by Mark Heber Miller (used by permission from Shawn Miller)
The following words have been changed:
God was changed to Most High, Elohim or יהוה
Yehowah was changed to Yahweh
Jesus was changed to Yahshua
Christ was changed to Messiah
Bible was changed to Scriptures
Thy Kingdom Come…
Yahshua prayed the words of the Third Nazarene Principle,
Matthew 6:1 1 Let your Kingdom come.
The “kingdom” is one of the Nazarene’s major themes, if not the
dominant subject of his work and teaching. Therefore, it absorb s the largest portion of our discussion because there are three related subjects: the Assembly of Messiah, the Resurrections, and the Last Judgment.
It is noteworthy that this phrase “let your kingdom come” follows “let your name be sanctified,” because the Kingdom has much to do with this holy outcome to clearing the Name of the Father from reproach. Not just the Tetragram יהוה itself, but the character and reputation behind the Name, the Father himself. The subject includes His loving will for mankind on this Earth as well as your ultimate place in His “eternal purpose.” (Ephesians 3:9-11)
WHAT THE SCRIPTURES SAY ABOUT THE “KINGDOM”
Even before his miraculous birth, the coming of the Messiah was strongly linked with the subject of the Kingdom. Mary of Nazareth was told by the angel Gabriel,
Luke 1:31-33 31 “And see, you shall conceive in your womb, and shall give birth to a Son, and call His Name יהושע [Yahshua] 32 “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And יהוה Elohim shall give Him the throne of His father Dawiḏ. 33 “And He shall reign over the house of Yaʽaqoḇ forever, and there shall be no end to His reign.
In the days of Mary of Nazareth many Jews were keenly aroused to an expectation of the Messiah and the deliverance promised by his Kingdom. There was good prophetic basis for this as we shall see.
MESSIAH’S APPEARANCE FORETOLD
The prophet Daniel had much to say on the subject of the Kingdom. The apocalyptic prophet uses the word “kingdom” more than any other writer in the Scriptures, 63 times, with Matthew a close second. (55 times) Daniel foretold a period of “seventy weeks” (or, 490 years) which was to begin, as it turned out, in the year 455 BC, with the announcement of the rebuilding of Jerusalem by King Cyrus of Persia. According to Daniel 9:25 there would be 69 weeks (or, 483 years) until Messiah would make his appearance. Adding one year for the lack of a zero between BC and AD and subtracting 455 from 483, the result is the year 29 AD. The only year in human history when the Messiah could arrive is 29 AD.
It was exactly in this year John the Baptist began proclaiming,
Mark 1:15 15 The time has been filled, and the reign of Elohim has come near
So, in the year 29 the young carpenter from Nazareth presented himself at the Jordan river to be baptized by the wilderness zealot John. Immediately, thereafter he was anointed by Elohim as evidenced in the heavenly Voice which declared,
Luke 3:22 22 You are My Son, the Beloved, in You I did delight According to one of the most fastidious and accurate historians of ancient times, it was
Luke 3:1 1 in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberias Caesar.
This is known to be the year 29 AD.
Within days of this baptismal event, the fisherman Andrew, told his brother Simon Peter, ‘We have found the Messiah!’ Then, Nathaniel was the first to declare the Nazarene King with the words,
John 1:49 49 Rabbi, You are the Son of Elohim! You are the Sovereign of Yisra’ĕl!
So, right from the beginning the Kingdom theme was linked to the Nazarene. This was to result in the final confrontation with Rome over the issue of sedition.
Immediately, Yahshua the Messiah, the Nazarene began his preaching and teaching work on the Kingdom subject. Matthew records,
Matthew 4:17 17 From that time יהושע [Yahshua] began to proclaim and to say, “Repent, for the reign of the heavens has drawn near.”
Mark puts it,
Mark 1:14-15 14 And after Yoḥanan was delivered up, יהושע [Yahshua] came to Galil [Galilee], proclaiming the Good News of the reign of Elohim, 15 and saying, “The time has been filled, and the reign of Elohim has come near. Repent, and believe in the Good News.”
Luke has the Nazarene saying,
Luke 4:43 43 To the other cities I also have to bring the Good News: the reign of Elohim, because for this I have been sent.
The Gospel of John records the Nazarene’s first use of the word “kingdom” in his discussion with the Sanhedrin Court judge Nicodemas:
John 3:5) 5 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he is unable to enter into the reign of Elohim.
Here and elsewhere “entrance” into the Kingdom101 is a real possibility opened up for the first time by the arrival of the Messiah in Yahshua the Nazarene. Indeed, Yahshua uses the word group “enter” in this connection over two dozen times in the Gospels. This is more than a simple matter of going to heaven as we shall see.
When the Nazarene forms his group of Twelve he sends them forth with instructions as to their preaching subject,
Luke 10:7 7 And as you go, proclaim, saying, The reign of the heavens has drawn near. He does the same when he sends out his Seventy disciples
Luke 10:8-9 8 And into whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat whatever is placed before you, 9 and heal the sick there, and say to them, The reign of Elohim has come near to you
When some give excuses or want to put limitations to following Yahshua, the answer is,
Luke 9:62 62 But יהושע [Yahshua] said to him, No one, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the reign of Elohim.
In all of the Gospels the subject of the “kingdom [reign]” is used by the Nazarene over 100 times. It clearly is the dominant theme of his works and teachings. It was judged by some as ‘a new teaching.’ (Mark 1:27) But, what is this “kingdom”? Is it limited to the realm of heaven? Is it just the rule of Elohim in the individual heart? Why does the Nazarene himself call it a “mystery”? (Mark 4:11)
WHO IS THE KING?
Remember, the Nazarene said,
John 8:28 28 I do none at all of Myself, but as My Father taught Me
As a knowledgeable Jew, whose Scriptural wisdom impressed the elders as a twelve year old boy and served to irritate his enemies later, Yahshua was well aware of the foundation which had already been laid in the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures. He called it a “mystery/secret” because the Scripture teaching of the Kingdom starts out like a puzzle. One piece of this puzzle is added until an enigmatic outline (1 Corinthians 13:12) takes shape. Into this subject the Messianic King, all the prophets were in a constant search as Peter later writes:
1 Peter 1:3-11 [NC2000© Paraphrase] You have been created anew with a living hope of a heavenly resurrection to be revealed in the End-Time, at the revelation of Jesus Christ. About this heavenly salvation the prophets of old searched and prophesied, searching with a Messianic spirit for a clear understanding of the kind of time or season or conditions during which the Messiah would appear, and the glories after.
This spirit of prophecy found its inspiration in the subject of Yahshua the Messiah and his Kingdom, because
Revelation 19:10 10 Worship Elohim! For the witness of יהושע [Yahshua] is the spirit of prophecy.
Of course, where there is a kingdom there must be a king. Examine now the early pieces of the prophetic puzzle which help identify the Messianic King in primitive elements only to finally be understood later. (Ephesians 3:5; Romans 15:4; 16:25, 26) Note these pieces to the prophetic puzzle or mystery.
A PROMISED SEED
The first prophecy in the Scriptures at Genesis 3:15 foretold a “woman” whose “seed” (a son) would ultimately crush the death-causing “serpent.” The Woman’s Seed would suffer what would amount to a wound in the heel. These elements all come together over four thousand years later in the Revelation chapter 12. (Revelation 12:1-5, 17; Romans 16:20) By crushing the Serpent’s head it is implied that the original promise of endless life in a Paradise Earth will be realized.
THE SEED WOULD BE SEMITIC
The next veiled hint is in Genesis 9:26 where Noah’s son Shem (meaning, Name, Fame), from whom all the Shemitic (Semitic) peoples descend according to the Table of Nations in Genesis chapter 10, is uniquely associated with his Elohim, יהוה
THE SEED WOULD BE HEBREW
Genesis 10:21 isolates the foretold Seed among the sons of Eber (Heber), the root for the word “Hebrew” which means “from across the River.”
THE SEED WOULD BE ABRAHAMIC
Genesis 17:6 foretells certain “kings”:
Genesis 17:6 6 “And I shall make you bear fruit exceedingly, and make nations of you, and sovereigns shall come from you.
Kings and kingdoms have already appeared in Genesis chapters 12 and 14 but this is the first prophecy actually mentioning Hebrew and Abrahamic kings. These turn out to include Israelite kings like David and Solomon as well as great Arabic sheiks. But, the true focus of this prophecy must wait until the real kings take their everlasting places.
Genesis 22:18 promises,
Genesis 22:18 18 And by means of your Seed all nations of the earth will be blessed.
This is the famous Abrahamic blessing involved in Elohim’s covenant with this old man. Here we have the extension of the Seed of the Edenic promise to include all those non-Eberite peoples, that is those who are not Jews, the Gentiles who would receive a Divine Blessing because of the faith of the ancient Patriarch. “Nations” implies an international throng of many, many millions as a global result to the original Edenic promise.
THE ROYAL SEED WILL BE A JEW
The next piece of the puzzle is in Genesis 49:9, 10 in what is called Jacob’s (Israel’s) death-bed prophecy:
Genesis 49:9-10 9 “Yehuḏah [Judah] is a lion’s cub; from the prey you have gone up, my son! He bowed down, he crouched like a lion. And like a lion, who does rouse him? 10 “The sceptre shall not turn aside from Yehuḏah, nor a Lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh* comes, and to Him is the obedience of peoples
[*Shiloh-a reference to the Messiah]
This is the first real identification of the foretold Seed as a ruler or king. Such a king out of Judah would be a Jew for that designation became the shortened form for “Judah” after the Babylonian captivity in the Fifth Century BC.
