Did Jesus Christ “Confirm the Covenant”?

I generally try to address a wide audience on matters easily understood. But here I’m going to write about something that only a relatively few people are aware of. It has to do with the intricacies of Daniel 9:27 and how that verse has, or has not, already been fulfilled. This is one of the most disputed subjects in the study of Bible prophecy and the future.

First, here’s what that verse says in the King James version of the Bible. “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week. And in the middle of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and offerings to cease. And for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even to the consummation. And that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

If this is new to you and you’re interested in it, I suggest that you view the video I’ve done on this verse and its relationship to what Jesus taught in Matthew 24. That video is “Daniel 9:27 & the Last 7 years”. It’s made for a wider audience, going slower than I will here, giving the background and build-up to the significance of this verse. But here I’ll aim to go rather quickly into greater detail and unraveling of it all. And if you don’t have a background in this, it may be hard to follow.

There’s no doubt that Jesus “confirmed the covenant” but the question here is if this is what Daniel 9:27 is talking about. Paul said, “The covenant which was confirmed before in Christ…” (Galatians 3:17). Jesus is, “…the mediator of the new covenant.” (Hebrews 12:24) Jesus was “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29), “slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). His “blood cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:9). This future covenant to come was prophesied through Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-33). There’s no question of whether Jesus fulfilled this prophecy in Jeremiah. And even Jesus’ ministry on earth evidently lasted 3½ years, seemingly corresponding to “the middle of the week”, the middle of 7 years, spoken of in Daniel 9:27.

So certainly there are details which seem to match the work of Christ on earth with what is spoken in Daniel 9:27. The question is, was Christ’s atoning work on earth and the subsequent beginning of the Early Church specifically what Daniel 9:27 refers to? Those who believe it does say that when Daniel 9:27 says “and in the middle of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease”, this refers to Jesus’ death and resurrection which then made unnecessary the ceremonial offerings made by the Jewish priests in the temple in Jerusalem.

But this is the first of several places where focused scrutiny on the verse and then the historical facts brings uncertainty that Daniel 9:27 was specifically referring to Christ on earth. Because there is no Scriptural or historical record of any kind that the temple sacrifices were stopped in Jerusalem after Christ’s Crucifixion and resurrection. There’s no reason not to believe that the Jews continued their temple sacrifices up to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

Another place where neither Scripture nor history gives any backing to Daniel 9:27 being fully fulfilled at the time of the Crucifixion and the Early Church is where the idea is put forward that 3½ years after the Crucifixion was the amount of time before the martyrdom of Stephen in Acts 7. Those who hold to the belief that Daniel 9:27 was finished with the martyrdom of Stephen teach that the period of time from the Crucifixion to Stephen’s martyrdom was the second 3½ years of “the last week”, the 70th week of Daniel 9:27. But there’s just nothing in Scripture about this at all. Or in Early Church teachings. Neither do the Apostolic fathers make this assertion. And those believing Daniel 9:27 was fulfilled in Christ have even greater difficulty trying to explain how Jesus was involved with any “abomination of desolation”, alluded to in Daniel 9:27 and referred to repeatedly elsewhere. Neither did Christ confirm any 7 year (“one week”) covenant. His was an eternal covenant, having nothing to do with any 7 year period.

If Daniel 9:27 has some definite similarities to events which have already passed, but still it has not been truly fulfilled, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time. One of the bigger controversies in Bible prophecy circles from the 1800’s to our times has had to do with Antioch IV Epiphanies, a leader of the Greeks around 165 BC. There were modern bibles for years that explained in their footnotes that the final Antichrist of the endtime, spoken of in Daniel and Revelation, was none other than the Greek tyrant, Antioch IV Epiphanies, who violently persecuted the Jews in Israel at that time.

Antiochus IV Epiphanies ruled for 3½ years, just as numerous places say the final Antichrist will. He even desecrated the Jewish temple in Jerusalem by sacrificing a pig there, seemingly fulfilling the scriptures about the Antichrist placing “the abomination of desolation” (Dan. 11:31) in the temple, after stopping the sacrifices. I made a short video about this man and this subject called “Some Say the Antichrist Has Come”. But as bad as he was, few today still teach that Antiochus IV Epiphanies was the final fulfillment of the many verses about the Antichrist.

