- Bill Perkins -
".... 'Have you (Gog/Russia) come to capture spoil? Have you assembled your company to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to capture great spoil?'" Ezek. 38:13
How much gold and silver would it take for Russia to be enticed to invade Israel to steal it all? A bunch. It would have to be a tantalizing amount, probably in the mega billions, if not trillions, of dollars.
But even if Israel were to discover a mega hoard of gold and silver, enough to entice the Russians, the timing of such an invasion (basically starting World War III), would have to be seen as the "perfect window of opportunity."
Well, the Bible says Russia WILL invade Israel to steal her gold and silver and this future invasion is described in Ezekiel 38 and 39... a fascinating read. And a great "opportunity window" will open for the Russians to make their move during the 50 chaotic days between Rapture and the signing of the 10-Nation Peace Treaty. (1)
Think about it-the United States is Israel's only true ally, and the U.S. will be decimated from the effects of losing key people in the sudden Rapture. So Israel will be alone in the world to fend for herself.
At least that's what the Russians will think. They will conclude they can invade and capture the vast treasure for themselves. But God comes to Israel's help in a mighty way to supernaturally protect Israel. And Russia goes down in an embarrassing defeat. (2)
Are the riches future oil discoveries? Nope!
So, if we're as close as I think we are to the Rapture, where is this great treasure that Russia will be trying to capture? For years I must admit I thought the treasure would be Israel striking huge amounts of oil. And indeed they have struck a great quantity of oil and gas.
But thinking about that reasoning, Saudi Arabia has a lot more oil with far fewer national defenses and I don't see Russia going after Saudi's oil.
Massive amounts of gold and silver? Yes!
And now, as I've reread the text of Ezek. 38:13, I realize I was wrong. It's not oil. The Bible specifically says Russia comes after "silver and gold." I'm quite humbled that I missed that.
However, there's a problem. At the moment Israel doesn't have vast amounts of gold and silver. They do have a great diamond-cutting business, world renown. But they just cut other people's diamonds.
So how in the world could Israel end up with enough gold and silver to entice Russia to invade? Well, as it turns out, the Bible says that amount of gold and silver treasure is already in Israel, they just need to find it-quite interesting, huh!
Hang with me as I back up a bit...
Solomon was the richest man in the world, literally. His treasures were unfathomable. God gave him his wealth because he wisely asked for wisdom, not riches, but God rewarded him for his humble answer and gave him both wisdom AND wealth...great wealth (1Kings 3:9-13).
The Bible, and even 1st century Jewish historian Josephus, mentions that Solomon had a fleet of ships that did business all over the Mediterranean. And each time the fleet returned to Israel they brought the trip's profit in gold to King Solomon.
Just how rich WAS Solomon?
Solomon had dominion over everything from west of the Jordan River to the Egyptian border in the south and north into present-day Syria. And God allowed him to be at peace with the surrounding nations (1Kings 4:24). He was in the perfect place to make tons of money.
In 1Kings 9:26-28, it records that a fleet of his ships returned to Israel with a profit of 31,500 pounds of gold! That's over $750 million in today's value. And that was from just one sea-faring business trip abroad.
In 1Kings 10 it says the Queen of Sheba came to Israel to pay Solomon a visit to hear his wisdom and see his wealth. She was stunned-so impressed that she was moved to give Solomon over $200 million in gold plus untold numbers of precious stones.
The amount of gold and silver that Solomon acquired during his kingship was beyond imagination, as you will soon see.
Solomon builds the 1st Jewish Temple
In 970 BC, Solomon built the first Jewish Temple to be a permanent replacement for the Tabernacle that had been carted around the Middle East for hundreds of years. The building of the Temple makes a good outline for a business plan, in writing, dealing with planning, labor, and materials management (1Chron. 28; 1Kings 5,6).
Solomon was so rich when he built the Temple that, rather than putting in just one solid gold menorah, he decided to multiply the contents on the inside of the Temple by 10.
So Solomon made nine more solid gold menorahs and lined up the ten in two rows of five each (2Chron. 4:7,8). This means there were ten 6- foot high solid gold menorahs in the 1st Jewish Temple. (See drawing of the inside of the 1st Temple made by the Temple Institute in Jerusalem).
Each of those solid gold menorahs was so heavy that the Temple priests estimated their value at $360 billion each, $2.5 trillion value for all 10!
Solomon also increased from one solid gold Table of Showbread to 10. Each of these solid gold tables held twelve loaves of bread. The Temple Institute says they would have been about five feet high, four feet wide and four feet long. That's a lot of gold. And a lot of bread to bake daily.
We don't know how much the Tables of Showbread weighed-they only had to each hold 12 loaves of bread-but they still were solid gold. See pic of man carrying the bread.
However, if they weighed 1/4 of the menorahs, that's another $500 billion in value for the 10 tables. And this doesn't include all the golden bowls, plates and such that numbered in the thousands.
Again, Solomon could afford to make all this because he had unfathomable riches. His wealth of gold, silver, precious stones and other things became legendary. So much so that ultimately Israel became a target for conquering by surrounding nations.
With all that success, Israel got her eyes off the Lord. Even Solomon brought in hundreds of foreign wives and concubines to pleasure himself. And 40 years later, 930 BC, Israel split into North and South.
