Feast of Tabernacles

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Meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles

Great White Throne Judgement

The Feast of Tabernacles pictures the spiritual growing season prior to the second harvest of mankind into the family of God. This is the hundred year judgement period when all those in the second resurrection are living under the direct rule of God through Christ.

Article Updated: 12 Sep 2015

See Calendar for Festival Date

 

Previous Article:   Meaning of the Day of Atonement

 

Feast of Tabernacles Sermon Transcripts

What is the Plan of Salvation and to Whom does it Apply?

We Are A Royal Priesthood

TABLE   OF   CONTENTS

 

 

Command and Purpose of the Feast of Tabernacles

Who Will Be Judged?

 

The Millennium Myth

    Those of the Millennium

 

Symbolism of the Late Wheat Season

    The Previously Uncalled of Humanity

 

When Will the Testing (Judging) Take Place?

    Previously Called, But Not Chosen for the First Ascension

 

First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles – A Sabbath

Prophecy and the Parables

 

Living in Temporary Shelters Today

Many Predestined to Fail

 

All Seven Days of the Feast Of Tabernacles

What It Means To Be Approved

 

Late Wheat Season 100 Years Long

God’s Two Questions

 

Late Wheat Season a Time of Joy

Who Will Be Doing the Judging?

 

 

Hope for the Fallen Angels (Demons)

 

The function of the annual Holy Day Festivals is to remind us of God’s plan of salvation for mankind. For the purpose of being reminders, of the different stages in the plan of salvation, God has chosen the early and late wheat seasons of the Middle East in which to place these annual Holy Days. While the growing periods of the wheat season depict the times of testing, or opportunity to live God’s way of life, the reaping times (harvest seasons) depict the final saving event or ascension at the end of the growing seasons. For the vast majority of mankind the opportunity to live God's way will not be offered until after the resurrection at the end of the Millennium this will be a resurrection to physical life. Only after this opportunity is offered will people be in a position to make a decision regarding which way of life they prefer – God's way or their way. For the people in the late wheat growing season this opportunity to experience God's way and choose to adopt that way is pictured by the Feast of Tabernacles. This time and opportunity is also known as the Great White Throne judgement.

 

 

Command and Purpose Of the Feast of Tabernacles

 

The principal commands for observance of the Feast of Tabernacles are found in Lev 23:34 and Lev 23:42:

Lev 23:34

“…‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying: The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD’…” [NKJV]

Lev 23:42

“…‘Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths:…” [KJV]

 

The purpose of the Feast of Tabernacles is that it be a memorial of the time God caused Israel to dwell in booths:

Lev 23:43

“…That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.’…” [KJV]

 

This was the time of wilderness wandering, for ancient Israel, with God as literal ruler over the nation. The timing depicted by the Feast of Tabernacles is AFTER Israel is freed from Egypt, but before entry into the Promised Land. Anciently, it was to remind the people that their time of wilderness wandering – of dwelling in booths – was a temporary existence prior to entering their permanent home of the Promised Land. For those who will later become part of spiritual Israel it is a reminder that physical existence is only a temporary time of testing and the real life to come is one of immortality as a spirit being in the family of God.

 

To understand the relevance of the symbolism provided here, it must be remembered that the Feast of Tabernacles represents the growing period for the late wheat  season, which begins after the second resurrection at the end (after) the Millennium. This season is also known as the great white throne judgement day – and symbolizes the time when the vast majority of humanity will receive their first opportunity for salvation. It is the time when they will have the opportunity to decide (after having experienced a lifetime in a world ruled by Satan) whether or not they wish to live God’s way of life.

 

Concurrent with mankind being given the opportunity to choose which way to live during this time, God will be testing this large portion of mankind just as He tested the ancient Israelites during their time of wandering and living in temporary dwellings. The Feast of Tabernacles is a seven day festival picturing life under the rule of God – which corresponds with a similar seven day festival, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, allotted to the Saints for the purpose of representing the time of testing and spiritual growth during the "early wheat  season".

 

Thus, the time of testing/judgement for the Saints was depicted by the Feast of Unleavened Bread (a seven day festival commencing on the fifteenth day of the first month), while the time of judgement for the rest of humanity is depicted by the Feast of Tabernacles (a seven day festival commencing on the fifteenth day of the seventh month). The Feast of Tabernacles has to do with the time of spiritual testing while people are still human it does NOT picture the Kingdom of God when, all testing is over and mankind has entered the spiritual promised land. The time Israel dwelt in booths was the 40 year season of testing/proving used by God to, “…test you in order to know what was in your heart…” (Deut 8:2), which is NOT a picture of the Kingdom of God or the Millennium (a time when all nations, including animals will be dwelling in physical peace).

 

 

SYMBOLISM OF The LATE WHEAT SEASON

 

God’s plan of salvation is in two stages, depicted by the early and late wheat seasons in the Middle East. Each season for humanity consists of three major elements as follows:

Ø     The need for reconciliation to God by the death of an innocent Christ...............atonement;

Ø     A time of testing/proving for humanity..................................................................assessment;

Ø     Ascension to the final rest (the Kingdom of God)..................................................ascension.

 

For this second season, the previous article on the Meaning of the Day of Atonement covered the first of these three essential elements – the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The second element to be satisfied is that of “a time of testing/proving for humanity” and this is symbolized by the seven day Feast of Tabernacles – depicted by the time God caused Israel “to dwell in booths" (temporary dwellings). The time Israel dwelt in booths was the 40 year season of testing/proving used by God to, “…test you in order to know what was in your heart…” (Deut 8:2). For ancient Israel it proved to be a “life-time”, because all except two of the original adults from Egypt died during that time. This truly was the time of testing for ancient Israel and shall be the time of testing, in the great white throne judgement, for the entire world.

 

Just as the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread symbolizes the time that judgement is on the House of God (1Pet 4:17), the Feast of Tabernacles symbolizes the time that judgement shall be on the rest of humanity.

 

 

When will the testing (judging) take place?

 

This time of testing for humanity will take place at a time yet future when they will all be available for this activity. This time is the growing period of the late wheat season – it is a time of evaluation; of learning; of growing in understanding God’s way; of working with God so He can teach them His ways. In Rev 20:5 we are told that all of the portion of humanity to take part in the late wheat season will be available as a result of a physical resurrection of the dead after the Millennium:

Rev 20:5

“…(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)…” [NIV]

In Rev 20:12 we are told that this will be their time of judgement:

“…and I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and scrolls were opened, and another scroll was opened, which is that of the life, and the dead were judged out of the things written in the scrolls – according to their works;…” [YLT]

 

Some theologians use this verse 12 to prove that there are no multi-resurrections and therefore no prior resurrection of the Saints, because the language indicates ALL of the dead are raised and judged at this time. However, such view is not supported by Scripture, because the dead in Christ (the Saints) rise to meet him at his coming (1Thes 4:16) and God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

 

 

First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles – A Sabbath    (see Calendar for next Festival dates)

 

In Lev 23:34-35 we are told that the first day of the Feast is a Sabbath:

“…34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD. 35 On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein…” [KJV]

 

The first day of the Feast of Tabernacles is an annual Sabbath, a Holy day, which means it has special significance.  Knowing that this is the late wheat season there should be some clear parallels with the early wheat season, which is symbolized by the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In that Feast the first day, also a Sabbath, pictured new life by baptism into the body of Christ. In Lev 23:42 God gives the command:

“…Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths…” [NIV]

 

In ancient Israel, to be considered “native-born” one not only had to be of Israelite heritage, one also had to be circumcised – the latter of the two conditions being the most important as it was a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham. Any male not circumcised was to be “cut off from his people” because he had broken God’s covenant. Since Pentecost 31AD physical circumcision was replaced with spiritual circumcision and this was by way of baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit. In fact, under the Old Covenant any non-Israelite who wanted to live the way of Israel and was circumcised, transformed them into "native born" Israelites the circumcision changed their nationality in God's eyes. The Day of Atonement makes it clear that the Kingdom of God will comprise only spiritual Israelites (regarding humanity, Christ’s atoning sacrifice is only for spiritual Israel), therefore the symbolism in the Lev 23:42 command requires that one be baptized into the body of Christ in order to start keeping the Feast as a spiritual Israelite. Baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit is the sign of the new covenant between God and spiritual Israel.

 

A question that may proceed from the above paragraph is, “Can non-baptized people keep the Feast of Tabernacles?” The answer is most definitely, yes! However, as explained above, only “native born” Israelites who can fulfil the spiritual intent of the Feast will be able to take part in the spiritual benefits depicted by the occasion. This spiritual intent is pictured firstly by the physical building of booths from materials selected from “goodly trees” (the commitment to be under God’s government and live His way of life); and pictured secondly by being spiritually circumcised through baptism and receipt of the Holy Spirit. One must be a spiritual Israelite in order to be born into the family of God as a spirit being. Receiving the Holy Spirit makes one a spiritual native born Israelite. So, yes, the Feast of Tabernacles can be observed as a physical festival and in fact in Zech 14:16 there is a command from God that everyone, Israelite and non-Israelite, are to keep the Feast of Tabernacles during the Millennium:

“…And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles…”  [KJV]

 

In the Zech 14:17-19 we are told of severe penalties for those who do not keep the Feast of Tabernacles. Since keeping the Feast of Tabernacles is symbolic of trying to live God’s way of life, not keeping the Feast would be the same as a person telling God that they did not want any part of His way – it would be a wilful rejection of God Himself.

 

Even though the first days for both the Feast of Tabernacles and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are Sabbaths, God requires a display of effort from His people. On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread putting leavened bread (picturing sin) out of the home is required. On the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles something similar is required in that the people are to gather material for and build booths (picturing a deliberate effort to take up life under the government of God):

Lev 23:40

“…ON the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days…” [NIV]

 

The obvious difference between the two commands is that for the Feast of Unleavened Bread a putting away is required, while for the Feast of Tabernacles a gathering and building is required. The first day of Feast of Unleavened Bread and the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles are identical, except for emphasis. The emphasis, shown by the different requirements, is due to the different circumstances – whereas the Saints live in a world ruled by Satan and are required to “come out of the world” (spiritually) the people in the great white throne judgement will live in a world ruled by God and are required to become part of that world. Although the emphasis is different, the fundamental message is one of people committing to and living God’s way of life. This is a foundational pillar to further understanding: although the circumstances are different, as reflected in the symbolism, the requirement of committing to God’s way of life is the same for the first days of both Feasts. Thus, baptism (being a symbol of commitment to God's way) is indeed the starting point for both the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles; and the repetition expected to be seen in the late wheat season is now emerging in this Feast as it did in the Day of Atonement.

 

The people of the late wheat season have now commenced their journey of conversion (judgement/assessment), but it will be under the benevolent rule of God in a world free from the tyranny of Satan; it will be in a world of peace, joy and health.

 

 

Living In Temporary Shelters Today

 

By any stretch of the imagination, living in temporary dwelling today is only a token (symbolic) of what the ancient Israelites had to do. It  is a display of effort for the purpose of being a memorial and therefore must be done.

 

The command relating to this display of effort for the Feast of Tabernacles is found in Lev 23:42-43 (RSV) and is demonstrated by people constructing and living in temporary shelters,

“You shall dwell in booths for seven days; all that are native in Israel shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”

 

This appears to be a very inconvenient way to celebrate one of God’s festivals, so what was the point of constructing and dwelling in temporary shelters? Unfortunately, remembering that God is the deliverer is all that most people get from the Feast of Tabernacles experience. They do not consider what God did to the Israelites during their forty years of dwelling in tents or why He did it; they do not consider that this was a time of testing by God. It was indeed a time of great inconvenience. In fact it was so inconvenient that all but two of the original men died and did not get to see their permanent home.

Duet 8:2-5  (NKJV)

"And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

"So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.

"Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.

"You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you.”

