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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bad Land: Why hysteria has won out in Arizona.


Bad Land
Why hysteria has won out in Arizona.
Severe recessions can make people crazy and mean. During the Great Depression, immigration to the United States from Mexico virtually ceased, but states began arresting and deporting Mexicans, many of whom were in the country legally. The Mexican population of the United States fell by 41 percent during the 1930s. And the same kind of thing is happening again.
The recession has sharply curtailed illegal immigration to the United States. According to Princeton political scientist Douglas Massey, the number of undocumented residents in the United States peaked at 12.6 million in 2008 and fell to 10.8 million in 2009. Nowhere did it fall more sharply than in Arizona, where the number of illegal immigrants dropped by 100,000 over the last year. But Republicans in Arizona are acting as if illegal immigrants are pouring across the border and must be stopped by any means necessary. "The back door to the United States for all intents and purposes remains wide open," Republican Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth declared at a North Tucson town hall meeting last month.
Last week, the hysteria of the state's conservatives took its most concrete form: The Arizona legislature passed a bill on a party line vote, and Republican Governor Janice Brewer signed it, making illegal immigration a state as well as federal crime and requiring Arizona police to require proof of citizenship if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that someone is in the country illegally.
The bill is ostensibly aimed at discouraging illegal immigrants from staying in Arizona, but it would also affect Arizona's Latino citizens and probably, too, its Native Americans, who would be subject to arrest if they fail to allay a policeman's suspicion that they are in the country illegally. Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony called the bill "the country's most retrogressive, mean-spirited and useless anti-immigrant law." Mahoney also questioned whether Arizonans are "now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques." That is, perhaps, rhetorical overkill, but
there is a disturbing echo here of the worst periods in American and European history.

The bill might not have become law if Democrat Janet Napolitano had still been governor. Napolitano vetoed similar measures. And Arizona's Latino community hoped that Brewer, who replaced Napolitano, would veto it. When she took office, Brewer was reputed to be a hard-line conservative, but faced with the reality of Arizona's huge budget shortfall, she had begun moving to the center on a few issues. This year, she had the temerity to propose a temporary 1 percent sales-tax increase to prevent even greater cutbacks in state services.
Brewer's tax proposal enraged Arizona's conservative Republicans, as well as the state's Tea Party and Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, and challengers have already made it the focus of their campaign to defeat Brewer in this August's Republican primary. Brewer evidently felt she couldn't afford to do something else that would alienate Republican conservatives—and so she signed the immigration bill.
The state's incumbent Senator John McCain might also have been expected to oppose the bill. After all, he had co-sponsored with the late Senator Edward Kennedy an immigration bill that would have eased the way for illegal immigrants to stay in the United States and eventually become citizens. But faced with a primary challenge from Hayworth, and a primary electorate that will be dominated by conservatives, McCain has been steadily disavowing prior stands on taxes, the bank bailout, gays in the military, campaign finance reform, and climate change. On the eve of the vote in the legislature, McCain came out in favor of the immigration bill. "I think the people of Arizona understandably are frustrated and angry," he declared.
Of course, there will be legal challenges, and there will likely be boycotts of Arizona's hotels and conventions. That happened after the state refused to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday, and led eventually to Arizona giving in. There will also be political repercussions. While Republicans may pick up a few more percent of the angry white vote in November 2010, they can kiss the Hispanic vote goodbye—and not just in Arizona. That may not have meant much in 1935, but in the years to come, it could seal the Republicans' fate as a minority party. That's at least one price they'll pay for being mean and crazy.

  

Arizona's Anti-Immigration Law: Hurting Immigrants and Criminalizing Compassion

Rt. Rev. Kirk Stevan Smith, 04.28.2010  Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Arizona

In 2003, before becoming Governor of Arizona, then-Secretary of State Jan Brewer declared Arizona to be a "Golden Rule State." This teaching, common to most of the world's religious faiths, ("do unto others, as you would have them do unto you") was, as a result, imprinted on special license plates and made available to state drivers. Just two weeks ago, now-Governor Brewer was honored by the Arizona Interfaith Movement for her work in promoting that value, received a plaque, gave a speech, and stood while being applauded for her work promoting the Golden Rule in Arizona.

But by signing the recent anti-immigration bill SB 1070, I believe she now must give that award back.

Many religious leaders in this state feel that Governor Brewer and the Republican majority in our state legislature have not only pandered to our residents' pent-up anger, fear, and frustration with Washington's inaction on the immigration crisis, but have done so in a way that betrays our most deeply held values of justice and compassion.

