Month: May 2022

God who is self-revealing – Part 2

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible makes it abundantly clear, Yahweh wants to be known by mankind. The God who created everything is not hiding in isolation. Yahweh does not live in secret behind closed doors. Actually, the very opposite is true. God has painted His ‘Identification’ across the entire universe for all to see and respond to. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse (Romans 1:19-20). The universe is God’s ID Card. Creation tells of its Creator, speaking in great detail of His intellect, His power, and His character. The universe cries out to the world, ‘look at me and learn of your creator!’

While creation is a confronting invitation from God, it pales in comparison to the revelation of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. God has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Hebrews 1:2-3). God could not have sent a more exposing ambassador to earth than His only Son. Imprinted with the essence of God’s perpetual life, love, and holiness, Jesus revealed His heavenly Father to the world perfectly and openly. Jesus said this in John 14:9, whoever has seen me has seen the Father.

Years later, Jesus Christ revealed Himself to Saul without invitation. Now, it happened like this; as Saul approached Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:3-5). Saul was probably the worst God hater on the planet. An angel would not do for this mission, it had to be the glorified Jesus. So, Jesus stepped into Saul’s life, revealing Himself to the man who later became the apostle Paul.

The Bible has many examples of people God revealed Himself to. Genesis 35:6 tells of Jacob, who was at Luz (that is, Bethel)…  there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother. Likewise, Samuel, in 1 Samuel 3:21, the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD. The Psalmist acknowledged in Psalm 98:2, the LORD has made known his salvation; He has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. Isaiah 22:14 confesses that the LORD of hosts has revealed himself in my ears.

Solomon prayed that as God brought foreigners to Israel, they would pray, and God would answer so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you (1 Kings 8:43). God has proven Himself; He is not idle or lazy. He says in Romans 10:20 I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me. God is self-revealing through creation, through personal revelation, through His Son Jesus Christ, and through His written Word, the Bible. Yahweh has gone to extraordinary lengths to be known by mankind.

The question is, are we as willing and as enthusiastic to know God as He is to be known?

To be continued…

 

God who is awesome – Part 1

Many people have favourite Bible verses, and I am no different. Yet within my favourites there is one verse that I return to repeatedly. This single verse puts the universe in perspective for me. It reminds me of the incalculable difference between mankind and God, that He is nothing like humanity, and that He is merciful in His justice.  Deuteronomy 10:17, for the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. Here, Yahweh gives testimony of Himself. So there can be no misunderstanding or misrepresentation, Yahweh tells us plainly. Amongst all the spiritual beings, the Lord is the greatest, the highest, the one supreme God who is over all in every possible way.

It’s easy to read over this verse quickly as we pass through the chapter, missing the enormity of its content. With approximately 29 words, depending on your translation, we read a summary of Jehovah. If we had no other Old Testament declaration of God, this would be more than sufficient to communicate all that is needed. The truths of this one revelation should cause us to quiver with exhilarating fear, realising that we, who are so puny, have had revealed to us Him who is so enormous in presence and holiness of character.

Of course, reading this entire section from chapter 5:1 to 28:68 of Deuteronomy reveals a lot more. Moses is delivering the laws of God to the nation of Israel on the morning of their westward crossing of the Jordan river into the promised land (Deu 9:1), after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Knowing that he himself would not go with them (Deu 32:51–52), Moses faithfully alerts Israel to Yahweh’s covenant law (Deu 5:2). Once again, Israel is confronted by Moses with an expanded revelation of who Yahweh is, what He has done, and what He is like.

God has always revealed Himself as the absolute Sovereign who is beyond compare or challenge. David states this in Psalm 40:5, You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told. God always reveals Himself as the perfection of holiness (Jos 24:19). Just as in Deuteronomy, David declares that God has not been in hiding. While human language fails to express the fulness of Yahweh, we are still able to worship what we do know of Him accurately.

David, who was far from perfect, knew that God was dependable in His character, unlike David. So, when David sinned and came under the Lord’s discipline, he knew he could depend upon God’s mercy. In 2 Samuel 24:14, he confessed, I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man. Moses reminded Israel that the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders (Deuteronomy 26:8).