 

Accordingly, the "Feast of Tabernacles" is to be observed by living in temporary shelters. These shelters may be tents in our own back yard or flat roof-top (as some did anciently in Judea), under a mosquito net on a veranda or balcony, or in hotels or motels – “Inns” as they were called at the birth of Jesus (Luk 2:7). In fact any place external to the house you own would be suitable. There is no problem with using the kitchen or bathroom facilities of your home or anyone else’s facilities. The main point here is that you will be experiencing a token of the inconvenience suffered by Israel in the wilderness. Many people today live in rental homes and the uncertainty that goes with that situation is considered inconvenience enough for the purpose of this festival. Why is this inconvenience factor so important? It is to reinforce the remembrance of the occasion and what actually happened – how the ancient Israelites were dealt with by God during this time. God rescued them and corrected their ways as a parent would do for his own children (Duet 8:5).

 

This brings us to why the first fruits, the Saints, should also live in temporary shelters for the Feast of Tabernacles.

 

It would be sufficient to say that we do it because of God’s command, or that it is to celebrate one of the great stages in God’s plan of salvation. Both would be totally valid reasons of and by themselves. However, the deeper meaning has to do with our place in the plan of salvation – that we and Christ are to be the spiritual parents of those in the second resurrection and children look to the parents for example. Even though, through the doctrine of predestination, we have already been approved and looked upon by God as already perfect, being justified by the blood of Christ, the children still require the example of the spiritual parents. Eating unleavened bread for seven days during the Feast of Unleavened Bread symbolizes us being justified and free from sin all the days of our converted lives. The spiritual children will also be required to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so they can remember and appreciate what the parents went through for them, even though we were already approved by God (Rom 8:29-30) to the extent that we are classified as “glorified” (past tense).

 

So, even though it is a command of God, the family relationship side of the matter is what really counts, because God is creating a spiritual family through His plan of salvation.

 

However, if dwelling in a temporary shelter for this time aggravates any medical condition, then it is not recommended. God has not designed His Holy Days for the purpose of causing our health to deteriorate. Also, God is a reasonable God and this work was expected to be done by the men of the family, not the women let alone a grandmother or a person with  infirmities. If living in a motel for the Feast deprives people of finances with which to enjoy the Feast, then complying with the letter of the law is not a requirement. If constructing or living in a temporary shelter for the Feast is going to have a detrimental affect on one's health, then complying with the letter of the law is not a requirement. In all these situations God expects us to apply judgment and reason. This is an example of how God thinks (how He tempers the letter of the law with judgment and reason, mercy and kindness) and He not only wants us to think the same way, He has instructed us to do so in Matt 12:7 and Hos 6:6;

Mat 12:7  "But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. [NKJV]

Hos 6:6  "For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. [NKJV]

 

With the above in mind, there is nothing to prevent someone from complying with the letter of the law for the Feast of Tabernacles if they so desire, despite any adverse affects. However, an individual must weigh these adverse affects against God’s command to “rejoice” (be joyful) before Him for seven days (Lev 23:40). If you are thinking of pitching a tent in the back yard or some type of shelter on the veranda, then sleeping on a surface well clear of the ground or sealed off from the ground is recommended in order to avoid those things that naturally have the ground as their home. Small fully-sealed tents would probably be best, remembering that they are only for the purpose of sleeping at night. Your usual home can be used for all other daily functions.

 

 

All Seven Days Of The Feast Of Tabernacles

 

The late wheat season is a time of assessment after the second (physical) resurrection and is known in Biblical terms as “day of judgement” or the great white throne judgement. This period of time is shown to us in Rev 20:11-12:

“…11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books…” [NIV]

 

This “day of judgement” (the second day of judgement in terms of God's plan of salvation for mankind) is a time of testing the vast majority of mankind who have never really known Jesus or the one true God. This season involves providing all these people with their first real opportunity to become aware of and to live god’s way of life. It is only after the opportunity is offered that they will be able to make a decision regarding which way of life they prefer. For the people in the late wheat season this opportunity is pictured by the Feast of Tabernacles and it is God who will be making the decision as to which way those people prefer:

Deut 8:2

“…Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands…” [NIV]

 

What a person does in this life does count and in the second resurrection that person must to learn to deal with their past life in terms of what God requires as the right way to live. For this purpose they will have the benefit of both the Holy Spirit and the Holy Angels to guide them in all things.

 

 

LATE WHEAT season 100 years long

 

The late wheat season (the second day of judgement – the time of assessing all those who did not take part in the first day of judgement, i.e. none of the Saints) is a period of 100 years – this prophecy is given to us in Isa 65:20:

“…There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed…” [KJV]

 

Most prophecy calls for some explanation in order to provide the required clarity for understanding; and this one is no different. In this case, the clarity comes from the verse’s context in the entire chapter, so a brief coverage of chapter 65 will now follow, together with some detailed explanation of the content of verse 20 itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 65 spans at least 4,000 years of history; there is some detail, but most is an overview of God’s response to His disappointment with Israel.

 

Isa 65:1-7 covers an unspecified time of repeated indiscretions by Israel; God stating that He has decided to work with peoples other than His own nation because of their sins and blasphemy; then culminates in declaring He will deal with Israel's abominations and blasphemy. God making His truth available to the gentiles is also alluded to in Rom 11:11:

“…I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy…” [KJV]

 

Isa 65:8-12 covers portion of the end time destruction of Israel.

 

Isa 65:13-16 covers portion of the Millennium, picturing the Kingdom of God.

 

God then goes to what the Millennium pictures and starts to partly describe His Kingdom, where He advises of the creation of new heavens and new Earth (Isa 65:17-19). The Kingdom is described immediately after describing the Millennium so as to clearly show that it is the reality pictured by the Millennium. It is a situation of joy where there is no more crying – this can only be the Kingdom itself. In Isa 25:8 we are told of a similar situation existing in the Millennium, where the tears will be “wiped away”, which is symbolic of the people being comforted by God and a fore-type of the Kingdom.

Isa 25:8:

“…and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces;…” [KJV].

Whereas in the Kingdom there will be “no more tears” at all – thus the Millennial type will be fulfilled.

Isa 65:19

“…And I will rejoice in Jerusalem and in my people; and the voice of weeping and crying shall not be heard there any more…” [The Living Bible]

 

It then appears as though God starts working backwards through time, describing parts of the day of judgement in Isa 65:20, but in reality He is simply describing how the majority of people are to attain His Kingdom, to which He has just alluded. It is a time when no more children will be born and all those who rise in the second resurrection will live a further 100 years, making the youngest person (child) 100 years old at the end of this day of judgement. Thus the minimum age for any person will be 100 years age in previous physical life + 100. There will be sinners at this time and with sin comes misery and with misery comes tears, so we know it is now describing a time before entry into the the Kingdom. However, we also know that it is not the Millennium, because there will be many children and the sound of them playing in the streets in the Millennium (Zech 8:5).

 

Accordingly, Isa 65:20 addresses the only substantial period of time unaccounted for by the rest of the overview presented in chapter 65 – the day of judgement! This is a time of assessment where many will repent, but some will still remain sinners after 100 years.

 

In Isa 65:21-25, the last verses of the chapter, God provides encouragement to those in the Great White Throne Judgment (a time of assessment and severe trial) by referring them back to the Millennial situation, a time of peace, plenty and direct access to God, perfectly symbolizing what they can look forward to spiritually in the Kingdom of God should they choose to live His way. Because there will be no natural death in the Millennium it is considered that the majority of the population during the 100 years will be those who have come through the Millennium and they will certainly need reminding that God's plan is advancing towards His Kingdom and not deteriorating.

 

This is a complex chapter, but it clearly provides the duration of the day of judgement as being 100 years. This period is more than a life-time by present day standards!

 

Isaiah 65:20 will be treated in greater detail in the next article, which is entitled Meaning of the Last Great Day.   

 

 

LATE WHEAT Season A Time Of Joy

 

What normal life will be like living under the benevolent rule of God is almost beyond comprehension, because thus far humanity has only known the harsh, oppressive, evil and unjust system of Satan. However, through the Feast of Tabernacles humanity is given a glimpse of the totally different world of God. Even though the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the period of judgement/assessment for humanity, the picture is always one of great joy and abundance. The atmosphere is very festive and completely free of all physical and social oppression. The people of the late wheat season will be able to truly experience Christ’s promise made in Matt 11:29-30:

“…29 ‘Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.’…" [NKJV]

 

During this age (now) there are several commands to enjoy the Feast, but this enjoyment is only a shadow of the reality to be fulfilled in the great white throne judgement. Some of the places providing the command to rejoice are listed below:

Lev 23:40

“…On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days…” [NIV]

Deut 14:26

“…And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household…” [NKJV]

Deut 16:13-14

"…13 You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. 14 And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates…” [NKJV]

 

Whereas the Saints from the first resurrection (those in the first harvest) had to overcome self, an oppressive society and Satan to qualify for entry into the family of God as spirit beings, these people in the growing period of the late wheat season will only have to contend with their own human nature and past experiences. By comparison, the growing period of the late wheat season will seem like a weekend barbeque – this is the comparative picture that God has given us!

 

It will be a very enjoyable time for those wanting to qualify for entry into the family of God as spirit beings.

 

 

Who will be judged?

 

The judging takes place after the second resurrection (after the Millennium) and after Satan and the senior demons are disposed of forever. Those tested (judged) in the growing period of the late wheat season will involve the following groups of people:

Ø     Those of the Millennium

Ø     Those in the Second Resurrection – previously uncalled of humanity; and

Ø     Those in the Second Resurrection – previously called but not chosen for ascension in the first resurrection.

 

The identity and background of these groups are considered significant and therefore will be dealt with under separate headings in the next sections. Also, in dealing with them separately insight is gained into the mind of God.

 

 

THOSE of the Millennium

 

For those humans who experience life in the Millennium there are several benefits, one of which is an extremely long life span. God tells us in Isa 65:22 that the life span shall be as the trees and the consensus of theological opinion is that ages of well over 1,000 years are implied:

“…No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands…” [NIV]

 

In Isa 25:8 we are told that natural death will be no more:

“…He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it…” [KJV]

 

The setting here is very definitely the Millennium and as the Millennium is a type of the Kingdom of God it should not be surprising that physical death is put away. Here, the long physical life is a type of the eternal life we are all to have as spirit beings in the family of God. In fact, we are told in 1Cor 15:54 of this ultimate fulfilment of the prophecy.

 

Some of these people will be those who survive into the Millennium and therefore will be over 1,000 years old, but others born during the Millennium obviously will be less than that age. Regardless of their respective ages all, except a small percentage, will have known only a life of peace, joy, harmony, total health and knowledge of God’s way of life. However, at the end of the Millennium God will allow these people to experience a way of life other than His by loosing Satan from his prison for a short while:

Rev 20:3

“…He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time…” [NIV]

 

Also, in Rev 20:7-10:

“…7 And when the thousand years may be finished, the Adversary shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 and he shall go forth to lead the nations astray, that are in the four corners of the earth — Gog and Magog — to gather them together to war, of whom the number [is] as the sand of the sea; 9 and they did go up over the breadth of the land, and did surround the camp of the saints, and the beloved city, and there came down fire from God out of the heaven, and devoured them; 10 and the Devil, who is leading them astray, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where [are] the beast and the false prophet, and they shall be tormented day and night — to the ages of the ages…” [YLT]

 

We are told that he will lead astray all the nations of the world (v.8 – “the nations…that are in the four corners of the earth”), but this seems to be qualified by the expression “Gog and Magog”. The major commentaries are of the view that the reference to Gog and Magog does not just refer to two nations by that name, but is a metaphor for all those who would oppose God. While not disagreeing with the metaphor, further investigation reveals that the literal interpretation of the individual words means, “overwhelming mountain.” In this context a clearer picture is seen regarding the extent to which Satan is able to lead the world astray in only a very short time. Also, God set the boundaries of the nations – He intended them to be separate and He does not change (Mal 3:6, James 1:17). Accordingly, there can be confidence that God will restore national boundaries in the Millennium as part of the restitution of all things (Acts 3:21). With these national boundaries restored the old Biblical nations of Gog and Magog will not occupy the entire world (Rev 20:8“the nations…that are in the four corners of the earth”), therefore verse 8 does in fact refer to the entirety of humanity at that time – ALL nations of Earth.

