VOL. 5 NO. 1 © 1996INTERNET EDITION
IN THIS ISSUE:
The Feast of Tabernacles
Re-establishing The Sanhedrin
South Florida Feast Report
1995 Big Ridge, Tennessee Feast of Tabernacles
Editorial - The Church Is Under Siege
Are You a Saint?
THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES SEPT 29 THRU OCT 6, 1996
by Mark Carr
We urge all of you to join us for eight days of worship and fellowship. This year there are two beautiful sites in Florida to pick from. Arrangements have been made to hold the Feast in Panama City Beach, Florida, AND Lake Worth, Florida. Both are attractive settings in which to keep God's Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day. Please make your reservations TODAY and let us know you are coming.
Observing the Feast of Tabernacles is an important spiritual event. Many other denominations recognize the importance of spending a week living in a temporary dwelling worshiping God. However, no amount of camp meetings, etc., can replace the eight days of exclusive worship that God commands us to observe at the time that He sanctifies. Only God can create "Holy Time". If we are faithful and obey His commandments, He will bless us spiritually. Please come and recharge your "spiritual batteries". The best way to do this is worship, relaxation and fellowship at the Feast of Tabernacles.
We must never forget that the Feast is a sacred celebration that God has given us as a gift. He has commanded us to set aside a small portion of our wages each week so that in the fall we can spend eight days with our family and friends worshiping Him. No debt, no worries and no pressure. To assure our enjoyment, He commands us to take the money that we save and "buy whatever our heart desires" (Deu 14:26). What a great and awesome God we have! Why would anyone refuse to obey Him?
PANAMA CITY BEACH
To observe this sacred Festival we have reserved the meeting room at Horizon South II. We have met here in the past and it has worked out well. Saturday night, September 28, at 7:30-9:30 PM, is hospitality night with coffee and cookies. There will also be a meeting for everyone planning to speak this year. If you have a sermon or a sermonette prepared, please make every effort to attend.
Remember to bring your musical instruments for song services, special music and the fun show. Ideas and volunteers are needed for special events to be held each afternoon and evening. If your children are planning to participate in the children's services, please contact Mary Carr or Linda LeWallen at P.O. Box 70635, Knoxville, TN 37918, A.S.A.P. so supplies can be ordered.
With sunshine an average of 359 days a year and reasonably priced attractions too numerous to list, we can look forward to having a great time this year. The address for the meeting room and accomodations is listed below.
HORIZON SOUTH II Condominiums, 17462 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach, FL 32413, phone 1-800-334-4010. Because most of us will be staying here, we will receive a 20% discount on rates. There are 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units available. These units are very nice and were not damaged by the storm last year. Make your reservations with Cindy and tell her you are with United Biblical Churches of God for your discounted rate.
If anyone has announcements or sermons they wish to give at Panama City Beach, please contact Charles Kimbrough @ (904) 382-0877, or Mark Carr @ (423) 922-5420.
For those of you who choose south Florida, Neville Gilbert and the Lake Worth Church will be observing the Feast in Lake Worth again. They are a loving and caring group who welcome everyone. Give this site serious consideration, for more information, call Neville at (407) 585-4580.
RE-ESTABLISHING THE SANHEDRIN
by Mark Carr
On Friday, March 1, 1996, a committee of rabbis led by Eliyahu Shatz, Shlomo Levin, Moshe Antelman and Kotzra'el Meir formally called for the establishment of the full sanhedrian court.
The committee will expand to 81 members and then hold elections for officers of the sanhedrin. The rabbis involved are Orthodox and Lubavitcher. They are planning to unite in this effort that will establish a rabbinic court with broad halachic and civil powers. The address for this committee is P.O. Box 50502, Jerusalem.
When CNN and the other news agencies failed to report this event, I contacted a rabbi in Knoxville and asked his opinion on the effect it would have in Israel. I was told that these were "religious fanatics" who didn't have the authority to do this. This could explain why the media has remained silent.
What kind of person does God deal with? Did Pharaoh consider Moses a religious fanatic? Do you think people warned their children to stay away from Noah when he was building the ark because they thought he was a fanatic? What would you call someone like Isaiah or Ezekiel if they showed up today? Was Jesus a religious fanatic? If the world does not consider you a religious fanatic, I would suggest you are not serving God properly.
