Sunday, June 2, 2013

"The New Testament is in the Old, concealed; the Old is in the New, revealed.

A book that is highly Messianic that is recognized by both Jews and Christians is Isaiah. The Old Testament prophets often,  intertwine multiple, related events, such as when Isaiah spoke of  “God coming with vengeance” and “proclaiming liberty to the captives,”opening the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, the lame shall leap like a deer the mute tongue shout for joy (Isaiah 35:3-6)

And in Isaiah 63:4 For the DAY OF VENGEANCE was in my heart, and the year of MY REDEMPTION HAS COME.  The word "redemption" used here is the identical word used in Romans 3:24; 8:23; I Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:7,14, speaking of the redemption of salvation. The language used by the prophets Isaiah closely connects the coming of the Lord with both salvation and vengeance (judgment).    Now let see how John the Baptist's believed these events would be  revealed and fulfilled during his lifetime.

Some of John the Baptist's disciples came to Jesus on his behalf to ask the question, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?" (Luke 7:18)   Earlier before his imprisonment he made this bold announcement to the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Who warned YOU to flee from the (wrath to come) Matthew 3:7?    "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:12)

So why would John send some of his disciples asking Jesus, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?" Lest digs into the setting surrounding John’s question from the beginning.

Matthew 11:1-6 NIV After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”  Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

In other words, Jesus told John’s disciples to go back and tell John what you have seen and hard I am filling the prophecy of Isaiah 35:3-6 the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.

Luke’s account repeats the question. The first time the question is spoken by John to his two disciples. The second time the question is spoken by the disciples. The wording of the two questions is the same. The question which John’s disciples asked Jesus is precisely the question John  instructed them to ask.

We will not appreciate this passage of Scripture unless we begin by understanding the seriousness of his question.   Here we have John the Baptist asking Jesus whether He is the one who was prophesied to come.  Long passed the day when John baptized Jesus.   When he himself saw the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus.    John here is not openly questioning God, nor does he question himself or his ministry.  John is not questioning the fact that the Messiah will come.  John questions if Jesus is the coming Messiah.  While John the Baptist was a great man, he was not perfect as all of us. This was the worst moment of John’s life. He is imprisoned and he is about to lose his life.

John’s task was to condemn Israel’s sins and to warn them of the impending judgment of God on that generation.  (Matthew 3:7-8)   The very same generation Peter warned his audience to be saved from.   Act 2:39-40 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation."  

John fully grasps the prophecies of Isaiah 35:3-6 and Isaiah 63:4 thus the coming of Messiah, but when he heard about all the miracles that Jesus was doing and there was no vengeance of God that led him to begin to doubt, that Jesus might not be the Messiah.    John was already in prison by this time, and fairly soon he would face execution.  John knew his purpose had been fulfilled, and with great eagerness he handed the reins over to the One he had so faithfully proclaimed.  

 John’s ministry was finished, the crowds were gone, and John was left alone in prison with only a few disciples who came to visit him. John was hoping that Christ would reply to his question so affirmed that he would know the sacrifice of his own life would be worth it?  Thus John sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another."

 So, in response to the question, Jesus instructs John's disciples to tell their jailed leader what they have seen and heard: healing, dead people raised, good news preached to the poor.   Jesus is saying those who read the Old Testament scriptures, and see what He doing will recognize Him as the One Isaiah promise.

There is another important point about John that must not be overlooked.   John had very little contact with Jesus. From what Luke tells us in his gospel, we would have to conclude that Jesus and John were virtual strangers. There was the contrast between Mary and Elizabeth, at which time John leaped in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:41), but early in his life, John began to live a secluded life in the wilderness.  The only way that John recognized Jesus as the Messiah was by means of the Spirit’s descent upon Him (John 1:29-34).

The point here is that John did not have a close relationship with Jesus, which might have assured him of Jesus’ identity and of His ultimate fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies, especially those Isaiah  had emphasized.   Jesus’ response to John was very simple.  He simply told John’s emissaries to tell John what they had witnessed: "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor" (Luke 7:22).

In effect, Jesus is suggesting to John the solution to his problem.  He is simply telling John to do what every saint must do compare the prophecies of the Old Testament with the deeds Jesus was doing. If Jesus fulfills these prophecies, then they bear witness to the fact that He is indeed the Messiah.

 Jesus assures John that he was Israel’s Messiah to come from the knowledge that the deeds and declarations of Jesus fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies which spoke of His healing ministry and of His preaching good news to the poor and the oppressed was being fulfilled.

John was a great prophet, but John was not perfect, as our text makes clear. All humans have a weakness.    However the point is John knows Israel’s prophecy was to be fulfilled in his generation and he was not wrong on that point.   God did not want anyone to perish so he waited another 40 years, then that vengeance/judgment John predicted come upon that generation.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Signs of the times before the end.

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, asking, what will  be the sign of His coming, and of the end of the age?’ (Matthew 24:3)   Jesus answered with a list of signs (see verses 5-26)

The first sign Jesus gave was false prophets and those proclaiming to be the Messiah.  Why would anyone still look for the coming of the Messiah?    Because they did not believe the Messiah has come in the first place.   We may not realize that the Jews for the most part did not expect the Messiah to be God in the flesh. They expected him to be human or more like David than God incarnate.  They expected the Messiah to be more like a military leader that would help overthrow the Rome yoke and restore the nation of Israel back to her former place in the world.

In fact the Jews believed if they did not get rid of Jesus Rome would take away their nation. John 11:46-48 But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. "If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the (Romans will come and take away both our place and nation)."

There were many in Jesus’ day that claimed to be the Messiah. In fact, during this period there were many false Christs like no other time in the history of Israel. It was probably due to the prophesies of the Old Testament. Books such as Daniel established a timeline for the coming of the Messiah. The people of that day knew it was about time for Messiah to make His appearing. And there were many who tried to fill the role of the Messiah.

Not long after Christ's ascension, the Samaritan Dositheus appeared and declared himself the Messiah predicted by Moses. The book of Acts lists a number of these impostors. Gamaliel, who was a Pharisee mentions “Theudas who claimed to be somebody” Theudas persuaded a great multitude to follow him to the river Jordan which he claimed would divide the river Jordan to divide. (Act 5:36) The Roman procurator, Fadus, with a troop of horse, pursued them; slew the importer, and many others; and dispersed the faction. Josephus, the noted Jewish historian, also mentions Theudas.

At the time of Felix the governor (who is mentioned in the book of (Acts 23:24), said the country of the Jews was filled with impostors who Felix had put to death EVERY DAY—a statement which indicates that there were "many" of such in those days!

After Theudas another false messiah, rose up named Judas of Galilee, who drew away some people after him (Acts 5:37). There also was an Egyptian impostor, who lead thirty thousand men into the wilderness to be murdered. Thirty thousand followed him, under the persuasion that from mount Olivet they should see the walls of Jerusalem fall to the ground at his command, for their easy capture of the Roman garrison there; and their taking possession of Jerusalem. They were attacked by the Roman governor; four hundred were slain; and the rest dispersed. The Egyptian importer escaped for his life. (Acts 21:38)

Of the false messiahs, Simon is probably the best known: Acts 8:9-11 Now there was a certain man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city, and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, ‘This man is what is called the Great Power of God.’ And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts.   According to Irenaeus, Simon claimed to be the Son of God and creator of angels. Jerome says that he claimed to be the Word of God, the Almighty. I am the Comforter, I am all there is of God." (Kik, An Eschatology of Victory, 92).

Josephus, the historian, verifies the fact that near the time of Jerusalem's fall, many false Messiahs appeared, claiming to be the Christ. He says these became more numerous before the sieges of Titus. Such figures played a leading role in the Jewish revolt in late A.D. 66 that led to the Jewish War.