A PROPHET LIKE MOSES FROM AMONG THE ISRAELITES
Deuteronomy 18:15 has Moses predicting,
Deuteronomy 18:15 15 יהוה your Elohim shall raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brothers. Listen to Him
In the days of the Nazarene some wondered if Yahshua was this foretold Prophet. (John 7:40; compare also Matthew 21:11, 40; Luke 6:15; 7:16; 24:19; John 1:21, 25; 4:19; 6:14; 9:17) Peter quoted this verse of Moses in Acts 3:22, 23 and applied it to Yahshua the Nazarene.
A DESCENDANT OF DAVID
Psalm 89:3, 4, 27, 29 [LXX or Septuagint] ‘I made a covenant with my Elect. I swore to David my servant: “I will establish your Seed for ever and build your Throne to all generations.” And I will establish David’s Seed forever and his Throne as the days of heaven.’
The name “David” actually becomes a title for Messiah. (Ezekiel 34:23, 24; 37:24, 25; Hosea 3:5; Amos 9:11) The angel Gabriel alludes to Psalm 89 when he tells Mary, יהוה Elohim will give (Yahshua) the throne of David his father and (Yahshua) will reign as King over the House of Jacob into the Ages.’ Paul makes a similar statement: concerning His Son, who came of the seed of Dawiḏ according to the flesh, Romans 1:3; compare Revelation 5:5; 22:16)
BORN IN BETHLEHEM
Micah 5:2 foretold: 2 “But you, Bĕyth Leḥem Ephrathah, you who are little among the clans of Yehuḏah, out of you shall come forth to Me the One to become Ruler in Yisra’ĕl. And His comings forth are of old, from everlasting.”
Yahshua was born in this insignificant village and this text in Micah was understood by the Jewish priests at the beginning of the Common Era (1 AD) and applied it to the Messiah. (Matthew 2:1-6)
ONLY ONE YEAR TO APPEAR
As discussed earlier there is only one year in which the Messiah could appear, 29 AD. This the Nazarene did at the age of 30 when he was baptized in water and anointed with Elohim’s spirit. (Daniel 9:24, 25; Luke 3:1-3, 21-23)
A SHORT MINISTRY
Daniel 9:26-27 foretold: 26 “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off and have naught. And the people of a coming prince shall destroy the city and the set-apart place. And the end of it is with a flood. And wastes are decreed, and fighting until the end. 27 “And he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week. And in the middle of the week he shall put an end to slaughtering and meal offering. And on the wing of abominations he shall lay waste, even until the complete end and that which is decreed is poured out on the one who lays waste.”
Counting from the anointing of the Nazarene to his execution was three and a half years. Judging from the Gospel of John, from the time of Yahshua’s baptism until his death, covered the space of four Passover festivals. Yahshua was executed for sedition by the Romans under pressure from the Jews just three and a half years after beginning his teaching ministry concerning the Kingdom. Over his head a sign was posted in three languages, ‘Yahshua the Nazarene, the King of the Jews.’ (John 19:19) The Jewish historian Josephus, who was a contemporary of the first Christians, wrote:
“a certain Jesus (who was called the Christ), a wizard of a man, if indeed he may be called a man… whom his disciples call a son of God… Pilate had sentenced him… And even now the race of those who are called ‘Messianists’ (that is, Christians) after him, is not extinct.”
A PROPHETIC DEATH
Some estimate over 300 prophecies regarding the Messiah, others 1,000. Here is a short list of those dealing with just the death of the Messiah at the end of the foretold three and a half years.
Rejected by his own people the Jews. (Isaiah 53:2, 3)
Surrounded by jeering crowds. (Psalm 22:6-8, 12, 16)
Pierced through hands and feet. (Psalm 22:16 LXX; Isaiah 53:7;
A slow, tortuous death. (Psalm 22:14, 15, 16)
Would die on a “tree”. (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:14)
Lots cast for his garment. (Psalm 22:18)
Cries out specific words. (Psalm 22:1)
No bones broken. (Psalm 34:20)
Buried among the rich. (Isaiah 53:9)
There are other details regarding the execution of the King-Messiah such as some association with evildoers. (Mark 15:28; Luke 22:27; John 19:36)
Surely these suffice to establish the Kingdom mystery revealed in Messiah. One can see that all of these would be an impossible task to fake when events such as birth and death are beyond one’s control. The only other answer is an evil deception on the part of the Nazarene’s disciples. However, this does not seem part of their character. Having identified the King through prophetic details we can now examine the subject of the Kingdom itself. Again, the Nazarene would have known those prophecies which revealed the secrets or mysteries about his coming Kingdom.
WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD?
The Scripture is very much a book about government. The word groups “king” and “kingdom” occur over 3,600 times. Elohim’s first promise regarding a kingdom is to His people Israel before Mount Sinai at the giving of the Law Covenant through Moses.
Exodus 19:5-6 5 ‘And now, if you diligently obey My voice, and shall guard My covenant, then you shall be My treasured possession above all the peoples – for all the earth is Mine – 6 ‘and you shall be to Me a reign of priests and a set-apart nation.’
Thus the promise was put to Israel to become a real theocracy in which Elohim truly ruled. A real government with kings chosen out of all earth’s inhabitants. Israel, offspring of Abraham, would produce the foretold Messianic Seed in the form of a New Israel of Elohim comprising a true government.
Isaiah 9:6- 7 foretold, 6 For a Child shall be born unto us, a Son shall be given unto us, and the rule is on His shoulder. And His Name is called Wonder, Counsellor, Strong Ěl, Father of Continuity, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His rule and peace there is no end, upon the throne of Dawiḏ and over His reign
[Please see the article “Matthew 1:22-23″ (An addition by the House of Rome) for a comment on Isaiah’s verse above]
Peter quotes those expressions above and gives an application to the Elect ,
1 Peter 1:1; 2:9, 10 [NC 2000© Paraphrase] ‘You elect sojourners of the Diaspora are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a People for God’s possession, you who were once not a people but are now People of God.’
The Kingdom of Elohim is highly associated with Israel and just as the Messiah was a Jew, the Kingdom is composed of many Jews. There are also innumerable Gentiles invited to be among The Elect. (Romans 2:28, 29; 9:6, 7; 11:1-36; Galatians 6:16; Revelation 7:9-17; Isaiah 49:9, 10)
THE KINGDOM IN DANIEL
No book has been more influential on the Bible than the book by the prophet Daniel. It is the Book of Daniel which gives rich definition to this subject of the Kingdom and this explains the Kingdom preached by the Nazarene. The Kingdom is a real government in Daniel, comparable to other historical “kingdoms.” Daniel chapters two and seven particularly deal with this subject. Both chapters approach the Kingdom from two different perspectives: the march of world powers related to Bible history and the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of Elohim. Both come in the form of dreams or visions. They established the timing of the coming into power of the Kingdom and that moment in history when the Messiah is joined with associates, marking a milestone in the Kingdom’s rule. Let us examine these two visions.
Chapter two relates the details regarding a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. It describes an immense image like a colossal man, composed of four primary parts: a golden head, silver arms and chest, bronze belly and thighs, and finally, legs of iron with feet mixed iron and clay. All of these segments, in lowering strata of inferior but harder elements, symbolized real kingdoms or imperial governments to rule earth beginning with Babylon 600 years before Messiah. The parallel description and interpretation in chapter seven makes it clear,
Daniel 7:17, 18 [LXX-Septuagint] ‘These four beasts are four kingdoms that shall rise up on earth but the Saints of the Most High shall take the Kingdom and possess it for ever and ever.’
These four kingdoms in Daniel chapters two and seven are identified by most scholars as: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome.
The finale comes in
Daniel 2:44 [LXX] ‘And in the days of those (four) kings the God of heaven shall set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed and His Kingdom will not be left to another people, but it shall beat to pieces and grind to power all these (four) kingdoms and God’s Kingdom will stand forever.’
Elohim’s Kingdom by Messiah begins to reign during the contemporary life times of all four of these kingdoms, obviously during the last or fourth, the kingdom of iron. This was to prove to be Rome.
Comparing the two chapters with other elements in the Book of Daniel, it seems clear these four kingdoms are: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. It would be “in the days” of all four contemporary kingdoms that Elohim’s Kingdom would begin to rule. Messiah would take up power during the reign of the final fourth kingdom of iron, the Roman world power. But, who compose the Kingdom of Elohim? When does the King begin to rule?
WHEN THE KING BEGINS TO RULE
The answer is confirmed in the details of chapter seven of Daniel. Here the same subject is discussed but in Daniel’s own vision of successive beasts: first, a lion (the same as the golden head of Babylon); second, a bear (the same as the chest and arms of silver, Persia); a leopard (the same as the belly and thighs of bronze, Greece); and, fourth, a beast of iron (the same as the legs of iron, Rome). This vision complements chapter two and adds elements and details left out in the general overview of chapter two. Much more information is given regarding the fourth kingdom and the Kingdom of Elohim with its King. In Daniel’s vision of the four beasts, the Kingdom of Elohim is also an important element with the following main factors highlighted.
A HUMAN WILL ASCEND TO HEAVEN
The Kingdom rulership is given to “a Son of man,” or some one who has the appearance of a human being. This title, “Son of Man,” is one Yahshua the Nazarene applied to himself. He used it nearly 80 times in the Gospels. Daniel reports his nocturnal vision in these words:
Daniel 7:13-14 ‘I beheld in the night vision, and lo, one coming with the clouds of heaven as the Son of Man, and he came on to the Ancient of Days, and was brought near to Him. And to the Son of Man was given dominion, and the honour, and the Kingdom; and all nations, tribes and languages shall serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his Kingdom shall not be destroyed.’
