Against Deception

People often speak of “war and rumors of war”, as well as global disasters as being signs of the end time. I would ask you today to look with fresh eyes and consider the Lord’s heart in this regard.

And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to Him to show him the buildings of the temple.                                                                                    Matthew 24:1.

At the end of a busy day, Jesus and his disciples find a quiet place, and they simply comment on the view of the temple mount. The Lord surprises them with a very precise and shocking prophecy.

And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.       Mt. 24:2.     

Jesus has mentioned a few times that He would face rejection and death in Jerusalem, but now He speaks of God’s soon judgment on the city and they immediately make a jump in their own minds that this pertains to the end of the age.

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?     Mt. 24:3.

We know that most of the Lord’s followers would have lived to see the destruction of the temple, this event was not a herald of the end times. While the questions reveal what was on their hearts, only the Lord’s answers can show us His priorities.

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.  Mt. 24:4.

Now if we pause here in the discourse and ask the question, “what do you think was the Lord’s primary concern regarding the subject of signs and the end of the age? Your answer should be that He was concerned with deceptive teachings that would come forth in this regard. Did He not once say this concerning signs:

A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.     Matthew 16:4.

He continues the discourse by elaborating on the subject of deceptions, not signs. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.  Mt. 2:5.

To be clear here, the Lord is not talking about anyone claiming to be the Messiah. Anyone who comes “in His name”, are claiming to be legitimate ambassadors speaking on His behalf.  The claim “I am Christ”, should be translated: “I am anointed”, because christos means anointed, and this is a claim that every false teacher, preacher and prophet is making these days. This is more than a sign of the end times, this is a caution for the wise follower to avoid being deceived.

And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. Mt. 24:6.

These words “the end is not yet” should be enough to convince you that quoting “wars and rumors of wars” as if to imply that the end of the age is upon us is to greatly discredit your understanding.

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.  Mt. 24:7.
Yada, yada, yada….
All these are the beginning of sorrows.  Mt:24:8.

Now this is something to consider. This expression of early birth pangs says a lot about being misinformed. Most people know that you don’t rush to the hospital with the first contractions of birth. Couples are coached to time contractions to be sure that labor has begun. However, there are still occasions were an expectant mother is rushed to a hospital, only to return later that evening saying; “false alarm”. A good possibility is that  greater awareness avoids reacting inappropriately to the beginning of sorrows.

And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.  Mt. 24:11.

Again with the warnings and concerns over being deceived.

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.                                      Mt. 24:12.

This verse uses the word agape for love and therefore cannot be interpreted as a state of the world we live. Only believers can know the agape love of God, and only believers can lose their “first love” and fall away due to lawlessness (iniquity) within the church.

This is why Jesus now says:

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Mt. 24:13.

This may not mesh with the once saved always saved doctrine, but Jesus said it, not me.

There are two verses I will now post for consideration on this topic.

And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until “the times of the Gentiles” are fulfilled. Luke 21:24.

Notice that this is the “the end of the age” for the Gentiles, and the sovereignty of Jerusalem is a legitimate point of inquiry.

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should  be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Romans 11:25.

Again with the Gentiles in the age we now occupy. With a growing number of Jews in Israel who see the historical Jesus (Yeshua) as the Son of God and Messiah, we draw closer to a true remnant in the promised land. Another reality worthy of attention.

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Matthew 24:24.

And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:29.

The text of Galatians 3:29 begins “de ei hymeis christos”, and the word christos means anointed, thus “if you are anointed” (or claim to be). Compare this to Matthew 24:5: For many shall come in my name saying I am anointed (christos) and shall deceive many.

Let me speak frankly to younger readers. Years ago, few preachers claimed to be anointed or to have “the anointing”. Now, essentially everyone on television, radio or otherwise makes this claim. They are the same people who love to talk about “the signs of the end times” in Matthew 24, without realizing they are fulfilling the prophecy in so stating.
This is why Jesus said, “you will know them by their fruit”, not who they claim to be as testimony of themselves. This is an antichrist spirit that had already manifested in the first century church.

