JERUSALEM, THE GREAT CITY

And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified (Revelation 11:8).

Jerusalem is the city where Jesus was crucified, and in the text above we have two significant descriptions about Jerusalem. It is (1) the great city and (2) spiritually, Sodom and Egypt.

First, consider the description “the great city.”

In Revelation 17, the apostle John saw a vision of a harlot which made the kings of the earth drunk with her fornication. In verse 18, the heavenly messenger reveals to John that the harlot is “the great city.”

Remember, Jerusalem is called “the great city” in Revelation 11:8. If we allow scripture to interpret scripture, the great city (which is the harlot) is the historical Jerusalem in the land of Israel.

The description of Jerusalem as a harlot was also referenced by the prophets in the Old Testament. Consider Isaiah 1:21, “How is the faithful city become an HARLOT ! It was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.

Also consider Jeremiah’s words from God to Jerusalem, “For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing THE HARLOT (Jeremiah 2:20).

Not only is the great city (Jerusalem) referred to in the book of the Revelation as a harlot, but the great city is also referred to as Babylon.

And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, THAT GREAT CITY, because she made ALL NATIONS drink of the wine of the wrath of HER FORNICATION (Revelation 14:8).

Notice the description of the fornication of the great city in Revelation 14:18. She made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

This is consistent with the fornication of the prostitute in Revelation 17:2.

“With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”

Also in Revelation 17: 5 the harlot has a name written on her forehead.

“And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth. “

This description is consistent with God’s description of Jerusalem in Ezekiel 16, in which Jerusalem is repeatedly referred to as a harlot and a whore who committed fornication with other nations.

In Revelation 18:1-3 we read the following:

And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, BABYLON THE GREAT is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

The harlot and Babylon are two descriptions of the same entity. They describe the great city – Jerusalem – which is spiritually Sodom and Egypt.

Ezekiel 16 gives a detailed account of Jerusalem’s harlotry and the imagery and descriptions are strikingly similar to the harlot (aka mystery Babylon) which the apostle John saw in Revelation 17.

Here is Ezekiel 16 in its entirety.

1 Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

2 Son of man, cause JERUSALEM to know HER ABOMINATIONS,

3 And say, Thus saith the Lord God UNTO JERUSALEM; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.

4 And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.

5 None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born.

6 And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.

7 I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare.

8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine.

9 Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.

10 I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk.

11 I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck.

12 And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head.

13 Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom.

14 And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God.

15 But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and PLAYEDST THE HARLOT because of thy renown, and pouredst out THY FORNICATIONS on every one that passed by; his it was.

16 And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours, and PLAYEDST THE HARLOT thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so.

17 Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them,

18 And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them.

19 My meat also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou hast even set it before them for a sweet savor: and thus it was, saith the Lord God.

20 Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of THY WHOREDOMES a small matter,

21 That thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them?

22 And IN ALL THINE ABOMINATIONS and THY WHOREDOMS thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare, and wast polluted in thy blood.

23 And it came to pass after ALL THY WICKEDNESS, (WOE, WOE UNTO THEE! saith the Lord God;)

24 That thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street.

25 Thou hast built thy high place at every head of the way, and hast made thy beauty to be abhorred, and hast opened thy feet to everyone that passed by, and multiplied THY WHOREDOMS.

26 Thou hast also committed FORNICATION WITH THE EGYPTIANS thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast increased THY WHOREDOMS, to provoke me to anger.

27 Behold, therefore I have stretched out my hand over thee, and have diminished thine ordinary food, and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, which are ashamed of THY LEWED WAY.

28 THOU HAST PLAYED THE WHORE ALSO WITH THE ASSYRIANS, because thou wast unsatiable; yea, thou hast played THE HARLOT with them, and yet couldest not be satisfied.

29 Thou hast moreover multiplied THY FORNICATION in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied therewith.

30 How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord God, seeing thou doest all these things, THE WORK OF AN IMPERIOUS WHORISH WOMAN;

31 In that thou buildest thine eminent place in the head of every way, and makest thine high place in every street; and hast not been as AN HARLOT, in that thou scornest hire;

32 But as A WIFE THAT COMMITTETH ADULTRY, which taketh strangers instead of her husband!

33 They give gifts to all whores: but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for THY WHOREDOM.

34 And the contrary is in thee from other women in THY WHOREDOMS, whereas none followeth thee to commit whoredoms: and in that thou givest a reward, and no reward is given unto thee, therefore thou art contrary.

