πολλοῦ (pollou) - Adjective - Genitive Masculine Singular
Strong's Greek 4183: Much, many; often.
multitude - ὄχλου (ochlou) - Noun - Genitive Masculine Singular
Strong's Greek 3793: From a derivative of echo; a throng; by implication, the rabble; by extension, a class of people; figuratively, a riot.
heaven, - οὐρανῷ (ouranō) - Noun - Dative Masculine Singular
Strong's Greek 3772: Perhaps from the same as oros; the sky; by extension, heaven; by implication, happiness, power, eternity; specially, the Gospel.
shouting: - λεγόντων (legontōn) - Verb - Present Participle Active - Genitive Masculine Plural
Strong's Greek 3004: (a) I say, speak; I mean, mention, tell, (b) I call, name, especially in the pass., (c) I tell, command.
“Hallelujah! - Ἁλληλουϊά (Hallēlouia) - Hebrew Word
Strong's Greek 239: Hallelujah, Praise the Lord. Of Hebrew origin; praise ye Jah!, an adoring exclamation.
Salvation - σωτηρία (sōtēria) - Noun - Nominative Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 4991: Feminine of a derivative of soter as noun; rescue or safety.
glory - δόξα (doxa) - Noun - Nominative Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 1391: From the base of dokeo; glory, in a wide application.
power - δύναμις (dynamis) - Noun - Nominative Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 1411: From dunamai; force; specially, miraculous power.
I'm trying to show you that the first verse in Revelation 19 has all of Heaven shouting praise to God! And Heaven doesn't just have one or two people there. There is a vast throng, a great multitude, a lot of people, a downright RIOT! Too many times, churches have demanded great dignity and solemnity in their worship services. But around God's throne, in His throne room, all the inhabitants of Heaven are gathered round and praising God with their whole heart, body and spirit! They are shouting in a voice so loud that it sounds like a roar!
There must be balance. I know there are times for quiet introspection, meditation, prayer. I know God is the Supreme Being, maker of Heaven and Earth, and we must give Him the awe, reverence and respect He deserves. We certainly shouldn't do things that interrupt the move of God in our own hearts or in the hearts of others around us. We shouldn't be drawing attention to ourselves by being loud and discourteous during a time that calls for quiet and respect. But there are also times when it calls for praising God with everything you have! Shouting, singing a new song aloud, praying outloud, raising our hands, dancing in joy, falling on our faces or bowing before Him, weeping in rapture, playing any instrument we can play, clapping our hands. Sometimes, I can hardly stand still and I feel like jumping up and down, walking or dancing (not the world's dancing but in abandoned joy). It's being free to do what your heart prompts you to do in praising God. You don't care what others are thinking, you are just loving God and experiencing His love. There are many other ways to praise and worship God such as writing a song; writing a book; being generous with your moneytime, energy, skills and talents; using God-given gifts to serve others; testifying and witnessing about what God has done for you; etc. In fact, our whole life is suppose to be lived as worship to God. But I want to focus on this riotous praise for now. Keeping everything in balance and having godly order but allowing for those times of releasing in abandoned praise. Worship is a natural instinct and a basic need for every person. We are built to worship. Too many people worship the wrong things. But when we worship God, we are doing what we were made to do. We are hardwired that way. We were made to have a love relationship with God. So it not only brings joy to God, but fills our deepest needs and releases joy in us. We don't worship to please ourselves. We worship to exalt a God who deserves our worship and praise! But the benefit of doing what we were meant to do, is great joy, satisfaction, peace, and overwhelming love for God. When we have a vibrant relationship with God, praise comes naturally, it flows.
Let's look at extravagant, riotous praise and worship and see what the Bible says about it.
John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
Deuteronomy 6:5 "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength"
1 Chronicles 16:8-13,23-25,28-33
8 Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
9 Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
10 Exult in his holy name;
rejoice, you who worship the LORD.
11 Search for the LORD and for his strength;
continually seek him.
12 Remember the wonders he has performed,
his miracles, and the rulings he has given,
13 you children of his servant Israel,
you descendants of Jacob, his chosen ones.
23 Let the whole earth sing to the LORD!
Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
24 Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.
Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.
25 Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise!
He is to be feared above all gods.
28 O nations of the world, recognize the LORD,
recognize that the LORD is glorious and strong.
29 Give to the LORD the glory he deserves!
Bring your offering and come into his presence.
Worship the LORD in all his holy splendor.
30 Let all the earth tremble before him.
The world stands firm and cannot be shaken.
31 Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!
Tell all the nations, “The LORD reigns!”
32 Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
33 Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
2 Samuel 6:5,14-15 David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD with all kinds of wood instruments, harps, stringed instruments, tambourines, sistrums, and cymbals...
14 And David, wearing a linen ephod, danced with all his might before the LORD, 15 while he and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of the trumpets. 16 As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Saul’s daughter Michal looked down from a window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, and she despised him in her heart.
Psalm 150:3-6 3 Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn;
praise him with the lyre and harp!
4 Praise him with the tambourine and dancing;
praise him with strings and flutes!
5 Praise him with a clash of cymbals;
praise him with loud clanging cymbals.
6 Let everything that breathes sing praises to the LORD!
Psalm 98:4-8 4 Shout to the LORD, all the earth;
break out in praise and sing for joy!
5 Sing your praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song,
6 with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn.
Make a joyful symphony before the LORD, the King!
7 Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
Let the earth and all living things join in.
8 Let the rivers clap their hands in glee!
Let the hills sing out their songs of joy
Psalm 47:1-2 Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!
Psalm 95:6 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
Psalm 63:4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
Hebrews 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.
Ephesians 5:19-20 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians 3:16-17 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Dancing in the world is not necessarily a bad thing. I'm not one of those who disapproves of dancing as though it were from the devil. But if you use dance to do sinful things, there is a problem. Vulgar dancing to get the attention of the opposite sex is sinful. Girls who jiggle provocatively and hump their posteriors to suggest sex are using their bodies to suggest sinful things. They are doing nothing short of pole dancing and that's sinful. Then there are those who dance to show off. They have a beautiful body, athletic skill, grace and talent in dancing. If they use these things to enjoy themselves innocently, no problem. But if they use it to show off, and are too competitive and mean spirited in dance competitions, then pride is the problem. Dance isn't the problem, it's pride or vulgarity that is the sin. I have seen people who have the athletic skill, the grace and talent for dancing and they've used it beautifully in service to the Lord. They wear modest costumes and they use dance as an expression of their worship to God and leading others in worship to God. It's very beautiful. For the rest of us, if we are physically capable (which is getting harder for me as I'm getting older), we spontaneously break out in a dance that is sort of a jig, hopping up and down, skipping, running, walking, waving our hands, twirling. It's not meant to be professional, just our exuberance and joy coming out through our bodies. What is important is that it is an expression of love to God and joy in His Presence!!!! King David was leaping and dancing with all his might before the Lord! As long as I'm physically able, may I worship God with all my might, even to leaping and dancing!
There is a lot more I could say about praise and worship. But this post is about Revelation 19 so I'll continue with the study.
He has judged the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth with her immorality.
He has avenged the blood of His servants
that was poured out by her hand.”
In our previous studies in Revelation, we did a good bit of study on Babylon and the Whore of Babylon (Harlot of Babylon, Prostitute of Babylon). Babylon was once a great empire and God used them as an instrument of correction for His people, the Israelites (aka Jews, Hebrews, the descendants from Abraham through the promised son Isaac). Although Babylon was a tool in God's hands to bring judgment, it was evil in itself and God brought devastating judgment against Babylon. This all happened in history. But history repeats itself and Babylon is used in Revelation to also foretell an evil empire in the end days, led by the anti-Christ and inspired by satan. We know that Christians have been persecuted and martyred throughout history and even today! But in the end times, it will be much worse as the anti-Christ tries to kill anyone who is opposed to him. Here in chapter 19, Heaven is rejoicing that the great evil has been judged!
Deuteronomy 32:4,43 4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he... 43 Rejoice, O heavens, with Him, and let all God's angels worship Him. Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His children. He will take vengeance on His adversaries and repay those who hate Him; He will cleanse His land and His people.
Gentiles - anyone who is not Jewish.
His People - Jews, descended from Abraham through the promised son, Isaac. Abraham had Isaac, Isaac had Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons and it was from these twelve that the Israelites are descended. Jesus came first to the Jews and then, after their general rejection, the message of salvation was given to the Gentiles. Not all Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah and the Son of God. All the Twelve Disciples (later called Apostles) were Jews. But, as a nation, they rejected Jesus. Today, Jews who have accepted that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, their promised Messiah and have been saved through Jesus, are called Messianic Jews or Completed Jews. In the New Testament, the Apostles carefully explained that salvation is through faith, not bloodline, and Gentiles can be saved and become children (or people) of God through their faith just as Abraham did. In the time Deuteronomy was written, "His people" referred to the Israelites. After Christ, the term "His people" refers to all those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, Messiah, Lord.
Psalm 19:9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true, being altogether righteous.
Psalm 75:2-8 2 “When I choose a time,
I will judge fairly.
3 When the earth and all its dwellers quake,
it is I who bear up its pillars.
4 I say to the proud, ‘Do not boast,’
and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn.
5 Do not lift up your horn against heaven
or speak with an outstretched neck.’”
6 For exaltation comes neither from east nor west,
nor out of the desert,
7 but it is God who judges;
He brings one down and exalts another.
8 For a cup is in the hand of the LORD,
full of foaming wine mixed with spices,
He pours from it, and all the wicked of the earth
drink it down it to the dregs.
If you haven't read my prior posts on Revelation, you may think God's judgment is cruel, not like the loving God Christians have talked about. But you must know God has always been merciful and full of grace to allow any human being to be saved! Because of Adam and Eve, we were born with the taint of sin and we continue to sin, willfully, throughout our lives. Every single one of us was destined for eternal damnation due to our sin nature and our willful sins. We had no hope of salvation. We rightfully deserved eternal hell. I don't care how nice, sweet or generous someone is, they have a cold kernel of evil deep in their heart that comes out in some nasty way or another. In His mercy, God has provided a way out. He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer our consequences and punishment so that we may be saved from it. Mercy is when God withholds what we deserve. Grace is when God gives us what we don't deserve. He gave His Son to die on the cross and to suffer the judgment of OUR sins (not His, He was sinless) so that we could be rescued from eternal damnation in hell. We deserved it, but Jesus took it upon Himself so we could be saved from it. That's the mercy of God! We did NOT deserve salvation, forgiveness, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, eternity in Heaven. But, through Jesus Christ, we can have it all! That's the grace of God! God the Father, with His plan of salvation, gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to reconcile us with Him. Then they sent the Holy Spirit to earth during this Church Age (from the Day of Pentecost after Jesus' ascension until the end times) to work and prepare hearts to receive the good news of salvation through Jesus. Once we have accepted Christ, and our spirit is born, the Holy Spirit moves into our hearts to begin the work of sanctification. The Word of God becomes alive to us. God has provided everything in order to save us from sin and hell!
If you aren't saved, and you are still breathing, you can be saved by accepting Jesus Christ. Once your heart stops, there is no further chance. There are no more do-overs. Don't take that risk! God has been merciful and full of grace to withhold what we deserve and to offer what we don't deserve. But there comes an end. You either die, or Jesus comes back. In either case, you've had your chance and the chance is now gone. You will enter eternity either saved through Jesus or hellbound. And hell is not a party place where you meet all your besties and have fun. It is a place of utter torment. God didn't want anyone going there which is why He provided for escape!
Also, if you have read my prior posts, you will have seen how very awful the world becomes. So full of evil continually. Judgment is necessary to put an end to it and cleanse with fire. Have you ever felt like something was so bad it would be a relief for it to end. Let's say you have a gangrenous infection in your leg and it is so painful and deadly that you almost welcome someone removing the limb? If there is no healing it and nothing else is working to turn it around, it's better to go ahead with the extreme measure of removing it. Over centuries, God has given every chance, but there will come a time when it's going to be so bad that God's patience is over. You think WWII and Hitler, Lenin, Stalin were bad? You think Pol Pot, Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were bad? In the last 110 years, we've seen millions of people killed by the evil in this world and yet God has been patient to allow people like you and me to be saved. But it will be even worse and it has to end some time.
God is not arbitrary, cruel, vindictive. God has been angry, but He has yet to bring the judgment that evil and sin deserve. He has been merciful to allow many to be saved. He has been patient and has been working all along to bring people to salvation. He is not sitting on a cloud just watching us all go to hell. He's been intimately involved in providing a way of escape for every individual human being. But it is our choice and we make our own choice. Please choose Jesus Christ!
God's judgment is fair, righteous, just, perfect, pure and true. When you meet God, there will be no doubt that His judgment is right. No wheedling, whining, or dealing will work. No charm, justifications, or snow job will suffice. You will see the situation clearly and know that God's judgment is right. He knows all, He sees all, He's correct in His assessment. He knows your heart intimately and there is no hiding anything from Him. You will either go into Heaven or Hell and you will know God was right and fair in His judgment. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then God sees Jesus' righteousness when He looks at you and, because of Jesus, you are accepted in Heaven as a child of God. If you have not, God sees your sins as they are and you receive the punishment that sin deserves, eternal hell. I can't imagine, not only going to eternal hell, but knowing you had the chance to be saved and you chose not to take it. It will be due to your own choice and that will make hell even worse to bear.
God takes vengeance on those who have heard the gospel message but who refuse to repent and submit to God's rule.
Revelation 19:3 And a second time they called out:
Her smoke ascends forever and ever.”
God's judgment for sin is on display: "Her smoke ascends forever and ever." But, at the same time, His grace is also on display because of those who were saved from judgment. Who do you think is calling out "Hallelujah!"? Those in Heaven who were saved from judgment! Me!
smoke = καπνὸς (kapnos) = Noun - Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong's Greek 2586: Smoke. Of uncertain affinity; smoke.
ascends = ἀναβαίνει (anabainei) = Verb - Present Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 305: To go up, mount, ascend; of things: I rise, spring up, come up. From ana and the base of basis; to go up.
forever = αἰῶνας (aiōnas) - Noun - Accusative Masculine Plural
Strong's Greek 165: From the same as aei; properly, an age; by extension, perpetuity; by implication, the world; specially a Messianic period.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 6 In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you.
7 And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. 10 When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people—praise from all who believe. And this includes you, for you believed what we told you about him.
Isaiah 34:8-10 8 For it is the day of the LORD’s revenge,
the year when Edom will be paid back for all it did to Israel.
9 The streams of Edom will be filled with burning pitch,
and the ground will be covered with fire.
10 This judgment on Edom will never end;
the smoke of its burning will rise forever.
The land will lie deserted from generation to generation.
No one will live there anymore.
We looked at Edom in my study on Revelation 18.
Her smoke rises up = Rises up is ἀναβαίνει [anabainei] , present tense: it presently rises. The same verb tense appears in Revelation Rev. 14:10 which describes the ongoing torment of the Beast worshipers in the Lake of Fire: “And the smoke of their torment [presently] ascends forever and ever” (Revelation 14:11a). Like the torment of the Beast worshipers, the smoke of Babylon’s destruction continually rises to emphasize the ongoing reality of her destruction. - A Testimony of Jesus Christ Commentary
"forever and ever! = εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων [eis tous aiōnas tōn aiōnōn] : into the ages of the ages. From the time of her destruction and throughout the Millennial Kingdom, the area which was once Babylon will be burning pitch and a prison for demons (Revelation 18:2). The text implies that her destruction is so permanent that the land itself will be continually dangerous and unavailable to humans:
"Its streams shall be turned into pitch, and its dust into brimstone; its land shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night or day; its smoke shall ascend forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; no one shall pass through it forever and ever. (Isaiah 34:9-10)
"Forever and ever has several aspects: (1) the destruction of the city is permanent—it will never be found again; (2) those destroyed in her will suffer eternally in the Lake of Fire; (3) the area occupied by the city will continually burn until the new heavens and the new earth, when the first earth passes away (Revelation 21:1)." - A Testimony of Jesus Christ Commentary
The divine judgments of Sodom and Gomorrah and Edom were previews of this judgment. As I've said many times now, there are dual fulfillments. The prophecies were fulfilled in history, but will also be ultimately fulfilled in the end times.
Why does the smoke rise forever and ever? It's a continual reminder of God's judgment and His power. He will make short work of destroying satan and sin, evil and wickedness at last and it will be permanently, forever, done!
There are many ways that we document and mark events we don't want to forget. We take photos, we scrapbook those photos (I do), we pull them out on occasions and go through the photo albums or scrapbooks to remember. For special occasions we may do something more to etch the memories in our brains like buying something to commemorate an event. When someone in our family dies, we make sure their memory is preserved in different ways with obituaries, gravestones, etc. As a nation, we've been fairly good about saving important battlefields, historical homes, churches, cemeteries, etc. We erect statues or monuments. It's so we remember something important, or someone important. We even have a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier so that any soldier, even those whose names are lost, can be commemorated. We have the Vietnam Wall, Washington's Monument, Jefferson' Memorial, etc. We also have meticulously saved the most important, and normally perishable, items such as the first handwritten copies of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Abraham Lincoln's hat, Michael Jackson's sequined glove, Judy Garland's Wizard of Oz ruby slippers, etc. Imagine all the money people have spent to purchase, insure and preserve things that are perishable! Even if the Lord tarries another 1,000-5,000 years, these items will be dust by then. If He comes back tomorrow, it will be burned up and therefore dust!