Many false Messiahs appeared, engaging to break the Roman yoke, if they would follow him into the wilderness; but the deceiver and his followers soon fell a sacrifice to the vigilance of Felix the governor.. Christ had said to the Jews, ‘I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not. If another should come in his own name, him will you receive.' How prone are men to deception.

Wars and Rumors of Wars.

“You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end (Matt. 24:6)."

Perhaps we have heard the expression “Pax Romana.” This speaks of a time of peace and prosperity that Rome, supposedly brought to the world from 27 B.C. to A.D. 180. However, there was one period of time during this reign that was anything but peaceful. In fact, wars and rumors of wars is a very good description of this period especially for Israel. This, of course, is the years preceding the destruction of Jerusalem.

In A.D. 60 skirmishes between the Romans and the Jews began to break out. Wars and rumors of wars increased dramatically. When the Jews stopped the daily sacrifice for Caesar and the Roman people, the conflict intensified. This was considered an act of war.

Armies surrounded Jerusalem four times in all.

In A.D. 66 Cestius led Roman armies against Jerusalem. However, for no apparent reason he broke off his attack and retreated. The Jews pursued and killed many Romans thus humiliating the Roman army. This helped create the false assumption that God was on their side.

In A.D. 67 Vespasian led armies in the siege against Jerusalem. However, at Nero’s death, Vespasian withdrew his armies and returned to Rome.

After the death of Nero, Rome fell into civil war. Nations did rise against nations. Rome fell into chaos as the various factions vied for power. In fact, this period was so terrible that it was believed this was the end of the Roman empire. However, Vespasian was able to seize power and regain order. Then he turned the full might of Rome to unfinished business with Israel.

In A.D. 68 Idumeans from the south of Judea camped about the city. They had come to join zealots inside the city. A battle ensued in the temple area where 8,500 people lost their lives.
A.D. 70. The final one. This of course was Titus. Over a million people died in Jerusalem alone. Biblical Judaism has not been practiced anywhere in the world since.

The Jews rebelled against Rome so often there were always rumors of wars. Josephus records the fact that Roman civil wars were so common in the empire during this time that there was no need to write about them in any great detail. This occurred in Jesus’ contemporaries..

Famines and Pestilence.

It should be noted that some of the best manuscripts omit the word “pestilences” in this passage. However, where there is famine, there is always pestilence.)

Both the Bible and the historians of the day show that indeed famine and pestilence did occur before the time of the end. The Bible speaks of famine in Acts 11:27-29. The famine was so great that the church as far away as Corinth participated in relief efforts (1 Corinthians 16:1-5, Romans 15:25-28).

The historians of the day wrote extensively about famines in that day. Secular historians such as Tacitus wrote that famine fell upon the entire Roman Empire. It was established that at one point there was no more than fifteen day’s supply of food in the city of Rome. Josephus said there were famines leading up to the time of Jerusalem’s destruction. He records the consequences in graphic detail.

One woman who had lost everything but her baby to blood-thirsty Jews, then killed her baby son, “and then roasted him, and ate the one half of him, and kept the other half by her concealed.” When the seditious men smelled “the horrid scent of this food, they threatened her, that they would cut her throat immediately if she did not show them what food she had gotten ready. She replied, that she had saved a very fine portion of it for them and uncovered what was left of her son. She said this is my own son and he was killed by my own doing. Come, eat of this food; I have eaten of it myself.  The men left, trembling and frightened and the all the city came under distress when they heard about it. (Josephus pp. 443-444.)    Of course, we know that hundreds of thousands died from starvation during Titus’ final siege of Jerusalem.  

Finally, Titus turned hunger into his most formidable weapon. He had a siege dike dug around the entire city. All supplies were completely cut off. Starvation and madness filled the city. The bodies of the dead filled the streets. Zealot bands roamed the streets killing whole families for even a morsel of food. The stench became unbearable. Josephus wrote that the Jews themselves did far more to destroy Jerusalem than the Romans ever did.   This occurred in Jesus’ contemporaries..

And earthquakes in various places.

Did significant earthquakes happen near the time of the end of the first century?    Absolutely.

In the writings of the first century historian Tacitus we read a description of the conditions in A.D. 51 in Rome: "This year witnessed many prodigies signs or omens... Including repeated earthquakes." Josephus accounts that an earthquake in Judea was such a magnitude that "the constitution of the universe was confounded for the destruction of men."

He also wrote that earthquakes were "a common calamity", and indicated that God Himself had brought them about for a special purpose.   Then there is the book of Acts that records "a great earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison house" (Acts 16:26).   There were earthquakes in Crete, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Colosse, Campania, Rome, and Judea. Paul started churches at Colosse and Hierapolis. However, these two cities, along with Laodicea, suffered a great earthquake in approximately A.D. 61. Laodicea was rebuilt soon after the earthquake, but Colosse and Hierapolis were not.

The earthquake at the latter place was so destructive, that the emperor, in order to relieve the distresses of the inhabitants, remitted its tribute for five years. Both these earthquakes are recorded by Tacitus. There was one also, in the same region of Crete. This is mentioned by Philostratus, in his Life of Apollonius, who says, that 'there were others at Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, and Samos; in all which places Jews had settled.' In the reign of Nero there was an earthquake at Laodicea. Tacitus records this also.

It is likewise mentioned by Eusebius and Orosius, who add that Hieropolis and Colose, as well as Laodicea, were overthrown by an earthquake. There was also one in Campania in this region (of this both Tacitus and Seneca speak ;) and another at Rome in the reign of Galba, recorded by Suetonius; to all which may be added those which happened on that dreadful night. When the Idumeans were excluded from Jerusalem, a short time before the siege commenced. "A heavy storm (says Josephus) burst on them during the night violent winds arose, accompanied with the most excessive rains, with constant lightnings, most tremendous thundering, and with dreadful roarings of earthquakes. It seemed (continues he) as if the system of the world had been confounded for the destruction of mankind; and one might well conjecture that these were signs of no common events." All this occurred in Jesus’ contemporaries..

Persecution and Falling Away.

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Matt. 24:9-13)

This passage could not be a more accurate description of the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.   One only has to read the Bible.  The Bible records Jewish apostasy from the faith was already underway in the early 60s     John writes: They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it may be shown that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:19).  Some followers of Christ who remained zealous for the law and Temple system were departing from the new faith and falling back into the old ways. Thus, they had one foot in the Old Covenant and one foot in the New. The Judaizers departure from the church was evidence that they did not truly belong to the church. 

The book of Hebrews was written in an effort to keep believers from falling back into the Old Covenant world which was about to be judged.     It exhorts Christians to hold fast that they might partake of the glory that was about to be revealed. The book of Acts as well as the epistles speaks of intense persecution coming against the church.

The Jews of other sects (Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, etc.) had severely persecuted Christians in the attempt to stop them before they were firmly established.   These Christians provoked suspicion among the Judaizers who rejected the gospel.  Soon the Jewish authorities felt threatened by this oddball new religion and forbid Christians to speak the name of Jesus. (Acts 4:1-22)   The primary enemies of the Church in the early years were the unbelieving Jews.    Paul said, “Five time I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes” (2 Corinthians 11:24) as well as in ‘dangers from my countrymen’ (11:26).   

Then at Lystra,’... Jews came from Antioch and Iconiun, and having won over the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to dead’ (Acts 14:19)  Of course, when the unbelieving Jews instigated the Gentiles, they also joined in persecuting Christians. (Acts 14:2)  It shows how passionate the Judaizers hatred was against the Christians.   Luke closed the book of Acts recording in 23:14 how the chief priests and elders has made a great oath to even kill Paul. These Judaizers did everything they could to stamp out Christianity. This occurred in Jesus’ contemporaries..

