Sunday, July 24, 2016

Was Balaam Really a Sorcerer or Just a Sinful, Greedy Prophet of God?

I believe that most everyone who has studied the Bible at all knows the story of Balaam's ass. The story is an interesting one, to be sure. For fans of The Chronicles of Narnia, it is fiction come to life. For the most part, almost without exception, it is taught that Balaam was a pagan soothsayer. That teaching always bothered me, for I did not read it that way, so I decided to look at everything we are told about Balaam to see if that is true.

First of all, those who teach that Balaam was a pagan prophet are under the impression that there could only be a true prophet among Israel, for they were the chosen people. The theory being that everybody in the world except Israel were pagans. But is that true?  Abraham lived in a pagan culture when he was called, yet God called him. It is said that Job was a contemporary of Abraham. He was not a part of Israel. Yet God said that he was the most righteous man on earth. One has to wonder why then God called Abraham instead of Job. For a certainty, Job was more righteous than Abraham. There was none like him on earth. Melchizedek was a priest of God. Why would there need to be a priest of God, if there were no people worshiping Him? While we are not told about those around the world who were worshiping God, for the story of the Bible is about Jesus, and other than the two mentioned, people did not enter into that story, clearly there were others who believed in the one true God.

To get to the truth about Balaam, we need to read his story first. I have put certain passages in bold that I wish to discuss at the end of each chapter.

"[1] And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho. [2] And Balak the Thof Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. [3] And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel. [4] And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time. [5] He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me: [6] Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed. [7] And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak. [8] And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the LORD shall speak unto me: and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam. [9] And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee? [10] And Balaam said unto God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying, [11] Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out. [12] And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed. [13] And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak, Get you into your land: for the LORD refuseth to give me leave to go with you. [14] And the princes of Moab rose up, and they went unto Balak, and said, Balaam refuseth to come with us. [15] And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they. [16] And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me: [17] For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people. [18] And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more. [19] Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the LORD will say unto me more. [20] And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do. [21] And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. [22] And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him. [23] And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way. [24] But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side. [25] And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again. [26] And 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. [28] And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? [29] And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. [30] And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay. [31] Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. [32] And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: [33] And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive. [34] And Balaam said unto the angel of the LORD, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again. [35] And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.  [36] And when Balak heard that Balaam was come, he went out to meet him unto a city of Moab, which is in the border of Arnon, which is in the utmost coast. [37] And Balak said unto Balaam, Did I not earnestly send unto thee to call thee? wherefore camest thou not unto me? am I not able indeed to promote thee to honour? [38] And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say any thing? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak. [39] And Balaam went with Balak, and they came unto Kirjath-huzoth. [40] And Balak offered oxen and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him. [41] And it came to pass on the morrow, that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into the high places of Baal, that thence he might see the utmost part of the people."

The first thing we learn from this chapter is that Balaam is well-known as a prophet. Moreover, he is known as a prophet whose prophecies come true. When the princes of Moab come with the message for Balaam asking him to come curse Israel, his answer is that he will speak to the Lord about it and see what He says. So the first thing we see is that Balaam did not turn to pagan gods to find out his answer, which one would suspect would be the first place he would turn if he were a sorcerer. He turned to the one true God for instructions, as if God were the person he normally turned to for his prophecies. And God came to him and told him that he was not to go, for the Israelites were blessed by God. So we know from this that He was used to talking to the one true God, and his prophecies came true. What is it that God told Israel about a prophet? He gave them criteria to judge them. Deuteronomy 13:1-5 "If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee." So the test of a prophet was to see if what he said came true and lined up with God's commandments. If both those things were met, then he was a true prophet. But if came true and did not line up with God's commandments, it was a test and they were to put him to death.

This is repeated slightly differently a little later in Deuteronomy 18:20-22 "But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."  What these passages tell us is that there are two criteria by which a prophet is judged. First, does the prophecy come to pass so that it is true, and second, does it line up with God's Word. If both occur, he is a true prophet. In Balaam's case, he was known for prophesying things that came true, and we know in this case, that he most certainly was in line with God's Word, for God was telling him what to say.

Continuing on with the story,  Balaam tells the princes that God has said that he can't go, so he won't. They go back to Balak and he sends them back to Balaam again who tells them that even if the king were to give him all his silver and gold, it wouldn't matter, for he could not do any more or less than what the Lord, his God would allow him to do. Note that Balaam says that God is his God, and that he can't do anything without God's permission. In other words, He knows God, he is used to obeying God and having God tell him what he can and cannot do. This does not sound like a man who worships a pagan god. So Balaam decides to ask God again about going. Now it must be understood that Balaam was being offered a lot of money and honor. It was a serious temptation for him, and he didn't know who these Israelites were. He was hoping for permission to go do something, so that he could get that money.

So Balaam speaks with God again and God tells him that if the men come back, then he has God's permission to go, but he can still only speak what God tells him to say. Now Balaam isn't listening really well, because his mind is apparently on that money, because he does not do as God tells him, He does not wait for the men to come to him. He saddles up his ass and rides out to them. This makes God really angry, so He sends the Angel of the Lord (otherwise known as the pre-incarnate Christ) to stop him. The rest of this part of the story is well-known, as to how the ass keeps trying to walk away from the Angel, and each time Balaam whips it. Finally God opens the mouth of the ass and it talks to Balaam. Now what has always just boggled my mind is that when the ass speaks to Balaam, he merely talks back as if it were an everyday occurrence to have your animal talk to you. The last thing I think I would have done was just carry on a regular conversation, well, that is if threatening your animal can be called a regular conversation. I would have been thinking that I was going crazy. After all, this isn't Narnia. But Balaam and his ass have an enlightening conversation at which point the Angel shows himself to Balaam as well. Now note Balaam's response. He recognizes this Angel as God, just as Abraham recognized Him when he came with the two angels to his tent before Sodom was destroyed, and he realizes that he has sinned against God and confesses it and offers to return home. That is an act of repentance. What pagan seer would say or do that? The Angel tells him to go ahead and go, but he will only speak what the Angel tells him to speak. Note that the Angel is saying that He is the author of the words, yet God earlier had told Balaam that He would be the one to tell Him what to say. So we can see that the Angel of the Lord is indeed Christ pre-incarnate for He is putting Himself in the place of God.

So Balaam goes to Balak and tells him that he should know that Balaam cannot do as Balak wants him to do. He can only speak the words that God tells him to speak.