Little children it is the last time and as you have heard that antichrist shall come even now are there many antichrists whereby we know that is the last time.                                 1 John 2:18.

Now please consider what Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 10:7: Do you look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is anointed let him of himself think this again, that as he is anointed even so are we anointed.

Among the first century church there already were many preaching “in that name” and claiming an anointing to do so, and yet they were contradicting what Paul and his companions were preaching!

I implore you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ:

Beloved believe not every spirit but try the spirits whether they are of God because many false prophets are gone out into the world.                                                                                    1 John 4:1.

Memorial of the Firstborn

The Lord spoke unto Moses; sanctify unto me all the firstborn…remember this day you came out of Egypt, for the Lord brought you out with a strong hand, therefore you shall not eat with leaven….for seven days…and you shall tell your son in that day “This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when he brought me out of Egypt. Exodus 13:1-8, abbrev.

And it shall be for a sign unto you upon your hand and for a memorial before your eyes that the Lord’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt.                                                     Exodus 13:9.

After destroying all the firstborn males of Egypt and sparing Israel, both of man and beast, the Lord claims all the firstborn males who open the womb as His own possession. To eat bread without leaven for seven days is to acknowledge what God sanctifies unto Himself as an ordinance forever. These commandments are for a memorial to the strong hand of the Lord in our life, to direct our actions in accordance with His ways, not our own ability.

And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, what is this? You shall say unto him, with a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, the house of slavery…..therefore I sacrifice to the Lord every male that opens the womb but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.                                 Exodus 13:14, 15.

The Lord displays His strong hand in judgment against the strength of man as a display of sovereignty. “For the weakness of God is stronger than men.”  1 Corinthians 1:25.     

This perception of man invested in the first born male is clearly understood in the words of Jacob in his final blessing upon his sons.

Reuben you my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.                                     Genesis 49:3.

“The beginning of my strength” is the expression of a man’s virility.             He smote all the firstborn in their land, the chief of all their strength. Psalm 105:36.

On the other hand, God displays His might and the beginning of His strength in creation:                                                                                               Lift up your eyes on high and behold who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by names by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power, not one fails.               Isaiah 40:26.

Moreover, this perception of the firstborn male is an expression of the pride of man. In this context, the Lord invests Israel before the witness of Pharaoh (the false man-god) with a severe warning:

And you shall say unto Pharaoh, thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, my firstborn, and I say unto you; let my son go that he may serve me, and if you refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay your son, your firstborn.      Exodus 4:22&23.

The priesthood had become exclusive to the tribe of Levi after the golden calf incident, and as a result, they took the place of the firstborn redeemed of the Lord.

Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that opens the womb from among the children of Israel, therefore the Levites shall be mine because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast, mine shall they be: I am the Lord.                                                                                                   Numbers 3:12 & 13.

The census established the number of Levite males qualified to serve with Aaron in the priesthood, the sons of Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. The census of the firstborn males totaled 273 souls above that of the qualified Levite males, and these were redeemed by a five shekel per man redemption price.

Take heed to understand that the church is not exclusive to firstborn males of natural childbirth, but the number establishes a limit to the fullness. God has taken for Himself the firstborn as a reflection of the fact that the Son of God is the firstborn of all creation. Thus Hebrews 12:23 refers to the general assembly and church of the firstborn.
In modern day Israel, the government mints a five shekel coin that can be purchased for a family to commemorate a son as the firstborn, by natural childbirth. Family restrictions in some countries, birth control, abortion and cesarean birth all restrict the number of firstborn males who open the womb, and the church of the firstborn.

For Jerusalem will be trampled upon by the gentiles until the time of the gentiles be fulfilled.                                                                                   Luke 21:24.

As well the blindness of Israel shall only continue until the fullness of the gentiles be come in.                                                                                  Romans 11:25.

