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Question 20 - Jesus was Crucified on Friday, and There is No Christian Sabbath

Do you believe when Jesus died on the cross April 1st (Nissan 14) 33 AD, He was first seized on Thursday so He was in the heart of earthly Israel for 3 days and 3 nights? Jesus said He would rise again on the third day (or after the third day from the capture on Thursday), so Friday to Sunday was the proper time frame for His death, burial and resurrection? It is wrong to Judaize or legalize Christianity, for there is no such thing as a Christian Sabbath since the Sabbath was for the nation of Israel only to be kept as a sign under the Old Covenant (the only ceremonial law of the Ten Commandments) in which Israel, the first nation God revealed Himself to, was given the promise to become the center of all nations. Jesus came to fill up the law ("to fulfill" Matt. 5.7) but was rejected by His chosen people. They will finally receive Him when He returns.

The Lord's day exists because of His resurrection on Sunday and does not require it be a day of rest without work like the Jewish Sabbath, nor does it take from the Sabbath in any way that was strictly for the Jews. They are quite unalike. How sad it would be if you imposed upon yourself a rule in which you had a job, but you would have to quit because you were not allowed to work on Saturday (this is Satan's rule!). Our rest now is in the Holy Spirit everyday because the veil is now rent (Heb. 4.1-11). Work can be performed on any day, even as Jesus did, with the ushering in the kingdom of heaven with John the Baptist. God revealed Himself to the Jews first to point to Christ and Christianity. The law remains, not one tittle shall pass away till these things are fulfilled (when Jesus returns, followed by the completion of the 1000 years), but Jesus came to fill up the law, so in filling it up, we are under the New Covenant, would not need to keep the Sabbath (nor even would God's chosen people, the elect Jews), because the veil is now rent. The rest to enter into on Saturdays has been filled up with the Holy Spirit's indwelling the born-again believer (Heb. 4). Under the Old Covenant the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was not possible. We do not live by the law, but by the Spirit of the law, even the Spirit of truth. If you try to live by the law, you shall die by the law.

"On the first day the week, when we were gathered to break bread" (Acts 20.7). "Let no one pass judgment on your in questions of food and drink or with regard to festival...or a sabbath. These are a shadow of things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ" (Col. 2.16,17). "We are to rejoice in celebrating the eighth day; because that is when Jesus rose from the dead..." (Epistle of Barnabas 15). "We have seen how former adherents of the ancient customs have since attained a new hope; so that they have given up keeping the Sabbath, and now order their lives by the Lord's Day instead - the Day when life first dawned for us, thanks to Him (Jesus) and His death" (Epistle to Magnesians 9). Hebrews 4.8 speaks of "another day" (today) because the former Sabbath was not obeyed. "For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day" (Heb. 4.8). John "was in the Spirit on the Lord's day" (Rev. 1.10). The Holy Spirit descended upon the Church on Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2.1ff). "Now on the first day of the week...the stone was taken had been taken away from the tomb" (John 20.1). After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the Apostles on Sundays (John 20.19,26). Jesus and the disciples were harassed by the Pharisees over the Sabbath (John 5.18): "This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but called God His Father, making Himself equal with God." Jesus spoke against the Pharisee's merciless observance of the Sabbath (Matt. 12.1-8; Luke 13.10-16). "Now concerning the contribution for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that contributions need not be made when I come" (1 Cor. 16.1-2). Gather together weekly though there is no required appointed time or day.

How are Christians obligated to "remember the Sabbath day," or seventh day of the week? May Christians work on Saturdays? The fourth commandment is unique among the Ten Commandments in containing both ceremonial and moral elements. "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it" (Ex. 20.8-11). It establishes a key element in a religious calendar, designating one day in seven as holy. But it is also moral, directing people to be imitators of God in His rest from the work of creation, and to use His gift of time for sacred purposes. Because it can be taken both in a ceremonial and moral sense, this commandment became a center of controversy in Jesus' ministry, and continued to be so in the history of the church.

Jesus violated the first-century Jewish ceremonial custom regarding the Sabbath. "And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other" (Matt. 12.10-13). "And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him" (Luke 13.10-17). Jesus was careful to keep the moral aspects of this command, stating that "it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath" (Matt. 12.12).

Jesus also defended His disciples when they violated the Sabbath customs, even though OT law mandated the death penalty for those who worked on the sacred day (Ex. 31.14-15; 35.2). "At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is One greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day" (Matt. 12.1-8).

The apostle Paul likewise de-emphasized the need for Christians to maintain Jewish customes related to the calendar. "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Rom. 14.5). "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holiday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you...vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind" (Col. 2.16-18). At the same time, Jesus was careful to keep the moral aspects of this command, stating that "it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath" (Matt. 12.12). Jesus saw beyond the ceremony to the sacred use of time. Every day, but especially the Lord's Day, is to be used to accomplish the work of God.

The first day of the week could also be a special day of worship during the annual Feast of Tabernacles. "Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein" (Lev. 23.36). In honor of Jesus' resurrection, which occurred on the first day of the week, early first-century Christians made that day their regular day of worship. "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight" (Acts 20.7). "Upon the first day of the week [the Lord's Day] let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come" (1 Cor. 16.2), calling it the "Lord's Day" (see Rev. 1.10). At the same time, the NT makes it clear that Christians are not bound by rigid rules regarding days of worship. "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks" (Rom. 14.5-6). It is vital for Christians to gather regularly for worship. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Heb. 10.25), but no day of the week is inherently better than another for doing so.

Leviticus predicted the Messiah: "On the eighth day Moses summed Aaron, his sons, and the elders of Israel. He said to Aaron, 'Take a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, both without blemish, and present them before the Lord'" (9.1.-2). What men take note of is the sin-offering, but that which God sees first is the burnt-offering. Although without the Lord Jesus ever being the sin-offering we would none of us have life, nevertheless God will not accept anything without Christ being the burnt-offering-that is to say, His offering His all to God in obeying and doing God's will. Here we see His death on the cross is according to the will of God. In that same spirit of Christ Paul too offered himself as a burnt-offering (Phil. 2.17; 2 Tim. 4.6).

