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Monday, December 18, 2006


**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**




A New Perspective for Religion-Based Foreign Policy: Former Talk Show Host Challenges Evangelicals’ Politics in New Book

REDLANDS, Calif. –

With religious turmoil in the Middle East at the top of international news and religious disputes prominent, religion is at the forefront of discussion in the nation. Author Joe Ortiz presents a study of the Bible based on etymology and disproves many of the principles previously believed by Christians in his book, The End Times Passover: Etymological Challenges to Millenarian Doctrines (now available through AuthorHouse).

Many Christians are anticipating the end of the world, never more than now with the outbreak of Holy Wars and religious terrorism in the Middle East and throughout the world. They are also anticipating the Rapture, or the return of Jesus Christ to Earth to rescue the righteous before Armageddon.

By deciphering etymological clues in the Bible, Ortiz reveals proof that Christians cannot count on the Rapture for their salvation. He also argues against a number of recognized Christian principles, including the idea that the Promised Land is located in the Middle East, the belief that human souls go directly to heaven or hell after death and the promise that God’s only children are ethnic Jews.

These truths are particularly important now, as America intervenes in the Holy Wars taking place in the Middle East. “Right wing evangelicals who promote the ‘Left Behind’ doctrine such as Tim LaHaye, John Hagee, Hal Lindsey and others arguably believe that the state of Israel is key to Bible prophecy,’ Ortiz says. “The proponents of this erroneous doctrine have unwittingly been pounding the theological hammers on U.S. foreign policy for over a century, only to drive a bigger wedge between Jews and Arabs who want peace in the Middle East.”

Ortiz argues that Christians should act as peacemakers instead of supporting a military solution to a centuries-old feud. “It took over 20 years of research and writing to provide conclusive answers to the premillennial, dispensational debate,” Ortiz says. “When those preachers and teachers of Bible prophecy read this book, they will soon realize they are promoting a militant and destructive doctrine instead of a genuine gospel of peace.”

A former talk show host, Ortiz was the first Mexican-American in the United States to host a talk show on an English-speaking commercial radio station. He has more than 30 years of experience in social services and communications, most recently as the director of public relations and fund raising for Catholic Charities of San Bernardino/Riverside, Calif., and also managed the organization’s homeless family shelter in Palm Springs, Calif. His media experience includes more than 20 years reporting and hosting programs on TV and radio, as well as writing for a syndicated publisher in California. He currently owns his own public relations consulting company, Joe Ortiz and Associates. His first book, Saved? What Do You Mean Saved? was published in 1983.

AuthorHouse is the premier publishing house for emerging authors and new voices in literature. For more information, please visit www.authorhouse.com.
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Thursday, December 14, 2006


FORMER BROADCASTER CLAIMS “LEFT BEHIND” PROPONENTS
ARE FANNING THE FLAMES OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICTS

A former radio-television talk show host today tossed a theological gauntlet at those who support the Left Behind doctrine, claiming that form of theology is not biblical and is leading many true believers astray from the Gospel.

Joe Ortiz, who recently completed a book (The End Times Passover) which debunks the Left Behind doctrine, stated he believes these mythologies are destructive to orthodox Christians and will hinder their ability to endure great tribulation. Other commentators who also dispute the Left Behind mythology include published authors Ted Noel, Stephen Sizer and Steve Wohlberg

“It is not our intent to create discord within the Christian community, “ said Ortiz, who has the distinction of being the first Mexican American to host an English language, commercial radio talk show. “However, there are many theologians throughout the world who are convinced the Left Behind doctrine is a blatant lie, and its proponents are more concerned with making money than teaching biblical truth. The “Left Behind” doctrine teaches that born again Christians will be secretly caught up to heaven seven years before Jesus Christ returns back to earth, thereby escaping a period they call “The Great Tribulation.”

“It is prophecy writers and preachers like Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins, Mike Evans, Hal Lindsey and Dr. Tommy Ice, who are the most well known promoters of this mythology,” adds Ortiz. “They and their publishers are more concerned about profiting greatly from these books and movies, rather than preaching the true gospel,” stated Ortiz, “Unfortunately, they are seducing spiritually hungry people away from God’s truth.”

Ortiz added that adherents to these mythologies are being duped into believing and supporting doctrines that are actually fanning the flames of world politics. He said they willingly or unwittingly are also promoting doctrines that foster religious conflicts throughout the world.”

Ortiz added his book provides succinct biblical evidence that refute the Left Behind mythologies. He has a web site (http://www.msnusers.com/TheEndTimesPassover) where the public can examine the evidence.

For more information, contact GBM, Inc. at (909) 653-4295


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12-16-06

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Joe Ortiz, Author of "The End Times Passover" Is a Rare Breed Among Evangelicals!



Joe Ortiz, author of a new book entitled "The End Times Passover (a book that refutes the Rapture to Heaven Theory)," considers himself an “evangelical Christian,” but not necessarily beholding to “Right Wing” evangelical fanaticism or the faction that supported George W. Bush for Presidential. Ortiz can make claims to being an evangelical Christian if that perception is in agreement with the Christian gospel. He also believes in the emphasizing of salvation by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ, through personal conversion, the authority of Scripture, and the importance of preaching the word of God as contrasted with religious ritual. He doesn’t believe in the evangelical principles that require he has to belong to any political party or any denominational church.

While Ortiz does not belong to any of these, he does believe he has been called as a messenger of the Gospel, as is best reflected by the word “evangelist.” However, he is cautious of calling himself an evangelist primarily because that word nowadays connotes a fire and brimstone preacher or an Elmer Gantry-like figure hustling dollars from his audience in exchange for favor from God, an image that he abhors immensely.

“The etymology for the word ‘evangelist’ derives or comes from the word *angel, or messenger,” said Ortiz, who added; “but, believe me, I’m no angel in the sense of purity but instead one who has learned much of life’s painful journey from past mistakes.”

*(Evangelist: Middle English evangile, from Middle French, from Late Latin evangelium, from Greek euangelion good news, gospel, from euangelos bringing good news, from eu- + angelos messenger)

“I believe that being a Christian is not about proclaiming to have obtained a holy lifestyle, nor projecting a higher moralistic picture of ourselves to those around us,” adds Ortiz. “But, rather it’s recognizing that all of us humans have been dealt with the card of imperfection, and we need to acknowledge this to one another, carry each other’s burdens, and allow God to work His own righteousness through us.”

Ortiz is a rare breed among evangelicals. The most well known Hispanic evangelicals more than likely were born in and found in predominately Spanish-speaking countries. However, through the heavy migration to this country from Mexico and other Latin American countries, many Hispanic evangelists can be found amongst a growing amount of Spanish-speaking churches in the United States. Ortiz, however, is primarily a middle-class 3rd generation Mexican American who was born, raised and educated in this country, He became involved in public service after serving in the Air Force as a military policeman, and achieved much acclaim and notoriety in English-language media and within the Los Angeles political network. His experiences were all in English and he doesn’t make any excuses about not being able to articulate as well in Spanish.

“I was born at a time that if you even spoke in Spanish during school time, you were either slapped or sent to the principal’s office,” said Ortiz. “Due to that mind set, I mastered the English-language at a very, very young age, which actually helped me succeed in mainstream broadcasting.”

Ortiz, who has the distinction of being the first Mexican American in the U.S. to host an English-language talk show on a commercial radio station, distinguished himself on radio and television and as a syndicated newspaper columnist for over 20 years in the highly competitive Los Angeles media market. He began his first job in 1971 at KABC Talk Radio, Los Angeles. In between that career he also became a born again Christian in 1975. Although he was born and raised a Catholic, he adopted the Assemblies of God doctrine and dropped out of media for awhile and worked as an evangelist from 1979 to 1985. During this period he also operated as a free-lance public relations consultancy and he began writing The End Times Passover, which would take him about twenty years to complete. In the meantime, in 1986 he returned to broadcasting in the Christian radio market, but soon dropped that after one year and then hosted straight (secular) talk programs until 1992. Ortiz felt it would be hypocritical to stay in the Christian broadcast field solely to hustle dollars.

“I’m afraid I became disillusioned by Christian broadcasting,” Ortiz sighed, because he saw the so-called electronic church spending so little time on Bible study and about 85% of their time with entertainment tactics designed to solicit money for their respective ministries.”

Ortiz’ secular radio show [Prime Time with Joe Ortiz] became a big hit and he even co-hosted a bigger hit with “Mornings with Joe & Cris” on KPZE-AM Radio in Anaheim, California, with comedian Cris Franco as his co-host.

“Those shows were lots of fun and it was very much a pioneering venture to see two Latinos, for the first time in history, hosting a daily drive time, 6 to 9 a.m. slot, and killing the competition.”

But, yet, through all of the success of hosting two prime time shows, and operating a highly successful public relations consultancy, Joe experienced a burn out in the jet set lifestyle of media and politics and left Los Angeles for his hometown of Palm Springs, California. He went to work for Catholic Charities of San Bernardino/Riverside in June 2000 as its Director of Public Relations and Fund Raising and also managed its homeless shelter in Palm Spring until he injured himself in July 2003.

“That period of times was the most spiritual and redeeming time I ever spent in my life,” said Ortiz, who resided at the shelter he managed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for two and a half years, without a vacation. “Yes, it was hard work, but, very, very gratifying, and it also afforded me the opportunity to finish writing The End Times Passover, which I completed in May 2004.”