 

As a result of Satan’s deception and leading the nations astray, general insurrection ensues. The people of the world, who enjoyed paradise under the government of God, are now under the sway of Satan and are in full rebellion against God. This rebellion is not to be confused with the war against the literal nations of Gog and Magog at the start of the Millennium, but God says that He will destroy these people in the same way He destroyed those rebels 1,000 years earlier (Ezek 38:11-22). So many are to die in this first war that it will take more than seven months for all of the nation of Israel to bury most of the dead. There appear to be many more involved in the war after the Millennium, so the number of the fallen dead and the sight of them is difficult to imagine. However, there will be no need to bury these dead, for the second resurrection (a resurrection to physical life) will take place very soon after this war. We are not told how soon the resurrection will take place, but it follows on as the very next event for mankind:

Rev 20:11-12

“…11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books…” [NIV]

 

How many will die and have to be resurrected is not known, but the indication is that the majority of people will be killed. Without death, disease, starvation and natural disasters for 1,000 years the number of the dead will be incredibly large. Nevertheless, God does say in Heb 9:27 that all men must die once (whether literally or by baptism):

“…And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement:…” [KJV]

 

Whether the people live or die as a result of this war is not important. There is purpose for allowing Satan to be loosed on them and the reasons are twofold:

1.     Everyone must experience both God’s way and Satan’s way in order to judge which is the better. The experience of being subjected to Satan’s way will allow those who mature during the Millennium to have an understanding of a way other than what God has to offer, thereby enabling them to have clarity of choice between the different ways after the second resurrection; and

2.     People will not be able to claim that had they experienced God’s way first, then they would not have succumbed to Satan and experienced all the pain and suffering under his rule. Also, no-one will be able to say that they could have done better than Adam and Eve. After 1,000 years of peace, health, joy and the knowledge of God, people will still decide unwisely and succumb to Satan’s deceptions.

 

The people of the Millennium will have experienced great peace and joy under the direct rule of Christ, but as God is no respecter of persons they, along with the rest of humanity, will have to make a final choice in the day of judgement after the second resurrection.

 

 

The Previously Uncalled of humanity

 

The second major group to participate in the late wheat season comprises all that portion of humanity that was never predestined to be called during the time of the Saints. Even many of the uncalled people of this time endured much hardship, pain, misery and oppression at the hands of evil people in positions of power. There have been various reactions from people to such oppression, but like the oppression itself, all reactions must also be brought to account and this we are told very clearly in Eccl 12:14:

 “…For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil….” [NKJV]

 

There will be a special period of time set aside for the judging to take place and this time is known as the “day of judgement”, as shown in Matt 12:36:

“…But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment…” [NKJV]

 

This period of judgement (assessment) is symbolized by the Feast of Tabernacles and this symbolism has already been covered in detail (above). However, the detail of the judging has not been covered – Rev 20:12 gives an overview of the process:

“…And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books…” [NIV]

 

Some are of the view that the judging will be similar to what transpires in the present human courts of justice, which is to say there is an indictment, a judgement made and then the judgement is executed. From this view has grown the perception that there is a relatively rapid judgement from an unmoving God. The perception is incorrect! While it is true that the good and bad deeds of people are recorded, to be reserved until the day of judgement, the method of recording is uncertain. Nevertheless, God did not leave us without a strong indication of the mechanism involved - since God’s Spirit witnesses with our spirit (Rom 8:16), it appears that every human is their own book of record. Also, in Rom 2:15 (speaking of the uncalled – at that time the gentiles) God tells us that the conscience is used for bearing witness of our actions:

Rom 2:15

“…They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them…” [NRSV]

 

This is why it was said earlier, that in the late wheat season people will have to contend with their own human nature and their past experiences. Their own spirit will be witnessing to them how much they had been deceived by Satan and the extent to which they had supported his evil ways. God will use the memories of the people themselves and their old life-style preferences (how people chose to deal with others) to see if they are really willing to give up their old ways and take up His way. This is how God will test them in order to know what is in their hearts:

Deut 8:2

"...And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not..." [NKJV]

 

How well they embrace God’s way, as opposed to preferring their old way, is the method of judging whether or not they really want to live His way of life. Any other method may allow people to make mere pretence at embracing God’s way, while always desiring their old way of life. Christ said it would be harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle (Mark 10:25). This is because there are those of the rich and powerful who will still desire the former oppressive control they had over others, even during the late wheat growing season (day of judgement). People who become accustomed to and develop a liking for controlling and oppressing others during this life will find that way difficult to give up. God says in Jer 13:23  "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil" for some it will not be possible to change. On the other hand, those who were downtrodden in this life will have little difficulty by comparison. Christ gives us some comparable examples as follows:

Matt 11:22

“…‘But I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.’…” [RSV]

Matt 11:24

“…‘But I tell you that it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.’…" [RSV]

Matt 12:41

“…‘The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.’…” [NIV]

Matt 12:42

“…‘The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.’…” [NIV]

 

Some of the religious class treated Jesus very poorly, even though they either knew or suspected that he was the Christ. Nicodemus appeared to be one of the few who was prepared to accept Jesus (John 3:1-9 and John 19:39-40). The others of the religious class would have completed similar studies of the Messiah as did Nicodemus, but the indications are that they were hostile towards Christ rather than receptive. In fact, it is they who conspired to murder him. In the day of judgement they will all be stripped of their power – be no better than any other mortal – and they will find this situation difficult to bear.

 

The answer to the question of how will people be judged is now plain – what people do in this life matters, because how well people address and overcome their old ways during the “day of judgement” is how they will be judged by God. This is, in fact, what the Saints have to do today – during our day of judgement (as pictured by the Feast of Unleavened Bread).

 

 

Previously Called, but not chosen for the first ascension

 

Without doubt, this is the most misunderstood and misjudged group of people who are to take part in the late wheat season and be in the second harvest. This is a small and very unusual group of people and is comprised of two sub-groups:

1.     Those predestined to fail in their calling – those "never" approved for the first ascension; and

2.    Those intended to succeed, but were found to be unworthy to be part of the bride of Christ – they failed to be approved for the first ascension.

 

In dealing with these people it is necessary that some essential definitions be covered and the "early wheat season" be revisited – only then may it become clear as to why the group exists at all. Accordingly, the majority of this section of the article will be addressing conditions in the early wheat season that sifted out this group (the “called” only) from those who were harvested (the called, chosen and faithful”) for the first resurrection.

 

Prophecy and the parables

 

There are some common misconceptions about prophecy which can cause it to be confused with simple possibility. However, if we are to understand God at any significant level at all (and by extension His parables), then it is vital that we understand the difference between PROPHECY and POSSIBILITY. The Oxford Dictionary provides a useful start by giving part definitions of these two key words:

Prophecy – "Foretelling of future events"!

¨      No room to manoeuvre here;

¨      It is absolute; and

¨      Nothing else can happen.

Possibility – "Thing that MAY exist or happen"!

¨      Here there is room to manoeuvre;

¨      The outcome of an event may be dependent upon some other action or event; and

¨      There are a range of possible outcomes!

 

In regard to Biblical prophecy (the declaration of future events), the dictionary definition is absolutely accurate and the contrast with possibility is made very clear. When used in this context, the foretelling of future events, there are two significant points to remember:

1.     Prophecy has nothing to do with obedience or disobedience to God!

2.     Prophecy is absolute, it cannot be changed, it will happen!

 

Concerning the plan of creation (a perfect example of prophecy) God says in Isa 9:7:

“…Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this…” [KJV]

 

There is nothing conditional about this declaration – it is a prophecy about God’s future Kingdom and it is absolute. In addition to this example, God provides an explicit definition of prophecy (God declaring and bringing about future events) in Isa 46:9-11

“…9 ‘Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: 11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.’…” [KJV]

 

Prophecy is completely unconditional and does not depend on obedience to God’s law – it is simply a declaration by God that something shall be done, such as the four great secular kingdoms of the world revealed in Dan 2:28-40. These kingdoms were to be established unconditionally – there is no mention of obedience to God; in fact we know that the last physical kingdom in particular will not only be disobedient to the laws of God, it will actually attempt to engage in combat with the returning Jesus Christ.

 

Concerning possibility, a perfect example is that of Jonah warning Ninevah of the threat of destruction from God, because of their evil ways. However, they repented and God did not destroy them. Thus, the threat of destruction was dependent upon them not repenting clearly, this was a provisional threat, NOT prophecy. This is similar to how we treat our own children promise reward for doing well and warn of punishment for doing wrong. Such conditional approach is NOT prophecy! The relevant Scripture regarding this incident is found in Jonah 3:2-10:

“…2 ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.’ 3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city — a visit required three days. 4 On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: ‘Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.’ 5 The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.’ 10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened…” [NIV].

 

Many predestined to fail

 

The previous statement that "there are those who were predestined to fail in their calling" may sound preposterous, but that is exactly what Jesus himself says many times in the NT through the parables. McClintock and Strong Encyclopaedia describes “parable” as,

“a word derived from the Greek verb, paraba, which signifies to set side by side, and thus comes easily to have attached to it the idea of doing so for the purpose of comparison. A parable therefore is literally a placing beside, a comparison, a similitude, an illustration of one subject by another.”

Parables are therefore not just stories – they illustrate actual situations. Since these situations are events yet future, parables are none other than prophecy! With this understanding concerning parables it is now possible to add a whole new dimension of reality to the gospel message and with it, understand a great deal more of the plan of salvation.

 

Accordingly, as prophecies (God’s unconditional declarations of future events), each of the parables now take on very powerful meanings!

 

The Parables

 

It is in Matt 22:4-14 (parable of the marriage invitation) where God gives us an insight into the “called, chosen and faithful.” There were “many” invited to the marriage (all the called), but only a few chose to accept (the intended chosen) the invitation and those who did attend were all given appropriate wedding garments. Being given appropriate wedding garments is synonymous with the white robes of the Saints in Rev 3:18 and Rev 6:11, which is also called the “righteousness of Saints” (Rev 9:18). Accordingly, those at the wedding were both called and intended to be chosen, but only those with appropriate garments (righteousness) were considered “faithful” and therefore approved to be part of the marriage.

 

Those who are called, but find themselves to be not part of the first ascension miss out on the first harvest season (the reaping stage) and therefore miss the marriage, because they were found NOT to be called, chosen and faithful, as we are told are the qualities of those who will be with Christ at the first resurrection – Rev 17:14: 

“…These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen [elect], and faithful…” [KJV]

 

There are two parables in particular that address the called but not chosen:

1.     The parable of the 10 virgins – Matt 25:2-12; and

2.     The parable of the sower and the seed – Luk 8:5-15.

 

In the parable of the 10 virgins the significant details are as follows:

·        ALL had the Holy Spirit – all virgins had oil (symbolic of the Holy Spirit) in their lamps, but five were running low;

·        All wanted to be in the first resurrection – all were preparing for the wedding and awaiting the return of the bridegroom;

·        All wanted to live God’s way of life – the 5 foolish virgins heeded the advice of the wise ones and tried to secure more righteousness through the Holy Spirit, but their efforts were to no avail.

 

The above details are significant, because there are those who believe that if there are any who miss out on the first resurrection, then they are condemned to death – that is to say, they believe that this is the only day of salvation for all who are called prior to the return of Christ. This belief is held by some, even though the ones who miss out on the first resurrection have the Holy Spirit, want to live God’s way of life and want to be in His family. Believing that they are condemned to death is astonishing, because it portrays God as being incredibly cold-hearted!

 

The belief that God is so cold-hearted is contrary to Scripture and preaching this belief is both heresy and blasphemous!

2Pet 3:9

"...The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us–ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance..." [KJV].