Question 23 - Hades is Timeless Unawares (Sleep)

23. Do you believe when you go to rest in timeless unawares to sleep, your death like that of our Lord and Savior, will bring you to the good side of the third part of creation called Hades or Sheol (Abraham's bosom-paradise below) which is neither heaven nor hell? Whereas the unsaved go to the bad side of hades to await their resurrection. From this sleep, do you agree we await to be resurrected to be "caught up together" (1 Thess. 4.17) to Paradise above or to meet the Lord in the air? The paradise below is a state of unconsciousness. Scripture is full of verses for soul sleep. "Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon" (Ex. 20.26) - You can't go before the High Priest naked. "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matt. 12.40). How can people spend less time in Hades than Jesus did?

"These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep" (John 11.11). "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed" (1 Cor. 15.51)." "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be" (Rev. 22.12).

Nobody can come before the high priest naked. "For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked" (2 Cor. 5.2-3). "Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon" (Ex. 20.26). "And you shall make for them linen breeches to cover their naked flesh; from the loins to the thighs they shall reach" (28.42).

Acts 2.34 explicitly says that David has not ascended to heaven, and 1 Samuel 28.13-14 definitely states that Samuel came up out of the earth. Both indicate that they have not yet been clothed with a resurrection body. The Lord alone is one who descended out of heaven and yet is in heaven (John 3.13). Even Enoch and Elijah, who were taken to heaven, may presently be placed somewhere else, since they probably do not have a transformed body. Most are still asleep. "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep" (1 Cor. 11.30).

Some people think Sheol is only a bad place or even Hell. The truth is Sheol which is Hades has both a good and a bad side. As the time approached for David to die, David pleaded with God about Joab son of Zeruiah, "do not let his gray head descend to Sheol in peace" (1 Kings 2.6). By inference, a person can go down to Sheol in peace. The Apologetics Study Bible on page 499 says,

"Sheol" in Hebrew thought was the abode of the dead, both good and evil. Though the overall picture of Sheol is grim, the OT nevertheless affirms that God is there. "If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there" (Ps. 139.8). The Hebrew word is Sheol. But God is not in Hell or the bad side of Hades, nor is He in the pit. "Even Death and Destruction hold no secrets from the LORD. How much more does he know the human heart!" (Prov. 15.11) The Hebrew here is Sheol and Abaddon. Sounds like abandon. Abaddon is "either the grave or the realm of the dead." Both the saved and the unsaved will see death. Sheol is the Hebrew word for either the grave or the realm of the dead.

It is impossible to hide from God in Sheol. "The underworld is naked in God's presence. The place of destruction is uncovered" (Job 26.6). The Hebrew word for underworld and place of destruction is Sheol and Abaddon. ""Even if they dig down to the place of the dead, I will reach down and pull them up. Even if they climb up into the heavens, I will bring them down" (Amos 9.2). Again, the place of the dead is Sheol not Hell.

The OT also affirms that God has power over Sheol and is capable of ransoming souls from its depths. "he keeps back his soul from the Pit, his life from perishing by the sword" (Job 33.18). The Pit is the Abyss another place for the demonic spirits and where Satan will be sent for 1000 years after the Great Tribulation before he goes to Hell. "He has redeemed my soul from going down into the Pit, and my life shall see the light. Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the Pit, that he may see the light of life" (Job 33.28-30).

"For you will not abandon my soul to the grave, or let your holy one see corruption" (Ps. 16.10). Grave here is Sheol in Hebrew. "O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit" (Ps. 30.3). "But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, For He will receive me" (Ps. 49.15). Sheol here is the nether world. "For your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death" (Ps. 86.13). Depths of death is the depths of Sheol.

The KJV usually replaces these terms with Hell which is a big mistake. Hell is the domain of eternal separation from God after one is resurrected. Those in the grave have not be resurrected yet. The saved go to the good side of Hades where Jesus went when He died to see the repentant thief. Ancient Israel also called this good side Paradise Below in contrast to the Paradise Above.

Question 24 - Rapture and Resurrection is at the Consummation of this Age

Do you believe you will receive a newly clothed resurrected body at the consummation of this age? This time period coincides with the last seven of Daniel's seventy sevens, called the last week, amounting to 7 years. His prophecy commences with the overcomer believers "taken" at (Matt. 24.40-41,42) at first rapture (3.10, 12.5; Luke 21.36) "before the throne" (Rev. 7.9) in Third Heaven, followed by the martyrs during the Tribulation then the completion of the resurrection and rapture (11.15) of the saints at the last trumpet to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4.15-17). "No one is in Third Heaven" (John 3.13) yet, not even David, "for David did not ascend into the heavens" (Acts 2.34). Of course, Enoch and Elijah are the exception to the rule (Gen. 5.24, Heb. 11.5, 2 Kings 2.11).

"For the discerning the path of life leads upward, so that he may avoid going down to Sheol" (Prov. 15.24).

Question 25 - The First Resurrection is the Best Resurrection

Do you believe that the first resurrection (Rev. 20.4) is the "best," "out-of" "out-resurrection" (for the chosen) from all the raptures and resurrections (general resurrection) of the saved (the called) during the last 7 years (each day of the last week representing a year) at the end of the dispensation of grace (the Church age)?

