Blessed Hope Baptist Church
We are Located at:
3656 NY-112, Coram, NY 11727
We Worship The King Beginning with:
Sunday School at 10:15 AM
Sunday Service starts at 11:15AMish
Wednesday Evenings 7:15PM
Articles By Pastor Joseph Costa
WHO IS MELCHISEDEC?
The reason I believe Melchisedec can be identified has to do with a biblical accountability and typology. Allow me to explain through the following bible characters and associated typologies. My answer may very well not be right but it might just be!
Elijah gets caught up into heaven by” … a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, … ” in 2 Kings 2: 11. Moses lives to 120 years old then dies on Mt. Pisgah in Moab in Deut. 34: 1- 5. Now, most bible believers already know or have been taught that the two witnesses of Revelation 11 are in fact Moses and Elijah … correct. When one follows the life and actions / miracles of these two it becomes readily apparent that the same miracles mentioned in Revelation have already been played out by Moses and Elijah. This, not to mention, the 2 people standing with Jesus in Matthew 17 when he transfigures himself are none other than … you guessed it Moses and Elijah. There is more but sufficient for now as a backdrop for understanding Enoch. Moses and Elijah are both under the Mosiac covenant not Enoch. Enoch has nothing to do specifically with Israel! Enoch lives nearly 1000 years before the Law ever comes to being. Enoch gets “raptured” or caught up to heaven by God in Genesis 5:24. Now if Moses and Elijah are accounted for in scripture then Enoch should also be accounted. Enoch only appears in 3 places in the bible; Genesis 5, Hebrews 11, and Jude in that order. Genesis gives us his history, Hebrews reaffirms his rapture, and Jude gives us tremendous insight about his ministry, previously unknown. 4-ie prophesies about Jesus’ return with his saints for judgment!
Elijah: He pictures a tribulation saint who gets raptured alive and returns for the 1,000 years and then dies. (He was taken up alive to heaven in 2 Kings 2: 11 thus he never died then but will in the future, Rev.11 :8-11.)
Moses: He pictures a tribulation saint who dies during that time, is then resurrected, and returns for the millennial reign with Jesus then dies a 2nd time during that 1000 yr period. (He died a natural death, Deut. 34, and then God took his body to heaven.-read Jude 9 for some insight into that event!- then he returns in Rev.11, with Elijah, only to die again in the tribulation.) So, all is in order with the only people to have been taken to heaven with the exception of Enoch!! So …
Enoch: He gets raptured at 365 years old, (Gen 5:24), before Noah’s flood. Gen 6-8. He Pictures a Gentile Body of Christ who gets raptured (365 days in Gentile calendar not Jewish!) before the tribulation period. The body of Christ is both Jew and Gentile but unlike the early start of the church period where it was predominantly Jewish believers; the opposite is true today at the end of the church period where it is predominantly Gentile!
The Jewish nation doesn’t begin until after Abram gets called out of Ur in Gen 12, so Enoch is taken well before Israel comes to being. Also, Jesus said,“… as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew. 24:37). Thus, the tribulation period is represented by Noah’s flood in typology.
Enoch prophesies in Jude 14, 15 about the Lord’s return and in Revelation 19: 14 it’s the Church that returns with Jesus! So Enoch represents the Raptured Church awaiting a return with our Savior Jesus Christ! Now for the connection with Melchisedec:
Melchisedec first shows up Gen. 14: 18 after Abraham defeats kings in battle and delivers Lot (pictures a Jew / Israel who makes it through the tribulation without genuine faith but endures to end). The battle with the kings represents Armageddon (Rev.16:12- 16) we, (the Church), return with Jesus to set up the kingdom, (Rev.19:11-16) and ” … have authority over … cities.” (Luke 19:15-17 and 2 Timothy 2:12). So Enoch gets raptured before the flood and reappears after the flood when Abraham returns from battle and receives tithes from him (Hebrews 7:4, Genesis 14:17-20) as Melchisedec. He is a “king of Salem” and “priest of the most high God.” So too in Revelation 1 :5-6, we are Kings and Priests unto God–Priests during Church Age; Kings when we reign!
But why the name change?
Moses and Elijah both return as themselves, (although not named as such in Revelation 11 because only they know their new names, so John doesn’t know what their new names are but certainly knows WHO they are!!) but Enoch returns as Melchisedec doctrinally, thus satisfying and accounting for Enoch. He is the only other person who was taken off this earth while alive with no further accounting? Well, when the church returns with Jesus to rule and reign with him during the kingdom age we will do so with a new name! (Rev. 2:17, 3:12), Thus we get raptured as John Doe but don’t return as John Doe but rather with a new name … just like Enoch!! So when Melchisedec shows up randomly, as it appears in Genesis 14, it totally fulfills the role that Enoch plays in typology.
Enoch, then, represents a believer who gets raptured while alive and returns to earth with Jesus to rule and reign with a new name during the Kingdom age. So when Melchisedec first showed up he was already raptured and consequently given a new name, creating some confusion as to where did he, Melchesidec, come from? Hebrews 7:3, says, “without father, without mother … “ which can be explained because our lineage, once saved, is in Christ (Ephesians 1 :4, Proverbs 8:29-31 🙂 and, therefore, eternal “without [human] descent.” You will not be known by your present name in eternity, rather by the name God gives you. Your last name, while important now, will be immaterial then. So then technically, we too will be without descent!!
I hope this study opens eyes and hearts to the amazing truths still untapped in our KJV.
The Pre-Tribulation Position
I believe the Bible teaches a pre-tribulation rapture of the New Testament Church not just because of a couple of verses but in fact a systematic understanding of typology stretching from Genesis to Revelation. Let me first point out some verses then go on to show the great picture God paints by the study of typology.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4, 9, the context is clearly the “… day of the Lord … “ and Paul the apostle goes on to say, “…God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, “, One should note that the “us” is aimed at a Christian, or a child of God, or the Church, or body of believers, does that cover all the bases? Having stated the obvious, also be aware that one could take this verse to simple mean if one accepts Jesus as his/her personal Savior then that individual is sealed and therefore not appointed to wrath or Hell … true! But also is true would be that the believer will not be present when the wrath of God is poured out upon the inhabitants of the world during what the Bible calls the tribulation period or the time of Jacob’s trouble, (who’s trouble?-Jacob not Church’s!), or Daniel’s 70th week. All three terms are synonymous with this time period. These events are covered in detail in the book of Revelation. For instance, Revelation 12:12 says, “…for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Again in chapter 15:1,“… seven last plagues; for in them is the wrath of God.” So if God’s wrath is to be poured out at this time and the body of believers is not appointed to wrath then one should be able to conclude that the Church will not be present during this awful portion of history, yet to happen. Strange “coincidence “has the Apostle Paul say something very similar in Romans 5:9 (same chapter and verse), “…we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
Now the typology.
While these verses do help shed light on why the Body of believers in Jesus Christ will not be present during a time that God has designated as house cleaning for Israel, I believe the typologies best explain it. First let me start with Enoch. He was the first person God ever raptured or caught up to Heaven without experiencing death! This occurs in Gen 5:24 which says, ” … Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” Took him where?
