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The Three False Doctrines

 

By Dr. Richard Ing

January 15, 2008

 

WHO IS LUCIFER REALLY?

 

In order to successfully engage in spiritual warfare, we need to know as much about the enemy as we can.  Just who is this so-called Lucifer, the dragon and Satan?  It is important to know the truth about the enemy and about ourselves.

 

There is a false doctrine circulating around the church world that Satan was once a glorious archangel, second only to God in power, who rebelled against God, was defeated, and then thrown out of heaven unto earth where he has ruled ever since.  Evangelists, ministers and writers have been unwittingly propagating that familiar doctrine and Satan loves it.  He knows what it does to God's people.  It robs us of a clear vision of who we really are and who we can be in Jesus Christ.

 

Satan strives to: (1) give us a different Jesus; (2) build himself up as greater in power than he really is; (3) make us believe we are more puny and insignificant than we really are; (4) destroy the credibility of the Bible as God’s true Word; and (5) keep us from walking in the Spirit.  He does it by giving us false doctrines.

 

IS LUCIFER REALLY SATAN?

 

Does “Lucifer” refer to Satan and is it really his name?  We think not as to both counts.  Certainly, he loves to use that name and his demons actually call him Lucifer, now that we have mistakenly named him that.  The idea that Lucifer is Satan, arose only since around the beginning of the third century A.D.  Prior to that time, no one called Satan "Lucifer".  The members of the Jewish faith never called the devil "Lucifer," even today. 

 

Isaiah 14:12 is the only verse in the entire Bible using the word "Lucifer", and only in the King James Version and Bibles such as the Living Bible that are based on the King James Version.  Isaiah 14:12 says, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”  Every other verse in the Bible pertaining to Satan uses names such as the devil, the great dragon, the old serpent, accuser of the brethren, the adversary, the authority of darkness, Beelzebub, Belial, the enemy, the god of this age, a liar, the father of lies, a roaring lion, a murderer, the ruler of the authorities of the air, the ruler of this world, the tempter, a thief and the wicked one, but never "Lucifer".  Jesus Himself never used the word "Lucifer" when referring to Satan.  It seems strange that no Bible character after the time of Isaiah (around 625 B. C.) until today called the devil "Lucifer."

 

THE HISTORICAL LUCIFER

 

Originally, the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Chaldee, then Greek, Latin and German, and eventually into English.  The original Greek used the words "morning star".  When the Latin translators interpreted those words, they tried to relate it to something intensely bright so they used the Latin word "lucifer", which means "burning phosphorus," which is intensely bright. 

 

Pick any English dictionary and see. In the Oxford Dictionary, "Lucifer" means "light bringer."  The word "lucifer" was not originally spelled with a capital "L".  Thus, the word "lucifer" actually means a bright light, like a star or burning phosphorus, and was not a proper noun until the English translators changed it through error.  “Lucifer” is a Latin word and is not found in either Hebrew or Chaldee.  Therefore, the word “Lucifer” does not belong in any Bible except possibly one written in Latin.  How is it then that most in the church persist in calling Satan "Lucifer?"

 

The 1962 edition of the Amplified Bible shares in its footnote to Isaiah 14:12, that "light bringer" or "shining one" was the original translation of "lucifer" by the Latin translators, and is the Latin equivalent of the Greek word  "phosphorous", which was the closest the translators could come to relaying the idea of some intensely bright object.  The researchers of the New International Version, and the New American Standard Bible eliminate the word "Lucifer" from the Bible, thus agreeing with the Amplified writers.  "Lucifer" does not belong in any Bible other than the Latin Bible, and is not Satan's name.  Our position is not new.  If anything, we are reasserting the doctrine held by the early church up to around 300 A.D.

 

DAY STAR

 

“Lucifer” is a Latin word that means “morning star” or “day star.”  The phrase or title, "day star," is used as a description of Christ himself, in 2 Peter 1:19, and also corresponds to the name "bright morning star" which Jesus calls Himself in Revelation 22:16.  Both imply something intensely bright.  Thus, the "day or morning star" mentioned in Isaiah 14:12 is equivalent to the "day star" in 2 Peter 1:19 and Revelation 22:16.

 

WHO IS THIS "LUCIFER", THE DAY STAR OR LIGHT BRINGER?

 

If the word "lucifer" actually does not refer to Satan, then who does it refer to?  Or, if "lucifer" is not properly in the Bible, who is the "day star" or "shining one" of Isaiah 14:12?  That question is one of great importance. 

 

The word "lucifer" refers to the first Adam before he fell.  Adam was originally a "bright morning star" clothed with the light of God.  It is Adam that fell from grace.  It is Adam who was once a glorious being, full of wisdom and knowledge, who had dominion over the creations of God in the garden of Eden.  It is Adam who lost his covering of light and became corrupt flesh.  Genesis 3:6 says that when Adam and Eve sinned, "... the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons."  When Adam sinned, the spirit light that covered him died out or diminished greatly.  For the first time, he could see his nakedness.  The flesh had taken over where once the spirit ruled supreme.  He lost his bright "morning star" and everlasting life.

When Adam sinned, the life eternal that had been originally given to Adam left him.  He was now subject to corruption and eventually death.  The flesh leads to death; the Spirit to life.  Ro. 8:2, 6.

 

The "Lucifer" found in Isaiah 14:12 could never refer to Satan.  Isaiah 14:11 says, "Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee."  Again, in Isaiah 14:19, the scriptures say: “But thou art cast out of the grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust though with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under feet.”. 

 

According to Isaiah 14, this "lucifer” refers to one who was flesh, who tasted the grave, whose body was consumed by worms, whose carcass was trodden under feet.  Satan was never flesh, he is spirit - always has been.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Satan was once flesh, died, went down to the grave, and was eaten of worms.  Besides, he is still alive today.  He has never tasted physical death. It was Adam who suffered physical death and went down to the grave.  It was Adam, whose dead flesh was eaten of worms.

 

In Isaiah 14:16, this "lucifer" is called a man:  "Is this the man that made the earth to tremble that did shake kingdoms ...”  (Underlining added).  Satan was never a man.  Isaiah 14:19-21 says:

 

But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under feet. Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned.  Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.

 

Such language applies to a man who died, who was thrust through with a sword, whose carcass was trodden under feet, whose sin has been passed down to his children, and whose iniquity has come down through the generations.  They will not possess the promised land.  He destroyed his land and slew his people.  His children shall be slaughtered.  On the other hand, Satan’s end is the pit, not the grave.  He is destined for the pit and after a thousand years, the lake of fire.  Rev. 20:3, 10.  Satan was never cast out of a grave and never will be. 

 

It was Adam who was once a glorious being, full of wisdom, who fell from a great height.  Adam's rebellious nature has been passed down to all mankind (except for Jesus).  Satan never had a "people" which he killed, although it could be argued that evil people are offspring of the devil. (In John 8:44, Jesus told the Pharisees that their father was the devil. But the Pharisees were also descendants of the first Adam.)  He may have demon‑angels which make up his kingdom, but he hasn't slain them.  On the other hand, it is Adam whose descendants are slain and slaughtered.  It is the people or descendants of Adam that are killed by the sin nature Adam passed down to his people.  “The wages of sin is death.”  Ro. 6:23.  Isai-ah 14:21 says, "Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers...."  This verse indicates that Satan was not the father; that there were many fathers (plural) for "his children."  Even as the descendants of King David were called the offspring or children of David, unregenerate men are the children of the fallen Adam.

 

JESUS - THE LAST ADAM

 

Jesus came as the last Adam ‑ a quickening spirit.  I Corinthians 15:45 says, "And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit."  The word "quickening" refers to life bringing, to make alive, give life.  To "quicken" is to give life.  The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #2227.

 

Jesus is the last Adam.  He is life.  Jn. 11:25; 14:6.  He is also the light.  Jn. 8:12.  Jesus said, "... I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."  Like the first Adam, before Adam fell, Jesus is a bright and morning star.  The light who is Jesus represents life.  When Adam sinned, he lost it.

 

Satan was never a bright and morning star. 

 

SO, WHO OR WHAT IS SATAN REALLY?

 

Revelation 12:7‑9 says:

 

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 

 

This is the passage often used to show that Satan was once a powerful archangel, second only to God, who was a glorious being, but rebelled against God and was thrown out of heaven to the earth where he has been confined ever since.

 

There are several things wrong with that interpretation.  First, the entire Book of Revelation is about the end of the age.  If Revelation 12:7-9 refers to a period of time even before Adam was created (according to the doctrine that Satan was once an archangel, he rebelled and was kicked out before Adam was created), then that passage would be completely out of sync with the rest of Revelation. 

 

Secondly, if the Devil was cast out before mankind was created, how could he have deceived the whole world?  There would have been no one to deceive, except perhaps the angels.  Besides, what world or earth would there have been to be cast out into and to deceive?  Revelation 12:10 says, “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”  If Satan was an archangel that was cast out of heaven before Adam and Eve were created, there would have been no brethren to accuse day and night before God.

 

Thirdly, the apostle Paul taught that Satan and his evil rulers are still ruling from the mid-heavens. Their areas of control are called principalities, powers, dominions.  Eph. 6:12.

 

Satan's fall is yet to come.  Rev. 12:8, 9.  He still rules from high places in the atmosphere around the earth.  That's why he's called the prince of the power of the air.  Eph. 2:2.  He may not be in God's third heaven (2 Co. 12:2), but he and his evil minions are still in the mid-heavens, earth being the first heaven. 

 

Meanwhile, Satan has not been thrust through with a sword, nor eaten by worms, nor consigned to the grave.  He continues to rule the earth from the mid‑heavens until his time comes to be cast down.  Revelation is a vision of the end times, and of things to come, not of times past.  That old dragon will be cast unto the earth in the near future.

 

SATAN A FORMER ARCHANGEL?

 

Satan was never an archangel.  Jesus said that Satan was a liar and a murderer from the beginning.  In John 8:44, the Lord said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."  I John 3:8 says, "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning...." 

 

The word "beginning" means from the origin, the start, the creation.  He was a murderer from his very origin, his first estate.  (The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #746.)  I have heard arguments that the devil was an archangel who became the devil only when God created the heavens and the earth, because "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."  Gen. 1:1.  They use John 1:1: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God...."  Since Jesus has no beginning and no end, the "beginning" referred to must mean when God created the heavens and the earth.  The moment he sinned, they claim, he converted from an archangel to a devil and therefore, we can say he sinneth from the beginning of his being a devil.  The trouble is, we still cannot find any scriptures that say that Satan was once an archangel, none whatsoever.

 

Satan was never an angel, much less an archangel.  God created him as Satan from the beginning and he was a murderer from the very moment of his creation.  God created him like that.

 

In truth, there are only two scriptures in the Bible referring to an "archangel":  I Thessalonians 4:16 and Jude 9.  I Thessalonians 4:16 refers to the return of Jesus “with the voice of an archangel”.  Jude 9 speaks of “Michael the archangel.”  There is no scripture connecting Satan to the word "archangel."  How did that idea ever come about?  And how did Satan’s name become “Lucifer?”  It is part of Satan’s plan to weaken the church.  If we think that we are puny beings compared to Satan, the former archangel, what chance would we have?

 

CAN GOD CREATE EVIL?

 

What?  God create evil?  How can it be?  Isn't God a god of love and good?  Yes.  But God is God of everything.  He lives in light, but He also lives in darkness.  Psalms 18:11 says, "... He made darkness his secret place."   In I Kings 8:12, Solomon says, "The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness."  Also - II Chr. 6:1.

