King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was a prophecy about kingdoms throughout history. Because the statue was a representation of the future, we have progressed through all the kingdoms of the statue and are now living in the time of the ten toes–the last kingdom to ever wield power on Earth.
King Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream
31 “My king, as you were watching, a colossal statue appeared. That statue, tall and dazzling, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was terrifying.
32 The head of the statue was pure gold, its chest and arms were silver, its stomach and thighs were bronze,
33 its legs were iron, and its feet were partly iron and partly fired clay.
34 As you were watching, a stone broke off without a hand touching it, struck the statue on its feet of iron and fired clay, and crushed them.
35 Then the iron, the fired clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were shattered and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors. The wind carried them away, and not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
36 “This was the dream; now we will tell the king its interpretation.
37 Your Majesty, you are king of kings. The God of heaven has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and glory.
38 Wherever people live—or wild animals, or birds of the air—He has handed them over to you and made you ruler over them all. You are the head of gold.
39 “After you, there will arise another kingdom, inferior to yours, and then another, a third kingdom, of bronze, which will rule the whole earth.
40 A fourth kingdom will be as strong as iron; for iron crushes and shatters everything, and like iron that smashes, it will crush and smash all the others.
[The Final Kingdom]
41 You saw the feet and toes, partly of a potter’s fired clay and partly of iron—it will be a divided kingdom, though some of the strength of iron will be in it. You saw the iron mixed with clay,
42 and that the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly fired clay—part of the kingdom will be strong, and part will be brittle.
43 You saw the iron mixed with clay—the peoples will mix with one another but will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with fired clay.
The final kingdom was to be an amalgamation of people in sharp contrast with one another. It would be a mixture of people whose differing ideologies and resulting behaviors would make it impossible for them to remain unified no matter how hard they would try.
Which kingdom today fits the fulfillment of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream?
The Book of Romans in Chapter 8 verses 15-30 and 35, speaks of the “children of God”:
15 Because the Spirit that God has given to you does not make you like slaves again. He does not make you slaves who cannot stop being afraid. Instead, the Spirit that God has given to you causes you to become God’s children. He makes us able to shout to God: ‘You are my Father.’
16 God’s Spirit himself causes us to know certainly what we know by our own spirits. We know that we are God’s children.
17 And because we are God’s children, we will also receive good things from him. We will receive the things that God has prepared for his children. Also, together with Christ, we will receive the things that God has kept for him. We will receive these things if we agree to have troubles and pain, as Christ did. So then, as a result, we will also live always with God, who is so great and so good.
18 During this time now, we have troubles and pain. But I am sure that these troubles are not really very important. They are not really important because God has prepared much, much better things for us. He is keeping these great and good things for us. And when we think about these great things, our troubles now do not seem important.
19 All things that God has made are waiting for a future time. They want that time to come very much. At that time, God will show them who his sons really are.
20 God has caused the things that he made to become without real purpose. Those things are unable really to have any purpose. They did not choose to become like that. It was God who caused them to become like that. God did that because he was thinking about that future, better time.
21 At that time, God will also cause the things that he has made to become free. They will be free from the power that causes them to become old and to finish. They will be free to enjoy great things from God, as God’s children are free.
22 All the things that God has made have been waiting until now. We know that. They have been waiting like a woman who is ready to have a baby. She cries because of her pain before she has her baby.
23 And it is not only those other things in the world that are waiting like that. But we ourselves, who have received God’s Spirit as the first of his gifts to us, are also crying. We are crying deep inside ourselves, while we wait for God to finish making us his own children. We are waiting for God to make our bodies free.
24 Ever since God saved us, we have continued to hope certainly for this. One day, we will see what we have hoped for. And then we will not need to hope for it any more. Nobody continues to hope for something that he has already.
25 But we continue to hope for what we do not have yet. And so, we wait for it patiently.
26 God’s Spirit also helps us, because we are weak. We do not know how we ought to pray. But God’s Spirit himself prays on our behalf. He cries to God on our behalf in a way that nobody could say with words.
27 And God, who sees deep inside us, understands the Spirit. God sees completely what we are really like. And he understands what his Spirit is thinking. The Spirit prays on behalf of God’s people as God wants him to pray.
28 God has good purposes for those people who love him. We know that. He uses everything that happens to them to bring good results on their behalf. He does this for those people that he has chosen. He has chosen his people to be what he wants them to be.
29 God had already chosen those people from the beginning. And he had decided that they should become like his Son. So then, as a result, his Son would be the first among many brothers.
30 God decided that those people would be like his Son. Also, he asked them to come to him. And after he had asked them to come to him, he made them right with himself. And when he had made them right with himself, he also caused them to become great. He made them great and good, in the same way that he himself is great and good.
35 Nothing can make us separate from Christ, who loves us. We may have troubles. Things may happen to us that cause us to be very sad or afraid. Enemies may do bad things to us and hurt us. We may have no food or no clothes. There may be danger, or people may try to kill us. But none of these things can stop Christ from loving us.
Why is “all of creation” eagerly waiting for the “revealing of the sons of God”?
Verses 20-22 provides the answer for us;
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”
This passage takes us back to the Garden of Eden and fall of man.
When Adam chose to listen to his wife instead of listening to God, he sinned and it affected all creation; even the Earth and the things upon it.
In judging Adam this is what God said to him:
To Adam he said, “Because you have listened to your wife’s voice, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground for your sake. In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.
18 Thorns also and thistles will it bring forth to you; and you will eat the plants of the field”.
As we read through the Bible, we see that the animal kingdom suffered the same fate as well; the curse was stamped on the whole creation, bringing with it tribulation, disease, and ultimately death.
Because of this “the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” ESV
How and when will creation be set free of the curse God placed upon it due to original sin?
This brings us to verse 19 which tells us that creation will not be freed until, “the revealing of the sons of God.”
Who Are the “Sons of God”?
These “sons of God” are also the “children” and “heirs” mentioned in verses 16-17:
15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Compare with Jesus’ words at Luke 20:36:
“for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection”.
These children are the joint heirs of Christ who will share a Heavenly existence with the Lord after their deaths and resurrection. They are biblically referred to as the “first fruit”.
1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him and hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.
2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb.
————– Note: Verse 4 above states, “These are they which were not defiled with women”. These words reflect back to the command God gave to Moses recorded in the Book of Exodus in Chapter 19 that Moses was to give as instruction to the people because they were about to perform a sacred service and would have to remain ritually clean as a priest is required to do.
“And he said to the people, ‘Be ready for the third day; do not come near your wives.”’
Their “virginity” has to do with being ritually clean and does not suggest that they have to be unmarried and not having had sexual intercourse. The general idea is, that they are chaste and pure at heart; that they are the followers of the Lamb alone; and that they are without deception. —————-
If there are “first fruit” then it stands to reason that there is other fruit to be harvested. Not all believers are sharers in the Heavenly calling.
There are a specific number called to priestly service in Heaven as mentioned on Revelation 14: 1:
“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him and hundred forty and four thousand, having his father’s name written in their foreheads.”
They are called from the state of the dead in what the Bible terms the “first resurrection”.
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ,and shall reign with him a thousand years.
When the full number of them has been filled, then Jesus will come and gather them all to Heaven. This would include any living and those already sealed who lie asleep in death.
The “sons of God” will only be known after they have all been “sealed” because they must complete their life course faithfully. So, the apostle Paul counsels the church at Ephesians 4:30:
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption”.
It will be revealed at the Coming of the Lord, both to those in Heaven and all who witness on Earth who the son of God are.
“And the Lord kept Sending His Messengers the Prophets”
Almighty God Jehovah spoke to Ezekiel the son of Buzi. God told him to go to the King, priest, prophets, court officials, and all the people of Israel and speak to them ALL the words Jehovah the God of Israel was telling them. You can read the account yourself to clearly understand what circumstances God was placing the prophet in. Understanding these things will offer you a soul-searching opportunity to look at where you stand in the stream of time and events in God’s sight.
Ezekiel was chosen by God to be His messenger while Ezekiel was living as an exile. A key kernel of understanding is to remember that Ezekiel was in exile through no fault of his own. But rather, it was because of the sin of the nation that they all had been sold into slavery. Since he was in exile already, Jehovah’s punishment against the apostate nation was already under way. However, this was however before the complete desolation and destruction of Jerusalem had occurred. We know this because it was after this he was called to prophesy concerning its coming fall.
The Biblical narrative shows that they were being punished because they had rebelled against Jehovah God and had broken the covenant they had taken with Him. The nation had an ongoing history of this kind of conduct over time. They committed sins against God repeatedly. By studying the Bible we know that the Holy Scriptures are a text of patterns and recurring themes that are being amplified over time until the final conclusion. Since this scenario has been played out in the past we can be absolutely sure that it is being played out today in our times. These are the “last days”, the climax, and the time for the Final Rebellion and the end of the present system of things.
Today modern-day “Jerusalem” is under attack; being besieged from every side. But not as a result of persecution for its devotion and obedience to God, but rather as a result of God’s punishment for its transgressions and failure to be obedient to Jesus Christ.
If you read the Bible book of Ezekiel, you can get a real view of the state of the condition of the Christian church today.
Quoting from the Good News Translation, below are the words God spoke to the prophet Zechariah found at Zechariah 7: 11-14.
“But my people stubbornly refused to listen. They closed their minds and made their hearts hard as rock. Because they would not listen to the teaching which I sent through the prophets who lived long ago, I became very angry. Because they did not listen when I spoke, I did not answer when they prayed. Like a storm I swept them away to live in foreign countries. This land was left a desolate place, with no one living in it.”
Clearly what made the land desolate was their apostatizing from obedience to Jehovah by their stubbornly refusing to listen to Jehovah’s warnings through His chosen messengers.
Let’s now read from the GNT translation as well, God’s words of instruction to the prophet Ezekiel as he commissioned him to be His message bearer. These verses also shed light on Jehovah God’s personal thoughts and feelings about His covenant people. Below are verses found at Ezekiel 2:3-7.
“Mortal man, I am sending you to the people of Israel. They have rebelled and turned against me and are still rebels, just as their ancestors were. They are stubborn and do not respect me, so I am sending you to tell them what I, the Sovereign Lord, am saying to them. Whether those rebels listen to you or not, they will know that a prophet has been among them.
But you, mortal man, must not be afraid of them or anything they say. They will defy and despise you; it will be like living among scorpions. Still, don’t be afraid of those rebels or of anything they say. You will tell them whatever I tell you to say, whether they listen or not. Remember what rebels they are.”
So Ezekiel became an emissary as a message bearer, to a hostile respondent in the people of the land of Israel. Likened to scorpions, they would be striking at the prophet who bore God’s messages. Nevertheless, God made clear to the prophet his personal responsibility in the commission he was being given. Jehovah God spells out Ezekiel’s obligation as recorded in Ezekiel 3:16-21. Jehovah called him a “watchman”. If he failed to speak these messages of warning that he had been given, he would be held liable for his failure to do so.
Because Ezekiel’s concern was based upon a true love for God and a desire to render Him exclusive devotion, he was quite willing to take the assignment God had given him. Ezekiel did what he was supposed to do; he prophesied. He prophesied about the siege and destruction of what remained of Jerusalem calling it a whore being punished for her sins.
He prophesied about God having seen the continued idolatry in Israel, even though it was practiced secretly in hidden places. Jehovah God showed him in vision the “disgusting idol” the priest had erected right next to an altar for sacrificing to Him. The prophet says that when he looked,
“I looked, and there near the altar by the entrance of the gateway I saw the idol that was an outrage to God” (Ezekiel 8:5 GNT). These disgusting things and the like were leading to her desolation. Do you believe they were not aware of their offenses before Jehovah or that they did not realize to what extent they were sinning against Him? Either way they paid for their transgression as history proves. God tells the prophet that the actions of the nation are driving Him, “farther and farther away from my holy place”.
God continues to show the prophet scenes to open his eyes to what has been going on in secret. He told Ezekiel to bore a hole through a wall so he could enter an inner room. He did so and immediately saw drawings of unclean reptiles, snakes, other unclean animals, and other unclean things (unclean according to the Law). He sees the Israelites worshiping them and included are some of the leaders of Israel. He recognizes one to be Jaazaniah, son of Shaphan the court secretary. They were burning incense in incense holders that each one of them were holding. God said to Ezekiel, “Mortal man, do you see what the leaders of Israel are doing in secret? They are all worshiping in a room full of images. Their excuse is: “Jehovah does not see us! He has abandoned the country”.”
The prophet saw more. He in his second vision he also saw the women weeping over the ritualistic death of the false god Tammuz; a Sumerian/Babylonian god (Ezekiel 8: 13,14). And then God showed him even more apostasy. From chapter 8 of Ezekiel beginning with verse 16, we read:
“So he took me to the inner courtyard of the Temple. There near the entrance of the sanctuary, between the altar and the porch, were about twenty-five men. They had turned their backs to the sanctuary and were bowing low toward the east, worshiping the rising sun.
The Lord said to me, “Mortal man, do you see that? These people of Judah are not satisfied with merely doing all the disgusting things you have seen here and with spreading violence throughout the country. No, they come and do them right here in the Temple and make me even more angry. Look how they insult me in the most offensive way possible. They will feel all the force of my anger. I will not spare them or show them any mercy. They will shout prayers at me as loud as they can, but I will not listen to them.”
These were the kind of people God’s messenger would be confronted by. They were not worshiping Jehovah exclusively and were in a full-throttle apostasy trying to mix pure worship with that of demons. Ezekiel would be ostracized, insulted, and persecuted because of his obedience in delivering God’s messages of impending disaster. People don’t like to hear bad news. Especially if it is about their failure and that bad consequences are coming. Can you imagine a thief tolerating some following him as he goes about his larceny shouting “You’re bad and you’re gonna get caught?” Neither do bad people like to be reminded of their badness. Adulterers do not want to hear that they are adulterers. It interferes with the ‘mood’ by pricking at their conscience. The nation’s reaction was clear enough indication that they had no intentions of repenting and turning around.
Blackmail and Compromise
The dynamics of this situation are not something unusual in history of the prophets. God’s true prophets as a pattern were always treated this way, with the exception of a small few who did not. This was true in the days of the Great Prophet, the son of man, Jesus Christ. It also held true for the faithful apostles. Holy Scripture bear witness to this fact.
As God’s teaching pattern dictates, it must be true concerning His prophetic messengers today, as this is the ‘Great Expose’ and the ‘Finale’. Also true is the same internal dysfunction of His chosen people today.
Many who claim to be Jehovah’s true witnesses have been rendered speechless due to their compromising to protect the security they have in this world. We’ve all heard the expression used, “don’t make waves”. Those familiars with it need no explanation of its implications. “Don’t rock the boat” is another. What is inferred is that if you go against the expressed wishes and direction of the person or group making the statement or being referred to, the will be trouble for you.
It is like the example of many a noble-minded employees who became a ‘whistleblower’, only be ostracized and attacked by the rest of their fellow employees and even by others. Suddenly, he doesn’t get that promotion he was expecting, or the bank has become less friendly to him, or his neighbors start giving him the cold shoulder.
In the church there have been Kingdom ‘whistleblowers’ who have suffered that same fate. This is a means of ‘control’. Today those who have succumb to this control are the ones who have cowardly been rendered speechless due to concern over the loss of the things mentioned in the above paragraph. They well know that if they start ‘rocking the boat’, the waters of their life are going to start to get very choppy and there will be reprisals. Loss of job, home, family, friends, and branded as an outcast. Those who give in prove themselves too weak stand for righteousness sake. If a person can’t sacrifice these things for Christ sake, how can they lead themselves to believe that they would give up their life in loyalty to God and Christ? In the Revelation Christ gave the Apostle John he said the place for, among others, the ‘cowards’ was the lake burning with fire and sulfur (see Revelation 21:8 the Second death). Ponder please, of what ‘cowards’ could he be referring to? This group fits that criteria.
Notice why Ezekiel was the subject of their rejection and abuse? It’s very important. One should never confuse the sufferings that they endure due to their own wrongdoing as being the same suffering Jesus said his true disciples would endure for his namesake. If it were true that the penalty we pay for our wrongdoing amounted suffering in the name of the Lord, then I suppose the worst of criminals would the first in line for admission into the kingdom of God. Sounds foolish doesn’t it?
The prophets like Ezekiel suffered their pains because of a specific cause and that cause was their standing fast with the God of Truth. Apostles like Paul and John, who were also prophets, suffered not for any guilt; but, for being truth-tellers even in the face of power. Remember also that the source of these assaults was centered in the nation/Congregation by those who instigated it. In any event, it was the sin of the nation and the first century church that led to both the guilty and the innocent being led into captivity.
The Lord Jesus was the Greatest of all the prophets sent. The Bible tells us, that in him was found no lie. He led the way and set the pattern of speech his true disciples must also possess of telling the truth, the whole truth, and telling no lie. His example has been rejected by most.
We should not confuse the pains and sufferings common to all humans, as some kind of ‘sign’ or evidence of suffering in the name of Jesus. While it is most certainly true that these can be manipulated by the demons and demonic people either by creating illness or by accentuating them, there needs to be positive proof that these sufferings are not simply a result of something coincidental to all. One can easily misinterpret these tribulations and develop a false sense of well-being in God’s sight; thinking he or she is suffering for the Lord.
Real Christian persecution is going on; though it remains veiled to a largely imperceptible world completely blinded by the demons. As man’s mean have advanced, more covert, insidious measures are employable that have not available in the past. Widespread ‘gang-stalking’ is used on specific ‘targeted’ individuals. There are ways to torture people without leaving visible marks. Through psychological conditioning tactics their plan is to mentally make one submit or destroy them, rendering him none effective. Behind the scene manipulation of everything from jobs, homes, credit, and even medical access and proper care. The denial of these things through manipulation from behind the scene wreaks havoc on the life of those subjected to it. It’s not quite as easy to burn someone at the stake these days, so other methods have to be employed. If the messenger will not stop preaching according to God, then family members, neighbors, coworkers, and people you depend on for services are used. The apostate church tells other members that you are the apostate and they will exclude you as family or congregation members. Jesus did say a “man’s enemies will be members of his own household”. The Devil will do terrible things to create pain for God’s children.
Haven’t you ever wondered: Where is the great wave of persecution upon Christ elect that was described as would occur in the final part of the days? From all public report, only a very small number of Jehovah’s Witnesses are living under extreme persecution. Most I know are living the best of lives. What do you think would happen if you approach the vast majority in the congregation today and asked, ” Recount for me the incidence you recall that you can point to that show you are suffering for your stance with Jesus”? There would be pregnant silence, fumbling, and an anxious desire to move on to some other topic. But there are those who do bear the scars of their obedience to Christ. Christ congregation is being persecuted and probably right under your nose. Perhaps you might be looking in the wrong places at the wrong people.
In the entirety of the Scriptural account, never once did any complete covenant group belonging to Jehovah God ever maintain keeping with the covenant. No complete group ever repented either. That is worth noting. At best they would reform for a brief period; when they were once again satisfied and secure, they quickly return to their God dishonoring practices. Only a small few were faithful to the end. But even so, they too were taken into captivity. Again, the Bible is a Book of patterns designed to inform.
Please compare this scenario to that set to occur at the End when the two horn wild beast appears. Jesus shows John at Revelation 13:7-10 the situation this small faithful remnant would face. Please read His words:
7 It was allowed to fight against God’s people and to defeat them, and it was given authority over every tribe, nation, language, and race.
8 All people living on earth will worship it, except those whose names were written before the creation of the world in the book of the living which belongs to the Lamb that was killed.
9 “Listen, then, if you have ears!
10 Whoever is meant to be captured will surely be captured; whoever is meant to be killed by the sword will surely be killed by the sword. This calls for endurance and faith on the part of God’s people.” GNT
Doesn’t that fit the same circumstances like those that Ezekiel and his contemporaries found themselves in? It was meant by Jehovah’s execution of Divine justice that they all go into captivity. It was not to be avoided. Those who attempted to do so by running to “Egypt” and “Assyria” for refuge met with death by means of sword, plague, or famine. They had no choice but to go into captivity for the appointed time. This would have called for endurance and acceptance of such circumstances back in the period of Exile and Babylonian captivity.