Ortiz’ book has been examined by a few writers in the eschatology genre, including Dave MacPherson who wrote several books, including The Rapture Plot, The Incredible Cover Up, The Great Rapture Hoax, Unbelievable Pre-Trib Origin and Late Great Pre-Trib Rapture.

“The End Times Passover, the book by Joe Ortiz, is not just another prophecy book out of thousands. But I dare not tell you the conclusion because I don't want to spoil your journey. Whatever you do, don't pass over Joe's well-thought-out and scriptural work,” (Dave MacPherson, March 8, 2002)

Other writers on theological matters have also read Joe’s book and praised it, including Bill Somers, who hosts the End Time Prophetic Vision web site.

“The reader will find The End Times Passover to be a scholarly sound and profound work that will straighten out a lot confusion surrounding biblical issues related to end times prophecy. It will cause many teachers and students of the Bible to rethink much of what they have accepted as 'fact' concerning the end times. Joe Ortiz has done a magnificent job of researching and writing this important book. This is the book I wish I would have written, and I'm sure there are a few others who will wish they had written it as well,” (Bill Somers, May 28, 2004).

Humbled by the glowing response, Ortiz still has certain apprehensions about his book. Not that his book isn’t based on profound Bible study and sound theological references, but because much of what he presents goes across the face of orthodoxy and the traditions of many current Protestant doctrines, especially Premillennialists and Dispensationalists. Ortiz stated the adherents of these two doctrines believe that the state of Israel is God’s time clock to Armageddon, and that all Christians should support the State of Israel in all cases, or they will be punished by God. They also believe they will be spared from the wrath of God due to a miraculous event they call The Rapture. This is an event they believe will see Jesus Christ secretly coming down from Heaven to snatch Christians back to Heaven while all hell breaks loose on earth.

In his new book, Ortiz not only challenges and shatters the Premillennial and the Dispensational doctrines, he provides Biblical documentation that refute many of the notions held by traditional evangelicals and contemporary theologians, including proof that the Christian Church is not the Bride of the Lamb, that there will be no 1000 year (millennial) reign of Christ, that the human soul does not go to Heaven upon death, that the church of God was formed thousands of years before The Day of Pentecost, and that Christians will not be “Raptured” to Heaven. He also presents sound Bible answers that challenge the erroneous notions by right wing evangelicals that the Jewish people of Israel are the chosen people of God, and that the region now known as Israel in the Middle East is the Promised Land.

“The facts I present in my book will upset many right wing evangelicals and people who support the government of the State of Israel,” said Ortiz, who adamantly claims he is not anti-Semitic, but rather a person who loves all of mankind, including Jews, Arabs, Asians, Hispanics, Anglos and all black nations, as well. “My book is a treatise that makes a clear distinction between people who actually have faith in Jesus Christ, as opposed to certain factions that believe they have been chosen by God, based on their (unfortunate) interpretation of scripture.”

Ortiz said that when he started doing the research and writing of his book, he emptied his head of the varying doctrines and varying religious traditions, in an attempt to discover and present the facts as he found them without any influence. Ortiz, who believed in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture for over ten years, said the more he delved into the Greek and Hebrew texts to find out the true meaning of key words in the Bible (through a rigid application of the science of Etymology), the more he realized that premillennialists and dispensationalists have been misguided by former teachers and (more importantly) they have failed to discern God’s word correctly.

“I have found that most religious people are slow to change the belief system they have been indoctrinated with; some won’t even accept the true facts if presented to them on a golden platter.” said Ortiz.

“However, if Premillennialists and Dispensationalists will read this book all the way through, I’m certain they will conclude that the Left Behind notions they have been fed are blatant lies and anathema to God’s will.”

Ortiz indeed is a rare breed among Hispanic evangelicals. While he still has a passion for supporting members of the Hispanic community with problems related to the poor, such as immigration, education and health issues, he is driven more so by his theology.

“Let’s face it; regardless of much involvement we spend on my personal (Hispanic community advocacy) issues, the bottom line for me,” says Ortiz, “is if it doesn’t jibe with what the Bible tells us, then any thing we do differently will never coincide with God’s will.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2006




Am I A Religious Nut?

I crack up when people ask me that question; especially when you consider that at one time, I think I believed I may have been a religious whacko.

However, truth is truth! I have always sought the truth in everything I did or about anything I was told that was supposedly based on truth.

When I was a kid I was told by my parents and teachers not to lie but to always tell the truth. Like most kids, I found myself lying instead of getting punished for something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. I always found myself feeling guilty whenever I lied.

Later on in life I also discovered something else that was new. It was a way to shave the truth and still get away from lying. I became pretty good at shaving the truth or as they say now, to embellish the truth and make it more believable. I became very good at shaving the truth, and embellishing facts and information, or by also using intimidation tactics. It was all about winning, regardless of the ploy I used.

I also found out that many of my friends and associates were also good at shaving the truth, and we often spent time B.S.ing each other and we called that “debating.” Nonetheless, it was still lying. I became a Born Again Christian in 1975 to remove the feeling of guilt, and it helped tremendously. As a Born Again believer I learned that it was better to always tell the truth and to face the consequences. It worked! Guilt was reduced; knowing all I had to do to rid myself of guilt was to confess my sins to Jesus and received forgiveness. From then on to today, it's hard to read anything or even comment on any issue whatsoever unless it's the truth!

Several decades ago I decided to do some research about how the world was going to end. I began the research because much of what I was hearing from my pastors and religious teachers about The End didn’t seem right with what the Bible said.

So, I began to study. I didn’t just read the Bible, I began to study what key words meant in the original manuscript, by using the Greek and the Hebrew dictionaries, as well as hundreds of commentaries ranging back two to three hundred years old. . But I also found out that many people were not able to understand what some of those words in the Bible actually meant. Most folks took the meaning of those words for granted, simply because others before them interpreted the words the way they thought they should be interpreted.

Well, what I discovered was that way too many people were not using certain words correctly thereby distorting the actual meaning of those key words. Someone told me that what I was doing was using an etymological approach to solving confusing verses in the Bible. Etymology is the history of a linguistic form (as a word) shown by tracing its development since its earliest recorded occurrence in the language where it is found, by tracing its transmission from one language to another, by analyzing it into its component parts, by identifying its cognates in other languages, or by tracing it and its cognates to a common ancestral form in an ancestral language. This approach to studying the Bible helped to eliminate any doubt as to what key words really meant. After using this approach for several years, I was able to discern the Bible in a more concise fashion as well as establishing a premise that would hereby become immutable. In other words, I was trusting that what God wrote in the Bible was truth, not man’s mere process of interpretation or conjecture to fit their specific doctrine.

20 Years later, I finished this book, The End Times Passover, a book I challenge any nominal Christian to read, or anyone else for that matter, regardless if you are Christian or not; just as long as you are seeking truth. The book isn’t designed to tell you when the world is going to end or how. But it will disprove the Rapture and Left Behind notions being put forth by folks like Tim LaHaye and John Hagee.

Am I a religious nut? I guess I used to be, because I believed all those tails about being snatched up to heaven when all hell breaks loose here on earth. Since then I found this doctrine to be full of lies; and lies do not provide you with the comfort and security we all seek. Now, I’m no longer a religious nut, I’m just merely a person who not only wanted and sought the truth, I found it and want to share it with others.

Joe Ortiz, Author
The End Times Passover


AuthorHouse Self Publishing Book Company

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The End Times Passover book goes on sale today!


Dear Friends and visitors:

We are proud to announce that my book, The End Times Passover, has finally been published and is now available online by clicking on the following link.

http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore/ItemDetail.aspx?bookid=40941

This link will connect you directly to Author House where you can purchase the online version for $14.95. In order to get the paperback version ($24.95), you need to go directly to your bookstore, or inquire from any book dealers online (Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobles, etc.) to make a purchase. If they don't have it on their book shelves yet, just give them the name of the book and the author (me) and they will order it for you.

Author House is currently developing a major publicity campaign to be launched before Thanksgiving, which will provide the book national (and world wide) exposure.

We have provided the book for free on our official web site since May 2004, for almost two and a half years. Now, however, due to publisher constraints, it would not be fair to publicize the book is on sale and still provide it for free to our web site members. We understand the fairness behind this rationale.

I'm extrememly excited that this route we took will provide so many more people the opportunity to not only buy the book, but become aware of information that has been available solely to our members. If you believe like we do - that there will be no secret escape to heaven, but rather Christians will suffer much tribulation - then we must warn as many Christians as possible to make them aware of their need to come closer to God for His protection, with what we call The End Times Passover!

Please feel free to share this information with all of your friends.

In His Peace,

Joe Ortiz


AuthorHouse Self Publishing Book Company

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dear Friends:

It is with great joy and optimism (and a certain degree of sadness) that we announce that I have entered into an agreement with Author House to publish The End Times Passover.

I have agonized much in making the decision to publish The End Times Passover with a tradional publishing house, because I believe that the Gospel should be free to everyone, and also because I wrote this book not to make any profit but to inform as many Christians as possible that there will be no Pre-Tribulation Rapture. This is the main reason why we were giving the book away for free from our End Times Passover website.