Something in us needs memorials to remind us. Even God directed the children of Israel to set up memorials at times:
Genesis 28: 10 Meanwhile, Jacob left Beersheba and traveled toward Haran. 11 At sundown he arrived at a good place to set up camp and stopped there for the night. Jacob found a stone to rest his head against and lay down to sleep. 12 As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway.
13 At the top of the stairway stood the LORD, and he said, “I am the LORD, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. 14 Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. 15 What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”
16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” 17 But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!”
18 The next morning Jacob got up very early. He took the stone he had rested his head against, and he set it upright as a memorial pillar. Then he poured olive oil over it. 19 He named that place Bethel (which means “house of God”), although it was previously called Luz.
20 Then Jacob made this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, 21 and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the LORD will certainly be my God. 22 And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.”
Genesis 31:12-16 12 “The angel said, ‘Look up, and you will see that only the streaked, speckled, and spotted males are mating with the females of your flock. For I have seen how Laban has treated you. 13 I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel, the place where you anointed the pillar of stone and made your vow to me. Now get ready and leave this country and return to the land of your birth.’”
14 Rachel and Leah responded, “That’s fine with us! We won’t inherit any of our father’s wealth anyway. 15 He has reduced our rights to those of foreign women. And after he sold us, he wasted the money you paid him for us. 16 All the wealth God has given you from our father legally belongs to us and our children. So go ahead and do whatever God has told you.”
Genesis 31:43-55 43 Then Laban replied to Jacob, “These women are my daughters, these children are my grandchildren, and these flocks are my flocks—in fact, everything you see is mine. But what can I do now about my daughters and their children? 44 So come, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and it will be a witness to our commitment.” 45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a monument. 46 Then he told his family members, “Gather some stones.” So they gathered stones and piled them in a heap. Then Jacob and Laban sat down beside the pile of stones to eat a covenant meal. 47 To commemorate the event, Laban called the place Jegar-sahadutha (which means “witness pile” in Aramaic), and Jacob called it Galeed (which means “witness pile” in Hebrew). 48 Then Laban declared, “This pile of stones will stand as a witness to remind us of the covenant we have made today.” This explains why it was called Galeed—“Witness Pile.” 49 But it was also called Mizpah (which means “watchtower”), for Laban said, “May the LORD keep watch between us to make sure that we keep this covenant when we are out of each other’s sight. 50 If you mistreat my daughters or if you marry other wives, God will see it even if no one else does. He is a witness to this covenant between us. 51 “See this pile of stones,” Laban continued, “and see this monument I have set between us. 52 They stand between us as witnesses of our vows. I will never pass this pile of stones to harm you, and you must never pass these stones or this monument to harm me. 53 I call on the God of our ancestors—the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of my grandfather Nahor—to serve as a judge between us.” So Jacob took an oath before the fearsome God of his father, Isaac, to respect the boundary line. 54 Then Jacob offered a sacrifice to God there on the mountain and invited everyone to a covenant feast. After they had eaten, they spent the night on the mountain. 55 Laban got up early the next morning, and he kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he left and returned home.
Joshua 4:1-11 1 When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, 2 “Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. 3 Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’”
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. 5 He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the LORD your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. 6 We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”
8 So the men did as Joshua had commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each tribe, just as the LORD had told Joshua. They carried them to the place where they camped for the night and constructed the memorial there.
9 Joshua also set up another pile of twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, at the place where the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant were standing. And they are there to this day.
10 The priests who were carrying the Ark stood in the middle of the river until all of the LORD’s commands that Moses had given to Joshua were carried out. Meanwhile, the people hurried across the riverbed. 11 And when everyone was safely on the other side, the priests crossed over with the Ark of the LORD as the people watched.
Deuteronomy 27:2-3 "So it shall be on the day when you cross the Jordan to the land which the LORD your God gives you, that you shall set up for yourself large stones and coat them with lime and write on them all the words of this law, when you cross over, so that you may enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.
1 Samuel 7:10-12 10 Just as Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines arrived to attack Israel. But the LORD spoke with a mighty voice of thunder from heaven that day, and the Philistines were thrown into such confusion that the Israelites defeated them. 11 The men of Israel chased them from Mizpah to a place below Beth-car, slaughtering them all along the way.
12 Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah.a He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the LORD has helped us!”
2 Samuel 18:9-18 9 During the battle, Absalom happened to come upon some of David’s men. He tried to escape on his mule, but as he rode beneath the thick branches of a great tree, his hairc got caught in the tree. His mule kept going and left him dangling in the air. 10 One of David’s men saw what had happened and told Joab, “I saw Absalom dangling from a great tree.”
11 “What?” Joab demanded. “You saw him there and didn’t kill him? I would have rewarded you with ten pieces of silver and a hero’s belt!”
12 “I would not kill the king’s son for even a thousand pieces of silver,e” the man replied to Joab. “We all heard the king say to you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake, please spare young Absalom.’ 13 And if I had betrayed the king by killing his son—and the king would certainly find out who did it—you yourself would be the first to abandon me.”
14 “Enough of this nonsense,” Joab said. Then he took three daggers and plunged them into Absalom’s heart as he dangled, still alive, in the great tree. 15 Ten of Joab’s young armor bearers then surrounded Absalom and killed him.
16 Then Joab blew the ram’s horn, and his men returned from chasing the army of Israel. 17 They threw Absalom’s body into a deep pit in the forest and piled a great heap of stones over it. And all Israel fled to their homes
18 During his lifetime, Absalom had built a monument to himself in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to carry on my name.” He named the monument after himself, and it is known as Absalom’s Monument to this day.
Joshua 24:19-28 19 Then Joshua warned the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy and jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you abandon the LORD and serve other gods, he will turn against you and destroy you, even though he has been so good to you.”
21 But the people answered Joshua, “No, we will serve the LORD!”
22 “You are a witness to your own decision,” Joshua said. “You have chosen to serve the LORD.”
“Yes,” they replied, “we are witnesses to what we have said.”
23 “All right then,” Joshua said, “destroy the idols among you, and turn your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.”
24 The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God. We will obey him alone.”
25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day at Shechem, committing them to follow the decrees and regulations of the LORD. 26 Joshua recorded these things in the Book of God’s Instructions. As a reminder of their agreement, he took a huge stone and rolled it beneath the terebinth tree beside the Tabernacle of the LORD.
27 Joshua said to all the people, “This stone has heard everything the LORD said to us. It will be a witness to testify against you if you go back on your word to God.”
28 Then Joshua sent all the people away to their own homelands.
Although it is good to memorialize and remember the things God did for them, many times they set up idolatrous practices around memorial stones and "sacred pillars". Any idolatrous statues, pillars, memorials that became idols were against God's Commandments.
Notice Commandment #1-#2 -
Exodus 20:4-6 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
A graven image is an image carved out of stone, wood, or metal. It could be a statue of a person or animal, or a relief carving in a wall or pole. We are not to create idols to worship.
Exodus 23:24 You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces.
Deuteronomy 7:5 But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire.
Deuteronomy 12:3 You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and obliterate their name from that place.
Deuteronomy 16:2 You shall not set up for yourself a sacred pillar which the LORD your God hates.
1 Samuel 5:1-5 1 After the Philistines captured the Ark of God, they took it from the battleground at Ebenezer to the town of Ashdod. 2 They carried the Ark of God into the temple of Dagon and placed it beside an idol of Dagon. 3 But when the citizens of Ashdod went to see it the next morning, Dagon had fallen with his face to the ground in front of the Ark of the LORD! So they took Dagon and put him in his place again. 4 But the next morning the same thing happened—Dagon had fallen face down before the Ark of the LORD again. This time his head and hands had broken off and were lying in the doorway. Only the trunk of his body was left intact. 5 That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor anyone who enters the temple of Dagon in Ashdod will step on its threshold.
Dagon is an ancient Mesopotamian and ancient Canaanite deity. He appears to have been worshipped as a fertility god in Ebla, Assyria, Ugarit and among the Amorites. The Hebrew Bible mentions him as the national god of the Philistines with temples at Ashdod and elsewhere in Gaza.
It is equally dangerous to create an image of God Himself.
God has given us reminders enough of His power and glory (Romans 1:20) without man attempting to use created things to represent the Creator. Why? Because we then tend to worship these things rather than the God it was meant to commemorate. - Wikipedia
Let me show you some pictures.
This is a Catholic procession in the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila, Philippines in 2015. Five million people were involved with 2 dead and a thousand injured. Looks like all men too? They have the idea that to touch the Black Nazarene statue is to receive a blessing so men clambered to reach the statue.
To me, this suggests superstition rather than worship. Superstition is a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like. It's an irrational belief in good luck versus bad luck and how to avoid the bad "luck". The base of all superstition is trying to control an outcome by doing something. We are NOT God and we cannot control things and it drives us mad! We desperately want a formula to follow to insure we get what we want. We want to be God and run things our way! So we "knock on wood", throw salt over our shoulder, don't walk under a ladder, etc.
When I was a child, I remember other children singing, "Step on a crack and break your mother's back"! It's weird but even today, at nearly 60, I can still hear that in the back of my mind when I'm walking down a sidewalk alone. Something deep inside pulls my eyes to those cracks and makes me want to break stride to avoid the cracks! Isn't that ridiculous? It's irrational, it was just a funny rhyme, and yet, I wouldn't hurt my mother for the world?!? I have no idea why I even remember a silly rhyme like that, much less that it would niggle at my mind whenever I walk on a sidewalk. I deliberately try not to break stride, and actually step on a crack, to prove to myself it's ridiculous.
Maybe it's sort of a primitive behavior. I can definitely understand how someone can get caught up in OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). They think something terrible will happen if they don't switch the light switch on and off 50 times or wash their hands 25 times. So they perform their OCD behaviors and routines to ward off anything bad happening. It's their way of controlling. They have repetitive obsessive thoughts that drive them to perform compulsive actions over and over again to gain control. Just like my example above, they have these primitive compulsions based on irrational thought but it's motivated by the need to control. If they continue to follow through, they will eventually be unable to function and satan will have them in complete bondage. They will be slaves to their OCD thoughts and behaviors. Exactly what they are afraid of happens - they've lost all control. Instead of being able to help someone else, they are too consumed with their own obsessive thoughts and rituals to be able to encourage someone, pray for them or actually help them. It becomes very self involved and selfish. (I'm not trying to be too hard on them because all sin is just that, selfish pride. So I'm no better with my sins than they are with theirs.)
I believe all of us have some type of primitive, deep behaviors or thoughts. For instance, my Dad twirled his hair on his forehead when he was reading. I twirl my hair from the back when I'm concentrating. I have a sister who pulled her eyebrows when reading. It's one reason why I've kept my hair short most of my life. I end up twirling it into a knot which breaks my hair off or pulls it out. I can't seem to control the habit so I keep my hair short to get rid of the habit and keep my hair healthy. Biting my fingernails is a yucky habit I have. It satisfies some deep compulsion in me. My husband was remembering a child in school that used to chew his pencils up, all the way to the metal ring for the eraser! Some people chew toothpicks or cigars (either lit or unlit). Maybe that's why smokers have such a hard time kicking the habit because it satisfies one of those deep compulsions. Some people use worry stones or worry beads. When I was a baby, I used to pull the fur off my stuffed animal (yes, I only had one at a time) and twirl it in my fingers to form a tiny hard knot and I still, to this day, like the sensation of something small and hard on my fingertips like a knot on a string. Since I did it naturally, as a baby, it must be one of those primitive, deeply satisfying, comfort things. I don't know how else to describe it. But these are things that don't get in the way of real life and I certainly don't think twirling, or not twirling, my hair brings good or bad "luck" or controls my circumstances. But it should help us understand how OCD works and give us sympathy for those who suffer overwhelming and debilitating OCD. They have these drives but it gets totally out of control and the more they practise their routines and rituals, the worse it will get.
Back to superstition. As a Christian, I don't believe in good or bad "luck". I believe God micromanages, and macro-manages, everything and He is in control. Satan and his demons fell to earth and they run amok. But they are only allowed to do things. God is sovereign and He will not allow satan to do anything to His children that He cannot use for good.
After Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father, they sent the Holy Spirit to work during this Church Age. His job is to try to reach each human beings with the gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ. We can choose to respond to His work or not. If we reject the work of the Holy Spirit to bring us salvation, even to our dying breath, then our sins will send us to hell and eternal damnation. Until our last breath, we have the choice to be saved through Jesus and to accept Him as our Lord and Savior. We can be saved. Anyone, no matter what sins they've committed, can be saved if they accept Jesus Christ. He paid the penalty for all sin and He gave you the choice to accept His sacrifice or not. Only God knows who will accept or reject Jesus. I don't know and I shouldn't presume to judge someone because I don't know.
The second job of the Holy Spirit is to move into the heart of someone who has accepted Jesus. When we are saved, our spirit is born. We now are body, soul and spirit. Our spirit is immature, childish and weak. But with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit, it can begin to grow, mature and strengthen. This is a lifelong process we call sanctification. All Christians are at different levels spiritually because of this growth and strengthening process. You may see a Christian acting poorly and some people will cry, "Hypocrit"! But you must understand that we are all works in progress and we are at different stages of the process. I am nearly 60 years old and a lifelong Christian and this means I should be more spiritually mature. Sometimes I feel like a spiritual toddler and sometimes I feel like I've taken two steps back instead of two steps forward. But the Holy Spirit is a patient teacher and He is working in me. God is the potter and I am the clay and He is delicately forming me. He is the Goldsmith and He is heating me up, burning off the dross and skimming off the impurities. He is the Diamond cutter and I am the rough stone. He is sizing me up, going at me with cutting tools to break off the bad parts and polish up the facets of the new stone. In our study of Revelation 18, we talked about how God used Babylon, Edom and Tyre as tools to correct and discipline the Israelites. They had a cycle of falling into idolatry and God had to use some discipline. But then the "tools" were under judgment for their own idolatry and wickedness. This teaches us that God is the wielder of tools. He uses the "tools" for two reasons:
1) To try to lead His people back to Him where they are safe and provided for.
2) To bring judgment against those who will refuse and reject Him.
What tools does He use on you? Tools to bring out the diamond in you or tools of judgment? As a Christian, I am His child. Thus everything He allows into my life can be used for my good and to polish me into the perfection He knows I can be. He doesn't do anything to destroy me but everything is used to better me. I may feel destroyed at times! I have said, "I can't take any more". For example, my mother had dementia and died last September. We had been grieving her loss for a couple of years as she got worse and worse in her dementia. My Dad was so good to her and all three of us tried to be good daughters. (Both of my parents were wonderful parents and we were very close. They did everything they could for us and so, when it was their turn, we tried to do our best for them.) We expected her death, but it is still so hard. My Dad was deeply grieved and having a hard time with depression for the first time in his life. But he handled it well just like he always did and was beginning to look forward to doing some things he had to give up while she was so bad. He loved spring. He was looking forward to being able to get out without worrying about Mom. So planting a garden, working on his tractor, fixing up his house, working in his shop, going to tractor shows... all these were in his plans for 2019. He was in good health, still strong at 84. Then he unexpectedly died of a pulmonary embolism just 4 months and 3 days after Mom died. I don't know which is harder? Going through a slow death like Mom's or the shock of a sudden death like Dad's? Just before Dad's funeral, I was so torn up and thinking, "I can't do this". Surely God has allowed more than I can stand? I know you've been there too. But I was reading a devotional in My Utmost For His Highest by Charles Oswald (an old, but trusty, devotional book) and it reminded me. By saying, "I can't do this", I was reflecting poorly on my God. What I was saying, in effect, was "God has left me in the lurch. He's abandoned me. He's allowed something in my life that He can't use for my good and it will destroy me." As a Christian, that goes against all my beliefs. So, even though I am hurting, humbled, weak... God is still there and He is my strength. It's been nearly 4 months since Dad died and I'm still here, still standing. So I could do it after all. I can honestly say it was not my own strength. I was hurting so bad, and still do at times, that I would throw in the towel if I could. It's times like these you feel like you are being torn up by a storm and you won't make it. But you can push your toe down and realize you are on a rock in the middle of the storm. You do have a foothold, a stable base, that gives you strength. This is God. He is my Rock! The other thing is, He promises not only to be there for us, but to use all things for our GOOD! So the Holy Spirit within me is not only giving me a rock to stand on, but He's using this grief to make me a better Christian. The grief is a tool used by God to polish me into a brighter diamond. I can choose to humble myself under His work and let Him chip off the rough edges, smooth and cut, remove impurities and polish my facets. Or I can resist. Resisting is futile and only brings harder blows from the hammer. If I don't get it the easy way, I may have to learn the hard way. It behooves us to be submissive, compliant and willing so the tools are gentle in His hands.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Rhetorical question, in which the answer is a resounding, "NOTHING!")