Isaiah 1:26 says, "I will restore your judges as in days of old, your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City." Is this the next step in the process of rebuilding the Temple? If the religious fanatics don't re-establish the Sanhedrin who will? I wouldn't expect Peres to stand up and say he was dismantling the current government; he is a politician!
What effect will the establishment of the sanhedrin have? First, they will go back to holding court every month and re-institute the Biblical calendar. They will also want input into the "piece plan" (and no we didn't spell it wrong). I, for one, am watching to see where this will go. As Christians, the sanhedrin will have no authority over us. As Bible students, it is another step towards the rebuilding of the temple and Jesus' return.
SOUTH FLORIDA FEAST REPORT
by Neville Gilbert
Weatherwise, the '95 South Florida F.O.T. was certainly unusual. It rained, rained and rained. This was caused by a spinoff from Hurricane Roxanne. However, all services were held as scheduled. One individual was heard to say, "the rain seemed to stop when we arrived for and left services." We thank God for the absence of hurricane winds, and also that no serious illness or accidents occurred among the people attending.
We were blessed with inspiring sermons by Richard Shuta from California, Herb Solinski and Joe Jones from Texas; Thad Miller from North Carolina; Dr. Robert Hunt from Georgia/Florida; and Neville Gilbert from Florida.
We were admonished to remain strong in the faith; and strive to become better servants of God every day, week, month and year of our lives. We were encouraged not to become discouraged because of being small in number, as the Bible indicates that fewer and fewer people will seek to please and obey our Great Creator as the end-time approaches.
Thanks be to God for all His people who are striving to serve and obey Him. And thanks to all who came to share the Feast with us.
1995 BIG RIDGE, TENNESSEE AN OLD FASHIONED FEAST
by Mark Carr
In 1995 we had a new Feast site at Big Ridge State Park just north of Knoxville, Tennessee. This celebration to God began on Tuesday evening, October 10 at sundown. We reserved the group camp for our exclusive use. As we gathered at the lodge that evening the sun was setting and the moon was rising on the beautiful Tennessee mountains.
The group camp was a short walk from Norris Lake, one of the cleanest bodies of water in Tennessee. It is surrounded by the tabernacles (temporary dwellings) we stayed in for eight days and nights. The peaceful nights, sunny days and beautiful scenery brought us closer to the Creator that gives us this holy convocation. Away from televisions, radios and telephones we spent the next eight days with our families and friends worshipping God and looking forward to the world tomorrow when His Son returns and establishes His kingdom. The theme for the Feast was, "TO BE LIKE JESUS".
In the mornings we woke with the birds singing and the squirrels playing in the trees. After a brisk walk to the lodge we had the first of our communal meals. After breakfast, we fellowshiped until services began. Then we enjoyed lunch together. The afternoons were spent taking walks, naps, Bible studies, singing, sight seeing, hiking, fishing, with trips to the surrounding tourist attractions. In the evening we gathered for supper and more fellowship that featured Bible studies, sing alongs and a fun show.
Everyone pitched in and worked hard to make this Feast successful, but we should all thank God for blessing the Morgan family with the experience they possess in feeding a small army of God's people. They worked hard and gave many hours of support so we could all enjoy this celebration.
This site was different than what we have been used to the last few years. Most Feast sites are in large cities with lodging in condominiums or motels with all the distractions that man can devise. Big Ridge was a place where the surroundings testified to the power and majesty of our creator. A place just next to Bethel, between the mountains. We experienced an old fashioned spiritual revival where God communicated with and strengthened us.
In 1995 we were able to observe the Feast in a surrounding similar to what the early Church observed. This was a fantastic opportunity for all the brethren to dwell together in unity and experience a taste of what the millennium will be like.