 

Contrary to popular, sentimental belief, God creates both good and evil.  In Isaiah 45:7, God says, "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things."  True, some of the other Bibles use the word "calamity" or "disaster."  The import, however, is the same.  In Isaiah 54:16, God says, "Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work: and I have created the waster to destroy."  God not only creates, He destroys; or put another way, He creates destruction.

 

The wonderful message is that God is in complete control.  He is omnipotent; there is no other God, no other creator.  There is no being or power that He did not create or intend.  In Isaiah 44:6, He says, "I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God."  Over and over again, He says, "I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me."  Is. 45:5, 6.  God  created all of it.  He created the kingdom of darkness.  He is a God of love, but He is also a God of judgment. He created heaven for believers; and He also created hell for the unrighteous.  He created Satan as Satan, not as a "lucifer".  Satan was created as evil, not as a holy archangel who rebelled and was kicked out of heaven.  Hell and Satan were created for the highest good of mankind - to both give them a choice and to drive them to God.  As difficult as it may be to understand, God created hell and Satan out of His love and desire for you and me.  How else can we be perfected in Christ, but through trials and sufferings?  It is through our overcoming of Satan, the flesh and the world that we attain the highest rewards in heaven, that incorruptible crown of righteousness.  Phil. 3:14; I Co. 9:25.

 

Our God is undefeatable.  Satan will never be able to defeat God; he is only masquerading as someone powerful enough to challenge God.  He is no lucifer, second in power only to God.  He is a defeated enemy of God's people and due to be defeated once more by the overcomers of the Lord.  Rev. 12:11.  He must bow to God.  He has already been defeated and will lose again - this time, to the people of God.  Yes, we need to respect his power and ability to deceive, but we are more than conquerors through Christ that loved us.  Ro. 8:37. 

 

Satan was not a mistake that God made ‑ an archangel who rebelled against his creator.  He was created just the way he is. 

 

The truth is, the devil was created by God as evil from the very beginning, the same way hell was created as a place of judgment and punishment.  Satan was no glorious being.  He never was an angel second only to God.  He did not fall as "Lucifer", and then decide to be God's adversary forever.  He was created in order to drive us back to God, to be our adversary, to challenge and force us to choose between the kingdom of light or Satan's kingdom of darkness.  Think of it, if there were no adversary or competitor, no one would strive to better himself.  There would be no reason to.  It would be like giving a gold medal to everyone that entered the race.  Why strive?

 

Satan was created by God to test mankind.  He is the executor of judgment and the tester of hearts and intents.  He is the adversary that exposes the imperfections of the flesh and forces mankind to make choices and to seek God in times of trouble. 

 

SATAN STILL HAS ACCESS TO HEAVEN

 

Satan is still in the mid-heavens - the atmosphere around the earth and he still has access to the throne of God.  Otherwise, how can we explain Job 1:6 that says, "... the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them."  It doesn't say that Satan sneaked in among them or that he came as an imposter or a spy.  He came along with the sons of God, the creations of God, and he came to report and give obeisance to his creator.  God and Satan then engaged in a lively conversation:

 

And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou?  Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.  And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

 

The conversation continues on.  Does that seem like two deadly and committed enemies at each other's throats?  How would Satan be able to sneak into heaven?  After all, God is omniscient - all knowing.

 

The same is said again in Job 2.  In Job 2:2, the Lord said to Satan, "From whence comest thou?"  (Of course, God already knew).  Satan came to report to God, as did the other creations of God.  Again, he communed with God and they talked about Job.  God instructed Satan to test Job further.  Does that sound like Satan had been thrown out of heaven, this "lucifer", who is posing as a rebellious angel who claims that he will come back and defeat God the next time? 

 

In Zechariah 3:1, 2, the prophet Zechariah was taken into vision and he relates the following:  And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.  And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; . . . .”

 

What was Satan doing in heaven?  He was accusing Joshua, the high priest before God.  If Satan is an archangel who was thrown out of heaven never to be able to return again to heaven, what is he doing having a talk with God in heaven? 

Similarly, in Revelation 12:10, an angel of the Lord cries out loudly, "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night."  If Satan were a rebellious angel who was forcibly defeated and thrown out of heaven, how is it that he is able to accuse us day and night before or in front of our God without fear?  If Satan had been thrown out of heaven, why would God even bother to listen to him?

 

Some argue that Revelation 12:1-6 may refer to the end times, but the scriptures from verses 7 to 9 flip back to a time before the creation of Adam and Eve.  Verses 10 to 17 then flip back to the end times.  Frankly, I find that argument intellectually dishonest if not downright silly.  If we can indiscriminately apply different times frames to any scripture, we can turn the Bible inside out at random.  There is no hermeneutical basis for such manipulation.

 

Again, in Luke 22:31, Jesus said to Simon, “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon; behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren”.

 

The New American Standard Bible says that Satan “demanded permission” that he might sift Peter like wheat.  You see, Satan comes before the throne of God and accuses us of all of our sins and petitions God that he may have you and me to sift like wheat - to oppress, depress and destroy.  But, as with Peter, Jesus makes intercession and prays for us that the Father turn back Satan's petition.  Sometimes, the Father allows Satan to "touch" us as he did Job and Peter.  But the prayers and intercessions of our Lord pull us through those times of danger.

 

I suppose one can argue that Satan doesn't have to go to heaven to talk to God, because God is omnipresent - everywhere at the same time.  But does that mean that when Satan went to report to God along with the other sons (creations) of God, that the sons of God had to go to hell or wherever Satan was.  After all, Satan came “among them”.  Were the sons of God with Satan or not?  Why would the Bible bother to mention that Satan came among the other sons of God if each of them could have merely talked to God wherever they happened to be?  The argument that Satan could talk to God wherever Satan was at the time does not address the problem that Satan and God were supposedly deadly enemies vying for superiority and rulership of the universe.  Why have a conversation at all?  Then, if Satan had merely to talk to God wherever he happened to be, why would God ask him, “Whence comest thou?”  Satan had to go somewhere in order to have come from somewhere.

 

If God and Satan were deadly contestants, why would Satan even have to bother petitioning God to go after anyone, including Peter?  Why would Satan resist the angel of God regarding Joshua the high priest in Zechariah 3:3?  In that passage, God merely said, "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, ...." and Satan had to cease his resistance to the appointment of Joshua to restore Jerusalem.  If they were mortal enemies, would a simple rebuke have stopped Satan?  Is Satan so powerful that he dared to appear before God without any of his demons protecting him from God and God’s angels? 

 

Satan can never challenge God.  God is all‑powerful and supreme.  There is just one God, there will always be just one God.  Satan can act only within the parameters set by God and with special permission.  While God created Satan the way he is, we are the ones that allow Satan to do his evil.  It is our sins and the sins of our ancestors that bring curses upon us and open the door to Satan to do his evil and insidious work.  It is the combined rebellion and sins of the peoples of the world that give Satan his power to do evil.  God created Satan as an agent of evil, but it is our sins that allow Satan to do evil.

 

SO, WHO IS THIS "LUCIFER"?

 

Why is it important that we know that Satan was never an archangel, never a bright and morning star, and is not a “lucifer?”  It is because Satan does not want us to know who the real “lucifer” really was.  It would destroy his lies and give the people of God strength to defeat him.

 

THE REAL LUCIFER IS ADAM BEFORE HE FELL.  No, "Lucifer" is not Adam's name.  Lucifer is nobody’s name.  But Adam was once a glorious being, clothed with the light of God - a veritable morning star.  He was powerful and wise.  He was given dominion over all the creatures in the Garden of Eden.  He was given the privilege to name all the creatures.  He daily walked and communed with God himself.  He was made in the very image of God and was favored above all creatures.  God gave Adam dominion over all the herbs which were given to him for food.  He was given the privilege of eating of the tree of life.  He could have lived forever.  Gen. 1‑2.  Adam knew many things.  He was not a puny being, foolish and condemned to die.  He was glorious, wiser than Daniel and perfect in all his ways before iniquity was found in him.  Eze. 28:3. He was a bright and morning star, like Jesus is.  No, Adam was never God, nor was he ever equal to Jesus.  But Adam was once glorious and his brilliance was awesome to behold. 

 

When Adam fell, he lost it all.  The light went out and his flesh took predominance over his spirit.  His soul began to serve his flesh instead of his spirit.

 

EZEKIEL 28

 

Ezekiel 28 is the chapter that Satan uses to convince us that he was an archangel.  It's a lie.  Again, Ezekiel 28 does not refer to Satan.  It refers to Adam before he fell and then after he fell.

 

Verse 14 says, "... thou art the anointed cherub."  This is where some people stumble.  The word "cherub" is not equal to the word "archangel."  "Cherub" means "imaginary or heavenly being".  Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #3742, pg. 57, Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary.  It does not indicate exalted rank among the angels of God.  Therefore, even if this verse applies to Satan (which it doesn’t) it does not mean "archangel."

Ezekiel 28:1-19 in its entirety does not apply to Satan.  It applies to the fallen Adam.  For instance, Ezekiel 28:2b says, “Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God in the midst of the seas: yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God.  (Underlining added)  Is Satan a man?  Again in verse 6, the Word says, "... because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God."  Verse 9 says, "Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee."  (Underlining added) 

 

This "man" who wanted to be god was Adam.  Satan has never been slain or killed as this passage says.  He is still the same Satan he ever was.  It was Adam who died, whose flesh was eaten of worms.  It was Adam who wanted to be God.

 

ADAM WANTED TO BE GOD

 

I Timothy 2:14 says, "... And Adam was not deceived, but the woman...."  If Adam was not deceived, then the serpent did not deceive Adam into eating the forbidden fruit.  If Adam knew that want the serpent said was a lie, then why didn't he stop Eve?  The answer is simple:  Adam wanted to be God.  He didn’t need to be convinced.  Rebellion was already in his heart.  Eve didn’t plant it there.  He just didn't have the courage to take the fruit himself, and when he heard the serpent speaking to Eve, he saw his chance to become as God.  If things didn't turn out right, he could always blame Eve.  That's exactly what Adam did.  When God asked Adam if he had eaten the fruit, Adam said, "... The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat."  First, he blamed God, then he blamed Eve.  Even today, men persist in blaming the women for the fall of man.  Truth be told, Adam was as responsible, if not more than Eve.

 

The serpent did not have to deceive Adam.  Adam had already deceived himself.

 

THE DOUBLE DECEPTION

 

What transpired in the garden of Eden was a double deception.  The serpent deceived Eve, but so did Adam.  When he heard the serpent talking to Eve, Adam could have intervened and stopped the conversation, but he merely stood to the side.  He was an opportunist, and a betrayer.  Like Ahab, the king of Israel, he stood on the side and allowed his wife to rule the kingdom because it there was some benefit in it for him.

 

Eve did not tie Adam up with ropes or vines and stuff the fruit down Adam’s throat; nor did Adam resist her.  He willingly and intentionally ate the fruit with full knowledge of the possible consequences.  Adam had his excuses and alibis all set up.  If God caught them and their plan failed, Adam could always blame Eve.  Eve was set up by Adam to take the blame and the responsibility, but God was not fooled. 