 

It is true that the lack of proper effort by the five foolish virgins does not impress Christ (the bridegroom) and neither does their “eleventh hour” repentance. However, they are closed out of the wedding, NOT salvation. It is also true that in Matt 25:12 it is recorded the bridegroom remarks, “…‘I do not know you’…”. However, after examination of this verse, Barnes disagrees with the interpretation and advises of the intent of the words – an excerpt from his commentary is as follows:

“Applied to professing Christians, having ONLY a profession of religion, but no real piety, it means, I do not know or ACKNOWLEDGE you as Christians. I do not approve of you, or delight in you, or admit that you are my friends. The word ‘know’ is often used in the sense of approving, loving, acknowledging as real friends and followers.”

 

These people have God’s Holy Spirit, so there is no way that Christ could not “know” who they are in the literal sense. Accordingly, Barnes is correct and the verse should be rendered, by intent, as follows:

Matt 25:12

"…‘But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I do not approve of you.'…”

 

The five foolish virgins were those who did not meet with the bridegroom’s approval to be part of the wedding (first ascension). They had not conducted themselves in a manner fitting to be the bride of Christ. He did not approve of them to qualify for the first resurrection, but this does not disqualify them from being part of the second resurrection.

 

Who are these people? In Matt 7:23 Christ uses similar wording to describe a very recognisable class of people:

"...And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'..." [NKJV]

This verse is correctly rendered as follows:

"...And then I will declare to them, 'I never approved of  you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'..."

In Matt 7:22 we are told that these people preached (prophesied), cast out demons and healed the sick (performed wonders), all in the name of Christ.

"...Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'..." [NKJV]
 

The ability to do these deeds results directly as a gift of the Holy spirit and in previous eras, particularly the first, these deeds were done by ordinary members of God's church – one did not and does not now have to be "ordained" by the organization in order to fit into this category. In this era, these men are not just posing as "ministers" in God's church, they actually believe themselves to be ministers, else they would not be objecting about Christ's lack of approval. Also, Christ refers to them as "many", indicating that these people comprise the "many" in the church, not the "few". Accordingly, from Matt 7:22-23 we can know that many (i.e. most) of the ministry  and members in ALL eras of the church are included with those represented by the five foolish virgins of Matt 25:12. All of the five foolish virgins have the Holy Spirit (symbolized by oil in the lamps), therefore those who are not ministers are definitely members of the church of God. However, as previously stated, this lack of approval from Christ means that they will be closed out of the wedding, NOT salvation. Such people will be given their first real chance for salvation during the hundred year period known as the great white throne judgement (symbolized by the Feast of Tabernacles), which is after the second resurrection (a  resurrection to physical life).

 

 

In the parable of the sower and the seed (Luk 8:5-15) we are given some reasons as to why many of the called were not approved for the first resurrection; and we see God’s predestination coming into play:

1.     Some fell by the wayside – did not survive;

2.     Some fell on rock – did not survive;

3.     Some fell among thorns – did not survive; and

4.     Some fell on good ground – survived and increased.

 

The first point understood from a reading of the parable is that the seed is not just the Word of God, it is in fact called out people who have been given the opportunity to understand the Word of God (Luk 8:12-14).

 

The second point immediately noticeable is the astounding failure rate. Considering that God is in the business of salvation, not failure, this point would be both sad and shocking, if the results were not intended. However, the simple truth is that God did not intend for any in the first three categories to survive as Christians and endure to the end (the end of their lives) – He prophesied it to happen, therefore it was always going to be that way. To say anything else would be to make a liar out of God and that cannot be – Titus 1:2. God does not lie and in John 10:29 Jesus (speaking of his people) tells us that it is impossible for us to be taken away from God by an outside source:

“…‘My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and NONE is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.’…” [KJV]

 

The third point available from the parable is that if the seed is the Word of God planted in men, then the sower is God! The sower, being God, knew exactly to whom He was entrusting His Word – the seed was NOT scattered at random, it was deliberate. This view is consistent with what God says about all the called being predestined and being known before the foundation of the world:

Rom 8:29-30

“…Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.…” [KJV]

 

Also of interest in this verse concerning predestination is the fact that all of those who are predestined are ultimately intended to be in God’s family ("glorified") and God intends for ALL who are part of the second harvest to succeed. God has always known where He intended to plant the seed and the result of that planting. Since God engineered the negative first harvest outcome for those in the first three categories of this parable, it is not difficult to see that God always intended that the "failures" be part of the late harvest season. God knew that the hearts of these people were not acceptable for the first resurrection – He will, however, in the late growing season (after the second resurrection), give them the understanding concerning their heart and of what is acceptable:

Jer 17:10 

“…‘I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.’…” [KJV]

Rev 2:23 

“…‘and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.’…” [NKJV]

 

Regarding the third category, which fell among thorns, Jesus gives the meaning of the thorns as the called ones being “choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luk 8:14). For the secrets of this verse to be revealed, one must think how God thinks. For example, He regards riches as His way of life – understanding Him, truth, mercy, love and justice. It follows that He would regard the “riches of the world” as the world’s way of life – the way of deceit, control, oppression and self-gratification. Money does not necessarily have great significance because it can be a tool for either good or evil. Accordingly, to varying degrees, these “riches of the world” may be found in ANY member of the church of God. Since God is talking about His people in this parable, we can be certain that he is not referring to anyone outside the church. It is therefore a mistake to compare ourselves with those in the world and look for these negative qualities only in those who have no calling to the early harvest season. These negative qualities are to be searched for among God’s people!

 

 

What it means to be approved

 

For one to be found approved for the first resurrection the requirements are clearly set out in Luk 8:15: 

“…‘But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.’…” [KJV]

 

This description is very similar to the required result as recorded in Book of Jude, where the matter is elaborated by God:

Jude V3

“…Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints…” [KJV]

 

God wants to see how willing we are to cling to His way of life, “keeping the faith that was once delivered unto the saints.”  God’s people must be willing to trust God and hold fast to those things they have proven to be true, otherwise they fail the second part of the test as shown in Jude verse 5:

“…I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed  them that believed not…” [KJV]

 

In Jude verse 5, God is speaking of the present day church (right now)! Those who lack faith in God and do not believe His true Gospel message will be excluded from the first resurrection. God repeats this warning about a lack of faith within His people at the end time by asking the question recorded in Luke 18:8:

“...‘Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?’…" [NKJV]

 

Any trials the people of God must endure are for two principal reasons:

1.     To see how willing we are to cling to God’s way of life, “keeping the faith that was once delivered unto the saints.”  Are we willing to hold fast to those things we have proven and know to be true?

2.     To see if we still believe God is in charge and acting in the best interest of His people.

 

God has only ever asked two questions of us:

1.     “Will you trust Me rather than your own understanding?”

2.     “Will you obey Me rather than someone else?”

 

These are the BASICS of God and for thousands of years he has asked the same two questions of all His people. Adam and Eve were asked the same two questions – they responded poorly. Abraham was asked the same two questions – he responded well and became known as the “father of the faithful”.

 

These days can be confusing for some, because so many churches of God are teaching the traditions of men (the policy of the organization) rather than the doctrines of God. So, it may not be clear what it is we need to cling to – exactly what are the commandments of God. For this purpose God says that His people need teachers (Acts 8:30-31) and indeed He does provide these teachers. However, just as in the parable of the tares, where the weeds cannot be distinguished from the wheat during the growing season, God reveals in 2Cor 11:15 that just as Satan is transformed into an angel of light his ministers are also transformed into ministers of righteousness. Accordingly, care needs to be taken when the listening is being done and God warns of this in 2 Peter 3:17:

“…You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;… [NKJV]

 

At all times it must be remembered that these “wicked” have been set up as teachers of the Word of God to deliver trials upon the people of God:

Jude 4:

“…For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ…” [KJV].

 

The word “condemnation” has been translated from the Geek word “krima”, which always has the meaning of trials in order to see if we will trust and obey God, or not (that is to say, judgement); just as with the ancient Israelites, in their 40 years of wilderness wandering, God tested them “to know what was in their hearts” (Deut 8:2). Although God is aware of these people, overall the people of God are oblivious to their presence and their purpose. Also, these men have no idea that they were ordained to such purpose. Such people were ordained of God for the task of testing the faith of His people and therefore, in this instance, the correct rendering of the word “krima” would be "judgement", remembering that this is our "day of judgement" – the day that judgement is on the house of God (1Pet 4:17). Indeed, Young has translated the word correctly as shown in the following excerpt:

"...long ago having been written beforehand to this judgment..."   [Jude 4, YLT].

 

These people had a physical type in the "mixed multitude" that came with Israel out of Egypt – these were a continual mischief to Israel, causing them to desire worldly things rather than the things of God:

Num 11:4

"...Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: 'Who will give us meat to eat?'..." [NKJV].

The priesthood intermarried (Neh 6:18) with the enemies of Israel and polluted the temple by giving them a place of residence in the temple. This intermarriage is a type of spiritual harlotry symbolizing adopting the practices, doctrines and systems of pagans (not true Church of God). These foreigners (false doctrines) had to be separated from Israel when the temple was restored after the Babylonian captivity:

Neh 13:3-4

"...3 So it was, when they had heard the Law, that they separated all the mixed multitude from Israel. 4 Now before this, Eliashib the priest, having authority over the storerooms of the house of our God, was allied with Tobiah..." [NKJV].
 

Specifically, in the NT, they are referred to weeds planted by the enemy, Satan, in God's field of wheat (parable of the tares, Matt 13:24-30).

 

Even so, God gave His people the solution to the problem:

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Study, according to the example of the Bereans (Acts 17:11) – “…These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so…” [KJV].

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Test what you are told against the Word of God (1John 4:1) – “…Dearly loved friends, don't always believe everything you hear just because someone says it is a message from God: test it first to see if it really is. For there are many false teachers around,…” [The Living Bible].

 

Checking the Word of God for ourselves, to ensure what is taught is what God says, is most important because not everyone who preaches in God's name or in Christ's name are necessarily teaching what God says. It is the responsibility of each individual to check that the diet we are being fed is the healthy diet of God’s Word, not the traditions of men or the dogma of an organization.

 

Unfortunately, the many that are called are not checking to see what God says; they are satisfied with their situation and  their teachers (not teachers of God). As a result, they are responding poorly to God’s two fundamental questions – they trust man rather than God and they obey man rather than God. If it were not for the predestination mentioned in Jude 4, then it would be this condition that makes many of the called of God candidates for the second harvest rather than the first harvest.

 

 

Who Will be Doing the Judging?

 

1Cor 6:2 

"...Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?..." [NIV]

1Cor 6:3 

"...Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!..." [NIV]

 

The Saints of Paul's time, or any other, were not and are not now in any position to judge the world or the Angels. Only after ascension at the return of Christ will the Saints have the power and authority to exercise judgment on that scale. In other words, those of the first resurrection will be judging all those who take part in the Great White Throne Judgment, which is the 100 year period following the second resurrection. This day of judgment is for all of humanity who take part in the second resurrection and is the time of judgment of the Great Day reserved for the fallen Angels now described as being in "chains of darkness" in 2Pet 2:4 and Jude 1:6 (chains of darkness describe the condition of not having access to the truth, the light of God). The Great White Throne Judgment is the 100 year time of judgment pictured by the Feast of Tabernacles, this festival.

 

 

HOPE FOR The fallen angels (DEMONS)

 

In the past, some have taught that when angels chose to sin that their character was then set and could not be changed thereafter, but there is absolutely no Scriptural support for such a teaching! The truth is, there is just as much hope for the fallen angels as there is hope for humanity. Angels can repent, they can change and in the day of judgement (the same day of judgement as depicted by the growing period of the late wheat season), when all will be free from the deception of Satan, the fallen angels will also be given their first real chance to know the truth and repent.

 

Jesus is the firstborn of ALL creation and he died for ALL sentient beings, whether in heaven or on Earth.