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Hebrews 13:5-6 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
6 So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”
Then there is the tool of judgment. If God knows someone is never going to accept Jesus Christ, and they intend to die in rebellion against God, judgment will fall. God will not stop trying, via the work of the Holy Spirit, to reach each person with the good news of salvation through Jesus. But He knows those who will never accept the gospel. I don't know who will, or will not, eventually accept Jesus. But God knows. And sin, satan, demons and the unregenerate will be judged and face eternal damnation.
Let's say God allows a natural disaster to occur like a tornado strikes a city. God knows every human being affected. He knows where each person is, physically, mentally and spiritually. For His children, there are two outcomes. They go home to be with the Lord and eternal bliss in Heaven. Or they suffer, but God uses the suffering as a tool to make them into better people. Either way, God has not abandoned them to judgment. He is using all things to their good. There are those individuals whom God knows will eventually accept Jesus Christ and He is using the tool of the tornado to reach them. Sometimes we get it the easy way and sometimes we have to reach the bottom of the pit of despair before we reach up to God. Just depends on how hardheaded we are. Then there are those whom God knows will NEVER accept Jesus Christ. He may be using that tornado to bring judgment against them. So, are acts of God judgment because of sin? Yes and no. For those who are, or who will be, His children... they are not judgment, merely tools used to bring us closer to God. For those who will never be His children (by their own choice)... yes, it is judgment against sin.
So being superstitious and trying to control good, or bad, fortune is silly, unproductive and based on absolutely nothing. But trusting and having faith in God is not superstition. It is productive, it is based on the Rock of our Salvation! The blessings are more than we can comprehend!
Are we worshiping idols by being superstitious? If you are putting your faith and trust in something you can control, then I'd say YES! It is idolatry to think you are in control by doing certain things. You are putting yourself in the place of God, or you are putting something else in the place of God. Like the Filipinos who think they will get a blessing or an answer to prayer by touching the Black Nazarene statue (even though it is a statue of Jesus). God says I don't have to have anyone, or anything, between myself and God. I have a relationship with Him directly, because of what Jesus Christ did for me. He took on all my sin and cleansed me so that I could be reconciled to God and have a relationship with God! I don't have to have a priest, a saint, a statue, or a relic to go to God on my behalf and come back with a blessing. When you do that, you are removing yourself from a direct relationship with God and trusting in something, or someone, else to go to God. God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die and be raised again so that you and I can have a direct relationship with God. He wants YOU and desires a relationship with YOU.
Note - I do not mean to judge everyone in these photographs. There are people in these photos who may have a right relationship with God through Jesus but are there as tourists or got caught in the crowd, maybe just observers of an exciting event. There are those who could be there for any number of reasons. And there are those, who are true believers in Jesus Christ, but they have gotten off balance and the Holy Spirit will work to correct them in their own time.
But these photos do represent many who get off balance and fall into the trap of idolatry even though these are Christian icons, statues, shrines, relics, etc. In looking for photos, I was shocked at how Catholics and Orthodox denominations still seem to worship "Christian" idols. I had no idea people were worshiping dessicated body parts of Saints or spent so much money on gold, silk and jewels to bedeck statues or relics. How much time, money, effort, energy is spent on these cathedrals, churches, statues and relics to create them, house them, maintain them, insure them? Catholics believe that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was immaculately conceived as well. Protestants, like myself, respect Mary deeply but we do not equate her with God. We believe she was human and born in sin just like the rest of us. Jesus was the perfect God and man. He got His humanness from Mary and His deity from God the Father. He was the only sinless human being born after the Fall of Adam and Eve. The Bible tells us He was the later Adam, the last Adam. Like Adam, He was born sinless. But unlike Adam, He lived without sin and never fell to the temptations of satan. But, He voluntarily, willingly, took on OUR sin to pay the price for us. A price we could never pay because we are born sinful. But Christ didn't stay in the grave! He rose again in victory over sin and death! The Bible doesn't teach Mary was a virgin birth. Many of her statues or icons represent her as larger than Jesus, with Him as a babe in her arms. I know this represents her motherhood of the Savior. But it also seems to give her more importance than the Savior. And how Saints come in, I don't understand. I know that there have been leaders in the church who are saved and have lived humbly before God in obedience in His service. These people should be respected and remembered. But not deified. They are human beings, born in sin, saved by grace like you and I. I certainly don't see how dividing up their body parts and storing them in gold and jewel cases to be paraded about in feasts and celebrations is biblical. They seem to be worshiped above Jesus, Himself.
But before we are too hard on the Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Haven't we Protestants done similar things? Have we believed a Bible by Prophet So-and-So is blessed and so we send in our $100 dollars to get that blessed Bible? Have we believed a handkerchief blessed by Evangelist Whosit can heal us? Have we bought a bottle of oil blessed and prayed over by Preacher Whatsit thinking that we can use it to anoint something and get what we want? Have we worshiped a mega-church pastor (or, your little church pastor, for that matter) rather than God? Do we go to church because of a pastor or leaders and, as soon as they let us down in some way, we leave the church and God behind? If so, we worshiped a man and not God. Do we worship a building, a stained glass window, a mural on the wall, the banners hanging in the church? You might not think you do, but then change one of those things and see what happens. Suddenly people are raising money to replace the stained glass window that was destroyed; or, hollering because their grandpappy donated that organ; or, leaving the church because the preacher wants to repaint the sanctuary a color they don't like. I am so conflicted about some of these things. I totally get that we should do our best and give our best for God. If I was an artist, doing my best for God might include painting a beautiful painting that God prompted me to paint. It would be an act of worship. If I was an architect, I might feel prompted by God to use my talents and skill to build Him a church and doing it using the very best, like King David and King Solomon. If I was a musician, one way to worship God is to use your instruments to play in His service. On the other hand, are we spending too much time, money, energy, talent and skill on prideful things? Are we painting a picture to hang in a well known cathedral so people will ooh and ahh over our work; so that it will be kept, maintained and drooled over by future generations? Are we building a building to get attention and glory for ourselves and pat ourselves on the back? Do we want to show off what we can do? Are we using our musical skills in church to show off, entertain, make ourselves look good and feel holy? If there is any pride involved, it's ruined. And we humans are all tempted to fall into pride. It's the basest of sins and the one satan, Adam and Eve fell with. The moment we think we've overcome pride and are truly humbled, is the moment we've fallen into the pride of self righteousness. If it's a pride thing, then the money, effort and time would be better spent humbly serving the poor! Better for us and the poor. I don't mean to judge others harshly. Just to warn and point to our only salvation, Jesus Christ! If we parade ourselves in royal, majestic, gorgeously appointed, expensive robes (or expensive, Italian custom made suits!) we may need to check ourselves. Is pride involved? Is it for the honor and glory we receive? Is it truly representing Christ to others? Is it for the power inherent in the office? What's the difference between the Chief Priest, and his coterie of attendant officers, along with the Pharisees and Sadducees of the New Testament whom Jesus, Himself, confronted? They had all the accoutrements of power - the corner office (per se); the groupies (followers and devotees); the gorgeous robes to distinguish themselves and receive respect and honor; the huge, richly appointed Temple; the gorgeously wrought gold items of office; the best of the food; etc.
Matthew 23:1-28 23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.
5 “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. 6 And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. 7 They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’
8 “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. 9 And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your Father. 10 And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
13 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.
15 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!
16 “Blind guides! What sorrow awaits you! For you say that it means nothing to swear ‘by God’s Temple,’ but that it is binding to swear ‘by the gold in the Temple.’ 17 Blind fools! Which is more important—the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 And you say that to swear ‘by the altar’ is not binding, but to swear ‘by the gifts on the altar’ is binding. 19 How blind! For which is more important—the gift on the altar or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 When you swear ‘by the altar,’ you are swearing by it and by everything on it. 21 And when you swear ‘by the Temple,’ you are swearing by it and by God, who lives in it. 22 And when you swear ‘by heaven,’ you are swearing by the throne of God and by God, who sits on the throne.
23 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. 24 Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!
25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.
27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Note - In America, we've seen these types of capirotes worn in the past by the Klu Klux Klan (KKK). If you know the history of the capirote, as a "uniform" if you will, of brotherhoods, you can see where the KKK adapted it for their use for their "brotherhood" and as a way of hiding their identity. But the KKK is not otherwise associated with these Catholic brotherhoods. In fact, the KKK were generally known to be anti-Catholic.
The capirote was a way of self-injury (humiliation) but they also covered their faces so they wouldn't be recognized. Penance is voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong. Being penitent means feeling or showing sorrow and regret for having done wrong and sinned. Catholics believe in repentance, confession of sins to the priest, and the intention to make amends by doing works of reparation (doing penance). The confessor (presiding priest) proposes the performance of certain acts of “penance” to be performed by the penitent in order to “repair the harm caused by sin and to re-establish habits befitting a disciple of Christ”. To humiliate oneself might be a penance. But putting a veil over your face, removes the humiliation doesn't it? So how does that work?
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light
If someone in a protestant church has done egregious wrong, the pastor and church may try to discipline a member but it's to be done in such a way as to restore a person to the body of Christ, reconciled with God and moving forward in their process of sanctification. This is a fine line and difficult to walk. We must be willing to approach a church member and confront them about their sin (not unfounded or based on gossip, but with evidence) in a loving and humble manner so as not to damage them further but to lead them to the foot of the cross (where we've all been) and to reconciliation with God and their brothers/sisters in Christ. It must sting enough to turn them around if possible, but not destroy them. The whole point being to show them the better way, the way of freedom, light and life through God's deliverance! Sin binds us, enslaves us, and the consequences of sin are misery! It should be an act of love to confront someone who is getting out of safe boundaries and into danger. It is not meant to be a self righteous (there is that pride again!) spiritual beating. Sometimes, it may feel like it, despite all the good intentions of those who have to confront us. As I said, it has to sting to turn us back from danger. But, if it's done right, it is for our good and not our destruction. We should always be willing to restore a brother/sister in Christ to fellowship. There is no room for unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, grudges, pettiness. If someone has done the hard work of personal repentance and trying to move in the right direction, they need the encouragement and accountability of their fellow servants in Christ. God always extends grace to all of us, He is merciful and loving. He calls us to do the same. He is a disciplinarian, but He loves His children and accepts us as His children, no matter what sin we carry. It's to our own good that we dump sin at the cross and get rid of it in our lives, being free from it's tentacles and weight! To live in sin is to live in bondage and misery. We can be saved, but if we continue on in sin, we are making our own lives miserable. It's not necessary. I don't care if you are "born that way"! We all are born with a sin nature and we all have "pet sins" that we are weak and tempted by. But giving in and living with those "pet sins" makes for sin monsters in the long run. They enslave us, run our lives for us and make us live in a misery we don't have to live in! Jesus paid the price to set us free. When we accept Him as our Savior, we are saved and forgiven. But if we continue to choose sin, we may be saved, but we reap the consequences of indulging a "pet sin". The goal of discipline is not to put someone permanently out of the church with no hope, but to work toward restoration by means of genuine repentance. Protestants reject the idea confession must be mediated through the local priest. We believe in confession before God and the Bible encourages us to "confess our sins one to another" (James 5:16) as in family, Christian friends, maybe a small discipleship group like a Sunday School class or Bible study group, or the pastor. It's not that they forgive you (that's God, and He always forgives) or judge you, but that you are acknowledging a problem and may need some encouragement or accountability help. We do not repent to them, we repent before God. They are not our judge and jury, they are our spiritual family who help in times of trouble.
I find it interesting how a costume, that started out being a sign for shame and the self torture of humiliation in a penitent, has become a rich robe and hat of pride, honor and distinguishment.
St. Anthony's Chapel in Pittsburg, PA is known for having thousands of relics including splinters of the cross and of the Last Supper table.
Saint Anthony of Padua (8/15/1195 – 6/13/1231), born Fernando Martins de Bulhões (aka Saint Anthony of Lisbon) - was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. He was born and raised by a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal, and died in Padua, Italy. Noted by his contemporaries for his powerful preaching, expert knowledge of scripture, and undying love and devotion to the poor and the sick, he was one of the most quickly canonized saints in church history... Anthony became sick with ergotism in 1231, and went to the woodland retreat at Camposampiero with two other friars for a respite. There, he lived in a cell built for him under the branches of a walnut tree. Anthony died on the way back to Padua on 13 June 1231 at the Poor Clare monastery at Arcella (now part of Padua), aged 35. According to the request of Anthony, he was buried in the small church of Santa Maria Mater Domini, probably dating from the late 12th century and near a convent which had been founded by him in 1229. Nevertheless, due to his increased notability, construction of a large basilica began around 1232, although it was not completed until 1301. The smaller church was incorporated into structure as the Cappella della Madonna Mora (Chapel of the Dark Madonna). The basilica is commonly known today as "Il Santo"... Anthony's fame spread through Portuguese evangelization, and he has been known as the most celebrated of the followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. He is the patron saint of Lisbon, Padua and many places in Portugal and in the countries of the former Portuguese Empire. He is especially invoked and venerated all over the world as the patron saint for the recovery of lost items and is credited with many miracles involving lost people, lost things and even lost spiritual goods. Various legends surround the death of Anthony. One holds that when he died, the children cried in the streets and that all the bells of the churches rang of their own accord. Another legend regards his tongue. Anthony is buried in a chapel within the large basilica built to honor him, where his tongue is displayed for veneration in a large reliquary along with his jaw and his vocal cords. When his body was exhumed 30 years after his death, it was found turned to dust, but the tongue was claimed to have glistened and looked as if it were still alive and moist; apparently a further claim was made that this was a sign of his gift of preaching. - Source was Wikipedia
As I said earlier, I knew Catholics tended to pray to Mary and Saints as mediators between themselves and Jesus Christ. But I was still shocked to see how much things haven't changed in the modern world and they are still falling into idolatry. I totally believe that there are many Catholics who believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and their personal Savior, they have accepted God's grace. I will meet them in Heaven! But many seem to still trust more in the Virgin Mary, Saints and even relics, than they do in Jesus. They are walking in superstition and idolatry. But before we are too hard on the Catholics... do we Protestants not do the same thing?
We must also be very careful not to fall into superstition and idolatry. I have seen men who began work in a move of God but who have become (or became) idols. The evangelists, prophets, megachurch leaders, megaministry leaders who end up being treated as god. Or even a little country church with a dozen members but who see, and treat, their pastor as god. His word is law, not the Bible! What he says goes. They trust in him rather than in God. I've seen these big leaders being treated as though they walked on water. People, groupies really, rush to bring them a glass of water, take their coat, help him/her push through the crowd, run errands or interference for him/her. Before long, the leader begins to think he/she needs a personal assistant and body slaves in the form of makeup artists, hairstylists, public relations experts, image consultants, stylists and personal shoppers, etc. Then they begin to believe they deserve private jets, multiple expensive cars and drivers, a whole floor of a hotel, multiple mansions for downtime and convenience. It's not long before they think they deserve these extravagances at the expense of their congregations or contributors. After all, they run a multimillion dollar business and other CEO's make that much money and have those kind of perks. And where does it stop? We've seen them believe that body slaves include sexual servers (prostitutes or women/men who give themselves willingly to the great man/woman or children donated by enthralled parents for the sexual service of the great man/woman of God). We've seen them believe that money donated to their church or ministry is theirs for the taking. We've seen them come to the point of justifying any number of sins because they are "special" and used by God to reach many! Any human being that is treated with such subservience, will tend to grow into that image created by their populace. But an ego that grows so big, will self destruct. We saw it with Jim Jones, David Koresh, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Baker and many, many others.
Then there are the men who are perfectly normal human beings. They feel called by God to go into ministry. But, especially in America, we are not taught how to cooperate and work as a team with other people. So, when they get out of seminary, they have a hard time working well under another pastor. So, soon, they branch out and try to start their own church with the hope that they can get enough members to pay them a living salary. Of course, natural ambition pushes them to hope for more and to be successful. Everyone around them pushes them to "succeed" and to bring in more bucks and butts (as my pastor so earthily put it). There is little taught of sacrifice, anonymity, humility, serving and suffering for their flock. They all have the young man's idea of being a megachurch pastor or the next great evangelist. It's natural, but not godly. And it's not right for congregations, church leaders, denomination leaders to demand such worldly success. And it's not right for a man to put those expectations on himself. If a church grows, it should be God's growth based on the pastor's humility, obedience and trust. But sometimes, I believe God likes the small group situation rather than the megachurch situation. It cultivates humility, servanthood and accountability. What we have today is more competition between the multiple churches on every corner. This divides people rather than brings them together as the body of Christ in unity. And with more and more churches being started by idealistic young men with big ambitions, more and more churches close with burned out, broken men who feel like failures. I really appreciate my pastor today (Manning Strickland) who has been transparent about his own struggles as a young pastor but who now reaches out to other small church pastors to encourage them and mentor them.
