Subtle Mercies

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

A question, that it is often posed, and used as an accusation of lack from God, is the question of mercy. Believers and nonbelievers alike often question if God is a merciful God. It is easy to live the blessed life when the big paycheck comes in or the loved one we have been praying for is suddenly healed and no longer at death’s door. The point is that we believe and receive the blessings and mercies of God when things are seemingly going well for us. But, what do we do when it is our season to suffer and bear our crosses? Are we able to still see the mercies of God, His justice, and unending love for us? Are we willing to even see His love and mercy in our times of trial? Many of us are not! As soon as trial comes or our season of suffering has arrived, our faith becomes shipwrecked and our belief that God is merciful and loves us is cast wayside. Why me Lord? What have I done to deserve this? Sound familiar? It should, we have all said it at one time or another! But, even still, God remains merciful and His love for us never changes!

The title of this article, “Subtle Mercies”, was chosen with purpose. It rightly suggests that at times we have to intently and with purpose look for the mercies of God. They are not hidden from us; we only have to dig for these nuggets of truth and love. Their subtlety suggests that we are required to pursue God and seek His mercy and love to find them. In our quest we do find mercy and love and a new closeness to our God. If it is worth possessing then it is worth searching for. Personally, I believe God planned it this way. Sometimes His mercies are as obvious as the smile on our face and at other times we must search for them with deliberate determination.

Allow me to share with you one occasion of these subtle mercies I refer to. It is documented in the Old Testament of our Bibles. I’m sure we all remember the story of Moses and how God used him to deliver the Israelites from the hands of slavery under the captivity of Pharaoh. But, do we see the whole story, the “big picture”, and beyond the obvious miracles, blessings, and mercies?

God began His call upon Moses by laying on his heart an unexplained love for his own people and distaste for Pharaoh and the Egyptians. In a sense, God was bringing Moses back to his “roots”. Ultimately, Moses was used of God to deliver His people Israel from the captivity of Pharaoh. These were a stiff-necked people with constant complaints and serious disbelief that Moses or God had their best interest at heart. Let us not forget that God had responded to their cries in the first place. Their prayers for deliverance were being heard and granted. Nevertheless, they remained an infantile bunch and wondered the desert for forty years with Moses in tow as God’s called leader.

During these forty years Moses faced many trials in leading his people for God. Sometimes He was pleasing to God and other times displeasing. Sounds a lot like us too don’t it? Nevertheless, God always remained faithful and merciful to Moses. Several times Moses did quite the opposite of what God had commanded him and furthermore in an angry burst, intentionally broke the tablets of stone that had God’s law inscribed by His own finger! Again, this sounds like us, huh? Foolishness in the wrath of our anger! God was still faithful to extend love and mercy to Moses and He does us too. How many times in our lives have we deserved the wrath of God? Equally, how many times has He extended the hand of grace and mercy to us even though we did not deserve it? Countless, concerning both!

Although there are many, let us note some of the mercies extended to Moses. He (Moses) asked to see God’s glory. God allowed him to see His back as He passed by from the cleft of a rock. Mercy! God allowed Moses to make two new tablets of stone like the previous ones and rewrote His commandments on them for Moses to deliver to the people of Israel. A second chance! Mercy! Although God had told Moses He could not enter the Promised Land because of his disobedience concerning the water and the rock, God did allow him (Moses) to look upon the land of promise in all its beauty. Moses saw with his own eyes what he had suffered and fought for in bringing Israel to the land flowing with milk and honey. Some say this was a cruel act of God and went along with the punishment of Moses. No, I believe it was an act of mercy by allowing Moses to see the fruit of his work and reasons for leadership, although not perfect, were not in vain. Mercy! God had taken Moses atop a mountain to see the land and when Moses had beheld it, he died. God Himself buried Moses and the location of his grave was never revealed. Mercy! Moses is the only person in history that has ever been buried at the hand of God. Burial is an act of honor and respect. Mercy!

Let us not be disillusioned or misinformed. Although God is a merciful God, there are still consequences for our actions. But, we must always remember that the punishment and chastisement of God is in itself merciful. God is many things, but above all He is loving and merciful!

The next time we tend to doubt the mercies of God, let us look upon the life of Moses and view fresh that our doubt simply isn’t true. God is not looking for perfect people, He is looking for those who will believe and receive His love and mercy. All honor, glory, and thanksgiving are to our God, for His love and mercies endure forever! Amen!

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The Mercy of the Father: An Underserved Gift

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“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! The love and beauty of God within the scriptures never ceases to amaze and leave me awestruck! Even in the seemingly harsh encounters we read of in the Bible, I am still able to see His love and mercies abound. Oh, what a treasure He is, and a life lived without Him is certainly void.

I wish to share with you one of the greatest, if not the greatest, acts of mercy that the Father has bestowed on us. The merciful act I speak of concerns our redemption as well as one of the first major prophecies of the Bible.