Much has rightly been said and written about the civil and human rights implications of this new law. Under its terms, police officers will effectively be turned into Border Patrol agents, empowered to stop and interrogate any person whom they have "reasonable suspicion" might be in this country illegally. This must inevitably lead to racial profiling at the hands of overzealous officers, who will take it upon themselves to suspect anyone with brown skin of being a criminal. Not to mention the ruination of lives only because of the accident of birthplace.

But there is another side to this law that is terribly insidious -- the criminalization of any effort to aid or shelter fellow human beings in need. Although I doubt it was the intent of the writers, SB 1070 can be interpreted to make acts as simple as feeding the hungry at a church soup-kitchen, offering water on a 100°+ day, providing a pew to worship God, or even taking children of undocumented workers for a ride in a church-owned vehicle a felony offense.

I don't know any world religion that does not teach compassion, kindness, and love of neighbor. Jesus, for example, commands his followers to love one another as he has loved us. And that to give even a cup of cold water to one who is thirsty is to do the same to Jesus. There is nowhere in the Bible where we are asked to check that person's immigration status first. Human kindness is a central practice of faith, often learned in our very earliest years, and it is universally encouraged. Except, of course, in Arizona.

So basic is love of neighbor to my faith that I believe SB 1070 is in fact a violation of the First Amendment, the free exercise of religion. No government should have the right to punish its citizens for simply following the teachings of Jesus, Moses, Buddha, or Mohammed. For the law of God, the Golden Rule, trumps the state penal code, especially when that code is based on exclusion and hatred.

Either Arizona lawmakers will have to learn that constitutional and moral principle, or they will have to take the Golden Rule off our license plates.

 
 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Do We Depart to Heaven When We Die, or Do We Sleep Until His Return?