Col 1:15

“…He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation…” [NIV]

Col 1:20 

“…And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven…” [KJV]

1 Peter 3:18

“…For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,…” [NRSV]

 

In these Scriptures God is plainly telling us that Jesus also died for the sins of the fallen angels and they too will have their chance to repent and take up the purpose for which they were created – to be ministering spirits to humanity, the heirs of salvation (Heb 1:14). This is an astounding truth, which is no longer hidden from this era of the church of God!

 

Following Lucifer’s rebellion, as recorded in Ezek 28, he was thrown out of heaven and cast down to Earth. Until this time Lucifer had full access to heaven and the throne of God. God was placing restraints on Lucifer’s activities and confining him to a limited location. Now known as Satan, he was cast into “tartaroo,” being both a place and condition of restraint. The result of the rebellion is recorded in 2Pet 2:4

 “…For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell [tartaroo] and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;…” [NKJV]

 

When Satan and his rebel angels failed in their attempt to overthrow God, God cast them down to HELL. In Ezek 28:17 God reveals that the hell (tartaroo) to which Satan was thrown was none other than planet Earth:

“…Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendour. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings…” [NIV]

 

Planet Earth is the “prison” for the fallen angels; and these angels are to remain in this prison (restricted to Earth) until the day of judgement.

Jude 6

…And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day…” [KJV]

 

There are only two judgement “days” – one being pictured by the growing period of the early wheat season, which is on the House of God and lasts 6,000 years, while the other is pictured by the growing period of the late wheat season (also symbolized by the Feast of Tabernacles) and lasts for 100 years after the Millennium. God tells us in 1Cor 6:3 that it is we, the Saints, who will be judging (assessing) these fallen angels as they seek to be successful ministering spirits to humanity:

“…Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!...” [NIV]

 

The wordjudge” has been translated from the Greek word “krino” and the sense given by this word indicates that the saints will be responsible for a calling to question of past activities, of fallen angels, by allocating them specific tasks for the purpose determining true or feigned repentance. Thus, the tasks would serve to demonstrate that, when removed from the influence of Satan, they too can make right choices and perform their duties faithfully.

 

Also, in 2Peter 2:4 we are told,

“…For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;…” [NKJV]

In this Scripture the word “judgement” has been translated from the Greek word “krisis” and indicates not only a separating of the sincerely repentant from the unrepentant, but a categorising or rating of performance for the purpose of reward. Thus, God will be using the same principles for angels as He uses for humans – reward in accordance with works, as indicated by the parable of the talents (Matt 25:15-30).

 

There are those who believe that demons cannot repent, but if that were so there would be no need to judge (assess) them under circumstances free from Satan. Since God can destroy spirit (Matt 10:28), He could have destroyed them long ago. However, the above Scriptures clearly indicate an altogether different and far more hopeful future for the once disobedient angels. In addition, we are told in 1Peter 3:18-20 that Jesus preached to the fallen angels:

“…18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits [demons] in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient,…” [KJV]

 

In reference to “unclean spirits” (fallen angels) the Greek word “pneuma” (spirit) is used many times in the NT and the correct rendering in verse 19 should be "demons" (as added in brackets above) or "fallen angels". This amendment is important, because there are some who believe that after death people transform into spirit beings and it was these spirits to whom the Word (Jesus) preached. God teaches that death is a type of deep sleep, with NO ability to think or do anything (Eccl 9:5). This matter is fully detailed in the article entitled There is a Real Hell. During this time of “preaching” the fallen angels were already well aware of God’s plan of salvation for mankind, but not necessarily aware that they were part of the same plan and therefore had a need to have that good news proclaimed to them in the same way that the gospel of the Kingdom has been proclaimed to mankind. Later translations use the correct the word, "proclaimed" rather than "preached". These angels were not preached to as if trying to get them to repent, because that was not their time of judgment. Rather, the Word simply announced in detail the plan of salvation for them; what would be the result of their rebellion, when their judgement would be and who would be doing the judging (the Saints).

 

Not only will people in the late wheat season have rest from Satan, they will have the advantage of former disobedient angels trying to prove that they can fulfil their original purpose in life by being ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation. Thus, the Feast of Tabernacles also pictures the time when there will be no more war between the angels and they will be working together in peace.

 

Salvation for mankind AND the angels – it is little wonder that this festival is such a joyous occasion!

 

 

THE Millennium Myth

 

As a final comment, it is important that some beliefs about the Millennium be clarified. There are some who teach that the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the Millennium, but the Millennium is only another physical type that depicts our final rest as spirit beings in the family of God. This truth is spelt out in great detail in Heb 3:9-18 and Heb 4:1-11. Like the seventh-day (weekly) Sabbath and the promised Land (ancient land of Canaan), the seventh-millennium symbolizes the Kingdom of God itself – the final rest, NOT a stage towards that final rest and therefore is not a stage in the plan of salvation to be fulfilled using the symbolism of God’s annual Holy Days.

 

The belief that the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the Millennium is an awkward notion, for which there is no Biblical support.

 

As a symbol of the ultimate reality of the Kingdom of God, the Millennium operates outside the annual Holy Days, which are simply symbolic “stepping-stones” towards that ultimate reality. Just as stepping-stones show the way to arrive at the other side of the river and therefore cannot be part of the other side, so too do the annual Holy Days show the way (the stages) to the Kingdom of God, but do NOT represent that Kingdom. The Feast of Tabernacles symbolizes just one of the stepping-stones towards the Kingdom of God – it does not picture the Kingdom itself.

 

The journey is not the destination! AFTER all the symbolism in the annual Holy Days has been fulfilled (the journey), we then arrive at the destination of the Kingdom of God, which is pictured by the Millennium and the seventh-day Sabbath. The seventh-day Sabbath, depicting the Kingdom of God, is the first of the Sabbaths of God mentioned in Lev 23 and it is mentioned as a completely separate Sabbath from the others in that chapter. It is separate because it has a completely different meaning to the other Sabbaths – it pictures the destination while the others picture stages in the journey towards that destination.

Gen 1:1 - Lev 23:2-3

“…2 ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. 3 Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.’…” [NKJV]

 

As stated previously, the meaning of the Sabbath is elaborated in some detail in Hebrews Chapters 3 and 4; and leaves no doubt that it pictures the Kingdom of God. The seventh-millennium is the seventh day of the millennial week and is a rest for humanity, both in terms of a physical rest from death, disease and social oppression; and in terms of a spiritual rest from Satan and all his evil influences. The Millennium is the perfect example of the seventh-day Sabbath and by extension perfectly symbolizes the Kingdom of God. Also, in direct reference to His plan of salvation, God gave us His day for a thousand year principle (2Pet 3:8 and Barnabas 15:4-5) and therefore leaves us in no doubt that the entire Millennium is indeed a Sabbath:

“…But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day…” [NKJV]

 

Furthermore, there are only two periods of judgement, one being 5,900 years (approx) for the Saints prior to the Millennium; and the other being 100 years for the rest of humanity AFTER the Millennium. The Millennium is a period excluded from the times of judgement when mankind has to work at qualifying for a position in the family of God. There is no spiritual work by humanity, no judgement/assessment by God during this time, because in picturing the Kingdom of God, it is a Sabbath a time of rest. What created the first Sabbath was God ceasing from His work of creating and resting on the seventh day:

Gen 2:3 "...And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made..." [KJV].

 

The Millennium is the seventh millennium, a Sabbath millennium it is a time picturing God's Kingdom and God resting from His work of spiritual creation. God resting from His work of spiritual creation means no spiritual assessments/judging of man and therefore no ascensions into the family of God during that time. The Feast of Tabernacles does not picture Millennium, the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the 100 year day of judgment for the remainder of humanity after the second resurrection.

 

 

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 God’s annual Holy Days, showing the plan of salvation.

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First (early) wheat season

Feast of ACCLAMATION (Trumpets)

Second (late) wheat season

Passover

Promise of reconciliation to God; waiting for us to accept and receive through repentance and baptism with the Holy Spirit.

The Day of Acclamation is a memorial of the Old Covenant between God and ancient Israel at Mount Sinai. The Old Covenant was a marriage covenant between God and ancient Israel which foreshadowed the New Covenant, the marriage between the church and the Lamb of God (Christ). Accordingly, this Festival is a memorial of the foundation of God’s plan of creation – that foundation being His way of life (Psa 111:10), firstly pictured by the Old Covenant, then fulfilled in the New Covenant.

From the time of Christ the people of God entered into a spiritual covenant with God and became the bride, the betrothed of Christ. After the first resurrection the New Covenant will be entered into fully by the marriage of the church to  Jesus (Rom 7:4 and Gen 2:24). This marriage is to provide the foundation for expansion of the family of God and His way of life forever (Isa 9:7).  The marriage brings with it the promise of almost immediate enlargement of the foundation by bringing more children into the family of God (Gen 1:28). These spiritual children are to be the remainder of humanity who take part in the second harvest season after the second resurrection.

 

 

 

Day of Atonement

Promise of reconciliation to God; waiting for us to accept and receive through repentance and baptism with the Holy Spirit.

1.Jesus died so that we may,  upon repentance and baptism, be reconciled to the Father (Col 1:21-22) – symbolized by partaking of the Passover emblems (Matt 26:26-28). It Symbolizes the OFFER of redemption spelling out what Christ has done for us and how we are always to REMEMBER his sacrifice (1Cor 11:24-25).

2.Symbolic promise of Satan's banishment from our lives and thereby being freed from the death penalty (Rom 8:1-3).

3.Passover shows us, through the symbolism of the foot washing ceremony, the requirement for us to live God's way of life – the way of service to others. Those who do not participate in foot washing will be cut-off from the Kingdom (John 13:8).

1. Jesus died so that humanity may, upon repentance and baptism, be reconciled to the Father – symbolized by the goat sacrifice (Lev 15:16). It Symbolizes the OFFER of redemption spelling out what Christ has done for humanity.

2. Literal spiritual rest from Satan and change to direct rule by God is symbolized in making the day a Sabbath.

3. Afflicting the soul (some accept as fasting, but really means to humble or become compliant) symbolizes the requirement to live God’s way of life. Those who do not afflict themselves will be cut-off from the kingdom (Lev 23:29).

Feast of Unleavened Bread

Growing Season for first harvest

Feast of Tabernacles

Growing season for second harvest

1.A seven day festival commencing on the 15th day of the 1st month.

2.Symbolizes the period when judgement is on the house of God (1Pet 4:17) and lasts for the physical lives of the ones predestined for the first ascension. Receiving the Holy Spirit through repentance and baptism marks the beginning of this period.

3.Symbolizes the Saints striving to live God's way of life while still human.  It is depicted by eating unleavened bread on all seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (1Cor 5:7-8).

4.Symbolizes the Saints living under the rule of God through the help of God's Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9-16) while still being in, but not of, the world.

5.Symbolizes our lives as Christians, which can be likened to Abraham’s wanderings and dwelling in booths (Heb 11:9-10). Like him, we are to remember that this life is only a temporary existence prior to permanent rest in the Kingdom of God (Heb 11:13-16).

1.A seven day festival commencing on the 15th day of the 7th month.

2. Symbolizes the time known as the great white throne judgement – a period of 100 years (Isa 65:20) after the second resurrection and applies to all those predestined for the second ascension.  Receiving the Holy Spirit  through repentance and baptism marks the beginning of this period of judgment for an individual.

3. Symbolizes the remainder of humanity striving to live God’s way of life while still human (Ex 24:7). This was depicted by Israel eating manna during Israel’s total time of 40 years of dwelling in booths (Ex 16:35).

4. Symbolizes the remainder of humanity living under the government of God, both through the Holy Spirit and under the direct rule of Christ.

5. Remembering that this life is a temporary existence prior to permanent rest in the Kingdom of God - symbolized by the time of Israel's wanderings in the wilderness (Duet 8:2).

Pentecost

Last Great Day

1.Pictures the start of the harvest season, which is ascension of the firstfruits into the God family as spirit beings in the first resurrection (Jam 1:18, 1Thes 4:16-17 and 1Cor 15:50-52).

