The Battle for Jerusalem

Jerusalem, the most unique city on the earth. Everyone has an opinion on it. It divides, it unites, it infuriates; rejoicing and sorrow have filled its ancient streets. Is there any other like it?

During its long history, Jerusalem has been attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, besieged 23 times, and destroyed twice. (wikipedia)

5 verses that help us understand this conflicting world epicenter:

On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates— Gen. 15:18

This covenant with Abraham is an everlasting, unconditional promise. In the promise, God took up both sides of the agreement while Abraham slept. No one, save God, is able to nullify this pact. In fact, even the descendants of Abraham can’t nullify it. It’s as sure as the sunrise. Read these intriguing developments for yourself in Genesis 15 (see also: Gen. 12:1-3, 7, 13:14-15, 17:8, 22:2)

“Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.” – Ps. 2:6

Who is speaking here? David, is eavesdropping into a heavenly conversation between the Father and the Son. Here the Father is asserting His insistence that Jerusalem (Zion) will be the capital of His Son’s Kingdom. The Father will establish His King, Jesus, on that mount in Israel.

“Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,” says the Lord, “that they will say no more, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore. “At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem.” – Jeremiah 3:17

The throne of Christ will be seated in Jerusalem. This is the place on earth from which He will rule the nations. This is a future promise. Notice what the prophet is highlighting “at that time;” Israel will be multiplied and increased in the land and they will not call to mind the Ark of the Covenant. This indicates a future state of the Jewish people after they recognize Yeshua as Messiah, the Coming One. After that time of revival (see Rom. 11:26; Zech. 12) Jerusalem will be established as the seat of Messiah’s government.

“[Jerusalem]…is the city of the great King.” – Mt. 5:35

Christ, as the descendant of Abraham, is inextricably linked to this city. He, Himself, calls it the city of the great King. This title did not change or take on a spiritual fulfillment after His ascension to heaven It remains the city of the great King. That king will come and restore the kingdom of Israel, as the apostles anticipated (Acts 1:6), and make Jerusalem the capital of the whole world.

“I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” – Is. 62:6, 7

We are in the days that the Lord is raising up intercessors who will stand up on behalf of Jerusalem. They will pray in accordance with the desire of God for this city and its people. God does not hold His peace in His relentless purpose for this city (Is. 62:1); believers will not hold their peace for His purposes for this city. The city will be a praise in the earth. Very few people see it as a praise; more often, it is seen as troubling. When the Lord makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth it means that the other nations, especially the surrounding nations, will acknowledge the sovereign purpose of God for this city. They will rejoice in its light (the glory of God) and bow before its King- Christ. (see also Ps. 122:6; Rom. 10:1)

And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations [after the Day of the Lord, 14:1) which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

Jerusalem will exist after the Day the Lord ensuing judgment. The nations who are left will come and worship before Christ in His capital. These nations all stood against Israel and her King prior to the Day of the Lord. After that time, they (we) will celebrate the feast that honors the commitment of God to dwell among His people forever.

As believers, we must resist the temptation to accept any narrative devoid of the Word of God. We must seek to have the heart of Jesus for all players involved: Israel, Palestine, and the nations. If we neglect seeking divine understanding of the conflict, we will by default accept the secular narrative. This issue is a complex issue involving the lives and destinies of many peoples, all the more it is critical that we are in line with Jesus during these historic times.

Is America a Christian Nation?

Never has there been a Christian nation. Yes, you read that right. A common idea espoused by well-meaning American Christians, it’s time that this idea falls into the shadows of a bygone fantasy. A wake up call is needed. Merely building a nation’s governmental value system upon so-called Judaeo-Christian beliefs never forged a Christian nation as much as hanging the 10 commandments in a court room caused criminals to like Moses.

The Christian expression of faith isn’t built upon the idea of national conquest enacted by believers themselves. This idea is precisely one of the key factors that laid the stumbling stone of offense at the feet of the first century Jew. There was great, generational anticipation that Messiah would enact a military/political conquest, subdue Israel’s surrounding enemies and American-Flag2usher in the golden age that the prophets so beautifully (and accurately) foretold.