Well, the answer lays in Hebrews 11:5 which states, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: … “ He was translated or raptured from Earth to Heaven just like the promise given to the body of believers by Paul the apostle in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 which tells us it is a mystery and again in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up (raptured) together with them in the clouds,-to meet the Lord in the air: … “ Oh now I understand why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:55, “O death, where is thy sting?” He is telling us at this point the body of believers who are alive will be changed or raptured and never see death, just like our example of Enoch I Oh by the way did you ever notice that Enoch gets “caught up” to God in Gen 5:2~. In chapter 6 God calls Noah. In chapter 7 there is a flood, worldwide catastrophe. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:37, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the son of man be.” Jesus himself likens the days of the tribulation (essence of Matthew 24) to Noah’s time. Well, if we think a little it becomes pretty clear that just like Enoch goes up BEFORE Noah’s flood, so too does the Church or body of believers go up BEFORE the tribulation period starts.
Last but certainly not least, is the example given to the Church in Revelation 4:1 and 2 by the apostle John. He writes what he sees during his revelation given to him by Jesus Christ. He defines this time period exhaustively, and tells us that he himself was raptured or caught up into Heaven after a trumpet said, “Come up hither, … “ But once again notice the order in which this happens: John goes up in chapter 4. There is a gathering around God’s throne in chapter 5 where John sees millions of people. Chapter 6 has a seal being opened which unleashes the Antichrist. Chapters 6 through 19 reveal what takes place during the reign of this false Messiah. Conspicuous by its absence is the Church or again the body of believers. Well I’ll be that’s two times the same typology; one in the Old Testament and one in the New. Do you think God is showing you something? Don’t let pride or previous teachings undermine this clear typology.
One last point is that John the apostle, represents the Church at large. He was leaning on Jesus breast at the last supper, Oust like Eve was taken from the breast bone of Adam so too does John picture the bride of Christ or the Church!), he was the only one who goes to Calvary, Jesus commands his own mother to John’s care, he is the first one to understand why Jesus’ body isn’t in the grave, he is the only apostle to not die a martyr’s death but lives, after being persecuted, and receives the great revelation that closes the cannon of Scripture! It is also very enlightening to know he is the disciple whom Jesus loved. Ephesians 5:25 says, “…Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”
Hopefully this explanation will help impart a greater understanding of a commonly misunderstood Bible doctrine.
The 144,000 of Revelation: Who are they?
Before I attempt to explain what I believe is a logical and yet esoteric explanation of just who these sealed servants are, let me say I do not claim to be the final authority on the subject. Simply put, I am willing to put in writing a helpful treatise designed to clarify many misconceptions regarding these male, Jewish virgins who play an important role in the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, (i.e.: The Tribulation Period).
The thought that they are today’s Jehovah Witnesses is almost to funny to even consider, but being we live in an ungodly world filled with false “gospels” and much deception, I will quickly dismiss their claims by the obvious. The text in Revelation I4:4a says;
” These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins …. “ Now that wasn’t hard was it? So the next time the JW’s try to manipulate the word of God by saying they are these heavenly beings, try asking them if they are virgins! If the person is not a male, then don’t bother with the question because it’s moot at that point. Secondly, ask them from which of the 12 tribes were they sealed? They must be Jewish. God takes 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes, as stated in Revelation 7, hence equaling the 144,000 total. (I don’t want to spend too much time with this cult’s teaching on these Tribulation Saints but had to include these readily apparent discrepancies with their teaching on this subject).
Now to continue on let’s look at some relevant verses which shed light on the subject. The first of these verses is found in Matthew 2:16-18: “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, … Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” All right, if we now know the author is quoting Jeremiah let’s go to that prophecy to understand better what was spoken and just what part was fulfilled.
Jeremiah 31: 15 is where the quote can be found. All looks to be in order. The verse is almost identical to what Matthew’s account says. A closer look also tells us that there is more to that prophecy than that verse. Verses 16-1 7 are quite revealing giving us insight into how God intends to use these first martyrs for the Lord Jesus Christ. The end of verse 16 says,” … and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.” The they of the verse obviously refers to the children who were slaughtered at the behest of Herod! To continue the thought look at the next verse, 17, which says,” And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border.”
Well, if this slaughter is the fulfilled prophecy of Jeremiah 31: 15, when will the other part of that prophecy be fulfilled? Verses 16&17 complete Jeremiah’s thought. Many times a prophecy may be fulfilled at one point in time and in other cases only a part of the prophecy be fulfilled while the remaining part still awaits future fulfillment. Consider the
In the gospel of Luke, chapter 4 verse 19, Jesus is in the synagogue in Nazareth quoting Isaiah 61: 1&2, but interestingly enough when one looks at the prophecy found in Isaiah he will find the clear and purposeful omission by our Lord in not finishing the prophecy which says,
” … and the day of vengeance of our God; … “ Well, now with the benefit of hindsight we understand that Jesus’ ministry on earth was to bring in the Kingdom Israel had been promised and in so doing he was setting the captives free from their sins! He did not plan on executing vengeance his first time around that will be fulfilled at his Second Advent! There are many other examples, but for brevity sake I believe this should satisfy my point sufficiently.
Now let’s look at the verse that started me going on this many years ago; Revelation I4:4b
- ” … These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.” … The firstfruits? How can these Tribulation Saints be part of the firstfruits, which are connected with Jesus at his ascension? l Corinthians 15:23 says, “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” In verse 20 of the same chapter it also states,” But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” Lets now look at the verse in its entirety, which says:
“These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” (Rev. 14:4&5)
OK, as I understand these verses they are plainly saying that those who ascended up with Jesus after he rose victoriously from the grave and Hell were the firstfruits of the first resurrection (Rev. 20:5). Clearly then the firstfruits of Revelation 14 must have something to do with the firstfruits which rose up with Christ. To say they are the firstfruits of the Tribulation Period would be a stretch because when were they, ” … redeemed from among men,”? This, not to mention that their ministry brings them to the end of that time period, seems highly unlikely that the firstfruit reference has anything to do with them being the firstfruits of the Time of Jacob’s trouble.
Another fact to bear in mind is that they are without fault. Well, if they were killed at 2 years old they certainly would be without fault; notice it doesn’t say without sin! Any Bible-believer knows that all men are born with an Adamic nature but not responsible for their sin until an age of accountability: Romans 5: 13b says, “…but sin is not imputed when there is no law”. In addition, James tells us to, “Confess your faults one to another, … “ Not your sins! Well here is a perfect example of innocent children, (without fault and with no guile), yet still part of humanity and thus providing us with the missing piece to this spiritual puzzle! That’s why the 144,000 are without fault and guile!
Could it be that those innocently slaughtered children in Matthew 2 are in fact these 144,000 Tribulation Jews who show up in Revelation 7 & 14 having already been redeemed and certainly would qualify for being part of the firstfruits by virtue of the time placement of their deaths? (They are killed prior to Jesus’ sacrifice at Calvary and therefore obviously not part of the body of Christ but part of the first resurrection.) They were butchered because Herod was trying to kill the Christ child, thus making them unwitting martyrs for Christ!
If we believe all things work together for good for a Christian, (Romans 8:28), is it not reasonable to think that God, too, does all things with a purpose regarding his people, Israel? To believe this slaughter had no other significance than just that of a paranoid, megalomaniac is to shortchange God’s power and providence!