The Gospel goes to all the World.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14

In our day there are many, are saying current missionary efforts are bringing the Gospel to the world and will usher in the second coming of the Lord.  While these endeavors are good, those who make such statements overlook one thing. This passage was already fulfilled in the first century.

How do we know? Very simply the Bible says so.

Romans 16:25-27. Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began, but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith—— to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
Romans 1:8. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

Romans 10:18. But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.”

Col. 1:5-6... the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth;

Col. 1:23. if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

The word that Jesus uses for world in Matt. 24 is 'oikoumene' which means 'land.' This word is generally used in the New Testament to denote the Roman Empire. However, no matter what world Jesus was referring to in Matthew 24, it is obvious that the inspired apostles considered this prophesy fulfilled. This is perhaps why there was an increasing expectation of the Lord’s return as A.D. 70 approached. All the signs pointed to the fact that end was near.

Abomination of Desolation.

“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Matthew 24:15 through Matthew 24:16"

The problem in seeing the fulfillment of this passages is not whether there was an abomination that led to the desolation of the temple.    It is deciding which abomination Jesus is speaking of here. There were so many abominations both in Israel and the temple as A.D. 70 approached that it is difficult to pick just one that fulfills Jesus words. There are three possibilities.

The Jewish Priesthood. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the whole temple system had become an abomination to God. Now that the Lamb of God had given Himself as a one time sacrifice for all, the sacrifices of the temple had become an insult to God. Every one of them was a denial of the Savior. Shortly before the cross Jesus had pronounced judgment on the whole temple system.

"And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” Matthew 21:13

Moreover, the priesthood of that day bowed to the power of Rome. At the temple, a twice daily sacrifice was instituted for Nero. When the Jews stopped this sacrifice in 66 A.D., it was considered an act of war.

Jewish Zealots. As the conflict between Rome and the Jews grew increasingly tense, bands of zealots rose to power. Many of these thought God would divinely deliver them from the hands of Rome. Many false Messiahs and false prophets arose from these groups. Among the zealots two came to power that could have been the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophesy.

Menahem In 66 A.D. Menahem was the son of a rebel named Judas the Galilean. Judas believed the Jews should have no ruler but God, and of course murder was the way to accomplish this. Menahem took his father’s philosophy to new heights by raising a powerful band of cutthroats. He overpowered his opponents who preferred peace with the Romans, and made a triumphant entry into Jerusalem dressed as a king. Menahem then took control of the temple and had the high priest Ananias put to death. He committed all sorts of abominations. Finally, when he was entering the temple dressed in royal robes, an angry mob seized and killed him.

John of Gischala Late in 67 A.D. John of Gischala rose to power. He was even more brutal than Menahem. He had tens of thousands of people put to death. Anyone who supported the Romans or desired peace was worthy of death in John’s eyes. The priesthood supported peace with the Romans, so they became his enemies. At one point he seized the temple with the help of the Idumeans and killed the high priest. So fierce was the fighting that 8,500 died on the temple grounds. John then appointed a high priest that was a mockery. John of Gischala continued his murderous rampage until Jerusalem fell in 70 A.D. He was captured by the Romans and lived the rest of his life in prison.

The Romans. The final abomination that brought total desolation to the temple was the Roman general Titus. He laid siege to Jerusalem in the most horrible way. Historians of the day record that the Romans were inhumanly cruel to the Jews during this time. The Jews in Jerusalem were surrounded by Roman cruelty outside the city. Inside zealots fought each other with murderous insanity. Starvation took hold, and many resorted to cannibalism. It is estimated that as many as 1.3 million Jews died during this last siege.

Titus finally entered the city and a great slaughter followed. He then set the Roman standard in the temple and declared the Caesar was god. What followed was the complete destruction of the temple. The Romans in their search for gold and insane anger against the Jews left not one stone on top of another. Eventually the site of the temple was ploughed under, and later a Roman temple was built on the site.

The Christians, however, remembered the words of the Lord and left the city when they saw the approaching chaos and desolation. It is uncertain when they left, but they are believed to have fled to Pella. One historian records that there is evidence that not a single believer died in Jerusalem during this great tribulation.

Here is what some of the early church fathers had to say about this time:

Eusebius (AD 260-340) was not only a leader in the church but also an historian. He gives us much insight into the Christian community of the first three centuries. He wrote concerning Matthew 24:

“All this occurred in this manner, in the second year of the reign of Vespasian according to the predictions of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…. The abomination of desolation, according to the prophetic declaration, stood in the very temple of God… which was approaching its total downfall and final destruction by fire.”

Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 153-193-217) speaking of the abomination of desolation of Daniel's 70th week prophecy pointed to this same time period. He said: ' in the one week; was He Lord. The half of the week Nero and in the half of the week he was taken away, and Otho, and Gaiba, and Vitallus. And Vespasian rose to the supreme power, and destroyed Jerusalem, and desolated the Holy place."

Earlier even that Clement of Alexandria, was Clement of Rome, who wrote to James and told him what Peter had to the Jews, thusly: "'For we;' said I, 'have ascertained beyond doubt that God is much rather displeased with the sacrifices which you offer the time of sacrifices having now passed away; and because ye will not acknowledge that the time for offering victims is now past, therefore the temple shall be destroyed, and the abomination of desolation shall stand in the holy place; and then the Gospel shall be preached to the Gentiles for a testimony against you....; 'When I had thus spoken, the whole multitude of the priests were in a rage, because I had foretold to them the overthrow of the temple...;'

Tertullian (145-220) told of how the coming of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem was a fulfillment of predictions that had been made in Daniel 9:26. He said: Accordingly the times must be inquired into of the predicted and future nativity of the Christ, and of His passion and of the extermination of the city of Jerusalem, that is, its devastation. For Daniel says, that 'both the holy city and the holy place are exterminated together with the coming Leader, and that the pinnacle is destroyed unto ruin; And so the times of the coming Christ, the leader, must be inquired into, which we shall trace in Daniel; and, after computing them, shall prove Him to be come, even on the ground of the times prescribed, of the consequences which were ever announced as to follow His advent; in order that we may believe all to have been as well fulfilled as foreseen.

"In such wise, therefore, did Daniel predict concerning Him, as to show both when and in what time He was to set the nations free; and how, after the passion of the Christ, that city had to be exterminated;, (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, p. 158).

St. Athanasius (296-372) "And when He Who spake unto Moses, the Word of the Father, appeared in the end of the world, He also gave this commandment, saying, "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another" [Matt. 10:23]; and shortly after He says, "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand); then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes" [Matt. 24:15]. Knowing these things, the Saints regulated their conduct accordingly."(Defence of His Flight [11])

Augustine (379) "Luke to show that the abomination spoken of by Daniel will take place when Jerusalem is captured, recalls these words of the Lord in the same context: When you shall see Jerusalem compassed about with an army, then know that the desolation thereof is at hand (xxi. 20). For Luke very clearly bears witness that the prophecy of Daniel was fulfilled when Jerusalem was overthrown." (vol. 6, p. 170)

Rooftops and Sabbaths.

"Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath." Matthew 24:17-20

These passages point to the fact that Jesus was talking to the people of His generation and not a generation in our day. In verse seventeen Jesus said “Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.” In that day they built single story dwellings with flat roofs.  The roof served as an extra room or a place to relax in the cool of the evening.   The flat top roof style of architecture is still around in Jerusalem, but folks don’t hang out on their roofs like they used to. With the advent of multi-story buildings and modern conveniences, this passage has lost much of it relevance for today. Rooftops in modern Jerusalem are still used by some people, but most everybody in Jesus’ day did extensively.