"[1] And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven oxen and seven rams. [2] And Balak did as Balaam had spoken; and Balak and Balaam offered on every altar a bullock and a ram. [3] And Balaam said unto Balak, Stand by thy burnt offering, and I will go: peradventure the LORD will come to meet me: and whatsoever he sheweth me I will tell thee. And he went to an high place. [4] And God met Balaam: and he said unto him, I have prepared seven altars, and I have offered upon every altar a bullock and a ram. [5] And the LORD put a word in Balaam's mouth, and said, Return unto Balak, and thus thou shalt speak. [6] And he returned unto him, and, lo, he stood by his burnt sacrifice, he, and all the princes of Moab. [7] And he took up his parable, and said, Balak the king of Moab hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel. [8] How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied? [9] For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations. [10] Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his! [11] And Balak said unto Balaam, What hast thou done unto me? I took thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast blessed them altogether. [12] And he answered and said, Must I not take heed to speak that which the LORD hath put in my mouth? [13] And Balak said unto him, Come, I pray thee, with me unto another place, from whence thou mayest see them: thou shalt see but the utmost part of them, and shalt not see them all: and curse me them from thence. [14] And he brought him into the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar. [15] And he said unto Balak, Stand here by thy burnt offering, while I meet the LORD yonder. [16] And the LORD met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and said, Go again unto Balak, and say thus. [17] And when he came to him, behold, he stood by his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said unto him, What hath the LORD spoken? [18] And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear; hearken unto me, thou son of Zippor: [19] God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? [20] Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it. [21] He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them. [22] God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn. [23] Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought! [24] Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain. [25] And Balak said unto Balaam, Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all. [26] But Balaam answered and said unto Balak, Told not I thee, saying, All that the LORD speaketh, that I must do? [27] And Balak said unto Balaam, Come, I pray thee, I will bring thee unto another place; peradventure it will please God that thou mayest curse me them from thence. [28] And Balak brought Balaam unto the top of Peor, that looketh toward Jeshimon. [29] And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven bullocks and seven rams. [30] And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar."

In this chapter we see that Balaam offers sacrifices to God before he meets with Him. God (in the form of the Angel of the Lord) comes and speaks to Balaam and tells him what he must say. In the course of his prophesying, he asks that he be allowed to die the death of the righteous. How on earth would a sorcerer dare ask the one true God to be allowed that? A pagan prophet would not even be in converse with the one true God. The first time, Balaam sees all of the people and of course blesses them.  Balak's response is to say, "What are you doing to me? I brought you here to curse them, not bless them." Balaam again tells him that he cannot do other than what God tells him to do. Then Balak takes him to another place where he can't see all the people and Balaam again offers sacrifices and has a chat with God. God again tells him to bless the people.  Balaam announces that he can't reverse God's decision to bless them. That there is no enchantment or divination against them. Now the words enchantment and divination are the vocabulary that a pagan society would use in relation to prophecies, whether of God or of some pagan deity. And indeed the Hebrew word for enchantment "nachash" merely means to prognosticate or prophesy (verb) or prognostication or prophecy (noun). The word itself does not denote a false prophecy by a pagan seer, but it is merely the word that the pagan society would use for a prophecy whether from God or from someone else. Likewise the word "divination" is in Hebrew " qecem" which means a divine sentence or oracle, which means a message from one who is able to see the future. This message from God through Balaam was a divine sentence or in this case a blessing from God. The words themselves do not have to denote pagan sorcery. They merely mean prophecies and messages. These words are generally used in relation to pagan societies, because generally the person giving the prophecy is a pagan or false prophet. This is not the case here, as we are told that it is the one true God who is giving him these prophecies, so they are not enchantments or divinations in the magical, sorcery sense.  Now Balak take Balaam to Peor where another set of sacrifices are offered, Balak hoping that God will change His mind from this vantage point. Desperation seems to make people stupid at times. So does greed.  It is important to remember that the third time that Balaam blesses Israel it is from Peor. There is a further story about Peor in another passage in the Bible.


"[1] And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness. [2] And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon him. [3] And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said: [4] He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: [5] How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! [6] As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign aloes which the LORD hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters. [7] He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted. [8] God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows. [9] He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee. [10] And Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together: and Balak said unto Balaam, I called thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times. [11] Therefore now flee thou to thy place: I thought to promote thee unto great honour; but, lo, the LORD hath kept thee back from honour. [12] And Balaam said unto Balak, Spake I not also to thy messengers which thou sentest unto me, saying, [13] If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the LORD, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the LORD saith, that will I speak? [14] And now, behold, I go unto my people: come therefore, and I will advertise thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days. [15] And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said: [16] He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: [17] I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. [18] And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly. [19] Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city. [20] And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever. [21] And he looked on the Kenites, and took up his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwellingplace, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock. [22] Nevertheless the Kenite shall be wasted, until Asshur shall carry thee away captive. [23] And he took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this! [24] And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever. [25] And Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place: and Balak also went his way."

Balaam and Balak are now at Peor. Balaam offers sacrifices as before, but this time he did not seek counsel from God, for he already knew what God wanted said. Now the verse says that he did not go to seek enchantments as he had before, but merely turned his face to Israel to prophesy. When it says he did not go to seek enchantments as he had previously done, it is referring to the two conversations he had already had with God, not that he was not using magical spells as he had done earlier. He hadn't used magical spells earlier. He had asked God what God wanted him to do. Nothing in the Scriptures ever indicates that he used magical incantations in his prophecies. He was known for their accuracy and we know he was familiar with God and sought God's counsel. He was not seeking occult magical spells.  The enchantments referred to here refer to the prophecies that God would give him for Israel. As said above, the word in Hebrew merely means prophecies. It does not denote occult magic. And clearly since it refers back to his conversations with God, where he sought what prophecy he was to give, it is referring to prophecies of God, not occult spells or incantations. So Balaam sets his face to Israel and was filled with the Holy Spirit. I cannot see God filling a pagan soothsayer with the Holy Spirit. Cleary from the beginning Balaam has called God his God, and has said that he can not make any prophecy, but what the Lord gives to him. He is used to meeting with God, and he has a reputation for prophecies that come true, and he recognizes the Angel of the Lord when He appears and confesses and repents his sin. This does not add up to a pagan sorcerer, however it does add up to a prophet of God.