     From the very beginning of our youth (and even to this very day), we have been taught the belief of going to heaven after death for being a good person who believes in God, as opposed to going to Hell for being an unbelieving bad person. This heavenly-minded concept has been taught in Sunday schools throughout the world. We have been taught that bad people go to Hell and good people will go to heaven. In the evangelical community, especially, it is widely accepted that if you turn your life over to Jesus Christ, and accept Him as Lord and Savior, you will not go to Hell, regardless of being a bad person, because Jesus paid the price for all of our sins. Consequently, the believer has been saved by grace and stands to inherit entry to the Kingdom of God and ultimately goes up to heaven.
     There is much truth to this belief, to say the least. But are believers truly destined to spend any time up in heaven, much less an eternity? Is heaven the final resting place of the Christian? The answer is yes and no. The answer is yes, in the sense that God is presently in heaven (wherever its exact location may be) and our ultimate desire is to be reunited with Him. But, the author believes the scriptures say that the answer is no, in the sense that believers do not ever go up to that heavenly dwelling (after death or during any so-called Rapture to Heaven journey); but rather, that heavenly dwelling comes to earth, for eternity! Isn't it interesting that the most well known, most oft repeated prayer in the disciple's arsenal calls for this to happen?
     Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen, (Matthew 6:9-13 ) KJV
     I would venture to say that 95% of Bible-believing Christians are adamant in their belief that a person goes to heaven the moment they pass away, and they quote that “being absent from the body means to be present with the Lord in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).” They back that premise by also quoting the other passage (Philippians 1:21-23) that ostensibly proves that once Christians die they immediately go up to heaven to be with Jesus? Let’s examine these verses very carefully:
     Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 We live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord, (2 Corinthians 5:6-8, NIV). [Bold by the author, solely for emphasis]
     This same theme is found in Philippians 1:21 through 23, which reads:
     For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, (Philippians 1:21- 23, NIV). [Bold by the author, for emphasis]
     The reader will notice in these verses that Paul prefers to be away from his body and at home with the Lord, but nowhere in the Bible does it state that that is exactly what happens the moment a person dies. To get a more clear understanding of what Paul is truly saying here, let’s first examine the word home, which is used twice in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8. The first mention of home in verse 6 is represented by the Greek word endemeo. Here is what W. E. Vine says in page 558 of his book, An Expository Dictionary Of Biblical Words, about the word home:
     HOME: Endemeo “lit.” To be among one's people" (en, "in," demos, "people;" endemos, "one who is in his own place or land"), is used metaphorically of the life on earth of believers, 2 Cor. 5:6, "at home (in the body);" in 2 Cor. 5:8 of the life in Heaven of the spirits of believers, after their decease, "at home (with the Lord)," RV (AV, "present"); in 2 Cor. 5:9, "at home" (AV, "present") refers again to the life on earth. In each verse the verb is contrasted with ekdemeo, "to be away from home, to be absent;" in ver. 6, "we are absent," i.e., away from "home" (from the Lord); in ver. 8, "to be absent" (i.e., away from the "home" of the body); so in ver. 9, "absent." The implication in being "at home with the Lord" after death is a testimony against the doctrine of the unconsciousness of the spirit, when freed from the natural body. (W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary Of Biblical Words, Thomas Nelson Publishers, page 558) [Bold is by the author, solely for emphasis. Parenthesis “at home (with the Lord)” is by Vine]
     Far be it from this author to repudiate the great scholarly works of W. E. Vine, a Christian academician whose Greek translations and Bible academics the author has used with great confidence throughout the writing of this book. However, Vine’s inference, where he parenthetically implies in the above statement that "at home (with the Lord)" means that after death the Christian immediately goes to be with the Lord, in (or out of) heaven, needs to be examined more closely. First of all, Vine does not claim that the word endemeo specifically connotes a heavenly picture, he says it "implies." No Greek scholar makes such a claim!
     Endemeo solely means, "To be among one's people," and that word can in no way be specifically defined to mean a heavenly location (although many infer thusly) that "one's people are at home in heaven." While many Bibles use the word home (Gr. endemeo, among one's people) in verse 8 (implying that it means to be at home in heaven with the Lord), many other Bibles use the word present, which is also the Greek word endemeo. Of course, Paul and all Christians want to be present with the Lord, but there is nothing in this Greek word endemeo that is precisely equivalent to mean “at home (in Heaven) with the Lord.” Now, let’s examine the word depart.
     To understand what Paul is telling us in Philippians 1:22-23, we must pray the Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom to discern the different components that make up the total person. It is crucial to know each component of man and to understand the difference between body and spirit and their combination thereof. This issue has been debated for centuries and continues to this very day. The biggest mistake in attempting to solve this conundrum is theorists’ attempts to identify the specific role of three components (body, spirit and soul) when the Bible clearly tells us there are only two components of the human body. In essence, the Bible clearly tells us that the spirit and the body (when the body is still alive) comprise the living soul. However, at physical death, the life-giving spirit (not to be confused with the Holy Spirit), which God breaths into man (making it a “living soul”), becomes separated from the body, it returns back to God (the power source of life) who gives it. The scriptures clearly state that when the life-giving spirit God breathes into each person at birth, at that precise moment a person becomes a living soul, (Genesis 2:7). As soon as a person dies a physical death, that life-giving spirit that God gives man departs back to the Lord after death, as is clearly stated in Ecclesiastes 12:7: Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. The dead physical body then decays back to dust, returning back to the earth from whence it came. Therefore, the physically dead man’s persona (the soul, which is the sentient part of a human being) either succumbs or sleeps in Christ.
     Is this what Paul was telling us in Philippians 1:21-23, that he desired to die so that the life-giving power source (the spirit breath from God) would depart back to Him that giveth? Was Paul even telling us he desired death so that his dead (or sleeping) soul would then go to heaven? Paul was saying neither! Paul is not speaking about dying so that his spirit or soul (or both) could depart his friends and family members and go to heaven at all. Paul is saying something entirely different, which will become extremely evident once we examine the word depart in depth!