 

Some people claim that Adam loved Eve too much and that’s why he ate the fruit - so he could join her - that Adam didn’t want her to take all the punishment by herself.  Not so.  Adam knew the penalty was death.  In effect, when Adam was caught, he said to God, “Kill her, not me!”          Moses, on the other hand, was willing to take the penalty for the stiff-necked people of Israel.  In Exodus 32, the Israelites worshiped a golden calf and God was angry.  In verse 31, we find: “... and Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.  Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin - ; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.”  Moses was innocent, but he never blamed the people.  He asked to take their punishment for them.  Moses loved his people.  Not so with the first Adam.  The first Adam was willing to let God kill Eve.  It’s difficult to imagine that Adam was motivated by love for Eve, as some claim.

 

The last Adam, Jesus Christ, is diametrically opposite from the first Adam.  Jesus was not only willing to pay the price for you and me, he actually proved His love by dying on the cross on Calvary.  Jesus was pure and blameless, yet He paid the price for our sins.  The first Adam did not love Eve unto the death and the first Eve had no sense of submission and obedience to God’s delegated authority.  It amounted to rebellion on both sides.  That’s why the apostle Paul instructed us in Ephesians 5:22-28:

 

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the body.  There-fore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  Hus-bands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it: that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blemish.  So ought men to love their wives as their bodies.  He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

 

Paul was not a male chauvinist.  He was talking about being conformed unto the image of our Lord Jesus Christ, the last Adam.  You see, the two greatest characteristics and the very nature of our Lord Jesus is love, submission and humility.  Humility leads to a submissive attitude and a submissive attitude to obedience. 

 

Paul is the Eves of this world to practice humility, submission and obedience.  The first Eve failed to submit to Adam’s headship.  She never bothered to ask Adam for his permission or opinion.  In effect, she had no respect for Adam’s authority.  She considered herself at least equal to Adam in position and authority.  She ignored God’s right to choose His leaders.  Isn’t that the problem we have today in our families and churches?  Lack of submission, humility and obedience lead to rebellion. 

 

Likewise, Adam failed to demonstrate any love towards Eve in protecting and cherishing her as himself.  That’s why Paul said for husbands to love their wives, even as they love themselves and even to the extent of dying for them.  The very character of Jesus is directly opposite that of the first Adam and Eve. 

 

We born-again Christians are no longer of the race of the first Adam; we belong to a new race of people, conformed to the image of the last Adam, Jesus Christ.  Whatever the first Adam is or was, Jesus came to reverse and restore.

 

A SPECIAL CURSE ON THE EVES OF THE WORLD

 

In order to further insure that we be conformed unto the image of God, that women seek and submit to the authority and protection of the men, and men love their wives and protect and cherish them, God put a special curse between the serpent and the woman.  In Genesis 3:15, God said, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed....”  The word “enmity” is related to the word “enemy.”  Satan is a special enemy of women.  That’s why women seem to be more easily misled and subject to demonic attack than men.

 

Don’t get me wrong.  Women are probably more spiritual and sensitive to the things of God than men; but they are more easily deceived and led astray because of their soft hearts.  Most deliverance ministers will confirm that for every man who is infested with demons, at least five women are.  Most psychics, people in witchcraft and occult practitioners are women.  Even primitive societies claim that more women than men are possessed by evil spirits.  Satan has a special hatred for women and will use, abuse and humiliate women more than men.

 

That’s why God requires that men be the cover for the women and protect them.  Women who do not submit to male leadership will be vulnerable to satanic attack.  There are many fine women leaders and saints, but those who are governed by pride and self-glorification will fall, sooner or later.  Any woman leader who completely submits herself to God’s line of authority will be protected against Satan.  Those who see themselves as not needful of male authority or protection will open the door to unusual and persistent demonic attack.

 

Conversely, if men do not take the responsibility to love and protect the women, God will judge them.

 

WHY SATAN MASQUERADES AS THE SHINING ONE

 

Satan doesn't want us to know how powerful Adam once was.  If we knew, we would be encouraged to grow up into spiritual maturity and stand against Satan.  Mankind's status would be upgraded in our own eyes and faith would increase.  Satan wants us to think that we have no chance against him and his evil army, that we are just puny, stupid beings with no hope of ever defeating him - the powerful archangel who rules the earth today.  Satan not only stole dominion over the earth from Adam, he deceived mankind into giving him the exalted status Adam once had.  Now, he wants to rob us of our inheritance in Jesus Christ, and the knowledge of who we really were, are and can be in Christ.

 

It was Adam who was once incredibly powerful, beautiful and wise. It was Adam who once ruled the earth.  It was Adam who was once a morning star.  Satan doesn't want us to know that Jesus came to restore us to that glorious state Adam enjoyed before he rebelled against God.  He is afraid of the overcomers.  In Revelation 2:26-29, the Bible says:

 

And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I have power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.  And I will give him the morning star. (Underlining added)  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

 

God wants to give us back the morning star and all that Adam lost when he sinned.  He wants you and me to be restored to everything Adam once had. He wants us to shine as children of light, fully mature and in the image of Jesus Christ.  The light of life is ours to receive through Jesus.  After all, the entire Bible is the story of God’s desire to have a perfect bride for His Son, Jesus Christ.  That perfect bride is a perfect church and a perfect church is made up of perfect sons of daughters. 

 

The true Gospel of the Kingdom is that Jesus has provided the path back to the tree of life in the garden of Eden for you and me.  He is the tree of life.  The overcomers mentioned in the book of Revelation are not just those believers who are hanging on to their faith, hoping to live a good life, then die and go to heaven.  We are called into spiritual maturity while on earth, into over-comership to destroy the demonic kingdoms of this earth.  The overcomers will inherit all things and be restored to that high position that the original Adam had, and even higher.  Rev. 21:7. 

 

You see, Satan would be in deep trouble if you knew how glorious and powerful Adam once was and that God, through Jesus, has given us the power and authority of God Himself through the Holy Spirit, to be restored to the glory that Adam had before he fell.  But, if you are led to think that mankind is puny and cannot defeat Satan, who is an archangel, you will be robbed of a clear vision.  If we don’t know what God has laid before us as a reward if we overcome, we will not likely strive to overcome.  Come to think of it, that’s probably why the church is not interested in paying the price to be like Jesus.  Satan doesn’t want you to know how powerful and magnificent you really can be.  “And I will give him the morning star.”  Rev. 2:28.

 

Know you not that we will judge angels, that the overcomers, who overcome even as Jesus did, will share His throne with Him?  Rev. 3:21.  God has in mind an even more glorious state for you and me than what the first Adam had.  "Where there is no vision, the people perish..." Prov. 29:18.  Satan does not want us to have that vision.  He'd rather that we perish in our ignorance.  If we only know who we really are and what God has in store for us.  The Bible says in I Corinthians 2:9, "... Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him."

Don't you know that you can be more glorious than Satan will ever be and never was?  There is glory ahead of you if you have that vision and strive to fulfill it.  Are you willing to overcome even as Jesus did?  Rev. 3:21.  Jesus overcame through His sufferings.  He learned obedience through the things He suffered.  Heb. 5:8.  The time to overcome is now, on earth, not when you go to heaven. 

 

BACK TO THE GARDEN!

 

Joel 2:1 says:

 

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand.  A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread up-on the mountains: a great people and a strong: there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.

 

The Bible is talking about men and women - not angels.  There are going to be a mighty people of God soon.  Verse 11 says, "And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army ...."  The Army of God is being formed today for the final confrontation with Satan and his evil kingdom. 

 

This Army of God will be comprised of men and women who have overcome and have been given the morning star.  Rev. 2:28.  That's why verse 2 says, "... as the morning spread upon the mountains."  What mountains? - Mount Zion (Sion).  On Mount Zion, will stand the 144,000 with the Lamb of God.  Rev. 14:1.  They are the bright and morning stars, conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

 

Joel 2:3 says, "A fire devoureth before them: and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them...."  (Underlining added)  They are going back home!

 

Don’t you know how brilliant you shine in the spirit realm right now?  You will shine brighter and brighter as you become conformed unto the image of our Lord Jesus Christ, until you will be just like him - a bright and morning star!

 

THE PRE‑TRIBULATION RAPTURE DOCTRINE ‑ANOTHER DOCTRINE OF THE DEVIL?

 

For some Christians, the contents of the last section will be mild, compared to the message in this chapter

 

The message of this chapter is simply:  There will be no pre‑tribulation rapture.  The church will not be "raptured" out of the earth just before tribulations or during the destruction.  We will go through tribulations like God's people always have.  We will have to stand and fight.

The devil will do everything to catch Christians off-guard.  He will lie and deceive wherever possible so that we will be lulled into becoming civilians with no desire to fight and no ability to resist the devil in the end.  One of his tactics is to make us believe that there will be no war and that we will be whisked off into heaven and never have to fight.  It’s a lie!

 

Some teachers compromise by saying that it wouldn’t hurt to get ready for war should the Pre-tribulation Rapture theory be wrong.  It’s a cop-out.  If you don’t have to run a race, would you train just in case?

 

DIFFERENT RAPTURE THEORIES

 

There are many articles written about the different "rapture" theories and we do not pretend to give you an intellectual dissertation on the subject.  However, we will find it useful to briefly sketch the rapture scenario.

 

There are actually several different "rapture" doctrines that have, at various times, been preached to the saints.  In brief, the Pre‑tribulation Rapture doctrine claims that just prior to the Great Tribulation prophesied in the book of Revelation, Jesus will return with a shout, the graves shall open and the dead in Christ will come to life to meet Jesus in the air and then the living saints will also be taken up in the clouds to be with Jesus.  Thus, the church will escape tribulation.  There will be no war for the saints that qualify.

 

The Mid‑tribulation Rapture doctrine says that the Great Tribulation will last seven years.  After 3‑1/2 years and just before the earth undergoes almost total destruction, Jesus will return and the saints will be taken out of the earth in similar fashion. 

 

The Post‑tribulation Rapture doctrine says that Jesus will not return until after tribulation and the saints and church will have to go through persecution.

 

The Pre-tribulation Rapture doctrine was not preached by the early church and had its beginnings in the 19th century.  Since then, it has caught on in many churches who now call it the hope of the church.  Since it serves as the backbone of many denominations, this doctrine is well‑ accepted by at least fifty percent of churches.

 

We all agree that there will be a "rapture".  (The fact that the Bible does not use the word "rapture" is irrelevant.)  We also agree that when Jesus returns, certain dead will be brought back to life and be taken up in the air to be with Jesus first, then certain living saints will meet him in the clouds. 

 

We disagree as to when it will take place.  We note that neither 1Thessalonians 4:15-17, nor 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (that speak of the return of the Lord) reveal when Jesus will come back – before, during or after Tribulation.

 

In a very real sense, the question we should be addressing is - What will it take for a saint to qualify for the rapture, no matter when it will take place?  Notwithstanding that approach however, we need to recognize that the human mind seldom voluntarily strives to do something difficult unless and until forced to.  The very prospect of being raptured before difficult times will be enough to cause countless Christians to lay back and go into cruise control.  Few would strive for survival if they don't have to.  "Getting ready" will mean merely going to church every Sunday and perhaps doing a few other things to preserve our salvation.  That appeals to the flesh.

 

THE DANGERS OF GUESSING WRONG

 

One form of the Pre‑tribulation Rapture doctrine is that all believers will be raptured.  This "broad form" rapture doctrine is particularly dangerous since it may cause millions to merely maintain their salvation, sure that they will be transported to heaven just before the terrible tribulations come, to be with Jesus, while unbelievers will suffer much tribulation and will die at the hands of the beast or be destroyed by God's wrath.  This belief will allow Christians to enjoy life on earth and not have to sacrifice.  Therefore, Christians will remain immature spiritually and unprepared should they have to fight.

