Many Are Called, Few Are Chosen

1 Corinthians 4:2.  Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful. 

To be faithful to the Gospel is to go beyond belief. Those who have heard and believe the Gospel Paul identifies as “the called”: 

Romans 1:6. “among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ”. 

This is just a first step, in what is “a walk of faith”, while abiding in the gift of the Spirit. For Jesus said this to His followers, many of whom would fall away:

Matthew 22:14.  For many are called, but few are chosen. 

Seek from the Lord a personal dispensation, and be among the elect. 

Ephesians 3:2.  if indeed you have heard of the dispensation (=stewardship) of the grace of God which was given to me for you. 

Now you will have a direction to allow your faith to be transformed to faithfulness. 

Rev 17:14.  and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. 

Jesus told Thomas, who doubted: 

John 20:27. “be not faithless; be faithful”- not ‘believing’, as with most translations.

Mark 13:27.  And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost parts of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. 

Rev 2:10.  Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life..

Rev 3:11.  I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 

John 1:16.  And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. 

What then is “grace for grace”?

This can be understood by these words of the Lord to His disciples:

Matthew 10:8.  “freely you have received, freely give”.

Churches are full of people every Sunday morning who have received God’s grace, as evidenced by the fact that they got out of bed. Hallelujah! The body of Christ continues to touch lives by the hands of those who give grace. Who have received grace, for grace.

The testimony of Christian maturity is found in the words of Paul: 

Philippians 1:7.  Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel: you all are partakers of my grace. 

The unmerited favor of God is a theological definition of grace that is widely accepted among Christians.

2 Corinthians 9:8. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. 

A Holy Spirit definition of grace: the all sufficiency of God that enables us to abound in every good work in service to the body of Christ.

2 Corinthians 8:7.  Therefore, as you abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that you abound in this grace also (charity). 

Since it is still better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), continue to freely give, for we have received of His Fullness.

What Does The Church of The Firstborn Mean

This is from a teaching website and a standard interpretation.

A link to the site is at the end.    

What Does The Church of The Firstborn Mean?

Hebrews 12:22-24 states: But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

First, in the original language, the term “firstborn” is in the plural. It should be translated as “church of the firstborn ones.”                                          

Second, we must recognize that Jesus is The “Firstborn.” He was given the preeminence (superiority) by God the Father over the new creation (Colossians 1:15-20). He was also preeminent because He arose from the dead and was the first person to die no more (Revelation 1:5).                                                

Third, sinners who trust and obey the gospel of Christ (John 8:24; Acts 17:30; Romans 10:9,10; Acts 2:38) will undergo water baptism to identify with Jesus (Ephesians 1:3,12; 2:13; Acts 22:16 – His precious blood which washes away our sins), the Firstborn One, to also become firstborn ones because they have been raised from water “to walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3,4). They have experienced a death to the old life of sin, a burial of that old man of sin, and a spiritual resurrection of a new man by God’s grace through faith via water immersion. They also look forward if they are faithful (if they should die first) to a physical resurrection from the dead at the end of time (1 Corinthians 15) since Jesus was the first one to rise from the dead to die no more.

https://thegospelofchrist.com/knowledge-base/tgoc-kb–hwwgt

Discussion and Analysis

First, the fact that firstborn is in plural form is not Biblical interpretation, but Grade school grammar. The subject is ‘church’ which should require no explanation, as having many members. This requires the plural form in the object of the preposition, ‘firstborn.’                                                     

Second, Jesus is identified as the Firstborn, hence the church of the firstborn implies: His church, His body. This then supports the idea of ‘The Church of The Firstborn One’. Translating ‘church of the firstborn ones’ suggests to the reader that only firstborn children are allowed membership, and misrepresents the significance of the word.                                                                         

Third, and most elaborate is the explanation that sinners who are baptised in repentance become ‘firstborn ones’ by faith. No where in the New Testament are we ever instructed that we have become firstborn by grace through faith. To understand the significance of the firstborn, the seeker of Truth must look to the Law and the Prophets. 

