Saturday, December 22, 2012

Slavery and Christianity


The claim is often made that the Bible approves of slavery, implicating God as its supporter, since rules governing slavery can be found in the both the Old and New Testament. Since virtually everyone agrees that forced, involuntary servitude is morally wrong, how can Christians justify the Bible's apparent support of slavery?

First, we must recognize that the Bible does not say God supports slavery. In fact, the slavery described in the Old Testament was quite different from the kind of slavery we think of today - in which people are captured and sold as slaves.

According to Old Testament law, anyone caught selling another person into slavery was to be executed:
"He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death."  Exodus 21:16

What the Old Testament Says About Slavery

So, obviously, slavery during Old Testament times was not what we commonly recognize as slavery, such as that practiced in the 17th century Americas, when Africans were captured and forcibly brought to work on plantations. Unlike our modern government welfare programs, there was no safety-net for ancient Middle Easterners who could not provide a living for themselves. In ancient Israel, people who could not provide for themselves or their families sold them into slavery so they would not die of starvation or exposure. In this way, a person would receive food and housing in exchange for labor.

So, although there are rules about slavery in the Bible, those rules exist to protect the slave. Injuring or killing slaves was punishable - up to death of the offending party.
“If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished."  Exodus 21:20

"If a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye. And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth." Exodus 21:26-27

Hebrews were commanded…

Not to make their slave work on the Sabbath
"Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves.”  Exodus 23:12

Not to slander a slave
“Do not slander a slave to his master, Or he will curse you and you will be found guilty.”  Proverbs 30:10

Not to have sex with another man's slave
“Now if a man lies carnally with a woman who is a slave acquired for another man, but who has in no way been redeemed nor given her freedom, there shall be punishment; they shall not, however, be put to death, because she was not free.” Leviticus 19:20

Not to return an escaped slave
"You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you."  Deuteronomy 23:15

Not to enslave his fellow countryman, even if he owed him money, but was to have him work as a hired worker, and he was to be released in 7 years or in the year of jubilee (which occurred every 50 years), whichever came first.
"If a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to you that he sells himself to you, you shall not subject him to a slave's service. 'He shall be with you as a hired man, as if he were a sojourner; he shall serve with you until the year of jubilee. 'He shall then go out from you, he and his sons with him, and shall go back to his family, that he may return to the property of his forefathers. 'For they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt; they are not to be sold in a slave sale. 'You shall not rule over him with severity, but are to revere your God."  Leviticus 25:39-43

"If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment."  Exodus 21:2

In fact, the slave owner was encouraged to "pamper his slave"
"He who pampers his slave from childhood will in the end find him to be a son."  Proverbs 29:21

What The New Testament Says About Slavery

Since many of the early Christians were slaves to Romans, they were encouraged to become free if possible, but not worry about it if not possible.
“Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ's slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”  1 Corinthians 7:21-23

The Roman empire practiced involuntary slavery, so rules were established for Christians who were subject to this slavery or held slaves prior to becoming Christians. The rules established for slaves were similar to those established for other Christians with regard to being subject to governing authorities.
“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”  Romans 13:1-8

Slaves were told to be obedient to their master and serve them sincerely, as if serving the Lord Himself.
“Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.”  Ephesians 6:5-8

“Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.”  Colossians 3:22-25

“Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,”  1 Peter 2:18-21

Paul instructed slaves to serve with honor, so that Christianity would not be looked down upon.
“All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.”  1 Timothy 6:1-2

As with slaves, instructions were given to their masters as to how they were to treat their slaves. For example, they were:

Not to be threatened
“And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.”  Ephesians 6:9

Treated with justice and fairness
“Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.”  Colossians 4:1

There is an interesting letter in the New Testament that gives some insight into the problems encountered in the early Christian church regarding the issue of slavery.  Paul, the author of the letter, is writing from a Roman prison awaiting trial. 
“Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker,”   Philemon 1:1

He is writing to Philemon, who runs a local Christian church out of his house (since Christianity was highly persecuted at this point in time).
“and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:”  Philemon 1:2

