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.

Superpowers of the Millennium

In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the earth. For Adonai-Tzva’ot has blessed, saying: “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.”                                                                      Isaiah 19:24&25.
The land of Assyria figured prominently throughout the Old Testament, and has emerged to play a pivotal role on the world stage. The Assyrian empire ranged from what is today eastern Turkey, across northern Syria and Iraq, into northwest Iran. This entire region, though separated geo-politically, is loosely united by the populations of ethnic Kurds that occupy the “land of Assyria”.
The Kurdish controlled areas in northern Iraq are of particular interest for the oil reserves found there. Ideally, this oil would be brought directly to the eastern Mediterranean by pipeline across the Syrian desert. Instability in this country and Lebanon currently prevent that from being accomplished. The warfare in this region will soon settle this issue, as the presence of Hezbollah in Lebanon is an intolerable situation for Israel, and will soon be resolved by force of arms.

Ephraim feeds on wind, and follows after the east wind: he daily increases lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt. Hosea 12:1.

To the south, Egypt has had peaceful relations with Israel for a generation, and will benefit greatly from this relationship. They will prosper from Israel’s relationship with the west, as Israel will eventually control the seaport that will become the center of global trade.

Who has taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honorable of the earth? The Lord of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth.
Isaiah 23:8&9.

Consider the role that this city of Tyre has played in Biblical history. When Solomon built the first Temple, material support was provided from the ruler of Tyre. When Ezra built the second temple, he received material support from the ruler of Tyre also. Will they play a pivotal role at the end of the age?

And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth. And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing.
Isaiah 23:17&18.

For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.                                                      Revelations 18:3.

The great Mediterranean seaports of Tyre and Sidon are included in the land of promise. The center of global trade in the time of the Phoenicians, an enabler for Solomon’s global ambitions, and soon to be the prize of a coming war in the Middle East. Sidon was the first born son of Canaan, the man cursed by  Noah. Tyre was named for the daughter of Sidon. The Bible is the only source for a true understanding of history, the present, and the future.
The main point to draw from this discourse is to avoid deception in the mind of believers. The coming war in the middle east will not be the end of the world or a sign for the return of the Son of man. This is a necessary step in man’s inglorious history to fulfill all righteousness. The time of the gentiles is the only age that is coming to a close. The three nations of God will be the center of our history going forward. Remain faithful.

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

Two Words, One Root

When we consider the words believe and faith, we sense intuitively that a relationship exists between them. For a belief to operate in the power of faith there must be trust, without doubt.
And whatever things you ask in prayer believing, you will receive.
Matthew 21:22.

The very thing that you put your trust in will in the end stand in judgement of you.

Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuses you, even Moses in whom you trust.
John 5:45.

Where you place your trust defines your hope for the future and eternity. The Greek translated trust is also almost equally translated as hope.

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For
who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we
wait with endurance.
Romans 8:24 & 25.

To express this from a negative form, faith is belief without doubt.

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
Mark 11:23.

In this is our blessing:
Jesus said to him, Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.
John 20:29.

So then what is the common root for both faith and believing? The answer is the primary verb “to persuade”. This word appears 17 times in the book of Acts alone.

Here are two examples of Paul converting souls by the faith of Jesus Christ.

And he was debating every Shabbat in the synagogue, trying to persuade
both Jewish and Greek people.
Acts 18:4, (TLV).

He entered the synagogue, and for three months debated boldly with
persuasive arguments about the kingdom of God.
Acts 19:8, (NAB).

This is why the Gospel must be presented in the pure, original form, that those who hear are persuaded by Grace from the God of Love, as expressed through His Son Jesus Christ.

Paul expressed his intentions clearly:
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

There are many other ways to persuade someone, such as this first time the word appears in the Gospel.

The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas, but to destroy Jesus.
Matthew 27:20.

This persuasion was probably accomplished through intimidation, as the people would not want to oppose the leaders who accused the Lord before Pilate. Barabbas was a thief, a murderer, and an insurrectionist who was set free on the occasion of Christ’s trial before a Gentile. This is to say that a common way for people to be persuaded is through some claim to authority. The Apostolic teachings were constantly being opposed by false teachers who claimed to have authority from Jerusalem.