Isaiah 8:20.  To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

[Here is an analysis based on Exodus 13 and associated scriptures.]  

Memorial of the Firstborn

Exodus 13:9.  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.                                                     

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.

Exodus 13:1-8, (abbreviated).  The Lord spoke to 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 13:14, 15.   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.                                 

The Lord displays His strong hand in judgment against the strength of man as a display of sovereignty.

1 Corinthians 1:25.   “For the weakness of God is stronger than men.”      

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.

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

“The beginning of my strength” is the expression of a man’s virility.            

Psalm 105:36.  He smote all the firstborn in their land, the chief of all their strength. 

On the other hand, God displays His might and the beginning of His strength in creation:

Isaiah 40:26.  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 name by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power; not one fails.                  

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:

Exodus 4:22&23.  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.      

The priesthood became 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.

Numbers 3:12 & 13.  Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that open 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.                                                                                                  

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.

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 thus the church of the firstborn.

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 reflecting the fact that the Son of God is the firstborn of all creation, as well the firstborn from the dead.

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

Romans 11:25. 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. 

Thus these prophetic scriptures apply to the gentiles, and this age has an established end.

A Righteous Branch

Jeremiah 23:1, 2.  Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; You have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.

Even as Jesus pronounced woes to the teachers of the Law, His voice was echoing Jeremiah with the warnings for any who would assume spiritual authority over others to their harm. 

If pastors fail to make faithful assessments of the spiritual condition of the flock, the Lord Himself will make known His assessment of that pastor.

The Lord’s Visitation

To visit is to look upon to help, benefit or care for; but can also ultimately bring forth judgment without repentance, and a failure to show mercy. Jesus describes the day of His judgment on all peoples. 

For those approved:

Matthew 25:36.  I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.

For those rejected:

Matthew 25:43.   I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.

Those who rejoiced at the coming of Jesus Christ proclaimed these words:

Luke 7:16. Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.

In doing so, they echoed the prophetic words of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist.

Luke 1:68. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people.

Luke 1:77, 78. To give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us.

All who are the servants of the Lord, not just pastors, have the opportunity to participate in the Lord’s visitation, for this is our true religion.

James 1:27.  Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to refuse to be corrupted by the world’s values.

The remnant will be gathered.

Jeremiah 23:3, 4.  But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.  I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking, says the Lord.

Every Christian should hear the voice of the Good Shepherd in the word of Jeremiah. This remnant of the flock includes the Gentiles who have put their trust in Him.

John 10:16.  And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

The remnant [H7611-shĕ’eriyth], is derived from the root [sha’ar, H7604], that which remains, or was left behind. This pertains to The Day of Judgment. In Isaiah and Jeremiah, as well as the New Testament writings, the remnant will remain after the harvest. 

These gleanings of the Lord, which were reckoned separately. While most are very familiar with the tithe, rarely are the gleanings discussed, for they point to what will remain, after the judgment.

The Unprofitable Servant

The words of scripture are chosen very carefully for those who have ears to hear. All who are called receive their portion, but not all will be faithful.

Matthew 13:10-12. And the disciples came and said to Him, Why do You speak to them in parables?  He answered and said to them, Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.

Matthew 25:28-30.  So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Many seek the Lord desiring what He alone is able to give them. (The Called). Very few come to Him desiring to serve, to receive from Him what is provided for others.

John 6:26, 27. Jesus answered them and said, Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.  Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.

Judgment and Righteousness

Jeremiah 23:5, 6. Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.  In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely. Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

To be an executor in covenant, one must keep the Way of the Lord. Christ fulfilled all Righteousness through the Branch of David,  perfecting every covenant between God and man, beginning with Abraham.

Genesis 18:19.  For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to execute judgment and righteousness; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

The Stewardship of Abraham in covenant with God was not just in keeping Judgment and Righteousness, but to take command over all in his sphere of influence by keeping the Way of the Lord. The Memorials of the Lord must be passed onto the next generation. The Way of the Lord always includes this Stewardship.

Jesus Alone Is Exalted

Isaiah 5:16 But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is Holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.