The North, Israel, set up its own sacrifice system. But sacrifices could only be made on Mt. Moriah, and breaking that rule didn't last long. Three years later, the Assyrians conquered Israel's Northern 10 tribes in 927 BC. But Assyria was unable to capture the real prize-Jerusalem/Judah in the South with all her riches.
The South, Judah, held on for over a hundred years, but finally Jerusalem was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar's armies in 586 BC. History tells us that Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, plundered the Temple and deported Jerusalem's wealthy and educated inhabitants to Babylon.
They looted what they found in the Temple. But apparently Israel had thrown a bone, leaving what seemed like a great treasure to find and seize, but it was actually only a fraction of the whole treasure, only about 2% of the total massive treasure.
The 5400 items that were captured were eventually returned by Cyrus, King of Persia, when he authorized their rebuilding of the Temple after Israel's 70 years of Babylonian Captivity.
The Bible is clear that Cyrus returned all that had been stolen, even listing out the items. But none of the 10 solid gold menorahs were mentioned, or any tables of showbread on Cyrus' list (Ezra 1:9-11). Nor was there any mention of the other tens of thousands of gold and silver Temple implements, or gold and silver bars from the treasury.
Now, since only a small fraction of all that gold and silver went to Babylon, what happened to the other 98%? Basically we're missing the entire fortune that Israel had accumulated under Solomon.
Where did the Temple treasures go?
In the Jewish Talmud, tradition says that King Josiah and the Temple priests hid the vast treasure, including the Ark of the Covenant, in secret winding passages under the Temple Mount 10 years before the 1st Temple's destruction.
Well, the Jews are a smart people, and Israel did have 140+ years to think about what to do if Jerusalem was ever conquered like their brothers in the north. And Zechariah, God's prophet of the day, was continually hammering the Israelites to wake up and clean up their sins or the Lord would allow them to be conquered like their Northern brothers.
Zechariah, unlike most other prophets, was also a Priest. He knew it was possible that Israel was going to be conquered. And he would have had first-hand knowledge of the vast riches stored in the Temple treasuries. He was in the unique position to approve plans to hide the treasure if it looked imminent that Israel would be conquered, his own predictions.
Zech would certainly want to protect as much of Israel's riches he could, including those 10 golden menorahs and 10 golden Tables of Showbread. Not to mention the hugely important Holy Ark of the Covenant that contained Moses'/Aaron's staff and the two stone tablets with the 10 commandments.
So apparently Zech approved the hiding/burying of the Temple treasures. And Israel was smart enough to throw the Babylonians a bone. They left in the Temple several thousand gold and silver utensils, which would normally be significant spoils of war.
The ruse worked. History tells us that Nebuchadnezzar plundered what they found in the Temple and deported Jerusalem's upper-class citizens, like Daniel, to Babylon.
However, Zech hid the rest of the treasure so well it's never been found to this day.
Qumran and the Copper Scroll
Since 1947, in and around Qumran down by the Dead Sea, thousands of pieces of parchment were found buried in caves in the cliffs surrounding the area.
Collectively called the Dead Sea Scrolls, their discovery came within months of Israel becoming a fledgling nation again, and Jews today readily admit the discovery helped awaken Jews around the world to their Biblical roots.
But in 1952 another scroll was found, one made not of parchment but of copper mixed with a tiny bit of tin.
This copper scroll wasn't found near any of the parchment scrolls, but rather by itself, on a carved out shelf in the back of a cave in the area of Qumran.
Since it was written on copper, whoever wrote it thought the contents so valuable they had to make permanent indentations in metal to stand the test of time.
All the other Dead Sea Scrolls contained Old Testament books, scripture commentaries, and general Jewish life observations. But the Copper Scroll was simply a list of instructions of where tons of gold, silver and precious stones were buried.
But, as Frank Peretti said in his classic THE CHAIR presentation, you have to have a "fixed point of reference" to know where to begin any journey. And there are no reference points in the Copper Scroll instructions.
Though many have tried, no one yet has been able to figure out the right place to dig. Probably they were written vaguely on purpose because once they find just one of the 64 locations, they can find the rest of the massive treasure.
Biblical archaeologists who've analyzed the Copper Scroll believe it to be written by five different people who apparently were in a hurry to complete the scroll.
Hebrew priests normally take great care in making each line perfect, but the Copper Scroll looks as if time was of the essence to complete it. Lines are not uniform, some letters are hard to read, there are misspellings, etc.
The Copper Scroll is most fascinating because 63 of the 64 locations described listed staggering quantities of gold and silver. There are even some large unnamed items that very well could be the 10 missing 1st Temple menorahs and Tables of Showbread.
In total, there was over 345,000 pounds of gold and silver listed, not counting the 10 menorahs and 10 Tables of Showbread. That's over $5 trillion! Certainly enough to entice the Russians to "devise an evil plan." (Ezek. 38:10)
But, as the commercials always say, "That's not all!"
More to the story...
2Maccabees 2:1 (granted it's not part of inspired Hebrew scripture, but heavily relied on and quoted by Jewish historians) mentions that Jeremiah, another of God's prophets at the same time of Zechariah, made records of the Temple inventory. He even warned those helping him make the records not to be "led astray in their thoughts upon seeing all the gold and silver."