Please join me on a journey back to the Garden of Eden. Here we find the creation of the heavens and the earth, the birds, animals, and more importantly the creation of mankind. Isn’t the garden wonderful, so much beauty to behold and lovely scents to smell? Do you see it? Even the birds and animals are at peace with man and all creation is in harmony! The presence of God fills the garden as sweetly as the aroma of a gardenia shrub on a summer’s eve. No wonder this place is called “paradise”!

God has demanded obedience to one major rule; “of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat”! He even provided a reason for His demand; “in the day that you eat of this tree you shall surly die”. In these scriptures alone we find that God recognized man as a free moral agent.

Now we find trouble in paradise! The serpent has deceived Eve into eating from the forbidden tree and she shares her bounty with Adam. In an instant, mankind is fallen, made aware of good and evil, inherited a sin nature, and died spiritually! The two that would have lived forever, now later experience a physical death. Although conditional on obedience or disobedience, the death of mankind was among the first major prophecies of the Bible.

The disobedient acts of Adam, Eve, and the serpent did not go unpunished and ultimately the first couple was banished from the garden. Let us look closely at the punishment given the serpent and then Adam and Eve being banished from the garden.

God pronounced a curse on the serpent more than all cattle, every beast of the field, and he was to eat dust all his days. In concluding the judgment passed on the serpent, God reveals His redemptive plan for humanity! “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel”. This prophetic Word of God was fulfilled by Christ Jesus on Calvary’s cross and His resurrection from the dead was the final blow delivered!

Now, let’s consider the first couples banishment from the garden. Was this just part of the justified punishment of God, or was it one of the greatest acts of mercy given to mankind? Carefully read God’s Words: “Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”- therefore the Lord God sent them out of the garden of Eden…”

Beloved, I submit to you that this is the greatest act of mercy bestowed upon mankind from God! Why? If God had allowed Adam and Eve to remain in the garden, eventually they would have eaten from the tree of life. If they had eaten from the tree of life after having eaten the forbidden fruit, they would forever, through all eternity, live in a fallen state, subjected to all the heartaches, pains, disease, sadness, evil, and spiritual death (eternal separation from God) that frail humanity now endures for a short season! Being that Adam and Eve are the beginning of all humanity, and that we inherit our fallen nature from them, we to would have lived in this un-formidable state for all eternity.

The pains, disappointments, and despair we have in this life are only for a short season. We are not destined to live this life forever and we are promised entrance into paradise on the condition of our receiving the sacrifice of Jesus. Beloved, will you join me in raising holy hands to heaven and thanking the Father for His unbound, endless love and mercies? We have indeed received the greatest of mercies and they are new every morning!

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Introduction)

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

I pray that you have developed a curiosity about this teaching! We will begin here with an introduction to the Book of Revelation. From this point forward, I will be feeding you “strong meat and not milk”, as similar to the words of the Apostle Paul.

I would like to also point out that this study is certainly not an “exhaustive” work and will not be presented from a “religiously theological” viewpoint. No one person can claim credit for what the Holy Spirit is doing. As I have already mentioned, I will take a practical approach in presentation. It is my desire to present to you the often overlooked view of the book as pertains to the Christian.

This book is in fact the climax of God’s beautiful history in creating humankind! He is not “out to get us” as some would teach and have you believe! He loves us deeply and only wants what is best for each one of us. He has given us certain promises throughout His Word as a whole, and He intends to keep them.

We all will someday soon come face to face with our God, and if you are a “born again” Christian, there is absolutely nothing to fear! I assure you that meeting Him and forever living in His presence will be the climax of our lives! Praise God! Thank you Jesus! I’m excited right now!

Father, I come to you asking for your Wisdom and guidance as I present this teaching. Help me rightly divide Your Word of Truth. By the authority You have given me through Your Son Jesus, I bind Satan and his imps from an attack on this work and anyone who reads and studies it. I ask that You open our spiritual eyes and ears, prepare our hearts, and lead us into understanding. Father You alone holds the key to Your Holy Word. I thank You for hearing and answering our prayer and allowing us to boldly approach Your throne of grace with such requests. In the beautiful and mighty name of Jesus we pray ~Amen

Introduction to the Book of Revelation:

The Book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John whose name means “Jehovah is a gracious giver.” The prophecy was given to John in approximately 95 AD, twenty-five years after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Through one of His angels, the Lord Jesus Himself gave The Revelation to the Apostle John. After John received the Revelation, he was instructed to send it to the seven churches in Asia. 

“Reasons to study Revelation:”

There are many reasons to study The Book of Revelation. Most importantly it is an intricate part of God’s complete Word, plans, and purposes, and He desires that we read and understand it. I will provide you with a couple of reasons for its study. Why would God give us a portion of His Word that was to only be understood by a select few? He wouldn’t! We can and will understand the prophecy. Those who refer to The Revelation as “a book of mystery and hidden meanings” violate the title that God Himself chose. The word revelation means “that which is revealed or made clearly visible.” Consider these other reasons for its study:

“The Time Is At Hand” The Revelation was important to the early church and it is just as important for the “church” today. Revelation 1:3 ends with “for the time is near [at hand KJV]” I can’t answer for you, but I want to understand all I can of God’s Word, before I meet Him face to face. We are not promised “all the time in the world” so it benefits us to make good use of the time God has given us, including the study of Revelation. After all, it speaks to us about our glorious future!

