The Coming Kingdom 026

Andy Woods

The Coming Kingdom

11-8-17     Revelation 1:6              Lesson 26

If we could take our Bibles and open them to the Book of Revelation, chapter 1 and verse 6.  You guys all enjoying this cool weather?    I thought Al Gore must be in town giving one of his global warming speeches because every time he gives one of those speeches God has a sense of humor and makes it the coldest day on record.

The Book of Revelation, chapter 1 and verse 6.  We have been, as you know, continuing our study through the subject of the kingdom, basically dealing with the subject what does the Bible say about the kingdom?  And we’ve traced the concept of the kingdom essentially all the way through the Old Testament.  So we basically saw that the kingdom, and we studied this very consistently and I hope you understand that we’re doing an inductive study of the whole Bible to arrive at these conclusions.  I think tonight we’re on lesson 26.

The kingdom has been developed in the pages of the Old Testament and it’s been offered to Israel on a silver platter and it was rejected in Matthew chapter 12.  So ever since Matthew 12 we’re living in a time period when the kingdom is not cancelled but postponed.  So then the issue becomes, since God never leaves the earth without a witness of Himself what is He doing in the present age while the kingdom is not here.  He’s doing a lot of things, it just shouldn’t be confused with the kingdom.  And that’s sort of the premise that we’re taking as we’ve been studying the interim age.  So the interim age,  you’ve got to understand two areas of the Bible, number 1, Matthew 13 which describes, in the form of eight parable, the plan and program of God while the kingdom is not here.  And then the second area you’ve to study is the role of the church.  The role of the church is part of that interadvent age, as we’ve looked at.   So that’s where we find ourselves the last few Wednesday nights.

So the subject matter on the church basically divided it into five; number 1, the definition of the church.  The church is this unique new man that God promised to raise up.  You’ll find the church described as a new man in Ephesians 2:14-15, it’s a body spiritually consisting of everyone that has trusted in the Messiah that national Israel rejected in the first century.  [Ephesians 2:14-15, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, [15] by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.”]

Then number 2 we looked at the beginning of the church.  When did the church begin?  Acts 2, and that’s not one of those things where you have to believe it just because the pastor says that; I gave you six proofs as to why the church started in Acts 2.

And then number 3 we looked at the purposes of the church, what is the church supposed to be doing?  And we saw that the church basically has three basic functions, which we’ve gone through.

And then the fourth thing that we looked at is the church is not the kingdom, the way the kingdom is described and the way the church is described, they’re basically two different animals (so to speak).  And that becomes a big deal because if you’re confused on number 4 you get quickly confused on number 3.  See that?  So if you don’t understand that the church is not the kingdom, if you think the church is the kingdom then the church starts to take on kingdom roles that God never gave to the church, and the church gets outside of its design.  I think that’s why Satan throughout history in our Protestant Reformation study, (we studied this historically) why Satan has worked so hard in church history to convince the church that she is actually the reigning kingdom of God on the earth which she is not, as we’ve tried to argue.  And by the way, on number 4, the church is not the kingdom, I gave you thirteen dissimilarities between the church and the kingdom.

And that takes us to number 5 which we started last time, the church not only is not the kingdom, the church is not Israel.  Now why is that relevant?  Because God, the way He set up the covenants is going to bring His kingdom to the earth through the nation of Israel. We saw that at Mt. Sinai, I won’t reteach all of these verses that we’ve taught on this in past lessons, we saw it in Matthew 23.  So if you can demonstrate that the church is not Israel and the kingdom must come through Israel then the church cannot be the kingdom.  See that?  That’s why it’s very significant to understand the differences between Israel and the church.  Last time we were together we started looking at a list of 24 differences between Israel and the church.  And there’s the first 8 or so that we walked through and if there’s two at the top there in that second list that we walked through.

And now we come to difference number 11 between Israel and the church and by God’s grace I’m going to try to finish this list with point 4 this evening.  But don’t hold me to that.  So number 11, in terms of an eleventh difference between Israel and the church is this: it concerns the priesthood.  The nation of Israel had a priesthood; the priest had to come from the tribe of Levi and they had to be a descendant of whose lineage?  Aaron’s.  So not anybody could just put up their hand and say hey, I’d like to sign up for the role of the priest.  In fact, the Book of Hebrews, I think it’s around chapter 5 is very clear, it says no one takes this honor upon themselves.  [Hebrews 5:4, “And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.”]