 

The once save, always saved doctrine assures that once we say a sinner’s prayer we can do anything we want because we will go to heaven no matter what.  That doctrine comes straight out of the pit of hell.

 

THE DANGER OF UNPREPAREDNESS

 

Should the "broad form" rapture doctrine be false, millions may be unprepared and be caught almost completely off‑guard.  Those who can hold on to their testimony will achieve martyrdom only through physical death.  However, it is highly probably that many may lose their testimony because of their spiritual immaturity and will turn their backs to God, lose their salvation and taste the wrath of God.  Rev. 14:9-11.  Those who have failed to grow in Christ will be mincemeat in Satan's meat grinder or sifted like wheat because they are immature and unprepared, convinced that there is no need to grow in Christ, since they will be transported to heaven based on belief in Jesus Christ alone.

 

If mere salvation is not enough to be "raptured", the church is in trouble.  There is certainly no evidence that the church is more mature today than in times past or that it shows signs of maturing into perfect sons and daughters or the bride of Christ.  After all, that is why God started the whole thing to begin with.

 

In Hosea 4:6, God says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..."  Wrong knowledge is tantamount to no knowledge or lack of knowledge.  If the broad form of the Pre‑tribulation Rapture doctrine is wrong, it is equal to lack of knowledge and multitudes are in danger because of it.

 

Many claim that Jesus is their Lord and Savior, but they really only want Him to be their savior.  Self refuses to give up the throne.  Self is Lord.  The broad form of the Pre‑tribulation Rapture doctrine, of course, makes it unnecessary to accept Jesus as Lord of your life; all you have to do is say the sinner’s prayer, get water baptized, make sure that you keep on believing that Jesus is the Son of God, say your daily prayers, attend church regularly, and you will be whisked off to heaven when the time comes.  Indeed, I’ve heard Christians tell new converts that all they have to do is make sure they come to church every Sunday and they will be raptured when the time comes.

 

That attitude turns the narrow path and strait gate into a wide, yawning highway with wide portals for all.  Jesus said however, that the path and gate are narrow indeed.  Mt. 7:14; Lk. 13:24.

 

By way of illustration, if you knew that all the people trying out for the U.S. Olympic track team would qualify simply by applying, you wouldn't spend much time training, would you?  If all the entrants in the mile race are to be given first place gold medals, no one would waste time or effort in trying to be the first.  We can all stroll to the finish line, with our tennis rackets and golf clubs and party clothes. 

 

That's not what the apostle Paul said.  In I Corinthians 9:24, Paul says:

 

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?  So run, that ye may obtain.  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.  I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air... 

 

We are in a race ‑ what race?

 

The writer of Hebrews 12:1b says, "...let us run with patience the race that is set before us."  The broad form rapture theory makes the race a walk ‑ a Sunday stroll, if you will.  Sign up right here, folks, all applicants are guaranteed first place!

 

If you believe in the broad form rapture theory, that all believers will be whisked off to heaven before the tribulation to come, please reassess your position.  It is a matter of life and death ‑ yours.  If there is no pre‑tribulation rapture, you will have to stand in the midst of great trouble and danger.  If you have not prepared, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to stand against the hordes of evil spirits in the last day and in the midst of great destruction and peril.  Your only hope for glory will be in physical death, provided you are able to keep your testimony.  The problem with this approach is that the Bible indicates that most Christians will not be able to keep their testimony until the end.  2 Th. 2:3.  In fact, the reward of a martyr of Christ is so great that it is clearly implied that few will make it.  Isaiah 7:13 indicates that only a tenth of all believers will even make it through tribulations if the elect of God (Mt. 24:22) is the remnant. 

 

This generation will be witness to the greatest miracles ever beheld by man on the face of the earth.  Jn. 14:12.  This generation will also see and go through the greatest persecution and carnage of Christians ever before experienced.  If there is no pre‑tribulation rapture, will you be prepared?  Are you positive that you will be able to keep your testimony in the face of incredible persecution and oppression?  Remember that Jesus himself said in Luke 18:8b:  "...Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"  His statement clearly implies that many will lose their faith in God.

 

WHO WILL BE RAPTURED?

 

Let us now explore the question of who will be taken up according to the "rapture" described in Luke 17:34‑36:  I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.  Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken and the other left.  Two men shall be in the field, the one shall be taken, and the other left.”

 

The language in Matthew 24:40, 41 is similar:  "Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.  Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left."  Notice, however, that Jesus never mentioned that all believers would be ta-ken and all non‑believers left in the field or grinding at the mill. 

 

In Matthew l3:24‑30, we find the parable of the man who sowed good wheat in a field.  His enemies sowed tares (weeds) among the good wheat.  When the householder's servants wanted to pull the tares out, the man instructed his servants to leave the tares and wheat to grow together until the harvest, lest the wheat be rooted up along with the tares.  Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”  Mt. 13:30 

 

Jesus then told the disciples exactly what the parable meant in verses 37‑43: 

 

The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.  As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

 

Whenever there was an important message to understand, the scriptures say, "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."  Take special heed to the words quoted above.  There is something important to understand here.

 

Notice that in both the parable itself and in the explanation by Jesus, the tares were gathered first, and then the wheat.  In the explanation of the parable, Jesus Himself said that the Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire.  Take heed, the evil ones are destroyed first, and then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of God.  The righteous and the evil ones shall be together until the very end ‑ the harvest.  The evil ones are removed first and only the elect shall remain at the very end.  They shall shine forth as the sun.

 

Again, in Matthew 13:47‑50, the bad fish are cast out first, and then the good fish are retained.  Could it be that the ones taken away out of the field, or grinding at the mill are tares and not the wheat and bad fish instead of good fish?  Could it be that the elect of God will remain from beginning to end and the evil ones will all perish before the second coming of Jesus?  Rev. 19.  Could it be that many believers will also perish but be martyred and achieve glory through physical death?

 

WARNING TO BE WATCHFUL

 

Jesus gives a strong word of caution to the believers.  He is not talking to unbelievers or those who doubt.  In Matthew 24:3, the Bible says, “... And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” 

 

What follows is Jesus' warning to His disciples.  Therefore, these instructions were directed to those who already believed in Him.  There will be a separation among believers.  In verses 36‑39, Jesus warns the believers:

 

...But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.  But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark and knew not until the flood came, and took them away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

 

Again, in verses 42‑44, Jesus says, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.  But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.  There be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”

 

Of the unwatchful servant, the Lord said in verses 50 ‑ 51: “The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

 

These are definite words of warning to believers to be in a state of preparedness for the return of the Lord, whenever that is going to take place.  For the unprepared, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Remember, Jesus is talking to His disciples, not to non‑believers.  Again, Jesus speaks in a parable ‑ that of the ten virgins, five of whom were unprepared and did not bring extra oil for their lamps and consequently, did not make the marriage feast.  To the unprepared, He said, "Verily I say unto you, I know you not."  Mt. 25:12.  Oil, of course, is often used in the Bible to refer to the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  If you have not the Holy Spirit in you, or your growth in the Spirit, your anointing, is not sufficient, you may miss the bridegroom.  The darkness implied by the parable indicates that the bridegroom does not come at twilight.  He comes at the darkest moment ‑ at midnight.  The oil is needed when darkness envelops the earth.  Christians will need the Holy Spirit right up to the moment the Lord returns ‑ at the darkness hour. 

 

Again, in Matthew 25:14‑30, Jesus gives the parable of the master leaving on a long journey, who gave five talents to one servant, to another two, and to a third.  The unprofitable servant is cast into outer darkness and there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  (Verse 30)  Is there a task for all of us to perform besides believing?

 

If we are to be raptured away before tribulations, why do we have to "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come."?  Mt. 24:42.  The word "watch" implies a state of readiness, preparedness and obedience.  Also implied is a condition of being qualified to take part in the taking away.  Mere belief, although it can bring salvation, does not seem to require a high state of  preparedness.  Of course, we could spend some time discussing the difference between head belief and heart belief or mouth professing and heart possessing.  But assuming sufficient belief is present to assure salvation, still, something more important and difficult is required to take part in the taking up.

 

This is consistent with Jesus' saying that "strait is the gate, narrow is the path."  This is also consistent with Jesus' saying that "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from evil."  Jn. 17:15. 

 

No, the church will not be taken out of the world.  They will stand in the world, fighting against incredible evil, even during the worse destruction the world has ever known.  When Jesus walked the earth, it was not His idea that the believers be taken out of the world to avoid evil and destruction.  He is the same today.  The church will go through tribulation the same way the Israelites did during both the Assyrian and the Babylonian captivities.  Both times, God had a remnant of faithful ones, out of which the nation was restored.  God’s people were purged through much tribulation.

 

THE SAINTS WILL GO THROUGH TRIBULATION

 

It is also consistent with Revelations 6:10, where the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held were crying with a loud voice, saying "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"  They were told that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow‑servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.  This is in the middle of the horrible tribulation when the fifth seal had been opened.  More were to be killed out of the church.  There would be more to come, "... a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs."  Much tribulation had already taken place, and still there were God's people on earth dying for their testimony.  Obviously, these saints had not been taken up by a pre‑tribulation rapture.

 

In Revelation 13:7, the beast was given power to make war against the saints and to overcome them. The unprepared saints will be slaughtered by the beast.

 

Coming back to Revelation 6:9‑11, many believers in the pre‑ tribulation rapture doctrine find Revelation 6:9‑11 difficult to explain.  Those verses say:

 

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?  And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow‑servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

 

Some claim that since the church will have been raptured away before tribulations, the ones that are to be killed by the beast during tribulations would be the new converts during the tribulations.  According to this theory, some will notice that many people have disappeared from the face of the earth and they will start to realize that Christianity is the true religion and will start reading the Bible and will become believers and saints themselves.  These will have to die because they came in too late to take part in the rapture.

 

That is an interesting theory, but not supported by scripture.  Instead, the scriptures indicate that mankind will be even more hardened during tribulations and will refuse God and curse Him, even though they have gone through great and extraordinary suffering.  Revelation 9:20 says:

 

...And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.  (Underlining added)

 

No, not many people, and perhaps none, will turn to God during tribulation.  They will actually turn away from God even more.

           

Frankly, I find it difficult to accept the idea that new converts during the tribulation, without the five‑fold ministry and in the midst of incredible affliction and persecution will grow into maturity in Christ and become the sons of God, perfected in Christ in 3‑1/2 or 7 years.  It is difficult to imagine that these late comers are God's chosen ones, the elect, the ones who shall overcome and sit on His throne with Him for all eternity.  How will these come to such a deep understanding of God that they become the elect, standing against Satan, doing great miracles, carrying His banner against evil, especially since Jesus Himself said that during the last days, love will wax cold?  Mt. 24:12.  Without the five‑fold ministry (Eph. 4:11‑13) to perfect the saints, how can believers be perfected in such a short time, especially since the church is almost 2,000 years old and there are not many perfected?  No, it will be a time of judgment.

 

The pre‑tribulation theory presupposes that the righteous will be taken away first. 

 

Jesus never indicated that His followers would be taken away from the earth before the end.  In fact, He said, "... lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."  Mt. 28:20.  He did not say He would be with us until the rapture, or until we are taken up to escape the world.  He knew that we would be on earth, until the very end of the age, standing firm against Satan, to the glory of God.  Yes, we will be with Jesus in heaven throughout eternity, but in this passage, Jesus is talking about our presence on earth.