“A Book of Blessings” God promises blessings to those who read Revelation! “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy.” What “right minded” person would want to pass on the blessings of God?

“Five Keys to Help Unlock the Meaning of Revelation”

Within the book there are five keys to help unlock its meaning. It also contains the “master key” needed to unlock other “obscure” passages of the Bible.

“The Revelation of Jesus”- Many have taught only a part of Revelation. They communicate the period of plagues and tragedies, the Antichrist system of government, the mark of the beast, and the battle of Armageddon. These things are not what should dominate the book; it is The Revelation of Jesus Christ that dominates! The unveiling of Jesus! Since Jesus is the central theme, the book should bring you blessings. “Three Views of Jesus”-The New Testament records three views of Jesus. From the gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we visualize Christ the man who came to save the lost.  From the Epistles (letters, mostly written by the Apostle Paul) we visualize Jesus as the Head of the Church. We see Him as He relates daily with His followers. The Revelation gives us our third view. We visualize Jesus as the triumphant Lord! We learn that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords will rule and reign over His unending Kingdom on earth. 

“The Believer’s Right to Understand Revelation”- “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants– things which must shortly take place…” (Rev. 1:1) Notice the words that I intentionally italicized. “Servants” are plural! Some translations omit the second “s”, and servant in the singular shows that John was blessed above all men, as he received the prophecy. The second key is this: Jesus has given us, His servants the biblical right to understand and enjoy the Book of Revelation. In 2 Timothy 2:15, we are instructed to study the Word. Furthermore, we are told that the Holy Spirit will guide us in all truth. (John 16:13) God does not confuse His Word! With the help of Satan man does! 

“Parallel Accounts of Heaven and Earth”-The chapter divisions of Revelation separate two stories which parallel one another. One occurs in heaven while the other occurs on earth. Both take place during a seven year period. This period is known as the “Tribulation.” I will offer more information on this and how the seven year period was determined by God later in the study. The story of heaven is described in chapters 4, 5, 19, and 20. The story of earth in chapters 6, 8, 9, 16, 19, and 20. Chapters 4 and 5 show the activities of angels and people around God’s throne. There is a transition from the heavenly story in chapter 5 to the earthly story in chapter 6. The activities on earth are described in chapter 6 and originate here as well. There is a lapse of continuity in chapter 6, and chapters 8 and 9 continue the earthly story from chapter 6. Chapter 16 again picks up the earthly story. Chapter 19 begins with the heavenly story and transitions to the earthly one. Chapter 20 continues with the earthly story and concludes with the heavenly one. I’m sorry! That sounds a lot more difficult than it really is! 

“Informational Chapters”- The remaining chapters do not necessarily aid in the continuity of the two unfolding stories. They enlarge upon details concerning a person, group of people, or a particular event occurring in one of the stories. The “informational chapters are 7, 10-15, 17, and 18. Chapters 20, 21, and 22 describe the events after the seven-year period: the thousand year reign of Christ, the new heavens, the new earth, and the New Jerusalem.  

“Past, Present, and Future Events”-“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.” Again, Notice the italics, “have seen” equals the past, “which are” equals the present, and “which will” equals the future. The Book of Revelation describes the past, present, and future! In the theological world there are two schools of thought here: historian and futurist. In a “nut shell”, the historian attempts to show that events in history have already fulfilled the prophecy of Revelation and the futurist teaches that the events in chapters 4-22 are unfulfilled. Both have overlooked the reference to past, present, and, future in Revelation 1:19, so neither view is exactly correct. God moves in patterns, and in His steadfastness He doesn’t break His patterns.

This will conclude our study for now. In the next section, I will discuss what the seven-year Tribulation period is, and how this time frame was determined by God. I pray for your continued desire to study with me, and that all of the pieces of the “puzzle” will be brought to your understanding! As this study advances, I encourage you to go back and re-read the previous articles to help maintain the flow of information and how it is interrelated. I pray the continued abundance of blessings be poured upon you to overflowing! ~Amen

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ”

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! I pray that everyone had a blessed Resurrection Day celebration, or Sabbath; however you chose to observe this Feast of First Fruits.

I have given much thought and prayer concerning my next teaching and have decided to go with the book of Revelation. This is the sixty-sixth book of the Holy Bible and the one most often surrounded by major differences of opinion. Nonetheless, I believe that I am led of the Lord to tackle it in all its wonderful glory! I will do my best to avoid giving my opinion and let the scriptures speak for themselves. That said, I will tell you that what I write is what I believe. I do not claim to be a “prophecy” or Bible “expert”. I’m a simple man, in love with a Majestic God, trying to present a simple gospel.