1. Pictures the remainder of the harvest season, which family as spirit beings for all those who choose wisely (John 7:37) during the 100 year long great white throne judgement day (Rev 20:11-12).

 

 

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The Last Great Day pictures ascension into the God family of those from the great white throne judgement (after the Millennium) who prove they want to live God’s way of life. This concludes salvation for mankind.

 

 

Additional References:

 

Barnabas 15:4-5

"Observe, children, what He finished in six days means this: that in six thousand years the Lord will bring everything to an end, for with Him a day signifies a thousand years. And he himself bears me witness when He says, 'Behold the day of the Lord shall be as a thousand years.' Therefore, children, in six days that is in six thousand years everything will be brought to an end. 'And He rested on the seventh day.' This means: when His son comes he will destroy the times of the lawless one and will judge the ungodly and will change the sun and the moon and the stars, and then He will truly rest on the seventh day."

 

 

 

 

What is the Plan of Salvation

Murray Barker

 

 

 

What is the plan of salvation?

Who is going to be saved?

 

Ask these questions of anyone in the Church of God and they will say that it’s about the salvation of mankind and probably give you a strange look, because it is something they believe you ought to know. Well, they are correct, inasmuch as we all should know what is the plan of salvation. We have always been told the plan of salvation is about saving humanity, but how accurate is that teaching?

 

I have not come across a single person who knew or understood what the plan of salvation is or to whom it applies!

 

This is an extraordinary statement and the truth of the matter is just as remarkable as the Doctrine of Election, which was explained in detail in the Pentecost sermon.

 

However, for a moment let’s revisit some of what was revealed in the Pentecost sermon, so we can get a little perspective on where we are headed.

 

The first fruits are God’s firstborn and these He foreknew and predestinated to be conformed to the image of His son. We are God’s firstborn and we have been justified. We are those of whom the Doctrine of Election speaks and are guaranteed salvation. That is what predestination means – God predetermining what shall be. We shall be in the first ascension and as such, shall be the bride of Christ.

 

The bride was already approved of God before the foundation of Earth, before time began (2Tim 1:9).

 

The parable of the foolish virgins is very revealing. The bridegroom, Jesus, tells the ones who are late that he NEVER knew (that is, never approved) of them. Thus, clearly indicating that they were never predestined to be in the first ascension even though the parable indicates that they did have a measure of the Holy Spirit.

 

The second point to the parable actually confirms that those virgins who arrived on time were all known (approved) by the bridegroom. NONE were rejected! They were the predestinated ones, the ones who had been foreknown and approved to be part of the bride of Christ. None of these were rejected by the bridegroom. Let's turn to some of the relevant Scriptures:

Rom 8:29-31 (NKJV),

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

1Pet 1:2 (NLT)

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.’ ”

2Tim 1:8-9 (NKJV)

“…according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,…”

  

So, if we are already guaranteed salvation, why are we here?

 

Three reasons:

One

Must learn to be obedient as sons just as was required of Jesus.

Heb 5:8 (YLT) “…through being a Son, did learn by the things which he suffered –the obedience,…”

This is not to say that Jesus was disobedient prior to becoming human, but being a son was totally new to him and therefore he had to learn obedience as a son, in a father-son relationship.

God’s new system of government – the family – requires that we also undergo the same experience.

Two

If we are to be partakers of his inheritance, then we must also be partakers of his sufferings – which is why we are called Priests, we offer daily sacrifices to God by living His way.

Rom 8:17 (NKJV)

“…And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering…”

Heb 13:16 (NKJV)

“…But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased…”

Php 2:17 (NKJV)

“…Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all…”

Three

Although we are already approved of God and have no need of salvation in the same way as the rest of the world, we have all sinned and that sin needs to be covered by the sacrifice of Christ.

Rom 3:23 (KJV)

“…For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;…”

 

Just as Christ’s sacrifice was good to cover past sin (of those already justified by God) and is good to cover present sin, so too will it be good to cover future sin. This may also be a surprise to many, that spirit beings can and do sin. Just because we become ascended to the God family does not automatically mean that we stop sinning. Granted, because we will no longer be human we should not be tempted to sin anywhere near as much as at present – being human is like a magnifying glass for sin. However, if you think that there will be a complete cessation from sin upon ascension, then you will be in for a big disappointment.

Col 1:20 [KJV]

“…And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven…”

1 Peter 3:18 [NRSV]

“…For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,…”

 

Fortunately, Christ’s one-time sacrifice is an eternal sacrifice and is good for all time. If we say that his sacrifice is only good for the span of the plan of salvation, then we limit both God and Christ and indeed, contradict what God has said. God’s Kingdom is a growing Kingdom to which there will be no end. God gives us a glimpse of His new Kingdom in the Book of Isaiah:

Isa 9:7 

“…Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this…”

 

It is axiomatic that there can be no increase in peace without growing in that direction, which means continually striving to live God’s way. No-one will be perfect after ascension – everyone will still be growing towards the maturity of Christ. If we are still growing, then that means we will be making mistakes, we will still be sinning.

 

Also, what need would there be for “ruling with justice” if everyone were perfect? Again it is axiomatic that to rule with justice, which God has emphasized, necessitates that there will be wrongs committed requiring justice to be dispensed.

 

 

Brethren, in light of this prophecy in Isa 9:7, the previous “understanding” and teaching that spirit beings shall be perfect does not make sense!

 

Let’s believe what God says and simply admit we are not and shall not be perfect and that there will always be a need for the sacrifice of Christ.

 

God chose us not because we were perfect, but because we sincerely agreed with Him about His plan of salvation and the need to become mortal, decay and die. Whereas, the rest of creation was opposed to the plan (Rom 8:20 “Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse…” – NLT). See the whole of Rom Chap 8 to separate out the two groups, which are referred to as 1) the children of God and 2) the creation. Again, this has been covered in detail in the Pentecost sermon, so it only receives a brief mention at this time.

 

 

So, this is what we now know – what has been covered.

1.      We were individual entities known by God before time began.

2.      We agreed with God that there needed to be a plan of salvation requiring everyone to become mortal and die .

3.      Through God knowing us, we were predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ.

4.      Through God knowing us, we were approved to be the “bride” of Christ.

5.      We were selected by God to be His firstborn – to be in the first resurrection (first ascension).

6.      As God’s firstborn we are guaranteed salvation – this is the Doctrine of Election.

7.      As spirit beings we will NOT be perfect and will require the ongoing sacrifice of Christ to cover sin.

 

 

So, if we are guaranteed salvation, then for who is the plan of salvation ?

 

The plan of salvation is for those who need saving !

 

The plan of salvation is for the remainder of humanity, who will rise in the second resurrection !

 

 

Brethren, the plan of salvation is NOT about you, it has never been about you. The plan was always about those who needed salvation – those not predestined for the first resurrection. These will be the spiritual “children”, the fruit, resulting from the marriage between Christ and the ascended Church. It is the children who are always pictured as entering the Kingdom of God, NOT the firstborn. The firstborn already have the guarantee of the Kingdom, so there is no need to show them entering the Kingdom.

 

 

This is all new to you, so it may take a little while to digest.

 

 

Now, let's take a look at some of those types.

 

 

The FIRST and most obvious is seen when we look at the journey of Israel from Egypt to the Promised land. Here we find that the firstborn, now the tribe of Levi, were set aside for God at Mt Sinai and were not to be numbered with Israel.

Num 1:1-3 (NKJV)

“…Now the LORD spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying:

‘Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male individually,

from twenty years old and above – all who are able to go to war in Israel. You and Aaron shall number them by their armies.’…”

 

Num 1:49-50 (NIV)

“…You must not count the tribe of Levi or include them in the census of the other Israelites.

Instead, appoint the Levites to be in charge of the tabernacle of the Testimony…”

 

WHY is this ?

 

It is because the Levites represent the firstborn of Israel and in context of the entire journey of Israel from Egypt to the Promised land, which pictures the entire plan of salvation, they represent the spiritual firstborn, which are already ascended into the family of God being typified by crossing the Red Sea. The ascended firstborn are past their day of judgment/assessment and must now assist the remainder of humanity with their day of judgement, typified by the forty years of wandering in the wilderness.

 

Let's just refresh our memories and confirm from God that the Feast of Tabernacles did indeed typify the forty years of wandering and testing in the wilderness – that it did not and does not typify the Kingdom of God.

Lev 23:34, 42, 43 (NKJV)

34  “…‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying: The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD.

42  You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths,

43  that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.’…"

 

Yes, the Feast was to be a memorial of this event, but so much more transpired during that time – it was the time of Israel’s testing and in the scheme of the plan of salvation it typified the time of judgment for the rest of humanity. Again let's read that from the Word of God.

Deut 8:2 (NKJV)

“…And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not…”

 

This time of testing was immediately prior to Israel entering the Promised Land, typifying the Kingdom of God, which is to say ascension into the God family.

 

Remember God has specifically said that the Levites, representing the firstborn, were NOT numbered among this group. The Levites typified the already ascended spiritual firstborn.

 

So, those who crossed the Jordan on dry land into the promised Land (Kingdom of God) were NOT the firstborn, whom God excluded from being numbered with Israel. The picture to be emphasized here is that those who crossed the Jordan and given an inheritance in that land were the Israelites representing the remainder of humanity, NOT the firstborn.

 

The firstborn have a superior inheritance with Christ and Christ inherits ALL things. The Levites were not given part of the Promised Land, because their inheritance as the firstborn of God, is the whole of the Kingdom of God.

Again, let's verify that in God’s Word.

1Cor 15:27 (NKJV)

“…For He has put all things under his feet. But when He says all things are put under him, it is evident that He who put all things under him is excepted…”

Rom 8:17 (KJV)

“…And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together…”

 

So, this great picture of the plan of salvation, being the journey of Israel from Egypt to the Promised land and crossing into the Promised land, actually is all about the rest of humanity ascending to the Kingdom of God. The great picture of Israel entering the Promised land has nothing to do with the firstborn ascending to the Kingdom of God. The great story here is about the rest of humanity ascending into the Kingdom of God.

 

 

 

The SECOND major type that reveals to whom the plan of salvation applies is found in the time of the Millennium.

 

 

This type is even more compelling than the account found in the journey of Israel. However, it has been missed by the Church, because the doctrine of election was never properly understood. You need no substantial reminding of the doctrine of election, because that was the subject of the Pentecost sermon. Because the doctrine of election was not properly understood, people took the selfish approach and simply gained encouragement from knowing that their children would be in the Millennium if they were too young to be baptized – not realizing of course that time was going to go on for a lot longer than 1972. Actually, the belief was that their children would be the leaders in the Millennium, not just survive into the Millennium. From where they got this second notion, I do not know it is not Biblical.

 

Anyhow, before proceeding any deeper into this type, let's just be reminded of what the Millennium represents.

 

The Millennium is the seventh thousand year period and therefore is a Sabbath Millennium, just as the weekly seventh day is a Sabbath day.

During this time God is resting from His work of creation – it is not one of the two “days” of judgment. The first day of judgment comprising all the time before the Millennium for the Church and the second day of judgment comprising the 100 year period after the Millennium for the rest of the world.

The weekly Sabbath pictures the Kingdom of God and so too does the Millennium Sabbath.

 

To make the seventh day Sabbath more identifiable as a type of the Kingdom of God, for each of the previous six days God always said there was a beginning and an end – “And the evening and the morning were the (1,2,3,4,5,6) day”. However, for the Sabbath, there was no beginning and there was no end. This is meant to typify the eternal aspect of the Kingdom of God.

In the context of describing the plan of salvation, Peter gives us the day for a thousand year principle:

2Pet 3:8 (KJV)

“…But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day…”

 

Accordingly, we can be confident that the Millennium and the seventh day Sabbath both picture the same thing, the Kingdom of God.

 

 

Okay, now we have the Millennium sorted out as a Sabbath Millennium, picturing the Kingdom of God, we can continue with the second type showing to whom the plan of salvation applies.