So you had to be genealogically qualified to be a priest in the nation of Israel in Old Testament times, coming from Levi and also a descendant of Aaron.  So when you read passages like Exodus 28 and many other passages you see the priesthood’s garments described in great detail, what the priest was to wear on his head, what the priest was to clothe his body with, the bells that were placed at the hem of the garment of the priest, the incense that the priest was to bring in to the Holy of Holies and the instructions there are incredible in terms of detail.

And what you discover when you get to the New Testament is there’s no such instructions given to the church.  There is no singular group of people within the church that are priests.  Within Israel there was a smaller group within Israel that qualified as priests.  Not so the church because everyone in the church is automatically a priest.  So the Book of Revelation, chapter 1 and verse 6, John says, “and He” that’s God, “has made us” that’s the church, “to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father– to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”  So in the church age we don’t have a tiny group of people coming from the right tribe that qualifies priests; all of us are automatically priests.

So going back to this description, in Israel the church had a priesthood, by contrast the church is a priesthood by definition.  So you may not look at  yourself as a priest, you may not feel like a priest, but positionally speaking that’s the identity God has given you.  And a priest represents God before man and man before God.  And we’re given that role; we intercede for people, pray for people, and also we represent God to a lost and dying world.

So today you go into some sectors of Protestantism and also into Roman Catholicism and you look at the way priests are dressed up and they look a lot like Aaron, don’t they?  They’ve got these robes that are even purple a lot of times, like Aaron’s robe was.  So what is happening is in certain churches some people are looked at as priests.  In fact, I grew up in a Protestant denomination, the Episcopalian denomination, where we had priests.  And the priests are always sort of removed from the people, they’re in kind of a different décor and the fact of the situation is there’s absolutely no New Testament authority for that concept.  To get that thing to work what you have to do is you have to start dipping into, not the New Testament to get it to work but going back to the Old Testament.

So as the church gets more and more fuzzy about the Israel/church distinction what it has a tendency to do is go back into the Old Testament, take certain things out of it that they like, like having a certain class of people within the church called priests and having them dress up and the New Testament, as it’s describing the church never articulates anything like that.  The only biblical support you can find for it is in the Old Testament.  So if you’re in a church that has priests and you’re actually confessing your sins to a priest of some kind then essentially what’s happening is you’re in a church that has gotten very fuzzy in terms of the Israel/church distinction.

Another difference between Israel and the church is Israel had a physical temple. Take a look if you could at 1 Kings 6:1.  You go all the way through the Old Testament and you start seeing God manifesting His presence in, first of all a tabernacle, which was like a mobile temple that they carried around, the nation of Israel did, while they were outside the land entering the land.  And finally that tabernacle became an actual physical structure called the temple, in Jerusalem, and that temple was built by Solomon.  So 1 Kings 6:1 says, “Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv” see how chronically precise this is, “which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.”  The “house of the LORD” is the actual physical construction in Jerusalem called the temple.  David, as you know, was a man of war so he was not given the privilege of building an actual temple; that privilege went to Solomon.  The word “Solomon” is connected to the Hebrew word “Shalom” which means peace.  So Solomon was given the right, or the privilege I should say, of building that temple.

And as you go through the Bible what you discover is there’s four temples in the history of Israel; two past, two future.  You have the temple built by Solomon around 966 B.C. that we just read about in 1 Kings 6:1, and that was the temple that was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in the days of Daniel (that we’re studying about on Sunday morning).  And then after the seventy year deportation the children of Israel went back into the land and they rebuilt the temple and you can read about that in the Book of Ezra.  And that was the temple that Herod took, John 2:20, and beautified it.  [John 2:20, “The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’”]

So by the time you get to the life of Christ that second temple is the one that’s functioning as the temple that Jesus went into when he was 12 and confounded the religious leaders with His wisdom.  It’s the temple that the devil put Him on the pinnacle of and said throw yourself forth and so forth.  And that temple was destroyed by who?  The Romans, A.D.  70.  So ever since that time Israel hasn’t had a temple.  Prophetically we know there’s going to be a third temple built by the nation that the antichrist will desecrate midway through the tribulation period.  I have all of the verses there on the screen where you can look up the biblical support for that third temple prophetically.  [Solomon’s pre-exilic temple (Kings and Chronicles, Zerubbabel’s post exilic temple (Ezra 1-6; John 2:20), Antichrist’s temple (Daniel 9:27; Matt 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 11:1-2)   Millennial temple (Ezekiel 40-48)]

And I believe that that third temple is going to be destroyed in the seventh bowl judgment that’s described in Revelation 16.  It talks about the greatest earthquake in human history which will dismantle that third temple.  But that third temple will be replaced by a fourth temple called the millennial temple, which is what Ezekiel is talking about in such tremendous detail, Ezekiel 40-48.  And that’s the temple that the Shekinah glory of God is going to re-enter.  The Shekinah glory of God entered the Solomonic temple and left just before that temple was destroyed.  And Ezekiel predicts a time in the millennial kingdom where that fourth temple will be indwelt by the Shekinah glory of God.

