The Throne of God.
Gog and Magog.
The Eternal Purpose of God.
Isaiah ch 24.
Future of Britain.
The Throne of God.
Gog and Magog.
The Eternal Purpose of God.
Isaiah ch 24.
Future of Britain.
THE THRONE OF GOD. Psalm 89 v 14.
A throne is a symbol of authority and power. A king sits on a throne to show that he is the source of power in the land. Usually a throne looks an uncomfortable chair – hard and upright. Of course God is a spirit and does not sit on a throne. The physical picture is there in Scripture to teach man the spiritual truth that God is supreme and is the source of all power and authority. Time and again people asked Jesus by what authority He did certain things – such as teaching and healing. They recognised that Jesus was in touch with a higher authority. That authority was His Father.
What is the basis of the power of God? Psalm 89 v 14. This gives a picture of God’s throne, which has four legs or four pillars of God’s rule and authority. These are essential aspects of His character. They are Righteousness, Justice, Truth and Faithfulness. The supreme purpose of God is to have children who reflect His character in the fallen World of men. Why does God want to adopt children? Is it because He so enjoyed His relationship with His Son that He wanted to enjoy a relationship with many more children? He wants His children to be like Jesus. To be holy is to be like Jesus. Micah ch 6 v 8. What does God expect of a man? To do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly. For man truth is being as good as his word. Mercy is being even better.
1. God is a righteous God.
2. God requires His people to be righteous.
3. God will judge the unrighteous and punish them. He will judge by works – what a man has done in his life.
Paul speaks of the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate worn by the Roman soldier was designed to protect the vital organs of heart and lungs, or else the soldier could receive a fatal wound. What is meant by putting on the breastplate of righteousness?
Righteousness is a big word not used very often. It means doing the right thing. Deut ch 6 v 25. Obeying the commands of God is doing the right thing. Psalm 45 v 7. God loves righteousness and justice. God always does the right thing. He never makes a mistake.
Proverbs are wise sayings to encourage people to make the right choices in life, when making a decision. They are godly choices. Which choice will please God? Prov ch 10 v 4. Laziness causes poverty. Diligence or hard work leads to wealth. Righteousness affects the nation also. Prov ch 14 v 34. Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people. Leaders who pass laws according to God’s laws bring blessings to a nation and lead them in the ways of righteousness. The contrary is true.
Isaiah ch 61 v 3 speaks of men being oaks of righteousness – strong men able to stand the storms of life – knowing what is the right thing to do in difficult circumstances. Mat ch 5 v 20. Jesus said that His followers should exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees. Rom ch 6 v 18. Paul speaks of being a slave of righteousness. 2 Tim ch 3 v 16. The Scriptures are for training in righteousness. They inform man as to what is the right thing to do in each decision in life. To do the right thing pleases God. Jesus said in John ch 8 v 29: “I only do what pleases my Father.”
1 Tim ch 3 v 7. Leaders in the Church must be well thought of by those outside the Church. If they do not do the right thing, they will lose the respect of the community. Children must be trained to do the right thing. Children learn by watching what parents do more than by listening to what their parents tell them. Prov ch 22 v 6 tells parents to train their children in the right ways of God.
Noah was declared to be a righteous man. Gen ch 6 v 9. He was the only truly righteous man living on the Earth at that time. He tried always to conduct his affairs according to God’s will. Why? Because he did the right thing and obeyed God by building an ark. It was God’s will to build the ark. It was a lot of hard work and difficult to understand. But Noah did it.
In contrast God could not find even 10 righteous people in Sodom. He would have spared Sodom if He could have found just 10 people who were doing the right thing. Gen ch 15 v 6. Abraham believed God and God considered him righteous on account of his faith. Abraham left his homeland in obedience to God’s call. He did the right thing and God declared him to be righteous.
Saul recognised that David was more righteous than Saul. Saul said this when David refused to kill Saul. David did the right thing in not raising his hand against the Lord’s appointed king, even though Saul was behaving badly. It was the right thing to do.
1 Cor ch 1 v 30. Jesus was made the righteousness of believers. He alone could say that He always did what pleased His Father. John ch 8 v 29. His was a life of total obedience, even to death. Therefore God made Jesus righteousness for man. Those who put their trust in Him are clothed in righteousness. It is a physical picture to teach the spiritual truth. Believers are viewed by God as righteous.
No man is righteous. Rom ch 3 v 10. This quotes Psalm 14 v 1-3. There is no one in himself good enough to enter God’s Heaven. Sadly those who are blessed with a good nature often fall into the trap of declaring themselves good enough, believing that God must be pleased with them. They are self-righteous by their own standards.
Hab ch 2 v 4. The righteous shall live by faith – by trusting in God. Righteousness is linked to what a man does and not what he believes or thinks. James ch 4 v 17. “Be doers of the Word.” James is worth listening to since he must have watched his brother Jesus at His work. What is true religion? Ch 1 v 22. Looking after the widows and orphans. If a man is not doing that, what value does all his knowledge have? James must have heard the words of Jesus on many occasions saying: “It is not those who hear my words but those who obey them and do them.”
Deut ch 4 v 8. The laws, which God gave to Israel, were righteous laws – to guide the people to do the right thing towards God.
Romans ch 2 v 6. God will reward man as to what he has done.
Mat ch 16 v 27. Jesus will judge man according to what he has done.
2 Cor ch 5 v 10. Paul, speaking to believers, says that they – like the unbelievers – will stand before Jesus at the judgement seat and will receive their rewards according to what they have done on Earth.
Jas ch 2 v 22. Abraham was justified by his works in offering Isaac for sacrifice.
The Hebrew word for work and the Hebrew word for worship is the same word. Mat ch 24 v 40-41. There were two men working in the field. One was working for his own reward. The other was working for the glory of God. Unbelievers do not see believers at worship. They see them at their place of work. The questions, which challenge believers, are these; Are they working for their own rewards or are they working for the glory of God? If a man is not paid for what he does, will he still do it to the best of his ability or will he leave the job unfinished? Is work something he does just to earn money or is it a service to God? Does he thank God for having work to do? Does he lay down his work before God as an offering, or is it his main resource?
In this World most people want to be happy and are prepared to be holy in the life to come. But God demands that a man should be holy in this life and He guarantees that man will be happy in the life to come. To be holy means to be righteous and to do the right thing at all times.
Judges ch 17 v 6. This is one of the saddest verses of the Bible. In those days there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. They justified themselves by what they did. God’s word tells a man what is right and what pleases Him. A man must not rely on his own understanding. The Word of God was scarce and the people did not pay any attention to it. Instead they did whatever they themselves thought was right.
God has given each man a conscience. A man instinctively knows what is right. Proverbs ch 10 v 7 says that all have happy memories of a righteous man. Others may not feel able to stand with a man but know that he has done the right thing.
Proverbs ch 12 v 13. The righteous man escapes from trouble. If he does the right thing, he does not have to fear punishment from anyone. He can look others in the eye with a clear conscience. Satan will always attack a man’s weak spots. He comes to rob, steal and destroy.
What happens if a man does not do the right thing before God?
If he is not honest, he will lose his reputation. Satan will take it away.
If he is not loyal to his friends, he will lose them. Satan will steal them.
If he neglects his duties to his family, he will lose his reputation before men.
If he commits a sexual sin, he will experience shame.
If he does not look after his body, he may experience disease.
If he does not do the right thing, he will become open to criticism, guilt, fear of being found out, embarrassment at having let others down, a sense of failure or shame. Shame is a powerful force to hold man back from growing in the Spirit. When a man does not do the right thing, Satan is quick to take advantage and to inflict wounds to the man. Even if there is a secret sin, which no other person knows about, such as coveting another person’s possessions, there are three people who know about the sin. God knows. Satan knows and the man knows. He can be sure that Satan will prod his conscience to remind him of his weakness and guilt. He will feel his authority and confidence ebbing away.
Mat ch 28 v 18. Ch 10 v 1. Jesus said that all authority in Heaven and on Earth had been given to Him and He gave that authority to His disciples. Authority is a right but it is dependent on obedience. Authority is delegated power. The policeman has authority to stop a lorry – he stops it not by power but by raising his hand in authority. That authority is given to him by the Police chief. It is delegated to him. But the authority will be taken from him, if he does not do his job properly, if he is late for work or unfair to some drivers or if he acts in an incompetent manner. In the same way, the believer is given delegated authority over evil spirits to act in the name of Jesus. That authority is given only on condition that he does the right thing at all times. If he does not do the right thing in life, he will not be fit to fight.
There is a difference in degree and kind amongst the three monotheistic religions.
A. Degree. The standard or measurement of righteous. How good does a man have to be to pass as a righteous person? Most people think a Christian is someone who keeps the 10 commandments. How many does he have to keep in order to be a Christian? Many think that 6 out of 10 is enough. Islam operates on the basis of the balance of good deeds against bad deeds. Muslims hope that Allah will be compassionate and merciful on that day. Many Church people think that 50 % is a pass rate.
God ‘s standard is 100 %. He will judge each man on his words and thoughts and feelings. There would not be two friends left in the World, if all the thoughts and words were exposed and known. Jesus was looking for righteousness, which exceeds the Pharisees. No one sets a higher standard than Jesus. Religious men talk about Jesus setting ideals. An ideal is a target, which a man aims at but does not expect to reach. Jesus was not talking about ideals but was setting a standard. It does not matter how hard a man tries. In his own efforts he falls short of God’s standard.
God looks for 100%. A man needs to be as good as God. “Be perfect.” If a man compares himself with other men, he may seem to be doing quite well. This is true if he chooses to compare himself with certain other men. Men complain that God has allowed them to suffer. All who die deserve to die. Jesus referred to the incident when the Tower of Siloam fell and many were killed. The people were no worse than others. No one deserves to live.
B. The kind of righteousness. How does a man gain the righteousness, which God expects? All religions say that the individual has to do it. The more self-righteousness a man achieves, the more proud he is. Self-righteousness is flawed. There is irony there. Pride and arrogance go hand in hand. Self-righteousness defeats its own objective. It is easier to show outward righteousness, but inwards a man is not righteous. It is hypocrisy. That is why Jesus could not get on with the Pharisees. They were self-righteous. It is not that they were wrong but that they did not do what they taught. They were hypocrites.
How does a man receive the righteousness of God? To do it himself he gets further away from God and not nearer to God. God’s anger is shown towards the unrighteous. Milk simmers before it boils over. Rom ch 1 lists what happens to a society when there is unrighteous behaviour. When God’s anger boils over it is called the day of His wrath. God is willing to share His righteousness with man. He knows that man cannot do it. “Try my way.” Jesus spoke about the man who hungers and thirsts after righteousness. It depends on how hungry he is and how badly he wants to be a better person than he is at present. There is an appetite for righteousness – something better. God wants to give each man His righteousness. Each man is invited to put his sins on Jesus so that God can put His righteousness on that man. This means repenting of good deeds as well as bad deeds. Self-righteousness will not let go. Paul had to do it. He was a good person and was self-righteous. When he considered all his good deeds, they were as dung. Isaiah uses the phrase “filthy rags.” This is the condition for repenting of good deeds. This is why good respectable people find such difficulty in becoming a believer. Criminals have no righteousness to repent of. Jesus found this with prostitutes and tax collectors, who were more open to repent of their bad deeds. They had no good deeds of which to repent. By keeping the law, the Jewish people thought that they were doing good and were pleasing God. Repenting of good deeds is necessary but hard to do.
Is the righteousness of God imputed to a man or imparted to man? It is both imputed and imparted to a man. Clothed in righteousness means that God’s righteousness is imputed to a man and placed to his account. God wants also to impart His righteousness to a man. A man needs righteousness and holiness. He needs to be justified and then sanctified. He needs to work out his holiness. The Trinity is the key. It is the work of the Holy Spirit within a man. God is intent in re-creating the Universe – a new Heaven and a new Earth in which righteousness will dwell. God plans to have righteous people living in that Universe. God always does right. The law punishes people for breaking the law, but it cannot make a bad person good. What the moral law could not do, God did.
Unless believers are sure of the truth, have a strong relationship with God and with one another and have righteousness, which exceeds the Pharisees, they will not survive. The Babylonians destroyed everything in their path. The just shall live by faith. The righteous shall live – i. e. survive the coming of the Babylonians – by faithfulness – i.e. by going on trusting God when everything looks bleak and hopeless. The New Testament quotes faith three times – each time meaning living by trusting in God. Judgement begins with the household of God. Jesus will be the judge at the end of time. This is offensive to all religions. One of the basis will be in the way believers treat their brothers – not in their treatment of the Jewish people or their neighbours. Jesus will deal with believers first and then all others who have been hostile to believers – the brothers of Jesus. God may be bringing Islam to a place of dominance in Britain in order to discipline His people in Britain.
In 1 Tim ch 1 v 2 and 2 Tim ch 1 v 2 Paul adds to the usual blessing the word “mercy.” He speaks of Timothy as a spiritual son – one to whom Paul gave spiritual birth. The word also means great affection. The word “Eleos” in Greek means compassion. Mat ch 9 quotes Hosea ch 6 v 6. God is looking for compassion. There are 6 characteristics of mercy in this passage.
1. Jesus was not prejudiced against sinners. He had no preconceived attitudes about people and towards them. The tax collectors were hated but Jesus saw a place for them. He did not treat people differently. They recognised this. He did not have a judgmental attitude as to race, class, denomination or religion.
2. Jesus had a clear vision of those to whom He had been sent – the sick and the lost. The House of Israel only. Mat ch 9 v 12. Believers need a vision to fulfil the will of God.
3. Jesus did not act religiously. Sinners were free to sit with Jesus. Religious clothes and voices turn people off. Jesus was not playing the religious part.
4. Jesus was not influenced by what the religious leaders thought.
5. Mercy can be learned.
6. Jesus came to call people to repent, but He had to have a relationship with them first. He was friendly with them and then called them to repentance.
Mat ch 12 v 1-8. Rules and regulations were too important to the Pharisees to allow them to appreciate the presence of the Messiah. They lost sight of mercy. They were bound up by the teaching and the project but lost sight of the Lord.
Luke ch 1 v 50. Reverence for the Lord is necessary. God is awesome. Man receives mercy when he stands in awe of God.
Luke ch 1 v 58. Neighbours and relatives saw the mercy of God on Elizabeth in tangible form.
Luke ch 10 v 25-37. Show mercy to others. “You never so touch the ocean of God’s love when you love your enemies.” Go and preach but also go and show mercy.
Man is to be a vessel of mercy. Romans ch 9 v 25 – 26.
A man should not let sinful areas of his life nullify God’s mercy to him. Go on despite the sinful areas. God has not finished with any man yet. Eph ch 2 v 4. God is rich in mercy. The woman was caught in adultery but Jesus showed her mercy. However, Jesus added: “Go and sin no more.”
The Church is the only army in the World, which shoots its wounded and does not always show them mercy.
1 Tim ch 1 v 15-16. God showed mercy to Paul who was the chief of sinners. If God can show mercy to Paul, He can show it to anyone.
Luke ch v 36. Jesus urged His followers to show mercy and compassion to others. It is almost conditional as to the amount of mercy and forgiveness they receive as a consequence. If they are limited in their mercy towards others, God will be limited in His mercy towards them. Mat ch 5 v 7. There is the promise of a blessing for those who show mercy. James ch 2 v 13 makes it clear that there will be no mercy for those who show no mercy. Whenever a man has made a mistake he longs for mercy – to be forgiven.
Since God has made man in His own image, it is not surprising that a man has a built in sense of justice or fairness. When others are not fair towards a man he is not slow to cry out for justice. A man does not like it when his character is defamed or when something belonging to him is stolen. When a child is murdered, there is often a public outcry for justice. Amos ch 5 v 24. God is offended by feasts and ceremonies, if there is no justice in the land. Habakkuk was concerned because there was no justice in the land. Hab ch 1 v 4. In Isaiah ch 59 v 11 the people were looking for justice but there was none and as a result God did not come to rescue Israel.
