Tag Archive | "God’s Salvation Plan"

A Hezekiah/Manasseh Co-regency?

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King Manasseh of Judah

 

If you have a copy of Mr. Camping’s little book called The Perfect Harmony of the Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, or his Biblical Calendar of History, or his book Time Has An End, you’ll find that he gives the following dates for the reigns of Hezekiah and Manasseh:

 

Hezekiah:                715 BC – 686 BC

 

Manasseh:               697 BC – 642 BC

 

Manasseh was Hezekiah’s son, and succeeded him as king of Judah. Notice that there is an overlap in their reigns according to the above dates. Mr. Camping believed that from 697 BC until Hezekiah died in 686 BC, Manasseh was a co-regent with Hezekiah. However, when we search the Bible we don’t find any mention of co-regency.

 

It’s important that we understand this subject because Mr. Camping developed a continuous timeline from Creation to 391 BC, and used that timeline to determine the great tribulation’s three dates – with May 21, 2011 being the final date that the Bible reveals. If there are extra years or not enough years in the timeline between Biblically dated events, then his dates for the great tribulation could be wrong.

 

 

The Biblical Evidence

 

Here is what we do find in the Bible. In 2 Kings 20:21, we read:

 

And Hezekiah slept with his fathers: and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.

 

And in the next verse, 2 Kings 21:1, we read:

 

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hephzibah.

 

The information from 2 Kings is confirmed by 2 Chronicles 32:33:

 

And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death. And Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.

 

And by the verse that comes right after it – 2 Chronicles 33:1:

 

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem:

 

There’s a lot more in the Bible about these two kings; but there doesn’t appear to be anything else about the timing of Manasseh’s reign, and there don’t seem to be any clues as to whether or not he was ever co-regent with his father. As a result, some people have questioned not only Mr. Camping’s dates for Manasseh but also the validity of his entire Biblical timeline.

 

An Important Consideration: Archaeology

 

One of the specific objections concerning Mr. Camping’s calendar work is his use of a book by Edwin Thiele. Mr. Camping lists that book (The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings) among the credits at the end of his own book about the Hebrew Kings. Mr. Camping also used a book called Handbook of Biblical Chronology by a man named Jack Finegan. Did Mr. Camping violate his own rule by using sources outside the Bible – sources dealing with archaeology? No, he didn’t.

 

The fact is, it’s impossible to synchronize the Biblical calendar with our modern calendar unless we go to archaeology. The Biblical calendar tells us the number of years that elapsed from Creation until the Biblical year when a given event occurred. So we get numbers such as 6,023 as the date for Noah’s flood, and 9,566 as the date for the Exodus, and 10,416 as the date for Zedekiah’s first year as king of Judah. But how can we relate those dates to our calendar?

 

It’s simply not possible to know when those events happened according to our own calendar unless we can find at least one event that archaeology has accurately dated according to our calendar. And that’s a problem: how can we know that an event has been accurately dated? The problem is solved when we find two or more artifacts assigning secular dates for Biblical events, and having secular dates such that the time interval between them matches the time interval or intervals between those events as dated according to the Biblical calendar.

 

So for example archaeology tells us – based on artifacts that have been discovered and dated – that Ahab’s last year was 853 BC and that Zedekiah’s first year was 597 BC. There is an interval of 256 years between these two dates. This is the same time interval we find between these two events when they are dated according to the Biblical calendar (10,416 for Zedekiah’s first year and 10,160 for Ahab’s last year). Therefore, we have confidence that archaeology has correctly dated those two events, and we can now use either one of those secular dates to determine the secular date for any Biblically dated event. It’s simply a matter of adding or subtracting the required number of years to go back or forward in time.

 

Notice especially that the earlier of the two archaeologically determined dates (Ahab’s last year) occurred before Hezekiah’s reign, and that the later one (for Zedekiah) occurred after Manasseh’s reign. This means that all the years for the reigns of the various kings between them – including those of Hezekiah and Manasseh – have been added together correctly.

 

Reasoning from the Bible’s Numbers

 

There can be places in the Bible where God may guide us to a conclusion, but leave it up to us to figure it out or to fill in some details. For example, we know that Israel was in Egypt for 430 years. God gives us numbers we need to prove it, but He leaves one number out: the number of years Levi lived there. From the Bible, we know that Kohath spent his entire life of 133 years there; Amram spent his entire 137 years there; and that Moses was born there and was 80 years old just before the Exodus. Those numbers add up to 350 years.

 

We also know that Levi lived to be 137 years old. But how old was he when he entered Egypt? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but it’s clear that he must have spent 80 years there in order for the total number of Israel’s years in Egypt to be 430. Therefore he was 57 years old when he entered Egypt.

 

In a similar manner, we can be justified in assuming co-regency in order to attain the total number of years to which the Bible guides us. Also, in the case of Hezekiah and Manasseh there is a very good reason to assume co-regency. Here is the reason. Isaiah 38:1 reveals that Hezekiah suffered a serious illness:

 

In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.

 

However, the Lord heard Hezekiah’s prayer and sent Isaiah back to tell him that he would be healed. Isaiah 38:5 tells us:

 

Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.

 

Notice that in verse 1 Hezekiah is told to set his house in order. From then on, he must have been thinking of his son who would succeed him. It’s very reasonable to assume that he later made Manasseh co-regent to prepare him for the day when he would rule alone.

 

 

Ezekiel’s Days Lying on His Sides

 

Another objection has to do with a number we find in Ezekiel 4. God commanded Ezekiel to lie on his left side for an incredibly long time: 390 days. We read about that in Ezekiel 4:4-5:

 

Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.

 

It has been claimed that the 390 days, which represented 390 years, revealed the true length of time from the date Israel was divided into two kingdoms until the date Judah was conquered. This was apparently taught by some theologians hundreds of years ago. But is this a correct understanding of Ezekiel 4?

 

The Bible tells us that in the latter days, God’s elect will have an understanding of time that earlier believers did not have (Daniel 12:8-10). It also reveals that the local congregations would lose truth as time went on (see Revelation 6:5-6). So while it is true that we can get closer to a 390 year total by assuming there are no co-regencies, there is no reason to think that 390 is the correct number. In fact, the Bible indicates that it isn’t.

 

We must also consider the time Ezekiel spent on his right side. This was also part of the sign God provided through Ezekiel. We read about that in Ezekiel 4:6:

 

And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.

 

When we add the number of days Ezekiel spent on his left side to the number he spent on his right side, we get 430 days – representing 430 years. Now that is an important number! It’s the same number of years that Israel was in Egypt.

 

The 390 days/years are also significant when we consider the factors involved: 3 x 13 x 10. We know from Mr. Camping’s work that the number three often identifies God’s purpose, and the number ten has to do with the completeness of whatever is in view. What about the number thirteen? Mr. Camping identified it as a reference to the last days, beginning 13,000 years after Creation. So the number 390 should direct our attention to the last days and make us think of Israel’s time in Egypt as a picture of the total length in God’s salvation plan. Of course, the number 40 – the number of days Ezekiel spent on his right side – also has spiritual significance. We often find it used in the Bible to signify a period of testing.

 

There’s something else we can learn from Ezekiel 4. First, read Ezekiel 4:9:

 

Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof.

 

Notice that God’s recipe has six grains. Next, notice how much water Ezekiel is told to drink according to Ezekiel 4:11:

 

Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of an hin: from time to time shalt thou drink.

 

Here again we see the number six featured. God is calling our attention to that number. If we multiply the 430 years by six, we get 2,580 years. Next, we should know the year in which Ezekiel was lying on his sides. We find that in Ezekiel 1:2-3:

 

In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity, The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.

 

According to Mr. Camping’s Biblical Calender of History, Jehoiachin’s last year as king was 597 BC. The Babylonians then took him away and put Zedekiah on the throne. If Jehoiachin’s first year of captivity was during 597 BC, then his fifth year was in 593 BC. If we advance the calendar by 2,580 years from that date, what do we get?

 

-593 + 2,580 + 1 = 1988 (we add a “1” because there is no year “0”)

 

Mr. Camping identified the year 1988 as the start of the great tribulation. He also identified 11,013 BC as the date for Creation. When we add 13,000 years to it (recall the “13” featured in the year 390) we come to 1988. And so we see the year 1988 confirmed in a most amazing way.

 

Conclusion

 

Although we cannot prove that Mr. Camping’s Biblical calendar correctly states the exact dates for every reign of every king of both Israel and Judah, we can be confident in its key dates. For example, the year 587 BC has long been accepted as the year the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. This is the date we arrive at as we proceed through the Biblical calendar. However, we also arrive at it when we apply Daniel’s 1,290 days (understanding that they represent 1,290 years) to the date when Jacob (Israel) entered Egypt.

 

They entered 430 years before 1447 BC, so that would be 1877 BC. When we start at 1877 BC and advance the calendar by 1,290 years, we arrive at 587 BC! And when we double the 1,290 years, we arrive at another familiar date. (Incidentally, God gives us a precedent for this kind of doubling in 1 Kings 6:1. When we double the 480 years mentioned there and count from 967 BC, we come to 7 BC – the year when the Lord Jesus was born.) Doubling the 1,290 years gives us 2,580 years. When we start at 587 BC (the pivotal year in Israel’s 70 years of “desolation”) and advance the calendar by that number, we come to the year 1994 – which was the pivotal year in the great tribulation of our day. And so we see how God has given us ways to confirm that we have correctly understood His incredible calendar and to know the final dates of His salvation plan.

Riding The Timeline Through Jacob’s Amazing Prophecies

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Near the end of the book of Genesis, there are some amazing prophecies involving Jacob’s sons.  We will see that these prophecies actually reveal a great deal of information about God’s salvation plan; but before examining the prophecies, it helps to review some information that Genesis provides about the 12 men whose descendants became the 12 tribes of Israel.

 

 

Jacob’s Sons

 

 

1. Reuben:

 

Reuben’s mother was Leah and he was Jacob’s firstborn son, as we read in Genesis 29:32:

 

And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.

 

The name Reuben means “behold a son.”  Leah was Jacob’s first wife.  Jacob really loved Rachel and was supposed to marry her instead, but his uncle Laban deceived him into taking Leah while in a tent where it was too dark to see.  Apparently, the Lord didn’t like the fact that Jacob had once deceived his father Isaac by taking advantage of his father’s inability to see (Genesis 27:1-37), because Jacob was deceived in a similar way.

 

A key verse about Reuben is Genesis 35:22:

 

And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard it.  

 

We will see that this sin of immorality is very relevant to the prophecy about Reuben.

 

 

2 -3.  Simeon and Levi:

 

And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon. 34 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.  ( Genesis 29:33-34)

 

In Jacob’s prophecy, Simeon and Levi are mentioned together – almost as if they were twins.  However, they were not twins.  Simeon was Jacob’s second son, and his name means “heard.”  The name of Levi, the third son, means “joined to.”

 

There are many verses about each of these two men individually.  But there is one incident in which they acted together.  It was to avenge their sister, Dinah.  Genesis 34:1-2 explains:

 

And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. 2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.  

 

After this happened, Shechem wanted to marry Dinah.  Jacob’s sons agreed to allow the marriage if all the men in that place were circumcised (Genesis 34:13-17).  However, Jacob’s sons spoke “deceitfully” when they made this agreement.

 

As a result, Shechem and his father met with the men of their city and made the case that they should all be circumcised, as we read in Genesis 34:23:

 

Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us.

 

The men of the city were convinced by this argument and agreed to be circumcised (verse 24).  Genesis 34:25-26 tells us what happened next:

 

And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males. 26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out.    

 

We will see that these verses help us understand Jacob’s prophecy about Simeon and Levi.

 

 

4.  Judah:

 

And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.  (Genesis 29:35)

 

After Levi was born, Leah had another son: Judah.  According to the concordance, the word Judah means “praised.”  We will see that Jacob’s prophecy about Judah is very different than those for all the other sons.

 

Up to Judah, Jacob’s prophecies about his sons follow the order in which they were born: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah.  After Judah, the next son to be born was Dan; however, the next son listed in Judah’s prophecies is Zebulun.

 

 

5.  Zebulun:

 

He was Leah’s sixth son, as we read in Genesis 30:20:

 

And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun.

 

Zebulun was Jacob’s tenth son and Leah’s last.  His name means “exalted.”  In Jacob’s prophecies, Zebulun is the fifth son to be named.

 

 

6.  Issachar:

 

The sixth son named in Jacob’s prophecies is Issachar.  We first read about him in Genesis 30:17-18:

 

And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son. 18 And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar.

 

Issachar was Jacob’s ninth son.  There is some ambiguity about the meaning of the name Issachar, but it’s related to Leah’s statement about being given her hire, referring to Genesis 30:14-16.  The concordance indicates his name could mean either “he is wages” or “he brings wages.”  When we get to the prophecies, we will see that both meanings fit.

 

 

7.  Dan:

 

And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. 6 And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan.  (Genesis 30:5-6)

 

The next son named in Jacob’s prophecies is Dan.  According to the concordance, the name Dan means “a judge.”  Rachel was so desperate to have children that she gave her maid Bilhah to Jacob (Genesis 30:1-4).  Dan was Jacob’s fifth son and Bilhah’s first.

 

 

8.  Gad:

 

When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife. 10 And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a son. 11 And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad.  (Genesis 30:9-11)

 

Gad was the eighth son to be named in Jacob’s prophecies; but in order of birth, Gad was Jacob’s seventh son.  His name means “a troop.”

 

 

9.  Asher:

 

And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a second son. 13 And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.  (Genesis 30:12-13)

 

The name Asher means “happy.”   He was Zilpah’s second son, and Jacob’s eighth son.

 

 

10.  Naphtali:

 

And Bilhah Rachel’s maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son. 8 And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.  (Genesis 30:7-8)

 

Jacob’s sixth son was Naphtali.  In Jacob’s prophecies about his sons, Naphtali was tenth in order.  His name means “wrestling.”

 

 

11.  Joseph:

 

After many years, God gave Rachel a son, as we read in Genesis 30:22-24:

 

And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. 23 And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: 24 And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son.

 

Joseph’s name means “Jehovah has added.”  He was Jacob’s eleventh son.

 

 

12.  Benjamin:

 

We read about Benjamin’s birth in Genesis 35:16-18:

 

And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. 17 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. 18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

The name Benjamin means “son of the right hand.”  He was Rachel’s second and last son, and Jacob’s twelfth and last son.

 

 

The Prophecies

 

Just before dying, Jacob asked to see his 12 sons, as we read in Genesis 49:1-2:

 

1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. 2 Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.

 

Jacob then went on to say something about each son.  Those statements have been understood as prophecies about the tribes that descended from his sons.  Past theologians have looked at Biblical accounts of individual tribes in the wilderness and Canaan as they tried to understand the prophecies.  Others believe the prophecies have been fulfilled by certain modern nations.  For example, the name “Denmark” may point to Dan’s descendants; and Britain may also trace its roots to one or more tribes of Israel (the word “British” apparently comes from two Hebrew words: the word for covenant –  “beriyth,” Strong’s number H1285; and the word for man – “iysh,” Strong’s number H376).  However, theologians have been looking in the wrong places in the Bible; and more importantly, they have been looking at the prophecies in the wrong way.

 

Even if Denmark or Great Britain or some other nation did originate with people from one of Israel’s tribes, prophecy has to do with God’s salvation plan.  That’s how we will see it fulfilled.  To understand what Jacob told his sons, we need to realize that God can use an individual to represent a group of people.  The group doesn’t have to be related to that individual by birth or nationality.  In fact, we know that God has saved people from every nationality, from all over the world.  This group whom God has saved – the elect – is the most important group in God’s salvation plan.

 

We can say that God’s salvation plan is what we know about His work through the ages to accomplish His purpose of saving a people for Himself.  God has revealed a great many details about this plan, and we can construct a timeline presenting some of that information as dates and events.  The timeline is the means by which we can understand Jacob’s prophecies.  Here is the timeline we need:

 


This timeline is a revision of the one Mr. Camping used.  Many people are familiar with it, because some of its dates were discussed very often over Family Radio for a couple of years before May 2011. The revisions to Mr. Camping’s timeline reflect what we have learned since 2011 (the feast of tabernacles has been deleted, because God shows us that this feast will be fulfilled in eternity; also, the timeline ends in a question mark because we do not know the last date and will not know it until it arrives).

 

Anyone who is familiar with the timeline should be thinking about it as soon as he or she reads Genesis 49:1.  Notice what Jacob told his sons: that he would tell them what “shall befall you in the last days.”  Our timeline includes the last three dates revealed by the Bible.  They are certainly important in any discussion of “the last days.”

 

This timeline begins in 1860 B.C. (see Time Has An End, p. 103 and Genesis 47:28 to determine this date) because that was the year of Jacob’s prophecies.  Thanks to Mr. Camping, we have a calendar of history going all the way back to Creation (in 11,013 B.C.); so our timeline could go back that far if needed.  However, to understand Genesis 49 our timeline starts in the year Jacob died – and that was when he spoke his amazing prophecies.

 

 

1.  Reuben

 

Here is what he said about Reuben (Genesis 49:3-4):

 

Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: 4 Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it : he went up to my couch.

 

We know that Jacob is here referring to Reuben’s sin of sexual immorality (Genesis 35:22).  However, this is also a prophecy: “Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel.”  What can this possibly mean?

 

From Genesis 49:1, we know that Jacob’s prophecies are in some way concerned with the last days; but that doesn’t mean the prophecy for each son must be about the last days.  In fact, if we compare Jacob’s prophecy about Reuben with the timeline’s end-time events, we don’t see any way they match.  However, instead of looking near the end of the timeline, suppose we look at the period after the Exodus.

 

More than 400 years after Jacob died, the children of Israel escaped from slavery in Egypt.  They soon forgot about the Lord’s commandments and began to worship a molten calf, as we read in Exodus 32:7-8:

 

And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.   

 

Sadly, this was not a one-time mistake.  It turned out to be the kind of sin they committed over and over, century after century.  If you read the book of Judges, you’ll learn that there were many times when the children of Israel worshipped false gods.  Then, perhaps worst of all, after Israel had become a kingdom and was at the height of its power under king Solomon, we read this in 1 Kings 11:5-8:

 

For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.

 

Because of this sin, the Lord told Solomon that He would tear the kingdom from him (1 Kings 11:9-13).  In order to see how this relates to the prophecy about Reuben, we need to keep two other ideas in mind.  First, God sometimes compares His relationship with His people as a marriage.  The worship of false gods is compared to a wife’s immoral behavior.  Hosea 2:13 is a verse where we see this idea expressed:

 

And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.    

 

The second thing to keep in mind is that God has also used the idea of a son to represent His people.  We see this in Hosea 11:1-2:

 

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. 2 As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.

 

God is here referring to the children of Israel (at the time they came out of Egypt) as His son.  Notice that they soon “went from them;” that is, the children of Israel soon went from God to worship Baalim and graven images.  However, God associates the worship of false gods with sexual immorality.  So we can conclude that, in the prophecy, Reuben’s sexual immorality is a picture of Israel’s sin of worshipping false gods; and Reuben is a picture of the children of Israel from the time they left Egypt until the time of Solomon’s death.  They definitely did not excel.

 

 

2 -3.  Simeon and Levi:

 

The next prophecy concerns Simeon and Levi.  What Jacob said about them is found in Genesis 49:5-7:

 

Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. 6 O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. 7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

When Jacob said this, he was undoubtedly thinking about the incident involving his daughter Dinah, when Simeon and Levi killed all the males in a nearby city.  However, part of this statement is a prophecy.  At the end of verse 7, we read “I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.”  Of course, this is the Lord telling us about something He would do in the future.  We can know what this prophecy means if we make 931 B.C. our next stop on the timeline.

 

That was the year Solomon died and his son Rehoboam began to rule (1 Kings 11:43).  Recall that God had told Solomon He would take the kingdom from his son (1 Kings 11:12-13).  The stage was all set for this to happen when Rehoboam became king.  You can read all about it in 1 Kings 12.

 

The kingdom was divided.  Most of the people followed a man named Jeroboam.  This new kingdom of Israel consisted of all the tribes except for Judah and Benjamin (1 Kings 12:21).  Rehoboam continued as their king, but he now ruled over a much smaller territory and number of people.  His kingdom was now known as Judah.

 

Under Jeroboam, the kingdom of Israel got off to a very bad start.  Jeroboam was afraid he would lose his kingdom when people went back to Jerusalem to worship during the annual feasts, so he had two golden calves made and established his own false religion (1 Kings 12:26-33).  In that way, he tried to keep his people in the territory he controlled.

 

When we look at the histories of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah from the time of the division until they were conquered, we don’t find many good kings.  There were eventually a few good kings in Judah (based on what the Bible tells us about them, e.g. Hezekiah), but most were bad; and it doesn’t appear that there were any good kings in Israel.  As usual, the problem in each kingdom was the worship of false gods.  Eventually, God brought Assyria against the kingdom of Israel, and in 709 B.C. it was conquered.  Then in 587 B.C., Jerusalem was destroyed; and so the kingdom of Judah also came to an end.  As each kingdom fell centuries after the monarchy was divided, its people (the ten tribes of Israel and then the two tribes of Judah) were scattered throughout the region in accordance with Jacob’s prophecy.

 

 

4.  Judah:

 

The prophecy about Judah is very different than all the others.  We will see that each of the other brothers is a picture of God’s people at some time during God’s salvation plan, from the time of the Exodus until the end of the world.  However, Judah is a picture of the Lord Jesus.  (We will also see that the prophecy about Joseph is very special.)  Here is Jacob’s prophecy about Judah.  It’s found in Genesis 49:8-12:

 

Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. 9 Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? 10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. 11 Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: 12 His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

 

This prophecy takes us to the year 7 B.C. on the timeline.  That was the year the Lord Jesus was born.  Notice that verse 9 refers to Judah as a “whelp.”  You might also see it translated as the word “cub” if you’re using a version other than the KJV.  A whelp or a cub is a young animal, and that’s a picture of the Lord Jesus as a young boy.  That same verse mentions an old lion.  Indeed, the Lord Jesus was a man of about 38 years old when He was crucified.  In a vision years later, the apostle John heard the Lord Jesus called the Lion of the tribe of Judah, as we read in Revelation 5:5:

 

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

 

Continuing with the prophecy, Genesis 49:10 tells us about the Lord’s power as king and lawgiver.  The words “gathering of the people” may be a reference to the last day, when all true believers will join in the Rapture and Resurrection to meet the Lord in the air.  They will be gathered to Him (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and John 11:52).

 

The first part of verse 11 mentions a foal with a vine, and then an ass’s colt with a “choice vine.”  These two pairings may refer to the Lord’s relationship with both the Jewish nation of His day (most of whom were unsaved) and also with the true believers.

 

Next, we find references to wine and milk in verses 11 and 12.  Some New Testament verses help us understand what they represent.  In 1 Corinthians 3:1-2, we read about milk being fed to the believers at Corinth.  There, milk represents basic truths from the Bible; these are things that are easier to understand or accept than other Biblical truths we eventually learn.  Of course, the Lord Jesus was exposed to those teachings because He grew up in a Jewish household.