What about how we idolize church traditions? Do we have liturgical books and prayer books because we cannot pray without them? Do we just recite things by rote and think we've worshiped or prayed? Do we sing hymns out of hymnals donated by grandparents but without any real connection with God as we sing? Do we play the piano at church because we have the skill and because the congregation is grateful for our talent but we don't really play out of worship? Do we give money as though it were club dues rather than as an act of a grateful heart? Do we cling to traditions rather than cling to God? Do we think we have to have expensive choir robes for the choir? Do we layer our church with expensive stained glass windows, chandeliers, sound systems, strobe lights, video screens, tremendous organs with pipes, a gold cross or ornate banners, pews that are soft and ergonomic or pews that are 200 years old? What traditions or new fangled things do you require before you will attend a church? If you leave a church because they allow drums in the church (which is biblical, see my above comments on extravagant praise) and that goes against your traditions, maybe you are worshiping tradition over God? On the other hand, if you demand drums in the church before you feel comfortable enough to attend that church, maybe you are worshiping contemporary music rather than God?
Note - it must be biblical! I don't think we have any quarrel over whether or not to allow pole dancing on the platform of a church. We all know that is sinful and unbiblical. But, if something is biblical, such as extravagant praise, and is done in worship and praise to God, then you need to check your own spirit before you raise an objection. The Bible is our standard and all must be done in the correct spirit. God is in the balance.
Do we make idols of authors, song writers, "praise and worship" groups, living Christmas trees, new fads, etc? Fads... I'm always a little suspect when someone changes their entire "normal" persona. A pastor who normally wore a more casual look on the platform suddenly gets a very different look in a $2,000 suit, $500 shoes and wears makeup. Or, the opposite, when a pastor who, normally and comfortably, wore his suit on Sunday mornings, starts dressing down in modern attire and sitting on a stool with a headset to be "more accessible" to the young congregation. If it's fake, it's fake and comes across that way. If it's extravagant, it comes across as pride and self deception. I'm all for a pastor who tries to take care of himself/herself. I want my pastors around for a long time and I want them to be healthy and happy. But when he/she suddenly begins wearing a toupe/wig/hair plugs, gets cosmetic surgery, begins wearing heavy makeup (male or female), wearing sequins/silk suits, begins to frequent gyms and personal trainers (not for health reasons but for image reasons)... you see where I'm going? That's all vanity and pride and is usually justified by them to give a professional look that is attractive to visitors who become members who donate money. I have a hard time with the cosmetic surgery, teeth whitening, sprayed on makeup, spray tans, and other enhancements. It's vanity. To try to look good is one thing but it's so easy to fall out of balance and into vanity and pride. God makes us the way we are and sometimes we aren't satisfied and, in essence, are telling Him what He created is not good enough. We know better so we enhance ourselves in an attempt to look more like we think is beautiful. It's back to pride and idolatry. They believe their ministry begins and ends with themselves so everything hinges on them. They don't seem to grasp that ministry begins and ends with God and is only dependent on Him!
Television pastors are visible so I'm not trying to pick on anyone. But there are pastors on TV who wear $500-$600 tennis shoes (some celebrity preachers wear $6,000 Yeezy tennis shoes!), with $800 skinny jeans, $450 Gucci belts and expensive leather jackets! And before we jump on the fashion pastors, what about those who wear a traditional suit but they are wearing $5,000 Italian suits, Savile Row shirts, $500 ties and designer loafers? Or what about the pastors who like expensive robes. Now they LOOK like pastors! With all those clerical collars, robes, fancy sashes, gold crosses. They want to stand out and look the part! We are talking about anywhere from the hundreds of dollars to the thousands of dollars in fancy robes to make sure everyone knows they are the pastor or prophet or bishop, etc. Here are photos I found of Christian leaders whether pastors, evangelists, prophets, apostles, male, females, etc. Just Google celebrity pastors and you'll see what I mean. Black, white, male, female, different denominations:
What makes these any different than Jim and Tammy Baker or Paul and Jan Crouch?
Or the Orthodox Christian Priests?
Or the Jewish High Priest of Jesus time?
Do we go to Christian concerts to hear good music? Or do we worship those on stage as the only ones who can give us that "feeling"? Or are we truly worshiping God? If it's entertainment, or if we are groupies, we are going for the wrong reasons. It's worthless or idolatrous. The ones onstage may, or may not, be playing for the right reasons. That is between them and God. Check your own spirit and make sure you are right with God.
Revelation 19:4-5 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne, saying:
5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying:
“Praise our God,
all you who serve Him,
and those who fear Him,
small and great alike!”
For the scene in the throne room of God, see my post on the Seven Seals (Revelation 5-8)
The 24 elders represent the Church. The living creatures are detailed in Revelation 4 and 5.
Psalm 103 1 Bless the LORD, O my soul;
all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and do not forget all His kind deeds—
3 He who forgives all your iniquities,
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the Pit
and crowns you with loving devotion and compassion,
5 who satisfies you with good things,
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The LORD executes righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known His ways to Moses,
His deeds to the people of Israel.
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in loving devotion.
9 He will not always accuse us,
nor harbor His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins
or repaid us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is His loving devotion for those who fear Him.
12 As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass—
he blooms like a flower of the field;
16 when the wind passes over, it vanishes,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the loving devotion of the LORD extends to those who fear Him,
and His righteousness to their children’s children—
18 to those who keep His covenant
and remember to obey His precepts.
19 The LORD has established His throne in heaven,
and His kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless the LORD, all His angels mighty in strength,
who do His word,
who hearken to the voice of His command.
21 Bless the LORD, all His hosts,
you servants who do His will.
22 Bless the LORD, all His works
in all places of His dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Psalm 135:1-3 Hallelujah!
Praise the name of the LORD.
Give praise, O servants of the LORD,
2 who stand in the house of the LORD,
in the courts of the house of our God.
3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good;
sing praises to His name, for it is lovely.
Revelation 19:6-8 6 And I heard a sound like the roar of a great multitude, like the rushing of many waters, and like a mighty rumbling of thunder, crying out:
For our Lord God, the Almighty, reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
and give Him the glory.
For the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and His bride has made herself ready.
8 She was given clothing of fine linen,
bright and pure.”
For the fine linen she wears is the righteous acts of the saints.
Psalm 99:1 The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble! He is enthroned above the cherubim. Let the earth quake.
Ezekiel 1:4-28 4 I looked and saw a whirlwind coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing back and forth and brilliant light all around it. In the center of the fire was a gleam like amber, 5 and within it was the form of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: They had a human form, 6 but each had four faces and four wings. 7 Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the hooves of a calf, gleaming like polished bronze.
8 Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. All four of them had faces and wings, 9 and their wings were touching one another. They did not turn as they moved; each one went straight ahead.
10 The form of their faces was that of a man, and each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and also the face of an eagle. 11 Such were their faces.
Their wings were spread upward; each had two wings touching the wings of the creature on either side, and two wings covering its body. 12 Each creature went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they moved. 13 In the midst of the living creatures was the appearance of glowing coals of fire, or of torches. Fire moved back and forth between the living creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. 14 The creatures were darting back and forth as quickly as flashes of lightning.
15 When I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. 16 The workmanship of the wheels looked like the gleam of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. Their workmanship looked like a wheel within a wheel. 17 As they moved, they went in any of the four directions, without pivoting as they moved. 18 Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around. 19 So as the living creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them, and when the creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose.
20 Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise alongside them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21 When the creatures moved, the wheels moved; when the creatures stood still, the wheels stood still; and when the creatures rose from the ground, the wheels rose alongside them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.
22 Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was the likeness of an awesome expanse, gleaming like crystal. 23 And under the expanse, their wings stretched out toward one another. Each one also had two wings covering its body. 24 When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings like the roar of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army.
When they stood still, they lowered their wings. 25 And as they stood still with their wings lowered, a voice came from above the expanse that was over their heads.
26 Above the expanse over their heads was the likeness of a throne with the appearance of sapphire, and on the throne high above was a figure like that of a man. 27 From what seemed to be His waist up, I saw a gleam like amber, with what looked like fire within it all around. And from what seemed to be His waist down, I saw what looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded Him.
28 The appearance of the brilliant light all around Him was like that of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell facedown and heard a voice speaking.
Who is the Bride? The Bridegroom? What is the marriage of the Lamb?
Here are scriptural references that talk about the marriage of the Lamb:
Jesus is the Bridegroom and the church is the Bride of Christ!
John 3:22-36 22 Then Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem and went into the Judean countryside. Jesus spent some time with them there, baptizing people.
23 At this time John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there; and people kept coming to him for baptism. 24 (This was before John was thrown into prison.) 25 A debate broke out between John’s disciples and a certain Jewi over ceremonial cleansing. 26 So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.”
27 John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. 28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ 29 It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
31 “He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. 32 He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! 33 Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. 34 For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. 36 And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”
Mark 2:18-20 18 Once when John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, some people came to Jesus and asked, “Why don’t your disciples fast like John’s disciples and the Pharisees do?”
19 Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. They can’t fast while the groom is with them. 20 But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.
Matthew 25:1-12 1 “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, 4 but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’
7 “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. 8 Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’
9 “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’
12 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’
Isaiah 54:5 For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
Isaiah 62:5 For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
Hosea 2:16-17 16 When that day comes,” says the LORD,
“you will call me ‘my husband’
instead of ‘my master.’
17 O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips,
and you will never mention them again.
Ephesians 5:21-33 21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.
25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.
31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance and other Lexicons
church = ἐκκλησίας (ekklēsias) - Noun - Genitive Feminine Singular - Strong's Greek 1577: From a compound of ek and a derivative of kaleo; a calling out, i.e. an assembly, a (religious) congregation, a popular meeting, church.
2 Corinthians 11:2-4 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. For I promised you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 I am afraid, however, that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may be led astray from your simple and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims a Jesus other than the One we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the One you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it way too easily.
Romans 7:1-4 (King James Version - KJV) 1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. 4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
The Bride is God's people. In the Old Testament, God's People were the Jews (aka Israelites, Hebrews, after Israel split into two countries called Israel and Judah, then the Israelites and Judahites were God's People). They were descended from Abraham through the promised son, Isaac. Abraham and Sarah had Isaac. Isaac had Jacob and Jacob had twelve sons from which the twelve tribes of Israel are descended. God chose Abraham as the Father of the nation of God's People. Abraham showed faith in God when God told him to move from his homeland and go to a new land, Canaan. Abraham obeyed God which showed faith.
Genesis 12:1-3 1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” (Verse 3 is why I believe in supporting the nation of Israel.)
Once in Canaan, God promised Abraham and Sarah a son who would have so many descendents they would be uncountable, like the sands on the seashore! And all the land of Canaan would be theirs. When God made the promise to Abraham and Sarah, they believed God could do what He promised.
Genesis 15:1-6 Some time later, the LORD spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” 2 But Abram replied, “O Sovereign LORD, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. 3 You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.” 4 Then the LORD said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” 5 Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” 6 And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.
Genesis 17:1-8 1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. 2 I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.”
3 At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, 4 “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! 5 What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. 6 I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them!
7 “I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God.”
Abraham's whole story is Genesis 11-25. God had to do a little work on Abraham (and Sarah). Abraham and Sarah weren't perfect and they made mistakes, some BIG ones (like the scheme that backfired with Ishmael)! During the waiting period for his promised son, Isaac, God worked on Abraham (and Sarah). Also, God wanted Abraham and Sarah (and everyone else) to know that Isaac was a miracle from God that couldn't have happened any other way. There was no way Isaac could be born naturally because both Abraham and Sarah were too old when he was conceived. God had to supernaturally intervene with a miracle for Isaac to be conceived and born.
Much later, after the descendents of Abraham and Sarah had grown into millions of people, they became enslaved by Egypt and after 400+ years, God raised up Moses to lead them into freedom. God performed many miracles to set them free and lead them out of bondage and towards freedom. These people not only left Egypt with their freedom, but the Egyptians were so ready to get rid of them and were so afraid of the Israelites' God (after all the miracles He had performed to scare Pharoah into letting them go) that they gave them all kinds of things and treasure (much of which was later used to build the Tabernacle, Tent of Meeting). But these were a stubborn and fearful people who didn't show much faith and God had some rough edges and disciplining to do before they could enter the Promised Land, Canaan. It was during their time of wandering in the wilderness (before entering the Promised Land) that God gave the Ten Commandments written on tablets of stone by God's own hand to Moses. The Ten Commandments are the summary of all the Laws given by God in detail in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. God promised them if they fulfilled the Law, they would be greatly blessed, but if they deserted Him and disobeyed His commandments, they would face dire consequences!
Exodus 19:1-6 1 Exactly two months after the Israelites left Egypt, they arrived in the wilderness of Sinai. 2 After breaking camp at Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and set up camp there at the base of Mount Sinai. 3 Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “Give these instructions to the family of Jacob; announce it to the descendants of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. 6 And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”
Under Joshua, they crossed the River Jordan and entered the Promised Land and began to take the land from it's inhabitants. At some point they wanted a human king, begged God for a human king, and they established a kingdom. King David and King Solomon were two of the kings and the most famous. After them, eventually the kingdom split into Israel and Judah.
Due to their lack of faith and trust in their God, and to their idolatry with other nation's gods, Jehovah God was constantly having to discipline them. Some generations would be more faithful and get rid of idols. Some generations did worse and brought back idols. Some kings were good kings that tried to lead the people to God. They would destroy idols and their places of worship ("high places") and re-establish the Tabernacle (later the permanent Temple) and the worship of Jehovah in the prescribed ways. King David was one of the best kings, a "man after God's own heart". Like Abraham, King David didn't do everything right. He made some serious mistakes (Bathsheba and the murder of her husband). But he had a heart for God and repented sincerely before God and was reconciled to God. But other kings were bad kings that led the people astray and never repented.
For example, King Manasseh came to the throne at only 12 years of age, when his father, the good King Hezekiah, died. Manasseh made it his mission to undo the good reforms instituted by his father, and to do a great deal of evil. Hezekiah had destroyed shrines of pagan worship throughout the land; Manasseh rebuilt them, adding also shrines to Baal and Asherah. He desecrated the Lord's temple by putting altars for idol worship in it. He sacrificed his own sons, burning them to death in worship of the idol Molech. Manasseh murdered so many people that the historian wrote that he “filled Jerusalem from one end to the other” with innocent blood.
2 Kings 21:1-9,16 1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother was Hephzibah. 2 He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father, Hezekiah, had destroyed. He constructed altars for Baal and set up an Asherah pole, just as King Ahab of Israel had done. He also bowed before all the powers of the heavens and worshiped them.
4 He built pagan altars in the Temple of the LORD, the place where the LORD had said, “My name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” 5 He built these altars for all the powers of the heavens in both courtyards of the LORD’s Temple. 6 Manasseh also sacrificed his own son in the fire.a He practiced sorcery and divination, and he consulted with mediums and psychics. He did much that was evil in the LORD’s sight, arousing his anger.
7 Manasseh even made a carved image of Asherah and set it up in the Temple, the very place where the LORD had told David and his son Solomon: “My name will be honored forever in this Temple and in Jerusalem—the city I have chosen from among all the tribes of Israel. 8 If the Israelites will be careful to obey my commands—all the laws my servant Moses gave them—I will not send them into exile from this land that I gave their ancestors.” 9 But the people refused to listen, and Manasseh led them to do even more evil than the pagan nations that the LORD had destroyed when the people of Israel entered the land... 16 Manasseh also murdered many innocent people until Jerusalem was filled from one end to the other with innocent blood. This was in addition to the sin that he caused the people of Judah to commit, leading them to do evil in the LORD’s sight.
So when the Old Testament talked about the people of God, they generally referred to Israel (as a whole nation), the Jews. But, God made the promises to Abraham way before there were any descendants and way before He gave Moses the Ten Commandments and the details of the Law and established the place and way to worship Him. What does that mean to us today?
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ, as God's Son, came to earth to save us. He was perfect human, perfect God. He had a human body and God's pure Spirit. His deity came from God and his human body came from his mother, Mary. He was able to pay the price for our sins, a price we, born in sin, could not pay. He gave us the free gift of salvation if we accept it. It takes faith to accept it. God instilled a seed of faith in each of us but He has to breath life on that seed for it to start growing. We have to let Him breathe life into us by turning to Him, asking for Him, desiring Him. As soon as we want Him, He breathes life into that seed of faith and we have faith enough to believe in Jesus Christ for our salvation. The only thing we bring to this miracle is our desire for Him, a turning to Him, a choice that we no longer want to live in our sins but we want to live free and we realize we need God to do that. Repentance is a change of mind and heart. It means we agree with God that we hate our sins and we agree that He is the only way to be free. That moment of turning from sin and to God is saving repentance. We may not understand what we are doing except that we are reaching for our Abba Father! At that point, our spirit is born and we are saved and the Holy Spirit moves in to begin the lifelong process of teaching and empowering us. When I was 8 yrs old and got saved, I didn't know all this. I just knew I was a sinner and needed Jesus. I realized that I was a sinner at 8 years old!! I knew I was unable to save myself and needed Jesus!! That's all it took and I was saved. I walked down the aisle and talked to the pastor. He asked me some questions and led me in a prayer of salvation. But I was actually saved the moment, in the pew, when I realized I was a sinner and needed Jesus. That was my turning! I was baptized shortly after and have been a believer ever since. I don't have any memories of a life without Jesus. I was raised in church (thank you to my parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles!) and I was saved at an early age. So I consider myself a lifelong Christian. As a teenager, I had some questions and got confused but at 17, I re-dedicated my life. To me that meant I was going back to my spiritual roots and build on it with Bible study and prayer so I could understand my faith better. The Holy Spirit led me to that decision and has worked on maturing and teaching me. I have not looked back since then. I've continued to grow in the spirit. Like Abraham and King David (and all the other Bible "greats" and every Christian) I have made mistakes and God has had to polish off rough spots and discipline me and worked on me. If you have known me for any length of time, you will be disappointed at some of the mess I still show. But I'm a work in progress and God is working on me.