     Once again, Ecclesiastes 9:10 states that once a person dies, that’s it, nothing else: for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom, (Ecclesiastes 9:10, NIV). Is this verse speaking about the physical body of the person who just died, or is it speaking about the God-breathed spirit that He employs to ignite life into clay or dust, henceforth becoming a living soul? Scripture states the body turns to dust and the spirit returns to God who gives it; therefore, this verse and many others which discuss life and death issues has to be speaking of the soul, that sentient part of man which is composed of clay and the life-giving, catalytic power source of God’s spirit! Once a person dies a physical death, it’s not their soon-to-decay body that is sentient, nor is it the life-giving spirit, which returns back to the power source, almighty God! Ecclesiastes 9:10 and many other verses are speaking about our souls, not to our (soon to decay flesh) bodies, nor to the life-giving spirit that God gives us at birth. Therefore it is our souls that will remember no more, they either die or they fall asleep in Messiah.
     Is this what Paul longed for, to die and have the life-giving spirit God gave him at birth to depart to heaven to be with the Lord? Or was he yearning to die in order for his soul could depart and sleep in heaven? Of course not! He spoke of neither! Paul knew what happens to a person once they die. He knew that once he died a physical death his (physical flesh) body would decay and that he (his sentient soul) would sleep. He knew it (his soul) would eventually be resurrected at the return of Christ and it would be given this new dwelling (Gr. oikiterion), a new spiritual body, when all called out ones are resurrected at the return of Jesus Christ! This is proven more profoundly so when we examine more closely the word depart used in Philippians 1:23. Let’s examine not only Vine’s definitions of the word depart, but also the definition of depart from another Greek scholar of great renown: E. W. Bullinger. First, Vine’s definition:
     “Depart, Gr. analuo: lit., "to unloose, undo" (ana, "up, or again"), signifies "to depart," in the sense of "departing" from life, Phil. 1:23, a metaphor drawn from loosing moorings preparatory to setting sail, or, according to some, from breaking up an encampment, or from the unyoking of baggage animals. See DEPARTING, No. 1. In Luke 12:36, it has its other meaning, "to return." See RETURN.” (W. E. Vine’s, An Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, Thomas Nelson Publishers, page 286) - [Bold and underline portions are by the author, solely for emphasis]
     We checked for the word “RETURN” in Vine’s Greek dictionary and, sure enough, the Greek word analuo is also rendered to return:
     360, analuo,"to depart" in Phil. 1:23, signifies "to return" in Luke 12:36, used in a simile of the "return" of a lord for his servants after a marriage feast (RV). See DEPART, No. 16. .” (W. E. Vine’s, An Expository Dictionary Of Bible Words, Thomas Nelson Publishers, page 963) [Please notice carefully that Vine states: the “return” of a Lord for his servants after a marriage feast - Bold and underline portions are by the author, solely for emphasis]
     So, we ask: “Which is it, to depart or the return?” To find a more concise answer, the author turned to E. W. Bullinger for his more expanded definition of analuo, a Greek word that is used only twice in the entire Bible. Not at all due to the author’s lack of confidence in W. E. Vine’s great scholarly achievement, but solely to get a second opinion from another great Bible scholar. The author researched extensively Bullinger’s book, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, to examine his Greek rendering of the word analuo.
     For those who are aware of or ever studied Bullinger’s magnificent works, few can deny he is a Bible scholars’ scholar; although his eschatological conclusions lacked the substance we find in his excellent Greek interpretations. For theology students who have used his material in their studies can attest, especially with figures of speech, numbering systems, and astronomy as they relate to the Bible, Bullinger was one the most prolific Greek scholars, ever, one whose works are revered by so many accomplished theologians and Bible students, alike. Even though Bullinger was one of the prime proponents of Dispensationalism - and vehemently believed in a Pre-Tribulation, heaven-bound Rapture - in his studies, works and published papers and books, he was more than diligent in his research of the Greek language. His academic acumen, especially in his translating of the Greek language, is unparalleled. Therefore, the author has great confidence in Bullinger’s academic astuteness, whose study of the Greek language and his “Figures of Speech” analysis of the New Testament, have withstood the test of time.
     This is what Bullinger says about the Greek word analuo, as it is used in Philippians 1:23:
     Analuo, to loosen again with the idea of coming back to the same place (used of a ship returning home from a foreign part) hence to return, depart and return. Used in the Lxx of returning from a feast (occ. Phil. i.23, where it is unto the return of Christ, for only then and thus shall we be with him, 1 Thes. Iv.17.” (E. W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, page 644). [Bold by the author, solely for emphasis]
     Once again, the word analuo is used only twice in the entire Bible. There are two renderings of the definitions Vine writes about; one defined as depart and one as a return. While Vine gives us only a brief definition in his book, Bullinger gives a more concise and in depth definition of Paul’s intent when he stated he would rather depart. Therefore, we are confident that Bullinger’s in depth analysis more concisely defines analuo to mean the return, and more specifically speaks about the return of Christ!
     Bullinger expands on Paul’s more concise meaning of this aspect as he explores Paul’s longing for ‘the return’ of Christ in his book, A Critical Lexicon And Concordance To The English And Greek New Testament (pages 739,740), where he is defining the word straight. Due to the fact that Bullinger uses the actual Greek letter fonts in this particular analysis, the author begs your indulgence in allowing him to omit the actual Greek fonts here (due to the author’s unavailability of same), but allow the author to use the English lettering instead, and allow him to also extract the narrative in English that Bullinger provides. Please feel free to read the book yourself to verify the accuracy of the following. Let’s read these particular scripture verses again to briefly remind us of what issue Bullinger is addressing, and his explanation as to what these verses are actually conveying. The verses, again, read thusly:
     For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far," (Philippians 1:21-23, NIV).” - [Bold and underline portions are by the author, solely for emphasis]
     On page 739 of his book, Bullinger is defining the word “torn” or “straight (he in a)” and, in his narrative, he basically unveils that what Paul was truly saying is that he (Paul) is ‘being pressed betwixt’ the ‘living and dying.’ Bullinger goes on to say that what Paul was struggling with was between the issues of that to live is better because Christ would be magnified, and the disciples would also profit, and that if he died, Christ would still be magnified (it would be gain.) Bullinger concludes his narrative by saying that Paul was also telling the disciples a third thing, as well, that, either way (to be dead or to stay alive), his true longing is for the return (analuo) of Christ: “But, if Christ should “return,” it would be “far better” than either,” states Bullinger.
     As I read Bullinger’s narrative in that particular book, I also looked into his other great book, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, for additional references he makes about the Greek word analuo. In page 492 of the above-cited book, he gives examples of the figure of speech called “Antimereia.” Bullinger says Antimereia “means that one part of a speech is used instead of another: - as a noun for a verb or a verb for a noun, etc.” This author gleaned Bullinger’s book, Figures Of Speech Used in The Bible, to see how he interpreted this aspect in this particular verse (Philippians 1:23), and here is exactly what Bullinger concludes:
     “Phil. i.23. ___”Having a desire unto the return”: i.e., (lit.) unto the return (i.e., the returning of Christ) (analuo), to loosen back again, but always from there to here; hence, to return (not loose back again, but always from there to here; hence, to return not from here to there, which would be to depart). See the only occurrences of the verb: -- Luke xii. 36 Tobit ii. 1. Judith xiii. 1.1 Esd. Iii. 3. Wisd. Ii 1; v.12 Ecclus. Iii. 15. 2 Macc. Viii. 25; ix. 1; xii. 7 xv. 28; and Josephus Ant. Vi. 4. 1. [Bold by the author, solely for emphasis]
     Paul’s dilemma (and also that of many of us disciples) was that he was perplexed about his earthly sojourn, groaning about the sinful state he was born into (see Romans 7:14-25), yet knowing that to continue to labor on earth for Christ would be profitable for the glory of God. Paul recognized that if he were already dead, then he would be that much closer in time to spending an eternity with Christ. The Christian who knows God, who knows His truth, takes very seriously the pain of being alive in this decrepit world, constantly yearning for The Resurrection and the return of the Lord. As John 12:25 clearly points out: The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Paul painfully acknowledged his living would be better for them than his dying, but not better than another thing, which pressed him out of the other two, the return of Christ, which was “far better” than either. See further under Epanalepsis, Resumptio, Pleonasm, etc. (E. W. Bullinger, Figures Of Speech Used In The Bible, page 492) - [Bold by the author, solely for emphasis]
     On page 722, of this same book, Figures of Speech Used In The Bible, Bullinger also writes about another figure of speech, “Anacoluthon,” which means a “breaking off the sequence of thought. Not following, want of sequence or connection in a sentence, the latter part of which does not follow on or correspond with the former part.” This is what Bullinger had to say about 2 Corinthians 5:8:
     “Being confident then always, and conscious that being at home (here) in the body, we are away from home, away from the Lord (for by faith we are walking, not by sight). We are confident, however, and are content rather to be from home (here) out of the body, and to be at home with the Lord (there).”
     These words are usually misquoted “absent from the body, present with the Lord,” as though it meant that the moment we are absent from the body we are present with the Lord. But this is exactly what it does not say: and the Anacoluthon calls our attention to this. The whole subject of resurrection, starting from iv. 14. Our two bodies are contrasted in v.1-5: vis “the earthly house of this tabernacle (i.e., this mortal body)” is contrasted with oikeeterion, our spiritual or resurrection body.” (See Jude 6): vis.: “Our house which is from Heaven, the future body of glory being called a “house,” as compared with the present body in which we groan, which is called a “tabernacle” or a “tent.”
     The argument is that, while we are in this “tabernacle” we cannot have that “house”; and that while we are in this tent we are away from our real eternal home, which is with the Lord.
     There is no thought (here or elsewhere of our being at home, or “with the Lord,” apart from resurrection and our resurrection bodies.” (E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used In The Bible, page 722) - [Bold by the author, solely for emphasis]
     What Bullinger is emphatically stating here is that there is no way we can be present or at home with the Lord unless we have our resurrected bodies, and those glorified bodies do not come about until that which will ensue when Christ returns to earth at The Second Advent. Therefore, when a person experiences a physical death, his body decays and the sentient part (the soul) of that body dies. For the Christian believer, his body also decays; however, the sentient (soul) portion of his persona falls asleep in Christ. The dead believer does not put on a resurrection body immediately upon his physical death. The believer does not receive the eternal dwelling (oikiterion) until The Resurrection!
     The irony! Bullinger in his doctrinal persuasion adopted Dispensationalism and the Pre-Tribulation Rapture; however his excellent scholarly works unwittingly refute his own doctrinal positions. Nevertheless, we are confident in Bullinger’s analysis, primarily because as this author studied Bullinger’s works more concisely, he found Bullinger unveils so much more profoundly the fact that Paul’s statements in his letter to the Philippians was not a heaven-yearning message at all.
     To put a final and explicit scriptural-convincing-closure on this ‘depart or absent from the body means to be present with the Lord in Heaven’ aspect, to confirm that Paul was telling us he knew he would not be going immediately to heaven after he died, one only has to read his remarks in Philippians 2:7 through 11, but primarily verses 10 and 11 to be convinced. Let’s read them:
     But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 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 2:7 -11, NIV). [Bold by the author, solely for emphasis]
     Does this group of verses sound like Paul wants to go directly to Heaven upon his demise? Absolutely not! Here, Paul is not looking forward to an immediate heaven-bound journey upon his death; he is actually stating he wants to experience the power Christ experienced at His resurrection! Paul wants to and longs for the opportunity “to attain to the resurrection from the dead!”
     Having established a stronger hermeneutical foundation concerning what happens when a Christian dies, it becomes evident that there will be no Pre-tribulation Rapture before Jesus returns at The Resurrection; thereby forcing the Christian to draw closer to God as great tribulation increases to a level they will have no control over, trusting solely on His grace, mercy and loving kindness.
     Unfortunately, much of what has been taught for years and sometimes for centuries, gets lost and transposed by the traditions that begin to grow based on the doctrine of the day, at that time in history, then handed down from one group to another, as the seconds of time go by. Obviously, when many of these traditions were first formulated, we did not have access to the great books and study aids, such as Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, concordances, and other works by writers and hundreds of great Bible scholars like W.E. Vine and E.W. Bullinger. The irony of it all is that scholars like Vine and Bullinger, for the most part believed in the premillennial dispensational doctrine. However, it is to their credit (and to our benefit) that their academic accomplishments (once examined even closer) actually end up refuting their doctrinal persuasion.
     We urge the serious Bible students to access the books by W.E. Vine and E.W. Bullinger and spend much time in researching the references I present here, and ask for Holy Spirit confirmation. Afterwards, one can hopefully walk away feeling they have gained a much clearer picture of what God truly intended to be understood in His word, rather than become swayed by the fad and pop theology that leads God’s children in the opposite direction, and too often into a perilous doctrinal corner that only Jesus can rescue. Study deeper, work more diligently than ever before, to ensure the eternal reward, that crown (Gr. stephanos, a token of honor) He promised His faithful disciples.
     Seek His wisdom in order that we, His faithful disciples, can help His other loved ones as we begin experiencing even greater tribulation; lead them to understand better His eternal plan, based on His sheer grace and mercy, and His End Times Passover! Then soon, yes, we will be present with the Lord, but not UP IN HEAVEN, but here on earth, as co-administrators of His glorious Kingdom, forever!
     In the meantime, let us pick up our cross, continue following Him, become a fisher of men; there is still much work to be done!
     Oh? By the way, isn't it interesting that the most famous prayer in the world, one that disciples are commanded to pray all the time, confirms everything in this blog" Remember it?
     Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen, (Matthew 6:9-13 ) KJV
~
For more information about this blog and Joe's books, The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great, by clicking here > Joe Ortiz