35 Wherefore, O HARLOT, hear the word of the Lord:

36 Thus saith the Lord God; Because THY FILTHINESS was poured out, and THY NAKEDNESS discovered through THY WHOREDOMS with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them;

37 Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them round about against thee, and will discover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness.

38 And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy.

39 And I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place, and shall break down thy high places: they shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy fair jewels, and leave thee naked and bare.

40 They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords.

41 And they shall burn thine houses with fire, and execute judgments upon thee in the sight of many women: and I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot, and thou also shalt give no hire any more.

42 So will I make my fury toward thee to rest, and my jealousy shall depart from thee, and I will be quiet, and will be no more angry.

43 Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things; behold, therefore I also will recompense thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord God: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations.

44 Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter.

45 Thou art thy mother’s daughter, that lotheth her husband and her children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, which lothed their husbands and their children: your mother was an Hittite, and your father an Amorite.

46 And thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and THY YOUNGER SISTER, that dwelleth at thy right hand, IS SODOM and her daughters.

47 Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, THOU WAST CORRUPTED MORE THAN THEY IN ALL THY WAYS.

48 As I live, saith the Lord God, SODOM THY SISTER hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.

49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

51 Neither hath Samaria committed half of thy sins; but THOU HAST MULTIPLIED THINE ABOMINATIONS more than they, and hast justified thy sisters in all THINE ABOMINATIONS which thou hast done.

52 Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters.

53 When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them:

54 That thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them.

55 When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate.

56 For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride,

57 Before thy wickedness was discovered, as at the time of thy reproach of the daughters of Syria, and all that are round about her, the daughters of the Philistines, which despise thee round about.

58 Thou hast borne THY LEWDNEWW and THINE ABOMINATIONS, saith the Lord.

59 For thus saith the Lord God; I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant.

60 Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.

61 Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant.

62 And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord:

63 That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God.

JEREMIAH’S CONFRONTATION WITH THE FALSE PROPHET HANANIAH

In Jeremiah 28, the prophet Jeremiah had a showdown with the prophet Hananiah who was referred to as “a prophet from Gibeon” (v.1). Jeremiah was a preaching prophet and he had declared the word of the Lord concerning Judah and Jerusalem’s punishment because of their rebellion against the Lord. When Hananiah withstood Jeremiah publicly in the temple he proclaimed the following:

“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will remove the yoke of the king of Babylon from your necks. Within two years I will bring back all the Temple treasures that King Nebuchadnezzar carried off to Babylon. And I will bring back Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the other captives that were taken to Babylon. I will surely break the yoke that the king of Babylon has put on your necks. I, the LORD, have spoken!’”

When Jeremiah heard these words he sarcastically applauded Hananiah’s prophecy, and then gave a stern warning challenging Hananiah’s prediction. Jeremiah challenged Hananiah based on the history of the ancient prophets who were sent by God before Jeremiah and Hananiah’s time.

Jeremiah said, “Listen now to the solemn words I speak to you in the presence of all these people. The ancient prophets who preceded you and me spoke against many nations, always warning of war, disaster, and disease. So a prophet who predicts peace must show he is right. Only when his predictions come true can we know that he is really from the LORD.”

At this point Hananiah became defiant and persistently forged ahead in an effort to show-up or embarrass Jeremiah by claiming “This is what the Lord says.” Hananiah’s words proved to be false and two months later he died because God judged him. It is a serious thing to claim that God has spoken when God hasn’t.

Jeremiah, being a true prophet of God, appealed to the words of the ancient prophets because his ministry was in line with the ancient prophets that had preceded him. Hananiah‘s wasn’t. Throughout the Bible we have Biblical models that we can learn from to understand the true calling, ministry, and characteristics one truly called to be a prophet.

Many of today’s so-called prophets are claiming to have new revelation – revelation that does not square with the truth of scripture, and like Hananiah, their ministries do not exemplify the model of God’s true prophets who came before them.

CHRIST ENTHRONED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary he said concerning Jesus, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him THE THRONE OF HIS FATHER DAVID“(Luke 1:32).