When he blesses Israel yet a third time, Balak is enraged and tells him that he had better run for home. Balaam's response is to basically say, "Look didn't I tell your princes that were you to give me all your silver and gold, I still could not say anything except what the Lord tells me to say?" And then he tells Balak that he's going to tell him what will happen in the latter days. Interestingly this term "latter days" often refers to the end times, which is in our day. Balaam then starts to prophesy again and refers to himself numerous times as a man whose eyes are opened, who has knowledge of the Most High (to have knowledge of God and know him means that Balaam is His prophet), who hears  the word of God, and sees visions of the Almighty. This is no pagan fortuneteller. This is a prophet of God. And this prophet goes on to give one of the most well-known prophecies of Christ. A Star will come out of Jacob and a Sceptre will rise out of Israel and this Star will destroy Moab, and Edom, and other tribes and lands. He will give the land back to Israel and make them valiant, and finally He will have dominion. That prophecy is about Christ and it refers to the ultimate destruction of Moab which does not happen until the Second Coming. There are prophecies about Moab concerning the antichrist, so God considers that Moab is still a nation although it might carry a different name now. These prophecies are not just Messianic prophecies, even though the Star of Jacob prophecy is thought to refer to the first coming of Christ. This prophecy really is talking about the Second Coming. Would God give to a pagan false prophet one of the greatest prophecies about the Messiah? The end of this passage tells us that Balaam left Peor and went home. But as we will shortly see, he didn't just leave without finding a way to get some of that money he wanted so badly.

There are other passages in the Bible that refer to this incident. The first is in Deuternomy 23:4-5 "Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee. Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee."

A few more are the following: Joshua 24:9-10 "Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you: But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand."

Nehemiah 13:2 "Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing."

Micah 6:5 "O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD."

Each of these merely tell us that Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel, but God blessed them instead.

The next chapter in Numbers tells us of what happened after Balak tried to have Balaam curse Israel.

Numbers 25:1-18 "And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. [2] And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. [3] And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. [4] And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. [5] And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baal-peor. [6] And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. [7] And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; [8] And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel. [9] And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand. [10] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, [11] Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.[12] Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: [13] And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel. [14] Now the name of the Israelite that was slain, even that was slain with the Midianitish woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a chief house among the Simeonites. [15] And the name of the Midianitish woman that was slain was Cozbi, the daughter of Zur; he was head over a people, and of a chief house in Midian. [16] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, [17] Vex the Midianites, and smite them: [18] For they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister, which was slain in the day of the plague for Peor's sake."

This chapter tells us that 24,000 men of Israel had committed whoredom with Midianite women and had worshiped their gods. Because Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron had killed the last of them, he was responsible for the ending of the plague of whoredoms. As a reward for his zealousness for the Lord, God blessed him with the promise of a covenant of peace and a priesthood for him and his descendants. God then tells Moses to kill off the Midianites, because they were a problem with tempting the Israelites to go after false gods.

So Moses does as God tells them, and they go kill the kings of Midian. Balaam is also slain during the onslaught. Joshua 13:22 "Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them."  While this refers to Balaam as a soothsayer, we already have seen that the terminology is due to the society he lived in, but that does not mean that he was a false prophet, for he spoke for the Lord and his record was one of accuracy, which is the mark of a true prophet. The word "soothsayer" is the Hebrew word "qacam" which simply means one who is able to see the future, which Balaam could, due to God giving him that knowledge.

Now we know that Balaam was killed during this time, but we find out why God allowed him to be killed.  Numbers 31:8,16  "And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword...... Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD."

So now we know what happened at Peor when Balaam pronounced his last prophecy and then left Balak.  He told Balak how to corrupt Israel by having them turn against God. Since he knew God, he knew what God's reaction would be to this. And he told them to use the sexual attraction of the women to corrupt the men. In pagan societies, it is not uncommon for sexual activity to be a part of the pagan worship, and the morals are not the same as God's people. These women would entice the men to sexual promiscuity and lead them into worshiping their pagan gods. We know that he did this for the monetary and otherwise rewards, for we are told he did.  2 Peter 2:15"Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;"   Jude 1:11  "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core."

Peter also gives us the testimony that Balaam was a true prophet of God. He writes in 2 Peter 2:16 "But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet."  Now one might suppose that he simply meant he was a false prophet, but that is not the case in the Greek. There are two words that are used in the New Testament regarding prophets. The first is where we get our word "prophet" for it is the Greek word "prophetes" and means what it means in English - "prophet," but in each case in the New Testament when it is used, it refers to a true prophet of God. When false prophets are referred to in the New Testament the word "pseudoprophetes" is used. And as might be expected from the part of the word "pseudo," which means false, this word is applied to prophets which are not of God. So Peter is telling us that Balaam was a true prophet of God. That he was a greedy prophet who grossly sinned against God is without question.  Solomon was the wisest man that ever lived. He was indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but he joined himself to pagan women, just as they did in Peor, and as a consequence, the Holy Spirit left him and God turned against him. Would anyone say that Solomon was not a true servant of God at one time? No, they would not. But his end was not a good one for he committed the same sin as the Israelites had done earlier at Peor. We today are not without sin. We are Christians, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, yet we deal with the same sins they did. Greed, envy, we worship things other than God. It might not be a pagan god, but it doesn't have to be. We might worship a movie star, or a football player, or money, or any number of things. We are simply far more fortunate than Balaam, or Solomon, or Ananias and Sapphira, for God does not strike us dead or punish us as we deserve. We should be careful how we label Balaam, for the proof is there that he was a true prophet of God. There is also proof that he sinned against God and incurred God's wrath. There is a lesson for us there. Especially because this sin is again brought up in Revelation in one of the letters to the churches.

Revelation 2:14 "But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication."

There are churches today that are guilty of having joined themselves to the paganism of the world. This is easy to see in many churches today. The first thing that is obvious and comes to mind is the music. It is the world's music, melded to religious words. I use the term religious, because in some cases the lyrics do not really even qualify as glorifying to God. They are self-idolizing and indulgent, speaking of self rather than speaking of God and glorifying Him. Sometimes the lyrics are so nebulous that they  might speak of anybody, much less God.  Many of the doctrines have joined themselves to New Age teachings. Christians are practicing yoga and kinesiology and other New Age practices. The blood of Jesus is something they don't want as a part of their doctrine, and the prosperity gospel is prevalent.  The sin of Balaam is still alive. He died for it, and the church will be punished for it as well. For this particular church Christ promises to come and fight against them with the sword of His mouth.  For the church at Thyatira, who is allowing the false prophetess Jezebel to have them commit the same sins as Balaam had Israel commit, they are told they will be thrown into the great tribulation.