However, I also realized that by publishing the book with a traditional publisher, they would have greater and many more tools to advertise and distribute the book to a much larger audience than is found on our web site.

The marketing campaign will begin in about a month; therefore, we are offering folks a chance to still download the book for free by going directly to Bill Somer's web site located at http://www.etpv.org/

We are grateful to Bill Somers for hosting the URL to access our book; those who choose to download the copy he has on his site however will not obtain the latest manuscript, which went through about six months more of agonizing editing to get it as grammatically correct as is the most recent version. Nevertheless, we give praise to Bill Somers for his tremendous editing and hosting efforts.

Once the book is out, we will be promoting several campaigns to give out complimentary copies of the book personally autographed by myself.

We wish to give great and tremendous thanks to all of our members for making our web site the number one site on that special web ring, and for referring your friends to this site.

More importantly, we thank you all for your support and commitment to learn more in depth the plan that God has for His children of promise, and to bring others closer to Christ.

In His Peace,


Joe Ortiz

P.S.

If you are interested in publishing your work, please contact Author House. They are great people to work with and do professional work. Check them out by clicking on the banner below:



AuthorHouse Self Publishing Book Company

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Following is an excerpt from Joe Ortiz's book, The End Times Passover


The True Soldier Role of Christians



There are five elements involved in God’s spiritual armament for Christians, elements that go contrary to military standards, as the world understands. Number one is the belt of truth. The word “belt” used here is “gird,” or in the Greek, perizonnumi, which literally means to be dressed for service. This means that the Christian is to be ready for service when the truth is known. What is the truth but what the Lord states in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” While the military man wraps himself with a holster belt to house his weapon, the Christian wraps himself with the belt of truth, which holsters the word of God.

Secondly, the Christian is seen putting on the breastplate of righteousness as the second line of defense while engaging in spiritual warfare. The Greek word for breastplate is thorax and, according to W. E. Vine, is seen metaphorically as righteousness in this verse. In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, we see it used to describe the righteousness found in faith and love. The physical heart (right beneath the left breast) is the power source of the human body, pumping life-giving blood to the millions of arteries that sustains it. How appropriate that this heart should be protected by a breastplate made not of cold, hard steel; but, rather, made of faith and love found only in Jesus Christ. It should be noted that the Israelites were well aware of this concept through the prophet Isaiah. In Chapter 59:15-17, the prophet clearly states that the Lord Himself is the provision for salvation, and that through His righteousness, not our own:

Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The Lord looked and was displeased that there was not justice. 16 he saw that there was no one, and he was appalled that there was no one to intercede; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. 17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak, (Isaiah 59:15-17, NIV). [Underline and bold is by the author, solely for emphasis]

In Matthew 6:33, we see Jesus reminding His called out ones not to worry about their lives, what they will eat or drink, or about their bodies and what they shall wear, but rather, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” The message here is that during times of warfare, both spiritual and bodily, as the Christian puts on the breastplate of righteousness, that of faith and love found only through Jesus Christ (not our own), then shall the believer find protection in time of need. As Christians put on the “belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness,” they are firmly planted in readiness to preach the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, the third piece of spiritual equipment that needs be used by the Christian is the “shield of faith.” The Greek word for shield is thureos, which, according to W. E. Vine, formerly meant a stone for closing the entrance of a cave; therefore, a shield, large and oblong, protecting every part of the soldier. The word is used metaphorically of faith, Ephesians 6:16, which the believer is to take up “in (en in the original) all” (all that has just been mentioned), i.e., as affecting the whole of his activities.”

Whereas, the shield has long been known as a military piece of equipment to ward off incoming missiles from enemy forces, in Ephesians, we are told by the apostle Paul that the Christian’s shield is faith in Jesus Christ, who through His almighty power is able to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. We are told in James 4:7 that as we resist the devil, he will flee us. However, even though we are often weak in resisting temptations, the Lord’s protective powers are still in force and will protect the called out ones during times of trials. In 2 Peter 2:4-9, he reiterates that the Lord can (and has always been able to) rescue the believer:

For if God did not spare angels, when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) – 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment, (2 Peter 2:4-9, NIV). [Underline and bold is by the author, solely for emphasis]

Here we see the called out ones donning their spiritual uniform, which includes the belt of truth in the knowledge that the only way humanity can be reconciled to the Father is through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We also see the Christian being protected by the Lord’s breastplate, which is (His) righteousness, that of faith and love. The third part of this spiritual uniform is the “shield of faith,” which is provided by God as a result of submission to this truth, which results in the righteousness of His faith. As the Christian “believes,” the automatic “shield of faith” is provided by God, which results in protection from the fiery darts of Satan.

Now we see the fourth part of the Christian arsenal for spiritual warfare, that being the “helmet of salvation.” The Greek word for “helmet” is perikephalaia which (according to Vine) comes “from peri, around, and kephale, a head. It is used figuratively in Ephesians 6:17, with reference to salvation, and in 1 Thessalonians 5:8, where it is described as “the hope of salvation.” The head is not to be regarded here as standing for the seat of intellect; the word is not used elsewhere in scripture. In Ephesians 6:17, salvation is a present experience of the Lord’s deliverance of believers as those who are engaged in spiritual conflicts. In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, the hope is that of the Lord’s return, which encourages the believer to resist the spirit of the age in which he lives.” (W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Page 543, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

It is interesting to note that W. E. Vine also agrees here that the “hope of salvation” mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 is viewed as the hope of the Lord’s return, which will include the being “caught” aspect of The Second Advent. However, Vine does not venture to say that the “hope” is solely the fulfillment of the act of being “caught up.” We will later be discussing the “blessed hope” of Titus 2:13 in greater detail.

But as we can plainly see, the obvious reference to the “helmet of salvation” is the reality that those who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are “covered” by God’s salvation. It is said in Romans 10:9, 10 that “if you confess with your mouth (which is part of the head) that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart (which is seen as being protected by the breastplate of righteousness) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved!” It further states that it is with your heart that you believe, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved!

So here we see that the true Christian warrior is the individual that puts on “the belt of truth,” that being that Jesus is the only way to the Father; the “breastplate of righteousness,” which is the protective force that comes from the Lord’s faith and love for us; the “shield of faith,” which protects us from the fiery darts of Satan; and “the helmet of salvation,” which is the “hope” of the Lord’s soon return to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. Finally, the fifth aspect of Christian military arsenal is the “sword of the Spirit,” probably the most important part of spiritual equipment for the Christian journey, more so, as the days grow shorter.

As the Christian soldier dons the spiritual accouterments, and readies the body as a living sacrifice for the preaching of the gospel, out of the spiritual sheath comes forth the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God! The word sword (in the Greek, according to Vine) has two distinct meanings. The word for sword in Ephesians 6:17 is machaira, which is “a short sword or dagger,” whereas the word for “sword” in Revelation 1:16, 2:12, 16; 19:15, 21, is rhomphaia, a weapon of larger size. The word rhomphaia is used in Revelation to describe the Lord’s judicial acts in the outpouring of His wrath on unbelievers. The word machaira, from where we get the word machete, is a short sword or dagger, and hereby implies that the Christian, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is to preach the word of God, and thereby provoke the conscience of mankind. It does not imply the presence of the physical or military-style power that only the Lord will generate. True, many Christian soldiers have been used by God in the performance of His almighty power to realize military-style miracles (David slaying Goliath with his slingshot, as one example). However, the message being conveyed in Ephesians 6:17 is that the Christian, especially in the latter days and times of tribulation, will be seen preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, and not engaged in physical combat against the armies of the Beast. True, the Two Witnesses in Revelation 11:1-14 are seen performing great feats (power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain, turning water into blood and striking the earth with every kind of plague); however, it appears that they alone will have this type of power, while the remaining believers will be limited to evangelizing in the traditional manner. In these verses (Ephesians 6:14-17), we see the Christian soldier moving forward in life, carrying the message of Jesus Christ to all mankind with the “sword of the Spirit,” (the little sword or dagger), whereas the Two Witnesses (for three and a half years) and especially the Lord at His Second Advent, will yield the much larger and awesome sword (rhomphaia) of prophesying the impending wrath and judgment of God.