But what about Daniel 9:27? Didn’t Jesus confirm the covenant? Well, yes He did confirm the covenant spoken of in Jeremiah, no question about that. Is there any other covenant? Actually, a study of the word “covenant” shows that it appears over 250 times in the Old Testament and many of those times it was not referring to the holy, eternal covenant of God with His people.

In some places it’s used to mean a compact, a confederacy or a league and it has no religious significance. For example, when the Gibeonites came to Joshua, it says, “And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live…” (Joshua 9:15). That word in Hebrew for “made a league” is the same as “covenant” but it is referring to an agreement between individuals, much the same as we see in the affairs of the world in our times.

And this is where it gets interesting when we look at the next major message in Daniel, actually the last revelation he received. This is Daniel 10 through 12 which read as if it was one experience, rather than something that was to be divided into 3 different events or chapters.

One of the most important verses there is Daniel 11:31. This is because it’s almost certainly the one Jesus was referring to in Matthew 24:15 when told His disciples “When you shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, whoso reads, let him understand”. And then the Lord goes on to say in verse 21, “for then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world, to that time, no, nor ever shall be.

We could go off on a track here with some who say that this event, “the abomination of desolation”, happened with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. But then those who believe this also conclude that Jesus’ Second Coming, to take over the earth, also happened in 70 AD. And few can look at the world we live in today and believe He now rules and reigns on earth.

But where in Daniel was Jesus actually referring to in Mat 24:15? The clearest mention of “the abomination of desolation” in Daniel is found in Daniel 11:31. It says this. “And arms [armaments] shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength. And they shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that makes desolate.” I don’t believe there’s any clearer place in Daniel that Jesus could have been referring to than to this verse, Daniel 11:31.

It follows that Daniel 11:31 is of extreme importance in our understanding of the Lord’s return to earth. But then we find that simply turning to Daniel 11:31 to understand it all is not exactly simple. That’s one reason I’ve done the prophecies of Daniel video series, aiming to open the prophetic Scriptures one chapter at a time as God makes known and builds upon His revealed truth, chapter after chapter. And by the time we get to Daniel 11, the revelation of truth is pretty advanced.

But for relevance to the issue of the question, “Is Daniel 9:27 already fulfilled?”, to me the most important fact to be found in Daniel 11 is that this word “covenant” is used repeatedly in the verses leading up to the verse Jesus pointed us to, Daniel 11:31. There are a recurring referrals, immediately before Daniel 11:31 to “the prince of the covenant” (Dan. 11:22), a “league made with him” (Dan. 11:23), “his heart shall be against the holy covenant” (Dan. 11:28), he shall “have indignation against the holy covenant” (Dan. 11:30), “them that forsake the holy covenant” (Dan. 11:30).

As God continues to build upon the revelation from each proceeding chapter, Daniel 11 and 12 become the climax of those revelations. As we understood better the 4 kingdoms first shown in Daniel 2 when viewing the 4 beasts in Daniel 7, so in Daniel 11 we are given much more information about “the covenant” first mentioned in Daniel 9. And in this case it does seem that the narrative points towards more of some kind of political agreement, with spiritual overtones, as being what is the given picture of the covenant to come.

We only get a glimpse of this in Daniel 9 but there’s much more information in Daniel 11. And when we look to Scripture to get our answers, we basically have to take what is given and to see the picture being shown, rather than let our imagination lead us to our own conclusions. It’s rather like a mosaic as we attempt to piece together the bits of the picture given us.

And it’s worth mentioning here that a primary rule in interpreting Bible prophecy is to, if possible, take the literal fulfillment of the words being spoken as our default choice in anything. True, sometimes there is a spiritual meaning. But going this route without taking the literal fulfillment into account has brought a lot of people into some strange doctrines. I wrote about this in “Spiritualizing Prophecy”.