I would also like to express a small disclaimer at the onset of this endeavor. As I stated, what I write is what I believe. You are under no obligation to accept my beliefs concerning this book or the accompanying additional prophecies I will share. I have given much study to this book and the subject of the “rapture” and only offer my work as a blessing and teaching, not as a means of division amongst the flock. I have heard more than once, the many arguments and debates concerning Revelation. I WILL NOT argue or debate with anyone concerning my writing on this subject. I will attempt to answer any questions should they arise, but refuse to “argue”.

I plan to take a straight forward and practical approach to this study and use the scriptures as support, one for the other. I ask you to keep and open heart and mind as we engage this work. The most important thing you can do is to allow the Holy Spirit to witness with what you read, or not witness with it. His leading, guiding, and confirmations are always accurate and best serves our interests and understanding.

I will begin with an introduction of the book and some other useful information that will help us in our study. Keep in mind that this will be a lengthy study and take some time to reach completion. It may even be necessary for me to publish other articles off this subject, but I will continue the work, the Lord willing. Please be patient with me as we progress.

The book of Revelation is the book Satan has, for centuries, opposed. God is not the author of confusion neither has He given us the Spirit of Fear. Thus, all confusion and fear concerning this book is the work of Satan. (I Corinthians 14:33 and II Timothy 1:7)

The book of Revelation is about Jesus; as stated in the first verse. This verse along with verses 1:11 and 22:16 establish God’s plan and will. This book must be properly taught as it is a great discredit to God in not properly teaching it!

All throughout history, men have suggested to avoid this bible book. It has been stated that it is a horror, confusing, scary, spooky, incomprehensible, irrelevant, historical, full of doom and gloom, and a previously fulfilled book of mystery, among many other equally gloomy descriptions. These are fire filled lies straight from the pits of hell! Satan has sown these seeds of confusion and fear and therefore generations of preachers have taught it as a book of “doom and gloom”. I can completely clear this theory out of existence with two verses from chapter 1. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”, and “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy”! (Revelation 1:1; 1:3)

A revelation of Jesus certainly can’t be gloomy, and in His own words, whoever reads or hears the prophecy is blessed! You see, generations of ministers have only taught about the “antichrist”, “Battle of Armageddon”, “the end of the world”, “the upheavals of nature”, and “the impending destruction of mankind”. All those things are true; for the unbeliever, but the book also reveals the blessed hope of all believers of Jesus! Some say and have said that they do not need to understand the Book of Revelation to know the “truth”. Although this may be true, salvation is not dependent on our understanding this book, consider the words of Timothy as inspired by the Holy Spirit:

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man [and woman] of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16-17)

This includes the Book of Revelation; therefore we mustn’t throw it aside and consider it of no value! God intends for His people to know and understand His Word!

Present day world affairs clearly demonstrate that the ancient prophecies of the scriptures are rapidly coming to pass. These prophetic fulfillments indicate that we are closer now to the fulfillment of the prophecies contained in the Book of Revelation. Technically speaking, the “last days” began over 2000 years ago in the upper room in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. This was the day of the birth of the church, thus the “church age” began. We are currently still in this “church age” and it “ends” at the beginning of the tribulation period. We must also not forget that Jesus Himself is in control of all the events described in the book.

I also believe that clearer vision of the Book of Revelation is being given of God to us in this hour. Why? Because as the events in our world history unfold we are able to more clearly associate them with the fulfillment of prophecies contained in the Holy Scriptures.

God desires that we understand His Word! He would not give us a wonderfully simple book, and close it with a chapter of such theological superiority that no two logically thinking people could agree on its meaning. Furthermore, God would not provide for us anything with the intent to confuse or invoke fear in us.

I will end my dissertation here for now. I only wanted to introduce my readers to the next study and will actually begin teaching in the next published commentary. Please pray for me as I present this study to you and I will pray for both of our understanding. May the God of peace, comfort, and understanding abundantly rest upon each of you ~Amen!

A Jewish Wedding: “Consecrated and Waiting” (Part I)

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! I pray you all are doing well and blessed of God. I had contemplated much about what my next teaching would entail and began to study and write notes. As I was making preparations, the Lord gently spoke into my heart, “continue to teach the truth through Jewish customs”.

Well, as I have stated before, it is right to go with God! His plans are better than mine and His Wisdom far surpasses that of my own. As I thought about my subject, it dawned on me to remember that Jesus is of Jewish descent, and therefore He taught and used analogies that would relate to the Jewish way of life. What an epiphany! Jesus thought and taught like a Jew! Knowing this surely brings His teachings into new light. One only needs a cursory study in Jewish customs and tradition. That is exactly what I did, and the results of my study reveal such eloquent beauty! God really has thought of everything!

With all that said, I am going to attempt a teaching concerning the Jewish wedding traditions (during biblical times), and how they relate to the individual believer and the church corporately. If the Holy Spirit will guide me, I promise you will not be disappointed. My findings truly are majestic and beautiful. I’m not what you would consider a “hopeless romantic”, but there is plenty of romance in this story. In fact, I believe that it far exceeds any “fairytale wedding” we could imagine or even hope for. God the Father has spared no expense or extravagance in providing a bride for His Son, Jesus.