The Maccabean text continues to say that Jeremiah then found a cave to store the treasure, including the Ark of the Covenant, and covered up the entrance saying the treasure would not be found until "God gathers His people together and shows His mercy."
Over the last 75 years, several Americans have raised and spent small fortunes looking for the Temple treasures in Israel. Most notably, John Allegro, Vendyl Jones, Oren Gutfield and Jim Barfield. Others, like Randall Price, go on yearly digs to find anything they can. So the area will eventually yield its fruit.
In the meantime, with each failure of discovery the chorus of naysayers who don't believe the treasure is real grows louder and louder. But all that gold and silver is hiding somewhere and will one day be found.
A Most Intriguing List
Several hundred years ago, some Hebrew scholars decided to try to locate these "other records" that Jeremiah mentioned. They found what they were looking for in the Emeq HaMelekh, which means "Valley of the Kings." In 1648, a Rabbi translated Emeq HaMelekh and his translations were discovered in 1992.
Emeq HaMelekh is a Hebrew account of five Temple guardians who hid the Ark, the Sanctuary and the Treasures of Solomon's Temple. Could those five be the same five guys on the Copper Scroll? Very plausible, to say the least.
Most importantly to this article, the Emeq HaMelekh has a lot in common with the Copper Scroll list of Temple treasures, but it lists about 100 times more pieces of gold and silver. Now we're easily into the mega trillions of dollars worth of gold and silver to be found.
To save space I have made an edited (but numerically accurate) recap of the Emeq HaMelekh. I have added calculated amounts in parentheses in today's dollars on some of the items to give you a feel for what it is saying.
[Note: A talent was approximately 75 lbs.]
These are the vessels dedicated and concealed when the Temple was destroyed:
The Tabernacle and the Curtain
The Holy Menorah
The Ark of the Testimony
The golden forehead Nameplate
The golden crown of Aharon the Cohen
The Breastplate of Judgement
The liver Trumpets
The Altar of burnt offerings
The curtain of the Communion Tent
The forks and the bread molds
The Table of Showbread
(The list continues with several pages of priestly garments)
These are the holy vessels and the vessels of the Temple that were in Jerusalem and in every place. They were inscribed by shimmer Halevi and his companions on a Lunch Nehoshef Copper Plate with all the Vessels of the Holy of Holies that Shalom son of David made. And together with Shimus were Hizkiyahu, Zidkiyah, Haggai the Prophet, and Xechariah, son of Berachiah, son of Iddo the Prophet.
These are the vessels of the Temple that were taken and buried in the ground:
The locking rods
The standing pillars of the courtyard
These are the Vessels:
1,200,000 silver Mizrakot (sacrificial basins)
50,000 fine gold Mizrakot (sacrificial basins)
600,000 bowls of fine gold
1,200,000 bowls of silver
500,000 trays of fine gold
1,200,000 trays of silver
500,000 bread mold of fine gold
1,200,000 bread molds of silver
On each of the molds there were 5 Margaliot/pearls and 2 precious gem stones. The value of each precious stone was 100 talents of gold ($180 million). The total value of all the Margaliot was 200,000 talents of gold ($360 billion).
36 golden trumpets
7 branched menorah of fine gold worth 100,000 talents ($360 billion)
77 tables of gold
7,000 talents of gold (Over $10 trillion)
3 rows of priceless stones, 7 cubits by 5 cubits
The counting of precious stones, Margallot gems, silver, and gold that King David dedicated to the great Temple was:
1,000,000 talents of silver ($18 billion)
100,000 talents of gold ($180 million)
600,000 talents of fine gold ($1.08 trillion)
All these were concealed, hidden and safeguarded from the army of the Chaldeans in a place called Borseef.
7 golden curtains with 12,000 talents of gold ($20 billion)
12,000 Levitical garments with belts
70,000 Levitical garments with belts, turbans and pants
All of these service clothes were concealed until the future to atone for Israel in the end of days.
David also made:
1,000 copper lyres overlaid with fine gold and 8 stones
All these were hidden and concealed in Ein Zidkiyah that the fittest men of Israel knew in secret, lest they fall, G-d forbid, into the hands of the enemy who hated Israel. These vessels are not to be used except to atone for Israel, thus concealed to prevent the Chaldeans from using them, G-d forbid. They hid them until the day when Israel will return to their former stature and reclaim eternal honor and worldly glory, and they find a man named David, son of David. The silver and gold shall then be unearthed to him, when all Israel shall gather and make a complete Aliyah ascent to Jerusalem. Amen.
These are the weights of silver concealed at Ein Kahal by Baruch and Zidkiyah:
1,200,000 talents of silver
1,600,000 of fine silver
2,000,000 pots of fine copper
1,100,000 pots of iron
3,000 frying pans of fine gold
Countless copper sinks and lavers
70 tables of fine gold
All those were concealed by Zidkiyah.
Treasures of gold and silver stored away from the days of David until Sidkiyah and until Israel was exiled to Babylon.
Hundreds of thousands of golden shields
Countless silver shields
353,000 precious stones
1,900,000 Korin of gold [no clue what that weighs]
All the prophets, wise men, and scribes in the world could not calculate the wealth and the glory that was in Jerusalem.
Twelve precious stones with the names of the Tribes engraved on them.