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Do You Really Know Your Bible?

     It took over 25 years of deep, extensive Bible study to discover factual data that differs from what many people believe is sacred doctrine. Much of this work included using an etymological and a ‘figures of speech’ study approach to reach a more in depth meaning to many of the words in the Bible we take for granted. The answers to some of the following statements and questions may shock you, but we can provide factual biblical data to prove the statements below are true.
     Did you know that there is nothing Holy about the state of Israel and it most definitely is not The Promised Land?
     Did you know that non-Christ believing Jews are not God's 'Children of Promise?'
     Did you know that many 'right-wing evangelicals' are promoting the Gospel of Zionism, which is not biblical?
     Did you know that New Jerusalem (the Bride of the Lamb) is not the church?
     Did you know that Jesus Christ’s reign on earth will be for more than 1000 years? That there will be no such thing as "The Millennium?"
     Did you know that when you die you don’t immediately go to Heaven or Hell? Your body decays, the life-giving spirit God gave you at birth returns back to Him, your sentient soul sleeps until Jesus returns at The Resurrection, and you know nothing, see nothing, hear nothing, do nothing until He returns?
     Did you know that the Rapture does not include a trip to Heaven, that it includes nothing else but a meeting in the sky to greet Jesus and escort Him back to earth??
     Did you know that mansions in God’s house are not housing compartments for Christians? That they are only spiritual habitations that Christians will put on to house our glorified bodies at The Resurrection?
     Did you know that Heaven is not the final destination of Christians, and that, in reality, we never, ever visit Heaven but Heaven does come down to earth when Jesus returns?
     Did you know that the word "church" is not really penned in the Bible, that the word for God's people of promise is ecclesia, which means, " a people called out" and that they actually existed before Jesus was physically born?
     Did you know that The Great White Throne Judgment will be held here on earth?
     Did you know that God and New Jerusalem come down to earth together when Jesus returns?
     Did you know that Christians will be on earth when God pours out His wrath on unbelievers?
     Did you know Christians will not experience God’s wrath but they will suffer Great Tribulation?
     Did you know millions who now call themselves Christian will accept the mark of the beast (666) to escape death?
     Did you know that many Christians today are already turning their back on Jesus Christ due to financial pressure?
     Did you know that those left are forgiven and those taken are unrepentant sinners who will be bound for eternal destruction?
     Did you know there is more false religion being preached today than ever in history? And this mostly by self-proclamed Christians?
     Most people reading this are probably saying “Hog Wash” ~ but it is true!
     Those people who promote the Left Behind and Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrines have seduced the majority of Christianity into believing they will escape tribulation, and they do this solely to gain large profits and political power by publishing the provocative "Left Behind" doctrines!
     They are controlled by non-Christian entities who use their religious notions to influence many governments throughout the world to support rich and powerful money-changers ~ greedy factions in the Middle East and Europe ~ those with enough military might to conquer as many nations as they can, to slowly but surely gain complete control of the entire world. And most American Christians haven't a clue!