Lev ch 19 v 36 and Deut ch 25 v 15. In both passages Moses commands the use of just weights and measures. In Col ch 4 v 1 Christian masters are commanded to treat their servants with fairness and equality. Today there is an outcry for fairness at work – equal pay for equal work.
GOG and MAGOG.
The author is Ezekiel. He was taken into captivity in Babylon in 586 B. C. when Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah. Ezekiel had been trained to be a priest and just as he was ready to start work as a priest at the age of 30 he was taken off into captivity. Many a person would give up and waste his life away. Ezekiel was not prepared to waste his life. God told him that there was another job for him, if he wanted it. He would be a prophet. He would speak the word on behalf of God about future events. It was a difficult job. He could not prove that the prophecy was true. He would know in his spirit that it was true but he could not prove it. The false prophets would laugh – and they did. Many of the prophecies did not come true by the time Ezekiel died. This one in chapters 38 and 39 certainly did not. Indeed the prophecy about the return of the people of Israel to be master of their own land did not happen until 2,520 years had passed. It happened on 14th May 1948. Even so many believers either do not know about that prophesy or even, if they do, care about it.
Ezekiel prophesied an event to take place in the future. There is a danger of assuming that the events of chapter 38 and chapter 39 follow the events of chapters 36 and 37 chronologically. They may but it is not necessarily so and, if it is so, there may be many years between the events. Deut ch 28 v 64. Israel was scattered from one end of the Earth to the other. Ezekiel ch 37. The valley of bones. The emaciated bones of the survivors of the Holocaust have come alive and marched across Europe into the centre of World history. The people looked like they had no hope of survival. Today they are a mighty, if small, nation and one of the greatest military powers in the World.
The first question to be resolved is this: have these events already taken place? In other words, has the prophecy already been fulfilled? If not, at what time will it be fulfilled? The prophecy clearly concerns the nation of Israel. It could not take place until the people of Israel were once again a nation before God. Since 14th May 1948 the possibility has existed.
It foretells of a war of great proportions. Where is this to happen – in the land of Israel? More specifically in the Valley of Jezreel at a place, which is known as Megiddo. All during the history of the Jewish people there have been battles over the land of Canaan – the land promised by God to the Children of Israel. Many of the battles took place at Megiddo, because Megiddo is in the Valley of Jezreel, where the trade routes converge. It is a flat area of ground, lying at the South west of the Sea of Galilee, near to Nazareth. Jesus may well have looked out from Nazareth over the Valley and thought of Ezekiel’s prophecy. Many battles have been fought there. Israel was constantly the political pawn fought over by military powers, which aspired to control the Middle East. The control of the land of Israel would tilt the balance of power in favour of the victor. The land was a prize worth fighting for by Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, Greece and Rome.
Where will the attack take place? The attack will be against the land where people have been gathered from many nations. There are people from over 100 nations living in Israel today. They have returned to Israel from all over the globe. The people dwell at the centre of the Earth. Israel is situated at the centre of the Earth, in a strategic position at the cross roads of the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa and equidistant from America and Australia. This is no coincidence, since God chose the land to give to the Children of Israel. He could have chosen anywhere on the face of the Earth. But He did not.
When will the attack take place?
The attack will come during a time of peace, when the people dwell securely and are unprotected – a land of un-walled villages. Israel has taken part in many peace processes since the end of open warfare. Successive Israeli governments have genuinely sought peace so as to demonstrate to the electorate that it has brought peace and should be returned to govern the nation. The Jewish people have a pathological desire for peace after 25 centuries of living under the yoke of a military power from the days of the Babylonian Empire, through the days of the Persian Empire, the Greek Empire, the Roman Empire, the exile, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire and then during over 50 years of war involving 6 wars with neighbouring peoples. It is no wonder that the people want peace almost at any price. The indications are that this peace will be achieved even at considerable cost in the area of national security. If the Golan Heights were given away to Syria, there is an argument for saying that the defence of the nation would have been put seriously at risk. There is vast wealth in the minerals of the Dead Sea. Substantial amounts of gas and oil have been found off the coast of Israel. This may be part of the spoils sought by the aggressors.
Who will be the attackers in this battle? Put, Cush and Persia are with the hordes of Gog. Who are these nations or peoples today? Put is Libya. Cush is Sudan. Persia is Iran. Gog represents the nation of Russia, referred to as the uttermost parts of the north. Moscow is directly north of Israel and there is nothing of significance north than Moscow. What do these three nations Libya, Sudan and Iran have in common? They are the centre of Fundamentalist Islam. They have not been parties to the various peace processes. In fact the greater the move towards peace the more intense is the determination of the forces of Fundamentalist Islam to come against Israel. Revelation ch 16 v 12-16 give a clue. The battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in the Heavenly places. Behind Islam is a principality of enormous strength and commitment. It is utterly determined to destroy the works of God and His plan of salvation and it enslaves one fifth of the population of the World. Because Israel – both the people and the land – are central to the purposes of God, the demonic powers behind Islam are determined to wipe Israel off the face of the atlas. When Saddam Hussein said at the outset of the Gulf War that he intended to set fire to Israel, he meant exactly what he said. Many in the West thought that it was just rhetoric. The same was said about Hitler when he said that he wanted to rid Europe of the Jews. Hitler also meant exactly what he said and because there was so little understanding of his intentions on the part of the people and because the leaders of the nations walked away from a peace conference at Evian-le Bain in 1938, knowing what Hitler intended towards the Jewish people, 6 million Jews died in Europe during the Second World War. The presence of Israel in the land once occupied by Islam is an affront to Islam and the state of Israel undermines all of Islamic theology, which teaches that God has finished with the Jewish people and the Christians. The P. L. O. has adopted a peace process – taking the land “piece by piece.” That policy is gradually failing against stubborn resistance from Israel. No Arab or Muslim leader dare accept the state of Israel for fear of being assassinated. Eventually the forces of Islam will be unleashed to seek the total extermination of Israel.
What is the involvement of Russia? The Russians are not Islamic. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has lived in fear of the nation breaking up and falling apart. There are many individual peoples who are held together for fear of the Kremlin. It was the danger of losing Chechnya, which led Russia to suppress the breakaway nation. If that breakaway had succeeded others would have followed, including the Islamic republics in the south of Russia. Partly it is in an attempt to hold onto the southern republics that Russia will be drawn into joining Iran, Libya and Sudan in the attack on Israel. It is also partly due to the fact that the principality behind Communism, which has ruled in Russia for a long time is also opposed to the purposes of God. The Jews, even without their Messiah, remind the Russians of God. So although they are strange bedfellows the Russians and Muslims will unite in going against Israel. It seems from ch 38 v 4 that it is God the Holy Spirit who will put hooks through the jaws of the Russians and drag them against Israel. Aliyah may well be the hook, which God will use. As soon as Pharaoh agreed to let the Children of Israel go, he regretted the decision and went after them. His economy had been built on slave labour and it would go into decline. In the same way Russia has benefited from the Jewish people working in Russia and, as the Russian leaders watch the Jewish people making their way back to live in Israel, they will realise that this will have an adverse impact on their economy.
When the demons rebelled against God, they were put in chains. They were allowed by God to go so far and no further. Like a dog on a chain, it has a limited range. So Communism and Islam have a limit set by God upon their rebellion. God intends to dash both to pieces using Israel as a threshing floor. Jerusalem is the bait, which draws Gog and Magog to capture it. That will be the place where God will triumph over them. Like Gideon, God will use the small nation of Israel to defeat the vast hordes of God and Magog in order to vindicate His power and glory. Ch 38 v 16. “To vindicate my glory.” The wrath of God will be unleashed as a bowl of wrath will be poured out on these nations. There are times when “the wound is too deep to heal.” Nahum ch3 v 19.
The size of the battle and the awful death is graphically portrayed by Ezekiel. There will enormous casualties. God’s purpose in allowing the bowls of wrath is to win people back to worship Him. It is a painful process for God. It is painful for those who are caught up in the wrath of God. It is a challenge to the believers to beseech the Lord to have mercy in His wrath. “In your anger Lord, remember mercy.” The whole purpose is that the glory of the Lord shall be revealed to the Heathen World. Is Joel ch 2 the same event? Zech ch 12 v 10 describes how flesh will melt before heat, like a human being before a nuclear explosion or chemical weapons. Rev ch 6 v 4 refers to a rider on a red horse – a sword to take peace from the Earth.
U.S.A. is on a collision course with China. The Chinese plan a conflict. The Chinese children in school are taught to hate God, hate religion and hate America and Western capitalism. They are taught about the Great War, which must be fought when east meets west. One sixth of the population of China will survive to repopulate the World. Rev ch 16 v 12. The waters of Euphrates will be dried up. The Chinese have built 2 dams on the Euphrates, which would enable them to dry up the river at any time. A road was constructed over which the rulers from the east will come to Armageddon. A road has been built from China to the Middle East 500 miles long through Tibet and Pakistan and it gives a direct access to the Middle East. It can carry 200 million men. At the other end is the main rail terminal for troop movement.
Russia. Ez 38 v 2. Gog and the land of Magog. Encyclopdia Bitanica. Magog is the southern mountain region of Russia. Michech = Moscow. Tubal = Tabolsk. Napoleon and Hitler both went into Russia and lost. God says that He will bring Russia down in the conflict. Libya has a twenty-year defence pact with Russia. Both are committed to defending one another, if the other is attacked. It is Libya, which was trying to bring Africa together under Gaddafi’s leadership. Persia includes both Iran and Iraq. At present there is a battle for Iraq between the Sunnis and the Shias. Russia protected the Ayatolah Khomeni by the K. G. B. Russia is going to go into the Middle East. Gomer may be Germany, with its strong anti-semitism. The House of Togarmah may be Turkey.
One of the difficulties, which the prophets faced, was a limitation in the language at their disposal. Ezekiel could not envisage planes, chemical weapons or tanks. He can only speak about bows and arrows, and horses. That does not mean that the Russians and others will come on horseback with bows and arrows. The picture of the troops coming like a cloud covering the land may be the prophet’s best use of words to describe a vast parachute drop, with thousands of troops coming out of the sky and covering the land like a cloud blocking out the sun. The Russian invasion plan includes details of many paratroopers descending – so many that it will look like a cloud to block out the sun. Ezekiel speaks of a cloud will cover the land.
Jerusalem is the spiritual, political and geographical centre of the Earth. It is the epi-centre of the battle between light and darkness to control the Earth. Amos ch 9 v 14. “The people of Israel will never again be plucked off the land.” Israel has again taken its place amongst the great nations of the World.
Romans ch 11 speaks of the fullness of the Gentiles. Jesus spoke of Jerusalem being downtrodden until the time of the Gentiles has been fulfilled. Jerusalem came under Jewish rule in 1967 for the first time since the Babylonian invasion in 586 B.C. This does not mean an end of conversions among the Gentiles but simply that the focus of God’s attention has changed and is now on the Jewish people and the land of Israel. The Gentiles have had their special time of blessing. The Gentile nations are no longer the favoured nations. A look at what is on television makes it clear why that is. Christ is mocked in the West.
The Bible tells of four acts of redemption. 1. Noah’s ark. 2. Abraham and the Jewish people. 3. Jesus.
4. The redemption of the Land of Israel in the last days.
God must do what Israel failed to do and did not have the heart to do – take all of the Land.
The Land must be a pure land. The Land is the focal point of the covenant.
Jesus will return to the same place from where He left.
God describes the Land as “My Land.” Joel ch 2 v 18 and ch 3 v 2.
Isaiah ch 62. The Land is not desolate but is married to God.
God will bring the nations to Israel in order to judge them and to cleanse the land. There may be two wars still to come. Gog and Magog and Armageddon. An atomic bomb is of man. The intervention spoken of is of God – supernatural. The purpose is that the nations will know that there is a God and Israel will know that there is a God. Ezekiel ch 39 v 22. “From that time onward the people of Israel will know that I am the Lord.” The first war is before she is cleansed. Ch 39 v 11-14. It will take 7 months to bury all the dead and cleanse the land. A dead body pollutes the land. There is a numbers game. The Arabs are having more children than the Jews but those making Aliyah by returning to Israel alter the balance in favour of the Jews. Therefore the P. L. O. hates the Jewish incomers and targets them in bombing to discourage them coming to Israel. The purpose of Aliyah is to redeem the people and cleanse the land. Ezekiel ch 37 v 24. Ezekiel ch 39 v 25. Leave none of them in the lands amongst the nations. God will redeem first the land and then the people. He does this for His glory.
The departure from the land and the return to the land. The steps are in reverse. The relationship with the Lord is the first step in the departure and it will be the last step in the return. God is also restoring His covenant. The accusations of the prophets state that the people have even broken the covenant. This is so serious. Many decent people do not break a covenant, even under provocation.
The nations will know that there is a God.
1. Creation and human bodies.
2. The preservation of the Jewish people. By 200 A. D. they ought to have been assimilated.
3. Restoration of the desolate land. It is a miracle in so short a time.
4. The destruction of the armies of the World in the Valley of Jehosaphat. It may well be seen on television worldwide as fire and hail rain down. God is witnessing to the nations over what is happening in Israel. Scripture shows that the people will curse God, because of what he is doing. The Aliyah is a holy business and nothing can be done casually or like Uzzah the person may die.
Ch 38 v 12. The final struggle in the World will be concerned with the oil reserves in the Middle East. Russia will come to take a spoil. “Oil.” The hand, which controls oil, controls the World. 85% of the E. U.’s oil and 100 % of Japan’s oil comes from the Middle East. 47 % of U.S.A. oil came from the Middle East. Russia is in serious economic crisis and needs control of oil, if it is to survive. Now Israel has new gas and oil fields, which are of a significant size. Russia has been losing ground to Europe and Europe is taking an increasingly larger share of the World market. Russia still has as desire to conquer the World. So does China. Russia will invade the Middle East to put out Israel as the fourth largest military power on Earth. Until Russia knocks out Israel, it will not capture the Middle East. God will curse those who curse Israel. v 22. God will fight against the invading forces. God may make them fight one another i.e. Russia and China or Russia and Islam.
Who wants to be in control?
1. Saddam Hussein wanted to be in control and invaded Kuwait with that end in mind. The Spirit of Babylon was behind him but he failed.
2. China. A huge population demands resources to fuel the economy. The Spirit of the East.
3. The European Union seeks domination through economic power. The Spirit of Rome.
4. U.S.A. Secular humanism desires to control the World. The civilised World. The Spirit of Greece.
5. Russia. Communism is rising again from defeat. The Spirit of Communism.
6. Islam. Islam wants an Islamic Worldwide Republic. The Spirit of Islam.
All the spirits fall out with one another. The only time they are united is in their hatred for God and for His people – the Jewish people and the fullness of the Gentiles – the Commonwealth of Israel. God only has one people.
The Red Sea could not drown Him, the gallows of Haman could not hang Him, the fires of Nebuchadnezzar could not burn Him, the edicts of Herod could not eliminate Him, and the brick ovens of Hitler could not destroy Him. God promised to bring the people back to show the World that He is the Lord and would cause Israel to live again.
THE ETERNAL PURPOSE OF GOD. Eph ch 3 v 1 – 12. Ch 1 v 9 – 12. Rom ch 8 v 28. Revelation.
Too many believers do not grow as they should. They are not maturing into spiritual adulthood. They are still fed on a diet of milk and not meat. Many leaders are afraid that they will lose their congregations, if they tell them the whole truth of the Gospel. They hold back the people from understanding the eternal purpose of God. Many believers are taught that salvation is the whole purpose of God for them and they are content to be saved. They are not taught that salvation is a process and that they are to go on being saved and working out their salvation. The original Greek language uses a verb, which means the present tense continuing. The believer is to go on believing, go on repenting, go on trusting God, go on working to extend the Kingdom and go on working out personal salvation. It is a lifelong process, which commences at the moment of the new birth. Many believers are not preparing for the work they will have to do after they die and enter Heaven.