Question 26 - First Rapture is According to Readiness

Do you believe the first rapture is included in the first resurrection, and in order to be accounted worthy to be received to throne (Rev. 7.9) in Third Heaven and escape the Hour of trial that is to come upon the whole world during the Tribulation, we need to be watchful, prayerful, ready (Matt. 24.42, Luke 21.36), keep the word of His patience (Rev. 3.10), and maintain the conduct of Matt. 5-7 to abide in those works God has set for us? Do you believe the grain "offering of firstfruits...are not to be offered on the altar as a pleasing aroma" (Lev. 2.12) as for "burnt offerings" (1.9,13,17) because a grain offering is by works and not accepted as the sacrifice on the person's "behalf to make atonement for him" (v.5)? In Genesis 4.3-5 the different sacrifices of Cain and Abel contrast proper sacrifical offering unto salvation, not works offerings of the saints. "If you present a grain offering of firstfruits to the LORD, you must present fresh heads of grain, crushed kernels, roasted on the fire, for your grain offering of firstfruits. You are to put oil [applying the Holy Spirit] and frankincense on it; it is a grain offering...as a fire offering to the LORD" (2.14-16); "filled with incense, which are the prayer of the saints" (Rev. 5.8). The burnt and grain offering are individual offerings or private offerings of overcomers (Lev. 1.2); public national sacrifices offered to all each day as an offering to all are listed in Numbers 28-29.

Question 27 - Last Trumpet Resurrection is Before the Bowls

Do you believe after the first rapture, martyrs during the Tribulation will be raptured three and a half days after they go to rest, like the Two Witnesses. There are "advanced parties and harbingers in every sphere" and a "ripeness and readiness to harvest," commencing with the first raptured saints, followed by the individual rapture of martyrs. The two witnesses are raptured in the second woe-the sixth trumpet (before Rev. 11.14)-, which timewise agrees, the 7th trumpet rapture and resurrection (v.15) take place at the start, not the end of the 7th trumpet, "for God hath not appointed us unto wrath" (1 Thess. 5.9) when the bowls are poured out?

Question 28 - "Outer Darkness" is Loss of Rewards for Believers

Do you believe "outer darkness" (Matt. 8.12, 22.13, 25.30) is a dimension created by God (having no fire or furnace about it) which is outside of the light of rewards of reigning with Christ during the millennial kingdom and according to God's righteousness to deal with consequences for non-overcomers believers (accountability)? "Every man's work shall be...revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide...he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" (1 Cor. 3.11-15).

Question 29 - Fiery Judgment of Hell Burns Off Our False Works

Do you believe upon reaching Judgment Seat if you have not overcome in Christ, God will burn off the dross of your works that are not His will with the use of the Lake of Fire (Hell) so He can then put you into Outer Darkness, which has no fire or furnace about it, for the duration of the 1000 years? "Every man's work shall be...revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide...he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" (1 Cor. 3.11-15).

When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, the Lord will use fire to prove each man’s work: “For the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself shall prove each man’s work of what sort it is” (1 Cor. 3.13)—“Wherefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come (THIS CLEARLY DISPROVES 7TH DAY ADVENTISTS INVESTIGATIVE JUDGMENT OF 1844 BECAUSE WHEN JESUS COMES WE SHALL ALL KNOW IT), who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God” (1 Cor. 4.5)—“For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5.10). We should remember that “there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4.13). Who can escape before such eyes? Not one of us. Therefore let us sing this song today (written by Watchman Nee): Daily lift I up my eyes, the light of judgment-seat survey; May all my life and work stand the fire of that great day (The Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation).

Question 30 - Apostles and Elders Do Not Draw a Salary

Do you believe workers should not draw a salary for the Ministry of Work for the Church, should not sell products in the name of the Lord (these are independent acts of self) as part of the Ministry (Eph. 4.11); and if you say you are in the four-fold Ministry, can you truly deny yourself in this way? I "have never used this right" (1 Cor. 9.12), "would rather die than lose my distinction of preaching without charge" (v.15), "may [I] present the gospel free of charge, never demanding my rights as a preacher" (v.18). "The elders [bishops]... serving as overseers...not for filthy lucre" (1 Pet. 5.1,2) over Biblical localities is their appointment by apostles. "Freely ye received, freely give" (Matt. 10.8).

Question 31 - God Has a Covenant with Israel to be Fulfilled

God said, "I have known only you out of all the clans of the earth" (Amos 3.2) which is speaking to the nation of Israel. "And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God" (Amos 9.14,15).

"So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel" (Ez. 39.7). "When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD" (Ez. 39.27-29).

"Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord GOD" (Ez. 34.30). Muslims, like the Edomites, when Israel was out of the land, rushed in to claim the land for themselves, and said, "the ancient heights have become our possession" (Ez. 36.2). Then they plundered Judah and left the land desolate. "The desolate ruins and abandoned cities have become plunder and mockery to the rest of the nations all around" (Ez. 36.4). Muslims ridicule and scorn the people of Judah. "You have endured the insults of the nations.... Iwill no longer allow the insults of the nations to be heard against you, and you will not have to endure the reproach of the people anymore" (Ez. 36.6,15). Consequently, God gave four promises to the Judeans who would be returning. (1) The land again would be fruitful. "You, mountains of Israel, will put forth your branches and bear your fruit for My people Israel, since their arrival is near. Look! I am on your side; I will turn toward you, and you will be tilled and sown" (Ez. 36.8,9; cf. 6.8-10). (2) All the people of Judah would ultimately return, multiply, and prosper in the land. "I will fill you with people with the whole house of Israel in its entirety. The cities will be inhabited and ruins rebuilt. I will fill you with people and animals, and they will increase and be fruitful. I will make you inhabited as you once were and make you better off than you were before. Then you will know I am the LORD" (Ez. 36.10,11). (3) Their return will be permanent. "I will cause my people to walk on you once again, and you will be their territory. You will never again rob them of their children. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: The other nations taunt you, saying, 'Israel is a land that devours its own people and robs them of their children!' But you will never again devour your people or rob them of their children, says the Sovereign LORD" (Ez. 36.12-14). (4) "I will not let you hear those other nations insult you, and you will no longer be mocked by them. You will not be a land that causes its nation to fall, says the Sovereign LORD" (Ez. 36.15). "And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God..... Then you will remember your past sins and despise yourselves for all the detestable things you did" (Ez. 36.28,31).