It bears repeating (as stated in an earlier chapter) that the Christian nature is not one of retaliation, nor will it include one of waging war alongside Christ when he returns, as Hal Lindsey asserts in his book, The Rapture, page 19. Here, Mr. Lindsey quotes Revelation, Chapter 19, in an attempt to prove that the Christian Church is already in heaven, where he sees it supposedly experiencing the marriage and wedding supper, and supposedly returning as the “armies” (vs. 14) that come with Him when He returns to judge the earth.” True, the ecclesia will be involved in the administrative Judgment process after the Lord returns. However, scripture does not identify the Christian Church as being part of the armies the Lord uses to wage war! Mr. Lindsey very conveniently omitted two verses (10 and 13 of Chapter 19) to make it appear as though the Bride (which he believes is the Christian Church) is now saddled upon white horses and is following the Lord as part of His war-waging entourage. As we pointed out in a previous chapter, the ecclesia is not seen as part of the Lord’s armies in Revelation 19. Neither should the called out ones be viewed in a human militaristic sense; but rather, as an army of soldiers whose weapon is the word of God and whose main responsibility is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Christian is never encouraged to fight, retaliate or militarily force people or nations to abide in God or in His ways. Although many Christians have served in the military and have engaged in physical battle in a myriad of wars throughout history, the military branches they patriotically served under were armies of various nations, not God’s army. God could very well have supported these various nations at one time or another, but they were not God’s armies in the sense that the war was between the Christian Church verses other nations or other religions. On the contrary, the Christian is exhorted to turn the other cheek. In Matthew 5:38-48, we see Jesus specifically stating what kind of attitude Christians should have towards others, especially our enemies:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect, (Matthew 5:38-48, NIV). [Underline and bold is by the author, solely for emphasis]


More on turning the other cheek later in another chapter, but it is important that we interject this group of scriptures to remind the Christian that being a soldier for Christ does not entail physical or militaristic retaliation. Instead, it requires the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ in faith and love, in His righteousness, through His spiritual sword (which is the word of God) and under His protective shield and breastplate of righteousness. All He asks of us is to put on the “belt of truth,” and be ready to do His will. All the spiritual accouterments for this warfare are given freely to the Christian, and its reloading power comes as we abide in Him through the spiritual agency of the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The following is an excerpt from
The End Times Passover
By Joe Ortiz

The Purpose for Tribulation!

In the last few chapters, we covered extensively those scriptural passages that deal with tribulation, trials, persecutions, etc., for the purpose of familiarizing our reader to a subject that many theorists choose to avoid while they build their secret pre-tribulation escape to heaven scenarios. Obviously they fail to address the subject of tribulation because it is their contention that the Christian Church will not experience persecution, in their staunch belief it will be removed from earth to heaven during the so-called Great Tribulation. Therefore why even bother. But, God’s word clearly tells us that we must experience much tribulation to enter the Kingdom of God.

After reading all of these verses concerning tribulation, the reader is probably tossing hands in the air and hopelessly lamenting, “Why become a Christian? Who needs all that suffering?” Life is bad enough as it is, why program us to a belief system that includes having to accept the fact that horrors loom before those that believe in Jesus Christ?” Agreed! There is much validity in those questions, if viewed solely from a secular or humanist perspective. True! Why become a Christian if the only thing immediately in store is trials and tribulations, persecutions from non-believers, which may include family, friends, fellow church members and neighbors, and the distinct possibility that we might even end up having to die for the cause? “Besides,” say many Christians, “I thought that once I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I wasn’t going to have to suffer any longer as I did in the past, but rather, as a new Born Again believer, the next thing in store for me is an any-moment Rapture to heaven to be with Jesus Christ, at least for a 7-year period of time before He returns back to reign on earth!”

These questions and comments are valid, if a secret pre-tribulation escape to heaven is what the Bible clearly teaches. But if a pre-tribulation escape is not in store for the called out ones, then what purpose is served by the ecclesia having to experience great tribulation?

Let’s read two significant verses in the Bible to help us set the tone for this chapter. First, in John 3:16, Jesus is telling Nicodemus (and all mankind, too) that, For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life, (NIV). This one verse encapsulates the totality of God’s purpose for mankind and the manner in which He accomplished His reunification program for His creation.

Most Christians know the basic history of Adam and Eve, their fall in the Garden of Eden, their separation from God and the chronology thereafter. We then see in the Old Testament where God chose a special person (the Hebrew Abraham) and a group of people (Israel) as His entity to reveal Himself and to fellowship with His creation once again, as He had with Adam and Eve. But many of the chosen descendants of Abraham rebelled against the laws and rulers He had provided for their own protection, and heeded not His words sent forth through His prophets. But yet (by virtue of His omniscient nature), God had a plan of reunification with His called out ones from the very beginning of time, knowing full well that redemption would be needed. He chose to step down from His majestic abode in heaven and took the form of man, offering Himself (in the person of Jesus of Nazareth) as a propitiatory sacrifice to pay for the sins of the world. All He asks is that, by faith, we should believe in the person of Jesus Christ so as to not perish, but have eternal life and fellowship with the Creator of all things.

Throughout history, God continues to reach out to mankind to accept this gift of salvation, but His creation continues to rebel, thinking of itself as a god, rather than accepting this precious gift. The natural man, skeptical and not understanding the things of God, laments: “If man is fallen, why doesn’t God simply wave His Almighty hand and remove all evil and restore His creation to Himself. Why doesn’t God simply speak (as He did when all things were created) and bring in everlasting peace?” The answer is found in 2 Peter 3:9, the second significant verse, which reads:

The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance, (2 Peter 3:9, NIV). [Bold and underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]

True! Those who have already come to the Lord by faith know and understand the reality of the Gospel. They know that the only way anyone can become reconciled to God is by faith, and by believing that Jesus Christ paid the price for their fallen state. But millions have yet to see (or accept) this reality. Even more so, as the Day of the Lord approaches, mankind in general and even many of those called out ones (who should be trusting in Jesus for all things) are being seduced by power, money, prestige, greed, lust and the satisfying of self, rather than seeking meaning for the true purpose of life. Rather than seeking reunification and fellowship with God (which was His original plan and purpose for mankind), humanity has charted its own course, a course of self-destruction:

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone – an image made by man’s design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead, (Acts 17:24-31, NIV). [Underline and bold is by the author, solely for emphasis]

Two important verses in this group of scriptures to note of their importance include verses 27 and 31. Verse 27 states that God established times and places so men would seek Him, and perhaps reach out and find Him, even though He is not far from each one of us. Verse 31 states that God has set a day when He will judge the world with true justice in the person of Jesus Christ, and He has proven this to all mankind by raising Jesus Christ from the dead.

Here is the purpose of life! God has allowed mankind to follow in its own footsteps, if for no other reason than to prove to it that without a personal relationship with God it is doomed to fail the human experience! Throughout the Bible, we see God forever exhorting mankind to return to Him, but yet, there is continued rebellion. But as we have seen, God does not give up on His creation, but continues to draw it back to Him through the agency of the Holy Spirit, and those who now believe. The most important task of those that now believe is to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God so no one shall perish. But as we can see by the Book of Revelation, many will not turn to God regardless of the sanctifying power of the word of God, nor will they turn back from the results of the horrific atrocities that will befall unbelievers when God’s wrath is poured out.

“But,” the Christian says, “If I believe now, and I’m doing the work of a true Christian, is it also necessary for me to endure tribulation?” “Of course not,” say theorists. “God is not a cruel God. He will Rapture you to heaven for seven years and spare you from all these things.” Unfortunately, many Christians (and their leaders) still do not understand God’s ways. Unfortunately, this escapist mentality is extremely prevalent in the evangelical community because theorists have expounded on it for so long, and so often, that they fail to see what God truly has in store for His ecclesia. Unfortunately, the Christian (leadership) of today has lost sight of what God wants to accomplish with His called out ones during the intensified period of tribulation that will precede The Second Advent. Although it appears that God will accomplish many more tasks during and through the remainder of history, one of those tasks will be to bring many more people to His Kingdom before He pours out His wrath, and He will accomplish this goal by using His called out ones like never before.

How? Let’s go back to the time (in Acts 26:1-29) when Paul was incarcerated and was brought before King Agrippa, which paints (through one of Paul’s ordeals) a perfect example of Christian testimony that resulted in people coming to repentance and receiving salvation. The author is including the entire chapter in order that the reader may experience one of the greatest testimonies and sermons (along with Stephen’s in Acts Chapter 7) of all time:

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense: 2 “King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently. 4 The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. 5 they have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee. 6 And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today. 7 This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. O king, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me. 8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead? 9 I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 and that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even sent to foreign cities to persecute them. 12 On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around my companions and me. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It’s hard for you to kick against goads.’ 15 Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ 19 So, then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from Heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen – 23 that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” 24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.” 25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 the king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know you do.” 28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” 29 Paul replied, “Short time or long – I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains, (Acts 26:1-29, NIV). [Underline and bold is by the author, solely for emphasis]

The author believes with all his heart that when tribulations become more intense than they are now, a myriad of Christians will be brought before various officials and other governmental authorities throughout the world to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Like Paul our declarations of faith before these governing bodies will be similar testimonies that will have the very same results: bring more people to the knowledge of God’s saving grace before the Lord’s return! For those theorists who contend there will be a secret pre-tribulation escape to heaven, seven years before Christ returns, this last phase of history would then make any preaching of the gospel a virtual impossibility. Theorists who see only semi-converted Jews or genetic Israelites as being those persecuted, tortured, thrown in prisons, or even killed during the end times, miss one of God’s greatest displays of witnessing and testimony that God’s ecclesia could possibly be involved with. Let’s read again what is stated in Matthew 24:

Then you will be handed over to the persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false Prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come, (Matthew 24:9-14, NIV). [Underline and bold is by the author, solely for emphasis]

This is the same message that we find in Mark’s account of tribulation at the hands of the antichristian forces. However, in Mark’s account, we read about the beautiful power that the Holy Spirit will display through the Christian at that time:

You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit, (Mark 13:9-11, NIV). [Underline and bold is by the author, solely for emphasis]

