The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mocking the False Profits

Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Galatians 6:6-8

Recently; the Church 'world' has again been shaken and disturbed by yet another date-setter, predicting the end of the world as we know it, but worse than this, Harold Camping is just the latest notable figure to repudiate, and publically mock the Gospel of Jesus the Christ, who said, repeatedly, that the first-century would play host, not just to His coming, or 'parousia', but to His judgment on the enemies of His people!

To be fair, some notables of the dispensational/futurist camp have avowed that 'of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven', quoting Jesus in Matthew 24:36. Paul wrote similarly to the Thessalonian believers, 'you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night' ( I Thessalonians 5:2 ). History has proven, though, that although they may not have known the day or the hour; those first-century believers were not at all surprised by this event. Jesus told His followers, in Matthew 24:15-35 very specifically about the events immediately preceding His 'parousia', while Paul told his Thessalonican audience, a few sentences after his earlier statement, which I quoted above; 'But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief', reminding them that, as followers of the Christ, they had been given a special insight into the matter, and thus would not be surprised, as others, who 'did not know until the flood came and took them all away' ( Matthew 24:39 ); Jesus said that His coming would be very like this! In the case of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, for example; history has shown that some indeed, those who were 'in the know', had information that the attack was coming, although virtually nothing was done to halt it ( quite the opposite, actually ). Here is a quote from the Wikipedia article, on the subject; 'Though by late 1941 many observers believed that hostilities between the U.S. and Japan were imminent, and U.S. Pacific bases and facilities had been placed on alert on multiple occasions, U.S. officials doubted Pearl Harbor would be the first target'.

While the earlier part of the passage above  ( Galatians 6 ) might seem to lend credence to the idea that we should treat these charlatans, mockers, actually, of the true Gospel with 'kid-gloves': I believe that a moment's reflection, common sense, really, will show that these men, and others like them, have not only made much ( false ) profit from their fear-mongering lies and postulations, but have inadvertently ( ignorantly? ) made a mockery of the revelation of God's Word, and opened the 'flood-gates' for many unbelievers, even weaker brethren, to deny or doubt the validity and veracity of that Word! These men, in other aspects of their 'ministry', may seem to have some good things to say, but I believe that their actions, for the most part, reveal their true intentions, which, no doubt, are not meant to mock God, or His 'good news', but simply to make a profit!

In the passage that I first quoted; Paul warns these men that 'whatever a man sows, that he will also reap', but earlier, God told them through Jeremiah ( 23:1 ); 'Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!', and throughout the rest of chapter 23, says things like, 'I will bring disaster on them', 'I will feed them with wormwood', and 'behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you and forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and [ will cast you ] out of My presence'.

'Soon' does not mean 2,000 years!

Friday, May 13, 2011

It's the End of the World ( as we know it )!

May 21st, 2011, in the year of our Lord, is fast approaching, but will this really spell the beginning of the end? If so, and this is quite possible, the end of what ( 'world' )? For whatever reason, and it could be because of the Mayan ( 2012 ) thing, which is also looming on the horizon; we have started to hear, once again, the clanging symbols, purporting to signal Christ's return, and the end of the age, I mean 'world'!

Predicting the end of the world is nothing new: a Google search ( Bing? ) will quickly reveal many results, several even listing most of the many failed predictions, or prophesies that have been made, down through the millenia. ( Of course most of these will also, interestingly enough, list Jesus' own prophecy in Matthew 16:28, Matthew 24:30, Mark 13, and Luke 21. ) I think I even saw one website that listed an end-of-the-world prediction from Before Common ( era ).

Maybe the most famous ( or is that, 'infamous' ) of these 'false prophets' ( Deuteronomy 18:20-22 ) is probably Hal Lindsay, best known for his 'prophecies', back in the 70s, but William Branham predicted the imminent return of Christ in 1977 ( he died in 65' ). I believe that many of the prophecies are contingent upon the funding of the nation/state of Israel in 1948, but, while more could be said on that subject; suffice it to say thatall these prophecies failed, not only because they were based, however loosely, on an already false premise, but ultimately, and more importantly, because the 'end' came when Jesus said it would, in the first century!

I am saddened, although it is almost humorous ( I've even had a laugh or two at their expense ), by the sheer lunacy ( some might say, 'idiocy' ) of these 'false prophets', who think that, ignoring Jesus' own warnings, they can make these predictions, ruining countless lives ( including their own ), and leading countless thousands into a false hope, and very marshy, to say the least, theological ground!

Although Harold Camping is, no doubt, not the only one spreading this fear-mongery about May 21,2011, he is probably the loudest cymbal right now.  I, as well as others, wonder what will happen when May 22nd comes around, and there is no sign of Christ; maybe we should keep our eyes on 'Israel'( Romans 9:6-8, Galatians 6:16 )!