 

What about wine and “the blood of grapes?”  In each of the four Gospel accounts, we read something about the Lord Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, shortly before He was arrested.  There’s a reference to a cup in each account.  Here is the Luke 22:42 version:

 

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

 

When we search for verses to help us understand what this means, we find that God sometimes uses the idea of a cup to symbolize His judgment against the unsaved.  We see this in Revelation 14:10:

 

The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:

 

The Lord’s eyes are “red with wine,” according to Genesis 49:12, because He drank the cup of God’s wrath as the penalty for all those whom He saved.

 

In addition to seeing how the prophecy was fulfilled in the New Testament, it’s very interesting to notice how a couple of verses about events in the life of Jacob’s son Judah are apparently relevant to the prophecy.  One such verse is Genesis 43:9:

 

I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever:

 

Here, Judah is speaking to his father Jacob about Benjamin.  He is promising to return Benjamin to his father after they go to Egypt to buy food.  Judah and his brothers still did not know at that time that the man with whom they had spoken on their first trip to Egypt was actually their brother Joseph.  On that first trip, Joseph had insisted that the brothers bring Benjamin when they return; otherwise he would not see them.  Jacob was afraid to let Benjamin go, but he felt he had no choice because the family needed food.  Judah’s guarantee to save Benjamin is like the Lord’s guarantee to save His people (see John 17:12).

 

Another relevant verse appears to be Genesis 46:28:

 

And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.

 

Here, we see that Jacob chose Judah to lead the move into Goshen.  In Genesis 47:6, Goshen is called the “best of the land.”  So God may be giving us a hint that Judah here represents the Lord Jesus leading His people to the Promised Land.  This too is consistent with Jacob’s prophecy about Judah, the son whose name means “praised.”

 

As we read about various people in the Bible, it’s important to realize that someone may be a picture of something spiritual in one verse or situation; but that picture may not apply in another verse about the same person.  This is certainly the case with Jacob’s son Judah.  Many verses about him have nothing to do with Jacob’s prophecy about him.  This is one of the ways God has made it so difficult to understand truth.

 

 

5.  Zebulun:

 

We’ve seen that Jacob’s prophecy about Judah is a picture of the Lord Jesus during His time on earth from 7 B.C. until the Crucifixion.  That happened April 1, 33 A.D., and that’s where we are as of Genesis 49:12.  In order to understand the prophecy about Zebulun, we only have to move a short distance on the timeline to the next stop, several weeks later.

 

On Pentecost, May 22, in 33 A.D., God poured out the Holy Spirit to begin the Church Age.  The prophecy about Zebulun is all about the Church Age.  Here is that prophecy, from Genesis 49:13:

 

Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.     

 

You probably know that the apostle Paul recorded more of the New Testament than anyone else.  He sailed all over the Mediterranean and started many congregations (for a site with maps of Paul’s missionary journeys, see http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journeys.htm).  We have his epistles to Christians at Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, Thessalonica and Rome.  He may also have written to many other congregations – letters that were not included in the Bible (e.g., see Colossians 4:16).

 

Do you see how this relates to the prophecy?  Zebulun is a picture of God’s people sending out ships to spread the Gospel all over the world, and of people accepting the Gospel when the ships land.  This activity continued throughout the Church Age until 1988.  Until then, it was still possible to be saved – at least in some local congregations.  That all ended on May 21, 1988, and that’s where we are stopped on the timeline right now.

 

 

6.  Issachar:

 

Before Jacob made his prophetic statements about his sons, he spoke of his two grandsons, who were Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh.  He prophesied that the younger (Ephraim) would be greater than the older, but that each would become a great people (Genesis 48:19).  So we see there a picture of two great groups of people.  You may know that this prophecy matches something we find in God’s salvation plan as pictured in the annual feasts God commanded ancient Israel to observe (Leviticus 23).  Those feasts include the feast of firstfruits (Leviticus 23:10) and a second feast held later in the year (Leviticus 23:39), when the larger harvest had been gathered.

 

Now let’s think about the Church Age.  It lasted for 1,955 years.  The Bible reveals that when it ended no one was being saved anywhere.  This period without salvation lasted for a few years, from May 21, 1988 until September 7, 1994.  That’s when God began the latter rain.  This was the time when He began saving a great multitude all over the earth.  It was also a time of judgment against the churches, because they did not participate in this blessing of salvation.  God has given us a picture of this change in His salvation plan in the sign He gave Gideon (Judges 6:36-40).  Do you recall that?  First, there was dew only on the fleece; but then, the dew fell everywhere except on the fleece.

 

During the Church Age, the local congregations were like that fleece.  They had the dew, and that’s where people were saved.  Then, during the latter rain, it was possible to be saved anywhere the word of God was heard – except in a local congregation of a Christian church.  And so we again see two great groups represented: one of them saved during the Church Age, and the second, larger group saved during an end-time period.

 

That great period of salvation we call the latter rain ended just before May 21, 2011.  The second group of God’s elect had by that time been saved.  That was the great multitude the apostle John saw in a vision (Revelation 7:9).  This great multitude from all over earth was saved after a smaller group (represented by 144,000 in Revelation 7:4) had been saved throughout the Church Age.

 

Recall that the prophecy about Zebulun matches the perod from 33 A.D. until May 21, 1988.  That’s our present stop on the timeline; but we’re about to move again.  Keeping all of this background in mind, we can now read Jacob’s prophecy about Issachar, found in Genesis 49:14-15:

 

Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: 15 And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.

 

This mysterious prophecy is packed with meaning.  Each of Jacob’s prophecies about his sons is amazing, but this may be the most amazing prophecy of all.  What does it mean?

 

First of all, we need to recognize that verse 14 could have been better translated.  The word “burdens” is Strong’s number H4942, “mishpath.”  It’s only used in one other place in the Bible (Judges 5:16), and there it’s translated as “sheepfolds.”  A sheepfold is an enclosed area where a flock of sheep is kept.  So the picture we see in verse 14 is that of an animal like a donkey lying down near two sheepfolds.  Think of the verse as being translated like this:

 

“Issachar is a strong ass lying down between two sheepfolds.”

 

Notice how the prophecy matches what we know of God’s salvation plan.  It is telling of the time after the great multitude (Revelation 7:9) has been saved out of the great tribulation (Revelation 7:14).  It shows God’s people resting from their labor of bringing the Gospel to the world.  Here, Issachar is a picture of God’s people after the latter rain has ended.  So we move along the timeline from May 21, 1988 to May 21, 2011.

 

As of that date, the two big groups we read about in Revelation 7 have been saved and are in their sheepfolds.  The sheepfold gates are closed, and no more sheep can enter in at either sheepfold.  In other words, it’s a picture of the time when salvation has ended permanently.  In fact, Genesis 49:14 is a picture of God’s people today.

 

Genesis 49:15 provides additional details:

 

And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.

 

The verse tells us they “saw” the rest.  When we see how the word “rest” (H4496) is used in other verses, we can conclude that the verse appears to teach that God’s people understand the truth about salvation: that they cannot work for it.  However, the verse may also teach that God’s people understand that salvation has ended.  This is consistent with the prophecy’s first verse, because Issachar is lying down.

 

What about the next part of the verse?  It tells us they saw the land, that it was pleasant.  When we understand what God tells us about this world, we can rule out the possibility that God’s people should think of it as being pleasant; so the verse must be telling us that God’s people are thinking of the new heavens and earth.  They are anticipating the Lord’s return and looking forward to their lives with Him in His kingdom.

 

The verse continues in a way that, at first glance, appears to contradict the first part of the prophecy.  The second part of verse 15 tells us that Issachar “bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.”  If Issachar is lying down and resting, then why is he working?

 

There’s a passage in Matthew 17 that helps us understand.  Matthew 17:24-25 states:

 

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?  He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

 

Here, the idea of paying tribute has to do with submitting to those who are in authority over us in this world.  In the above verses, it has to do with paying taxes.  Therefore, the prophecy about Issachar being a “servant unto tribute” appears to be showing us a picture of God’s people living as good citizens in whichever nations they are.  It implies that they’re living a normal life, trying to earn a living and be obedient to the laws of the land, always mindful that this is a wicked and God-rejecting world.

 

This picture of Issachar as God’s end-time elect continues until the last day.  There is no other timeline event after May 21, 2011 until the rapture/resurrection, and that’s exactly what the prophecy about Dan is all about.

 

 

7.  Dan:

 

Jacob’s prophecy about Dan comes right after his prophecy about Issachar.  It’s found in Genesis 49:16-18:

 

Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. 17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. 18 I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.

 

God gives us some clues that this prophecy concerns the last day.  First of all, we know that the Rapture and Resurrection will be a judgment (Dan is “a judge”) against all those who are following a false gospel.  Most people who today consider themselves as Christians follow a works-based gospel – what Mr. Camping used to call a do-it-yourself salvation plan.  They are certain they have been saved because of something they have done or continue to do (e.g., baptism in water, a public confession of faith, regular attendance at mass).  The Bible shows us that the Resurrection and Rapture will be a judgment against them because they will realize that they have been left behind on earth after the elect have been taken up to heaven.

 

Another clue about the meaning of this prophecy is its similarity to something found in Revelation 9.  There, we read about the sounding of the sixth trumpet (verses 13-21), and what the apostle John saw in a vision associated with that trumpet.  In the vision, John saw a great army of horsemen riding horses having tails like serpents (verse 19).  In other verses from Revelation, this event is described as a battle against a great earthly army gathered by Satan.  The horses with the serpent-like tails represent a heavenly army (all of those who have been saved) bringing God’s judgment against an earthly army, who represent the unsaved (see Revelation 16:13-16 and Revelation 19:17-21).  That’s the meaning of “biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.”

 

The first two verses of the Dan prophecy tell of the judgment aspect of the Rapture/Resurrection.  The third verse (Genesis 49:18) also points to the last day, but in a different way.  The words “I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD” tell us about the completion of salvation.  This verse is not telling us that salvation continues after the Issachar prophecy.  To understand this, read Exodus 14:13:

 

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

 

The word salvation used in Genesis 49:18 is the same Hebrew word used for “salvation” here, telling us the children of Israel saw “the salvation of the LORD.”  However, from the book of Exodus we know this does not mean the children of Israel were saved.  On the contrary, only Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Caleb and maybe a few others were saved out of that whole multitude of people.

 

The children of Israel saw the Lord’s salvation that day because God saved them from the Egyptian army.  The situation on the last day will be similar for the elect because those who are still alive will be rescued from this world.  Also, all the elect will see their salvation completed as they inherit their immortal bodies.

 

The prophecies we have covered so far span God’s salvation plan from the Exodus until the last day.   With the prophecy about Dan, we have come to the end of the timeline; but there are still five prophecies to go.  What do we do with them?

 

There is really no problem here, once we realize that God has done something similar to what we see in the book of Revelation.  There, we find that visions corresponding to the seven seals and seven trumpets follow in chronological order.   However, the visions that come afterwards do not follow chronologically.  With Jacob’s prophecies, the situation is similar, but maybe not so difficult to understand.

 

Recall that the prophecy for Zebulun extends to the end of the Church Age, during which a large group of people was saved; but the prophecy for Issachar begins after the great multitude – the second large group of elect – has already been saved.  In other words, the entire period of the great tribulation was skipped.  In Jacob’s remaining prophecies, God goes back to that period to show us five different pictures of His people living during those days.

 

 

8.  Gad:

 

Jacob’s prophecy about Gad is found in Genesis 49:19:

 

Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.

 

Notice that Gad will be “overcome.”  Compare that with what we find in Revelation 11:7, where we read about the two witnesses.  They represent those who bring an end-time warning that God’s judgment is near:

 

And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

 

There are several places in the Bible where God reveals that His people are overcome or silenced in some way in the last days.  The prophecy about Gad is one of them.

 

We now know how it happened.  As part of the warning that May 21, 2011 would be Judgment Day, the world was also told to expect an enormous global earthquake, followed by the Rapture and Resurrection.   Since there was no physical sign of any kind that day, those who brought the warnings have been discredited in the world’s eyes.  Many have suffered much more than loss of credibility, besides sorrow and disappointment.

 

In this way, “Gad” has been overcome; but the verse also tells us that Gad – that is, God’s people – shall overcome at the last.  This is clearly a reference to the Rapture and Resurrection on the last day.  In fact, the Hebrew word translated “at the last” is the same word found in the prophecy about Dan (Strong’s number H6119, “aqeb”), where it’s translated as “heels,” as in horse heels.   Therefore, Gad is also that “serpent by the way” bringing judgment on the last day when he is caught up to heaven.

 

 

9.  Asher:

 

Recall that the name Asher means “happy.”  Therefore, we should expect the prophecy about him to imply that God’s people will be happy about something in the last days.  This prophecy is another short one, and it’s found in Genesis 49:20:

 

Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.

 

When we check the word translated here as “bread” in a concordance, we find that it’s the same word used to describe the manna with which God fed the children of Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 16:4).  Recall that the Lord Jesus compared Himself with that bread (John 6:41).  Also, the Lord is called the Word in the fourth Gospel (John 1:1).  Based on these verses, it appears that Asher’s bread represents the spiritual food we get from the Bible when God opens His word to our understanding.

 

The word “fat” is used in several verses in the Old Testament.  For example, in Ezekiel 34:14 we find the term “fat pasture.”  The idea is that there is a great abundance of something.  The prophecy, therefore, seems to be telling us that God will open His word to reveal truth abundantly – to reveal things that have never before been understood.

 

The second part of the verse tells us “he shall yield royal dainties.”  The word translated here as “yield” is also found in Psalm 85:12, where it’s used with the idea of land that yields a crop.  This part of the prophecy, therefore, appears to be telling us about the fruit of the Spirit developing in God’s people during the last days as they wait for the Lord to return.  In this way, Asher will yield “royal dainties.”  That’s a development that will be pleasing to God.

 

 

10.  Naphtali:

 

Here is the prophecy about Naphtali from Genesis 49:21:

 

Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.

 

We might think it strange that Naphtali is called a “hind,” but we can understand why he is after we have read the Song of Solomon.  Here is the last verse of that book, Song of Solomon 8:14:

 

Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.

 

The beloved in this verse is the Lord Jesus, and the speaker is a maiden who is a picture of true believers waiting for the Lord’s return on the last day.  Notice that the Lord is compared to a hart, which is a male deer.  A hind, on the other hand, is a female deer.

 

In many places in the Bible, God pictures His relationship with the elect as a marriage.  The Church – being the entire body of believers – is pictured as a bride (e.g., see Revelation 21:9).  In the Song of Solomon and (by logical extension) in Jacob’s prophecy about Naphtali, we find that relationship represented by a hart and a hind.

 

The prophecy tells us that Naphtali is a hind “let loose.”  When we check a concordance to see how the corresponding Hebrew word is used, we find that most of the time it’s translated as “send” or “send away” or something close to that.  It is Strong’s number H7971, “shalach,” and it’s the word used in Exodus in verses where the Lord commands Pharaoh to let the people go (e.g., Exodus 9:13).

 

From the context of this prophecy, we know that Naphtali is in some way a picture of the elect during the great tribulation.  It appears that Naphtali represents those who were saved during the latter rain.  They heard the warning that Judgment Day was approaching, and they were saved.  They were released or let go from Satan’s kingdom after the “wrestling” or struggles of those who warned the world about Judgment Day and prayed that their efforts would be effectual.

 

The last part of the prophecy tells us Naphtali “giveth goodly words.”  This part of the verse appears to be well translated, and fits well with what we have learned so far.  The “goodly words” appear to be referring to prayers of those who had become saved.  We can see this from the way “words” is used in Psalm 19:14 and 54:2.  However, “goodly words” might also refer to the testimony of the end-time elect if they too preached the Gospel after they had been saved.  The latter rain lasted for several years, so some people who had been saved then could have joined in proclaiming the approach of Judgment Day.

 

 

11.  Joseph:

 

Even a quick look at the prophecy concerning Joseph shows that this one is very different than the others.  Here it is, from Genesis 49:22-26:

 

Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: 23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him , and hated him: 24 But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) 25 Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: 26 The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

 

This is the longest of Jacob’s 12 prophecies, even a bit longer than the one about Judah.  Also, notice how Joseph is blessed.  The blessings pronounced on him are far beyond any blessings pronounced on the other sons.

 

There are actually two different ways to understand this prophecy; but we don’t have to choose one of them because God gives us enough evidence to know that both are valid.  To begin, let’s take a look at a couple of events in Joseph’s life.  In Genesis 37:9-10, we read a description of a dream Joseph had:

 

And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. 10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?  

 

Joseph told the dream to his father, and Jacob apparently wasn’t very happy when he heard it.  In many other Bible verses, we find that stars are used to represent the elect; but we also know that God’s people don’t bow down to another believer.  God has shown this to us in a couple of ways.  For instance, in Revelation 22:8-9 we read:

 

And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. 9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

 

Therefore, the way to understand Joseph’s dream is to realize that God is using him there to represent the Lord Jesus.  Here’s another verse in which Joseph is a picture of the Lord – Genesis 45:7:

 

And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

 

Here, Joseph is telling his brothers that their plot against him was actually part of God’s purpose to bring him to power in Egypt, where he would make preparations for the great famine.  In a general sense, this is something the Lord had already done, and on a far greater scale.  That’s because it was God’s purpose to save a people for Himself out of all humanity – a process begun before the foundation of the world.  That’s when the Lord Jesus paid for the sins of the elect and began “a great deliverance.”

 

When we think about the things mentioned in the Joseph prophecy, we can see how they fit into the Lord’s life.  First of all, look at the first verse.  It compares Joseph to a fruitful bough with branches.  Compare that with what the Lord Jesus is quoted as saying in John 15:5:

 

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

 

The next verse in the prophecy also fits as a description of the Lord.  It tells us “archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him.”  Recall the prophecy made in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve were about to be cast out.  It’s Genesis 3:15:

 

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

 

So in Jacob’s prophecy, the idea of Joseph being “sorely grieved” or hurt in some way obviously fits the Lord’s experience.   The prophecy then mentions Joseph’s bow.  Notice how the Lord is pictured as having a bow in Lamentations 2:4:

 

He hath bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire.  

 

In the prophecy’s last verse, we see mention of a crown.  Here is a verse telling us that the Lord Jesus has a crown – Revelation 14:14:

 

And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.

 

Genesis 49:26 ends by referring to Joseph as “him that was separate from his brethren.”  Of course, it’s a well-known story about Joseph’s brothers planning to kill him and then selling him into slavery; but the Lord Jesus was also separated from His brothers.  We read about that in Acts 1:9-11, which took place immediately after He had spoken with His disciples for the last time:

 

And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

 

Notice the words “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven.”  The day the Lord ascended into heaven, He left His disciples behind – looking up at a cloud in the sky where He disappeared.  Recall what the Lord said when someone told Him that His mother and brothers were waiting for Him.  In Matthew 12:48-49, we read:

 

But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

 

Therefore, we can say that the Lord Jesus was “separate from his brethren” when He ascended into heaven, and so He also fulfilled that part of Jacob’s prophecy (Genesis 49:26).

 

There is no doubt that the prophecy about Joseph points to the Lord Jesus, and we’ve seen how He fulfilled it.  However, the prophecy also works as a picture of God’s people during the great tribulation and afterwards.  Let’s see how it does.

 

First of all, notice that Joseph is called “a fruitful bough” (Genesis 49:22).  Here is another verse in which the Hebrew word for “fruitful” (Strong’s number H6509, “parah”) is used – Genesis 48:4:

 

And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.

 

This verse quotes something the Lord said to Jacob.  We find the same word “parah” used in several other verses in the same way.  It’s associated with the idea that God will multiply the number of His people.  That happened to “Joseph” because God used the proclamation of the Gospel to save a great multitude of people during the latter rain.  Joseph is a picture of God’s people warning the world about the approaching end of salvation, with the result that a great many people were saved.

 

In the prophecy’s next verse, we read “The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him.”  This is another one of several verses showing that God’s people are in some way overcome or injured in the last days.  It matches Jacob’s prophecy about Gad (Genesis 49:19), and concerns the world’s reaction after May 21, 2011 to those who had warned the world about Judgment Day.

 

In Genesis 49:24, we read about Joseph’s bow.  There is something very interesting about a bow in 2 Samuel 1:17:

 

And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son: 18 (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)

 

Any commentary you read about these verses will probably tell you that “the bow” is the name of the lamentation recorded in verses 19 to 27.  However, we must not jump to this conclusion.  Elsewhere in the Bible, when we read the words someone spoke on a particular occasion, there is a particular word describing the quote (e.g., song or psalm).

 

In this case, verse 18 actually seems to be telling us that David wanted his soldiers to learn how to use a bow. That is of great significance if you realize that David is often a picture of the Lord Jesus.  It also makes sense for David to say such a thing.  After all, Israel had just suffered a great defeat.  David would naturally be concerned about improving the capabilities of his army.

 

Indeed, the elect are pictured as having a bow in some verses.  Jeremiah 50:14 is one of them:

 

Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about: all ye that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows: for she hath sinned against the LORD.  

 

The wicked are also pictured using a bow, as in Psalm 37:14.  (They are pictured with a sword too, as in Revelation 6:4, because they use the word of God for their own selfish purposes, with the frequent result that they persecute others.)  However, what’s important for our understanding is that the end-time elect meet all the requirements in Jacob’s prophecy about Joseph.

 

Continuing with Jacob’s prophecy, read again about the blessings pronounced on Joseph.  There are blessings of heaven, the deep, the breasts and the womb.  The blessings of heaven include God’s promise of the new heavens and the new earth, and that His people (who are spiritual descendants of Jacob) would be greatly increased in number.  The prophecy apparently also includes material blessings (as in Leviticus 25:21).  We might think it strange that God promises prosperity to any of His people, but it definitely makes sense in this case.  Remember, millions of dollars were spent in the effort to warn the world about the approach of Judgment Day.  This money was raised by many thousands of people all over the world who were able to donate it.

 

“Blessings of the breast” apparently refer to the “milk” of God’s word: those who brought the warnings about Judgment Day had access to the true Gospel.  These were people who were outside the local congregations of Christian churches, where a false gospel was preached.  “Blessings of the deep” and “the womb” also fit perfectly into this portrait of God’s people during the great tribulation.  Those blessings appear to tell us of the many people who were saved during that time.  They represent people being born again, or rescued from the condition of being under God’s judgment (the deep).

 

Genesis 49:26 tells of a crown for Joseph.  Several verses mention a crown for the elect.  Revelation 3:11 is one such verse:

 

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.        

 

So the promise of a crown applies to God’s people during the great tribulation (and of course during earlier periods too).  Finally, the prophecy refers to Joseph as “him that was separate from his brethren.”  Can you see how this also perfectly fits this picture of God’s people during the great tribulation?  Those who left the local congregations left their “brethren” behind.  The decision to leave was undoubtedly a difficult one in many cases; but as more people realized that the churches were teaching a false gospel, they made that decision and left.  Some of those who left eventually shared their knowledge and the warnings about Judgment Day with many others.