Some might argue, Why didn’t God stop it? While there are many unanswered questions surrounding ‘God’s direct and permissive wills, sometimes God gives us a glimpse into his plan as revealed in the word of God. If the Bible doesn’t provide the answer then man is left to his own conjecture and opinions regarding such matters. I believe in this case the bible does provide us with the answer, albeit after much search and study!
Digressing for a moment from my treatise, another point to consider in understanding God’s will for our lives is that of individuality. When things happen to Christians, they sometimes know why they’re happening. A result of sin is often the culprit, while in other cases it’s not that clearly identified. What is needed is an honest evaluation of one’s walk, to determine what it is or which it may be. In those situations where our conscience is clear, one must believe that God is allowing something to occur in our lives that we just don’t fully understand but believe by faith it’s for our benefit! In the other case, I would suggest repentance and forsaking that sin of which you are aware.
As long as we remain honest with God about our personal condition, then we can better accept his chastening as part of a loving parental relationship as stated in Hebrews 12:6 which says, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” Also there are times it’s not a chastening but a purging as Jesus points out in John 15:2b when he says,” … and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” Again, an individual spiritual check up with the Holy Spirit will reveal this. Be honest with yourself, there’s no room for denial in our walk with God! Verses like these help us accept God’s will when we don’t see it.
Back to understanding just who are these 144,000 saints! As stated earlier, the part of Jeremiah’s prophecy, which was fulfilled, had to do with the killing of the children, not their return! So when does the remaining portion of his prophecy receive fulfillment? I believe right here in Revelation when the children return, (just as Jeremiah said), with the Lamb, (Jesus), on mount Sion sealed and ready to fulfill their ministry during this time of trouble. As Bible-believers we have no problem believing in the rapture of the Saints or any other supernatural occurrence, provided there is scriptural support, amen?
As far as the feasibility of that many babies being killed, one only needs to read the Old Testament where many examples of such slaughters are cited. For example the battle in 2 Chronicles 28 between Israel and Judah where, “Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah an hundred and twenty thousand in one day … “ Wow, did you see that! If that happened in one day the reality, as gruesome as it may be, of Herod’s decree should also be accepted by those who claim to believe God’s word!
Another incident, which is unfathomable, is a battle between the North and South kingdoms of Israel recorded in 2 Chronicles 13. Here, 500,000 men of Israel were slain by Judah’s army! While this account does not state in one day it is still an unbelievable loss of life — Sounds like the Civil War Between the States where a reported 650,000 people were killed during the 4 year span! This represents more casualties than WWl, WW2, Korean, Viet Nam and the Gulf Wars combined! There are other incidents but again I believe these will suffice. Thus, the 144,000 figure is certainly attainable.
One last point to consider is those who might argue that Herod had no way of knowing how many to kill or precisely eliminate 12,000 from each tribe! Well, as far as human reasoning goes, I’d be the first to say, Amen! Please bear in mind Herod had no understanding that he was fulfilling prophecy but that never stops our Lord from accomplishing his will!
An example is when the high priest at the time of our Lord’s crucifixion, Caiaphas also unknowingly helped fulfill scripture by stating, ” … that one man should die for the people.” (John 18:14) That was exactly what Jesus’ sacrifice was all about! The apostle Paul says in his letter to the Romans, ” … even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” (5:18b ). The fact that Caiaphas was used to help fulfill scripture should cause us Bible-believers to rejoice, proving once again God’s providence and will wins out regardless of man’s attempt to thwart! Therefore, Herod did not need to devise a precise paradigm of killing, but rather a decree to do so allowing God to turn this atrocity into part of his plan of redemption for Israel!
So in conclusion, I believe the 144,000 Tribulation Saints, who show up with a Lamb upon Mount Sion in Revelation 14, are the innocently slaughtered children of Matthew 2, spoken about by the Prophet Jeremiah. Therefore, they fulfill the remaining portion of his prophecy uttered in chapter 31, some 2500 years later. God’s word is truly amazing!
A scriptural guide to understanding how to make it work
and why so often it doesn’t
Marriage is an institution established by God and outlined in the word of God, which is the Bible. Today, there is much talk about what constitutes a marriage or a civil union. If one consults the Bible as a foundational book on which to base one’s life, well, the answer is obvious; namely, a man and a woman joining together physically, emotionally and spiritually for the rest of their life. How to succeed in a marriage is also clearly defined in the word of God. (That’s the purpose of this article, and will be explained later).
On the other hand, if one rejects the authority of the word of God as a standard on which to build one’s marriage, then this writing will serve of little value. It is not designed to answer all the problems couples face if they are not willing to consider the Bible as the source for the answers. To them I say, “Good luck! You certainly will need it!” Nevertheless, I do trust there are enough troubled marriages, within the body of Christ, for this to greatly benefit a vast multitude.
My purpose regarding this subject is due to the overwhelming difficulties faced by Christian couples coping with today’s pressures, as well as the expectations marriages generate. Many times when a newlywed couple realizes the enormous responsibilities placed upon them, they already find themselves looking for a way out! As a rule, before one acts upon a thought, especially as serious as breaking a marital bond, he or she has mused about it for a great length of time. Divorce is not a knee-jerk reaction to a bad situation; it’s more like a premeditated crime … and the rate is skyrocketing!
There’s a myriad of factors, which contribute to either the demise of a union or the establishment thereof. I will concentrate on the factors necessary to constitute a successful union, rather than exposing the common errors, which lead to destruction. The nature of this topic will invariably lead to a discourse on several pitfalls and universal problems that plague marriages, my primary focus will remain corrective.
There are certain pertinent attributes and experiences, which qualify me as a credible commentator on this subject. I am Pastor of a Bible-believing Baptist church and will be celebrating 25 years of marriage, this August ’07, to my wife, Bernadette. Although, I am in no way the final authority on the subject of marriages, my years in the ministry have offered ample opportunities to counsel couples, many of whom are facing the same issue; ” … my marriage isn’t working, what can be done to salvage it?” For starters, let’s look at what the Bible has to say concerning marital relationships.
Ironically, the apostle Paul was never married and yet writes the most instructive of verses, dealing with this subject, in his letter to the Ephesians. Simply put, it is a revelation given him by God, for the purpose of outlining various character traits conducive for solid, godly unions. Ephesians 5:21 says,
“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”
Well, according to the text, there are 3 basic premises. First, there needs to be a willing submission, “Submitting yourselves … “ It is a joint responsibility! Next we see a mutual desire,“… one to another … “. As the expression goes, “It takes two to tango!” Finally, the ultimate criterion, ” ..The fear of God.” If this factor doesn’t exist in BOTH man and woman you will be fighting an uphill battle and not know why! I believe this is the key to any successful marriage. Both partners must understand their respective roles, but without having a fear of God, they always keep their relationship on a horizontal plane. In other words, it prevents the couple from looking to their Savior for the right perspective. It keeps them bound up in their own feelings, never considering Christ or God’s word – both of which they are supposed to love!