In the service of the present Christ,
and His Kingdom,
Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, May 09, 2011

Re-animating 'A Spiritual Body' ( re-thinking the resurrection )

You may remember hearing of, or reading, several years ago, a short article that I wrote, entitled 'A Spiritual Body': in this article, I put forth the idea that the 'spiritual body' that Paul wrote about in I Corinthians 15:44, was not some ethereal, yet still tangible, body that we will inherit when we die and go to 'Heaven', but that Paul was simply speaking of the 'change' that God's people were going through in the first century, and yet, in a sense, undergo, when, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they are em-powered to 'put to death the deeds of the body' ( Romans 8:13 ). Since I wrote this short article; I believe that God has shown me a few things that were lacking in my understanding; for instance, a truly covenantal, and even a more correct historical view of the context and meaning of Paul's words and phraseology, not only in quite possibly the three most famous resurrection passages in the Greek New Testament, I Corinthians 15, II Corinthians 5, and Philippians 3, but from other, shorter passages in both the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures.

First; I want to make clear that, although I do use the NKJV much of the time,, I do not necessarily agree with their interpretation of certain passages, or with any comments or chapter headings that they might assign.

Although I still believe the main premise of the article that I wrote previously, some clarification, because of further revelation, or understanding, is in order. Paul wrote, in I Corinthians 15:44b, that 'There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.' We might first clarify what Paul is speaking of here ( a 'natural body' ) in order to better understand 'a spiritual body'. Some have regarded this 'natural body' as the physical, biological body that we now inhabit, and while this is a fairly traditional ( orthodox? ) understanding of this phrase, I believe that Paul had something else in mind when he wrote these words.

The Old and New Testament Scriptures might more correctly be termed the Old and New 'Covenant' Scriptures. The definition of 'testament', according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, is 'archaic : a covenant between God and the human race'. I acknowledge that this is the 'correct' definition, according to the finite understanding of man, but really; who defines 'covenant? Is it not God, who is over all, that defines most correctly the thing that He made? I have made the argument, presenting the notion in other places, and in other words, that God first made covenant with Himself, within the God-head ( 'Let us make............'-Genesis 1:26 ), and that the 'first covenant' ( Hebrews 8:7 ), of which the 'new covenant' ( Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 9:15 ) was simply a clarification, or final revelation, was simply, if you will, a parenthetical 'covenant', whose purpose, as Paul wrote to the Church in Galatia ( 3:24 ), 'the law was our tutor [ to bring us ] to Christ, that we might be justified by faith', to reveal to God's people the principle, or spirit ( John 4:24 ) of the law ( or Mosaic 'covenant' ), which was, as Jesus said, to 'love the LORD your God..................', and 'your neighbor as yourself' ( Luke 10:27 ).

Getting back to our subject; the Bible, or Scripture, is a book, or revelation of God's covenant dealings with His people, and as such, presents a progressive story of the transition, humanly speaking, from the old, or first, to the new, which was really only a clarification, or reiteration of that original covenant ( we sometimes call it the Adamic covenant ). We read in Hebrews 8:8 that 'finding fault with them' ( the physical 'children' of Israel, with whom He covenanted ); He re-affirmed, or confirmed 'a new covenant', which should tell us, I believe, that there was not so much a 'change' ( I Corinthians 15:52 ) in the covenant that took place, as a 'change' within those with whom He had covenanted. It is this 'change', I believe, that is the whole point of the resurrection!

The Greek ἀνάστασις, or 'anastasis', simply means, according to Thayer's Lexicon, 'a raising, rising up ( as from a seat)'. As tradition has dictated for the past couple hundred years, anyway; this term involves a literal, physical rising from the dead, as in the resurrection of Jesus and numerous other notable resurrections throughout Scripture, but I believe that a more careful and contextual reading of those passages, and others like them, will reveal that these were simply signs that those witnessing might believe ( John 11:14, 26 & 42 ).

'Resurrection', as noted, again, by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is also used metaphorically, one might say, in phrases such as, for example, 'He was enjoying the resurrection of his career', and 'a resurrection of an old theory', and quite often, in Scripture, did refer to a rising to life ( physical ) of the biologically dead, but as we can see, from examples like those above, and even within the pages of the Bible, 'resurrection' need not always refer to a re-animation of biological bodies.

'And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.'

The above quotation, from the fourth chapter of Romans ( verse 19 ), referring to the birth of the 'son of promise' ( Genesis 18:1-15 ( Romans 9:9 ( Galatians 4:21-31 ), is not the first place that one usually looks to for a glimpse of the resurrection, but a resurrection it was, in that sense, because God took Sarah's 'dead' womb, Abraham's 'dead' body, and brought them to life, to symbolically, and eventually, bring to Light the true Life ( John 14:6 )!