"20 Then hold out the [two] pieces of wood you have inscribed, so the people can see them. 21 And give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: I will gather the people of Israel from among the nations. I will bring them home to their own land from the places where they have been scattered. 22 I will unify them into one nation on the mountains of Israel. One king will rule them all; no longer will they be divided into two nations or into two kingdoms. 23 They will never again pollute themselves with their idols and vile images and rebellion, for I will save them from their sinful backsliding. I will cleanse them. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. 24 "My servant David will be their king, and they will have only one shepherd. They will obey my regulations and be careful to keep my decrees. 25 They will live in the land I gave my servant Jacob, the land where their ancestors lived. They and their children and their grandchildren after them will live there forever, generation after generation. And my servant David will be their prince forever. 26 And I will make a covenant of peace with them, an everlasting covenant. I will give them their land and increase their numbers, and I will put my Temple among them forever. 27 I will make my home among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 And when my Temple is among them forever, the nations will know that I am the LORD, who makes Israel holy." (Ez. 37.20-28)

"28 And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make [them] afraid. 29 And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. 30 Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God [am] with them, and [that] they, [even] the house of Israel, [are] my people, saith the Lord GOD. 31 And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, [are] men, [and] I [am] your God, saith the Lord GOD." (Ez. 34.28-31)

"24 And there shall be no more a pricking brier unto the house of Israel, nor [any] grieving thorn of all [that are] round about them, that despised them; and they shall know that I [am] the Lord GOD. 25 Thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the heathen, then shall they dwell in their land that I have given to my servant Jacob. 26 And they shall dwell safely therein, and shall build houses, and plant vineyards; yea, they shall dwell with confidence, when I have executed judgments upon all those that despise them round about them; and they shall know that I [am] the LORD their God." (Ez. 28.24-26)

"And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day when I chose Israel, and lifted up mine hand unto the seed of the house of Jacob, and made myself known unto them in the land of Egypt, when I lifted up mine hand unto them, saying, I [am] the LORD your God; 6 In the day [that] I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which [is] the glory of all lands: ... 11 And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which [if] a man do, he shall even live in them. 12 Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I [am] the LORD that sanctify them ... And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers" (Ez. 20.5-6,11-12,42).

"Announcing in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of for His temple...the Holy One of Israel" (Jer. 50.28,29). " The portion of Jacob is not like these; for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance: Jehovah of hosts is his name.... With you I will smash nations;with you I will bring kingdoms to ruin. And I will render unto Babylon [Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iran) and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, saith the LORD" (Jer. 51.19,20,24).

"For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it" (Jer. 30.3 KJV). The NLT reads, "For the time is coming when I will restore the fortunes of my people of Israel and Judah. I will bring them home to this land that I gave to their ancestors, and they will possess it again. I, the LORD, have spoken!” "You gave the people of Israel this land that you had promised their ancestors long before—a land flowing with milk and honey" (Jer. 32.22).

"Don’t move an ancient boundary marker that your fathers set up" (Prov. 22.28). "Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. For I am ready to set things right, not in the distant future, but right now! I am ready to save Jerusalem [Zion] and show my glory to Israel" (Is. 46.3,13). "In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory" (Is. 45.25). This passage does not mean anyone who is Jewish is saved, but that the nation of Israel will be the center of all nations. Salvation is still by faith and there are many Jews who do not believe in Jesus. "Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever" (Jer. 7.7). "In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers" (Jer. 3.18).

"Thou shalt arise, have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory" (Ps. 102.13,16). "He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word he commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, to Israel for an everlasting covenant: Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance" (Ps. 105.8-11). "When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language; Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion" (Ps. 114.1,2). "The LORD hath been mindful of us: he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron. He will bless them that fear the LORD, both small and great" (Ps. 115.12,13). Israel will be the center of all nations. "For the LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His home; 'This is my resting place forever; I will make My home here because I have desired it'." (Ps. 132.13,14) "For the Lord has chosen Jacob {Israel} for Himself. He gave their land as an inheritance, an inheritance to His people Israel. May the LORD praise from Zion; He dwells in Jerusalem. Hallelujah!" (Ps. 135.4,12,21) "I exalt Jerusalem as my greatest joy!" (Ps. 137.6), but "Remember what you said that day of Jerusalem: 'destroy it! Destroy it down to its foundation!'" (v.7) The Amillennialist, Preterist and Post-Millennialist, you are like Babylon in your attitude towards Jerusalem and the Jews, God's chosen people.

Who is promised the land? Israel or Christians? Obviously Israel. So Israel will be the center of all nations during the millennial kingdom, but such is not the case afterward in the New City and New Earth. "Why gaze with envy you mountain peaks, at the mountain, Mount Zion, that God desired for His dwelling? The Lord will live there FOREVER!" (Ps. 68.16). "For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah: that they may dwell there, and have it in possession. The seed also of His servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein" (Ps. 69.35,36). "May he rule from Mediterranean to the Dead Sea and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth" (Ps. 72.8). Israel did not know how large earth was so from their perspective "ends of the earth" would not be that much further beyond the Mediterranean and Euphrates.

"When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your fathers, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree" (Hos. 9.10). "After King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon exiled Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, to Babylon along with the officials of Judah and all the craftsmen and artisans, the LORD gave me this vision. I saw two baskets of figs placed in front of the LORD’s Temple in Jerusalem. One basket was filled with fresh, ripe figs, while the other was filled with bad figs that were too rotten to eat. Then the LORD said to me, 'What do you see, Jeremiah?' I replied, 'Figs, some very good and some very bad, too rotten to eat.' Then the LORD gave me this message: 'This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: The good figs represent the exiles I sent from Judah to the land of the Babylonians. I will watch over and care for them, and I will bring them back here again. I will build them up and not tear them down. I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them hearts that recognize me as the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly. But the bad figs, 'the LORD said, 'represent King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, all the people left in Jerusalem, and those who live in Egypt. I will treat them like bad figs, too rotten to eat. I will make them an object of horror and a symbol of evil to every nation on earth. They will be disgraced and mocked, taunted and cursed, wherever I scatter them. And I will send war, famine, and disease until they have vanished from the land of Israel, which I gave to them and their ancestors'" (Jer. 24.1-10).