Because of the apostatizing of the leadership of the modern Christian congregation, the whole congregation has gone into captivity or exile. This is because have refused to repent by discarding false teachings. To the opposite, they compounded the sin by continuing to require others to believe and teach lies. Everyone that has preached these false teachings, even if in ignorance, are guilty.
What is real apostasy? What does the term really refer to? Isn’t God and His word the best source to find the answer?
The term the word ‘apostasy’ was first applied to a ‘turning away from God and then one going their own way (see Jeremiah 8:5). The original term was used at Jeremiah 14:7 describing the sin that accused God’s covenant people of “turning away” from Him many times. We hear God himself saying at Jeremiah 2:19,
“Your own evil will punish you, and your turn from me will condemn you. You will learn how bitter and wrong it is to abandon me, the Lord your God and no longer remain faithful to me. I, the Sovereign Lord Almighty have spoken” (GNT)
Quoting Holman Bible Dictionary under ‘Apostasy’, “The basic narrative of Judges, Samuel, Kings is that Israel fell away from God, choosing selfish ways rather than His ways. Involves doctrinal deception, moral insensitivity, and ethical departures from God’s truth.”
This required that the apostasy be at the highest level occupied by men. Looking at the apostatizing set to be occurring at this time, should one expect it would involve the highest earthly church officials today? With just a bit of reasoning this can be answered Scripturally.
According to Jesus’ prophetic words at John 16:2, some would be “expelled from the synagogues” on account of His name and it would be a test of their faith. Let’s reason on his words: Can you as a congregation member expel another member of the congregation? No, that requires authority. Jesus words must be therefore speaking of a group that has authority in the congregation to “expel”.
In regard to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, its leaders, and subordinate officers are the only ones with the power to expel members. Headed by the “governing body”, they have attempted to spiritually kill their fellow Christians because of their faithfulness to God, Jesus Christ the Head of the congregation, and to the Holy Scriptures. They do this by disfellowshipping them on unrighteous grounds; and false accusation of apostasy. Wasn’t Jesus falsely accused of apostatizing by the religious leaders of his time? It was a false accusation against him and his brothers have suffered likewise.
Mere acts of men or the words of men will not force the Lord Jesus to abandon his true disciples nor cause him to remove Divine covering from them thereby exposing them to demon attack. It certainly seems as though they believe they have such power and that they can put a some kind of ‘spell’ on those who resist them and then the demons will be allowed to attack. The demons may do their bidding but they nor the demons can order God or Jesus Christ to do a single thing. They have no control the fate of the children of God.
It was physical Israel that was first branded ‘apostate’. In each occurrence of their apostatizing it involved every strata of the nation’s population. Most significantly, was the active and passive participation of anointed Priest, Prophets, and Kings. In the case of Ezekiel, as we have been examining, it was the most esteem anointed and appointed leaders who were involved in the most egregious sins against Jehovah. This should dismiss any misconception some have that as long as you do what the leaders tell you, you’ll be all right with God. Has that ever been the case? Didn’t God punish them as He was punishing their leaders?
Remember God has said, “Each one will be judged according to their own deeds”. (Psalm 62:12) ( Proverbs 24:12)
6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
We are responsible for our own deeds. Those who receive the mark of the beast and its image will receive the same judgement as the False Prophet, The Harlot, and the beast. That is clear in Scripture.
9A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand,
10they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.
11And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”
And yet today Jehovah’s Witnesses have adopted a definition of the word ‘apostasy’ that is completely foreign to the original, God-given definition of apostasy. According to the teaching they accept and live by, an apostate is anyone who does not support and obey the dictates of the Watchtower Organization Governing Body. This teaching and belief is according to the traditions of men.
We need to examine something very important that has changed over the last 30 years. It has to do with baptism. The Bible teaches that the earliest disciples were baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus himself gave this instruction and Jehovah’s Witnesses use this Scripture all the time. But they only see the part about the commission to preach the good news. They obviously can’t read His command to …”baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey all the things I have commanded you”(Matthew 28:19). Baptism is a sacred bonding sealed in Heaven (the act of dedication and baptism) and nothing should be or can be added to it without voiding it. It is a contract with God.
Contrary to this knowledge, in 1984 the Watchtower changed the questions baptismal candidates were asked prior to baptism to include a question that requires the candidate to vow of acceptance of the Watchtower as Jehovah’s only channel on Earth. They insert themselves between Christ Jesus and his disciple. Since this change, all that have been baptized with this added question have sworn allegiance to Jesus Christ and at the same time sworn an oath to something else. That is not a pure unadulterated dedication to Jehovah. Adding these words was clearly stepping way outside Christ’ command given. Such a baptism is invalid in God’s sight.
The largest part of this post 1984 group seems to be the ones that provide the popular support of the new human definition of apostasy. They are quite happy living up to what they dedicated themselves to…the Watchtower Organization God and not Jesus Christ. They would rather betray both God and Christ than to stand up and address this issue and make it right. They aid those who continue to suppress the truth and allow themselves to be used to persecute the true Christians among them. They present themselves ritualistically with an appearance of godly devotion. But a more critical and less superficial examination reveals that it is not founded on the source of true godly devotion. As Paul warned Timothy, “it proves false to its source” (2 Timothy 3:5). True Godly devotion can only be rendered through and in obedience to Lord Jesus Christ and the operation of the Holy Spirit. Any deviation makes one’s efforts a meaningless ritual to go through because it is meaningless to Him.
Anyone who has studied human conditioning and social group interaction, knows the value of the ‘labeling’ process for the ‘in’ group and the effects it has on the person(s) to be marginalized; then excluded as an ‘out’ group. We see this tactic employed across the broad spectrum of social interaction. The word ‘apostasy’ has become an effective label to use to control the spiritually blind. They do not even care if their use of the term apostasy is accurate anymore than a bigot cares if an ethnic or racial slur is valid. It is what they want to believe.
Jesus himself said concerning Jerusalem that they were the “Killers of the prophets”.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I wanted to gather your children as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” Luke 13:34 (New Living Translation)
It wasn’t the foreign nations that rejected the prophets, had them sawn into, decapitated, stoned, and crucified by a foreign nation. It was the covenant people of God and their leaders. The Revelation presents a seeming paradox. Let’s examine the Lord’s word to John found in Revelation 18:24 (NIV). These words are spoken of concerning not Jerusalem, but Babylon the Great City.
“In her was found the blood of the prophets and of God’s holy people, of all who have been slaughtered on earth.”
This city, also called the Great Whore or Harlot, must depict something in connection with apostate Jerusalem. It is the same speaker, Lord Jesus, in both instances. And since the Revelation is concerning the “last days”, it exists today. It poses such an unsavory thought that most current members of Jehovah’s Witnesses will not accept it. And sadly, some have come to realize the extent to which they have been betrayed and have come to the realization that they are associated with the monstrous “unclean thing” (two-horned wild beast and its image) and as a result of the shock have committed suicide. That is how real all of this is. The Watchtower organization and its continued adherents seem not to care at all about the misery and death that has occurred because of the Watchtower’s false doctrines. This reflects the attitude mention in the Holman Dictionary we discussed earlier. The Great Harlot is in the pattern of ‘adulterers’ of the Scriptures. Jehovah used this expression to describe those who broke the covenant with Him because it was like a wife breaking her marital bond (Scripturally, women often signify covenants). Jehovah called Israel an adulterating ‘whore’. He described both the two-tribe kingdom of Judah and the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel in terms of two whorish sisters that slept with everybody. Strange whores who paid their lovers instead of what normally happens in prostitution. And this is but one of many examples in Scripture of what Jehovah calls harlotry. The harlot is unfaithful to her Husbandly owner and the bond they have. Betrayal is at the heart of this as it has been through all history we know. This betrayal is manifest today by the leaders of the congregation and their army of unanointed spiritually gentile overseers.
Some understanding as to why both apostate Jerusalem and Great Babylon are the same in the Lord’s view is found in a mysterious vision the prophet Zechariah saw by Holy Spirit. You can read it directly from Scripture at Zechariah 5:1-11. (NIV)
“Then the angel who was speaking to me came forward and said to me, “Look up and see what is appearing”.
I asked, “What is it.” He replied, “It is a basket.” And he added, “This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land.”
Then the cover of lead was raised, and there in the basket sat a woman! He said, “This is wickedness” and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed its lead cover down on it.
Then I looked up – And there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth.
“Where are they taking the basket?” I asked the angel who was speaking to me.
He replied, “To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When the house is ready, the basket will be set there in its place” (GNT “to be worshiped”).
Notice that the basket represented the sin of the nation. And what was in the basket? There was found wickedness. Obviously the lead lid was secured to insure that what was in the basket would not escape to roam and engulf everything; so it refers to containment. The basket was Israel’s sin and its wickedness that were to be carried off to Babylonia where there it becomes, not an object of contempt nor condemnation, an object of adoration and a temple would be built for it. We see the ultimate daughter of Babylonian harlotry combined with the ultimate daughter of harlotries against Almighty God in the same place as well today. It was most appropriate for Jesus to use them synonymously.
The prophet Zechariah saw deep into the future to the last days. Today, what used to be a source of drawing people to God and Christ (as you might remember Jerusalem was to be a shining light for the nations upon a mountain), has become the foremost of the daughters of Babylon the Great. When referring to Babylon in the Revelation, Jesus is not referring to a group outside the congregation. Those outside are in no position to betray an oath binding them to God. There are none that God recognizes. This has to refer to the adulterousness of someone in a wife-like a covenant. These would be the modern-day Oholah and Oholibah who picture the ten-tribe and the two-tribe kingdoms of Israel. These one have prostituted themselves to the rulers of this world; mostly in secret like the behavior of the leader of Israel Ezekiel saw in the vision Jehovah gave him; worshiping demons in secret. And they (Satan’s Beast) have been granted their power, including the demonic, with the thought of destroying the true chosen by Christ Jesus. The most important reason for the existence of this massive façade is to fool the holy ones. It has been largely successful.
We are in the time of the Final Rebellion. It should be no wonder that Satan is employing his most devious of deceptions. The Book of Revelation tells that Satan desires most importantly to deceive the chosen ones. He is using the entire world and his demons to achieve his aim. He makes things appear to be opposite of what they truly are. What looks like Jerusalem is really Babylon. What appears to be an organization purely pursuing Christian goals is really an organization teaching more than anything else, godless apostasy and teaching God’s children to practice what He has forbidden. And they are a stumbling block to the nations, failing to be the light to spiritual gentiles God intended them to be. They teach them to eat things sacrifice to demons and to touch and eat blood.
The Watchtower leaders prepare a meal of Gospel truths laced with demon inspired expressions. Those looking through the haze of the demonic mind, see what looks like the path to the Kingdom of God; it is in reality, the pathway to the lake of fire.
Only by Divine power through Jesus is one able to see, as He removes the scales from the eyes, heart, and mind. There is only one ‘Door’. They preach the Watchtower Organization as the means of salvation, not Jesus Christ.
Those Ezekiel was sent to, had been yielded over gradually (probably imperceptible to them) to demonic thinking. They kept resisting Jehovah God. What other alternative could result? They became more and more spiritually, mentally, and morally blind as they obstinately renegaded in disobedience to God’s authority and instruction. They at some point could no longer distinguish the truth from a lie.
Today, there are millions in this self-induced, self-willed condition. In such, they are like those angels the Bible speaks of whom are held in bonds of dense darkness being held for the Day of Judgement. Because of rejecting the laws of Jehovah and becoming a law onto themselves, they are the part of the present day “man of lawlessness”. They bear the mark of the beast and have bowed down to its image; Scripture speaks of no redemption from bearing this mark.
One thing the Watchtower teachers cannot explain is their applying the exodus of people from Babylon as applying to ‘worldly’ people as they call members of other religious groups, leaving their old religions and joining Jehovah’s Witness. How could this be? Those leaving ancient Babylon were people who had a covenant relationship with Jehovah that then went into exile and were freed. The “getting out of her” today must be directed to a like covenant group and also have the same implications. Great Babylon and freedom from her has to do with God’s covenant people and their sins. It is not about a group that has never had a covenant with God.
How do “Jehovah’s Witnesses” have a covenant to keep with God?
Because Jehovah’s Witnesses have chosen to take upon themselves the bearing His name, they have a covenant obligation to carry it to the standards of He who bears the name. It is the most serious of responsibility a human can have. It is upon this that they will be judged.
I can only imagine how exasperated God’s prophets must have become; repeatedly being sent to speak to a group they knew were not turning back. As a normal human, Ezekiel may have thought, “They deserve it! Let them have it!” But it is not about the will of the messenger is it? How good of a messenger could you possibly be if you were not able to remember that you work for someone else and then remain focused on the task given to you? What if you were unable to keep your personal feelings from obscuring things? God told Ezekiel to speak all His words, whether they listen or not. We are impatient; God the Almighty is not. Lord Jesus today as well will keep sending his messengers for the appointed time period set in Heaven.
Certainly, the Holy Father Jehovah’s mercy and undeserved kindness have flowed in abundance since the beginning of this nightmare in Eden. Even though man has not deserved any favor, He has kept restraining His wrath and kept sending His servants the prophets with warnings to repent, turn around, and be saved. Almighty God did not spare Himself in His acts of loving-kindness. He sent His only son to suffer and die and in doing so also provided a means of salvation and the greatest prophet that ever lived. He has sent His messengers over and over again giving ample time for a repentant heart to be moved to deeds of repentance and true godly devotion. The time of pronouncement is at its end. The Day of Distress is at hand. Very soon the ‘Door’ to salvation will close and seal. After that, all the regrets, crying, and displays of acrimony will not change a thing. (Revelation 14:9-11)
Our God and Father Jehovah and our honorable High Priest and Lord Jesus Christ, particularly over the last twenty years have been ‘waking’ those from the slumber that are being called to salvation. Those who have shared in this marvelous message delivery work are thankful for the honor and privilege to be in service to the Lord. We exert ourselves, not for our sake, but for the sake of those who heed the warnings God has given. Our persistence is for the same reason Ezekiel remained persistent. As a watchman, Ezekiel life did not depend on the messages he delivered being accepted. As long has he fulfilled his commission he was right by God. Stubborn resistance only kills stubborn resistor. Just as they refused to obey Almighty God, so does apostate Israel and Judah today. They refuse to turn around and stop worshiping false gods and stop bowing down to images. They reject teaching from God’s word the Holy Scriptures and refuse to stop the teaching of misinterpretations and lies. They refuse to humble themselves and accept the messengers of Christ that he sends, and choose to take counsel with demons and demonized men, women, and children. In Ezekiel’s time remember what Scripture says about the leader of Jerusalem were thinking? “Jehovah does not see us! He has left the land.” Today the apostate leader of the Watchtower are speaking and acting as if Jesus does not really exist and can see them. In fact they mention obedience to Christ less and less.
The parallels are unmistakable. The pattern shown in The Bible is playing out. We need to constantly examine the Scriptures while praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Pay attention to the messages Christ is sending through the true anointed body. Your salvation will require adequate action on your part (Revelation 2:3). God’s word explains your personal obligation to God the same way He has always laid it out up front for any coming into a covenant relationship with Him.
At some point in time this warning call will cease. Heed the warning!
First, let us consider what is NOT evidence of being holy.
Some confuse ‘holiness’ with a superficial piousness or with a sanctimonious behavior of superiority above others.
Some synonyms for pious are: sanctimonious · self-righteous · holier-than-thou · pietistic · churchy · religiose · Pharisaic.
You note that Pharisaic is often used instead of the term pious. The Pharisees were religious bullies known for self-righteous behavior and a condemning attitude toward those who would not follow their notion of what ‘holiness’ is. This behavior is not scriptural holiness.
You may have also noticed the term ‘churchy’ which describes a person who conforms or adheres rigorously to the practices or creeds of a particular denomination group while condemning everyone else who doesn’t. This too is not a mark of true holiness.
False piety makes a person think they are better than other people according to their own set of rules; therefore, they believe, ‘God loves and accepts us while rejecting anyone who doesn’t agree with or obey our set of rules’. This is nothing more than self-righteousness…one having declared themselves righteous.
This is often accompanied by grandiose acts like holding one’s head aloof or perhaps even the way a person may walk along; gliding with an air of regality (high and mighty). An air of superiority is not holiness. Real holiness is not a performance!
So what did God mean when he said concerning His chosen nation, “You are to be holy to Me because I, Yahweh, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be Mine”? (Leviticus 20:26)
In three words: separate, pure, and clean. The next logical question would be “How”?
We get an idea from the words of Peter found at 1Peter 1:15,16:
“But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.”
What did Peter mean?
Holiness is not merely a spiritual state. The fact of the matter is that often spirituality can be rooted in un-holiness. As you continue to read, you will find examples of un-holy spirituality among God’s chosen people.
Holiness Involves Keeping Separate
Holiness is to keep ones self separate and morally clean in order to serve in behalf of other. It was God’s plan that the nation of Israel was to be a “kingdom of priest” separated from the rest of the nations.
5 Now, if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own people. The whole earth is mine, but you will be my chosen people,
6 a people dedicated to me alone, and you will serve me as priests.”
Further, God told Moses to give this instruction to the people of Israel:
“Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy”.
In the Law, God gave the command not to intermingle with foreign nations and even told them why.
Deuteronomy 7:2-4 2 When the Lord your God places these people in your power and you defeat them, you must put them all to death. Do not make an alliance with them or show them any mercy. 3 Do not marry any of them, and do not let your children marry any of them, 4 because then they would lead your children away from the Lord to worship other gods. If that happens, the Lord will be angry with you and destroy you at once.
History shows that they did not keep God’s commandment and kept mixing with the nations God had told them they must not mix with.
As a result they kept making themselves unclean with the corruption of foreign nations. They assimilated these foreign nation’s practices; often which involved immorality and pagan worship. Over the history of ancient Israel, they would never keep clean. Yet they kept up a superficial pretense that they were holy. God stated this was the case to the prophet Isaiah:
13 The Lord said, “These people claim to worship me, but their words are meaningless, and their hearts are somewhere else. Their religion is nothing but human rules and traditions, which they have simply memorized”.
This was the behavior in the days of the reign of King Josiah. While there was a priesthood going about the daily ritual duties of the Temple, they and the majority of the Judean two-tribe kingdom were in no sense keeping themselves clean and holy. It was in this time of idolatry and spiritual adultery with other gods when Josiah came to power in Judah.
The split away ten tribe kingdom to the north had already had fallen into captivity due to its sins against Almighty God. God had used mighty Assyria as an instrument of correction to punish Israel and they already had been taken into captivity.
This is how the prophet Jeremiah described the situation:
Jeremiah 3:8-10 8 “observed that it was because unfaithful Israel had committed adultery that I had sent her away and had given her a certificate of divorce. Nevertheless, her treacherous sister Judah was not afraid but also went and prostituted herself. 9 Indifferent to her prostitution, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. 10 Yet in spite of all this, her treacherous sister Judah didn’t return to Me with all her heart—only in pretense.”
They only maintained a pretense of faithfulness and holiness, Again true holiness is not an act.
King Josiah- An Example of Holy Conduct
2 Kings 22:1, 2 tells us: 1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled in Jerusalem for thirty-one years. His mother was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah from the town of Bozkath. 2 Josiah did what was pleasing to the Lord; he followed the example of his ancestor King David, strictly obeying all the laws of God.
King Josiah did not follow the course of disobedience that previous kings had followed. His father, King Amon and his grandfather King Manasseh both committed evil sins. Manasseh, was responsible for rebuilding the pagan high places that King Hezekiah had torn down. Amon worshiped and offered sacrifices to all the idols Manasseh had made.