We shall begin in our traditional manner:

Father, I humbly pray asking that You send Your Holy Spirit to help me teach. What I discovered in Your Holy Word and through the study of Jewish customs is simply beautiful. These “types and shadows” must be revealed to your people as it gives great hope and builds upon our faith. Help me Father to do justice to the beauty that is Yours. I also ask that you open the spiritual eyes and ears of the readers and bring them much revelation and understanding. I ask knowing only You can give these gifts. Thank you Father, in Jesus name I pray, ~Amen

Jewish Custom of Matrimony:

Obviously, wedding customs vary throughout the world and can even vary slightly within a specific country. In the United States a “norm” isn’t even recognizable anymore. We must also take into consideration the customs of the different religions of the world and the specific “legalities” within each sect. For purposes of our study, I only want to hone in on one specific tradition, that of the ancient Jew during the time of the Bible. Why? Jesus was born Jewish and He did things like a Jew! Understanding Jewish tradition brings so much revelation into God’s Word.

The Jews had their own peculiar ways of matrimony, based on the Old Covenant, and the Lord followed those traditions in choosing His bride. The Jews did not have “dating” or “courtship” as we traditionally understand those terms. Marriage for them was a practical legal matter established by contract and carried through by exacting procedure.

When the young man of Israel in Jesus’ time saw the girl he wanted (more like the girl his father told him he wanted), he would approach her with a marriage contract. He would come to her house with a covenant- a true legal agreement- giving the terms by which he would propose marriage. The most important consideration of the contract was the price the bridegroom would be willing to pay to marry this particular bride. Remember that in those days life was full of farming and heavy labor. A man with sons fared better because of the built-in workforce. A daughter was considered a liability instead of an asset. The loss of her father in the workforce was balanced at the time of her marriage. The bridegroom had to pay a “bride price” to his future father-in-law in order to marry the girl of his dreams.

The “bride price” is still utilized in some parts of the world today! Although it may seem a little archaic, it had some useful purposes. First of all, if the bridegroom was willing to hand over some hard earned cash for his bride, he was showing his love in a most tangible way. Secondly, it was a favor to his father-in-law to help him recover his losses in labor. The father of the bride was more or less paid back for his expenses and patience in raising a daughter finely fit for marriage. The price of the bride was no modest token, but was set so that the new bride would be costly to the groom- that was idea. There were no dilutions that the young man was getting something for nothing!

The contract was presented to the father of the bride, hence the betrothal, or Hebrew, “Ketubah”. He in turn discussed the matter with his daughter. She was under no obligation to accept the contract or the potential groom, as she did have a choice to accept or not. She had to give her seal of approval with the proverbial “I do”!

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If all parties were in agreement with the terms and conditions of the contract they entered into the “covenant”. A cup of wine was then shared between the bride and groom to seal the agreed upon “marriage covenant.” This was known as the “cup of the covenant”, and signified the bridegroom’s willingness to sacrifice for this bride.  It would be many months before the two shared their second cup of wine during the marriage ceremony.

The groom then presented the bride with gifts. These would include costly spices, perfumes, jewelry, and like items. The items that were given as gifts varied, but needless to say they were exotic and costly. The young groom wanted to show his love, affection, and loyalty to his new bride.

With his newly accepted covenant and excitement in his heart, it was time for the groom to depart. The marriage would not take place immediately. There was still a pressing matter to be handled. The groom departed to return to his father’s house telling his bride, “I go to prepare a place for you”. Tradition was such that the groom would go to prepare the “wedding chamber” within his father’s home or a separate building on his father’s property. The groom could be gone as long as twelve months before returning for his bride. One thing was certain though, he would return, he paid the price!

During this time of separation, obviously the bride waited on the return of her groom. Waiting was only part of what she had left to do. There was still the matter of her preparation. The bride to be would immerse herself in water to prepare her physically and spiritually for the wedding ceremony. In Hebrew this was called “Mikvah”, meaning “pool of living water”. This represented her separation from the old life and entry into the new life. She also had to make ready an oil lamp in case her groom returned in the darkness of night. This also included her “bridesmaids” and others in the wedding party from her side of the family. She had to be ready to travel at a moment’s notice!

The consecrated bride eagerly awaited the return of her groom. The longer he delayed the harder it was to withstand the temptation to think that he would not return for her. Nevertheless, she had to be ready at all times for the promised return of her groom. During this time of waiting the bride was truly a “lady in waiting”. She was referred to as “consecrated”, “set apart”, and “bought with a price.”

The “consecrated” bride would wear a veil whenever she stepped out of her house. This was done to show other young men that she was spoken for and unapproachable with other contracts. She was to wait for the one who had paid the price for her!