This intensified period of tribulation immediately before The Second Advent will see some of the boldest evangelizing ever seen in the history of mankind. Matthew 24:14 clearly states, and this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come! Theorists, who merely see Jews as finally being converted through tribulation and or God’s wrath during this period of time, miss the point. The tribulation at the hands of antichristian forces is not God’s punishment or wrath for past transgressions. It is an opportunity for called out ones to make one final stand for Jesus, resulting in many unbelievers turning to God before the Lord’s return. The great “testing” to come about during this period is not to see who can withstand the most pain-until-you-repent; but, rather, this testing through persecution will be to see who will remain faithful to Jesus and the power of His word to bring as many more people to the Kingdom of God before His return. The man of lawlessness will be keenly (and diabolically) aware of this effort by called out ones. Henceforth, he will pull out all stops to silence the ecclesia. Satan, knowing that his time is short, will do everything in his power to destroy Christians throughout the world. The fact that the Christian will be boldly preaching the gospel during this intensified period of tribulation is proof that the Holy Spirit could not possibly be seen as being removed before this period of time. This intensified tribulation will result in one of the most glorious manifestations of the power of the Holy Spirit that has ever been seen. Even though scripture (in Daniel 12:7) records that the power (the missionary undertaking) of God’s holy people will eventually be shattered, shortly before the Lord’s return, the intended works of the Holy Spirit through the saints (Daniel 12:3) will result in millions of people converting to Jesus Christ. Many of these called out ones will be martyred, but many also will be alive to see The Second Advent of Jesus Christ. Here then we have one of the main purposes for not seeing the Christian Church removed before The Second Advent.

It boggles the mind to see how theorists can argue for the removal of the Christian Church (and the Holy Spirit as well), and then see people heretofore uncommitted to Jesus Christ, all of a sudden turning to the Lord due to persecutions from the Beast (and or God’s wrath) and then suddenly proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. If anything, it appears that those who have trusted and depended on their wealth and material goods (rather than God) will be more inclined to bow before the man of lawlessness when pressure is applied to them. If unbelievers have suddenly noticed that a myriad of Christians have been secretly Raptured from the face of the earth along with the Holy Spirit, the author is inclined to believe that their loyalty and allegiance will be more to the Beast system than to Jesus Christ. But yet, those true believers who patiently endure these trials will obviously be so convinced that Jesus will eventually rescue them, that they will joyously stand up for their savior under any circumstances. There will be many who will say they believe, and actually will call themselves Christian at that time (See Daniel 11:34), but will not have the power of the Holy Spirit working in them. In John 12:42, we see a perfect example of those who profess to believe in the Lord; however, they still cling to those things that they feel will bring them the security and the glory they seek for themselves:

Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved praise from men more than praise from God, (John 12:42, 43, NIV). [Bold and underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]

Matthew 24:9-14 and Mark 13:9-11 are portions of scriptures that are echoed in Luke 12:4, 5 and Luke 21:12-19; however, in Luke 21:12-19, we specifically see that called out ones will not experience these end-time tribulations as punishment from God, but rather, to be witnesses to the unsaved:

But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 All men will hate you because of me. 18 By standing firm you will save yourselves, (Luke 21:12-19, NIV). [Bold and underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]

In verse 15, we see once again the power of the Holy Spirit working as never before, providing the called out ones with words and wisdom that none of their adversaries will be able to resist. Even though this experience will be reason for great sorrow (especially in the knowledge that some friends, family, and even fellow church members will betray us), the Lord exhorts us not to worry beforehand because not a hair on our head will perish, even though some of us may have to die.

What a glorious period that will be. Not necessarily to experience death, but, if one has to face death, the author can envision no greater honor than to stand up and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, to be found faithful to Jesus, to face death squarely in the eye and say “O Death, where is thy sting?” Then, to look at our Savior’s face and have Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” as He hands us our stephanos, the martyr’s crown of life! What great glory for God! To realize that, like Stephen, our death might possibly result in another person’s salvation has to be the ultimate Christian experience:

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them, (Acts 7:59, 60, NIV). [Bold and underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]

In verse 60, we see where Stephen, in his last dying breath, was praying for God to forgive his enemies, a prayer the author believes God honored. Here we see a glorious picture of the disciple Stephen, preaching the word of God to the Sanhedrin, unto death, looking up to heaven and surrendering his God-breathed, life-giving spirit back to the Lord. The Greek word for crown is stephanos, and the author believes the word of God states that those who witness for the Lord in that period of time will receive a greater reward. Is this willingness to die for the Lord’s glory being a “super macho Christian” as brother Hal Lindsey states? If so, then that is what the author is. If wanting to serve Jesus with such zeal and fervor is wrong, then the author stands convicted. If being a member of God’s ecclesia means that the called out one has to shrink back from the face of death, then all that Christ performed on the cross has gone for naught.

In Revelation 12:11, it describes a loud voice in heaven speaking about those who were willing to give up their lives to preach the gospel of Christ. This is not describing solely those who will be martyred during the end times. It describes those who throughout history overcame the accusatory powers of Satan and times of great tribulation through the blood of the Lamb:

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death, (Revelation 12:11, NIV). [Bold and underlines is by the author, solely for emphasis]

Back in Philippians 3:10, we see a clue from Paul’s attitude toward death that should be the attitude of all Christians:

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead, (Philippians. 3:10, 11, NIV). [Bold and underlines is by the author, solely for emphasis]

Was Paul being a “super macho Christian?” If so, then the author finds no shame whatsoever in being identified with Paul, Stephen, Peter and all the other called out ones who laid their lives down so others can have eternal life.

As the author concludes this important chapter, please indulge him to share a very personal message. On many occasions, one of the sermons that the author preached in various churches during his brief ministry as an evangelist, he used an extremely graphic example of how he saw himself drowning in a pool of filth before coming to Christ. He described a gory scenario that included them picturing a giant vat filled with decaying dead animals, mixed amongst rotten meat, mingled with live venomous spiders, scorpions and snakes, all floating atop a pool of bodily waste material, generating the most odoriferous stench imaginable. He used this graphic example in order for the audience to get a more profound picture of how decrepit the author felt about himself before turning to the Lord. He told his audiences how he once was down in the bottom of that vat, bound by alcohol, drugs, and illicit sex, almost to the point of suicide because he could not see any way out of the devil’s trap. But, after it was explained to him that Jesus Himself became sin in order for all of us to have eternal life, when he finally turned his life over to Christ, he told his audiences that he could actually see Jesus Christ diving head first into the vat, becoming all of its content, just so the author could be set free. This was the only way the author could make his audience see and feel how the author felt as he turned his life over to Jesus. Make a mental picture of this scenario. Picture Jesus diving head first into that abysmal stench. Not only becoming all of the individual filth you have personally committed throughout your entire life, but also becoming the putridity of all of mankind’s combined sins throughout history. This thought simply boggles the mind. But, yet, that’s exactly what Christ did. He willingly leaped head first into humanity’s vat of sin, not only drowning in it, but also becoming the despicability of humanity’s waste.

The author has often wondered why Jesus Christ cried out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me, (Matthew 27:46)? Was it because the physical pain was too much for him to endure? Maybe that was a part of it. Death by crucifixion is known to be one of the most painful and heinous ways to kill a person. However, the author believes in his heart that the agony and despair Jesus Christ felt at that moment was due primarily because our sinless Lord was not only experiencing the sting of sin, feeling the horror and the anguish of the sins of all mankind consuming his entire human persona, He was also experiencing a separation from God for the very first time!

No Mr. Lindsey, we aren’t talking “super macho Christian” here. We’re talking about being eternally grateful for salvation. Eternally grateful for being rescued before the author experienced a physical and senseless death no one would wish on his worst enemy. Not only did Jesus Christ rescue the author from dying a disgraceful death, alone and separated apart from friends and loved ones, He actually brought the author back from among the physically dying and spiritually dead and into new life. How God could have such grace and mercy to not only restore this former decrepit soul back to life, but to even choose him to do this work (writing this book) is a mystery that will remain unsolved by this author until he sees Jesus Christ face to face.

Therefore, being eternally grateful for this salvation, if the Lord tells the author that “not a hair on his head will perish,” knowing that he will soon be spending an eternity with his savior, then dying a physical death for Jesus, as He was willing to die for the author and all of mankind, is not a thing to fear:

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death, (Hebrews 2:14, 15, NIV). [Bold and underline by author, solely for emphasis]

Saturday, August 12, 2006

True Meaning of Revival and Prophecy is not about Predicting Future Events!

     I recently stumbled onto an article in a Christian/prophecy web site concerning Tommy Hick's vision, and subsequent comments by Stuart Dayton. As I was reading it, I saw another example of expositors who read more into scripture than is there, primarily to validate their predictive visions.
I feel led to expound briefly some of my feelings about this whole issue of "latter rain" and the supposed Holy Spirit being poured out in "moderation" on The Day of Pentecost.
     Let's revisit what Stuart Dayton wrote:
Tommy Hicks' Vision
Comment by Stuart Dayton
     I was listening to a tape where Paul Keith Davis was speaking about a dream or vision he had received. In this dream/vision there were "Prophetic Signposts." These "Prophetic Signposts" would mark new spiritual dimensions that would begin to happen when these signposts were seen. One of the signposts was the passing on of Johnny Cash. He stated that Tommy Hicks' Vision was involved in this dream/vision. This would seem like a good time to look at Tommy Hicks' Vision again.
His Blessings,
Stuart


     Joe Ortiz writes:


     I skip down to this following Dayton narrative, which is the crux of the matter. I underline the word "moderately," the word I researched very carefully for its true meaning. Stuart's premise (as he analyzes Tommy Hicks vision) is that a "double portion" of the Holy Spirit will be poured out in the last days.