Most scholars believe Daniel 11:21 begins the narrative of the endtime antichrist, spoken of as “a vile person” there in verse 21. In verse 22 there is spoken of “the prince of the covenant” who is overthrown. Who is that? We hold off on coming to any conclusion as we assemble the pieces being given us. In verse 28 it’s said of this man, “his heart shall be against the holy covenant”. Then twice in verse 30, he “has indignation against the holy covenant” and “he has intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.

What is this all referring to? What does this all mean?! Our hearts throb to understand this better. But rather than going into speculative conjecture, my feeling has been that it’s best to just remember it strongly and let the Lord clarify its full meaning in His time. But these are the verses leading up to the verse Christ specifically pointed us to over 500 years later, Daniel 11:31. I’ll add it here again. “And arms [the Hebrew word here is armaments] shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strengthen, and they shall take away the daily sacrifice and they shall place the abomination that makes desolate.

This series of verses immediately before Daniel 11:31 (which Jesus pointed us to) repeatedly refer to a covenant or league made with the man of sin, the Antichrist. This is a major clincher for me that the covenant spoken of in Daniel 9:27 is further explained and amplified by these verses in Daniel 11. And actually there are even more. In Daniel 11:32 it says, “And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries. But the people who do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.

I’ll admit I don’t know and can’t tell you exactly what this endtime covenant is. But there certainly does seem to be a large number of verses referring to it and the context strongly points towards something other than the eternal covenant that Christ confirmed with His death and resurrection. It reads very much like some kind of treaty or pact with religious overtones, rather than to what is spoken of in Jeremiah 31 or Galatians 3.

Taken out of context, Daniel 9:27 can be made to look like it is connected to the Crucifixion and resurrection of Christ in the first century. But within the context of the chapters before and after Daniel 9, the evidence undermines that view and points towards it being one of many verses picturing an endtime scenario of some kind of Middle Eastern peace/religious pact, followed by renewed sacrifices at a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.

This article is now about three times as long as my other articles usually are. As mentioned before, most people may not be able or have the interest to follow this discussion to this length. But, equally, more and more people are coming to realize that what’s discussed here may be of primary importance to our understanding of future prophetic events.

I personally continue to hold the view that part of the endtime to come will include some kind of pact, league, covenant or treaty having to do with renewed sacrifices at a rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem. My views are not based solely on Daniel 9:27 but also on the ones shared here in Daniel 11, plus others mentioned in Daniel 8 which I’ve discussed in the video I’ve done on Daniel 8, seen here.

My apologies if this is too long or intricate. But this is, as far as I know, what is necessary to look fully into the prophecies given Daniel on this subject over 2500 years ago, which Jesus Himself pointed to. My hope is that this discourse has been some help to you in knowing the foundations of why some believe than Daniel 9:27 has a future fulfillment in the last days before the coming of Jesus to bring in God’s Kingdom to earth. God bless you and God help us all.

 

Indonesian Video: “Kitab Daniel Pasal 2”

I’ve been able to complete in Indonesian the second video in the Prophecies of Daniel series, Daniel Chapter 2. This chapter is considered by scholars of almost all faiths to be the briefest and most concise overall picture of the history and future of the world in the entire Bible. Daniel chapter 2 is like a foundation on which we can understand the many fulfilled prophecies of the past, as well as see what still is to be fulfilled in times soon to come.

It has often seemed to me that this chapter was intentionally designed by God as an easy first step along the path of prophecy. It’s like a preparation for the more advanced prophecy chapters, such as Daniel chapter 7. That chapter is where we will begin to really climb up into the mountains of prophecy. I hope to finish the Indonesian version of Daniel 7 sometime in early 2018.

The English version of “The Book of Daniel Chapter 2”, can be seen here.

French video: “Le livre de Daniel chapitre 2”

I’ve been able to complete in French the second video in the Prophecies of Daniel series, Daniel Chapter 2. This chapter is considered by scholars of almost all faiths to be the briefest and most concise overall picture of the history and future of the world in the entire Bible. Daniel chapter 2 is like a foundation on which we can understand the many fulfilled prophecies of the past, as well as see what still is to be fulfilled in times soon to come.