Moses was right in instructing Israel to rejoice in all the good that the LORD your God has given to you (Deuteronomy 26:11). Not only did God reveal Himself but He acted. We, like Israel, have seen the revelation and actions of God, therefore, we are to worship. God is just as awe inspiring today as He ever was. Therefore, let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28-29).

To be continued…

Friendship with others

Rewarding Christian friendships are those permeated with God. While there is great diversity in how these friendships operate, the values should always be Christ centered and reflect our relationship with God. However, we live in an age of compromise where believers are often encouraged to look and sound like the world in hope of being accepted. James spoke to this; whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4). While some think these are harsh words, it remains true that out of fear of loosing friends and positions of earthly benefit, believers are tempted to sacrifice friendship with God in favour of friendships with worldly values.
Job, who understood the loss of friendships better than most (Job 1-2), connects the quality of earthly friendship with the character of a person’s friendship with God. Job 6:14 says, he who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. Here, it’s the absence of kindness that displays the absence of fear/respect of God. This makes sense because loving mercy are intrinsic to the nature of God. Therefore, a child of God, born again by the Holy Spirit, should increasingly grow in loving kindness (Gal 5:22-23). And the friends of that believer should experience those growing qualities.

When Jesus delivered the demon possessed man who lived among the tombs, Jesus sent him on the most amazing yet simple mission. Obviously, this man was grateful, and I’m sure we can understand why the delivered man begged him (Jesus) that he might be with him. But Jesus had a much greater and more personable plan for him. So, Jesus did not permit him but said to him, go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you. (Mark 5:19). Apart from anything else, Jesus knew this man would have wanted his friends to experience the Lord’s mercy as he had. Plus, this man had what it took to unashamedly declare the deity of Jesus who is Lord over demons. As this freed man gave his best when speaking of Jesus, so our friends should receive the best of Jesus when with us.

The fact is, this delivered man did such a good job that when Jesus visited the region of the Decapolis… they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him (Mark 7:31-32). Despite Jesus having never visited this Gentile area before, people knew how to recognise and respond to Jesus when He arrived. The delivered man had done a brilliant job of telling his friends about Jesus.

When the apostle Paul wrote from his first Roman imprisonment to the church at Philippi, it was a passionate expression of an uncommon friendship. Despite great distance, and the lack of fast communication, the believers at Philippi were effective at showing their love for Paul. They expressed partnership with Paul which produced joy (Php 1:4-5). Paul replied with encouraging words, and words of assurance (Php 1:6), words of affection (Php 1:8), and words of exhortation (Php 1:9-11).

These are all key elements in a healthy Christian friendship. Rather than sit disgruntled while chained to a Roman soldier, Paul wrote uplifting words for the benefit of his recipients. Paul’s words communicated an uncommon love which inspired the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God (Php 1:11). May the grace of God increasingly manufacture these qualities in our friendships also?

God’s Planned Future (9) Matthew 24-25, Daniel’s, and Revelation Prophecies

In this lesson we shall consider some of the corresponding predictions between Daniel’s prophecies in chapters 9 and 12 with Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew chapters 24-25. Remember also, that Matthew 24 corresponds with the chronological timeline of the Revelation.

Matthew 24 begins with Jesus and His disciples walking away from the temple in Jerusalem, when the disciples draw to Jesus’ attention all the buildings of the temple. Jesus responds by saying, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down (Mat 24:2).

Arriving at the Mount of Olives in Matthew 24:3, Jesus’ disciples ask Him 2 questions. First, when will these things be? And second, what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? (Mat 24:3).

First, for us, we can easily look back into history and see that Jesus’ words in verse 2, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down, were fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Roman army, under General Titus, destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. Although we have not seen it yet, the Jerusalem temple is going to be rebuilt and the priestly ministry will be reinstated with the sacrifices in the future. This will most likely happen immediately following the rapture with the approval of antichrist.