Is it fair to state that this description pictures a human ascending to Elohim’s own Presence to receive a Kingdom?
It is good to keep Daniel’s perspective in mind. Where is he in this visionary setting? In verse 16 Daniel records,
Daniel 7:16 [JPS] 16 ‘And I drew near to one of them that stood by.’ He has earlier reported them in verse 10, ‘Thousands upon thousands served Him; myriads upon myriads attended Him.’
If Daniel approaches one such, that is one of the millions of Celestial Beings attending before Elohim, his position must be in heaven in the visions of his head. When the prophet sees some Human like a Son of man, “coming with the clouds” he must describe someone ascending from earth to heaven to attain the Throne-Room of Elohim Almighty. Yahshua himself mentions this ascension at
John 6:63, 63 ‘Therefore, what if you ever behold the Son of Man ascending to where he was formerly?’
There is only one time when this ascent in clouds occurred and it was recorded at
Acts 1:9-11: 9 And having said this, while they were looking on, He was taken up, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. 10 And as they were gazing into the heaven as He went up, see, two men stood by them dressed in white, 11 who also said, “Men of Galil, why do you stand looking up into the heaven? This same יהושע [Yahshua]who was taken up from you into the heaven, shall come in the same way as you saw Him go into the heaven.”
From Daniel’s prophetic visionary perspective this would be an ascent to his own position before Elohim’s throne and that mass of Celestial Beings attending the Most High, or Ancient of Days. This event truly occurred in the year 33 AD shortly before the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. Thus, Daniel the prophet actually foretold the ascent of Messiah to heaven. (Luke 24:51)
That Daniel 7:13, 14 is fulfilled in the year 33 AD with the ascension of Yahshua the Messiah is proven by comparing the Second Psalm and two inspired applications of it. Peter quotes in prayer Psalm 2:1, 2 and applies it to the events in 33 AD:
Acts 4:25-27 25 who by the mouth of Your servant Dawiḏ have said, ‘Why did the gentiles rage, and the people plot in vain? 26 ‘The sovereigns of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against יהוה and against His Messiah. 27 “For truly, in this city there were gathered together against Your set-apart Servant יהושע [Yahshua], whom You anointed, both Herodes and Pontius Pilate, with the gentiles and the people of Yisra’ĕl
Paul also quotes the Second Psalm, verse 7, as recorded in
Acts 13:33 ‘God has fulfilled this promise to the children of the Israelite forefathers by resurrecting Jesus as also it is written in the second Psalm: “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.”’
So, Paul has the fulfilment of the Second Psalm upon the resurrection and ascension of Yahshua in the year 33 AD.
Therefore, Psalm 2:5, 6 must have also been fulfilled with the ascension of Yahshua the Messiah, the Nazarene:
Psalm 2:5, 6 [JPS] ‘Then (Yehowah) speaks to (these kings and Gentiles) in anger, terrifying them in His rage, But I have installed My king (the Messiah) on Zion, My holy mountain.”’
It is in the year 33 AD when Yahshua is fully enthroned in his Messianic Kingdom in fulfilment of Daniel 7:13.
How much authority and power does the Messiah receive on this occasion? Paul states with great conviction the extent of Messiah’s authority in
Ephesians 1:20-23: 20 which He wrought in the Messiah when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenlies, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and mastery, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all, to the assembly, 23 which is His body, the completeness of Him who fills all in all.
This degree of power was in complete agreement with what the Glorified Messiah himself said:
Matthew 28:18 28 All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
It is now with his ascension that Messiah takes up rulership at Elohim’s right hand in fulfilment of
Psalm 110:1 1 יהוה said to my Master, “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
Paul quotes this verse in the Psalms several times, including
1 Corinthians 15:25-26 25 For He has to reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be brought to naught is death.
and, in Hebrews
Hebrews 10:12-13 12 But He, having offered one slaughter offering for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of Elohim, 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet.
Between these two verses Paul makes it clear that Messiah does not wait to rule but ‘reigns… waiting,’ otherwise he could not begin to rule until all his enemies were subjected first. Thus, Messiah ascends to heaven, returning on clouds, in fulfilment of Daniel 7:13 and is established in power as Psalm 2:6 foretold. Then he must wait while reigning alone before all his enemies are finally made subject to him as Psalm 110:1 predicted.
It is the Nazarene himself who makes a series of compound paraphrases or conflates of the two prophetic texts Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13. When before the Jewish high priests, Messiah assures them that they will still be alive when they see the fulfilment of these two texts:
Mark 14:62 62...you shall see the Son of Aḏam sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of the heaven.
Yahshua also does something similar in an idiomatic form when he tells his disciples they will live to see the fulfilment of Daniel 7:13. (Matthew 10:23; 16:28) This they did as recorded at Acts 1:9-11. All of this helps us appreciate when Daniel 7:13 is fulfilled. But there is another important feature of Daniel’s prophecy: does Messiah continue to rule alone or does he come to have associates?
WHO RULES WITH CHRIST?
Daniel continues to introduce a certain body of people called “the Saints of the Most High” in chapter seven. This body of Saints are a unique group who are alive on earth shortly before the Return of Messiah and who endure a particularly violent time of Great Oppression/Tribulation at the hands of a new element of the Fourth Beast, Rome. Daniel is told this by the apocalyptic angel:
Daniel 7:21 22, 25, 27 21 I was looking, and this horn was fighting against the set-apart ones, and was prevailing against them 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and right-ruling was given to the set-apart ones of the Most High, and the time came and the set-apart ones took possession of the reign. 25 and it speaks words against the Most High, and it wears out the set-apart ones of the Most High, and it intends to change appointed times [Festivals] and law, and they are given into its hand for a time and times and half a time. 27 ‘And the reign, and the rulership, and the greatness of the reigns under all the heavens, shall be given to the people, the set-apart ones of the Most High. His reign is an everlasting reign, and all rulerships shall serve and obey Him.
Is it clear from this Messiah does not always rule alone but is finally joined by associate kings called the “Saints of the Most High.” This term “saints” is one taken up by Paul
1 Corinthians 6:2 2 Do you not know that the set-apart ones [Saints] shall judge the world?
He echoes the promises made by the Nazarene,
28 Truly I say to you, when the Son of Aḏam sits on the throne of His esteem, you who have followed Me in the rebirth, shall also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Yisra’ĕl.
32 “Do not fear, little flock, because your Father did delight to give you the reign.
Luke 22:28-30 28 “But you are those who have remained with Me in My trials. 29 “And I covenant for you, as My Father covenanted for Me, a reign, 30 to eat and drink at My table, in My reign, and to sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Yisra’ĕl.
So, those disciples who chose to follow the Nazarene had opened up to them the opportunity to become associates with Messiah in his heavenly reign. But, these were not the only ones. In Yahshua’s Passover prayer he petitions his Father:
John 17:20, 24 20 And I do not pray for these alone, but also for those believing in Me through their word 24 Father, I desire that those whom You have given Me, might be with Me where I am, so that they see My esteem [glory] which You have given Me, because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
Thus, many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of other Believers, would one day behold the heavenly glory of the Nazarene. This would occur at that moment Daniel 7:22 foretells,
Daniel 7:22 22 the time came and the set-apart ones took possession of the reign.
When and how would this occur?
RESURRECTION AND JUDGMENT
In order to behold the heavenly glory of Yahshua the Nazarene the Saints must undergo a “change.” This requires for the dead Saints what Yahshua calls a “resurrection.” When and how does all of this take place?
THE RETURN OF MESSIAH
First, it is best to discuss the promise of the Nazarene at John 14:2-3
John 14:2-3 2 “In My Father’s house are many staying places. And if not, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I shall come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you might be too.
Near the end of Yahshua’s life on earth he begins to discuss at length his future Arrival or Return in what has been called the Second Coming.
Yahshua gave several parables on this subject and they teach that first he must ascend to heaven ‘to receive his Kingdom’ and then ‘after a long time to Return’ and pass judgment on his own Household. This individual judgment of each Believer is based on their words and actions in their life in the flesh according to Yahshua, Paul, Peter, John and Jude. Here are their teachings on this subject of judgment:
Matthew 12:32, 36, 37 32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Aḏam, it shall be forgiven him, but whoever speaks against the Set-apart Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. 36 “And I say to you that for every idle word men speak, they shall give an account of it in the day of judgment. 37 “For by your words you shall be declared righteous, and by your words you shall be declared unrighteous.”
Matthew 16:27 27 “For the Son of Aḏam is going to come in the esteem [glory] of His Father with His messengers, and then He shall reward each according to his works.
Romans 2:16 16 in the day when Elohim shall judge the secrets of men through יהושע Messiah, according to my Good News. Romans 14:10 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Messiah. 1 Corinthians 4:5 5 So do not judge any at all before the time, until the Master comes, who shall bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the thoughts of the hearts. 2 Corinthians 5:10 10 For we all have to appear before the judgment seat of Messiah, in order for each one to receive according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Hebrews 9:27 [NJB] 27 ‘Since human beings die only once, after which comes judgment.’ 1 Peter 4:5, 17 [NAS] 5 ‘They shall give account to Him, who is ready to judge the living and the dead.155’ 17 ‘Because the appointed time begins the Judgment from the House of God and if we Saints are the first to be judged what will be the end of those disobedient to the Gospel?’ 1 John 2:28; 4:17 2:28 And now, little children, stay in Him, so that when He appears, we might have boldness and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. 4:17 By this love has been perfected with us, in order that we might have boldness in the day of judgment, because as He is so are we in this world. Jude 6, 21, 24 6 And the messengers who did not keep their own principality, but left their own dwelling, He has kept in everlasting shackles under darkness for the judgment of the great day. 21 keep yourselves in the love of Elohim, looking for the compassion of our Master יהושע Messiah unto everlasting life. 24 And to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you blameless before the presence of His esteem [glory] with exceeding joy
WHERE ARE THE DEAD SAINTS?