For the Lord to be exalted in judgment, the Holy Spirit must be involved to counsel your decision. This is an absolute requirement when passing on the Way of the Lord. Righteousness requires our sanctification from carnal ideas.

2 Corinthians 3:4, 5. And such trust have we through Christ toward God: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.

Clothed in Righteousness

Job 29:14.  I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.

1 Peter 5:5. Likewise, you younger ones, submit yourselves to the elders. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Romans 13:14. Therefore, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop making provision for the desires of the flesh.

Psalm 106:3. Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that executes righteousness at all times.

Establishing the Law

Isaiah 16:5. In mercy the throne will be established, and One will sit on it in Truth, in the tabernacle of David, Judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.

James 2:13.  For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Isaiah 56:1. Keep justice, and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come, and My righteousness to be revealed.

Romans 3:31.  Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

Jeremiah 33:15. In those days and at that time, I will grow up unto David a Branch of righteousness; he shall execute judgment and righteousness for the earth.

The Great Reveal

Luke 2:3, 4. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Luke 12:2, 3.  For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.

1 Corinthians 3:13. Their work will soon become evident, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire will test and prove each one’s workmanship .

Luke 17:30.  Even so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

1 Peter 1:13-16. Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former desires, in your ignorance;  but as He who called you holy, you also be holy in all conduct,  because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Jesus Christ Revealed To The Children Of God

Luke 10:21, 22. In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal.

Revelation 1:1-3. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.  Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Matthew 16:17. Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Ephesians 3:3-6. How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:  that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel.

The Righteousness of God Revealed

Romans 1:17.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Galatians 3:23.  But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 

Philippians 3:15, 16. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

1 Peter 1:5. Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Corinthians 1:4-9. I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in every profession and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

God’s Glory Revealed

1 Peter 4:12-14. Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 

1 Peter 5:1. The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed.

1 Peter 1:6-9. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,  whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

Romans 8:18.  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 

Spiritual Wisdom By Revelation

Ephesians 1:15-20. Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power  which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.

The Mind of Christ by The Revelation of The Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 2:10-16. God has been revealed to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolish to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged by no one.  For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Benediction

Romans 16:25-27. Now to Him who is able to establish you according to the preaching of the Good News of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began, but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith. And to the only wise God: Glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.

Ways and Means of the Lord

Ezekiel 14:22, 23. Yet behold, there shall be left in it a remnant who will be brought out, sons and daughters; surely they will come out to you, and you will see their ways and their doings. Then you will be comforted concerning the disaster that I have brought upon Jerusalem, all that I have brought upon it.  And they will comfort you, when you see their ways and their doings; and you shall know that I have done nothing without cause that I have done in it,  says the Lord God.

derek aliylah=ways and means

This Word informs us that the remnant will demonstrate a right way of acting based on pure intentions from a heart directed by the Lord. Not just the ways that the people accomplish, but also the means by which they fulfill them. When people see their works, they will be comforted, that God is still with the people, even in the face of great catastrophe or hardship. The Brenton Septuagint renders this expression ‘their ways and their thoughts’, the emphasis on the reasoning behind the action being expressed.

Psalm 99:8. You answered them, O Lord our God: you were a God that forgave them, though You took vengeance of their inventions.

Rather than ‘inventions’ for aliylah here , most modern translations state ‘misdeeds’. The Septuagint is translated by Brenton as ‘devices’.   Simply punishing deeds without correcting the faulty reasoning behind the acts would accomplish very little. The Lord desires to lead in the right way. 

1 Samuel 2:3.  Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth. For the Lord is the God of knowledge;  And by Him aliylah is assessed.

This is the derek aliylah of the Lord.

Ezekiel 20:43, 44. And there shall ye remember your ways and your means, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.  And ye shall know that I am the Lord when I have wrought with you for my name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupted means, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord God.

What is the offense that perpetuates the falling away of the people? Not only in disregarding laws and statutes, but grievously profaning their memorials.  The Lord gave the people His Sabbaths, that they may pass down the righteous way to their children. Sin was magnified by what a chosen people passed onto the next generation.