"And Jehovah said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither" (Deut. 34.4). "From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast" (Joshua 1.4). "Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them" (v.6). "And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him" (Gen. 12.7). "Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them" (Deut. 1.8). The Lord promised Joshua great success; His divine presence would ensure victory. The territorial extent of the conquest was from the desert on the south to Lebanon on the north, and from the Euphrates River on the east to the Mediterranean Sea on the west (Numb. 13.17-25; 34.3-12).

"For this is what the LORD of Heaven's Armies says: In just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the dry land. I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will be brought to this Temple. I will fill this place with glory, says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. The future glory of this Temple will be greater than its past glory, says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. And in this place I will bring peace. I, the LORD of Heaven's Armies, have spoken!" (Hag. 2.6-9) "This is what the LORD of Heaven's Armies says: Here is the man called the Branch. He will branch out from where he is and build the Temple of the LORD. Yes, he will build the Temple of the LORD. Then he will receive royal honor and will rule as king from his throne. He will also serve as priest from his throne, and there will be perfect harmony between his two roles" (Zech. 6.12-13). Who is this other than Jesus? The Temple will be completed with 2300 days left to the Tribulation period, but when Jesus returns He will make renovations to it for His accommodations.

"And if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments which I command you this day, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth" (Deut. 28.1). "Has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?" (v.34) "the LORD set his heart in love upon your fathers and chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as at this day" (10.15). "It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love upon you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples; but it is because the LORD loves you, and is keeping the oath which he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt" (7.7-8). "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son" (Hos. 11.1). "And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. Both he that is born in your house and he that is bought with your money, shall be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant." (Gen. 17.7,13). "The covenant which he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant" (Ps. 105.9,10).

"Now Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, "Keep all the commandment which I command you this day. And on the day you pass over the Jordan to the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall set up large stones, and plaster them with plaster; and you shall write upon them all the words of this law, when you pass over to enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you" (Deut. 27.1-3).

"O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray to the LORD day and night for the fulfillment of his promises. Take no rest, all you who pray. Give the LORD no rest until he makes Jerusalem the object of praise throughout the earth" (Is. 62.6-7). "Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey" (Deut. 26.15). "And the LORD has declared this day concerning you that you are a people for his own possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments" (v.18). "That he will set you high above all nations that he has made, in praise and in fame and in honor, and that you shall be a people holy to the LORD your God, as he has spoken" (v.19). Israel is to be the center of all nations from where Jesus will reign in the 3rd Temple for 1000 years.

"Jacob took the stone that was near his head and set it up as a marker. He poured oil on top of it and named the place Bethel. I am the the God of Bethel, where you you poured oil on the stone marker. So Jacob picked up the stone and set it up as a marker" (Gen. 28.18, 31.13,45). Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD [and] set up an altar and 12 pillars for the 12 tribes of Israel" (Ex. 24.4). "These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth" (Deut. 12.1). Israel was "not to sacrifice the Passover in any other towns the Lord is giving you [but] at the place where the Lord your God chooses to have His name dwell; in the place the LORD your God chooses, in the place where He chooses to have His name dwell. Appoint judges in all the towns the LORD your God is giving you. You will live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you [and] to the altar you will build for the Lord your God" (Deut. 16.5,6,7,11,18, 20, 21).

"That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth. For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him; Then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves. Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be. There shall no man be able to stand before you:f or the LORD your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you ... And it shall come to pass, when the LORD thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal. Are they not on the other side Jordan, by the way where the sun goeth down, in the land of the Canaanites, which dwell in the champaign over against Gilgal, beside the plains of Moreh? For ye shall pass over Jordan to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God giveth you, and ye shall possess it, and dwell therein" (Deut. 11.21-25, 29-31). "Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee" (Gen. 13.17). "Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, [even] to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast" (Joshua 1.2-4).

"Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it; And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey. For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year" (Deut. 11.8-12).

"And the LORD said unto me, Arise, take thy journey before the people, that they may go in and possess the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give unto them" (Deut. 10.11). "In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates" (Gen. 15.18).

"Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly" (Deut. 6.14, 7.4). "And he brought us out from thence [Egypt], that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers" (Deut. 6.23). "And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee" (Deut. 7.13). God said Israel was a "stiff-necked people" (Deut. 9.6,14) that if they don't repent, the LORD "will destroy them and blot out their name under heaven. Then I will make you [Moses] into a nation stronger and more numerous than they" (v.14). But Moses pleaded with God (Deut. 9.15-29) and convinced Him to give Israel one more chance over 40 days, and Israel then did repent.

"For you are a holy people belonging to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be His own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth" (Deut. 7.6). "But He directly pays back and destroys those who hate Him. He will not hesitate to directly pay back the one who hates Him. He will inflict them on all who hate you" (vv.10,15). "All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers" (Deut. 8.1). "For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any [thing] in it; a land whose stones [are] iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass. When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee (Deut. 8.7-11)

"And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever" (Gen. 13.14-15). "But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year" (17.21). "And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I [am] the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed" (28.13). What this says is Israel is the only nation on the planet that has a title deed to a particular land. No other nation can say that. The dispersion is prophesied in Deut. 28.64-67. Ezekiel 36 speaks of how the Arabs will come against Israel in the end-times. "For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land" (v.24). And God says He doesn't even do this for Israel, but He does it to prove His own glory: "Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake...and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes" (v.23,24). Amen.

"Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I will gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel" (Ez. 11.17). "And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea" (Isaiah 11.10-11).

"Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut [the womb]? saith thy God" (Isaiah 66.7-9).