 

 

12.  Benjamin:

 

Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.

There’s not much to this prophecy– just one verse, Genesis 49:27.  However, in the context of Jacob’s other prophecies, it’s enough for us to understand much of what God is telling us about Benjamin.  In several places in the Bible, God uses nighttime as His setting to illustrate the Lord’s return on the last day.  We also know that the elect will inherit the new heavens and earth on the last day.  These two pieces of information allow us to understand the second part of the verse: Benjamin is a picture of God’s people on the last day.  That’s when they will “divide the spoil” and receive their inheritance.

 

Notice that the verse also contrasts night with morning by telling us “in the morning he shall devour the prey.”   We’ve learned that night is used to indicate a time when salvation has ended; so morning in this verse must refer to the time when salvation was still possible.  That was during the latter rain – the period that lasted almost 17 years until May in 2011.  God is apparently showing us that Benjamin participated in bringing the message about Judgment Day.  The words “devour the prey” suggests judgment on the unsaved as they hear and reject the message.  There’s much more we can say about Benjamin as a picture of God’s people during the great tribulation; but first we need to look at some events in his life and in the life of his older brother.

 

 

A Closer Look at Joseph and Benjamin

 

We’ve seen how Jacob’s prophecies about his sons reveal God’s end-time salvation plan and show us pictures of His people at various times.  In a few of those prophecies, there are obvious references to events in the lives of Jacob’s sons.  We saw that Jacob’s prophecies about Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Joseph (as pictures of God’s people) all refer to actual events in their lives.  Now we need to take a closer look at some verses concerning Joseph and Benjamin.

 

At the very end of Genesis, we read about Joseph’s death.  In Genesis 50:24, we read:

 

And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

 

We know that this statement was also a prophecy, because over three hundred years after Joseph made it God did visit His people: He picked Moses to lead them out of Egypt and eventually into the Promised Land.  Notice how God emphasizes this idea in the next verse, Genesis 50:25:

 

And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.

 

Here for a second time we see the words “God will surely visit you.”  A repetition like that should get our attention.  In fact, when we think about it we see that Joseph’s statement fits perfectly into Jacob’s prophecy about him as a picture of the elect during the great tribulation.

 

In the prophecies, Issachar and all the sons mentioned after Dan represent God’s people after salvation has ended; but Joseph’s last words reveal that God is showing us something special about him.  It is this: Joseph is a picture of those who die while waiting for the Lord’s return. The prophecy shows that the Lord does not return quickly after salvation ends.  In this picture, years go by and “Joseph” dies, with his last words as a reminder of God’s promise to those who remain.  It’s as if he tells them “God will return, and when He does you will carry me up with you to meet Him in the air.”

 

Joseph is a picture of those who don’t live long enough to see the last day, and Benjamin is a picture of those who do.  Certain events in his life support this understanding.  First of all, recall that Benjamin’s mother died as soon as he was born (see Genesis 35:17-18).  This event matches his position in the sequence of Jacob’s prophecies – he is last.  It shows that Benjamin represents the last group to be saved.  After him, there are no longer any “blessings of the womb.”  Salvation ends right after “Benjamin” is saved.

 

We also need to remember that Benjamin was Joseph’s younger brother.  We find a similar relationship in the Song of Solomon.  There, we read about a maiden, who represents end-time believers (see Song of Solomon 5:5-7).  The maiden’s little sister (Song of Solomon 8:8-9) also represents the last group to be saved.  Notice what we read about the little sister in Song of Solomon 8:8: there will be no “milk” for any one else, and so there will be no more true believers.  And the Bible gives us another picture of the last believers to remain on earth: that’s Lazarus.  We see that in John 21:20-24.  Yes, that disciple was Lazarus – not the apostle John.

 

Next, notice how Benjamin is treated in Genesis 43:34 and Genesis 45:22.  God is showing us that Benjamin is blessed more than the other ten brothers who have come to Joseph.  This is also consistent with what we have learned about Benjamin as a picture of the end-time elect.  He is blessed above the other brothers because he never dies.  He is a picture of the believers who are taken up in the Rapture.  All the other believers will be resurrected, because they will have died before the last day; but “Benjamin” will live to see the Lord return.

 

Besides all this, there are two interesting facts about the tribe descended from Benjamin, and they appear to fit very well with our understanding of the Benjamin prophecy as a picture of the last believers.  First, look at what we find in 1 Chronicles 12:2:

 

They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow, even of Saul’s brethren of Benjamin.

 

This verse is describing a group of elite warriors from the tribe of Benjamin.  They came to help David when Saul was hunting him.  Now consider this.  We’ve learned that God has a reason for everything He put in the Bible; so why would He tell us about these men?  The answer could be God is telling us that, among the last believers to remain on earth, there will be some who have a great understanding and ability to use God’s word.

 

Many people know that a sword is used to represent the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).  Well, a stone hurled from a sling, or an arrow shot from a bow can also represent the word of God.  This way of understanding 1 Chronicles 12:2 is consistent with what we have already learned.  Recall that in Jacob’s prophecy about Asher, God shows that He will open His word to reveal wonderful new truths to end-time believers.  By the time the last day finally arrives, God will have opened the Bible to its maximum extent.  The last believers alive should have a better understanding of God’s word than those at any other time in history.  Therefore, they should be able to destroy any false teaching by accurately using God’s word.

 

There’s another fact about the tribe of Benjamin, but this one is not good news.  In 1 Samuel 9:21, we read:

 

And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?

 

Here, God is telling us that Benjamin is the smallest tribe.  The book of Judges explains why that is.  The tribe was almost wiped out in a war with Israel’s other tribes, because they refused to hand over men who were responsible for a horrible crime.  The tribe survived, but its numbers were greatly reduced (Judges 21:17).

 

This piece of information about the tribe of Benjamin also fits the prophecy.  It shows us that many years will pass before the Lord returns.  “Benjamin” will be small because many of those believers who brought the warning about Judgment Day in 2011 will no longer be alive on the last day.

 

With that last piece of information about Benjamin, we can now see how Jacob’s last two prophecies fit together.   First, we have Joseph as a picture of those end-time believers who brought the warning about Judgment Day, but will not live long enough to see the Lord’s return.  Next, we have Joseph again – this time as a picture of the Lord Jesus.  That prophecy will be fulfilled when the Lord Jesus returns on the last day.  Finally, we have Benjamin as a picture of end-time believers who live to see the Lord’s return.  That’s the group we read about in 1 Thessalonians 4:17:

 

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

 

These are the “Benjamites” who “divide the spoil” at night.

 

 

Related Blessings by Moses

 

Before dying, Moses blessed the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 33:1-25).  When we compare these blessings with Jacob’s prophecies, we find some interesting similarities; but there are some differences too.

 

 

Reuben, Judah, Levi, Benjamin and Joseph

 

Moses first blessed the tribe of Reuben, and we find that blessing in Deuteronomy 33:6:

 

Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few.

 

Look closely at that verse.  The word “not” is in italics because the translators added it.  They probably couldn’t believe that Moses would “bless” Reuben with “let his men be few.”  But that’s what Moses said.  Remember that in Jacob’s prophecy about Reuben, he said Reuben would “not excel.”

 

In that prophecy, Reuben is a picture of the children of Israel when the Lord brought them out of Egypt, continuing until the kingdom was eventually divided.  Based on Moses’ statement, we can conclude that relatively few people were saved during that whole period of time.

 

It’s interesting that we see confirmation of this in the book of Revelation.   There we read about the two large groups of people whom God has saved.  One group was saved during the entire church age, and the other was saved during the great tribulation.  We might wonder about those who were saved before the church age began, going all the way back to creation.  God apparently answers that question by telling us about the elders who are with Him in heaven.  We read about them in Revelation 5:8:

 

And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

 

Notice there are 24 elders, and that number can be broken down into two little groups of 12 each.  By giving us that number, God appears to be showing us that He had saved two small groups before the church age began.  We know from Revelation that the two large groups were saved after the church age began: one group came out of the church age and the other out of the great tribulation.  The 24 elders match these two groups and apparently show us that there was also a division made before Jacob’s time.  Perhaps the number shows that a small group was saved from creation until the flood, and another from Noah’s day until around the time the church age began.  However, compared to the two large groups, their numbers were indeed few.

 

After blessing Reuben, Moses next blessed the tribe of Judah.  Deuteronomy 33:7 states:

 

And this is the blessing of Judah: and he said, Hear, LORD, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people: let his hands be sufficient for him; and be thou an help to him from his enemies.

 

We know that Jacob’s prophecy about Judah concerns the Lord Jesus.  What Moses said about Judah also fits this picture.  Notice the words “bring him unto his people.”  That happened when the Lord was born in 7 B.C.  The verse is also a blessing for help in the ordeal that the Lord would face in 33 A.D.

 

The fact that Judah comes second indicates that, in these blessings, Reuben may be a picture of the children of Israel from the Exodus all the way up to the time when the Lord Jesus was born.

 

Next, Moses spoke of Levi.  This is a fairly long blessing (Deuteronomy 33:8-11), and it’s definitely different than Jacob’s prophecy about Levi and Simeon together.  First of all, there is no mention of Simeon here.  In fact, that tribe is just not mentioned anywhere in these blessings; so it’s clear that God is using Levi in a different way here.

 

First, notice that in Deuteronomy 33:8 we find a reference to the time when the children of Israel were in the wilderness at Meribah (Exodus 17:7).  That was one of several incidents when they sinned.  It’s a picture of unsaved people.  However, the blessing on Levi also clearly refers to the elect (as in verses 10 and 11: e.g., “they shall put incense before thee,” and “Bless, LORD, his substance”).  We know that even during Israel’s time in the wilderness, at least a few people there were saved.  Then throughout the church age and latter rain, salvation continued.  So “Levi” appears to be a picture of God’s people through the ages, from the time of the Exodus until salvation ended after the latter rain.

 

The blessing for Benjamin is found in Deuteronomy 33:12.  There doesn’t appear to be anything about it pointing to a particular period of time.  However, this blessing is consistent with Jacob’s prophecy about Benjamin, and with the preceding blessing for Levi as a picture of the elect right up to end-times, and also with the blessing on Joseph that follows.

 

When we read what Moses said about Joseph in Deuteronomy 33:13-17, we must conclude that here again we are seeing a picture of the Lord Jesus.  Once more, many blessings are pronounced on him.  Verse 17 mentions his glory and also horns – a symbol of power.  We read that he shall “push the people together to the ends of the earth.”  This blessing about “Joseph” doesn’t work as a picture of the elect in this case.  It can only be a picture of the Lord.

 

Up to this point in the sequence of Moses’ blessings, we’ve gone from a picture of Israel (Reuben) in the wilderness and continuing until the Lord Jesus came (Judah).  Then we have Levi and his children.  They fit as a picture of the external representation of the kingdom of God from the time of the Exodus until the very end of salvation.  Then comes Benjamin; he still fits as a picture of the last group of true believers, because he is right before Joseph – who represents the Lord Jesus. Joseph’s position in the list indicates that he is a picture of the Lord returning on the last day.  These blessings account for five of Jacob’s sons.  The remaining blessings concern six of Jacob’s sons: Zebulun, Issachar, Gad, Dan, Naphtali and Asher.

 

 

Zebulun, Issachar, Gad, Dan, Naphtali and Asher

 

Verses 18 and 19 cover the blessings on Zebulun and Issachar.  However, before reading that blessing, notice something about the blessing for Joseph.  In Deuteronomy 33:17, we read: “…he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”

 

We’ve seen that Ephraim and Manasseh represent the two great groups of people whom God planned to save throughout the church age and the great tribulation, respectively.  Manasseh corresponds to those saved during the church age, and Ephraim to those saved during the great tribulation.  Recall also that Jacob’s prophecy about Zebulun told of people who “dwell at the haven of the sea” and are “a haven of ships.”  It was a picture of God’s people going out in ships to spread the Gospel, with the result that many people were saved.  Notice how Moses’ blessing of Zebulun confirms this understanding, because Zebulun is told to rejoice “in thy going out.”  In Deuteronomy 33:18-19 we read:

 

And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents. 19 They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.   

 

The blessing also tells us that “Zebulun” would call the people “unto the mountain.”  This happened when the elect who spread the Gospel during the church age called men to repentance and to God.  The result was that many were saved – they were rescued out of the “seas” and the “sand.”  And it’s very important to notice that the blessing is for Zebulun to rejoice “in thy going out.”  That certainly agrees with Jacob’s prophecy about Zebulun and the idea of ships sailing out to spread the Gospel.

 

Moses’ blessing about Issachar also matches Jacob’s prophecy, but it actually shows us pictures of God’s people at two different times.  In Jacob’s prophecy, we see “Issachar” at rest between the two sheepfolds of Manasseh and Ephraim.  Moses’ blessing of Issachar certainly matches the prophecy, for it tells Issachar to rejoice “in thy tents.”  It confirms the end of salvation, because “Issachar” is now staying in his “tents.”  But Moses’ blessing of Issachar also tells of calling the people “unto the mountain.”

 

There is no contradiction here, because that is what “Issachar” did before “lying down.”  Jacob’s prophecy about Issachar is a picture of God’s people after the two big groups have been saved.  Moses’ blessing of Issachar refers to that time too (post May 2011) in Deuteronomy 33:18; but it also refers to the final period of salvation (from September 1994 until May 2011), when God’s people were actively bringing the Gospel by announcing the approach of Judgment Day.  Of course, the result of that effort was that a “great multitude” (Revelation 7:9, 14) was saved, and in that way “Issachar” also called the people “unto the mountain.”

 

The remaining blessings are mysterious, but they are compatible with the corresponding prophecies that Jacob spoke about his sons.  In Deuteronomy 33:20-21, we find Moses’ blessing of Gad:

 

And of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head. 21 And he provided the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments with Israel.

 

This blessing tells of Gad being enlarged.  That happened during the great tribulation before “Gad” was overcome (Genesis 49:19).  Gad is a picture of God’s people being “enlarged” because more people became saved during the latter rain.  The blessing also tells us that Gad “provided the first part for himself.”  Other translations render this idea as Gad choosing the best of the land or the best land.  This clearly refers to the inheritance that God’s people will receive.

 

Also, notice that Gad was with “the heads of the people” and “executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments with Israel.”  This part of the blessing supports our understanding that the end-time warnings before May of 2011 were in accordance with the Lord’s will, and that they reached the top levels of government and organized religion all over the world.

 

Deuteronomy 33:22 is the blessing for Dan:

 

And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion’s whelp: he shall leap from Bashan.

 

We saw that Jacob’s prophecy about Dan was a picture of all the elect during the Rapture and Resurrection.  Moses’ blessing of Dan appears to show him as a picture of the elect who remain until the last day.  They shall “leap from Bashan” when they are taken up in the Rapture.  Notice also that Dan is compared to a young lion.  That may be a reference to the change that God’s people will undergo on the last day.  A verse that relates to this idea is 1 John 3:2:

 

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

 

After blessing Dan, Moses blessed Naphtali.  That blessing is found in Deuteronomy 33:23:

 

And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the LORD: possess thou the west and the south.

 

This is another short blessing but, based on its context, we can be certain that Naphtali is a picture of the elect after salvation has ended, just as he is in Jacob’s prophecy (Genesis 49:21).   The words “possess thou the west and the south” refer to the inheritance.  However, it seems to be more a promise of the inheritance rather than its fulfillment.

 

Other translations of this verse refer to the south and the lake, or the sea.  Of course, in Israel the sea is to the west.  There’s a possible reason that the blessing includes only the west and south, or the sea and south.  It is this: some verses tell of judgment coming out of the north or east.  For instance, in Genesis 41:6 we read:

 

And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them.

 

This was part of pharaoh’s dream, in which God warned him about the coming drought and famine – a picture of God’s judgment.  And we find another one in Jeremiah 1:14, where we read:

 

Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.

 

There is a verse in which it appears that judgment comes out of the south: Job 37:9.  However, if you check the original language (Strong’s number H2315: “cheder”) you’ll see that every other time that word is used (37 times besides its use in Job 37:9) the word is translated differently.  It’s usually translated as “chamber” or “inner” or something similar.  So it makes sense Naphtali should possess the west and south, and that north and east are excluded from the blessing on Naphtali, since the time setting is before the last day.

 

Moses last blessing on the tribes of Israel is found in Deuteronomy 33:24-25:

 

And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. 25 Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.

 

Here again, the context tells us that Asher is a picture of God’s people after salvation is over.  Asher is blessed with children because many people were saved during the great tribulation, and Asher represents those who brought the Judgment Day warnings during that time.  The oil mentioned in verse 24 tells us of salvation.  That applies to “Asher” and his children.

 

Next, we come to something difficult to understand.  The first part of verse 25 states “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass.”  The word “shoes” is based on a word not found anywhere else in the Bible – that’s Strong’s number H4515 (“man’ al”); and that word appears to come from H5274 (“na’ al”), which is a word used eight times in various verses.  In verses where that word is used, it is mostly translated as “lock,” or “bolt,” or with the idea that something is enclosed.  For this reason, it appears that the KJV translation here is misleading.  The Revised Standard Version seems to give us a more accurate translation of this verse.  Here is the RSV translation of Deuteronomy 33:25:

 

Your bars shall be iron and bronze; and as your days, so shall your strength be.

 

The idea of iron and bronze bars fits with our understanding that salvation has ended and that “the door” to salvation is shut.  No one else can get in.  This picture matches what we see about Issachar in Jacob’s prophecy.  He is lying down between two sheepfolds.  The sheep are enclosed because salvation is over.  After sheep are brought into a sheepfold, the gate is closed.

 

It’s important to realize that these last blessings on the tribes are actually different pictures of the same group of people.  That was true of the last five sons mentioned in Jacob’s prophecies (Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, and Benjamin), and it’s true of the last five tribes mentioned in Moses’ blessings (Issachar, Gad, Dan, Naphtali, and Asher).  In each case, God is telling us something about His people during the last days.

 

There’s only one more piece to the blessing on Asher: “and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.”  Once again, God is telling us in a very indirect way that there will be a long time between the end of salvation and the last day.  Asher is blessed with strength to last as long as his days, because his days will be long.  It’s a blessing for a long life, but that means “Asher” will have a long wait until the Lord returns.  In Moses’ blessings, Asher is the last son to be mentioned.  He corresponds with Benjamin in Jacob’s prophecies, and they represent the true believers who remain alive to be raptured on the last day.

 

Moses spoke his blessings shortly before dying (Deuteronomy 34:5-7). The children of Israel crossed the Jordan soon after that, apparently only a matter of several weeks later.  We can therefore date the year of Moses’ blessings as 1407 B.C. – that was 453 years after Jacob spoke his prophecies.

 

 

Some Important Lessons from the Prophecies

 

One lesson of Jacob’s prophecies is that God spoke through women as well as men.  We know that God inspired men to record the Bible exactly as He wanted it written down in the original languages.  In 2 Peter 1:21, we find proof of that:

 

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Jacob’s prophecies show us that the names of his sons are related to the prophecies about them; but it was each boy’s mother who named her child.  Rachel even gave Benjamin the name Benoni, meaning “son of my sorrow” (Genesis 35:18) right before she died, then Jacob gave him the name that stuck (the name Benjamin means “son of the right hand”).  Obviously, God wanted us to know the name Rachel gave her son because there is sorrow in knowing what Benjamin represents – that he is a picture of the last group to be saved.

 

The second lesson we see in the prophecies is that the time of bringing the Gospel to the unsaved world is now ended. Think about this: God’s word shows that salvation ends before the last day.  Even if we did not have a timeline pointing to the year 2011, we still see in God’s word His plan to end salvation before the last day.  Would God allow us to understand this truth before salvation ended?  If He did, someone might stop too soon in his efforts to send forth the Gospel.  It therefore stands to reason that only now is He allowing us to understand this truth, since there is no longer hope that anyone hearing the Gospel for the first time might be saved.

 

Sadly, this means babies and very young children cannot be saved.

 

This is an especially difficult truth to accept if they are among our loved ones.  They should certainly be brought up hearing God’s word, because knowledge of God’s word brings many blessings; but if they ask anything about salvation, it is probably best to only tell them that, before the world even began, God chose whom He would save and that no one knows who those people are.

 

It’s important to realize that an understanding of this truth (that salvation has ended) does not mean we should hand out tracts to tell the world they are living under God’s judgment and that there is no longer any hope for them.  What good does that do?  It does no good at all and it even creates fear.  If someone really wants to help the unsaved world, he or she can work to reform our educational system, which has shut God out of the classroom.  Knowledge of God’s creation will result in better and happier students.  They will be more likely to continue their studies and then go on to be better citizens.  They are also more likely to become scientists and engineers.  People can also share – with anyone who has shown an interest in the Judgment Day teachings – new truths they have learned out of God’s word.  Of course everyone should be praying, not only for those who have shown evidence of salvation (although especially for them), but also for the unsaved world, that God may be merciful to them in every way other than salvation.

 

The third lesson from the prophecies is perhaps the most important and amazing one: it is that God is in complete control of everything.  He is the reason this universe exists and we are here.  Jacob’s prophecies prove God’s existence.

 

Think about the ways God has fulfilled these prophecies.  Hundreds of years before the Exodus, God showed us that the children of Israel would not be faithful to Him after He called them out of Egypt.  Even many more hundreds of years before it happened, God told us that He would divide their kingdom and then eventually scatter the people from both of the divided kingdoms.

 

It was about 1,800 years from the time of Jacob’s prophecies to the birth of the Lord Jesus, but God told us it would happen by giving us Jacob’s prophecy about Judah.  In the same prophecy, He gave us hints about the Crucifixion.

 

The church age began soon after that, and in the prophecy about Zebulun God showed us He would send the Gospel all over the earth.  About 3,800 years before ending the church age, God showed us that He would end it after He had saved a large group of people.  He also revealed that a second, much larger group would be saved before the end of salvation.

 

All of these things show the fulfillment of prophecy.  It’s true that some of the events can’t be seen.  We don’t see physical proof that two large groups were saved and that salvation is now over, although we know that these things are true because the Bible reveals that information.

 

However, the other events are well known historical facts.  There is no denying that there was a kingdom of Israel that became divided and was eventually destroyed, and that the Lord Jesus was born over two thousand years ago, and that Christianity spread all over the world.  Only God could have foretold those events hundreds and even thousands of years before they happened.

 

Here is the fourth important lesson from Jacob’s prophecies: God shows us pictures of His people during the last days.  These people aren’t just any believers at any time: they are specifically believers living in the end times. The parable of the ten virgins is such an example.

 

Although this parable held lessons for true believers throughout history, it can only be fully understood by those living in the last days, after God had more fully opened His word.  So in the parable of the ten virgins, when we read the Lord’s words in Matthew 25:13 …

 

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

                                                                  

…we know that they apply especially to those living in the last days.    The ten virgins clearly represent end-time Christians, both saved and unsaved, who brought the message of Judgment Day before May 21, 2011.  Even though they were mistaken in their belief that it would be the date for the Lord’s return, the parable shows they live long enough to actually see that day.  The parable’s lesson is stated in Matthew 25:13 and illustrates that, even with the additional truths they are given, the end-time elect still cannot know the date for the Lord’s return.