For the answer to the disciple’s second question, Jesus proceeds to give a detailed explanation quoting from Daniel’s prophecy which also matches with John’s Revelation. As we bring all 3 prophecies together, we see that the future will look like this:

  • Daniel 9:26, and after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing (That was Jesus’ earthly life). And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary (That was the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70). Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed (This is the future tribulation following the rapture).
  • Matthew 5:5, many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. We see this today with all the false prophets and false claims of being reincarnated Jesus. But this will increase immediately following the rapture. When the church is removed from this world there will remain many false believers who were left behind. These will follow false christs as they pursue justifying their false belief which was the cause of them not being taken in the rapture of the true bride of Christ.
  • Matthew 24:6, and you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. This corresponds with Seal #1 in Revelation 6:1-2. The Antichrist establishes temporary world peace politically, militarily, and religiously. Antichrist will support the rebuilding of the temple as a gesture of peace to Israel when he makes a 7 year covenant of peace with them (Dan 9:27a). As time goes by in the early years of the tribulation, rumours of wars will be heard of. Then those rumours will become actual battles as peace dissolves into wars in different places and for different reasons.
  • Matthew 24:7, for nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. This corresponds with Seals #2-4 in Revelation. Antichrist’s peace soon dissolves into anarchy beginning with war. Revelation 6:4 explains Seal #2, its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another. War is followed by famine and shortage of food in Seal #3. Again, Seal #4 sees mass death with ¼ of the world’s population dying (Rev 6:8).
  • Matthew 24:8, Jesus tells His disciples that all these are but the beginning of the birth pains. Things are about to get much worse as Jesus predicts in Matthew 24:21, for then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. The 2nd 3 ½ year period of the 7 year tribulation is called “great tribulation” (cf. Mk 13:14-19; Rev 7:14) because it is the worst judgement ever.
  • In between Matthew 24:8 and 9, Daniel’s 3 ½ year prophecy happens on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate (Daniel 9:27). Mark 13:14a adds, when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be.

Daniel’s prophecy in chapter 11 provides more specific detail. Daniel 11:31 says that antichrist’s military forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress (the city of Jerusalem. cf. Luk 21:20) and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate. This will be some representation of antichrist (Dan 12:11) with his army telling people to worship him.

Then He (antichrist) shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action (Dan 11:32, 39b). Antichrist will use complementary language and enticement to persuade everyone who is happy to break the 7 year peace covenant with Israel to faithfully follow him. This will include both Jews and Gentiles. However, there will be people of God, faithful Jews, and believers in Jesus Christ, who see through antichrist’s deception, and they will resist him in any way possible.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, let no one deceive you in any way. For that day… the man of lawlessness (antichrist) is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God (cf. Dan 11:36-37).

Revelation 11:2b, do not measure the court outside the temple (Jerusalem); leave that out, for it is given over to the nations (Gentiles), and they will trample the holy city (Jerusalem); for forty-two months (3 ½ years).

So, we see that halfway through the tribulation, antichrist and his army break the 7 year covenant of peace with Israel and hijack Jerusalem (This is NOT Armageddon). He stops the temple worship in Jerusalem and authorises his Gentile army to govern Jerusalem while Jews are still living there. He declares himself to be God and instructs the world to worship him as god (Dan 9:27; 11:31, 36; 12:11; Mt 24:9, 15-21; Lk 21:20; 2Th 2:3-4; Rev 11:2). While Jerusalem will be damaged, it will NOT be destroyed.

  • At this 3 ½ year point also, Israel’s 1/3 remnant are put into hiding and protected by God somewhere in the desert for the 2nd 3½ year period of the tribulation (Zch 13:8-9; Rev 12:6-16). It is possible that some of the Jewish 144,000 men are hidden away with these people also.
  • Matthew 24:9-14, then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. Once antichrist declares himself to be god, he demands that the world worship him alone. With the disappearance of 1/3 of Israel, and antichrist’s inability to find them, antichrist introduces the false prophet and the image of the beast, then marks his followers with his 666 mark (Rev 13:16-17). 