"When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory" (Ps. 102.16). "Go to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, and all the way to the great Euphrates River. I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it, for it is the land the LORD swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all their descendants.'" (Deut. 1.7c,8). "For the LORD will scatter you among the nations, where only a few of you will survive. When those bitter days have come upon you far in the future, you will finally return to the LORD your God and listen to what he tells you. For the LORD your God is merciful--he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors. Search all of history, from the time God created people on the earth until now. Then search from one end of the heavens to the other. See if anything as great as this has ever happened before. Has any nation ever heard the voice of God speaking from fire--as you did--and survived? Has any other god taken one nation for himself by rescuing it from another by means of trials, miraculous signs, wonders, war, awesome power, and terrifying acts? Yet that is what the LORD your God did for you in Egypt, right before your very eyes. He showed you these things so you would realize that the LORD is God and that there is no other god. He drove out nations far greater than you, so he could bring you in and give you their land as a special possession, as it is today" (Deut. 4.27,30-35,38).

"Fear not; for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west" (Is. 43.5). "He will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. Then as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the end that has been decreed is poured out on this defiler" (Dan. 9.27). For the sacrifices to cease there must be a Third Temple for them to be in. To set up an idol in the Temple there must be a a physical temple. "And the court which is outside the temple leave without, and measure it not; for it hath been given unto the nations: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months" (Rev. 11.2). "And" speaks of another court and temple, the Third Temple on Earth, not the Temple in Heaven that is measured and protected (v.1). The Third Temple will be built before the midpoint of the Tribulation. "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place [the temple], (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains" (Matt. 24.14-16).

"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 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; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know that which restraineth, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work: only [there is] one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way [Satan moves out of the way to let the Antichrist take hold]. And then shall that Wicked be revealed [Antichrist], whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him [Antichrist], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion [including the mark of the beast], that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 2.1-14).

"Who has ever seen or heard of anything as strange as this? Has a nation ever been born in a single day? Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment? But by the time Jerusalem's birth pains begin, the baby will be born; the nation will come forth" (Is. 66.8). This occurred in 1948. "And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken [it], and performed [it], saith the LORD" (Ez. 37.14; 1-14). "For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land" (Ez. 36.24).

This Land Belongs to Israel
Do you believe Israel-the elect (Matt. 24.22,24,31)-is the chosen nation (the first nation that God revealed Himself to) in which it has a covenant with God that awaits fulfillment (to be the center of all nations to the Euphrates River-Gen. 15.18), and the new covenant has been given to the Church-the elect (Rom. 8.33, 2 Tim. 2.10, 1 Pet. 1.2)-beforehand? "Whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites, Amalekites, and eastern peoples came and attacked them. They encamped against them and destroyed the produce of the land, even as far as Gaza. They left nothing for Israel to eat, as well as no sheep, ox or donkey. For the Midiantes came with their cattle and their tents like a great swarm of locusts. They and their camels were without number, and they entered the land to waste it" (Judges 6.3-5). "I will drive them out little by little ahead of you until you have become numerous and take possession of the land. I will set your borders from the Red Sea [Gulf of Aqaba], and from the wilderness to the Mediterranean Sea [the Sea of the Philistines], and from the wilderness to the Euphrates River. I will place the inhabitants of the land under your control, and you will drive them out ahead of you. You must not make a covenant with them or their gods [e.g. amillennialists]. They must not remain in your land, or else they will make you sin against Me. If you worship their gods it will be a snare for you" (Ex. 23.30-33).

"He [Jacob] dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it! The LORD stood above it and said, 'I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you are sleeping on I will give to you and your descendants....I will bring you back to this land'....Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, 'Surely the LORD is in this place....This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven'" (Gen. 28.12-22). Jacob said to Joseph, "When I rest with my fathers, carry me...and bury me where they are buried" (Gen. 47.30), for "God Almighty appeared unto me...in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, and said unto me, 'I will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession'" (Gen. 48.3,4; see Ex. 6.8). "He remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the Israelites, and He took notice" (Ex. 2.24,25). "I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and to bring them from the land to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey-the territory of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites" (Ex. 3.8,17; 24.23,28; Deut. 20.17; Gen. 15.19-21, Deut. 7.1). "The law, which came 430 years later, does not revoke a covenant that was previously ratified with God, so as to cancel the promise" (Gal. 3.17) either to Israel, or to the seed of Abraham, referring to Christ (v.16). "LORD, You have prepared the place for Your dwelling" (Ex. 15.17) in Israel for "the people whom You purchased" (v.16). Israel was "few in number; if they unite against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed" (Gen. 34.30) before going to Egypt, but "Jacob said to his family and all who were with him, 'Get rid of the foreign gods that are among you. Purify yourselves..." (Gen. 35.2). Abraham was small in number when "he assembled his 318 trained men born in his household" (Gen. 14.14). "In the fourth generation they [Israel] will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure" (Gen. 15.16).

The Ethical Conquest of Canaan
The prevailing prejudice against Scripture is that the Old Testament portrays a violent God of a violent people and is filled with narratives recounting horrendous events with disreputable people playing major roles. Is the Old Testament ethical? Here are some reasons why it is.

It was ethical enough for Jesus. Jesus accepted the truth and the ethical validity of the OT ("the Scriptures") in His own life, mission and teaching. He noted "you have heard it was said . . . but I tell you" (see Matt 6-7) sayings don't contradict or criticize the OT but either deepen its demands or correct distorted popular inferences "Love your neighbor" meant "Hate your enemy" to many in Jesus' day, even though the OT never says such things. Jesus reminded His hearers that the same chapter (Lev. 19) also says, "Love the alien as yourself," extending this to include "Love your enemy." Jesus thus affirmed and strengthened the OT ethic.

Narratives describe what happened, not what was necessarily approved. We assume wrongly that if a story is in Scripture it must be "what God wanted." But biblical narrators dealt with the real world and described it as it was, with all its corrupt and fallen ambiguity. We shouldn't mistaken realism for ethical approval. Old Testament stories often challenge us to wonder at God's amazing grace and patience in continually working out His purpose through such morally compromised people and to be discerning in evaluating their conduct according to standards the OT itself provides.