So before we start casting aspersions at Balaam, perhaps we should take a good look at ourselves, for while Balaam suggested the sin to Balak for reward and died for it, the church is guilty of committing the sin of Balaam, just as Israel did, and just as a reminder, Israel died for it too.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Is the Rapture On the Feast of Trumpets Or On Yom Kippur?

It is finally understood by many prophecy teachers that the fall feasts are to the Second Coming as the spring feasts were to the first. As such, there is a desire to understand what each feast or holy day represents. Before looking at how the feasts relate to the Second Coming we will merely look at the Scriptures and some of the traditions that surround them.

There are three feasts, however we will only concern ourselves with the first two in this article. The first is the Feast of Trumpets. It is better known as Rosh Hashanah, but that is not what the Lord calls it. In Hebrew this would be Yom Teruah - Day of Blasts (or Trumpet Blasts) hence the Feast of Trumpets.

Leviticus 23:24-25 "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD."

Numbers 29:1-6 "And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you. And ye shall offer a burnt offering for a sweet savour unto the LORD; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year without blemish: And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals for a bullock, and two tenth deals for a ram, And one tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: And one kid of the goats for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you: Beside the burnt offering of the month, and his meat offering, and the daily burnt offering, and his meat offering, and their drink offerings, according unto their manner, for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD."

This is all that is said about the Feast of Trumpets. There are three things required, 1) it is a Sabbath, so there will be no work, it is a day of rest, 2) it is a day of sacrifices and offerings, and 3) it is a day of blowing of trumpets. This is what we are told about this feast. Along with what the Bible tells us about this feast, which is very little, we know that the seventh month, Tishri, was originally the first month of the year. When God created everything, this was the first month. God changed the numbering of the months when He established Israel after the exodus from Egypt. Exodus 12:2 "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you." What had been the seventh month became the first month of the ecclesiastical year, and what was the original first month became the seventh in that calendar. However Judaism also still observes a civil calendar, and it still begins with the month of Tishri. As it is the original first month and considered to be the anniversary of creation, it is considered the New Year and hence the man-made celebration of Rosh Hashanah, which is the New Year's celebration. This is not spoken of in Scripture in relation to this day though. It is merely the Feast of Trumpets as designated by God.

As for trumpets themselves, there were two kinds which were used, a shofar or ram's horn, and silver trumpets. There were a number of ways they were used, each having its own purpose.They were used to announce the beginning of festivals, to muster troops, to warn of danger, to assemble the people, in the midst of battles, at the year of Jubilee, for coronations, at the daily burnt offerings, and for music in the temple.

There was another use which is pertinent to this feast. On the first day of every month, trumpets were blown. Numbers 10:10 "Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God." The seventh month was designated as a Feast to celebrate the blowing of trumpets.

There are also a number of traditions associated with this day. The first is that this is the anniversary of creation. I am not sure whether they measure this from the first day God spoke, or the day He created Adam. Another tradition calls this day "the day that no man knows the day or hour." The reason it is called this is because the first day of every month in Judaism is determined by when the new moon is first seen. In ancient times two witnesses had to see the first sliver of the new moon and report it to the temple. This was not a rule given by God, this was just a rule they adopted. Then the first day of the month could be declared. As nobody could be sure when this would occur, the first day of the month would be a day which no man would know the day or hour. Another tradition is that this day will be the coronation day of the Messiah. Lastly there is a tradition that this day is the beginning of a ten day period called the Days of Awe.  During this time God judges people and they fall into one of three categories. They either have their names written in the Book of Life, they are condemned, or they are given ten days to escape judgment by repenting. The books are sealed on Yom Kippur. 

The second fall feast is Yom Kippur, although it is not really a feast. It is instead a fast. The only one mandated by God. It occurs on the tenth day of the seventh month and is known as the Day of Atonement.

Leviticus 16:29-34 "And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments: And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation. And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses."

Leviticus 16:7-10 "And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD's lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness."

Leviticus 23:27-32 "Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath."

Numbers 29:7-11 "And ye shall have on the tenth day of this seventh month an holy convocation; and ye shall afflict your souls: ye shall not do any work therein: But ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the LORD for a sweet savour; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year; they shall be unto you without blemish: And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals to a bullock, and two tenth deals to one ram, A several tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: One kid of the goats for a sin offering; beside the sin offering of atonement, and the continual burnt offering, and the meat offering of it, and their drink offerings."

This day is a Sabbath of rests or literally a Sabbath of Sabbaths. The most important Sabbath in the entire year. They are to have a holy convocation (a gathering of the people together), and do no work, (this rule includes any strangers among them). They are also instructed to fast and offer sacrifices.  The high priest puts on white linen garments and makes an atonement for the people by going into the holy place and sprinkling blood upon the ark of the covenant. Two goats are chosen. One is offered as a sin offering and the other has the sins of the people symbolically laid upon him and he is turned loose into the wilderness. In reality, the people threw this goat off a cliff so that it would not come back. It was said to be offered to Azazel, a demon chained to the area of the wilderness.

The Bible does not mention in these verses that a trumpet should be blown on this day, but that is what is traditionally done. Yom Kippur ends with the blowing of the shofar, which is supposed to herald the coming of the Messiah. It also symbolizes the closing of the gates of heaven. Yom Kippur tradition says this is the day when God closes the books after the ten days of awe or repentance, and He decides people's fates. Tradition also says it is the day that the Day of the Lord or God's wrath will begin. This has some basis in Scripture. Joel 1:14-15 "Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,  Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come." The only required fast day is Yom Kippur, and they are to have a holy convocation or solemn gathering on that day, which is what this verse instructs them to do. The resurrection is also expected to occur on this day, as it precedes God's wrath. It also is said that this was the day of the fall of man by Adam and Eve. This was the first atonement in the history of the world when God killed animals to cover their sins, for He made them coats of skins. It would make sense, for it could not have been a long time between their creation and the fall, for there was no time for children to be conceived, and God had ordered them to get busy in that respect. Also, though it is only a few days, Satan would have had time to fall, when he saw God had created man in His image and got jealous and full of pride, and of course immediately he would have aimed his anger at God's creation to corrupt it.