 

Jesus also said that many would perish and the end would be shortened for the sake of the elect.  "Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."  Jesus was talking about the very end.  Mt. 24:22 and Mk. 13:20. 

 

In Matthew 24:4‑21, Jesus goes into much detail about what to expect during tribulations, including what to do and how to pray.  Why would Jesus bother telling His people what to expect during tribulations if they are not going to be on earth anyway?  Why bother telling unbelievers who won’t believe it anyway?  True, if the elect of God are to be those who did not believe at first, but who become Christians after the so-called pre-tribulation rapture, those warnings could apply.  If the elect will be virtually the only ones left at the end, that means that the very elect are the ones who notice that some of the people have disappeared from the face of the earth and these start to wonder and start to read the Bible and then believe.  However, it is difficult to accept that God's elect will be those who have either refused the Gospel or have never heard of it until after the rapture, and then became new converts after the saints have supposedly been raptured out.

 

According to Ezekiel 10:3, God will lift His glory from His own house during the last days.  This is confirmed in II Thessalonians 2:6-7:  "And now ye know what withholdeth, that he might be revealed in his time.  For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way."  If God's Spirit is lifted from the church, it would be difficult to see how these new Christians can be led to all truth so that they will become the elect of God.  Also, if the elect will be only those who are now unbelievers and who will turn to God only after a rapture takes all believers out of the earth, it would reward the non‑unbelievers and penalize the believers of today.  It does not make sense that in order to qualify for God’s highest rewards, one must be an unbeliever until after the rapture.

 

COMPARING "RAPTURE" SCRIPTURES

 

During the end times, only the elect, the mighty ones can stand against Satan.  No bullets, bomb shelters, food caches, mountain equipment, weapons or other devices will be able to save you from the disasters that have been ordained.  Certainly, it is wise to prepare with physical things, but in the end, only the elect will be able to stand.  Guns and food will not sustain them.  It will be their relationship with God, their spiritual maturity.  These overcomers, the sons of God, the army of God, will have learned obedience through their sufferings, will have reached full maturity in Christ, conformed to His image from glory to glory - bright morning stars.  This maturing in Christ will take extraordinary effort and the fire of the Holy Spirit.  This is the high calling in Christ.

 

Joel 2:1 says, “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness....”

 

Verses 15‑17 say:

 

Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.  Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, where is their God?

 

This verse surely does not indicate that there is to be a rapture, a taking away of God's people before tribulation.

 

If a rapture were to take all of God's people away to heaven before the day of the Lord, why is God advising His people to weep, fast and pray?  They should be rejoicing, since they would be going straight to heaven.  No, they will have to stand and fight.  There will be gloominess ahead and extremely trying circumstances.  It will be a solemn and desperate time, a time for weeping, consecration and praying that God will spare His people.  Many will not survive.  The carnage will be horrible.  God's people will have to go through much tribulation.

 

Let us look at some of the scriptures often quoted as showing that there will be a rapture.  I Thessalonians 4:16,17 says:

 

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

 

I Thessalonians 4:16 talks about a trumpet ("trump"), but it does not say which trumpet.  It could be the first, middle or last, or some in‑between trumpet call.  Revelation describes many trumpets.  In Matthew 24:29‑31, Jesus says:

 

But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.  (emphasis added)

 

It would seem that the scene described in I Thessalonians 4:16-17 and the one described in Matthew 24:29‑31 is one and the same.  Except for the loud shout, everything else is the same.  In Matthew 24:29, Jesus distinctly says it will take place after the tribulation.  If there was going to be a secret rapture before the tribulation, He could have said so just as easily.

 

Paul, in I Corinthians 15:52, says, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall  sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."  He says it is the last trump, not the first or middle or any other.  Last means last.  What does last mean?  It seems that if Paul said last, there must have been other trumps before the last.  In Revelation 11:15‑18, John reports the following:

 

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven saying, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.  And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces and worshiped God, saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come, because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and has reigned.  And the nations were angry and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

 

Revelation 11:15 describes the last trump.  It is then that the evil will be judged and the righteous rewarded.  It is then that the kingdom of our Lord will have been fully established on earth and He shall reign for ever and ever.  This is the last trump when all of God's people will be taken up to be with Him for ever and ever.  There will be no rapture until the last trump.

 

Revelation 20:1‑5 seems to settle the question, once and for all, as to when the rapture shall take place.  Starting from verse 1, the scriptures say:

 

And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.  And he laid hold on the dragon, that old ser-pent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.  And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

 

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and  judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

 

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.  This is the first resurrection.  (Underlining added)

 

Thus, Matthew 24:29 says that "Immediately after the tribulation," Jesus will return.  I Thessalonians. 4:16 says the dead in Christ shall rise when Jesus returns.  I Corinthians 15:52 says that the dead shall be raised at his coming.  Revelation 20:4 says when Satan has been defeated and cast into the bottomless pit, the dead will be judged and the martyrs who did not receive the mark of the beast shall be raised from the dead.  Verse 5 says:  "This is the first resurrection."  (Underlining added)  All the  rest of the dead shall be raised only after the 1,000 years are finished.  The raising of the martyrs of God from the dead is the first resurrection, not the second or the third - the very first!

 

Therefore, the dead shall rise at his coming, which takes place only when Satan is cast into the bottomless pit after tribulations, the only dead to rise will be the martyrs who died during the tribulations of the end times, and this is the first resurrection.  First means there was no resurrection before that.  The martyrs shall rise only at the very end, when the kingdoms are turned over to Jesus and Satan is cast down into the bottomless pit, at the end of the age.  Therefore, the only time when Jesus is to return (and the dead are raised) is when Satan is cast down into the bottomless pit and the kingdoms are turned over to God at the end of the age.

 

There is nothing in the Bible that directly says that Jesus will come back secretly as a thief in the night and then come back another time after tribulations.  In Luke 12:39-40, the Lord said, “And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.  Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.”   That passage was meant to tell us that we need to be prepared for His second coming at all times because we don’t know exactly when he will return.  It is not to tell us that Jesus will come secretly and quietly first, without the graves opening or without a trump or shout, to pick up His people in a secret coming before the end of tribulation.  That’s pure speculation and fabrication with no direct scriptures to support it. 

 

The Lord does not say that he is coming secretly before tribulation.  He says that whenever He comes, it will be suddenly.  Therefore, you need to be prepared at all times.  1 Th. 5:2.  In 2 Peter 3:10, the apostle Peter says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”  That means that when Jesus comes back like a thief in the night, it is the end of the world as we know it.

 

It is interesting to note that in the Book of Revelation, Jesus also spoke of His coming like a thief in the night.  In Revelation 3:3, He warns the church at Sardis to repent before He returns.  Jesus is speaking of the end of the age.  In Revelation 16:14, He first speaks about the last battle “. . . to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”  He is talking about the very last battle when Jesus comes back to earth to destroy all evil at the end of tribulation.  In the very next verse, He says, “Behold, I come as a thief, Blessed is he that wacheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.  And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon”  Rev. 16:15-16.  Why would Jesus show John the battle to take place at the end of tribulation and then say, “Behold, I come as a thief.”?  It’s  because He will come as a thief at the end of tribulation and we will not know exactly when tribulation will end.

 

Some adherents of the pre‑tribulation rapture doctrine point to II Thessalonians 3:3, "...the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil."  That verse has nothing to do with the rapture or the end times.  It has everything to do with being a Christian, whether it was in the first century church or during the end times.  Keeping us from evil is conditioned on the closeness of our walk with God.  If not, then how do you explain the many backslidden Christians or the believers who have fallen into evil ways?  The book of Revelation clearly shows that the beast will war against the saints in the end times and shall overcome the saints.  Rev. 13:7.  Such a verse must be taken in its proper context.  See also Da. 7:21.

 

Some pre-tribulation rapture supporters point to the fact that the book of Revelation does not mention the church as a body after Chapter 4.  They take it to mean that the church will be taken up before tribulation starts.  However, we would like to point out that Revelation is not written sequentially or chronologically in time.  For instance, in Chapter 11, the seventh trumpet sounds, the final destruction takes place and the kingdoms of the world have become the kingdoms of our Lord.  (Verse 15) Yet, Chapters 12 to 20 all continue to describe what will happen during the tribulation period before the kingdoms of the world are turned over to the Lord and before the last trump.

 

The book of Revelation is not sequential or chronological in time, and therefore, the lack of mention of the church as a body after Chapter 4 does not indicate a point of time after which there will be no church on the earth.  Indeed, Revelation 12 ‑ 20 clearly talks about the saints throughout.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Please take this message into your prayer closet and ask of Him.  Whatever our belief is, as to when the "taking up" will occur, we all need to ask the bigger question ‑ what do I need to qualify for this elect group?  What is God doing in this hour to prepare His people?  What is God telling his prophets, for "surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets."  Amos 3:7. If there is no pre-tribulation rapture, will you have enough of Christ in you to make it through?

 

Lord God, Your Word says even the elect will be deceived, if that were possible.  Are we being deceived?  We need to know, Lord.  We need to be prepared to fight.

 

Note:  The full text of Margaret McDonald’s vision that was interpreted to mean that Jesus is coming back secretly to “rapture” up His church is printed in **  Frankly, I see nothing in it that would indicate that the church is going to be taken up before tribulation.

 

THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

 

Now, dear reader, we've finally come to the climax!  The following is an expansion of the revelation given me by the Holy Spirit regarding the true meaning of Christmas.

 

The true Christmas is in the spirit.  What happened almost two thousand years ago in Bethlehem was meant to be an example and shadow of heavenly or spiritual things.  Heb. 8:5.  Even as the tabernacle of Moses in the wilderness and the sacrifices and rituals of the Old Testament are meant to reveal spiritual things, the events of the birth of Jesus are meant to lead us into spiritual truths and realities.

 

THE SHEPHERDS

 

AND THERE WERE IN THE SAME COUNTRY SHEPHERDS ABIDING IN THE FIELD, KEEPING WATCH OVER THEIR FLOCK BY NIGHT.  LU. 2:8.

 

It's not hard to guess what the shepherds stand for.  Jesus came as the Good Shepherd.  Jo. 10:11.  He was an abomination to the world.  In Genesis 36, when Joseph brought his family into Egypt, they wanted to remain separate from the rest of Egypt, for God had commanded Israel not to adopt the ways of the heathen.  Joseph instructed them on what to say when the pharaoh spoke to them. 

 

And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?  That ye shall say, Thy servants' trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.  Gen. 36:34.

 

While the word "abomination" may be too strong an adjective to use, it is highly likely that shepherds were not at the top rung of society in Israel when Jesus was born.  There were priests in Israel, scribes, businessmen, traders and all manner of teachers and government officials, but a shepherd?

 

 

Of all the jobs available to a young man, shepherding was probably the worse paying and the most detested.  If you had no skills, you could at least watch and care for animals.  It was dirty and lonely work.  You were accountable to the owner of the sheep and would likely encounter wild animals such as lions and bears in the wilderness.  It could be dangerous work.  Living and working in the wilderness with sheep left you smelling like them and sleeping on the hard desert floor without benefit of a soft bed and bath was not exactly an employee incentive or perk.  There were deadly snakes and scorpions crawling around at night.