What is the eternal purpose of God? Ephesians ch 3 v 11. Romans ch 8 v 28. Believers ought to be able to answer this question in one single sentence. Without a vision the people perish. What a vision – to understand the eternal purpose of God. This is not for the special believers but for every believer. It is the birthright of every believer to understand God’s eternal purpose. It is essential to have an understanding of God’s eternal purpose in order to make sense of the Scriptures. God surely wants His children to understand the Scriptures. The eyes of the heart can be opened by the Holy Spirit to anyone who has eyes to see, if they want to know this purpose. The eternal purpose of God is centred on the Messiah. Romans ch 8 v 28 gives the clue. Those who love God find that they have been called according to His purpose. His purpose is far greater than singing praise forever in eternity.
Salvation is not an end – but a means to an end. It is not enough to rest on the fact that believers were once saved. They are saved for a purpose. It is the means by which God has brought them back into His original purpose for human beings, who were the pinnacle of His creation. What is the high calling in Christ Jesus? It is sad that so many believers have such small horizons. The idea that they are saved to be satisfied with their salvation – without seeking the eternal purpose of God – makes nonsense of Scripture. They are called to a greater purpose than their salvation. Salvation only brings man back into God’s original purpose.
There is a correspondence between the first three chapters of the Bible and the last three chapters of the Bible. In the first three chapters, man learns about the creation of Heaven and Earth – paradise lost – Satan entering – Earth being cursed – two human beings are created. There is a garden with the tree of life in it and God is found walking in the midst of the garden at least once a day. God’s plan of marriage is introduced. The river of life is the walk of the believer through life. A river brings life-giving water to the land. It is symbolic of living life to the full.
In the last three chapters, man learns about the new Heaven and the new Earth – paradise is regained – Satan is cast out forever – there is no longer a curse for the Earth – humans are innumerable – there is a city garden with the tree of life in the midst of the city – God is at home dwelling in the midst of the city – there is marriage between the Lamb and the Church for ever.
God brought all the animals to Adam for him to name. Adam was without sin but he was not perfect. God was drawing out of him an inner loneliness. Adam could not live with the animals as a help-mate. God asked Adam: “What will you call this one Adam?” Adam could not live with any of the animals. Adam needed a mate to help him. So God created a woman for Adam as a help-mate. They were one. Marriage is an eternal principle of God. It is the basis for family life. Marriage and family life are the building blocks of society and social order. That is why Satan is so anxious to destroy marriage.
When Jesus was crucified and proclaimed dead a spear was inserted into His side. John witnessed that there flowed out blood and water. Salvation was accomplished when Jesus died to pay the price for the sins of mankind. The curtain in the Temple was torn in two, signifying that man now had access to the Holy of Holies – into the very presence of God. The soldier came along after Jesus was dead. John saw the blood and water. What was the significance of the spear? God put Jesus to sleep and by the blood and water, the Spirit has produced a bride – those who are born of blood and the water. The three bear witness – the Spirit – the blood – the water. As God took a rib from Adam’s side to produce a bride for Adam, so God took the blood and the water from the side of Jesus to create a bride for Jesus – the Church.
God’s original purpose was that man was to be a steward of the Earth. Gen ch 1 v 26. What a privilege to manage God’s wonderful creation! Man was to have dominion over the whole Earth. What a miserable mess man has made of his privilege – due to sin. Isaiah ch 24 v 5 provides a picture of the Earth at the end of the World. The Earth lies polluted under its inhabitants – the air, the sea and the land as well as the moral and spiritual World. If man was given a role to play on Earth, will he also be given a role to play in eternity – in Heaven? Or is man to sit around on a cloud playing a harp forever and ever? Surely not!
In Genesis ch 2 v 10 the river, which was in the midst of the Garden, flowed out and became four rivers. In the land into which it flowed there were three materials – gold, pearl (sometimes called bdellium), and onyx stone. In the last three chapters of the Bible there are only three minerals, out of which the holy city is built – gold, pearl and precious stone. What relevance do these three precious minerals have for daily life? God must have mentioned them for a purpose.
Gold. In its natural state, it is buried in the sand. It does not appear naturally as it is found in jewellery. It has to be discovered and the only to find it is to follow the river of life. It is necessary to search for it in the sand and to sift it out. It is hard to find.
Pearls are also always found in water and man has to follow the river of life to find them. Pearls are fished up in the Persian Gulf. It takes great effort and it involves a degree of danger to dive for them. At the centre of each pearl is a useless piece of grit. The useless piece of grit falls into the clam, which attempts to reject it and in the process it surrounds the piece of grit with pearl.
Precious stones have to be cut out of the rock in the dark places of the Earth. The onyx stone sums up all the precious stones of the Earth.
Wood, hay and stubble and other materials are not found in the city. Most believers are like sponges – taking in and not giving out. God’s eternal purpose is that they – having been saved – should search for the precious things in life in order to serve the eternal purposes of God. The price to be paid for growth in the Christian life is costly experience or hard endeavour. It is not the case that God will make His children perfect, if they have done nothing in their life to serve His interests. They may or may not lose their salvation but they shall lose their inheritance. There is a combination between the grace of God and their own response and obedience to His commands. Jesus always did what pleased His Father – even unto death. Because of His obedience, Jesus was found worthy to receive the inheritance, which His Father has for Him. Revelation chapter 5 gives the picture of Jesus alone being found worthy to open the Scroll – the will of God – and thereby to be in control of the events of the history of the World as it unfolds. When a Jewish man made a will he rolled it up and sealed it with seven seals in order to protect it. The Jewish readers understood that the scroll was God’s will or the inheritance of Jesus in terms of His Father’s will. The believer will receive his inheritance only to the extent that he also is obedient to the will of His Father. Rev ch 10 gives the picture of the little scroll – where man has a lesser part to play in controlling the events of this World. Believers are co-heirs with Christ and are seated with Christ in the Heavenly places – now, while they are alive on Earth. God gave the Promised Land to the Hebrews as an inheritance forever as a physical picture to teach the spiritual truth about the inheritance, which will be given to the believers in eternity.
In Genesis time begins. Eternity begins. The Holy Spirit moved across the face of the waters. He brooded over the face of the waters. The word used is like an eagle hovering over its young. It is to do with bringing and cherishing life – seeking to build a nest and bring life. In Revelation the Spirit says: “Come.” He has obtained what God intended from the beginning. No more building or creating. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on 120 people to become 120 members of the body of Christ. At the end of time on Earth, the whole number will be entered in the Lamb’s Book of Life and the book will be closed.
Origins, processes and issues. Genesis is about origins. From Exodus to Jude the Bible is about processes. In Revelation it is about issues. The battle between good and evil – light and darkness – Christ and the anti-Christ. The Bible is an unfolding theme about God’s eternal purpose. It does not tell everything about the World in which man lives but it does tell man all he needs to know about salvation and sanctification. Origin determines destiny. If man does not begin with God, he cannot end with God. Man must be born again. What is born of flesh is flesh. What is born of the Spirit is of the Spirit. What begins with man, ends with man. What begins with Satan, ends with Satan. Dabbling with the occult is a beginning with Satan and may well end up in total bondage to Satan. Begin with God and His grace is available to help man to end with God. Satan is determined to lure believers back to the ways of the World – to use things and to interject things into their life, which are not of God in the work of God, so as to undermine the work of God. God saved believers, because He wants them to be part of His rule and reign in eternity. Like it or not, believers are in a battle.
Marriage is about a beginning. For some it is an end – the end of a life of personal freedom and a new life of shared commitments. The Bible ends with a marriage of Jesus and His bride forever and ever. It is the end of one life on Earth and the start of a new life in Heaven. It does not tell a man what he will do in Heaven. God has a tremendous thing in His heart to do and He wants His children to be there with Him. Jesus started His ministry at a wedding by turning water into wine.
At the centre of the Bible is Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs. The Song of Songs is an allegory of the love of God for His people. Ecclesiastes ch 3 v 11. God has set eternity or foreverness in the hearts of men, but men cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. God has designed each man with a gap in his inner being, which was meant to be filled with God. It is like a God-shaped blank. Fill it with money, and it will end in vanity. Fill it with business, and it will end in vanity. Fill it with sport, and it will end in vanity. Fill it with relationships, and it will end in vanity. Fill it with anything else but God and it will end in vanity. But once God fills the vacuum with God in the person of Jesus, then man begins to see what God has purposed.
In Song of Songs there is a progress. It starts with “My beloved is mine and I am His.” It focuses on “my” this or that and then there is the Lord. It emphasises meism. It speaks of my pulpit, my fellowship, my Church. My, My, My. People are saved, because they are in need. God offered what man needed. No one is saved because he loved God. Rom ch 3 v 11. “No one seeks for God.” Every one who is saved is saved because he was in need. God has what each man needs. Inferiority complex. 70% of believers have an inferiority complex and need God. They have no confidence in themselves. If there is no need of God, then there is no salvation. Eventually her refrain changes. “I am my beloved’s and He is mine.” Then later it changes to “I am my beloved’s.” The word “mine” has disappeared. God wants man to lose his interests and to submerge them into God’s interests. Jesus did just that – unto death.
John started his Gospel with the wedding at Cana. A wedding is the heart of God’s purpose. This is what it is all about. John was the best man. Israel is not mentioned in the first three chapters or in the last three chapters. Israel is pictured as a bride of God, who wandered away and chased after harlots. God sought to bring her back. Hosea is the very picture of this theme. The revelation was to the Jews. Then the Gentiles became the fellow heirs of Christ. To the Jews were entrusted the oracles of God. They wrote the Scriptures. Salvation is of the Jews. An understanding of the role of the Jewish people enlarges a man’s vision of God.
Eph ch 3 v 3 – ch 1 v 7 – Rev ch 21 v 9 – ch 22 v 1 – 2. Rev ch 3 v ch 4 v 17.
Understanding the eternal purpose of God frees believers from bondage to the Church and denominations. The first three chapters have the beginnings of things and the last three have the end of things. The first two chapters show the original purpose for mankind. If man follows the river of life, he finds precious things. He finds these in the ordinary situations of life, rather than in the special events of life. At the end of the Bible the Heavenly city is formed out of only gold, onyx and pearl. The Holy Spirit builds the home for God. Only the precious things are suitable to be used to build a home for God.
There are three strands from the beginning of the Bible to the end – the redeemer, the work of redemption and the redeemed. Man’s so-great salvation is only the means to the end. It was the means to put him back into His original purpose. The high calling is not to be saved but, when man is saved, it is to fit in with the original purpose of God. The eternal purpose is to be bound up with the Messiah – as all things are to be gathered up in the Messiah. The eternal purpose is never to be found outside of the Lord Jesus or else Jesus is devalued. The purpose is man in the Messiah. In Him man has been made a heritage. Everything is “in Him.”
There is no salvation outside of Jesus. There is no way to the Father outside of Him. There is no truth outside of Him. There is no way to receive eternal life without Him. Col ch 1 v 15-16. In Him were things created. In Him all things hold together. The whole creation of the Universe was through Jesus and for Him. In Him it all holds together. He is the head of the body – the Church. The purpose is the Lord Jesus and the redeemed. Col ch 1 v 27. “Christ in you – the hope (certainty) of glory. The more of the Messiah in man, the more glory. The Messiah cannot be in a man, if the man is not in Him.
In Revelation the city is symbolic. There is only one street and 12 gates. It is a cube. The Holy of Holies was a cube. It is 1,400 miles long, broad and high and only one street! It is the Holy of Holies – the dwelling place of God. The number 12 is central to the passage in Revelation. 12 gates, 12 tribes, 144 is 12 times 12. 12 is the figure for government in the Scriptures. It is all to do with government. Isaiah ch 9 v 6 – 7. There are two pictures wedded in one. A capital city and a bride. A husband has never referred to his bride as his capital city. A capital city is the centre of government. It is the headquarters of administration, where policies are executed – where the interests of the King are safeguarded. Many believers are like civil servants.
They are the people who exercise government. To be part of the capital city it is necessary to have
1. Adulthood – maturity. Man does not hand over authority to govern his children. There is an emphasis to growing up in the Lord – moving from milk to meat. Heb ch 5 v 14. Some have never grown up. They should be leaders and are still babes in Christ, dependant on the Minister.
2. Full knowledge through education and training.
3. A developed spiritual intelligence. An awareness of spiritual principalities and powers.
4. Wisdom through experience. Knowledge is about facts but wisdom is how to handle the facts.
5. Discipline. The higher the position, the more discipline God will take man through. It is essential to be able to cope with difficulties – welcome trials and difficulties. 1 Pet ch 1 v 6. Those who overcome will be put in charge of the government of God. It is not true that God will wave a wand and transform believers into perfect beings able to run His government. The grace to go on with God is available to each one but man has to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
The Bride. A bride speaks of a union of two into one. It is the most intimate relationship known to mankind. The union is of two who share one name, one life, one character, one home, one family and one destiny. Believers are heirs of God and joint heirs with Messiah. It requires maturity to grasp this truth. Jesus does not want to marry a baby but a mature person – not a beautiful looking person, who has nothing to say. For a real marriage on Earth, there has to be maturity to ensure that the marriage will work. There needs to be understanding and sensitivity. Companionship – God provided a help-mate for Adam. The bride is to be a help-mate for Jesus. Man was to have dominion over the Earth. He was to look after the garden. Believers are to share in the government of the Lord Jesus now and in the future. Jesus gave His Disciples full authority over the demons. Luke ch 10 v 17 – 19. John ch 14 v 12. “You will do what I have done.”
“Return to your first love.” First love is a quality of love. First love never counts the cost. Nothing is too much. It never complains. God wants for Jesus a civil service, which can govern with love – who have a heart for Jesus and a heart for the purposes of God. Real love moves a man to sacrifice for others – as it did Jesus. There is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for others. The pinnacle of love is for a man to do good to his enemies. “You never so touch the ocean of God’s love as when you love your enemies.” The World knows no such love.
The bride of the lamb is made out of only gold, precious stone and pearl – no hay, brick, stubble or even silver. Silver is the symbol for salvation. Salvation is at an end in the city – in eternity. Gold represents the divine nature – the life and character of the Messiah. Rev ch 3 v 18. Buy gold. The cost is experience. To experience Jesus and do what He did is through deep, painful experience. Precious stone represents the excellencies and beauties of the Messiah. His plan of salvation is so deep and so costly. Ritual can never save anyone. Precious stone is found in the dark places in the World – deeply hidden in mines. It has to be dug for and searched for. Precious stone is often produced in man’s life in the dark places under pressure to conform to the ways of the World or to go along with the schemes of others – to join the ecumenical movement – to give up deep-seated loves. There are things which appear to be worthy in themselves, yet which need to be given in obedience to the call of God on man’s life. To give them up, especially if they bring him into relationship with others, may leave him with a sense of loneliness. The Christian life is hard and at times difficult. Not to give up, when there seems no point in going on, allows precious stone to develop in man’s character.
Pearl. Every pearl has at its heart a worthless piece of grit. When the grit falls into the soft heart of the clam, the clam attempts to get rid of it and each time it surrounds it with a coat. Eventually it is a pearl. Man is a worthless piece of grit. Every time he strives to serve the Lord in faith through difficulties, his worthless piece of grit – his filthy rags – is clothed with righteousness. When he is weak, then the Lord is strong. The gates of the city are all pearl. God has special believers to whom He gives very extraordinary things to face, to live with and to handle in order to forge their character to make it like the life of Jesus.