Ezekiel 37, and 'the valley of dry bones', is a passage that some have pointed to as indicative of a physical resurrection, not to mention, a return of the physical children of Abraham to their 'Home-land' ( but that's another story for another day, perhaps, although it's been told before, I believe ). We must remember, first, that this was a vision, much like the Revelation that John saw, revealing a spiritual truth, using physical 'pictures'. In verses 4-9; one may note the parallels to the creation account in Genesis 2:7, and covenantally this could have some interesting, and potentially 'dangerous' implications, for if this is talking about a resurrection, metaphorically, of God's people from their own perceived 'deadness' ( hopelessness-verse 11 ), then what does that have to say about the creation account? Was Adam's the first 'resurrection'? Is the 'creation account' simply a symbolic and hyperbolic way of relating the 'birth of the covenant'?

'Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I [ am ] the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves.  I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken [ it ] and performed [ it ].'

Scripture tells us, in Matthew 27:52, that 'the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised', and that after the resurrection of Jesus, after three days ( Hosea 6:2 ), they appeared in the holy city to many witnesses. Prior to the prophecy above, from Ezekiel 37, in verse 11; the 'whole house of Israel' perceived that 'Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!'. Because of their iniquities, they had been sold into captivity, and separated, not only from their 'land', but 'cut off' ( as they perceived it ) from the Presence of their God. This is what Ezekiel 37, and resurrection, is all about; not a physical return to a piece of real estate ( 'Holy', though it may be ), or of a re-animation of physical, biological ( flesh & bone ) bodies, but a return to the communion that God had promised beforehand, through His covenant. and as He also promised, in Isaiah 56:5, 'Even to them I will give in My house and within My walls a place and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them[a] an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.' In verse 14, God promised, again, 'I will place you in your own land', and in the rest of the chapter, seems to lend credence to the notion of a physical return of Israel ( 'according to the flesh' ) to the 'land' of Palestine, but I believe that the context, not only of this chapter, but all of Scripture points, not an to actual piece of real estate, but to the metaphorical ( although quite real ) rest that we have in Him ( Hebrews 4:1-8 ( Hebrews 12:18-24 ). Compare the language of Ezekiel 37:21, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land', and Matthew 24:31, 'And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other'; some may argue that this is speaking of an actual literal gathering, into one place, but I believe that an honest exegesis of both of these passages, and like I said, the context of Scripture, will show that this gathering, though very real, is not physical, but is a metaphor for His redemptive work.

'Your dead shall live; [ together with ] my dead body[b] they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust;  for your dew [ is like ] the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.'

This verse, I believe, is a favorite among some, for removing from it's immediate context ( I should know; I was one of these ), but when one takes phrases such as 'you who dwell in dust', and then look back at verse 5, 'He brings it down to the dust' ( speaking of the lofty pride of Jerusalem ); one can see that He is not referring, in verse 19, to biological death, but to the abasement of prideful men.

The statement above comes from the midst of what is called by some, 'the little Apocalypse', from Isaiah chapters 24-27. Within this 'little Apocalypse', or pre-revelation, you might call it, God revealed that, through the adverse judgment of His enemies; He would also bring about the salvation of His people.Verses 12 & 13 of chapter 27 reveal also, a gathering of His people from the nations. In verse 6 of chapter 25, which reads 'in this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees', speaking, yet again, of a gathering of His people into one 'place', 'this mountain', for the feast that He prepared, bringing to mind passages like 'the marriage supper of the Lamb', in Revelation 19, Jesus' 'Parable of the Great Supper', in Luke 14:15-23,  and the 'parable o the wedding feast', in Matthew 22:1-14. The 'bright spot', you might say, in the first chapter ( 24 ) of Isaiah's 'Apocalypse' is verses 14 & 15, which proclaims 'They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing; for the majesty of the LORD they shall cry aloud from the sea. Therefore glorify the LORD in the dawning light, the name of the LORD God of Israel in the coastlands of the sea', and although not speaking of an actual gathering ( of His people ). the next verse reveals that this praise and glorification will come from 'the ends of the earth'.

'Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, 'Peace to you.'

You may recall hearing the explanation of this event ( Luke 24:36b ) as relaying the fact that our 'resurrection body' will be able to pass through walls, and locked doors, as Jesus' body reportedly did. Is this the 'spiritual body' that Paul talked ( wrote ) about? As ridiculous as it may sound; it is quite possible, though not at all probable ( physics lesson, anyone? ) that a body could be tangible, as Jesus' body was 'proven' to be ( verse 38, John 20:19-27 ), and yet move through objects at will.

As I discussed the Covenant above, and the two iterations with which we are most familiar in Scripture, the 'old', or 'first' covenant, and the 'new covenant', within that Covenant; I believe, as Paul wrote much, though seemingly of individual bodies, of the corporate body. One small example I have given before is the marriage covenant, in which two, although still separate, individual people, are made 'one' ( Mark 10:6-9 ), but perhaps the most glaringly obvious, and well-known, example is when Paul wrote 'Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually' ( I Corinthians 12:27 ( Romans 12:5, Ephesians 3:1-7, 4:11 & 12 ( 5:23 ) Colossians 1:24 ( 2:11 ). As thus, then; I believe that the 'natural' and 'spiritual' bodies that Paul made reference to, were/are not individual bodies, per se, but of the corporate qualities of the respective 'covenants'.