While there will be a great spiritual awakening during the tribulation from the preaching of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists (Rev 7:3-8; 9:4: 14:1-5), the 2 male Jewish witnesses (Rev 11:1-14), and the 3 hovering angels (Rev 14:6-11), there will be great deception also. There will be many false evangelists with false gospels (Mat 24:11), leading people to become false converts. These false converts will fall away (Mat 24:10), accepting the 666 mark of antichrist because of antichrist’s deception and the terrible events of the tribulation judgements (Mat 24:12). Only the genuinely converted tribulation saints will remain faithful and not receive the 666 mark.

Revelation 20:4 tells us that these tribulation believers will be those who have been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. These faithful believers will either be martyred for their faith, or they will somehow persevere to the end of the tribulation. Everyone who is discovered to have refused the mark of the beast, and refuse to worship antichrist will be executed, which is Seal #5 in Revelation 6:9-11; 14:13. Martyrdom of tribulation converts to Jesus as Saviour and Lord will escalate.

This is how Matthew 24:14 will play out during the tribulation, and this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. The gospel will be proclaimed right up to the end of the 7 year tribulation when Christ returns in Revelation 19.

  • Matthew 24:15-21, so when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel (Dan 9:27, antichrist at the tribulation 3 ½ year point), standing in the holy place, 16 then let those (tribulation converts) who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then (the 2nd 3 ½ years) there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.

Here, Jesus explains that if you happen to be a convert to Jesus during the 1st 3 ½ year period of the tribulation, and you see antichrist commit the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, run for your life! Things are about to get much worse. Not only will you not be able to buy and sell without the 666 mark (Rev 13:16), but you will most likely be executed for believing in Jesus if discovered.

  • Matthew 24:22, Jesus continues to explain that if the 7 year tribulation was permitted to continue any longer, mankind, under antichrist’s leadership, would annihilate themselves. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

God wants to preserve living people to continue into His 1000 year kingdom. Plus, God wants to preserve the nation Israel to fulfill the remaining Old Testament promises to them. This requires survival of both humans and planet earth.

Close to the end of the tribulation, bowl judgement number 6 (Rev 16:12-16) sees the river Euphrates dried up; and the world’s armies join forces with the northern and eastern armies. They march westward across dry land, where the river Euphrates used to be, to meet at the place called Armageddon, waiting for Christ to arrive for battle.

Meanwhile, other smaller armies attack and take over unbelieving Jerusalem (Zch 14:1-4) which is a mix of both Jew and Gentile in rebellion against antichrist. But Jerusalem is NOT destroyed.

While waiting for Christ to arrive for battle at Armageddon, bowl judgement number 7 is poured out (Rev 16:17-21). This is the storm to end all storms, but this is still NOT Armageddon or Christ’s return!

  • Flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder
  • A severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth
  • The great city (Jerusalem) splits into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed
  • Every island fled away
  • The mountains could not be found
  • From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds (45Kg) each fell upon men

The planet’s tectonic plates move as never before to completely change the surface of the earth. All the cities around the world collapse into piles of rubble. Jerusalem is the ONLY city left standing on what will be a raised area of land. The surface of the earth is restructured from being mountainous to being a gentle and undulating landscape in preparation for the 1000 year Kingdom.

Remember, while this is happening, Israel’s 1/3 remnant and the 144,000 Jewish evangelists remain protected by God. The battle of Armageddon has not happened, and Christ has not returned yet, but He soon will.

  • Matthew 24:27, for as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. This speaks of Jesus’ 2nd stage of His return. Stage 1 was the rapture, when Jesus snatches the church up to the clouds. Stage 2, which comes later, is Jesus’ decent to touching planet earth to conquer it (Zch 14:4). Revelation 19:11-16 describes Jesus returning with the armies of heaven. Daniel 12:7b explains this return of Christ as when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished. Christ’s return will bring an end to antichrist’s reign.
  • Matthew 24:28, wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. Revelation 19:17-18 tells us that a colossal number of birds (vultures) gather to start eating the dead bodies in the 1st stage of the clean-up project following Jesus’ conquering at Armageddon.

While Daniel finishes his prophecy in Daniel 12:13, Jesus continues in Matthew chapter 24 as does John in the Revelation.