According to the New Testament, I am one of God's People, a spiritual descendant. I had faith like Abraham. I'm not a Jew. I am not a descendant of Abraham through Isaac as far as I know. That makes me a Gentile. But God's promises are to me, just like they were to the Israelites. Let's look at scripture to confirm this:
Galatians 3 1 Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. 2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3 How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? 4 Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?
5 I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.
6 In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” 7 The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.
8 What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would make the Gentiles right in his sight because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.
10 But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” 11 So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” 12 This way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, “It is through obeying the law that a person has life.”
13 But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.
15 Dear brothers and sisters, here’s an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or amend an irrevocable agreement, so it is in this case. 16 God gave the promises to Abraham and his child. And notice that the Scripture doesn’t say “to his children,” as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says “to his child”—and that, of course, means Christ. 17 This is what I am trying to say: The agreement God made with Abraham could not be canceled 430 years later when God gave the law to Moses. God would be breaking his promise. 18 For if the inheritance could be received by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God’s promise. But God graciously gave it to Abraham as a promise.
19 Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. 20 Now a mediator is helpful if more than one party must reach an agreement. But God, who is one, did not use a mediator when he gave his promise to Abraham.
21 Is there a conflict, then, between God’s law and God’s promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. 22 But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.
23 Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.
24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. 25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.
26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.
Romans 4:1-17 1 Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? 2 If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. 3 For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”
4 When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. 5 But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. 6 David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it:
7 “Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sins are put out of sight.
8 Yes, what joy for those
whose record the LORD has cleared of sin.”
9 Now, is this blessing only for the Jews, or is it also for uncircumcised Gentiles? Well, we have been saying that Abraham was counted as righteous by God because of his faith. 10 But how did this happen? Was he counted as righteous only after he was circumcised, or was it before he was circumcised? Clearly, God accepted Abraham before he was circumcised!
11 Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith. 12 And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised, but only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised.
13 Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. 14 If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. 15 For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)
16 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. 17 That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.
Romans 9:1-9,25-33 (parenthesis mine) 1 With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it. 2 My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief 3 for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them. 4 They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children.
God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises. 5 Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned. And he is God, the one who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.
6 Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people! 7 Being descendants of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children. For the Scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted,” though Abraham had other children, too. 8 This means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children. 9 For God had promised, “I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” ...
25 Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea,
“Those who were not my people,
I will now call my people.
And I will love those
whom I did not love before.”
26 And, “Then, at the place where they were told,
‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called
‘children of the living God.’”
27 And concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out,
“Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore,
only a remnant will be saved.
28 For the LORD will carry out his sentence upon the earth
quickly and with finality.”
29 And Isaiah said the same thing in another place:
“If the LORD of Heaven’s Armies
had not spared a few of our children,
we would have been wiped out like Sodom,
destroyed like Gomorrah.”
30 What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. 31 But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. 32 Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. 33 God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said,
“I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble,
a rock that makes them fall.
But anyone who trusts in him
will never be disgraced.” (the "stone in Jerusalem" is Jesus Christ)
So what does this mean in our study of Revelation 19? A Christian is a spiritual descendant of Abraham and the promises are for us too. Therefore, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I'm a child of God! I am one of God's People. I am part of the Bride of Christ! If you are a believer in Jesus, you are also part of the Bride of Christ, the church!
There were customs during the time of Christ concerning marriage.
- The betrothal - A marriage contract was signed by the parents of the bride and the bridegroom. The parents of the bridegroom (or the bridegroom himself) would pay a dowry to the bride or her parents.
- Usually, a year later, the parade - The bridegroom, accompanied by his male friends, went to the house of the bride at midnight, creating a torchlight parade through the streets. The bride would be prepared and, with her maidens (girlfriends and/or servant maids), they would join the bridegroom and his friends and continue in the parade to the bridegroom’s home.
- The marriage supper - a feast of family and friends that could go on for days (see the wedding at Cana in John 2:1–2, "On the third day...").
In Revelation 19, the first two customs have already occurred and it's time for the marriage supper of the Lamb. When did the betrothal take place? The Father chooses the Bride.
John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him”
When a person places their faith in Jesus Christ, the contract is created and the dowry is paid. The dowry is the blood of Jesus Christ paid for His Bride! We are betrothed to Christ!
Once we are saved, we should be preparing ourselves to meet our Bridegroom. The Holy Spirit is present in us to help us do that. When does the parade occur? It refers to when Christ comes back for His Church. We call it the Rapture. It's when Jesus Christ comes back, but His feet don't touch the earth. Rather, from the sky, He calls His people and catches them up to Him. All believers, alive and dead, are with Him and He takes them to safety to the Father's House, before the wrath of God and judgment begin. When the Father determines that the time is right, Jesus Christ will come and send His angels to gather “His elect” — the saints who will be His Bride
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
Matthew 22:1-14: 1 Jesus also told them other parables. He said, 2 “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. 3 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!
4 “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ 5 But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. 6 Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.
7 “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. 8 And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. 9 Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ 10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. 13 Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Luke 14:15-24 15 Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!”
16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”
The ones initially invited to the Wedding Feast were the Jews. The gospel message of salvation through their long awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ, was given first to the Jews. Many Jews accepted Jesus as Messiah and Savior (all the disciples were Jews) but the nation, as a whole, rejected Jesus as their Messiah and Savior. So then the gospel was given to the Gentiles, "the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame" and those in the lanes and behind hedges. It was opened to everyone on every level. No one is excluded, all are invited. Only those who accept the invitation are at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb.
Revelation 19:9 Then the angel told me to write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
Revelation 19:10 So I fell at his feet to worship him. But he told me, “Do not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who rely on the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
to worship - προσκυνῆσαι (proskynēsai) - Verb - Aorist Infinitive Active
Strong's Greek 4352: From pros and a probable derivative of kuon; to fawn or crouch to, i.e. prostrate oneself in homage. Other lexicon says, to do reverence to
a fellow servant - σύνδουλός (syndoulos) - Noun - Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong's Greek 4889: From sun and doulos; a co-slave, i.e. Servitor or ministrant of the same master.
brothers - ἀδελφῶν (adelphōn) - Noun - Genitive Masculine Plural
Strong's Greek 80: A brother, member of the same religious community, especially a fellow-Christian. A brother near or remote.
rely on - ἐχόντων (echontōn) - Verb - Present Participle Active - Genitive Masculine Plural
Strong's Greek 2192: To have, hold, possess. Including an alternate form scheo skheh'-o; a primary verb; to hold.
of prophecy. - προφητείας (prophēteias) - Noun - Genitive Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 4394: Prophecy, prophesying; the gift of communicating and enforcing revealed truth. From prophetes; prediction.
Here is another reason why I don't understand how a Christian can justify bowing before a church leader (like a Pope, Cardinal, Bishop, Pastor, etc), a Saint, a Madonna (Mary, the Mother of Christ), or a relic, etc. Even an angelic being from the throne room of God cautions John not to bow before him but to worship God alone! According to Catholics, the Apostle Peter was the first "Pope". They believe that Jesus assigned him the job. “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Protestants believe you have to take verse 18 in context. Jesus asked Peter a question and Peter answered it correctly. "Jesus asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" It is on Christ, the Son of the living God, that the church is built upon! But, let's say the Catholics are right and Peter is the first Pope and leader of the church universal. Should we bow before him? Worship him? Let's see what Peter, himself, had to say about it.
Acts 10:24-27 24 They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered his home, Cornelius fell at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter pulled him up and said, “Stand up! I’m a human being just like you!” 27 So they talked together and went inside, where many others were assembled.
And there we have it from his own mouth. So God tells us not to make any graven image or to worship any other god before Him. Peter tells Cornelius not to worship him as he is a man just like him. And an angel from the throne room of God tells John not to bow, or pay homage, to him but to worship God alone as they are fellow servants of Christ.
Peter was part of the inner group of disciples. He, James and John were the inner circle. They were closest to Jesus among the Twelve. One day, Jesus took them with him to a mountaintop to pray and they beheld something amazing. Christians call it The Transfiguration of Christ.
Matthew 17:1-9 1 Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. 2 As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. 3 Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.
4 Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
5 But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” 6 The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.
7 Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.
9 As they went back down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Mark 9:2-10 2 Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. 4 Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus.
5 Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified.
7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” 8 Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them.
9 As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.”
Luke 9:28-36 28 About eight days later Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly, two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared and began talking with Jesus. 31 They were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem.
32 Peter and the others had fallen asleep. When they woke up, they saw Jesus’ glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As Moses and Elijah were starting to leave, Peter, not even knowing what he was saying, blurted out, “Master, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 34 But even as he was saying this, a cloud overshadowed them, and terror gripped them as the cloud covered them.
35 Then a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.” 36 When the voice finished, Jesus was there alone. They didn’t tell anyone at that time what they had seen.
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
He was transfigured - μετεμορφώθη (metemorphōthē) - Verb - Aorist Indicative Passive - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 3339: To transform, transfigure. From meta and morphoo; to transform.
shelters - σκηνὰς (skēnas) - Noun - Accusative Feminine Plural
Strong's Greek 4633: A tent, booth, tabernacle, abode, dwelling, mansion, habitation. Apparently akin to skeuos and skia; a tent or cloth hut.
The Transfiguration of Christ demonstrated that Jesus Christ was who He claimed to be, the Son of God. In all three accounts in the gospels, we are told the names of the three disciples who accompanied Jesus (Peter, James and John) who stood as human witnesses to Christ's glory. There were also three heavenly witnesses, Moses, Elijah, and the voice of God from heaven.
"The Greek word is "metamorpho" and it means to transform, literally or figuratively to metamorphose, or to change. The word is a verb that means to change into another form. It also means to change the outside to match the inside. The prefix "meta" means to change and the "morphe" means form. In the case of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ it means to match the outside with the reality of the inside. To change the outward so that it matches the inward reality. Jesus' divine nature was "veiled" (Hebrews 10:20) in human form and the transfiguration was a glimpse of that glory." - AllAboutJesusChrist.org
2 Peter 1:16-18 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to him from the excellent glory: 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
The Law and the Prophets point forward to the Messiah and his sufferings. Moses was equated with the Old Testament law that God had given to the people. Jesus fulfilled the Law and did what the Law could not do, that is, to provide an answer for the problem of sin. The law pointed out the problem; Jesus gave the solution. Moses represents believers who die before Jesus comes back to Rapture the Church. They die but their spirits go to Heaven until the Day of Judgment. Elijah was an Old Testament prophet and his appearance testified that Jesus fulfilled the prophets, as well as the Law. Elijah never died. He was translated into Heaven. He represents believers who will still be alive when Jesus returns to Rapture the Church. They will be translated to Heaven. The Law and the Prophets must give way to Jesus. The voice of God gave further confirmation of thee Sonship of Jesus. He acknowledged Jesus had pleased Him in the things He had said and done.
2 Kings 2:1,11-12 1 Shortly before the LORD took Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal,...11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire with horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up into heaven in a whirlwind. 12 As Elisha watched, he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And he saw Elijah no more. So taking hold of his own clothes, he tore them in two.
Matthew Henry comments, “The shining face of Moses was so weak, that it could easily be concealed by a thin veil; but such was the glory of Christ’s body, that his clothes were enlightened by it.”
The first thing Peter could think of was to honor this moment and these three by building something. He thought it would be an event that needed to be commemorated, remembered. For that, he was correct. But to build a place on the Mount of Transfiguration would have become just another place to idolize. How many people go to the Holy Land today and "walk where Jesus walked" only to find the supposed places of His birth, death, resurrection, etc. have been idolized. I don't mean that every person who goes to visit these holy places are idolaters! Not by any means! I, too, would love to go and I believe it would lead me in worship and praise to the one and only God! But many have idolized these places. What was once a humble stable where Christ was born may have been covered in magnificence and smothered in worldly trappings to entice tourists and tourist dollars. And many would go just to superstitiously "get a blessing"!
Jesus was born into a humble family in a humble stable in Bethlehem. I have no idea how we can be sure of exactly where Jesus was born. Even that may be someone's marketing idea back in the Dark Ages. A way to make money or gain power from claiming "This spot is the place where Jesus was born!" I have no idea. I do know that there is some dispute as to where the exact spot is. To me, it doesn't matter because I would go to worship Jesus not the spot. But to many, they worship the spot more than Jesus. And to many more, they worship the money the spot brings to them. Just like Christmas. Many want to dispute that December 25th is actually the day Christ was born. I understand what they are saying and they have valid reasons too. But the main thing is that we have a day designated to worship Jesus and take that day to commemorate what He means to us and what His birth meant. Many use that day in lots of other ways, but to me, it should be about Jesus first. It's not about me, it's about Him. It's not about the kids, it's about Him. It's not about Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty... it's about Him! It's not about the presents, the decorations, the food, being off school/work... it should be about Him! If we are forgetting Him on that day, we are missing the point. We have idolized something above Him. Being in a large family that lives close by, we are very busy on holidays doing family stuff. We feel compelled to buy gifts for all the children and for each other. We want to see their excitement and having fun. We want to eat all the good food and visit and joke. We go house to house to make sure we celebrate with all the family. But if we have left Jesus out, in order to do things like this, we are practising idolatry. We are putting something ahead of Jesus ON HIS DAY!
Let's look what became of the supposed spot where Jesus was born. It is no longer a humble stable.
The holy site known as the "Nativity Grotto" is a cave in which Jesus of Nazareth was supposedly born. In 135 A.D., Emperor Hadrian had the site above the Grotto converted into a worship place for Adonis, the Greek god of beauty and desire, and a sacred grove was planted to completely wipe out the memory of Jesus from the world. The Church of the Nativity is a basilica located in Bethlehem that was commissioned by Emperor Constantine I and his mother, Helena, in 327 A.D. on the site of what was traditionally accepted as the birthplace of Christ. That original basilica was completed sometime between 333 and 339. It was destroyed by fire during the Samaritan revolts of the sixth century, and a new basilica was built in 565 by Byzantine Emperor Justinian, who restored the architectural tone of the original. The Church of the Nativity, while remaining basically unchanged since the Justinian reconstruction, has seen numerous repairs and additions, especially from the Crusader period, such as two bell towers (now gone), wall mosaics and paintings (partially preserved). The Church of the Nativity was used as the primary coronation church for Crusader kings, from the second ruler of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1100 and until 1131. The Crusaders undertook extensive decoration and restoration on the basilica and grounds, a process that continued until 1169. It has expanded to include three monasteries: one Greek Orthodox, one Armenian Apostolic, and one Roman Catholic. The Khwarezmian Turks desecrated the Church of the Nativity in April 1244, leaving the roof in poor condition. England supplied the lead, the Second Kingdom of Burgundy supplied the wood, and the Republic of Venice provided the labor to repair the roof in 1480. Earthquakes inflicted significant damage to the Church of the Nativity between 1834 and 1837. By 1846, the Church of the Nativity and its surrounding site lay in disrepair and vulnerable to looting. Much of the interior marble flooring was looted in the early half of the 19th century, much of which was transferred to use in other buildings around the region, including the Haram ash-Sharif (Temple Mount) in Jerusalem. The silver star marking the spot where Christ was born was stolen in 1847. Some assert that this was a contributing factor in the Crimean War against the Russian Empire. The property rights today, liturgical use and maintenance of the church, are regulated by a set of documents and understandings known as the Status Quo. The church is owned by three church authorities, the Greek Orthodox (most of the building and furnishings), the Armenian Apostolic and the Roman Catholic (each of them with lesser properties). The Coptic Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox are holding minor rights of worship at the Armenian church in the northern transept, and at the Altar of Nativity. There have been repeated brawls among monk trainees over quiet respect for others' prayers, hymns and even the division of floor space for cleaning duties. - Wikipedia
And here is the Grotto in the cave that is supposedly where Jesus was actually born.
Please believe me when I say that I realize it's not idolatry for every person. I would love to go. I would love to worship my God at the site that is considered Jesus' birthplace. I too would want to give honor, respect and reverence to my Savior. I would want to commemorate and give my best in honor of my God. I can imagine that I would feel compelled to fall on my knees in worship. But there is a fine line between true and sincere worship, superstition or idolatry. If it leads us to bow the knee before God and worship Him in love and adoration - then it's not idolatry. But if it leads us to worship a holy place rather than God, it's idolatry. If it leads us to worship money and power, it's idolatry. If you think by simply visiting or touching you can get something you want (a healing, blessing, good fortune), it's superstition.