While the trumpets are traditionally blown at the end of Yom Kippur, the only time that God has said that a trumpet is to be blown on Yom Kippur is when it is the year of Jubilee. This would be the last trumpet blown in God's calendar of time keeping, for God measures time by weeks of days (7 days with the 7th being a Sabbath), by weeks of years (7 years with the 7th year being a Sabbath) and by weeks of Sabbath years (7 groups of 7 year periods - 49 years) with the 50th year being a Jubilee and a Sabbath year. Then the count begins again.

Leviticus 25:8-55 "And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

A jubile shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. For it is the jubile; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his possession. And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour's hand, ye shall not oppress one another: According to the number of years after the jubile thou shalt buy of thy neighbour, and according unto the number of years of the fruits he shall sell unto thee: According to the multitude of years thou shalt increase the price thereof, and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price of it: for according to the number of the years of the fruits doth he sell unto thee. Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the LORD your God. Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety.

And the land shall yield her fruit, and he shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety. And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store. The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land. If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it; Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return unto his possession. But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubile: and in the jubile it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession. And if a man sell a dwelling house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; within a full year may he redeem it. And if it be not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house that is in the walled city shall be established for ever to him that bought it throughout his generations: it shall not go out in the jubile. But the houses of the villages which have no wall round about them shall be counted as the fields of the country: they may be redeemed, and they shall go out in the jubile. Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses of the cities of their possession, may the Levites redeem at any time. And if a man purchase of the Levites, then the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, shall go out in the year of jubile: for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel.  But the field of the suburbs of their cities may not be sold; for it is their perpetual possession.

And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase. I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God. And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant: But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubile: And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return. For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen. Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God. Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour. And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger's family: After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: Either his uncle, or his uncle's son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself. And he shall reckon with him that bought him from the year that he was sold to him unto the year of jubile: and the price of his sale shall be according unto the number of years, according to the time of an hired servant shall it be with him. If there be yet many years behind, according unto them he shall give again the price of his redemption out of the money that he was bought for. And if there remain but few years unto the year of jubile, then he shall count with him, and according unto his years shall he give him again the price of his redemption. And as a yearly hired servant shall he be with him: and the other shall not rule with rigour over him in thy sight. And if he be not redeemed in these years, then he shall go out in the year of jubile, both he, and his children with him. For unto me the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God."

The Jubilee year is the year when everyone from Israel goes free, both from servitude, and from financial problems. They regain what they have lost in the way of land. Israelites who were sold into servitude due to financial problems could be redeemed during the fifty years by kinsmen for a price, dependent upon how many years until Jubilee, but whether a servant of an Israelite or a stranger, he was set free at Jubilee. The heathen bondsmen. however, remained forever as a servant of the family to be inherited as property. Property whether farmland or village land reverted back with the same rules of redemption as people. The exception was that houses inside walled cities had one year to be redeemed after being sold, and after that they were lost. The Levites could redeem anything at any time for they were to keep their land and houses for perpetuity. The land was not to be sown or reaped on the Jubilee year which also followed a Sabbath year. God's way of handling that was to give them three years worth of food on the sixth year in the seven year cycle. He guaranteed that they would be eating it not only through the seventh year, and Jubilee year (8th) year, but also into the ninth year.

When Christ first began His ministry, He stood up and read a passage from Isaiah in the synagogue. Luke 4:17-21 "And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."

The passage in Isaiah says a little bit more. Isaiah 61:1-3a "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion"

Christ was reading a passage which referred to the ultimate Jubilee when the Messiah would come and fulfill those things in the greatest possible way. Israel would be set free for all time, they would redeem the land they had lost, their spirits would be set free from sin.  He stopped short of the end of the passage about the day of vengeance, because at that time, He was there to preach the gospel. Had they been willing and accepted Him, the day of vengeance would have followed, but they rejected Him. So Christ indicated by this passage that His coming had to do with Jubilee, which is announced with a trumpet blast at Yom Kippur, as the captives were liberated, not only physically from servitude and their ailments, but spiritually too as they were set free from the bonds of sin.

So now that we have looked at the Scriptures and traditions surrounding these two holy days, let us look to see what each one may represent.

First, not relying on the traditions, but keeping it strictly to Scripture we see that when we look at the feast of trumpets, as these feasts are foreshadowing things symbolically through whatever actions the Lord tells the people to take, we see that there are only three things He asks of them on this day. Blow the trumpets, observe it as a Sabbath, and offer the usual sacrifices of the month along with a few more.  If we look to the New Testament, the only thing we see that might refer to this day that doesn't have to do with a tradition is the seven trumpet judgments. Trumpets are blown on the new moon of every month and then there is the Feast of Trumpets on the seventh month. This gives us seven trumpets up to this point. It is signifying that seven trumpets are important, and the seventh one especially is the cause of a Sabbath.  So the Feast foreshadows the importance of the trumpet judgments in Revelation and especially designated the seventh or last trumpet as the most important. And in Revelation we see that seven trumpets are sounded, and the last trumpet is the most important. It symbolizes what is to come. As the day is also declared to be a Sabbath, we see a foreshadow of the Sabbath rest of the millennium.

When it comes to the traditions associated with the day, there is the phrase "nobody knows the day or hour" that Christ says in Matthew 24:36 "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." It is thought that since He said that He would come back at a time when nobody would know the day or hour,  many assume that this must be the day of the rapture, but this is not necessarily true. Every first day of the month would be a day which no man would know the day or hour, not just this day, although this day has a feast on it. And as it wouldn't matter what hour they saw the sliver, it was really that nobody would know the day. The hour wouldn't really be relevant. And it would seem that Jesus should know what God knows as they are of one mind, and as they are in charge of nature and the appearance of the moon, it seems unlikely that Christ wouldn't know the day or hour. There happens to be another event of which this is also said, but it fills what Christ said in a more complete way.

While people may not know the day of the Feast of Trumpets, (the hour being irrelevant as no matter what hour the sliver was seen, it was the day that mattered) Christ specifies that only God would know the day and the hour.  The event of which only a father would know the day and the hour would be the time at which he would send his son forth to get his bride. In the traditions of the culture, when a man was betrothed (as Christ is to the Church) he would leave her behind while he went back to his father's house and built a place for the newlyweds to live (New Jerusalem). When his father examined the structure and decided it was complete, he would give his son permission to go get his bride. (The groom would know it was time, but he had to await the actual permission to go). The groom would then make a noisy parade of it, probably with instruments (maybe a trumpet?) alerting all that he was on his way to pick up his bride and take her home. Now, in this case, the son would know that everything was ready for his departure, but he would not be able to leave, or know the day or hour in which his father would actually say the words, "Go get your bride." It would seem that since Christ is a groom, who has made a place for his bride to live and needs to wait for His Father to tell Him to go and get her, making a loud triumphant event of it, that when Christ said nobody knows the day or hour but the Father, refers to the resurrection/rapture at His Second Coming, but it does not mean that it has to occur on the Feast of Trumpets. It simply means that His Coming is the Bridegroom coming for His Bride and He can't know for certain when the Father will say "go", down to the hour. This seems made clear when He follows it up with the parable of the ten virgins, and how five were not ready for the groom's return and so missed out. It would seem that the point of His statement is not to point us to the Feast of Trumpets, but to alert us to the fact that this is about a wedding and it will be at a time when the groom and father know all is ready, but everyone else will be caught by surprise, unless they are vigilant and watching.