In verse 20 Jesus says “pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.” In the first century Jerusalem was a completely walled city. The gates of the city would be closed on the Sabbath. No one would be allowed to enter or leave. Moreover, if anyone tried to leave, they could be killed by the zealots of the day. Also, winter travel would be many times more difficult in the first century than it is today. This passage along with verse seventeen simply fits Jesus’ day much better than ours.

Great Tribulation.

“For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matt 24:21-22)"

The following is a thumbnail sketch of the Roman/Jewish war that led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. I have deliberately left out many of the graphic details of this conflict. However, if one reads the full account given by historians such as Josephus, it becomes quite clear that this period was the worst tribulation Israel had ever known or will ever know. When it was all done, the bodies of those who died from starvation and bloodshed filled the streets, Jerusalem was in complete ruins, and the temple was torn down with not one stone left on top of another.

The friction between Rome and the Jews began to intensify around 60 A.D. By 66 A.D. the situation had become a powder keg ready to ignite. Israel itself was deeply divided between those who favored peace with Rome and those who believed that God would deliver them from Roman rule. The chief supporters of peace were the temple priesthood and many of the rich and affluent Jews. Those who pursed war were known as the zealots. Many of these were fanatics that believed God had chosen them to deliver Israel.

Roman corruption and abuses led to open rebellion in 66 A.D., but when the Jews stopped the twice daily sacrifices for Caesar in the Temple, this was considered an act of war. This caused hostilities to increase dramatically. Menahem, a messiah figure, gained early success against the Romans killing many of them. He entered Jerusalem dressed as a king, seized the temple complex, and had the High Priest put to death. Menahem’s reign did not last long however. The people rose up against him and tortured him to death.

It fell to the Roman Cestius to put down the revolt. He marched against Jerusalem with about 30,000 men. However, when victory was within his grasp, he mysteriously retreated. The Jews pursed the retreating Romans and killed many of them. This was taken to be a sign that God was indeed fighting against Rome.

In A.D. 67 Nero appointed Vespasian to bring Roman order back to Israel. He began a murderous campaign in the Galilee region. Vespasian was the epitome of Roman cruelty and brute force. He killed every male in several cities, took the women and children into slavery, and then marched on Jerusalem.

Escaping the wrath of Vespasian was a man named John Gischala. Upon entering Jerusalem, instead of speaking of Roman victories, he spoke of their weakness. He roused the zealots into a terrible battle with those who wanted peace. A battle on the steps of the temple ensued where 8,500 men perished. Finally, John killed the High Priest and appointed a buffoon in his place. Once in control of the temple this zealot brutalized the city killing tens of thousands who were thought to support Rome.

In A.D. 68 Nero died. What followed was Roman civil war. Vespasian was forced to call off his attack. By A.D. 69 Vespasian sat on the throne in Italy as Roman Emperor. He turned Roman might to unfinished business with the Jews. Titus, the emperor’s son, was appointed to deal with Israel. He followed in his father’s brutal footsteps.

By this time insanity reigned in Jerusalem. Zealot groups with would be Messiahs fought each other. And those who wanted peace joined in. Josephus said that “Blood stood in lakes in the holy courts themselves.” At one point in an effort to burn each other out two zealot groups set on fire the grain reserves for the city. These could have sustained the Jews for years against a siege. In the mean time, Titus began his barbarous march on Jerusalem. The final siege began.

Even with huge siege engines and towers, the Romans had little success breaching the three walls of Jerusalem. The Jews mocked the Roman soldiers which only increased Titus' cruelty. The Romans stripped all wood for an eleven mile radius around the city and still ran out of wood for crosses to crucify the rebels.

Finally, Titus turned hunger into his most formidable weapon. He had a siege dike dug around the entire city. All supplies were completely cut off. Starvation and madness filled the city. Bodies of the dead filled the streets. Zealot bands roamed the streets killing whole families for even a morsel of food. The stench became unbearable. Josephus wrote that the Jews themselves did far more to destroy Jerusalem than the Romans ever did.

At last Titus gained access to the city. As he approached the temple, a battle broke out that was so fierce as to be inhuman. Still, Titus gave orders to spare the temple. However, in the ensuing madness the temple was set ablaze. Then the Roman general brought the Roman standard and offered sacrifices as the ultimate defilement. In an effort to salvage the gold that lined much of the temple, the Romans tore apart the structure leaving not one stone left on top of another.

Titus ordered Jerusalem to be destroyed and burned. Countless thousands met death at the end of a Roman sword. The rest were taken into slavery or killed later for sport. Josephus writes that after all was done, it was hard to believe that anyone ever inhabited the city. It is estimated that over a million Jews died in this conflict. This was the end of Biblical Judaism and the Old Covenant world.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Do not be unequally yoked together.

Another problem in the early Church for Paul to deal with, 2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV- Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? When Paul writes this he had his Old Testament scripture in mind. (Deut. 22:10) "You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together" (NASB).

For a proper cultivation of crop, it is necessary the sowing is done in straight furrows. Ox and ass are animals with different height, strength, walking speed and even mood. If some one plow the field with these two animals, the yoke put on them will not in full horizontal position, but somewhat lowered on one side. Ox may also walk faster than an ass. With the result, the furrows will not be straight, but zigzagged With the yoke being not in a good position, the plow cannot be straight upward to press it properly to till the ground. With such awkward furrows, it will be difficult to sow seeds in straight line with equidistance.

This will also make subsequent operations like weeding and lastly harvesting etc. In short, one can not successfully grow crop by plowing with an ox and an ass. To put it in other words, cultivation of crops by plowing with unequally yoked animals will not bring success.

Paul wrote this letter from Ephesus around 55 A.D. to the church at Corinth. This was near the end of Paul's three-year ministry in Ephesus during his third missionary journey. He notes that he plans to visit the Corinthians soon although as we see in 2 Corinthians, a letter written later in the same year, Paul did not make that planned visit.

Corinth was one of the chief commercial cities of the Roman Empire. Corinth was a large, bustling, wealthy city. It had two ports and was a most important trade city. Corinth was one of the largest cities of the ancient world, and a center for trade and commerce. It had a strategic position between the Corinthian gulf and the Saronic gulf, and had two harbours. Ships from Asia came to Cenchrea, on the Saronic gulf. Ships from Europe came to Lechaeum, on the Corinthian gulf. Because of its location, goods and people from around the world flowed in and out of its ports.

It was at the center of Corinth the apostle Paul established a flourishing church between the years 50-51 A.D., when he spent 18 months there on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-17). Corinth was a center for art, and religion. It contained a number of pagan temples including large ones to Apollo and Aphrodite. The city had a reputation for evil habit and, immorality, and debauchery. Its population has been estimated as in the region of a quarter of a million people.

This letter, composed three or four years later, was written in response to reports in a letter Paul received concerning problems in the church. Paul was always working hard, through many sleepless nights, caring for God’s bride.

After his departure, he maintained correspondence and care of the church (see I Corinthians. 5:9; 2 Corinthians. 12:14). During his three year ministry in Ephesus, on his third missionary journey (Acts 19), he had received unsettling information about some among the believers in Corinth. The letter reveals some of the typical problems of the Greek culture in Paul's days, including the great sexual immoralities of the city of Corinth. The Greeks were known for their idolatry, divisive.

The city of Corinth was filled with worldly minded people who flocked there to participate in gambling, and temple prostitution, and business adventures. The city had a bad reputation for its sensuality sexual immorality and temple prostitution. Its name even served to coin an expression that became famous for corrupt practices: "Corinthianize" meaning to engage in immorality. It was also a center for all kinds of idol worship.