To be a faithful steward of the mysteries of God is to be aware of this from the scriptures. To what end is all of this concern for the firstborn, what is the Logos of God revealed to us?                                                                                          The Father has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the FIRSTBORN OF EVERY CREATURE, for by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created by Him and for Him and He is before all things and by Him all things consist. And He is the Head of the body, the church who is the beginning the FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD, that in all things He may have the preeminence. Even the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.                                                                          Colossians 1:12-27.

One of the clearest statements of what it means that Jesus Christ, the Son of God is The Logos from the foundation of the cosmos.

You are worthy O Lord to receive glory and honor and power, for you have created all things and for your pleasure they are and were created. Revelations 4:11.

Remembrance of an Everlasting Covenant

Surely you shall not be moved forever; the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.                                                                                   Psalm 112:6.

We remain in everlasting remembrance based on the relationship established by the everlasting covenants that exist between God and His creation. After the flood, righteous Noah and his family stood as witnesses to the first blood covenant recorded in Genesis 9. We begin to understand the need for Christ to shed His blood for our sanctification and redemption beginning with the terms of this covenant.

After six hundred years man had corrupted his ways upon the earth to bring God’s first judgment by water. On the first day of the six hundred and first year Noah exited the ark along with all the animals that were delivered from destruction. Gen 8:13. God then blessed Noah and his sons giving them commandment to go replenish the earth. Gen 9:1. It was at this time that man was granted permission to eat the flesh of animals with one critical restriction.

But you shall not eat the flesh with the blood.                                         Genesis 9:4.

The apostles at Jerusalem confirmed the gentile churches and aligned with Paul in not requiring circumcision and the keeping of the Levitical laws. They did demand four ordinances be kept by all believers; that they abstain from pollution of idols and fornication and things strangled and from blood.      Acts 15:20.

The everlasting covenants are blood covenants and the basis for understanding this is Genesis 9.

And surely your blood of your lives will I require at the hand of every beast will I require and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood shall his blood be shed for man was made in the image of God.                                          Genesis 9:5 & 6.

God then gave the rainbow to be the token of an everlasting covenant with not only man, but all of the earth.

I do set my bow in the cloud and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.                                                                          Genesis 9:13.

And the bow shall be in the cloud and I will look upon it that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.                                                           Genesis 9:16.

It is time for the church to fully grasp the nature of this perpetual agreement in order to have a right understanding of the covenants that form the basis for their relationship with God. Consider the serious nature of God’s covenant with the earth from Isaiah’s horrifying vision of judgment.

The land shall be utterly emptied and utterly spoiled for the Lord has spoken this word. The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away, and the arrogant people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth and they that dwell therein are desolate; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned and few men are left.                                                                                                         Isaiah 24:3-6.

And how has the earth been defiled? By pollution? By waste? By radiation? Think again. By the spiritual principles of the Bible the earth is defiled by fornication, sacrifices to idols and false gods and the shedding of innocent blood. Man can clean up a toxic waste site, but only by blood can a land be cleansed of blood.

This is the terms of the everlasting covenant; that God would require blood for blood. Only by the shed blood of the Messiah can man be redeemed from the curses of a covenant violation.

The judgment is foreshadowed in the way God dealt with Judah in the time of Jeremiah. This same standard of judgment awaits a church that turns from the everlasting covenants, for judgment must begin with the house of God. (1 Peter 4:17.)

Trust not in lying words saying the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord…                                                                                                   Jeremiah 7:4.

Simply being a church member is no more insurance than having the temple of the one true God in your capital city.

Will you steal murder commit adultery and swear falsely, and follow other gods and come stand before me in this house which is called by my name… which has become a den of robbers…therefore pray not for this people. Jeremiah 7:8-16.

There comes a time when true intercessors can no longer pray for the church in general because the curse of another gospel is being taught within her buildings.

And nations are angry and your wrath has come and the time of the dead; that they should be judged and that you should give reward unto your servants the prophets and to the saints and them that fear your name small and great; and that you should destroy them which corrupt and destroy the earth.                                                                                                  Revelation 11:18.

The second everlasting covenant became the most controversial and divisive issue for the New Testament congregations. In Genesis 17 God changed Abram’s name to Abraham to establish His everlasting covenant with him. God commanded that circumcision of every male be the token of that covenant.