     If you want or need biblical proof that all the above statements are true and factual, read The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation (Published by Author House), two new books by Joe Ortiz.
     Having the distinction of being the first Mexican American to ever host a talk show on an English-language, commercial radio station, Ortiz began his broadcasting career in 1972 at KABC Talk Radio in Los Angeles. He is a journalist with over 40 years experience as a news reporter, radio and television talk show host and newspaper columnist, and currently writes for various local and national media, and manages several web sites and two blogs..

     Ortiz began writing these two books in 1984 (and for the most part finished in 1986), over twenty five years ago, but he did not publish them until 2006. During the time in between, he spent hours, days, weeks, months and years checking and rechecking the information, over and over again, to make sure the evidence he discovered and presents in these two books was biblically correct!
     Attention Bible Teachers: You don't want to teach anything about the End Times until you first read these two books!
     You may be saying “Who does Ortiz think he is; smarter than thousands of evangelists, preachers, teachers, pastors, Bible professors and theology academicians throughout history?”
"No! Not in the least! I am not really that smart nor did I attend any Bible seminaries or colleges. I merely wrote what has been in the Bible all along, and the only proof and the only defense I have is the Word of God and the Holy Spirit!"


For more information concerning this blog and the books written by this author, please click here >Joe Ortiz and also The End Times Passover Video

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New (not Old) Jerusalem Is the True Promised Land!

One of the most debated issues in history is whether ethnic Jews are truly God’s ‘chosen people’ and did He really bequeath that Palestinian land mass in the Middle East as their permanent home. The Jewish lobby and many evangelical Christians will swear God promised Israel that land. Opponents of this doctrine believe most of the conflict over the last few centuries (which has impacted the entire world) results from failure to come to a mutual agreement where both Jews and Arabs can peacefully co-exist in that region.