It has often seemed to me that this chapter was intentionally designed by God as an easy first step along the path of prophecy. It’s like a preparation for the more advanced prophecy chapters, such as Daniel chapter 7. That chapter is where we will begin to really climb up into the mountains of prophecy.

The English version of this video, “The Book of Daniel Chapter 2”, can be seen here.

Italian video: “Un’introduzione alla profezia nella storia”

I’ve been able to complete the first video in Italian of the Prophecies of Daniel series, “Un’introduzione alla profezia nella storia”.
Many people don’t know what Bible prophecy is. I certainly didn’t until I had a big change in my life when I found out that God is real and the spiritual world really exists. Later I became a Christian and was so surprised when I read the Bible, especially the marvelous disclosures of Bible prophecy.

So, in doing this series on the prophecies of Daniel, I felt it would be good to first present the phenomenon of Bible prophecy against the backdrop of the history of ancient Israel. History is the background against which the prophecies of the prophets stand out as beacons and signposts of the future to come.
The next Italian video will be Daniel chapter 2. My hope is that this video will be ready in the next few months. God bless you.

French video: “Introduction à la prophétie biblique dans l’Histoire”

I’ve been able to complete the first video in French of the Prophecies of Daniel series, “Introduction à la prophétie biblique dans l’Histoire”.

Many people don’t know what Bible prophecy is. I certainly didn’t until I had a big change in my life when I found out that God is real and the spiritual world really exists. Later I became a Christian and was so surprised when I read the Bible, especially the marvelous disclosures of Bible prophecy.

So, in doing this series on the prophecies of Daniel, I felt it would be good to first present the phenomenon of Bible prophecy against the backdrop of the history of ancient Israel. History is the background against which the prophecies of the prophets stand out as beacons and signposts of the future to come.

The next French video will be Daniel chapter 2. My hope is that this video will be ready later this year. God bless you.

The Rapture

I will come again flatOne of the principle beliefs of Christians for 2000 years is that Jesus of Nazareth will return to this world to rule it as the Son of God and God-ordained King of Heaven. This is a clear and essential belief of Bible-based Christianity. In fact, Jesus spoke repeatedly about this and at least two whole chapters, Matthew 24 and Mark 13, are Jesus’ words to His disciples to describe this occasion of His coming and events immediately prior to that.

And the Bible even gets down to some fine details of His return, one of the most famous events being what’s been called “the rapture”. That word is not found in the Bible but it is described in detail by the Apostle Paul, perhaps most clearly in I Thessalonians 4, verses 16 and 17. Speaking of Christ’s return to this world, Paul says, “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with Him in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

the lords comingFor those who study this subject, a world of questions immediately arise when the Rapture is talked about. “When, where, who, how”? And on and on. But it’s good to pause to remember and establish that, if you’re a believer in the Word of God, at least we shouldn’t be asking “if” this is true or going to happen. It is. Jesus said in John 14, “I go to prepare a place for you… (and)…I will come again…” John 14:1-3.

But with all the huge controversy and even confusion on this subject, it seems wise to try to proceed rather slowly and to find a path on it all by following the Scriptures. As Isaiah said, doctrine must be “line upon line, precept upon precept” (Isaiah 28:10). For me, some of the most certain verses that we can be sure of as accompanying these ones about the Rapture in I Thessalonians are what Paul spoke of in I Corinthians 15.

The Corinthian church evidently had a question about what kind of body we will have in heaven. Here’s what Paul told them about this, very closely echoing what he told the Thessalonians, except in this case focusing more on what kind of body the believers will have in the hereafter. jesus and trumphetsPaul told them, “Behold, I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep [die] but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in a twinkling of the eye, at the last trump. For the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible. And we shall be changed.”  (I Corinthians 15:51 & 52)

These verses are talking about the same event as the ones in I Thessalonians, only looking at a different aspect of that climatic event. You’ll note that in Thessalonians Paul spoke of the Lord’s return “with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God”. Here in I Corinthians he says, “In a moment, in a twinkling of the eye, at the last trump.” It’s curious and noteworthy that this seminal event in the history of mankind is almost invariable linked to something called “the sound of a trumpet”.