No king, prophet, or anyone else knew where they were hidden, excepting Hiluk, son of Shimus Halevi. All Israel concealed the Vessels until a righteous king arises over Israel. What's more, they all share a solemn vow never to reveal the whereabouts of these vessels until David, son of David, arises. All silver, gold, and Margaliot precious stones which were ever hidden away will be handed over to him when the exiles of Israel will be gathered from the four ends of the earth, and they ascend with greatness and exaltation to the land of Israel. At that time a great river will issue forth from the Holy of Holies of the Temple. Its name is Gihon and it will flow to the great and dreadful desert and become mixed with the Euphrates River.
End of Emeq HaMelekh
Well, there you have it. Trillions of dollars of gold and silver are still hidden somewhere in Israel. Not to mention those 3,000 gold frying pans! :-) And when they do find that incredible treasure, look up!
Luke 21:28 "But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
The Feast of Hanukkah, History And Prophecy - By Jack Kelley - https://gracethrufaith.com/topical-studies/holidays-and-holy-days/the-feast-of-hanukkah-history-and-prophecy/
He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. (Daniel 11:21)
In 175 BC Antiochus IV Epiphanes came to power in Syria by stealing the throne from his relative, Demetrius II, the young son and rightful heir of Seleucus IV Heliodorus. The original Seleucus was one of the four generals who divided the Greek Empire between them following the death of Alexander the Great. Thus Antiochus Epiphanes became the eighth descendant of Seleucus to sit on the throne of Syria.
Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant (Onias III) will be destroyed. With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South (Ptolemy VI of Egypt). The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. The king of the North (Antiochus) will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country. (Daniel 11:22,25,28)
Soon after taking power, on his way to invade Egypt, Antiochus invaded Israel, stealing all the gold and silver furnishings from the Temple. He had Israel's last legitimate High Priest, Onias III, murdered and from then on the office was sold to the highest bidder, with the money going to Antiochus.
The Birth Of The Sadducees
He began to "Hellenize" Israel and before long many of the wealthy and influential among the Israelites adopted the Greek style of dress, cutting their hair short and shaving off their beards as well. They also argued for a blending of Greek philosophy and culture into the Jewish way of life. From these advocates of Greek thinking, the political party known as the Sadducees was born, eventually growing to a position of prominence during the time of Jesus. It was the influence of Greek philosophy on their approach to the Hebrew Scriptures that blinded the ruling Sadducees to the fact that Messianic Prophecies were being fulfilled right before their eyes during the Lord's life on Earth.
"At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant. (Daniel 11:29-30)
Initially, this accommodation with Greek culture encountered only vocal resistance, but that all changed when the Egyptians rebelled and, with the aid of the Roman Navy, defeated Antiochus and drove him from Egypt. In a rage, Antiochus again invaded Israel, this time demanding that he be worshiped as God. (The name "Epiphanes" comes from a title he gave himself, "theos epiphanies" or god made manifest. After this the Jews started calling him "Epimanes" which means the madman.) He outlawed the reading of the Hebrew Scripture, punishing by death anyone found with copies in their possession. Circumcision, praying, keeping the Sabbath, and worshiping the One True God were likewise proscribed with severe penalties for disobedience.
"His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him. (Daniel 11:31-32)
Put The Hammer Down
In 168 BC Antiochus again broke into the Temple, converting it into a pagan worship center in honor of the Greek god Zeus (called Jupiter in Roman mythology). Instead of the blood of bulls and goats, he sprinkled water in which pork had been boiled in the Holy of Holies, and slaughtered pigs on the altar. Then he erected a statue of Zeus in the Holy Place, with his own face on it, thereby proclaiming himself to be God. Because it rendered the Temple unfit for worshiping God, Jewish historians called this act the Abomination that Causes Desolation, the only event in history so named. It triggered the Maccabean Revolt.
The Maccabean revolt was one of the world's first guerrilla wars. It was fought under the command of Judeus Maccabeus (Judah the Hammer). Regaining possession of the Temple in 165, the Jewish people smashed the polluted altar and the statue of Zeus, grinding both to powder, and then built a new altar from uncut stones.
Next they set out to cleanse the Temple and re-dedicate it to God, an eight-day process (2 Chron. 29:17). But they could only find enough sacred oil to light the Menorah (the 7-branched lamp stand in the Holy Place) for one day, and the law required that it be lit constantly for the entire 8 days. Because the preparation of sacred oil was a time consuming process, they decided not to wait, but to use the oil they had to light the Menorah immediately, trusting that God would find this acceptable. God was pleased and made the oil last for the full eight days until the new supply was ready and the re-dedication complete.
Eight Is Enough
Those who study the symbolic use of numbers in Scripture know that eight is the number of New Beginnings, and indeed the Maccabean victory over the Syrians ushered in a new era, known as the Hasmonean Dynasty. During much of this period, which lasted till about 64 BC, Judea, as Israel was known at the time, enjoyed independent nation status, having finally won their freedom from Syria. Following other Hasmonean victories, the Jews regained boundaries that nearly approximated those of Solomon's time. Jewish rule was exercised throughout the expanded nation and Jewish life flourished once again. A New Beginning for the Children of Israel.
The Feast Of Dedication
The miraculous burning of the oil is still celebrated in the eight-day Feast of Hanukkah, from the Hebrew word meaning dedication. It's also called the Festival of Lights and this year it began at sunset on December 12 (2017) on our calendar.