 

We can be certain of this because the parable is a picture of those who went forth to meet the Lord based on new information they had received.  That was information about time – information God revealed during the lifetime of people who live to see the last day.  The parable warns end-time believers to live in such a way (to watch) that they will be happy to see the Lord whenever He comes.

 

Here is a fifth lesson from Jacob’s prophecies.  We find it in the prophecy about Joseph, with Joseph as a picture of the elect living in the last days.  The prophecy shows that there will be a long time after salvation ends (as compared with a lifespan) until the Lord returns.  Joseph is a picture of true believers who left the local congregations and then, during the latter rain, warned of God’s coming judgment.  However, they do not live long enough to see the Lord return.  This understanding is confirmed in Luke 18:8b, where we read:

 

Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

 

This verse contradicts the idea of an ever-increasing number of saved people and actually implies that only a small number of the elect will remain until the last day.  When we compare “Joseph” with the ten virgins, we see that Joseph is a picture of true believers who do not live long enough to see the last day, whereas the ten virgins do.

 

 

Summary

 

We’ve seen that Jacob’s prophecies are actually an outline of God’s salvation plan from the time Israel was in Egypt until the end of the world.  Each son is a picture of God’s people in some way:

 

Reuben represents the children of Israel from the time of the Exodus until the death of Solomon.

 

Simeon and Levi together represent the divided kingdoms, continuing until each kingdom was eventually destroyed.

 

Judah represents the Lord Jesus, coming to earth in 7 B.C. and remaining until shortly after the Crucifixion.

 

Zebulun is a picture of God’s people during the Church Age, going out to the world with the Gospel.

 

Issachar represents God’s people after the great tribulation has ended and the “great multitude” has been saved.

 

Dan is a picture of all those who will be either resurrected or caught up in the rapture.

 

Gad is a picture of those who brought the warnings that Judgment Day would arrive on May 21, 2011 and suffered in some way as a result.

 

Asher is a picture of God’s people learning new truth out of God’s word during the end-times, and developing the fruits of the Spirit while waiting for the Lord’s return.

 

Naphtali is definitely a picture of the elect and appears to represent those saved during the latter rain – the great multitude.  Their prayers are pleasing to God.

 

Joseph is first a picture of believers who left their local congregations (Joseph “was separate from his brethren”) and brought the warnings about Judgment Day.  However, they do not live long enough to see the Lord return.

 

As a second picture, Joseph also represents the Lord Jesus returning on the last day.  He also “was separate from his brethren” when He returned to heaven in 33 A.D.  All the other blessings on Joseph as a picture of God’s people also apply to the Lord Jesus.

 

Benjamin is a picture of those true believers who live to see the Lord return.  They brought the Judgment Day warnings too, just as “Joseph” did, but “Benjamin” outlives “Joseph” and is the group that will be caught up in the Rapture.

 

When we see the way Moses blessed the tribes of Israel in Deuteronomy 33, we can have even more confidence that we have correctly understood Jacob’s prophecies.  Although there are differences, Moses’ blessings support our understanding of Jacob’s prophecies and expand on it.

 

With an understanding of Jacob’s prophecies, we may now be able to understand some verses that were never before correctly understood.

For example, one of the strangest incidents in the Bible begins with Numbers 22:21:

 

And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.

 

As we read the story, which continues up to verse 34, we find that Balaam struck the animal when it went off the path and “into the field” because it saw “the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand” (verse 23).  Recall that a field represented the world in a parable the Lord Jesus taught about the spreading of the Gospel.  Then, “the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side” (verse 24).  This time, “she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall: and he smote her again.”  The animal squeezed against the wall to get by the Lord, crushing Balaam’s foot in the process.  But then, “… the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. 27 And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.”

 

We’ve learned from Jacob’s prophecy about Issachar that God pictures His people as “a stong ass” lying down between two sheepfolds.  We also know that in Old Testament times, God sent many prophets to warn Israel of approaching judgment.  This matches what God shows us in this incident with the ass.

 

She was hit three times.  The first time represents the persecution that Old Testament prophets suffered.  The ass then went into the field, which can be a picture of the elect laboring to bring the Gospel during the Church Age.  The second time the animal was hit represents persecution that true believers experienced during the Church Age. When God ended it, the local congregations were no longer qualified to bring the true Gospel – that’s why Balaam’s foot was crushed (see Isaiah 52:7).  The third time the animal was struck represents the persecution God’s people suffered as a result of bringing the Judgment Day warnings before 2011.  After the ass “fell down under Balaam,” he struck the ass the final time.  That matches Jacob’s prophecy about Issachar.

 

You might recall that there are two ways to understand the name “Issachar:” either as “he is wages” or “he brings wages.”  Both names fit, because God paid by His own work or “wages” to save “Issachar;” but “Issachar” also served the Lord by sending out the Gospel during the three periods when salvation was possible after Jacob’s prophecy.

 

It’s important to realize how Revelation supports this understanding.  In Revelation 10:11, we read:

 

And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

 

The word “again” is very important.  During the New Testament, there were only two periods when salvation was possible.  One was very long, and one lasted only a few years.  The first one was the Church Age, and we see a picture of its beginning in Revelation 6:2, which is a picture of the elect going out to spread the Gospel all over the world.  That’s the rider on a white horse – a picture of a true believer (that’s not a picture of the Lord Jesus).  The second New Testament period of salvation was also the last time when anyone could be saved.  That was during the latter rain, and that’s why the apostle John is told in a vision that he must “prophesy again.”  He was a picture of the elect during the Church Age, and he is about to be a picture of the elect during the latter rain.

 

Notice that immediately after Revelation 10:11, we read about the two witnesses.   That’s because Revelation 10:11 refers to them.  It is they who represent the elect bringing the end-time message of approaching judgment.  When they are silenced (Revelation 11:7), that’s the end of salvation.  It was also the moment when “Issachar” lay down!

 

After a period of time, the two witnesses are taken up to heaven; and that’s a picture of the Rapture and Resurrection.  By having Balaam’s ass speak (Numbers 22:28-30) after she was hit the third time, God may be hinting at that event.  That’s because the Rapture and Resurrection will be a judgment against all those in the local congregations.  At that time, the elect will in a sense speak against them in judgment.

 

Something else that is strange is found in Judges 5.  In Judges 5:14 we read the words:

 

… and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.

 

Jacob’s prophecies provide an explanation for this mysterious verse.  We’ve seen that Zebulun is a picture of the elect sending out the Gospel during the Church Age.  Even though the Church Age lasted for 1,955 years, the New Testament books of the Bible were all recorded during the last part of the first century.  Compare that with the time required for the Old Testament to be completed.

 

The 39 books of the Old Testament were recorded over a period of 1,100 years and maybe even much longer than that.  We know that the first five books of the Bible were recorded within 40 years of the Exodus (1447 B.C.); but the book of Job is believed to be older (possibly much older) than that.  The last book of the Old Testament was recorded approximately 391 B.C., based on everything we know about it.  Interestingly, it appears in our Bible just before the oldest book – Job.

 

In comparison with the long time it took for the Old Testament to be completed (over 1,100 years), we know that all 27 books of the New Testament were recorded in about 65 years.   So “Zebulun” really did handle the “pen of the writer,” and Judges 5:14 is another prophecy that has been fulfilled.  It dates from a period many centuries before the Church Age, so we once again see “the finger of God” at work.

 

Most people in this world believe that men wrote the Bible.  They have never understood any of the amazing truths God has revealed out of His word.  For those of us who have understood some of those truths, praise should come naturally; but when we see how God fulfilled the prophecies Jacob spoke right before his death, how can we not praise and thank Him?  We should, just as we find written in Psalm 106:1:

 

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

 

Poor Rachel

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As we read the Bible, we occasionally find a verse dealing with the fate of mankind after death.  Even though we can see that it deals with this subject, it is often difficult to know exactly what the verse teaches.  This is because of the way God has written the Bible.  As a result, churches have not correctly understood what the Bible reveals about death and its aftermath.

 

Traditional church teaching holds that there is a place of torment where anyone who is not saved must spend eternity.  However, the Bible reveals that God limits punishment to the price of a person’s life.  For anyone who is not saved, the payment for his or her sins is that person’s life.  Loss of that life marks the end of any suffering for an unsaved person.  For those who have been saved, God has paid the penalty for their sins so that they can immediately enter eternal life with Him.

 

Besides verses concerning death for mankind in general, God occasionally makes statements about certain individuals in the Bible.  These verses can be clues about whether or not God has saved that person.  Such verses also help us understand the Bible’s general teaching about the meaning of death.

 

 

Jacob and Others Were “Gathered”  

 

There is no doubt that God saved Jacob.  We know this from many verses.  Here is one of them: a verse telling us something God said to Moses.  In Exodus 3:6, we read:

 

Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.  

 

We know that Jacob was saved.  With this in mind, it’s interesting to see how his death is recorded in the Bible.  It’s found in Genesis 49:33:

 

And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.

 

In this verse, God tells us that Jacob was “gathered unto his people.”  There’s a lot to think about in those words.  Where are Jacob’s people, and who are they?  Who did the gathering?

 

We can answer these questions based on what we have learned from many other verses throughout the Bible.  It reveals that, before the foundation of the world, God looked into the future and selected certain people for salvation out of the entire human race.  Then, at some time after He created Adam and Eve, God began saving people.  The Bible doesn’t appear to reveal whether or not Adam and Eve were saved, but we know for sure their son Abel was saved (Genesis 4:4, Hebrews 11:4).

 

God uses the idea of constructing a building to show us that He was adding to the number of people He had saved.  If someone was predestined to be saved, then at some time during that person’s life God caused him or her to read or hear His word.  Salvation may have happened the first time the person heard God’s word, or only after he or she had heard or read it many times.  It may have been when the person was very young (even before birth), or when the person was very old – possibly only a moment before death; but at some time during that person’s life, God applied His word to that person and gave him or her a newly resurrected soul.

 

Before any part of the Bible was written, God could have saved people by actually speaking to them.  They would hear His voice, and therefore hear His words.  For example, we know that Jacob actually heard God’s voice (Genesis 32:29-30); and so did Isaac (Genesis 26:24) and Abraham.  God could have saved these men when He spoke to them, or possibly when someone quoted to them something that God had said years earlier.

 

The promise of eternal life is only for God’s elect; so at death, if a person is one of those chosen people, that person goes to be with the Lord.  This is what God is telling us when we read that Jacob was “gathered unto his people.”   God did the gathering.  He took Jacob’s soul to be with Him in heaven, and that is where Jacob and his people (the elect who have died) are to this day.

 

God uses very similar language when He tells us about the deaths of some other well-known people in the Bible.  For example, Genesis 25:8 tells us about the death of Abraham; and Genesis 35:29 tells us about Isaac’s death.  We know that both these men were saved, and for them God uses the same Hebrew word He used to tell us about Jacob’s death (Strong’s number H622 – “acaph”): He “gathered” them at death.

 

It’s interesting that we don’t find that language used in verses recording the death of Moses.  In Deuteronomy 34:5-6, God tells us that He (God Himself!) buried Moses in a valley in the land of Moab; but it doesn’t say that He “gathered” Moses.  However, God did use that same word (H622, translated “gathered) when He told Moses what was going to happen to him.  God allowed Moses to see the Promised Land from a distance before he died, as we read in Numbers 27:12-13:

 

And the LORD said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel.  And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered.

 

We see from these verses that Moses was indeed “gathered to his people” when he died.  Aaron’s case is similar.  His death is recorded in Numbers 20:28-29:

 

And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there in the top of the mount: and Moses and Eleazar came down from the mount.  And when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, they mourned for Aaron thirty days, even all the house of Israel.

 

From these verses, we can’t be sure that Aaron was saved; but other verses make it clear that he was.

 

The word “acaph” (H622) is also used in verses concerning Ishmael, Josiah and Naaman.  We might not think of Ishmael as being one of God’s elect; but notice this verse about him – Genesis 25:17:

 

And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people.

 

Here, God uses the same language He used in telling us about Jacob’s death.

 

Another person who was ”gathered” is King Josiah of Judah.  The two verses telling us about his death are 2 Kings 23:30 and 2 Chronicles 35:24.   Neither verse has the word “acaph” in it to tell us that he was “gathered” when he died.  However, among other verses about Josiah there are two that do.  God gave Josiah a promise that he would be gathered to his “fathers.”   This promise is recorded in 2 Kings 22:20 and 2 Chronicles 34:28.

 

When King Josiah began to rule, he must have been hailed with the traditional words “God save the king” that we find recorded in 2 Kings 11:12 for King Solomon’s coronation.  In King Josiah’s case, we know that God did exactly that.

 

There’s a different translation of the word “acaph” in a couple of verses about Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5:3).  God doesn’t tell us about Naaman’s death, but He tells us something else.  Naaman was afflicted by leprosy, a terrible disease that can lead to disfigurement.  God uses leprosy as a picture of sin.

 

Naaman had in his house a maid taken from Israel, and she waited on his wife (2 Kings 5:2-3).  Through this maid, he learned about the prophet Elisha.  Naaman was led to believe that Elisha might “recover him of his leprosy”  (2 Kings 5:3,6).  And so Naaman requested and got permission from his king to go to Israel to find Elisha.  Naaman was indeed cured of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:14).  The word translated as “recover” in the phrase “recover him of leprosy” is that same word “acaph.”  Naaman is even mentioned in the New Testament in Luke 4:27, where the Lord Jesus tells us that Naaman was “cleansed.”  That word “cleansed” is also found in Acts 11:9:

 

But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 

 

Here, God is making it clear to the apostle Peter that salvation is not only for those who are born as Jews.  It is for others too.  If they have been cleansed, then God has saved them.  Therefore, it is clear that God saved Naaman.  Sadly, as a Syrian commander – even though he was one of God’s elect – he may have killed other children of God, even after God had saved him.  However, there is no doubt that, when he died, he too was “gathered to his people.”

 

 

Rahab “Dwelleth in Israel”

 

We first read about Rahab in Joshua 2:1:

 

And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.

 

The verses about Rahab tell us that, out of all the city of Jericho, only she and her family were spared when Israel destroyed the city.  (Note that the word for Rahab’s name here is Strong’s number H7343, which is a feminine noun.  There is another, different word – Strong’s number H7294 – that’s also translated as “Rahab.”  That word is a masculine noun and seems to represent Satan and his kingdom in Psalm 87:4, Psalm 89:10, and Isaiah 51:9).

 

However, for Rahab there was something even more important than surviving the destruction of Jericho.  The Bible reveals that God saved Rahab.  We know that for certain, because we read about her in the New Testament.  In Hebrews 11:31, we read:

 

By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.  

 

This verse and another New Testament verse (James 2:25) make it clear that she was saved.  If we keep this in mind when we read about her in the book of Joshua, we see something very interesting.  It’s Joshua 6:25:

 

And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.  

 

We don’t read about her death.  Instead, we read “she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day.”  If someone reads this verse only as history, the thinking will be that Rahab lived in Israel years after Jericho was destroyed and that she was still alive when Joshua recorded that sentence.  Then, of course, she died; and that was thousands of years ago.  However, we know that this verse is the word of God and that the Bible is much more than just history.

 

Undoubtedly, Rahab did live in Israel years after Jericho was destroyed – just as we read in that verse.  However, God tells us that she dwells in Israel “unto this day.”  God often uses Israel to represent those He has saved.  So Rahab really is in Israel to this day, because she went to be with the Lord and those who had died in the Lord when she herself died many centuries ago.  She is with her people right now, just as we are told in Joshua 6:25.

 

 

Absalom’s Place

 

Of all the verses telling us about the death of various people in the Bible, nothing compares with what we read about Absalom.  He was one of King David’s sons, and he plotted to steal the kingdom and kill his father.   We read about his defeat and death in 2 Samuel 18.  There, it is absolutely clear that Absalom was under the wrath of God.  Verse 17 tells us what happened to Absalom’s body:

 

And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent.   

 

Absalom was buried under a “great heap of stones.”  That’s what happened to the king of Ai after he died, as we read in Joshua 8:29:

 

And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day.

 

The king of Ai was an enemy of Israel, and it’s clear from this verse that God never saved him.  A “great heap of stones” was raised over his body.  These are the same words in the original language that tell us about Absalom’s death in 2 Samuel 18:17.  However, the verse that comes after it is even more helpful to our understanding of Absalom’s fate.  In 2 Samuel 18:18, we read:

 

Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king’s dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom’s place.  

 

The word translated as “place” is very interesting.  It’s Strong’s number H3027: “yad.”   It’s used over 1,600 times in the Bible, and most of those times it has to do with a man’s hand or his strength.  Therefore, God is showing us where Absalom’s place is now.  Absalom’s place, his strength, his hand and any other of his remains are right here on earth.  That’s what happens to animals at death and to anyone who has not been saved, as we read in Psalms 49:20:

 

Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish. 

 

Rachel: Similarities with Absalom’s Story

 

In Genesis 35:19-20, we read this:

 

And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.  And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.

 

Notice the similarity to what we find in 2 Samuel 18:18 concerning Absalom’s pillar.

 

Rachel was one of Jacob’s two wives, and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin (Genesis 35:24).  The account of her death is in Genesis 35.  There, we learn that she died as a result of giving birth to her second son, Benjamin (Genesis 35:16-19).

 

Outside of the book of Genesis, there are only four verses that mention Rachel: Ruth 4:11, 1 Samuel 10:2, Jeremiah 31:15 and Mathew 2:18.  We should take a look at Ruth 4:11, because of a blessing we find there.  It concerns Rachel, and it could be mistakenly understood as evidence that she was saved.  The blessing is “The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel.”

 

God does often use “the house of Israel” to represent true believers.  However, at other times those identical words in the original language identify people who are not saved.  For example, in Ezekiel 3:7, we find:

 

But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.

 

Therefore, Rachel’s part in building the house of Israel doesn’t mean that she was saved.  (Leah apparently was saved.  Even though we don’t read about her death, God tells us in Genesis 49:31 that Leah was buried with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah.  There’s no doubt that Abraham, Sarah and Isaac were saved.  Rebekah was also apparently saved, based on the blessing found in Genesis 24:60.  Since Leah was buried with these four, it appears that she too was saved.)

 

There’s another verse about Rachel that we should consider concerning any possibility that she was saved.  In Genesis 30:22, we find “God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.”  Rachel’s statement in the next verse, Genesis 30:23, must be considered:

 

And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach:  

 

The words “God hath taken away my reproach” could refer to Rachel’s situation before God; that is, by itself the verse could mean that God saved her when He took away her reproach.  However, when we see the way that word reproach (Strong’s number H 7281: “cherpah”) is used in other verses, we find that it usually refers to scorn or shame that one person or group has for another.  In other words, the world no longer held Rachel in reproach or shame as a woman who is childless.  Therefore, we must not conclude that Rachel was reconciled to God by salvation when she said, “God hath taken away my reproach.”

 

The only verses concerning Rachel’s death and burial are found in Genesis 35, and none of the verses about her indicate she was saved.  In fact, the words concerning the pillar Jacob set on her grave (“the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day” in Genesis 35:20) are very similar in the original language to words in 2 Samuel 18:18 about Absalom’s pillar.  Both of them are associated with pillars set up as memorials to “this day.”

 

There’s something else as well.  In the book of Matthew, we learn that Herod the king murdered many children in Bethlehem in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus.  This is recorded in Matthew 2:17-18:

 

Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,  In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

 

These verses reveal that this event fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:15, recorded several centuries earlier.  However, this reference to Rachel also connects with Absalom’s story.

 

Recall that Absalom said “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance” in 2 Samuel 18:18.  It’s strange that he said that, because in 2 Samuel 14:27 we read that he had three sons.  Perhaps they died; we don’t know.  In any event, Absalom said he had no sons to keep his name in remembrance, and God made sure that those words got into the Bible.  God shows us a similarity between Absalom and Rachel in this way because Rachel’s children “are not.”

 

Before Rachel’s sons were born, she said something to Jacob that is also relevant here.  In Genesis 30:1, we read:

 

And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.

 

It’s almost as if God is telling us here that Rachel will die unless she has children; so when we read in Matthew 2:18 that her children “are not” and notice the similarities with verses about Absalom, it appears that Rachel was not saved.

 

There’s even another aspect to the question of Rachel’s salvation, and it has to do with Jacob’s reply to Rachel’s statement in Genesis 30:1.  First, it’s important to realize that God uses the idea of the elect being born into a family when they are saved.  This idea is expressed in Galatians 4:26:

 

But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.  

 

The Lord Jesus even applied this idea to Himself in Luke 8:20-21:

 

And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.  And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

 

When a person is saved, he or she is born into God’s family.  The idea of being born from above or born again appears to be in view when we read what Jacob said in answer to Rachel (when she said “Give me children, or else I die”).  Jacob’s answer is in Genesis 30:2:

 

And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?

 

Do you see how Jacob’s reply can have another meaning besides the physical one?  Instead of referring to a blessing of children for Rachel, the “fruit of the womb” can also refer to spiritual rebirth.   It has been withheld from Rachel.  She was never given a new, resurrected soul – that’s the fruit of the womb.

 

We know that later on Rachel did have children, but after that God tells us that her children “are not;” so her situation is similar to that of Absalom.  Based on this and the other similarity to Absalom’s situation regarding their pillars, and based on Jacob’s statement in the preceding verse, it appears Rachel was never saved.  Her “pillar” is still here.

 

 

No Delay For The Elect 

 

God also tells us about other people whom He saved.  He does this in different ways.  For instance, in Exodus 1:21, God tells us something about the Hebrew midwives (Exodus 1:15) Shiphrah and Puah:

 

And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.

 

Based on this short verse, we can be sure that God blessed these two women.  This verse may remind you of what the Lord Jesus said in John 14:2-3:

 

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

 

When we compare these New Testament verses with what we read about Shiphrah and Puah in the book of Exodus, we have to say God must have saved them.

 

The process of being saved is what the Bible calls the first resurrection in the book of Revelation.  From that time on, a saved person remains alive.  Physical death for him or her is a change from one type of existence to another.   The Lord Jesus revealed this truth by explaining what the Lord once said to Moses.  It’s in Matthew 22:32:

 

I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. 

 

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob don’t have to wait for the resurrection on the last day to live again.  They’re alive right now because their God is the God of the living.   The apostle Paul also reveals this truth in Philippians 1:23:

 

For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

 

Paul knew he was needed where he was, with the Philippian brethren; but he also knew he would be with the Lord as soon as he died.  That’s what he preferred.  Paul also explains this truth in 1 Thessalonians 5:10, where he refers to the Lord Jesus:

 

Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

 

The word “sleep” here refers to death.  Once saved, a person remains with the Lord.  Not even death can separate the elect from God.  Even after death God’s children “live together with him.”