And when Jesus Himself spoke of this future moment, He too referred to a trumpet being sounded at the final moment of His return. This event is most clearly spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24:29-31. In Matthew 24:31 Jesus spoke of Himself,  “And He shall send forth His angels with a great sound of a trumpet. And He shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

There should be no doubt, from looking to Scripture, that the future event of the return of Jesus is spoken of with certainty and a surprising degree of detail. We do ourselves no service to, in any way, doubt or dispute that this will happen, if we truly look to God’s Word for our lives and the future to come.

But of course there are many, many questions about this future event. Can Jesus return at any moment? Are there any events prophesied in the Word which immediately precede His return? Some even wonder if there is any way this has already happened. Perhaps these questions could be looked at in another post.

But hopefully those of us who believe in Him and in God’s Word can at least agree on this: He said He would return to this earth and the Bible has a number of clear and unambiguous verses which state this and give us understanding of what is to come. Let us at least be of the same mind in agreement on these fundamentals of the subject of Christ’s second coming.

“Lift up now your eyes”

Lift up now your eyes flatGod sometimes tells people what to do, often in fact. And He’s still doing that today, although you don’t hear much about that in most churches. One of the most famous times this happened was when God spoke to Abraham, 4000 years ago. Did Abraham obey? Well, yes, mostly. But in this case, it seems there was a period of time before Abraham fully obeyed. There’s really a lot we can learn from this.

Now the Lord had said to Abram, ‘Get out of your country, and from your kindred and from your father’s house into a land that I will show you.’” (Genesis 12:1)  Like I said, in many ways Abram did obey. In the first leg of their journey, Abram’s dad and Abram and Lot, his nephew and their families, did move as far as Haran, nearly 600 miles up the Euphrates from Ur, where they started out. Pretty good, no? Only, the Lord had told Abram to separate from his kindred and his father’s house. Still, it was a big step in the right direction of full obedience.

Abraham leaving HaranThen, when Abram was 75 years old, he pulled up stakes again and headed south towards the land that God had been leading him to. But it says “and Lot went with him” (Genesis 12:4). So, he was still with his family who it turns out were not on the same page as Abraham when it came to the things of the Lord. But the Lord hadn’t given up on Abraham and was in the process of performing the work that He had started in him. (See Philippians 1:6)

We read that “There was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle.Abraham and Lot(Genesis 13:7) So Abraham, the man of God that he was, said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between me and you and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.” (Genesis 13:8) The result was that they decided to part ways and this is the place where Lot looked towards the lush valley of Sodom, near the Dead Sea, and decided to head down to the valley while Abram stayed in the high country.

But then what happened? What did God then do or was able to do then? Here’s what it says in Genesis 13:14 & 15. “And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, ‘Lift up now your eyes, and look from the place where you are northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward. For all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever.’

God couldn’t and didn’t fully bless Abram till Abram fully obeyed God. “Lift up now your eyes.” Now that Abram had finally separated himself from his kindred and his father’s house, God was able to perform the fullness of what He had planned.

Roll ye away flatAnd the Bible is just completely full of other examples like this. Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He told the ones present to “roll away the stone” (John 11:39) that was covering the place Lazarus was buried. In another place Jesus told someone to “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.” (John 9:7) They did and they were healed. Jesus told the 10 lepers, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And, get this, “It came to pass that as they went they were healed.” (Luke 17:14)

Sometimes we have to do “the wenting”. We have to do the obeying. It seems like such a simple thing but it’s so utterly important. Jesus raised the dead but they were required to roll away the stone. Jesus healed the lepers but they had to have the faith and obedience to do what Jesus said and to go show themselves to the priest. It seems so simple but actually it’s huge.