God gave us eight days to worship Him and enjoy ourselves. He gives us this festival away from the world for family time, time for rest and other pursuits, but most important, time for God. That is the reason we went there. God commanded His people to observe the Feast so they would remember the forty years they dwelt in tabernacles or booths (Lev 23:42-43). Why? To teach them that their lives and possessions were temporary and that they would never enter the promised land without faith and trust in Him. Do you suppose that message still applies to us today? Are you looking forward to entering the promised land with Jesus? Are you willing to turn your life over to God? Do you trust and have faith in Him? Every year we hear sermons comparing the Feast with the millennium; last year we observed a Feast that pictured the millennium.
by Charles Kimbrough
THE CHURCH IS UNDER SIEGE WITH DECEPTION AND LAWLESSNESS
We are living in the last generation before the return of Jesus, the Christ. The Church is under siege by Satan and his fallen angels (demons). They are mad! They know their time is short and their whole goal is to tear the Church of God to pieces; to get them to abandon their long held beliefs and start fighting among themselves. The objective is to divide and conquer, and on the surface he appears to be succeeding. Almost fifty percent of the Church has abandoned long held beliefs. This group has done away with God's laws and have embraced a belief that you just accept the name of Jesus and then you are saved; THAT YOU HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO DO! Another group is self-destructing because of lawlessness (SIN) and is washing their dirty linen before the world. To all those who are purchasing tapes of a man's sin, SHAME ON YOU!
WHO IS TO BLAME?
Rev 12:9-10, "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the DEVIL and SATAN, WHO DECEIVES THE WHOLE WORLD; HE WAS CAST TO THE EARTH, AND HIS ANGELS WERE CAST OUT WITH HIM. It is Satan who is the accuser of the brethren but he works through people. Satan and his cohorts are attacking the Church, first through the leadership, then with each individual member. They have been very effective in the assault on the leaders. Change the leaders, then change the message. IT IS THE MESSAGE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE RULE OF JESUS THE CHRIST THAT HE WANTS TO STOP. There is a WAR going on over whether we will follow JESUS or SATAN, and whether God's message will continue to go out.
Satan's whole sales pitch is deception. He attacks our weaknesses, then lets the whole world see our failures. He accuses the brethren before God, then exposes their sins to others for only one reason, TO DIVIDE THE CHURCH. Why can't the Church handle its own problems? Why can't the Church see the real enemy and unite against him and his cohorts instead of finding fault amongst ourselves? Why point out someone else's sins instead of forgiving and continuing on with the message that Jesus gave in Matthew 24:45. Jesus said, "Take heed that no man deceive you by any means, for many will come in My name saying I am the Christ." Preaching about Jesus, but not giving the message that Jesus brought from the Father. They will preach about Jesus, calling him "Lord, Lord" but will not do as He said (Luke 6:46).
The apostle Paul referred to a time when lawlessness would abound, and a great falling away would happen (2 Thes 2:3). "Let no man deceive you by any means." For the Christ would not return until a GREAT falling away comes first, FALLING AWAY FROM THE TRUTH.
WHAT IS TRUTH?
To answer that question, we need to look at what is called Christianity and compare it to what Jesus and the apostles taught. The very first warning from Jesus was "Think not that I came to change the law (Torah, the 5 books of Moses) or the prophets (talking about the prophets and writings, Psalms & Proverbs). What do so-called scholars do? They change the law by saying it was nailed to the cross. This is the first step a DECEIVER takes; do away with the entire Old Testament. It is re-defining sin and changing the meaning of real Christianity.
Why did Jesus Christ say, "Why do you call me `Lord, Lord' and do not the things I say?" (Luke 6:46). "Not everyone that says to me `Lord, Lord' shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven but he that does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that Day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, have cast out demons in your name and done many wonderful works." THEY APPEAR TO BE ANGELS OF LIGHT, but appearances can be deceptive. They are preaching about Christ but they are not living His way of life. Then Christ will profess, "I never knew you. Depart from me you that teach and live lawlessness," not living by every word out of the mouth of God. Jesus makes it very plain that the way to eternal life is STRAIGHT AND NARROW and FEW THERE BE that find it, but BROAD is the road that leads to destruction (Mat 7:13-14). Christianity is a WAY of life.