The discovery of producing and fashioning these materials. These materials have to be discovered only by the Holy Spirit, at a place and time when man least expects to find them. They are buried and hidden in circumstances, where he would never think there was gold or precious stone or pearl – a difficult person or problem in his life. Man does not receive these things on the mountain top experiences of life. He has to discover them and refine them within his life. They are all in the life of Messiah. That inexplicable problem, which he want rid of so badly, is precious stone or a pearl. The difficult relative or the objectionable customer is precious stone, as he overcomes the difficulty. Welcome trials and difficulties. 1 Pet ch 1 v 6. There is a fine line. Sometimes man does need to be delivered. But at times he has to face the difficulty and overcome it. In that situation God is working it out. These are not found in the natural life but in Messiah in a man. Isaiah ch 45 v 3. The real problem is the un-crucified self-life. Man does not find the precious stone in his natural self-life. Persecution will sort him out, when it comes. God could have removed Satan when Satan rebelled against God. However God chose to use Satan to carry out His purpose of bringing growth into the lives of His children.
The precious materials all speak of the life and nature of the Messiah. Col 1 v 27. “The Messiah in you.” Glory is related to these materials – the life of Christ in man – man being changed into His likeness – from one degree of glory to another degree of glory. Man has one short life in which God has to bring him to salvation – into union with Himself and the Messiah and to the discovery of these materials and then to work them into him. The cost of working them in a man is experience. Then these materials become his experience and part of his flesh and blood. It is there a man finds precious stone. Only these precious materials are found in Heaven. Everything else is discarded. Gehenna is the place where the rubbish was thrown. It is known as Hell. It is a place where every single person is incredibly self-centred – with no attributes of the Messiah. It is God’s purpose to change each man to be like Jesus in His character. The grace and the power is available to man – if he wants it. A man must take hold of the grace and power, which is available to him. It is his personal responsibility to take hold of them.
Rev chs 4 and 5. John was being worked to death in a forced labour camp. A man might least expect to find revelation in such a situation. A man does not normally have a meeting with God on a mountaintop. Paul wrote the best letters while chained to a rough Roman soldier – hardly conducive to inspired writing. God works in the realm of a man’s expectations. People grow character in adversity and not in times of plenty. When God blesses people tend to become satisfied and deteriorate morally and spiritually. Seals were used for wills or testaments or inheritances. God’s inheritance or purpose is within the scroll. Who was worthy to open it? No one moved. John burst into loud sobs or tears. Jesus was found worthy to open the scroll and receive the inheritance of His Father. Amen means to believe “Amin” is the Hebrew word. When a man says “Amen”, he means “I believe it.”
The heir has been found in Jesus. There is no eternal purpose outside of the Messiah. Jesus is the focal point of the whole purpose of God from eternity to eternity. But not just the Messiah. Believers are in Him and joint heirs with Jesus. There is no point of waiting for others to join. If God calls a man to a task, he should get on with it, even if he cannot see the sense in it or a clear purpose.
Nothing can stop the eternal purpose of God. The demons always end up doing the work of God. Every time the Devil tries to do anything evil, God uses it to fulfil His purpose. God used the Holocaust to bring the people of Israel back to their own land in their own state. Jesus is the head and, if the head is over the line, the whole body has won the race. A man may still feel the tension, but the head of the Church has won the battle. There are many evil things to happen on Earth such as the Battle of Armageddon. But victory is absolutely assured.
It is a costly business to follow the Lamb, but there will be precious stones when that happens. Those who follow will become over-comers. Man only receives grace when he needs it. When he exercises faith, he receives the grace he needs to fulfil the purpose of God. The lion, who is of the tribe of Judah, the root of David has overcome. It has something to do with God’s dealing with His people in the past and His plans for the future. Isaiah ch 11 v 1. This was a prophecy concerning the Messiah. Time and again God confirmed Jesus as the Messiah in every one of His three roles – prophet, priest and King. Son of David – mean the heir of God. He was the crown prince, coming to claim His inheritance. He was born the King of the Jews, He died as King of the Jews. He rose as King of the Jews. He reigns today as King of the Jews. He has never abdicated. He will return as King of the Jews and will be crowned in Jerusalem.
Where does Israel figure in the eternal purpose of God? “In Abraham shall all the families of the Earth be blessed. You shall be the father of a great nation.” In the Bible, the word “nations” appears time and again. The prophets of the Jewish people spoke of a time when the Gentiles would come into the purpose of God and His salvation. Isaiah ch 11 v 10. Isaiah ch 42 v 1. He will bring justice to the nations. He will be a light to the Gentiles. God’s purpose was to create a people through whom God could reach the World. Through them the oracles of God would be communicated. God would bring the Messiah to the World through the Jews. Isaiah ch 49 v 6. Salvation to the ends of the Earth. Zechariah ch 8 v 23. The one of whom people take hold of His skirts is the Messiah. Romans ch 3. What is the benefit of being a Jew? Much in every way. The Jews received the oracles of God. Eph ch 3 v 4 f. The Gentiles are heirs with Israel. Romans chs 9 – 11. The real Israel is inside the outer Israel. There will be an explosion of resurrection life when the Jewish people accept their Messiah. The believers and the Jewish people are on a course, where they will meet under the banner of the Messiah. 2,000 years ago the Jews would have been horrified at the thought that God would save the Gentiles. Today many believers are horrified at the thought that God will do a work to save the Jews. The enemy is at work doing his best to prevent the purpose of God. The grace of God watched over each man, when he was in his mother’s womb. The grace of God watched over each believer, before he was saved and provided for him in so many ways. The grace of God led man to receive salvation.
Salvation is a process of going on with the Lord. Knowledge of the Lord personally is the key and costly experience is the way to discover the materials. Man discovers the Lord in the difficult experiences of life. The materials are purified and polished as he goes on with the Lord. Then they become something of eternal beauty and glory. The flaw in a piece of jade can become the focal point of the precious stone. A fault in man’s life can be the most precious thing in his life e.g. an inferiority complex – a mistake or a weakness, an accident or a sick relative. In man’s weakness is His strength. The New Testament speaks of people of every tribe and tongue coming from the Gentiles to join the Jewish people.
There is a theme through the Bible. If the Lord is not at the centre of a life or Church or Christian work, it is all useless. Believers do not have to bother about the things, which God has not revealed. He has not disclosed everything. But He has disclosed everything man needs for personal holiness.
In a minora the seven branches represent each of the 7 Churches. In the midst of the 7 lamp stands is the Messiah. He has a message for each of the 7 Churches, fitted to the need of each Church. The 7 Churches are chosen to represent the whole Church of God in time on Earth and in a given locality and place. The number “7” means completeness or fullness. The 7 spirits of God means the complete work of the Holy Spirit. It represents the whole Church in all its imperfection and every worthwhile attribute. Jesus holds the keys of Hell and death in the midst of the 7 Churches. He is absolutely supreme in Heaven and on Earth. Satan does not have the keys. Jesus holds the keys. Why is it a lamp stand? Exodus ch 25 v 31. God instructed a lamp stand to represent the light of God. “I am the light of the World.” Zechariah ch 4. A lamp-stand is not a beautiful piece but it is there to give light. The lamp-stand represents the home of God. It is the building programme of God. It is an eternal building programme of human beings being built into living stones. God allows mountains to be put in the way to prove that the work is going ahead by His spirit. The top-stone of the building is the Messiah. When the building programme has been completed, it will be entirely the grace of God, who started the work and continued it and finished it.
The olive tree. Trees always represent human beings in the Bible. A tree planted by rivers of living water. Jer ch 17 v 7. The trees of the field will clap their hands. The trees on either side of the minora represent human beings. Gold is poured out of the olive trees. The precious stone is poured out of the human beings into the building programme of God. Man will find that the light of God will be removed, if he does not place Jesus at the centre of the life of the Church. Rev ch 3 v 14. Even a perfect Church can shut Jesus out of the activity of the Church. If anyone will open the door and let Jesus in, He will enter in. Without Jesus, the Church is nothing, despite all the ceremonies and ritual. Traditions, denominations and so on will go on but Jesus is no longer there in the midst. When Jesus is there, the Church becomes a prophetic declaration of God to the community. As soon as Jesus is devalued, the Church becomes institutionalised and the building programme grinds to a halt. Living stones are to be built together in relationship with one another and with the Lord. The precious stone cannot be there, where there is division amongst brothers. The enemy uses division to stop the building programme. The emblem of Israel is a minora with two olive trees on either side. It was a prophetic choice by David Bengurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel in 1948.
Jesus ends with the same message to each Church – “to him who overcomes.” He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches. Where the Lord is speaking, the enemy always implies doubt. The enemy only attacks what is of God.
In the last 2 chapters of Revelation, there is no need of light. The Lamb is the light of the World. The lamp is on the stand. The stand is the city. The glory of God shines through the Lamb in the body of the believers. He who overcomes will inherit the city of God. Man can only be an over-comer, when he lets Jesus, who is the over-comer, into his life. He who hears will say: “Come.” The key to the book of Revelation is the desire for spiritual character. Believers leave all their money – they land safe on Canaan’s side with knowledge, experience and achievements. Man came into the World naked and shall go out naked. The only thing he can take into eternity is what God has worked into his character. It is His business to make man like Himself. That will last forever. The Church on Earth is a training school. The real Church on Earth, where man lives in time on Earth, is the sphere of his spiritual education, the sphere of his spiritual training and sphere of his spiritual discipline. Believers are to be living stones built together into a wall for a habitation of God in the spirit. It is the sphere of overcoming. There was only one Church in the New Testament. There were different families in different places. For most people it is the relationship with other believers, which is the problem. But the supreme test of man’s love is how he can love his fellow believers. It is easy to love those believers in Africa, when man does not have to speak to them. It is man’s humility in dealing with other believers in the immediate Church, which matters. There is a big “I” in each man. It is easy to get on with everybody when a man is alone. God puts everything to the test in the relationship with the brothers and sisters in Christ. The Church of the New Testament was the building yard of God. All building yards are a mess. A kitchen is a mess, when a big banquet is being prepared. Even if there was a perfect Church for a short time, it would not last long as those with huge problems come in to the Kingdom. God will have a perfect Church one day in the future. Believers will overcome in the way they wash the feet of their brothers and sisters. Believers are defeated or overcome in their relationship with their brothers and sisters. Believers must find other believers meeting together in the Messiah under His government. There they must stay. Only if the lamp-stand is taken away, do they go with the lamp-stand. They must be very sure that they are following the lamp-stand. The challenge of Jesus is to be over-comers. In staying where they are, they become perfected.
If a believer is part of a difficult Church, where there are big problems – e.g. like Corinth, a believer should stay where he is. Paul told those in the Corinthian Church, who wrote to him about the problems, to stay where they were. Overcoming is one of the main themes of the book of Revelation. “God is in control” is one theme but man must not sit and wonder but must overcome. It is what he does with the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God, which matters. God will provide the grace and the power to meet man’s own difficult background or problems. That is why God will not tolerate any excuse.
Philippians ch 3. Paul counted everything as loss, as long as he might attain Him. What does he mean? The more Paul knew of the Lord, the more he knew he did not know. The more a man sees, the more he will be gripped with the need to press on to the goal to win Jesus as a bridegroom. To press on will cost a man everything. Men want Christ on the cheap. The price will not come down. The cost is the personal cross. Man needs vision plus 100% commitment. Everything has to go in order to attain the prize of knowing Jesus as the bridegroom. Grace and power are available to enable a man to achieve this purpose.
What job does a believer want to have in eternity in the government of Jesus? Is he striving for a real role in that government? God started with two people and will finish with the perfect number.12 x 12 x 1,000. 144,000 is His total number for government in the Universe. It is the eternal purpose of God that each believer will use every situation to develop character in order to be an attractive bride to Jesus and to serve His purposes here on Earth, so that he is qualified and experienced to receive a position in the government of the Universe, when time on Planet Earth has ended.
The reference to 1000 years appears in Revelation ch 20 v 2 and Rev ch 20 v 4-5 and 7. This has to be interpreted in light of the book where it appears and in light of the whole of Scripture. Revelation is not a chronology, although many treat it as such. It was written to assist the early church. Sixty years had passed since Jesus ascended. Many, including Paul, believed that Jesus would return soon. Many in the Church at that time were giving up and losing their faith, particularly in view of persecution by Rome. Domitian regarded himself as a god and demanded emperor worship. Many were asking: “Will Jesus really return to Earth?” Revelation answers this and other questions with an emphatic “Yes” The book of Revelation is both prophetic and also apocalyptic writing. Apocalyptic writing gives a message expressed in vivid symbolism. Revelation abounds in symbolism of a typically apocalyptic character. There are symbols, which are strange to today’s readers. But they had significance to the believers in A. D 90 when it was written. There are references to beasts, seals, trumpets, bowls, scrolls, seven mystic figures, a dragon, coloured horses and various numbers. Numerology is a major aspect of Jewish writing. Even John did not understand the significance of some of the imagery and asked for an explanation. Rev ch 7 v 13-14. Most believers instantly reject the figure of 144,000 as literal. This is claimed by the Jehovah Witnesses to represent a literal figure of those who will be in Heaven. But they go on to accept the figure of 1,000 as literal. The figure “twelve” stands for government – hence the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 Disciples. There were twelve patriarchs from Seth to Noah and twelve from Shem to Jacob. There were twelve judges. Twelve persons were anointed for government of various kinds from Aaron to Jehoahaz. When Judas died the other eleven Disciples understood the urgency of making up the number for government of the Church to twelve. The figure “ten” stands for perfection and completeness – hence the Ten Commandments – the ten plagues – the ten “I am’s” of Jesus in John’s Gospel. So 12 X 12 x 10 X 10 X 10 represents the complete number of people who will be in Heaven to govern the Universe with Jesus. It is not a literal number. The number 10 X 10 X 10 represents the complete period of time from the moment when Satan was thrown out of Heaven until he meets his end in the Lake of Fire. It is not a literal number. God could have destroyed Satan the moment he rebelled against God. However God allowed Satan to live. When Adam and Eve rebelled they gave Satan authority to rule the Earth. God also uses Satan as His instrument of punishment for rebellious mankind. God is and has always been in supreme control of every event in the World. The battle with Satan is not an equal battle. Satan can only operate as permitted by God. Satan is bound for he complete period of time determined by God. The time of tribulation spoken about by Jesus in Mat ch 24 v 21-22 coincides with the time when Satan is loosed from his restraint and leads the World into chaos and tribulation. Rev ch 20 v 7-8.
It is important to mention again that Revelation is not to be interpreted as a chronology of events following one after another. Rather it is a series of pictures to explain to the early Church and to the Church throughout time what is happening in the unseen, spiritual World. This enables the believers to make sense of what is happening in the physical, seen World where they live. To emphasise this point there is reference in Rev ch 20 v 8 to the prophecy of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel chs 38 and 39.
Jewish thought could cope with images and declarations by God without having to understand everything. Greek thinking on the other hand always has to have an explanation for everything. In Isaiah ch 65 v 25 there is reference to the wolf and the lamb feeding together. The Jewish people could accept this without needing to prove it or explain it. Gentile believers with a Greek mind need to have this explained.
Jesus reigns. Heb ch 1 v 2. God created the World through His Son Jesus. Col ch 1 v 15. Jesus is pre-eminent in all things. Eph ch 2 v 6. Believers are raised up with Jesus to sit with Jesus in the Heavenly places. Jesus reigns every day. Believers should be reigning with Jesus, if they would accept what the Scripture say. The Kingdom of God is the rule of God in the hearts of those who believe. God reigns through each believer who takes up the authority given them by Jesus. Luke ch 10 v 19. There are few believers who really believe this and exercise the authority given to them. This raises the question as to why Jesus would come back to Earth to reign for 1,000 years. He is reigning now and always has been.