Though some interpret the reign of Christ from the throne of David as a future millennial throne previously occupied by the anti-Christ, the Bible teaches that Jesus is enthroned NOW at the right hand of God.

According to the authors of the new testament, the exaltation of Jesus at the right hand of God is the fulfillment of God’s promise that he would raise up His Son, the Messiah, to reign upon the throne of David.

In Acts 2, Peter interprets the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus at the right hand of God as THE FULFILLMENT of the scriptures that the Messiah would reign from the throne of David.

Notice carefully how Peter articulates this:

Therefore BEING A PROPHET, AND KNOWING that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, HE WOULD RAISE UP CHRIST TO SIT ON HIS THRONE; HE SEEING THIS BEFORE SPAKE OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD EXALTED, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, SIT ON MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE THY FOES THY FOOTSTOOL. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both LORD AND CHRIST (Acts 2:30-36).

In the texts above, Peter is quoting David from Psalm 110 when he says, “the Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool.”

FIRST, notice the words “the Lord said to my Lord, sit thou on my right hand…”

Peter quotes this in reference to David, as a prophet, knowing that God would raise up the Messiah to sit on his (David’s) throne. So as a prophet, foreseeing the enthronement of the Messiah on his (David’s) throne, David said, “The Lord said unto my Lord, SIT ON MY RIGHT HAND.” As a prophet, David foresaw by the Spirit of God that the promise of the Messiah reigning on his throne would not be an earthly enthronement, but a heavenly one, at the right hand of God.

In the gospels, Jesus said: “David himself, SPEAKING BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, declared: “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet”‘ (Mark 12:36, See also Matthew 22:41-45).

SECONDLY, notice the next part of the text that Peter quotes from David: “till I make your enemies your footstool.”

These very same words are employed by the author of Hebrews in describing the enthronement of Jesus at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:13; 10:13) and in 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 the apostle Paul applies them to the exalted Jesus as well.

Also Psalm 110 is the Psalm which testifies that the Messiah would be a priest FOREVER after the order of Melchizedek (v.4). The author of Hebrews expounds on this and tells us that Jesus, the exalted King at the right hand of God, is also our great high priest FOREVER after the order of Melchizedek.

The historical Melchizedek (Genesis 14) prefigured Christ as a King and Priest, and not a priest only. Under the Law of Moses one could not be a King and a priest.  The priests came only from the tribe of Levi and the Kings were descendants of David from the tribe of Judah.

The writer of Hebrews explains how Jesus, being from the tribe of Judah (the tribe of King David), is qualified to be a priest. He is qualified because His priestly ministry is not earthy (Hebrews 8:4), but heavenly, at the right hand of God where He is enthroned (Hebrews 8:1-3).

THIRDLY, Notice that David specifically identifies the Messiah as his Lord: “The Lord said to MY LORD…”

In Acts 2 Peter says, “Therefore let ALL THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both LORD and Christ” (v.36). Peter doesn’t tell the people of Israel that Jesus will be Lord when he one day returns. Peter declares that Jesus is Lord and Messiah NOW at the right hand of God. The gospel which was preached to house of Israel by the apostles, was not a gospel of a futuristic enthronement of the Messiah, but rather, the declaration of His exaltation NOW!

Jesus is exalted as Lord at the right hand of God: “Wherefore GOD ALSO HATH HIGHLY EXALTED HIM, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

In Acts 7, Stephen, in his declaration of the gospel as he stood trial before the Sanhedrin, testified of Jesus saying the following: “David desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built him a house. Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, HEAVEN IS MY THRONE, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?” (Acts 7:46-50).

The ideology that the fulfillment of God’s promise to David regarding the enthronement of the Messiah, is still something in waiting, is contrary to the scriptures for Jesus is enthroned NOW in fulfillment of God’s promises to David!

When he had by himself purged our sins, (He) sat down on THE RIGHT HAND OF THE MAJESTY ON HIGH… (See Hebrews 1:3).

But unto the Son he saith, THY THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom (Hebrews 1:8).

I (Paul) Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and SET HIM AT HIS OWN RIGHT HAND IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES. Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all (Ephesians 1:17-23).

Notice that Paul says in Ephesians 1 (above), Christ is already enthroned in Heaven above everything in this world and in the world to come, having all things under His feet.