Before we look at Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:29-31, we shall briefly consider Daniel’s final words.

Daniel 12:11-13, And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days.
12 Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days.
13 But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.

We understand that verse 11 says there will be 3 ½ years (1,290 days) from the time of antichrist committing the abomination that makes desolate to Christ’s return. Then in verse 13, Daniel continues to tell us that those who wait for 1335 days will be blessed. This creates a 75 day difference, or interim gap, between Christ’s return and another significant event which Daniel does not name. However, it is Daniel’s expectation that some will survive through this period for them to be blessed. The only clue Daniel gives is found in his final sentence; and you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days (Daniel 12:13). This indicates that for those who survive through the extended period of 1335 days, which is 75 days beyond Christ’s return, they shall stand in a place specifically allotted to them by God. In the Jewish context of Daniel’s prophecy, this would indicate standing in the new Kingdom with King Jesus. We see God’s prophecies further fulfilled for Israel through Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 and the Revelation.

Matthew 25:34, then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

The invitation given in verse 34 will be to the saved people who somehow survive through to the end of the tribulation. They will include the 144,000 Jewish men, the surviving tribulation saints, and the remnant of Israel who were protected by God in the desert who have now all been saved. These people are separated out as the sheep on Jesus’ right side in the sheep and goat judgement. These are the ones Daniel spoke of when he said, you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days (Daniel 12:13). There allotted place is with Jesus in the new kingdom.

Matthew 24:29-31 finds Jesus giving a 3 point summary of the final days of this world as we presently know it, and the beginning of the transition to His new kingdom period.

First, verse 29, Jesus shows us the final condition of this present world moments before He returns.

Second, verse 30, Jesus again shows us the glory of His actual return to conquer the world.

Third, verse 31, Jesus shows us how He gathers the surviving believers from around the world following Armageddon and His return.

First – Matthew 24:29, immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

When the complete trilogy of 7 seal judgements, 7 trumpet judgements, and 7 bowl judgements have been dispensed, the end of the tribulation arrives. The accumulation of all the judgements is unimaginable. The entire earth is changed, the solar system is dismantling as it falls to pieces, bombarding the earth with meteorites. The 24 hour cycle of day and night has changed with the bare minimum of sunlight only partially illuminating the darkened earth.

The remaining unbelievers, including those in antichrist’s army are covered in painful sores, sunburnt, hungry, and dehydrated from the lack of water and food. The catastrophic effects of bowl #7 storm has destroyed every city in the world with homes now just a pile of rubble. The earth’s landscape looks totally different. Land and oceans have been redefined because of the bowl #7 earthquakes. Most, if not all, of the world’s satellites will have been destroyed and fallen out of the sky or floated off into space as redundant junk. The world’s supercomputers will have been crushed as with the world’s electricity plants. The toxic waste wafting around the globe from radioactive residue and chemical spillage will be indescribable. Present day maps will be of little use. Jerusalem is the only city left standing, which will enrage antichrist and the remaining unbelievers even more.

The scene on earth immediately after the tribulation of those days, and briefly before Christ’s return, will be so extreme that we can only partially imagine the horrors of it now.

Second – Matthew 24:30, then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

With the earth and solar system devastated, and Jerusalem being the only city still standing, although overrun by Gentiles and split into 3 parts, antichrist’s bedraggled armies wait to do battle with Jesus at Armageddon. Then it happens. Christ returns!

Into this darkened environment, the Son of Man will enter the earth’s sky. A divine portal from heaven to earth’s atmosphere opens, through which Jesus launches down through the clouds to earth. The brilliance of His glory will light up the sky with His radiance as never seen before. Somehow, people around the world will be able to see Jesus’ entrance. It may be that enough manmade technology will still be functioning to allow global viewing of it. Or it may be supernaturally enabled. But this much is certain, Jesus’ identity and magnificence will be unmistakable, and seen by all. As antichrist’s remaining armies look upward to behold their enemy approaching, they will know their demise is only moments away.