So it behooves all of us to search our hearts and to even bring it to the Lord in prayer, “Am I failing to fully obey you in something?” And in our cases, it doesn’t even have to be some specific “personal voice of God” event in our lives. For those of our times, we have the whole Bible to look in to find God’s will for our lives. Are we walking according to the instruction Jesus gave His disciples? If we want His blessings and protection on our lives, are we following closely the instruction He gave in His Word, even what Jesus taught His disciples when He was here on earth?

I think that many of us may find that we’ve not been fully obeying the voice of God through His Word and that’s mostly likely why so many are not near the fullness of the blessings that God would bestow our lives. May the Lord mightily help us to have the vision to more strongly and fully follow the voice of God and the Word of God so that He can do with us what He knows is the very best for our lives.

One hundredfold, now in this time

one hundredfold flatSometimes we think life is really rough and then the Lord comes along and just “blows our mind”, as people used to say. We’re grimly armed for battles and to survive the worst we think will come. And then, almost out of nowhere, the Lord “pours out a blessing that there isn’t room enough to hold it.” (Malachi 3:10)

“Oh, Mark, what are you talking about?! Life is very hard and rough and the Lord is there to comfort us and strengthen us as we wearily trudge along. Someday, when we get to heaven, then Mark, things will be nice and happy and heavenly.”

It’s sure easy to think that way and there are times when it is like that. But not all the time. And that kind of attitude can almost end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. For those of us who not only believe in Jesus and go to church once week but who’ve taken the challenge to “take up your cross and follow Me” (Luke 9:23), there are some amazing promises of blessings, in this lifetime. Actually, I’m presently experiencing some of the most amazing blessings of my entire life. At some point I’ll get more specific about this but it’s really been on the scale of “above all we can ask or think.”  (Ephesians 3:20)

And Jesus promised this to His followers and disciples. Here’s what He said, “And everyone that has forsaken house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for My namesake shall receive one hundredfold now in this time, and in the world to come, eternal life.”  (Mark 10:30)

Did you get that? It’s not just all pie in the sky for us. Jesus promised that those who have forsaken all, those who are serving Him “here and now” won’t have to wait for the “there and then” before getting some measure of reward. He said they would receive 100 fold “now in this time”, and in the world to come eternal life.

“OK, Mark, I can see you’re really beginning to get tripped off now. You’re going down the road of the prosperity gospel preachers, promising abundant life and lots of material wealth to Christians.”

whoever forsakes flatNope, I don’t think I am. The verse I shared above made the stipulation that “forsaking all” was the prerequisite for the 100 fold blessings that the Lord said would be to His followers “now in this time”. And I can understand that for probably the vast majority of Christians, the very words “forsaking all” (Luke 14:33) are almost unknown to them. This is just another of the very many things that Jesus taught that never are almost ever mentioned in church.

But for those who are following Him, He did say that there would be persecution but at the same time, there would be this 100 fold blessing in this lifetime. It’s sort of sad in many ways. So many Christians today are not really “living Godly in Christ Jesus” and so they are not “suffering persecution” (II Timothy 3:12). Also, possibly because their pastors never taught them about this, they’re not even close to forsaking all and perhaps that may be why they’re not having the experience of really having the blessings of God mightily being poured out on them.

holy spirit which flatThere’s just something about obedience. “He gives the Holy Spirit to them that obey Him.” (Acts 5:32) Of course it’s not that most Christians are utterly disobedient. They do obey some. They worship, some read their Bibles, go to church and are walking according to the light they have since so many churches serve a rather thin gruel of spiritual feeding rather than the pure milk of the Word, much less anything approaching strong meat.

But I was just struck this morning by the significance of that verse above, Mark 10:30. Part of my original Christian experience involved a commitment to “forsake all” in order to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” (Mark 16:15) And it has at times been a rough and rugged, even lonely road. But it’s really not the full and complete picture if we allow ourselves to fixate on all the battles and little sufferings that can come along.

Because it’s really true what the Lord said, “I am come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) I’ve had a very blessed life and the Lord’s promise of 100 fold in this lifetime is currently a theme playing out in my life so strongly that I’ve struggled at times to even believe what’s going on right now.