The first covenant, that which God gave through Moses, may be  ( almost ) truly said to have been a works-based 'covenant'( although Paul did write that 'by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified' ( Galatians 2:16 ( Romans 9:32 ), even as far back as Adam, because God did make stipulations; 'if you do this, I will do that'. These stipulations required perfect obedience, through the law, and if one did not abide by that law; he suffered severe consequences. The whole point of the law, as Paul said, was that it served as 'our tutor [ to bring us ] to Christ, that we might be justified by faith', as we read earlier, in Galatians 3:24. As such then, the whole point of that first 'covenant' ( with man ) was not the revelation of  law ( of works-Galatians 3:19 ), but the Revelation of the ( true ) Law ( the faith of Christ ( God )-Galatians 3:10 ), to show His people that their works could never prove them, but that it was only through the faith ( fulness ) of Christ that they had any hope.

We now get to the essence of what a spiritual body is, what makes it spiritual.

I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts.

Some people believe, and I have been known to postulate, that, as we are, in reality, spirit-beings ( 'we are not our bodies' ); upon the expiration of this biological body, we become our true selves, with purely spiritual bodies. I agree, in the sense that we are not to be defined by our bodies ( our hairstyle, piercings ( or NOT ), or our clothes ), but by our spirit/Spirit, which is the real 'us', but which will, in one way or the other be 'proven' by our actions while in this physical existence. What is referred to above might well be called a spirit-body, for though, as we know it, or understand it, a spirit has no physical essence, but is corporeal, nonetheless.

Paul wrote, to the Corinthian Church, 'These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy[d] Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know [ them ], because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is [ rightly ] judged by no one.' ( I Corinthians 2:13-15 ) Contrasting this with what he later told them, in I Corinthians 15:44-46, 'It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.”[d] The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.', we may begin to understand the essence, or make-up, of the spiritual body.

Moreover, brethren...................

When a chapter or passage begins like this; we know that we had better pay attention to what the writer was saying in the previous passage or chapter, before he wrote, 'Moreover'. Paul, in chapter 14, had been reminding the Corinthians ( they seemed to have a problem with remembering ) of the correct ( appropriate ) order of things. They seemed to have forgotten, in part, at least, the gospel ( good news ) which Paul had originally preached to them, in particular, for some reason, they were questioning the fact of the resurrection, namely, and first of all, Christ's, then even the gospel promise of theirs. This is almost purely speculation, but the story that the Jews circulated after the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, that 'His disciples came at night and stole Him [ away ] while we slept', may, through the influx of the Judaizers, have found its way into the Corinthian church. Whatever the case may be, we have been blessed, and sometimes stymied, by 'the resurrection chapter'!

'And if Christ is not risen, your faith [ is ] futile; you are still in your sins!'

So wrote Paul in response to their critical questioning of the fact of the resurrection. Some ( most maybe ) have postulated, gathering from this, that it was not only Jesus' sacrifice that paid the debt ( ? ) for the sins of His people ( Matthew 1:21 ), but that He must also needs have risen from the grave, thus showing that He had conquered death for all.

'For the wages of sin [ is ] death, but the gift of God [ is ] eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord'

What 'death' is Paul talking about here? There is much and long-standing disagreement over whether Paul was speaking of physical, biological ( worm-eaten ) death, or whether he was speaking of  what some call 'spiritual death' ( I have been known to use this term too ). This argument continues, in reverse, all the way back to 'the death' of Adam; did he physically die in the day that he ate? Some have argued that the text ( Genesis 2:17 ) implies that Adam would begin to die ( physically ) the day that he ate, or that the construction of the warning phrase should be taken to mean that 'in the day' meant that within his lifetime ( in his 'day' ) he would die. The text does plainly imply, though, that Adam was separated from the Presence of God, when he was 'booted' from the Garden, where was the Tree of Life, 'lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever' ( Genesis 3:22 ).

The Gospels show us plainly, as Paul found the need to repeat to the Corinthians, that Christ did, indeed, physically rise from the dead, but I believe that this was merely a sign to the unbelieving Jews ( including most of the disciples, who still didn't really understand ), as was the 'resurrection' of Lazarus, that He had actually done what He came to do; to save His people from their sins, by conquering ( abolishing ) 'the death' of Adam! Just think what the Corinthians would have said if Paul hadn't been able to tell them about all the witnesses of Jesus' resurrection; they might have, because of the Judaizers, said 'aha, they're right; He didn't really rise from the dead, like He said He would; His disciples just stole the body'!

Why would Paul tell the Corinthians that if the Resurrection had not occurred, they were still in their sins?

'[ There is ] therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.'