Jesus enthroned at the right hand of God is not a temporary enthronement as he awaits the lesser one in Jerusalem, Israel. Rather, Jesus entered into his glory after his resurrection (Luke 24:26; John 17:5, 24; Acts 2:33; 3:13) and was enthroned at the right hand of God, where the New Jerusalem is – the true Holy City of God. From there, Christ will reign forever!

When Christ returns he is not taking a lesser throne. He reigns forever, being highly exalted at the right hand of God, and in THAT power, authority, and glory, He will come again!

THE OLIVE TREE

The natural olive tree in Romans 11 is Israel.” The wild olive tree is the Gentiles.

The branches that were broken off from the natural olive tree (Israel) are Jews who reject Jesus the Messiah. The branches that were not broken off refer to the remnant of believing Jews. The branches (taken from the wild olive tree) which are grafted into the natural olive tree, are Gentiles who believe in Jesus Christ

If the natural branches which were broken off turn from their unbelief and believe the gospel, they will be grafted back into their own tree. Therefore they will be grafted in with believing Jews and Gentiles who trust in the Messiah. This is Israel of the New Covenant and this is the body of Christ. They are one in the same.

Paul’s theology in Romans 11 is not about ethnic Israel, because Gentiles have not been grafted into ethnic Israel. Those who are ethnic Israel, who do not believe, have been cut off from their tree which is the true Israel which belongs to God, i.e. the body of believers in Jesus Christ.

In Christ, Israel is the temple of God, the body of Christ, the redeemed, a chosen generation, a special bought people.

Israel consists of Jews and Gentiles in one body. If there is to be a national turning to of Israel just prior to the coming of the Lord as many believe, then what will happen to those Jews who are saved at the coming of the Lord?

They will be baptized into the one body of Christ, i.e. the church!

For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether JEWS or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink (1 Corinthians 12:13).

All Jews who are born again or ever will be born again are grafted back into their tree which is the church. God does not have two covenant people, He has only one!

Through the gospel, the Gentiles are now heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3;6). This is the mystery which was hidden in previous ages but is now revealed through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jews must be born again to see the Kingdom of God and when they are born again, they are baptized into the same body that Gentiles are baptized into and together Jews and Gentiles drink from one Spirit.

For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’ (Acts 3:22-23).

Jews who do not submit to Jesus are completely cut off from being God’s people; those who submit to the Jesus are baptized into His body, the church!

PERFECT LOVE AND GODLY FEAR

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

The fear spoken of here does not include the fear of the Lord. God’s love toward us would not cast out the very fear which God commands us to have, which He has placed in our heart as proof of his everlasting covenant He has given us. The fear spoken of in 1 John 4:18 is the kind that brings torment.

“…because fear hath torment…”

This word torment is translated from the Greek word (kolasis) and is defined as penal infliction, punishment, and torment. This is tormenting fear concerning eternal punishment, which is why he makes the statement, “that we may have boldness in the day of judgment (v17).”

This kind of fear (fear of eternal damnation) has torment, and does not produce faith toward God in the heart of His children. Hebrews 2:14-15 tells us that Jesus took upon flesh and blood so that He might deliver us from the fear of death. Jesus did this by destroying the devil who once wielded this power over us.

Throughout the pages of the scriptures the fear of the Lord is never spoken of as tormenting those who serve Him. Instead the fear of the Lord in the heart of the child of God is the restraining force that keeps us from departing from Him.

And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me (Jeremiah 32:40).

His perfect love that gives us boldness for the Day of Judgment, and His fear that keeps us from departing from Him, are in perfect harmony in the heart of faith. God’s love draws us into the sweet fellowship of communion and intimacy with Him. His fear draws us into worship in the Spirit with true humility and meekness as we stand in Awe of His holiness and power and glory, for He is the Living God.

THE SPIRIT OF GRACE

Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy but he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (James 4:5-6).

What exactly does the statement, “the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy,” actually imply? The Amplified Bible gives a much clearer rendering and reads as follows: “The Spirit Whom He has caused to dwell in us yearns over us and He yearns for the Spirit to be welcome with a jealous love.”

These words were written after the following verses:

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:1-4).

While we are wrapped up in the desires of the world, and consumed in the lust of our flesh, the Holy Spirit earnestly yearns over us with a jealous love to be fully welcomed in our hearts.