When Jesus, who claimed to be the Son of God, King of the Jews, and Savior didn’t do this exact thing, he was rejected en masse; even his closest friends and family doubted. Jesus put to rest the timing of this notion quite plainly before His ascension. He never denied it. There will be an earthly conquest in the Father’s timing, done the Father’s way.

If a militant/political campaign will happen, how and when and more importantly by whom, must be seriously considered.

The Christian faith declares the kingdom of heaven. Jesus and John both attested that kingdom of heaven was at hand, and the proper response was to “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.” Salvation by grace through faith gains entrance into that kingdom. The King of that kingdom is Christ, and the capital of that kingdom is Jerusalem. To say it plainly, the fullness of that kingdom on earth is enacted by Christ, through Israel AFTER His enemies are made His footstool.

It is Christ Himself, not we, that wage the national/political war, bring the sword upon the earth until the kingdoms of this world are the kingdoms of our God. Conquest requires war and the weapons of warfare of the believer are not against kings and armies but are “mighty in God, for the pulling down of strongholds.” Worship, intercession and the power of the Holy Spirit are the primary means that God’s kingdom is advanced in the earth.

The faulty notion that America IS or WAS a Christian nation is, in my opinion, a misunderstanding of the role of believers before the coming of the King. To be a Christian nation, the adherents must be governed by Christ. The American governmental system has been a democratic republic for the last 300 years, a far cry (albeit possibly the very best of the bad options) from the Kingdom of the Christ . The first nation to be governed (in the fullest sense) by Christ will be Israel; all the nations will be submissive to Him as he rules with a rod of iron. Yet many Christians busy themselves worrying about making America the so-called “Christian nation it once was.” 

The hope of the believer is not in a Christian president who legislates Christian law. Our hope is Christ, His coming kingdom, and His commitment to make the wrong things right, judging the nations with righteousness and justice. More a full Senate or Congress America needs full prayer meetings, full altars, and more importantly hearts that filled with absolute love for Jesus.

The Church must set herself into the divine order of scripture as a witness to the nation’s, crying out day and night until the justice of the Lord is hastened and Jesus returns to the earth.

Life in the Millennium (Part 2)- The King

Any believer when asked would agree that Jesus is King. He is given the title King many times throughout scripture. I believe the Lord would call the corporate body of Christ to some understanding of what His Kingship entails. For while we  nobly attribute the title “King” to our Lord Christ, many times we fall short in seeing the manifold implications of this Kingship beyond our own hearts. Christ is ruling in our hearts (Col 3:15), yet if we only look to the here and now (salvation), we miss the majority of the prophetic millennial theme (Christ’s inheritance).  Here, we could shift into the various view concerning the nature of reign this King will execute, but I’m choosing to put that on hold for now and steer toward the beginnings of this Kingly mandate.

David, one of my favorite people in the bible, was given some of the most dramatic revelation concerning this King and His kingdom. What makes David’s Messianic revelation unique is that 1) The Messianic Seed would come though David’s own line; 2) David received his divine inspiration in the context of worship, song, and prayer; 3) David several times overheard heavenly conversations happening between the Father and Son; 4) Further, we see David as a “type” of Christ – involved in the affairs of both kingly and priestly offices (possibly he is one of the clearest pictures).

In Psalm 2:3 David is shown the age old sin of mankind- pride. The heartbeat of this pride promulgates the vow, “We do not want this man [Jesus]  to reign over us.” Man was given the authority of the earth and has turned that authority into greed and wicked ambition culminating not in atheism, as many think, but in war against Christ himself. Man’s audacious declaration of war against heaven receives laughing scorn from the One who sits on creation’s throne (2:4). The Lord will distress them in His wrath, not because He has forsaken His mercy, but because He has given them every reason to hate Him and they have zealously embraced the opportunity. He has exposed their hearts for what they truly are apart from His blessed salvation – wicked, lustful, and envious.