Manasseh and Amon did not follow the instructions God gave concerning the king:
Deuteronomy 17:18-20 18 When he becomes king, he is to have a copy of the book of God’s laws and teachings made from the original copy kept by the Levitical priests. 19 He is to keep this book near him and read from it all his life, so that he will learn to honor the Lord and to obey faithfully everything that is commanded in it. 20 This will keep him from thinking that he is better than other Israelites and from disobeying the Lord‘s commands in any way. Then he will reign for many years, and his descendants will rule Israel for many generations.
Deuteronomy 17:20 talks about the ideal king: “that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.” King Josiah met God’s righteous standards.
The Second Book of Kings informs us that he went on on campaign to restore pure worship and make the nation holy again.
1 King Josiah summoned all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem,
2 and together they went to the Temple, accompanied by the priests and the prophets and all the rest of the people, rich and poor alike. Before them all the king read aloud the whole book of the covenant which had been found in the Temple.
3 He stood by the royal column and made a covenant with the Lord to obey him, to keep his laws and commands with all his heart and soul, and to put into practice the demands attached to the covenant, as written in the book. And all the people promised to keep the covenant.
4 Then Josiah ordered the High Priest Hilkiah, his assistant priests, and the guards on duty at the entrance to the Temple to bring out of the Temple all the objects used in the worship of Baal, of the goddess Asherah, and of the stars. The king burned all these objects outside the city near Kidron Valley and then had the ashes taken to Bethel. 5 He removed from office the priests that the kings of Judah had ordained to offer sacrifices on the pagan altars in the cities of Judah and in places near Jerusalem—all the priests who offered sacrifices to Baal, to the sun, the moon, the planets, and the stars. 6 He removed from the Temple the symbol of the goddess Asherah, took it out of the city to Kidron Valley, burned it, pounded its ashes to dust, and scattered it over the public burying ground. 7 He destroyed the living quarters in the Temple occupied by the temple prostitutes. (It was there that women wove robes used in the worship of Asherah.) 8 He brought to Jerusalem the priests who were in the cities of Judah, and throughout the whole country he desecrated the altars where they had offered sacrifices. He also tore down the altars dedicated to the goat demons near the gate built by Joshua, the city governor, which was to the left of the main gate as one enters the city. 9 Those priests were not allowed to serve in the Temple, but they could eat the unleavened bread provided for their fellow priests.
King Josiah’s example is a fine example for us to follow because it is an example of true holy conduct. Do you feel as Josiah felt?
Separation of the Servants of the House of God
Within the nation itself, the priest were to further separate themselves as a group from those Israelites who were not of the priesthood.
The separation and standard of cleanliness of the priesthood is perhaps the best example to examine what is required to keep clean and holy in God’s sight.
Throughout the Old Testament, the term priest (kōhēn) is commonly used to refer to an official who was set apart from the rest of the community in order to carry out certain duties associated with worship and sacrifice. The fact that they served in the Holy Temple of God, their sacred duties, and the fact that they were responsible for handling the Temple utensils which were considered “holy vessels” made cleanliness on the part of the priesthood extremely important. They were required to obey certain restriction and were required to preform certain acts that the common people were not required to do.
While serving in the Temple, priest were required to literally wash themselves before coming near the alter or the Tabernacle.
“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it. When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the LORD, they shall wash with water, lest they die. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statute forever to them– to him and his descendants throughout their generations.” (Exodus 30:17-21)
As “ministers of the LORD” (Joel 1:9; 2:17), priests functioned as mediators in God’s presence and were responsible for the day-to-day operation in the Temple.
The priests had to be ritually clean (tahor) in order to serve at the Temple, and if he had somehow had become ritually unclean (tamay), he would have restore himself with the passing of time and by bathing his whole body in fresh, ritually clean (tahor) water, according to Leviticus 15.
From the physical standpoint, a priest was considered clean when any obvious indications of dirt or similar defilement have been removed. A clean priest was also one who habitually maintains a pattern of personal cleanliness and hygiene, while at the same time taking care to ensure that his habitat was in a clean condition.
Most important however were matters concerning moral cleanness. For the Hebrews, holiness demanded that they should reflect in their living and thinking the exalted moral and spiritual qualities of God had revealed in His laws.
Cleanness was fundamental to the establishing and preservation of holiness in the Israelite community. As distinct from any other nation, the Hebrews were provided with specific instructions concerning cleanness and how to recover it when it had been lost through carelessness or disobedience. The Hebrew people were to manifest their moral cleanness by demonstrating it in daily life, giving proof that they were living by God’s high moral standards and His high ethical qualities of absolute purity, mercy, justice, and grace.
Not being perfect, they had to avail themselves to God’s provisions for them to be cleansed and to remain clean.
One provision to remain clean has was mentioned previously and that was the commandment not to mix with foreign nations. These nations did not worship Jehovah. They did follow His commandments. They could only serve to corrupt His people.
Jesus Unique and Separate-How?
Christ is uniquely set apart and separate from all other creation as the only begotten child of God. He, like God his Father is peerless. He was individually singled out and remained separate from the angels.
A reading of Revelation chapter 5 indicates that the angels were not familiar with the Lord until he was introduced to them at the time he was led in and entered the Sanctuary.
If you reason on the matter, why would the “strong angel” spoken of in Revelation 5:2 ask “Who is worthy” to enter the Most Holy and receive the scroll”, if everyone present knew of Christ?
5 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
Jesus had lived a separate existence until that time. He was also separate and unique as he is the only begotten son of God.
This separation is part of the Biblical view of holiness. This is why the opposite of something holy is said to be mundane or profane; ordinary. To be holy is to be removed from the realm of the ordinary.
The Hebrews lived lives separately, according to the Torah’s commandments, precisely because God is separate. The highest form of worship is to imitate what is Divine. Man must strive to be a reflection of his Creator and His holiness.
Following the example of the past, if Christian life is to be holy for the assembly, then the elect brothers of Christ must take care to be especially holy.
They have been distinctively sanctified by the Creator Himself for all time and singled out for a life dedicated to Him. The vehicle that accomplishes this sanctification is the commandments found in His word the Bible, which obligate them to their Creator in service to High Priest Jesus Christ.
As Christian disciples of Christ, we have been given a similar command that was given to the ancient Hebrew nation.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
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?
15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
17 Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the LORD. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
18 And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”
We are given this commandment for all the same reasons God gave this commandment to the ancient Hebrews. If we disregard it we become unclean by being corrupted by practices which unbelievers consider to be acceptable, but the Bible condemns.
As a Christian brotherhood, we are not curtained off like the Hebrew nation was, living in one central places within designated geographical boundaries. No, we are mixed among all types of people and spread throughout the whole world. All the more so we must be just as careful about whom we have association with. This is particularly true within the Christian body because that is the most likely place one may be corrupted. Note Paul’s words of counsel:
1 Corinthians 5:9-10:
9 In the letter that I wrote you I told you not to associate with immoral people.
10 Now I did not mean pagans who are immoral or greedy or are thieves, or who worship idols. To avoid them you would have to get out of the world completely.
Because of where we live, because of where we work, go to school, shop it is impossible not to have some contact with immoral people. But that is not true when it comes to association with those who professed be Christian disciples.
Whether professed Christian believer or an unbeliever, we have an obligation to God and Christ to avoid people with unclean practices. We must be holy.
Paul also gave this admonition:
2 Corinthians 6:17
17 Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the LORD. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
If we unintentionally become unclean, we must avail ourselves to God’s means to be cleansed. There was such a provision for the Hebrews with the Law given to Moses by God.
Leviticus 5:2-3, 5
2 “‘If anyone becomes aware that they are guilty-if they unwittingly touch anything ceremonially unclean (whether the carcass of an unclean animal, wild or domestic, or of any unclean creature that moves along the ground) and they are unaware that they have become unclean, but then they come to realize their guilt;
3 or if they touch human uncleanness (anything that would make them unclean) even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realize their guilt;
5 When you are guilty, you must confess the sin,
Just as it was necessary to appear before the high priest and confess their sin to be forgiven and then be prescribe the necessary course of action to be cleansed, it is also true today. Otherwise we will remain unclean. Today, the High Priest exist in the Heavenly Temple and we must confess our sins to him. If we sincerely are repentant, he will forgive us an prescribe the necessary course we need to submit our selves to in order to be cleansed.
1 John 2:1
1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
But we will never receive that help if we do not present ourselves before the High Priest.
God has commanded His people, “You are to be holy to Me because I, Yahweh, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be Mine”. (Leviticus 20:26)
God Himself is called holy because He is completely separate; unique and unequaled in all of His creation as is His son our Lord and High Priest Jesus Christ. Nothing can be compared to Him because He is peerless; He is the Creator of the universe and all existence, and absolutely different from anything or anyone else that exists. It is in this light that His obedient children can be collectively called a “holy nation”. We are to be a nation set apart from all others, completely different from any other, whose Divinely-mandated lifestyle serves as living proof that God is walking in our in its midst.
For us to remain holy, we must reject all ungodly thinking and behavior. We cannot allow ourselves to socially mix with those who defy God and His commandments. Their thinking and behaviors will eventually corrupt us.
We must reject all apostasy against God, even by those in positions of leadership like the examples from the Bible we considered that included kings and priests.
We learn what is means to be holy and how to conduct ourselves in holiness by examining God’s written word just as faithful King Josiah did.
Holiness is not self-righteous piety like that the Pharisees demonstrated. It is not churchy, holier-than-thou behavior. It is not a false-front. Jesus described people like this best:
27 “How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look fine on the outside but are full of bones and decaying corpses on the inside”.
Be not like this.
In order to be holy, God has command that we listen to and follow His son, the Christ as our Master (Matthew 17:5). We do not exist in a holy state if we reject Christ.
Jesus serves as High Priest in the Heavenly Temple and now as in the past, when we somehow become unclean we must present ourselves before the High Priest in order to be forgiven our sins and to be cleansed in order to stay holy.
Holiness involves pure worship of God on His terms and according to His commandments. If we worship God in this way, we will keep ourselves holy in His sight.
One day, Jesus was teaching a group of people that included some who were regarded as outcast among society. While doing so, members of the Pharisee sect and some other teachers of the Law began to murmur against him.
Jesus asks these teachers a question:
1 One day when many tax collectors and other outcasts came to listen to Jesus,
2 the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law started grumbling, “This man welcomes outcasts and even eats with them!”
3 So Jesus told them this parable:
4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them—what do you do? You leave the other ninety-nine sheep in the pasture and go looking for the one that got lost until you find it.
Continuing, Jesus offered this parable for his listeners to consider:
11 He said, “A certain man had two sons.
12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of your property.’ He divided his livelihood between them.
13 Not many days after, the younger son gathered all of this together and traveled into a far country. There he wasted his property with riotous living.
14 When he had spent all of it, there arose a severe famine in that country, and he began to be in need.
15 He went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed pigs.
16 And he wanted to fill himself with the carob pods that the pigs ate, but no one gave him any.
17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many hired servants of my father have bread enough to spare, and I’m dying here with hunger.
18 I will get up and go to my father, and will tell him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight.
19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’
20 “He arose and came to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly, bring out the best robe, and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.
23 Bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat, and celebrate;
24 for this, my son, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost and is found.’ They began to celebrate.
25 “Now his elder son was in the field. As he came near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
26 He called one of the servants to him and asked what was going on.
27 He said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and healthy.’
28 But he was angry, and would not go in. Therefore, his father came out, and pleaded with him.
29 But he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed a commandment of yours, but you never gave me a goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.
30 But when this, your son, came, who has devoured your living with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’
31 “He said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
32 But it was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for this brother of yours was dead and is alive; and he was lost and is found.’” (GNT)
What messages concerning the subject of mercy and forgiveness can we glean from this parable that Jesus gave?
THE LOVE OF THIS FATHER REFLECTS THE LOVE GOD HAS SHOW TOWARD THE HUMAN FAMILY
The parable deals with relationships within the family, and in particular God’s family circle. Not only does the parable teach about the love of the father but it talks about the relationship between family members; in this case two brothers.
‘Prodigal’ behavior is defined by and characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure of resources.
The father displays a high degree of both empathy and mercy toward his wayward son. Inheritances are generally bestowed after the death of the benefactor, in this parable, the father. What do you suppose the father thought about the son’s request for his inheritance before his father had even died? The younger’s request was essentially asking his father to die. Money is more important to the younger boy than is his relationship with his father. The father in Jesus’ story would have said to himself, “My son wants me dead.”
The behavior of the younger son, who becomes the prodigal, is only a symptom of the real crisis. Neither of the brothers comprehend their father’s love. Nor does one brother hold love in his heart for the other. As a matter of fact, both brothers are spiritually sick but in different ways. Nonetheless, they both build relationships based upon money.
According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, it was the custom among the early Hebrews according to the Law, that the next of kin should enter upon the possession of the estate of a deceased person. The first-born son usually assumed the headship of the family and succeeded to the control of the family property.
The Jewish Law of Inheritance
The Law also stipulated that when a man assigned his possessions to his eldest son which were to become his after the father’s death, the father then could not sell them since they are assigned to his son, and the son cannot sell them because they are in the father’s possession.
If his father did sell them, they are sold only until he dies; if the son sold them, the buyer has no claim on them until the father dies. The father may pluck up the crop of a field which he has so assigned and give to eat to whom he will, and if he left anything already plucked up, it belongs to all his heirs.
According to the Law, the eldest son was to receive two-thirds of the estate, while the younger son would inherit one-third. (Deuteronomy21:1-17). Also, a Jewish father could not abdicate his wealth prior to his death.
The prodigal son obviously disregarded all of these provisions of the Law since he was not the eldest and his father had not yet died.
The younger son had grown up in a loving family and yet felt an increasing desire to be independent and get out of the shadow of his obedient older brother. He wanted to be his own man and live his own life.
This is typical when a teenager is approaching full adulthood. They begin to seek to establish their own self-identity. This is a normal part of human development…of growing up. Often though, they do so by renegading against the norms of their parents and by thrill seeking.
The parent must take a balanced approach to dealing with their child when this occurs. On one hand the parent can’t respond permissively, turning a blind eye to their child’s unwise choices and reckless behavior. But on the other hand, if the parent’s reaction to curb the behavior is overbearing, this will probably result in more rebellion since the child is set on establishing their independence.
Perhaps the father in this parable was weighing this possible outcome and chose to let the son have his inheritance with the hope he would learn and come to his senses. He did not want to lose his son completely.
Jesus had a much more significant reason for telling this parable that involves the love God has shown for his children who have shown a head strong attitude and have renegaded against Him.
When the first man and woman turned aside and rebelled by not following his Law, He could have completely destroyed them at that time. Had He done so, none of Adam’s yet to be offspring would ever have been born. We would never have had an opportunity to prove what we were ourselves. Even though born in sin, He gave each of us the opportunity to reject a sinful life and return to Him. And upon doing so, we are washed cleaned of our previous debt to Him. He welcomes us back like the prodigal son’s father did with open arms and joy.
Note what Jesus said prior to relating this parable:
“In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine respectable people who do not need to repent”. (GNT)
Today many blasphemers attempt to paint God as a merciless tyrant because He requires obedience to His commandment and because He is not a permissive parent who lets the child dictate what the norms of His house are. However, God has demonstrated extraordinary self-control and extraordinary mercy…an undeserved kindness on His part. Even to the point of giving up His only begotten son as a propitiatory sacrifice in order that we may be saved.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life”. (NLT)
The prodigal son had also committed an act of apostasy against God’s Law by, as verse 15 reveals, joining himself to a Gentile farmer who raised pigs, which was regarded by Law as especially “unclean.”
God’s love and mercy even extends to such sinners today if they repent, turn, and seek forgiveness. The apostle Peter went about preaching:
Acts 3:19, 20
19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that he will forgive your sins. If you do,
20 times of spiritual strength will come from the Lord, and he will send Jesus, who is the Messiah he has already chosen for you. (GNT)
As was the case for the prodigal son, so it is true of those who have wandered away from God. This wayward son never forgot his father.
17 But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many hired servants of my father have bread enough to spare, and I’m dying here with hunger.
18 I will get up and go to my father, and will tell him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight.
19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’
The father is present in the son’s memory, even a faraway country. He was able to see and then admit his error. He realized his desperate situation and was willing to humble himself.
He father was happy to have received his son back. The father was excited and full of joy welcoming him back without any reservation. The father’s reception shows that genuine repentance brings not only pardon but complete restoration. But what about his brother?
Let’s reread what the repentant prodigal son’s brother’s response was to his father’s forgiveness:
25 “Now his elder son was in the field. As he came near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
26 He called one of the servants to him and asked what was going on.
27 He said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and healthy.’
28 But he was angry, and would not go in. Therefore, his father came out, and pleaded with him.
29 But he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed a commandment of yours, but you never gave me a goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.
30 But when this, your son, came, who has devoured your living with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’
The loveless attitude of the elder brother portrays false brothers, including religious leaders, who declare themselves to righteousness based on their achievements. His attitude also reflects their merciless attitude toward repentant sinners.
To be one with God is to be like God in His thinking and by emulating His behavior. The elder brother’s response showed he was not like his father and therefore truly wasn’t at one with him.
Just as the elder brother had no true relationship with his father, so the religious leaders and false brothers have no true relationship with God.
In reality both sons were ‘lost’; each in his own way.
The wise father in the parable appeals to his eldest son to be thankful considering that his brother had returned to his senses and had come home. The older son should have been happy. The father told his eldest:
Luke 15:31, 32:
31 “He said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
32 But it was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for this brother of yours was dead and is alive; and he was lost and is found.’”
The needs of both lost sons are met by the compassion of the father. He is without power when his sons make their wrong decision to reject his love. He reacted in wisdom in spite of refusal. The father is waiting to receive his sons when they come to themselves and comprehend their need for him.
Jesus tells us in this parable what God is like and makes us see ourselves in his creative illustration. This story does not relate the outcome for the two brothers. Each of us must also decide for himself or herself how matters will end for ourselves personally.
God will not turn His back on the repentant transgressor. He is waiting with open arms to receive back those who have wandered away.
“Therefore, say thou unto them, thus saith the Lord of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts”.
Finally, we all must remember that God will show no mercy in the Judgment to the merciless.
“For God will not show mercy when he judges the person who has not been merciful; but mercy triumphs over judgment”.
Then the third angel blew his trumpet. A large star, burning like a torch, dropped from the sky and fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.
In the Book of Revelation when the third angel that stood before the throne of God blew his trumpet, the account describes a poisoning of pure water. The pure water is poisoned when a star falls from Heaven:
Revelation 8:10, 11
10 The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from the sky, burning like a torch, and it fell on one third of the rivers, and on the springs of the waters.
11 The name of the star is called “Wormwood.” One third of the waters became wormwood. Many people died from the waters, because they were made bitter.
Angels are called “stars” in the Bible. This star is seen falling from Heaven. It is a fallen angel that corrupts the pure water.
Jesus spoke about the last days and foretold that the fallen angels would be cast out of Heaven down to the Earth:
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:”
Jesus when on Earth also had this prophetic vision concerning the devil:
18 He said to them, “I saw Satan having fallen like lightning from heaven.”
The vision given to John in the Book of Revelation chapter 12 describes this event occuring:
7 “Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, who fought back with his angels;
8 but the dragon was defeated, and he and his angels were not allowed to stay in heaven any longer.
9 The huge dragon was thrown out—that ancient serpent, named the Devil, or Satan, that deceived the whole world. He was thrown down to earth, and all his angels with him.”
The springs of water, pure knowledge were corrupted in great earnest after Satan’s ouster from Heaven.
Pure knowledge from God is likened to “water” and “springs of living water” in both the Old and the New Testaments.
10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.
Ezekiel 36:25, 26
25 Then I will sprinkle pure water on you and make you pure. I will wash away all your filth, the filth from those nasty idols, and I will make you pure.
26 I will also put a new spirit in you to change your way of thinking. I will take out the heart of stone from your body and give you a tender, human heart.
13 Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again,
14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst again; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to everlasting life.”
37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
6 He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give freely to him who is thirsty from the spring of the water of life.
The “star” mentioned in Revelation 8:10, 11 is named “wormwood”.
Wormwood is highly toxic. High doses of wormwood may result in digestive upset, kidney failure, nausea, vomiting,
seizures, and can ultimately be fatal.