He that is born into your house and he that is purchased must be circumcised and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.                                                                                                    Genesis 17:13.

The apostle Paul was tasked by the Holy Spirit to set this issue in order for the church and is addressed extensively in his letters. The key to a right understanding is in the verse I just included: my covenant shall be in your flesh.

The Law of Moses included commandments pertaining to circumcision, while also acknowledging there was a spiritual component to a full understanding of the covenant law.

Jesus used this as a point to illustrate the greater spiritual truth in understanding the Word of God.

Moses gave unto you circumcision, not because it is of Moses but of the fathers, and you on the Sabbath day circumcise a male. If circumcision is performed on the Sabbath day that the Law of Moses should not be broken, why be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? Judge not according to appearance but judge righteous judgment.                               John 7:22-24.

The need to ultimately be circumcised in the heart is addressed in the book of Deuteronomy.

Circumcise the foreskins of your heart and be no more stiff necked. Deuteronomy 10:16.

And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your children to love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul that you may live.                                                                                     Deuteronomy 30:6.

With this in mind we will skip Paul’s in depth arguments and go directly to his conclusions.

Circumcision or uncircumcision is not what matters, but obedience to God.   1 Corinthians 7:19.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working by love.                                                                    Galatians 5:6

For we are the circumcision which worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh.                                  Philippians 3:3.

 

The Sure Mercies of David

The third everlasting covenant is also the most important to the church for the unity of the faith and the gospel to the gentiles. Isaiah made this proclamation:

incline your ear and come unto me, hear and your soul shall live and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the steadfast love I promised unto the house of David.                                                                                   Isaiah 55:3.

This promise is found in 2 Samuel:

When your days are fulfilled and you sleep with the fathers, I will set up your seed after you and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for my name and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever, and I will be his Father and he will be my son. If he commits iniquity I will chasten him with the rod of men and stripes of the children of men. But my mercy will not depart from him as I took from Saul who I removed before you.                       2 Samuel 7:12-15.

This was presented to the church in Acts 13.

And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God has fulfilled the same unto us their children in that He has raised up Jesus again, as it is written in the second psalm, You are my Son, this day have I begotten you, (Psalms 2:7.) And as concerning that He raised him up from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He said: “I will give you the sure mercies of David.”                                                        Acts 13:32-34.

The covenant of the sure mercies of David is a covenant of parental correction unto the perfection of obedience. What you have done is not what is important but how you respond to God’s correction. We must look for his approval in all things.

This doctrine is discussed in Hebrews 12 and is based on 2 Samuel 7.  

For whom the Lord loves he chastens and scourges every son whom he receives.                                                                                               Hebrews 12:6.

Consider this house of David known as Ephrathites. Ephrathah was a Hebrew woman who became the wife of Caleb, the faithful servant to Moses. Caleb was not a Hebrew, but is identified as a Kenizzite. Caleb was granted the region of Hebron by Moses for his faithful witness with Joshua after the scouting expedition. David’s grandmother was Ruth the Moabite. The city of Bethlehem Ephrathah was the city of Joseph and the birthplace of the Messiah. David ruled from Hebron for seven years until the elders of Israel came and acknowledged him as their king.

The line of Caleb is listed in the Chronicle genealogies with the tribe of Judah by a process known as grafting in, the same terminology Paul uses in Romans 11 to describe the gentile relationship to natural Israel. Through the house of David the wall of partition between Jew and gentile is broken down and finds fulfillment in Christ Jesus. For all the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ. (2 Co 1:20.)

Behold, you shall conceive and bring forth a son and shall call him Jesus. He shall be exalted and called the Son of the Highest and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there shall be no end.                   Luke 1:31-33.

For unto us a child is born unto a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulder…. Of the increase of his government and peace no end upon the throne of David…the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9:6&7.

The one true church is the house of David and the Lord Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of the throne of majesty to fulfill all righteousness. Peter informs us that heaven has received Him until the restoration of all things spoken of by all the holy prophets since the world began. (Peter’s sermon from Acts 3:12-26.)