It would be most timely at this point to answer this question and related questions about the condition of the dead. Many have been raised to believe, or taught to believe, that each human being possesses a “soul” which escapes the body at death and goes to live in an after-life. They believed, therefore, that all good Believers were in heaven. Had the resurrection begun in Paul’s own day? He is severely critical of two heretics in his time with the words,
2 Timothy 2:17-18 17 and their word shall eat its way like gangrene. Humenaios and Philetos are of this sort, 18 who have missed the goal concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and overthrow the belief of some.
In the introductory portion of NAZARENE PRINCIPLES, we had suggested the use of a concordance to research certain words. Here is a good place to use one. Those words for “soul,” the Hebrew nephesh (Strongs # 5315) and the Greek psyche (Strongs # 5590), can be researched at your leisure, along with other words, such as: death, grave, hell (Sheol, Hades), or resurrection. What will such a study reveal? Some commentaries make these observations:
“There is no dichotomy of body and soul in the OT. The Israelite saw things concretely, in their totality, and thus they considered men as persons and not as composites. The term ne'phesh, though translated by our word soul, never means soul as distinct from the body or the individual person… The term psy·khe' is the NT word corresponding with ne'phesh. It can mean the principle of life, life itself, or the living being." (New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), Vol. XIII, pp. 449, 450.)
“The Hebrew term for ‘soul' (nephesh, that which breathes) was used by Moses… signifying an ‘animated being' and applicable equally to nonhuman beings… New Testament usage of psyche (‘soul') was comparable to nephesh." (The New Encyclopædia Britannica (1976), Macropædia, Vol. 15, p. 152.)
“The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body is a matter of philosophical or theological speculation rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly nowhere expressly taught in Holy Scripture." (The Jewish Encyclopedia (1910), Vol. VI, p. 564.)
The Dictionary of New Testament Theology makes the following observations: “In OT thought death means the final end of man’s existence… The NT view of death is in direct continuity with the old Jewish view… (Vol 1, page 433, 435)
Plato provides us with the idea that the soul can be deprived of its body, that it does not come fully into its own until it has been separated from the body, and that it is immortal. (Vol 3, page 679)
Did the Bible teach this?
In the Jewish Greek Septuagint the word normally translated “soul”, psyche, occurs 900 times. A comparison of these occurrences will reveal over 100 which demonstrate the “soul” to be mortal and destructible. Not once is “soul” connected with immortality. The word “immortality” is used only by Paul and is an attribute of the glorified Messiah and the resurrected Saints. (1 Corinthians 15:53, 54; 1 Timothy 6:16) This “immortality” may be attained only upon the resurrection at the Return of Messiah. (1 Corinthians 15:23, 50-53)
In the entire Scriptures the condition of the dead is one of sleep and unconsciousness. A comparison of a concordance on the words “death” and “sleep” will establish the truth of Psalm 146:3, 5158; Ecclesiastes 3:19-21159; 9:5, 10160; Daniel 12:2161; John 11:11-14, 25, 26162. At this time it would be good to also compare the words often translated “hell” or “grave.” In Hebrew this is Sheol and in Greek Hades. This study will show Yahshua only used the word Hades, three times (once in a parable) and Paul never, despite what he says in Acts 20:20. Peter uses it in Acts 2:27, 31 to show Messiah went there when he died and then returned to life. The word occurs in Revelation 20:13, 14 where it shows all the dead come out of Hades and then are judged after which Hades and Death are thrown into “Second Death.” (Compare 1 Corinthians 15:24-27)
WHEN IS THE RESURRECTION?
Paul has said above that the resurrection had not occurred in his day. That meant all persons, including the Believers dead, rested in an unconscious sleep. (1 Corinthians 7:39; 15:6, 18, 20, 51) With regard to the time and sequence of this rising from unconscious sleep in a resurrection, Paul taught: Since death is by a man, the resurrection of the dead is by a man.
1 Corinthians 15:21, 22 For as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive.’
Acts 17:31 ‘According to which The God has established a Day in which He will judge righteously all the earth by a Man He appointed and this is something all men can trust because The God resurrected this Man out of the dead.’
1 Corinthians 15:23-26 ‘But, each individual in his own order or rank: a) Christ, a first-fruits of those who sleep in death; b) thereafter, those of the Christ at his Arrival163; c) and, finally, The End… when the last enemy Death is rendered ineffective.’
It seems fair to conclude that there are two major groupings among this “all”: Christians and everyone else. Christians would be raised at the Return of Messiah. When would the “rest of the dead” be raised? Paul indicates this will be at what he calls “the end.” But, can we get to know more precisely when this general or last resurrection occurs?
The only other Biblical text which covers a similar sequence is Revelation 20:4-7, 12, 13. These verses answer our question very directly in an abbreviated paraphrase:
Revelation 20:4-7, 12, 13 ‘I saw those victorious (Believer Saints), they lived166 and they reigned with the Messiah a Thousand Years… This is the First Resurrection168… The rest of the dead lived not until The End of the Thousand Years. When the Thousand Years end… the dead stood before a great white Throne (of the Messiah) and small books were opened and the dead were judged out of the things written in these small books and each one of the dead were judged by their own works.’
Is it fair to suggest that this agrees with Paul (1 Corinthians 15:23, 24) and that there will be two resurrections and two judgments: a) the first upon the Believer Church, the Household of Faith at the Return of Messiah; and, b) the rest of mankind, all of Adam’s children, are raised at the end of the Thousand Years, and there receive their judgment, either to everlasting life on earth, or extinction. But, who are alive on earth during the Thousand Years?
If none are resurrected during the Thousand Years, who are alive to be “judged” by the glorified Saints? For verse 4 states,
‘I saw thrones and they that sat down upon them. Judgment was given to them.’
This may also be rendered:
KNX: those to whom judgment was committed;
GDSP: who were empowered to act as judges.
So, who do the Saints judge? Paul had argued with the Corinthians,
1 Corinthians 6:2 2 ‘Do you not know the Saints will judge the world?’
The answer lies in
Revelation 20:3 ‘…that Satan the Devil may no longer cause the nations to err until the Thousand Years end.’
Imagine? A “world” (1 Corinthians 6:2) without the influence of the Devil? What kind of “world” would this be?
It must be admitted there are only a very few texts upon which to determine these matters in any detail. However, let us present some picture which will illustrate Messiah’s Millennial Reign. Read as we may in the entire Book of Revelation, or the Apocalypse, and no where do we find that the “world” comes to an end with Armageddon. Read those chapters which specifically deal with this period in prophetic events: 6:12-17; 7:1, 2; 9:15; 11:18; 14:19, 20; 16:14, 16; 17:11; 18:1-24; 19:11-21. In all of this one or two points stand out. Revelation 9:15 makes a clear statement:
Revelation 9:15 ‘And the Four Angels were released, those prepared for the hour, day, month and year, to kill one-third of mankind.’
Judging from this does it seem fair to conclude that the Four Angels of Revelation 7:1-3 will “kill” one-third of mankind, leaving two-thirds? Another point to note is that in all of these verses above, other than 9.15, the only thing described as destroyed by the King are abstractions: Babylon the Great, the Wild Beast, the False Prophet. In Revelation19:20 only two are hurled into the Lake of Fire, the Second Death. (Revelation 20:6, 10, 14) “The rest were killed” says verse 21 of chapter nineteen without indicating these entered Second Death. All things considered, a majority of earth’s inhabitants, made up of hundreds of “nations,” will survive to live into the beginning of Messiah’s Thousand Year reign no longer to be mislead by the Devil. (Revelation 20:3)
There is another prophet who also indicates “the nations” will survive Armageddon.
Zechariah 14:5, 8, 11, 16, 17 [LXX or Septuagint] ‘And the Lord my God shall come and all the Saints with Him… And in that day living water shall come forth out of Jerusalem… And there shall be no more any curse (on Jerusalem)… And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall be left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem shall even come up every year to worship the King… And it shall come to pass that whosoever of all the families of the earth shall not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, even these shall be added to the others.’
Does the prophet Zechariah not agree with the apostle John by indicating there will be “survivors” (NIV; NJB) of Armageddon from among those “nations” who actually “came against Jerusalem”? (Compare the “nations” at Revelation 11:2) There are enough phrases here in Zechariah which are alluded to in Revelation chapters 21 and 22 to prove that nothing is being lifted out of the prophetic context. (see footnotes) Thus, there are two prophets which indicate many, if not a majority, will survive Armageddon.
There is one other text which gives some indication as to what will happen during the Thousand Year reign of the Messiah. Isaiah chapter 65 is generally understood to apply during the Thousand Years. Thus, we note verses 17, 19, 20:
Isaiah 65:17-20 ‘For look, I am going to create new heavens and a new earth, and the past will not be remembered.… No more will the sound of weeping be heard there, nor the sound of a shriek; never again will there be an infant there who lives only a few days, nor an old man who does not run his full course; for the youngest will die at a hundred, and at a hundred the sinner will be accursed.’
Is this language clear enough to establish that there will be ‘death’ during the Thousand Years; and, there will be “sinners” who have ‘evil called down upon them.’ This last phrase helps us to understand what Revelation 20:6 said about those Saints raised in the First Resurrection: ‘over these the Second Death has no authority.’ If that is the case, then Second Death does have authority over others during the Thousand Years. What kind of world would this be?