Philemon, we find out, is the master of the slave Onesimus, who has escaped but has been converted to Christianity by Paul.
“I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me.”   Philemon 1:10-11

In the letter, Paul indicates that he is sending Onesimus back to Philemon 
“I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel;”  Philemon 1:12-13

However, Paul says that he has confidence that Philemon will "do what is proper"… 
“Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you--since I am such a person as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus…”  Philemon 1:8-9

…although Paul wants him to do it by his "own free will"
“but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will. For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.  If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me. But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account; I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well). Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.  Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say.”  Philemon 1:14-21

Even so, Paul indicates that Onesimus would be a great aid in helping him spread the gospel. 
“I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel;”  Philemon 1:12-13

Paul ends the letter by saying that he has "confidence in your obedience" and indicates that he knows Philemon "will do even more than what I say." 
“Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say. At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you.”  Philemon 1:21-22

Although Paul did not directly order Philemon to release Onesimus from slavery, it would have been difficult to come away with any other conclusion from his letter.

Contrary to the claims of many skeptics, the New Testament proclaims that all people are equal in the eyes of God - even slaves:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3:28

“knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.  And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.”  Ephesians 6:8-9

“a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.”  Colossians 3:11

Conclusion

The idea that God or Christianity encourages or approves of slavery is shown to be false. In fact, anybody who was caught selling another person into slavery was to be executed. However, since voluntary slavery was widely practiced during biblical times, the Bible proscribes laws to protect the lives and health of slaves. Paul, the author of many of the New Testament writings, virtually ordered the Christian Philemon to release his Christian slave from his service to "do what is proper.”  In addition, numerous verses from the New Testament show that God values slaves as much as any free person and is not partial to anyone's standing before other people.

Artwork:  Artist Unknown 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Surrounded By Demons


The Lord has allowed me to experience many things during my walk with Him. Some of which would be unbelievable unless you experienced them yourself. They weren't captured on video or audio… they weren't witnessed by friends or family. Instead, they were personal experiences that God allowed me to have in the spirit. Here is one of the experiences that the Lord blessed me with.

I experienced this while sleeping one night. I was walking along in this dry and dusty land and noticed some men in the distance. They were dressed in clothing that reminded me of the time when Jesus lived on earth. They were carrying a stretcher down the side of a mountain and as they reached the base of the mountain, I noticed that someone laying on the stretcher. I was about to go over to see who it was when a host of voices suddenly started praising God. I felt there were hundreds or thousands of voices all around me. I stopped in my tracks and was caught up with them in the spirit, lifting my hands and praising God with an unbelievable sense of joy.  

Then, in an instant, I was standing there, as a multitude of invisible beings appeared. I looked in all directions and realized that I was totally surrounded. There was a little bit of a distance between me and them but the distance didn't explain why I wasn't able to see any of their features. I could see the outline of their bodies but could not see any details. The nearest I can get to describing them is to share this picture with you. In this screen shot of the game Halo 2, you can see two beings in the background who are cloaked. The demons looked somewhat like this, except that had a little less detail about them than this picture has.

Okay, moving on... Their presence seemed threatening. As I stood there, I saw the "invisible" crowd part and a short squat being, also invisible, began approaching me. Just as he drew near to me, he raised a rod and tried to strike me with it. I grabbed the rod with both hands to protect myself, but he forced me to the ground. He sat on me, pushing the rod down onto my neck, trying to choke me. I did not have enough strength to fend him off. I tried calling out to Jesus for help, but I was so frightened that I couldn't speak. Then the thought came to my mind… "If I think the name of Jesus, maybe that will work." I just kept thinking, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…" over and over. Immediately my attacker started losing strength and I was able to begin forcing the rod from my neck. When I realized what was happening, my fear was replace with confidence and I began shouting the name of Jesus. That's when the being lost all strength and I pushed the rod away from me and jumped up.  