 

 

Please turn to Isa 65

Isa 65:22-23 (KJV)

“…They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them…”

 

First off it sounds a bit confusing, because God mentions His “elect”, but in the next verse this is clarified by God saying that they are the “seed of the blessed of the Lord”. The actual elect, the ones referred to as the blessed of the Lord are already spirit beings in the Kingdom of God, so their seed are their physical offspring. Elect actually means “chosen ones” and can apply to either physical beings or spirit beings.

 

What this means is that only God’s physical elect shall continue into the Millennial Age, and these shall be descendants of the Saints, typifying that only those who are obedient to God shall enter the kingdom. This means those people, the physical elect for the Millennium, may be descended from any and all Saintly lines throughout history – they are not limited to being descended from Saints who lived in the last 100 years or so.

This corresponds with God’s promise that His people would be sifted through the nations, but not one grain would fall to Earth (Amos 9:9). There is duality in this prophecy and by the time of Christ’s return these people will be a great multitude.

Being the “physical elect” is also symbolic that there will be only God’s elect in the Kingdom – the descendants of those who are spiritual Israel (God’s spiritual elect). These are the ones who will typify that only those who are obedient to God shall enter the kingdom of God.

 

They must also be obedient. Remember that the Millennium pictures the Kingdom of God and through the plan of salvation God is not going to have any wilfully disobedient back in His Kingdom. Accordingly, ONLY the obedient seed of the elect will proceed into the Millennial Age. Let's read in Amos chapter 9 and verify that matter.

Amos 9:10

“…‘All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword, Who say, 'The calamity shall not overtake nor confront us.’…”

 

We also see a similar prophecy in Malachi:

Mal 4:1

“…Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire, says the LORD Almighty. Not a root or a branch will be left to them…”

 

 

Do you see what is being said here brethren ?

 

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The Millennium pictures the Kingdom of God.

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The spiritual elect of God will NOT be in the Millennium.

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The obedient physical seed of God’s spiritual elect SHALL be in the Millennium.

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This ultimately pictures the seed of the elect (the firstborn) being in the Kingdom of God, NOT the firstborn who are already ascended.

 

Again we see that the plan of salvation is specifically about those in the second resurrection !

 

 Just as the Promised Land pictured the Kingdom of God, the Millennium pictures the Kingdom of God. With both types we see only the children entering the Kingdom of God, NOT the Saints. This is because the plan of salvation is not about us, it is about the rest of the world – those who actually need the plan of salvation.

 

 

The THIRD confirmation that reveals to whom the plan of salvation applies, is not a type, it is reality – it is a prophecy from God and involves observance of the Feast of Tabernacles.

 

During the Millennium, any nation that does not keep the Feast of Tabernacles shall be punished. Please turn to Zec 14, starting in verse 16,

Zec 14:16-19 (NKJV)

16 ¶  And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations 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.

17  And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain.

18  If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

19  This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

 

This seems to be an extraordinary punishment for not keeping the Feast of Tabernacles, particularly when the punishment does not apply to the other festivals of God.

 

However, when we know that the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the day of judgment (time of assessment) for the rest of the world, then we start to get why the Feast is so important, particularly for those in the second resurrection.

 

The Feast of Tabernacles has been singled out, by God, so those who refuse to observe it receive special punishment.

 

This is because everything in God’s Holy Days so far has just been leading up to the real event – an opportunity for salvation of those who need saving, which is the very reason for the plan of salvation.

 

Anyone, in the Millennium, refusing to observe the Feast is symbolically saying to God, “I do not want an OPPORTUNITY to be saved.”

 

Considering the effort that God, Christ and the Saints have made in order to give this opportunity to them, God will not be happy with anyone either literally or figuratively thumbing their noses at the opportunity for salvation.

It is only through participating in the actual day of judgment that a person will be able to take advantage of the opportunity for salvation. Again, it is emphasized that this opportunity for salvation is what the plan of salvation is all about.

 

 

At this point I would again remind you that God only singled out the Feast of Tabernacles to be connected to this punishment for its non-observance.

 

No such punishment was mentioned in connection with the other Holy Days and that includes the Holy Days involving the Saints, which reminds us that the plan of salvation is NOT about the Saints, who are guaranteed salvation by God.

 

 

Some of the Saints of today are not happy seeing the evil ones in the Church prosper and seeing God allowing them oppress and ruin peoples’ lives.

 

About these evil people of concern, I would say a couple of things:

 

FIRSTLY, they were prophesied to be among us as far back as Enoch (see Jude) and therefore they are present because God put them here as part of our education and testing.

Jude 1:11-14 

11  “…Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.

12  These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

13  Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

14  And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these,…”

 

 

SECONDLY, God is not mocked !

Gal 6:7  (NKJV)

 “…Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap…”

 

No matter how evil someone may be, it is God’s purpose to offer everyone a chance for salvation. Nevertheless, there are those whom God knows cannot repent:

Jer 13:23 (NIV)

“…Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil…”

 

For those who can repent, the difficulty or ease of their day of judgment will depend on what sort of person they are and the evil they have committed in this life. Christ himself has spoken of some of these people:

 

Mat 11:23-24 (KJV)

“…And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee…”

 

Mt 12:42 (KJV)

“…The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here…”

 

But we must remember brethren, there is no joy in a sinner’s difficulty in striving against sin. On the contrary, there is great joy in ANY sinner who repents:

Luk 15:7 

“…In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety–nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!...”

 

 

Brethren, this is what the Feast of Tabernacles is all about, bringing sinners to repentance in their day of judgment.

 

This is what the plan of salvation is all about – these are those to whom the plan of salvation applies!

 

The plan of salvation is about saving sinners, those in need of salvation, those who will become the spiritual children of Christ AND the Church.

 

 

 

 

We Are a Royal Priesthood

Murray Barker

 

 

Part of what prompted this Sermon and why we are Priests of God is the fact that the afflictions of Christ were lacking!

Col 1:24  KJV

“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:”

The NKJV is a little clearer on this point and reads,

“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,”

 

However, both the KJV and the NKJV can cause one to think that Paul is singularly making up for the what was lacking in the afflictions of Christ for the benefit of the Church and thus making him some sort of  sub-saviour to Christ. The NLT is clearer on this point and translates the last part of the Verse thus,

“… for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church.”

 

The NLT gets close, but a word-for-word translation of the original Greek would read as follows:

"...I now rejoice in my sufferings, moreover yours, filling up that which is lacking in the afflictions of Christ in my flesh and continuing in his body, which is the church.

 

Saying exactly the same thing, but in plainer English than the word-for-word translation, we have,

"...I now rejoice in my sufferings, and more yours, filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ that continue in his body, the church."

 

Paul was rejoicing in his own sufferings and was even happier that the church was also enduring sufferings, because it was proof to him that the church was doing its part in filling up what was lacking in the afflictions of Christ. Paul was participating in the afflictions of Christ that continue in the Church and of which all Church members must participate. Such translation is supported by 2Cor 1:7, which states that as we (the Church) are to participate in the consolation of Christ, then we must also participate in his suffering (afflictions).

2Cor 1:7  (KJV)

“And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.”

 

What is this “consolation” that seems to be so important? It cannot mean life, because eternal life is the free gift of God (Rom 5:15-18) after reconciliation through the blood of Christ. The word “consolation” would be better translated “desire”, because this is about what Christ desired and received – he desired to be returned to the Godhead with his full glory restored as it was before the cosmos was created.

John 17:5  (KJV)

“And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”

Again, the NLT puts it a little more clearly, noting that the Greek word which has been translated “world” is Kosmos which, in context, means the entire universe.

John 17:5 

“Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.”

 

So, Christ’s afflictions were lacking and we, the Church, must fill them.

 

Exactly what was lacking in the afflictions of Christ shall be covered presently, but there are a number of other associated matters that also need to be addressed in order to provide sufficient background to assist in understanding this subject. Some of these matters have been covered in great detail in past sermons, but here they may be addressed again in part, some briefly others in more detail. Some associated matters for examination will be as follows:

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Christ's sacrifice.

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What is a Saint, what is being holy and the relationship between the two.

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What is a Priest.

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The relationship between sacrifice, offering and affliction.

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The Doctrine of Election (predestination)

 

There will be some crossover in the explanation of these matters due to their interrelationship.

 

 

Christ’s sacrifice

 

There will be some who are of the opinion that affliction and sacrifice are not the same thing, so at the outset lets have a look at how it is seen by reading an extract from McClintock and Strong Encyclopaedia,

“The sacrifice of Christ is set forth to us as the completion of that perfect obedience to the will of the Father which is the natural duty of sinless man, in which he is the representative of all men, and in which he calls upon us, when reconciled to God, to “take up the cross and follow him.” “In the days of his flesh he offered up prayers and supplications... and was heard, in that he feared; though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered: and being made perfect” (by that suffering; see Heb 2:10), “he became the author of salvation to all them that obey him” (Heb 5:7,8,9). In this view his death is not the principal object; we dwell rather on his lowly incarnation, and his life of humility, temptation, and suffering, to which that death was but a fitting close.

 

Scripture supports this view, which in general, for Christians means that offerings, to do good, to share, fellowship, affliction, suffering, persecution, trials, tribulation, righteousness and anything else relating to these categories falls under the heading of sacrifices. So, let’s not get tripped up by thinking affliction does not mean sacrifice in the context of Christian life. For these categories I will give some examples now and the remainder will be seen as the sermon proceeds and these examples are expanded upon.

Phil 4:18

“Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.”

Psa 51:17 

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Heb 13:15-16

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

Ps 119:71 

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

2Cor 1:6 

And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

Isa 48:10 

Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

Furnace of affliction means suffering, persecution, trials or tribulation, this is part of our sacrifice that we endure and offer up to God, this is partaking of the sacrifice of Christ. Affliction, sacrifice  and offerings are the same thing when speaking in context of a Christian’s life as a Priest and certainly they are synonymous when speaking in context of the sacrifice of the High Priest, Christ.

 

Mark 4:17 

And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

 

As I said, these examples will be addressed again, but for the moment let us be satisfied that all of these categories are sub-categories of sacrifices when taken in context of a Christian’s life and this is expressed very well by McClintock and Strong.

 

 

Now, what is a Saint?

 

For many, especially those who are new to the faith, it is difficult to accept that they are Saints. This difficulty in accepting the truth of God is due to an error that has been taught us from childhood, …..  the popular belief that a “saint” is a perfect or very virtuous person.

 

Relationship Between Being a Saint and being Holy

 

Lets take a look at what the word “Saint” really means, as shown in Strong’s Concordance:

 

Saint in Hebrew – Holy one, one set apart. Not a word to define character, but expresses a relationship to God as being set apart for His own.

Saint in Greek  – Holy one, one set apart. Again not a word to define character, but applied to persons separated to God's service.

 

In Heb 11:32-35 King David, a murderer and adulterer, is contained in the list of the faithful along with Samuel and the prophets describing their attainment to a better resurrection (the resurrection of the Saints). King David could hardly be described as a perfect or virtuous person, but he was a Saint of God.

 

Okay, from these Biblical definitions and examples we can now see that although Saints may not be perfect, they are “Holy”, so what does that mean? Again from Strong’s Concordance:

Holy in Greek – A word with a very similar meaning to “Saint”, which should not be surprising, since both the Hebrew and Greek for Saint also mean “holy”. This is probably why you will not find the expression “holy saint” in either the Old or New Testaments – it would be a needless repetition.

 

God has made it clear that we are His Saints (specifically 61 times in the NT), and being a Saint is about being called out by God to have a special relationship with Him; it is about being separated from the world for service to God. However, being a Saint does not mean we are perfect, it means we have a special responsibility to serve God.

 

This brings us to the subject of the sermon –

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What does it mean to serve God ?

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How do we serve God ?

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What are our responsibilities in this area ?