The Bible tells us what “wormword” is in God’s eyes:
18 “lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turns away this day from the LORD our God, to go to serve the gods of those nations; lest there should be among you a root that bears gall and wormwood“
Wormwood is mixing the pure knowledge of God with apostate demonic teachings in order to turn people away from pure worship as described above in the Book of Deuteronomy.
The Watchtower Society along with the rest of Christendom produces a death-dealing doctrine of wormwood by mixing some elements of biblical truth with teachings inspired by demons.
The people drink it, they become sick, and their minds are poisoned.
But there is another important thing to realize about demonic wormwood and its corrupting influence. It has effected non-biblical knowledge as well.
If you observe, every knowledge base has been corrupted from scholary knowledge to the information one finds in various media sources. It is extremely difficult to get any kind of untainted information.
For example, if you find a reliable news source, it won’t stay that way for long. It will turn at some point.
Wormwood has poisoned all knowledge bases as well as knowledge of the word of God.
Tracing the Origin of the Watchtower Society’s View of Apostasy
“You put aside God’s command and obey human teachings.”
And Jesus continued, “You have a clever way of rejecting God’s law in order to uphold your own teaching. GNT
Over the history of the Watchtower Society (“Jehovah’s Witnesses”), the use of the word apostasy as has had two distinct applications. At times this word has been applied accurately as a deviation from exclusive obedience to Almighty God. And at other times it has been used to describe disobedience to the commands of men, particularly the Watchtower organization and its leadership. This term has a meaning that is derived from Holy Scripture and a meaning that is derived from a human definition.
This article will examine the differences between the definition of apostasy as taught in Holy Scripture and the definition of apostasy according to the Watchtower Society. It will also trace the currently taught view of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” to its origins.
The Watchtower, through its publications, has taught two separate and distinct viewpoints based on whatever the desired effect was at the particular time. When speaking concerning other organized religions, they have tended to use the Biblical view. When speaking to those who are part of their organization, they have chosen to use the tradition humanistic view of apostasy or apostatizing.
The Watchtower’s use of the Biblical (God’s) Definition in the Past
While there are many examples of the Watchtower organization using the definition based on Holy Scripture, time will allow for just a few to be cited here. Anyone with a Watchtower Library CD can for himself or herself search past publications to determine the accuracy of what has been stated in this essay. Lover of truth will do exactly that.
Note: The Watchtower Organization and its legal apparatus have become very shy of any reprinting of their own words. I will quote from its literature with reference notation to the particular publication. If they truly believe that they are the “Truth” and are telling the truth why would be they be fearful to have their words reprinted?
First, let’s examine the use of the word ‘apostasy’ as the writers of Watchtower materials have applied it to the wayward ancient nation of Israel. Those who have been associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses should recall that ancient Israel has at many times been referred to as the “apostate nation of Israel”. If you were to insert this phrase in the search box of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society’s past Library CD or perhaps at the website [[JW.org]], you will find the reference material we will consider.
According to the reference volumes “Insight on the Scriptures”, under the topic Isaiah, Book of, Historical Background, this is what is written concerning why it is appropriate to view the nation of Israel in the times of Isaiah as an apostate nation:
Historical Background. Isaiah 1:1 informs us that Isaiah visioned these things in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. This was a period of severe international tension and one in which false religious attitudes had a profound effect on the people of Judah. Near the beginning of Isaiah’s career King Uzziah died a leper because of his presumptuousness in taking over priestly duties. (2 Ch 26:16, 19-21) It is reported that during the reign of Uzziah’s son Jotham, while the king did what was right, “the people were yet acting ruinously.”—2 Ch 27:2; 2 Ki 15:34.
Next came King Ahaz, who for 16 years set a bad example for the nation, carrying on Baal worship with its rites of human sacrifice. There was “great unfaithfulness toward Jehovah.” (2 Ch 28:1-4, 19) It was at this time that the allied kings of Syria and Israel besieged Jerusalem so that Ahaz, ignoring the counsel of Isaiah the prophet, sent to Tiglath-pileser III, the king of Assyria, for military assistance. (2 Ki 16:5-8; Isa 7:1-12) By this Ahaz ‘made flesh his arm, his heart turning away from Jehovah.’ (Jer 17:5) Assyria agreed to an alliance, but, of course, was interested mainly in expanding its own power. The Assyrian army captured Damascus of Syria and apparently took into exile those inhabitants of religiously apostate Israel that lived E of the Jordan.—1Ch 5:26.
Let the reader note that the apostasy of the nation is directly linked to the behaviors of wicked leaders who had acted unfaithfully toward Almighty God and had deviated from God’s commandments. King Uzziah is mentioned here as deviating when he usurped priestly function for which he was not anointed. King Ahaz is also mentioned as showing “a great unfaithfulness toward Jehovah” by introducing the worship of false Gods (Baal worship).
Here the Watchtower writers at the time gave no difference to the leadership of the nation. In fact the whole nation is referred to as “religiously apostate Israel” from its kings on down. This publication accurately cites Jeremiah 17:5 as it speaks of King Ahaz and his apostatizing.
So the view expressed here of apostasy is not based on disobedience to a human ruler or ruling body. But rather, it is based on a concept that is in agreement with what actions Jehovah God views as apostatizing from Him. It also points out that those of the nation that followed the same course as that of those leaders were viewed as apostates by God as well. They were not able to beg off from their obligation to Jehovah God, saying in effect “Well, we were just following the Kings orders!” No. History shows they were held accountable for their own individual actions. That is no less true today.
Also, from the reference books Insight on the Scriptures, under the topic Apostasy, under the heading Apostasy in Israel we find:
Apostasy in Israel. The first two commandments of the Law condemned all apostasy. (Ex 20:3-6) And before Israel’s entry into the Promised Land, they were warned against the grave danger of apostasy resulting from marriages with the people of the land. (De 7:3, 4) Even though a person who was inciting others to apostasy was a close relative or a marriage mate, he was to be put to death for having “spoken of revolt against Jehovah your God.” (De 13:1-15) The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh were quick to exonerate themselves of a charge of apostasy that arose because of their construction of an altar.—Jos 22:21-29.
Many of the kings of Israel and of Judah followed an apostate course—for example, Saul (1 Sa 15:11; 28:6, 7), Jeroboam (1 Ki 12:28-32), Ahab (1 Ki 16:30-33), Ahaziah (1 Ki 22:51-53), Jehoram (2 Ch 21:6-15), Ahaz (2 Ch 28:1-4), and Amon (2 Ch 33:22, 23). In due time a nation of apostates developed because the people listened to apostate priests and prophets (Jer 23:11, 15) and other unprincipled men who, by smooth words and false sayings, led them into loose conduct, immorality, and desertion of Jehovah, “the source of living water.” (Isa 10:6; 32:6, 7; Jer 3:1; 17:13) According to Isaiah 24:5, the very land became “polluted [cha·nephah′] under its inhabitants, for they have bypassed the laws, changed the regulation, broken the indefinitely lasting covenant.” No mercy was to be granted them in the predicted destruction.—Isa 9:17; 33:11-14; Zep 1:4-6.
Here again the publication writers are spot on in defining what real apostasy is all about. Notice the first sentence and the Scriptural support cited in the second sentence cited in verse 3?
1 And God proceeded to speak all these words, saying:
2 “I am Jehovah your God, who have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slaves.
3 You must not have any other gods against my face.
4 “You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or that is on the earth underneath or that is in the waters under the earth.
5 You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them, because I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion, bringing punishment for the error of fathers upon sons, upon the third generation and upon the fourth generation, in the case of those who hate me;
6 but exercising loving-kindness toward the thousandth generation in the case of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Under this topic consideration, there is no assertion at all indicating a belief that the term apostasy has anything to do with human authority or anything to do with a failure to be obedient to a lesser authority than Almighty God. Deuteronomy chapter 13 verse 5 is referenced and this scripture speaks concerning a “revolt against Jehovah your God.”
Note: The kings, priest, and prophets were the source of the apostasy. The nation became apostate due to their leadership and example. A reasonable person would have to conclude that true apostasy from God’s viewpoint has nothing to do with failure to follow the edicts/commands of men. Rather, it is a deviation from the righteous commands and standards established by Almighty God himself.
The 1957 Watchtower magazine article entitled “Ancient Israel Backslides”, page 339 appears to contradict the present day teachings of the Watchtower Society:
The religious leaders of the apostate nation not only refused to heed the prophets themselves, they tried to prevent others from heeding the warnings. Like the dog that bites the hand trying to feed it, these religionists persecuted Jehovah’s servants, even killing many of them. The ill-treatment of the prophets by the backsliding religious leaders and the blind masses following them is summarized at Hebrews 11:36-38 (NW): “Yes, others received their trial by mocking and scourging, indeed, more than that, by bonds and prisons. They were stoned, they were tried, they were sawn asunder, they died by slaughter with the sword, they went about in sheep skins, in goat skins, while they were in want, in tribulation, under ill-treatment; and the world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and mountains and dens and caves of the earth.”
Please observe that the Watchtower article refers to an “Apostate Nation” that includes both backsliding religious leaders as well as the blind masses that followed them. A reasonable person would have to conclude that, while one can be following the leadership of a nation or religious group, they could still be found to be apostate based on failure to conform to God’s commands.
It must be mentioned that some who have left the Watchtower Society have indeed proven themselves to be apostates. Some even refer to themselves as apostates. One large group of former “Jehovah’s Witnesses” have become followers of a man who openly confesses a disbelief in the existence of God. He is an atheist. Others have abandoned all forms of Christian conduct. But they are apostates based on their ungodliness and not because they refused to obey the rules of a man-made religious hierarchy.
Over time, Watchtower has literally limped on two different opinions when it comes to defining apostasy. One is a Biblical, theocratically based definition as mentioned above. The other is an earthly, unscriptural definition that is based on a humanistic interpretation of the term.
Jehovah’s Witnesses use the term pejoratively when speaking about other professed organized Christian groups as Catholics and of Judaism. They relates its usage to mean some deviation from the truth as taught by Holy Scripture. Then when it comes to controlling the conduct of members internally, the word takes on a meaning conforming to the humanistic view. So that if one accepts this second teaching, then wouldn’t their adherents be encouraging members of other religious groups to commit apostasy since they would be rebelling against the hierarchy of their current or present religion? By this latter interpretation, the meaning of ‘apostasy’ becomes quite arbitrary and it’s use quite capricious.
Recent Watchtower magazines and their oral presentations reveal what the current prevailing teaching of the Watchtower Organization’s Governing Body is regarding what constitutes an apostatizing. The basis upon which a great many are being thrown out of the congregation is proof of which definition they have chosen to accept.
But it is important to examine the roots of where this humanistic view of apostasy comes from. Is it possible to limp on diametrically opposed opinions with regard to these two distinct interpretations of this word and still be pleasing to God?
Lord Jesus Christ spoke aptly about the problem:
1 Then there came to Jesus from Jerusalem Pharisees and scribes, saying:
2 “Why is it your disciples overstep the tradition of the men of former times? For example, they do not wash their hands when about to eat a meal.”
3 In reply he said to them: “Why is it YOU also overstep the commandment of God because of YOUR tradition?
4 For example, God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Let him that reviles father or mother end up in death.’
5 But YOU say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother: “Whatever I have by which you might get benefit from me is a gift dedicated to God,”
6 he must not honor his father at all.’ And so YOU have made the word of God invalid because of YOUR tradition. (New World Translation)
One view invalidates the other view. One must make a choice.
As pointed out earlier, ancient Israel transgressed against God by failing to offer Him their exclusive devotion and by their failure to subject themselves in complete obedience to His commandments. At the time Jesus spoke the words quoted above, the Jewish religious leaders had created a code of conduct based on their own viewpoint of what they felt satisfied God’s righteous requirements. The example that Jesus raised, showed that their tradition invalidated the very intent of God’s commandment requiring children to honor and care for their aged parents. They put on a front as if their motives were based on a desire to please God. But, it was all a screen that covered over their desire to be greedy and stingy while circumventing God’s commands.
That is why Jesus also pointedly stated what is quoted below:
7 It is in vain that they keep worshiping me, because they teach as doctrines commands of men.’
8 Letting go the commandment of God, YOU hold fast the tradition of men.” New World Translation These leaders, teachers, and those that followed them had chosen to abandon true worship of Jehovah based on God’s Divine Hierarchy and created and man-made hierarchy owing allegiance to human authority.
By examining some of the Jewish oral teachings that apply to this subject, we can best see the thinking of the teachers of Judaism both then and now. Compare them to the practices and teachings of the Watchtower Society.
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees
The following oral laws which are still taught by the Jewish Rebbe (Rabbis), seem to lay the foundation for considering deviating from the oral laws as the same as apostasy away from God. The teachers of oral tradition put on even par the teachings of man with the teachings of the Divine One.
Torah (God’s written Law) versus Jewish Oral Tradition (Talmud)Jewish Oral Teaching (Talmud)
Negative Commandment 312
The 312nd prohibition is that we are forbidden from disagreeing with the Sages who pass down the Oral Tradition (may they rest in peace), or from deviating from any of their instructions in Torah matters.
The source of this prohibition is God’s statement (exalted be He), “Do not stray from the word that they declare to you.”
The Sifri says, “The verse, ‘Do not stray…’ constitutes a prohibition.”One who violates this prohibition, i.e. a zaken mam’re, is executed by strangulation if all the conditions described in the end of Sanhedrin are fulfilled. The details of this mitzvah are explained there. (end of Rebbe’s comments)
The teachers of oral law cite Deut. 17:11 as the basis for this teaching. However if taken in context, the cited versus seems to refer to matters of civil or criminal nature taken before the High Court and does not refer to commands and judgments that deviate from God’s Law.
8 “In case a matter for judicial decision should be too extraordinary for you, one in which blood has been shed, in which a legal claim has been raised, or a violent deed has been committed, matters of dispute, inside your gates, you must also rise and go up to the place that Jehovah your God will choose,
9 and you must go to the priests, the Levites, and to the judge who will be acting in those days, and you must make inquiry, and they must hand down to you the word of the judicial decision.
10 Then you must do in accordance with the word that they will hand down to you from that place which Jehovah will choose; and you must be careful to do according to all that they instruct you.
11 In accordance with the law that they will point out to you, and according to the judicial decision that they will say to you, you should do. You must not turn aside from the word that they will hand down to you, to the right or to the left.
12 And the man who will behave with presumptuousness in not listening to the priest who is standing to minister there to Jehovah your God or to the judge, that man must die; and you must clear out what is bad from Israel.” (New World Translation)
8 If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge—whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults—take them to the place the LORD your God will choose.
9 Go to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict.
10 You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place the LORD will choose. Be careful to do everything they instruct you to do.
11 Act according to whatever they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left.
12 Anyone who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the LORD your God is to be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel.” (New International Version)
That this Scripture could not apply to directives that disagree with God’s directives is seen by the fact that throughout the history of the Hebrew nation, God held accountable all who chose to be disobedient to Him despite being instigated to do so by leaders (kings, priest, etc.) The words of Deuteronomy speak about civil disputes that needed to be decided judicially and not about blinding obeying higher human authorities no matter what.
Recently, the Watchtower has tried to dispel concerns of continuing members by assuring them that even if they are receiving instruction that disagrees with the Holy Scriptures, they will not be harmed by choosing to follow and by teaching them. These forget that Almighty God has said, “Each will be judged according to their own individual deeds”.
This also brings to mind what Satan told Eve. The devil told Eve that she could break Almighty God’s commandment and still live. The teachers of the Watchtower Society are saying this very thing. This teaching handed down from the Watchtower governing body merely echoes the taught “traditions of men”.
Let’s consider 173rd positive oral teaching of Judaism. It speaks about obedience to the sages and to the anointed king. While it teaches that the king is to be absolutely obeyed under penalty of death, in the fifth paragraph are the words, “We are required to fulfill any command the king issues unless it contradicts a command of the Torah.” (Torah refers to God’s written law)
Jewish Oral Teaching (Talmud) The 173rd mitzvah
The 173rd mitzvah (oral command) is that we are commanded to appoint over ourselves a Jewish king to speak for us and lead us.
The source of this commandment is God’s statement (exalted be He), “You shall appoint for yourselves a king.”
As we have previously, the statement of our Sages in the Sifri, “The Jewish people were commanded three mitzvos upon entering the Land of Israel: to appoint a king, to build the Holy Temple, and to destroy the descendants of Amalek.” Our Sages also said in the Sifri, 5 “The verse, ‘You shall appoint for yourselves a king,’ constitutes a positive commandment.”
This commandment is explained as follows: 6 “The verse, ‘You shall appoint for yourselves a king,’ means that you must instill in yourselves awe of him.” We should think of him with the greatest possible respect, and awareness of his great and exalted status, to the extent that in our eyes he is greater than any of the prophets of that generation.
8 We are required to fulfill any command the king issues unless it contradicts a commandment of the Torah. If a person transgressed the king’s command and does not fulfill it, the king is allowed to execute him by the sword. Our ancestors, may they rest in peace, accepted this upon themselves when they said [to Joshua], “Whoever rebels against your statement, and does not obey all your commands shall be put to death.” Anyone who rebels against a king who was appointed in accordance with the Torah, may be executed by the king.
All the details of this Mitzvah are explained in the second chapter of tractate Sanhedrin, 10 the first chapter of Kerisus, 11 and the seventh chapter of Sotah. (end of Rebbe’s comments)
Were kings like Manasseh and Ahaz to be strictly followed and obeyed? Were the priests of Ezekiel’s day to be strictly listened to and obeyed? Whether or not to cooperate with another should involve considering what you are being asked to cooperate with. All authority below Heaven is relative and obedience is therefore conditional. The obedience to be given the king as stated above was on the condition that his edict does not contradict the written commands of God.
The Watchtower teachers are following the established oral tradition as taught in Judaism.
The next two examples from Jewish oral tradition will demonstrate how these traditions are put on equal par with the written commands from God and are even made superior in the matter of obedience.
Oral teaching 174 -The 174th mitzvah
The 174th mitzvah is that we are commanded to obey the Beis Din HaGadol and act in accordance with all their instructions regarding what is prohibited and what is permitted. There is no difference whether it is something they received by Oral Tradition; derived using one of the principle of Torah extrapolation; decreed in order to correct some laxity or in response to some other situation where they found it appropriate and that it would strengthen Torah observance. We are required to obey all such directives and to act in accordance with their words, not to transgress them.
The source of this commandment is God’s statement1 (exalted be He), “You must keep the Torah as they interpret it for you [and follow the laws that they legislate for you].”
The Sifri says, “The verse, ‘Follow the laws that they legislate for you’ constitutes a positive commandment.”
The details of this mitzvah are explained in the end of tractate Sanhedrin.2 (end of Rebbe’s comments)
Here it is stated that there is to be no distinction made from teaching handed down through oral tradition and those derived directly from the Torah. According to this teaching God’s commands and man’s commands have the same weight when it comes to obedience.
Earlier, it was mentioned that the Watchtower governing body is teaching that their commands have to be followed even though what they are teaching is in contradiction to the commandments of God. They have often identified themselves as a “John class” or prophetic channel of God. As such, they demand the final say as to how Scripture is to be interpreted. If a person disagrees with this governing body’s interpretation, the Watchtower’s Governing Body’s thoughts and behaviors mirror those found in the 172nd Jewish oral teaching. This oral tradition also applies to the “prophet”. It states that if the prophet’s words must be followed even if this temporarily requires one to transgress the written commands from God:
Oral Teaching 172-The 172nd Mitzvah
The 172nd Mitzvah is that we are commanded to obey each of the Prophets, may they rest in peace, and to fulfill all their instructions. Even if his instructions contradict one or many of these commandments, [we are commanded to obey him] as long as his instructions are temporary. This does not apply, however, if he permanently adds or subtracts [from the commandments], as we explained in the Introduction to our Commentary on the Mishneh.