The restoration of all things refers to the throne of David in Israel. This process will not be complete until the end of the final day (1000 years).

And I will set up one shepherd over them and he shall feed them, my servant David, he shall feed them and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord shall be their God and David a prince among them. I the Lord have spoken it and I will make with them a covenant of peace.                          Ezekiel 34:23-31.

And David my servant shall be king over them and they shall all have one shepherd over them…and they shall dwell in the land I have given to Jacob my servant… and David shall be their prince forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, an everlasting covenant…and I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.                                          Ezekiel 37:24-28.

The covenant of peace (berit shalom, also translated covenant of friendship), was originally bestowed on the house of Phineas, the son of Eleazar, in Numbers 25:10-13; and will be granted to all Israel, in Israel, at the end of the age.

Now consider the most referenced Old Testament passage in the New Testament to bring all this to a fine point. In the gospels Jesus proposes this question concerning the Christ: Whose son is he? The teachers responded that he is the son of David. Jesus then silences them with this statement.

How is it that David in spirit calls him Lord saying The Lord said unto my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool (Psalm 110), if David calls him Lord, how is he his son?                                   Matthew 22:41-46.

This Psalm is also referenced by Peter in Acts 2:33-35. In the letter to the Hebrews we find another reference:

But this man after he had offered one sacrifice for sin forever sat down at the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting until his enemies are made his footstool.                                                                                         Hebrews 10:12-14.

Most importantly, follow Paul’s explanation of the final restitution of all things:

Then comes the end when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He has put all things under his feet. But when he says all things are under him it is clear that the exception is He that put all things under him. And when all things are subdued under him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto Him that put everything under him, that God may be all, in all.                                       1 Corinthians 15:24-28.

Note that the Son is subject to God the Father. The perceived equality between the Son and Father is based on the equality of granted authority. This is foreshadowed in Genesis 41 pertaining to the relationship between Joseph and Pharaoh.

“You shall be over my house and according unto your word shall all my people be ruled, only in the throne will I be greater than you.”                Genesis 41:40-44.

To serve Joseph was to serve Pharaoh, to dishonor Joseph was to dishonor Pharaoh. Compare this to the self-testimony of Jesus in John 5.

For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son; that all should honor the Son as they honor the Father. He that does not honor the Son honors not the Father who sent him. (Doctrine of Christ). John 5:22&23.

This is the final restitution of all things spoken of by the prophets by the Spirit of Christ that was in them. The time of the gentiles will soon be fulfilled as the fullness of the gentiles is a finite point in time. The end of the age and the new heaven and new earth and the everlasting righteousness of the kingdom of God and Christ comes after all his enemies are under his feet, and the final enemy is death.

In the millennial kingdom of the house of David, people live long prosperous lives, but not eternal lives.

One who dies at 100 will be as if a child, but a sinner of 100 years will know they are cursed.                                                                                     Isaiah 65:20.

During the 1000 year reign the law of God will be enforced from Jerusalem and the word of God will come forth from mount Zion.                                                         Isaiah 2:3.

And after these 1000 years there will be one final rebellion. Sin will continue during the millennium and will be dealt with by the law. Satan will be bound and man will know that there is a sin nature in him that cannot be blamed on “the devil made me do it”. Sinners will chafe under the law of God for 1000 years. This is foreshadowed in the Old Testament, for after the glorious 40 year reign of Solomon, a kingdom like no other on earth, the people rebelled, complaining of the severity of his reign.

The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has seized the hypocrites:       Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burning?”                                                                    Isaiah 33:14.

These everlasting covenants are without respect of persons. The terms are final.

For men in truth swear by one greater, and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.                                                                  Hebrews 6:16.

This refers to the role of Jesus Christ as the mediator between God and man. When the terms of the mediation are accepted, there is no more negotiations. Any other gospel is cursed.

Now the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the everlasting covenant make you perfect in every good work to do His Will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.                                                                            Hebrews 13:20&21.