To celebrate Hanukkah, a special 9-branched candelabra is used, with eight branches commemorating the eight days when the oil kept burning. The ninth branch, called the Shamash, is usually positioned above the other eight. Its candle is always lit first and then used to light the other candles, one each day, until on the eighth day of Hanukkah all are lit. The Hebrew word Shamash means servant, so the Shamash is the servant candle that's raised up and gives light to all the others.
Incredibly, the Hanukkia, or Hanukkah candelabra, becomes a beautiful model of the Messiah and His church. It was the Lord Jesus, the obedient servant, who was raised up (John 3:12) and gives light to all others (John 8:12). For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve. (Mark 10:45)
If you've read our studies on the Lord's probable birth date, you know I believe He was conceived during the Feast of Hanukkah and that His life, like all others, began at conception. If so, the Hanukkia is a fitting reminder that the Light of the World arrived during the Festival of Lights, ushering in a New Beginning for all mankind.
History To Prophecy
We know that the Levitical Feasts of Israel have both a historical and a prophetic fulfillment. For example, Passover commemorated the Jews' freedom from bondage in Egypt and looked forward to the Messiah freeing us all from the bondage of our sins. The prophetic aspect of the Spring Feasts was fulfilled in the Lord's 1st Coming, the summertime Feast of Pentecost commemorated the giving of the Law and was fulfilled in the giving of the Holy Spirit, and the Fall Feasts commemorated God's dwelling among them and will be fulfilled in the 2nd Coming. Hanukkah is not a Levitical Feast but I think it has an important prophetic fulfillment like the others.
In reviewing the history of Hanukkah, I'm sure you spotted the similarity to events yet future to us. One day soon a man will arrive on the world scene. He'll become very powerful very quickly, assuming a leadership position that's not rightfully his. Many will give their loyalty to him and he'll conquer most of the world. Even in Israel, many will favor accommodation with him, some even thinking he might be the Messiah. (John 5:43)
But then he'll stand in the Holy place and declare that he's God (2 Thes. 2:4), another Antiochus Epiphanes. He'll have a statue of himself erected and put in the Holy Place to be worshiped (Rev. 13:14), another Abomination of Desolation, the one Jesus warned about in Matt. 24:15. Just like his predecessor, he'll demand to be worshiped as God on pain of death, and make everyone swear a pledge of loyalty to him. He'll put a stop to the recently instituted Temple sacrifice (Dan. 9:27) and try to erase every trace of the legitimate God from the world. He'll wage war against those who oppose him, but they'll fight back in another war of resistance. After 3 ½ years he'll be defeated (Dan. 12:7) and the defiled Temple will be cleansed and made ready for use again during the Millennium, another Feast of Dedication. And Israel will again experience a period of untold peace and prosperity, expanding fully to its originally promised dimensions. Jewish rule will be exercised throughout the expanded nation and Jewish life will flourish once again (Isaiah 65:17-25), another New Beginning for the Children of Israel and for all the world. Happy Hanukkah.
The Last Days & Preparing to Meet the Lord: Part 4 - By Sean Gooding -
"Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law."
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the end amongst conservative Bible believers. I have had many discussions about the end, and I find that there is an urgency that is driving us in many areas. I can say that it is invigorating to me and a bit scary as well. In Matthew 25:21 we find these wonderful words from our Lord Jesus:
"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!'"
These are some of the sweetest words one will ever hear. Just this morning my wife and I had a discussion about 'are we using our talents wisely?' Will we have profit to offer the Lord on the talents that He has entrusted us with as a family, she as a wife and me as a husband and pastor. Will I/Will we be able to offer our Lord a return on His investment in us?
This is where the proper teaching of the Bible is so important. When the scriptures are properly revealed to us, we can find the ways to live pleasing lives to and for our Lord. But every day we can see that there are men and women who abuse the Holy Scriptures by taking them out of context, using partial verses simply to make their point and - as we used to say in seminary - some preachers look for a verse to blame their sermons on.
We look at passages like Matthew 25:14-29, and we see that Jesus is picturing for us the kingdom of Heaven. Here we see that His servants are given monies according to their abilities, and each one then has to give an account of the way that he invested that money on behalf of the Master. It would be easy to make this a salvation passage if one does not take the time to study. But it is not. It is about saved people answering to the Lord for their lives after the point of salvation.
In many modern churches there is a lack of teaching on the end, the very times that we are in today. Many saved persons have no clue that they too will face a very harsh judgment - not about Heaven and Hell, but about being in the will of God and led by the Holy Spirit. I touched on this a bit last time, and I want to expand on it a bit today. The idea that we will be judged is foreign to a lot of God's people, and too many are not going to be prepared to offer God any return on His investment; sadly, they will suffer great loss. The loss of opportunity and the loss of responsibility in the coming Millennial Kingdom. This Kingdom is spoken about in Revelation 20:4-6:
"And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years."