 

The Last Day: A Difficult Verse About The Unsaved  

 

Some Bible verses teach about the meaning of death for anyone who is unsaved.  For example, in Psalm 146:4, we read:

 

His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

 

The unsaved return to the earth (as in Genesis 3:19) when they die, and their thoughts “perish.”  Then, when the heavens and earth pass away, any trace that they ever lived will be destroyed.   It will be as if they had never existed.  This is what we learn when we consider many Bible verses.

 

However, there are some other verses that can easily give us a different idea because they are difficult to understand.  One of these verses is Daniel 12:2:

 

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

 

Based on this verse, we might think that the unsaved will be resurrected on the last day and come back to life – at least temporarily – to face judgment.  The Bible has some other verses that also appear to teach this idea (e.g., John 5:28-29).  Can we reconcile such verses with those verses teaching that the unsaved never live again?

 

Let’s look at Daniel 12:2.  It states that some will “awake” to “shame and everlasting contempt.”  However, compare that with Job 14:12:

 

So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.

 

In this verse, we find the same Hebrew word (Strong’s number H6974) that is translated as “awake” in Daniel 12:2; but here, we are told that the dead “shall not awake.”  They lie down and rise not “till the heavens be no more.”  This verse certainly appears to teach that the unsaved dead will never live again, because the earth and all graves will be also gone when the heavens are “no more.”

 

However, we still need to understand how Daniel 12:2 can be true when it tells us that some will “awake” to “shame and everlasting contempt.”  First, we must recognize that God makes an understanding of certain verses very difficult.  Here is one way He does this: in some verses, He applies different meanings to the same original language word.  For example, Matthew 8:22 declares:

 

But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.  

 

In this verse, the word “dead” appears twice.  The same Greek word is used each time, but the word can have two different meanings.  In the first case, the Lord is referring to those who are spiritually dead, but in the second case the word might refer either to those who are physically dead or spiritually dead.

 

There appears to be a similar situation in Daniel 12:2 concerning those that sleep in the dust and “awake” to shame and everlasting contempt. The word translated as “awake” usually means that someone wakes up and is alive.  But the word also has the idea of movement, as in Psalm 44:23 where it is the word “arise:”

 

Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever.

 

Notice the word “arise.”  That’s the same Strong’s number H6974, which was translated as “awake” in Daniel 12:2.  We know the Lord doesn’t sleep, so this is a prayer for the Lord to act.  Here, the word “arise” gives us a picture of movement or action.

 

Recall that some verses reveal that on the last day, graves will be disturbed.  This suggests that the remains of many unsaved people will be moved.  It could be that Daniel 12:2 is telling us about this aspect of the last day.  The unsaved may “awake” in the sense that they will “arise,” which is another way of translating H6974.  Their remains may move; but that doesn’t mean they will live again.  (Jeremiah 8:1 may also illustrate this idea.)

 

Of course, the Bible may not give us every detail about a truth it reveals.  In Deuteronomy 29:29, we read:

 

The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

 

There may be some things that God’s children will never learn or be able to understand, even in eternity.  Certain things will remain the Lord’s secrets.  However, when we consider all the verses concerning the fate of the unsaved, the Bible seems to reveal that they will never live again after death.

 

 

Conclusion

 

By prayerfully reading verses about life and death, we can understand what the Bible teaches about the meaning of salvation.  We learn that the promise of life after death applies only to those whom God has saved, and that this life begins immediately after death.  However, except for a couple of special cases recorded in the Bible (like Elijah), an elect person who has died will have to wait until the last day to receive an immortal, physical body.

 

The Rapture and Resurrection will complete God’s plan for all the elect who have died since time began.  All the elect who die before the last day go to live with the Lord immediately at death.  Those of the elect who are alive on the last day will be changed at that time into their immortal bodies; they will escape death.  However, all the elect must wait until the end of the world to receive their new bodies.

 

On the other hand, unsaved people who have died will never live again in any way, place or form.  There is no reincarnation or place of eternal suffering; no purgatory and no hell.  This is a great comfort to anyone who has lost loved ones who never showed any evidence of salvation.  The Bible also indicates that unsaved people who are alive on the last day will come to a very merciful end and simply vanish along with the rest of the universe.

 

God illustrates these and other truths about salvation by providing details about the life and death of certain people.  For example, the Bible appears to tell us when God saved Job.   In Job 42:10, we read:

 

And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.    

 

When God saves someone, He releases that person from captivity in Satan’s kingdom and brings him into His own kingdom as a captive.  That’s why the apostle Paul called himself “a servant of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:1) and why God tells us that He “turned the captivity of Job.”  Job was now the Lord’s captive, because God had saved him!

 

The Bible also reveals that God saved Jacob and Rahab, and they are both with the Lord right now.  And there is no doubt about Absalom: he definitely was not saved.  In Rachel’s case, when we look closely we have to say the evidence is that she was never saved either.

 

It’s always been assumed that she was, and we can see this belief reflected in attitudes toward a tomb believed to be Rachel’s tomb.   Over the centuries, many pilgrims have come to this tomb to pray to Rachel.  Sadly, control over the tomb has been a cause of great strife among Christians, Jews and Muslims.  (For more on this, see http://www.seetheholyland.net/tomb-of-rachel/).  On the other hand, it became a custom to throw stones at the tomb thought to be the place (http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1218/p14s01-wome.html) where Absalom’s remains lay.

 

Actually, there is no certainty that either tomb has been correctly identified.  The pillar that Jacob built when he buried Rachel is long gone, and so is the one that Absalom built.  Some scholars suspect that Jacob actually buried Rachel north of Jerusalem rather than at the commonly accepted site near Bethlehem.  As for Absalom’s tomb, there is evidence that it is actually the tomb where Zacharias – the father of John the Baptist – is buried.

 

Of course, for those who are truly being guided by the Bible, these things don’t matter.  For example, God doesn’t require anyone to make a pilgrimage since no place on earth is holier than wherever you are right now.  The Bible also reveals that we are not to pray to (or for) anyone who has died.   And we certainly shouldn’t be throwing stones at anyone’s property.

 

There’s something interesting in a verse near the end of the book of Job.  This was after God had saved Job, and it has to do with an item given to Job by his family and friends.  In Job 42:11, we read:

 

Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold.

 

Everyone gave Job “an earring of gold.”  Only God can give anyone the ability to understand His word.  The Bible equates this gift to the ability to hear God’s voice, and this is what the gold earrings represent.

 

The world’s religions are very concerned about controlling the tombs of those mentioned in their holy books; but people who can hear God’s word are concerned about truth revealed in the Bible.  May God give each of His people the desire to search out these truths, and a golden earring to hear His word.

The Feast of Eternity

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If you read the book of Zechariah, you’ll find that it mentions only one of the annual feasts God commanded ancientIsraelto observe: that’s the feast of tabernacles.  Why should there be an emphasis on that particular feast?

 

In Leviticus 23, we find the names of the annual feasts and times when they were to be observed.  The feasts are called “holy convocations” or meetings (Leviticus 23:4).  In that chapter, you’ll see that the people were commanded to observe all the feasts.  No one feast is more important than any other.  That’s why it’s curious to find only the feast of tabernacles mentioned in the book of Zechariah. 

 

 

The Annual Feasts and God’s Salvation Plan

 

You may know that God used the annual feasts to illustrate truths associated with His salvation plan.  It was back in 1447 BC, whenIsraelcame out of slavery inEgypt, that God instituted the annual feasts.  The first feast thatIsraelobserved was the Passover (Leviticus 23:5) with the days of unleavened bread (Leviticus 23:6).   The Israelites were commanded to kill a lamb on the Passover (Exodus 12:5-6).  The killing of a lamb pictured the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus, and it was during Passover in 33 AD that He was crucified. 

 

There’s another annual feast that was clearly fulfilled during the New Testament, and that’s Pentecost.  That feast is also known as the feast of firstfruits (Leviticus 23:10).  It was celebrated around the time when the first harvest was brought in from the fields.  In the New Testament, it was on Pentecost in 33 AD that God began the church age (Acts 2:1).  The Biblical timeline discovered by Mr. Harold Camping shows us that the church age lasted until 1988.  For 1,955 years, God used local congregations of Christian churches to represent His eternal kingdom, just as He once used thekingdomofIsraelto represent it in ancient times.  The people whom God saved during the church age are pictured as “firstfruits.”  In this way, the feast of Pentecost has been fulfilled.

 

The next annual feast we find in Leviticus 23 is called the feast of trumpets (Leviticus 23:24).  There is great evidence that this annual feast was also fulfilled during the New Testament, but it took some detective work to understand how it was.  By carefully piecing together time clues found in the Gospels, it has been determined that John the Baptist announced the Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God on the feast of trumpets in 29 AD (John 1:29).  That was the beginning of the Lord’s public ministry, which ended about three and a half years later at the cross.  The feast of trumpets was also fulfilled a second time.  That happened more recently when the Lord began the “latter rain” in 1994.  During that period, which lasted until 2011, God saved a great multitude of people all over the world.

 

There is one more annual feast that was fulfilled during the New Testament era, based on Biblical evidence.  In Leviticus 23:27, we read about that feast.  It’s called the Day of Atonement.  Although the Bible doesn’t give the date when the Lord Jesus was born, by piecing together clues found in the Gospel accounts we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Lord Jesus was born in the year 7 BC on the Day of Atonement.

 

As you continue reading Leviticus 23, you will find that there is only one other time of the year when God required an annual feast to be observed.   In Leviticus 23:34, we read:

 

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD.

 

Until the feast of tabernacles passed uneventfully last year, it was widely expected that we would see it fulfilled with the rapture and the end of the world occurring then.  The timeline revealed that all the other feasts had been fulfilled.  God was clearly showing us that He would complete the Biblical timeline during the feast of tabernacles, wasn’t He?  That was a logical and completely reasonable conclusion at the time.  However, we must now reevaluate it.

 

 

The Feast of Tabernacles in the Book of Zechariah

 

It’s very curious the way the feast of tabernacles appears in the book of Zechariah.  For one thing, it’s the only feast mentioned in that book.  Also, it’s really emphasized there in a strange way.

 

The book of Nehemiah also emphasizes the feast of tabernacles (Nehemiah 8:14-18); but there, it’s an actual historical account.  The people inJerusalemat that time had returned from captivity.  The younger people among them would have been the first generation born there after the return.  The book of Nehemiah tells us the people learned that God’s law required observance of the feast of tabernacles, and kept it for the first time in many years.  In Nehemiah 8:17, we read about this:

 

And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.

 

But in the book of Zechariah, it’s a different situation altogether.  There, we find the feast of tabernacles mentioned three times.  All three occurrences are in chapter 14 (verses 16, 18 and 19), and all three are set in the context of eternity.  Zechariah 14:12 helps us understand the time setting:

 

And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.

 

This verse and verses 13-15 tell us about the last day and judgment against the unsaved.   Although the end of the unsaved is described here in a terrifying way, the verse is actually consistent with an understanding that God will simply speak the universe out of existence, mercifully dissolving everything in an instant.  The verses that follow verse 15 tell us about the new heavens and the new earth.   Now, notice how verse 16 mentions the feast of tabernacles, and what verse 17 states:

 

And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.  And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.

 

When we read verse 17, we can easily get the impression that there will be alive at that time some people who will not keep the feast of tabernacles.   They won’t go up toJerusalemwhen the feast is to be observed, and so the Lord won’t give them any rain.  Is that the meaning of this verse?

 

Let’s look at the next verse mentioning the feast of tabernacles.  In Zechariah 14:18, we read:

 

And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.

 

Here we see that same idea: those who will not keep the feast of tabernacles will have no rain and will suffer a plague.  Finally, in verse 19 we read:

 

This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.

 

Here again, the feast of tabernacles is mentioned; and here again, we find the idea of punishment for those who won’t observe the feast.  To help us understand the way God has written these verses, let’s consider some other interesting verses. 

 

 

Not What You Might Think

 

In John 6, we read about an occasion when people who heard the Lord Jesus preach followed Him to the other side of theSea of Galilee.  When they found Him, He told the people not to labor “for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you… “(John 6:27).  The people then asked Him what they should do, as we read in John 6:28:

 

Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

 

 In the following verse, the Lord answered them:

 

Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

 

When we read the Lord’s answer, we can easily get the impression that a person can be saved by believing in the Lord Jesus, because then he or she will be doing the work that God wants a person to do.  However, look closely at the Lord’s statement: “This is the work of God.”  When a person believes, it is the work of God – it’s work God has done. 

 

The original Greek words also support this understanding.  Two different words for “work” are used in these verses: “ergazomai”  (G2038) and “ergon” (G2041).  The first word is used for work that a person can do, as in the words “that we might work.”  The second is used for work that God has done, as in “the works of God.”  Therefore, these verses are actually consistent with a truth we find throughout the Bible.  Namely, that God must do all the work to save someone.  Even a person’s belief – if it’s the saving kind of faith a person needs – comes from God.

 

Another situation that can easily be misunderstood is found in Luke 17.  Toward the end of that chapter, we find the Lord Jesus telling His disciples about the last day.  Then, in Luke 17:36-37, we read:

 

Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.  And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

 

Notice the question that was asked, and the way the Lord answered it.  The Lord had been telling His disciples how one person would be taken and the other left.  The disciples wanted to know where the one taken would go.  As an answer, the Lord told them about eagles gathering where the body is. 

 

Based on the Lord’s answer, you might think that those taken away on the last day will die.  It seems that there will be dead bodies wherever they are taken.  However, from other verses in the Bible we know that the ones taken are actually those who have been saved: they will be taken up in the rapture.  It is those who are left behind that die when they are annihilated with everything else.  This truth actually helps us understand the references to the feast of tabernacles in Zechariah 14.  Verse 19 is the last of the three references:

 

This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.

 

This verse reveals that the unsaved aren’t keeping the feast of tabernacles after the last day.  However, it’s not because they are rebelling against the Lord.  It’s because they aren’t there!

 

 

This Picture Completes Our Understanding

 

When we consider how the feast of tabernacles is pictured in the book of Zechariah, we can gain new insight into the Biblical timeline.  Since May 21, 2011, many people have questioned the timeline and begun to doubt its accuracy.    The reason for this is not only because May 21, 2011 passed uneventfully.  It’s also because October 21, 2011 passed uneventfully.  That was believed to be the last day of the feast of tabernacles, and it was believed to be the very end of the timeline.

 

Many numerical patterns, generated from time intervals between key dates in the timeline, pointed to 2011 as the year of supreme importance in God’s salvation plan.  Consequently, it was widely believed that the Bible pointed to the Lord’s return in that year.  However, when we reconsider some of the verses leading to that conclusion, we find that the Bible does not give us time information about the date of the Lord’s return.  In fact, in many verses (such as Matthew 25:13) the Lord Jesus clearly told His disciples that they would not know the date. 

 

We also see this truth supported in Revelation 10:4:

 

And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

 

There, the Lord tells us that something concerning end-times will not be revealed.  It is something that the Seven Thunders uttered, and it concerns the end of time (see Revelation 10:5-6).  Throughout the Christian era, no question has been of more importance than that concerning the date of the Lord’s return.  In view of Revelation 10:4, no one should continue insisting that we will know that date.

 

Yet the Bible really did point to 2011.  The reason of course is that God ended any possibility of salvation last year.  If you still doubt this, consider the verses that tell about the sun being darkened.  We read about that in Joel 3:15, Isaiah 13:10, Mark 13:24 and other verses. 

 

Why would the Lord emphasize the end of salvation if it continued until the last minute?  Obviously, He won’t be saving anyone when He is about to command the resurrection to start; but the Bible tells us to seek the Lord while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6).  In this and in other ways, God shows us that salvation has already ended before the last day – the day on which the Lord returns.

 

Perhaps the best known verse concerning the end of salvation is Matthew 24:29:

 

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:  

 

This verse tells us that salvation ends right after the great tribulation.  Now read the next verse, Matthew 24:30:

 

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

 

Because of the words “And then,” many expected the Lord’s return to follow immediately after salvation had ended; so there was great certainty among many that the Lord would return on May 21, 2011.  However, we need to be careful when we see the word “then” in the Bible. 

 

Sometimes, it can refer to the time that was previously mentioned.  That’s how it was understood last year; and so it was believed that Matthew 24:30 was teaching that the Lord’s return would follow as soon as salvation had ended.  However, the word “then” can also indicate the passage of time, so that there is a period after the time that was previously mentioned.  This period continues until the next event.  For example, in Matthew 26:14-15, we read:

 

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,  And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.   

 

Notice the word “then” in verse 14.  These verses are telling us what Judas did after the Lord was anointed with “very precious ointment” (Matthew 26:6-13).  We don’t have any reason to believe that Judas went out the door as soon as that happened, and ran to the chief priests.  Rather, it’s clear that he went to them sometime afterwards; but we don’t know how much time passed until he went.   

 

The Greek word translated as “then” in Matthew 26:14 is “tote” (Strong’s number G5119), the same word used for “then” in Matthew 24:30.  So we have good support for our understanding that the Lord’s return doesn’t occur immediately after salvation has ended.  Rather than dismiss the timeline, we can now see where we misunderstood it.  The appearance of the feast of tabernacles in the book of Zechariah greatly helps to clarify the situation for us. 

 

 

Conclusion

 

God revealed a great deal of new information over the last few years.   Much of it concerns time.  We now know, for example, that the six days of creation took place in the year 11,013 BC.  This is precious knowledge.  Sadly, so many people in Christian churches today have rejected it.  They believe that the earth is billions of years old – although they see the hand of God guiding evolution.  These dear people might not be quite so deceived as atheists or agnostics.  Nevertheless, they are deceived. 

 

We also know that God indicated He would reveal new information near the end of time, so that “the wise” (Daniel 12:9-10) would understand.  In fulfillment of this, God allowed us to know the date by which He would end salvation.  This was necessary in order for His people to warn the world about it. 

 

We should not insist that more information about God’s timing must be revealed.  God has already given us what was needed, just as He indicated He would.   The Bible showed that there would be new information coming about end-times, but it does not tell us that we will know the date of the Lord’s return.  In fact, it indicates the opposite – that we will not know it.

 

Related to this misunderstanding of the timeline is the belief that we will see the feast of tabernacles fulfilled by the Lord’s return on a date that God will reveal to us, because it is the only annual feast that has not yet been fulfilled.   We have seen that all the other annual feasts have been fulfilled on dates that we know; and so this thinking carries over to the feast of tabernacles.   

 

The annual feasts do show us a picture of God’s salvation plan; but there is no reason to insist that the last of the annual feasts, the feast of tabernacles, must be fulfilled here on earth.  The book of Zechariah helps us to understand the situation.  So we can now return to the original question: why does this book of the Bible emphasize the feast of tabernacles?  God’s reason appears to be that the book of Zechariah shows us how the feast of tabernacles will be fulfilled.  It will complete the salvation plan, but it won’t be fulfilled according to the calendar in a predictable way.  It will be fulfilled in eternity.

 

 

Ten Virgins, Two Shut Doors

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If you go to Matthew 25 in your Bible, you will find something amazing.  It’s a parable known as “The Ten Virgins,” and it should be amazing to all who believed last year’s warnings about May 21, 2011.  That’s because this parable so well describes the situation that day and afterwards.

 

People all around the world heard the Judgment Day, May 21 warnings.  Many believed there would be great physical signs that day.  Many Christians expected the Rapture and resurrection to occur then.  It was supposed to be the date for the Lord’s return – guaranteed by the Bible.

 

Since last year, several other dates have been proposed for the Lord’s return.  However, none of those other dates was publicized nearly so much or accepted by nearly so many people as last year’s May 21.  The warning about May 21, 2011 was a worldwide phenomenon.  It’s important to keep this in mind as you read the parable of The Ten Virgins.

 

 

The Parable

 

Here is the complete parable, from Matthew 25:1-13 (King James Version):

 

1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

 

 

The Time Setting

 

As we see in these verses, it’s a parable about ten virgins.  Immediately we should ask ourselves why the parable concerns virgins.  When we search the Bible, we find that the word “virgins” (Strong’s number G3933) can refer to those who have become saved (for example, see Revelation 14:4).  However, when we read this parable we soon learn that half the virgins were not saved; so as a group these ten virgins do not represent the elect.  Instead, they must represent people who are identified with God’s kingdom – regardless of whether or not they are actually saved.

 

All ten of the virgins took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom.  Who is the bridegroom?  The Lord Jesus compared Himself to a bridegroom in Mark 2:18-19:

 

And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?  And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

 

Also, the Lord compared His return at the end of the world to the arrival of a bridegroom returning after his wedding, as in Luke 12:35-36:

 

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;  And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.  

 

Therefore, we see that the parable of the ten virgins is actually showing us a picture of those identified as God’s people at some time near the end of the world.  They are expecting the return of the Lord Jesus.

 

 

They Went Forth to Meet the Bridegroom

 

Verse 1 tells us that the virgins went forth to meet the bridegroom.  Perhaps you’ve read this verse many times without thinking about it.  If you go to meet someone, it’s because you expect that person to arrive at a particular time.  In only a few words, the parable is telling us that the virgins were expecting the bridegroom’s immediate return – that’s why they went to meet him.

 

In verse 1, we also learn that they took their lamps with them when they went to meet the bridegroom.  Continuing with the parable, we read that five virgins were wise, and five were foolish.  The wise ones “took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”  The foolish ones, however, “took no oil with them.”  What is the significance of the oil?  The Greek word (G1637, “elaion”) translated as “oil” in Matthew 25:3 and 4 is the same word translated as “oil” in Mark 6:13:

 

And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them. 

 

Mark 6:13 is actually a little parable in itself.  It’s telling us that the apostles (Mark 6:7) anointed the sick with oil and healed them.  This is a picture of people who have not yet been saved (that is, they are “sick”) hearing the word of God and being saved when God’s Holy Spirit (the “oil”) is present to save them.   So when we read that the wise virgins took oil with them, we know that they were saved.  The foolish virgins, however, took no oil with them; in other words, they were not saved.

 

All ten virgins had lamps: they appeared to be God’s people.  The world knows them as Christians.  However, only five of them were truly God’s children.

 

 

The Bridegroom Tarried

 

Verse 5 states:

 

While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 

 

The virgins went to meet the bridegroom, but what happened?  He tarried, or delayed his coming.  The delay pictured in this parable is apparently not brief, for we read that the virgins “all slumbered and slept.”  They settled down to relax while they waited for the bridegroom, and then they fell asleep.

 

Beginning with verse 6, the parable deals with the arrival of the bridegroom.  However, before continuing with the parable we should consider some key verses about the Lord’s return.

 

 

Like Lightning

 

One of those verses is Matthew 24:27:

 

For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

 

The Lord compared His return to lightning.  A powerful flash of lightning brightens the entire sky, and does it so quickly that it appears to be instantaneous.  It might be a matter of seconds until the sound of thunder reaches someone who is distant from the lightning, but the flash can be seen from one end of the sky to the other as soon as the lightning strikes.