The Last Generation
As we finish this article about the troubles in the Church, the peace process in the Mideast has suffered an apparent setback. Several suicide bombings have occurred in Israel. Many deaths have occurred; the Jews have threatened to break off the peace process unless the bombings are stopped. President Clinton has called for a Mideast conference on the terrorist bombing threats. He will be in Jerusalem tomorrow, Wednesday, March 13, to chair a conference at Sharm El-sheikh. It would appear that the President is determined this election year to solve the Arab-Israeli peace effort. We know that the Jews are going to declare PEACE AND SAFETY before destruction comes on them all. All of this is to happen before the return of our Savior. The Jews cannot start their sacrifices again until at least the Holy of Holys has been rebuilt, all of which was prophesied to happen in Daniel chapters 9 thru 12. It will be built in troublesome times.
We have all known that we need a leader to step up and lead a coalition of nations to bring about a man-made peace that will lead to the man of sin going to Jerusalem and then declare himself God. He will appear to be the savior, he will look to most of the world as if he is the Christ, BUT ONLY the elect will know the truth. ONLY the elect will not be deceived (Mat 24:24). We are now down to the final years before the return of Jesus the Messiah. Waiting for the man of Sin to bring about a man-made peace and then World War III and the time of Jacob's trouble. Mat 24:21-22, "for then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved [alive], but for the elect sake those days will be shortened."
The scripture says that 50 percent of the Church will be asleep when Christ returns and will not be in the Kingdom of God (Mat 25:1-12). Jesus said in Matt 24:13, "But he who endures to the end shall be saved." There is more to being a Christian than just believing it is a life of overcoming, a life of walking in the footsteps of Jesus. It is a life of walking the walk and living by every word out of the mouth of God, The Holy Scriptures. WAKE UP CHURCH! JESUS' RETURN IS AT HAND. IT IS TIME TO GET OUR ACT TOGETHER!
ARE YOU A SAINT?
by Jim Moffis
Have you ever asked yourself, "Am I really a saint?" or "Should I even refer to myself as a saint?" If someone were to ask you if you are a saint, what would your answer be? I think so? I hope so? I guess so? Or Maybe, I don't know?
If someone asked us if we're Christian, we don't hesitate to answer yes, so why should we hesitate when asked if we're a Saint? Is it because we somehow feel unworthy or unqualified to wear the title of a Saint? Just what is the definition of a saint?
Let me give you the World Book Encyclopedia definition of a saint and you decide if you qualify for sainthood: "A saint is a holy person who becomes a religious hero by exemplifying a virtue or virtues of his or her religion", (are you a religious hero?) The followers of a religion regard its saints as unusually blessed. They believe saints are able to give special blessings and to exercise certain super-human powers (how many of us have super-human powers?)....all the world's major religions revere saints, but in different ways. Some religions have a formal procedure for officially granting sainthood to certain people. Other religions do not formally recognize saints, but they have religious practices that honor holy persons.
Many persons achieve sainthood because they played a major role in the history of their religion or symbolize a traditional feature of it. For example, Paul converted to Christianity from another religion and became a great missionary who sought other converts. Some saints are martyrs who died for a holy cause. Many Christians who died rather than give up their faith during early Christianity are now considered saints."
The World Book Encyclopedia also went on to give the Catholic version of a saint. "To become a saint in the Catholic church, the person must be dead and must have performed at least two verifiable miracles in his lifetime."
Now, based on the World Book Encyclopedia definition of a saint, how many still think you are a saint? Is the definition of a saint given by this source true? Are all saints dead religious heroes or martyrs or people with certain super-human powers? How often have you heard this expression, usually spoken in a sarcastic manner, "My, aren't you a saint!," or sometimes, referring to a kind and generous person, "He (or she) is a real saint." Some people believe that all saints are angels and do not include human beings at all. Are they correct? If so, why wouldn't Paul write letters to angels such as in the New Testament book of Ephesians and Colossians where he starts each letter with the words...."to the saints" which are in Ephesus or Colossae? What about Romans 15:26 where Paul refers to a certain contribution for the "poor saints which are at Jerusalem"? Were these poor angels? Of course not.