How simple counseling would be if men and women could comprehend this profound truth. How many divorces could have been avoided? How many needless, wasted hours spared if the fear of God existed, instead of the fear of man! How about being self surrendered and serving Jesus versus being self-absorbed and stuck on self? How many unnecessary battles must be endured? Isn’t it a lot easier to fear God and do it his way? Yes, it is, but why is that so seldom the case?
While the answer appears to be a “no-brainer”, much to my amazement, the majority of professing Christendom today chooses to do it his or her way instead. A great Bible example of this practice and consequent result of not fearing God is found in King Zedekiah’s decision. He is the last king of Judah, (southern kingdom), before the Babylonian captivity. He is more afraid of what the other captives from his country will say about him ifhe submits to Jeremiah’s charge of going peacefully to Babylon. He is afraid they will laugh at him … what a thing! He has two options: (a) go and live or (b) rebel and die. For those not familiar with the story, take a guess at his choice? Well, if you said (a), you were wrong … although that was what he was supposed to do!
Again, the right thing to do does not necessarily ensure that it will be done. If there is no fear of God, you can bank on the right thing not being done, when it crosses man’s desires! The next area of much needed help for couples today is for a wife to be submitted to her husband. Ephesians 5 :22 says,
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.”
“Wow, does the Bible really say that?” Well, any Christian worth his/ her “salt” knows this to be so, end of discussion, right? Wrong! Remember, just because something is right to do … it is rarely a forgone conclusion! The major counseling problem I have run into has been when a wife faced with this verse, tries to tell me about how bad her situation is and that she can’t submit to him until he changes! Now, I must admit at this point I am glad I am not a woman. There are some women who are married to professed Christians that only act as Christians when they are in church! Yes, it will be hard to submit and quite a challenge, but if the women in that situation follow God’s word and keep doing their part, I believe God will honor their effort. 1 Peter 3: 1 says that men, “… may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;” Technically, the verse is aimed at a saved wife dealing with a lost husband but the principle still applies. Wife, you are not going to change him, – work on changing yourself! Pray for God to help your husband change into the image of Jesus Christ, (Romans 8:29), while praying for yourself also!
Again, let me remind the reader that the purpose of this writing is to help Christians in their marital relationships. Others can also benefit if they too are willing to adhere to Biblical teachings on this subject. I understand these principles are considered passe to critics of the Bible, be that as it may, to those of us who believe the word of God, His principles are immutable!
One last point to consider for the woman is submission to her husband, ” …as unto the Lord.” Now, that is deep! The best way for someone to do that is to,” …consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, … “ (Heb.12: 3)) Nothing can replace a walk with the Lord to pull you through a difficult situation. Sometimes, no advice or counsel will “cut the mustard” like an old-fashioned prayer ethic. Remember, the prophet Malachi tells us that, ” … the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away:”.
Now, I am not pharisaical about this because the reality of life is that plenty of couples are divorced, and a plethora of broken homes already exist. They need healing. Many times, folks have come to my church and are in need of counseling, only after they have already suffered the scars of a broken marriage. They are not looked down upon or made to feel unnecessarily guilty for the past. Hopefully, they will have learned from the failed relationship, accept their portion of culpability, find Jesus as the answer, and live for him with the Bible as their guideline for proper conduct. God restores and rewards.
For those Christians, however, who think it easy to abrogate their marital vows, as soon as they hit some rough spots, or those who think that divorce is the answer, think again! As the old saying goes,” The grass always looks greener … “but it isn’t always so! We are an impatient generation, bombarded with immediate gratification stimuli. Folks marry quickly in Las Vegas, divorce instantly in Reno, and abide by the philosophy that mistakes of living fast can be corrected by simply “leaving the set”. We, as a society, have been successfully brain washed into believing this pseudo-reality mindset!
It has been said that life is a ”veil of tears”, which is probably a more accurate description than the proverbial “bowl of cherries”. Neither is completely true, but to err on the side of caution, the former statement prepares one for the acceptance of disappointments rather than the fantasy of the fairy tale ending! Marriage, like life, needs to be entered into with this same understanding. Trials are a part of forming and molding any marriage into a stronger union; don’t quit. My former Pastor’s parents celebrated their 60th anniversary in June ’06. It can be done.
Back to our text in Ephesians, Paul reiterates this truth about submission, as we just finished looking at in verse 22 by stating in verse 24:
” … so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”
Wow, did he say everything? I don’t think that would be too popular today given the politically correct spirit that governs much of what is said and much of what is considered right. Be it so, I never said it was easy to do for the wife, but again, God’s ways are right, and if she adjusts herself according to the word of God, she has his blessing. Sometimes the biggest obstacle to submission is fear of what others may say or think. The fear of ridicule can blind some into rebellion! Hey, nobody can live the Christian life for you and certainly nobody can be the mate you are called to be. Take God’s side and enjoy the blessings of a godly union! The Devil is a deceiver. Be careful to not listen to his voice over that of the Holy Spirit’s! The Devil enjoys inflicting pain and heartache. Destruction is his goal; everything is “fair game” in his warfare against the child of God.
Finally, we will look at the husband’s responsibility. To those who think I have been one-sided, I suggest you keep reading. In my opinion, the husbands in many Christian marriages are more responsible because of the extra authority God gives them. Doesn’t the Bible say, “… for unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: … “ ? It also says in Ephesians 5:25 + 28:
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; … So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.”
Wow, talk about something hard to do! It is so awesome and seemingly unattainable for a man, but just like in the case of the wife, doing it God’s way ensures peace and blessings that otherwise go unseen. With God all things are possible, right men?
The text clearly states that man needs to love his wife sacrificially, not superficially!! Sacrifice is a word that doesn’t appeal to most; it implies a forfeiture of something for the betterment of something else. That’s exactly what’s missing in many marriages from the men. The more they realize they must give up certain lusts and idols in order to demonstrate their love to the, “…weaker vessel … “, the more bitterness can set in – unless it is recognized and corrected immediately! The Bible does warn men to, ” … be not bitter against your wives.” Women are moved by emotion; men by responsibility. When the two meet-Bam! You have the making of a great union! Secondarily, verse 28 tells us, b. The wife is the husband and the husband is the wife; they are one! Hey, isn’t that what God told Adam all the way back in Genesis 2:24, “…and they shall be one flesh.”? Why, of course it is. By the way, every good Bible student knows what God called Adam’s wife, right? If you said EVE you were WRONG! God called her ADAM! Genesis says, ” Male and female created he them, and called their name Adam, … “. Why does this truth seem to evade many men in Christian relationships?
Why does man find it so hard to love and treat the wife like an extension of his own body? How· often do you see a man inflict pain and hurt upon himself, literally, because he is upset about something? Not too often, if ever. However, that’s exactly what happens many times when he has had a bad day, or something is upsetting him and he takes it out on his wife! Instead of giving the problem to the Lord, as he is supposed to do, he vents on her because he can, after all he is the boss, right? I mean she has to obey him in everything, right? With this kind of attitude, there is no wonder why a great many marriages never survive, and certainly don’t thrive! If the man would simply remember HIS role and do HIS part, he may be pleasantly surprised to see the blessings he has been missing because of HIS OWN REBELLION to God’s word!