This author has studied the theological aspects of the claim made by the Jewish nation for over 25 years, which resulted in my writing my two books The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation (Author House Publications). Mind you, I did not begin to study the political origins and the ramifications this debate has caused throughout the years. I began my research to get conclusive evidence as to whether there would be a Pre-Tribulation Rapture escape to heaven or not. As would be, the data I unearthed contributed much more to the political question than I realized, primarily because my research proves that their will be no geopolitical kingdom established by Jews nor any other entity but Christ when He returns. His (and His alone) will be the only kingdom to remain standing in the end!

Obviously I can’t share the entirety of my research in this blog; but I do plan to post certain excerpts from my book which I believe will shed new light to the debate, information that I have never seen posted on the Internet nor read in any books that provide this theological data. Several gifted scholars such as Hans LaRondelle, Steven Sizer, N.T. Wright, Timothy Webber and a few others have recently brought to the general public similar data (and have arrived at the same conclusions); however, all in their own unique fashion.

In addition to my comments on various issues of life, I will be providing in this blog much more informative data coming directly from my books that (hopefully) will contribute to the discussion and (hopefully) bring greater awareness and understanding, and (hopefully) contribute toward a peaceful solution to this historical dilemma. Based on the conclusion of the Bible, it doesn’t look like we will ever achieve world peace until Jesus Christ returns to rule and reign for an eternity right here on terra firma; but, as the Book of Jonah indicates, God cared enough about Nineveh that He repented and changed His mind about destroying that city for its idolatry. For awhile at least!

The following is an excerpt from my book, The End Times Passover (Chapter 12), where 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 many right-wing evangelicals believe. It provides Biblical proof that the true Promised Land will not be located in Old Jerusalem, Israel, but rather in the New Jerusalem spoken of in the book of Revelation. New Jerusalem is the Holy City of God that descends to earth when Jesus Christ returns to rule forever, and not just for 1000 years, as believed by thousands of Millenarians.

New Jerusalem Is The Promised Land!

In the previous chapter (of The End Times Passover), 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).

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. While He promised they could keep it forever, it came with conditions that Israel failed to adhere to; therefore, God is not obligated to fulfill His promise again 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, NewJerusalem!

Theorists’ unrelenting belief that the Palestinian region known today as Israel is the Promised Land of the Jews is askew from biblical reality. 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 were looking forward to (Hebrews 11:10, 16; 12:22; 13:14). This city from above is what the patriarchs and all called out ones were looking forward to, the true Promised Land! 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. 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)

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, called out ones), 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 the ecclesia, the 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!

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, the author believes 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). 

Yet, the present day Jewish nation will continue to struggle in battle (with support from Christian 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 (John 14:2) its administrative 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 concept. 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 His 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, NIV).

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 the Hebrew word 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, the original assembly of God’s called out ones (God’s historical ecclesia) was built (Gr. oikodomeo, emboldened, strengthened) with power from on high to proclaim the Gospel and to advance the Kingdom of God!

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, (See Galatians 3:29). 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!

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).

Verses 9 and 10 clearly state 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 in the Middle East, 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 geopolitical 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 2nd 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!

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 on that earthen Middle East territory. They knew that this parcel of land in the Middle East, now being occupied by mostly Jewish people, those members of the tribe of Judah, was not their final resting place. If that were the case, they knew they had the opportunity to return to it, as verses 13 through 16 so clearly state. Let us repeat those verses:

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 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them, (Hebrews 11:13-16, NIV).

This better country 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; 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, NIV) [Bold by the author, solely for emphasis]

That city is their true Promised Land, their true "motherland." This reality is confirmed when we do a deep study of Galatians 4:22-26:

22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise. 24 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, (Galatians 4:22-26).

The word “mother” in verse 26 has been used by Pre-millennial Dispensationalists to suggest it is speaking about the Christian church in their “Bride of the Lamb” scheme. But if we examine that word more closely, the Greek dictionary tells us that the word for “mother” is “meter” which is actually speaking about the “motherland” (New Jerusalem), the true Promised Land that descends to earth upon the 2nd Advent of Jesus Christ.

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 (who call themselves Christian) 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, not in the Old but inside the New Jerusalem!

[For more information about this blog, and the two books written by Joe Ortiz (The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation, published by Author House) click here Joe Ortiz