Then I awoke, finding myself in sitting up in my bed in the dark and praising God! Although I awoke in the middle of the night praising God out loud, no one in my family mentioned hearing anything that night.

Repent and be forgiven! Believe and be saved!
TribulationHarvest.net

Contradiction In The Bible? - Jesus Birth


Here is the story we've heard time and time again:

When Jesus was born, God sent His angels to proclaim His birth; the birth of our Savior and King. They are told to find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. The shepherds go to see their new born King, and marvel at how they were among the first to know of His birth. 

Then the three wise men from the east arrive at the manger, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. SCREACH!  STOP… REWIND. Wait, did the wise men show up at the manger that night?  “But,” you may say, “just look at all the Christmas cards depicting the arrival of the wise men, three of them, at the manger. Even in our church Nativity scene the wise men appear at the manger. Television shows, movies, songs, poetry, tradition... they all refer to the wise men arriving at the manger on the night of Jesus' birth.” 

Believe it or not (and I hope you believe this) there is nowhere in the word of God that states that they arrived on the night of Jesus’ birth. Take a look at the two portions of scripture that seem to be in conflict with one another;

Luke 2:7-20 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.  8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.  17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.  20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Matthew 2:1-12  “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.  3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.  4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of you shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 
7 Then Herod, when he had privately called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.  8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.  9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.  11 And when they came into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.  12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.”

So, did you catch the subtle differences? The account of Jesus’ birth in Luke uses the words “babe” and “manger” and the account of the Magi’s arrival uses the word “child” and "house.” The Magi were not included in Luke’s account and the shepherds were not included in Matthew’s account. This is where some people (Christians and non-believers alike) point out the conflict and say that the bible is full of contradictions, with this being just one example.  Let me try to explain the subtle differences between these two accounts.

The reason for the missing Magi in Luke and the missing shepherds in Matthew is simple… these are accounts of two totally different events separated by perhaps a year or more. Impossible? Let’s delve a little deeper into these two portions of scripture.

In Luke, the word “babe” is used to describe Jesus. In Matthew, the word “child” is used. You may assume that these two words mean the same, especially if you’re mashing these two separate accounts together into one story. Let’s take a look at what Strong’s says:

Babe: 1025 brephos: an unborn or a newborn child
Child:  3813 paidíon – properly, a child under training; the diminutive form of 3816 /país ("child"). 3813 /paidíon ("a little child in training") implies a younger child (perhaps seven years old or younger).

From the definitions above, we can see that it was the shepherds who saw Jesus just after His birth and the Magi saw Jesus later, when he was a little older; as old as 2 years old. 

Still on the fence about the entire issue? Here is another piece of information that often gets overlooked.

In Luke’s account, the shepherds go to see the new born King laying in a manger: “And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” Luke 2:16

In Matthew’s account, the Magi travel to see Jesus at his house: “And when they came into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

So we have the account in Luke where an angel appears before shepherds, announce Jesus’ birth, and direct the shepherds to seek Him out in Bethlehem.  They arrive and find the baby Jesus wrapped and in a manger and they glorify God.

The account in Matthew finds the Magi seeking the “young child.” They are directed to Bethlehem and when they get there, they find Jesus and Mary living in a house, which they enter and present their gifts.

Do you need a little more convincing? Okay, if the star appeared on the night of Jesus birth, then Jesus was probably 1 year old or a little older when the wise men arrived at His home. After all, there was some studying and some research that these wise men had to perform before they even contemplated traveling to where the star would lead them.

Here’s what happened a little further on in the second chapter of Matthew: "Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." Matthew 2:16-18

And now the story is complete. Jesus was born and lay in a manger where the shepherds were directed to go. The Magi followed the star that appeared on the night of Jesus’ birth and found their way to Bethlehem almost two years after the star appeared. Herod, in his anger, gave an order to slaughter all children 2 years old and under in relation to when the star first appeared (on the night of Jesus' birth). 