The conquest of Canaan must be understood for what it was. This event, rightly, is troubling to sensitive readers. We cannot ignore its horror, but some perspectives can help us evaluate it ethically.

1. It was a limited event. The conquest narratives describe one particular period of Israel's long history. Many of the other wars that occur in the OT narrative had no divine sanction, and some were clearly condemned as the actions of proud, greedy kings or military leaders.

2. We must allow for the exaggerated language of warfare. Israel, like other ancient Near East nations whose documents we possess, had rhetoric of war that often exceeded reality.

3. It was an act of God's justice and punishment on a morally degraded society. The conquest shouldn't be portrayed as random genocide or ethnic cleansing. The wickedness of Canaanite society was anticipated (Gen. 15.16) and described in moral and social terms. "Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you" (Lev. 18.24; see 20.23; Deut. 9.5, 12.29-31). This interpretation is accepted in the NT (e.g., Heb. 11.31 speaks of the Canaanites as "those who disobeyed," implying awareness of choosing to persist in sin-as the Bible affirms of all human beings). There is a huge moral difference between violence that's arbitrary and violence inflicted with the moral framework of punishment (this is true in human society as much as in divine perspective). It doesn't make it "nice," but it changes the ethical valuation significantly.

4. God threatened to do the same to Israel-and He did. In the conquest God used Israel as the agent of punishment on the Canaanites. God warned Israel that if they behaved like the Canaanites, He would treat them as His enemy the same way and inflict the same punishment on them using other nations (Lev. 26.17; Deut. 28.25-68). In the course of Israel's long history in OT times, God repeatedly did so, demonstrating His moral consistency in international justice. It wasn't a matter of favoritism. If anything, Israel's status as God's chosen people, the OT argues, exposed them more to God's judgment and historical punishment than the Canaanites who experienced the conquest. Those choosing to live as God's enemies eventually face God's judgment.

5. The conquest anticipated the final judgment. Like the stories of Sodom and Gomorrah and the flood, the story of Canaan's conquest stands in Scripture as a prototypical narrative, or one that foreshadows what is to come. Scripture affirms that ultimately, in the final judgment, the wicked will face the awful reality of God's wrath through exclusion, punishment, and destruction. Then God's ethical justice will finally be vindicated. But at certain points in history, such as during the conquest period, God demonstrates the power of His judgment. Rahab's story, set in the midst of the conquest narrative, also demonstrates the power of repentance, faith, and God's willingness to spare His enemies when they choose to identify with God's people. Rahab thus enters the NT hall of fame-and faith (Heb. 11.31; James 2.25).

An eye for an eye is remarkably humane. Unfortunately this phrase sums up for many what OT law and ethics is all about. Even then they misunderstood this expression-almost certainly metaphorical, not literal, wasn't a license for unlimited vengeance but precisely the opposite: it established the fundamental legal principle of proportionality; that is, punishment mustn't exceed the gravity of the offense. The rest of the OT law, when compared to the law codes from contemporary societies (e.g. Babylonian, Assyrian, Hittite), shows a remarkable classic trio of "the widow, the orphan, and the alien"). Israel's laws operated with ethical priorities of human life above material property and human needs over legal rights. Not surprisingly, then, Jesus (who clearly endorsed the same priorities) could affirm that He had no intention of abolishing the Law and Prophets but rather fulfilled them.

The Law Has a Higher Conscience
Does the Bible teach that people should retaliate, or that they should "turn the other cheek" (Matt. 5.38-39; Luke 6.27-29)? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus contrasted a popular interpretation of the law of Moses with His own teachings. In doing this He was not saying that the OT was wrong, only that his adversaries' way of applying it to situations was wrong; by emphasizing the letter of law they had missed its true intent. The "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" passage (Ex. 21.24) did not require people to pay someone back for a wrong done to them. Its purpose was to establish limits for retaliation. The most one could do in response to knocking out a tooth was to knock out the other person's tooth; a person could not be killed for injuring someone's eye. As Jesus pointed out, a person who was wronged by another could choose not to retaliate for what had been done to him. Often such a response would be the best way to deal with the problem. In every case, it should be the first option considered.

"Do not commit murder" (Ex. 20.13). Should we never kill people, or simply not commit murder? According to the Bible, death was not part of God's original plan for humanity, but became part of the human experience as a result of humanity's sin (Gen. 2.17, 3.19; Rom. 5.12; Heb. 9.27). All human beings are made in God's image (Gen. 1.26-27) and therefore all human life is sacred and to be treated with special respect. At the same time, the law of Moses sanctions taking of human life as a penalty for certain serious crimes committed against persons or God (Gen. 9.6; Ex. 21.12-17; 31.14-15; 35.2; Lev. 20.2,9-16,27; 24.16-17,21; 27.29; Num. 35.33; Deut. 13.5-9; 21.21; 22.21). The NT implicitly affirms the right of governmental authorities to impose the death penalty (Rom. 13.4). The Bible's prescription of the death penalty in certain circumstances is aimed at preventing greater evils from occurring, and thus preserves the principle of sacredness of human life. Murder, the unauthorized taking of human life, is clearly what this command prohibits.

"Stay away from false accusation. Do not kill the innocent and the just, because I will not justify the guilty" (Ex. 23.7). If the Israelites were not to kill the innocent, why were they ordered to kill Canaanite children (see Deut 7.1-2; 20.16-17)? This verse is part of a larger section that provides guidance to judges when trying cases in Israel: in courts of law the innocent were not to be punished. But the elimination of entire cultural groups as punishment for long-term institutionalized sin was not considered a legal matter. It was an issue of divine judgment following centuries of unacceptable conduct. God ordered the Israelites to eliminate cultures that had institutionalized despicable sin. Canaanite cultures were steeped in a religion that was polytheistic, idolatrous, and highly immoral. As part of their religious corruption, those cultures permitted human sacrifices and practiced cultic prostitution (worship of their "gods" involved intercourse with women attached to their temples). All of this cultural perversity was offensive to God and was to be brought to a complete end when the iniquity of the inhabitants of Canaan was complete (Gen. 15.16).