Finally another tradition associated with this holiday is a coronation. Trumpets were also sounded at coronations, and Christ must be crowned King before He returns. This would seem to be a good time to do it.

When it comes to Yom Kippur we know that in particular the most important Yom Kippur is the announcement of the year of Jubilee. We see that Christ read the Scriptures about the Jubilee when He announced that the ultimate day of Jubilee had come, if they would accept it. This would seem to indicate that Christ will come on a Jubilee year to set the captives free and declare the acceptable year of the Lord. Jubilee begins at Yom Kippur with the last trumpet blast of the year according to God's ordinances.

Yom Kippur is about atonement or redemption, fasting and mourning over ones sins with repentance, and Israel being given forgiveness as a nation. When Christ returns, it says that all Israel will see Him and mourn, as they realize their mistake. Zechariah 12:9-14 "And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem." Revelation 1:7 "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."

When the Church is raptured, it is the end of the time of the Gentiles, and the time when all Israel will be saved. Romans 11:25-26 "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:" Zechariah 13:1 "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." On the day the Church is raptured, atonement will be made for the sins of Israel and all Israel will be saved. Yom Kippur is the day when Israel as a nation is given atonement.

It is a day when the priest puts on white (as we all will upon the resurrection/rapture) to go before God. It is a day when one goat is exiled (the first man, Adam) and the other is sacrificed (the last Adam, Christ). 1 Corinthians 15:45 47 " And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.... The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven."  Yom Kippur is the Sabbath of Sabbaths, and this Jubilee of the Lord's return would be the mega Sabbath of all time. Which is what the millennium is.

According to tradition, it is the day when the books are closed and it is decided who is in the Book of Life, and who goes into God's wrath. When the Church is raptured, God's wrath is poured out on the rest of the world. According to tradition, Yom Kippur is that day when God's wrath begins to be poured out.

Joel 2:11-18 "And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD (the Day of the Lord will occur when the following occurs) is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?  Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, (repentance) and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: ( Yom Kippur) And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.  Who knoweth if he will return and repent, (Christ will return for them at Armageddon) and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God? (marriage supper of God, Rev. 19:17*)  Blow the trumpet (last trump) in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:   Gather the people, (holy convocation) sanctify the congregation, (Israel's sins forgiven, all Israel saved)  assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.  Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?  Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people."  Christ will redeem Israel and the land.

*Rev. 19:17 "And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God."

In the above passage Yom Kippur is clearly tied to the Day of the Lord.  And the Day of the Lord is preceded by the resurrection and rapture.

Ephesians 4:30 "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." We are sealed unto the day of redemption. Yom Kippur is the day of redemption for Israel, which means it is also the day of redemption for the Church as when their time is fulfilled, the time of Israel's redemption begins.

We see the events outlined in Isaiah 58:1-14 "Cry aloud, spare not, (Feast of Trumpets) lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and (Days of Awe) shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. (Yom Kippur) Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I have chosen?(Jubilee) to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? (Second Coming) Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, (All Israel is saved) and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee;  the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul;  (Restoration of the people and nation) then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. (Restoration of land) And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. (Millennium) If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."

Just to follow up with the third feast, five days after Yom Kippur is the Feast of Tabernacles. It is Scripturally a time of celebrating the memorial of the people in the wilderness under God's protection after leaving Egypt. And it could just as easily stand for the protection in the wilderness during the second half of Daniel's 70th week. Revelation 12:14 "And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent."

It is also Scripturally the feast celebrating among other things, the harvest of grapes, which has a significant parallel in Revelation 14:14-20 "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. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs."

It is also called the "Season of Our Joy."  A wedding feast generally lasted a week in Biblical times. This feast is eight days long. Five days might be sufficient time for the Bema Seat awards to be given and have the Bride prepared for a wedding ceremony. It is this feast which is mentioned in Zechariah 14:16, which all people are required to come to Jerusalem to celebrate during the millennium. What better feast to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord's marriage to His Bride than this one? "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."

While many will want to cling to the Feast of Trumpets as the rapture, due to the two premises 1) the phrase "nobody knows the day or hour" and 2) the trumpet blast, I think those two things can be explained away (the marriage tradition and the Jubilee trumpet actually being the last trumpet, not the one on the Feast of Trumpets) which leaves no other evidence for that day. I believe the preponderance of Scriptural evidence clearly indicates that Yom Kippur, and in particular the Jubilee Yom Kippur, is the day which will see the Second Coming of Christ and the resurrection/rapture, and Day of the Lord's wrath. The evidence of the traditional beliefs seems to weigh in that favor also. However, it is up to the reader to decide what they will believe.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Who Gets To Go In The Rapture?

There are a number of beliefs as to when the rapture is going to occur - Pre-trib, Mid-trib, Pre-wrath, Last Trump, and Post-trib. In the case of Pre-trib a new belief has emerged that says that there is a partial rapture instead of a complete rapture, with God leaving behind those who are not believers in the Pre-trib theory. Essentially they are saying that if you believe anything other than Pre-trib, God is going to punish you for that by making you go through the tribulation. The fact that they claim that Christians are not appointed to wrath, then leave a whole lot of them behind to suffer what they say is wrath, along with what they call tribulation saints is a little contradictory to say the least. It is unfortunate that they cannot see how illogical their belief is.

As those who read my blog may know, I do not adhere to the Pre-trib view, I believe what the Scriptures teach, that the rapture will happen at the last trump, when the mystery of God is finished. The question in this article is, who will be in that rapture and why?