 

But there's something about being a shepherd that changes your heart and prepares you for ministry.  Moses had been chosen by God to lead Israel out of slavery in Egypt.  When Moses grew up, it was already in his heart to help his brethren, the Hebrew people.  He saw an Egyptian hitting an Hebrew.  Ex. 2:11-12.  In his zeal to help his Hebrew brethren, Moses killed the Egyptian and buried him.  When he discovered that people knew about it, Moses was forced to flee into the desert to escape prosecution.  He wasn't quite ready to serve God.  He wanted to do things his own way.

 

Moses later married and labored as a shepherd for forty years.  Ex. 3:1.  During those forty years, Moses learned to be a shepherd - to protect, care for and guide his father-in-law's sheep.  Something happened in his heart.  He was once proud and confident in his flesh.  After all, he was the adopted son of the Pharaoh's sister, educated and well-respected.  He was headed for great things.  In the desert wilderness, Moses became humble and quiet.  He no longer had any ambition to be somebody important.  When God informed Moses that he had been chosen to lead Israel out of Egypt, Moses didn't want the job.  In Exodus 4:10b, he said, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou has spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue."  Moses no longer desired fame or notoriety.  He had no self-ambition.  Years in the desert tending sheep had molded him into a submissive and obedient man.  He was slow of speech and tongue because he had spent years being alone, learning to think and meditate on life and upon God.  He had learned to keep his mouth shut.

 

That's a far cry from the earlier Moses who wanted to do things his own way.  As a shepherd, Moses had a lot of time to think.  He began to realize that he had no control over his own life, that circumstances could change things around overnight.  There was no security in the flesh.  He was a hopeless murderer with no power in himself.  He was now ready to serve God.

 

Another important character in the Old Testament was King David.  David was also a shepherd.  He became a man deeply beloved of God.  The Bible says that David was a man after God's own heart.  Ac. 13:22.  It was David who slew the giant, Goliath.  But before David killed Goliath, he had much practice.  As a shepherd, David learned to care for sheep, feed them, guide and protect them and love them.  He risked his life for the sheep.  With his bare hands, he killed a lion and a bear that had pounced on a little lamb.  I Sa. 17:34-36.  He learned to be introspective, to meditate on the Word, to have patience, to wait upon the Lord, to sing praises to Him and to depend solely on God.  He didn't own the sheep, but he was no mere hireling.  His love for the sheep was extraordinary; he risked his life for them.  A good shepherd never abandons the sheep; he is with them always, willing to die for them.

 

When Jesus came to earth, He not only cared for the sheep, fed them, guided them, protected them and loved them, He also died for His sheep.  That is love.  Jo. 15:13.

 

Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd.  Jo. 10:14.  He is the chief shepherd.  I Pet. 5:4.  Even in the Old Testament, God was called the Shepherd of Israel.  Ps. 80:1.  The Lord calls Himself a shepherd for good reason.  He loves us like a good shepherd would love and care for his sheep.  We are the sheep of His pasture.  David alluded to God as a shepherd in one of the most beloved passages in the Bible - Psalms 23.  He said, "The Lord is my shepherd."  God is our shepherd too, yours and mine.

 

Pastors on earth represent the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  They are under-shepherds given authority by the number one shepherd.  It is their duty to feed the sheep.  When Jesus asked Peter, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?"  When Peter answered "Yes..."  Jesus said, "Feed my sheep (lambs)", three times.  Jo. 21:15-17. 

 

Pastors are shepherds in the mold of the Good Shepherd.  The word "pastor" means shepherd.  It is important that sheep have someone to watch over them.  Otherwise, they would be scattered and become easy prey.  That is also why we need to pray for our shepherds.  Satan knows that once you smite the shepherd, the sheep will be scattered.  Mat. 26:31; Mk. 14:27.

 

Jesus was hated by the world.  Jo. 15:18.  As in the days of Joseph, shepherds were an abomination to the world.  The Pharisees tried to kill him many times and finally succeeded.  But in the act of giving His life for His sheep, Jesus saved the world.

 

As shepherds watched their flocks the night Jesus was born, they were honored by being the first humans to see the baby Jesus, except for Mary and Joseph.  Up until then, even the angels did not know what God looked like.  They were probably looking down with curiosity all over their faces.  The shepherds were honored that night because the Savior would also be a shepherd - the greatest shepherd in history and the greatest there will ever be throughout eternity. 

 

He will come back one day to gather his flock one last time from the four corners of the earth.  Mat. 24:31.  Wherever He goes, they will go; wherever the Good Shepherd is, His sheep will be also.  One day, all of His sheep will be together with Him in heaven.

 

THE SHEEP

 

AND THERE WERE IN THE SAME COUNTRY SHEPHERDS ABIDING IN THE FIELD, KEEPING WATCH OVER THEIR FLOCK BY NIGHT.  LU. 2:8.

 

The flocks in the fields the night Jesus was born represent God's people.  We are the sheep of His pasture.  As His sheep and lambs, God has the responsibility to care for us, protect, feed, guide, teach and nurture us.  We have the responsibility of following the Shepherd and obeying Him in all things.  Don't call someone pastor if you don't want to follow and obey him.  If we fail to follow, we become renegade sheep, outlaws, rebels.  But even though we sin and fall into the pit, Jesus comes time after time again to pull us out of darkness and into the safety of His arms. 

 

Sometimes when sheep are incorrigible outlaws, the shepherd has to cull them from the flock before they teach others to disobey and rebel. The Body of Christ is like that.  Disobedient and rebellious sheep are cut from the flock from time to time.  You may not see it with your natural eyes, but in the spiritual realm, they are separated from the flock.  They will backslide and eventually leave the church to go back into the world unless they repent.

 

John 10:2-4 says,

 

But he that entered in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice; and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.  And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.  And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

 

As His sheep, we need to know His voice and follow Him.  He knows His sheep by name.  The Good Shepherd speaks all the time through the Holy Spirit in us.  Often, we hear Him through His Word - the Bible.  Sometimes, He will speak in an audible voice, though this is rare.  At other times, He will speak to His sheep through a pressing down on their spirit, or a feeling of joy and release.  Often, He will speak directly into our spirit and we just know that we know.  Sometimes, it is mere intuition, or circumstance.  The Good Shepherd speaks in many ways. 

 

In the natural, a shepherd also has many ways to communicate with his sheep.  Sometimes, it is through a spoken word, sometimes through whistling, or clucking with the tongue, or singing.  Often it is by waving or moving the shepherd's staff in a certain way.  The sheep know how the Shepherd communicates with them and they follow and obey him.

 

Can one follow without knowing His voice?  Once one becomes a born-again Christian, he or she starts to hear the voice of God.  It is an important event.  I recall when I first heard God's voice.  It was an audible voice that seemed to come from the pit of my stomach.  At that time, I hadn't even read the scripture that says, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.  Jo. 7:38.  But it's true.  Later, God began to communicate with me in other ways.  Now, I just know that I know.  It can't be explained because it's in the spirit.  The natural mind cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God.  They are spiritually discerned.  I Cor. 2:14.  He can speak right into your mind and spirit and you just know in your heart that it is the Lord, but you can't explain it adequately to a carnal mind.  How precious it is to know the will of God and to hear His voice daily.  You can't live without it.

 

When the Shepherd speaks, we obey.  If we rebel and refuse to listen, our spiritual ears sometimes get plugged.  Perhaps we have wandered away too far.  If we obey, however, He will lead us to green pastures and make us to lie down beside still waters.  Ps. 23:2.  The Great Shepherd feeds us and gives us life.  As Jesus said to the Samaritan woman next to the well, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.  Jo. 4:10.  The living waters that His sheep drink are drink indeed.  They thirst no more.  When we follow Him, we feast on the bread of life who is Jesus.  His every word brings us life.  The tumultuous waters of confusion, torment and agitation become peaceful, still waters.  Our faith is in the Great Shepherd.  He restores our soul as we rest in Him. 

 

The night Jesus was born, the sheep were in darkness, but the Good Shepherd came to bring them into the light.

 

We are the sheep of His pasture. 

 

 

THE INN

 

AND SHE BROUGHT FORTH HER FIRSTBORN SON, AND WRAPPED HIM IN SWADDLING CLOTHES, AND LAID HIM IN A MANGER, BECAUSE THERE WAS NO ROOM FOR THEM IN THE INN.  LU. 2:7.

 

The Bible says that there was no room at the inn.  So it was that night almost two thousand years ago and so it is today.  There are multitudes of people in the world with no room in their heart and life for Jesus.  The Messiah comes and knocks on the door of your heart.  If you answer the knock and invite Jesus in, He will come to sup and to live with you.  Rev. 3:20.  Refuse to answer the knock and He will go away.

 

There are many who are too busy with the things of the world.  Perhaps they are thinking about where they are going the next day or what they will eat or drink, how much money they are going to make, what they are going to do or how they are going to pay their bills or make it through the hard times ahead.  On the other hand, maybe they were just having too good a time.  They are too busy to think of God.  Little do they know that whatever they do or own, will one day be long forgotten.  Here today, gone tomorrow.

 

Many live for today only, thinking little about God and eternity.  As King Solomon said, all we are, do and have is vanity and vexation of spirit without God.  Ecc. 2:11; 17, 26.  No matter what you do, you can't keep it.  All your fame and honor from men and all your money cannot buy you one moment of time.  The minute you were born, you were doomed to die.  We all have a terminal illness.  As King Solomon said, the greatest thing anyone can do is find God and having found Him, serve Him with all your heart.  You only have one chance and then eternity to either reap the rewards of having found the Lord and serving Him or suffer the consequences of your failure to let Him into your life and heart.

 

That night, the Messiah had come to be born in the inn, but there was no room for Him.  He comes to be born in the hearts of all men, but many have no room for Him.  He will go away.  What a pity. 

 

Mary, Jesus' mother was obviously pregnant.  She was in full term and the baby was ready to be born.  But no one had sympathy for her, although Joseph begged for a room.  No one would sacrifice for Jesus, but Jesus came to sacrifice His life for them.  Like the Samaritan woman at the well, if she knew who she was talking to, she would have asked for living water from Jesus.  Jo. 4:10.  Would the people in the inn have given Mary and Joseph room if they knew that Mary was bearing the Savior of the world?  Maybe and maybe not.

 

The same sad story is true today.  How often we share the good news of salvation with friends and family with high hopes and we find that there is no room in their life for Jesus.  It's full with other things - work, business, sports, problems, relationships.  There's no room for Jesus.  They just don't know that you come bearing good news of life and salvation.  They often have no time to even listen to you.  Those at the inn just didn't know who had come to them.  They turned Him away.

 

THE DARK AND LOWLY MANGER

 

AND SHE BROUGHT FORTH HER FIRSTBORN SON, AND WRAPPED HIM IN SWADDLING CLOTHES, AND LAID HIM IN A MANGER; BECAUSE THERE WAS NO ROOM FOR THEM IN THE INN.

 

A manger was a type of barn where animals were kept.  It was not an ideal place to have a baby.  It was dark and lowly and full of germs and bad smells.  There was probably no bed - only straw.  Jesus was born in a dark and lowly manger. 

 

The Bible says that before He came into the world, the world lived in darkness.  Lu. 1:79.  Suddenly, there was a great light.  Mat. 4:16.  Jesus is called the bright and Morning Star.  Rev. 22:16b.  The bright Morning Star had come to be among men.  Before we came to Christ, we also lived in darkness.  Our hearts were black with sin.  There was no hope.  But when Jesus came into our lives, He turned that darkness into light.  We became children of light. Lu. 16:8; Jo. 12:36.  Once our heart was dark and sinful, but when the Savior came, He washed us clean and white as snow. 