     Dayton continues:


     "In the book of Acts we read that 'In the last days,' God said, 'I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.' I wonder if we realized what he meant when God said, "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." I do not think I fully realize nor could I understand the fullness of it, and then I read from the book of Joel: "Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord Your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain " (Joel 2:23). It is not only going to be the rain, the former rain and the latter rain, but he is going to give to his people in these last days a double portion of the power of God!"


     Joe Ortiz writes:


     Before we examine the word moderately, let's read Joel 2:23 in the King James Version to refamiliarize ourselves with this profound verse:

     "Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first [month]."
     First of all, no mention is ever made in this verse about any double portion! Secondly, we know that the "last days" began right after The Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. But, yet, too many people will conveniently introduce their subjective perceptions, inferences and conclusions, rather than reading what God's words say.
     The word moderately in Joel 2:23 defines the Hebrew word, ts@daqah {tsed-aw-kaw'}, which literally means justice, righteousness and has nothing to do with proportionality! If one will check through their Strong's or any other concordance, the word, ts@daqah {tsed-aw-kaw'}, is always rendered justice, righteousness in hundreds of usage's, except here in Joel 2:23. Yet, theorists will continue to translate this word as "moderation," as if to mean God disproportionately poured out His Holy Spirit in limited measure on The Day of Pentecost. This is to minimize the glory of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
     This is why we must question most so-called visions and prophecies (that are not already recorded in God's word), especially those that contain certain (erroneously interpreted) words squeezed into their theorizing. This is dangerous stuff.
     I don't question visionary's intentions. Maybe they feel they have a special gift of predicting the future through various dreams and so-called visions. Who knows? Joel did say young men will have visions and old men will have dreams once the Holy Spirit has been poured out. However, I see no recordation of the disciples proclaiming any new visions or specific predictions other than what was already written in OT scripture. Holy Spirit power gifts were poured out on them to edify, embolden, etc. They were poured out on The Day of Pentecost in their fullest power! Let us examine these gifts, as cited in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11:


Spiritual Gifts


     1Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. 2You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. 4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[1] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[2] 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. (1 Corinthians 12:1-11)
     As a reminder, we must be able to understand the true (etymological) rendering of the word PROPHECY. Too many (well intended) Christians confuse the word PROPHECY with PREDICTIONS. There have been many people throughout history who have claimed (and made) many predictions in past times. People like Jean Dixon, Nostradamus, and Edgar Cayce (even William Miller's prediction of the Lord's return in 1843). Some came true, but not poor Bill Miller's predictions. I must trust the Holy Spirit to believe that many of these so-called visions and predictions derive from satanic origins.
     Let's examine the true rendering of the word, PROPHECY:

A-1,Noun,4394,propheteia> signifies "the speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God" (pro, "forth," phemi, "to speak:" see PROPHET); in the NT it is used (a) of the gift, e.g., Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10; 13:2; (b) either of the exercise of the gift or of that which is "prophesied," e.g., Matt. 13:14; 1 Cor. 13:8; 14:6,22; 1 Thess. 5:20, "prophesying (s);" 1 Tim. 1:18; 4:14; 2 Pet. 1:20,21; Rev. 1:3; 11:6; 19:10; 22:7,10,18,19. "Though much of OT prophecy was purely predictive, see Micah 5:2, e.g., and cp. John 11:51, prophecy is not necessarily, nor even primarily, fore-telling. It is the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means, Matt. 26:68, it is the forth-telling of the will of God, whether with reference to the past, the present, or the future, see Gen. 20:7; Deut. 18:18; Rev. 10:11; 11:3. ...
 "In such passages as 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 2:20, the 'prophets' are placed after the 'Apostles,' since not the prophets of Israel are intended, but the 'gifts' of the ascended Lord, Eph. 4:8,11; cp. Acts 13:1; ...; the purpose of their ministry was to edify, to comfort, and to encourage the believers, 1 Cor. 14:3, while its effect upon unbelievers was to show that the secrets of a man's heart are known to God, to convict of sin, and to constrain to worship, 1 Cor. 14:24,25.


"With the completion of the canon of Scripture prophecy apparently passed away, 1 Cor. 13:8, 9. In his measure the teacher has taken the place of the prophet, cp. the significant change in 2 Pet. 2:1. The difference is that, whereas the message of the prophet was a direct revelation of the mind of God for the occasion, the message of the teacher is gathered from the completed revelation contained in the Scriptures." (W.E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)
     This all brings me back to the whole issue of "Latter rain" and a "new anointing." This is obviously the bedrock of Pentecostalism. While I don't reject that many people have been brought near to Christ through the Pentecostal movement (as I was), I believe the word clearly states that God poured out His Holy Spirit in its fullest on The Day of Pentecost, and that power has been here for our asking and taking unto ourselves ever since. It is to insult the power of God (and the Holy Spirit) to believe He didn't have enough power to imbue and sustain the church to its fullest with these great gifts on the Day of Pentecost. To make claim that He has plans to "kick it up a notch," is to deny His power was insufficient at Pentecost.
     If we do see any future (demonstrative) revivals, such as those people claim happen at conferences and rallies being held by the Benny Hinn's of the world, they will not be of God. If we see masses of people suddenly coming to Christ due to any unique predictions by those who believe they possess the gift of (predictive) PROPHECY, it will not be of God.
     We have seen this phenomenon throughout history. Some see a church grow in numbers and call that a revival. However, numerical growth can take place even in an unrevived organization. Even malignant tumors can grow. But revival is not numerical growth. For others, a revival is a series of special meetings. Feel Good meetings! True revival is not about feeling good; it’s about surrendering your life to God and doing good. Not doing good things to be accepted by God, but doing good things because God has accepted our belief in Him, and what He has done through Jesus Christ. True revival is not manifested by masses coming to Him at the behest of charismatic preachers and celebrities and modern day musicians, however famous, talented and eloquent they may be. Revival begins with individual repentance on the part of God’s people: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (II Chronicle 7:14, KJV)
     Revival is personal and in essence is God’s people individually returning to and pursuing God. It is not the filling of beautiful church buildings or stadiums with people looking for a new experience, but it’s the filling of people with God’s presence through the Holy Spirit.
     True revival will be individual. True revival will be in our own back yard and it will not be a revival of the masses. It will come when individual men and woman will begin to turn to God in a humble but yet greater measure. It will come about because more and more people will pursue God and access His power to do mighty things. And, these mighty things will not be extolling fanciful predictions about people and places in this time or that time, those vain announcements designed to heap glory unto them, as if they are more holy or gifted than others. By mighty things I mean humbling ourselves before God, praying for Holy Spirit-powered gifts that will help us bring our loved ones and friends to pursue Christ; praying for our respective neighbors and community concerns within our framework of day to day living. It’s being salt in the bland world of carnality. Touching lives in ways that those we come in contact will see Christ in us, not us in Christ! It’s being lights that will illuminate the message, not (us) the messengers. Messengers that insure God receives the glory, rather than seeing how spirit-filled we in vain glory and fleshly desire ourselves to be seen by others.
     For people to continue to present themselves as possessing unique and esoteric dreams and visions, as if they are more special or gifted than others, is sheer flesh and seeks wordily glory. To present to others so-called predictive prophecies from God, couched with a King James accented vernacular (as if this gives it greater credence), claiming that God had given them new details about future (and specific) events, is vanity, sheer unadulterated flesh.
     Many who feel compelled to present these sorts of predictive utterances may have been blessed with the gift of wisdom and knowledge. Many have obviously gained much knowledge because they pursue (relentlessly) God and His word. However, I fail to believe that God respects them anymore than any other human being who is seeking God and His truth; and He obviously reveals more to those who actively pursue Him and His wisdom. But as we pursue Him through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are assured that His word is complete. As the Holy Spirit reveals God, His nature and His attributes, we should be inclined to praise and worship Him. But, rather than praise and worship Him for who He is and what He has done through Jesus Christ, too many are focused on trying to gain points with God by trying to impress others that they have received specific details about people, places and future events. They believe this is due to a “latter rain” (meaning the Holy Spirit) that is being poured in greater measure than on The Day of Pentecost. They fail to see that the prophecy of Joel 2:23 was fulfilled in all its glory, in all its power on that great day!
     God is here, He is everywhere, and His power is 100 percent active. He has poured Himself out in the personification of the Holy Spirit amongst ALL flesh. It is His creation that fails to pursue this power that He has made available to those who not only believe in Him, but those who praise and worship who He is.
     There is nothing new under the sun! No new esoteric visions, no new predictions about tribulations, wars and rumors of wars and especially about the political machinations related to the country we now know as Israel in the Middle East! This prophetic/vision mentality (interpreting CNN news items as if it’s God's new revelations) is the sifting sand foundation of the Lindsey's, LaHaye's, Tommy Ice's, Benny Hinn's, et al. It is a diabolical tool being used for present day political influence and gains and (most of all) to heap financial profit and vain glory on these ill-fated messengers themselves. Nothing else!
     To my friends and loved ones who seek spiritual validation (call it revival, if you must), I say, seek not new things but let's humble ourselves, and PURSUE GOD! Let's wait upon HIM to reinvigorate our souls through prayer and worship! Praise and worship come first. Then the Holy Spirit can find room in our hearts to receive His power gifts. That's true revival! Then we can read and study and meditate on His word to guide us in all things.
     After we humble ourselves, worship and pray to God, seeking His wisdom, if nothing of a predictive nature comes before us, don’t be surprised. If any person claims they have received visions concerning floods will occur in Memphis, hurricanes in Toledo, scorching heat waves in El Paso, whether George W. Bush will be captured by UFO’s, Brittany Spears will marry an aborigine from Brazil, or whether Shania Twain will have triplets in the year 2007, so be it. These novel and fascinating revelations will not be from God!
     If anyone truly believes that God has chosen them to reveal unique and dated information about specific people, places and events (that are not already recorded in the Bible), I encourage you to begin praying and worshiping God before making these public. If these events do not materialize, ask yourself if you have really been spending time with God to know who He is and what His true will in your life is for Him. I would ask you to seek God in greater measure for the gift of discernment. Remember! Not only will you be held accountable to God, but your message can cause new children in Christ to follow the wrong path.
     Therefore, it is rather more fruitful for all of us to wait on Him and continue in praise, worship and prayer. Most of all let us remember that God doesn't need us to forecast the impending horrors that lay in the imminent future as signs of His soon return. We need His grace, mercy and loving kindness. Therefore, we need to worship and praise Him for what He has done in Jesus Christ, and for who He is, ALMIGHTY GOD!