We again find reference to this Kingdom in Isaiah 11:6-9:
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
All throughout the Old Testament, it was prophesied about the new Kingdom that would come. Jesus spent the first half of His ministry life talking about the new Kingdom. The Jews could not see, and even the apostles did not see the gap between Jesus' first and second comings. But here you and I are in the gap. Almost 2,000 years have passed since Jesus ascension, and we are nearing the Rapture. There are a lot of writings about the Tribulation and the judgment that will be executed here on earth, but there are not many who talk about our judgment, our time to stand and give an account. Jesus was very, very adamant about our accountability. In 1 Corinthians 16:13 we see this charge:
"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong."
Stand fast and behave like men. Be strong. The term stand fast is a military term; it means to stand your ground and defend that space until the death. Soldiers had to be adept at fighting and committed to orders in the face of great danger and loss of life. This is the command made to us. What happens when a soldier abandons his post? He is arrested. In the days that the Bible was written, he was executed. Jesus expects us to take the command to behave like soldiers and be men very seriously.
Too many men are not soldiers in the cause of Christ; we are cheerleaders on the sidelines. Some can't even do that. Sadly, too many are asleep at the wheel and cause more hurt than good. You may say, "Hey Sean, where is the call to women?" Men need to wake up and remember that God is not a SJW, and He is not, nor ever will be a feminist. Men, you will be judged first. God made you first; He gave you the first responsibilities in Creation; and He spoke to Adam first even though Eve ate of the fruit in the Garden first. Men need to wake up and realize that we cannot hide behind our wives. God expects us to behave like men and take some responsibilities and show some leadership.
While the inhabitants of the earth are going through the Tribulation down here, we will be answering to the Lord for our lives. Were we Light and Salt? Were we faithful servants? Did we love God will all our hearts, souls, minds, and our strength? Did we put God first in everything? You get the picture.
I want to expand a bit about the Holy Spirit in our lives. To do this we need to take a look at the church in Laodicea from Revelation 3:14-22:
"And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'-and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked- 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
"19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."'
No era of the Lord's churches has had the wealth that many modern churches have today. The church I pastor, though small, can endeavor to do many things. Many of our members make a decent living, and the tithes are given faithfully. According to many surveys, the average person gives about $20 each time they attend a church service. For example, a church that has a regular attendance of 1,000 on a Sunday morning will collect about $20,000 each morning service. That is over $1,000,000 per year with 52 Sundays per year. I know of one of our Sister churches that annually collects close to $250,000 just for missions. This is not their general-fund income. Imagine what a church of 5,000 or 10,000 will take in for an offering each service.
It is clear to see that the Laodicean church is a picture of a lot of churches in our time. Notice verse 17: 'I am rich and wealthy and in need of nothing.' We have so much money and resources that we can indiscriminately do the work of the Kingdom and miss the point that if what we do is not led by the Holy Spirit, we are not in obedience. Look at God's assessment of the same church, verse 17(b) 'you are wretched and poor, miserable, blind and naked.' Why are they this way? Because Jesus is not the Head and Life of this church; their activity is. They are busy doing the Lord's work without the Lord.
Every decision we make should be Holy-Spirit led; Where do we send money? To whom do we send money? How much do we send? On and on we can go.
In Acts 16:6-10, we find Paul's call to go to Macedonia. Where he wanted to go was not bad, just not God's will at that moment for Paul:
"Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them."
This is an example of good works; the right work, led by the Holy Spirit for God's glory only. Paul wanted to go one way, but the Holy Spirit led elsewhere. The desire to go was good, but where to go was God's business.
Whether we are an individual or a local church, the same guideline should apply. We need to ask the question: is this Holy-Spirit led, empowered and God glorifying? You and I should live knowing that we will be judged by Jesus the Righteous Judge, and He will expect us to have profit to offer for His investment in us. Will you have something to offer Jesus? Will I have something to offer Jesus? The Bema seat of Jesus, as described in 2 Corinthians 5:9-11:
Therefore, we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences."
Notice that Paul tells us that we should be aware of the 'terror of the Lord' in verse 11. Yes, the terror of the Lord. The One who can rebuke the storms, rebuke the demons, stop the sun, multiply fishes and loaves, raise the dead and defeat the grave is the very same God to whom we will answer. Did we behave like men? Did we stand fast for the truth? Were we strong? Are you, am I ready to give an answer? Heed the warning of James 5:8; the Lord is near:
"You too, be patient and strengthen your hearts, because the Lord's coming is near."
Come and See - By Pete Garcia -
Clearly, the idea of the Rapture can be considered the most preposterous belief in Biblical Christianity. The situation regarding the doctrine of the Rapture is painfully similar to the famous quote by Dr. Richard Feynman, speaking of quantum physics: I think it is safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics... in fact, it is often stated of all the theories proposed in this century, the silliest is quantum theory. Some say that the only thing that quantum theory has going for it, in fact, is that it is unquestionably correct. Dr. Chuck Missler
Although Facebook and the internet have been useful tools in the spreading of the Gospel, they have become as of late, an increasingly hostile place for the Pre-Tribulation Christian. I wonder why so many who claim to be Christian (presumably loving Christ), have such hostility towards the idea that Christ will one day return for His Bride before the coming seven-year period known as 'The Day of the Lord'.
Some of the most visceral comments you will find, come not from the atheist or the Christian skeptic crowd, but come from other Christian's. Most unbelievers equate God to the 'Flying Spaghetti Monster' and reserve sarcasm for all eschatological views fairly equally. But it's the 'Christian', particularly those of the Reformed/Covenantal/Hebrew Roots/Amillennial/Preterist/Pre-Wrath/Post-Trib crowd who really, really hate the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Even more, hated still, is the Dispensationalist...Gasp!