Tradition held that it was the groom’s father’s decision as to when he would return for his bride. Obviously, if left to the groom in his excitement and anticipation, he would throw together a “modest” structure and go get his girl! His father made sure that the matter was tended to properly and a suitable structure prepared.

Finally, the chamber would be ready and the groom’s father told him to return for his bride. He and the young men to accompany him would set out in the night making every attempt to completely surprise the bride. Here, we find an extremely “romantic” piece of the wedding customs puzzle! All Jewish brides were “stolen!” The Jews had a unique understanding of a women’s heart. It was such a thrill for her to be “abducted” and carried off into the bliss of night. Not by a stranger, but by the very one that loved her and had paid a price for her!

The groom would try to come at midnight while the bride was sleeping, but could not just rush in on her. After all, her face may be covered in night cream or her hair in rollers! The groom and the excited party of young men were obliged to give her “warning.” Usually someone in the wedding party would give out a “shout!” When the bride heard that shout, she knew her groom would arrive momentarily! And so it was that the young men would charge in, grab the girls and make off with them. The wedding party would be off on their journey in returning to the groom’s father’s house.

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People in the village of the bride, might have been awakened by the excited voices of the wedding party carrying the oil lamps through the streets. This is how they knew a wedding was taking place! The onlookers would not know who the bride was as she would still be wearing a veil. But she would be returning through those same streets with her groom a week later, without the veil, and the people would then know who it was that had gotten married.

When the wedding party had reached the house of the groom’s father, the bride and groom would enter their “chamber” and shut the door. No one else entered this place. In Hebrew, this “chamber” was called “Huppah”, meaning “room or covering”, and known as a Jewish wedding canopy. The bride and groom would remain in the “Huppah” for seven days. Meanwhile, the father of the groom assembled the wedding guests and prepared to celebrate the new marriage. Jewish law provided that the bride and groom “become one” before the marriage would be recognized.

A friend of the bridegroom would stand close to the door of the wedding chamber waiting to hear the groom’s voice. When the marriage was consummated, the bridegroom would alert his friend who would announce the good news to the wedding guests.

The bride and groom would then make their long awaited appearance to the cheers and excitement of the wedding guests. There was no longer a need for the bride to be veiled, as she was now a married woman. It was now time for the marriage supper. A joyous meal with music and dancing to honor the new couple!

After the marriage supper, the bride and groom would depart, leaving the groom’s father’s house, and going to their own house. A house and home that had been prepared for them by the bridegroom! And that was a complete Jewish wedding during the time of Jesus in all its beauty and wonder!

Come back for part two of this study! We will really engage in the symbolism and beauty of this teaching, as we examine the relationship with our Bridegroom, Jesus, His Father making preparations, and the marriage that will surpass all marriages!

Until we meet again Beloved of God, I pray for continued courtship with the one TRUE love of our hearts!

The Seven Feasts of Israel (Part VII)

The-Seven-Feasts-of-Israel-Graphic

Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

We have come to the last bridge of our journey. When we reach the end of this trail, our study of The Seven Feasts of Israel will come to a close. This is fitting of course, as the last feast represents our arrival into the millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ our King! We will have reached our true and precious Sabbath rest into the majestic land of promise!

I pray that this study has been a true blessing to you and drawn you into closer fellowship with your Savior. He never ceases to amaze and arrest me with His wondrous revelations. I could study His Word throughout all eternity and never dig up all of the nuggets of His Wisdom.

As we have seen in this study, God has revealed a prophetic system in His command to celebrate these feasts and has revealed the entire plan and purpose for all humanity. He desires that we all live life in peace, sin and pain free, without suffering of any kind, and spend our days in thankful worship to our King.

Let us never forget the trials and struggles of God’s “chosen people”, Israel. God has used them mightily to pave the way for Gentile salvation, and we are all promised that one day we will all visit Jerusalem. Even as I write, Israel remains a “threatened” nation. They receive rocket fire daily and the brunt of the world’s hatred. The fact that Israel has remained a people all throughout history, against all odds, is a testimony of God and His love. He promised that there would always be a remnant of the “chosen people.” Do I love Israel and the Hebrew people? Absolutely! The very roots of my Christianity are found in the obedience of father Abraham, those mountains of rock, and that hill called Golgotha.

Father I ask for your Wisdom to expound on this last feast and the eyes and ears of those that read opened. I thank You for leading us thus far in our journey. Forgive us our sins and help us forgive those who have sinned against us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tabernacleshut

The Feast of Tabernacles:

“Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord.

‘Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a Sabbath- rest, and on the eighth day a Sabbath- rest.

You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

(Leviticus 23:34, 39; 42-43) NKJV

        The Feast of Tabernacles is also called “The Feast of Ingathering” (Exodus 23:16). The name signified the completion of Israel’s annual harvest. It was a time for celebrating the plentiful fall crop harvest God had given, as well as, the fact that He had provided the Israelites with shelter in the wilderness.