So my point is Israel had a physical building called the temple.  Now compare that to the church; what’s the temple in the church?  Your body is the temple; it’s a different concept isn’t it?               1 Corinthians 6:19 makes it about as clear as it can be made that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. [1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”]   So if you are a believer in Christ then the Holy Spirit has permanently taken up residence in you.  And that’s Paul’s whole basis for exhorting the Corinthians to live a holy life, because when we join ourselves to sin as Christians we’re dragging the Holy Spirit into that sin, whatever it may be, because we’re living an incredibly privileged time period where the human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

And over in 1 Corinthians 3:16 the pronoun switches from singular to plural.  [1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”]   So 1 Corinthians 3:16 teaches that not only is our body the temple of the Holy Spirit but our corporate gathering together, as we’re doing here today, is actually an opportunity for God to manifest His presence.  So the church corporately gathering is the habitation of God.

And beyond that the physical body of each individual Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  In the church age we individually are the temple of God and we corporately are the temple of God and that’s something, if you had told that to Israel in Old Testament times it would have blown their mind because their only knowledge of the manifestation of God’s presence was a physical building. So that becomes, wouldn’t you agree, another key difference between Israel and the church, the whole temple concept.  Israel has a physical temple but in the church our body, and bodies are the temple of God.

Now what about resurrection?  When are you planning on being resurrected?  When you go back into the Book of Daniel, chapter 12 and verse 2 it talks there about two great resurrections.  There will be a resurrection unto life for the believer and then a resurrection unto condemnation for the unbeliever.  [Daniel 12:2, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”]

And you’ll see that understanding demonstrated in John 11:23-24.  And this is where one of the sisters says to Jesus concerning Christ’s prediction that He was going to raise Lazarus, she says oh, I know he’ll rise “on the last day.”  So she’s referring to what Daniel said back in Daniel 12:2.

[John 11:23, “Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’  [24]Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’  [25] Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, [26] and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’” [27] She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”’]

The Book of Revelation, chapter 20, verses 4-6 refers to those two resurrections.  It says, “and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”  And then verse 5 continues on and it says, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed.”            [5b, “This is the first resurrection.  [6] Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”]

So here is where we learn that between the two resurrections, the resurrection unto life for the believer and the resurrection unto damnation for the unbeliever, in between those two resurrection would occur a time period of a thousand years.  So that’s the Old Testament understanding of resurrection and it’s sort of repeated in the Book of Revelation.

However, when you get into the New Testament what you discover is that the resurrection unto life for the believer has three parts to it.  Number 1 is Christ’s resurrection, called firstfruits.  Firstfruits in the harvest imagery guaranteed the rest of the harvest.  So His resurrection guarantees everyone else’s resurrection.  The second phase of the resurrection unto life is the general harvest and that’s the rapture.  That’s when all church age believers are going to receive their resurrected bodies, at the point of the rapture.  So everyone that has trusted in Jesus Christ from the day of Pentecost until the rapture, who is part of the body of Christ, is going to be resurrected at that point.  Paul talks about this in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.

And then what about people that are believers before the church stared?  Or what about people that become believers after the church age is over, in the tribulation period?  They’re going to be resurrected at the beginning of the millennial kingdom. So the resurrection unto life for the believer has those three separate parts to it.  And then a thousand years are going to pass and then there’s a terrible resurrection of all unsaved people as they’re taken out of Hades and they’re placed in glorified bodies and they stand before the Lord at the Great White Throne Judgment and at that point they are transferred as their name is not found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and they’re found guilty in that sense; they’re transferred from Hades into the Lake of Fire to be tortured basically forever in their new bodies.  And this is a doctrine that I didn’t invent, I wouldn’t have invented something like this; it’s such a scary thing.  But you’ll see it very clearly taught in Revelation 20:11-15.