So don’t let them kid you. God doesn’t want you to endure years of depressing, fruitless emptiness. That’s not the picture. He is able to do “above all we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20), in this lifetime.

“With what body do they come?”

Jesus and ThomasA friend wrote me to ask, “Why is a resurrection necessary if those who died in Christ have already gone to be with the Lord?” So I wrote back, “The best answer I know of is that God’s plan is that we have new bodies like the Lord had after His resurrection. That’s what I Corinthians 15 is about.”

That may raise some big questions for some people. “New bodies?” “Jesus’ body after His resurrection?” Well, it’s all in the Bible. Many people have heard of “doubting Thomas.” What was he doubting? He was doubting the resurrection of Jesus and that the other apostles had seen Jesus literally, up close and personal, after He’d been crucified and buried.

But then what happened? The Bible says a few days later Jesus again appeared to His disciples, this time when Thomas was there. So Jesus told Thomas to “Reach here your hand and thrust it into my side [the wound He’d received from the soldier while He was on the cross] and be not faithless but believing.” (John 20:27)

On another occasion around the same time after Jesus’ resurrection, He told His disciples when He was visiting them. “Touch me and see for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see Me have.” (Luke 24:39) I know this can severely strain the brains of unbelievers and even those who are weak in faith. But this is what the Bible says so it might be good to look a little more at what all this means and signifies.

For one, the Bible clearly teaches that we, the saved believers, will have a body like Jesus at His coming. In I Corinthians 15:51 and 52, Paul said, “Behold, I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep [meaning die here] but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of the eye, at the last trumpet.” This is the 7th trumpet, spoken of in other places as the sign or signal of the return of Jesus bodily to this earth. The verse goes on to say, “For the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Jesus after resurrectionThis is one of the best verses that touches on this subject of the eternal bodies we’ll receive at the return of Jesus, at the end of this age and the beginning of the Millennium. Just to throw in one more verse on this, Paul wrote to the Philippians about Jesus who would “change our vile body that it may be fashioned like to His glorious body…” (Philippians 3:21).

But what kind of bodies will they be? Here’s what John wrote in his old age to the church at that time. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God and it does not yet appear what we shall be. But we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (I John 3:2) We shall be like Him; we’ll have a similar-like physical existence to that which Jesus now has.

And what did Jesus say about His body? “A spirit has not flesh and bones as you see me have.” So it sounds pretty much like the body we have now. We have flesh and bones. But what does it seem Jesus didn’t have? Blood. Because “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11). And also sin is in the blood.

jesus eats fishSo Jesus was able “to eat and drink, after that He rose from the dead.” (Acts 10:41) He asked His disciples as He was with them after His resurrection, “Have you any meat? And they gave Him a piece of broiled fish and a honeycomb. And He took it and did eat before them.” (Luke 24:41-43) So it’s pretty clear that He wasn’t like some ethereal ghost or spirit but was a tangible living man, the Son of God, in His new body, like the one we will ultimately have.

But it must be that it will in some way really be sustained in a new way, utterly by the Spirit since it seems that blood may no longer be involved. He could appear and disappear, evidently pass through walls and finally ascend up into heaven. But He said of Himself that He still had flesh and bones and He could and did eat with them, even in this utterly new physical condition.

heaven on earthThis is fascinating for me. This is our ultimate destiny and destination, to still retain many of the attributes of the life we have now, but in a new, eternal, upgraded condition. We’ll be utterly changed but it won’t be all so different that we can’t understand it or work within it. The Corinthians had asked Paul about the resurrection and about “with what body do they come?” (I Corinthians 15:35), referring to the eternalized saints. I Corinthians 15 is a whole chapter on that subject. It’s just natural that we all are curious about some of these things and that we need and want some answers for it all to make sense. Wonderfully, it does. We’ve got a lot to look forward to.

Spiritualizing Prophecy

Spiritualizing Prophecy flatSometimes things really are simple. So it might sound complicated if I write something about spiritualizing prophecy. Isn’t prophecy by definition spiritual? Doesn’t the prophecy we study come from the Spirit of God? Of course.