People like to blame others for their sins and their mistakes, which is as old as Adam blaming Eve, and Eve blaming the Serpent. It is a never-ending cycle of blame. We see it all the time whenever there is a political bombshell dropped exposing something or somebody. Immediately, there is damage control done by the media to mitigate the shock wave and shift the blame elsewhere. That’s politics; that’s business; that’s life; and unfortunately, that’s many marriages!
A great example of shifting blame and damage control was the Watergate debacle during the Nixon Administration. Very few people had knowledge of how information was being leaked to the Washington Post Journalist, Bob Woodward, affectionately known as, “Deep Throat”. More than 30 years later the world discovered the true culprit, by his own admission. This fact was so downplayed by the media, that few know his identity to this day.
It seemed that Woodward had an inside track right to the President’s office! His information was right on target and it caused quite a stir with the then present administration. The fear of the secret “slush fund” being exposed with ties very close to President Nixon, eventually led to the hearings, which led to the President’s impeachment. The number 2 man at the FBl under its legendary leader, J. Edgar Hoover, Mark Felt, successfully hid his alias, until he was ready to confess his role as “Deep Throat”
That’s it, until he was ready! He was fingered many times, but always unequivocally denied involvement. What he said had no bearing on what transpired The truth stands alone and in the end it will either be your friend or your enemy. He shifted the blame by disassociating himself rather than implicating someone else. The point being, until a man or woman is ready to confess, tell the truth about their failures in the relationship, and give it a go God’s way, all the counseling in the world will only amount to a waste of time, or at best, delay the inevitable; the latter held true in this example.
My experience has shown me it is easier for many people to tell their side of a story to a counselor alone, versus having the other partner present to dispute their so-called “facts”, Why? People like to paint certain scenarios, which depict their story in a supportive way. The manipulation of man is unbelievable! If they can get you on their side, without the· need to change, well, there it is, the credible support they need … the esteemed counselor or, in my case, the Pastor to defend their position, how convenient. Mankind hates change; they are creatures of habit!
If the truth were told, there are no perfect relationships just as there are no perfect people. Does this fact cause us to stop living? No! So too, it should not cause couples to give up, but to work harder at their respective roles in their marriages. A good friend and church member of mine once said, ” My wife’s not perfect, but she’s perfect for me. “ My, how that statement sums up the right attitude that needs to be present if a marriage is to succeed!
In every marriage there needs to be an honest evaluation by both parties, recognizing that even the best relationships need adjustments. Nobody is ever completely right or wrong. There is individual accountability and mutual involvement. If a couple plans on marriage without considering that they both must change, allowing themselves to be molded together into a ”new person”, then remaining single is a better option. If they insist on marriage, but dismiss this analysis as mere rhetoric, then I suggest they put their seat belts on. Their ride will be quite turbulent – and only by the grace of God will they make it to their destination … ” happily ever after-land” . . . or so they think!
One more very obvious but often ignored remedy is honest communication between the parties. This is not a political joust or a corporate sales pitch, but a one- on- one communication. Many men I know fail miserably at this stage. They say, ” What do you want to talk about?”, already sensing that a confrontation is brewing and they don’t want to deal with it! The Bible says, “Evil communication corrupts good manners.” (1 Cor. 15:33) In many instances NO communication IS evil communication! If you don’t give your wife a chance to “get things off her chest”, you may live to regret it.
Again, back to our initial thought for the man; sacrifice some time and use wisdom. Rooting out a potential problem is a lot easier than trying to erase the past years of failed communication. “Sorry, too late”, is what you will probable hear. It is like the old commercial for a national transmission company where the mechanic says, ” Pay me now, (regular transmission check up) or pay me later (a new transmission!). It serves as a great example of negligence. The difference between the car analogy and the marriage is the worse case scenario for the car is a new transmission. While it is expensive it can be repaired. While the marriage, unlike the “tranny”, may be irreparable if the communication / maintenance is not there. Give your marriage plenty of attention.
Make the right choice.
May our Lord Jesus Christ receive all the honor and glory and may this exposition help all who read it to better their marriage, and strengthen those who have fallen into despair. With the Lord all things are possible; just remember to do it God’s way as pointed out in the Bible and leave the results with him!!
Exposition of Matthew 24:15
After having read this passage many times over the years, I found myself doing the same a few years ago, only this time something “jumped out” at me while reading the verse. It said:
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains:” (Matthew 24:15 &16)
What caught my attention was the one word, ” …stand… “. As I began to think about this verse and what I was taught how the Anti-Christ will one day make a proclamation to the world that he, in fact, is God in human form demanding worship from all. This all being done from Jerusalem in a rebuilt temple where Israel will be worshipping their God through the prescribed protocol outlined in the Old Testament or the Hebrew Tenach, specifically the Torah.
All seems to be in order as these events described by our Lord are prophetic and will be fulfilled during the Tribulation period also known as the” time of Jacob’s trouble” or Daniel’s 70th week, all familiar terms to a student of the word. Of course at this point the deceived worshipper or unbelieving Jew is stunned at the outrageous request to worship this “god’s” image, which he has set up in the temple in honor of himself To those not familiar the same thing took place approximately 1,500 years ago in the book of Daniel, when Nebuchadnezzar orders his image made of Gold set up in the plain of Dura, in Babylon. It was to this image that the three Hebrew young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down and worship and were subsequently thrown into the furnace of fire only to be delivered by the true God, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. (Daniel 3 :25)
For the Jewish person to bow down and worship an image is too much to ask knowing his background and understanding of the commandments, ” Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, … thou shalt not bow down thyself to them: … “ The ten commandments were given to them by Moses after they had been delivered from Egypt. Even the seemingly non-religious Jew knows not to do that! All of the above is standard exposition that has been taught by many Bible teachers over the years, specifically Clarence Larkin or C.I. Scofield to name a couple. That is the foundation on which I will build this teaching. Back to the original text now to continue.
In Matthew 24 the Lord is describing events to take place in the future and also a warning of what to look for in those days. Verse 16 tells those who witness this abomination to flee to Judea. They are to run, hide, don’t even come back for a change of clothes just take off with what’s on their back, it’s that dangerous! Well what specifically will happen that will trigger this reaction is more than just the setting up of the Image but rather something it will do! Stand! There it is, the image, which will be given “life” by the false prophet of Revelation 13, will stand from a seated position and begin to speak, signaling this very moment spoke about by Jesus, in his famous Olivet discourse.
It is amazing to me that anytime I believe God’s Spirit, through the reading of the scriptures shows me something, other scriptures will corroborate the same thought. Well that is what happened as I read Isaiah 44:10-20. (I suggest all do the same at this point to see this for yourself). The verses seem to teach that a carpenter and blacksmith will make a god, an image of a man, out of wood put it in a house and cause people to worship it, fall down and pray to it. It is called a graven image and it is also called an abomination! Well low and behold an abomination? Isn’t that what Daniel spoke about and Jesus quoted in our text? Why it certainly is!
Notice also in verse 20, “… a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?” The answer to this question is, ” Yes there is a lie in your right hand but since you have been deceived into worshipping the graven image and have taken the mark of the Beast (Rev. 13: 18) you can’t say so!” Wow! Talk about prophetic this was written in 712 BC, according to James Ussher’s chronology. Did you get that? This deceived person doesn’t know that he or she has been had by this false messiah / Anti-Christ into taking a mark in their right hand or forehead. You might be asking how does this show the image standing? The answer is this verse doesn’t, it just shows that the image is a man made of wood called an abomination and is set up in a house (temple). But be patient the verses are numerous to show the standing. Let’s look at them, start with Habakkuk (2:18 &19):
“What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.”