 

It always happens that way.  Jesus is always born in darkness - in a sinner's heart as black as coal.  Then, something marvelous happens.  The darkness turns into light.

 

Unfortunately, not everyone wants the light.  Many love darkness.  John 3:19-21 says:

 

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.  But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

 

The King of all the earth was born in a lowly manger.  The word lowly means humble.  It seems strange that the King of kings would be born in a humble manger.  Kings are usually born in palaces.  But that's the way the King wanted it.  You see, Jesus is never born in the heart of a prideful, aristocratic person - only in a lowly and humble heart of a repentant sinner.  Jesus Himself said, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest for your souls."  Mat. 11:29.  The King is humble - even as the manger He was born in.  Jesus is always born in a humble manger of a heart.  

 

The Bible says to repent and be saved.  Ac. 3:19; Lu. 13:3.  Repentance requires humility.  You can't repent unless you confess your sins and acknowledge the need to be cleansed by the Lord through His grace and mercy.  In the days of Moses and the tabernacle in the wilderness, there was only one door into the tabernacle and it was only about four feet high.  In order to enter into God's temple and presence, you had to bow your head and crouch down - in a show of humility.  So it is today, humility is the only way into the presence of Almighty God.  The proud are always rejected.

 

Thus, Jesus will always be born in a dark and lowly manger of a heart in a sinner who repents and comes to Jesus in humility, acknowledging his sins and asking for forgiveness, knowing full well that there is no other way he can attain salvation but through the Lord Jesus Christ.  Ac. 4:12.

 

THE ANGELS REJOICED

 

AND SUDDENLY THERE WAS WITH THE ANGEL A MULTITUDE OF THE HEAVENLY HOST PRAISING GOD, AND SAYING, GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST AND ON EARTH PEACE GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN.  LU. 2:13-14.

 

The shepherds in the fields heard angels rejoicing in the heavens the night Jesus was born.  They sang and gave good tidings to men.  Lu 2:14.  Can you imagine thousands upon thousands of angels singing and rejoicing that night?  It was an important occasion when Jesus was born.  The Father was so delighted.  It was the appointed time for the world to be saved through the life and death of one person.  There was great excitement in heaven.  All the angels waited in anticipation. 

 

There were no prophets in Israel for four hundred years before Jesus was born.  It was like the calm before the storm.  But God had Simeon and Anna pray and fast for years for the coming of the Messiah.  Lu. 2:25, 36.  When that day finally came there was great joy in heaven.

 

Do you know that every time a sinner comes to Jesus to be saved, all of heaven rejoices?  Luke 15:7 says, "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."  The angels sing and dance when one sinner repents and weeps his way into heaven, just as on the night Jesus was born almost 2,000 years ago.  Once again, Jesus says in Luke 15:10, "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." 

 

Whenever Jesus is born, it's an important occasion.  The Father is delighted and the angels are thrilled beyond compare.  The baby Jesus is born in a sinner's heart each time someone comes to Him and is saved.  There is much joy in heaven when one sinner repents and comes to the Lord and the Spirit of Jesus is born one more time in the heart of a repentant child of God.

 

BORN OF A VIRGIN

 

BEHOLD, A VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD, AND SHALL BRING FORTH A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL, WHICH BEING INTERPRETED IS, GOD WITH US.  MAT. 1:23.

 

The mother of Jesus was said to be a virgin when Jesus was born.  She was pure, chaste, untouched by the world, sweet and desirable. 

 

Jesus is always born of a virgin. 

 

Whenever a sinner comes to Jesus, repents and accepts Jesus as his Savior, God forgives him of his sins and the blood of Jesus washes him white as snow.  Rev. 1:5.  He becomes as clean as a virgin.  The apostle John said, "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."  II Cor. 11:2.  The word virgin refers to the state of being pure and chaste, made clean by the blood of Jesus.  The people of God are virgins to the Lord.  It is not a matter of physical virginity, it is a matter of spiritual cleanliness.  We are given a new spirit - made anew as virgins.

 

Every time a sinner comes to God, repents and accepts the sacrifice for his sins made by our Lord Jesus, God is faithful to forgive him all of his sins and cleanse him from all unrighteousness.  I Jo. 1:9.  God also gives him a new heart and a new spirit.  Eze. 36:25-27.  He becomes like a virgin and Jesus is born in his new virginal heart, made clean by the blood of Jesus.

 

Jesus is always born in a virgin heart when one sinner comes to God.  You were the virgin the day you were "born-again" and the Spirit of Jesus was born in your heart.  We call Him Immanuel.  He is in us and with us throughout eternity.  God with us.

 

THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM

 

AND LO, THE STAR, WHICH THEY SAW IN THE EAST, WENT BEFORE THEM, TILL IT CAME AND STOOD OVER WHERE THE YOUNG CHILD WAS.  WHEN THEY SAW THE STAR, THEY REJOICED WITH EXCEEDING GREAT JOY.  MAT. 2:9B-10.

 

Three wise men from afar were guided by a star that led them to the baby Jesus.  We call it the star of Bethlehem. 

 

Before Adam fell, he was a morning star.  Is. 14:12.  After he sinned, he lost it.  His light went out and he saw his flesh for the first time.  Immediately, Adam and Eve sewed fig leaf aprons to protect their flesh.  At one time, they walked in the spirit and communed with God.  Their souls served their spirit.  After they sinned, their souls (minds) served the flesh.  The flesh leads to death, the Spirit leads to life.  Ro. 8:6, 10.  Since then, his descendants have wandered in the dark without direction and most have found death at the end.  The wages of sin is death. 

 

Jesus came as the last Adam (I Cor. 15:45-47) and is called the bright and Morning Star.  Rev. 22:16b.  He came to restore to us everything the first Adam lost when he sinned.  We are the children of light.  Jo. 12:36.  We are called to be morning stars - just like Jesus.

 

In Rev. 2:26-28, Jesus said:

 

And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 

 

And I will give him the morning star.  (Underlining added)

 

Jesus, as the bright and Morning Star, is our guide through His Holy Spirit.  In John 16:13, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth.  He will lead us into all truth.

 

Peter said in II Pet 1:19, "... until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts."  It is important that we know that God wants us to be morning stars.  The earnest deposit of the Spirit in our hearts is only the beginning.  There is a reward for all those that diligently and with faith and patience follow the path of the Lord and fellowship in his sufferings. Phil. 3:10, 14.  Jesus is the star of Bethlehem.  When we become born-again Christians, He is born in our hearts as the Day Star - the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus has come to guide us.

 

In the Old Testament, God said that there would come a day when:

 

... I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.  A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.  And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.  Eze. 36:25-27.

 

His Spirit lives in all born-again Christians as the Morning Star.

 

At the end of the age, there will be a people of God who have attained full maturity in Christ.  They will be the Morning Stars, the army of God.  Joel 2:2 says:

 

A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.

 

Verse 11 says, "And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army...."  At the end of the age, God will have a people called the Morning Stars.  They shall be the army of God.  Their brightness shall be as the morning spread upon the mountains.  Joe. 2:2.

           

The Holy Spirit, the Christ in all born-again Christians will always lead us straight to Jesus, just as the Star of Bethlehem led the three wisemen to Jesus almost 2,000 years ago.  Mat. 9:10.  John 16:23-14 says:

 

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.  He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it to you.

 

The Spirit in you, the Day Star, will always glorify Jesus.  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life...."  Jo. 14:6b.  He will not speak of Himself; He will only speak of Jesus.  He is the one to lead you to Jesus, to help you fellowship with Jesus, to know Him and to worship Jesus.  He is the star of Bethlehem.  He was born in your heart when you became born-again.  He is the Spirit of Jesus.  Phil. 1:19.

 

Whenever a sinner comes to God, the Star of Bethlehem rises in his heart.  But it is only an earnest deposit.  As we mature in Christ, we will shine brighter and brighter until we too shall be like Him.

 

BETHLEHEM

 

AND JOSEPH ALSO WENT UP FROM GALILEE, OUT OF THE CITY OF NAZARETH, INTO JUDEA, UNTO THE CITY OF DAVID, WHICH IS CALLED BETHLEHEM; (BECAUSE HE WAS OF THE HOUSE AND LINEAGE OF DAVID:)  LU. 2:4.

 

Jesus was born in the city of Bethlehem.  There was nothing special or exciting about Bethlehem in those days, but in Bible history, it was revered as the City of David. 

 

David was a man after God's own heart.  Ac. 13:22.  Whether it meant that God's heart loved David, or David wanted to have a heart like God's, we do not exactly know.  But David was certainly one of the most beloved men that God ever loved.  The life of David and the Psalms that David wrote reveal a man who was totally sold out to God.  He was not perfect, but he was closer than any other we know.  While the Bible talks about many prophets and how God used them to warn the people of Israel (such as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel), David stands out as a man whose life and heart were fully dedicated to loving and obeying the Lord.  David was the only one that asked God to search his heart and to change it.  He was truly a man who understood God and who wanted to be just like Him.  His one desire was to do the will of God.

 

God loved David so much that He promised David that there would be a son of David on the throne forever.  Jesus constantly referred to Himself as the "son of David" and He was called the "son of David" in many passages.  Mat. 9:27; 12:23; 21:9.  What God promised David became part of what is known as the Davidic Covenant.  In Psalm 89:3, God promised David that God would establish David's seed forever and build up his throne to all generations.  Also, Jer. 33:17-26.  Jesus came to fulfill that prophecy.  Jesus said in Revelation 22:16b, "I am the root and offspring of David...."  Therefore, there will be a son of David on the throne of God throughout eternity.  If the saints are members of a new race of people after Jesus, then we too are of the house of David. 

 

The scriptures say that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, the City of David.  Mic. 5:2; Jo. 7:42.  Jesus came to fulfill that prophecy.  Bethlehem and David will be honored throughout eternity. 

 

The birth of Jesus in the line of David and in the city of David was not merely to honor David, but to show us that the Messiah would be just like David in many ways, or rather, that David was like Jesus in many ways.  The Messiah would long to do the will of God, to obey with all His heart - just like David.  David, of course, cannot be compared to the Lord Jesus Christ.  We all fall short of the glory of God, but David knew the way to God's heart.  We too are to seek God with all our heart, mind and strength, and to do the will of God.  That's why the City of David has such great significance.  Bethlehem may have looked like a dead city in the days of Jesus, but it became the birthplace of life itself.  Life came in the flesh.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

 

David desired to be just like God - to have His heart and His mind.  Like David, we too are to desire the heart and mind of Christ.  Ro. 8:29.  Bethlehem will always be identified with the birth of Jesus, but it is David who first made Bethlehem meaningful to all Christians. 

 

In the Old Testament, the word "Bethlehem" meant "place of bread."  Jesus is called the bread of life that came down from heaven.  Jo. 6:32, 35; 48.  When you were saved, Jesus came all the way from heaven to give you life.  As each sinner is saved, his heart becomes the place or house where the Holy Spirit dwells and his body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit.  I Cor. 6:9.

 

THE WISEMEN

 

NOW WHEN JESUS WAS BORN IN BETHLEHEM OF JUDEA IN THE DAYS OF HEROD THE KING, BEHOLD, THERE CAME WISE MEN FROM THE EAST TO JERUSALEM.  MAT. 2:1.

 

Wisemen came to bring gifts to the baby Jesus.  The Bible doesn't say how many there were, but because there were three gifts, tradition says there were three wisemen.