1 The source of this commandment is God’s statement (exalted be He), 2 “To him you must listen.” In the words of the Sifri: “The verse, ‘To him you must listen,’ means that even if he tells you to temporarily transgress one of the commandments of the Torah, you must listen to him.”
One who transgressed this mitzvah is punished by Mita bidei shamayim, as it says in God’s statement (exalted be He) 4 “If any person does not listen to My word that he declares in My name, I will punish him.” It has been explained in tractate Sanhedrin that three are punished by mita bidei shamayim: one who disobeys the prophet, a prophet who disobeys his own prophecy, and a prophet who conceals his prophecy. All of them are derived from the phrase, “If any person does not listen.” Our Sages said, “The phrase, lo yishma [‘does not listen’] can also be read, lo yishamei [‘does not listen to himself’] and lo yashmia [‘does not make others listen’].”The details of this mitzvah have been explained in the end of tractate Sanhedrin. (end of Rebbe’s comments)
As is the case among current Jehovah’s Witnesses today, the threat of death, albeit spiritual, is held out as a consequence of failing to following their spiritual leaders with godly obedience.
If one were to adopt this humanistic view of what an apostate is, then they would have also agreed with those who persecuted Lord Jesus Christ to death. He would not subject himself to the authority of the then ruling priesthood, he was branded as an apostate in their terms.
They accused him of blasphemy for stating that the Temple would be thrown down. However, he was undeterred in his obedience to God and doing God’s will. He gave exclusive devotion and obedience to the Father.
This pattern is the same one that has been being played out since the first human renegade Eve made a choice to deviate from God’s righteous requirements.
It always invariably involves a choice to listen to someone or something else other the voice of the commands of God. Almighty God scolded the first man Adam for listening to the voice of someone else. Before sentencing him, God said, “Because you listened to the voice of your wife….”
Jesus stated regarding the temple priestly class, “Letting go the commandment of God, You hold fast the tradition of men”.
As professed disciples of Jesus Christ, we should follow his lead. We should have his view of what apostasy really is and not that of the traditions of men.
The Apostle Paul wrote to be on guard against deceptive reasoning:
8 Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry YOU off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ; (New World Translation)
It is true that this tradition has not only affected Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower organization. After the first century, it did not take long before Christendom was formed based on honoring a human hierarchical organization. But it all can be traced back to the deviant traditional teaching taught in the Talmud that contradict Torah teachings.
It has been no accident that throughout the entire history of the Bible Students/Watchtower/Jehovah’s Witnesses era there have existed two distinct entities within. One is of members who were and are truth seekers and wish to be part of the Christian congregation. The other is a hierarchical corporate structure and its blind followers who are bent on maintaining and worshiping a human institution.
As is evident by the publications from the Watchtower that were cited in this post, there have been periods when those who were intent on teaching truth held sway. There have been other periods when the teachings were at best skewed. The organizational forces won that struggle. This fit with the outcome the Bible foretold would occur.
The Watchtower uses the word ‘apostasy’ in the sense that conforms to Jewish oral tradition and which has no basis of validity according to Holy Scripture. Like Jewish oral tradition, their teachings must be accepted as having equal weight with God’s even when theirs are in conflict with God’s written word. To teach such is to teach an apostatizing. And this is what Jehovah’s Witnesses will readily tell you; if it is about someone else. How could one be rendering exclusive devotion and obedience to God while living and teaching contrary to His word?
We will all have an accounting with Almighty God on the central question, “Whom will you obey?”
This post will examine the restoration promises God had made through the prophets; first looking at the time periods the prophesies were made, when they were fulfilled, and how important to their fulfillment was due diligence on the part of His people.
It will also discuss the necessity for the faithful servants of God not to give up or to give out before completing the work He has set before us by examining the events that happened when the Israelite captives had been freed by King Cyrus in 537 B.C.E and they and the exiles had returned to their then desolate homeland.
Finally, we will look at the experience of one key person, High Priest Joshua, and how the devil resisted him with allegations of unworthiness in order to discourage him.
The Restoration Promises To Israel
Important in understanding the restoration prophesies found in the Old Testament is dating when they were written and the circumstances that existed when they were written. There are many who teach and believe that the prophecies concerning restoration that are written in the Old Testament are yet to be fulfilled as God promised. But, is this true?
Below is a list of Bible Books that contain restoration promises God made:
The Book Of Deuteronomy written between 15th and 7th centuries B.C.E.
The Book of Psalms written between the 10th and 9th centuries B.C.E.
The Book of Isaiah written 740-701 B.C.E.
The Book of Lamentations written 587-575 B.C.E.
The Book of Ezekiel written 593-573 B.C.E.
The Book of Jeremiah written 630-580 B.C.E.
The book of Amos written 788-743 B.C.E.
Please note the time periods in which these Books were written. The dates are very important in understanding the fulfillment of the restoration promises.
The prophetic writings in these Books detail two things:
(1) God promises that He would both free the Israelites from captive bondage and
(2) that He would restore the land of Israel.
These two events are the basis for the restoration promises mentioned in all of the Bible Books that were listed above.
The Israelites were taken into bondage by the gentile King Nebuchadnezzar. The bondage officially began when faithful king Josiah’s son, Jehoahaz was dethroned and taken into captivity around 606 B.C.E. This began the 70 yearlong captivity God had promised due to the nations transgressions.
As stated earlier, the captivity ended precisely 70 years after in 537 B.C.E when the Persian king Cyrus overthrew the Babylonian Empire in a daring night raid.
The foretold 70 years of desolation began later at the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E.
The desolation was then set to end approximately in the year 517 B.C.E.
Contrary to King Cyrus’ decree, something different happened after the people returned to their homeland that put the restoration of the land in jeopardy.
Upon returning home, the returning Israelites were very quick to rebuild their individual home while neglecting to rebuild the Temple, the House of God.
This was an important development since the rebuilding of the Temple was prerequisite to God ending the period of desolation and restoring the land.
In fact, King Cyrus had made a decree to the effect that the freed captives were to return home and immediately begin to rebuild the Temple of God:
2 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he has commanded me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
3 Whoever there is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD, the God of Israel (he is God), which is in Jerusalem.
Once the people had rebuilt their private homes, they felt self-satisfied and begged off from rebuilding the Temple as commanded. It would be over 14 years later before construction began or about 521 B.C.E. God became vex toward them for their failure.
Begging Off Before Completing the Lord’s Work
According to the Book of Haggai, God confronted them by sending His prophet to then governor Zerubbabel to say:
1 In the second year of Darayavush (Darius) the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai, the prophet, to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying,
2 “This is what the LORD of hosts says: These people say, ‘The time hasn’t yet come, the time for the LORD’s house to be built.’”
3 Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai, the prophet, saying,
4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies waste?
But they seemed to be oblivious to the fact that although they had rebuilt their homes, they were still in want because the land was still unproductive. Note what He says through the prophet:
Haggai 1:5, 6
5 Now therefore this is what the LORD of hosts says: Consider your ways.
6 You have sown much and bring in little. You eat, but you do not have enough. You drink, but you aren’t filled with drink. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm, and he who earns wages earns wages to put them into a bag with holes in it.”
He goes on to tell Zerubbabel what is necessary to remedy their plight:
Haggai 1:7, 8
7 This is what the LORD of hosts says: “Consider your ways.
8 Go up to the mountain, bring wood, and build the house. I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified,” says the LORD.
It wasn’t that they were not trying to sustain themselves; that was their problem. It was God that was thwarting any effort they attempted to make.
9 “You looked for much, and, look, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the LORD of hosts, “Because of my house that lies waste, while each of you is busy with his own house.
10 Therefore for your sake the heavens withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit.
11 I called for a drought on the land, and on the mountains, and on the grain, and on the new wine, on the oil, and on all what the ground produces, and on men, and on livestock, and on all the labor of the hands.”
When Zerubbabel heard this, he repented. He repented, as well as the High Priest, and all of the remnant who returned became obedient to the word of Jehovah.
12 Then Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD, their God, and the words of Haggai, the prophet, as the LORD, their God, had sent him; and the people feared the LORD.
13 Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, spoke the LORD’s message to the people, saying, “I am with you,” says the LORD.
14 The LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God,
15 in the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darayavush (Darius) the king.
Do Not Call Anything Impure That God Has Made Clean
The quote above can be found in the Book of Acts chapter 10 verse 15. But these same words applied in the case of Joshua the High Priest mentioned in verse 12. In what is recorded in Haggai chapter two tell us that God place His hand of anointment on both Zerubbabel and Joshua the High Priest due to their faithfulness.
1 In the seventh month, in the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying,
2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying,
3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Isn’t it in your eyes as nothing?
4 Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the LORD. ‘Be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the LORD, ‘and work, for I am with you,’ says the LORD of hosts.
5 This is the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, and my Spirit lived among you. ‘Do not be afraid.’
God continues by telling them that He will bless them and their obedience would bring blessings for the people and the land.
Haggai 2:6-9, 23
6 For this is what the LORD of hosts says: ‘Yet once more, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth a and the sea and the dry land;
7 and I will shake all nations, and they will come with the treasures of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts.
8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine,’ says the LORD of hosts.
9 ‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts; ‘and in this place will I give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
23 In that day, says the LORD of hosts, will I take you, Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the LORD, ‘and will make you as a signet, for I have chosen you,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
High Priest Joshua would come attack by Satan himself because of his repentance from disobedience to God. Satan would challenge Joshua’s worthiness in a vision played out in Heaven before the throne of God. Let’s turn our attention to the Book of Zechariah Chapter 3.
The prophet Zechariah had an most usual vision of a scene acted out in Heaven. This is what he saw:
Zechariah 3:1, 2
1 He showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to be his adversary.
2 The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan. Yes, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you. Isn’t this a burning stick plucked out of the fire?”
The prophet sees God anointed High Priest and he see the devil standing beside him as his adversary. The bible tells us that Satan is the false accuser of our brothers. (Revelation 12:10)
Well, this is what he is poised to do in regard to Joshua by declaring Joshua is unclean given his past sin and therefore, he unworthy of the service God has entrusted him with.
In verse two, God has already rebuked Satan. Then Jehovah God poses a question to the devil. He ask Satan, ” Isn’t this a burning stick plucked out of the fire?’
In the vision, Joshua is described as being in unclean clothes:
3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the angel.
But God has obviously forgiven Joshua as the next verses reveal:
4 He answered and spoke to those who stood before him, saying, “Take the filthy garments off of him.” To him he said, “Look, I have caused your iniquity to pass from you, and I will clothe you with rich clothing.”
5 I said, “Let them set a clean turban on his head.” So they set a clean turban on his head, and clothed him; and the angel of the LORD was standing by.
Satan was calling impure what God had made clean. Many today will not accept those God has anointed bringing up prior sins that God has forgiven them for. While they are unforgiving, God is not to those who truly repent as High Priest Joshua did. Such people put their judgments above God’s. But it is God’s judgment that matters.
Jesus said this:
“When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
The righteous angel of God who was also present, reminds Joshua that he must continue to be faithful and to walk in righteousness in order to be worthy to continue in God’s service and keep his garments clean.
6 The angel of the LORD protested to Joshua, saying,
7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘If you will walk in my ways, and if you will follow my instructions, then you also shall judge my house, and shall also keep my courts, and I will give you a place of access among these who stand by.
8 Hear now, Joshua the high priest, you and your fellows who sit before you; for they are men who are a sign: for, look, I will bring forth my servant, the Branch.
9 For, look, the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes: look, I will engrave its engraving,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
10 In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘you will invite every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig tree.’”
Satan became upset when he couldn’t stop God’s temple from being rebuilt. Faithfulness to God irritates the devil. He had done everything he could to stop the Temple from being reconstructed. Everything from creating a spirit of self-satisfaction among the returned remnant to using organized groups to undermine attempts to rebuild.
The Restoration Promises
God fulfilled the promises he made to restore the nation of Israel when he brought the Israelites out of Babylonian bondage in 537 B.C.E. and when He restored the land to productivity in 517 B.C.E.
There is no commitment to a future restoration of a physical Jewish nation despite the teaching by many that the Bible promises one.
All the Old Testament restoration prophecies were written prior to the 537 B.C.E. release from captivity and well before the restoration of the desolate land in 517 B.C.E. They were all fulfilled.
The restoration promises mentioned in New Testament scriptures have to do with all humankind.
New Testament Restoration Promises
21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 13:9-11
9 We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored.
10 This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.
11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.
21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
These Scriptures have to do with the release from captivity from Satan’s power and his system of things. They have to do with release from captivity to sin and death. Again, these promises are the prospect for all repentant humans and not just for one national group as it was in the past.
These promises are about the restoration of the Earth back to its original perfection before Adam’s fall and God place a curse on the ground. They are not about the restoration of one region of the Earth.
Do Not Beg Off From Completing The Lord’s Work
We cannot expect full blessings from Jehovah God if we do not fully meet His requirements. If we become self-satisfied like those who returned from Babylonian captivity originally did, then Jesus words found at Revelation 3:2 will apply:
Revelation 3:1, 2
1 “This is the message from the one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know what you are doing; I know that you have the reputation of being alive, even though you are dead!
2 So wake up and strengthen what you still have before it dies completely. For I find that what you have done is not yet perfect in the sight of my God.”
While we may experience some measure of benefit, we cannot expect to receive God’s full blessings.
Do Not Call Anything Impure That God Has Made Clean
It is God who declares who is righteous and who is unrighteous. While other human beings may put themselves in judgment, they are not in the judgment seat of God. God has given that authority to the eternal High Priest Jesus Christ. The devil remains the false accuser of God’s children and attacks them trying to stop them from finishing the work that God has set before them to accomplish.
Do not allow the devil, his angels, nor his wicked human seed to judge you or impede you from fully accomplishing the will of God.
“Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.”
For a Christian believer, no oath is more important than the oath we take at the time of our baptism.
Jesus in his parting words explicitly stated the terms of that oath. From several Bible Translations:
Matthew 28:19, 20
19 “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Holman Christian Standard Bible
“Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,: Good News Translation
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” King James Version
” Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit,” New World Translation (NWT)
The New World Translation is the Bible translation created and published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and is the translation of the Bible solely used by “Jehovah’s Witnesses”. In regard to Matthew 28:19, it reads similarly to other well-recognized translations of the Bible. The verse clearly states Jesus as instructing his disciples to baptize in the “name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (not capitalized)”.
In the following verse Jesus continues, 20 “and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” GNT
Have “Jehovah’s Witnesses kept Jesus command? Have their spiritual leaders obeyed everything He commanded to do?
The answer is no, and particularly in regard to His command concerning baptism.
Most professed Christian at least understand that it is a sin to alter the commandments given by God and Christ. Yet this is exactly what the Watchtower organization did in 1985 by changing long-standing baptismal vows so that they became a denominational vow.
Watchtower Society Changes To A Denominational Vow
In 1985, the Watchtower Society changed its baptismal vows so that new Jehovah’s Witnesses committed themselves not only to God, but to the Watchtower Society.
This is evident from the baptismal vows published over the years. The baptismal questions from the Aug. 1, 1966 Watchtower (p. 465) were:
(1) Have you recognized yourself before Jehovah God as a sinner who needs salvation, and have you acknowledged to him that this salvation proceeds from him, the Father, through his Son Jesus Christ?
(2) On the basis of this faith in God and in his provision for salvation, have you dedicated yourself unreservedly to God to do his will henceforth as he reveals it to you through Jesus Christ and through the Bible under the enlightening power of the holy spirit?
The May 15, 1970 (p. 309) and May 1, 1973 (p. 280) issues printed slightly revised vows. They were different, but did not change concerning the baptismal candidate vow of dedication in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
I was baptized April 18, 1964 and thank God that I was baptized with a pure, unadulterated vow of dedication.
But in 1985, they did make a meaningful change in the wording that baptismal candidates were asked to swear to.
The newest baptismal questions were set forth in the June 1, 1985 (p. 30) Watchtower:
(1) On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?
(2) Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?
Note how different the second vow is from the earlier versions. The Society now ask newer members coming into association with them to, in effect, swear allegiance to their denomination from which their membership can be terminated at any time by the Society by disfellowshipping while at the same time convincing these newcomers that they have solely made an oath of dedication to God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
Can this legitimately be considered a real Christian baptism?
Denominational Baptism: Is It Valid?
In the first century, there weren’t various denominations of Christians groups or beliefs. While there were various groups of Christian disciples who met in different places, they did not act as different religious groups with competing views nor were they to divides themselves into different followings.
When a problem did arise when some disciples sought to do so, this is what the Apostle Paul told them in admonishment:
1 Corinthians 1:11-16
11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.
12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?
14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius,
15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name.
16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) NIV
The disciples he spoke to were creating competing factional denominations or ‘cliques’. They sought to further identify themselves as specific followers of individuals.
Denominations imply that there is diversity of viewpoints among the one body of Christ. Christ himself said “A house divided cannot stand”. Those that Paul counseled were attempted to divide the Church.
Paul could very well make the statement above today to groups such as “Jehovah’s Witnesses” who display the same conduct of those he spoke to in the first century.
How do they claim to be “God’s spirit-directed organization” while being disobedient to Jesus Christ? They undermine His sole position as Lord.
A denominational baptism is the act of immersing someone in water based upon the teachings of a group of people who practice division by off naming and un-appointing Christ from divine Lordship; the act of being baptized according to the dictates and teachings of a denomination. Based upon what a denomination is, what it does, and what it stands for indicates any baptism a denomination administers is invalid and unaccepted by God. It is a sin.
Let’s consider again Paul’s words found in 1 Corinthian 1:10-13. The Bible reads:
10 Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction.
11 For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by members of Chloe’s household, that there is rivalry among you.
12 What I am saying is this: Each of you says, “I’m with Paul,” or “I’m with Apollos,” or “I’m with Cephas,” or “I’m with Christ.”
13 Is Christ divided? Was it Paul who was crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul’s name? HCSB
In these same verses, Christians are commanded to speak the same thing. This does not mean we become puppets of each other and practice being copy cats to everything a preacher preaches.
Peter makes it very clear what it means to speak the same thing in 1 Peter 4:11, where the Bible reads:
If anyone speaks, let him do so as speaking pronouncements from God; if anyone ministers, let him do so as depending on the strength that God supplies;so that in all things God may be glorifiedthrough Jesus Christ. The glory and the might are his forever and ever. Amen. NWT
As Christian disciples, if we are going to speak, then we need to speak the words of God. God’s word is the Bible.
Therefore, we need to speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent. The Bible speaks against denominationalism because denominationalists do not speak the same thing. They speak as spokesmen of their preachers, leaders, and creeds, and not as the spokesmen of God.
In fact, we too are to speak against denominationalism. The Bible speaks nothing about denominational baptism. So, since the scriptures are silent on this subject, then God has nothing to do with it. As far as God is concerned, there is no such thing as denominational baptism. So, how can it be valid?
Christians are to be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. The true church is to be united in understanding, resolution, counsel, and consent. Denominations do not have the same understanding because if they did, they would be trying to restore unity and not promote division.
Denominations do not have the same resolution because each denomination teaches a different methodology on how to get to serve God and Christ.
They are not of the same counsel because if they were, they would follow the deliberate purpose and design of the Bible.
They are not of the same consent because when it comes to God’s word, they cannot agree on anything. The only thing they can agree on is to disagree.
Jesus Christ did not die for something He is against, but rather Christ prayed we all be one.
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. ESV
Denominationalism does not represent oneness. According to the dictates of the Bible and what they stand for, denominationalism is wrong and false to the core. Therefore, ANY baptism for ANY purpose that is predicated upon this foundation and its teachings of this satanic trick to drive individuals away from Christ. Hence, their baptisms are invalid.
There are some brethren who believe with all their being denominationalism is wrong. They believe if a person is in a denomination, then that person is lost. They believe everybody practicing denominationalism should repent of this religious error and give their life to Christ.
However, they still will believe that if a person is baptized and understands their baptism was for the remission of sins, then God has saved this person and added them to the church, thus making this person’s baptism valid. Some have even stated God promised remission (forgiveness) of sins to the person who is baptized. So, since God promised it, He has to give it to you.