Notice, the graven image that’s made is also called a molten image (overlaid with gold) and it’s dumb (doesn’t speak … at least not at the first!) but look what happens. Someone, (false prophet of Revelation 13) tells it to Awake (gives it “life” according to Revelation 13:15) and tells it to,” Arise, it shall teach!” Well, according to Revelation 13: 15 the image will “come to life” and speak! The last time I checked, teachers speak when they teach. Remember the original text of Matthew 24:15? When this image stands and begins to speak, that’s the signal to flee! By the way, what will it say?
Well, how about the obvious, take the mark and pledge allegiance to the image Gust what Nebuchadnezzar wanted the three Hebrews to do) or else you will be killed! Look at what the scripture says in Revelation 13: 15b, “…and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” Jeremiah the prophet says something · of special import concerning this topic of false gods when he warns backslidden Israel in chapter 2:27 & 28, “Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise and save us. But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? Let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, o Judah.” Wow, did you see the same concept of a false god/ image standing, (Arise) up to deliver Israel during the time of their trouble (tribulation period)? Isn’t it just like Satan to try to use God’s word against him? He does it many times in the Bible but most notably when he tempted Jesus at the beginning of his ministry by using Scripture, misquoted and misapplied, to cause Jesus to sin. Thank God our Lord Jesus defeated Satan by quoting Scripture* right back at him but he tried nonetheless! Well the same holds true here. Jeremiah is right by saying these false gods can’t save you but since you’re putting your trust in them wouldn’t it be good if they could! Isaiah the prophet utters similar words regarding an image that can stand in 46:6 & 7, which says:
” … They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth;
It is not a coincidence that these two Major Prophets mention an image that will arise or stand. God has, through the Holy Scriptures, given us all the information we need to see prophetic events. The problem many times is with our inability to properly align the Scriptures, one with another, to see the whole picture. It is starting to really come together. The false prophet makes an image, made after the image of a man, (the AntiChrist) overlaid with gold, set in the temple, awaiting the time when it will “come to life” and stand up out of his seat (Ex-cathedra!) and begin to teach. All those who don’t worship him and take the mark will be killed!
Remember back in Isaiah 44: 10-20 (did you read it yet? Please don’t proceed until you do, it is essential to this treatise) in verse 17 it says, “And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.” The passage goes on to say that there is a lie in someone’s right hand … the lie is the mark! Revelation 13: 16 again corroborates by saying, “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, …”
Can you imagine the shock on the faces of the remnant in Israel who will know that whatever other miracles the Anti-Christ and/or false prophet will perform this worshipping of a golden image will cause them to flee to Petra to await deliverance from the true God! But unfortunately, many will have already been deceived and will have succumbed to the mark. That’s exactly why the text in Isaiah is so powerful because the individual who has been deceived doesn’t realize what he or she has just done in taking the mark … they have just damned their souls!
Recently in the news (late 2005 or early 2006) there was a report about a select group of individuals in the Soho section in Manhattan who volunteered to have a computer chip placed in their hand. This chip would contain all their information necessary to conduct their banking as well as other personal business. They could program whatever they want (i.e. Entrance codes, personal pin numbers, etc.) into the chip to be inserted. They claim it’s been great allowing them to purchase goods at a store and just swipe their hand to complete the transaction … what a convenience! This comes as no surprise to well informed Christians who understand this to be a prelude for Satan’s last stand! (The purpose of this article isn’t to give all the latest developments in the scientific/ electronic world indicating how close we may be to departing but rather to highlight what’s happening as we approach the end of the Church-age.) Keep aware as these experiments will be on the increase and will become more sophisticated.
The other Gospel mention, of this image standing, is found in Mark 13:14, it says, ” … standing where it ought not, … “ which of course at first just looks like something is where it’s not supposed to be, which is true, but it also reiterates the fact that the image will stand! Did you ever notice in Daniel 12:11 where it talks about the length of this period of time and gives some specifics? Well one of those specifics just happens to say, ” and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, …” What gets set up one day will eventually stand up! That is the signal for Israel to flee!
Thus in conclusion, the verse back in Matthew, which has been looked at by Bible students and teachers alike for years, gives us a clue as to the signal God will give Israel during their “time of trouble”. In my personal Bible study (going on 20+ years) I had never seen this aspect of the image standing as a signal until recently. Again, my purpose in this writing is simple: to pass on what the Lord has shown me. Gaining knowledge is important but edifying other Christians is paramount. Every word has significance and when we are diligent to study, (2 Timothy 2:15) we too may get extra insights into God’s plan. Keep on reading, praying and studying until we met Jesus!
When the origins of the holiday Easter are discussed, most Christians do not seem to care that its roots have nothing to do with Jesus Christ, the resurrection, or his death at Calvary any more than the origins of Christmas have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. A closer examination at Easter will reveal its proper origin and hopefully dismiss the false notion that many sincere Christians have about this holiday.
First, let me say I in no way make a big deal about these “days” when talking with lost souls, as it would seem silly to get bogged down in non essentials, while the big picture of why Jesus died on a cross gets pushed to the side. Many times this is done and it obscures the main issue for a non believer. Keeping it simple is a good motto to remember when dealing with the natural man.
Notwithstanding this truth, the fact about Easter’s origins is not Christian at all but rather pagan! While a lost soul may not be able to appreciate the spiritual importance of just why there is so much misunderstanding about Ea4\er it is important that a child of God understands what he or she believes and why. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ represent the single most important doctrines for one to believe in order to call oneself a Christian that much is certain, but just how this gets incorporated into Easter is an amazing assimilation process to help “blur the lines” for a true believer.
The only time the word Easter appears in the Bible occurs in the Book of Acts, in chapter 12, verse 4. This also only appears in the King James Bible, no other version states Easter … they all read Passover! In verse 3 the Bible says, “the days of unleavened bread”, clearly a Jewish designation and also setting the time when the days of unleavened bread occur, afterPassover!But the text also says, “after Easter … “ King Herod was going to, “… bring him forth to the people.” Well, that makes perfect sense, a pagan, Roman ruler observing a pagan holiday, Easter! Named after the ancient goddess Ishtar, Astarte, or Ashtoreth, depending on whose mythology you read. It begs the question, why would Herod observe a Jewish feast day when he wasn’t Jewish? The answer is obvious, he didn’t.
The fact that many times Easter and Passover fall near each other during the year is the simple explanation for this verse to read as it does. Easter signifies the Roman observance while the days of unleavened bread clearly signify the Jewish or early Christian observance. Herod had just killed the apostle James and Peter was his next target. The thought that he would be celebrating Peter’s holiday is too funny to actually give a credible answer.