 

These questions are answered by God, in the title He has given us today and forever. God tells us we are a Royal Priesthood (1Pet 2:9) and this is how we fulfil our responsibilities as God’s called out ones – separated by God to be Priests!! Being a Priest may seem like quite jump from being a Saint, but one is merely an extension of the other.

 

Being a Saint is who we are, being a Priest is what we do !!

 

 

 

The Sacrifices offered up by a Spiritual Priesthood

 

It has always been the responsibility of the priests to offer up sacrifices for the people.

God says Christians offer up to Him Spiritual Sacrifices – What did He mean?

 

The following verse shows that Christians called in this age offer up to God spiritual sacrifices, which were typified by the physical sacrifices offered up to God by the priests who served in the physical temple of old:

1Pet 2:4-6 (NKJV)

“Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,  you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 

 

The above verse likens the church to a building (“...built up a spiritual house...”) and to be priests offering up spiritual sacrifices like the priests of the Old Covenant offered up physical sacrifices in the old physical temple.

 

The question is: What does God mean by spiritual sacrifice? God answers this question by giving examples in the following verses:

Heb 13:15-16 (NKJV).

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

Here the word translated as "share" should actually be translated "fellowship", so even fellowshipping with Church brethren God regards as a sacrifice. 

 

Very simply – this is living God’s way of life; it is following the example of Christ.

 

You see, Christ’s mission on Earth and our mission are one and the same – to serve God and to serve humanity. The detail of the mission is different, but the overall mission is the same – to offer up sacrifice to God for the people. This sacrifice is living God’s way of life. Although ours is a spiritual sacrifice, living God’s way is the physical manifestation of that sacrifice. This is the way it is recorded in James 2:18 (KJV),

“…I will show you my faith by my works…”

 

Other examples of us as Priests and our duty to sacrifice are as follows:

 

1Pet 2:9 (NKJV)

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light;...”

 

Rom 12:1 (NKJV)

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

 

Again, Rom 12:1 is a clear example of how we serve God as His special people; it is a clear explanation of what comprises our spiritual sacrifice – it is living God’s way of life.

 

Phil 4:18 (NKJV)

“Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.”

 

This is an actual Biblical example of physically serving those of the household of faith – living God’s way.  Not saying to people, “…‘be warmed and filled’ and not giving them the things which they need…” (Jam 2:16), but actually doing good deeds for those in real physical need. Being kind to each other as the opportunity arises. Accordingly, while the translation in Heb 13:16 was incorrectly translated as "share", Phil 4:18 shows us that it is indeed one of the sacrifices to be offered up to God and one He says is "well pleasing".

 

Rom 15:16 (NKJV)

“ that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.  

This verse is interesting from the perspective that even when people are living commendable lives it is not enough for God – it is not a sacrifice acceptable to God – they must do it after being baptized with the Holy Spirit, which is the seal of how we become sanctified. Remembering that the sealing part is toward the end of the whole sanctification process and that to be set apart (be holy, be Saints) we must first be known (approved by God) and then be predestined to be the elect to be conformed to the image of Christ.

Rom 8:29 (NKJV)

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

 

 

Now getting back to the examples of spiritual sacrifice:

Even the following verses in the Old Testament explain spiritual sacrifices:

Psa 40:6 (NKJV)

“For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart –  These, O God, You will not despise”.

A broken heart and contrite spirit is NOT describing some whipped dog that cringes in fear at the sound of its master’s voice – it is describing Saints who willingly submit to God by living His way of life, because it is what they sincerely want to do.

 

Psa 4:5 (NKJV)

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the Lord”.  

Again, “offering sacrifices of righteousness” cannot be mistaken for anything except living God’s way of life. Also mentioned in (Psa 51:19 and Deut 33:19).

 

This is what we do as Priests, as spiritual Priests of God.

 

1Pet 2:5 (NKJV)

You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

 

The popular commentaries by Barnes, Poole and RWP on 1Pet 2:5 agree with the above explanation – that we are in fact a Royal Priesthood, NOW. However, I believe the plain Scriptures provided above are more than enough so there is no need to recite the commentaries at this time, but please feel free to read them in private study.

 

 

Why the requirement for our Sacrifice?

 

This is the real question –  WHY?

Why are we required to sacrifice; was not Christ’s sacrifice sufficient?

 

The First Part of this answer, to which there are two parts, is pretty straight-forward and even obvious. It derives from our designation as the Elect of God who are to be conformed to the image of Christ. Unfortunately, what many Christians do not understand is that this conformity with Christ means more than becoming like him in righteousness, it also means becoming like him in partaking of sufferings. This was just covered, partly, by revealing that we are a spiritual Priesthood that offers up spiritual sacrifices for the people.  So, while Christ is our High Priest, we are the Priests and must be conformed to his image and then receive our reward.

 

Rom 8:16-17 (NKJV)

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

 

We are partakers of the sufferings and therefore shall be partakers of the reward and this promise is stated more categorically in 2Cor 1:7 (NKJV),

And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

 

Saints are who we are and being Priests offering spiritual sacrifices is what we do, by decree of God. The reward also is already predetermined, which is why God speaks in the past tense when He says “we are glorified”.

Rom 8:30 (KJV)

“Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

 

There is no choice here, brethren – our path is set and the outcome is known. This path was chosen for us by God a long time ago, even before the foundation of the cosmos when we were called the Elect Of God predestined, that is predetermined, to be the brethren of Christ.

Rom 8:36  (KJV)

“As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Psa 139:16 (NLT)

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

 

You see brethren, not only were we predestined to be the Elect of God, to be Saints, to Priests NOW, but like David our whole path in life has been laid out before we were even born. There is no choice here, brethren – this is what God decided before the ages of time began. This is who we are and this is what we do, for the benefit of humanity. We do as our elder brother did; we follow his example as Priest and offer up spiritual sacrifices to God.

 

 

The Second Part of the answer to the question of,  “Why are we required to sacrifice; was not Christ’s sacrifice sufficient”, is not so straight-forward and definitely has not been taught in the Churches of God.  The answer lies in the second part of the question.

 

NO, Christ’s sacrifice was not sufficient, it was lacking! As explained above, afflictions, although a broad category in itself, is but a sub-category of sacrifice.

 

Please turn again to God’s Word:

Col 1:24 (NKJV)

“ I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church”

 

Again we come back to the mission – Christ’s mission on Earth and our mission are one and the same – to serve God and to serve humanity. The detail of the mission is different, but the overall mission is the same – to offer up sacrifice to God for the people. Christ’s sacrifice was perfect, but was not complete the Church, the body of Christ, would complete the perfect sacrifice for humanity and that is the succinct explanation behind Col 1:24. Christ's mission was to die a sinless man for humanity and that he did to perfection. Christ's mission, including small details, were bound in prophecy and Christ was very particular in ensuring all that was spoken of himself by the prophets would be fulfilled thus ensuring that he carried out his mission perfectly.

 

However, prior to the night he was betrayed, tortured and finally murdered on the cross, he had led what could only be described as a charmed life. He was killed before dying of old age and the yearly pain that comes with old age. Christians, in the main, do not live charmed lives – there are extremely few who go through life without long-term suffering of some sort. Many early Christians had to give their lives – being eaten by wild animals in the arena, or sawn in two, others were continually persecuted by their pagan neighbours and God particularly commends the sacrifice of righteousness (doing what is right in a society that is really opposed to God in so many ways). Also, there was no Church at the time of Christ, so it would later fall to the people to offer up to God sacrifices of sharing and fellowship that relate to Church membership. These are the things that Christian must endure to fill up the entire sacrifice of Christ. The Church is the body of Christ and the afflictions of the Church therefore also become the afflictions of Christ. Accordingly, the afflictions of the Church and the afflictions of Christ join together to make up the complete sacrifice of Christ. By the return of Christ our afflictions shall be complete and perfect, which is one of the main reasons WHY God has mapped out every moment of our lives, as He did with David – the sacrifice of Christ must not only be perfect, it must also be complete and this will be accomplished through the Church.

Rom 8:4  (KJV)

"That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

 

Now remember what Paul said, that he “filled up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church”. Paul was not the whole Church. He was an example of what the Church, the body of Christ, must endure. Remember that God is no respecter of persons and there are many parts of Scripture that directly cite this fact – Act 10:34, Rom 2:11, Eph 6:9, Col 3:25, 1Pet 1:17 are some which you can research in your private study. Paul was not so much speaking of himself, as he was warning the rest of the Church what to expect and giving them a reason for why some unpleasant things were happening to them and would continue to happen. Let’s read that again,

Col 1:24 (NKJV)

“ I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church

 

Now we have an explanation of our situation of suffering/sacrifice as Christians – it is because we are the Elect of God and as such we are to be conformed to the image of Christ fully, in righteousness and suffering. This is being a Priest of God! We are filling up what was lacking in the afflictions of Christ.

  

 

Old Priesthood and New Priesthood

 

Should There Be Women Priests?

 

There were no women in the old priesthood – this is because in Old Covenant times the Priests were also instructors of the people, they were what one would call preachers. However, under the New Covenant the duties of the Priest have been defined differently and only involve the offering of sacrifice to God on behalf of the people. The aspect of preaching has been excluded from priestly duties and is now the responsibility of men who have been given a special gift by God. In fact all duties in the Church are now in that same category – they are to be done by people who have been given special gifts by God. Thus, God has put all members in the body as it has pleased Him. This is the government of God in the Church – one member is not superior or inferior to another, each member performs duties in accordance with the gifts of God.

Rom 12:4-6 (RSV)

“For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function,

so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:…”

 

All are Saints and therefore all are Priests, but not everyone has the same function. Under the New Covenant being a Priest and being a preacher are not mutually inclusive. In fact women are expressly forbidden to preach or have authority over men.

1Cor 14:34 (NLT)

“Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says.”

1Tim 2:12 (NKJV)

“And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.”

 

However, just as women can now be circumcised spiritually, so too can they now perform the duties of the New Covenant Priest, as defined in the New Testament. In fact the Priestly duties of sacrifice are required of both men and women – both are subject to the afflictions of human life, which has been decreed by God, in order to fill up what was lacking in the afflictions Christ. Just as with Christ and the Church, where each had the same mission, it was the detail of the mission for each that was different. So too with men and women, the mission is the same, it is just the detail of the mission for each that is different. In fact the same principle applies to all of God’s Elect.

 

 

The Outcome of Priesthood

 

Both the old Priesthood and the new Priesthood have a common core – the sacrifice is for humanity, not the self, for we are already approved by God, being His Elect from before the foundation of the cosmos.

 

Being a Priest is part of and results from the Doctrine of Election. What both do is provide us with a shift of emphasis from self to others. Just as the Plan of Salvation is not about us – it is not about us trying to get ourselves saved – being Priests of God is not about us. Being Priests of God is for the purpose of offering sacrifices for the people, being afflicted for the hope of saving the people, not us. It is for the purpose of filling what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.

 

The sacrifices offered up by the priests in the physical temple typify various aspects of Christ’s spiritual life or example. They picture Him and various aspects of  his life on Earth.

 

Also, the sacrifices don’t just picture Christ’s beating and death on the cross, they represent his whole life on Earth, which was service to mankind (as portrayed by the foot washing ceremony at Passover) and therefore was a spiritual sacrifice, not just a physical sacrifice.

 

They represented what He did while on Earth, as well as what we do, because we follow Christ’s example – we are the body of Christ. Yes, like Christ we do offer up spiritual sacrifice and that was also pictured by the sacrifices the Levitical Priests offered. Because they all picture the life of Christ, the sacrifices also picture Christ in us. This fulfils an important part of our predestination as mentioned in,

Rom 8:29 (KJV)

“For whom he did foreknow [approved], he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

 

The reason why the verses concerning Christian acts of service, are called sacrifices or offerings is because we follow Christ’s example, which is actually part of his overall sacrifice. Christ is our High Priest and we are Priests, offering up spiritual sacrifices to God according to the example of Christ and as part of conforming to the image of Christ. As the Elect of God this is what He predetermined we should be and what we should be doing before the ages of time began, before the foundation of the cosmos.