[Revelation 20:11-15, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. [12] And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. [13] And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. [14] Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. [15] And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”]

So you’ll notice that from this chart that the church is resurrected at a different time than Israel.  Our resurrection is at the rapture, seven years before the tribulation period starts.  Israel’s resurrection is at the end of the tribulation period and at the beginning of the millennial kingdom. So the programs for Israel and the church are so distinct in the mind of God that we receive our resurrected bodies at a different time than Israel receives their resurrected bodies.

And I was with some Hebrews Christians, Jewish Christians and they were trying to convince me that as Hebrews Christians they’re part of this unbroken chain going back to the Old Testament and into the future of what they call remnant theology.  So they thought they were part of some special remnant that stretched across the past and the distant future.  And finally I said to these guys, well when are you planning on being resurrected?  And they kind of looked at me dumbfounded, why am I asking that?  I go well, you’re going to be resurrected at the rapture aren’t you?  Well, yeah.  Well, when is Israel going to be resurrected?  At the beginning of the millennial kingdom.  So you’re not part of some remnant that stretches across history, you’re part of the church; you’re a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ in between the day of Pentecost and the rapture, you’re part of the church, whether Jew or Gentile, and as part of the body of Christ, or that new man, your resurrection program is such that you’re going to be resurrected at the point of the rapture.

So Israel will be resurrected at the first resurrection that’s described at the beginning of the millennial kingdom.  The church on the other hand is going to be resurrected at the rapture which precedes the tribulation period.

How about judgment?  When is the nation of Israel going to be judged?  The only judgment that we know of for the nation of Israel is the judgment in the wilderness after the tribulation period  is over and you’ll find a great description of it in the Book of Ezekiel, chapter 20, verses 33-44.  And basically what’s going to happen at the end of the tribulation period is there’s going to be people that survive the tribulation period.  So the Lord’s got to figure out which of these people are saved and which ones are unsaved.  The unsaved will be cast off the earth into Hades; the saved will go into the kingdom and there’s a judgment there for the Gentiles called the sheep and goat judgment.   You can read about that in Matthew 25:31-46, Christ determines which tribulational survivor Gentiles are believers and which ones are unbelievers based on how the people treated Christ’s brethren during the tribulation period.  Who would Christ’s brethren be?  The Jews who will be heavily persecuted by the antichrist. So if you step out in faith and you want to help the Jews during the tribulation period you demonstrate that you really are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But while that judgment is happening there’s a parallel judgment and it’s described in Ezekiel 20:33-44 and that’s just for the surviving Jews.  And what is going to have to happen is the surviving Jews that are believers are going to pass under the shepherd’s rod and they will go into the kingdom along with the sheep (Gentiles) and they will in their mortal bodies repopulate the earth.  That’s the only knowledge that we have about any sort of judgment for Israel.

However, when is the church going to be judged.  By the way, did you know as a Christian you’re going to be judged?  You’re not going to be judged to determine heaven or hell, that issue has already been settled, hasn’t it—the moment you trusted Christ.  But there is a judgment of rewards called the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.  And when does that judgment take place?  When the Lord comes.  When is the Lord coming for the church?  The rapture.  So Paul connects our judgment as members of the church with the coming of the Lord to get us in the rapture.  He says, “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before that time but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things that are hidden in darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”  Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”  [1 Corinthians 4:5]

So Paul very clearly when he’s talking to the church tells us that the church also is destined for a judgment but this is not a judgment on the earth like Israel is receiving in Ezekiel 20.  It’s a judgment that takes place immediately after the rapture when the Lord comes for us to catch us up and where will we be when we’re caught up?  Not on the earth but where?  Heaven. See, we’re God’s heavenly people; the nation of Israel is God’s earthly people.  So when the prophets reveal Israel’s judgment it talks about the earth, happening on the earth following the events of the tribulation period.  Since we’re God’s heavenly people we’re going to be in heaven; we’re going to be in the Father’s house for seven years while the events of the tribulation period are taking place on the earth below.  And that’s the time in which we will either be given rewards as Christians or not given rewards based on how we allowed God to use us during our earthly pilgrimage.

So this is something that Paul wants us to know about and you shouldn’t get insecure about it in terms of oh no, maybe I’m not saved.  That’s not the point of this judgment; it’s simply a judgment to give or not give rewards.  And some people will be fully rewarded, others will kind of look back with regret, suffering a loss, still rejoicing that they’re in heaven but not fully rewarded.  And so that’s what’s called the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ and that is not taking place on the earth as Israel’s judgment is taking place on the earth.  That’s taking place in heaven.  So we are judged at different times and places in comparison to the nation of Israel.