As you can see, some traditions have taken on a life of their own. So the next time you see a depiction of the three wise men arriving at the manger on the night of Jesus' birth, remember that scripture doesn't agree with this narrative. It didn't happen that way.

Side note:  Nowhere is there mention of there being three Magi. It’s assumed that there were three because there were three gifts offered. But that's a subject for another blog. :)

Scripture: biblegateway.com
Artwork: Jesus in Manger - hisdaughter.hubpages.comWise Men at Jesus House - english-online.at

Revelation 13:9-10


I was just reading a chapter in Hal Lindsey’s book, “Vanished Into Thin Air: The Hope Of Every Believer,” and I came upon a section in Chapter 12 that caused me to take pause.  Here is what I read:

“If anyone has an ear, let him hear.  If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed.  Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.  In 13:9 the formula is given to alert Tribulation believers to hear and take heed to the life and death instructions to them of 13:10.  In verse 10, believers of that period are instructed not to resist being taken captive for their faith by the Antichrist, nor are they to resist with weapons.  If they use weapons, God says that they will be killed by them.”

That caused me to stop and ponder what I had just read.  I decided to go to the word of God and read this portion of scripture in context.  When I did, it seemed to agree with Mr. Lindsey’s interpretation.  But then I searched for the scripture reference and headed over to Jeremiah.  Here is what I found:

Jeremiah 15:1-6 “Then the LORD said to me, “Even though Moses and Samuel were to stand before Me, My heart would not be with this people; send them away from My presence and let them go!

2“And it shall be that when they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then you are to tell them, ‘Thus says the LORD:
  “Those destined for death, to death;
  And those destined for the sword, to the sword;
  And those destined for famine, to famine;
  And those destined for captivity, to captivity.”’

3“I will appoint over them four kinds of doom,” declares the LORD: “the sword to slay, the dogs to drag off, and the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy.4“I will make them an object of horror among all the kingdoms of the earth because of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, the king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.

5“Indeed, who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem,
  Or who will mourn for you,
  Or who will turn aside to ask about your welfare?

6“You who have forsaken Me,” declares the LORD,
  “You keep going backward.
  So I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you;
  I am tired of relenting!”

The Lord continues, but I think you get the gist of what is going on here.  As you can see, God is about to punish the nation of Israel for her disobedience.  In Revelation 13:10, God refers back to this particular portion of scripture found in Jeremiah, although it's not verbatim.  Given the meaning of it’s original use in Jeremiah, how can the scripture reference in Revelation be interpreted to mean what Mr. Lindsey claims?  How can scripture that was applied as punishment of God’s chosen people be then used as an instruction to go peacefully into captivity and not to defend ourselves against the Antichrist?  I had to ask myself, who in this particular portion of Revelation 13 is being punished?  It must be the Antichrist and those who follow him.

Let’s look at this again:

“If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes;”
Those destined for captivity (Satan, the Antichrist, the False Prophet and those who are destined for hell for worshiping the beast and/or receiving his mark), will go into captivity.  (Or you could say that those who led others into captivity, will themselves go into captivity.)

“if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed.”
Those who go about murdering the saints and others during this time, will themselves receive their just reward by losing their own lives.

“Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.”
Until this happens, patience and faith of the saints must be tried.

So as I view this scripture, I see it NOT as being called to be submissive to the Antichrist and his authority, but as being an encouragement that no matter what Christians may go through during the Tribulation, those who are destined for captivity will go, and those who kill by the sword will themselves perish, and Tribulation saints need to persevere and keep their faith during this time of Tribulation.

I would really welcome your thoughts on this.  Please leave your comments below.  God bless. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

One of the Reasons I Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture: The Last Trump


1 Cor. 15:51-52Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.


Signaling a Trumpet Judgment
Some believe that this is the seventh trumpet spoken about in Rev. 11.  I don’t quite agree with that assumption because the trumpet in Rev. 11 is a trumpet signaling God’s wrath, not His deliverance.  Also, at the time that Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians, John had not yet had his vision from the Lord, so those who Paul was writing to would have been in a state of confusion concerning this “last trump” had Paul meant the seventh trumpet mentioned in Rev. 11. They obviously knew what he meant when he mentioned the “last trumpet.”