In Galatia and many other Greek locations, new believers were being told that they must be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses.

Here Paul opposes this doctrine in his letter to the Galatians.

Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
Galatians 5:7-9.

After insisting that they not be persuaded by these instructions from those
who claim authority to add to the Message, he uses the analogy of leaven.
Even as Jesus warned His disciples to beware of “the leaven of the Pharisees”.              Paul instructs us using the same imagery.

Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore
purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are
unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore
let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and
wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
1 Corinthians 5:6-8.

To walk by faith is to trust exclusively in the Grace of God, without the need
for the leaven of scientific proof.

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

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.
2 Corinthians 9:8.

Crowns of Memorial

And the crowns shall be to Helem and to Tobijah and to Jedaiah and to Hen the son of Zephaniah for a memorial in the temple of the Lord.        Zechariah 6:14.

Zechariah and Haggai were both prophets to the Jews who returned from the captivity to Judah and Jerusalem. The Lord God spoke by them to the governor Zerubbabel (sown or born in Babylon) and to the High Priest Joshua (Yeshua) for whom the crowns were made and worn. They were responsible with overseeing the rebuilding the Temple of God.

The High Priest represents the Christ and the temple is the church and body of Christ. What do each of these four witnesses represent, for whom the crowns for Joshua are made to serve as a memorial?

Who are you great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of Grace! Grace to it! Zechariah 4:7.

The name Hen the son of Zephaniah is in the Hebrew Chen and means Grace or Favor. Zerubbabel is instructed to move mountains shouting Chen or Grace. Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 21 if you have faith and doubt not you shall say unto this mountain be removed and cast into the sea and it shall be done. Why does He say THIS Mountain? They are standing outside the Temple!

Truly I tell you, the hour is coming when you shall not worship the Father on the mountain of Samaria or Jerusalem. The true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth for the Father seeks such to worship Him.            John 4:21-24.

The mountain of religion must become a plain before the Spirit of Truth. The house of God as well as the kingdom of God must be built by Grace through Faith from first to last. Grace has become for many simply the unmerited favor of God. To complete the task of building up the House of God the church needs to get beyond the banality of such definitions. Consider these words of witness.

God is able to make all Grace abound that you always have all sufficiency in all things that you may abound in every good work.                                      2 Corinthians 9:8.

Grace is the abounding sufficiency of God to complete the Work by Faith. To demonstrate your Faith by the Good Work that can only be accomplished with the Grace of God. This Grace must be foremost apparent in the words we speak concerning the Christ and for His church.

You are fairer than the children of men, Grace is poured into your lips and God therefore has blessed you forever.                                                   Psalms 45:2.

He that loves pureness of heart for the grace of his lips the King shall be his friend.                                                                                               Proverbs 22:11.

Paul wrote:                                                                                            Let no corrupting words come from your mouths, but only what is good for building up others (the House of God) to impart Grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29.

And; let your speech be always with Grace. Colossians 4:6.

The Acts of the Apostles by the power of the Holy Spirit is a consistent testimony to what believers can accomplish by the Grace of God. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and great grace was upon them all.                                                                Acts 11:23.

Unmerited favor in word and indeed!

So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.                                                                             Acts 20:32.

The second witness to the crowns of memorial for Joshua is Jedaiah whose name means known by the Lord. To know as we are known is the mark for the prize of the high calling of God we press towards in Christ.       Philippians 3:14.

To walk in the Spirit of Grace and Truth the follower of Jesus Christ must come to know Him.

In His Good Shepherd discourse in the Gospel of John, Jesus said: I am the Good Shepherd and know mine and am known of them.                             John 10:14.

In the pursuit of knowledge we are warned to always keep ourselves from idols which corrupt the Truth because of covetousness.

Now after you have known God or rather are known by Him, how can you turn again to the weak and beggarly worldly principles that leads back to bondage? We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up but charity builds up. If any man thinks that he knows anything he knows  nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man loves God the same is known by Him. For now we see through a fogged up window for we know in part. When that which is perfect is come, we shall know even as we are known. (Teachings of Paul: 1 Co 8:3; 13:12. Ga 4:9).