Let's say that someone comes up with irrefutable evidence that Christ's birthplace was actually one mile down the road from the Church of the Nativity. Or ten miles, or in another country. What would happen? Would there be people who steadfastly refused to believe the new place is the birthplace of Christ? Why? What difference does it make? Is it because of the 1,500 year old church building? Then you worshiped a building. Is it because of all the trappings that have grown up around the grotto or the church? Then you worshiped things. Is it because you don't own the land that the new birthplace is on and therefore have no control over what builds up over and around it? Then you worshiped power and control. Is it because you will lose income as pilgrims begin to visit the new birthplace? Then you worshiped money. Is it because it would take so much money and trouble to buy the property, build a new cathedral and monasteries, re-appoint it, etc.? Then you worshiped money and leisure.
What if a bomb dropped on this ancient church and the grotto, totally obliterating it. How would people react? I would be sad and ashamed that human beings could desecrate such a holy place. But would it change my faith? Would it affect my worship? I hope not! Because I worship God and not the place. My God has not changed because the world lost the birthplace of Christ.
These are questions to ask ourselves.
I wondered if you noticed what Wikipedia said: "There have been repeated brawls among monk trainees over quiet respect for others' prayers, hymns and even the division of floor space for cleaning duties."
Arguing, fighting, among Christians over petty issues like how quiet it is, what hymns are sung and "the division of floor space for cleaning duties". If it's true (and it may not be), how shameful! Jesus taught:
Mark 10:45 (Jesus speaking) "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Luke 22:27 (Jesus speaking) “For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”
Matthew 20:25-28 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Philippians 2:1-11 1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
“The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.” - John Stott
We are to be humble and serve. Let's say I am told to vacuum and mop only this space. Then I notice that the space next to me is neglected. What do I do? Do I go and complain that someone isn't doing their job? Do I do the job for them but hold resentment in my heart? Do I fight with someone because "it's not my job"? Do I gossip and slander the person who has neglected their duty? Do I tape off my section and do my job but leave the other space undone in order to humiliate the person responsible? Do I point out their neglect to others? Do I take pride that my section is done right but theirs' is obviously done wrong? Do you think the job is beneath you and you have no intention of adding to your menial work? Would Jesus do any of these things?
What about mowing your grass and you notice the elderly couple next door isn't mowing theirs' and their yard is getting in bad shape. Do you mow it for them and pat yourself on the back, pointing out your good deed to anyone who will listen? Do you carefully follow your surveyed property line and not go one inch over? Do you call the neighborhood association and complain? Do you embarrass them, or harass them, in order to get them to mow their lawn? Do you threaten them if they don't keep it up? Do you sit at home, looking out the window and steam because they don't keep their yard up? Are you angry because it lowers your property values? Do you hold resentment, anger, belligerence and meanness in your heart against your neighbor? Have you ever thought they may not have the physical capacity to do it, or they don't have working equipment, or they can't afford equipment or to pay someone? Have you given them the benefit of the doubt or do you just slander and gossip about them to others? And, what if your neighbor doesn't have a good excuse. What if they are just that mean, thrifty, lazy, hateful or spiteful? Does that change how your heart should respond? Jesus doesn't say, "Be nice to people who are nice to you." Jesus said, "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." (Matthew 5:44)
Take your own spiritual inventory and see if there is anything in you that needs attention and forgiveness before you act. Then pray and ask God what to do about the situation. Then be humble and serve. You can't go wrong if you do those three things.
Now, back to the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter wanted to build something to prolong the glory and commemorate the event. But Jesus doesn't advise him to do that. Instead, they just walk back down the mountain. Peter was focusing on the wrong thing and he wanted to make something permanent out of it. God had given them a glimpse of Christ's glory and the bliss of Heaven. It is when we behold the glory of Christ and the promise of Heaven, that we gain strength and faith for the coming trials in our lives. It is not to sit down and worship a place, but to see Christ as He is and know that He is able to do all He promises and to take us with Him to Heaven! It is not just witnessing Jesus' transfiguration but to stimulate our own transfiguration so we become more like Him! It is not to fall down and worship an idol but to see Him and worship Him in a way that changes us!!!! How do we know if it has changed us? Our fruit! What grows naturally from us. An apple tree naturally grows apples. It receives it's nutrients from the soil it's planted in, receives water from the rain and the sun provides the energy it needs. When all is as it should be, the apples naturally grow. So what are we planted in? Are we able to derive nutrients from our soil? Are our roots planted in good soil? What waters us? What gives us energy? If we are well planted, well watered and well lighted, then we will naturally grow good fruit. We don't have to force out a fruit. It will grow naturally.
What kind of fruit are you growing? Is it fruit that reflects Jesus? If it's bad fruit, what do you need to adjust? Do you need to make sure your roots are in good soil versus sitting on a mound of garbage? Do you need to change what kind of watering is going on? Do you miss church, neglect your devotions, never read your Bible, rarely pray? Or maybe you need some glory time with God to transfigure you. Some Son to lighten your way? Seek Jesus and you will find Him!
The angel in Revelation 19 tells John, "I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who rely on the testimony of Jesus. Worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy". What is the "spirit of prophecy"? If you saw the explanation of Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, it is "the gift of communicating and enforcing revealed truth". Jesus came to reveal truth.
Luke 24:44 Now He (Jesus) said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
Luke 24:27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
Jesus was the fulfillment of the law and prophets. Everyone who testifies of Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of the world, has the spirit of prophecy because it is revealed truth. Now there is a gift of prophecy spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12. But this is different. The angel, John and "his brethren", rely on the truth, hold the truth, possess the truth. What truth? The truth is "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy". Jesus and His Sonship, His work, His redeeming grace is the revealed truth. The root of prophecy is the declaration of Jesus and a testimony of Jesus. Prophecy is not about telling the future. That is divination and fortunetelling (which God prohibits). Prophecy is about revealing truth, the truth of Jesus Christ. Every Christian can, and should, do that as fellow servants of Christ! We live in a dark world and we need to be revealing the light of Jesus Christ and salvation through Him. We are called to be lights in this world. How can we be if we don't tell the truth? If we keep it to ourselves, is it not like putting a bushel basket over our light?
Matthew 5:14-16 14 You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Revelation 19:11-13 11 Then I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse. And its rider is called Faithful and True. With righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 He has eyes like blazing fire, and many royal crowns on His head. He has a name written on Him that only He Himself knows. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is The Word of God.
Psalm 45 My heart overflows with a pleasing theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.
2 You are the most handsome of the sons of men;
grace is poured upon your lips;
therefore God has blessed you forever.
3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one,
in your splendor and majesty!
4 In your majesty ride out victoriously
for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!
5 Your arrows are sharp
in the heart of the king’s enemies;
the peoples fall under you.
6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.
The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;
7 you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
8 your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. (see below)
From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor;
at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
10 Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:
forget your people and your father’s house,
11 and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him.
12 The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts,
the richest of the people.
13 All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold.
14 In many-colored robes she is led to the king,
with her virgin companions following behind her.
15 With joy and gladness they are led along
as they enter the palace of the king.
16 In place of your fathers shall be your sons;
you will make them princes in all the earth.
17 I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations;
therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.
His name Faithful and True, which combines two characteristics: fidelity to promises, trustworthiness; and the power to satisfy every legitimate desire in the hearts of His people. In Him all hopes are found.
Myrrh, and aloes, and cassia were celebrated for their peculiar fragrance. They were used in compounding the choicest perfumed ointments and oils. Myrrh and cassia are mentioned in Exodus 30:23-24, as two of the spices of which the holy anointing oil was made up. All its ingredients were considered sacred. The Israelites were forbidden to use it on a man's flesh, or to attempt any imitation of it in their own perfumes. Christ's anointing was not confined to a few ceremonial drops poured upon the head, but poured abundantly so that his garments smelled of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia. The fragrance of his garments were not of blood and battle, but of sweet perfume, the sweet odour of his own graces.
Myrrh - A precious gum yielded by a tree common in Africa and Arabia, which is about eight or nine feet high; its wood hard, and its trunk thorny. There are several kinds, and various degrees of excellence. The best was an ingredient in the holy ointment, Exodus 30:23. It was also employed in perfumes, Esther 2:12; Psalm 45:8; and in embalming, to preserve the body from decay and mask odour, John 19:39. The magi, who came from the East to worship Christ, offered him myrrh, Matthew 2:11. In Mark 15:23, it is mentioned, "wine mingled with myrrh," which was offered to Jesus before His crucifixion, and intended to deaden the pain. He refused it. It was a custom among the Hebrews to give this to persons who were about to be put to death, Proverbs 31:6. Myrrh acts on the brain’s opioid receptors, explaining its painkilling action.
When a tree's wound penetrates through the bark and into the sapwood, the tree bleeds a resin. Myrrh gum is yellowish, has a pleasant scent and a bitter taste. When people harvest myrrh, they wound the trees repeatedly to bleed them of the gum. Myrrh gum is waxy and coagulates quickly. After the harvest, the gum becomes hard and glossy. The final product is an expensive oil-base, aromatic fragrance that has a strong, sweet smell. Myrrh and the other ingredients in the holy anointing oil had to be ground in a powder even as the ingredients for the holy incense were beaten. Myrrh in particular would then be distilled into liquid. The key to the process of pure myrrh transforming into liquid is found in the actual Hebrew meaning of the word - distilling in drops. Every drop is symbolic of the tears that life may bring with it. Liquid myrrh is called stacte. There are eight references to myrrh in the Song of Solomon, where it is referred to as an expensive and pleasant cosmetic – “A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved...” (Song of Solomon 1:13). It was used in embalming to hide decaying odors and in the wine mixed with myrrh to hide bad taste (vinegar and gall?) and give some pain relief. Myrrh is symbolized by Jesus:
Isaiah 53:2-12 ...grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no stately form or majesty to attract us,
no beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.
Like one from whom men hide their faces,
He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.
4 Surely He took on our infirmities
and carried our sorrows;
yet we considered Him stricken by God,
struck down and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
and by His stripes we are healed.
6 We all like sheep have gone astray,
each one has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet He did not open His mouth.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so He did not open His mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away,
and who can recount His descendants?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
He was stricken for the transgression of My people.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with a rich man in His death,
although He had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer,
and when His soul is made a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days,
and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
11 After the anguish of His soul,
He will see the light of lifted and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant will justify many,
and He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will allot Him a portion with the great,
and He will divide the spoils with the strong,
because He has poured out His life unto death,
and He was numbered with the transgressors.
Yet He bore the sin of many
and made intercession for the transgressors.
The myrrh tree was cut, afflicted, and it bleeds tears of suffering like Jesus. The tears harden and are collected and then the gum is beaten to a powder. Jesus was cut in mind, body and spirit. He bled blood and shed tears of suffering. He was beaten to a pulp in torture before he was crucified. But it was this sacrifice that made Him acceptable in redeeming His people. He refused to turn away from any of the pain and horror in order to fulfill everything and save every person who would come to Him. "He poured out His life unto death" and "He bore the sin of many" and He did it for you and me! What was bitter is now sweet. What was a decaying odor of death is now a sweet incense. Jesus has cleansed and applied the healing medicine to cure the sickness of sin!!!
Aloe oil - Aloe oil is not from the typical ‘aloe vera’ plant we are familiar with. It is obtained from a fungal infection that attacks the “heartwood” of the Aquila tree. The infection causes the trunk and roots to secrete a resin which preserves the tree. The resin has a beautiful fragrance and is extremely valuable. The resin embedded wood is commonly called gaharu, jinko, aloeswood, agarwood, or oud and is valued in many cultures for its distinctive fragrance, and thus is used for incense and perfumes. It was believed in ancient times that it was the only tree descended to mankind from out of the Garden of Eden. Legend had it that Adam took a shoot from the garden and planted it where he settled and that every aloe tree originates from this shoot. Other names for it are Shoot of Paradise or Paradise Wood. Aloe highlights the gentle forgiving nature of Jesus. An “infection” can come in many forms. We are all infected by sin and God provided the blood of His Son to turn our infection into a treasured fragrance.
Cassia - (Exodus 30;24; Ezekiel 27:19) The cassia bark of commerce is yielded by various kinds of Cinnamomum, which grow in different parts of India. The Hebrew word in (Psalms 45:8) is generally supposed to be another term for cassia. - Smith's Bible Dictionary
(1.) Hebrew kiddah', i.e., "split." One of the principal spices of the holy anointing oil (Exodus 30:24), and an article of commerce (Ezek. 27:19). It is the inner bark of a tree resembling the cinnamon (q.v.), the Cinnamomum cassia of botanists, and was probably imported from India.
(2.) Hebrew pl. ketzi'oth (Psalm 45:8). Mentioned in connection with myrrh and aloes as being used to scent garments. It was probably prepared from the peeled bark, as the Hebrew word suggests, of some kind of cinnamon. - Easton's Bible Dictionary
Cassia = kash'-a: Two Hebrew words:
(1) qiddah, which is mentioned, along with myrrh, cinnamon, calamus and olive oil, as one of the ingredients of the "holy anointing oil" (Exodus 30:24); it was, too, one of the wares in which Vedan and Javan traded with Tyre (Ezekiel 27:19); it is identified in the Peshitta and the Targum with (2).
(2) qetsi`oth (plural only, probably referring to the strips of bark), a word from which is derived the Greek kasia, and hence, cassia (Psalm 45:8).
It is probable that both (1) and (2) refer to Cassia lignea, the inner bark of Cinnamomum cassia, a plant growing in eastern Asia closely allied to that which yields the cinnamon of commerce. It is a fragrant, aromatic bark and was probably used in a powdered form. Both as an ingredient in unguents and as one of the perfumes at funerals, cassia, like cinnamon, was much used by the Romans. The cassia of Scripture must be clearly distinguished from the entirely distinct Cassia lanceolata and C. obovata which yield the familiar senna. The proper name KEZIAH (which see) is the singular form of ketsi`oth. - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Cassia is an evergreen tree with an aromatic bark, similar to cinnamon, but darker, thicker and coarser. The outer surface is rough and greyish-brown, the inside bark is smoother and reddish-brown. The stems are cut down when the bark is mature. The bark is removed in short lengths and dried, then ground into powder or rolled from both sides toward the center, to form a quill resembling a scroll. An aromatic oil can be derived through steam distillation of the leaves to produce a strong and penetrating fragrance. Cassia buds resemble cloves and the buds have a slight aroma; the bark is sweet-spicy like cinnamon, but more pungent. Flavor: the bark and the buds have similar flavors: warm, sweet and pungent. The dried flowers of cinnamon were popular among the Israelites. Known as cassia, they were an ingredient, along with myrrh and cinnamon bark, in the preparation of the holy anointing oil.
Cassia comes from the primitive qatsa': to scrape off; to strip away from something (as in stripping the bark off the tree). In the spiritual sense, cassia speaks of devotion (being stripped of pride) and consecration (set apart unto God) with a servant's heart. It speaks of humility. The brokenness of His body was the sweet fragrance to the Father because He paid the price Himself (Ephesians 4:8). Through His sacrifice we have been made the fragrance of Christ.
John has seen a rider on a white horse in Revelation 6:2, and he sees a rider again now. But many believe they are very different riders.
Revelation 19:11-13 11 Then I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse. And its rider is called Faithful and True. With righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 He has eyes like blazing fire, and many royal crowns on His head. He has a name written on Him that only He Himself knows. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is The Word of God.
Let's look at the differences:
- The rider and horse are called forth by a voice like thunder from one of the living creatures
- Rider held a bow
- Rider given a crown
- He rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest
- The rider and horse were there when heaven opened before John
- Rider has a name "Faithful and True"
- He judges with righteousness and wages war
- Eyes like blazing fire
- Wearing many royal crowns
- Another name written on Him that no one but He knows
- His robes are dipped in blood
- Another name is "The Word of God"
Most believe the horse and rider in Revelation 19 is Jesus Christ. It would seem the rider in Revelation 6 is not Jesus, but one serving Jesus. Some believe the horse and rider in Revelation 19 is the Word of God and it is the Word of God that is our standard, our measuring stick. All must measure up to the Word of God. Jesus has made us righteous with His righteousness or we would not measure up to the Word.
On the other hand, Jesus is described as the Word. It is my belief that this rider and horse is Jesus Christ.
John 1:1-4,14 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind....14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Revelation 19 describes a final judgment of the earth’s wicked, leading to the great white throne and the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15) and to the creation of new heavens and a new earth (Revelation 21-22).
Psalm 33:3-5 3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
4 For the word of the Lord is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.
5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.
2 Timothy 2:13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
Psalms 119:90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
John 14:6-7 Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, You would have known my Father also. From now on you know him and have seen him.'
Titus 1:2 A faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time
John 8:26 (Jesus speaking) "I have much to say about you and much to judge. But the One who sent Me is truthful, and what I have heard from Him, I tell the world."