Joe Ortiz,
Author, The End Times Passover

Monday, July 31, 2006

New Jerusalem (The Holy City of God, Coming Down From Heaven) Is the True Promised Land!

The following is an excerpt from Joe Ortiz' new book, The End Times Passover. In this chapter (12) you will find biblical evidence that the "promised land" spoken of in the bible is not in the current state of Israel, as most Jews and right-wing evangelical dispensationalist believe. The true promised land is the New Jerusalem spoken of in the book of Revelation, which is the Holy City of God that descends to earth when Jesus Christ returns to rule forever, not just for 1000 years, as believed by thousands of Millenarians:


New Jerusalem Is The True Promised Land!

In the previous chapter, the author presented scripture he believes clearly state that the Christian Church is not the Bride of the Lamb and that it will not be participating (as a bride) in the great wedding. The author believes scripture also clearly shows that the wedding spoken about in Revelation 19 is really speaking about Jesus possessing and becoming Lord and Master of New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, which descends to earth to henceforth be the dwelling place of the Messiah and His ecclesia forever and ever. We briefly alluded to the fact that the author believes scripture is unveiling that New Jerusalem in actuality is the true Promised Land spoken of in many scriptures, of which Revelation 21:2-3 clearly shows the prophecy of Isaiah 62 is being fulfilled in Revelation 19. Nevertheless, the author feels this Promised Land issue deserves greater elucidation to bring the point home more clearly. He believes that this chapter will help provide profound scriptural answers to this claim, as well as clear up any past misperceptions.

Throughout the Old Testament, we have seen where God made many promises to His chosen people, Israel. One of those promises that theorists allude to, in order to build upon their secret Pre-Tribulation escape to heaven mythology, is the land promised from God to Abraham and his descendants, which they interpret to mean that the eventual and eternal resting-place of national Israel is the current land that mostly Jewish people now inhabit in the Middle East. It is their contention that God promised the genetic nation of Israel the eventual (and eternal) possession of the entire land of Palestine, known today as the Jewish State of Israel. Theorists (and most Jews) believe many prophecies spoken of in the Old Testament are speaking and identifying this Middle East territorial region as the “Promised Land.” Their contention is partially true. One of the major promises God made to the nation of Israel did include its eventual and eternal resting place, and He did call it The Promised Land! However, was that promise solely speaking about a small parcel of land in the Middle East? Is that region in the Middle East the true Promised Land? Or does scripture unveil a greater land promise than either Jew or Gentile perceive? Let’s find out. In Genesis 12:1-7, it reads thusly:

The Lord had said to Abraham, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 4 So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions, which they had accumulated, and the persons, which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan. 6 Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "" To your descendants I will give this land.'' So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him, (Genesis 12:1-7, NIV). [Italics, bold and underline are by the author, solely for emphasis]

First of all, the aforementioned verses are not speaking solely about that land in the Middle East that so many Jews have struggled to return to, who claim complete and divine ownership of, and who are to this very day fighting to control and keep it for eternity. Genesis 13:14-15 does describe certain territorial promises when it stated, “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: 15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.” The author is certain the student who takes the time to examine the geography will be able to determine it does speak about the former land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites, which is now the current land being occupied by today’s Jewish community in what is called the State of Israel. The Hebrews of yesteryear and most present day Jewry (and theorists, also) have interpreted this great promise of blessing as speaking solely about geographical (land) promises, as is mentioned in verses 4 through 7. Since the time of that promise, the Israelites and now modern-day Jewry have been consumed with the retention of that Palestinian region. And, surely as the Bible clearly states, this land was given to Abraham and his descendants, forever. However, what many are not aware of is that a specific part of the promise was fulfilled after the 70-year Babylonian exile spoken of in Nehemiah 9:7, 8. It clearly states thusly:

You are the LORD God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham. 8 You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites. You have kept your promise because you are righteous, (Nehemiah 9:7, 8, NIV). [See also Nehemiah 9:22-24; Joshua 11:23; Joshua 21:43-45.

This particular verse (8) clearly states that God already fulfilled that promise, and it is not a promise yet to be fulfilled in the future as theorists claim! Yet, present day Jewry (and theorists, especially) still see these ‘promised land’ prophesies as speaking in future geopolitical inheritance terms. What Jews and theorists misread in these prophecies is that the true Promised Land will not be fulfilled by (nor in) the Jewish State of modern Israel. The true Promised Land is the soon-to-descend Holy City of God, New Jerusalem! Theorists’ unrelenting belief that the Palestinian region known today as Israel is the Promised Land of the Jews is askew from biblical reality. Also, their belief that the Bride of the Lamb, New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, is the Christian Church, is where they become sidetracked in their eschatological journey. They fail to see that the true Promised Land is not a parcel of land in the Middle East, but the true Promised Land is the city from above, the one that the true faith-believing descendants of Abraham and the Patriarchs were looking forward to (Hebrews 11:13-16:

"All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
 This city, this country, is to be their true motherland, which was spoken of in Galatians 4:24-26: 

"These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother (Greek word for mother is meter, meaning "motherland")."

This Holy City from above is what the patriarchs and all called out ones were looking forward to. They were not looking forward to a resurrection unto life to dwell in earthly Old Jerusalem. The patriarchs were looking forward to a spirit-infused resurrection from the grave to dwell inside New Jerusalem, the headquarters for the heavenly Kingdom of God, which will dwell on earth for an eternity!

Nor should we view (as do many theorists) the ‘two sticks’ and the “valley of dry bones” prophecies in Ezekiel 37 as conveying any future geopolitical resurrection for genetic Israel (immediately before or at the beginning of any so-called 1000-year-reign of Christ in old Jerusalem), nor were they fulfilled in 1948. The dry bones prophecies allude to the final resurrection, which was insured by the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the subsequent outpouring of Holy Spirit power gifts on the Day of Pentecost. Christ’s act on Calvary made it certain the prophecy of the ‘two sticks’ was fulfilled. This fact is verified by Hebrews 11:39-40:


39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect."


Matthew Henry ever so eloquently provides us with this discernment:

"They shall all be the subjects of one king, and so they shall become one. The Jews, after their return, were under one government, and not divided as formerly. But this certainly looks further, to the kingdom of Christ; he is that one King in allegiance to whom all God’s spiritual Israel shall cheerfully unite, and under whose protection they shall all be gathered. All believers unite in one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. And the uniting of Jews and Gentiles in the gospel church, their becoming one fold under Christ the one great Shepherd, is doubtless the union that is chiefly looked at in this prophecy. By Christ and partition-wall between them was taken down, and the enmity slain, and of them twain was made one new man, Eph. 2:14, 15,” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Ezekiel 37) [Bold and underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]

Where is the Kingdom of God and what does it represent? First of all, the Kingdom of God is the Kingdom that He has prepared from eternity. The history of His Kingdom is embodied in His chosen people, who go back to the promises He made to Abraham and his faith-believing descendants. The called out ones for this Kingdom were strengthened to become a house that we now call the “church” (ecclesia), which supposedly was not created until the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost. Obviously those who possess the new nature imputed by the Holy Spirit since Pentecost are, “like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 2:5, NIV).” However, when the Lord returns to reign on earth, this spiritual house (of called out ones) will become part of the administrative body that will reside in New Jerusalem, inside the Holy City of God, which descends from heaven to earth. This spiritual house (Gr. oikos, household, inmates) is not speaking about the dwelling place, the City of God. This spiritual house is not the Bride of the Lamb; but, rather, this spiritual house of called out ones is the body of Christ that will dwell inside the Bride of the Lamb, the Holy City of God! Then Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, along with His chosen people, will reign (inside His Holy City) on earth, ruling mankind forever! [Bold and italics are by the author, solely for emphasis]

Theorists will incessantly cling to the belief that the Old Testament land promise means that national Israel will be geopolitically restored with complete dominion of the present State of Israel, and that the geographically located state in the Middle East is the Promise Land. However, scripture clearly proves that those Old Testament promises in Genesis 12:3 and 1 Chronicles 17:9-14 concerning Israel’s final resting place will be fulfilled in and by the New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, the true Promised Land! We see scriptural proof that the specific promise that God made to Abraham and his genetic offspring concerning the Palestinian region spoken of in Genesis 15:18, 19 has already been fulfilled (Nehemiah 9:8; Joshua 11:23; 21:43-45):

43 So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

Yet, the present day Jewish nation will continue to struggle in battle (with support from Christians Zionists) to control this land to this very day. However, the eternal fulfillment to come, the final entering and resting in the eternal and true Promised Land (prophesied throughout the Bible) is not realized until the Holy City of God, God’s present dwelling place, the new City of Jerusalem, comes down from heaven.