Romans 5:5, tells us that the “love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.” And only He can fully reveal it to our hearts. God’s love for us is everlasting with a depth and breadth, and length and height which is immeasurable, Yet comprehensible by His Spirit.

It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to manifest the power of that love in hearts, and to reveal the Father’s intense love directly to us – heart to heart. You might say the Holy Spirit has come to bring the heart beat of the Father’s love – the love which was manifested through His Son Jesus. In the very next verse he calls this love – GRACE!

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (James 4:6).

The proud mentioned here in verse six refers back to those who are spoken of in verses 1-4. It is pride that drives men away from God’s love and causes them to lust after other things. But the one who receives grace, which is an expression of love, is the one who welcomes the Holy Spirit and allows the jealous love which God has for them to fill their hearts and minds. This is God’s desire – that we might be filled with and ruled by His love.

This is expressed so beautifully in Ephesians 3:14-21.

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Are you struggling with such things as anger and fear? Are you caught up in the self pleasure and consumed with desires for the things of this world? Do you sense a tug in your heart to draw close to Jesus and spend time with Him. Then why not open you heart to the one who loves you perfectly. He is earnestly yearning over you now with a jealous love. Allow his presence to fill your heart by simply welcoming His Spirit. Your Heavenly Father loves you. He gave His Son and He wants to fill your heart with His grace through the love of His Spirit.

May God’s Grace be with you.

JEWS WHO WERE CUT OFF FROM THE COVENANT

From Joshua 5, we read the following:

At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt. Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised. For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord: unto whom the Lord sware that he would not shew them the land, which the Lord sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey. And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way (Joshua 5:2-7).

Circumcision was sign or token of the covenant which God had given to Abraham.

This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant (Genesis 17:10-14).

The Israelites would have been unsuccessful in possessing the land under the leadership of Joshua if they had not first been circumcised, for they would have broken God’s covenant and would have been cut off as the people of God.

Israel’s ongoing covenant relationship with God was dependent on physical circumcision, and being uncircumcised was one of many things which would caused the people of Israel to be cut-off from covenant membership.

In God’s covenant with Israel, there where specific things which would cause the children of Israel to lose their covenant status. Failing to be circumcised was one of them. In Joshua 7 we see another example when Achan sinned terribly in the eyes of God and cause the entire camp of Israel to be cursed.

During the overthrow of Jericho (Joshua 6), the Bible tells us, “Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel” (Joshua 7:1).

God had commanded Israel not touch the any of the accursed things in Jericho and to consecrate the all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron to the Lord.

And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the Lord: they shall come into the treasury of the Lord (Joshua 6:17-19).

Because of Achan’s sin, which defiled the entire camp, Israel failed in their next battle.

And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water. And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name? (Joshua 7:2-9)

Joshua was unaware of Achan’s sin which had defiled the camp of Israel, and in response to his prayer, God said the following:

“…Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith theLord God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you (Joshua 10:-13).

Notice that God tells Joshua, “I will not be with you anymore, except ye destroy the accursed thing from among you.” Israel was called to be a holy people and being Abraham’s physical descendants did not mean that they were automaticly blessed as the people of God.

Joshua did as the Lord commanded.

And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day (v. 24 -26).

Being the descendants of Abraham meant, only, that they had been born into the covenant community, it did not guarantee their blessing. They were required by God  to obey His voice or else they would be cut off from the covenant.

Listed below are some example, from scripture, of things which would cause the people of Israel to be cut off from covenant membership.

  • The uncircumcised male (Genesis 17:10-14).
  • Eating leavened bread during the 7 days of the feast of unleavened bread (Exodus 12:15, 19).
  • Making substitute version of the anointing oil, or putting the anointing oil on a stranger (Exodus 30:31-33).
  • Making a substitute version of the sweet incense for themselves (Exodus 30:34-38).
  • Defiling the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14).
  • Eating the t peace offerings while ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 7:20-21).
  • Eating the peace offering on the third day (Leviticus 19:5-8).
  • Eating the fat of the offerings (Leviticus 7:25).
  • Eating or consumed blood (Leviticus 7:27; 17:10, 14).
  • Killing an ox, a lamb, or a goat and inside or outside the camp and not bringing it to the tabernacle as an offering to the Lord (Leviticus 17:1-4).
  • Offering burnt offerings somewhere other than the altar in the Tabernacle (Leviticus 17:8-9).
  • Being sexually immoral (Leviticus 18:29).
  • Sacrificing children to Molech (Leviticus 20:1-3).
  • Tolerating others who sacrificed their children to Molech (Leviticus 20:4-5).
  • Consulting with mediums (familiar spirits)and wizards (Leviticus 20:6).
  • Marring and having sex with your sister (Leviticus 20:17)