God’s plan of redemption starts not with blessing of the cross but with an eternal zeal to dwell with man forever. Only Almighty God could so faithfully and flawlessly orchestrate the events of human history, not violate the freewill of man, and redeem an innumerable company of saints that would witness His eternal glory forever. God knew that man would fail. The work of atonement was a revelation of the eternal humility and unconditional love of the Godhead, not a scrambling backup plan due to unforeseen human shortcomings. For this Lamb was, in divine nature, already slain before any man hung Him on a tree.

Messianic Mandate – Psalm 2:6

While man was sinful, selfish, and evil, the Son was sinless, selfless, and righteous – all the attributes necessary for ordering a kingdom in the likeness of the Father’s. He declares to these hardened men that He has chosen another and will set Him on the holy hill of Zion (2:6). David is a witness to Jesus being named “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”. Moreover, David is told that this King will rule from his throne forever:

2Sa 7:12-13 “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

Where is David’s throne? It is none other than in Zion – the city of David (1 Kings 8:1). Beloved saints, the throne of David is not in your heart or in mine. David did not sit on an spiritual throne in the hearts of people. His throne was located in the city of David, in Jerusalem, on the earth. Christ has been given this throne and is waiting to receive His inheritance (Heb. 10:12, 13). This Davidic covenant is the stigma to every king, nation, people of the earth because the message of the Messianic Kingdom is more than salvation from sin but invasion from heaven! Isaiah is shown God’s zeal that the word is sure:

Isa 9:7  Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

The angel re-affirmed this to Mary:

Luk 1:32, 33  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

The apostles gave testimony of the  Davidic covenant to show that Christ had indeed been resurrected – for the dead cannot inherit the living. The resurrection was a vital part of God’s covenant to David. (see also Acts 13:21-41)

Act 2:30  Therefore, {David} being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up {resurrect} the Christ to sit on his {David’s} throne,

Jesus will come again, fulfill the Messianic Mandate, sit on David’s throne, and rule the nations of the earth from Jerusalem with  uncompromising righteousness. Creation is groaning and waiting until this kingdom is established and restored. This King will answer every groan, every tear, every malcontent, every injustice, every wrong, every plea, and every cause. This King is what every man, both wicked and just, truly desire. All will come to the Desire of All Nations.

A Pause to Begin Something Old

I have a burden. I’m going to hit the pause button on the “Life in the Millennium” series I’ve started and interject a few thoughts I’ve been having. Because I can, there are no rules on the blog sphere world, and my readers consist of 3 people (whom I very much appreciate).

Anyone with a computer could tell you that we are seeing a resurgence of interest in the end-times. From blogs, twitter, and CNN, articles on the “end of the world” are popping up like Chinese carry-out restaurants in shopping malls. Believers all across the earth are beginning to respond to the trumpet alarm of Matthew 25:6 “Behold the Bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!”

Christianity, as with any religion, believes in an ultimate reckoning for mankind. This reckoning (called eschatology) will sum up all things, bring an end to evil, and usher in a glorious age where God will dwell with man as He originally intended.

Now we make a quite large, non-conformist, leap ahead to an event of considerable division – the Rapture. The revelation of the rapture is an odd thing because the rapture isn’t in the book of Revelation – yes, that did sound like Willy Wonka. In fact, the word “rapture” doesn’t appear in the inspired word of God. The meaning is derived from the Latin word “rapturo” meaning “caught up“. The rapture of the saints is an amazing revelation intended to instill hope in believers enduring persecution. The premier verse concerning the doctrine of the rapture, 1 Thess 4:14-18, was written to a church to whom Paul said a few verses prior, “[You] received the word in much affliction (1:5)…we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation…(3:4)” The believers in Thessalonica were undergoing significant persecution at the hands of both Jew and Gentile antagonists. Paul wrote them because he had concern for their faith lest his “labor [be] in vain” (3:5).  He was giving them a hope of the things to come. The doctrine of the rapture was meant to enable believers undergoing persecution to fix their eyes on their ultimate glory in Christ, not give them a false escapism mentality.