Faith in Jesus is on the basis of the unseen Jesus. When Jesus rose and appeared to the Disciples Thomas was not present. He indicated that he would not believe that Jesus was alive unless he saw Jesus for himself. He wanted to put his finger in the mark of the nails and place his hand in Jesus’ side. Eight days later Jesus appeared to the Disciples again and Thomas was present on that occasion. Jesus invited Thomas to do what he had said eight days previously and touch the nail prints and His side. Thomas did not need to do that. He believed and said: “My Lord and my God.” In response Jesus said to Thomas in John ch 20 v 29. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Since Jesus ascended to Heaven all faith in Jesus has been in the unseen Jesus. If Jesus were seen on television in Jerusalem there would be no faith in Him.
When Jesus rose again He appeared only to those who believed in Him. He did not reveal Himself to Pilate or to Caiaphas. They had had their opportunity to believe in Him for the miracles and teaching and healing. They chose not to believe in Him. If Jesus were to be alive in Jerusalem it would give those who had rejected Him a second opportunity to trust in Him. John ch 14 v 23. Jesus said: “I will only reveal myself to those who love me and obey me.” The vast majority of those who saw Jesus during His earthly life chose not to follow Him. Would it be any different the second time?
When Jesus rose He had the same body He had had during His life on Earth. When Thomas saw Jesus he could see the nail prints and clearly recognised Jesus. However when John saw Jesus on Patmos in Rev ch 1 Jesus was in His glorified body. John fell at His feet as though dead. If Jesus returned to live again on Earth it would be in His glorified body. When He returns it will be the in the glorified body John saw on Patmos. Daniel saw a similar body in Dan ch 10 v 5-6.
The Scriptures explain that the Messiah will come twice. The first time is to save souls. The second time is to judge the World. If at the Second Coming Jesus judges the nations why would He sit around for another 1,000 years? What would happen at the end of the 1,000 years?
The population of the Earth has increased dramatically over the last 1,000 years. At present it is a geographic progression. In 1804 the population of the World was 1 billion. By 2000 it was 6.8 billion. It is projected that by 2025 it will be 9.5 billion. While there is plenty land available it takes money and time to prepare infrastructure for an increasing population. It is inconceivable to imagine the population of the World in 1,000 years from now never mind 100 years from now. The technology has also increased dramatically in just the last ten years. What could happen in a further 1,000 years?
The Church is grafted into the Commonwealth of Israel. Romans chs 9-11 make it clear that before Jesus returns all Israel will be saved. There is a veil over the Jewish people until the full number of the Gentiles have been gathered in. Jesus indicates that Jerusalem (representing Israel) would be downtrodden until. Mat ch 23 v 39. Clearly there would be a time when Jerusalem would no longer be downtrodden. Zechariah ch 12 gives a scenario of the nations of the World coming against Jerusalem and then God will fight for His people. Ezekiel ch 39 v 22 indicates that there will be a particular day when the House of Israel will know that God is their God. The leader of Russia (Gog) has twice come very close to invading Israel in 1967 and 1973 in order to bring about the destruction of Israel. The prophecy of Ezekiel may happen in the very near future. The indications are that this will be the same day prophesied by Zechariah when the Jewish people will look upon Jesus as the Messiah who was pierced for their sins. Zechariah ch 12 v 10 says that the people will look up to Him and not look on Him. This is vital, since to look on a person is to see Him physically whereas to look up to a person implies respect although the person is not physically present. All faith is in the unseen Jesus.
In Mat ch 24 Jesus prophesied the end of the World. Most of the situations mentioned are coming to pass rapidly. Jesus concludes with three warnings to be watchful. That would seem inappropriate if Jesus was sitting in Jerusalem. The whole thrust of Scripture is of history (His story) moving to a climax of rebellion against God and Jesus coming back to bring the consummation of all that God has purposed in His great plan of salvation. In Mat ch 25 v 31 Jesus said: “When the Son of Man comes in all His glory and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.” Judgement then takes place. It speaks of one event on the return of Jesus. In Mat ch 24 v 29-31 Jesus speaks in similar language. Born the King of the Jews. Jesus was declared by Pilate to be King of the Jews at His death. He is King of kings and Lord of lords but still King of the Jews. He will not return until He has saved the Jewish people. Satan is doing his best to destroy the Jewish people to prevent the return of Jesus.
ISAIAH CHAPTER 24.
It is apparent that there is a great interest on the part of mankind in the future. A large percentage of people read their horoscope on a regular basis. Statistics reveal that about five per cent of horoscopes come true. This is just enough to maintain an interest to continue. There are today a group of people called “Futurists.” They study the facts of the World around them as to population, resources, consumption and so on, and with the aid of their computers, they can calculate how long mankind has on Planet Earth before the resources run out. The results of their research take them to A. D. 2050. That is how long they reckon mankind has – until the resources run out.
It is not clear what lies behind this desire to know the future. Perhaps it is sheer curiosity to know what lies ahead. Perhaps it is a desire for something better in life than what man now experiences. Perhaps God has implanted in the human heart, ruined by sin, a lack of satisfaction with this fallen World and a longing for Heaven. Knowing man’s interest in the future, God speaks about the future approximately 1800 times in the Bible. Through His holy men, the prophets, God tells man time and again what will happen in the future. Prophesy is simply history written in advance. In marked contrast to the horoscopes, God’s predictions as to the future are 100 per cent accurate. To be precise all those, which have come true so far are 100 per cent accurate – which gives confidence to accept that the remaining ones will be 100 per cent accurate also – when they happen.
There are three categories of prophecy. There are those, which have already happened and will not recur again. Micah foretold of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. It happened exactly as prophesied and it is finished. There are those, which speak of the Second Coming to Earth of the Lord Jesus Christ. These have obviously still to be fulfilled at some time in the future. Then there are others, which, at any one point of time, are being fulfilled. For example, there were people alive at the time when the people of Judah were being taken into captivity in Babylon who could have said that it was happening in their day. Jeremiah wrote to the exiles and said: “You might as well settle down and get married because God has said that you will be there for 70 years.” That particular prophecy was fulfilled over a period of time.
Isaiah chapter 24 presents this challenge. Into which category does this prophecy of Isaiah fall? Through His prophet Isaiah, God brings three charges against mankind:
1. “You have polluted the Earth.”
2. “You have broken the moral laws.”
3. “You have broken the everlasting covenant.”
Has there ever been a time when it could be said that the Earth staggered under the weight of its sins or that the Earth lay polluted under its inhabitants? Historians do not record a time when pollution has been on the scale experienced by the whole World today. Certainly pollution is not a new problem facing mankind. Records from ancient Egypt 3000 years old speak of disease being caused by the dumping of raw sewage in the Nile. Pollution is defined as the process of putting matter in the wrong place in quantities, which are too large for the normal process of degradation to cope, or depositing certain matter, which is not degradable by natural processes.
If the prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, is the day still to come in the future? Perhaps. Or is it the case that man, living at in the twenty first century, is living through the days seen by the prophet Isaiah 2600 years ago, when the Earth would lie polluted under the inhabitants? Pollution is a word, which is hardly ever out of the news, whether it is pollution of the sea, or the land or the air. How long the period of time will be is not known. But Jesus calls His followers to interpret the signs of the times. So believers are obliged to look at the state of the World to see if this is true – if mankind is living through the days of the prophecy.
There are four aspects about the passage.
1. This is not a description of a local disaster. The whole World is affected. A curse devours the whole Earth. The picture presented is one of unparalleled catastrophic destruction, which will engulf the whole of the World. There is a very great similarity with the picture painted in Revelation chapter 18 – the collapse of the World system.
2. Everyone is affected. No one can escape the consequences of sin. Money cannot protect the rich or the powerful. All need the environment to survive. All breathe the same air.
3. Through the disaster, there are pockets of praise to God. Here and there, His people still sing in worship rejoicing as the day of their salvation draws near.
4. The passage seems to build to a climax; and at the end of the period there is a time of judgement for all mankind. The sinfulness of the whole of mankind brings judgement on the World. In particular the leaders in the World come in for harsh treatment. They have misused their power, misled the people and been the cause of enormous suffering and bloodshed.
So often man can only see his own immediate neighbourhood. So, it is helpful to look at the World from God’s eyes? It is difficult to imagine being in God’s position. Some may even feel that it is irreverent but believers are asked to see the other person’s point of view – what God sees as He looks upon the World at this time.
There you are reigning in your Heaven – surrounded by all the Beings, which you have created. The angels – the archangels – the cherubim – the seraphim – and you look down on the Planet Earth – just an insignificant speck in the vast Universe, which you have created. You recall how you devised Planet Earth with the perfect environment for living beings. First, you created all manner of plants and grasses. Then you filled the seas with every kind of fish from plankton to the whale. Then you created animals of every shape and size and at the end of your creation there was man – the pinnacle of your creation – made out of the very minerals of the Earth. Each one was made in your own image. Three trillion cells – all functioning together. You even built in a healing system to take care of the bumps and bruises. But above all you devised man so that he would praise you and worship you. You enabled him to play a physical part in recreating his own kind and into each physical body you implanted a spiritual being. You gave man the right to rule over the Earth – on one condition – that you ruled over him. That was the plan and when you finished your work of creation you were thrilled with it and you looked forward to sharing with mankind as they controlled the Earth and shared fellowship with you.
The very first pair of human beings rebelled against you and wanted to be equal with you – as gods. Sin reigned in the heart of man, even though you continued to pour forth your blessing and grace upon them. As sin increased and you saw that the thoughts of the hearts of men were only evil continuously, there came that sad day when you regretted ever having made man. You sent a flood and only one righteous man was saved with his family to continue the race. After that event sin continued and you devised a plan to win the people back into fellowship with you. You sent your only begotten Son – the Lord Jesus Christ – who was reigning in glory with you – into the World, and asked Him to die a cruel death on a cross for the sins of mankind so that all who repented of their sins and served your Son as their Lord would receive forgiveness from you and would become your very own children. You knew that there was no other way to win them back. You loved them so much that you decided to send your Son Jesus to Planet Earth to live amongst them.
After you raised Jesus from the dead and He returned to be with you in glory, you actually gave your very own Holy Spirit – a part of you – to each believer. For a while the Church spread and you received great joy. Then came a period called by the human beings “The Dark Ages” as the people lost their love for you and turned a living relationship with you into a religion of their own imagination. There was little belief in you or love for your Son. Still you did not give up but poured forth your Spirit again and as your grace spread upon the face of the Earth you watched as some men and women took your Word seriously and spread your Gospel over the face of the Earth and many came to believe. But now at the beginning of the twenty first century what do you see as your eyes roam over the face of the Earth?
You see the very land, that precious gift to man, is polluted by industrial waste all over the World. As man seeks more material possessions and a higher standard of living so the volume of waste is dumped on the land. Chemical sprays, pesticides and fertilisers are all designed to make the crops grow faster and in greater abundance to increase the profits of the farmers – to satisfy the demands of the Bank Manager and the Governments. Forests are being felled as never before regardless of the damage to the environment. Areas of desert are increasing. Vast areas of land, fertile for centuries, are now barren and inhospitable to man. The very balance of nature is being disturbed. Soil is eroded by the destruction of trees, especially on hillsides. 400 reputable scientists on the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change and 95% of the World’s climatologists affirm that global warming is happening and that this is due in part to human activity. This includes fossil fuel combustion, forest felling and some agricultural practices, which release greenhouse gasses. The scientists may disagree as to when the effects will begin to show and to what extent but droughts and flooding have been regular occurrences throughout the World in recent years on a greater scale than previously known. The quantity of water in the World is constant. There is a limit to the amount of water vapour, which the atmosphere can carry. It is obvious that if there is drought in one area of the World flooding is likely in another area. Jesus Himself spoke about famines in Mat ch 24 v 7.
The vast quantity of sea around the dry land is being used for the disposal of raw sewage, industrial waste and the dumping of oil and debris from ships. The North sea – once one of the World’s richest supply of fish – is now among the most polluted areas of water in the World as the rivers flowing into it pour out the filthy effluent from industrial manufacturing units along their banks. Experts have advised mankind that forty per cent of the fish of the sea have disappeared within a period of ten years as a result of pollution and over-fishing. Cruise liners and tankers discharge their effluent directly into the sea in order to save the expense of disposing of it ashore.
Even the very air which you gave the people to breathe has been polluted by the volume of chemicals spewed into it by the tenants of the Earth in their haste to have more possessions – which pollution has been made worse by the chopping down of the forests. Children are being poisoned by lead discharged from the motor vehicles, which are the pride and joy of the people. Now the best scientists in the World are alarmed at the state of the ozone layer, which you placed around the Earth for the protection of mankind. The huge increase in air traffic is pouring forth pollution into the sky. The scientists know about the problem now but will the governments do anything about it? They realise that the climate, which you provided for the Earth is being affected and fear that the Earth will overheat and that it will be scorched.
For too long mankind has been upsetting the natural order and plundering the resources of the Planet without regard for the generations to come. The people have relentlessly pursued their own interests regardless of the consequences. v 20 speaks of swaying like a hut in the wind. This indicates global earthquakes. The World was perfect when God created it. Nature is affected by the sins of the inhabitants. Earthquakes have been increasing steadily over the last 100 years.
What about pollution of the moral world? You designed man to live within a moral order. You gave them moral laws, a conscience, examples and ample warnings. They are very quick to criticise others but slow to accept their own responsibility to you and to each other. You know that moral pollution is just as swift in its effects on human life and it penetrates every aspect of man’s social and personal life. You see it all – the gambling, the stealing, the cheating, the drugs industry, which is now the biggest in the World, exceeding armaments and oil, the drunkenness – you see some of the advanced countries of the World where the people spend more on alcohol than on basic food. You see sexual perversion paraded without shame. You watch as millions of children are aborted as a sacrifice to the goddess of sex. You see millions of young people fed a daily diet of violence and horror on television – the World’s most powerful medium. Bribery and corruption abound. Lotteries are popular and used by Government to raise revenue. Truly the people have violated the statutes and laws, which you gave them for their benefit. You know that immoral behaviour on a large scale leads to the collapse of organised society. Man has ignored the warning of Sodom. Many are enslaved to drugs, nicotine, barbiturates, pills and alcohol to prop them up and to help them cope with the ordinary business of living in the modern life of their own making. In their lust for freedom from the constraints of the moral law, which you gave them for their own protection, they have not learned the lesson from history that they cannot have freedom without dealing with their inherent drive towards evil.
Right from the beginning of time you warned Cain, after he had killed his brother Abel, that his brother’s blood spilt on the ground had defiled and polluted the ground. Ever since, men have fought and killed one another. There have even been times when children have been sacrificed to the false gods. Through your servant Moses you warned the people that murder pollutes the land and that you did not want your land polluted or defiled. (Numbers ch 35 v 29-34) Now at the beginning of the twenty first century after your Son’s time on Earth what is the picture before your eyes? The twentieth century was one of bloodshed – the worst since you created mankind. Man’s own historians estimate that as a result of the major wars in that century there have been over 100 million people killed. They further estimate that in the purges and massacres in lands ruled by Communist Governments a further 143 million people have been murdered, because they would not accept the lie that you do not exist. Violence and terrorism are increasing year by year throughout the World. Adults have become hardened to bloodshed and violence and children are growing up believing that this is normal behaviour. Only you know the exact number but it grieves you that so many nations are arming themselves with nuclear weapons. You have watched while the seven major nations of the World have been involved in over 400 conflicts and you have seen 165 civil wars since 1945 alone. As nation rises against nation precious lives have been cut down.
What about the spiritual pollution? As God you designed man so that he would be aware of his insignificance and worship you as his Creator. But you did give him free will. Now you find that man, with all his knowledge and experience and after 2000 years of the Gospel having been preached throughout the Earth, is worshipping all manner of things created by him as material possessions. Some are worshipping other men. Others worship ideas and political objectives. Many even worship their Church or their religion but only a few worship you in spirit and in truth – as you asked them to do. In the U.S.A., a land greatly blessed by you, there are over 5000 cults. Some are even now openly worshipping Satan. It is a sad state of affairs after twenty centuries since your Son Jesus walked the Earth.