Jesus returns with His heavenly armies (That’s us, Rev 19:14) to conquer at Armageddon and Jerusalem (Zec 14:3-5b). The armies with Christ have no weapons because Christ is the weapon. There is no actual fighting, no battle, Christ simply destroys His enemies by His spoken word (Rev 19:15). Zechariah 14:12 explains in graphic detail, this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths.

This is not atomic warfare. Rather, this is the power of Jesus’ spoken word. Revelation 14:20 sees the combined blood of these battles as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia (approx. 300Km). The brutal physical devastation caused by Christ as He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty (Revelation 19:15). The destruction of His enemies at Armageddon and Jerusalem produces such an enormous volume of blood that the earth will not be able to immediately soak it in.

  • Antichrist and the false prophet are captured and thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur (Rev 19:20b).
  • An angel coming down from heaven… seized the dragon… who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer (Rev 20:1-3).

Third – Matthew 24:31, and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Following Christ’s victorious return, the world is a quite a different place. Satan is gone, antichrist and the false prophet are gone. All opposing armies are gone also.

Christ wastes no time in rounding up the surviving people from around the world. There will, however, remain many antichrist supporters in other places around the world. Likewise, there will be believers in Christ scattered who have not taken the 666 mark of the beast.

So, Christ will send out his angels, who will …gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Matthew 25:32-34 continues, before him (Christ) will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King (Christ) will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Then he will say to those on his left, depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels
(Matthew 25:41).

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (Matthew 25:46. cf. Heb 10:12-13; Jude:14-16). This judgement is commonly referred to as the sheep and goat judgement.

Friendship from God – Part 1

Most of us desire quality, pleasurable friendships. Whether with just one person, or with a group, friendship is integral to being created in the image of God. As we all know, there are different qualities of friendship, ranging from damaging to enriching. However, there is one friendship that ranks above all others, and that is friendship with God Almighty. I’m not referring to knowing about God, and I’m not referring to experiencing some sense of closeness with Him when praying or singing. No, I speak of a genuine, life-long intimacy that happily yields our will to His sovereign will. Friendship that seeks after Him first, for His glory and His pleasure, which in turn gives us pleasure (Psa 1:1-2; 112:1; 1Pe 1:2). As Christians, our human friendships are influenced by the quality of our friendship with Jesus Christ. Does our character reflect Christ’s character to a degree that enables others to experience Christ?

Often, our desire in earthly friendships is to get what we want, in some way or another. We may be more interested in how the other person makes us feel and not in the actual person themselves. For the Christian, this grows out of having the same wrong expectation of our friendship with God. Often our attitudes, our prayers, and our activities, show that we judge God’s friendship by the extent to which He fulfils our expectations. Therefore, we may make life-changing decisions with ourselves at the centre of our reasoning instead of God.

Oswald Chambers asked, think of the last thing you prayed about – were you devoted to your desire or to God? Was your determination to get some gift of the Spirit for yourself or to get to God? 

King David rightly tells us of the priority of friendship with God. The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. My eyes are ever toward the LORD… (Psalm 25:14-15). Yahweh is the initiator, reaching out to us, offering friendship through His son Jesus Christ (Heb 1:2). We then respond with repentant fear of the Lord. As our relationship grows, Yahweh increasingly makes known to us the nature of his covenant on which our relationship stands. The non-negotiable truths and promises of the covenant Christ instigated through the cross of Calvary is the foundation of our intimate friendship with God.

Communion reminds us of the cost and the certainty of friendship with God through Christ. The cup is the new covenant in my blood Jesus said. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me (1 Corinthians 11:25). The friendship which God gifted us came at the cost of Jesus’ life on the cross. There, God exchanged our sin for Christ’s righteousness, making the closest association with God possible (Rom 3:22-25). Christ made intimate friendship with Yahweh accessible by faith, and our faith is expressed through righteous fear of Yahweh. A fear that not only shudders at His coming judgement of sin, but a fear that also breaths the highest respect we are capable of. It’s no wonder David said, my eyes are ever toward the LORD.

Friendship from God is expensive because Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2). As we grow in our understanding of God’s mercy in friendship, we should equally grow in our worship. Because of His great mercy, Paul instructs us to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (Romans 12:1).

To be continued…



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