 

The Bible also tells us that for the unsaved the Lord’s return means sudden destruction.  We read that in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3:

 

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.  For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

 

The day of the Lord is the last day (see 2 Peter 3:10), and that’s the day the Lord will return.  Therefore, the above verse implies that there will be no physical signs preceding the Lord’s return.  The world – the unsaved as well as the elect – will be going about their business as usual; everyone will expect a tomorrow that brings more of the same.  Matthew 24:37-39 confirms this:

 

But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,  And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

 

On the day of the Lord’s return, there will be no doubt about what is happening.  His return will happen without any warning, and it will be seen and heard all over the world at the same time.

 

 

The Bridegroom Cometh

 

Returning to the parable, verse 6 states:

 

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

 

What is this cry?  It is the start of events that will happen on the last day.  It is proof –physical evidence – that the last day has arrived.  Compare that verse with 1 Thessalonians 4:16:

 

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 

 

The ten virgins are wide-awake; they have heard the “cry” or “shout.”  Notice that the time setting has changed.  Time has passed since the virgins went forth to meet the bridegroom; but we cannot know how much time.   Now the ten virgins are witnessing the resurrection or something else that will occur on the last day.  They know what is happening.  In verse 7, we read that they all arose and trimmed their lamps:

 

Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

 

It’s interesting to read that they “trimmed their lamps.”  Every other time the Greek word translated as “trimmed” (Strong’s number G2885) is used in the Bible, it’s translated as “adorn” or “garnish” (for example, as in 1 Timothy 2:9: “…that women adorn themselves in modest apparel…).   Perhaps this verse is telling us that the virgins are mentally preparing themselves to meet God.

 

Continuing with the parable, verses 8 and 9 tell us:

 

And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.  But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

 

The foolish virgins are worried they are not saved.  We know this because of the words telling us that their “lamps have gone out.”  They witnessed the resurrection and Rapture; they see no indication that they will be taken up with the others.  Their anguish is much greater than that of other unsaved people, such as those who follow other religions and those who are atheists.

 

As Christians, the foolish virgins knew that the Bible teaches about the Lord’s return; but they thought they were saved and ready to meet Him.  However, instead of the true Gospel they believed a false one.  They thought they could guarantee their own salvation.  These foolish virgins are the same people the Lord Jesus mentioned in Luke 12:47:

 

And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 

 

The foolish virgins now realize they have a false gospel.   They realize they need the “oil” of the Holy Spirit, and they need to be saved.  The wise virgins tell them “go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.”  This is a reference to something we find in the book of Isaiah.  There, God compares the Gospel to something that is offered for sale by merchants.  Isaiah 55:1 states:

 

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 

 

Despite the wise virgins’ advice, it’s too late for the foolish virgins to seek God’s mercy because the time for it has passed.  This is clear from verses 10-12:

 

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.  Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.  But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

 

 

The Door Was Shut

 

When we read that the door was shut, we are reminded of the ark’s door being shut in Genesis 7:16:

 

And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.

 

The great flood was God’s judgment on the world of Noah’s day.  Out of all the people living then, only Noah, Noah’s wife, their sons and their sons’ wives were spared.  Not even one young child came into the ark, which represented God’s salvation.  Once the ark’s door was shut, it was impossible for anyone outside to be saved.  They were condemned to die in the flood.

 

In the flood account, we see a picture of God’s end-time judgment; but we must be very careful in the way we apply its lessons to our own time. The consequences of God shutting the ark’s door are clear; but what about the door in our parable?  Should we conclude the shutting of the door in the parable of the ten virgins is teaching something similar?  Is the parable teaching salvation is possible right up to the moment the door to the marriage feast is shut on the last day?

 

We’ve seen that God often uses objects and people in the Bible to represent ideas associated with His salvation plan.  However, we must be aware that there is no guarantee an object or person will represent the same idea in every situation and whenever we find it in the Bible.  For example, Moses is frequently a picture of the Lord Jesus; but in the verses where we read about his disobedience (Numbers 20:11-12), we know that he is definitely not a picture of the Lord.

 

What about the shutting of the door in the parable of the ten virgins?  That cannot be the moment salvation ended – there is too much Biblical evidence that salvation had already ended before the foolish virgins were shut out of the marriage feast.  The very fact that the virgins went to meet the bridegroom on a particular day tells us that day is associated with God’s judgment.  Then how are we to understand the shutting of the door?  When we read “and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut,” we are reading about the end of the Rapture.  Luke 13:25-28 helps us to understand this:

 

When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:  Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.  But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.  There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.

 

In our parable, when the door is shut so that the foolish virgins cannot enter, it’s the moment they realize there is absolutely no hope for them to be saved.  It is when they see “Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God,” and realize they are “thrust out.”

 

The parable’s final events  – from the time the virgins hear the cry (“Behold, the bridegroom cometh … “) until they hear the final words (“I know you not”)  – all happen quickly.  They portray the Rapture-resurrection, and anguish of unsaved Christians when they finally understand their fate.  They show us a picture of events on the last day of the world.

 

Watch!

 

The final verse is the command associated with this parable.  Matthew 25:13 declares:

 

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

 

This is the parable’s point.  It’s teaching us to always watch, because we won’t know when the Lord will return.

 

Before May 21 in 2011, it was commonly believed that the command to watch meant that God’s people are to search the Bible in order to learn the date of the Lord’s return.  However, all the evidence now indicates we will never know that date.  If you search to understand what is meant by the command to “watch,“ you will find that the Bible guides us to correct understanding.

 

When we check a concordance for the word “watch,” we find that there are several different Hebrew words and several different Greek words translated that way.  In our parable, the word used for watch (Matthew 25:13) is Strong’s number 1127 (gregoreo).  It’s used 23 times in the New Testament, and it’s always translated as “watch,” except for one verse where it’s translated as “be vigilant” and another one where it’s translated as “wake.”

 

The way it’s usually used, it means just what we think when anyone tells us to watch: we should keep our eyes open and notice what is going on around us.  But that doesn’t help us understand what the Lord meant when He told us to watch.  Obviously, He doesn’t expect us to spend our lives sitting around, watching the sky and waiting for His return.

 

There are some verses that can help us understand what it means to watch.  For example, read 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8:

 

Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

 

Notice that the first verse tells us to watch and be sober.  Then in the last verse we find an instruction to those who are “of the day.”  This is an instruction to the elect; and what are they told?  They are told to be sober, “putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”  What about watching?  Does this verse only explain what it means to be sober?

 

God didn’t just skip over the idea of watching here; He’s helping us understand what it means to “watch” by telling us to be sober, and telling us about the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of salvation.

 

Here’s another verse telling us to watch, using the same Greek word found in the parable.  In Colossians 4:2, we read:

 

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

Here we see the idea of watching associated with thanksgiving in prayer.  Finally, let’s look at Revelation 3.  In Revelation 3:2, we find the word “watchful;” and in Revelation 3:3, we find the word “watch.”  In both cases, the original Greek word is “gregoreo”  – the same word used in the parable.  In Revelation 3:2-3, we read:

 

Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.  Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

 

These verses are part of a message from the Lord Jesus to the church in Sardis.  He is telling them to be watchful and to “strengthen the things which remain;” to remember what they have received and heard; and to repent.

 

Based on these examples from 1 Thessalonians, Colossians and Revelation, we can now understand the Lord’s command in Matthew 25:13 to “watch” (“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”).  We can see that watching has nothing to do with searching the Bible to learn the date of the Lord’s return.

 

Instead, watching has to do with examining ourselves to make sure that we are living faithfully.  It has to do with strengthening ourselves through prayer, and taking the “whole armour of God” (Ephesians 6:13-18).  We get the protection of that armor by reading the Bible and praying.  Watching has to do with spiritual growth as God works in our lives and as we pray, give thanks, read the Bible and meditate on God’s word.  God wants us to watch ourselves!

 

 

The Parable Fits the Timeline

 

The parable doesn’t give any clue telling us how long this time of watching will be; but it does help us to understand all that has happened since May last year.  It also shows that key teachings associated with the Judgment Day, May 21, 2011 warnings were correct.

 

Notice the following:

 

First, the ten virgins went forth to meet the bridegroom because they expected him to return at a specific time.  Based on the Biblical timeline about which Mr. Harold Camping and others wrote and taught, May 21, 2011 was to be the date for the Lord’s return.  People all over the world expected the Lord to return that very day.   Like the ten virgins, they “went forth” to meet Him.

 

Second, in the parable the bridegroom tarried: he didn’t arrive when the virgins expected him.  Like the ten virgins, people who expected the Lord’s return on May 21, 2011 have been forced to wait because the Lord is “tarrying.”

 

Third, the parable tells us that the foolish virgins took no oil in their lamps.  From the day they went forth to meet the bridegroom, they were unsaved.  This confirms the teaching that salvation was over by May 21, 2011 – the day people “went forth” to meet the Lord.  Also, notice that the bridegroom came at midnight.  Midnight identifies with spiritual night.  It’s a time when salvation has ended and the light of the Gospel is no longer shining with power to save anyone.

This parable should give tremendous comfort to those who believed the teachings about May 21, 2011, but have now begun to wonder if any of them were true.  It confirms our understanding that God provided end-time information, just as He indicated He would in His word (Daniel 12:10).  It also helps us understand why God’s people remain here, even though salvation has ended.

 

 

Watching and Waiting

 

What is God’s purpose in letting His people remain here if salvation has ended?  There are plenty of examples in the Bible showing that even after God has saved a person, he or she is far from perfect.  Earlier, we saw that watching has to do with spiritual growth; but that process takes time.  Depending on God’s specific purposes for each one of His children, a very short time may be enough.   On the other hand, it might take a lifetime.

 

Based on the Biblical timeline, we know that God saved a great multitude all over the world during the latter rain – the period when He poured out His Holy Spirit, starting in 1994 and continuing until the last day of salvation.  The Bible indicates that this group included people who had little or no exposure to God’s word until very recently (Revelation 7:9).  During this final part of God’s plan for mankind, these people can learn more about God’s word and God can work in their lives.  There are some verses that help us to understand this.

 

In 2 Peter 1:5-7, we read:

 

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;  And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;  And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

 

This verse shows us a picture of spiritual fruits developing in a person’s life over a period of time.  In Hebrews 12, we find another idea that helps us understand why the final group of God’s elect would remain in the world even after salvation has ended.

 

Sadly, human nature is such that God must either allow or cause suffering to come into the life of everyone of His elect.  Hebrews 12 tells us about chastening, and in Hebrews 12:6-7 we read:

 

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?    

 

These verses appear to indicate that chastening occurs after God has saved someone.  Chastening forces a person to rely on God and seek His help in prayer.  It is one way God may use to develop spiritual fruit in a person.  Even after salvation has ended, spiritual gifts are still available to God’s children.  In fact, there is a parable showing us that very thing.

 

 

Another Parable, Another Shut Door

 

In Luke 11, we find a very interesting parable.  It has to do with a man who goes to his friend at midnight to ask for three loaves.  In Luke 11:5-6, we read:

 

And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;  For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?

 

In order to understand this parable, we need to realize that it is telling us something about prayer.  We should suspect this right away because in Luke 11:1, we read that one of the Lord’s disciples asked Him to teach the disciples how to pray.  For His answer (Luke 11:2-4), the Lord Jesus spoke the words that have become among the best known in the Bible:

 

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.  Give us day by day our daily bread.  And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

 

Then, right after this the Lord told them the parable about the man and his friend.   The fact that this parable has to do with three loaves also indicates that it is teaching something about prayer.  (Remember the words “Give us day by day our daily bread” in the verses telling us how to pray).

 

In the parable, a man has gone to his friend’s home at midnight to ask for three loaves for another friend who has come to him “in his journey.”   But the friend who is at home doesn’t immediately provide the loaves.  In fact, at first it appears that the man won’t get the loaves because of the way his friend seems to answer.   In Luke 11:7 we read:

 

And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.    

 

This verse is telling us that salvation has ended!  Remember, the man went to his friend at midnight.  That means it’s a time of spiritual nighttime.  The sun has darkened so that the Gospel is no longer able to save anyone (Matthew 24:29).  Also, the friend says that his children are with him in bed and the door is shut.

 

In this case, the shut door does indeed mean that salvation is over.  This door is like the door to the ark in Genesis 7 after God has shut it.  And notice what we read about the man’s children.  Just as the fictional Lazarus was in Abraham’s bosom after death (Luke 16:23), the children of this man’s friend are with him in bed.  The parable is definitely telling us about the period of time after salvation ends.

 

The friend’s answer from within indicates that the man will not get the loaves he requested.  However, in the very next verse of the parable we find that the man will get what he wants.  Luke 11:8 tells us:

 

I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

 

What is going on here with the loaves?  We can see that the loaves do not represent salvation.  Notice that the man asked for three loaves; but salvation cannot have a quantity associated with it.  It’s an amazing work of God in which He gives someone a new, resurrected soul.  No number can represent salvation, and you can’t say that if you get as many as need then you’ll have it.   Therefore, the loaves cannot represent salvation; but they can represent increasing fruits of the spirit and nourishment provided by God’s word.

 

In Luke 11:9-10, the Lord Jesus begins to explain the parable:

 

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

 

We must be careful not to misunderstand the words “every one.”  These verses cannot be teaching that just by asking God for salvation, anyone will receive it.   The “every one” here means God’s children.  We see that in Luke 11:11-13, which speak of a father’s relationship with his son:

 

If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?  Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? 

 

The promise of the Holy Spirit in the last verse is not a promise of salvation; it is a promise that the Lord will give “good gifts” to His children – those whom He has already saved.  Some statements the Lord Jesus made to His disciples support this way of understanding the promise of the Holy Spirit.

 

For instance, recall that at the Passover supper the Lord washed the feet of His disciples.  In John 13:10-11, we read:

 

Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.   For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

 

According to these verses, except for Judas all the disciples there that evening were clean; that is, they were saved (also, see John 15:3).  Yet they had to wait for the Holy Spirit, as we read in Acts 1:4-5:

 

And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.   For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

 

About a week and a half later, the disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.  That was the beginning of the Church Age, and from that day the disciples were equipped to carry out their mission to spread the Gospel.

 

Summary

 

Once we realize that God has promised to give His Holy Spirit to the elect even after “the door” of salvation has been shut, we can understand how all of these ideas fit together.  The parable of the ten virgins is in agreement with the parable of the man asking for the loaves, although the two parables are teaching different things.

 

In the parable of the ten virgins, the shutting of the door signifies the moment when the unsaved Christians realize they will not be caught up to be with the Lord.  The point of that parable is that the elect should always be watching – and we saw that watching has to do with spiritual growth.

 

On the other hand, in the parable of the man asking for the loaves, the shut door shows us the parable’s time setting: it happens after salvation has ended.  Therefore, this parable is showing us that God’s elect remain here even after salvation has ended!

 

There’s another important lesson in the parable of the man and the loaves.  God is showing us that we can go to Him in prayer any time, right up to the last day.  God is the “friend” who is at home behind the shut door.  John 15:15 illustrates that:

 

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

 

God’s children can go to Him in prayer for themselves and for others too.  Remember, the man who was asking for the three loaves needed them to set before his own friend who had come “in his journey.”

 

Although the parable of the ten virgins only mentions one door, there are actually two doors in view there.  The first door, the one to salvation, was already shut when the virgins went forth to meet the bridegroom.  There was no possibility that the five foolish virgins could be saved after that time.  Neither was there any danger that the five wise virgins could lose their salvation, even though they weren’t watching when the Lord returned.

 

If God has saved you, then you will be allowed into the marriage feast (Matthew 25:10) whether or not you have been “watching.”  On the other hand – if God has truly saved you – then you will want to be watching.   We can do that by reading and meditating on God’s words, thanking Him for blessings, and remembering others in our prayers.

 

 

Date of Judgment Day – Confirmed!

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Undoubtedly many people remember that last year, around this time, they were hearing that God’s Judgment Day was about to come.   There were billboards throughout the world announcing it; and if you did any regular travelling in or near a city, you were most likely offered a tract about Judgment Day – possibly many times.  The date announced as Judgment Day was May 21, 2011.  As you know, May 21 came and went just as any other day.  There was nothing spectacular about it, and the world is still going on the same as ever.  Does this mean that the effort to warn the world about Judgment Day was all a big mistake?  There’s no doubt that there was a misunderstanding about the nature of that day, because there was no great earthquake or any other type of physical sign.  However, there is more to this than meets the eye. 


You may remember reading or hearing a Bible verse about the Genesis Flood given as proof that Judgment Day would begin on May 21 of 2011.  The verse has to do with the fact that last May 21 was the 17th day of the second month in the Hebrew calendar.  Jews the world over use that calendar, although it doesn’t follow exactly the same rules as the lunar calendar God instructed ancient Israel to use after they left Egypt (see Exodus 12:1-2).  Why is it important that last May 21 was identified with the 17th day of the second month in the modern Hebrew calendar?


When we read about the great Flood of Noah’s day in the book of Genesis, we find that it began on the 17th day of the second month according to the calendar in use at that time (in 4990 BC).  God calls our attention to that date, as we learn from Genesis 7:11:


In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. 


In the Flood, God destroyed all mankind with the exception of Noah and his family.  Only eight people out of the whole world survived.   Aside from the last day of the world, when God will destroy all the unsaved on earth as well as the earth itself, the Flood is the only other occasion when God brought physical judgment on the whole world. 


It’s important to realize that the verses about the Flood weren’t used to determine that last May 21 was a key date in the sequence of dates discovered by Family Radio’s Mr. Harold Camping.  Rather, the Flood’s connection to May 21 was discovered only after Mr. Camping had calculated that date.


When we read about the Flood, we are reading about an historical event; but that account can also be understood as a picture or parable of God’s Judgment.  We know from the Bible that God uses such pictures to instruct us about past and future events.  Therefore, the fact that the flood began on the 17th day of the second month was understood to be an important confirmation for May 21 as the beginning of Judgment Day.  


You might not know it, but the book of Esther is also an historical parable about the end of the world.  This was known several years before 2011; it was written about and discussed on many occasions by various Bible teachers heard over Family Radio.  Collectively, they have spent many hours looking into this book of the Bible during the last few years.  We may, therefore, think it’s amazing that we can still learn something new from Esther; but that is apparently what has happened.


Something New from the Book of Esther


If you’ve ever read the book of Esther, you might not have paid much attention to the dates recorded there.  Those dates, however, are very important.  The new information has everything to do with those dates.


God has shown us that we can understand His word, which is the Bible, only if and when He opens it up to our understanding; so we really shouldn’t be surprised when we learn something new from the Bible – even if it’s something that was right there in front of us all the time, like those dates from the book of Esther. 


What has been learned from Esther proves that we have correctly understood a major date in the discovered timeline of events in God’s salvation plan.  More proofs may yet be discovered as people continue searching the Bible; but this new confirmation is really special.  It is the sort of thing that should make us suspect that God has waited until now to reveal it so that He could encourage His people.


A Wicked Prince, an Evil Plot, and a Courageous Queen


In order to understand what has been learned, some background information about the book of Esther is needed.  The time setting for Esther is about two hundred years after the fall of Jerusalem, during the time of the Media-Persian kingdom.  Most of the events we read about in this book take place in and around the palace at Shushan.   


In the book, we read about a wicked prince named Haman.  The king has promoted Haman above all the other princes (Esther 3:1), and now Haman expects all the king’s servants to bow before him (Esther 3:2).  However, a man named Mordecai, who is a Jew, refuses to bow before Haman.  We read of Haman’s reaction to this in Esther 3:5:


And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. 


Haman decides not only to punish Mordecai, but also to destroy all the Jews throughout the kingdom (Esther 3:6).  The date for their destruction is determined by casting a lot (Esther 3:7).  Haman then speaks to the king, making the case that the Jews ought not to be permitted to remain in the kingdom (Esther 3:8-9) and should be destroyed.   The king agrees to allow Haman to determine what should be done about the Jews (Esther 3:10-11).   Haman then has the king’s scribes write a decree for the destruction of the Jews, and has it sent throughout the kingdom (Esther 3:12-15).   Notice that this happens on the thirteenth day of the first month.


Mordecai learns about the decree, puts on sackcloth and publicly displays his grief throughout the city, even near the palace (Esther 4:1-2).  Esther, who is queen, learns what Mordecai is doing and is grieved exceedingly.   In fact, Esther is Mordecai’s younger cousin and was raised by Mordecai (Esther 2:7).  Her Jewish ancestry, however, is unknown at the court (Esther 2:20).  To Esther, Mordecai must have seemed more like a father than a good cousin.  


Esther sends “raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him” (Esther 4:4).  Mordecai doesn’t accept the clothing, and so she sends one of the king’s chamberlains to speak with Mordecai (Esther 4:5).  Mordecai tells the chamberlain about the decree and gives him a copy of it, saying that Esther should go to the king and make a supplication for her people (Esther 4:7-8).  


The king’s chamberlain tells Queen Esther what Mordecai has said.  She then sends another message to Mordecai, telling him that if she goes into the inner court to see the king without being called, she will lose her life unless the king holds out the golden scepter to her (Esther 4:9-11).  Her message includes the detail that she has not been called to come in unto the king “these thirty days.”


In Esther 4:13-14, you can read Mordecai’s response to this message.  He tells her not to think that she will escape, being in the king’s house; and that, if she doesn’t speak, help will come from another place.  He ends his message to her by saying “and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”


Esther sends her reply to Mordecai, asking him to gather all the Jews present in Shushan and to fast for her for three days.  She says “and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish (Esther 4:16).”


After the time of fasting, Esther goes to see the king and finds favor in his sight (Esther 5:1-3).  Her petition to the king is that he and Haman should come to a banquet she has had prepared for that day (Esther 5:4).  At the banquet, the king asks Esther what her petition is.  Curiously, Esther asks the king to come with Haman the following day to another banquet that she will prepare for them (Esther 5:6-8).


When Haman comes home after the first banquet (Esther 5:10), he tells his friends and his wife how he is being honored by Esther’s invitations (Esther 5:11-12).  Nevertheless, he is upset at the sight of Mordecai (Esther 5:13).  His friends and his wife advise him to have a great gallows prepared, and to speak to the king the following day so that Mordecai can be hanged on it (Esther 5:14).  Haman is pleased by this advice, and has the gallows built.


That night, the king cannot sleep.  He orders a certain book of records to be brought and read before him (Esther 6:1).  During the reading, the king hears the record of a plot that had been made against him.  It had been discovered and reported by Mordecai (Esther 6:2).  The king learns that nothing has been done to honor Mordecai for his service (Esther 6:3).


At that same time, Haman has come to the court to speak with the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows (Esther 6:4-5).  Before Haman has an opportunity, the king – intending to honor Mordecai for his past service – asks Haman what shall be done for a man whom the king takes delight in honoring (Esther 6:6). 


Haman advises the king to have the man dressed in the king’s royal apparel, and a crown set on his head, and led through the city on the king’s own horse by one of the king’s most noble princes as it is proclaimed before him “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour” (Esther 6:7-9).   The king then commands Haman to do all those things to honor Mordecai, the Jew (Esther 6:10).


Haman manages to carry out the king’s command (Esther 6:11); but in Esther 6:12, we read about his state afterwards:


And Mordecai came again to the king’s gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered. 