Imagine a world without the Devil? Without the Wild Beast? Without Babylon the Great? Without the False Prophet? Visions of what Eden would have been like had Adam not failed in his faith fire our imaginations. Mankind under the rule of Yahshua the Nazarene, without Satanic influence, without religious deception, without political tyranny ought to make for conditions which would funnel mankind’s creativity to the healing of the environment in a miraculous way! It would be a world considerably more healthy than anything under the rule of “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) in pre-Armageddon centuries. Despite the coming and going of successive generations throughout the Thousand Years the rule of Messiah will truly be peaceful and healthy. (Isaiah chapters 11, 32, 35, 65)
The Devil was given six millenniums to prove his accusation against Elohim in Genesis chapter 3 and Job chapters 1 and 2. Satan had thousands of years and the world today represents his best efforts. The Elohim of Heaven has allocated a single millennium to demonstrate His grace by means of Messiah to all mankind. Ephesians 2:7 explains the reason Elohim has invited the Saints to enjoy a heavenly reward,
Ephesians 2:7 [KJV] ‘That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace.’
Under Messianic rule and judgment it is a time to educate the earth in the “knowledge of Yehowah”:
Isaiah 11:9; 26:9, 19; [NAS; LXX] ‘For earth will be filled with the knowledge of Yehowah as the waters cover the seas… For when the earth experiences Thy judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness… Those who are dead will stand up again; those in the memorial tombs will be resurrected --- joyfully rising like fresh dew from the earth with healing for themselves.’
It is beyond the imagination what all this will mean for mankind during the Thousand Years.
SUMMARY: THE KINGDOM
All those who have ever lived and died on this planet, save One, are in unconscious sleep awaiting the resurrection and the judgment. Messiah was the first to be raised. All claiming to be Believers or Saints will be raised upon the Return of Messiah. This has not yet occurred and, therefore, none of mankind has been raised. None have gone to heaven or continue living elsewhere. However, they do “live to Elohim” because He “remembers” them and they sense no passage of time as in a very deep sleep. The dead will awake in Elohim’s time and it will seem instantaneous to them from the moment they died. Upon the Arrival of Messiah in his foretold Presence, the Believers who are dead will be raised into the parousia-Judgment upon the Household of Elohim. The “called and chosen and faithful” will join Messiah as kings, priests and judges during the Thousand Years. Following the Thousand Years all the dead among mankind in general, numbering into billions from all periods of historical time, will be resurrected for the Last Judgment. They will all be judged according to their words and works during their previous life on earth. The righteous will enter eternal life on earth. The wicked will be turned into the Second Death from which there is no recovery.
A SPIRITUAL MYSTERY!
There is an exception to the above discussion on the resurrection. There is another facet to this subject of the heirs of the Kingdom and how, indeed, “the Kingdom comes.” This is in reference to those Friends of the Nazarene, or Believers, alive on earth at the very moment when Messiah returns or arrives in his promised Parousia. This special group of faithful and awake Saints receive particular attention in the teachings of the Nazarene. This unique body of disciples is a special focus in the Third Nazarene Principle. Once the Nazarene asked a frightening question:
Luke 18:8 ‘When the Son of Man arrives will he find The Faith on earth?’
Happily we can answer a resounding “Yes!” to this rhetorical question and do so with great confidence. Paul assures us based on two sources:
a) a mystery revelation
b) the teachings of the Nazarene.
First, the “mystery”. We find this primarily in three texts: 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 2 Thessaonians 2:1, and 1 Corinthians 15:23, 51, 52. Presented as a conflate here in a compound paraphrase, these would read in part: ‘Now concerning the Arrival (or, Presence) of Christ and our Gathering to him: (2 Thessalonians 2:1) …In complete command, the Master Messiah, will come down from heaven with an Archangel’s voice and with the Trumpet of Elohim and those dead in Messiah will be resurrected first. Thereafter, we the living, who remain to the Arrival of the Master, will be snatched in clouds at the same time and together with the (dead Saints) will meet the Master in the air…
1 Corinthians 15:23, 51, 52 Look! I tell you this mystery: We (Saints) will not all die! But, we (living Saints) will be changed in the thinnest slice of time,in the blink of an eye, at the Last Trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead (Saints) will be raised and we living (Saints) will all be changed.’
Do these verses show that one group of Friends of the Nazarene, those alive when Messiah commands in the voice of the Archangel (Michael) and sounds the Trump of Elohim, are “snatched” or “caught away” just after the dead Saints are resurrected? Did Yahshua the Nazarene teach the same?
In 1 Thessalonians 4:15 Paul wrote, ‘We say this by the word of the Lord.’ What may this mean? If the “Lord/Master” be here the Nazarene — Paul’s use of “Lord/Master” in the surrounding context would argue so (verses 1, 15, 16, 17) — then there is something in Yahshuateaching which made Paul say this. The New Jerusalem Bible renders this phrase, ‘We can tell you this from the Lord’s own teaching.’ If this be correct, from where would Paul draw these conclusions in the sayings of the Nazarene? Where did Yahshua teach about a group of dead believers who would be resurrected and a group of living believers who would never die?
The answer is at
John 11:25, 26 ‘If the one believing in me should die, he will live again; and everyone living and believing in me will never die.’
Are there be two groups here? A believing group which dies and comes to life, or is resurrected; and, a living group of believers who will never die? Could this be the source for Paul’s words?
From what source does the Nazarene draw his own teaching? Yahshua’s comforting words to Martha are too much like Daniel 12:1, 2 to be coincidental: ‘Michael will appear at a time of trouble and then your People will be rescued and many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, others to reproaches, to everlasting abhorrence.’ This connection places the resurrection and the rapture of the Friends of the Nazarene precisely in the prophetic context of the Great Oppression/Tribulation.
THE GREAT OPPRESSION/TRIBULATION
It is not possible to discuss the subject of the Kingdom and the Third Nazarene Principle without incorporating the subject of a foretold period of Great Oppression/Tribulation. This subject occurs in John’s vision in the Apocalypse or Revelation where he sees a Large Crowd standing in the sight of Elohim’s Throne, dressed in white robes, and serving Elohim in His Celestial Temple. The heavenly presbyter in the vision asks a question, ‘Who are these?’ He then proceeds to answer his own inquiry, ‘These come out of the Great Oppression/Tribulation.’ (Revelation 7:9-17)
The exact phrase tes thlipseos tes megales used by the presbyter is virtually identical to that used by the Nazarene at Matthew 24:21, thlipsis megale. Can there be any question the Nazarene (and the heavenly presbyter) draws this from the Septuagint at Daniel 12:1, where thlipseos is used in language nearly identical to that of Yahshua? Thus “these” in white robes in Revelation 7:14, 15 are the same as the Elect who are “saved” in the words of Yahshua at Matthew 24:22; and, therefore, the same as “your people written in the Book” who are “rescued” at Daniel 12:1.
A few verses after Daniel 12:1, 2 the prophet inquires as to the length of time until this “oppression” (thlipsis) ends, and as in John’s own case, a celestial being answers the question:
Daniel12:7 ‘For (three and a half years). And when the breaking of the power of the Holy People comes to an end, then shall all these things be fulfilled.’
This would seem to fix the period of the Great Oppression/Tribulation at three and a half years.
This period of time is first mentioned earlier in
Daniel 7:21-27 [Based on LXX] ‘I beheld, and that Horn made war with the Saints, and prevailed against them (and he shall oppress the Saints of the Most High for three and a half years) until the Ancient of Days arrived. He gave judgment to the Saints of the Most High and the time came and the Saints took possession of the Kingdom.’
These verses are the source for the words at
Revelation 13:5-7 ‘And authority for forty-two months was given to the Wild Beast and it was given to make war with the Saints and to conquer them.’
This confirms the length of the “time, times, and half a time” to be three and a half years. It is the same length of time given in Daniel 12:7.
In Revelation 11:2, 7, 12 the Rapture (going up in the air in a cloud ) is foretold to occur at the end of this period of Great Oppression/Tribulation:
Revelation 11:2, 7, 12 ‘It was granted to the nations and they will trample on the Holy City (the New Jerusalem) for forty-two months… The Wild Beast will make war with (the Saints) and will conquer them and kill them… And spirit of life from God entered (the Saints) and they stood upon their feet225 and they heard a great voice out of heaven saying to them: “Come up here!” And (the Saints) ascended into heaven in the cloud228 and their enemies watched them.’
Would this not confirm the Rapture occurs after the Great Oppression/Tribulation just as suspected from the Nazarene? (Matthew 24:29, 31)
The Nazarene’s own use of the term “great oppression” is in relation to the destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple. It is noteworthy that this period of great distress and affliction occurred between the years 66 to 70 AD, which is a period of three and a half years. In discussing this “distress,” Luke 21:20-24 paraphrases Matthew’s and Mark’s account about the Great Oppression/Tribulation with these words:
Luke 21:20-24 ‘When you see Jerusalem being encircled by encamped armies then you know that her desolation has drawn near. These are days of vengeance that all the things written (in Daniel) are to be fulfilled. For there will be great necessity upon the earth and wrath on this people. They will fall by the sword and be led captive into all the nations and Jerusalem will be trampled by the nations until the appointed times of the nations should be fulfilled.’
It is no coincidence that this great Roman oppression occurred during the three and a half years between 66 and 70 AD. It was during this time that Paul and Peter both sealed their confession of Messiah by martyrdom.