It derives its name from God’s command to ancient Israel to build temporary “tabernacles”, sometimes called “booths”, to live in during the celebration. The Israelites would leave their homes and construct these temporary dwellings out of woven boughs to live in while rejoicing before God. In Hebrew they were called “succah”, meaning “hut of woven boughs.” During the celebration, rest, peace, and prosperity were emphasized, as it meets the needs of all people, including strangers, widows, and the poor. Consider some of the Old Testament prophecies that prophesied the Feast of Tabernacles and the millennium to come:

 “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles”

(Zechariah 14:16) NKJV

“The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,

The lion shall eat straw like the ox,

And dust shall be the serpent’s food.

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,”

Says the Lord.”

(Isaiah 65:25) NKJV

“But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree,

And no one shall make them afraid;

For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

 For all people walk each in the name of his god,

But we will walk in the name of the Lord our God

Forever and ever.”

(Micah 4:4) NKJV

        The prophet Zechariah not only predicts the millennial rein of Jesus, but also the fact that we will worshipfully observe the Feast of Tabernacles each year. Isaiah predicts the harmonious balance that will be brought back into nature. And the prophet Micah predicts that no longer will armies march, righteousness will become a reality upon the earth, and peace will rule the day.

Clouds to heaven

Through the eyes of the New Testament, The Feast of Tabernacles pictures times of refreshing and restoration. God’s plan for mankind involves restoration! The feast symbolizes the restoration process, which will start with the return of Jesus Christ, pictured by the Feast of Trumpets, and the banishment of Satan, depicted by the Feast (day) of Atonement. Peter in his first Holy Spirit inspired sermon on the day of Pentecost spoke of this time of refreshing and restoration:

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.”

(Acts 3:19-21) NKJV

        Peter is referring to the thousand year (1000) rein of Jesus Christ over the earth at His second coming. This period is referred to as the “millennium”, which simply means “1000 years.”  The prophet Isaiah prophesized the return of Jesus in power and glory:

“For behold, the Lord will come with fire

And with His chariots, like a whirlwind,

To render His anger with fury,

And His rebuke with flames of fire.

For by fire and by His sword

The Lord will judge all flesh;

And the slain of the Lord shall be many.”

(Isaiah 66:15-16) NKJV

“These things, says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass…”

(Revelation 2:18) NKJV

        Because the world will finally be at peace, countries will “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3). The weapons of war and mass destruction will no longer be needed!

After Christ’s return, He will bring the entire creation into harmony with God, and peace will no longer be the exception, “Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble.” (Psalm 119:165). Imagine what the world will be like when all people know God’s law and lives by it!

More than mere knowledge is needed to bring about this transformation. A spiritual change is needed and God already has the plan!

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”

(Ezekiel 36:26-28) NKJV

        The Spirit of God will influence people to willingly and enthusiastically obey God from their hearts! We are but strangers and pilgrims on the earth. The Feast of Tabernacles is a reminder that our earthly “booths” are not our final dwelling place but are temporal as we seek our homeland. A heavenly home awaits us in the shelter, or the “booth” of our loving God, Therefore, this feast is representative of our assurance of shelter in the world to come!

Beloved, we have journeyed far and plowed our fallow ground. I have enjoyed dearly our time together. A study of this depth cannot be digested in one feeding. I encourage you to study it several times, properly chewing every morsel of spiritual truth. Chew slowly and savor the taste of the divine. In the corners of our world today, everyone is so busy and rushed. There is never enough time to slow down and enjoy the tastes of heaven. Somehow, even the idea of a “drive-thru” Jesus has been birthed. Beloved slow down and spend time with your Savior. When you someday bow before Him, let not the anxiety of meeting a “stranger” consume you. Come to know and love Him deeply now. Until we meet again, I pray the blessings of God overcome you…

The Seven Feasts of Israel (Part VI)

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Welcome! I pray you have been blessed beyond measure from these teachings. I have been notified that I have readers all over the world and for that I am truly thankful to God the Father! Our God is concerned for each and every one of us regardless of where we call “home” on this earth! His love runs far and wide! Just think, I can pray for you right here in Georgia (United States) and in less than milliseconds it reaches you wherever you may be. What an awesome God we serve!

I must admit that today I find myself a bit “giddy”. For those of you who may not know, “giddy” is the equivalent of “excitement” or “joyful”. I have the song of Jesus in my heart and I can just about hear that trumpet blow! Jesus is returning soon my friends and what a wonderful time that will be! Well, shall we begin in our traditional manner?

Father, in the name of Jesus I pray, asking that You open our spiritual eyes and ears as we engage again in the study of Your Holy Word. Let not one soul leave this teaching unfulfilled. Speak to us Mighty God! Our hearts are open and our minds as sponges. Fill us to overflowing! Father I ask that if any person reads these teachings and does not have a relationship with You, that You would melt their heart and again introduce Yourself to them. The days are short and the harvest is plenty. Send forth laborers into Your fields. And as they go forth surround them with protection, Wisdom, strength and power in Your Holy Spirit! I love You Father and it is with thankful hearts we pray.