Haman tells his wife and his friends what has happened, and while they are yet talking the king’s chamberlains arrive to quickly bring Haman to the banquet Esther had prepared (Esther 6:14).


At the banquet, the king again asks Esther what her petition is.  He tells her it will be granted to her, even to half of the kingdom (Esther 7:2).  Esther then tells the king that her petition is for her life and the lives of her people (Esther 7:3).   She tells the king “For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish” (Esther 7:4).


The king asks Esther “Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?”  In Esther 7:6, we read Esther’s answer:


And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen. 


The king, in anger, gets up and goes out into the palace garden (Esther 7:7).  Haman realizes that his life is in jeopardy and goes over to where Esther is reclining, even falling over her to ask for his life.  The king returns to see what he believes is Haman assaulting Queen Esther.  One of the king’s chamberlains points out to the king the great gallows that Haman had built for Mordecai’s execution, and the king orders Haman to be hanged on it (Esther 7:8-10).  


The New Proof


We are now ready to examine the new information by reviewing only a few verses.  Recall that the decree ordering the Jews to be destroyed was written by the king’s scribes on the 13th day of the first month (Esther 3:12).  The decree would have had a date on it.  Regardless of which calendar was used in the kingdom at that time, the date would have been the 13th day of the first month according to the Hebrew calendar of that day (the ancient Hebrew calendar differs from the modern one).


Next, we know that Esther told Mordecai she hadn’t been called to see the king “these thirty days” (Esther 4:11).   Esther knew about the decree (Esther 4:8) because Mordecai had given a copy of it to the messenger to be given to her; besides, Esther in all likelihood had heard about the decree even sooner than that because she was queen!  It is perfectly reasonable for us to understand her words “these thirty days” to mean that the date was now the same day of the month following the one on which the decree was issued.


The next thing we need to notice is in Esther 4:16.   Esther’s message to Mordecai, recorded in that verse, is that he and the other Jews of Shushan should fast for her for three days.  This was in the hope that the Lord would preserve her life and bless her effort to save the Jews when she appeared before the king.   After three days of fasting that began on the 14th day of the second month, the date would be day 16 in the second month. 


It was on that 16th day in the second month that Esther went to speak to the king (Esther 5:1-3).  She asks him to come with Haman to a banquet that day.  The king agrees to this (Esther 5:5).


At that banquet on the 16th day of the second month, the king asks Esther what her petition is.  She asks the king to come to another banquet – again with Haman – on the following day, and she tells the king she will make her request then. 


Early the next day, being the 17th day of the second month, the king orders Haman to honor Mordecai for a past service.  (Mordecai once learned of a plot against the king (Esther 2:21-23) and revealed it, possibly saving the king’s life.)  Ironically, Haman has just gone to the king to ask permission to have Mordecai hanged.  Haman never has an opportunity to ask the king about this, because the king orders Haman to take charge of honoring Mordecai.


It is at the second banquet, held later that day and still on the 17th day of the second month, that Esther accuses Haman and the king orders him to be executed.  Notice that the king’s chamberlain was able to see the gallows Haman had prepared some distance away, thus indicating that the sun had not yet gone down and that it was still the 17th day.  


Based on what we read in Esther 8, we can conclude that Haman was executed that same day: the 17th day of the second month.  Here is a summary of dated events leading up to and ending on that day.


Timeline Leading to the 17th Day of the Second Month

 

The decree to kill the Jews is written (Esther 3:12):

 

First month, day 13

                                               

Esther’s message to Mordecai that she hasn’t seen the king for 30 days since the decree (Esther 4:11); Esther asks Mordecai to fast with the Jews of Shushan for three days (Esther 4:16):

 

Second month, day 13

 

Esther goes to see the king (Esther 5:1) and asks him to come to her banquet with Haman that day (Esther 5:4).  At the banquet, she asks the king to come to her banquet the next day, again with Haman (Esther 5:8):

 

Second month, day 16

 

Mordecai is honored; Haman is executed (Esther 7:10): 

 

Second month, day 17

 

That’s the 17th day of the second month – the same date we find in Genesis 7:11! 


What Does It All Mean?


To fully appreciate this new information, we need to remember that Moses recorded the book of Genesis, with its account of Noah’s flood, long before the book of Esther was recorded.  We know from the book of Exodus and from Mr. Harold Camping’s work that the children of Israel left Egypt in 1447 BC.  Both books – Genesis and Exodus – are dated from that time. 


The final events in the book of Esther, on the other hand, have been dated to 391 BC.  Mordecai may have been the man who recorded that book somewhere around that time.  Over 1,000 years after telling Moses about the 17th day of the second month (as recorded in Genesis 7:11), God inspired the writer of Esther to record events just as it was done so that we would again find that date in God’s word. 


We must realize that the importance is much greater than just finding that date in the book of Esther.  When we read about Mordecai being honored on the 17th day of the second month, we are seeing a picture of something important: it’s a fulfillment of a stage in God’s salvation plan.  In Esther 6:7-11, we read how the king honored Mordecai.  Notice especially the crown in Esther 6:8:  


Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: 


The Hebrew word translated as “crown” in this verse is “kether,” Strong’s number H3804.  Besides this verse, it’s only used in two other verses in the whole Bible: in Esther 1:11 and in Esther 2:17. 


The first time it appears in the book of Esther, it is the word used for the crown placed on Queen Vashti.  In Esther 1, we learn that Vashti was queen before Esther became queen.  However, Vashti refused to come when the king summoned her (Esther 1:12); and so the king decided to choose another queen (Esther 2:4).


In Esther 2:17, we read that Esther was made queen and that the king “set the royal crown upon her head.”  Here again we see that Hebrew word “kether;” this time it’s used for Esther’s royal crown.   The third and final time that word appears, it’s used for the crown set on Mordecai’s head.  What might God be showing us in these verses?


When we compare these verses with some others in Esther, we get a glimpse of God’s salvation plan.  First, notice that the king made Esther a “great feast” when she was crowned queen (Esther 2:18).  Although we don’t read about a feast to celebrate Vashti on the occasion when she became queen, there should have been a great feast for her too.  We then read about a conspiracy against the king by two of the king’s chamberlains who were his doorkeepers (Esther 2:21).  This conspiracy apparently developed about the time Esther became queen (notice the words “in those days” in Esther 2:21).


After the conspiracy is discovered, we read about Haman’s promotion (Esther 3:1), and then later we see Mordecai in sackcloth and ashes (Esther 4:1) when he discovers the plan to destroy the Jews.


All of these events fit our understanding of God’s salvation plan and give us a glimpse of it.  First, we know that God had chosen ancient Israel to be His people.  God saved some of them, and for a time they were the external representation of His kingdom.  Then, He moved to the next stage of His salvation plan – the Church Age.  Notice how Vashti and Esther fit into this picture.   Vashti represents ancient Israel and Esther represents the body of believers saved during the Church Age.  The Church Age began on Pentecost Day after the resurrection and ended in 1988, based on the same analysis that led to the discovery of last May 21 as a key date.


Soon after Esther wears the crown, we read about the conspiracy by the two doorkeepers.  This appears to correspond with the end of the Church Age.  We then read about Haman’s promotion.  You might remember hearing that God allowed Satan to begin ruling in the local congregations when the Church Age was over. 


When Haman’s decree is made known, we read about Mordecai crying in sackcloth and ashes.  This appears to be a picture of God’s people in mourning before May 21, when they saw the end of salvation approaching.  We know that only a short time later, Haman was humiliated when he was commanded to lead Mordecai through the streets.  Mordecai wore the royal apparel and the royal crown that day – the 17th day of the second month.


Just as Vashti appears to represent the body of believers saved out of ancient Israel until God ended that relationship, and Esther to represent those saved during the Church Age, Mordecai – as he is honored and as he wears the crown – appears to be a picture of the last group of believers to be saved.   


Elsewhere in the book of Esther, Mordecai appears to be a picture of the Lord Jesus or the Holy Spirit; but when Mordecai wears the same crown that Vashti and Esther wore, he appears to represent those people God saved outside of the local congregations from the time the Church Age ended until Judgment Day began.   This certainly agrees with our understanding that May 21 marked the end of salvation.


That date also marked the execution of a man who represents Satan.  The Bible shows us that God will judge Satan near the end of time, although Satan won’t be destroyed until the world ends.   In Daniel 7:11-12, we read about God’s judgment of Satan:


I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.  As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.  


The book of Esther confirms that there is a delay between the time God judges Satan and then destroys him, as indicated in the above verses.  It does so by telling us that Haman’s ten sons are executed several months after Haman’s execution (Esther 9:1 and 9:10).


Also notice that in Daniel 7:13-14, we find that God’s judgment of Satan happens at the end of the world.  This too agrees with our understanding that the book of Esther’s final chapter shows us a picture of God’s judgment against all the unsaved on the last day.


I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.  And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. 


 The story of Esther is well known to Jews today.  It culminates with a great victory by the Jews over those who plotted to destroy them.  It is this book of the Bible that established the days of Purim (occurring this year around the end of the first week of March), celebrated every year by Jews all over the world.  We read about these days in Esther 9:28:


And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed. 


The book of Esther is probably less well known among Christians than most Old Testament books.  Perhaps it’s because God’s name is not mentioned in it.  There is no mention of prayer or dependence upon God in the book, and Esther is never quoted or mentioned in the New Testament.  However, the book of Esther is the Word of God – just like the other 65 books of the Bible.   Therefore, it is worth reading with a prayerful request that God may reveal any other spiritual lessons it may contain.


The new information from the book of Esther should be a big encouragement to anyone who sacrificed or suffered persecution in order to warn the world about Judgment Day coming on May 21.  Some of these people are undoubtedly wondering if they made a mistake by being involved in that effort, despite the proofs about May 21 that were known back then.  This new information is another wonderful proof that God did indeed guide His people to that date and that He wanted them to warn the world about it.


Related Stories:

 

 Countdown to Judgment


May 21, 2011: Judgment Day!


Harold Camping: False Prophet or Herald of God?


It is Finished: God’s Final Warning


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part I


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part II


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part III


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part IV


Judgment Day: Less than One-Half Year Away


A Word of Warning


Signs of the Times


May 21, 2011: Judgment Day Scenario Unfolds


The Great Anticipation


The Great Disappointment II

  

October 21, 2011: End of the World!!!


October 21, 2011 – The First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Not the Last!

  

Genesis Chapter 8: Could December 28, 2011 Be the End?

  

The World Will End on December 28, 2011: The Proofs

  

December 28, 2011 – The End: New Revelations 

  

Assembling the Timeline of History – Part IV

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Daniel the prophet experienced visions of what would take place as this creation was nearing it’s end.  But Daniel was told by God to “Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:9).  Notice that the wording is not “till the end of time,” as in lasting for eternity.  Rather, this information was to be revealed to us as the last period of our existence was unfolding.  In the final prophetic book of the Holy Bible, Revelation, chapter 6 paints a picture of Christ removing the seals and disclosing what we are to know.  Chapter 8:1 reads, “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.”  As indicated in Part III, this half hour can be understood to be the first half of the great tribulation.  And recall that we identified this time period as beginning simultaneously as the church age ended, on May 21, 1988.  We can conclude, therefore, that it would have been impossible for anyone, including those in the churches, to accurately comprehend our end time situation before 1988.


Parts I, II, and III journeyed through the timeline documentation of the Bible, with everything eventually fitting together like a puzzle.  But could there be an error somewhere?  How could we be absolutely certain that this critical message is correct for the 7 billion people on the planet?  Wonderfully, God has given us many additional proofs, so that those who are watching (studying the Bible), can be sure that all of this is indeed accurate.


Every word in the Bible has been carefully placed there by God’s direction, though all of it has been written down by men and women.  Jeremiah 36:2-4 is a great example of the prophet Jeremiah receiving a message directly from God that would finally be part of the Bible: “Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee…Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book.”  Numbers are words also, and the Bible is full of numerical sizes, quantities, times, etc.  However, when we search very vigilantly, we notice that some numbers come up over and over again concerning a particular spiritual subject.  We can then identify a number as possibly being a sign that we are on a path toward spiritual truth, depending on the context.  Some of these number associations are as follows:  2, a figure of those bringing the gospel in whatever circumstance is being discussed; 3, a number found frequently in the Bible near the time of the cross can symbolize God’s purpose; 5 can focus on the atonement, when Jesus Christ paid for the sins of those he had planned to save by suffering and dying; 7 points toward perfection or perfect fulfillment of something; 10 or multiples of 10 refer to the completeness of what is in view; 13 is repeated in discussing the end of the world; 17 often relates to heaven itself; 23 is found many times in the Bible as an identifier of God’s wrath or judgment; 40 is placed in the Bible from time to time to stand for a period of testing; and as in number 23, the numbers 37 and 43 also reflect God’s anger or judgment upon mankind.


Additionally, God has given us various examples of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division in the Bible, giving us license to study his word employing these techniques.  Furthermore, we are told in II Timothy 2:15 to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  Truth is usually hidden in parabolic language, and we are to break down and compare the gospel message word by word.  Often the various larger numbers can be reduced to their factors to supply proofs and shed spiritual insight as well.  For example, as we mentioned in Part III of this discussion, the 153 fish in John 21:11 caught in the net and pulled safely to shore were a representation of all those who will be with God in heaven during the 153-day day of judgment.  153 breaks down into 3x3x17.  3 is God’s purpose, and 17 reflects those in heaven.  Genesis 41:32 states a clear principle for the doubling of things in the Bible, as in the repetition of the number 3 in this case.  “And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.”  The spiritual meaning of 153 in this case, then, is:  God’s established purpose (3×3) is all God’s chosen (the fish) will be in heaven (17) during this time (153 days).


As we stand on the very end of the timeline, we have the unique historical perspective of looking back over all of the previous events and comparing their intervals and durations.  It’s as if God is allowing us to see His layout of the progression of our time as He would have planned it before earth’s formation even occurred.  Creation in 11,013 BC to the great flood in 4990 BC spans 6000+23 years.  From the flood to the death of Christ on the cross in 33 AD covers 5000+23 years (inclusively).  And from creation until the end of time in 2011 is 13,000+23 years!  Breaking all this down, 6 refers to the 6 days of creation, 5 identifies with the coming atonement, and 13 points to the end of the world.  They are all over the completeness (1000) of their period of time, and all end in judgment (23), giving us more assurance that we have an accurate timeline.


Looking at the number of years between many of the other important dates in the Bible, we can also see spiritual significance, as these numbers divide to tell a story.  In Part III, we discovered that the duration between tribulations was in multiples of 1290 years.  1290 breaks down into 3x10x43, symbolizing that God’s purpose (3) through the completeness of this time (10) would end in judgment (43).  From the time when Christ died on the cross in 33 AD until the day of judgment in 2011 is 1978 years, or 2x23x43, meaning those bringing the gospel throughout this period (2) would end up facing God’s wrath (23) and judgment (43).


The precision of the length of some eras is also worth mentioning.  Israel’s exile in Egypt is described in Exodus 12:41, “And it came to pass at the end of the 430 years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.”  Israel then wandered in the wilderness for 40 years to the day.  Recall in Part III that the church age lasted exactly 1955 years from Pentecost on May 22, 33 AD to the day before Pentecost, May 21 1988.  The 8400 day great tribulation is exactly 23 years, and the 153-day day of judgment is exactly 5 months long (May 21, 2011 to October 21, 2011).


The length of the various periods or eras themselves also show spiritual significance, supplying further evidence of the accuracy of earth’s calendar of events.  The 430 years in Egypt is 10×43, a time ending unexpectedly in God’s complete (10) judgment (43).  Israel was a nation for 1480 years, or 40×37, a period of testing (40) ending in God’s wrath (37).  Also, National Israel had 3 kings representing Biblical time, then split apart, with each nation led by 20 additional kings through this era.  Both divisions had a total of 23 each, and the complete total was 43, and so both numbers are telling us that they would experience God’s anger and destruction.  The church age lasted for 1955 years, or 5x17x23.  This is very convincing, as the atonement on the cross in 33 AD (5) would bring heaven for those he had planned to save (17) and judgment for everyone else (23).  One more example is the 8400 day great tribulation, which can be reduced to 3x7x10x40.  We could read this as God’s purpose (3) is the perfect (7) completion (10) of His testing program (40).


As if all this evidence wasn’t enough, there were two more proofs that really locked in the accuracy of the timeline work.  These were discovered after the decades of research declared the conclusions summarized thus far, including the end dates.  The first involves a series of verses in II Peter Chapter 3, “Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.  But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”  The Bible goes on to talk about the final destruction of the universe by fire.  Here God is making a connection between the great flood and the day of judgment, and stressing the importance of comparing a day to a thousand years.  When we review what happened in Noah’s day, we read that he was given a 7 day warning that the flood waters were coming.  If we substitute a thousand years for each of Noah’s warning days, we end up with a 7,000 year warning.  Noah’s flood occurred in 4990 BC, and 7000 years later is 2011, the last year of our universe! (Remember to subtract one year in going from BC to AD as there is no year zero.)  The warning to the people of Noah’s day is also a warning to everyone on earth today.  Genesis 7:11 states that the flood began on the 17th day of the 2nd month of the Biblical calendar of Noah’s day.  In checking the Biblical (Jewish) calendar of our day, the 17th day of the 2nd month in 2011 is May 21, the first day of the day of judgment, 7000 years later to the very day!


The second proof that presented itself in the last few years has to do with number of days.  There is Biblical precedence for counting days.  If you recollect in Part III, Daniel declared the 1,335 days of Christ’s ministry, and we showed conclusively that this was an accurate prediction.   Jesus died on the cross April 1, 33 AD.  Counting inclusively from His death to the day of judgment on May 21, 2011, we get a total of 722,500 days.  This breaks down to (5x10x17) x (5x10x17).  This translates into the message that Christ atoned for sin on the cross (5), and then after the completion of this period of time (10) God’s people will be in heaven (17), as they receive their spiritual bodies and the salvation plan ends.  This message is doubled, so it is established by God, and he will surely bring it to pass.  Could this be just coincidence?


Because of God’s love for mankind, he is saving a great multitude in our day, giving us great hope for the gift of salvation.  We are instructed to seek him, and we have the wonderful privilege as human beings of pleading directly to God for mercy right up until May 21.  On Saturday, May 21, 2011, exactly 7,000 years after the great flood began, it will be the end of the 7 day week for the 7 billion people on earth.  The rapture of God’s elect, as well as a great earthquake introducing the world to the horrors of the next 5 months, will both occur.    On October 21, 2011, this 13,023 year demonstration of the glorious attributes of Almighty God will be completed.


Vince Des Roches resides in Napa Valley, California.
His website – http://www.areyouwatchingorsleeping.com/  – contains a great deal of information on history’s timeline, end times, and God’s Salvation Plan.

  

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Countdown to Judgment

  

May 21, 2011: Judgment Day!

  

Harold Camping: False Prophet or Herald of God?

  

It is Finished: God’s Final Warning


 Assembling the Timeline of History – Part I


 Assembling the Timeline of History – Part II


Assembling the Timeline of History – Part III

Assembling the Timeline of History – Part III

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As the timeline of history was starting to be put together a half-century ago, no one imagined that we would also be able to eventually know the exact timing of the end of it all.  Part I of this discussion traced work from the Old Testament, taking us from creation in 11,013 BC to the period of the kings of the nation of Israel.  Part II completed the Old Testament calendar and explored the evidence of the time of Christ on earth around 2000 years ago.  Finally, all of this effort has paid off, as we can pinpoint the key end dates of our universe.  Keep in mind that the Bible was written down over a 1500-year period by dozens of different people.  Yet, when we tie everything together, each date fits precisely into a well-planned and perfectly executed schedule.  The various Biblical patterns and systems, often focusing on time and numbers, are our proofs that we have been guided to truth very accurately.


Though we are to look internally into the Bible to find truth, it must direct us to the timing of something special out in our world if we are to realize that we are near the time of the end.  We need a reference point, a time marker, to begin putting together the final pieces of earth’s calendar.  We are given that clue in Mark 13:28, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near.”  National Israel is often characterized as the fig tree in the Bible, and this particular chapter is focusing on signs of Christ’s return.  This verse, in essence, is anticipating the return of Israel as a viable world nation, something incredible to have predicted, considering that they were completely destroyed back in 70 AD.


The Nation of Israel became a legitimate country on Pentecost, May 14, 1948.  Mark 13:28 above says that means that “summer is near,” surely hinting at future dates in history.  To figure out this reference to summer, we have to take another look at three of ancient Israel’s annual feast days.  Passover and the accompanying Feast of Unleavened Bread were observed in the spring, a reminder of Egypt’s trials, and of finally leaving Egypt.  Spiritually, it pointed to Christ as the sacrificial lamb, who is the first of the first fruits.  Approximately 50 days later, the people celebrated the Feast of Pentecost, in which the first fruits of harvest were gathered from the spring planting.  Then, near the end of summer in the 7th month, Israel observed the Feast of Ingathering, in which they rejoiced over the final harvest of the year. However, a year in the life of the Israelites was actually a condensed representation of the entire salvation program throughout history.  The three feast days correspond to three seasons, in which external representations of the Kingdom of God reflect God’s work of salvation (harvesting souls) in three distinct eras.  These eras are spoken of metaphorically as periods of rain (Joel 2:23), which naturally lead to a harvest.  Ancient national Israel represents the first season, the first of the first fruits.  The symbol of the Kingdom of God then shifted to the churches in 33 AD, as they became a picture of the fruit brought in on the Feast of Pentecost.  Finally, as we will see more clearly, God’s plan includes a final great gathering of individual people into his eternal flock near the end of the world, characterized by the Feast of Ingathering, and labeled the latter rain.  The phrase “summer is near,” then, means that this last large salvation effort would begin shortly after Israel became a nation once again in modern times.


In searching out the next important end date, we again look to the Jubilee Year, a time every 50th year for Israel to free all the servants and declare the gospel of salvation.  It’s interesting that there is very little Biblical commentary about its actual observance, and so its real purpose is for us to figure out end times in our day.  The battle of Jericho, described in the book of Joshua, is an actual event that is also a parable of the end of the world.  Checking the original Hebrew wording very carefully, Joshua 6:4 correctly translated reads “seven rams’ horns of the jubilees,” pointing to two Jubilees overall.  The start of the church age was the first Jubilee, in which the Holy Spirit was poured out (Acts chapter 2), but Acts 2:17 and Joel 2:28 refer to pouring out the Holy Spirit again in the last days, a second Jubilee.  Counting 50 year intervals from 1407 BC, when Israel entered the land of Canaan, the first Jubilee Year after Israel became a nation in 1948 is 1994.  (Remember, in going from BC to AD subtract one year, as there is no year zero.)  This year would seem to be the likely year for the start of the final harvest of souls.


To find more Biblical data to corroborate the importance of the year 1994, we can look for time patterns.  As mentioned in Part II, Jacob was born in 2007 BC, David became king in 1007 BC and Jesus was born in 7 BC.  With these 1000 year increments, it follows that 1994 is exactly 2000 years from the birth of Christ, with all dates in Jubilee Years- hardly a coincidence! This 2000 year interval is depicted as the 2000 cubit space (Joshua 3:4) between the ark of the covenant (God) and the people of Israel as they crossed the Jordan river into the promised land of Canaan.