It seems clear that Revelation 11:2 is a very strong allusion or paraphrase of Luke 21:24 thus showing that this “appointed times of the nations” is three and a half years in length. When the Apocalypse was written Jerusalem lay desolate in fulfilment of the Nazarene’s prophecy for almost three decades. Revelation 11:2 has another city in mind, the Holy City of New Jerusalem mentioned elsewhere in the Scritures’ last book. Further, the prophecy in Daniel 12:1, 2 has the resurrection occurring after the Great Oppression’Tribulation. There are two historical periods of Great Oppression against the People of Elohim. One upon the Jewish Elect in the First Century and one to come upon the Christian Elect of New Israel before the Arrival of the King in his Parousia.
Shortly before the Return of Messiah, that is the Arrival of the King in his Second Coming, there will be a Great Oppression/Tribulation lasting three and a half years. Immediately after this Great Oppression, because Elohim brings an end to it by rescuing the Elect, Yahshua the Messiah returns to resurrect the sleeping Saints and to snatch quickly out of harm’s way those living Saints. Following these events, Messiah and the victorious Saints, and all the Chosen Angels, come to render judgment upon the earth, culminating in the war of Armageddon. But, this raises some questions related to the coming Kingdom of Elohim taught by the Nazarene in the Third Principle. How does Messiah return? Can the time of Messiah’s Return be known? Are we in the so-called “last days”?
THE OBJECT AND MANNER OF THE LORD’S COMING
The Nazarene taught he had come from Elohim. He made it clear he was returning to Elohim to receive his Kingdom power. He also taught he would return in glory to gather home his Saints. This is the primary object or purpose of his Return.
The Nazarene taught this sudden and unexpected Return would be visible. Yahshua said,
Matthew 24:27, 30 ‘As lightning flashes from under the heaven and shines to another part of heaven, so the Son of Man will be on the Day in which the Son of Man is revealed. The Sign of the Son of man will then appear in heaven and all the tribes of the earth will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven.’
This will be exactly as the angel predicted
Acts 1:9-11 ‘This Jesus you saw received up from you into heaven (lifted up as you were watching, a cloud carrying him up before your very eyes) will thus come in the manner you viewed him going his way into heaven.’
It would be difficult not to see in all of this a visible return.
Despite this, however, some hold to an invisible return of Messiah. What else would the Nazarene have to say to make it plain his Arrival or Parousia was visible, something that could be viewed by a healthy human eye? That it is visible is shown by the reaction of “all the tribes of the earth.” This phrase would include the entire planet where all of these “tribes” live. The angel of the ascension in Acts 1:9-11 makes it clear the disciples “saw” the ascension and assured the marvelling Galileans this “same Yahshua” will return in this same manner: visibly. However, the way the inhabitants of earth see the returning Master may be different from the way “we the living” see him.
Paul says boldly, ‘Have I not seen the Lord?’ However, in the three accounts of his experience on the road to Damascus, it was a blinding light he saw. He heard a voice speaking Hebrew. (Acts 9:3-7; 22:6-11; 26:12-16) To Paul this was as good as ‘seeing’ the Master; and the Glorified Master states that he was ‘made visible’ to Paul. While the Saints will actually see the Messiah “as he really is,”
(1 John 3:2) in his spirit form (1 Corinthians 15:44, 48, 50; 1 Peter 3:18), those alive on earth at that time, as part of “all the tribes of the earth“, will observe literally some visual display which will be as “a Sign” anyone can comprehend. (Matthew 24:30) All will know who it is and what is happening. (Revelation 6:15-17) It will have a profound affect on earth’s inhabitants.
It is not impossible to think that Elohim is capable of projecting some holographic image upon earth’s atmosphere, like the northern lights, so the entire globe will see the same thing at the same time: the Arrival of Yahshua the Messiah, the Nazarene. The three Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke record this prophetic event which follows the three and a half years of Great Oppression/Triulation:
Matthew 24, Mark 13 & Luke 21 ‘But immediately after the oppression of those days, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not gives it light. The stars will fall from the heaven, for the celestial dynamics will be shaken. The Sign of the Son of Man will then appear in the sky. All the tribes of the earth will give way to great lamentation… And on the earth anguish of nations in perplexity like the noise of the sea in its agitation, men fainting from fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming in glorious power on the clouds of the sky.’
Is it fair to summarize this as: great oppression, celestial darkness, atmospheric sign, international lamentation, global anguish, and the visible Return of Messiah?
Following this Great Oppression, celestial display, and the Sign of the Son of Man’s appearance, the Nazarene went on to describe the apocalyptic events:
Matthew 24:31 ‘And the Son of Man will send off his angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together the Elect from the four winds, from one extreme of the heavens to their other extreme.’
The one thing clearly stated, regarding the object or purpose of the Master’s Return, is to “gather” his disciples, the Friends of the Nazarene. This action is the primary part of “gathering Celestial things.” (Ephesians 1:10) Later, during the Thousand Years and after this Messianic Reign, “the Terrestrial things will be gathered.”
This thought of “gathering the Elect” is not new or original with the Nazarene. The prophetic idea was over seven centuries old when Yahshua walked the beaches of Galilee. This apocalyptic vision the Master drew from Isaiah, the Jewish prophet of the Seventh Century BC. Parts of this portent read:
Isaiah 13:10, 13; 11:6, 12 [Compare LXX] ‘The light of the constellation Orion will no longer twinkle. For the stars of heaven and all the cosmos of the celestialum shall not give their light. It shall be dark at sunrise and the moon shall not give her light… The heavens will shake and the earth will be tremorous… (Messiah) will appear… He will raise a Sign for the nations and he shall gather the lost ones of Israel from the four corners of the earth.’
The similarities cannot be ignored. Such a celestial event will rock earth to its knees in great fear and lamentation. Much is made in these days approaching the year 2,000 regarding extra-terrestrials. But… what if this first “contact” was from a source entirely unexpected?
CAN THE “APPOINTED TIME” BE KNOWN?
From the first disciples of the Nazarene, Believers have been keenly interested in the timing of Messiah’sReturn. Today there is excitable interest in this subject as the year 2,000 approaches. Many are the “prophets” who predict the nearness of this event, just as they did as the year 1,000 AD approached, leading to the Crusades. Others have preached the imminent return of Messiah and the “end of the world” for over 150 years.
Did Yahshua give a “sign” marking the “last days” of our generation? Or, our children’s generation? Is there any Biblical time-chronology upon which one could base a date for the Return of Messiah with all its attendant universal and terrestrial phenomenon? We check the teachings of the Nazarene with great excitement and expectation.
In view of the glorious Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, four of the Nazarene’s apostles asked him this question:
Matthew 24:3 KJV ‘What will the sign of your Coming and the End of the World?’
This reading of the Authorized Version has led to much misunderstanding. What were the disciples asking about and what was the Nazarene’s answer? A reading of Matthew chapter 24, Mark chapter 13, and Luke chapter 21 helps clear up generations of misconception about so-called “last days.” Yahshua never uses such a term in all the Gospels and whenever the phrase “last days” does occur it is always with reference to the end of the Jewish Temple Age which had its fulfilment with the destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple in 70 AD.
As a study assignment, read the context in all three Gospels and the introductory words leading up to the question of the Nazarene’s disciples. Were they not asking about the “end” of Jerusalem and her Temple? These disciples may have assumed such a devastating prediction by the Nazarene about the “end” of the Temple meant the Return of Messiah and “the conclusion of the Age”.
The use of the Greek word translated “the end” is synteleias. This same word is used at Hebrews 9:26 to refer to the conclusion of the Jewish Temple Age. Synteleias is likely borrowed from the Jewish Greek Septuagint (LXX) at Daniel 9:27 to refer to the foretold desolation of the Temple as Yahshua also predicted. “The end of the world” meant the end of their Jewish world centred around their Temple with the destruction of Jerusalem, not the end of the world or all life on the earth.
[There are those who believe that these passages refer to the end of this age]
THE NAZARENE ANSWER
Consider the three Gospels again for Yahshua’s answer. His very first words are a warning, evidently in response to an attitude of the disciples, taking into consideration their concern over the timing of matters. He cautions them: ‘Look out that you do not make a mistake, for many will come in my name, saying, “THE APPOINTED TIME HAS APPROACHED.” You should not follow them!’ Right from the start the Nazarene warns them. Any future disciples are not to be misled by men claiming Messiah’s authority, as if he were speaking only through them as a channel: false prophets and pseudo-anointed (Matthew 24:11, 24) who have worked out some time-chronology or prophetic method for foretelling the generation who will see the Return of Christ. “Do not follow them!” is the Nazarene’s clear warning.
There are two reasons for this:
a) Yahshua himself does not know “the day and hour” of his Return, Arrival, or Parousia. He admits, ‘But about that day and hour no one knows, not the angels of heaven or the Son, but only the Father.’ (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32)
And, b) no disciple of Messiah, no servant of Elohim, no matter how Scripturally knowledgeable, can claim to have calculated such a date: ‘Because you do not know on what kind of day your Lord is coming; whether in late afternoon, midnight, cock-crowing, or dawn. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know when the appointed time is when the Lord of the House is coming.’ (Matthew 24:42; Mark 13:33, 35) This ignorance is in harmony with the Nazarene’s later warning to his apostles following their question, ‘It does not belong to you to know times or appointed time which the Father put in his own authority.’ (Acts 1:6, 7) Any such claims must be false prophecies and represent that “presumptuous” character identified by Moses. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22) The warning is precise and direct: Friends of the Nazarene should not be misled by such false prophecies. ‘DO NOT FOLLOW THEM!’ the Nazarene directs. (Or, “do not join them.” NJB)
It is unfortunate that many Christian teachers have been so “presumptuous” to assume Messiah must return while they are alive, as if they were the all-important reason for his Coming. Sadly, there have been a multitude of attempts to make calculations regarding the Parousia (presence) of Messiah and the so-called “end of the world.” This has been done in two ways:
a) time chronologies;
b) a compilation of “signs” into one “composite sign” marking the so-called “last days.” Let us consider these.