~Amen

The Feast of Atonement (The Day of Atonement):

I must warn you ahead of time, that if any of these teachings will set your spirit on fire, this is it! So prepare yourself for excitement! What you will learn here will forever change your entire vision! Shall we begin?

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your Sabbath.”

(Leviticus 23:26-32) NKJV

        To help us better understand the meaning, impact, and beauty of the “The Day of Atonement”, I would like to provide the Hebrew meaning of two words from the above scripture; “Atonement” and “Afflict”.

Atonement in Hebrew is defined as “expiation” “reconciliation” or “to make amends or reparations for”. It is also the equivalent of “expunge”, as used in criminal and civil law. If you have been “expunged”, you are cleared of any wrongdoing and your record wiped clean. Now let’s look at “afflict” in the Hebrew; “to be bowed down, humbled, or meek.” It kind of suggests being “brought to our knees” don’t you think?

Old Temple Priest

The Day of Atonement in the Old Testament:

The following scriptures describe the Atonement Day celebration and how it was to be performed:

“He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering.  But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.”

(Leviticus 16:7-10) NKJV

 “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness.”

(Leviticus 16:15-16)

        The High Priest, Aaron, was to select two goats for a sin offering for the people and present them before God. Aaron was to “cast lots” to select the “one for the Lord” as a sacrifice. This goat represented Jesus who would be sacrificed for our sins. The blood of this goat was taken into the “Most Holy Place” (beyond the veil) and sprinkled on the “Mercy Seat”. The Mercy Seat represents a “type” of the throne of God!

The goat on which the lot fell was the “scapegoat”. The scapegoat was to be presented to the Lord alive to make atonement upon it and then released into the wilderness. Aaron was to lay both hands on the scapegoat and confess all the wickedness and rebellion of Israel, “putting them on the goats head.” This goat would “carry” on itself all the sins to a solitary place. The “scapegoat” (has also been called “the goat of departure”) represents Satan, who bears the responsibility for the sins of humanity because of the deception he has brought to mankind.

This live released “scapegoat”, is the symbolism of the fate of Satan and his demons, which will be removed at the reign of Jesus over all the nations: 

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more…”

(Revelation 20:1-3) NKJV

        Complete global reconciliation to God cannot occur until the cause of so much sin and suffering has been locked away! The devil blinds people of the understanding of God’s truth:

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

(II Corinthians 4:3-4) NKJV

        The Apostle Paul warns us that Satan can present himself as righteous to lead people astray, to be aware of his deceitful methods, and confirms that our battle is spiritual:

“And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”

(II Corinthians 11:14-15) NKJV

 “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted —you may well put up with it!”

(II Corinthians 11:3-4) NKJV (Emphasis mine)

 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

(Ephesians 6:12) NKJV

Blood Splatter

The Day of Atonement through New Testament Eyes:

We have already seen through the symbolism of “Passover” that Christ’s shed blood atones for our sins past, present, and future. The Day of Atonement symbolizes the reconciliation of God to all humanity. Both Passover and The Day of Atonement teach us the forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God through Jesus’ sacrifice! Passover concerns the redemption of the “Firstborn” and applies most directly to Christians whom God called in this age, while Atonement carries universal implications.

Sin does not occur without a cause! This feast day not only symbolizes the forgiveness of sin, but also the removal of the primary cause of sin- Satan and his demons. Until God removes the primary cause of sin, mankind will continue to struggle with and battle this dreadful disease. How do we experience the removal of sin while we remain on the earth? Simply BELIEVE and RECEIVE!

The high priest of the Old Testament acted out the function Christ performed for repentant Christians. Having ascended to the very throne of God to present His own precious blood sacrifice, His blood! Jesus now intercedes for us- as He has since His resurrection- as our High Priest!

The book of Hebrews makes this symbolism quite clear:

“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”

(Hebrews 9:11-12)

 HALLEJUAH! PRAISE GOD! THANK YOU JESUS!

        Many verses in Hebrews speak of Christ’s role as our High Priest and intercessor. Because of the sacrifice He made for us we can boldly approach the throne of grace!

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

(Hebrews 4:14-16) NKJV

        The Day of Atonement pictures the loving reconciliation that all people can have with God through the sacrifice of Jesus. We would look in vain in the New Testament to find the “fulfillment” of Atonement by the “church”, because it was something that only Jesus Christ could do Himself!

As we see, the slain goat of the Old Testament represented the sacrifice of Jesus in our place, Who took upon Himself the death penalty we have earned by our sins. But He did not stay dead; He came back to resurrected life, ascended to the Father in heaven, and sprinkled His own Blood on the throne, The Mercy Seat of God!

Beloved, I warned you that this teaching would excite you!  But that is okay because it’s something to get excited and shout about! The Blood of Jesus Christ has paid the price for all the sins of humanity!

Until we meet again, I pray the abundant blessings of God over each one of you. From near to far may you come to know the only true and living God, Jesus Christ! Next is the seventh and last of this series, The Feast of Tabernacles. Please come back and join me for our conclusion…