As one who has often been at the receiving end of the blistering criticism, I am very cognizant of the fact, that most other eschatological views are at least tolerant of each other, yet remain united in their resolute intolerance towards the Pre-Trib view...which is telling. God does not give us complex, unknowable doctrine. (Eph. 3:3-5; Col. 1:9; 2 Tim. 2:7) God does not 'muddy the waters', but rather makes them clear. God does not give us confusing doctrine. (1 Cor. 14:33) He even gave us the Holy Spirit to make these things understandable for those who are in Christ. (John 16:12-15)
But Satan is still running this blue rock, (Luke 4:5; 1 John 5:19) and it means that the one view that has the most animosity towards it, receives the most derision, from the most diverse group of "believers" out there, can only mean that it is the one most under attack by our enemy for a reason.
So in order to prove why I know the Pre-Trib view, is the correct view...I drafted up a list of questions that other eschatological persuasions should attempt to answer to prove their side true. Now, I'm not offering a thousand dollars, this is simply for those who want to see if their view can withstand some simple reasoning.
Although many will attempt to refute the challenge I put forth here, they can't do so in any intellectually honest effort. They either have to twist the meaning or redefine terms to fit their eschatological viewpoint. The real issue in the varying eschatology's is not really eschatological in and of itself, but rather of one's understanding of ecclesiology.
For both the student and the scholar, there should be a desire to understand God's word, not simply for the sake of knowledge, but because growing in truth, promotes spiritual maturity. There are plenty of well-meaning, misguided believers out there that believe all kinds of things that probably aren't all that biblical, and that doesn't mean they aren't saved. Salvation is through the belief in and receiving of Jesus's atoning and redemptive work on the Cross. (1 Cor. 15:1-5; Romans 10:9-11)
Although we aren't saved by which Rapture view we hold too, we are either stunted or growing in how we mature as believers by which view we allow to filter our biblical worldview through. And although all the proof in the world will not convince those who obstinately hold to errant, eschatological views (the listed above), they will find out soon enough.
Jesus warns in His Olivet Discourse, that a time is coming, that is worse than ANY that mankind had ever seen before, or ever will. (Matt. 24:21-22) How then can the Christian stand in that day? The truth is, they can't, because they won't be there. That is not to say, that we will not be persecuted leading up to Daniel's 70th week, because we probably will. (Rev. 3:10) But persecution in and of itself is not indicative of the Church's need to enter into Daniel's 70th week. There has always been some form of persecution against the Church of God.
But that time was not designed for us; it is for Israel, the Jews, and the Christ-rejecting world. (Dan. 9:24; Jer. 30:7-11) Persecution just means that the world hates Christ, and we are Christ's body here on the earth, therefore, we too are hated. (John 15:18-25; Romans 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 5:30; Col. 1:18). And if we are Christ's body here on earth, don't you think at some point, He'd want it back? (John 14:1-3) Would He (who conquered death and hell) then subject Himself to the same judgment He unleashes upon the earth?
And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?" And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it...Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, "Come and see." Rev. 5:1-3, 6:1
The Last Days & Preparing to Meet the Lord: Part 3
- By Sean Gooding - https://www.raptureready.com/2019/11/29/last-days-preparing-meet-lord-part-3-sean-gooding/
"Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law."
We have clearly established the need for us to surround ourselves with the proper teaching of the Word of God. When there is clear, correct and regular teaching of the Word of God, society at large is restrained form doing evil. Sin is always there; we are sinners, all of us. But it is not as publicly flaunted as we see today. Sins that used to be done in the shadows, done in private and with some degree of shame are now flaunted as rights, and sin is paraded as normal; and all who oppose such liberties (rights) are intolerant. In Isaiah 5:20, the prophet laments the openness of sin in his day and comes to this conclusion:
"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
No better statement describes us right now as a society; good is being portrayed as evil, and evil as good. The shame once attached to sin is now being lifted, and that sin is being promoted as good. If one took the time to research the rise of pedophilia in our time, we will see that this is the last straw of human sexuality. There are still taboos associated with this sexual practice, but once society accepts that pedophiles are born this way, just as they say homosexuals are according to the law, then pedophilia will become acceptable as well. Go for yourself and research how many women, especially teachers, have been arrested for sexual interactions with their students, and you will see that pedophilia is just as prevalent among women as men.
Folks, we are in the last days. In Genesis 6:5, we see this assessment of mankind on the earth from God:
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
I fear that God would make the same assessment of us today. We are an evil people; and sadly, we are proud of it. We have no intention of repentance, no feelings of shame and no remorse. God is old- fashioned and narrow-minded, and we simply refuse to submit to Him. Jesus told us that as it was in the days of Noah, so it would be in the last days, and here we are. Matthew 24:37-39,
"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so, shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
The world thinks they have overpowered God; they mistake His gracious patience with either apathy or evidence that He does not exist. Well, like it was in the days of Noah, soon the first raindrops will fall; and it will be too late for billions of people. When those raindrops fall, for us it will be the Rapture; this will signal the beginning of God's judgments here on earth for a 7-year period as He prepares a people for the Millennial Kingdom. But while God is pouring out His wrath on the earth, we, the saved, will be facing our own judgment. We are told this by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:8-10,
"We are confident, then, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we aspire to please Him, whether we are here in this body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive his due for the things done in the body, whether good or bad."