These are just some (not all) of the offenses recorded in scripture for which a physical descendant of Abraham, under the Law, would be cut off from the covenant. Covenant membership required obedience to God.

EZEKIEL’S TEMPLE VISION (PART TWO)

In my first post concerning Ezekiel’s temple vision, I opened with the following statement:

There are teachings by some that the levitical priesthood and animal sacrifices will once again be placed into operation when Christ returns. This assumption is based on Ezekiel’s vision in Ezekiel 40 – 48. Yet there is absolutely nothing in the new testament to support such claims. In fact, such ideology undermines the finished work of Jesus Christ because the sacrifices that Ezekiel references include the sin offering and are said to be for atonement (Ezekiel 45:17 see also Ezekiel 42:13 and 45:23).

Ezekiel’s temple vision is widely accepted by many within the Messianic movements as being prophetic of a Millennial temple from which they claim Christ will one day reign.

Yet, the temple in Ezekiel’s vision is a temple that would have been but never was, because of the sins of Israel and their priests.

Ezekiel was a priest by blood linage and also a prophet. This temple vision was given to Ezekiel to make the people of Israel ashamed of their sins. In this temple, the  Holy presence of God would have continued to be separated from the people, and particularly from the Levites because of their past sins.

According to the new testament, Jesus has removed the separation between God and his people and we now have unhindered access to God through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19-22; Ephesians 2:13, 18).

Is a temple in which the presence of God cannot be approached consistent with the finished work of Jesus Christ? Certainly not! Yet, this is exactly the temple you have  in Ezekiel – a temple which erects a separating barrier between God and his people.

In Ezekiel’s temple vision, the Levite priests bear the shame of their sins for leading the people of Israel into iniquity. They are still appointed to serve, but cannot approach God’s presence in the temple. Only the descendants of Zadok will be able to come near to the Lord.

Does physical linage matter in the kingdom of God? According to Jesus it doesn’t (see John 3). Yet, those who teach that Ezekiel’s temple is a millennial temple advocate a return to the importance of physical linage even though Jesus said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:5-7)

So if this is the millennial temple as some claim, we now have a millennium where the finished work of Christ and the necessity of being born again is undermined. The Levites bear the shame of their sin for a 1000 years and God’s presence is unapproachable by anyone except the sons of Zadok. Furthermore, the Prince of Israel would have to  offer sin offerings for his own sin.

In God’s kingdom, Jesus is the only prince. Does Jesus have to offer sin offerings for his own sins? Certainly not! The new testament tells us that Jesus has no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15) and that is why he was able to offer himself without any blemish to God as the sacrifice for our sins (1 Peter 1:18-20; Hebrews 9:14).

My first post concerning Ezekiel’s temple vision can be read here:
https://michaelbattle65.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/what-about-ezekiels-temple/


ADDITIONAL NOTES:

“‘THE LEVITES WHO WENT FAR FROM ME WHEN ISRAEL WENT ASTRAY AND WANDERED FROM ME after their idols MUST BEAR THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR SIN. They may serve in my sanctuary, having charge of the gates of the temple and serving in it; they may slaughter the burnt offerings and sacrifices for the people and stand before the people and serve them. BUT BECAUSE THEY SERVED THEM IN THE PRESENCE OF THEIR IDOLS AND MADE THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL FALL INTO SIN, THEREFORE I HAVE SWORN WITH UPLIFTED HAND THEY MUST BEAR THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR SIN, declares the Sovereign Lord. THEY ARE NOT TO COME NEAR TO SERVE ME AS PRIESTS or come near any of my holy things or my most holy offerings; THEY MUST BEAR THE SHAME OF THEIR DETESTABLE PRACTICES. And I will appoint them to guard the temple for all the work that is to be done in it. “‘But the Levitical priests, who are descendants of Zadok and who guarded my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat and blood, declares the Sovereign Lord. They alone are to enter my sanctuary; they alone are to come near my table to minister before me and serve me as guards. (Quote from Ezekiel’s temple Vision).