How about the giant eternal city that we read about in the Book of Revelation, chapters 21 and 22?  Do you know that parts of that city represent Israel and other parts of that city represent the church.  Have you ever read those chapters?  Those are some amazing chapters.  I would encourage you to read those chapters alongside Genesis 1 and 2. Genesis 1 and 2, before sin entered the picture; Revelation 21 and 22 after sin leaves.  Those chapters represent what’s normal.  Everything in between represents what’s abnormal because of the entrance of sin into the world through volition and choice and the creature’s decision to rebel against God.  And if you don’t understand that perspective what do you lose in the present?  It starts with an “h” and ends with “ope.”  You lose hope!  I mean, if this world with all of its problems was all there ever was and all there will ever be as reincarnation teaches, evolutionary teaching teaches that.  I mean it could be a very depressing place, couldn’t it.

But the Christian has such a different point of view; we live with hope.  We believe there was a time before sin entered and there’ll be a time after sin entered, and that’s what’s normal; that’s where we started and what got lost and that’s what’s ultimately going to be restored.  Evil is on a leash when you understand this; evil is finite.  And only a knowledge of those introductory chapters in the Book of Genesis and those concluding chapters in the Book of Revelation inform us of that.  But in those final chapters we learn about this city, it’s like a giant cube, and it looks like… it’s in heaven, in fact, I would argue in Galatians 4:26 that that city already exists.  It’s just not fit to come down to this world because this world is cursed by sin.  [Galatians 4:26, “But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.”]  It’s going to come down to the new heavens and new earth which the Lord will create.

And it’s a giant city, Revelation 21:16-17 says, ““The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal.  [17] And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.”

Now I don’t have any reason why I can’t take these numbers literally.  So how big is that city?  Well, it would take up a little over half, perhaps about half, a little over half the size of the United States of America. And so it’s that city on this brand new earth that God is going  to create and it’s laid out like a cube.  The way the dimensions are described I don’t see it as a pyramid; some people see it as a pyramid, I look at actually as a cube 1500 miles long, height, width, length.  And what the Book of Revelation talks about is on each side of the cube are three foundations and three gates.  So three foundations and three gates on one side, three foundations and three gates on another side, three foundations and three gates on another side, then that last side, three foundations and three gates.  Twelve foundations, twelve gates total.

Now when you look at the Book of Revelation, chapter 21 and you look at verse 12 each of the gates represent the twelve tribes of Israel.  In fact, as you look at the top of that gate you see a Hebrew word inscribed, if  your eyes are good and you can see that, so each one of the gates is named after the twelve tribes.  The twelve tribes is the foundation of the nation of Israel; that’s the beginning of God’s work with the nation of Israel.

And there is also beneath each gate a foundation, Revelation 21:14 says, each foundation was named after the twelve apostles.  [Revelation 21:14, “And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”  The apostles are the foundation of the church because Ephesians 2:20 says that God build the church on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets.  [Ephesians 2:20, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,”]

So it’s interesting to me that all throughout eternity, as  you go in and out of these gates, and by the way, these gates are wide open; they’re portrayed as never closing.  Now that’s very different than the Garden of Eden where cherubim were stationed preventing man in his sinful condition from going back into Eden.  So after the fall of man he couldn’t get back into Eden.  And  you’ll see a description of that in Genesis 3:23-24.  [Genesis 3:23-24, “therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. [24] So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.”]

But unlike Eden these gates are wide open and people go in and out at will.  And isn’t it interesting that every time you go in a gate you’re reminded of Israel as you look at the gate, because the tribes are the foundation of Israel, and every time you go in and out of a gate you see a foundation stone.  The foundation stone reminds you of the church because the foundations are named after the apostles.  So isn’t it interesting that throughout eternity God keeps Israel and the church in remembrance?  There’s a lot of theologians out there that hate what I’m talking about; they hate the idea that Israel and the church are separate.  And they’re not going to be very happy in eternity, I can guarantee you that if that’s their attitude.  Of course they’ll all have perfect attitudes by then because they’ll be in resurrected states.

But every time you’re going in and out of a gate you’re perpetually reminded of God’s two great programs that He has used to bring His redemptive purposes to the human race, Israel and the church.  So Israel and the church are so distinct that even the gates and the foundation stones of the eternal state, or the New Jerusalem, draw that distinction.