In verse 17 of I Corinthians 15; Paul wrote that 'if Christ is not risen, your faith [ is ] futile; you are still in your sins!' The simple answer is that if Christ had not shown that death had been conquered, by rising from the grave ( remember Lazarus ), then how would they know, as Paul had preached, that their sins had been paid for, that they had been redeemed? In the quote above, from Romans 8:1 ( although the N/U text does not contain the latter part of the verse, the phrase 'who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit' does appear elsewhere in Paul's writings ( even in the same chapter ( verse 4 ), so I believe that this is a safe assumptive clarification ); Paul pointed out to his readers, to his brethren, really, that there was no more law that could condemn them, because they were now part of the Body of Christ. Being now part of the Body of Christ, through the 'new covenant' ( Isaiah 42:6 ), the law, since it had been fulfilled by Jesus ( perfectly ), no longer condemned them to death, being superseded ( and 'bettered'-Hebrews 8:6 ) by the grace of God, through Jesus the Christ!

Later, in Romans 8:6; Paul told them that 'to be carnally minded [ is ] death, but to be spiritually minded [ is ] life and peace.' What is it to be 'spiritually minded'? Is it not the same, would you think, as to walk 'according to the Spirit', and to be 'carnally minded', to 'walk according to the flesh'? I believe that Paul was telling them that the carnal mind-set was to live according to the old covenant law, which only brought death, since no one could keep it perfectly, but that if, or since, they 'walked' according to, or in the Spirit ( 'But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you' ), which is the grace of God in Jesus, they would truly live ( forever-John 11:26 )!

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know [ them ], because they are spiritually discerned.

In I Corinthians 15:46; Paul wrote, 'However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual', in answer to their foolish question, 'How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?' He was saying, comparing the two passages, that those who were 'imprisoned' by the old covenant ( law , and thus 'carnal' ( I Corinthians 3:1-4 ), were the opposite of those who did receive the Spirit ( of Christ ), and thus were able to 'spiritually' discern the Truth, that it was through grace, and not through works ( of the law ) that one was justified ( Romans 3:20 )!

In the article, 'A Spiritual Body', which I wrote several years ago; I discussed the notion that verses 33 & 34 of I Corinthians 15 presented a turning point, on which Paul's discussion of Christ's Resurrection, upon which theirs hinged, became a discussion of a different sort of resurrection, a spiritual resurrection. He wrote 'Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak [ this ] to your shame'.

'Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.'

Paul, in Ephesians 5:14, wrote these words in the midst of a plea to 'Walk as children of light', and to 'have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness', but on the contrary, to expose them for what they were, useless ( dead ) works of the law. Aside from the fact, as I have mentioned elsewhere, that 'sleep' is often used Scripturally to denote physical death, it can also signify, as Paul wrote above, a realization of some previously unknown fact. The churches continued to be full of those that were weak-minded, and open to the suggestion of the Judaizers ( imperative, really ) that one must be circumcised and keep the whole law in order to enter the Kingdom.

In the sense that Paul spoke the words above; I think it is safe to assume that Paul wrote to encourage them to open their eyes, to remember the Gospel of Christ that he had preached to them, not that they were physically dead, as is usually assumed abut Daniel 12:2. These, though alive in Christ, had begun to revert, trying to gain righteousness rather than just accepting the Righteousness of Christ. Many in the Church today face much the same situation.

As 'we' ( the bride/wife of Christ/God ) continue to have our 'eyes' opened, realizing the true nature of God's Word, and the glorious implications of fulfillment; may we ever remember that is is because of the New Covenant that we are able, not only to discern this spiritual Truth, but to live out our lives, in spiritual body, or maybe more correctly, in THE spiritual Body, which is the Church, the Body of Christ!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Studies in the Book of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ the Son of God ( the visions ( Hercules Bound ( and released ) the final defeat of 'the old man' ( Adam ) pt 17

Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

'To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron'. ( Psalm 149:8 )

'Yet she [ was ] carried away, she went into captivity; her young children also were dashed to pieces at the head of every street; they cast lots for her honorable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.'  ( Nahum 3:10 )

We have noted throughout this study, several things; one, that national physical Israel was the subject of Jesus Revelation to His people, at least, in the context of adverse judgment, two, that this dragon or serpent, also called the devil and 'Satan', was not a fallen, spiritual being ( ? ), but was in fact, though not any certain man, but as John wrote 'the spirit of Anti-Christ' ( I John 4:3 ), an ordinary man, or men, who had not received, and continued to refuse to know the one true God, and His Son, Jesus the Christ!

We have also seen that Jesus, through John, relied heavily on the vivid imagery of the Old Testament prophets, referring back, as in the Gospels as well, to adverse judgments that God had made in times past toward His covenant people, as well ( ? ) as on those who had acknowledged no covenant with Him.

There has been a tendency, especially in the past hundred years or so, to relegate the book of Revelation to a prophecy of the end of all things ( renewal too ), to seemingly forget the former history of God's covenant people, and the fact that much, if not all, of these former judgments served to point forward to the Revelation of Jesus as the Christ, or God Himself.