If one were to look at church history, specifically the early church, one would see that there wasn’t a message of escaping the onslaught of wicked adversity, but rather, the message was to stay strong in adversity. The early church fathers, the martyrs of the Reformation, and the modern day martyrs in China and the Middle Eastern nations all bear witness to the deception of the pre-tribulational doctrine. This doctrine understands neither the mercy of the Lord, nor His wrath, but rather misconstrues it into a false hope. On top of that, it reassures believers that the teacher is infallible and that the flock need not fret nor read their bibles. Corrie Ten Boom said in her letter addressing the rapture:

“In America, the churches sing, “Let the congregation escape tribulation”, but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners. Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation.”

Beloved saints, we have been hoodwinked, taken for the lethargic, prayerless Christians we are. Out of touch with our suffering brethern. Out of sync with the Holy Spirit. Closed to the teaching of the apostles and Christ. Useless to the kingdom of God. Susceptible to error. Instructed in comfort. Bred for deception. We are bent, but not broken. What will it take to awaken the church in America to the coming storm?

The Millennnial Kingdom

The millennial Kingdom is the most revealed prophetic theme in the Bible. It is the fulfillment of the hundreds of verses concerning the rule of Messiah from Jerusalem. If you’re only beginning your study of the millennial kingdom, I would suggest starting with Revelation 20-21 and Isaiah 2, & 11. Of course, there are many more vital passages, but sometimes the overwhelming amount of information is just that, overwhelming. This can make beginning the study of the Word difficult. It’s an odd thing that most believers desire to be students of the Word but they don’t know where to begin, and so after some frustration, most give up. So, the above mentioned passages are a great starting point.

I’ve found the two most helpful keys to interpretation of prophetic scripture to be-

1) literal, or “face value“, interpretation. This means that the reader understands that God’s word was meant to be understood in a plain sense without loads of hidden meaning (obviously there are exceptions to this). If it says it’s symbolic, it’s symbolic; if it doesn’t say it’s symbolic – the reader can assume that it’s meant to be taken literally. Many times in scripture the angel will tell the original author what the symbols mean (see Dan 7 and Rev 17). This method lets the interpretation become congruent between the most learned scholar and the beginning student. The bible was written for the below average person (i.e. “untrained and uneducated men” Acts 4:13).  If one must have a PHD in order to understand prophetic revelation – a serious error has occurred.

2.) Progressive revelation – this simply means that “revealed truth” throughout scripture builds upon itself, thereby revealing more and more truth throughout the following generations. Prophetic revelation “looks forward” not backward. For instance, if we interpret the reign of Jesus from Jerusalem in Isaiah 2 first; and then interpret the saints sitting on thrones in  Rev. 20 – it is understood that saints will reign on the earth with Jesus. However, if use regressive revelation we would find that Jerusalem  and Jesus ruling on earth are not specifically mentioned in Revelation 20. Therefore, one could deduce that Isaiah was only speaking of symbolic rule of Christ during the first century church and in the hearts of men. This is a serious error and causes not just 1 or 2 OT passages to loose their significance but 10’s of passages suddenly become volumes of misconstrued symbolism that have little to no future relevance. Many, through a poor interpretation of Heb. 8:13,  attempt to discredit the Old Testament by saying it has “passed away”. To be clear, the Old Testament is not equivalent to the Mosaic Covenant. The revealed truth of the NT does not eliminate the truth of the old. Even justification by faith was not a completely new idea to the first Jewish believers in the church (see Gen. 15:6, Rom 4:1-5). The OT is the inspired word of God and works with the NT in harmony to reveal the eternal plans of God to redeem mankind and dwell with him forever. Jesus and the inspired writers of the New Testament did not use this method of regressive revelation to interpret scripture and reveal more truth. They built upon (looking forward) the understanding of the OT teachings of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms.