Biblical Baptism Makes A Person One With Christ….. Denominational Baptism Does Not
The problem that arises as a result of this reasoning is limiting baptism to a two-fold purpose, which is remission of sins and salvation. Although baptism accomplishes both, it does so much more.
Baptism makes a person one with Christ. To affirm a denominational baptism is for the supposed remittance a person’s sins and for the supposed provision of salvation, but it does not put a person at one with Christ.
In Galatians 3:26-27, the Bible reads:
26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. KJV
If a person claims to be in Christ, then they must be aware it was their baptism that put them in Him. If an individual does not believe their baptism put them into Christ, then their baptism is invalid.
If a person was baptized, then it was because of their faith. The Bible teaches in Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” KJV
Faith is based upon what a person “hears”. Faith only comes by the word of God. If a person’s “faith” has prompted them to be baptized, then that same faith has prompted them into believing denominationalism or the doctrine of the denomination they identified with is right also.
Since, the Bible does not teach denominationalism as being right before God, then the person who accepted it and practiced it based upon what they were taught and embraced it as a result of their baptism could not have been baptized by an accurate faith to begin with. If their baptism was not based upon faith, which only comes by hearing God’s word, then their baptism is not pure and it did not make them one with Christ.
The Bible teaches us that salvation is only in Christ Jesus. In 2 Timothy 2:10, the Bible states:
“For this reason I go on enduring all things for the sake of the chosen ones, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is through Christ Jesus, along with everlasting glory.”
If salvation is only in Jesus Christ, and baptism is the only thing that puts an individual into Christ, then baptism has to be predicated upon faith, faith only comes by hearing the word of God. Denominationalism is not a result of faith because the Bible speaks out against it, then anybody and everybody baptized with a denominational baptism was not baptized into Christ, thus making denominational baptism invalid. Hence, any and all baptisms taught and administered by any and all denominations are invalid. This includes “Jehovah’ Witnesses” since 1985.
God Gives Holy Spirit To Those Baptized With Biblical Baptism And Not A Denominational Baptism
When we are baptized, God gives us His Holy Spirit. In Acts 5:32:
“And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” KJV
“We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.” GNT
“And we are witnesses of these matters, and so is the holy spirit, which God has given to those obeying him as ruler.” NWT
If we can find out what the Holy Spirit is suppose to do in the life of a Christian, then we will also know whether this person’s denominational baptism is valid or not.
In 1 John 3:22-24, note what the Bible says:
22 “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
23And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
24And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” KJV
The Holy Spirit of God enables us to live a righteous life by keeping the commandments of God and by doing those things, which are pleasing to the eyesight of God. Denominationalism is not pleasing to God.
If we practice denominationalism, then we are disobeying the commandments of God. So, this simply means the person baptized with a denominational baptism, who believes they are keeping a commandment by attending, identifying, practicing, and worshiping according to the creeds of a denomination, has just received an invalid baptism for the Holy Spirit of God does not lead an individual into a denomination. Based upon this person’s baptism, they never received the Holy Spirit God promised to all them who obey Him. Although, they were baptized, they were not baptized according to the dictates of the Bible, for if they were, they would have received the Spirit of God, but they did not. Hence, if denominational baptism fails to accomplish the purpose of an individual to receive the Holy Spirit, then denominational baptism has also failed in its purpose to put an individual at one with Christ, to save a person’s soul, and to forgive them of their sins.
Born Again By Way Of Bible Baptism…. Denominational Baptism Does Not Accomplish This
When a person is baptized, then they have been born again. You cannot be born again without baptism. If denominational baptism is valid, then the person baptized with it has been born again. If it can be proven that a person baptized with a denominational baptism has not been born again, then a denominational baptism is invalid.
Jesus himself explained for all of humanity what it means to be “born again”.
3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” KJV
Compare with the New World Translation:
3 “In response Jesus said to him: “Most truly I say to you, unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
4 Nic·o·deʹmus said to him: “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter into the womb of his mother a second time and be born, can he?”
5 Jesus answered: “Most truly I say to you, unless anyone is born from water and spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” NWT
If a person wants to be born again, then they have to be born of the water and of the Spirit. Those advocating denominational baptism are placing emphasis only on the water and not on the Spirit. They understand what it means to be born of the water, but have failed in their understanding to know what it means to be born of the Spirit.
This is the process in which one is born of the Spirit. First, this person must receive (that is to accept) Christ and His teachings to be true and not false.
12 “But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name,” HCSB
If an individual can accept this, then God gives this person the right, the ability, the power to become a child of His. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in and does His part in the born again process. The tool the Holy Spirit uses to accomplish this purpose is the word of God, which is His sword.
Note Ephesians 6:17:
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” KJV
No individual can obey God’s commands in regards to their salvation without knowing what “Thus saith the Lord.” The Spirit uses the word of God to instruct the lost soul what they must do to be saved and what salvation does for them.
This all takes place by way of the word of God and obedience to what is written in it.
This is reaffirmed 1 Peter 1:22-23:
“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” KJV
The Holy Spirit is very crucial to the process of being born again. When an individual has been born of the Spirit, they are not born again with a corruptible seed, but of an incorruptible seed. If an individual believes the denomination they “joined” is PART of the true church of Christ, then this person has been born of corruptible seed and their denominational baptism is invalid.
If a person believes they have the right to “join” themselves to a denomination before and after baptism based upon what they have been taught by a denomination, then this person has been born of corruptible seed and their denominational baptism is invalid.
If a person believes God has added them to the denomination that they identify themselves with believing it is the true church of Christ , then this person has been born of corruptible seed and their denominational baptism is invalid.
If a person believes it is okay to worship, accept, and identify with a denomination, then the Holy Spirit of God had nothing to do with this individual’s baptism because the Holy Spirit would not neglect to inform an individual by way of the word of God denominationalism is wrong and God only has but one church and He only adds the saved to His church.
Since the Holy Spirit had nothing to do with denominational baptism, then although they might have obeyed the water part of the plan, but their baptism is still invalid because it was based upon the teachings of a corruptible seed and not an incorruptible seed.
With Bible Baptism, One Is Added To The Church Of Christ….With Denominational Baptism They Are Not
When a person is baptized into Christ, then God adds them to the church. Acts 2:47:
47 “praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” NIV
Those who believe denominational baptism deny this point. They believe God adds this person to the church regardless of their core beliefs concerning the church. The church are the heirs of the the kingdom of God.
In Matthew 16:18-19, the Bible reads,
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” KJV
So, if God “added” this person baptized with a denominational baptism to the church, then He also “added” them to His kingdom because the church and the kingdom are the same thing, according to the advocates of this doctrine.
However, this is untrue according to the context of John 3:5. The Bible teaches unless an individual is born of the water AND of the Spirit, he CANNOT enter into the kingdom of God (the church). All individuals baptized with a denominational baptism may have been born of the water, but due to their resolve that denominationalism is right, they have not been born of the Spirit because this person has been baptized with a “corruptible seed”.
According to Luke 8:11, the “seed” is the Word of God.
“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.” ESV
The seed is the word of God and according to what Peter wrote, the word of God is the incorruptible seed.
1 Peter 1:21-25:
22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.” ESV
Valid baptism is the result of an incorruptible seed, which is the word of God by way of the Spirit; whereas, denominational baptism is a result of a corruptible seed. To even suggest denominational baptism is valid is to suggest the word of God is corrupt, but the word of God is not.
1 Timothy 3:16, 17:
16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” KJV
God has spoken by His Word. If a person is not born of the water AND of the Spirit, he CANNOT enter into the kingdom of God. Since a person baptized with a denominational baptism of corruption, then that person was not born of the Holy Spirit, and therefore God has not added this person to His church and they are not allowed entranced into the kingdom.
In Colossians 1:12-14, the Bible reads, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” KJV
When God adds an individual to His church: (1) He has delivered or rescued them from the power of darkness (sin and error) and (2) He has translated, transferred, or carried them away into the kingdom of His dear Son. The true Christian disciple has been “delivered” and “translated” because he/she has been redeemed by way of the blood of Christ and by such, their sins have been forgiven.
Denominational baptism does not accomplish this purpose. Therefore, a person baptized with a denominational baptism has not been delivered from darkness, has not been translated into the kingdom, has not been redeemed by the blood of Christ, and has not had their sins forgiven, thus making denominational baptism invalid.
Wrong Teaching Equals Wrong Baptism
The right baptism is predicated upon the right teachings. The same word that produces a saving faith is the same word that instructs an individual to be baptized. The same word that instructs a person to be baptized is the same word that teaches denominationalism to be wrong. The same word that teaches denominationalism to be wrong is the same word that teaches the truth about the church. This is a result of faith coming by hearing the word of God. (Romans 10:17).
The Bible further teaches in Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” KJV
Denominationalism is not pleasing to God. If denominationalism is not pleasing to God, then it’s baptism is not pleasing to God because it is not a result of faith and whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
In Acts 8:4, 5, and 12, we learn the absolute importance of what we must hear in order to be saved. We must understand baptism saves.
In 1 Peter 3:21, the Bible reads, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Therefore, what we hear must instruct us of the fact baptism now saves us.
In Acts 8:4, the Bible reads, “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.” If we can figure out what it means to preach the word, then we will have an understanding of what needs to be taught to the individual lost in their sins.
In 2 Timothy 4:2, the Bible admonishes:
2 “to preach the message, to insist upon proclaiming it (whether the time is right or not), to convince, reproach, and encourage, as you teach with all patience.”
When an individual preaches the word, then they must present the true gospel message when folks want to hear it and when folks don’t want to hear it. When an individual preaches the word, they must tell the world of their faults (sin). Denominationalism is sin. A denominational preacher is not going to convince someone of the Biblical facts when he himself is practicing a sin before God. He is going to convince you that denominationalism this is a part of God’s plan for saving man. This is a falsehood!
It is the teaching that leads a person to baptism in the first place. If I was baptized based upon a lie, then my baptism is invalid. Denominationalism is one of the biggest deceptions of the devil. If your baptism is based upon the teachings of a denomination, then your baptism is invalid.
It is the responsibility of the proclaimer of the gospel to make sure you understand what you are about to do and what is in store for you. When an individual preaches the word, then they must comfort the hearers with the good news of the gospel with all patience and instruction. The preacher cannot comfort the sinner with lies and deceit with instructions and conclusions not found in the Bible.
The Watchtower Organization claims to be “God’s spirit-directed organization” whereas there is no Biblical support for that assertion. Such an assertion goes contrary to what the Word of God actually teaches.
Millions of people they have baptized since 1985 have been baptized with an invalid baptism as the Scriptures have shown.
The person who has been baptized with a denominational baptism either believed prior to baptism that denominationalism is wrong or they believed denominationalism is right. This has to be the case or they would not have made the conscience decision to attend and identify with a denominational church and continue to adhere to their doctrine believing it is okay before God.
Those that have been baptized into a particular denomination still have opportunity to seek out someone to baptize them correctly as Christ commanded. If they choose not to do so, not only do they remain alienated from Christ, but they also bear the stain of corruption due to mixing a vow of dedication to God and Christ with a vow of loyalty to a man-made organization.
1 As Jesus left the Temple and was walking away, his disciples came up to him to point out to him the Temple buildings.
2 But he told them, “You see all these things, don’t you? I tell all of you with certainty, there isn’t a single stone here that will be left standing on top of another. They will all be torn down.”
The rebuilding of the Second Temple was begun by Herod the Great, king (37 bce–4 ce) of Judaea. Construction began in 20 bce and lasted for 46 years. The area of the Temple Mount was doubled from the size of the First Temple and surrounded by a retaining wall with gates.
This was the Temple that existed when Jesus Christ lived, instituted the Lord’s Supper on Nisan 14, and existed when he was crucified.
The Second Temple was not only awe inspiring because of its religious significance, but also for its physical dimensions, its grandeur and its beauty. Thus, as the Roman generals sat surveying Jerusalem and considering the Temple’s future they hesitated before ordering its destruction. Jews, from that day to this, have yearned and prayed for its rebuilding, and tourists and religious people alike have come to behold the site on which it once stood.
Unfortunately our impressions of the Temple are at best incomplete. Since its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE, the only available sources of information about the Temple have had some religious or political bias. The New Testament, the Mishna [the rabbinical exegesis of the Old Testament], and the works of the Judeo-Roman historian Josephus provide the bulk of our knowledge of the Temple. These in association with archeological evidence at the site all point to a building so wondrous that even today its construction remains a mystery.
An appreciation of the Temple is enhanced by a clearer understanding of the geographical and historical setting in which it was extended. During the period in question, Jerusalem was under Roman rule but remained the capital of Judea and the international centre of Judaism. Normally a city of 100 to 200 thousand people, three times a year on the pilgrim festivals of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, Jerusalem’s population swelled to 1 million souls (the exact number depending on the source of population estimates). On these occasions this small ancient city had to cope not only with the throng of people but also their sacrificial animals and offerings, necessitating temporary increases in food supplies, accommodation, ritual bathing facilities, and all aspects of commerce. It was Herod, installed by the Romans as governor of Jerusalem, who faced these logistical problems, and who consequently set about renovating the city and the Temple to accommodate this massive periodic influx.
In order to meet the enormous increase in capacity the Temple required for these festivals and to comply with the limitations placed on its dimensions by Jewish law, Herod built a great plaza around the Temple. This plaza is the Temple Mount of today where the Dome of the Rock and the El Aqsa mosque stand. To construct this platform, Herod built a box around Mount Moriah and filled it in. The plaza covered this box and expanded the available land at the peak of the mountain. The plaza is approximately 480 x 300m (about the size of six football fields). The retaining walls of this box were themselves cause for wonder and the “Kotel” or Western Wall (the holiest site in modern Judaism) is one part of the western retaining wall (but not actually a wall of the Temple proper). The walls are 5m thick and made up of enormous stones weighing between 2 and 100 tons (there is even one that weighs 400 tons) with an average stone being about 10 tons. There is no mortar between the stones and they sit so closely together that not even a piece of paper can fit between them. Such fine maneuvering of the stones is incomprehensible given that even today’s modern machinery cannot move such heavy stones.
Also worthy of comment was the overall appearance of the walls which were about the height of a 20 storey building. Normally, standing at the base of a twenty storey building an illusion is created in which the building appears to be falling down on top of the viewer, but standing at the base of the Temple’s retaining walls this did not happen. It was prevented by the fact that the margins carved around the edge of the stones differed, being slightly wider on the bottom than on the top. In addition, each level was staggered with successive courses of stones indented 3 cm relative to the course below. The precision with which stones weighing over 100 tons were placed 2000 years ago is astounding and mystifying. Furthermore, these stones were merely part of the retaining walls that supported the plaza on which the Temple stood and thus only a prelude to the even more incredible sight of the Temple itself.
Before work began on the Temple, Herod spent eight years stockpiling materials for its construction. Then, a workforce of over 10,000 men began its construction including a contingent of 1,500 specially trained priests who were the only ones permitted to work on the innermost and holiest parts of the Temple. Building continued for a further twenty years, though the Temple was in a sufficiently ready state within three and a half years of its commencement to be dedicated.
If one was a pilgrim coming to Jerusalem, one would probably first go to the bank to change money as the coins of the realm, engraved with the head of Caesar were unacceptable for use in the Temple. The central “bank” in Jerusalem and some of the Law courts could be found on the Temple mount platform in a building called the royal portico or stoa. To reach this building (from which there was no direct access to the rest of the plaza) one climbed the stairs to an overpass that crossed over the main road and the markets that ran by the western wall. This overpass was another unique feat of engineering being the width of a four lane highway and possessing an arch made with stones having a combined weight of over 1,000 tons. In order to build this overpass the workers had to literally build a hill, construct the overpass on it, and then remove the hill leaving the overpass standing. Josephus describes the stoa that one reached via the overpass as follows: “…It was a structure more noteworthy than any under the sun. The height of the portico was so great that if anyone looked down from its rooftop he would become dizzy and his vision would be unable to reach the end of so measureless a depth….”; this from a man who had seen Rome in all its glory. He also describes the one hundred and sixty two columns that stood in the stoa as being so large that three men standing in a circle could just hold hands around one of their bases.
After changing money and before entering the Temple, the people were required to immerse themselves in a ritual bath. Despite the arid climate and meager natural water sources there were many such baths in the city, filled using a series of aqueducts and pipes that stretched over 50 miles, 80km. After ritual immersion the Temple was then accessed via the southern or Hulda gates. These gates led to tunnels built under the plaza that then emerged on to the plaza itself. The walls of these tunnels were lined with candles and the ceilings were carved and painted with intricate geometric designs simulating a Persian carpet.
Despite the magnificence of all that has already been detailed, undoubtedly the centrepiece of this majestic complex was the Temple itself. A building of shining white marble and gold, with bronze entrance doors, it was said that you could not look at the Temple in daylight as it would blind you. The attention to detail in its construction is exemplified by the placing of gold spikes on the roof line of the building to prevent birds sitting on the Temple and soiling it.
On their arrival pilgrims could hear the sounds of the Levites who sang and played musical instruments at the entrance. The pilgrims would circle around the Temple seven times and then watch the various rituals, sit under the columned porticos that surrounded the plaza and listen or talk to the rabbis. The Temple area was divided into various areas for study, sacrifices, libation etc. and further divided according to a social hierarchy for gentiles, women, Israelites, Levites and Priests. Finally, in the centre of the Temple was the holy of holies, the innermost chamber of the Temple where the ark of the Law was kept. Only the High Priest was allowed to enter this inner sanctum, and then only once a year, on the Day of Atonement. So strict was the law governing entry to the holy of holies that the High Priest had to wear a belt around his waist so that in case of his unexpected death he could be pulled out without anyone else entering.
In the construction of the Temple nothing was overlooked. For example, in order to stop the inevitable crowding at the gates that would follow the conclusion of a service, the exiting stairs were designed to encourage people to spread out over a larger area. This attention to detail and the extraordinary feats of engineering were mirrored in the planning of the remainder of the city and its unique surrounds. The roads were made of paving stones weighing up to 19 tons, so stable that they hardly moved even when the massive stones from the walls above fell on them during the Temple’s destruction. Beneath these pavements was a complex sewerage and water system that enabled collection of the run off water and conserved a resource whose scarcity and value was accentuated by its requirement for ritual bathing and the performing of sacrifices.
In traditional Judaism, the only legitimate Temple was the one in Jerusalem, built first by King Solomon around 950 B.C.E., destroyed by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar around 587/6 B.C.E., and rebuilt about 70 years later. It was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. The site of the ancient Jewish Temple is now occupied, in part, by the “Dome of the Rock” Mosque. In recent times, “temple” has come to be used synonymously with synagogue in some Jewish usage.
(Pesach) The major Jewish spring holiday (with agricultural aspects) also known as hag hamatzot (festival of unleavened bread) commemorating the Exodus or deliverance of the Hebrew people from Egypt (see Exodus 12-13). The festival lasts eight days, during which Jews refrain from eating all leavened foods and products. A special ritual meal called the Seder is prepared, and a traditional narrative called the Haggadah, supplemented by hymns and songs, marks the event.
Who Is Your Savior? On Whom Does Your Salvation Depend?
Do you look at your pastor as your savior? Do you look to your religious group or organization for salvation?
If you do, you are not following the instruction found in the Holy Bible and Jesus Christ is not your Savior.
Efforts to exalt fellow human beings instead of the Lord, Jesus Christ as Savior are not a new phenomenon. There were many who were doing this very thing in the first century at the formation of the Christian assembly.
So much was the case that the apostle Paul had to write a sternly worded letter about this subject to the Body members who resided in Corinth.
He had to remind them that they were not baptized in his nor any other man’s name that ministers as a servant to Christ.
He had to remind them whom it was that died in their behalf in order that the door to salvation would be opened to them.
The apostle pointed out to the Corinthians that what they were doing when they claimed to be followers of a specific minister of Christ, was actually attempting to divide Christ.
In 1 Corinthian 1:29, Paul tells them and us, that God purposed things in the way He did so that no human had cause to be boasting in themselves. But rather, that the glory be to God and Christ.