And upon that day shall THE PRINCE prepare FOR HIMSELF and for ALL THE PEOPLE of the land a bullock FOR A SIN OFFERING. (Quote from Ezekiel’s temple vision).

WHY SHOULD WE FORGIVE OTHERS?

If you stop and really listen to a lot of modern day preachers, the issue of forgiveness is often presented from the perspective of what “unforgiveness” will do to you, if you allow this attitude to remain in your heart. This definitely a part of the equation, but it is not the totality of why we should forgive.

If we forgive for our sake only we are missing the weight of the teaching of scripture and we are making ourselves the priority.

The scriptural approach to forgiveness is first the fear of the Lord and secondly compassion on the other. Do you remember in the scripture when Jesus gave a parable about the servant who was forgiven much, and refused to forgive his fellow servant of little?

Here is what the scripture says:

Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who wanted to reconcile accounts with his servants. When he had begun to reconcile, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But because he couldn’t pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, with his wife, his children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down and kneeled before him, saying, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will repay you all!’ The lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “But that servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, who owed him one hundred denarii, and he grabbed him, and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ “So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will repay you!’ He would not, but went and cast him into prison, until he should pay back that which was due. So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were exceedingly sorry, and came and told to their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him in, and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt, because you begged me. Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?’ His lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due to him. So my heavenly Father will also do to you, if you don’t each forgive your brother from your hearts for his misdeeds” (Matthew 18:23-35).

According to this teaching by Jesus, the motive for forgiving others ought to come from of reverence for God and compassion for those who need forgiveness. In the verses above, the King had compassion on his servant who could not repay him and forgave his debt. The servant should have done likewise to his fellow servant, but when he chose not to do so, he angered the King. Jesus taught this to illustrate how God will respond to us, if we do not forgive others.

I WILL BLESS THOSE WHO BLESS THEE, AND CURSE HIM THAT CURSETH THEE

Genesis 12:1-3 says the following:

  1. Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
  1. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
  1. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

The words from verse 3, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee,” are often cited by Christian Zionists as a reference to the modern State of Israel. The end result of this interpretation is unwavering support for the modern State of Israel, and any criticism of Israel is condemned as anti-semitic.

Allow me to challenge you with the following observations.

1. These words were spoken to Abraham and not to Israel, for there was no nation of Israel when God said this to Abraham.

2. The words, “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” recorded in verse 3, applies to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the salvation of the nations (Galatians 3:8).

3. If the men of God in the Old Testament, men like Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, had believed that it was anti – Semitic to criticize Israel, they would have never been able to speak God’s word of rebuke to the nation of Israel.

4. God’s covenant with Israel was established with a curse, a curse which was to come upon them if they did not obey God’s voice and keep His ordinances, statues, and judgments.

Nehemiah 10:28-29 tells us the Jewish captives, upon returning from Babylon, bound themselves with a curse. Why? It is because they were dedicating themselves to God and to the covenant God made with their fathers through Moses.

The Law of Moses was accompanied with the curse of the law. This was Israel’s binding agreement with God and their right to live in the land of Promise was dependant on keeping this covenant. From the time of the exodus and onward, there is no language – anywhere in scripture – which gives Israel the liberty of live in the land of Promise without being under the requirements to keep the Law of Moses.

5. John the Baptist spoke God’s words and called the people of Israel to repentance. He exhorted them not to trust in their physical descendancy and warned them to flee from the coming wrath of God.

6. Jesus spoke God’s judgment against Jerusalem and the Temple for rejecting the prophets and for rejecting Him as the Messiah, the Son of God.

7. The apostles and the believers in Acts warned the people of Israel of the coming judgment of God on the nation of Israel, and exhorted them to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ.

The concept that we who are believers in Jesus Christ are called to “stand with Israel” in such a way that we turn a blind eye and deaf ear to their sins is contrary to the truth of scripture, and flies in the face of the entire narrative of the Bible.

We are called to judge righteously and stand for the truth. We are called to glorify Jesus Christ in whom all the promises made to Abraham have come to fruition.