Ezekiel 20:18. But I said to their children in the wilderness, Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols.   I am the Lord your God: Walk in My statutes, keep My judgments, and do them;  hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.

Forty years of wandering in the wilderness resulted in an entire generation passing away before the nation entered the promised land. 

Psalm 103:7. He made known His ways to Moses, His means unto the children of Israel.

A clear division was presented by how that generation worshipped, and how their children had learned to walk.  The memorials of the Torah were to ensure that this refined generation passed on righteousness to their children.

Ezekiel 21:24.  Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have made your iniquity to be remembered [by your children], in that your transgressions are uncovered, so that in all your means [aliylah] your sins appear; because you have perpetuated their memory in passing them on, you shall be taken in hand.

While aliylah is most typically translated deeds, it actually strikes deeper to the reasoning and planning that precedes the action. Even if the motive seems pure, the method will be faulty without the wisdom of God. The remnant of God will ultimately declare His ways and means.

Zephaniah 3:11.  On that day you shall not be shamed for all of your wicked aliylah, in which you transgress against Me; For then I will take away from your midst those who rejoice in your pride, and you shall no longer be haughty in My holy mountain.

And in that day you will say:

Isaiah 12:4.  Praise the Lord, call upon His name; declare His aliylah among the peoples.  Make mention that His name is exalted.

Psalm 9:11.  Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion!  Declare His aliylah among the people.

Israel High Above All Nations

John 3:31.   He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.

There is a multitude of Bible teachers who embody the notion of an earthly man that speaks of the earth while failing to lay hold of The Spirit of Truth.  A perfect example is the many teachings that refer to the early monarchy in Israel, as represented by Kings David and Solomon, being the “Golden Age” Of Israel. This view from the earth fails to identify the True Golden Age of historical Israel from the view of the One from above, who is above all. 

Joshua 24:31.  Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.

Before Messiah Yeshua came to earth, this time prior to the falling away in the time of the Judges would be the Golden Age of Israel as viewed from a heavenly perspective. This also gives us a unique lesson in faith from an Old Testament narrative. This period stands out by a complete lack of description for the era. One verse! One statement, and moving on.

2 Corinthians 4:18.  For  we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Romans 8:25. If we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

In the absence of a narrative, we have to believe that God’s Word is True, without a testimony for confirmation. For if Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, AND all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, then we must believe that they lived under the blessings promised for those who were faithful.

Deuteronomy 28:1, 2.  Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.  And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God.

Clearly, the people did not abide under the blessings of Deuteronomy 28 long enough to see themselves set over all nations of the earth. However, as a people who served the Lord for most of a generation, the blessings would have been tangible.

Even more so, after using only 14 verses to describe the blessings of a faithful people, Deuteronomy 28 goes on to use over 50 verses to describe the curses to be brought on by disobedience! Surely this generation avoided all of these calamities. 

By faith, we must believe that life was more bountiful for Israel at this time than any other. Because:

Numbers 23:19. God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

We can now contrast this period with the time of the monarchy of Israel.

What stands out immediately even from this scant information is that even after the leader Joshua passed away, the elders of his generation were able to keep the people walking in the Way of the Lord, without a central figure. 

There was no king in Israel, and there was no intention in the heart of God for there ever to be one. When the elders demanded a king from Samuel, he received this word from God;

1 Samuel 8:7.  And the Lord said to Samuel, Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.

While God did not desire to see a king reigning over His people, He did anticipate their demand and gave instructions for how a king in Israel should conduct himself.

Principles Governing Kings

Deuteronomy 17 :14-17. When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me, you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 

And he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, You shall not return that way again. Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.

Now we can grade this so called Golden Age of Solomon by the expectations of God in the Law.

Solomon multiplied wives, who turned his heart away. Strike One.

1 Kings 11:4. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.

Solomon multiplied horses for his military.  Strike Two.

1 Kings 4:26.   And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.

1 Kings 10:28.   And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt….

Solomon greatly multiplied gold in his kingdom, silver was not accounted.   Strike Three.

1 Kings 10:21.  And all king Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon.

1 Kings 10:27. The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones.

1 Kings 10:14. The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was 666  talents of gold.

The Golden Age indeed!