John 4:31-36 (John the Baptist speaking of Jesus) 31 The One who comes from above is above all. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks as one from the earth. The One who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what He has seen and heard, yet no one accepts His testimony. 33 Whoever accepts His testimony has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the One whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in His hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. Whoever rejects the Son will not see life. Instead, the wrath of God remains on him.”
2 Thessalonians 2: 1 Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. 2 Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us. 3 Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. 4 He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God. 5 Don’t you remember that I told you about all this when I was with you? 6 And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes. 7 For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way. 8 Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming. 9 This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. 10 He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them. 11 So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies. 12 Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth.
When Jesus came back to rapture the church, He came as a thief in the night. Unexpectedly, suddenly, no one knowing the time or day. He gathered His people without setting a foot on the earth. This time, Jesus comes back for all to see.
Matthew 24:30 (Jesus speaking) "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory."
His blazing eyes mean He has a penetrating gaze that discerns truth from lies. He sees all and knows all; omniscient. There is no hiding, no charming, no wheedling, no manipulating, no lying or deceit that can cover the truth. His eyes burn away all covering and gets down to the real truth.
His many crowns indicate His full authority. He is the Lord of lords and King of kings.
Isaiah 63:1-6 1 Who is this coming from Edom,
from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson?
Who is this, robed in splendor,
striding forward in the greatness of his strength?
“It is I, proclaiming victory,
mighty to save.”
2 Why are your garments red,
like those of one treading the winepress?
3 “I have trodden the winepress alone;
from the nations no one was with me.
I trampled them in my anger
and trod them down in my wrath;
their blood spattered my garments,
and I stained all my clothing.
4 It was for me the day of vengeance;
the year for me to redeem had come.
5 I looked, but there was no one to help,
I was appalled that no one gave support;
so my own arm achieved salvation for me,
and my own wrath sustained me.
6 I trampled the nations in my anger;
in my wrath I made them drunk
and poured their blood on the ground.”
Bozrah was a principal Edomite city.
"The Edomites first showed themselves enemies of Israel when they refused to allow the Israelites, under Moses, "a passage through their border" (Numbers 20:14-21). David subdued them (2 Samuel 9:14); but they revolted from Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:8-10), and were thenceforward among the most bitter adversaries of the southern kingdom. They "smote Judah" in the reign of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:17), and were always ready to "shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity" (Ezekiel 35:5). Amos speaks of them very much in the same tone as Isaiah (Amos 1:11-12). They ultimately "filled up the measure of their iniquities" by open rejoicing when Jerusalem was destroyed, and the people led away captive by Nebuchadnezzar (Psalm 137:7; Obadiah 1:10-14; Lamentations 4:21, 22; Ezekiel 35:10-13). In the present passage we must regard the Edomites as representative of the enemies of God's people generally (see the introductory paragraph). The people of my curse; i.e. "the people on whom I have laid a curse" - the Edomites. Esau was to "serve" Jacob (Genesis 25:23; Genesis 27:40), Edom to be "a possession" for Judah (Numbers 24:18). God had said of Edom, probably before Isaiah uttered the present prophecy, "For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof... but I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah" (Amos 1:11-12). Thus Edom was under a curse." - Pulpit Commentary in notes for Isaiah 34:5
You can also see my notes on Edom in this post on Revelation 18.
Revelation 19:14-16 14 The armies of heaven, dressed in fine linen, white and pure, follow Him on white horses. 15 And from His mouth proceeds a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And He has a name written on His robe and on His thigh:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Who is this Army of Heaven?
There are more than 250 times in the Old Testament that He is called Jehovah Sabaoth or some version (or Adonai Tzva’ot), which translates God of the Armies of Heaven; Lord of Hosts. Hosts is sometimes used as "heavenly hosts". This refers to either the stars, planets, sun, moon. Or it refers to angels in His Angelic Army. Sometimes "host" is used for His Army of Saints (His people).
Deuteronomy 4:19 "And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven". Here, the host of heaven is described as the sun, moon and stars.
Deuteronomy 33:2 He said,
“The Lord came from Sinai
and dawned from Seir upon us;
he shone forth from Mount Paran;
he came from the ten thousands of holy ones,
with flaming fire at his right hand". The Lord came from "ten thousands of holy ones" which can refer to people or angels. But let's look at Revelation 5:11-12 11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
Daniel 7:9-10 9 “As I looked,
thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
10 A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.
1 Samuel 17:45 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied". The Lord of Hosts is explained as "the God of the armies of Israel".
Matthew 26:53 (Jesus speaking) "Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?
1 Kings 22:19 Micaiah said, "Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.
So Jesus, on His white horse, is leading an Army of Heaven in Revelation 19 and we still aren't sure if it's an Angelic Army or an Army of the Saints (or both). We must look elsewhere. This Army is described as riding white horses and dressed in "fine linen, white and pure"? Well, in the scriptures, Angels, who are recognized, are always described as wearing brilliant white. Let's look at some:
Luke 24:1-7 1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”
John 20:11-12 But Mary stood crying outside the tomb. As she cried, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying - one at the head and the other at the feet.
Acts 1:6-11 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Daniel 10:5-6 I looked up and saw a man clothed in linen, with a belt of gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the roar of a multitude. (See Revelation 15:6)
Well, that settles it. It must be an Angelic Army if they are wearing white! But not so fast. Saints are described as wearing white too. (Saints are the people of God who are in Heaven, either after they died or when Christ raptured them.)
Remember earlier in Revelation 19:7-8 "7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him the glory. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. 8 She was given clothing of fine linen, bright and pure.” For the fine linen she wears is the righteous acts of the saints. And Revelation 3:4-5 "4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels".
OK, so we can't rely on their description to tell us if this is an Angelic Army or an Army of Saints. So let's look at what Jesus is doing. He has a sword "with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God, the Almighty". At this point, Jesus is returning with an Army to "strike down the nations" and "treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God". This is judgment time. This is the end of sin and satan. Judgment is going to fall on all who refused to accept Jesus Christ. For those who refused to bow the knee before the Son of God, they will be forced to bow the knee and receive God's wrath.
1 Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
Jude 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his Saints,
Zechariah 14:5 …like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the Saints with thee.
Matthew 31:33 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left".
Well, to me, it's looking like the Army of Heaven in Revelation 19 is both Angels and Saints. I'm not alone in thinking this. But does it matter to me whether it's an Angelic Army or an Army of Saints? Not really. I know the ending is Jesus in VICTORY and I'm His so it's my victory too! I know the Bible promises us, as His people, we are well taken care of and will walk in His victory and reign with Him in His kingdom. If I'm there, I'll saddle up as ordered! If I'm watching, I'll be cheering on my Savior and His Host! My eternity is secured by Him and I have no worries one way or the other!
Revelation 19:17-21 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out in a loud voice to all the birds flying overhead, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings and commanders and mighty men, of horses and riders, of all men slave and free, small and great. 19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies assembled to wage war against the One seated on the horse, and against His army. 20 But the beast was captured along with the false prophet, who on its behalf had performed signs deceiving those who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. Both the beast and the false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword that proceeded from the mouth of the One seated on the horse. And all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.”
We need to take a detour. We are going to find out who Gog and Magog are at this point. Let's look at Daniel 9:24-27 to set the stage. Daniel had a vision and needed the interpretation of the vision. God sends the angel, Gabriel, to explain the vision to Daniel. Let's read it in several versions.
Daniel 9:24-28 (Berean Study Bible - BSB) 24 Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city to stop their transgression, to put an end to sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy Place.
25 Know and understand this: From the issuance of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until the Messiah, the Prince, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of distress.
26 Then after the sixty-two weeks, the Messiah will be cut off and will have nothing.
Then the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood, and until the end there will be war; desolations have been decreed. 27 And he will confirm a covenant with many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of the temple will come the abomination that causes desolation, until the decreed destruction is poured out upon him.”
Daniel 9:24-27 (New International Version - NIV) 24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.
25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.
Daniel 9:24-27 (New Living Translation - NLT) 24 “A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. 25 Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler—the Anointed One—comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times. 26 “After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. 27 The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him.”
King Solomon created the wealthiest and most powerful central government the Jews would ever see. When Solomon died, between 926 and 922 BCE, the ten northern tribes refused to submit to Solomon's son, Rehoboam, and revolted. From this point on, there would be two kingdoms of Hebrews:
North - Israel. The Israelites formed their capital in the city of Samaria
South - Judah. The Judaeans kept their capital in Jerusalem.
A little history: In 722 BC, the Assyrians conquered Israel. When they conquered Israel, they forced the ten tribes to scatter throughout their empire. Israelites disappear from history permanently; they are called "the ten lost tribes of Israel. Judah soon fell victim to the power struggles between Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians. When Josiah's son, Jehoahaz, became king, the king of Egypt, Necho (put into power by the Assyrians), rushed into Judah and deposed him, and Judah became a tribute state of Egypt. When the Babylonians defeated the Egyptians in 605 BC, then Judah became a tribute state to Babylon. But when the Babylonians suffered a defeat in 601 BC, the king of Judah, Jehoiakim, defected to the Egyptians. So the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, raised an expedition to punish Judah in 597 BC. The new king of Judah, Jehoiachin, handed the city of Jerusalem over to Nebuchadnezzar, who then appointed a new king over Judah, Zedekiah. In line with Mesopotamian practice, Nebuchadnezzar deported around 10,000 Jews to his capital in Babylon; all the deportees were drawn from professionals, the wealthy, and craftsmen. Ordinary people were allowed to stay in Judah. Zedekiah defected from the Babylonians one more time. Nebuchadnezzar responded with another expedition in 588 and conquered Jerusalem in 586. Nebuchadnezzar caught Zedekiah and forced him to watch the murder of his sons; then he blinded him and deported him to Babylon. Again, Nebuchadnezzar deported the prominent citizens, but the number was far smaller than in 597: somewhere between 832 and 1577 people were deported.
What are the weeks? Some say the weeks equal years. 7 + 62 + 1 = 70 weeks
70 weeks x 7 days per week = 490 days, equivalent to 490 years
7 weeks x 7 days per week = .....49 days, equivalent to 49 years.
62 weeks x 7 days per week = .434 days, equivalent to 434 years.
69...........................Subtotal = ..483 days, equivalent to 483 years.
1 week x 7 days per week =..........7 days, equivalent to 7 years.
70.............................Total =.....490 days, equivalent to 490 years
God’s six-fold purpose
- "to finish transgression"
- "to put an end to their sin"
- "to atone for their guilt"
- "to bring in everlasting righteousness"
- "to confirm the prophetic vision" or to "seal up vision and prophecy"
- "to anoint the Most Holy Place"
458 B.C. - the twentieth year of Artaxerxes I, king of Babylon, gave the decree for Nehemiah to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild.
From 457-458 B.C., measuring seven weeks of years - that is, forty-nine years (7 x 7) - we are brought to the date 408-409 B.C. (458-49). This would correspond with the time of the prophets Ezra and Nehemiah when the Babylonian King Artaxerxes I allowed them to go back to Jerusalem, taking exiled Jews with them, to rebuild the city and Temple. There is a good chance the city was not completed until 40 years later.
From 409 B.C. we add 62 weeks, or 434 years (62 x 7), and we come to 25 A.D., the year Jesus began His ministry. After three and a half years, or in the "midst of a week," he was "cut off", crucified. Or using the Jewish custom of a 360-day year (which adjusts all our numbers slightly), 483 years after 445 B.C. places us at 30 A.D., which would coincide with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-9). Regardless, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Prince, is Jesus Christ. He was crucified "appearing to have accomplished nothing".
The last week (1 week x 7 days = 7 years). If we use 25 A.D. and add 7 years that would be 32 A.D. If we use the Jewish years we would use 30 A.D. and add 7 years that would be 37 A.D.. Jesus was crucified 3 1/2 years into His ministry. Satan thought he had won and the Messiah accomplished nothing. Not true! Jesus' death and resurrection accomplished salvation for all who believe and there would never again be a need for Jewish sacrifices and offerings to atone for sin. Jesus atoned for all sin! Jesus established His kingdom by His death and resurrection!
Others believe there is a gap of unknown centuries between the fulfillment at the Anointed One's crucifixion and resurrection and the last 7 years in the prophecy. They believe the last 7 years to be the time we call the Great Tribulation period. As usual, I believe both to be true. I believe Jesus initially fulfilled the prophecy but there is further fulfillment in the end days with the Great Tribulation period of 7 years.
Daniel 9:27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.
At first the Jews believe the AntiChrist is the promised Messiah who will establish his peaceful kingdom, a one-world government, with a one-world religion, Judaism. Evidently Israel believes the AntiChrist is actually their long-awaited Messiah who will restore Jerusalem and, from there, will conquer the world and establish his kingdom. Israel will have an agreement with the AntiChrist to restore Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. They will begin to offer sacrifices again at the new Temple. During the 7 weeks, Jerusalem will be rebuilt during troubled times with streets and a trench around it for defense. But halfway through the 7 year period (3 1/2 years), the AntiChrist will renege on his agreement with the Jews. He will place something in the new Temple to be worshiped. It's called the Abomination of Desolation. It's either the AntiChrist, himself, or a statue of himself. He demands to be worshiped by the citizens of this world or be put to death. This desecrates the new Temple and Jews will realize the leader they thought was their Messiah, is really the AntiChrist.
Now we are ready to look at who Gog and Magog are and the Battle of Gog and Magog.
The Genealogy of the world settlement after The Flood.
Japheth first appears in the Book of Genesis as one of the three sons of Noah, saved through the Ark. They are always in the order "Shem, Ham, and Japheth" when all three are listed (Genesis 5:32, 9:18 and 10:1). But that is not birth order. Genesis 9:24 calls Ham the youngest, and Genesis 10:21 refers to Shem as "brother of Japheth the elder" so they were not called in birth order.
Genesis 10 is the "Table of Nations"
Genesis 10:1-5 1 This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons after the flood.
2 The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshek and Tiras.
3 The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah.
4 The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittites and the Rodanites. 5 (From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.)
Seven Sons of Japheth:
Javan (Greece, Romans, Romance -- French, Italians, Spanish, Portuguese)
Magog (Scythians, Slavs, Russians, Bulgarians, Bohemians, Poles, Slovaks, Croatians)
Madai (Indians and Iranic: Medes, Persians, Afghans, Kurds)
Tubal (South of Black Sea)
Tiras (Thracians, Teutons, Germans, Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, Jutes)
Japheth was the Father of the Japhetic races, Japhetites while Shem was the Father of the Shemites or Semitic peoples and Ham was the Father of the Hamites. In medieval ethnography, the world was believed to have been divided into three large-scale racial groupings, corresponding to the three classical continents: the Semitic peoples of Asia, the Hamitic peoples of Africa and the Japhetic peoples of Europe. The term Caucasian as a racial label for Europeans derives in part from the assumption that the tribe of Japheth developed its distinctive racial characteristics in the Caucasus area, having migrated there from Mount Ararat before populating Europe.
"Japhet, the son of Noah, had seven sons: they inhabited so, that, beginning at the mountains Taurus and Amanus, they proceeded along Asia, as far as the river Tanais (Don), and along Europe to Cadiz; and settling themselves on the lands which they light upon, which none had inhabited before, they called the nations by their own names." - Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews, I.VI.122
Shem was childless at the time of the Flood. Two years after the Flood, he had Arphaxad (Arpachshad), followed by sons and daughters.
Genesis 10:21-32 21 Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was h Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber.
22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Ashur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram.
23 The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether and Meshek.
24 Arphaxad was the father of Shelah,
and Shelah the father of Eber.
25 Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan.
26 Joktan was the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah and Jobab. All these were sons of Joktan.
30 The region where they lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country.
31 These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.
32 These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.
Five Sons of Shem:
Aram (Aramaic, Armenia, Mesopotamia, Syria)
Arphaxad (From which Abraham descended)
His five sons peopled the greater part of West Asia, from Elam on the East to the Mediterranean on the West.
The Semitic peoples (whether they spoke Semitic or not has nothing to do with their designation as a race) were considered to be members of the Caucasian race, not dissimilar in appearance to the neighbouring Indo-European, Northwest Caucasian, and Kartvelian-speaking peoples of the region. DNA analysis of Y-chromosomal links between Semitic-speaking peoples of the Middle East like Arabs, Jews, Mandaeans, Samaritans, and Assyrians/Syriacs have shown links, despite differences contributed from other groups. A DNA study of "six Middle Eastern populations (Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Kurdish Jews from Israel; Muslim Kurds; Muslim Arabs from Israel and the Palestinian Authority Area; and Bedouin from the Negev)" found that Jews were more closely related to groups in the north of the Fertile Crescent (Kurds, Turks, and Armenians) than to their Arab neighbors. Genetic studies indicate that modern Jews (Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Mizrahi specifically), Levantine Arabs, Assyrians/Syriacs, Samaritans, Maronites, Druze, Mandaeans, and Mhallami, all have a common Near Eastern heritage which can be genetically mapped back to the ancient Fertile Crescent, but often also display genetic profiles distinct from one another, indicating the different histories of these peoples.