Let's see if we can determine what a saint truly is and see if we qualify for sainthood. The word "saint" comes from the Latin word "sanctus" meaning a holy one. This is our first clue. When you look up the word "saint"in Strong's Concordance, you discover that it is #40 (Greek) which means sacred, pure, blameless, consecrated and holy. When you look up the word "Holy," it too is #40 (Greek) with the exact meaning as "saint." So a saint is a holy person and a holy person is a saint.
In order to learn more about saints and sainthood, it becomes necessary to investigate further into the root word "sanctus." The nearest word to this in the New Testament is "sanctify." When the word sanctify is looked up in Strong's Concordance, it is #37 from #40, which means to make holy, purify or consecrated.
So we see that all three words, saint, holy, and sanctify mean essentially the same thing. Therefore, a saint must be a person who has been made holy through a purification process called "sanctification." Not only is this person sanctified, but he or she is also consecrated, i.e. purified and made holy for a special purpose. Remember, in the Old Testament Aaron and his sons were consecrated for a holy or special purpose (Exo 29:9). This special purpose was the priesthood (Exo 40:15).
How was this sanctification process all brought about? This process was started thousands of years ago. In Exodus 13, beginning in verse 1, we read, "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, (vs 2), Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine."
Now notice verse 12 of the same chapter. "That thou shalt set apart unto thee Lord all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the Lord's." Notice, the Lord is doing the speaking here, not Moses. This command goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. Remember, righteous Abel offered the firstlings of his flock in Gen 4, which was pleasing to God. I believe this is the reason why Abraham did not hesitate when God told him to offer his only legitimate son, Isaac, as a burnt offering.
We all know the story of Isaac, "We have the fire and wood, but where is the lamb?" (Gen 22:7). Isaac was familiar with animal sacrifices. Abraham told him, "God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering."
We're all familiar with the remainder of the story, how Abraham was about to take his knife and slay his son when an angel intervened and stopped him. Shortly thereafter, Abraham noticed a ram caught in a thicket by his horns so he offered the ram as a burnt offering instead of his son. God did provide the animal for the offering.
Now read Exodus 13:13: "And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb, and if thou will not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck...." Why? Why kill the ass or donkey if it couldn't be redeemed or bought back? Because it is an unclean animal, unsuitable for human consumption in God's sight. God didn't want it. Now notice the last part of verse 13 "....and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem. In Numbers 3, it relates how the parents were to give a certain amount of money to the priest in order to redeem or buy back their firstborn sons.
Verse 14 of Exodus 13 says, "and it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, `What is this?' that thou shalt say unto him, `By strength of hand the Lord brought us out from Egypt (representing sin) from the house of bondage;" verse 15, "and it came to pass when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the lord slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem."
The people of Egypt paid a terrible price in order that God's people might be set free, and in Numbers 3:12-13, we read how all the firstborn of the Israelites were redeemed after having been set free of Egyptian bondage. "And I (the Lord) behold I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel; therefore the Levites shall be mine. Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed (set apart) unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be. I am the Lord." So the tribe of Levi was dedicated to the Lord for the tabernacle and later on for the Temple service.
This is how the sanctification and redeeming process was accomplished under the old covenant. What about today? We must remember, Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Old Testament, tells us in Mal. 3:6, that He never changes and in Hebrews 13:8, we read that He is the "same yesterday and today and forever." Therefore, this sanctifying process and redeeming plan must still be in effect today.
But you might say, I wasn't the firstborn in my family, where does that leave me?" Well, I was the firstborn son in my family, but the only money my parents paid out was to the doctor who delivered me. Let's see what the Bible has to say about this subject. I'm sure we all want to know if we're sanctified and if we can truly refer to ourselves as being a saint.
We've all sinned and Isaiah 59:2 tells us that our sins have separated us from God. In other words, our sins have made us unclean in His sight and unless we are purified or sanctified through a redeeming process as in the Old Testament, then we, like the unclean donkey must be put to death, eternal death.
In 1 Thes 4:7 we read, "God has not called us into uncleanness, but unto holiness." Remember, the word holy = saint, therefore, holiness= sainthood. God has called us for sainthood! God has called us for purification, sanctification, to be set apart for a holy purpose! We have been consecrated for a special purpose!