In Chapter 3 verse one, Paul said that their behavior was “self-directed” according to their “fleshly nature” and he said that their actions were based on jealousy.
Lastly, Paul makes clear that it is not the minister that spiritual growth is dependent upon, but that growth is dependent upon the Holy Spirit of God.
Please read the text of the first of letter Paul wrote to the congregation of Corinthian and then ask yourself “Am I looking to Jesus Christ as my Savior, or someone or something else”?
1 Corinthians 1
1 Paul, called as an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, and Sosthenes our brother:
2 To God’s church at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called as saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord—both their Lord and ours.
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I always thank my God for you because of God’s grace given to you in Christ Jesus,
5 that by Him you were enriched in everything—in all speech and all knowledge.
6 In this way, the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you,
7 so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
8 He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
10 Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction.
11 For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by members of Chloe’s household, that there is rivalry among you.
12 What I am saying is this: Each of you says, “I’m with Paul,” or “I’m with Apollos,” or “I’m with Cephas,” or “I’m with Christ.”
13 Is Christ divided? Was it Paul who was crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul’s name?
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
15 so that no one can say you were baptized in my name.
16 I did, in fact, baptize the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t know if I baptized anyone else.
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to evangelize—not with clever words, so that the cross of Christ will not be emptied of its effect.
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved.
19 For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the understanding of the experts.
20 Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish?
21 For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached.
22 For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom,
23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles.
24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom,
25 because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
26 Brothers, consider your calling: Not many are wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth.
27 Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong.
28 God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something,
29 so that no one can boast in His presence.
30 But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became God-given wisdom for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,
31 in order that, as it is written: The one who boasts must boast in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 3
1 My fellow believers, when I was with you previously, I was not able to teach you as I would teach people who are controlled by the Holy Spirit. Instead, I had to teach you as I would teach people whom their fleshly nature controls. I taught very simple concepts to you who had recently believed in Christ, as a parent would speak very simple words to a baby.
2 I did not teach you things that were difficult for you to understand, just like a woman does not give her baby solid food that the baby cannot chew and digest. And just like a woman gives her baby milk, I taught you simple spiritual concepts, because at that time you were not able to understand difficult things. And you are still not able to understand difficult concepts,
3 because you are still controlled by your self-directed, fleshly nature. Some of you are jealous and quarreling. Does not that prove your self-directed nature is controlling you? It shows that you are acting like unbelievers act.
4 By some of you saying, “I am loyal to Paul,” and others saying, “I am loyal to Apollos,” does not it show that you are acting like unbelievers?
5 So what you really ought to think about Apollos and me is that we are merely men who serve God. As a result of our telling you the message about Christ, you trusted in him. Both of us are merely doing the work that the Lord appointed us to do.
6 I was the first one who preached God’s message to you. I was like someone who plants seeds. Later, Apollos taught you more of God’s message. That was like someone who waters plants after they start to grow. But it is God who enables people to grow spiritually, just like he is the one who causes plants to grow.
7 So the person who first preaches God’s message to people is not important, and the person who later teaches people more of God’s message is not important, just like it is not the person who plants the seeds or the person who waters the plants who is important. Instead, it is God, who causes plants to grow and who causes people to grow spiritually, who is important.
8 The person who first preaches God’s message to people and the one who later teaches them more of God’s message both are trying to reach the same goal. And God will reward each of them according to how they served Him.
9 Remember that Apollos and I are both working together for God. You do not belong to us. Just like a field belongs to its owner, not to those who work in it, you belong to God, not to us who work for him.
Also, a house belongs to its owner. It does not belong to the man who built it. Similarly, God is the one to whom you belong.
10 Just like a skilled person puts a foundation in the ground before he builds a house, as a result of God kindly helping me, I was the first one who declared the message about Christ to you. And, just like others build a house on its foundation, there were others who later taught you more about Christ. But just like each person who builds a house must be careful about what materials he uses to build it, each person who teaches God’s truth must be careful about what he teaches.
11 Just like people can put in only one foundation for a house, there is only one message that we can give to people. That message is about Jesus Christ. (Translation for Translators)
There is no doubt that a true disciple of Jesus only looks at him as their Savior and only look at him as God’s means of salvation.
Preachers and religious organization that teach that you must be their follower to gain salvation, are lying to you and leading you away from the true Savior, Jesus Christ.
At 1 Corinthian 1:13, the apostle Paul mentions an all-important fact that many professed believers have either overlooked or have chose to disregard.
1 Corinthian 1:13
“Is Christ divided? Was it Paul who was crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul’s name?”
A Christian disciple is to make their vow to God at their baptism according to the instructions that Jesus himself left to follow.
Matthew 28:19, 20
19 Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
20 and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.”
Did your baptismal vow include more than the “name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”? Did it also include the name of a religious denomination? Then was it really a valid baptism in God’s eyes?
Please consider these questions by reviewing the post at the URL shown below.
7 Won’t God avenge his chosen ones, who are crying out to him day and night, and yet he exercises patience with them?
8 I tell you that he will avenge them quickly. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
These are the words of Jesus Christ. The Lord’s question should cause a professed disciple of his to wonder why he would ask such a question.
Jesus’ statement does not imply that he himself felt that true faith would be abundant among humankind when he returned. In fact, he questioned whether there would be any at all.
Yet, according to the Pew Research Center, in 2015, there were 2.3 billion Christians of all ages living in the world. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, reported that the number of Christians in the world edged past 2.5 billion in 2019. This represents almost one third of the Earth’s population.
Given Jesus’ question, something doesn’t add up does it?
Note also what he is quoted as saying found in the gospel of Matthew:
13 “Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it.
14 How narrow is the gate, and difficult is the way that leads to life. Few are those who find it.
Here he says that “few” are those who truly find and who truly travel the pathway of righteousness.
Paul spoke prophetically about this phenomenon in his first letter to Timothy:
1 Timothy 4:1-2
1 But the Spirit says expressly that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons,
2 through the hypocrisy of liars, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron;
He is saying that many in the last days would succumb to teachings that do not equate with true Christian discipleship and that their conduct would not demonstrate true faith.
In his second letter to Timothy, Paul specifically described one of two contributing factors that would result in a scarcity of true faith.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
3 For the time will come when people will not tolerate healthy doctrine, but with itching ears will surround themselves with teachers who cater to their people’s own desires.
4 They will refuse to listen to the truth and will turn to myths.
The second main contributor is the infiltration of false teachers into the church brotherhood.
The apostle Peter warned about them:
2 Peter 2:1-2, 12, 17-19
1 Now there were false prophets among the people, just as there also will be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves.
2 Many people will follow their immoral ways, and because of them the way of truth will be maligned.
12 These people, like irrational animals, are mere creatures of instinct that are born to be caught and killed. They insult what they don’t understand, and like animals they, too, will be destroyed,
17 These men are dried-up springs, mere clouds driven by a storm. Gloomy darkness is reserved for them.
18 By talking high-sounding nonsense and using sinful cravings of the flesh, they entice people who have just escaped from those who live in error.
19 Promising them freedom, they themselves are slaves to depravity, for a person is a slave to whatever conquers him.
These false teachers have a confusing and a divisive effect that stumbles many seeking true faith.
3 If anyone teaches false doctrine and refuses to agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, and godly teaching,
4 he is a conceited person and does not understand anything. He has an unhealthy craving for arguments and debates. This produces jealousy, rivalry, slander, evil suspicions,
5 and incessant conflict between people who are depraved in mind and deprived of truth. They think that godliness is a way to make a profit.
Even though many profess to be Christ’ disciples, the reality is that few truly are. They have not heeded the apostle Peter’s warning found in 2 Peter 2:1.
The apostle Peter pointed out that it is the one who earnestly seeks God that is manifesting true faith.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Jesus’ question regarding the presence of true faith when he returns, emphasized how scarce it would be and how hard it would be to maintain it.
Will you fight to be one of the few?
What Is Godly Fear?
What does it mean to fear God?
Does the Bible contradict itself on this matter?
Ecclesiastes 12:13 exhorts:
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. KJVlite
Over and over in the Bible we are exhorted to fear God, to have the fear of the Lord, to live in godly fear.
So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today.
And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul
How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!
The Lord favors those who fear Him,
Those who wait for His lovingkindness.
The fear of the LORD leads to life, then contentment; he rests and will not be touched by trouble.
But why should we fear God? Isn’t God love?
1 John 4:18 clearly tells us that: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
Is this a contradiction?
Godly fear isn’t the same as fear of a tyrant, or a dictator. We don’t need to fear His anger, unless we fear punishment due to a bad conscience and an unrepentant heart because of sin. (Romans 2:5-9)
To fear God is absolute reverence and awe for Almighty God, the Creator of all things, including we ourselves individually.
This causes us to fear to sin against Him, because we want nothing else in this world than to be pleasing to Him, and to bring honor to His name. We fear to cause Him sorrow or grief, knowing how incredibly wicked willful sin is, how much God hates it, and how much it hurts Him when we sin.
Please re-read the passage above from Deuteronomy 10:12.
Proverbs 8:13 states very succinctly what the fear of God means:
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil. I hate pride, arrogance, the evil way, and the perverse mouth.
Some attempt to pit Ecclesiastes 10:12 and 1 John 4:18 against each other and claim the Bible contradicts itself. There is no contradiction.
1 John 4:18 is stated to a specific group who obediently accept Jesus as Messiah. Refer to verse two of the same chapter:
1 John 4:2
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,
These words are specifically spoken to those truly in union with Christ by accepting him. It is not a general statement to all humankind.
These words are directed toward those who love God and keep His commandment out of love for Him. They have no reason to fear.
That cannot be said of all people. There are those who should properly be in fear because they do not obey him out of love.
For them, Paul's words found in Romans 2:5-9 apply:
5 But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are storing up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
6 who “will pay back to everyone according to their works:”
7 to those who by perseverance in good works seek glory and honor and immortality -- everlasting life.
8 But to those who are self-seeking, and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness -- wrath and anger,
9 affliction and distress, on every human being who does evil, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
The Bible does not contradict itself on this matter nor any other matter.
Watch Your Footsteps Carefully
Watch Your Footsteps Carefully…Watch How You Walk
The word ‘Christian’ does not mean an admirer of Christ, nor recipient of Christ’s blessings, nor even one who simply believes in Christ. It means much more than that.
‘Christian’ means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. A Christian is a disciple of Christ.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, this is the definition of what a disciple is:
“a person who believes the ideas and principles of someone famous and tries to live the way that person does or did”.
Jesus came as a man and left us an example to follow in our conduct of how we are to think and behave.
1 Peter 2:21
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Sin has a grip on all people, and we have all fallen short of God’s will in our lives at some time.
Even those of us who attempt to lead a godly life must be honest with ourselves and admit that we are imperfect sinners and must therefore pay constant attention to our behavior.
Consider our thoughts. Are they always so pure and noble, loving and forgiving as we make ourselves out to be? Or do we harbor hatred in our heart?
Consider our words. Are all our words a blessing? Do we offer blessings and yet curse with the same tongue?
Consider our conduct. Are all our deeds unselfish? Do we do things for God’s glory or our own? Are we really following in Jesus’ footsteps?
Because of the perversion of real Christianity you may never have heard of this kind of Christianity, but God’s Word speaks of no other kind. Pick up your Bible today, and rather than reading what Jesus did in your place, read how you can follow in Jesus’ footsteps to become like Him!
Ask yourself, “Am I really a Christian, according to the Bible?” If this is the life you want, don’t hesitate. Pray that God will give you His Spirit, and then start following in Jesus’ footsteps in the way you behave.
We have this Scriptural admonition as a reminder and as a warning:
12 Beware, brothers, lest perhaps there be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God;
13 but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called “today;” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm to the end:
The Holy Scriptures long ago counseled worshipers of the living and only true God to watch their steps in order to maintain pure worship and good standing before Him:
Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.
26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.
12 When you walk, your steps will be sure. And when you run, you will not fall.
13 Always remember what you have learnt. Do not forget it. The things that you have learnt will give you life. So keep them well.
14 Do not go where bad people go. Do not follow the ways of bad people.
15 Do not do it! Keep away from every bad thing! Refuse it and go on your way.
16 Bad people cannot sleep unless they have done something wrong. They lie awake unless they have caused someone to fall.
17 To do bad things is like food and drink to bad men.
The apostle Paul also offered similar counsel to the 1st century Christian congregation:
15 So, you must be very careful how you live. Live like people who understand what is right and good. Do not live like people who do not understand anything.
16 These are bad times, so use every moment well.
17 Do not be fools. But instead, understand what the Lord wants.
18 Do not drink too much wine, because that will cause bad things. It will stop you ruling yourself properly. But instead, let God’s Spirit fill you.
Everyone is a follower of someone or something. Some people follow in the footsteps of their family and tradition. Others follow their own instincts, drawing from a variety of philosophies, religion, friends, and family. They do whatever they feel is right in their gut. That is doing according to one’s own will.
However, true Christians do not follow any of these paths, but rather the path of Christ as his footstep followers. A true Christian listens to the complete teachings of Jesus and obey all of his commandments. They do not cherry-pick through his teachings and commandments selecting to believe and obey only the ones that appeal to their personal will and desires.
A well known entertainment figure who promoted many different so-called ‘spiritual’ belief systems, would often speak of Jesus Christ in personal perception terms. She would say, “My Jesus is like…”.
Jesus was a real historical person and not some mythological character. There is no my Jesus, your Jesus, or his/her Jesus. There is but the one Jesus and we either choose to accept him or not. We can’t make him into something according to our personal preferences.
We can tell if we’re Jesus’ followers if we live out His truth and walk in the light as He is in the light.
We cannot think and behave like those alienated from God and please Him. There is no fellowship between “light” and “darkness”. There is no fellowship between Christ and the devil.
Jesus’ Parable Of The Sower And The Seed
3 Then he began to tell them many things in parables. He said, “Listen! A farmer went out to sow.
4 As he was sowing, some seeds fell along the path, and birds came and ate them up.
5 Other seeds fell on stony ground, where they did not have a lot of soil. They sprouted at once because the soil wasn’t deep.
6 But when the sun came up, they were scorched. Since they did not have any roots, they dried up.
7 Other seeds fell among thorn bushes, and the thorn bushes grew higher and choked them out.
Jesus here speaks of people who had accept the message, became disciples, and who for different reasons failed to take root and grow.
I was associated with the Watchtower Society for about 50 years. My parents, siblings, as well as my own children were also associated with “Jehovah’s Witnesses”.
Looking back, most of those members I encountered never grew beyond spoon-fed spiritual babes although most believe they are highly enlightened.
They never actually rooted in order to become what from a biblical standpoint could be considered spiritually mature.
We would frequently sing a song that contained the refrain, “Make the truth your own”. But many never did. They made their organization equivalent to ‘truth’.
As a result, many put their trust into what others told them was the accurate interpretation of the Bible.
While some simply wouldn’t study the Bible themselves, others didn’t because they were told they couldn’t get the right interpretation studying the Scriptures independently.
In effect the weed-like teachings, or as Jesus elsewhere calls them “demon inspired expressions” of their false prophets and elders choked off any chance to develop and grow.
The Psalmist counseled this:
1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. Psalm 1:1, 2
In duplicity JW org beckons in members by ads like this:
“Receive Full Benefit From Reading the Bible” — (Watchtower ONLINE quote:)
But what does it mean then to read the Bible “in an undertone”? And ” must not depart from your mouth” and “you must in an undertone read in it day and night”.? NWT
After they have hooked people in, they then tell them they can’t grow by such independent study.
When the Watchtower Society headquarters were located in Brooklyn, New York, it displayed a huge sign which read, “Read The Bible Daily”.
But if you can’t get an accurate understanding by doing so, what would be the point? Their behavior is classic bait and switch modus operandi.
Charles Russell wrote to this effect and they have had a history of breaking up any small group who would get together just to consider the Bible absent WT literature.
They, the elders were the “thorns” that choked the life out of earnest people seeking to become disciples of Christ in order to make them disciples of men.
These elders were the “birds” Jesus speaks about in Matthew 13:4 who swooped down and ate the seed before it could take root and grow to spiritual maturity.
Their actions prove that they do not believe in Christ although they say they do. They do not believe in his word. Otherwise they would have heeded his advance warning:
6 “If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea.
7 How terrible for the world that there are things that make people lose their faith! Such things will always happen—but how terrible for the one who causes them!
I am certain that there are many who have had this same experience with other so-called religious denominations throughout the world. However, I can only give direct testimony in regard to my own experience. The same warning applies.
These men will be accountable to Christ in the Judgment.
Make Wise Use Of The Remaining Time
"Redeeming The Time"
Paul wrote a warning to the Ephesian church that they should "watch carefully how they walked" and that they should be "redeeming" time.
The following is his statement in context:
1 Be therefore imitators of God, as beloved children.
2 And walk in love, even as Christ also loved us, a and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling fragrance.
3 But sexual immorality, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be mentioned among you, as becomes saints;
4 nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not appropriate; but rather giving of thanks.
5 Know this for sure, that no sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words. For because of these things, the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.
7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord. Walk as children of light,
9 for the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth,
10 proving what is well pleasing to the Lord.
11 Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them.
12 For the things which are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of.
13 But all things, when they are reproved, are revealed by the light, for everything that reveals is light.
14 Therefore he says, “Awake, you who sleep, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Therefore watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise;
16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
18 Do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your heart to the Lord;
20 giving thanks always concerning all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father; (NHEB)
The Greek word 'exagorazo' is used in the actual translation where the engish word "redeem" now appears in Ephesians 5:16.
Exagorzo literally means to "buy out of the market place." The picture is of a merchant who diligently seeks to buy up the best bargains in the market place, taking care not to miss out on fleeting opportunities.
At Ephesians 5:16, 'redeem' is used in the present tense which calls for us to make it our lifestyle, our daily, moment by moment practice, to buy up for ourselves (to our eternal advantage) the strategic opportunities which God providentially places in our path.
If we are walking wisely (Eph 5:15-note), filled with God's Spirit (Eph 5:18-note), we will be spiritually alert to those divine opportunities in the "marketplace", and will begin to view people and circumstances not just as encounters (or irritations) in time but as opportunities to impact our eternity.
Paul also gave the same admonition to the church at Colossae:
"Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time".
To redeem something means to buy it back, to regain possession of it. The immoral way of life and the immoral conduct that surrounds us will rob us from using our time in pursuit of righteousness.
This is particularly important now because the execution of Divine Judgment is very near.
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest".
"And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed".
Are you making the most wise use of the remaining time?
“And They Took No Note…”
37 “As the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the box-shaped vessel,
39 and they did not know until the flood came, and took them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one will be left;
41 two women grinding at the mill, one will be taken and one will be left.
42 Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord comes.
43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.
44 Therefore also be ready, for in an hour that you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
Jesus harkened back to the days of Noah, the days before the Great deluge swept away an entire world of humankind. God destroyed a world rift with ungodly thinking and behavior.
Christ prophesied again about the refusal to repent of a wicked world in these last days in the prophecy he gave to the apostle John recorded in the Book of
Revelation Chapter 9:
20 The rest of the human race, all those who had not been killed by these plagues, did not turn away from what they themselves had made. They did not stop worshiping demons, nor the idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which cannot see, hear, or walk.
21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic, their sexual immorality, or their stealing.
Today’s wicked God defying world has already been subjected to great plagues of punishment due to ungodly thinking , behavior, and demonic practices.
Yet as in the days of Noah, the world has been preoccupied with the mundane concerns of life and have taken no notice of the moral decay that has swept the Earth.
It is as if they have been sleep-walking.
Can you discern the times?
Prophecy—-The Ripple Effect
Prophecy has a Ripple Effect
Prophecy's effects can be compared to a stone dropped into the center of a pond. Visualize the concentric circles that form from the epicenter and spread out across the pond. Over time these rings cover the entire pond.
Each ring is an identical harmonic reproduction of the initial ring. So that no matter where you are positioned spatially in the pond, you see the same thing.