The Lord Jesus Himself is presently preparing its administrative (ecclesia) body, which will include the assignment of a positional status (Gr. topos, condition, opportunity) for each called out one according to works accomplished in concert with their individual and spiritual calling. King David was well aware of this. He was not looking forward to the time when genetic Israel would inhabit for an eternity a physically located parcel of land on earth; but, rather, David was looking for the eternal home with God, the place from where God’s Kingdom would be administered. In 1 Chronicles 17:9-14, God made that perfectly clear to David in the following statement:

'And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 10 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also subdue all your enemies. 10 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also subdue all your enemies. "`I declare to you that the LORD will build a house for you: 11 When your days are over and you go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever, (1 Chronicles 17:9-12).

Verse 10 of this prophecy specifically deals with the spiritual household (Heb. bayith, family of descendants, an organized body) that God is building to this very day! [See also Genesis 18:19 for usage of bayith, household] The Hebrew word for build is banah, which (according to Unger and White) the verb, in each case used in the Bible, suggests “adding to existing material to fashion a new object.” That home mentioned in verse 9, that place (Heb. maqowm, a standing in one’s own country, city) is that heavenly country Abraham looked forward to inherit, the city (New Jerusalem) that God promised to provide His people (the Israel of God, His ecclesia); a glorious city which is to come to earth, “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come, (Hebrews 13:14).” This city is seen coming to earth in Revelation 21:1-7, and in these verses we see who will inherit this kingdom city;

As stated in the previous chapter, the description of the house spoken of in 1 Chronicles 17 is not the Temple that Solomon built during his reign after his father David passed away. It is not a description of any other temples that were to be built and consequently destroyed repeatedly throughout the remainder of national Israel’s history. The description of the offspring in 1 Chronicles 17:11 is that of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is building the spiritual house of God today. The house in verse 9 that the Lord promises to build is His Kingdom of holy priests, the ecclesia, which is confirmed as whom we know to be the church in 1 Peter 2:5! The word “built” in 1 Peter 2:5 is the Greek word oikodomeo, which (like the Hebrew verb banah) means to edify, to embolden, to strengthen. This is exactly what happened when the Holy Spirit poured out gifts of power on the Day of Pentecost. The Christian Church was not formed nor created on that day; rather, on that day, God's ecclesia was enhanced with Holy Spirit power to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the same Gospel that God preached to Abraham:
 

"Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith, (Galatians 3:7-9)."


All the patriarchs and the holy fathers, from Abraham on down, understood this. They knew God would strengthen His existing ecclesia, (See Joel 2:28). They knew that all nations would be blessed through Him. They also knew there would be a resurrection (Hebrews 11:19), and they also knew that they (faith-believing Israel) would eventually reside with God; not in the land of Canaan, the present day Jewish State of Israel, but in God’s Holy City, New Jerusalem!

Once again, in Hebrews 11:8-16, it clearly states that Abraham and his believing descendants were not looking forward to a physical piece of land, nor an earthly geographical country in the Middle East, but rather, a heavenly city, coming down from above:

"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the City with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith Abraham, even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly One. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them, (Hebrews 11:8-16, NIV).

Notice in verses 9 and 10, where it clearly states that Abraham admitted his sojourn in that region was as an alien and a stranger on earth, because he was longing for a country of his own, a permanent resting place for his tent. He and the others of faith desired and longed for a city with foundations whose chief architect and builder is God. They (Abraham and the patriarchs) were not looking for a geographical country, which the Jews (and theorists) believe was fulfilled in Palestine in 1948; but, rather, they were looking for a “heavenly city.” Notice, it says a “heavenly” city, not a “city in heaven.” The New Jerusalem is a heavenly city to be married (ba’al, possessed) by Christ for His called out ones, a better country, one that will descend to earth at the Lord’s Second Advent, (Hebrews 13:14).

The size of this heavenly city is described in Revelation 21:16 as being approximately 1400 miles long, 1400 miles wide and 1400 miles high as it is wide and long. If we multiply just the width and length of this great city, we are talking about 1,960,000 square miles. Present day Israel (the region of Palestine) is approximately 7992 square miles, an extreme length of 260 miles, and a width that varies between 10 to 70 miles. It is obviously clear, then, that the true Promised Land cannot be speaking about the geographical territory described in the Old Testament in Genesis 13:14-15.

The actual description and scope of the inheritance that the holy fathers and patriarchs were looking forward to was limited to a certain extent by Israel’s spiritual blindness. But Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knew! King David knew! The prophets knew and so did the apostles. When Jesus told the apostles His Kingdom was not of this world, He was not trying to make a distinction between a heaven-based kingdom and an earth-based kingdom. He was telling them His Kingdom is a heavenly kingdom ordained by God, one that flesh and blood cannot enter into but by the spirit of God, who will change our bodies into spiritual, immortal bodies at the last trumpet (1 Corinthians. 15-54), the one sounded as Jesus prepares to descend to planet Earth. Albeit the Kingdom of God is not a worldly ordained Kingdom, it does not negate the fact that Jesus Christ will rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords inside the supernaturally ordained New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, which descends (and will dwell) on earth forever!

But more importantly, one of the true but saddening aspects of this entire scenario is that the Jewish people (and theorists, as well) have been unwittingly clinging to their own interpretation of the land promise God made to Israel and its forefathers concerning their eternal resting place, their true Promised Land. Historically, they have been yearning and striving for the Jews (supposedly speaking about all of the 12 tribes of Israel) to reestablish a geo- political kingdom in the Palestinian region they now call the State of Israel, as if this earthen parcel of land was their true Promised Land.

And, unlike many who believe and are buying into the popular Messianic Israel doctrine, which speaks about a geopolitical kingdom restoration of the two sticks (Ephraim and Judah) before The Second Advent, based on their interpretation of Ezekiel, Chapter 37, this prophecy was fulfilled through Jesus, as is clearly stated in Ephesians 2:11-22. This is the Kingdom of God! The only Kingdom prophesied in the Bible that will ever be established on earth is the Kingdom of God, and this Kingdom (currently in a spiritual state) will also be established by Christ on earth (Matthew 6:10; Luke 1:2), not for a mere 1000 years, but forever. As Ezekiel 37:28, states: And the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forever, (NASB). This verse alone should convincingly negate any and all millenarian doctrines once and for all. The Hebrew word for forever is `owlam, which means, everlasting, indefinite or unending future, eternity! [Underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]

So much war and death and contentiousness have been experienced in belief this small land mass in the Middle East is their (Jews and Messianic Israelites) final resting place. True! God did give Abraham and his descendants the land the Jews currently occupy. True! It is a parcel of land God gave them forever, if they obeyed His commandments. But, that great cloud of witnesses spoken of in Hebrews, Chapter 11, knew that their true inheritance was more than a parcel of land in the Middle East, and it was not going to be a geopolitical earthly kingdom, but a heavenly Kingdom on earth! They knew they were but mere aliens and strangers sojourning in that earthen Middle East territory. They knew that this parcel of land in the Middle East, now being occupied by mostly Jewish people.

This better country unlike Old Jerusalem, is truly a heavenly one, but it is not a city that will remain in heaven, waiting with open doors for born again Christians seeking a secret Pre-Tribulation escape to Heaven; but, rather it is the glorious City of God that will soon descend to earth. The patriarchs knew this! King David knew this! The apostles knew this! They all knew they were looking for a better country, a city that is to come to earth. God’s words clearly states this fact:

"For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come, (Hebrews 13:14).

No! The Christian Church is not going to be caught up to heaven; but, rather, the Holy City of God is coming down from heaven. God’s called out ones will be co-administrators of His Kingdom inside New Jerusalem, to be members of a royal priesthood, accordingly, with the positional status they will receive for their faith works accomplished on earth.

With this promise to look forward to, knowing that our portion of the inheritance is nearer than before, all called out ones should be girding themselves in the knowledge that as they go through great tribulation before Christ returns, greater opportunities will exist for God’s ecclesia to bring many more people into the Kingdom of God, to partake in the glorious inheritance that has been prepared for faith-believing Israel, all of God’s ecclesia, all of God’s children, who will rest forever, in God’s true Promised Land!

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