There are several types but one of the most well-known is at least more than two centuries old. One has been the effort to apply Daniel chapter 4 to a prophetic “Seven Gentile Times” and tie these in with Luke 21:24. As already demonstrated in previous pages these “times” in Luke 21:24 are three and a half years based on Daniel 12:7 and Revelation 11:2. Nothing proves this more than the actual fulfillment between the years 66 to 70 AD. A careful reading of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as given by Daniel will turn up the word “interpretation” 8 times. The explanation to this King of Babylon’s dream is given by Daniel, the angel of the vision, and the actual fulfilment recorded in the chapter. Is it fair to state that the “interpretation” is right there in front of anyone who wishes to read Daniel chapter 4?
Additionally, Daniel chapter 4 is never quoted, paraphrased or alluded to in later inspired writers, unlike chapters 2, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 12. The Revelation or Apocalypse makes over four dozen allusions to the book of Daniel, but never chapter 4. Daniel chapter 4 is like chapters 3, 5, and 6: lessons without any specific prophetic significance.
SIGNS OF THE LAST DAYS?
Many Bibles carry a topic heading atop the pages in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Some of these read: “Sign of last days,” or, “Sign of Messiah’s presence.” However, search as we may we are unable to find such a phrase as “last days” in these chapters. As mentioned above, the expression “last days” is never used by the Nazarene and is absent from the one book where we might expect it, Revelation. The term “last days” only occurs at Acts 2:17, 2 Timothy 3:1, Hebrews 1:1, James 5:3, and 2 Peter 3:3. These all are most likely talking about the “last days” upon Jerusalem. For example, Acts 2:17 and Hebrews 1:1 clearly are; 2 Timothy 3:1 has a contextual application to Timothy; James 5:3 may well be speaking of the end of the Jewish Temple Age; and, 2 Peter 3:3, the most obscure, until we discover it is actually quoted by Jude in verse 18 and applied to those contemporary times.
Is Yahshua giving a list of events in the three Gospels which would identify some generation before his Arrival, or Parousia? Many read this into it. But, noting the opening warning in the answer to the disciples’ question, it may just as well be a lesson that they are not to be misled by local or world happenings into which something like a sign could be read. Those who insist the Nazarene’s mention of wars, famines, pestilence, earthquakes and international preaching go to great lengths to list the horrors of the Twentieth Century. Since these can be nebulous, because such things have happened throughout the last nearly two thousand years, the same “prophets” go to great lengths to establish the identity of the final generation.
JESUS GIVES TWO SIGNS
This does not mean the Nazarene did not foretell a specific Sign or signs: one to appear before the destruction of Jerusalem and the second to occur before the Return of Messiah. Regarding this first “sign,” and with the context of the Temple and the approaching desolation of Jerusalem in mind, note Matthew 24:15 as a preeminent sign indicating the approach of the holy city’s “end”. The Lamsa Translation from the Aramaic (related to the language the Nazarene spoke) actually has the word “sign” here in verse 15. So, that is the first real “sign” Yahshua mentions in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple.
This warning Yahshua actually borrows from Daniel 8:9-11, 13 and 11:15. Yahshua had already used words similar to Daniel in Luke 19:43, 44:
Luke 19:43, 44 ‘Because the days will arrive upon you when your enemies throw up a palisade. They will encircle you and they will distress you from every side. They will dash you and your children to the ground and they will not let a stone upon a stone within you.’
Our faith is stimulated to great heights by the knowledge both Daniel and Yahshua the Messiah foretold the “end” of Jerusalem’s Temple.
So, Yahshua’s answer from Matthew 24:4-22 deals first precisely with the city of Jerusalem and his prediction of her Temple’s destruction. But, using this Great Oppression on Jerusalem as a prophetic pivot or overlay, the Nazarene telescopes through time (remember he does not know the “day and hour”) to the next important event in relation to the disciples’ question: the Parousia, or Return of the King. First, he warns about private or isolated appearances in Matthew 24:3-28, explaining that the Arrival of the Son of Man will be as discernible as lightning shining from east to west. Something no one can miss. Anyone who claims Yahshua appears in the bed-chamber, or out in the desert, is no different than those who claim, “The Time Is At Hand!” or, “The Christ is here!” Whether that be visible or invisible.
THE SIGN OF THE KING’S ARRIVAL
Now, for the first time, the Nazarene foretells the second or final Sign in Matthew 24:29-31. This Sign follows after the Great Oppression of three and a half years. First, the heavens and the atmosphere are prepared: solar, lunar, and stellar darkness give an awe-inspiring back-drop to the apocalyptic vision about to occur. “The Sign of the Son of Man” appears in heaven. What shape this sign will take is unknown but no one on earth will miss its point, for “they will see the Son of Man returning on clouds.” While nations tremble in fear and wail in lamentation, the Son of Man sends out his angels to gather the Elect, both the dead Saints by resurrection, and the living Saints by rapture. This later event will evidently be visible to their “enemies.” (Revelation 11:12)
The only way the last “generation” of Friends of the Nazarene will know they are living in the “last days” is when they see this Great Oppression/Tribulation followed by the celestial phenomenon and the appearance of the Son of Man in the atmospheric heavens. It is to this moment the Gospel of Luke is referring when Yahshua says
Luke 21:28, 31 ‘But when these things (celestial darkness and the visible Arrival of the Son of man) start to occur, rise and look up because your deliverance is drawing near… So, whenever you see these things occurring (celestial darkness and the visible Return of Christ) know the Kingdom of God is near.’
Then, and only then, could any Christian proclaim, ‘The end has come!’ (Revelation 16.17 PME) Then, and only then, could the final “generation” before the Return of Christ be identified.
Those Friends of the Nazarene of the Elect, that is, “we the living,” as Paul describes them, who have come out of the Great Oppression/Tribuation, are given specific counsel by Yahshua, to:
a) keep awake in expectation of Messiah’s Return, for it will come at an hour ones does not expect;
b) avoid those things which dull the senses.
The Nazarene taught,
Luke 21:34-36 ‘But pay attention to yourselves so you never become burdened in your hearts by overeating, drunkenness, and anxieties of life and that Day arise with a surprising quickness like a snare. For that Day (of the King’s Arrival) will come upon all living on the entire globe. Keep awake and pray in every season so that you might be strong enough to escape all the things destined to occur and to hold your place before the Son of man.’
The Nazarene taught, then, that he would return to heaven and thereupon receive the Kingdom throne. He reigns alone until that future time when he returns to gather his disciples by resurrection and rapture. This marks a milestone when he is now associated with his fellow members in the Kingdom. In this way the ‘Kingdom comes.’ At this future unknown date, during the Last Trumpet, it may be said, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and his Messiah and he will reign into the Ages of the Ages.
Revelation 11:15 We give thanks to you, Lord God, the Almighty, because you have taken your great power and begun to reign.
Is this all there is to the Third Principle and the subject of the Kingdom? What else did the Nazarene teach on this subject? What about his many parables which say “the kingdom of the heavens is like”?
THE KINGDOM OF THE SON*
There is another feature or aspect to this subject of the Kingdom. When speaking over 100 times about the Kingdom, the Nazarene nearly always presents the Kingdom as something contemporary and operating as an opportunity during the life of Messiah. There are really two kingdoms in the Nazarene’s teachings: the Kingdom of the Son and the Kingdom of the Father. Note this
Matthew 13:41, 43: ‘The Son of Man will send forth his angels and collect out from his Kingdom all stumbling blocks and the lawless. Then the righteous will shine as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.’
Note that in the Kingdom of the Father are only the “righteous,” while in the Kingdom of the Son there are those “stumbling blocks” and the “lawless.”
[*NAZARENES OF THE WORLD NOTE:
The verses in Matthew 13:41-43 relate to one kingdom, it is the Father’s kingdom (see Matthew 25:34, Matthew 26:29) yet its also the sons kingdom, (see Luke 22:30, John 18:36). The gathering out of that which does iniquity and offend relates to the coming exodus and the eventual purifying of the Camp [i.e. Ezekiel 20:38, note the two groups, those who 1] rebel and those who 2] transgress].
Paul refers to the Kingdom of the Son when he writes,
Colossians 1:13 ‘God delivered us out of the authority of the darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of the Son.’
Messiah had begun to rule, established on his throne in fulfilment of Psalm 2:6 upon his resurrection and ascension to heaven. His power is complete and includes his Church or Congregation. Really, this Kingdom is the realm or domain of Messiah’s kingly rule and his territory contains all those who agree to submit to his royal sovereignty. It has been called the ‘Realm of Profession’ and all those in it are those who claim to be Christians and disciples of the Nazarene. In order to truly qualify they must confess, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Romans 10:9, 10) This confession is normally followed by baptism in total immersion in the name of Yahshua the Messiah.
When Yahshua walked the earth the opportunity was first opened to gain this membership into the Kingdom of the Son by the course of discipleship. Also, the King was present and walking among the Jews. Thus the Nazarene could say
Mark 1:15; Luke 17:21; Mark 13:34; Luke 16:16 GDSP ‘The Kingdom has drawn near… The Kingdom is in your midst.276… You are not far from the Kingdom of God… From John the Baptist the Kingdom of God is declared as good news and everyone has been crowding into it.’