No wonder the saints cry out: “How long, O Lord?” as they sense that your patience is running out with mankind and you long for an end to sin in your Universe so that your home can at last be with mankind. What holds you back from saying these words to your Son, which you have revealed you will say one day? “Go, my Son, with your angels and gather the elect from the four corners of the Earth.” You know that they cannot be said until the last name is recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Only you know when that will take place – although your Son Jesus, when He lived on Earth, gave the people some very clear indications as to when it would be.
As God what grieves you most about the whole sorry mess on Planet Earth? Is it the knowledgeable men, richly endowed with your grace, who spend their days researching the limits of the Universe? Is it the worship of false gods? Is it the ignorance of so many after centuries of knowledge? No. It is the apathy of your own children. They do not seem to be very concerned about your World. They stand silently by while the non-believers cry out about extinction of species of animals. They do not use the gifts, which you have given them to understand the problems confronting mankind. Some of them are busy debating doctrine while others are playing at Churches. That is the most painful part of it all for they of all people are the ones who know the final outcome of this World and the judgement to come and they seem at times disinterested. They seem to have lost sight of the fact that they too will stand before your judgement seat for what they have or have not done in their earthly life. Jesus stated that when He returns the people of the Earth will be as indifferent to the things of God as they were in the days of Noah.
God is speaking to the World today through the prophet Isaiah and His Word is endorsed by the scientists.
The response to this passage may be: “What can I do in face of the pollution in the World? After all I am only one out of six billion people. What difference can I make?” Perhaps that question is formulating in your mind. How often in the Gospels when people asked Jesus a question, which was in the nature of an excuse He asked them a question in return. So if the response is: “What difference can I make?” then God would ask all people this question: “What are you doing as individuals and as a Church to reduce the level of physical, moral and spiritual pollution in my World?”
If there is no Hell, there is no Heaven. They stand or fall together. Hell is a demand of a moral Universe. If this life is all there is, then injustice reigns. If there is life beyond physical death with retribution for wrongdoing, then righteousness rules. In that sense Hell is good news, in that the wicked will not get away with their wickedness, but everything will be brought to judgement. It is comforting to know that, if a friend was murdered and the murderer never caught, God will bring the matter to judgement. To lose sight of the reality of Hell is to reduce the Church’s mission to a social, economic and pastoral one. Theology divorced from life and pastoral practice is not Biblical theology. Biblical truth is to change lives and not to promote discussion. The Bible makes it clear that every person who is not a Christian is Hell-bound. So far as Hell is concerned, the question is not one of “Do I like the idea?” but “Is it true?” The only option for cancer is treatment, however painful. It is the same for sin. It has to be removed. The majority of people in Britain do not accept Hell as a reality. However, today’s majority opinions are no more reliable that when men said that the World was flat.
God’s thoughts are not man’s thoughts. A man has no option but to believe what Jesus said about the unbeliever. Jesus speaks more about Hell than anyone else. He regarded the Eden story as true. He believed that Jonah was three days in the belly of the whale. He knew that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Yet, despite the declarations of Jesus, all over the World life is treated cheaply. 30 million lives were lost when China became a Communist state. 43 million lives were lost under Communism in Russia. This is a modest estimate. Little is done by the United Nations in respect of civil wars and genocide, unless, as in the case of Kuwait, the price of oil is affected. Man without God is inadequate. God created man to work and to achieve, in the same way as God works and achieves His purpose. Many people wonder what they are living for. Ask a cross section of society and it is doubtful if many would say why they are living. The Bible says that man was designed to bring glory to God.
Perhaps the reason why the teaching of Jesus about Hell is so unpopular is that He seemed to suggest that a high percentage of the human race were heading there. Narrow is the path to life and few there are who travel on it. Broad is the path to destruction and many are there who travel on it. Ignoring the issue of Hell neither changes the truth about it nor saves anyone from going there. If there is such a place and, if there is the risk of a single human being going there, it is an act of compassionate love both to warn those likely to go there and to tell them how to escape from the danger, which awaits them.
It comes as a surprise that the thrust of the teaching of Jesus about Hell is directed to His Disciples. There is no such thing as a teaching in Scripture of once saved – always saved. The teaching is always about the process of salvation, going on to perfection. It is a process of going on repenting, going on believing and going on serving. There is no word of retirement or sitting back and watching the World go by. At any time the believer has free will to switch off the process and turn his back on the way of holiness. He is then in danger of consigning himself to Hell. Jesus spoke about the person who turned back being of no use in the Kingdom of God. He urged Disciples to persevere to the end, however hard the going was.
In the days when the populace were illiterate, it was the practice to convey truth in pictures. Dante’s inferno was an attempt to convey the danger of Hell to the people of the Middle Ages, who had no books to read. Today man attempts to trivialise that concept of Hell. One way this is done is through comedy. Laughter is a defence mechanism, to shake off fears. Modern man literally laughs it off. Reverence and laughter cannot exist together. Perfect laughter casts out fear. When Hell becomes an everyday expletive to describe nothing more than a trivial disappointment, it loses its value and power.
The process of dying, which can be painful and humiliating, is now more to be feared that death itself, which it is assumed leads to oblivion. This is said to be a relief for many. To commit suicide or even to allow others to arrange for an early demise is for a man to enter eternity imbued with his own blood. It is in the same degree as murder. Is that the way a man would wish to appear before the judgement seat of Christ in a final act of destruction of the greatest gift of God to that person – his own body?
There is no evidence of oblivion beyond death. On the contrary, the resurrection of Jesus testifies to the contrary. It is one of the best-attested facts of human history. There is no need to apologise for believing it. This was no ordinary man. Jesus said that He had power to lay down His life and power to take it up again. Such a man deserves to be given attention on the subject of death. The real fear of death springs from a belief in the continuity of conscious life beyond the grave, coupled with a belief that the quality of that life will bear a direct moral and judicial relation to the way man has lived this life. It is the anticipation of judgement, which gives death its painful sting. Paul speaking about the certainty of eternal life could state that death had no sting left for those who were assured of eternal life with Jesus. Death is the last great enemy of mankind. However, mankind tends to shrink from that awful prospect of judgement at the end of his life. Instead of looking forward to it as the greatest moment of his existence, he refuses to talk about it, even when making a will. To make a will brings a man to the clearest thought that tomorrow he may not be here. This in turn poses the question – where will he be? If he can laugh it off, it eases the painful possibility. It is one thing for unbelievers to try at all costs to evade the thought of it, but quite another for believers to ignore it. Perhaps that is one reason why in His teaching about hell Jesus spoke to the Disciples.
Hell is one of the most common swear words in use today. The taking of the name of God and His throne room – Heaven – are other common swear words. Believers should never use the phrase – for Heaven’s sake – or even for goodness’ sake. Goodness is a name of God, for only God is good. Nor should believers use the word Hell – except in its proper context. Such blasphemies are usually at the base level a form of defiance, a show of bravado, daring the Deity to strike down those who utter them. It is interesting that most obscenities are drawn from the two most sacred relationships – those between man and God and those between man and woman. Indeed Hell is now regarded as little more than a mild expletive. This debases the meaning of the word. It is strange that, while the World talks too much about Hell, the Church talks too little about it. Some believers even say that they could not be comfortable in going to Heaven, if there was someone they knew in Hell. What nonsense!
The general implication today is that Hell is quite unacceptable to a well-adjusted, mature, integrated, civilised society. Man has come of age. The idea of Hell was for immature people. The trouble with that idea is that the one who spoke most about Hell has been universally acclaimed as being sane, balanced and totally wise and sensible. It was Jesus who spoke most about Hell. God is not only a God of love, but also a God of justice and full of wrath. When man truly loves someone, he is bound to be angry on behalf of that person, when someone hurts the person, who is the objective of his love. It would not be love otherwise. God is a complete personality, just and merciful, holy and compassionate, kind and severe. He is jealous for His name. He will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. It is Jesus, the Son of God, who tells man about His Father, with whom He had spent eternity. Man dare not suggest that he understands God better than His own Son.
One of the most common responses to Hell is that man makes his own Hell on Earth. Hell is reduced to the most miserable experiences on Earth, such as famine or war or imprisonment. However miserable a person may be on Earth, it is a far cry from what the Bible teaches about the eternal state of mankind. However desperate the situation is on Earth, there is always the hope of a miracle to change the situation. There may be an airdrop of food to relieve the famine. There is the prospect of the prison sentence coming to an end, perhaps with parole as well. One day the war will end and peace will be restored. Once a soul reaches Hell, all hope will have gone forever and there will be no possibility, however remote, of escape from the eternal punishment. On Earth, there is always the possibility of grace relieving the situation. Grace is favour to sinners who deserve nothing but condemnation. In Hell, all grace will be at an end. God’s opinions are what matter. What is important is what pleases God. He loves truth and obedience. Sincerity is not enough. A man may be perfectly sincere and yet, sincerely wrong. The results can be fatal.
God is fundamentally opposed to religions, because they do not work. Any other way than faith in Jesus and obedience to His words is cheap imitation. Cornelius was a godly man but was not saved without Jesus. When Noah found faith in God only seven people were saved. Millions drowned. God had asked Noah to preach for 120 years before the Flood took place. Lot and his two daughters were rescued from Sodom but many others were lost. Everyone is guilty, when judged by his own standards. By criticising others man shows that he knows what is right and wrong. The things, which a man criticises in others are generally the things, which he actually does himself. God judges every man by the same standard. All pagans support the same moral standard the World over. Nowhere is murder praised. Stealing is universally declared to be wrong. This shows that the law of God is written on the hearts of all people, just as the Bible says. God also judges the Pagan by his own conscience. No one will be able to accuse God of not being fair. He will be absolutely fair.
Is it necessary to speak about Hell? Is it not an irrelevance today, with so much social injustice around? Jesus and the Disciples did not seem to major on the subject. However they did speak freely about judgement. This was an integral part of their preaching. Judgement inevitably involves both reward and punishment. The Gospel includes both the wrath of God and His mercy. John the Baptist warned his listeners to flee from the coming wrath. The first preachers addressed Jews, who knew very well about Hell and therefore it was not necessary to major on it. Hell underlines the seriousness of sin. Modern man finds it virtually impossible to conceive of his actions being offensive and insulting to a holy God. Increasingly the vulgar is filling the conversation and thinking of modern man. Even recognised comedians descend to the vulgar to get a laugh. Without laughs, they do not get paid. The concept of holiness is disappearing day by day. If Hell is what sin deserves, then man needs to take sin more seriously as well as Hell more seriously. Those who consider that God would never allow anyone to go to Hell will have a sentimental picture of God, an image born out of their own thinking, rather than the God who is revealed in Jesus. Hell must be preached, if man is to preach the whole counsel of God. It must be presented in balance with the other parts of Scripture. A man must not gloat over the lost, nor sell the lost short by ignoring the consequences of sin.
Before considering Hell itself, what are the other possibilities facing man at the moment of death and what credence is there to the claims of their supporters? The main three alternatives:
1. Universalism is the belief that everyone will end up in Heaven, regardless of what they make of the claims of Jesus. Good old God will see man through in the end. He just loves man too much that all will get there one way or another. Universalism is widespread today. When Scripture speaks of all men bowing before Jesus at His coming, it does not imply that all men will do so willingly. Some will do so in fear and trembling and others with great resentment. There are various texts, which are used to support this view of the Universalists. “God so loved the World that He sent His Son to die for man’s sins.” This carefully omits the end of the verse – “that all who believe in Him will live.” For the Universalists, believing in Him becomes believing about Him. Modern man has such a high opinion about himself that he cannot conceive of a holy God, who demands righteous behaviour. Jesus takes sin very seriously. Just how seriously can be understood from Calvary. If all men were to end up in Heaven regardless of how they behaved on Earth, the sacrifice of Jesus would have been pointless. If all men end up in Heaven, what was Jesus doing telling the story of Lazarus in Luke ch 16 v 19 – 31?
2. Annihilationism takes the view that only saints go to Heaven and the rest will be eradicated. So as long as this life is tolerable and there are a few high points, what more should man expect. “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you may die.” That is the philosophy of many in the 21st century. That avoids the unpalatable idea of perpetual torment and is therefore appealing. Some who hold themselves out to be Christians believe in annihilism. They deny the continued existence of the wicked. Thereby they render a place of eternal punishment unnecessary.
3. Reincarnation appeals to man on two grounds. It enables him to consider that he is not responsible for his sins, since he inherited them from a previous life. The prospect of being reincarnated to a new existence encourages him to put off the question of dealing with the sins in his life. He can enjoy life now and deal with that matter in a future existence. How devious is the heart of man, always excusing his wrongdoing and blaming others for his situation, without ever facing up to his responsibilities.
What does the teaching of Jesus have to say to these three beliefs? “It is appointed for man to die once and then the judgement.” What is the single qualification for Hell – it is the rejection of Jesus Christ as saviour for personal sins. It is a man’s sins, which drive the man from God. Through Jesus, God offered a way to reconciliation – the only way to reconciliation. For man to reject that provision of a saviour is to seal his own eternal state. Romans ch 1 v 28 puts the same point in another way. It speaks of God punishing those who did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, which He had given to them. Man is made in the image of God. Sometimes the image is very blurred but there is within each human being a sense of right and wrong and a sense of justice. For man to reject that sense is to condemn himself to separation from God forever. Man diligently seeks after knowledge about almost every subject under the sun – except the knowledge of God. Acts ch 17 v 27. It was the purpose of God that man should seek after Him and feel his way towards God and find Him. If a man is genuinely seeking after God, he is bound to find Him, because God is genuinely seeking after that man. The question is this – is the search a genuine one or a sham? God tests the heart of a man.
Why did Jesus die? Jesus died for three purposes.
1. To pay the price for sin. The justice of God demanded a penalty to be paid for the insults to Him as Creator. Every sin is a personal insult to a holy God. God cannot simply overlook sin. His holy person demands justice. It is a part of the very person of God. The amazing fact is that God asked His Son to pay the price which no one person could pay.
2. To avert the wrath of God. God’s wrath is simply His implacable hostility to sin. His wrath is a judicial sentence. It is like a statutory penalty, which has been decreed and cannot be changed. It has to be meted out. Jesus diverted the wrath of God towards sinners by His death on the cross. Like providing shelter from the scorching noonday sun in the desert, Jesus shielded the believer from the scorching wrath of God. John ch 3 v 36.
3. Jesus restored the broken relationship between fallen man and a holy God. If a drunk driver drove his car into a new expensive car, there are three consequences. 1. There is the cost to the drunk driver of repair – more than he can afford. 2. The owner of the new car is angry and rightly so. Something very precious to him has been damaged. 3. The relationship between the drunk driver and the owner of the new car is ruined. They are hardly on speaking terms. Justice demands that something be done to put matters right.
Sin has the same three effects.
1. It has damaged something very precious to God the Creator. When God looked over creation after He had finished, it was perfect. He was thrilled with it. Sin in the form of man’s rebellion was a blot on the landscape.
2. God was angry. He is right to be angry when He looks upon the sin in this World. Children He has created are starving to death, while their parents spend money on weapons killing each other. Children are being aborted before being given the opportunity to enjoy life, while their parents worship the goddess of sex. Children are being abused by parents. Hard working people, who are striving to provide for their families, are finding their life in ruin because of theft or drunken driving or mindless violence. God’s own children are locked up in prison because of their belief in Him, when belief in Satan is acceptable. No wonder God is angry! The wonder is that God contains that anger so long. He is longsuffering and exceptionally patient. Even so the Scriptures are full of instances of divine wrath poured out on mankind – the Flood – Sodom and Gomorrah – earthquakes – famine – the exile of the Jewish people – all kinds of wars and disasters. Yet man refuses to repent. Rev ch 16 v 8 – 11. Consider the lengths to which God has gone in order to invite man to repent and turn to Him, thereby avoiding eternal punishment. The Bible. Conscience. The Prophets. Jesus. The Disciples. Preachers. Evangelists. Families. Doctors. God has made it clear that He does not want any single person to die spiritually.