'[Is ] this not laid up in store with Me, sealed up among My treasures?' ( Deuteronomy 32:34 )

'My transgression [ is ] sealed up in a bag, and You cover[b] my iniquity.' ( Job 14:17 )

'Then Jeremiah said to them, “Thus you shall say to Zedekiah, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that [ are ] in your hands, with which you fight against the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans[b] who besiege you outside the walls; and I will assemble them in the midst of this city. I Myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger and fury and great wrath. I will strike the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast; they shall die of a great pestilence.' ( Jeremiah 21:3-6 )

'And the vision of the evenings and mornings which was told is true; therefore seal up the vision, for [ it refers ] to many days [ in the future ].' ( Daniel 8:26 )

'And he said, “Go [ your way ], Daniel, for the words [ are ] closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.' ( Daniel 12:9 )

Josephus noted this at least once, and even recorded the Roman general Titus as remarking on this, referring back to Jeremiah 21 above, that God had, in the past determined and purposed, and rendered an adverse judgment on His covenant-breaking ( Nehemiah 9 & 10 ) people, and their beloved city, in which they had begun to trust. It is interesting that Jesus related the binding of 'Satan' ( Mark 3:27, Luke 10:18 ) to the 'last days' of His Old Covenant people!

'And the LORD God said to the woman, “What [ is ] this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.' ( Genesis 3:13 )

'Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest the LORD’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you.' ( Deuteronomy 11:16 & 17 )

'With Him [ are ] strength and prudence. The deceived and the deceiver [ are ] His.' ( Job 12:16 )

'All the men in your confederacy shall force you to the border; the men at peace with you shall deceive you [and ] prevail against you. [ Those who eat  ] your bread shall lay a trap[a] for you. No one is aware of it.' ( Obadiah 1:7 )

The nation, from its inception, or genesis, had been beset by deceivers, but as James wrote 'Where do wars and fights [ come ] from among you? Do [ they ] not [ come ] from your [ desires for ] pleasure that war in your members?' ( James 4:1 ), and as Paul brings to mind in II Corinthians 11:3 and I Timothy 2:14, although Adam was not deceived ( he knowingly broke the covenant ); Eve was deceived and thus her husband, the federal head of God's ( Old ) Covenant people, allowed himself to be led astray, and for all intents and purposes, became the deceiver ( John 8:44 ) of the nations.

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a[a] thousand years.

'For thrones are set there for judgment, the thrones of the house of David.' ( Psalm 122:5 )

'Hell from beneath is excited about you, to meet [ you ] at your coming; it stirs up the dead for you, all the chief ones of the earth; it has raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.' ( Isaiah 14:9 )

'I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment [ was ] white as snow, and the hair of His head [ was ] like pure wool. His throne [ was ] a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire.' ( Daniel 7:9 )

'Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.' ( Matthew 19:28 )

'And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed [ one ] upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.' ( Luke 11:29 & 30 )

To His followers; Jesus had promised that they would reign with Him, but even before this; we must remember the meaning of the name that God gave to His covenant people: 'Israel', which, according to tradition, means basically, 'prince with God' ( Genesis 32:28 ).

'When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”' ( Revelation 6:9 & 10 )

'If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.' ( Mark 3:24-27 )

'And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”' ( John 9:39 )

'Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.' ( John 12:31 )

'But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.' ( Daniel 7:18 )

As we continue in this study; we will see how this reign with Christ is synonymous with His covenant judgments. It was through these judgments, the binding of 'Satan', and the 'salvation' of His people, that the strong-man's house was plundered and love, not hate, grace, not law, was shown to have free reign.

But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I [ am ] the LORD.''  ( Ezekiel 37:4-6 )

'For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.' ( Matthew 16:27 )

'Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.' ( John 5:28 & 29 )

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame [ and ] everlasting contempt.

Quoting Daniel 12:2, which I have before, let me point out that when Jesus ( God ) came in the clouds of judgment in AD70, signalling the finality of the reign of terror ( death ), of the Old, or first Covenant; the necessary judgments determined those who woud reign with Christ, and those who be reigned over. Note that although the rest of the 'dead' did not live till 'the thousand years were finished'; the Scripture clearly implies that after 'the thousand years' ( ? ), even those who did not partake in the first resurrection, lived ( and live ), as well as the 'first-fruits' ( I Corinthians 15:23 )

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison, and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number [ is ] as the sand of the sea.