The highest deity of Corinth was Aphrodite (Venus), the goddess of licentious loves, and around 1,000 prostitutes served in the temple dedicated to her worship. Not only was prostitution a recognized institution, but through the influence of the fertility cults of Asia Minor, Syria, and Phoenicia it became a part of the religious rites at certain temples.

This presented a problem for the Christians in Corinth. It’s pagan temple and its 1,000 temple prostitutes greatly influenced the city's culture and morals. Paul wrote two letters to the church in Corinth and both dealt with divisions in the church, as well as immorality and the abuse of Christian freedom.

Some within the Corinth church were visiting the temple and perhaps even engaging in the sexual activities (temple prostitutes, etc.) associated with their "worship" This problem was most likely the reason for Paul's emergency second visit to Corinth and the follow-up "Letter" 2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

The "unbelievers" that Paul describes in this passage were unconverted Gentiles who were involved in temple prostitution and idol worshipers of the cults of Corinth. To remedy the situation ,Paul wrote a letter to the church. With this in mind let us look at the situation Paul has in view as he described earlier in 1 Corinthians 6:15-10. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh." But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

The Lord’s people are the temple of the Holy Spirit and are required to maintain separated from members of a harlot, other people living around them who were part of temple prostitutes, and their "idol worship." 2 Corinthians 6:14 is therefore intended to bring about that separation.

Part 1 Old Traditions Die Hard The Circumcision Controversy.

Acts 21:21. This is a straight-forward verse, that shows how Paul was received the first time he came to Jerusalem. and introduced himself to the Jerusalem church when they thought Paul was teaching Jewish converts that they should abandon the Jewish customs of circumcise and that they no longer should follow the laws as given by Moses.

In Acts 21:18-19. The James mentioned here is the brother of the Lord Jesus and the current leader of the church at Jerusalem. Paul comes to the Jerusalem church not only bearing quite a bit of money as an offering but also giving a very good report of all that he had done in ministry. He has reason to be proud (in a good way) of what the Lord has accomplished through him. In the first part of verse 20, we can see how this good news is welcomed: the elders of the Jerusalem church praise God because of this. They are pleased and happy. But, like in many aspects of life there is a "then they said..." and they have to give Paul the "bad" news, so to speak, of Paul's reputation among the Jewish believers. In other words, they have to do some "damage control" and deal with a difficult situation.

What is the situation? People have been spreading lies that Paul had been teaching Jewish converts that they should abandon the Jewish customs and that they no longer should follow the laws as given by Moses. In Jerusalem, many of the Christian believers were Jews and, as described here "zealous" for the law. Acts 21:20 “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law,

What exactly was Paul teaching on this matter? We could easily spend all night talking about this, but let's look at just three passages to get a sense of what Paul believed. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. For the Jews' sake, Paul conformed to Jewish law, so as not to cause offense. However, he also made it clear that he did not believe that circumcision was a necessary requirement for God's acceptance or salvation and told the Galatian (Gentile) believers. (Galatians 5:1-6) "Is any man called being circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? Let him not be circumcised" (1 Corinthians 7:18). This describes the delicate tight-rope Paul had to walk/

He regularly taught in his writings about the freedom they have in Christ. If the Jews wanted to do a outward ritual that was apart of their Jewish heritage that was something between that man's conscience and God and not something that they can use to judge a person's relationship with Christ as long as they were not doing it for salvation.

Back to Acts 21. The elders know that Paul needs to do something publicly to set to rest this controversy surrounding him. The next few verses describe what they ask Paul to do. Acts 21:22-24 "Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. "Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law.

Let's review what this involved. Read Numbers 6:1-12. Notice that sacrifices were involved here, 2 doves or 2 pigeons and a lamb per person. Paul is being asked here not only to join in the purification rites, but also to pay for the expense of the sacrifices, as well as to notify the priests when their days of purification would be fulfilled so that they could prepare to do the sacrifice. (As we'll see in verse 26 of this chapter). WHAT Paul involved with animal sacrifices after the Lamb of God had come? Wow he really did became like a Jew, to win the Jews. (1 Corinthians 9:20) Again, this goes back to the freedom he had in Christ.

All this would have been a very public act and Jews of the community would have seen that Paul was willing to participate in Jewish customs. So Paul did what was asked of him and publicly demonstrated that he had no difficulty participating in Jewish rituals or in paying for them out of his own pocket. (Acts 21:26) This is a wonderful demonstration of Christian submission and love for his Jewish brothers who were steeped in old covenant rituals and signs.

Paul was a great leader in his own right and could easily of been very offended at being asked to do these things simply to make other people happy. Yet, he submits and is obedient to the elders, even paying for the privilege! Truly a great man of God.

Does the apostle Paul kept the Law of Moses under any circumstance? From Paul's own writing we read, " 1 Corinthians 9:19 -20 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.

Although Paul knew and taught everywhere that the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross and that no one was justified and obligated to keep its commands for salvation, Paul used the law that he might gain them that are under the law. When Jewish customs which would not compromise his Christian principles could be kept he did them.

Why did Paul circumcise Timothy but not Titus? To understand these two very different situations, the first thing we need to do is try to understand some of the social habits within the nation of Israel that were driving motivators. The Jewish people, like many other tribes, were determined nationality by male descent. God chose a man named Abraham and made a covenant that included being be circumcised as a covenant sign. Genesis 17:26-27 That very same day Abraham was circumcised, and his son Ishmael; and all the men of his house, born in the house or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.

If a foreigner resided with Israel and wants to celebrate the Lords Passover, and come as a member of Israel he too had to be circumcised Exodus 12:48-49 If a foreigner resides with you and wants to celebrate the LORD's Passover, every male in his household must be circumcised, and then he may participate; he will become like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat it. The same law will apply to both the native and the foreigner who resides among you."

So, if someone did not have a Jewish father but wanted to fully and legally join the Jewish people, they had to formally agree to follow all of Yahweh’s commandments For a male, that would include getting circumcised.

Timothy’s mother was Jewish and she had raised him in the Jewish practices from birth with the notable exception of circumcision. Timothy (was half-Jew and half-Greek) The Ancient Greeks and Romans valued the foreskin and were opposed to circumcision something they perceived to be a barbaric practice?

Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him so he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews that were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. Had Timothy refused to do this it would have seemed to the Jews he would witness to that he refused to identify with them; that he valued Greek, polytheistic and often anti-Semitic world views. In a similar case, Paul again chose to go along with following the Law in order to assure that He was not teaching rejection of Moses. Timothy’s uncircumcised condition would have posed a substantial barrier when he tried to witness to fellow Jews from a Jewish standpoint.

On the other hand, Titus was a completely different issue and Paul flatly refused to have him circumcised, stating that the truth of the gospel was at stake; that circumcising Titus would be itself non use to the gospel of justification by faith apart from works of the law.

For Titus, it was important to show that God accepted all no matter what the external appearance may be as decided at the Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15). His role was in converting Gentiles, not so much in converting Jews. He would have calmed some fears by his example, which showed you didn’t have to be circumcised to be a Christ-follower and a believer. Further, Timothy was part Jew; whereas Titus was full Greek.

Isn’t that amazing? Here in the bosom of the mother Church were ten-thousands of thousamds of messianic Jews who believed in Jesus who were still very much caught up in the Torah: “zealous for the law.” The early days of Christianity indeed had a very difficult time getting away from their long held Jewish heritage and Judaistic influences! It did not occur overnight. And the disciples used many of the things from their old Jewish heritage not for salvation but to win the Jews over to Christ.

Part 2 Old Traditions Die Hard The Circumcision Controversy.