It’s possible that the “last trumpet” spoken of in 1 Corinthians could be the same trumpet that was blown from heaven in Exodus 19:16-19  So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. 19 When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder.

Now this wasn't just any trumpet.  It was actually a special ram’s horn that was blown from heaven, Exodus 19:13b “…When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.”

NOTE: Notice how it's actually a ram's horn that sounds, but in verses 16 and 19 it's called a trumpet.

This happened just after God’s people were delivered from the hand of the Pharaoh.  Just as they were delivered from the bonds of Egypt, we will be delivered from the bonds of this world at the next blast of the ram’s horn from heaven. 

The trump from heaven could also coincide with the last trumpet blast blown at the closing of the “Feast of Trumpets” also known as “Rosh Hashanah.”  Could these two trumpet blasts be linked?  It‘s possible that Paul, being Jewish himself and knowledgeable of the Jewish feasts and customs, was making a symbolic reference to this time of year, known as the Day of Trumpets. The last trumpet of the Feast of Trumpets of the early Jews was when the dead were remembered. And to Paul the last trump was the time for Jesus' second advent and the resurrection of the dead."

I don’t believe that the “last trump” mentioned in 1 Corinthians was meant to link the rapture of the bride of Christ with the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11, an event that hadn't even been prophesied or written about at the time Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians (John's vision happened, and the book of Revelation was written, approximately 37 years later).  When Paul mentioned the last trump to the Corinthians, his intended audience knew exactly what he was talking about, so he could not have been referring to the seventh trumpet mentioned in Revelation.

One last note concerning the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11; nowhere in that description of the seventh trumpet does it speak about the rapture of the bride of Christ.  It is a trumpet of judgment that precedes thunder, lightening, a hailstorm and an earthquake. If the rapture happened during the time of the seventh trumpet, why isn't this significant event even mentioned in this portion of scripture?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The New Jerusalem


Jesus seat of power during His millennium reign will be the New Jerusalem, which will descend from heaven after Jesus' second coming. Let’s start with one of the most awesome details about the New Jerusalem… it’s size. Believe it or not, the New Jerusalem is going to be 1,500 miles wide, 1,500 miles long and 1,500 miles high. Does that sound large to you? Think about this, from the research that I did, I found that the highest that a U.S. satellite orbits the earth is 600 miles, and that’s on an elliptical orbit! The New Jerusalem is going to be 2.5 times higher! Seems incredible, doesn't it? If you go to Google Earth and plot a 1,500 mile trip across the U.S. you’ll be able to see just how wide this new city is going to be.

The walls of this city are going to be 216 feet high. If you consider the size of buildings here on earth, that’s the height of a 21 story building!!! That’s one huge wall!!! The wall is described as looking like Jasper. Jasper is sky-blue in color with hints of red and green. The wall will have twelve layers of foundation stones embedded with precious stones: Jasper, Sapphire, Chalcedony, Emerald, Sardonyx, Sardius, Chrysolite, Beryl, Topaz, Chrysoprasus, Jacinth, and Amethyst.

The city will have 12 gates, three on each side of the city. These gates will be constructed of one solid pearl each (now that’s one big pearl!!). Each gate will have inscribed above it the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The only ones allowed to enter the city will be those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

The buildings and mansions in the city will be made of pure transparent gold and guess what…there will be a mansion for each of us! 

In the middle of a transparent golden street there will flow the water of life which will come from the throne of God and of the Lamb. On either side of the river there will be a tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. So, if we so desire, we can partake of its fruit.

There will also be a supernatural illumination of the city with the Glory of God lighting everything, since He will be living among us. No longer will there be day or night and no longer will there be any shadow.

This is just a brief glimpse of what the New Jerusalem will be like. I can’t wait to see it in all its glory as it descends out of heaven! Father, I pray that you send the Bridegroom soon!!!