So I’ll explain. What I mean when I speak against what I’ve called “spiritualizing prophecy” is when someone spiritualizes what in the Scriptures is referring to a specific event that will happen in the physical, real-time world. But some prefer a spiritualized application instead of it being literally fulfilled, physically.

Crucifixiion of Jesus for blog postJesus didn’t come spiritually, died on the cross spiritually and was raised from the dead spiritually. It happened in the real-time, physical world. Israel didn’t suffer 70 years of captivity and then return to their country spiritually; it happened physically. So you get the idea and where I’m coming from.

But if you keep up with prophetic studies, you’re probably aware of how this tendency to spiritualize prophecies that most take as physical events to come is are major trend among some followers of prophecy. In the last year I had a talk with a dear friend, one who has led many souls to the Lord, who told me with passion that we are now presently living in the Kingdom of God on earth, that since Jesus now rules, this is the Millennial Kingdom to come, right now on this earth. I could have gotten mad at this view my friend had. But mostly it just astounded and saddened me that the Christianity they now hang out with could be so beclouded by thinking this present hellish existence on this earth is the literal Millennial Kingdom of Christ.

But, as often happens, it gets worse. This morning I was reading an article and it came to my attention again the current doctrine that the primary elements of the endtime picture that was taught and believed by the Early Church are actually all to be spiritualized. We are told, “There will be no Antichrist as is told us in Revelation 13, II Thessalonians 2, Daniel 7 and many other places. We are the antichrist; we are the son of perdition”. Indeed, strong delusion gathers pace as a rolling poisonous fog across the world.

the bible means exactly flatI try to keep my blog posts short and to the point since in our world today, people are often in a hurry and don’t or won’t have time to read some long-winded, detailed diatribe. But I can just tell you, in the history of prophetic interpretation and even in the history of Biblical interpretation in general, this method of over spiritualization has been a bane for those looking to understand God’s Word. In recent centuries, there’s been a strong turn towards what is considered to be the best way to take God’s Word: at face value. And if it seems from a simple reading to be saying something simple, then that’s usually the best way to take it, unless it’s clearly pointing otherwise.

When we read of the “woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet” in Revelation 12, then we can be pretty confident in looking for some spiritual meaning there. But when chapter after chapter and book after book, stretching over centuries point towards a time of great trouble immediately preceding the coming of the Lord to establish God’s Kingdom on earth, we do ourselves and Him no service by endeavoring to spiritualize the whole thing. Nor do we build on solid ground when we spiritualize the Antichrist of the final end days or what the Bible says he will do.

Hippolytus book coverFor example, Paul in II Thessalonians chapter 2 was trying to give a specific warning of something that he knew would come to pass before the second coming of Jesus. That is, that the Antichrist will “sit in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (II Thes. 2:4) It doesn’t get much plainer than that. The Early Church fathers were not confused about this and taught it as an event to come, just as it is most easily understood in the passage. If you have any questions about that, get a copy of “Hippolytus of Rome’s Commentary on Daniel”, written around 211 AD. It’s as clear as can be how he saw that event to come from his Early Church vantage point.

But there are plenty today who tell us that this is all to be spiritualized. “WE are the temple!” they say. Well, yes, in other places that spiritual analogy has been made. Paul told the Corinthians, “You are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you.” (I Corinthians 3:16) But that’s not at all what he’s talking about in his writings in II Thessalonians. Paul is referring back to what was shown to the prophet Daniel some 600 years  earlier, the same prophet Daniel that Jesus Himself referred us to when He was asked about the endtime, going on to say to His disciples, “whoso reads, let him understand.” (Matthew 24:15)

I feel that to spiritualize key elements of the prophetic endtime picture is doing a great disservice to the Word of God and to the people of God. Jesus Christ came in the flesh, was buried and “rose again the third day, according to Scripture.”  (I Corinthians 15:4) According to the same Scriptures, a number of very key prophetic events are going to happen in real-time, on the earth, before His return. “Be not deceived”.