 

The Bible does not say exactly where they came from except that they came from the east.  They did not come from the surrounding area and it must have been from afar off.  Mat. 2:12 says that after they worshipped Jesus, "they departed into their own country...."  In today's jet age, one could argue that the Middle East is not that large an area.  Regardless, the wisemen came from another country - afar off.

 

It is the same today, each time when Jesus is born in the heart of a repentant sinner.  Three persons come from afar even from as far away as heaven - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  They come to bring gifts to each born-again Christian. 

 

THE THREE GIFTS

 

... AND WHEN THEY HAD OPENED THEIR TREASURES, THEY PRESENTED UNTO HIM GIFTS; GOLD, AND FRANKINCENSE, AND MYRRH.  LU. 2:11.

 

Three gifts were presented to the new-born Jesus: frankincense, myrrh and gold.  Frankincense is a sweet-smelling perfume used by the priests to sprinkle on the grain or meal sacrifice in the temple in the days of Moses.  Lev. 2:1,15.  It was a luxury that was brought into Palestine by caravan from afar.  Is. 60:6; Jer. 6:20.1 

 

In Leviticus 6:14-18, God instructed Aaron on to how to make the holy meal offering.  He said:

 

And he shall take of it his handful, of the flour of the meal offering, and of the oil thereof, and all the frankincense which is upon the meal offering, and shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour, even the memorial of it, unto the Lord. 

 

And the remainder thereof shall Aaron and his sons eat: with unleavened bread shall it be eaten in the holy place; in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation they shall eat it.

 

It shall not be baken with leaven.  I have given it unto them for their portion of my offerings made by fire; it is most holy, as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering.

 

All the males among the children of Aaron shall eat of it.  It shall be a statute for ever in your generations concerning the offerings of the Lord made by fire; everyone who toucheth them shall be holy.

 

Frankincense is associated with the meal or grain sacrifice that was to be eaten with unleavened bread and also baked without leaven and eaten.  Leaven was a type of yeast or substance that caused fermentation.  Jesus said to His disciples, "... beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees."  Mat. 16:11b.  He was speaking of false doctrines.  Verse 12. 

 

The meal was to be baked and eaten without leaven.  It represents unadulterated truth - the Word of God.  The Bible is the Word of God.  It is to be ingested completely and without adulteration or mixture.  In our walk with God, we learn to love the Bible.  It is not just about God; it is the Word of God.  Jesus is called the Word of God.  Rev. 19:13.  He lives in us as Truth. 

 

Jesus said, "I am the bread of life:  he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."  Jo. 6:35b.  In John 6:53b-58, Jesus said:

 

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.  Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.  For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.  he that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him.  As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.  This is the bread which came down from heaven: not as our fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

 

Frankincense is also a sweet savour or perfume.  As we walk with God into spiritual maturity, we learn to commune with the Lord.  Our prayers are sweet savour to Him.  Revelation 5:8 says:

And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints.

 

Revelation 8:3-4 says:

 

And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.  And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.

 

Not only are the prayers of the saints a sweet odor or perfume unto God, those that are saved are also sweet savor unto Him.  II Corinthians 2:15 says, "For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, ...." 

 

Finally, when Jesus Christ offered Himself up as a blood sacrifice for our sins, it was a sweet-smelling savour to the Father.  Ephesians 5:1-2 says:

 

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.

 

Every time when a sinner comes to God and is saved, the sacrifice of His life that the Lord Jesus Christ made on the cross is offered in exchange for that sinner's life.  Like the meal sacrifice made with frankincense in the days of Moses, it is offered up one more time to God.  The bread of life has come down from heaven.  As that past sinner begins his walk with Jesus, his prayers become a sweet-savor to God and he himself becomes a sweet-savor to the Lord.  Like the meal offering that is eaten without leaven, the cleansed ex-sinner begins to partake of the bread that comes from heaven, as he begins to ingest the unadulterated Word of God.  Jesus is the Word of God.  Rev. 19:13.  As he begins to fellowship with other saints, he  participates in Holy Communion with the Lord.  He takes into his body the bread and the wine that represent the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  I Cor. 11:23-26.  It is a reminder that Christ lives in us!

 

MYRRH

 

Myrrh is often called gall.  It is a bitter narcotic, but it is also a perfume.  It is sweet to the smell, but bitter to the taste.  It was offered to Jesus on the cross and used to prepare His body for the tomb.2 

 

It symbolizes our walk with the Lord.  Like the apostle John, we will find our walk with God bitter-sweet - sweet to the mouth and bitter in the belly.  Rev. 10:9-10.  When we are first saved, we are ecstatic about becoming a Christian.  We can taste the sweetness of a life and walk with Jesus.  We are excited and richly blessed.  But as we mature, we learn that the walk is a bitter one also.  There are trials and tribulations - sufferings to perfect us.  It is always a bitter cup for those who choose His way.  But what a privilege!

 

Jesus intimated that those who aspire to sit next to Him on His throne must partake of the same bitter cup He had to drink.  Mat. 20:22.  Through the things He suffered, Jesus was perfected.  Heb. 5:8.  That's God's way.  "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."  Heb. 12:6.  Trials and chastenings are bitter to the flesh but sweet to the Lord.  We rejoice in our trials, knowing that we are loved and God is perfecting us so that we might share His throne with Him one day.  Revelation 3:21 says, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne."  Revelation 21:7 says, "He that overcometh shall inherit all things;...."

 

All Christians are given the opportunity to carry their cross.  The walk of every true Christian will always lead to Calvary.  There's a cross for every one of us.  Jesus said:

 

Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.  Mk. 8:34b-35. 

 

The apostle Paul said that he had gladly given up all the things of the world, which were considerable, to follow Jesus.  In Philippians 3:10, Paul says, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto His death."  It is the path to spiritual maturity and oneness with Jesus Christ.  There is no other way.

 

Romans 6:4 says, "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."  Before we can rise in resurrection life, we need to die first.  Most Christians find it hard to die to the world and to the flesh.  They cling on to the life they have on earth.  Jesus said in Matthew 10:38-39, "And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me is not worthy of me.  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."  Every one who truly follows the Spirit of God will be led to die on the cross of Calvary with Jesus.

 

There's a book I once read about a famous Chinese Christian, Wang Ming Tao, who had spent almost 23 years of a life term in a Chinese prison because he refused to deny the Lord.  During those years, he had the opportunity to save many guards and fellow prisoners.  The days in prison were difficult.  He couldn't mumble to himself, or even close his eyes, lest they accuse him of praying.  He couldn't speak the name of Jesus unless he desired to risk terrible beatings and solitary confinement.  He was tortured and forced to sleep on concrete floors crawling with cockroaches and bugs, even during bitter, cold winters.  Yet, he never gave up loving the Lord and serving him.  Many were the times when he was beaten and starved.  He counted it a privilege.  He was finally released to die because he was already over 80 years old, almost blind and deaf.  He had walked through the fire.

 

A western Christian reporter went to Shanghai to meet this revered old man.  After a guide took him through secret alleys and by-ways to escape detection, the westerner entered a run-down house and was led into a room.  To his surprise, he met ten other Chinese who also wanted to meet the famous old man.  As they waited for the appearance of the ex-prisoner, the westerner discovered that half of the men in the room had themselves collectively spent eighty years in prison for their faith.  To each of them, it was nothing compared to what the old man had endured.  They had all willingly given up their freedom by refusing to renounce the Lord Jesus.

 

Suddenly the old gentleman appeared.  In the days that followed, the westerner fell in love with the old gentleman and his kindness and humbleness.  The old man was the epitome of holiness.  He was able to endure extreme hardship because of his overriding desire for holiness. 

 

The westerner ended up calling him "Uncle."  When it came time to leave, he knew that he would probably never see the old saint again in this life.  As he sneaked out the door, he said to the old man,  "Uncle, do you have any precious lessons to share with the Christians in free countries?"  The old man looked at him and smiled.  He nodded as he began to close the door. "Tell them," he replied, "to walk the hard road."3

 

That's God's way.  No other people on earth can walk the hard way with Jesus and into perfection in God.  It's sweet and yet it's bitter.  But, it's a gift for eternity.  The saints are given that privilege of walking with the Lord Jesus - along the same path our Lord walked - to fellowship in His sufferings.  Phil. 3:10.

 

Myrrh serves as another symbol important to all born-again Christians.  Myrrh was an essential ingredient of the oil of anointing which God instructed Moses to make.  In Ex. 30:23-25, God said:

 

Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much ... and thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil.

 

Thus, myrrh represents the oil of anointing that was used to anoint Aaron and his priestly sons.  The oil of anointing is a type and shadow of the Holy Spirit.  I Jo. 2:27; Lu. 4:18.

 

After Jesus ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father, He sent us the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit lives in every born-again believer.  Myrrh represents the Holy Spirit.  He is the anointing in our lives.  When a sinner turns to God and is born-again, the gift of the Holy Spirit is given to him.  But it is not without suffering that we experience the anointing of God in our life.

 

As some wise saint once said, "Salvation is free, but if you desire to walk with the Lord Jesus, it will cost you your life."

 

GOLD

 

Gold is the promise of heavenly reward at the end of the road or rainbow.  It represents heavenly things.  Revelation 21:18 says, "And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass."  Verse 21b says, "... and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass." It is the city of God, the holy Jerusalem.  Verse 10.

 

Jesus said in Revelation 3:18, "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich."  Gold represents perfection in Christ.  In order to purify gold, a jeweler subjects the impure gold to much heat.  As the gold is melted, the dross or impurities float to the top.  The impurities are then scrapped off the top.  As the fire becomes hotter, more dross comes to the surface to be taken away.  Eventually, the gold becomes completely pure.  That is God's way. 

 

The Bible says that Jesus comes to baptize us with fire.  Mat. 3:11; Lu. 3:16.  The way to perfection is the way of suffering.  Jesus learned obedience by the things that He suffered.  Heb. 5:8.  Hebrews 2:10b says that Jesus, the captain of our salvation was made perfect through sufferings.  We too are perfected by the things we suffer.  God allows trials in our life to perfect us.  That's why we rejoice in fiery trials.  I Pet. 1:6-7; I Pet. 4:13.  God is after pure gold.  He is interested more in our purity than in our works.  As we learn to surrender our lives to Jesus, we become like pure gold. 

 

Those who suffer with Jesus will reign with Him throughout eternity.  II Ti. 2:12.

 

The twenty-four elders sitting around the throne of God are wearing crowns of gold.  Rev. 4:4.  Throughout the Book of Revelation, heavenly things are described as being of gold - the candlesticks, vials full of odours, the altar which is before God, a golden girdle around Jesus's chest and so forth. 

 

When we finally enter the gates of heaven, after a lifetime of service and perfection in Jesus, we will be surrounded by a city of pure gold with streets and buildings paved with gold.  Rev. 21:18.

 

Whenever a sinner comes to Christ, the same three gifts are given to him, by the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  The sweet frankincense of the sacrifice Jesus made for him and the partaking of the bread of life from heaven, the fellowship of His sufferings as we continue our walk into perfection in Christ Jesus by bearing our own cross, and finally, the heavenly reward at the end of our walk - good for eternity.  All will accept the frankincense, and desire the heavenly reward, but few will accept the bitter walk.  Many follow Jesus, but few bear their cross. 

 

But there is only one way.  All three gifts are offered to each new-born saint when he comes to Jesus Christ and is saved. 


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