Before anointing Saul the first king of Israel, Samuel warned the people of what a king would demand of them.

1 Samuel 8:11-20. And he said, This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots.  He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 

 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants.  And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work.  He will take a tenth of your sheep. 

And you will be his servants.  And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you on that day. 

Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.

King David fed his people as his flock, but this king’s levy came into full effect under the reign of Solomon. After forty years, the people had enough of this hardship. When his son Rehoboam ascended to the throne, they immediately voiced their grievances.

1 Kings 12:4.  Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he placed on us, and we will serve you.

The kingdom was soon divided and the rest is history. Israel fell to Assyria first, later Judah was taken into captivity to Babylon. The Lord spoke on this through the prophet Jeremiah that the captivity would last seventy years, for each year that the land of Israel was denied a Sabbath year of rest.

2 Chronicles 36:20, 21. And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.

During the Golden Years of Israel after Joshua, the land enjoyed a Sabbath rest every seventh year, according to the Law of Moses. If the land required 70 years of rest, then no Sabbath year was kept for 70×7=490 years. The people would not keep the Sabbath year for fear that they would not meet the king’s levy.

Further Instructions For The King

Deuteronomy 17:18-20.  Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.

Solomon clearly did not follow these instructions, nor would it appear that any of the kings who followed. In comparison, we have seen that after Joshua died the elders of Israel were able to keep the people in service to God with the Law of Moses. When you consider that Solomon was very young when he ascended the throne, were there not enough priests, scribes, elders and advisers in Jerusalem to impress upon the new king the need to follow God’s Law? He was sincere enough to pray for wisdom when God first appeared to him and inquired of his request. God then blessed him with all the things that any man would desire. When he then applied his wisdom to the things of the earth, all was vanity and anguish of heart.

FACE TO FACE

Genesis 32:30.  So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”                                      

After wrestling with an angel all night, Jacob experiences being “caught up” by the Spirit of the Lord.

My Life is preserved =Nephesh Natsal. 

Nephesh is most frequently translated soul.

Barak YHVH nephesh=Psalm 103.  Bless the Lord, O my soul.                 

Natsal is most frequently translated delivered.

Shamar Nephesh Natsal=  Psalm 25:20.  O keep my soul and deliver me.     

Natsal literally means to be snatched up and carried away from danger.

The Lord Our Deliverer gives us this assurance.

John 10.   My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.                      

When the scribes translated Genesis 32:30 into Greek in the Septuagint, ‘my life is preserved’ is rendered  sozo ego psuche.  In apostolic writings, this expression is most likely rendered as ‘saved my soul’.  Even better is to translate, ‘my life is made whole’. 

To come face to face with God is to ‘experience’ salvation and remission from sin.

 Luke 1:77.  To give ‘knowledge of salvation’ to His people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”                                                   

Remission of sin is deliverance from the carnal nature.

Romans 7.  O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.                 

Romans 8.   For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.       

To ‘experience’ the ‘knowledge of salvation’ brings clarity to Romans 7, to enjoy the ‘Spirit of Liberty’ in the remission of sin described in Romans 8.

To come face to face with God is to be enraptured.

2 Corinthians 12.   I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven.  And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.                                                             

This being ‘caught up’ in Greek: harpazo;  is used to describe the experience of Philip in Acts 8.  Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. 

And ultimately, by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The ultimate personal experience in devotion to the Lord is face to face.

Hebrew: pahneem pahneem;  Greek: prosopon pros prosopon. 

Numbers 12.  When there is a prophet I reveal Myself to in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses. He is faithful in all My house, I speak with him face to face, plainly and not in riddles.   

Faithful to The House of God 

Hebrews 3:5, 6. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.  

Come Before His Face,=Come Into His Presence   

Hebrews 4.    Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

Growing In Grace  From The Glory  

1 Corinthians 13:12.   For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known. 

2 Corinthians 3:18  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed (metamorpho=transfigured)  into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

A Friend of God

Exodus 33:11.  So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. 

John 15. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.