3. The relationship is broken and will never be quite the same again. It is easy to say that God’s forgiveness is so great, but whereas God forgives, man does not necessarily forgive. People have to live in this World with the consequence of their sins. Spilt milk is still spilt. It cannot go back into the bottle. Those with a criminal record may have fewer opportunities to earn their living. Parents who have abused their children may never experience renewal of their earthly family. General Booth said: “I wish that Christians could spend one night in Hell in order to see the urgency of their evangelistic task.”
4. To destroy the works of the Devil. 1 John ch 3 v 8.
Jesus is the one who taught most about Hell. If a man breaks a bone in his body, he goes to the doctor. So far as sin is concerned, God has provided only one remedy – the man Jesus. Jesus alone saves a man from his sins. No other human being can do that. No religion can do that. It may be a form of religion, but without power. Healing has its place but salvation is the heart of the message of Jesus. Either man does not believe in Hell or he is culpably callous. The Devil will try all he can to sidetrack believers from the task of evangelism. Fear is a perfectly valid reason for responding to Christ. As both God and man Jesus is in a position to restore man to God. All over the World people try to get rid of their bad habits or sin, but they cannot do it. Religions distort God’s word by applying human logic to it. They create another Gospel. Ezekiel ch 18 v 31-2. God has no pleasure in the death of anyone. Judgement has been delayed in order to give people more time.
The soul goes to Hell simply because it refuses to love. At death a man is cut off from the love of God. The refusal to love is eternal. It is like playing blind man’s buff and at death the man takes off the mask to find out that he has gone blind. The soul in Hell will want God’s love but cannot get it. Hell is eternal suicide for hating love. To be forced to love someone is Hell. Hate and love are opposites. Justice forces the soul in Hell to love God. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. God came to Pharaoh in love through Moses and told him to mend his ways and let the slaves go. Pharaoh refused and his heart, devoid of love to his fellow man, hardened towards God. The sun, which shines on wax softens it, while the sun which shines on mud hardens it. It is the same sun, but the response in the heart of man determines the outcome of God’s grace to him. Hell is that place where there is no love.
What exactly does Jesus teach about Hell? Mat ch 25 v 31 – 46. Is the language literal or symbolic? This is one of the great difficulties in interpreting Scripture. Like any other language sometimes the words are to be taken literally and on other occasions figures of speech are used to convey truths but the words are not to be taken literally. Jesus is answering a specific question- “when are you coming back?” This was not a figurative idea or a concept. It was specific. He uses three parables – and these are not to be taken literally – to challenge people as to whether or not they are ready – and then Jesus speaks of a specific time when every man would stand in judgement before Him. He delivers a very factual statement as to what will happen. Those who have rejected the truth and have refused to serve the Saviour will go away into eternal punishment. Jesus actually spoke about Hell on ten separate occasions. This is more than anyone else. Every prophet had a theme to his ministry. Jesus’ great theme was the Kingdom of God. He came to usher it in. He wanted men to live as He did under the rule of God, inspired by the presence of the Holy Spirit within them, living in fellowship with His Father as He did. That was one of the purposes for which He came to Earth. Therefore He had to warn the people of the consequences of rejecting the Kingdom.
Jesus speaks about wailing and gnashing of teeth. Would He deceive man? Every word Jesus spoke was the truth. Of all human beings only Jesus could challenge people around Him to accuse Him of sin. Jesus spoke about the unquenchable fire and the eternal punishment. He spoke about the broad path to destruction. His positive language does not detract from the solemnity of His message. He also spoke from personal experience. “I saw Satan thrown out of Heaven.” The teaching of Jesus about Hell is quite unambiguous and of awesome seriousness. According to what Jesus said, Hell is a reality of unspeakable solemnity.
Jesus likens Hell to Gehenna. It was the rubbish dump outside Jerusalem, situated in the valley of Hinnon. Wasted lives are like rubbish to God. Hinnon was a deep gorge to the west of Jerusalem. It had a sinister history. It had been the centre of worship of Molech, an Ammonite deity demanding the sacrifice of live infants in gruesome orgies. All the sewage and refuse was thrown into Gehenna. The waste was kept down in two ways. Incineration by fire of what was combustible and digestion by worms of what was digestible. There were no plastics and metal tins in these days. Steep cliffs confined the heat and the smell. Its lowest point was too deep for the sun to penetrate. In Jesus day the corpses of criminals were thrown into Gehenna. The ultimate disgrace for a Jew was to be left unburied. That is true today. That was why it was so significant that Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, so that it would not be dumped in Gehenna. Judas Iscariot ended in Gehenna when the rope broke as he hanged himself and he fell into Gehenna. Acts ch 1 v 25.
Hell was therefore described by Jesus as a place of physical discomfort and a place of mental depression. Weeping and gnashing of teeth combines two different emotions – sorrow and anger – leading to frustration. Memory lasts forever. Those in Hell will remember the times when they shut the door on the invitation to follow Jesus. Perhaps as a young person they stopped going to worship. Perhaps they chose to devote themselves to their career or family or so many other activities, worthwhile in themselves, but which stole the love in their hearts, which God wanted directed towards Him. Hell is also a place of moral depravity. Without the grace of God all men would be beasts. Those in Hell, deprived of grace, will be beasts and will be beastly to others. Personal disintegration will follow quickly. The idea that many have of preferring to be in Hell with their loved one is misplaced. There will be no love for one another. All love will cease. A man catches a glimpse of that in places like Bosnia and Rwanda, where people, once neighbours, were killing and raping one another. Hell will be a place of social deprivation. All social life will be no more. The absence of every virtue will be matched by the presence of every vice. Jesus spoke of those there as cursed. Mat ch 25 v 41. It is almost impossible for the human mind to imagine the depth of such torment. Rev ch 20 v 10. The Devil will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Mat ch 25 v 46. This makes it crystal clear that punishment is eternal and without end. The clear understanding of Scripture is that endless torment is for both fallen angels and sinful human beings. God’s justice demands that there will be degrees of punishment for the wicked. Punishment will be commensurate with their sinning in the light, which they had received. It will nevertheless be eternal punishment for all of them.
Mat ch 10 v 28. Chapter 10 recounts the advice and teaching of Jesus to His disciples. His warning about Hell was to them. Man is to work out his salvation with fear and trembling. Phil ch 2 v 12. There are constant exhortations to fear God. 1 Pet ch 2 v 17 and Rev ch 14 v 7. There are 5 benefits for the believer, who has a healthy fear of Hell.
1. Diligence in evangelism. If death is final and Hell is permanent, the task of preaching is urgent for a believer as is the duty to live a life, which reflects the Holy Spirit within him.
2. Reverence in worship. Heb ch 12 v 28. Awe and gratitude should be ever present in worship. Quakers were given that name because they trembled before God. Man’s deepest gratitude is the knowledge that he has been saved from Hell. Does man grasp every opportunity to worship Jesus?
3. Perseverance in service. The fate of those who failed to keep their lamps trimmed and to use their talents is a sobering reminder of their responsibilities. Faith is demonstrated by faithfulness. The righteous shall live by keeping faith. Heb ch 2 v 4. Jesus made the keeping of His commandments the test of love for Him. John ch 14 v 21. Do believers diligently keep the commandments of Jesus?
4. Obedience in holiness. A belief in Hell deepens an understanding of divine holiness in His people. Without holiness no one will see the Lord. Heb ch 12 v 14. Sanctification as well as justification is necessary to escape Hell and enter Heaven. Holiness is not an optional extra for the really keen. Believers are saved from sin for righteousness.
5. Confidence in persecution. Psychologists confirm that lesser fears can be overcome by a greater fear. Jesus urged His Disciples to have a greater fear of God than men. Fear Hell more than death. Luke ch 12 v 4. Jesus was speaking to His Disciples at this point.
Mat ch 22 v 1 – 14. Many are called but few are chosen. Many want to be justified but few want to sanctified. Many want forgiveness but few want holiness. Many want to attend the banquet but few want to prepare themselves for the banquet. They do nothing to get ready and expect to be admitted to glory just as they are. They are in for a shock. Jesus did not come to offer a better style of living. To be a believer is not to lead a more moral life style. Jesus threw down the straight choice of Heaven or Hell – eternal life with God in Heaven or eternal punishment in Hell. Heaven is God with His people. Hell is the place where people exist without the presence of God. Hell is total separation from God. It is the place where God cannot be found. For a short period Jesus was in that position as God piled the sins of mankind onto the frame of His beloved Son and turned His back on the scene, such was God’s revulsion at the sight of the sins clinging to the body of His Son.
Imagine the total absence of grace. It was grace, which clothed Adam after he sinned. In Hell man will have no physical protection or covering – no warmth or light from the sun – and no friends. The Holy Spirit will be absent. The fruit of the Spirit will be totally absent. Therefore there will be no love, no joy, no peace, no patience, no kindness, no goodness, no faithfulness, no gentleness, no self-control on man’s part or on the part of any other soul in Hell and no healing for the memories. Life will be full of missed opportunities and the realisation that man has brought this all on himself and that it will be permanent. There is no one to blame. And this goes on forever.
It is essential to remember that Jesus is the one appointed by His Father to pass judgement. That is why He spoke with such urgency. He knew that He would have to consign to Hell those who refused His offer of eternal life. As He taught the Disciples, Jesus knew that on one day in the future they would stand before Him in judgement. No wonder Jesus spoke to them with such urgency. Almost all man’s information about Hell comes from the lips of one whose knowledge of the Father was that of an only Son. Deut ch 18 v 19. God will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to Jesus and heed His messages from God. It is not for man to apportion others to Heaven or Hell. There is more than a hint in the Bible that there will be surprises on Judgement day. Mat ch 7 v 21 – 23. Mat ch 25 v 37 – 46. On that day the mercy of God will be stretched to its limits. If man is truly trusting in Jesus, he need not fear for himself. For the rest, he must leave matters in the hands of God.
Acts ch 17 v 31. God has delegated the task of judgement to a human being – Jesus will decide the eternal destiny of every human being, including those who dared to judge him – Caiaphas and Pilate. Before Jesus will stand every leader of nations throughout the World and throughout time, all founders of religion, who have rejected the way of Jesus, all the World’s richest men, who have served mammon rather than God, all those who have worshipped Satan, all the brilliant scientists, philosophers, pop stars, doctors, teachers, housewives, nurses and millions whose names are known only to God. All must appear before the judgement seat of Christ. He will separate the sheep from the goats. No witnesses or evidence will be called, since everything about man is already known and recorded in the books in Heaven. There will be no trial. On what basis will the judgement be passed? The things, which have been done while in the body in this life, whether good or bad. 2 Cor ch 5 v 10.
What are the qualifications for Heaven? Forgiveness and holiness. God is prepared to forgive man, if he genuinely repents of his sins and strives for holiness. Why did God create the human race? God so enjoyed the company of His only begotten Son, that He desired to have a larger family. God never intended Hell for human beings. Hell was prepared for the Devil and his fallen angels. God has no pleasure in the death of any single human being. Ezekiel ch 18 v 23. By refusing the offer of a saviour and aligning himself with God’s enemy, man chooses to go to Hell. God has no desire to get His own back for all the insults He has suffered at the hands of human beings. He is simply not like man. He did not wait for man to want to be salvaged from the rubbish dump of fallen humanity before He took action on man’s behalf. Jesus said that He was the way to Heaven. Believers too must keep on the way by walking with the Lord in holiness and repentance. The whole life of being a child of God is a continuous process of going on repenting, going on believing and going on serving. The verb in Scripture, which explains this process, is the present tense continuing. Hence the challenge of Jesus to persevere to the end. A drowning man, who lets go of the life belt thrown to him, will slip away into the depths of the sea. In this way Jesus throws man a lifebelt to hold onto Him, so that He might bring man safely to Heaven. “Abide in me” – is a command, not just good advice. All over the World people try to get rid of their bad habits or sin. Religions distort God’s word by applying human logic to it. They create another Gospel.
Satan. John ch 13 v 2. Satan put the thought of betraying Jesus into the heart of Judas. Paul warns man to resist the wiles of the Devil. The New Testament teaches that Satan is a malignant reality always hostile to God and His people. He despises God’s people. The Bible talks of schemes of the Devil. The struggle is against the spiritual forces of this World. Demons are fallen angels who serve Satan. Satan comes to rob, kill and destroy. “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” If a man has never been confronted by the Devil, he must be going in the same direction. Satan likes his job. Wiles are well-laid plans and schemes. A man must discern Satan at work, since his work is not always obvious. The Devil does not need to bother, if a man is scoring own goals. However, he has openings, if a man is tired and does not get enough sleep. He is not haphazard. He is well prepared. Ultimately Satan is out to destroy the work of Christ.
Satan is the greatest mind in the Universe outside of the Godhead. Satan dispensed with Judas, when he had done his work. Satan wants the head of broadcasting, the director of education, the Prime Minister etc for his kingdom. He narrows down man’s view and creeps in without advance notice, catching believers off guard. So they need to watch and pray. That was the advice of Jesus to His Disciples. Jesus knew that if Satan had the audacity to tempt and attack the Son of God, he would do the same to His Disciples. Jesus spent a long time training the Disciples how to cope with Satan. That teaching is all there in the Scriptures recorded for today’s Disciples. They ignore it at their peril.
The parable of the tares and wheat – Satan came at night. It should have occurred to the Disciples. Satan left no footprints. It was much later when the crops grew that it became obvious that he had been. There was panic and a desire to uproot the crop. The Master said to leave it and let it grow. All was not lost but would have been, if the crop had been cut down.
The Devil’s technique is clear from Genesis ch 3. He beguiled Eve by appearing as a talking snake. How intriguing! That certainly caught Eve’s attention. Today he makes glasses move round the table. How intriguing! He speaks as if a relative who has died. How interesting! He teaches doubt. Has God said? He creates uncertainty. He slanders the character of God and His motives. Surely you have it wrong? He suggested that God was hard on them. “God is not like that. He will allow everyone into Heaven.” Satan suggests that God is unreasonable and that He does not have man’s best interests at heart. He is subtle, insinuating doubt and fear. The Devil denies that God is good. Sometimes he comes as an angel of light, as near the real thing as possible – not grotesque and ugly. Jesus warned that there would be many false Christs – spiritual and attractive. Highly respected men are not always right – test what they say against the Scriptures. If a believer has any big decisions to make, he should share them with trusted believing friends before any action is taken. Be expecting an attack, especially after a good experience of God. Elijah defeated Baal and then suffered depression as Jezebel attacked him. Luke ch 4 v 13. Satan left Jesus for a while. It is a global battle. Keep an eye on the overall strategy. Sometimes it is a question of holding fast on certain fronts. The general does not always tell his troops the whole plan of the campaign. Withdrawals are not necessarily defeats. A man should watch out for the vulnerable areas in his life, especially idleness as evidenced in the story of David and Bathsheba.
The call to “Follow me” sounds almost too simple. Yet by following in the footsteps of Jesus and living the way He lived day by day for the rest of a man’s life, it is the only sure and certain way of spending eternity in Heaven and being saved from spending eternity in Hell. That is the advice, which Jesus gave to His very own Disciples. One of them did not make it. Judas fell by the way and ended in Gehenna, literally and spiritually. It is a foolish man who does not heed the message of Jesus. Deut ch 18 v 19.