The Jews, that made up the majority of the initial church, had somewhat of an advantage over their fellow Gentile brothers who were coming in to “the Way” (Christianity) quite rapidly. A Jewish man or woman of that day would be quite familiar with the teachings of Moses, the psalms, Daniel, or Isaiah. More specifically, they would be well versed in OT covenants namely, the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants – which to the dismay of many, still retain significant future fulfillment. I believe this is one of the reasons that there were no Gentile authors of the inspired New Testament books. God used men who were going to build upon the revealed truth in the OT to establish the New Covenant (justification- grace through faith) and add to the revelation of the Second Coming and establishment of the Messianic Kingdom – namely through the book of Revelation.

In conclusion, we must, as students of the word, dilegently pour over the prophetic passages related to the end-times. We must take God “at His word” and not seek to “force” our interpretation upon the inspiration of scripture, but rather, let the scriptures speak for themselves and adjust our interpretation accordingly.

A Recent Disscussion

I was recently conversing with an amillennialist concerning the nature of Matthew 25 and its placement in the scheme of the end of days. Amillinnelaists, for those new to end time study, deny a future, earthly, 1000 year reign of Christ. The term derives from A– meaning “no” and millenia – meaning 1000. Simply, the amillenialist believes that we are currently living in a symbolic 1000 year reign where believers are “now” reigning with Christ in fullness, Satan was bound at the cross and is currently bound; and the Second Advent will complete, rather than inaugurate, the Kingdom of God.

My point of this post isn’t to present the strengths and weaknesses of this view. Rather, it is to convey something that came to me through this discussion.

Our conversation focused around the subject of “millennial humans” surviving the tribulation, not being raptured at the Second Coming, not being consumed by the wrath of God, and finally going on repopulate the earth under the leadership of Jesus. I of course the proponent of this view and he, denying the idea.

Our focus was the beautiful text of Matthew 25:31-46

Mat 25:31  But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory:
Mat 25:32  and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;
Mat 25:33  and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Mat 25:34  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Here we find a) Jesus coming and sitting on His throne of glory b) the gathering of all the nations who have survived the tribulation c) a court case taking place that separates sheep (believers) from goats (unbelievers).

His point was that if the sheep are believers, who inherit eternal life, and the goats are unbelievers, who are sent away to eternal punishment – where are the third group of humans who are neither saved or sent to punishment? It is this third group of humans that I believe to repopulate the millennial earth under Jesus’ leadership as King of the nations.

The wording used in vrs 31 denotes that this court case occurs  right after Jesus is seated on His throne of glory. My view, that there were indeed humans that survived the tribulation and went on into the millennium retaining their human state, forced me to place this event at the end of the millennium; to which end, ashamed to say, I sought to persuade my comrade.

I was sure that Isaiah 4, 10, 11, 65, 66, Joel 2, Zech 12, 14 made it strikingly clear that there was a “remnant” of humanity left after the terror of the tribulation. Jesus said himself that, “unless those days (refering to the tribulation) were shortened, no flesh would be saved.(see Mt. 24:22)” Why would Jesus want flesh to be  saved if the end of the tribulation resulted in the final eternal redemption and destruction of humanity?

Yet, this Matthew passage had me confused. Why were there only 2 groups being mentioned and where were those who didn’t take the mark of beast nor receive salvation and get raptured with the rest of the saints?

An idea came to me this morning. What if the groups mentioned in Matt. 25:31-46 are not composed of believers at all. Rather, when all the nations are gathered, present are humans who have not sealed their fate by taking the mark of the beast (we’ll call these the reprobate), nor have they been raptured because they have not received salvation – we’ll call these the resistors. The other group would be those who have taken the mark of the beast but were not killed in the tribulational judgments nor at the battle of Armageddon.

So, the sheep are those resistors who deciede to received salvation by confessing that Jesus is, in fact, Lord. And the goats are resitors and the reprobate who deny the cross of Christ (cf Is. 24:21, 22). Therefore, Matt. 25:31-46 is at the beginning of the millennium and the saints do not make up any of the 2 groups who are judged.