The third witness is Tobijah, meaning the goodness of God. Again, the banality of the modern church with its cliche’-like God is good catchphrase greatly diminishes the power of the word tob. The New Testament writers did no such thing.

We first find tob in Genesis chapter 1 as a description of God’s perspective of His own creation. If someone asks you how you are doing and you want to answer “I’m good”, from God’s definition you are perfect and complete in all the will of God. Colossians 4:12.

Perhaps you have followed James’ directive and have let patience do a perfect work so that you are perfect and entirely in want of nothing.     James 1:4.

This third witness to the crowns of memorial is the work of the Holy Spirit in all of us for the edification of the church. At first it was goodness of God that led you to repentance. Romans 2:4.

Goodness is included in the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.

The continued work within the church is that God would count you worthy of your calling and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power. 2 Th 1:11.

When Jesus said to be perfect even as our Father which is in heaven is perfect, He expressed his desire to see us, the body of Christ come to full maturity in all the Will of God.

Then God can look at our days of church building and see that everything made in the image of Christ is very good.

The fourth witness to the Crowns of Memorial had to experience a name change to properly serve God’s purpose. The man named Helem is first identified in Zechariah 4:10 as Heldai which means worldly. The Spirit of Christ changes his name in verse 14 to Helem meaning vision.

For the work of building up the body of Christ to be fruitful, the members must have the full vision of the doctrine of Christ. Every denomination, church, and ministry must reject worldly wisdom and respond to the call of Christ with childlike simplicity and sincerity.

Proverbs 29:18 says that where there is no vision the people perish. The church struggles are in large part due to an obsession with the wrong vision.

Daniel was a man of visions who is studied and commented on to excess. Daniel’s name means God is Judge, and naturally the visions pertain to the final judgment. His vision also brings some reference for consideration towards the visions of John. These visions of judgment should serve to drive the church to carry out the charge and true vision for the church and of Christ.

Peter wrote in his second letter in response to the question: where is the promise of His Coming? That He is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. He then places the proper concern with the manner of persons we should be in holy conversation and godliness, or else we will hasten the coming day of the Lord. Our vision pertains to a new heavens and a new earth wherein righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:9-13.

We neglect our memorials and just recompense of reward if we obsess over the horrible visions of judgment rather than making our hearts pure now, before the refining fires are ignited.

Everyone’s work will become evident for the day will show it because it is revealed by fire and the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work which was built on the foundation survives it will earn a reward. If anyone’s work is burned they will suffer loss but they will be saved only as through the fire. 1 Corinthians 3:13–15.

And the Lord said write the vision on a tablet (as a memorial) and make it plain that they who read may run, for the vision is for an appointed time. Habakkuk 2.

This vision is the apostolic teaching of the New Testament. The appointed time may be nearer than we know, for the time of the gentiles to be fulfilled.

The crowns of memorial earns treasure in heaven as do the memorials of prayer, alms giving and righteous conversation. Peter encourages the elders to be faithful so as to be a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed at the coming of the Lord.

And when the chief Shepherd shall appear you shall receive a crown of glory that never fades.                                                                                           1 Peter 5:4.

James encourages us to endure temptations, for when we are tried we will receive the crown of life the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12.

Paul encourages Timothy telling him that there is laid up a crown of righteousness the Lord shall give at that day to all who love His appearing.  2 Tim 4:8.

Finally Jesus warns us to hold fast that which we have that no man take our crown.                                                                                                          Revelation 3:11.

So much treasure kept in heaven for us!

 

Behave Like a Christian

Let love be without hypocrisy.

Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love.

In honor, giving preference to one another.

Fervent in spirit, not lagging in diligence; serving the Lord.

Rejoicing in hope.

Patient in tribulation.

Continuing steadfastly in prayer.

Distributing to the needs of the saints.

Given to hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Repay no one evil for evil.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Be of the same mind toward one another.

Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble.

Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

Romans 12:9-18.