We "must all appear," we are told, before the judgement seat of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 3:11-13, Paul writes this,
"For no one can lay a foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, his workmanship will be evident, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will prove the quality of each man's work."
Here we have it; the foundation is Jesus. He is our salvation. In Him we have eternal life. If you are at this judgment, the issue here is not heaven or hell. But what did you do with the wonderful foundation that Jesus laid in His life, body and blood for you? Verse 15 tells us that if a man's work is burned up by the judgment of fire, he, himself is saved. But there is a loss of rewards.
This brings us to what we have been discussing over the past few weeks, the fact that - as the Lord's people, seeing where we are in history and with full understanding that we are in the last days - we should be living in such a way that shows we are prepared or at least preparing to be judged. Sadly, a lot of churches do not teach about the end times. A full 25% of the scriptures deal with the end, the return of Jesus is prophesied by the OT prophets, it is reiterated by the NT writers, and we should take these warnings seriously.
We have explored the verse from Proverbs 29:18 about the proper teaching of the Scriptures being a restraining power in the lives of a society and especially in the lives of the children of God. We also looked at 2 Timothy 3:16-17, verses that tell us the Bible is given by God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof and correction and then to equip us to do good works. These are the works that will NOT burn up when we are judged. See 1 Corinthians 3:11-13 again.
In addition to the above verses, we also looked at Romans 12:1-2. These verses give us the process of how we are transformed from doing evil works to good works as we grow in the Lord. Let us establish that normal people can do what appears to be good works on the outside. They can love their wives, love their children, serve their community and help their fellowman, and all looks good. But the problem is that they have not been reborn in Jesus (John 3:3). The inner man has not been changed, so all these good works account for nothing. However, once a person is saved, redeemed by Jesus and washed in His blood, these same actions now have the potential to become good works.
The process begins, as we discussed, with us surrendering ourselves to the Lord. Luke lays this out for us in Luke 9:23,
"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."
Yes, you read that right; deny yourself. Once saved, we must begin the process of surrendering control of our bodies and lives with our dreams and hopes to Jesus. As we daily do this, the Holy Spirit takes the Bible and begins to show us 'reproof and correction,' helping us to stop being conformed to the mindset and actions of the world system. He, the Holy Spirit, begins to call us out on things with the intent on changing the way we think. This bring us to the final stage of transformation to aid us in doing 'good works.'
Transformation - Romans 12:1-2
The word for transformation in Greek is the root word from which we get our English word metamorphosis. In 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, Paul writes this,
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation."
This is the whole idea of metamorphosis. We know the process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly; the caterpillar is cocooned, turns to liquid, and over a process of time transforms into the beautiful butterfly. One cannot have butterflies without caterpillars. Well, you and I are being transformed by the Holy Spirit in us, who changes us from the inside out just like the caterpillar, and makes us beautiful in Jesus. This is a process that affects every aspect of our lives, beginning with the way we think. Paul calls it the "renewing of our minds."
Let me give you one of the ways that we can be transformed, and I want to stress that this is a lifelong journey. Just read the Gospels and see how frustrated Jesus got with the lack of insight with the men who would become the apostles. But Matthew offers us this lesson in transformation from Matthew 6: 25-34,
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you-you of little faith?
"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Learning to stop worrying is a 'good work'; the idea of total and confident dependence on the Lord for everything is part of our transformation. Jesus will supply. He must; He promised to. We stop gauging our lives by the measures of the world: how big your house is, what car you drive, what clothes you wear and how big your bank account is. Rather, you seek to invest in the Kingdom of God first, no matter the cost, and learn to be contented with what you have here. Notice that this good work includes not doing something. This is part of the transformation that we are to experience. Not just that we do some things, but that we STOP doing seemingly insignificant things. How about this that we find in Romans 12:10-11,
"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Putting others first, thinking of how our lives and our actions will affect our weaker brothers and sisters in the Lord."
Paul writes this way about taking liberties. Galatians 5:13,
"For you, brothers, were called to freedom. Only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity to gratify your flesh, but through love make it your habit to serve one another."
In the garden of Gethsemane that fateful night before Jesus was crucified, He was there not for His own sin but ours; not for His redemption but ours; and not for His failures but ours. He tells Peter that in His freedom He could ask God the Father for 12 legions of angels, and they would show up and make an end of the Roman arrest that was going on. But Jesus considered our needs, He considered the Father's will, and He endured the cross. We are not in danger yet of being called to die for the cause of Christ, but we can begin by denying ourselves some of our liberties so as not to be a stumbling block to our fellow saved family. This is part of the transformation that takes place; I become second to the Lord and others. Me gets demoted to second, maybe third, maybe 100th, whatever it takes to build up a brother or sister. Good works always come from the heart of a servant to Jesus.
One day, maybe sooner than you and I think, we will be called to stand at the judgment and give an account of how we lived our lives once we found the solid rock of Jesus as our Saviour. Let us begin to be ready for this and give our bodies, our minds and our lives over to Jesus to be transformed into His image. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18,
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."