Now how about entrance?  How do you become a member of the nation of Israel?  The way you become a member of the nation of Israel is you have to be genealogically a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Unless that genealogical connect can be established you don’t have any right calling yourself a member of the Hebrew nation or the Hebrew race.  Everybody else is a Gentile.

Now watch this very carefully; within Israel there is believing Israel and unbelieving Israel.  Who is God going to fulfill His covenants through?  Unbelieving Israel or believing Israel?  Believing Israel!  And I don’t know if we have time to look at all of these passages but that’s what John the Baptist is saying in Matthew 3:7 to the Jews of the first century.  [Matthew 3:7. “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’”]  He says don’t take pride that you’re sons of Abraham, God could raise up rocks to be sons of Abraham.  What impresses God is not just a Hebrew but a believing Hebrew.

Paul, in the Book of Romans, chapter 2 and verse 28 and Romans 9 verse 6 says, “not all who are called Israel is Israel.” In other words, what God is impressed with is not just being a Hebrew but being a believing Hebrew.  [Romans 2:28, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.”  Roams 9:6, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;”]

The Book of Revelation, chapter 2 verse 9 and chapter 3 verse 9 refers to people that call themselves Jews but are not but are of “a synagogue of Satan.”  So to be a Jew you have to be a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and that in and of itself is not enough in terms of having God’s hand on you and Him fulfilling His covenants through you; you have you have to be a Hebrew in faith.   [Revelation 2:9, “’I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”  Revelation 3:9, “Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie– I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you.”]

Now if you’ve followed everything that I’ve said thus far what you learn is then you begin to see aha, that’s what the purpose of the tribulation period is for.  The purpose of the tribulation period is for Israel, not the church, Israel, so God can purge off the unbelievers within Israel and preserve for Himself a believing remnant.  Remember the judgment I talked about earlier in Ezekiel 20, for Israel at the end of the tribulation period?  That’s exactly what that purpose is doing; it’s purging off the unbelieving Israel and allowing believing Israel to enter the kingdom and have their covenants fulfilled through believing Israel.

Now the Book of Zechariah, chapter 13 and verses 8-9 indicate that in the tribulation period two-thirds of Jews will be purged away.  The remnant will consist of one third.  [Zechariah 13:8-9, ““It will come about in all the land,’ declares the LORD, ‘That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; but the third will be left in it.  [9] And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested.  They will call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”]  The purpose of the tribulation period is to separate two-thirds from the one-third.   And God is purifying that one-third and through that one-third He will fulfill His covenants.  Now you talk like this to a Jewish person and they don’t want to hear anything that you’re saying because the slogan of the Jewish person, concerning the holocaust, is what?  Never again!  Adolf Hitler killed a third, did he not, and here comes Mr. Sugar Land Bible Church pastor saying the antichrist is going to kill two-thirds, yet future.  Do you think they want to hear that?  Of course they don’t want to hear that because their mindset is never again.

And if I’m understanding my Bible correctly the worst holocaust for Israel is not past, as bad as that was, and I don’t make any aspersions that it was light, it was a terrible time, I’m just saying that there’s something even more severe in store for the nation of Israel and that’s the means that God is going to go to to separate the one-third and purge off the two-thirds.

Now let’s compare that to the church; how do you become a member of the church, the universal church I’m talking about now?  Faith alone in Christ alone.  Does the church consist of… now maybe a local church might, but does the universal church consist of believers and unbelievers like  you have within Israel?  You don’t have that concept at all.  And when you start to understand that then you begin to understand why the church won’t be in the tribulation, why there are no references to the church in the tribulation, because the purpose of the tribulation is to separate believing from unbelieving Israel.  Zechariah 13:8-9.

You don’t have to do that in the church because everybody within the church is a believer in Jesus Christ or they wouldn’t be part of the church.  So that is a BIG, BIG difference that I just described there.   Israel, you have to be physically born into it, a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and yet it’s completely possible to have believing Israel and unbelieving Israel.  The church, by contrast, you are spiritually born into it and it’s impossible to have believing church members in the universal church with unbelieving church members.  So there’s no need to put the church in the tribulation period to separate believing church from unbelieving church.  Are you guys with me on that?  Because this is foundational; a lot of people today are trying to put the church in the tribulation period.  And it relates to a misunderstanding of ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church, and how Israel and the church are different in the outworking of God’s purposes.  Oh boy, we jumped from the frying pan and into the fire here.