Chapter15 of Acts records the first intimation of the great controversy in first century apostolic church, and of which we find traces in many of Paul's letters, the question whether Christianity was merely a development of the Mosaic laws or was it a New Dispensation that had supplanted the Old and taken its place.

At first the Jewish Christians of Jerusalem and Judea remained strictly Jewish, still keeping the ordinances of Moses. Acts 21:20 “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law.

There was a dispute between the men from Judea and Paul and Barnabas. Acts 15:1 Certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” These Jewish Christians (often called “Pharisees”) came to the congregation in Antioch and taught that Gentiles may become Christians, but only after first becoming Jews, and submitting to all Jewish rituals, including circumcision. "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."

It was very difficult for some Jewish Christians to accept that Gentiles could be brought (into the church) as equal members without first coming through the Law of Moses. As a side note many today have been taught "Israel is not the Church and the Church is not Israel. A lot Gentile idea on eschatology are built upon preconceived ideas. Yet in Scripture itself, one is surprised to discover that Israel in the Old Testament is repeatedly called the "church." Stephen tips us off to this fact when he calls Israel (the assembly) in the wilderness. (Acts 7:37, 38) “This is the Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people.’ He was in (the assembly) in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living words to pass on to us. Ekklesia, the Greek word translated "church" in the New Testament, is often used to refer to Israel in the ancient Greek version of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint (LXX).

“It was one thing to accept the occasional God-fearing gentile into the church, someone already in sympathy with Jewish ways; it was quite another thing to welcome large numbers of Gentiles who had no regard for the Mosaic, law and no intention of keeping it. These Jewish Christians were from Judea, and were not content to keep their beliefs to themselves, but felt compelled to persuade other Christians.

By their teaching, these certain men from Judea made a negative judgment on all of Paul’s and Barnabas’ missionary endeavors. On their recent missionary journeys Paul and Barnabas founded churches among the Gentiles without bringing them under the Law of Moses. These certain men from Judea said Paul and Barnabas were all wrong in doing this. Act 15:2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question. So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them.

You can imagine there was no small dissension and dispute with them. Paul and Barnabas saw God work so powerfully through the Gentiles and would not abandon that work easily. They determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem. As Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem, they found plenty of other Christians who rejoiced at what God did among the Gentiles. This was in contrast to the certain Jews from Judea. (Act 15:3)

Paul and Barnabas arrive to Jerusalem to have the matter settled by the apostles and elders and they reported all things that God had done with them. The Jews from Judea re-state their teaching. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”

If the Pharisees believed anything, they believed one could be justified before God by keeping the law. For a Pharisee to really be a Christian, it would take more than an acknowledgment that Jesus was Messiah; he would have to forsake his attempts to justify himself by the keeping of the law and accept the work of Jesus as the basis of his justification. These Pharisees up to this point had not learned the work of Jesus as the basis of his justification as Paul himself was a former Pharisee (Philippians 3:5) who became a Christian.. Paul wrote: knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (Galatians 2:16) These Pharisees who had become Christians had to do the same thing: Turn from their efforts to earn their way before God by keeping the law, and look to Jesus.

In the midst of a great dispute, the apostle Peter speaks to the issue. Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” (Act 15:7)

In saying, “Made no distinction between us and them,” Peter is referring straight from his vision of the clean and unclean animals, from which God taught him this principle: God has shown to me that I should not call any man common or unclean (Acts 10:28). Those of the sect of the Pharisees who believed thought that the Gentiles were inherently “common” or “unclean” (in the sense of unholy) and had to be made holy and clean by submitting to the Law of Moses.

Peter wisely answered answers their objection. Why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? Peter was correct when he observed that the law was a yoke which neither their fathers nor they were able to bear. At the birth of the nation at Mount Sinai, they broke the law by worshipping the golden calf. At the end of Old Testament history, they still broke the law by disregarding the Sabbath and marrying pagan women (Nehemiah 13). From beginning to end, Israel could not bear the yoke of the law.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The hope of Israel part 2.

The hope of Israel part 2.  Most of the Jews had the wrong hope, (Hope on the physical.)   Jesus came preaching spiritual things.  They hoped for a Messiah who would deliver them from under the Romans, and establish an earthly kingdom and that belief eventually became their demise! The Modern Gentile Church loves to put itself so high above the Jewish people saying; "Look they did not even recognize their own Messiah?" Yet the modern Church has almost reached its own disbelief in its (Hope on the physical).  There most be a physical return of Christ, with a physical kingdom, on earth and a physical resurrection from the dead!

Sometimes when you read a list, it can be boring.  However, this list in Hebrews 11 is an impressive list of Old Testament believers and their faith and hope.  Through faith and hope these Old Testament patriarchs obtained a good testimony.

Hebrews 11:35-40 Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.  Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented--of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.  
The Bible never tries to hide the fact that life is full of suffering and pain, tears and turmoil, difficulties and obstacles, sicknesses and even death.

These exemplars or “heroes” of faith that Paul mentions are intended to provide an exemplary incentive (12:1) for the Jerusalem Christians to respond in like manner.   Paul has been encouraging the Hebrews to persevere in faith, not to give up on their Christianity because of either trials and persecutions or their homesickness for the Judaism they'd grown up with.

The revolutionary zealots were demanding that the Hebrew Christians reconnect with their historical Jewish heritage, and join them in their military exploits to oust the Romans from their homeland, thereby allowing the implementation of all the divine promises to the Jewish people.

Paul wanted the Judean Christians to recognize that they were already connected with the historic faith of their forefathers by receiving the “better things” in Jesus Christ, that the complete fulfillment of God’s promises are in Jesus Christ (Romans 15:8, 2 Corinthians 1:20), and that their present need was to respond with a forward-looking faith and hope like that of their Hebrew forebears, anticipating and expecting the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises as they continued to remained faithfully steadfast in their endurance of the present situation.  This makes Paul’s comment all the more pertinent when he wrote, “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him”

He has told them to hold fast without wavering, not to shrink back, but to endure in their faith. To assist them, he gives them bunches of Old Testament examples of people that persevered in hope and faith. Why does Paul utilize a connect with the historical heritage of faith and hope in the old covenant?  Because his audience knew the history, it was easy for him to rattle off names, knowing that they would know of whom he spoke and the events.

Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses' and Rahab. No doubt Paul could go on and on with more examples if he had the time.  Noah is a hero named in the Hall of Faith. It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith. 11:7

Abraham receives much more than a brief mention among the heroes of faith. A good deal of emphasis (from Hebrews 11:8-19) is given to this biblical giant and father of the Jewish nation. While most of the Jews and the modern church today are looking for the fulfillment of God’s land  promises to be fulfilled in the physical.  Abraham looked beyond the types and looked for a city which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:9, 10)  We are told, here, that Abraham expected a city..   Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.   Abraham had that hope. 

Sarah, wife of Abraham, is one of only two women specifically named among the heroes of faith.  11:11 Sarah waited long past childbearing age to have a baby. At times she doubted, struggling to believe God would fulfill his promise. Losing hope, she took matters into her own hands. Like most of us, Sarah was looking at God's promise from her limited, human perspective. But the Lord used her life to unfold an extraordinary plan, proving that God is never restricted by what usually happens. Sarah's faith is an inspiration to every person who has ever waited on God to act.

Jacob, another of Israel's great patriarchs, fathered 12 sons who became head of the 12 tribes. One of his sons was Joseph, a key figure in the Old Testament. But Jacob started out as a liar, cheater, and manipulator. He struggled with God, his entire life.