There is another 1/3-2/3 time sequence that is even more convincing for verifying that 1994 is a special year.  As the Holy Bible has three seasons, it also has three tribulations.  These are periods of great trouble, in which the underlying spiritual lesson is that the anticipated salvation has been interrupted.  The first tribulation focuses on 1877 BC, when Jacob had to leave the promised land of Canaan after two years (23 months) of a seven-year famine.  The key date of the second tribulation is 587 BC, when Judah, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, 23 years after Judah had lost its independence.  The interval between these two events is 1,290 years.  We can study Daniel 12:11 to learn about this tribulation pattern.  “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be 1290 days.”  The Bible is saying here that the time span between events when God is no longer paying for sin is in multiples of 1,290 days.  However, Ezekiel 4:6 and Numbers 14:34 are two examples where God allows the substitution of years for days, thus 1290 years fits. The third tribulation is spoken of in Matthew 24:21 as “great tribulation,” and the context is near the end of time.  If we count 2 times 1290 years (2,580) from the second tribulation in 587 BC we do land right on 1994.  How could this be a time of great trouble if God is saving a great multitude of souls?


We have to realize that if 1994 is the start of the 2nd Jubilee, the 1st Jubilee, the church age, must have already ended.  If there is a great harvest, it must be taking place outside of all the churches.  This is certainly a “great tribulation” for all of the denominations of the world.  The end of the church age is the next date we must find.   In looking at the first two tribulations, we can see that they are each of two parts, separated by the main, terrible event.  These first parts feature the number 23 (23 months and 23 years), and are a period of famine, either physically or spiritually.  Again we go to the book of Daniel for help, (8:13-14) “…How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?…Unto 2300 days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”  We can take one more piece of information from Revelation 8:1, “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.”  The book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, speaks of the great tribulation as “1 hour” in a number of places.  God is teaching that during the first part of the great tribulation, virtually no one was being saved (silence in heaven), which of course is a spiritual famine.  Going back in time 2300 days from 1994, we can now feel confident that sometime in 1988 the church age would end, and the great tribulation would start.  Note that 1988 is 13,000 years to the very year from creation.  The great tribulation would proceed for 2300 days with no salvation taking place throughout the world, and then the final harvest would begin.


Recall that in Part II of this study, the Jubilee Year was memorialized every year on the 1st day of the 7th month.  In 1994, that memorial fell on September 7.  Using that as the logical start of the latter rain ingathering, backtracking 2300 days puts us on May 21, 1988, the day before Pentecost.  It makes sense that the church age would start on Pentecost in 33 AD and end on the day before Pentecost, exactly 1,955 years to the very day, as Pentecost happens to be May 22 in both years.


We must now look for the ending of the great tribulation.  The first 2 tribulations highlight the number 84 in their total duration.  Jacob’s famine lasted 84 months (7 years), and Judah’s captivity ended after 840 months (70 years).  Also, the first part of each tribulation is about 30% of their total tribulation time.  If the great tribulation began with a 2300 day period, the pattern would dictate that the total length of time would be 8400 days.  Counting 8400 days from May 21, 1988 we end up at May 21, 2011, which is exactly 23 years to the very day!  That means that the second half of the great tribulation lasts for 6100 days, or 17 years.


Matthew chapter 24 again helps us with our calendar.  Verse 29 reads: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened…”  On May 21, 2011, all those that God saved will receive their glorified spiritual bodies and ascend into heaven – the salvation plan will be completed.  However, for those left behind, it will be the beginning of the 5 month day of judgment.


The nation of Israel had one final observance, the 8 total days of the Feast of Tabernacles.  It pointed to the fulfillment of God’s word, a tribute to the Bible itself, of which the completion of the judgment process is the final act.  The feast of Tabernacles in the Biblical calendar in 2011 ends on October 20.  However, the completion of Solomon’s temple, a picture of God completing his eternal church in heaven, had its dedication extended 1 day, as the people couldn’t travel home on a Sabbath day (II Chronicles 7:10).  This actually moves the date of the end of the universe 1 day to October 21, 2011, when the earth and all it’s works will be burned up (II Peter 3:10,12).


From May 21, 2011 to October 21, 2011 is 153 days, or exactly 5 months.  John 21:11 talks about 153 fish caught in the net and pulled to land, a metaphor for those safely in the arms of Christ during this time.  Revelation 9:5 addresses the 5 months specifically: “And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months…”  This is the extra final punishment mentioned in Luke 12:47 for those who are not taking this message seriously.


Vince Des Roches resides in Napa Valley, California.
His website – http://www.areyouwatchingorsleeping.com/  – contains a great deal of information on history’s timeline, end times, and God’s Salvation Plan.

  

Related Stories:

 

Countdown to Judgment

  

May 21, 2011: Judgment Day!

  

Harold Camping: False Prophet or Herald of God?

  

It is Finished: God’s Final Warning


 Assembling the Timeline of History – Part I

  

 Assembling the Timeline of History – Part II

Assembling the Timeline of History – Part II

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Nothing is random or haphazard in the Bible, though it may seem that way at first reading.  In Part I, we carefully organized all of the early Biblical time data and put together a precise timeline, with creation as year zero, and the great flood coming in the 6,023rd year.  We ended the discussion with the nation of Israel being split apart into Judah and Israel, 10,082 years after creation.  The exhaustive study of the chronology of the kings of these two divisions discloses that Israel was destroyed by Assyria in the 10,304th year, and Judah and the temple in Jerusalem were destroyed by Babylon in the 10,426th year.


 Archaeological and historical records show that Pharaoh Thutmose III, the Pharaoh in power in Egypt during Israel’s exodus from his country, died in the Red Sea while pursuing them in 1447 BC (year 9566.)  Secular records also document that King Ahab, a wicked ruler of Israel, ended his reign in 853 BC, which was the 10,160th year.  One more comparative piece of historical evidence is the appointment date of Judah’s King Zedekiah in 597 BC, or year number 10,416.  The interval between these dates is the same in Biblical and historical accounts- 594 years and then 256 years.  We can now align our modern day calendar with the Biblical calendar to provide meaningful dates for events discussed in the Bible.  If 1447 BC was 9,566 years after creation, the beginning of our universe was actually 1,447 + 9,566, or 11,013 BC.  The flood of Noah’s day occurred 6,023 years later in 4990 BC.  Abraham entered the land of Canaan in 2092 BC, and Jacob’s family left Canaan and entered Egypt in 1877 BC.  Forty years after the exodus from Egypt, the young nation came into Canaan in 1407 BC.  Construction of the great temple by King Solomon started in 967 BC, and the nation was divided 36 years later in 931 BC.  Also, we can now compute the destruction date of the 10 tribes of Israel to be 709 BC, and the end of the 2 tribes of Judah to have occurred in 587 BC.


As discussed earlier, the tower of Babel and the resulting division of the land into continents during Peleg’s era can now be dated as sometime between 3153 BC and 2914 BC.  This traumatic event coincides precisely with the theory that it triggered the start of the Mayan calendar (in 3114 BC), and man’s earliest writings (around 3100 BC).


Judah and Jerusalem were destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC, and then Babylon in turn was conquered by the Medes and Persians in 539 BC.  In that year, King Cyrus sent the exiled Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, which started 2 years later.  There are good secular records of the Persian Kings, as well as various Bible verses to help with the dating.  In Jeremiah 29:10, God declares that after 70 years (after they lost their freedom in 609 BC), he would cause the people to return to Jerusalem.  The temple was rebuilt and dedicated in 515 BC.  The book of Ezra speaks of this event as during the third day of the month Adar in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius (522-485 BC).  The prophet Nehemiah began to rebuild a wall around the city in 445 BC, and it was completed in 433 BC (Nehemiah 2:1, 5:14).  The latest entry chronologically in the Old Testament is in the book of Esther, concerning the 10 sons of Haman.  Verses 3:7 and 9:1 speak of the 12th month of the 12 year of the reign of King Ahasuerus, which would be 391 BC.


The Bible is silent for 384 years until the New Testament message begins in the year 8 BC, focused on the life of Christ.  Several events in His life are very significant, and we can now pinpoint these dates using some secular records and many pieces of information found in the Bible.  Galatians 4:4 speaks of the birth of Jesus as a perfectly planned time in history, “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.”  Wicked King Herod was ruler when Jesus was born, and he wanted the baby dead.  Magi came following a star to find Jesus, and King Herod asked them to search for him and report back as to the location.  When the Magi did not return, Matthew 2:16 states that Herod ordered all boys in Bethlehem 2 years old and younger to be killed. This order must have been 2 years after the Magi saw the star.  Good secular records document that Herod died in 4 BC, so Jesus was born in 6 BC or earlier.  Luke 2:1,5 speaks of a world tax decreed by Caesar Augustus when Mary was with child.  Historical documentation proves that this tax was instituted in 7 BC.


Backtracking for a minute, when Israel came out of Egypt in 1447 BC, God instructed Moses that the nation was to observe feast days and sacrifices once they reached the land of Canaan in 1407 BC.  These activities were actually signs pointing to the life of Christ and His salvation program.  One of those customs was the Jubilee Year, which was to be observed every 50 years.  And one of the feast days was the annual Day of Atonement.  Leviticus 25:9-10 ties these together nicely:  “Then shall thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the 10th day of the 7th month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.  And ye shall hallow the 50th year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land…and ye shall return every man unto his family.”  This symbolized that Christ atones for our sins, and that he gives us liberty from the bondage of our transgressions.  7 BC, the birth year of Christ, is a Jubilee Year, and the Feast of Atonement in that year using the Jewish Biblical calendar translates to October 2, Christ’s actual birthday.


In Luke 1:36, the Bible tells us that when Mary conceived Jesus, her cousin Elisabeth was 6 months pregnant with John the Baptist.  Elisabeth’s husband Zacharias was a priest, and he served in the temple in the 2nd half of the 4th month every year (Luke 1:5, I Chronicles 24:10).  Luke 1:23-24 informs us that when he finished his service, he went home and she conceived soon thereafter.  When we work out all the details, Zacharias went home about July 6, 8 BC, Elisabeth conceived approximately July 9, Mary conceived about 6 months later on January 9, 7 BC, and Jesus was born 38 weeks later on October 2, 7 BC.  One more proof that we are on the right track is that Jacob’s birth was 2000 years earlier in 2007 BC and King David, who typified Christ, became King 1000 years previous in 1007 BC!


The Baptism of Jesus Christ really symbolizes the announcement that the savior was here to begin his ministry on earth.  In Luke 3:1-3 we read that in the 15th year of the reign of Caesar, John the Baptist did baptize Christ, which historical records tell us would have been in 29 AD.  Luke 3:23, translated literally from the original Greek says, “And Jesus Himself was about 30 years beginning”.  Jesus would have been baptized at about 35 years old, not “about 30”, so the question must be asked “beginning from when?”.  Matthew 2:15 gives us the solution, stating “…Out of Egypt have I called my son.”  Jesus would have been at least 2.5 years old leaving Egypt, making it 32.5 years or less in 29 AD since He had been out of Egypt.  One note that must be mentioned, in counting from BC years to AD years, you have to subtract one year, as there is no year zero.


The death of Christ is obviously a very important event, and we can know the day and the year accurately.  The Bible is quite clear that Jesus died on a Friday, and was entombed before the Saturday Sabbath began on Friday at sundown (Mark 15:42-43).  Passover, another Jewish observance, demonstrated that Christ was the sacrificial lamb, shedding his blood to pay for our sins.  It was to be the 14th day of the 1st month, designated by moon phases, not days of the week, and in 33 AD that was April 1, a Friday.  In other nearby years, Passover did not fall on a Friday, leaving April 1, 33 AD as the clear and accurate choice.


Although there are some other proofs requiring more complex studies, we can tie together the announcement date and the date of Christ’s death conclusively by applying Daniel 12:12, written about 500 years before the birth of Christ, “Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the 1,335 days.”  This is speaking about the Lord Jesus, who must wait to come at an appointed time, and then do his work on earth for a period of 1,335 days.  Christ’s work was finished on Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the earth, and the church age began.  Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks, was another National Israel tradition, and its observance was always 50 days after the first Sabbath after Passover.  In 33 AD, Christ died April 1, the next Sabbath was April 2, and Pentecost was May 22.  Counting backwards through the calendar 1,335 days from Pentecost, we arrive at September 26, 29 AD (if we count the first and last days).  Is September 26 the day Christ’s work began – when he was announced and baptized?  The Jewish people had also been instructed to observe a memorial of the Jubilee each year on the 1st day of the 7th month (Leviticus 23:24), a yearly reminder that Christ is the essence of the Jubilee, the savior.  In 29 AD, September 26 was indeed the 1st day of the 7th month, the memorial of the Jubilee!


We can now summarize the dating of the significant events of Christ’s life.  He was born on the Day of Atonement in a Jubilee Year, October 2, 7 BC.  Christ was announced and baptized on the memorial of the Jubilee, Sep. 26, 29 AD.  He died on the cross on Friday Passover, April 1, 33 AD and resurrected two days later on Sunday April 3.  Finally, he completed his work on Pentecost, May 22, 33 AD when 3000 souls were saved (Acts 2:41), starting the church age.


Clear historical records demonstrate that Jerusalem was finally destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.  We also know that, by studying the life of Apostle John, that the Holy Bible was completed in about 95 AD.


[Part III will explore the Biblical evidence that we are indeed in the very final days of this Creation.]


Vince Des Roches resides in Napa Valley, California.
His website – http://www.areyouwatchingorsleeping.com/  – contains a great deal of information on history’s timeline, end times, and God’s Salvation Plan.

  

Related Stories:

 

Countdown to Judgment

  

May 21, 2011: Judgment Day!

  

Harold Camping: False Prophet or Herald of God?

  

It is Finished: God’s Final Warning

  

 Assembling the Timeline of History – Part I

Assembling the Timeline of History – Part I

Tags: , , , , , ,


Biblical scholars over the centuries have felt certain that in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, the 5th and 11th chapters were somehow a record of counting time for the new planet earth.  It wasn’t until the second half of the twentieth century that the mystery was finally solved.  These chapters consist of a series of verses naming a person, how old they were when they “begat” a descendant, and also how long they lived.  The descendant follows the previous ancestor in each subsequent verse, and so the begat age and total age are marked off down through the bloodline as their record of history unfolds.  Chapter 5 starts with Adam, who lived to be 930 years old, and ends at Noah (of the great flood) and his 3 sons.  Chapter 11 continues with Noah’s son Shem, who lived to be 600 years old.  After 10 total names, this chapter’s list ends with Abram, known later as Abraham.  Did Adam, Shem and others really live that long, or do these numbers represent something else?  There is no other information in the Bible that would make us think that all of these age numbers are somehow spiritual in nature.  Therefore, we must accept them as true Biblical facts, and build from there. 


The key to putting together the calendar of history from Bible data is to first construct the timeline as year numbers ascending from creation.  This strategy gives creation the designation “year 0,” and each subsequent event marks the next known significant year in history with a larger number.  For example, as Seth was begat by Adam 130 years after Adam’s creation in year 0, the birth of Seth marks year 130 in our ascending calendar.  We then continue to build the timeline as intervals between important Biblical events, moving farther from creation in increasingly larger numbers.  When we finally fill in the more recent Biblical dates, we can compare them to secular records in our modern calendar, and align the 2 calendars together.  For instance, if event X is found in the Bible to be 10,000 years after creation, and the same event in accurate secular records occurred in 1000 BC, that would tell us that creation took place in 11,000 BC.  We could then fill in the modern calendar dates for the entire timeline of history, as recorded in the Bible. 


The main difficulty with this approach is that each date depends on the accuracy of the previous date.  If a date is off by even 1 year, the entire timeline after that date will also be inaccurate.  In looking at these two chapters, does the time counting shift to a new generation when the descendant was begat, or when the ancestor died?  Numerically, this makes a huge difference, and it has caused confusion until our day.  Many of these verses mention that the ancestor had other sons and daughters, but they are not named.  This is telling us that the ones showcased here were special, the patriarchs, the ones who carried the calendar down the blood line from the previous progenitor.  If these people mark the time, their births must have begun that respective segment of time.  The question is – when were they actually born?  In other places in the Bible, “son” can mean son, or grandson or great-grandson.  Could “begat” also be flexible in that it sometimes refers to son, but other times means someone farther down the family tree? 


In checking the Bible for Seth, Genesis 4:25 declares:  “And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth:…”  Seth is a direct son of Adam, and “called his name” emphasizes to us that this is the case, as a father would normally name his own son.  The patriarch calendar, then, continues with Seth when he is born in year 130.  When the patriarch calendar is dealing with a father-son relationship, the son takes over as the time marker when he is begat by his father, who remains alive, but is then no longer keeping Biblical time. 


Although the two chapters in Genesis have four additional father-son patriarch relationships, most of the others show no similar Biblical evidence.  In these cases, the descendant must have been either a grandson or great-grandson, but not a direct son.  So, when the descendant was begat, the patriarch’s wife actually gave birth to the descendant’s father or grandfather, creating an extra generation or two that is not mentioned at all.  When the calendar is not discussing father and son, the next patriarch in the bloodline takes over at birth, which is actually the same year the previous patriarch died.  Luke 3:36-37 helps to prove that this is correct.  It documents the names in Genesis 5 and 11, but in reverse order.   However, in Luke, there is an extra “Cainan” between two patriarchs in the Genesis 11 list, a different person altogether.  This is not a mistake, but rather it’s God showing us that there can be other generations between these time keepers.


There is one more good proof that this methodology is correct.  In Exodus 12:40 we read:  “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was 430 years.”  This is a time bridge, placed in the Bible to help us gain understanding.  Israel was enslaved in Egypt for exactly 430 years, but the calendar was also maintained in the Bible by patriarchs in the nation.  When we carefully work out all of the Biblical data and add up the length of time these people lived in Egypt, we also get a total of 430 years.  This shows us that as one patriarch died, another would be born and thus take over representing the calendar in the same year.


Returning to Genesis chapter 5, the names continue all the way down to Noah, who we can now show was born in the 5,423rd year of planet earth.  There is certainly a lot of confusion about the timeline around the flood, and part of it relates to finding the correct birth years of Noah’s sons.  Genesis 5:32 says:  “And Noah was 500 years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”  Okay, did Noah’s wife have triplets, or was this the birth year of his first son, with the other two born over subsequent years?  If the latter, which son was born first?  Shem starts the patriarch calendar in chapter 11, so he is the important time keeper.  We also know that the three children are direct sons because of other statements in the Bible.  Genesis 7:11 tells us that Noah was 600 when the flood began, and so this puts the start of the flood in our calendar 6,023 years from creation.  As mentioned above, Noah’s first progeny was born 500 years after Noah was born, which was also 100 years before the flood started, year number 5923.  Proceeding to Genesis chapter 11, we see important information in verse 10:  “These are the generations of Shem: Shem was 100 years old, and begat Arphaxad 2 years after the flood:…”    2 years after the flood started, Shem was 100, so he would have been born 98 years before the flood in year 5925 to carry on the patriarchs’ role.  Noah’s first son was born in 5923, but the patriarch, Shem, was born 2 years later.  To simply conclude that Noah’s first born was the patriarch Shem would have thrown the calendar off by those 2 years!


It should be noted that halfway down the patriarch calendar in chapter 11, Peleg represented the years from 7860 to 8099 after creation.  During this period, the tower of Babel and the division of the continents must have occurred (Genesis 10:25, I Chronicles 1:19).  In other words, around 2000 years after the flood, God split the land into continents and divided up the people to begin to develop our modern day diversity of languages and cultures.


Abram (Abraham) was a direct son of Terah, and the last name in this patriarch list.  However, his birth in year 8846 is also tricky to discover.  As with Noah, Terah had 3 sons (at the age of 70), but the Bible doesn’t say directly when Abram was born.  Genesis  11:32 and 12:4 solve the puzzle.  Terah died in Haran at the age of 205, and Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran, which was the same year.  Doing all the math, Terah was 70 when the first son was born, 130 when Abram was born, and then Terah died 75 years later. 


Abram entered the land of Canaan, the promised land, the same year that he left Haran.  His son Isaac was born when he was 100 years old, as stated clearly in Genesis 21:5, 8,946 years from creation.  The next step in the calendar is again easy to understand.  Genesis 25:26 mentions that Isaac was 60 when the next Bible patriarch, his son Jacob was born (year 9006).


When Jacob was 130 years old, he was told by God to leave Canaan with his family and go live in Egypt, as there was a terrible famine.  Genesis 47:9 gives us this age fact, putting the year at 9136.  His family remained in Egypt for exactly 430 years, growing as a nation until their exodus in year 9566 (Exodus 12:40-41).

 

 After finally escaping from Egypt, Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years (Deuteronomy 29:5) under the guidance of Moses, until finally reaching the land of Canaan 9,606 years from creation.  During this period, Moses wrote down the first five books of the Bible, dictated directly from God.  These included the patriarch calendars from Genesis, accurate time information about people, most of whom lived thousands of years previously!  The Bible tells us that Moses was well educated in Egypt (Acts 7:22), but knowledge of the ancient patriarchs certainly would have been impossible without Divine guidance.


The Holy Bible gives us another wonderful time bridge to allow us to jump ahead in history.  In I Kings 6:1 we read:  “And it came to pass in the 480th year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the 4th year of Solomon’s reign over Israel,…that he began to build the house of the Lord.”   Throughout this period, Israel was ruled over by various judges and then King Saul and King David.  The Israelites left Egypt in year 9566, so King Solomon began to build the great temple in the 10,046th year.  This marked the end of King David’s and King Solomon’s 4 year co-regency, and the start of the 36 year sole reign of King Solomon.  One has to be careful with the facts, as each king reigned 40 years, but 4 years were overlapping (I Kings 1:46, 2:11,11:42).  At the end of King Solomon’s reign in the 10,082nd year from creation, the nation of Israel was divided.


National Israel was separated into two nations, the 10 tribes of Israel and the 2 tribes of Judah.  Both divisions each had 20 kings which marked the passing of time, with many Biblical references, but sorting out the dates is incredibly complex.  There were 2 methods of time keeping based on the kings’ reigns, the accession year system and the non-accession year system.  In the first system of counting, the reign began the first full year after the initial partial year.  All the kings of Judah and the last 12 kings of Israel used this method.  In the non-accession method, the first partial year was the official first year of reign, which added one additional year to the total.  The first 8 kings of Israel followed this method.  There were numerous co-regencies, dynasties, blood lines crossing over- a plethora of details to work through to carry the calendar through this era.  When finally resolved, however, many of these periods of rule could be matched to secular records, allowing the Biblical timeline to be converted to modern day dating.

  

Vince Des Roches resides in Napa Valley, California.
His website – http://www.areyouwatchingorsleeping.com/  – contains a great deal of information on history’s timeline, end times, and God’s Salvation Plan.

  

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