'If one wished to contend with Him, he could not answer Him one time out of a thousand.' ( Job 9:3 )

'The chariots of God [ are ] twenty thousand, [ even ] thousands of thousands; the Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the Holy [ Place ].' ( Psalm 68:17 )

'If a man begets a hundred [ children ] and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has no burial, I say [ that ] a stillborn child [ is ] better than he— for it comes in vanity and departs in darkness, and its name is covered with darkness. Though it has not seen the sun or known [ anything ], this has more rest than that man, even if he lives a thousand years twice—but has not seen goodness. Do not all go to one place?' ( Ecclesiastes 6:3-6 )

There  are many other examples throughout the writings of Scripture that indicate, even many times when a literal number can easily be understood, that a symbolic meaning is to be gleaned from the text. In this study we have noted many such passages pointing, maybe most famously, to places like Psalm 50, verse 10; where God told His people that 'every beast of the forest [ is ] Mine, [ and ] the cattle on a thousand hills', and Deuteronomy 7:9, where Moses reminds the people of God that 'the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments', but even as far back as the days of Abraham, as we read in Genesis 20:16, where Abimelech payed to Abraham the symbolic amount of one thousand pieces of silver ( Song of Solomon 8:11, Isaiah 7:23 ) to 'cover' any perceived transgression with his wife. Think of this event in reference to the price that 'Satan' symbolically paid for seeking to seduce the wife of God!

'The sons of Japheth [ were ] Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.' ( I Chronicles 1:5 )

'You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes.' ( Ezekiel 38:16 )

'And I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in security in the coastlands. Then they shall know that I [ am ] the LORD.' ( Ezekiel 39:6 )

'It will come to pass in that day [ that ] I will give Gog a burial place there in Israel, the valley of those who pass by east of the sea; and it will obstruct travelers, because there they will bury Gog and all his multitude. Therefore they will call [ it ] the Valley of Hamon Gog.' ( Ezekiel 39:11 )

As in many other cases in the history of Israel after the flesh; God used the nations around Israel to accomplish His adverse judgments on them, and though Gog and Magog were an actual people, and their descent from Adam can be shown; I believe that it is easily discernible that their involvement in the cloud-judgment of the Old Covenant 'children' of God was more symbolic than anything. ( this may be partially the reasoning behind those who deny that the adverse judgment on Jerusalem in AD70 was 'the time of the end' )

Other than several instances in the Hebrew Scriptures, referring to the enemies of God's people ( Joshua 11:4, Judges 7:12, I Samuel 13:5 ) this phrase, 'the sand of the sea', though often in other words, was most often indicative of God's blessing ( or cursing ) on His covenant people. Although we know that, in the accomplished destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple; Rome and its allies were most noticeably active: we can see through study of the works of Josephus and likely others, that the Jews themselves were indirectly, if not directly, their own worst enemies, or 'adversaries'!

They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.

'Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty with his fifty men. So he went up to him; and there he was, sitting on the top of a hill. And he spoke to him: “Man of God, the king has said, ‘Come down!’” So Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, “If I [ am ] a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. Then he sent to him another captain of fifty with his fifty men. And he answered and said to him: “Man of God, thus has the king said, ‘Come down quickly!’” So Elijah answered and said to them, “If I [ am ] a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.' ( II Kings 1:9-12 )

'Therefore he sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who [ are ] with us [ are ] more than those who [ are ] with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain [ was ] full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.' ( II Kings 6:14-17 )

In both of these examples, of which more could no doubt be gleaned; Elijah, in whom we can see a picture, or type, representative of the people of God, and in a sense, maybe, of Christ Himself, and his successor, Elisha, are prominently figured in a glorious picture of the salvation, both physical and spiritual, of the people of God!

When the enemies ( adversaries ) of the people of God fought against His people; God brought down the fire of His wrath against them, both literally and figuratively, to destroy them, and their works. As we have noted already, I believe, in this study, the phrase 'fire from heaven' ( or like phrases ) often referred to actual, literal 'fire from heaven' ( lightning, meteor shower, etc. ), but often held a more symbolic meaning, even when portrayed in a physical way. In Genesis 19:24; we read that 'the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens', and though this was likely a literal fire ( meteor shower? ), we know that it was really just a physical representation and manifestation of God's wrath on the sinful acts of man ( II Peter 3:7-12 ). We read, in I Kings 18:20-40, about Elijah's victory ( God's really ) on Mt. Carmel, over the prophets of Ba'al, and in verse 38, that 'the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that [ was ] in the trench', where God sent literal fire from heaven, showing, not only His acceptance for the sacrifice of Elijah, but also proving His power, as opposed to the powerlessness and inability of those idols. There are more examples, like that of Elijah above, where 'fire came out from before the LORD' ( Leviticus 9:24 ). After King David had sinned against the Lord by numbering his people, and then repented by making an offering before Him, God showed His acceptance of his sacrifice when 'He answered him from heaven by fire on the altar of burnt offering' ( I Chronicles 21:26 ), and in II Chronicles 7:1; after Solomon had completed the Temple, how God showed His approval and acceptance when 'fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices'.