God is busy preparing a new Heaven and a new Earth. Jesus said that He had gone to help prepare a place for men and wishes that they will be with Him there. While a man is busy running his life on Earth, God is at work, providing for the future. God has prepared the furnaces of Hell for the Devil and his angels. He did not prepare them for human beings in the first instance. What then are the features of Heaven, which are already in place and details of which can be found in the Word of God?
The real reason that human beings end up in the rubbish heap prepared for the Devil and his angels is found in Romans ch 1 v 28. They could not be bothered. “If I live tomorrow, will I be continuing my plans to spend eternity in Heaven or will I be too caught up in the pleasures and responsibilities of this life?” As long as a believer is setting out for Heaven and making that the eternal destination of his life, no one can snatch him away. That is the bottom line guarantee from the Word of God. But he can choose to tear up his reservation and make application for the other destination. He might just be careless and lose his reservation for Heaven. When travelling abroad, a man needs to keep his passport readily available. Heaven is a matter of the utmost seriousness and not one to be joked about or treated in a trivial fashion. Just how badly does a man want to get where he set out to go? Or is there some attraction in the alternative?
In this generation – in the early 21st century – humans are learning a great deal about the Universe. But Heaven is the invisible realm Col ch 1 v 16. There are invisible creatures – angels, demons, thrones, dominions, authorities, principalities and powers. Man’s greatest scientists can tell nothing about these beings. The Bible is basically a book about salvation – the process of being holy – fit for Heaven. There is little reference in the Scriptures to Heaven itself. There are a number of reasons for this.
1. Man’s role in eternity is determined by the words he speaks and the actions he takes on Earth. Therefore the Bible concentrates on what a man does on Earth. God reveals Himself to mankind through His actions within the sphere of Earth. God has entered human history to speak to mankind about Himself and the Universe, which He has created.
2. Everything, which happens in the physical, seen World is a manifestation of what is happening in the spiritual, unseen World. In a sense we are simply seeing worked out on Earth what is happening in the spiritual World. Jesus taught His Disciples to pray – “Your will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven. As God purposes in Heaven, so let it be done on Earth.” So Heaven is not so distant from man’s activities here on Earth.
3. God has provided a wonderful physical World and created men in fantastic human bodies. Man has made such a mess of the physical World by failing in his duties to steward the Earth. Man – and woman – has hugely abused his body as a result of sin. Perhaps that is why God has decided to tell man little about Heaven, since man would only make fun of it. The stand up comics would ridicule it, if they knew more about it.
4. The death of Jesus in Jerusalem is the most important event in the history of this World – forming the cornerstone of the purpose of God to redeem fallen mankind and to demonstrate the glory of God to the principalities and powers in the unseen places. Eph ch 3 v 10. So God has told human beings all they need to know for salvation. What lies ahead is God’s business.
One aspect concerning Heaven, which is strange is how little thought believers give to the fact that, while their life on Earth is very short, their life in Heaven in eternity is forever. If a person is to travel to a foreign land great thought and preparation goes into the planning. “What will I need to have? Are there things I might need there which I shall be unable to buy and had better take with me? What about medical care and insurance and passport and visa?” Money in the foreign currency is essential as well as the clutch of visa and other credit cards. Then there are the medical injections and the business, which must be finished off before the person leaves the present country. And this is all for a two week holiday or business trip. People often dash to their solicitor about three days before departure and make a will, appointing an executor and leaving all sorts of instructions. A person who is emigrating has even more preparations to make in order to gather up all his Worldly wealth and transport it with him to the new place. What a tremendous effort goes into laying up treasures on Earth by direct comparison with laying up treasures in Heaven.
When it comes to Heaven man is talking about not returning and going there for eternity. When a man addresses the question of Heaven, there are a number of questions, which naturally arise in the human mind, largely conditioned by the experience on Earth. It is inevitable that a man can only really imagine life after death to be similar to what he has known before death. What does he want to know about Heaven?
What can I take with me?
What will I need when I get there?
How will I get there? He could follow the example of Enoch and go for a long walk.
What will I do when I arrive there?
What kind of body will I have?
Will I recognise other people from Earth?”
Surely a man ought to address these questions at least once during his time on Earth.
If a man is going to Heaven, what will he need to take with him, which will be of utmost importance? What can he take with him? Eccles ch 5 v 15. “I came into the World naked and I shall depart naked.” The body returns to the dust from which it came and the spirit returns to God from whom it came. Eccles ch 12 v 8.
The only thing a human being can take into eternity is his or her character or integrity. That is why the Bible labours the necessity of being perfect and being like Jesus. What a man does today is so important. Today is the day of salvation. What he does this day will determine how he will be tomorrow. The idea of judgement, assessment and the certainty that what a man does and how he lives are the most important matters this day and should motivate him to move towards holiness. When a man is asked: “Who are you?” the answer is that he is the total of his experiences in life and his responses to them. That determines his character and it is only a man’s character, which he can take with him into eternity.
Heaven and Hell go together in the Scriptures. There is simply no possibility of one without the other. If there is no Hell, then there is no Heaven and if there is no Heaven, there will be no Hell. The Scriptures present a most vivid contrast between the two states of man. One is so glorious and perfect a man will wonder why he was so reluctant to strive with all his being to be there. The other presents such a picture of horror, it amazes man that anyone should have been careless in considering the consequences of ending up there. Sometimes an evangelist will challenge his audience by asking the question – “if you die tomorrow, will you be in Heaven or Hell?” That may jolt the audience into a sort of state of being awake but it is not the central question, which faces mankind. The central question, which faces mankind is this – “If you live tomorrow, will you live to serve Jesus or to serve yourself or some other god?”
“How am I going to get to Heaven?” Peter addressed that question. 1 Pet ch 1 v 5. His conclusion was – “I do not know.” Why did he never ask Jesus during the three years they spent together, so that he could have told his fellow men? Perhaps he did and Jesus just smiled and told him to wait and see.
“God in His mighty power will make sure that you get there safely to receive His gift of eternal life, because you are trusting Him.” Perhaps that was Jesus’ answer. As long as Peter trusted Jesus, he walked on the water like Jesus. Jesus was demonstrating that He had power over the elements, which He had created. As long as a man trusts in Jesus, he can defy gravity and have supernatural power over the element of air. In Phil ch 3 v 20 it says that the believer’s homeland right now is in Heaven. They really belong there and are like exiles at the moment. When a man is living abroad on holiday it is interesting to observe how other people live, but he does not really belong there. The man is more interested in the news from his homeland. In the case of believers that is Heaven. Col ch 3 v 1-3. Believers are more interested in how God is working out His great plan of salvation, than they are in how the leaders of this World are endeavouring to sustain their management of affairs on Earth. 1 Thess ch 4 v 16. Jesus will come down from Heaven to Earth and those who are alive will be caught up in the air to be with Jesus forever. It goes on to say in Phil ch 3 v 20 that when Jesus comes back, He will take these dying bodies and change them into glorious bodies like His own, using the same mighty power, which raised His own body from the tomb in Jerusalem. All a man has to do is to trust Jesus to do that. A daffodil bulb and a daffodil plant are quite different. Lying side by side it would never be imagined that the little round brown bulb would develop into the beautiful flower. But the life within the bulb has that capacity. So a man’s bodily life within his fallen decaying body will develop into something far better. Believers will have a glorious body, which will last forever. Wait and see. Just believe it. After all God has created man and put him into a physical body on this Earth without any help from man. Surely God can effect the next step without too much difficulty.
Man has to overcome the simplistic information given to him as a child that God is up there in an existence out-with man’s presence with angels playing harps. Unfortunately this information tends to linger in the minds of men and colours their judgement of the Scriptures, when they grow to maturity – hopefully. Certainly that picture is enhanced by the picture of the Disciples watching as Jesus rose physically before their eyes. Where is He now? “Up there” is the only explanation they could give. It was essential that they saw Jesus depart from their presence in a final sense. Part of the problem man has is that as a materialist, he only believes in what he can see physically and therefore his imagination is limited. John was caught up in the Spirit and, by the power of the Spirit, He was given a glimpse into the unseen World. Man cannot imagine God operating without a physical body, because he could not operate without a physical body.
But God is a spirit and He does not need a body in order to make decisions and communicate with mankind. He speaks to man through his spirit. So a man knows in his spirit but does not hear with his ears. Man sees or understands in his spirit but does not see with his eyes. That is what faith is all about. It is why it is so difficult for materialists to believe in Jesus. John ch 20 v 29. Isaiah said that the people would look and look and not see. Seeing in the spirit is having spiritual understanding. There was nothing wrong with their eyesight. It was their understanding, which was impaired. Spiritual sight is like removing a veil from the eyes. Man is limited to using physical terms to explain spiritual truths. When Rev ch 4 v 1 speaks of an open door into Heaven it was an experience in the spirit.
The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven is the same thing. Matthew writing to Jews calls it the Kingdom of Heaven, since Jews would never mention the name of God. Luke, writing to Gentiles, calls it the Kingdom of God. Both mean the rule of God in the hearts of men. Jesus said the Kingdom is near and, if a man accepts His words, then the Kingdom has come him. So believers live in the Kingdom of God. Jesus also said that those who believed in Him are seated with Him in the Heavenly places. So the Kingdom of God is a present reality and not a future event. Jesus is there now. God’s Kingdom is the sphere of His influence. Satan is described as the prince of the power of the air. He has a sphere of influence over all who will not repent and turn to God through Jesus. The two spheres of influence are working together at present but not quite harmoniously. Jesus spoke about the wheat and the tares growing together until harvest, when Satan’s sphere of influence will be banished completely. Therefore being in Heaven will not be a totally foreign experience for the believer, who is thinking about Heaven on Earth. It will be the fulfilment of his thoughts and dreams. “I thought it would be like this – only it is far better than I thought.” Rev ch 21 v 4 gives man plenty food for thought as to what Heaven will be like – no more tears, or pain or sorrow or death. That is worth thinking about.
What kind of body will a man have? Again a man cannot conceive in his mind how he could exist without a body, since he has only ever experienced life within a physical body. 1 Cor ch 15 v 35 – 37 gives a lot of clues. Adam and Eve were created in a perfect body, which, had they not sinned, would have lived forever. It was designed to replenish itself, heal itself and function forever. What a creation! The body may be identical to the one a man has now and he may be able to recognise others. Jesus still bore the scars on His body after He had risen. He was recognisable to the Disciples. It was sin, which brought the disintegration of the body over a period of time. 2 Cor ch 12 v 2 – 8. Jesus was without sin and would have lived physically on Earth, if He had not chosen to allow evil men to crucify Him.
Man is apprehensive of new situations, whether it is going to school or college or starting a new job or meeting new people. Arriving in Heaven will be a new experience for all men. The first thing to happen will be a time of judgement or assessment. It is appointed for man to die once and then the judgement. Jesus said that. All shall bow to Jesus to hear their destiny. All will arrive together because out of Earth time, there is no time. The books will be opened and Jesus will judge each man depending on what he has said and what he has done or failed to do during his time on Earth. That is a separate matter for thought and study. Rom ch 8 v 1. 1 Pet ch 1 v 13-17. 2 Cor ch 5 v 10.
Reference to the new Heaven and the new Earth explains that God will restore what He started at Eden. There He walked in the Garden with Adam. Heaven and Earth were one. It was the sin of Adam, which drove God away and separated man from God. Now God is a spirit. Just as radio waves are all around a man and all he needs to do is to switch on the radio, so Heaven is all around man. All he needs to do is believe in Jesus and the wavelengths are open. A new spirit is received and the man is born again from above. The separation of Heaven and Earth will terminate when Heaven and Earth as two separate spheres of influence merge on the Second Coming of Jesus. The first time Jesus came to Earth it was to die to save mankind. The second time will be to judge and to establish the rule of God in the hearts of all men, who are to remain in the new Heaven. It is also a fact that the environment was affected by the sin of man. Romans ch 8 v 19 – 23. In the last decade earthquakes have doubled in number – linked to the vast quantity of sin in the World. Rev ch 22 v 1 – 5.
Heaven and Earth are passing away. Mat ch 24 v 35. When these words of Jesus are recorded, they appear to be capable of literal interpretation. It sounds like a simple statement of fact. Why not? The Earth was created out of nothing. If God did it once, He can do it again. At the end of time there will be no division between Heaven and Earth. Heaven is outside of time and is not bound by time. God created time for human beings in order to make their lives meaningful but He Himself is outside of time. Jesus reigns over the whole of the created order and sustains the whole-created order by His word of power. When a man comes to express concepts or ideas of Heaven he is struggling.
A man can only use the words and ideas of the physical World to express himself in relation to Heaven, which is why it is pictured as a place. John ch 3 v 13. If a man does not believe the things of Earth, he will not be able to learn about Heaven. The Scripture explain that believers are seated with Christ in the Heavenly places. Heaven is the dwelling place of God. God is a spiritual being and as such does not need a physical environment in which to live. Angels minister to a man from Heaven. God breaks into a man’s life as He wills. Deut ch 30 v 11-12. Heaven is not distant like a galaxy millions of light years away. This idea gives the impression of God being remote. Man does not need a rocket to be there. Just a word is sufficient. A word of prophecy is Heaven speaking to man. Psalm 139 v 8. “If I ascend to Heaven, God is there.” It is His realm. Isaiah ch 14 v 12. Isaiah was speaking of Satan and explains that Satan was ejected from God’s presence, because he refused to praise God. God is enthroned on the praises of His people. Isaiah ch 66 v 22 – 24. Heaven is where God rules. Believers are seated with Christ in Heavenly places, because that is where they rule with Jesus – in Heaven.
When Jesus speaks about Heaven and Earth passing away, it is to convey the idea that while at present there are two spheres of rule or influence, these will be replaced by a single tier of authority – Heaven. Heaven is God with His people. Rev ch 21 v 3. Rev ch 22 v 3 – 5. Jesus was taken up to Heaven. It was not so much a physical rising, although that is how it happened to the eyes of the Disciples. Going up to University or going up to a higher place of work is like going to another sphere of influence, which is more important. However, Romans ch 8 v 19-25 implies some continuity between the old Earth, which passes away and the new Earth to be formed. 2 Pet ch 3 v 7 – 13 suggests a new Earth.
The Bible teaches that life will be a corporate life and not merely a lonely existence. With no sin in Heaven, there will be nothing to spoil the relationship between man and man. Sin does this at present. Therefore relationships with other human beings will be fulfilled. A man is only as rich as his relationships. These will be perfect in Heaven. Rev ch 22 v 3 implies that life will be responsible. The fullness of life, which was intended by God will be brought to fruition. 1 Cor ch 6 v 2f and Ps 8 v 4 – 6.
The new life will be centred on God. This was God’s original intention. There will be endless praise. If man does not enjoy praising God here on Earth, Heaven will be Hell for him. But there will be no marrying or reproduction. Mark ch 12 v 25. Jesus made it abundantly clear. Marriage is an institution planned by God for human beings on Earth – for companionship and procreation. Those who cannot live now without sexual experiences will be most disappointed. Perhaps that is why Rev ch 22 v 15 says that fornicators and adulterers will be excluded. Man will not be lonely in Heaven. The perfect number will be there – 144,000. Rev ch 22 v 4. Believers will see God face to face. Will this just be Jesus, since God is a spirit? After all Jesus is there now. 1 Pet ch 3 v 22. John ch 17 v 24. Jesus wishes that His brothers were with Him right now. 1 John ch 3 v 2.
Just how wonderful this World would be without sin is difficult to imagine. But if a man takes time to dwell on the sinful areas and all the pain and suffering caused by it and then imagine that removed, it gives a clearer idea of what Heaven will be like. Even then a man will probably be far short of the glory of Heaven. It will exceed all expectations and imaginations. A man may be confident that the crowning wonder of his experience in the Heavenly realm will be the endless exploration of that unutterable beauty, majesty, love, holiness, power, joy and grace, which is God Himself.