Knowing that the rapture is not only after the great tribulation is cut short (and it would seem unlikely that many would survive that), but that it also comes after the six trumpets in which many die, it would seem unlikely that many would reach that point having survived. Especially considering that the people being killed in the worst holocaust ever are the Christians.  In spite of that, it seems that many pre-wrath and post-trib people believe that nearly all Christians will make it to the rapture. At least they always believe that they themselves will. When reading their articles and comments it seems that they have the idea that God is going to protect all Christians through all of this and that there will be a great host of people being raptured at the Lord's Coming. Nothing could be further from the truth. The number of Christians that come out of the tribulation and are seen on the sea of glass is a great multitude. There will be much death, hence the greatest tribulation since the beginning of the world.

Most Christians do not bother with the book of Revelation. They believe, erroneously, that it has nothing to do with them, and was only written for the Jews or those who would be "left behind." They make a grave error, for this is the only book in the Bible that has a blessing attached to it. Revelation 1:3 "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand." Some who do teach this book say that people will be blessed for reading it, but that is not the entire truth of the matter. You not only have to read it, you have to hear the words of the prophecy. Read it and heed it. In other words, you have to accept what it says, and not cling to a preconceived and comfortable belief that does not line up with what it says. And once you understand what is said, you have to keep the things that are written. In other words, any directives given (especially to the seven churches) must be obeyed. I believe a good part of what the blessing is, is to understand what is coming and to understand what God requires of those whom He will choose to escape it.

Another blessing follows in Revelation 22:7 "Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book." A second time we are told that we will be blessed for not just reading or hearing, but keeping the words of prophecy.  And again in 22:14 we are told "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." As we shall see below, a part of meeting the requirements to be one of the chosen to be raptured is to keep the commandments. That will be discussed further. So three times there is a blessing attached to this book as far as understanding and keeping it. This is an important thing to pay attention to. Obviously God wanted us to read and study and keep the things written in this book.

When the disciples asked Jesus what the signs of His coming were,  He said to "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass." Luke 21:36. The first thing He did was give some instructions on making it to the rapture. You have to pray to be worthy to escape the tribulation and what follows it. That requires three things. First you have to pray, and second you have to pray specifically to be worthy, and third you have to strive to be worthy, for in this case it is not about salvation, for which we will never be worthy no matter how much we strive. Salvation only comes through Jesus' worthiness. This is about escaping tribulation, or the wrath of Satan, or the chastisement of God, for as Peter said, "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?"  1 Peter 4:17. This is more than Satan's wrath, this is about God's chastisement on an apostate Bride. Judgment will begin with us, for we have strayed far from God. That is what the seven letters to the churches in Revelation are all about. Two of those churches pass His inspection, but even one of those is destined for martyrdom. The other five must be purged and refined. Daniel 11:35 "And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed." So what you are striving to do is to be living in such a way that you do not need God's chastisement.

The next verse is one that pre-tribbers like to grab onto to show that they won't be here during the tribulation, but that is not what it says. Revelation 3:10 "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."  First of all to keep us from something does not mean to remove us from it. It means to keep us through it. Jesus said this in John 17:15 "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." If there is any question as to whether "keep them (or thee) from" means to take out of, Christ clearly is stating here that He does not mean to take them out of the world. He wants them kept safe while in the world. So we can see that this promise is to keep us safe within that time of temptation or the tribulation, for the same exact words are used in both passages, and the one passage defines what is meant by those words.

The next thing that most people seem to miss, because they are so busy being hung up on the phrase "keep them from" is that this says the "hour of temptation", not wrath. The temptation is a testing. God has a practice of testing our faith, for our faith needs testing. This is not an uncommon thing to have happen. And especially when the Church has become apostate and has fallen away as mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition," and in the letters to the churches in Revelation. So only one out of seven churches qualifies. That is only 14% of the churches, and it does not necessarily mean everyone in that church either, for only those who keep the word of God's patience, are given the promise. What does that mean, keep the word of God's patience? I believe it means to keep and hold to the truth of when the rapture really is going to occur, at the Second Coming at the last trump. It will require patience to wait through all of this and stay faithful in the face of the persecution. This is verified by two verses later in Revelation 13:10 "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." and 14:11-12 "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."  The patience of the saints is to not take the mark, and watch others be killed when they don't, and be willing to be killed yourself.

So far we have that we must 1) read and heed the book of Revelation, 2) pray, 3) pray that we are worthy to escape, 4) strive to be worthy by living in holiness and faithfulness and, 5) hold to the truth of the Scriptures that we must go through this and endure to the end.

The last instruction having to do with the survival guide for the tribulation is found in the previous verse of Revelation 14:12 "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."  It is specified that not only is keeping the faith in Christ alive and patience necessary, but keeping the commandments of God is also a requirement. It is mentioned also in Revelation 12:17 " And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."  Satan is going to go after those who keep the commandments of God who are also followers of Christ. It is not Jews this speaks of, but Christians who follow the commandments.

So many Christians these days say that the Ten Commandments are irrelevant, or that Christ reduced them to two, so only love is necessary, but that is not what the Bible teaches. Much is said about us keeping the Commandments of God in the New Testament.

Matthew 5:19 "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

Christ is talking about the kingdom of God, the one over which He shall be king. And that is the kingdom which all the Old Testament and New Testament saints expect to be living. And what does He say? He does not say that the Old Testament saints had to follow the laws, but by grace through faith in Him the commandments are now irrelevant. He says that if you break even one (and there are ten, not nine) of these commandments and teach someone else  to break them, He will not be shut out of the kingdom, but he shall be the least in the kingdom. So for Christians who teach that we are not under the law (and especially that the Sabbath is not required anymore), that is not true. God's moral laws are eternal. However God will forgive the breaking of the commandments, because of Christ's sacrifice and their faith. They will not lose their salvation over breaking them as long as they repent. Their loss however will come in the way of protection and rewards. Protection because only those who keep the commandments will run in the competition to be among the protected, and rewards because those who do not keep them or teach others to keep them will not be important in the kingdom. On the other hand, those who do keep and teach that the commandments must be kept, will be great in the kingdom.

Matthew 19:17 "And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments."

Here Christ is telling someone that following Him is not enough, but if this man wants to enter into eternal life, he must keep the commandments.

Mathew 22:40 "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

In this verse, Christ says that all the law is summed up in the word "love", love to God and love to others, but He does not say that the Ten Commandments are no longer valid. It is merely that the Ten Commandments detail the important command, that we love God and others. They are the rules that we follow to be able to love God and our neighbor in the proper way that is acceptable to God. Love simply summarizes what they represent. Christ did not mean just to have fuzzy feelings toward God and others. We are to act out our love by following the rules in the Ten Commandments, for faith without works is dead.