Ishtar was an ancient, pagan, Babylonian goddess of fertility and thus the incorporation of bunny rabbits, (known to reproduce very quickly!), has worked its way into the Easter Holiday, as it rightly should!! Easter did not come about as a holiday after the resurrection of Jesus but rather centuries before!! The Babylonian empire was the first of four world empires recognized in the Bible. It was Babylon, Medio/Persia, Greece and finally Rome. Babylon ruled the world for a couple of hundred years, ending approximately in 516 BC when the Medes, under Darius, overthrew Belshazzar, king of Babylon. Ishtar had already been idolized for centuries.
Remember, Jesus opens the eyes of the blind, (Jn.9:14, 25), while Satan blinds the minds of the unbeliever, (2 Cor. 4:4), to keep them in that state … the state of deception! Jesus saves but Satan slays! The Bible tells us that the, “… wages of sin is death; but the gift of Godis eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The most important decision for anybody to make is to trust Jesus Christ for the salvation of their immortal soul. The resurrection from the dead by Jesus Christ has never been equaled nor ever will be. It was the exclamation point put on the crucifixion giving Jesus’ words and· teaching the supreme authority for which man must heed. It remains a choice for man to make but their fate rests upon it. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:” (Jn. 11 :25)
Chronology of time from Abram's call to the Exodus
In Genesis chapter 46, Jacob leaves Canaan and goes to Egypt. He enters at age 130, (47:9), while Joseph was then 39 years old. Joseph was promoted by Pharaoh at age 30, (41 :46), lives through the first 7 years of plenty and when Jacob, his father, arrives it is already 2 years into the 7 years of famine, (45:6), which were to follow, as per Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream. We are also told that Jacob lives in Egypt for 17 more years and dies at age 147, (47:28). If one adds the 17 years that Jacob lived in Egypt to Joseph’s age of 39, we conclude that Joseph was 56 years old at his father’s death. The last verse of the last chapter in Genesis tells us that Joseph dies at 110 years old. Now, some basic math will determine that Joseph lives in Egypt AFTER Jacob’s death for an additional 54 years, (56 + 54 = 110, his age at death).
The accepted date of Jacob’s entry into Egypt is 1706 BC, which perfectly corresponds to the math when one subtracts the ages of the Patriarchs, from the call of Abram, (Genesis 12:4), in 1921 BC at age 75, to Jacob’s age, 130, when he enters. Abraham dies at 175 years old, (25:7), he fathered Isaac when he was 100 years old, (Gen. 17:17) and Isaac lives to 180 years of age, (Gen.35: 28). Again, some basic calculations show that Isaac outlives his father by 105 years, the 75 years Abraham lives AFTER Isaac is born, subtracted from Isaac’s age at death, (180 – 75 = 105 years). Finally, Jacob, as previously stated and proved, was 130 years old upon his entrance to Egypt. Isaac fathered Jacob when he was 60 years old, (Gen. 25:26) so when Isaac, “gives up the ghost”, Jacob was 120 years of age. Subtracting his age at Isaac’s death, 120, from the 130, (age when entering Egypt) Jacob lives 10 more years in Canaan before his journey begins.
Now, by adding these years together one gets a total of 215 years, (Abraham’s 100 + Isaac’s 105 + Jacob’s 10 = 215). So, since Abram’s call in Genesis 12, UNTIL Jacob’s entrance to Egypt, Genesis 46, is 215 years.
If one is to add the 54 years of Joseph’s life to the 17 years when Jacob still lived in Egypt with Joseph we get 71 total years after his arrival into Egypt UNTIL Joseph’s death. Backing out these 71 years from the 1706 date already mentioned gives us a date of 1635 BC for Joseph’s death.
Moses was 80 years old, when God appears to him in the burning bush in
Exodus chapter 3. The book of Acts tells us in 7:23 + 30 he was 40 years old when he kills the Egyptian and another 40 years expire while he hides in Midian and gets the call from God. The Bible also tells us that he dies at 120 years of age (Deuteronomy 34:7) and that he lead the Children of Israel in the wilderness for 40 years, which also proves he was 80 years of age when he led the children of Israel out Egypt. Moses’s life can be viewed as follows: 1st 40 yrs. He was preserved; 2nd 40 yrs. He was prepared; and the 3rd 40 yrs. He was promoted.!
We also know the date of the Exodus is 1491 BC, and given that Moses was 80 years old at that point, then it can be proved that he was born in 1571 BC, (1491 + 80 = 1571 ), giving us a gap of 64 years between Joseph’s death and Moses birth. Exodus 12:40 tells us that Israel sojourned for 430 years. This is also corroborated by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 3: 17 who says, “…the law, which was four hundred and thirty, (430), years after, cannot disannul, … “ God cannot disannul the covenant, which he made with Abraham, by the law!! That’s what he is referring to when one reads it carefully. This is all well and good and serves as a foundation to determine just really how long Israel was in bondage in Egypt. It can be stated with certainty that they were not in Egypt for 400 or 430 years as that represents or encompasses the total time from Abraham’s call until the law.
If we add Moses 80 years plus the 64-year gap we get 144 years. The Bible says in Exodus 1 :8, ” Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.” It should be noted that at this point is my only conjecture in regards to time and dates. I will assume that Israel did not go into bondage while Joseph was alive, so it must have occurred afterwards.
Assuming this to be correct, then the 64 years is exactly what needs to be added to the age of Moses to arrive at the total time in bondage while in Egypt. Thus, Israel was in bondage a MINIMUM of 80 years and a MAXIMUM of 144 years. Again, the 430 years is a reference to the total time from Abram’s call, 1921 BC UNTIL the Exodus/ Law in 1490 BC.
Tongues: Are They for Christians Today?
Please take you time in reading this and earnestly pray for God’s truth regarding this still controversial subject. Do not rush. Block out any outside interference and let the Holy Spirit teach you via the word of God. May God bless this effort and fill me with his truth to impart to whomever desires a greater understanding.
To fully grasp the ‘Tongues’ issue, one must focus on chapters 12, 13 and 14 in 1 Corinthians. These chapters, along with a basic knowledge of the chronological events of the early church period, should clear up any confusion. An explanation of that history will serve as a foundation upon which I will build.
When the Lord was on earth, his primary ministry was to the nation of Israel. He was Jewish, His disciples were Jewish, and the early church was Jewish. The Jewish people require a sign from God to believe: “For the Jews require a sign (1 Corinthians 1:22).” The nation oflsrael began thousands of years ago during their exodus from Egypt. That nation was formed with signs & wonders, starting with the burning bush, the ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, right on through their 40-year trek in the wilderness. They needed signs – God said so. God gave them signs – they followed.
Outside of 1 Corinthians, “tongues” only show up in two other books: The Gospel of Mark and the Book of Acts. Let’s look at these references:
- In Mark 16: 17 & 18, the Lord Jesus Christ makes a post-resurrection appearance to the eleven Apostles, (twelve minus Judas). He imparts certain powers to them to continue the work already begun with the nation oflsrael. To believe someone today had these powers available to him or her is absurd. In the same passage which says they will “speak with tongues,” it also speaks of, “if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them;” or handle serpents (snakes) and not get hurt or lay hands on the sick and they shall recover (and I don’t mean with the use of medicine!). Now, who wants to volunteer their apostolic powers and go drink some rat poison? Do you know anyone? Let’s be honest with each other; I think not. It was for the conversion of Israel; it was an apostolic sign.