The turning point for Jacob came after a dramatic, all-night wrestling match with God. In the end the Lord touched Jacob's hip and he was a broken man, but also a new man. God renamed him Israel, which means "he struggles with God." 11:21

Daniel prayed to the Lord in spite of the law that had been passed making such an act illegal. When he was cast into the lions' den as a death sentence, he survived the night because God was with him the lions' mouths were shut (Daniel 6).

When the king of Babylon insisted that his image be worshiped, the faith of Shad-RAK, May-SHAK, and Ab-ADE Neg-O.  They refuse to worship it. They were cast into the midst of a blazing, fiery furnace. And yet, because God was with them, they walked about in the midst of the fire without their hair or clothes being burned or even smelling like smoke (Daniel 3).

Weak and frightened men were made bold and strong..  Faith and hope have amazing effects on people - it transforms them, enabling them to take a stand against all odds.   Regular men whose only way to endure opposition, humiliation, and persecution was their faith and hope in God. But because they had hope, they did amazing things, incredible feats...

Paul tells us And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise. (Hebrews 11:39)  Paul is not saying that those who did not receive what was promised somehow missed out on God's blessings.   Just because some of them died while being tortured, some lost their kingdoms, and some didn't see the fulfillment of prophecies while they were alive doesn't mean they failed or got ripped off by their hope in God.

You see, all of these people of faith entered the afterlife with great reward.  They saw the promises of God afar off, and were assured of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth vs 13.

The true and complete fulfillment of the promises to Abraham and the others would only come in Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

Leading Jesus to say, “Abraham rejoiced to see My day” (John 8:56). The patriarchs caught a glimpse of the spiritual realities of Christ with the foresight of faith, and greeting those “yet unseen” things. Hebrews 11:16  But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

Messianic events with an embrace that extended across time. They admitted that they were “strangers and sojourners on the earth”  Genesis 47:9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, "The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage." For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. (Hebrews 11:14)

And in I Chronicles 29:15 For we are aliens and pilgrims before You, As were all our fathers; Our days on earth are as a shadow, And without hope. The temporary and transient residents of Canaan. They observed the “shadow-land” of Canaan, but looked forward in faith to the deferred “fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4) when the promises would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. 

The Jerusalem Christians need to “hold fast their confession”  At that time they too were in a similar situation as their forefathers, as “aliens and strangers on the earth” I Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

1Peter 2:11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.    They are strangers to this world by virtue of their new spiritual birth.  As God's sojourners and pilgrims these new testament saints look for the new city whose builder and maker is God also.  Hebrews 13:14     For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The hope of Israel pert 1.

The hope of Israel part 1.   I often hear if everything has been fulfilled what is our hope today?   My answer to that question is? What does the bible say about the "Hope of Israel"?  After all, the bible is about the hope of Israel’s patriarchs.   If the Bible shows their hope was fulfilled, then we need to move behind their hope into the full assurance of God’s promises to them.   Jesus said salvation was of the Jews/Israel. ( John 4:2)

To obtain a full answer to this question it is necessary that we search the Scriptures from beginning to end.   We turn back now to the Old Testament scriptures for the purpose of ascertaining what is foretold therein concerning the future of the Israel people.

First, we direct our attention to the patriarchal era, in order to learn what it was that the prophets of Israel foretold.  This is the proper place to begin our inquiry.   One of the two major passages on the hope of Israel in the Old Testament is found in Hosea.   Hosea 13:14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.    Here God explicitly associates ransom and redemption in the very same passage.   The people of I Israel made this association as well.   Paul writes,  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,  who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,  1Ti 2:3 6)    Mark writes,"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)     have we, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, been ransomed and redeemed? The answer to this question is a big yes.   

Consider another prophecy of redemption of the people of God: Isaiah declares.  And it will be said in that day: "Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."   (Isaiah 25:9)    Paul declares that God has already blessed them with redemption.  Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.

Lets see what else Isaiah declares on this subject:  Isaiah 62:11-12  Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. {12} And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.

Hebrews cannot be separated from Isaiah 62:11-12.    The phrase "not forsaken" can be related to Hebrews 13:5  where God says "I will never leave you nor forsake you," and then a few verses later declares that they were about to come to this city vs 14.    The theme of reward and  stood out in the minds of Jews.   Luke 6:23     Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.   

While the word resurrection does not appear anywhere in the Old Testament the understanding of the resurrection did by the Jewish patriarchies.   David demonstrated his faith and trust in God to deliver me from the depths of the grave.  For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.  Psalm 86:13 (NIV)  

Moving to the Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)  David, is contemplating total fellowship and joy in the  presence of the God.    You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.   Total fellowship to David was to be in the presence of God in the forevermore.

The same illustration of resurrection continues in Job 19:23-27 where Job says, I know that my Redeemer  lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet  in  my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!  When we looked at the Hebrew, we discovered that a more appropriate translation was "Yet out of my flesh I shall see God."

Prior to Jesus' Messianic work, no one went to Heaven-- where did people go when they died? They went to a holding place of the dead and waited for the atoning work of Christ and the resurrection from the dead.  In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for where they were prior to the resurrection is Sheol.   In the New Testament the Greek word is Hades.

Now that the Old Testament doctrine of the hope of Israel is clearly ...The message is the same throughout the apostolic history.  There is no uncertainty therefore regarding what Paul preached as the hope of Israel.    Paul was sent to Rome, and while under examination of Agrippa, he testified, saying:  "And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. "To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews.  Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?  (Act 26:6-8)     The hope of Israel in the Old Testament and New Testament never wavers.

Paul and all the apostles preached what God had promised afore hand totally out of the Old Testament.   It was their Bible.  Paul said he only taught what Moses and the prophets said would come concerting Christ. Acts 26:22-23 The whole of Scripture is a revelation of the one God, disclosing one single scheme of redemption and one covenant of grace that was promised to the Jewish patriarchies.  Jesus came to confirm those promises made to the Jewish patriarchies.   Romans 15:8  Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers. (Romans 15:8)  Our Bible is a Jewish book.

 Now, the question remains, are the dead raised? What exactly did Paul mean by "the resurrection"? The traditional gentile idea is at the end of time the Lord returns, the decayed bodies of the dead saints, are put back together, and their physically resurrected bodies are changed into spiritual immortal bodies like Christ's.    Does that sound like what you have been taught?   Problem Paul never says the dead are changed only the living..  (1 Corinthians 15:51)

I believe that this is probably the best description of resurrection is found in Romans 6:3-4 “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. The coming life was of the same nature as the death; but the death was not physical, therefore the coming life was not physical.

In Baptism they participated in Jesus' death. (Verse 3)  In Baptism they participated in Jesus life. (Verse 4) 

 Paul believed resurrection was deliverance from sin; sin-death;    Ephesians 2:1-5 (NKJV) And you (He made alive), who were (dead in trespasses and sins), 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when (we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ) (by grace you have been saved).   Emphasis added. 

Can Paul be speaking of physical death and life?   Obviously, physical death is not the death, they had experienced.   Christ has "abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."   What is the difference between “ made alive by God" and "God gives everlasting life"?
In Romans 11:7 the apostle Paul spoke of Israel's hope " What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened,
Here Paul said while the majority, of Israel had not obtained that hope, "the elect remnant of Israel had obtained it."  Therefore the elect, the remnant of Israel, had obtained the resurrection. “Past event.”

The writer of Hebrews gives us a list of Old Testament patriarchs who desired the heavenly country (Hebrews11:11:16). They did not accept deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. (Hebrews 11:35) Having died in faith, not receiving the promise, they were awaiting the promise of resurrection (Hebrews11:39-40). Although the time was then future, it was not in the far distant future for the city for which they looked was about to come. (Hebrews13:14)  New Testament evidence it is abundantly evident that there definitely was an "already-but-not- yet" aspect of the resurrection.