As Shem means dusky, dark and Japheth (from the root yaphah) fairand Ham meant black. This is supported by the evidence of Hebrew and Arabic, in which the word chamam means "to be hot" and "to be black." Being the darkest, is Cush or Ethiopia (Genesis 10:6), after which comes Egypt, then Put or Libyia, and finally Canaan.
Genesis 10:6-20 6 The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan.
7 The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteka.
The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.
8 Cush was the father of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.” 10 The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Uruk, Akkad and Kalneh, in Shinar. 11 From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah 12 and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah—which is the great city.
13 Egypt was the father of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites, 14 Pathrusites, Kasluhites (from whom the Philistines came) and Caphtorites.
15 Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites, 16 Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, 17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, 18 Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites.
Later the Canaanite clans scattered 19 and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, as far as Lasha.
20 These are the sons of Ham by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.
Four Sons of Ham:
Cush (Sudan, Ethiopia)
Canaan (Hivites, Jebusites, Arvadites, Girgashites, Amorites, Arkites, Sinites, Hittites, Sidonians, Perizzites, Zemarites)
Ham was the forefather of the Hamites including the Egyptians, who would later enslave the Israelites; and Ham's son, Canaan, was the forefather of the Canaanites. The Canaanites were idolatrous pagans who lived in Canaan. God had given the land to Abraham after God led him to move there from Ur. His descendants lived there until the famine in which Joseph figured. The story was of Joseph, one of the younger sons of Jacob/Israel was sold into slavery by his brothers and taken to Egypt. God prospered him when he interpreted a dream to the Pharaoh. In the dream there would be 7 years of bumper crops followed by 7 years of famine. So Joseph's advice was to stockpile in order to save the Egyptians from starving during the coming famine. Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of doing that. Then when the famine years came, the sons of Jacob came to Egypt to buy grain to take home. There they found their little brother, Joseph, was the number 2 man to Pharoah. So Joseph moved his entire family from Canaan to Egypt. After Joseph's death, the tribes of Israel grew so large the Egyptians began to be afraid of them and they enslaved them. The Israelites lived in Egypt for over 400 years and then came Moses whom God used to bring them out of slavery and back towards their home, Canaan. After Moses' death, Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land and they took back what was theirs. But they had to fight the Canaanites. This explains why the Hamite Egyptians and the Hamite Canaanites were cursed. The Israelites did not completely get rid of the inhabitants so the remaining Canaanites were survived as the slaves of the Israelites ("hewers of wood and drawers of water" (Joshua 9:21, 23, 27).
Back in the days of Moses and even today, one could become an Israelite by choosing to identify with them by converting. The opposite is also true. One can join the line of Ham and make oneself an enemy of God. The curse would mean that Canaan would lose his land to the Israelites and would be subservient to the descendants of Shem. The Hamites were known for their physical endurance.
After the Flood, Ham sees his father, Noah, drunk and naked in his tent and tells his brothers, who then put a cloak on their shoulders and back into the tent to cover Noah while avoiding the sight. Why was Noah drunk? Is it possible that after the Flood, there was no longer a water shield protecting the earth from the sun. The earth was no longer as protected an environment as it was before the Flood. It would mean the sun was hotter and maybe they were not used to the effects it would have on fermentation? Of course, it could also have been a normal human mistake as Noah was no less a man than anyone else. God always uses flawed human beings because that's all He has to use and because it shows that God is God, the miracle maker, not man.
Notice in the following scripture, how Noah cursed Ham's son, Canaan. Not all of Ham's descendants were cursed.
Genesis 9:24-29 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,
“Cursed be Canaan!
The lowest of slaves
will he be to his brothers.”
26 He also said,
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem!
May Canaan be the slave of Shem.
27 May God extend Japheth’s territory;
may Japheth live in the tents of Shem,
and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.”
28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 Noah lived a total of 950 years, and then he died.
The scripture does not comment on God's view of Noah's drunkenness. God is not mentioned until the blessing of Shem and Japheth. That's something to keep in mind.
Why did Noah have such a violent reaction to Ham's behavior and why did he curse Canaan?
Was it just Ham's gossiping and making fun of his father that was disrespectful? Just reading the scripture on the surface, that's what it seems like. One of the Ten Commandments is to "Honor thy father and thy mother so that thy days may be long upon the earth". But that wouldn't really explain why Canaan was singled out of Ham's sons. Canaan was the youngest. In the Bible, the term "nakedness" implies a sexual connotation.
Some have said that Ham may have castrated his father while he was drunk. If he castrated his father, his father would have no more children, denying him further sons. This might have been Ham's way of keeping more of the inheritance.
Some have said that Ham raped his own father. With incest, rape and homosexuality being terrible sins, this might explain Noah's violent reaction and humiliation.
Incest: Leviticus 18:6 None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness. I am the LORD.
Homosexuality: Leviticus 20:13 13 And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Rape: Deuteronomy 22:25-30 25 But if the man encounters a betrothed woman in the open country, and he overpowers her and rapes her, only the man who has done this must die. 26 Do nothing to the young woman, because she has committed no sin worthy of death. This case is just like one in which a man attacks his neighbor and murders him. 27 When he found her in the field, the betrothed woman cried out, but there was no one to rescue her. 28 If a man encounters a virgin who is not pledged in marriage, and he overpowers her and rapes her, and they are discovered, 29 the man who raped her must pay the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she must become his wife because he has violated her. He must not divorce her as long as he lives. 30 A man is not to marry his father’s wife, so that he will not dishonor his father’s marriage bed.
Or, could it be that Ham committed incest with his own mother, Noah's wife?
Leviticus 20:11 And the man that lieth with his father's wife--he hath uncovered his father's nakedness--both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Leviticus 18:6-8 None of you shall approach anyone near of kin to uncover nakedness: I am the Lord. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, which is the nakedness of your mother…You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is the nakedness of your father…
The nakedness of one’s mother is identified as identical to the nakedness of one’s father in Leviticus. In Deuteronomy, incest with a father’s wife is described as “uncovering the father’s skirt.”
Maybe, Noah was finding out about the affair, beginning to see the disturbing signs of incest. Was this a cause of his becoming drunk? And did Ham and his mother think Noah was passed out drunk and therefore they indulged and Noah woke up to see them in flagrante delicto? Or did they think he was passed out and talked of their affair, making fun of Noah but Noah managed to overhear and confirm his worst suspicions? Ham ran out of the tent to his brothers. His brothers did not protect him or join him. Did his brothers go in to support their father and agree to cover the affair so as not to bring further shame? Was Canaan the son of Ham and his own mother? Was that why Canaan was cursed versus Ham and the other of Ham's descendants?
Whatever happened, Noah was humiliated. Noah curses Canaan, the son of Ham, and blesses Shem and Japheth for their respect and support.
Note - This Curse was used to explain why blacks from Africa were "destined" to be slaves to the descendants of the other brothers. Although this NEVER explains the abuse Africans experienced as slaves (or anyone else who suffered in slavery). Slavery, as an institution, does NOT give anyone a "right" to abuse another human being. Slavery is not necessarily condemned in the Old or New Testament BUT all forms of human abuse are specifically condemned whether it was murder, torture, rape, etc. For instance, marriage is an institution. God specifically commands each partner to love and respect each other, to do good to each other, and be blessed with fidelity and love. But we all know that many husbands, and wives, have abused their partners physically, emotionally, verbally and committed infidelities against their spouses. This doesn't mean all marriage is bad or all marriage partners are bad. It means that God sanctioned marriage but people in marriages don't do what God says to do within that marriage! Slavery and slave owners were not all bad therefore slavery, as an institution, was not all bad. BUT people within the slavery business, the slave owners and some slaves themselves were abusing the system. They were abusive and did not treat people the way God commanded them to treat human beings. Slavery businesses and transport businesses abused human beings. Many slaveowners abused human beings in their care. Slaves, in many uprisings, murdered people "for freedom". None of this is sanctioned by God just as spousal abusers are not sanctioned by God in marriages. A good marriage would be one in which both partners love and respect each other, work together for the common family and provide a good, protected, blessed family unit. A good slaveowner would have treated his slaves as co-workers and adopted family. You can be a slave, but be well taken care of by the owner. They were all there to work together as a team for a common goal. It didn't make sense to pay so much money for a slave, only to mistreat them. That would be like me paying $50,000 for a new car and going at it with a sledgehammer and destroying the motor. What good would that do me financially? None! Yet men did it (due to their sin nature). And that's not even taking into account that a slave was a fellow human being, created by God! Unfortunately, slavery has been a human institution for thousands of years and it continues today with human trafficking and sex slavery. What a horror!
So, does the curse mean that all Canaan descendants would forever be slaves? I don't know. Usually a curse was only 4 generations but we have to realize how it affected the Israelites many generations later as they came into the Promised Land, the land of Canaan. But if it did, did that excuse the horrendous treatment of African American slaves or slaves today? Absolutely not! We are to love and respect each other as fellow human beings made in the image of God no matter what our occupations or stations in life are. Loving each other, and treating each other well, supersedes all other things!
Matthew 22:36-40 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Now, back to the descendants of the three sons of Noah. Notice one of Japheth's descendants was Magog! Here we come to a prophecy about Gog and Magog in Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 38 1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshek and Tubal; prophesy against him 3 and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshek and Tubal. 4 I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. 5 Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, 6 also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops—the many nations with you.
7 “ ‘Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. 8 After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety. 9 You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land.
10 “ ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme. 11 You will say, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people—all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. 12 I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.” 13 Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, “Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?” ’
14 “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? 15 You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. 16 You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.
17 “ ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You are the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel. At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them. 18 This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign Lord. 19 In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. 20 The fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. 21 I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. 22 I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. 23 And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.’
Ezekiel 39 1 “Son of man, prophesy against Gog and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Gog, chief prince of a Meshek and Tubal. 2 I will turn you around and drag you along. I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel. 3 Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand. 4 On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. 5 You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. 6 I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord.
7 “ ‘I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the Lord am the Holy One in Israel. 8 It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord. This is the day I have spoken of.
9 “ ‘Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up—the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel. 10 They will not need to gather wood from the fields or cut it from the forests, because they will use the weapons for fuel. And they will plunder those who plundered them and loot those who looted them, declares the Sovereign Lord.
11 “ ‘On that day I will give Gog a burial place in Israel, in the valley of those who travel east of the Sea. It will block the way of travelers, because Gog and all his hordes will be buried there. So it will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog.
12 “ ‘For seven months the Israelites will be burying them in order to cleanse the land. 13 All the people of the land will bury them, and the day I display my glory will be a memorable day for them, declares the Sovereign Lord. 14 People will be continually employed in cleansing the land. They will spread out across the land and, along with others, they will bury any bodies that are lying on the ground.
“ ‘After the seven months they will carry out a more detailed search. 15 As they go through the land, anyone who sees a human bone will leave a marker beside it until the gravediggers bury it in the Valley of Hamon Gog, 16 near a town called Hamonah. And so they will cleanse the land.’
17 “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: ‘Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood. 18 You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth as if they were rams and lambs, goats and bulls—all of them fattened animals from Bashan. 19 At the sacrifice I am preparing for you, you will eat fat till you are glutted and drink blood till you are drunk. 20 At my table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind,’ declares the Sovereign Lord.
21 “I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay on them. 22 From that day forward the people of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God. 23 And the nations will know that the people of Israel went into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to me. So I hid my face from them and handed them over to their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. 24 I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid my face from them.
25 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will now restore the fortunes of Jacob and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name. 26 They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me when they lived in safety in their land with no one to make them afraid. 27 When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will be proved holy through them in the sight of many nations. 28 Then they will know that I am the Lord their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. 29 I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the people of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
"In Ezekiel 38, Gog is an individual and Magog is his land; in Genesis 10 Magog is a man, but no Gog is mentioned; and centuries later Jewish tradition changed Ezekiel's Gog from Magog into Gog and Magog, which is the form in which they appear in the Book of Revelation, although there they are peoples rather than individuals". - Wikipedia
Josephus knew them as the nation descended from Magog the Japhetite, as in Genesis, and explained them to be the Scythians. Magog was a son of Japheth, whose descendants migrated north of Israel, probably settling in Europe and Northern Asia.
Some say Gog and Magog refer to Russia (Gog) and a ruler of Russia (Magog) who will come against Israel in the end times. Based both on the ancestry of the Russian people, and the fact that they are the only powerful nation directly to the north of Israel (Ezekiel 38:15) this may be true. This view is supported by biblical scholars but we don't know for sure.
Some say it was Assyria when, in 722 B.C., Assyria invaded from the north to conquer the ten tribes of the northern Israelite kingdom and deported them to many corners of its empire. It may have been Babylon because Babylon invaded from the north and their god, Baal, had a divine mountain north of Israel and Judah. Events of these battles foreshadow the ultimate future battle(s). Israel was decimated by nation after nation thus fulfilling Ezekiel’s prophecy.
Others say that Turkey is meant and, because of it's geographical position, it may be the jumping off point.
Is Gog the AntiChrist? Is this Gog Battle the same as the Battle of Armageddon?
Some view Gog as a ruler who will invade Israel sometime before the beginning of the Tribulation. His invasion could be the event that begins the Tribulation and leads to the peace treaty between the Antichrist and Israel. In this view Gog is not the same as the AntiChrist. The battle of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel comes during a time of peace for Israel. This may be a fulfillment of Psalm 83 or this may be the time when Israel has made a pact with the Antichrist, during the first 3 1/2 years of the tribulation (Ezekiel 38:8-9,14-15; Daniel 9:27). Evidently Israel believes the AntiChrist is actually their long-awaited Messiah who will restore Jerusalem and, from there, will conquer the world and establish his kingdom. Three and a half years into the agreement, they find out how wrong they were. Gog’s invasion may be the event that leads to the Great Tribulation and gives the Antichrist his “fatal wound” spoken of in Revelation 13:3. But after the defeat of Gog, God’s name will no longer be blasphemed. After the battle described in Ezekiel 38-39, no one blasphemes the Lord (Ezekiel 39:7) which is an argument against Gog invading Israel at the beginning of the Great Tribulation.
Some say that Gog's invasion of Israel is the AntiChrist and his armies at the end of the Great Tribulation who want to defeat all Jews and Christians. This battle will bring about the end of the Great Tribulation and the start of Jesus Millennial Kingdom. Ezekiel 39:11-12 states that the dead will be buried for seven months. There would be no need to bury the dead if the battle in Ezekiel 38-39 is the one described in Revelation 20:8-9 because of the Great White Throne judgment (20:11-15). After the judgment, the current or present heaven and earth are destroyed, replaced by a new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1).
The case for the Antichrist and Gog of Magog being the same individual comes from the parallels between the battles; their destruction; what God does when he destroys them; and, Jesus returns at the overthrow of each. But there are differences too.
Ezekiel prophesied that a mighty nation from the North would come against Israel and that God would utterly defeat them, to show His power and to show Israel's enemies that He was their God and would protect them (Ezekiel 39:1-7). It occurred with the Babylonian invasion from the North although that didn't include all the nations listed in Ezekiel so that fulfillment was probably only a partial fulfillment, or a foreshadowing. It may, or may not, be the Anti-Christ and the Battle of Armageddon. It may occur at the beginning, middle or end of the Great Tribulation or it may be after the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ. He reigns for 1,000 years of peace but the nations rise up against Him in a final battle. So Gog of Magog, referred to in Revelation, may represent hostile nations from all over the world that Satan stirs up to rebel against God after the 1,000 years of peace during Jesus' Millennial Reign. They will come against and surround the city of God, but they are swiftly defeated. This is just before the Great White Throne Judgment.
It could be with dual fulfillments in the past and the future. I've tried to represent multiple views fairly. They all have support.
So, for the Battle of Gog-Magog, we are looking for (from Ezekiel 38-39):
- It must be in the "last days", "latter years", or end times.
- Jews will be gathered back to Israel from all over the world.
- Israel living in peace and unsuspecting of an invasion. "In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety..."
- The coalition of nations described in Ezekiel 38.
- The reason the coalition of nations have for invading Israel is "in order to seize the spoil and carry off the plunder" of the Jews "who have acquired livestock and possessions"; "to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder".
- The invaders coming from the North. "You will come from your place in the far north"
- God supernaturally defeating these nations as a testimony to His power and His care for the nation of Israel. "And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord."
- There will be a great earthquake. This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign Lord. In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel." And, "The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground."
- They will turn on each other. "Every man’s sword will be against his brother."
- It takes seven months for the Israelites to bury the dead from the Battle of Gog and Magog. "For seven months the Israelites will be burying them in order to cleanse the land."
- "I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him."
- For seven years they use the weapons from the Battle as fuel. "Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up."
- There will be a vast cemetery of the buried dead in a town called Hamonah "So it will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog;" "As they go through the land, anyone who sees a human bone will leave a marker beside it until the gravediggers bury it in the Valley of Hamon Gog, near a town called Hamonah. And so they will cleanse the land."
- Finally, "I will now restore the fortunes of Jacob and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name."
Zechariah 14:12-13 This is the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. On that day people will be stricken by the Lord with great panic. They will seize each other by the hand and attack one another.