The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where[b] the beast and the false prophet [ are ]. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

'How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,[b] son of the morning! [ How ] you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, [ and ]  consider you, [ saying ]: [ is ] this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world as a wilderness and destroyed its cities, [ who ] did not open the house of his prisoners? All the kings of the nations, all of them, sleep in glory, everyone in his own house; but you are cast out of your grave like an abominable branch, [ like ] the garment of those who are slain, thrust through with a sword, who go down to the stones of the pit, like a corpse trodden underfoot. You will not be joined with them in burial, because you have destroyed your land [ and ] slain your people. The brood of evildoers shall never be named. Prepare slaughter for his children because of the iniquity of their fathers, lest they rise up and possess the land, and fill the face of the world with cities.' ( Isaiah 14:12-21 )

Excuse the lengthy quote, and though this passage requires a more lengthy and in-depth exegesis than I am willing to give it right now; but it shows us several things; first; while this passage, which I have mentioned before, has traditionally been made part of the foundation, so to speak, of the doctrine of 'Satan': read in the context of Scripture and of the present study; it can be shown, I believe, to refer, not to the fallen spiritual being ( ? ), traditionally known as 'Satan' ( the Adversary ), but, through the example of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, one of the enemies of God's people; ultimately of the apostate 'children' of Israel in general, and their leaders, in particular. Isaiah's highly symbolic language here, also chips away at the traditional doctrine of Eternal Torment, showing, I believe, that John's language of continuing permanency in the Revelation speaks more of a finality, of a contiual stigma attached to one's name, or memory.

'And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.' ( Luke 10:18 )

The immediate context of Jesus words above, shows us that it was because of the 'fall' ( from grace? ) of their adversary, that they were able to pursue the ministry of reconciliation, 'introducing' the people of God to the true kingdom of God, in Jesus the Christ. As above, and throughout this study, I believe that it shows us, as well, that as their primary adversary was soon to be defeated, indeed had already begun to fall, the Gospel which they were proclaiming was given freer expansion, as it spread, unhindered ( relatively ) throughout the world.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.

'I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment [ was ]white as snow, and the hair of His head [ was ] like pure wool. His throne [ was ] a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire.' ( Daniel 7:9 )

It is obvious from John's language here, and surrounding, that this judgment was by God Himself, as Daniel wrote, 'the Ancient of Days'! Although there is to be seen a sense of finality in this judgment ( and it is, eschatology speaking ), this is obviously meant in a hyperbolic and symbolic way, as John is speaking of the Old Covenant economy ( 'heavens and earth'-II Peter 3:5-13 ), for he, in much the same sense as in the beginning of the next chapter, as we'll see, says that 'there was found no place for them', speaking of those ( present, at that time ) 'heavens and earth'. Why would/how could he say this if he was referring to the physical sky and terrene globe, as some have speculated that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13, and to which Peter refers in II Peter 3. See also Joel 2:30, Jeremiah 4:23, Isaiah 13:10 & 13, Psalm 50:4, and Deuteronomy 28:23 ( Deuteronomy 32:1, I Chronicles 16:31, Isaiah 1:2 ).

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God,[c] and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.[d] And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

'A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court[b] was seated, and the books were opened.' ( Daniel 7:10 )

I have noted before, I believe, in this study, that John often repeats himself in order to show a sense of urgency and finality, using a form of parallelism, saying the same thing twice, or more, in different words. I believe that this is the case, in a manner of speaking, above. The 'dead, small and great, standing before God' refer, I believe to those same 'heavens and earth' which fled from before His face ( think of the 'children' of Israel, in Exodus 20: 18-21 ), and for whom 'there was found no place'.

We have noted, throughout this study that 'the sea', in apocalyptic literature, such as this is, refers to the Gentile nations, especially those surrounding the nation of Israel. John, when he reported that 'sea gave up the dead who were in it', was speaking not so much of a physical resurrection of those who died biologically ( though I believe this could be included ), but of those people of God, not just Israelites by physical birth, who were scattered across 'the face of the earth', and who had been imprisoned ( blinded ) under the darkness and death of the Old Covenant economy.

'For many nations and great kings shall be served by them also; and I will repay them according to their deeds and according to the works of their own hands.' ( Jeremiah 25:14 )

Although this parenthetical statement refers, in its immediate context ( and by name ) to Babylon; as they ( Babylon ) were but one of the many enemies ( adversaries ) of the covenant people of God; it also speaks of Old Covenant Israel ( according to the flesh ) of whom Paul wrote ( II Corinthians 11:15 ), 'whose end will be according to their works'.

After this judgment was made; the death of Adam, and thus the corrupting grave itself, were cast into the consuming ( Hebrews 12:29 ) 'lake of fire', and ceased to exist for believers in the Christ of God. Obviously; John and Jesus were not speaking of biological death, for we know that Christians still 'pass' from their physical bodies, but of a separational death, the 'death' that Paul wrote of in place like Romans 6:23, and I Timothy 5:6.

Praise God, that through His Son Jesus the Christ, the New Covenant; we have been made partakers in that first resurrection, being written in the Book of Life, and did not have to endure that Judgment, and must no longer fear either the death of Adam, or biological death!

For His Kingdom,
Charles Haddon Shank