You can see prophecy's fulfillment everywhere. But there is a critical 'epicenter' to it. These epicenters are circumstances involving 'special' judgements in addition to those common to all mankind.
Following are a few renderings of 2 Thessalonians 2:8 which reveals how the man of lawlessness is brought to an end.
2 Thessalonians 2:8
BBE And then will come the revelation of that evil one, whom the Lord Jesus will put to death with the breath of his mouth, and give to destruction by the revelation of his coming;
EasyEnglish Then people will see the man who completely refuses to obey God. But when the Lord Jesus will come, he will kill that man. Jesus will kill him with the words that Jesus speaks. Jesus will kill him with the very bright, powerful light that shines from Jesus himself.
ISV Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy with the breath of his mouth, rendering him powerless by the manifestation of his coming.
NHEB Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth, and destroy by the manifestation of his coming;
The Easy English gives the fullest interpretation as it points out how the Lord brings this "man of lawlessness" to his end. That is by revelation of the truth.
"Jesus will kill him with the words that Jesus speaks. Jesus will kill him with the very bright, powerful light that shines from Jesus himself."
"Words" will kill the man of lawlessness. Words that the Lord will provide. We certainly don't have an expectation that we will hear His voice from Heaven doing any speaking. Or at least, not prior to His arrival.
He speaks through his servants he has assigned to do so at the appointed time. As now we live near the close of this period of time, and also knowing that the "hour of test" must also occur before the end of this period, time has to be extremely short. And before this, the man of lawlessness is to be killed.
Since Christ will judge angels and flesh, and both the living and all who have died, the application of Biblical prophecy has to be more far reaching than the activities of a small modern day group as Jehovah's Witnesses.
The Letter of Jude
1 I am Jude. I serve Jesus Christ like a voluntary slave. I am a younger brother of James, the leader of all the congregations. I am writing to you whom God has chosen to belong to him. You are loved by God our Father and protected by Jesus Christ.
2 I pray that you will continue to experience very much God acting mercifully toward you, causing you to have inner peace, and loving you.
3 You whom I love, I was very eager and very much wanted to write to you about that which we all share and have in common, which is how God through Jesus Christ has saved us. But now I realize that it is necessary for me to write to you in order to exhort you to defend the truth about Christ that we believe. Jesus and his apostles gave that truth once and for all to us who belong to God, and we must not let it be changed by anyone nor revise or change by anyone.
4 Some people falsely teach that because God kindly does for us what we do not deserve, it does not matter and is all right if we continue to sin. Those people show by the way that they conduct their lives that they do not want to admit and accept that Jesus Christ is our only Master and Lord. It was written long ago that God would condemn such ungodly people and people whose lives are displeasing to him. But some of those people have entered like crawling snakes into your congregations and oppose the truth about Christ, so you must resist and oppose them.
5 Although you previously knew all these things, there are certain things about which I desire to remind you. Do not forget that although the Lord rescued His people from Egypt, He later destroyed most of those same people, ones who did not believe in Him.
6 And there were many angels to whom God assigned positions of authority in Heaven. But many did not continue to rule with authority in those positions. Instead, they abandoned the place that God gave them to live in Heaven. So, God has put those angels in chains forever in the darkness. They will stay there until the great day when God will judge and punish them.
7 Similarly, the people who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah and the nearby cities committed sexual immorality. They sought all kinds of sexual relations that differ from what God permits. So, God destroyed their cities. What happened to those people and those angels shows that God will punish people, such as the ones who teach false doctrine, in the eternal fire of Hell.
8 Similarly, these ungodly people in your midst also defile their own bodies by living immorally, because they claim and say that God revealed in visions that they should act that way. They refuse to allow anyone to have authority over them, and they speak evil about God's glorious, wonderful angels.
9 When the devil (Satan) argued with the chief angel Michael about who would take away the body of the prophet Moses to bury it, Michael did not do as these teachers of false doctrine do. Even though Michael has much more authority than they do, he did not disrespectfully, revile, or say evil things to Satan nor accuse or condemn him. Instead, he only said, “I desire that the Lord God will rebuke you!”
10 But the ones in your midst who teach false doctrine revile and speak evil against the spiritual beings that they do not understand. They also do the evil things that they desire. Things that they know about naturally and without needing to think. Things that they just do without considering the consequences like animals. So, they destroy themselves. But they will also be punished by God.
11 God will do terrible things to those who teach false doctrine! They conduct their lives wickedly like Cain, who murdered his brother because he was jealous and angry because God accepted his brother's sacrifice and did not accept his. These false teachers devote themselves to doing wrong things like Balaam, who tried to induce God's people to sin in order to get the money that was offered to him. They will perish like Korah, who rebelled against the authority that God gave to Moses.
12 Those teachers of false doctrine are as dangerous to you as hidden rocks on a reef, like rocks underneath the surface of the ocean are to a boat. When you gather together to eat the meals that help you believers to love each other more and have a closer relationship with each other, they join you and carouse shamelessly, caring only for themselves and not for others. Because they do not do anything to help others, they are as useless as clouds that are blown along by the wind but that do not produce any rain. They are as disappointing as trees that do not produce fruit in the autumn as we expect them to. They are not only spiritually dead themselves, but they are not able to cause others to be alive spiritually, just like trees that have been uprooted and as a result are unable to produce any fruit.
13 They are restless, like the pounding waves of the ocean. Just like waves produce foul-smelling foam on the shore, those teachers of false doctrine do shameful deeds. We cannot depend or rely on them to show us how to conduct our lives, just like we cannot depend or rely on falling stars to show us the way when we travel. God has reserved intense darkness for them forever in Hell.
14 Enoch, the sixth person in the line of people who descended from Adam, prophesied this about those teachers of false doctrine: “Listen carefully to this: The Lord will certainly come with a countless number of his holy angels in order
15 to judge everyone, and to punish all wicked and ungodly people, those whose lives are displeasing to God for all the ungodly things that displease God that they did in an ungodly way, and for all the harsh things that ungodly sinful people have spoken against him.”
16 Those teachers of false doctrine grumble about the things that God does. They complain about what happens to them. They do the sinful things that their bodies desire. They talk boastfully. They flatter and say nice things to people, only in order to get those people to give them the things that they want.
17 But you people whom I love need to remember the things that were predicted by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, the things that the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ said would happen.
18 They told you, “In the final period of time in which we are now living there will be people who will laugh at the truths that God has revealed. They will do the ungodly things that are displeasing to God that their bodies desire.”
19 That describes the teachers of false doctrine well, because they are the ones who cause divisions among believers. They do what their own minds tell them to do. The Spirit of God does not live within them.
20 But you people whom I love, hold and continue to trust firmly the very sacred truths that you believe. Pray letting the Holy Spirit enable and empower you.
21 Keep conducting your lives in a way that is appropriate for those whom God loves. Keep constantly expecting that our Lord Jesus Christ will act mercifully toward you. Keep expecting that until the time when we begin living eternally with him.
22 Mercifully help those who are not certain what teaching they should believe.
23 Rescue others from the influence of those who teach what is false, as you would rescue things by snatching them from a fire. Pity those whom the teachers of false doctrine have completely convinced but beware that they do not influence you. Detest doing or even thinking about the sins that those people commit, just like you would detest touching not only filthy things but the clothes that were stained by those things.
24 God is able to keep you from ceasing to trust in him and from sinning, and he is able to bring you into his glorious presence. As you stand before Him, there will be nothing for which you will be condemned, and you will be rejoicing greatly.
25 He is the only true God. He has saved us as a result of what Jesus Christ our Lord did for us. God was glorious and great and mighty, and He ruled with great authority before time began. He is still like that, and he will remain like that forever! Amen! That is true!
Jude wrote this letter to warn its readers against false teachers. These were teachers who claimed to be Christians but were not as evidenced by their ungodliness. They posed a great danger to the faith of anyone who listened to them.
Jude said they were “as dangerous to you as hidden rocks on a reef, like rocks underneath the surface of the ocean are to a boat”. These false Christian teachers want to shipwreck you and your faith.
He also likened them to uprooted trees saying, “just like trees that have been uprooted and as a result are unable to produce any fruit”. In verse 19 he states, “The Spirit of God does not live within them”.
In this same verse, Jude describes the division they cause because they teach things contrary to the Word of God. “They do what their own minds tell them to do”.
How can one keep from being misled by false teachers?
Verses 20 and 21
20 But you people whom I love, hold and continue to trust firmly the very sacred truths that you believe. Pray letting the Holy Spirit enable and empower you.
21 Keep conducting your lives in a way that is appropriate for those whom God loves. Keep constantly expecting that our Lord Jesus Christ will act mercifully toward you. Keep expecting that until the time when we begin living eternally with him.
Following the Example Set By The Apostle Paul
“And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another”.
1 Corinthians 4
1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.
4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
8 Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.
9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;
12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.
15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.
18 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.
19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.
20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
21 What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?
Resist those who want you to follow them instead of helping you become a better follower of Christ.
Whom Is Your ‘Mother’?
Whom Is Your Mother?
Old Covenant Slave Mother vs New Covenant Free Woman
21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Hagar.
25 For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
Comparatively, the son of Abraham by the free woman (Isaac) is likened to those seeking to be justified by faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as the promised Messiah, without becoming Jewish first or seeking a Zionist national identity.
When reading Paul's words, the son of Abraham by the slave woman (his son Ishmael) was likened to those seeking to be justified by human means, by the works of the Law, by circumcision, by legal Jewish identity.
Paul confronted those who wanted to enforce the Jewish Law covenant upon the newly formed Christian congregation. The Christian congregation and the covenant it was formed upon was comprised of not just natural Jews, but of people of other nations who were not bound to obey the Law of Moses.
Yet there was a constant insistence then and also now by natural Jews to enforce an old terminated covenant centered on one physical nation, Israel. They sought to be right with God by continuing the things of the past while ignoring His will in the matter.
Paul explains that he is referring to two opposing covenants, illustrated using (unnamed) Sarah, and (named) Hagar.
Paul's words emphasize a competition between two covenants. One is legitimate and the other is not.
Paul also wanted his readers to understand that to expect right standing with God according to the flesh, according to Jewish social status, and a physical national identity is to be identified with a covenant of slavery, the covenant with Hagar and her offspring.
Zionist and so-called Christian-Zionist possess this slave mentality by insisted on creating an earthly nation with Jerusalem as it capital. This is exactly what Paul is warning against.
The original old covenant with a single nation is the covenant with Hagar and her offspring. It relates to the Torah of Moses because that is where practicers of Judaisms in Paul’s day looked for the origins of the Nation of Isra'el as a people, because with the Law, God covenantally “married” as it were, his bride Isra'el.
At the time Paul wrote this letter, earthly Jerusalem certainly was not free. The Roman government had a choke-hold on the complete region. It could not have been the Jerusalem above Paul refers to.
What he does say specifically is that the Jerusalem that is above is free (in opposition to the slave-city earthly Jerusalem), and that this heavenly Jerusalem is our mother.
One Should understand these verses as proof positive that the Old Covenant stemming from Mount Sinai represents slavery and must be replaced by the New Covenant stemming from the Heavenly Jerusalem that offers freedom, and this would be true only if we interpret the terms "old covenant" as "old nature" and "new covenant" as "new nature."
The present Zionist movement are the efforts of those attempting to defy God and continue under a yoke of slavery.
Paul mentions that Ishmael was born when Abraham succumbed to his flesh. Or in other words, in the normal way ordinary human beings produce and bear children.
On the other hand, the son of the free woman Sarah (Isaac) was born, not according to human effort, but by the Divine power of God and after Abraham and Sarah were in reality too old to physically copulate for the sake of producing children.
Galatians 4:26 King James Version (KJV)
"But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all".
“Letters Of Recommendation”
2 Corinthians 3:2
“Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?”
In this chapter, Paul begins by pointing out that he, the apostle that Christ used to begin the Corinthian church, did not need a “letter of recommendation” from anybody.
What commended him was evident by the power of the Holy Spirit manifested by the works he performed.
Paul then explains that God is the real source of power behind his ministerial work:
2 Corinthians 3:3
3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
Some today believe a “letter of recommendation” is necessary to be considered a bonafide ‘minister’ of Christ.
They would have you believe that to be considered a ‘real’ minister, you will have had to have attended some School of Divinity or some Seminary and gotten from them a letter of recommendation (degree). Paul says correctly that that is not so.
Nor is it a case of we recommending ourselves. Reading verses 5 and 6, he continues:
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
Paul is writing the Corinthians because a problem has arisen among the brothers there because they were getting themselves wrapped up in ideological arguments that were drawing them away from Christ…. and away from living a life guided by the Holy Spirit.
They had lost sight of what is important. They were arguing about ‘credentials’ and superficial things.
The same problem exist today.
Some act like the men Paul refers to as the “super apostles” in 2 Corinthians 11:5,
“I do not think I’m inferior in any way to those “super-apostles.”
These “super-apostles” were actually false teachers who appeared to be superior to Paul in their manner and authority. Paul calls them “super” in a facetious manner. They obviously presented themselves to the congregation as men with credentials that Paul didn’t possess.
2 Corinthians 11:6,
“Even though I may be untrained as an orator, I am not so in the field of knowledge. We have made this clear to all of you in every possible way.”
Divinity Schools and Seminaries can give that polished appearance of a “professional preacher’ that the indiscerning person will confuse with real spirituality.
This is not to imply that going to such a school will make a man a false teacher.
What it means is that it is a false assumption that going to such a school and receiving a letter of recommendation, is proof of confirmation by God’s Spirit and that it makes a man a bonafide minister of Christ.
Only the Holy Spirit in operation is proof of that.
The mouse is not an intelligent creature as you are and doesn't have the advantage you have by being forewarned.
If the mouse had known that there were controllers outside controlling it's mind, behaviors, and destiny; I imagine that if it could not escape, he would at least resisted their efforts with all it's might
Beware Of Those Who Peddle The Word Of God
2 Corinthians 2:17
BBE "For we are not like the great number who make use of the word of God for profit: but our words are true, as from God, being said as before God in Christ".
EasyEnglish "But we are not like so many other people, who sell God’s message for money. No, God himself has sent us. And God sees what we are doing. So, we speak honestly because we really want people to know God’s message. We speak as those who are united with Christ".
ISV "At least we are not commercializing God’s word like so many others. Instead, we speak with sincerity in the Messiah’s name, like people who are sent from God and are accountable to God".
KJVLite "For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ".
NET "For we are not like so many others, hucksters who peddle the word of God for profit, but we are speaking in Christ before God as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God".
NHEB "For we are not, like so many, peddling the word of God. But as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, we speak in Christ".
Luke 14:28 (GNT)
"If one of you is planning to build a tower, you sit down first and figure out what it will cost, to see if you have enough money to finish the job".
Do you get messages from strangers who solicit me for money on Facebook?
After friending and exchanging salutations, they immediately beg for money for some project they have embarked upon.
Some claim they are Christians and are operating orphanages and need financial aid.
Others claim to be Christian ministers who are constructing buildings for their group to meet in.
The words above are the words of Jesus Christ. It is sound admonition.
Why would one embark upon doing something and not first sit down and calculate if they are in a position to accomplish the task?
Facebook offers a contribution button that a person can display on their own page. This enables anyone who wishes to voluntarily make a contribution to do so.
If one cannot afford the cost of such ventures, it would be much better to volunteer their services to an already established, financed orphanage or to work and build up sufficient enough funds to start and finish your building project.
What are the distinguishing differences between a “sheep-like” disciple and the “goat-like” disciple?
Matthew 25:31-33: “the Son of Man … will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left,”
In several prophecies written in the Old Testament, the coming Messiah is referred to as a ‘Shepherd’:
Yet his bow remained steady, and his strong arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
He protects His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment. He gently leads those that are nursing.
I will appoint over them a single shepherd, My servant David, and he will shepherd them. He will tend them himself and will be their shepherd.
My servant David will be king over them, and there will be one shepherd for all of them. They will follow My ordinances and keep My statutes and obey them.
Jesus identified himself as the foretold of “shepherd” that would guide God’s obedient children to salvation.
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know Me,
A drove of sheep is led by its shepherd, whereas a goatherd is led by a lead goat.
A flock doesn’t lead each other. A flock of sheep look towards the guidance of its shepherd to not only lead them, but also to protect them from dangers such as predators or dangerous environments. Quite opposite, goats lead a goatherd wherever THEY wish to go, while destroying the environment around them along the way.
The male goat represents strong-mindedness, singleness of purpose, and leadership rather than following. Goats follow their own will. The Scripture contrast these two distinct character traits found in sheep and goats in order to show the proper disposition of a true disciple of Jesus.
Perhaps this is so because people who exercise these characteristics are frequently offensive to their fellow brothers and sisters by tending to go off in their own direction in their drive to achieve their own will and goals. Unfortunately, often a great deal of self-pride accompanies the desire to lead others.
The goat-like disciple’s thinking and behavior is very different from that of the obedient disciple.
They have little sympathy for God’s way and remain indifferent to their brothers and sisters. Jesus spoke about this sort of indifference when he chastised the church in Laodicea:
15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot.
16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth.
If you continue reading the following verses, the Laodiceans were doing just fine according to their own judgment, but not according to the judgment of the Shepard, Christ.
17 Because you say, ‘I’m rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing,’ and you don’t know that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked,
18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, white clothes so that you may be dressed, and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see
In reading the context of Jesus’ statements found at Matthew chapter 25, you will see that the goat-like disciples are condemned because of their sins of omission. They are condemned for what they didn’t do.
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Away from me, you that are under God’s curse! Away to the eternal fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels!
42 I was hungry, but you would not feed me, thirsty but you would not give me a drink;
43 I was a stranger, but you would not welcome me in your homes, naked but you would not clothe me; I was sick and in prison, but you would not take care of me.’
44 Then they will answer him, ‘When, Lord, did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and we would not help you?’
45 The King will reply, ‘I tell you, whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones, you refused to help me.’
46 These, then, will be sent off to eternal punishment, but the righteous will go to eternal life.”
There are sins of commission which are things we do: and there are sins of omission….sins of failing to act and do what is right in God’s eyes.
Why did Jesus label such people as goats? What characteristics possessed by a goat caused Jesus to use them in such a negative light?
Goats are ‘capricious’. Here are some synonyms for that term:
Goats are impulsive and unpredictable, devious and contrary. When they are not poking their heads through fences, they may be standing on their hind legs, stretching for those tender leaves just out of reach. Goats are never content with what they have.
They are clever in opening gates and squirming through small gaps because they hate to be limited and confined. While a fence will usually handle sheep, cattle, and horses; it will not hold goats. They will work tirelessly to spring themselves from any situation they deem inhibiting.
Consequently, goats are not very good followers. Sheep are ‘gregarious’ in their behavior. This word describes the nature of a flock or herd and is an instinct which is found strongly in sheep, cattle, and horses. Again, this quality is rather weak in goats; they prefer leading or going off on their own.
Goats may have some admirable qualities such as intelligence, sensitivity, playfulness, they are quick to respond to individual attention and affection. While all of that sounds good, they also so have many negative bad traits that will not allow them to be good followers.
Goats possess a stubborn streak. If you attempt to move a goat in a certain direction, say by grabbing its horns or by pushing and tugging, a goat will resist you. While Christ doesn’t force anyone, a goat-like disciple is rarely moved even if force is applied.
Goats are not very good followers; nor are many ‘professed’ Christian disciples of Christ. That is why Jesus compared his disobedient, self-willed followers to goats. Goats seem to want to forge their own way almost as if they are saying, “I don’t need the shepherd! I will do it all by myself”.
What would we call a Christian who is unpredictable? A goat! Or one who thinks he is above it all? A goat! Or one who independently does his own thing? A goat! What would we call a Christian who wants to take over, has trouble functioning in a group, and does not want to be led? A goat!
In contrast, sheep tend to be more cooperative and inclined to stay with the herd while goats tend to be more independent. Sheep tend to be dependent on the shepherd and more inclined to stay with him and near him.
Christ is separating the “sheep” from the “goats” now.