But wait one minute. Notice what the writer of Hebrews tells us about these patriarchs. He says they desired a better resurrection. Hebrews 11:35 Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.

In the book of 2 Kings, we learned of a Shunammite woman whose son complained of a pain in his head. Within a few hours, he lay dead in his mother's lap. By faith, the woman went to Elisha the prophet. Elisha raised the boy from the dead. (2Kings 4:25-37)

Shunammite received her son raised/resurrected from physical death back to physical life again. Most Christians today who insist physical resurrection is the point of the Bible would say it doesn’t get any better than that! But hold on one more minute rather than accepting deliverance Israel’s patriarchs desired a better resurrection than a physical one. That speaks volumes about their understanding of resurrection.  This cannot be over-emphasized.

The Holy Spirit was showing the way into the Most Holy Place (Heaven) had not yet been made open as long as the first tabernacle (Temple) was still standing. (Hebrews 9:8)   With the destruction of the Temple in A.D70 the way into heaven itself was now open and therefore the time of the resurrection of Israel’s  patriarchs.

In his prediction of the resurrection, Jesus was not predicting something new — he was speaking of the hope of Israel. (Daniel 12:1-3) It must be kept in mind that Jesus came "minister to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers." (Romans 15:8)   In his ministry, Jesus did not minister to the Gentiles, but to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 15:24)  Until Israel's promises were fulfilled salvation could not come to the world because "salvation is of the Jews." (John 4:22).  This is extremely important but often overlooked in the modern gentile religious world.  For if the Hope of Israel was not a physical resurrection, much more was it not a nationalistic restoration.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why did Jesus rise from the grave and appear to his disciples in his crucified body?

In this article we would look at some very important reason why Jesus appeared in such a state that he was easily recognizable to the saints after his resurrection.

There  never has been a more important event in history than when Jesus rose from the dead.  But there was a big problem.  There was  increasing tension between Jesus and the Jewish leaders until it reaches its climax in connection with his death, burial and resurrection.   The unbelieving Jews, had a plan to conceal the truth that Christ had indeed been raised.

The chief priests and the Pharisees had gone to Pilate and had asked for guards to be placed around the tomb of Jesus, for they remembered that our Lord had said He would rise again after three days.

Pilate granted their request, and gave them guards “four men who watched for three hours, then relieved by four men for the next three hours, etc., for the next three days”.   They also put a seal on the stone.   A seal consisted of placing a cord across the stone and securing the ends with clay stamped with an official seal of Rom.   If the seal was broken it would be readily apparent.

The problem with the Jews was that in spite of all these precautions they now had an empty tomb and no explanation except the truth that Jesus had indeed been resurrected.  O MY WHAT TO DO?   The watch reported to the chief priests what had happened.  (Matthew 28:11)   

Let’s stop here and educate ourselves a bit about the REAL Roman guard.   The total number of the guards would have been from ten to thirty men.  The soldiers did not get scared, deserted their post, ran back into the city, and reported to the Jewish priests.   They were not the kind of men to jeopardize their Roman necks by sleeping at their post they were Roman soldiers, not merely Jewish temple guards...

The soldiers had very strict training the punishment for deserting one’s post or falling asleep while on guard duty was death.   The fear of punishments produced faultless attention to duty, especially in the night watches.   Since the penalty for falling asleep while on guard duty was DEATH, the last thing “all the soldiers guarding the tomb would do was jeopardize their necks by falling asleep or admitting to anybody that they had fallen ASLEEP.   Roman soldiers would have NEVER used falling asleep on duty as an excuse.  These were soldiers, Roman soldiers, and if they had “run away” to ANYONE, they would have been put to death.

Based upon these facts, let’s go back now and analyze Matthew 28:12-15  The only solution that make sense was to make up a lie.  The ruling Jews were evil, not stupid.  It was at this juncture that the ruling Jewish leaders came up with a plan to destroy the faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

When the chief priests met with the elders, they devised a plan, and gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day. (Matthew 28:12-15 NIV).  Notice here that the Jews told the soldiers if this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.   They would cover the soldiers so they would not get in trouble and be put to death in other words.

Please also note that this (rumor, lie) had been widely circulated among the Jews.   What lie?  Jesus disciples came during the night and stole him away.    This lie spread from place to place, and person to person, etc.  We see the lie that the disciples stole the body of Jesus was commonly reported among the Jews.   A rumor (a  lie) like this would put real doubts in people like Thomas and  it would destroy their faith.

Let’s see what really happened on Resurrection Day:

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.  There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.   His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.    The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.   He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.   Come and see the place where he lay.   Then go quickly and tell his disciples:   'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."   So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.   Suddenly Jesus met them "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.   Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." (Matthew 28:1-10 NIV)

And in verse 16 were read.   Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.   When they saw him, they worshiped him; “but some doubted”.  (Matthew 28:16 NIV)   Please keep in mind that some doubted.

Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.   (Mark 16:12-13NIV) 

It is here that we read about the doubt of Thomas, who was indeed also a believer of Jesus.  Now Thomas called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.   So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."   A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"  Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."    Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:23-28 NIV).

It is very important to see that Thomas also did not believe until he saw with his (literal eyes) that Jesus was indeed alive. Thomas was a real believer but had his real doubts about the resurrection of Christ. We are not told if he had his doubts because of the false lie that was commonly reported among the Jews.  However, he had real doubts, non the least.

The Jewish believers struggled with a physical resurrection of Jesus so how could they ever  understand (a resurrection of Jesus in the unseen realm)?   “Unless Jesus’ body had been resurrected, physically His disciples would have had no assurance that His soul had been to Hades and had been resurrected. 

“Unless Jesus’ body had been resurrected, physically they had no assurance Jesus was fulfilling prophecy.   Psalm 16:10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

How could the saints, or we, “see or comprehend’ what God accomplished in the spiritual realm, if Jesus did not REAPPEAR and show Himself in a physical bodily form in the physical realm?   How could God have shown us the resurrection of His Son without the physical bodily aspect?  The physical resurrection of Christ was essential to verify the spiritual to which it was tied.

Remember Matthew said, there was a reported among the Jew that the disciples came at night and stole the body of Jesus.   The Jewish leaders were trying to cover up the resurrection as if it never happened.   Jesus proved he had indeed been resurrected by eating broiled fish and a honeycomb in their presence! “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” (Luke 24:39)   The concocted lie was weak and had more holes in it than a piece of Swiss cheese.

Everything Jesus did in His earthly ministry was a type, or shadow, of a greater spiritual truth.   He fed five-thousand because He is the Bread of Life. He calmed the stormy sea because He is the Prince of Peace.   He forgave sin because He is the Savior of the world.   He raised from the dead showed with his own resurrection that He is the Resurrection and the Life. 

Paul understood that Jesus physical body resurrection pointed to greater spiritual truth and he writes.  "Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. (2 Crinthians 5:16)   In other words Christ existed as a complete and living personality before his birth into flesh, the same can be said after his ascent back to where he was before.   John 6:62-63 "What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

Our physical body is a compilation of an entire recipe consisting of DNA, RNA, electrons, neurons, atoms, cells, blood, tissue, intellect, consciousness and your  blueprint as an individual.  A physical resurrection of our bodies would have NO POINT since we will not continue living on this planet, breathing earth’s oxygen and eating earth’s food, after we die physically.”

The Bible is really clear our physical bodies returns to the earth and our spirits returns to God who gave it.  Ecc 12:7  Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.   Jehovah God spoke these words to Adam For dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19)  In discussing man's plight on earth the Psalmist said: "His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts PERISH cease" (Psalms 146:4).