Governing principle: what principle governs the nation of Israel?  The Mosaic Law.  Psalm 147:19-20 says, “He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.  [20] He has not dealt thus with any nation; and as for His ordinances, they have not known them.  Praise the LORD!”

So when you are dealing with the nation of Israel and where Israel gets its base of authority in terms of what it should do you have to look at the Mosaic Law, which was given to the nation of Israel on Mount Sinai.  And by the way, the Mosaic Law has in it blessings and cursings; blessings for obedience, curses for disobedience.  And that’s one of the reasons, to be completely honest with you, I’m glad that we are not Israel because those curses can be very severe, can’t they; they’re described in the Book of Deuteronomy in chapter 28.  This is why Israel went into dispersion at the hands of the Assyrians and the Babylonians and the Romans, etc.

Now by contrast, what is our base of authority?  Primarily the New Testament, the books written after the church has already started.  Even though the Gospels record the life of Christ functioning under the Law there are still truths in there for us to glean because the gospels, in terms of date of writing were all written after the church started.  Amen.  So the gospels, the Book of Acts governs us; if you find principles also in the epistles, but our primary source of authority is the epistolary literature.  The Book of Revelation has seven epistles in it, Revelation 2 and 3, Paul wrote 13 epistles.  You know what epistles are, right?  The wives of the apostles… NO, epistles are letters so we’ve got 13 Pauline letters, eight general letters and then Revelation 2 and 3 which are seven letters to seven churches.  That’s where we get our authority from.  Not so the nation of Israel; they get their authority from the Law.

So if that is all true then tell me if you think these presentations of Scripture is accurate.  The pastor stands up and he says bring the whole tithe into the storehouse and see if I will not pour out so great a blessing upon you that you will not have enough room to contain it. Have you heard sermons like that?  I mean, hopefully not here but out there in Christian media and other churches.  I mean, it’s a great fundraising tool.  The problem is that comes from Malachi 3:8-11 which was given to the nation of Israel while she was operating under the Law and specifically while she was operating under the suzerain vassal treaty.  [Malachi 3:8-11, “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.  [9] You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!  [10] Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,”’ says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. [11] Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the LORD of hosts.”]

Remember we talked about suzerain vassal treaty that Israel had, the Mosaic Covenant, with blessings and cursings, if you do this I’ll bless you, materially and earthly.  If you don’t do this I will curse you, materially and earthly curses. So when someone is saying “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse” they’re taking a passage that was given to the nation of Israel from the Law while Israel was functioning  under a suzerain vassal treaty.

And the problem is if you go under the Law, Old Testament Law I’m talking about, in any way, shape or form, you’re automatically under the whole thing.  The Book of James, chapter 2, verse 10 says if we stumble over one part of the Law we stumble over what?  The whole thing.  [James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”]

So if that’s true then you wouldn’t bring your tithe to the storehouse;  you would bring three tithes to the storehouse because the nation of Israel didn’t have one tithe, they had three; two were annually and one was taken every third year. So the Jew was not giving ten percent of their income to the Lord, they were giving twenty-three and a third percent income to the Lord.  Why?  Because the nation of Israel was a nation that had to subsidize an army and a priesthood.  See that?

Our principles for giving, you don’t get them from the Book of Malachi; now you can learn great principles of God generically by studying Malachi but we don’t come to you and say thus saith the Lord, you have to give to get this blessing from the Lord because the Book of Malachi says so, because that would be taking the church and putting it under the Mosaic Law.  Our principles for giving are found in the epistles.  And if you want to know how to give and the manner in which you should give you study 2 Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9, which contain a series of adverbs; adverbs modify verbs, there’s adverbs telling you how to give.  So give cheerfully, give secretly, give sacrificially, give hilariously because God loves a cheerful giver, don’t give under compulsion.  And everybody looks at that and says I want a number, I want a number.  The problem is the New Testament church is not given a number because the New Testament church was not a country, like Israel, that had a tax system.  We are not a nation, right?  So we don’t have an army, we don’t have borders, and those kind of things.

And by the way, if you want to bring  your tithes to the storehouse that doesn’t mean the First Baptist Church or the Second Baptist Church, or the Fifteenth Baptist Church. That’s the temple in the Middle East; now that’s kind of difficult, isn’t it, to do that today because there isn’t a temple in the Middle East so we have a problem there.  And by the way, I wouldn’t show up on Sunday if I were you,  you need to show up on Saturday.  So if you want to go under the Law you’ve got to go under the whole thing here.  So that’s the foolishness of taking Malachi 3 and dangling it over the church in terms of philosophy of giving.