"When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it" (Deut. 12.29-32).

"And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel" (Ex. 19.6). This simply means God will usher in the Messiah through Israel, for God needs a holy nation to enter in through. It does not mean Israel is going to rule the world or even receive the reward of reigning with Christ during the 1000 years; though it does mean the promise is for Israel to be the center of all nations from which Christ will reign in Jerusalem in the Temple. The kings and priests in Rev. 20.4,6 are overcomer believers from all dispensations.

Faithfulness to the Lord's intention involves a threefold process: drive out (dispossess) the sinful Canaanites, destroy their centers of idolatry, and divide the land proportionately among their ancestral tribes. "And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan [near] Jericho, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places: And ye shall dispossess [the inhabitants] of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it. And ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance among your families: [and] to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer ye shall give the less inheritance: every man's [inheritance] shall be in the place where his lot falleth; according to the tribes of your fathers ye shall inherit. But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them [shall be] pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell. Moreover it shall come to pass, [that] I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them" (Numb. 33.50-56). These words echo the message of judgment in Lev. 26.14-33 and Deut. 28.45-68. How the story of the victory march from Egypt to the promise land would be completed was in the hands of the people.

"And those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away" (Is. 35.10). "Raise the signal to go to Zion! Flee for safety without delay! For I am bringing disaster from the north, even terrible destruction" (Jer. 4.6). "They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD— the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more" (Jer. 31.12). "And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls" (Joel 2.32). "Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her" (Joel 3.17). "The rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain that filled the whole earth" (Dan. 2.35).

"It has destroyed my grapevines and ruined my fig trees, stripping their bark and destroying it, leaving the branches white and bare" (Joel 1.7). "He spake also this parable; A certain [man] had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung [it]: And if it bear fruit, [well]: and if not, [then] after that thou shalt cut it down" (Luke 13.6-9). Israel is the fig tree.

Question 32 - Only Overcomers are to be Kings and Priests

Do you believe Israel shall not reign as kings (ruling over the earth) and priests (to draw near to God), since only overcomers who suffered in Christ "shall be priests" and "shall reign" (Rev. 20.6) when they return with Christ for the 1000 years?

"Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming, it is near.... A people come, great and strong, The like of whom has never been; Nor will there ever be any such after them, Even for many successive generations. Fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them, but after them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them. They look like tiny horses, and they run as fast. With a noise like chariots Over mountaintops they leap, Like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble, Like a strong people set in battle array. Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness. They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: They do not push one another; they shall walk every one in his path: they burst through the weapons; they are not cut down. They run to and fro in the city, They run on the wall; they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: 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 is great and very terrible; and who can endure it? ...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...for he giveth you the former rain in just measure, and he causeth to come down for you the rain, the former rain and the latter rain, in the first month" (Joel 2.1-11,16-17,23).

The Jews upon whom the Holy Spirit will be poured out in the coming day (the former rain has already been poured out—Acts 2, but the latter rain is yet to be poured forth—Joel 2.28-29). The blood and fire mentioned in Joel 2.30 coincide with the phenomena of the first trumpet in Revelation; the pillars of smoke agree with the fifth trumpet. Thus the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit will occur between the sixth seal and the fifth trumpet. The time of the Great Tribulation is the time of the latter rain (see Acts 2.15-21, Joel 2.28-31). The prophecy of Joel was not completely fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. For on that day there were no “wonders in the heaven and in the earth: blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke”; nor was “the sun . . . turned into darkness, and the moon into blood” (Joel 2.30-31). All of these five wonders will be fulfilled around and in the time of the Great Tribulation: blood (first trumpet), fire (first and second trumpets), smoke (fifth trumpet), sun and moon (sixth seal). Pentecost is only a miniature, a foretaste. Peter does not say: “It is fulfilled”; he merely says that “this is that” (Acts 2.16). As a matter of fact, the Holy Spirit is going to do greater work during the time of the Great Tribulation. If there will not be the Holy Spirit present, how can the saints ever endure during the Great Tribulation?

If you don't want to accept this "army" as God's holy myriads (Jude 14,15) who return with Christ, but as some ancient army for Israel, at least accept this as a type for the return of the overcomer believers at the end of the Tribulation. Praise the Lord!

Question 34 - Rewards are Done Away in the New City and New Earth

Do you believe rewards are done away with in the New Earth when there is no more need of the temple since God and the Lamb will be at the center of the New City (Rev. 21.22-23, 22.1,3)? Are the resurrected-saved the spiritual foundation, inhabitants and pillars of the physical New City (which comes down from heaven)? Would you agree then there is no longer need for procreation in the New City for God's objective will have been reached for the New Jerusalem?

Question 36 - Non-Resurrected Live on the New Earth Outside the New City

Do you believe the nations will be those outside the New City on the New Earth with bodies of flesh and blood who were transferred livingly from the last generation at the end of the millennium in a spiritual condition of eternal sinlessness? Will they continue to procreate physically and receive renewal from any physical weakness by entering the gates of the New City (Rev. 21.12-13,15,21,25), rejuvenated by "the tree of life which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations" (Rev. 22.2)?

Question 37 - Mars Will Be the New Earth (Don't be Surprised by This)

Do you believe the new city John viewed from the great high mountain he was taken up to was a vision from the largest mountain in the solar system, Mount Olympus on future Mars that is without the sea, and the old earth to be burnt up will also be without the sea, "for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea" (Rev. 21.1)? Do you accept that the new city will be transformed into 1379 x 1379 x 1379 miles with walls 216 feet thick to leave the solar system for us to venture out once what has been fulfilled that God promised He would love us for a 1000 generations (Deut. 7.9, 1 Chron. 16.15, Psalm 105.8)? (1000 generations represents the time allotted for God to prepare us to one day leave the solar system.)

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