- The Book of Acts is the other book in which “tongues” appear. This book is not a letter or epistle as 1 Corinthians, but rather a chronological account of the events of the Apostles from 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus until about 63 A.D. This period covers approximately 30+ years during which a tremendous transition (change) occurs. The believers of the Lord were no longer only going to be Jewish, but Gentiles also!
In Acts 2, Peter and the disciples preach to an exclusively Jewish audience. In Acts 8, the first non-Jew in the New Testament (an Ethiopian Eunuch), gets saved. In Acts 10, Peter opens the way to the Gentiles, by Cornelius the Roman Centurion. By the time Acts ends, Paul is preaching almost exclusively to the Gentiles. (Remember that Acts is a transitional book). What a turn of events! (See Acts 28:26-28.) Notice the progression?
You may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with speaking in tongues? It has everything to do with it! To understand what took place during this time is to understand how God uses “tongues” as well as other signs and wonders. As God’s dealings with Israel began to diminish, so too did the signs and wonders and miracles. “For the Jews require a sign (1 Corinthians 1 :22)” but to the Christian he says, “for we walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)”. A clear distinction between unbelieving Israel and the Christian will eliminate any questions as to whether God will continue to use a sign that was never intended for the edification of the church, bur only to convince an unbelieving Jew of the Gospel!
Paul visits the Corinthians in Acts 18: 1-11 (read it), which occurs in approximately 54 A.D. There was still a mix of Jew and Gentile within the synagogues throughout the region. This Jewish contingent explains the need for Paul to discuss the use and nature of “tongues.” (Remember the translation? Please notice the last sentence in 18: 6!) Corinth was a large cosmopolitan city located in Greece with a strong Jewish population. The Corinthians were carnal babies (1 Cor. 3: 1), not sound in their knowledge of God. Fornication among them was commonly reported (1 Cor. 5: 1 ). They were puffed up, not separated (ICor.5: 11 ), unaware that their bodies were the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19). If that were not bad enough, they would rather sue a Christian brother before a court of non- believers than settle the matter between themselves (I Cor. 6:5-6). They were rebuked by Paul more than any other Church in the New Testament and were a spiritual mess. This was the Church that spoke with “tongues”. Discipline was not their strong suit! As we have already established, there was a need early on for this sign gift. However, they still misused their gift! Among the nine gifts he discusses in Chapter 12, Paul primarily focused on “tongues” because he was aware of how important proper use of a gift is. He gave instructions on how and limitations on who and how many. Let’s examine:
- They were only to speak: one at a time with no more than 3 people speaking in total.
- They were always to have someone interpret to edify the congregation.
- No women were permitted to speak with “tongues”. They were to be silent in church.
Now, an honest assessment of these rules on how to use “tongues” within the church probably knock’s out most of what passed for “speaking in tongues” in today’s churches! Again, keep in mind that there were still Jews present in Synagogues that needed signs during this transition. So, with that in mind, consider every time “tongues” show up, it’s for the purpose of helping an unbelieving Jew understand or accept what God is doing.
In the Book of Acts, “tongues” first appear in Chapter 2; they also appear in chapters 10 & 19. They first appear, for the purpose of authenticating Peter’s, as well as the other’s apostleship. Their audience was exclusively Jewish. At that time, Jews from all over the known world were gathering at Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot (Pentecost), as was tradition. They had heard of the miraculous occurrences which had transpired (miracles, the Resurrection, etc.) The tongues spoken were, in fact, foreign languages representing the various regions from where the Jews came. The result was 3,000 Jews getting saved by hearing Peter’s sermon in their own individual language while the sermon was delivered in a separate language. A miracle! In both Acts 10 &19, it was God’s confirmation to the Jews who were present. In the next example, after Peter preached to Cornelius,” … as many as came with Peter (the Jews), were astonished because the gift of the Holy Ghost was also poured out on the Gentiles!” (Read 10:44-48!) Do you see what is happening? This transition or change is in full swing. Got it? And in the last case (Acts 19: 1-6) it’s for the converts of John the Baptist to fully understand what has happened so they could then preach the Gospel of the resurrection not just the baptism of repentance (John’s baptism). They were then sent to the Jews in the synagogue to help them believe. (Please read and familiarize yourself with these portions of scripture to fully understand this section.)
Although Paul did not forbid “tongues” to be used, he continually emphasized the better gift. The better gift, according to the word, is prophesying, which means teaching. Teaching edifies the body – tongues do not! I believe the single best verse to explain this is 1 Cor.14: 22 which says, “wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe but to them that believe not: by prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.” Those that believe not are unbelieving Jews and those that believe are Christians. Is that clear? Verse 19 says Paul would rather ” … speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, then ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” Five vs. 10,000 – what a comparison! Again, the emphasis is on teaching and understanding – not signs for an unbelieving Israel! In I Corinthians chapter 14:4,5 (read) the same refrain, ” … but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.” ” … For greater is he that prophesieth.” Again verse 12, “even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” The message is clear; downplay tongues, uplift teaching.
Another prominent point is the completion of the New Testament. In light of this, the focus was moved from and Old Testament manifestation of God through signs & wonders to a written revelation. Nothing today takes the place of the word of God in matters of faith and practice, most importantly, in final authority. When it comes to honoring God and undemanding what he expects from us, we must tum to His book, the Holy Bible. To do otherwise, leads to spiritual deception. One’s intentions may be sincere but again, sincerity be itself cannot override God’s truth.
For example, much like Catholics, Orthodox Jews, or devout Muslims seeking approval from God by a system ofreligious works, so too are sincere works, void of bible truth. Sincerity is not the issue! John 4:24 says, “God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit (right attitude) and in truth.” What is truth, Pilate inquires,” … thy word is truth,” Jesus says in John 17:7b. The Bible has the answers not our feelings or opinions which, more often than not, run contrary to the word of God.
Although we often try to figure out God with natural understanding, it simply does not work. The Bible tells us that man looks upon the outward, but god sees the heart. We can only see physically with our eyesight but spiritually by the word of God … see Hebrews 4:12. Remember, ” … we wrestle not against flesh and blood … (Ephesians 6:12 a).” Our battle is a spiritual one, not a physical one. The enemy of our soul cannot stop a Christian from going to Heaven, (it’s a gift, not an earned reward!), however he can sure hinder, neutralize, or even kill one’s growth. Satan operates in the Spirit realm; he loves misguided sincerity but hates dogmatic Bible truth that is properly discerned and expressed through a believer. 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us we should be,” … rightly dividing the word of truth.”
So, in conclusion, the gift of tongues is not for the Christian today. It no longer is operational during the church age dispensation, at least not since the apostles died off, specifically, Paul. Again, they were used in the beginning of the church period for a short time while a transition was occurring. It was a sign used for a specific purpose … to convert unbelieving Israel to faith in Jesus Christ. Or to allow Israel to see a sign to approve of some change, like the Gentiles now being accepted, but it always was a sign of approval or confirmation. But remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ to his disciples in John 20: 29, ” … blessed are those who have not seen and believed.”
I thank the Lord for his written revelation to guide and direct believers properly. Read, pray, and ask for understanding with an honest heart, and the God of the universe, the Lord Jesus Christ, will answer accordingly.