It is several parables of the Nazarene which reveal certain truths or mysteries about this “kingdom.” An understanding of these will help you to know just where you are today in relation to the Kingdom of the Son. It is in these chapters that many elements or features of the Kingdom are found. In these the Kingdom is that ‘Realm of Profession,’ or that opportunity of membership within the Nazarene community of Christian Saints, or the Church of Messiah. Note some of these truths as part of the Third Principle.
THE KINGDOM’S VALUE
Compare Matthew 13:44-46 and note the Nazarene’s parable illustrating the value of entering the Kingdom. What are you willing to give up or surrender to enter the Realm of Kingdom Profession? What are you willing to “sell” in order to obtain this privilege?
Matthew 13:47-50 compares the Kingdom to a “dragnet” which was lowered into earth’s “waters” with the coming of Messiah and has been fishing these seas by evangelism for almost two millennia. Not all the “fish” caught are suitable and some are offensive stumbling-blocks who practice lawlessness despite any professions to the contrary. The Son will gather out or separate these and put the “good” into vessels. Likely this will be done at the parousia-Judgment on the Household of Elohim when the Messiah returns. All Believers will be raised and then judged. Those “unsuitable” will be cast out and in this way the Son ‘gathers out of his Kingdom’ the lawless. A study of the Seven Apocalyptic Letters in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 will reveal some different types of Believers who have been collected in the Gospel Dragnet. How do you feel you will be represented at the parousia-Judgment? (1 John 2:28; 4:17)
A KINGDOM IN FERMENT
The Nazarene foretold a most interesting matter in his parable of the leaven at Matthew 13:33. (Luke 13:21) Leaven generally has a bad connotation and the Nazarene warns about the teaching “leaven” of the Pharisees (the conservatives), the Sadduccees (the liberals), and the Herodians (the political). For 19 centuries now “leaven” has been permitted in the “whole” of the Realm of Christian Profession. It has become completely fermented. It is no longer pure, despite heated protestations by militant sects. Nor can any claims to be the restored form of “true Christianity” be accurate.
The record in the Book of Acts demonstrates many of the early fermenting problems in the Church. By the time of the writing of the epistles to the Corinthians Paul can assert, ‘The Christ is divided,’ and, ‘Schisms must exist among you to reveal the approved.’ (1 Corinthians 1:13; 11:19) By the end of the First Century, John can warn, ‘It is the Last Hour and many antichrists have appeared.’ (1 John 2:18, 26) By the end of the Second Century there were more than a hundred “sects,” and today there are thousands, with more than a few insisting they are the only channel to Elohim. No matter where one goes in the Christian world, there is ferment.
EXTRAORDINARY KINGDOM GROWTH
The Nazarene foretells phenomenal growth of the Kingdom, or Christian Church. The Nazarene’s work began very small, tiny as a mustard grain. But, the Realm of Christian profession is like a great tree and birds come home to roost. Whereas, in the very beginning the Kingdom was persecuted, it grew and grew until it became the official religion of the Roman empire. What would have been Pilate’s, or the Jew’s, reaction if Yahshua had told them that within three hundred years the emperor would be Christian and that soon thereafter a “form” of Christianity became the official state religion? Or, that one day nearly two billion people, one-third of earth’s inhabitants, would profess some belief inYahshua the Messiah, the Nazarene? Today, the so-called Christian world is the most powerful on earth having triumphed over Communism.
A REALM FILLED WITH WEEDS
The Nazarene’s parable at Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 is perhaps the most enlightening, and at the same time, alarming. The illustration foretells the outcome to the foundation Messiah laid in building his own “congregation.” In this parable, the Nazarene foretells how he begins to sow his wheat seed but while his original apostles are asleep in death, the Devil sows imitation “tares” or “darnel” which have the same appearance as wheat in their early stages. The Christian field, the Kingdom, becomes saturated with the corrupt weed, like the leaven of the earlier parable. These are identified as the “sons of the wicked one.” The wheat are the “sons of the Kingdom.” At The End (or, synteleia, meaning consummation or ending together) there will be a harvest in which the counterfeit are collected and finally burned. The wheat-like “sons of the Kingdom” are gathered by the angels into the Father’s Kingdom “barn” at the Synteleia, there to shine like the sun. (Daniel 12:3)
The Biblical and historical evidence paints a vivid picture of this slow corruption and fermentation covering three centuries with gangrenous affects throughout the ages. (2 Timothy 2:16-3:9) By means of these several parables the Nazarene predicts what will happen to his initial efforts in his first manifestation. Jesus is foretelling the final condition just before the angelic harvest at the Return or Parousia of Christ. A field sown with weeds and fermented by corruption, with scattered individual wheat here or there, almost unidentifiable from the zizania. They grow “together,” not separated from the weeds until by angelic miracle under the direction of the returning King. Happily, this seal remains, ’The Lord knows those who belong to him.’ ( 2 Timothy 2:19)
This apostate corruption was also foretold by several of the Nazarene’s disciples, no doubt following the lead of the parables. Paul evidently draws from these parables, for he also warns,
Acts 20:29, 30;1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:8; 4:3 ‘After my departure big wolves will enter among you, not sparing the flock. And out of you will rise men speaking twisted things, drawing off the disciples who follow them… The (prophetic) spirit says in later seasons some will apostazise from the faith, minding errant spirits and the teachings of demons… These men will take their stand against the truth, men corrupted of mind and disapproved regarding the faith… For there will be a season when they will not hold onto healthy teaching but according to their own desires they will pile up their own teachers to have their ears tickled.’
Peter agrees with this for he predicts,
2 Peter 2:1 ‘But there occurred false prophets among the people (Israel) and so also there will be false teachers among you, bringing in destructive heresies.’
The disciple Jude is to write,
Jude 3, 4 ‘I had to write and encourage you to strain every nerve in agony for the faith once and for all given to the Saints. For some men have sneaked in, irreverential men long ago condemned to judgment.’
Jude goes on to devote most of his letter to identifying these types.
And, finally, near the end of the First Century, the last apostle, beloved John, writes:
1 John 2:18, 19; 4:1 ‘Little boys, it is the Last Hour and as you have heard antichrist are coming, already many antichrists exist. They left us because they were just not our kind… Beloved, do not believe every “inspired” saying. But, test them to see if they are really from The God, for many false prophets287 have gone forth into the world.’
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
Nearly two thousand years have passed with the new millennium and the year 2,000 pressing down on us. Centuries of missionary work have spread the Nazarene Gospel into every nation on earth. Satellites high above the earth beam evangelical messages to a world. Zealous preachers stand on street corners, go from door to door, and preach from television pulpits. Others, hundreds of thousands, quietly go about their lives while carrying Messiah with them into their daily lives.
Messiah has not returned and any claims that ‘he is here!’ are false, the product of pseudo-prophets. Messiah’s Kingdom has spread abroad as Christendom (the Kingdom of Messiah) and all churches and sects (orthodox or unorthodox), denominational and non-denomination, are all part of this field of the Master infested with weeds and corrupted by the ferment of doctrinal and procedural “leaven.” Among all of these are to be found those “sons of the Kingdom,” the class of true wheat, whom only the Messiah knows. Perhaps some are associated with established religions and sects. Others are alone or in small groups of just “two or three,” and these may draw courage from the Nazarene’s words, ‘Where two or three are met in my name, I am in their midst.’ (Matthew 18:20) Happily, upon the Return of Messiah all of these will be gathered and join their resurrected brethren to ascend toward their Lord in glory.
“DO NOT FOLLOW THEM!”
The Nazarene had warned of those who proclaim, “The Time Is At Hand!” There is a certain danger in this multitude of sects. Unfortunately, hidden agendas are part and parcel with most, if not all religious movements. These agendas are motivated by greed, power, or that arrogant belief that they are the only “channel” to Elohim. When Yahweh gave His Law to Moses there were about 600 commandments. Two and a half millenniums later this had become 100,000. In the Nazarene’s teachings as recorded by Matthew there are about 60 injunctions or principles, most presented in the positive.
There is this tendency on the part of religious hierarchies to control the flock by imposing more and more “burdens.” The religion of the Nazarene breathes of freedom, refreshment, truth, and spirituality. The Nazarene lives an austere and simple, if not ascetic, life. Where religion wishes to control, one may look at those at the top of the hierarchy and note how they live. Does the bottom of the pyramid support the top pinnacle so that they live in a style better than the flock in general? It is true Yahshua taught, ‘The worker is worthy of his wages,’ however, the Nazarene set the role model for modern church leaders in his own lifestyle. Paul followed in these footsteps. Remember the Nazarene’s own teaching, ‘Watch out for false prophets coming to you appearing as sheep while inside is a ravenous wolf. From their fruitage you will recognize them.’ (Matthew 7:15, 16)
Therefore, keep in expectation of your King as you wait in faith. Imitate your Master by loving one another. In this love be free of that judgmental and critical disposition Yahshua despised. Treat all those professing Messiah as your brother or sister and strive not to be guilty of that goat-like sin of omission. Greet strangers, clothe the cold, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, care for the sick, and visit those Saints in prison. Only by these kind actions will you prove yourselves “sheep” worthy of inheriting the heavenly Kingdom of the Father.
There is no way to pinpoint the timing of the Master’s Return, or the coming of the Kingdom. No matter when we expect it to be that will not be the time. (Matthew 24:50) There are elements in Daniel and Revelation which would indicate that world events move closer to the moment foretold. Other than this we may view ourselves still in the so-called “Dark Ages.” The wheat still grow together with the zizania. The wheat can only continue steadfast, keeping their hearts fixed on an expectation of the Master’s Return. Their faith will compel them to speak (2 Corinthians 4.13) about the “magnificence of Elohim.” (Acts 2:11 PME) The Friends of the Nazarene will be characterized by this conviction as well as their “love for one another.” (1 John 3:23)