John 14:15 "If ye love me, keep my commandments."

Again, Christ is speaking of the entire Ten Commandments, (not nine) not just to have warm fuzzy feelings of love toward people. The verse where Christ reduced the Ten to two is not a new idea, for He is quoting the Old Testament which says the same thing. Yet even though the two commandments were given to love God and love your neighbor in the Old Testament, it did not do away with the Ten.

John 14:21 "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."

We are told again to keep the commandments. Keeping them is the sign that we love God. But wait, if just love was necessary, this verse would not make sense, for love can't be the sign of love. Something else has to be a sign or the evidence of love. In other words, there is some action that must be done, that will be the evidence that the person is motivated by love. Love the feeling is not an evidence of love. There has to be a tangible something for people to see, an action that proves that love is behind the action. The Ten Commandments are the behaviors which exemplify love, and keeping them are the evidence of our love for God and our neighbor.

John 15:10 "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."

Again, we are told to keep the commandments to be able to abide in Christ's love.

1 Corinthians 7:19 "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God."

Here it is made plain by Paul that it does not matter if you are  Jew or a Gentile, keeping the Commandments is for everyone. If it were just for the Jews, Paul would not have said what he did.

1 Corinthians 14:37  "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord."

Now not only are we told that the Ten Commandments are incumbent upon us, but Paul says that the things which he has taught them are as much behaviors to be observed as the Ten Commandments.

1 John 2:3 "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments."

We can know whether or not we have a real relationship with Christ by self-examination to see if we are keeping the Commandments. If we are not, then we need to consider that we do not really know Him.

1 John 2:4 "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."

Again, keeping the Commandments is a sign that we know Christ. If we are not keeping them, then we are liars about our relationship with Him.

1 John 3:22 "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight."

Keeping the Commandments results in having a more effective prayer life.

1 John 3:24 "And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us."

Once more we are told that if Christ dwells in us, we will be keeping the Commandments. It is how we and others know that we truly have a relationship with Him for the Holy Spirit is the one who enables us to keep the Commandments.

1 John 5:2 "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments."

How many times must Christians be told that keeping the Commandments is the evidence that we are the children of God.

1 John 5:3 "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."

Need I say it again?

2 John 1:6 "And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it."

Love is the reason we are able to keep the Commandments. Love makes us want to obey the Commandments. Love is the source, but the behaviors showing obedience to the Commandments is the evidence of that love.

So now we see there are a list of requirements that must be met to even qualify to be in the running to be in the group that is able to forego the testing or time of tribulation.  But is there any indication that many will not be doing that? Well, yes and some of them have already been mentioned. In 2 Thessalonians we are told that there will be a falling away or apostasy of the church. Then the letters to the churches show Christ's displeasure with the state of the churches and their sins, and He rebukes five of them and tells them they had better repent or else. In fact Thyatira is told that He will throw them into the Great Tribulation. He is very specific about that. Even the Smyrnans with whom He has no issue are told they will be martyred for Him. Then there is that very large group on the sea of glass in Revelation 7:14 "And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." As the rapture comes later and those who make it to the rapture are seen on the sea of glass later in Revelation 15, we know that these have not come out of the tribulation by rapture. They have come out of it through death, and they are a great multitude which no man can number. Millions upon millions will be killed in the tribulation. It will far surpass the holocaust of Hitler. The martyrs in the fifth seal were told that they had to wait for those who had to be killed as they were, before God would begin His wrath, and then here we see that group whom they have been waiting for soon after.  If there is any doubt, we are told in  Revelation 12:11 "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."  People will redeem themselves from their apostasy by giving their lives for Christ.  This is not about salvation, this is about disobedience and making the Bride pure, for she has made her garment very dirty. She needs cleaning up, because she has dirtied the clean garment she was given upon accepting Christ.

Christ also told us that  "then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." in Matthew 24:21.  If this holocaust is worse than any other holocaust in the history of the world, and the only people being killed are basically Christians who will not take the mark, guess what, there are going to be a whole lot of Christians being killed. That means that very few will be left to make it to the rapture. In fact Christ says He has to cut short the length of time of the tribulation, as if He let it run the entire three and a half years, there would be no flesh saved at all, for everyone who did not take the mark would be killed, and those who did would go to hell, so there would be nobody left to go into the millennium.

So we can see that very few Christians will make it to the rapture. Jesus even asked, "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:7-8.  There will have been so much apostasy, and so few true faithful and obedient believers left that Christ was wondering if anybody will be left to be raptured when He returns.

If you want to be in the running to be in that elite, tiny group of believers that find themselves on the sea of glass in Revelation 15 singing the song Moses and the Lamb (notice that they obey the 10 Commanments - Moses - and the Lamb - are Christians) having had victory over the beast, then you must at least be doing what is required to get onto the team. 1) Read the book that tells you what is coming and puts a blessing upon you for heeding what is written therein, 2) Pray that you might be worthy to escape. 3) Strive to be worthy by obeying the Ten Commandments (which includes the Sabbath-read my article on that here - and 4) keep the patience of God - remember that you must have enormous faith and patiently endure through not only the tribulation, but the six trumpet judgments and wait for the Second Coming of the Lord. You must have extra oil for your lamp, as in the parable of the Ten Virgins.  The first five did not expect to have to persevere and wait an inordinately long time, so did not prepare adequately for that. The last five knew they would have to have patience and had prepared in advance to do so. That is what this parable is all about. Most people interpret it in an entirely different way and miss the very point of what it is teaching - the same thing that Christ taught in Matthew 24 and in the letter to the Philadelphians in Revelation when He said to pray to be worthy and keep the patience of God. And also what He and the apostles taught throughout Scripture, that we must keep the Commandments of God. Even then there is no guarantee you will be in that elite group. You can only pray that you may be worthy.

So who gets to go in the rapture? Nobody can know if they are going to make it to that point, but you can make sure that you are in the qualifying heat, as they say in races. At least you should try to be in the running by following the instructions. Those who are not following the instructions, figuring that they are destined to escape it either because they are pre-trib or they don't think God will let any Christians suffer can probably figure that they are going to be one of the first group on the sea of glass, who come out of the tribulation long before the rapture. And the only way that is happening is through death. For those who are striving, the good news is, the number of people you are competing with to get on the team seem to be a small number, so your odds are good. May God bless your striving and may you find yourself a Philadelphian who overcomes.