And then every fourth of July we get very patriotic and I’m a patriotic preacher myself, I love patriotic sermons, I like to listen to patriotic sermons, I like to give patriotic sermons so at some point during the fourth of July somebody starts quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14 which is a very, on the surface a very patriotic verse.  And what does it say? Have you heard this verse?  “and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, I will forgive their sin and I will heal their land.”

Now when Ronald Reagan (and I voted for Ronald Reagan the first time I had a chance to vote, in 1984 when he was sworn into office, Jerry Falwell administered the oath of office and the Bible that Reagan put his hand on was opened to 2 Chronicles 7:14.  And believe me, I loved Reagan, I wish we had another Reagan.  But the reality of the situation is that is, in my opinion, an abuse of the Bible.  People interpret heal their land as what?  America.  Now the problem is I go through the Old Testament and I don’t find the United States of America.  The closest I can find is in the word “Jerusalem” I find the letters u-s-a, J-e-r-u-s-a-l-e-m, other than that Jerusalem doesn’t mean America; America doesn’t mean Jerusalem and America… I love America but the fact of the matter is America is not Israel.  Only Israel had the suzerain vassal treaty.  See that1

So 2 Chronicles 7:14 is go back to the obedience of the suzerain vassal treaty and when that happens then I’m going to heal your land.  What’s that land?  The land of Israel, which had been put under a what?  A curse!  So I’m going to remove the curses, Deuteronomy 28:15-68 and I’m going to put back the blessings, Deuteronomy 28:1-14.

Now the way people use 2 Chronicles 7:14 is America is gone into a recession so we’ve got to get rid of some national sin and it’s usually abortion, or pornography, and I’m not mitigating those sins, those are terrible sins but the patriotic preaching… and by the way, in the books like Jonathon  Cahn, people ask me all the time what do you think about Jonathan Chon, and this is probably one of the main reasons I do not promote Jonathan Chon and his bestselling books because he does this all the time, he grabs these passages that govern the nation of Israel under the Mosaic Law, under a suzerain vassal treaty structure and willy-nilly indiscriminately applies those directly across the board to the  United States of America.  The reality is no nation has the right to do that because there’s only one nation that has a suzerain vassal treaty and that was the nation of Israel.

Now Jonathan Cahn quotes the Mayflower Compact; he thinks America has a covenant from God because of the Mayflower Compact; you all are familiar with the Mayflower Compact, right?  Well, what is the Mayflower Compact?  It is not God making a covenant with America, it’s America making a covenant with God and with each other.  With the nation of Israel it’s completely different.  It’s the only time in history where God reached down and it’s not a nation making some kind of contract with God, it’s God making a contract with the nation.  See!  And so only if you are that covenanted nation, and there is only one, I already shared with you Psalm 147:19-20 which says God only gave His Law, which includes the suzerain vassal treaty to one nation.  He has not dealt thus with any other nation.  So only that nation that has a covenant with God, which is not the United States or any other nation, can claim 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Now having said all that, do I pray for a revival in the  United States?  Of course I do, I pray for godly leadership, I pray for our nation to respect God but I don’t do it and say God, we did this so You’re obligated to do that. See the difference.  Under a suzerain vassal treaty you put in a quarter and you pull the level and a dollar is obligated to pop out because God obligated Himself to do that.  So only the nation of Israel can categorically say if we do X God has to do Y.  God today is not contractually bound in that manner with any other nation.

Can God bless America?  Yes!  Has God blessed America?  Yes!  Will God continue to bless America?  I sure hope so but it’s not because we met some sort of contractual covenantal obligation.  Are you guys with me on this?  Because people are really confused on this.  And it goes back to a fundamental point of understanding what governs Israel with what governs the New Testament church.  And I’m so glad we’re out of time because the next category is the relationship to the Holy Spirit because I was raised in a youth group where we would sing Psalm 51 and verse 11, “Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me,” then I started to think why are we singing that when we’re the church and Jesus has made a promise to the church that the Spirit would be in you for how long?  Forever!  It’s not a promise that Israel had.  You know, the Spirit left Saul, didn’t it?  That’s why David is praying “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.”  So why are we singing this song when we’re members of the church?  See that.  So the dealings with the Holy Spirit are different.

And I’m glad we’re out of time because we don’t have to talk about that.  Anyway, we’ll stop here and we’ll pick it up with the Holy Spirit next week.