James 1:18 says, "of His (God's) own will begat He us with the word of truth that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." Firstfruits, firstlings, or firstborn, all mean the same thing, so we are to be firstfruits and the word of truth or God's word plays an important role in this sanctification process.
In Rev l4:4, referring to the 144,000 in the last part of the verse, we read, "These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." The 144,000 were purchased from among men as a firstfruit offering unto God and the Lamb. Notice the word "Lamb." What was the ass or donkey in the Old Testament supposed to be redeemed with?... a lamb! What did John the Baptist proclaim in John 1:29 when he saw Jesus coming to be baptized? "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world."
Are we beginning to get the picture? God begets us by His word of truth that we might be a kind of firstfruits (Jesus stated in John 17:17, "Sanctify them by Thy truth, Thy word is truth"). We look into God's word, we see what sin is, (sin is the transgression of the law, 1 John 3:4), we repent, we want to change, we start obeying God, we want to be a sacrifice of the firstborn, but we are unclean because of our past sins...we need a Lamb to redeem us.
This is where Christ comes in. The apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:18, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold, from your vain conversation (behavior) received by tradition from your fathers, vs 19, "But with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot." Now notice verse 22. "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: (vs 23), Being born again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." God's word is the truth!
There it is in a nutshell; we are sanctified or purified by the word of truth and washed clean and purchased by the blood of the Lamb (Christ), then we are symbolically born again as firstlings or firstfruits. We belong to God, we are His property, we're His little children. If we truly belong to God, then we are holy... we are saints. We don't have to perform any great miracles, we don't have to be a great religious leader, we don't have to be long dead and in our graves, but we do have to be dead from our old sinful past being buried with Christ in baptism and washed clean by His pure precious blood.
Yes, we were all once unclean and like the ass or donkey of the Old Testament, we all deserve eternal death, but Christ paid that death penalty for us. Sure we're all going to die unless we are alive when Jesus Christ returns, but He paid the second death penalty, that penalty being eternal death.
People die horrible deaths every day in fires, auto accidents, cancer, etc., but nothing like Jesus went through for us. Sure His death was very painful and agonizing, but the worst part was being totally separated from God. Jesus took all our sins to the cross with Him, and since God hates sin, He turned His back on His own son as He hung on that stake. Christ realized His father, His constant companion, His source of comfort and strength wasn't there when He needed Him the most. What a lonely, desolate feeling Christ must have experienced, causing Him to cry out..."My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
The second death is going to be such a death--a slow, painful, agonizing, burning type, totally separated from God and all the holy saints. We're all familiar with the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16). How he begged for Lazarus to come and put some cooling water on his tongue, but remember he was told that there was a great gulf between him and Lazarus (the saved). In other words, he was totally separated from God and His holy people, the saints.
This is what we all deserve, but God, out of His great love for mankind, has worked out this great plan through His only son, Jesus Christ, whereby we all may be redeemed and become the firstborn of God. As the firstborn or firstfruits, we are all going to be partakers of the birthright or a special inheritance afforded only the firstborn, or in this case, the saints.
The Old Testament gives us several examples of individuals who obtained a better blessing or inheritance due to the fact that they were the firstborn or somehow took the place of the firstborn as in the lives of Jacob and Esau. This was usually a double portion of the inheritance.
What is our inheritance as saints? 1st Peter 1:4 tells us that this inheritance is reserved in heaven for us right now. Col 3:24 calls this inheritance a reward. The apostle Paul has this to say in 2 Tim 4:8. "Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." We read in 1 Peter 5:4 "And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."
So we see that the reward of the saints is a crown; and what does a crown signify? Doesn't a crown signify rulership? Are we as saints going to rule? Yes we are! The Lord tells us in Rev 3:21, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my father in His throne" Rev 5:10 "and has made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." 1 Cor 6:22 tells us that the saints shall judge the world, and in Mat 5:5, Christ in His sermon on the mount stated, "Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth."
This is our birthright, this is our inheritance as joint heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17), a place of rulership right here on earth with Him in His Kingdom. 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."
Brethren, one of the greatest events in all eternity is going to take place before very long, and you and I, if we hold fast, are going to be a part of it. Jesus Christ is coming back to this Earth! He's not going to quietly return and hide out in the desert someplace or in the back room of some building or shrine. Oh no. Our Heavenly Father is going to put on one of the most powerful heavenly displays that the human eye or all the heavenly host has ever witnessed. Jesus Christ is coming with all power and all glory and you and I are going to be right there with Him!
Jude, vs 14 tells us the Lord is coming with ten thousands of His saints, and 1 Thes 3:13 states that he is coming with all his saints. That includes us, we belong to Him; he redeemed or bought us with his blood.
I used to think that the second coming of Christ would be over in a flash like a bolt of lightning. I've changed my mind. I now think it will be over a period of days. I believe the Lord may remove his people before he pours out His final wrath and fury. When the disciples asked where, he replied "Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together."
Didn't the Lord tell the children of Israel through his servant Moses, after their deliverance from Egyptian bondage in Exo 19:4, "... how I (the Lord) bare you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself." And verse 6, "Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." (Remember Rev 5:10, we are to be kings and priests and reign on the earth.)
The Lord is about to intervene and deliver his people once again. He is about to harvest his firstfruits. Christ tells us in Matt 13:39 that the harvest is the end of the world (this age) and the reapers are the angels. Mat 24:31, "and He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." This is the seventh and final trumpet.
Now turn over to Rev 14 beginning with verse 14, "And I looked and behold a white cloud and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle." (The Lord is making his appearance in the clouds just as he tells us in His word. Compare Luke 17:30, Mat 4:30, Mat 26:64, 1 Thes 4:17 and Rev 1:7) Verse 15, "And another angel came out of the temple crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, 'Thrust in thy sickle and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe." Verse 16,"And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth and the earth was reaped."
Farmers don't reap or harvest weeds. I was reared on a farm most of my life, and we never went out and mowed, raked, or baled a crop of ragweed or any other type of weed. No, we harvested the good crop. This angel doing the reaping represents righteousness, he represents Christ himself; he is reaping the good crop, the very elect, the firstfruit--the saints. Verse 17, "and another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle." For what purpose? vs 18, "and another angel came out of the altar, which had power over fire (what does fire represent? judgment and justice) and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe." Notice it says the vine of the earth, not the fruit of the true vine, Jesus Christ. What happens to those grapes from the earthly vine? Verse 19, "and the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God" vs 20,"And the winepress was trodden without the city, and the blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and an hundred furlongs." This is God's wrath which is going to be poured out at the close of this age.
Where are the saints going to be when the vials of God's wrath are going to be poured out? Look at Rev 15, verse 1 through 4, "And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, "Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou king of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only are holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are manifest."
Brethren, the saints are going to be on that sea of glass. Why did John use this expression? Because wherever it is, it is going to be transparent. The saints are going to be able to look down past their feet and witness all these terrible events produced by the seven last plagues. They're going to sing that song of Moses just as the children of Israel did on the banks of the Red Sea, after seeing how the Lord destroyed Pharaoh's army. Read closely the account of this event in the last few verses of Exodus 14 and the first 21 verses of Exodus 15. Note Exo 15:13 in particular, "Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation." This verse has a great prophetic meaning. Compare it with Rev 19:1, "And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven saying, Alleluia, Salvation and glory and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God." Here are people in heaven, God's holy habitation. These are the redeemed as the children of Israel in Exo 15:13, who have been guided into the holy habitation.
What's going to take place now? Drop down to Rev 19:5-9, "And a voice came of the throne saying, Praise our God all ye his servants, and ye that fear Him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, `Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice and give honor to Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come and his bride hath made herself ready'. "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And He sayeth unto me write, Blessed are they which are called into the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he sayeth unto me, These are the true sayings of God."
What happens at a wedding? Doesn't the bride and groom become one? Didn't Christ pray in John 17 for our sanctification, that we all might become as one with him just as he and His father are one? In verse 19, Christ stated that he had sanctified himself for our sakes, that we also might be sanctified through the truth (the word of God). Christ wants us as his saints, the firstfruits set apart for a holy purpose.
Brethren, this should be our only goal in this life--trying with all our might to be found worthy to enter into the marriage supper of the Lamb as saints of the most high God.
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