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The other evening my wife and I were discussing the role of tradition in our lives as Messianic Jewish believers. Are we to be "legalistic" in our observance of such matters as Shabbat, Torah reading, celebrating the holidays, and so on? Doesn't that impede the free flow of the Spirit? Why should we be tied to the Jewish calendar and ways of reckoning time? Are we obligated to think and act this way?Asking such questions can lead to more general thinking about the role of human tradition itself. After all, we are historical creatures rooted in a particular culture, endowed with a specific heredity and unique genetic code. We subconsciously inherit norms, customs, ceremonies, decorum, routines, patterns of speech (e.g., accents), right "from our mother's knee." In short, we are all "creatures of habit," and without such psychological ritualizing, it's likely we would go insane... Our very use of language itself -- and therefore the way we describe seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, etc. -- is based on customary forms of conventional usage. The bottom line seems to be that we are products of our culture from the moment we take our first breath in this world... Tradition -- of some kind or another -- is simply an inescapable and omnipresent fact of our existence.But what about the words of the Holy Scriptures? Don't they transcend cultural factors? Are they not timelessly true and exempt from culturally conditioned ways of reading them? Hardly. Both Christianity and Judaism (as opposed to some other religions) do not worship a "book" that "floated down" from heaven complete with chapters and verses. Nor do we believe in a "divine dictation" theory that claims the Scriptures are "Xerox" duplicates of the words spoken by an angel or other divine being. No, the Scriptures are regarded as the products of history -- sacred history, of course -- but history nonetheless. Therefore we have the same problems trying to discern the meaning of the Scriptures as we do for any other type of literature: Who was the original author and the intended audience? What were the cultural circumstances? Why was this written? What kind of writing is it? Is it a poem (like a psalm), or perhaps an instructional maxim (like a proverb)? Am I reading an historical account, a description of a religious ritual, or something else? First we must know what we are reading - and to understand its historical context. Ignoring this simple rule leads to all sorts of errors in our reasoning and makes us unwitting victims of our own cultural biases. We will find ourselves "reading into" the Scriptures things that just aren't there, chaverim!Regarding the literal words of the Scriptures, it's important to remember that the decisions made regarding which scrolls were "canonical" (and therefore to be included in our modern Bibles) came from the decisions made by earlier faith communities -- just as such decisions likewise preserved the sanctity of the sacred texts themselves. For instance, without the Jewish scribal transmission known as the masorah (מָסוֹרָה), it's unlikely we would know how to read and interpret many passages of Scripture today (Christianity also has its own scribal traditions that preserved the transmission of the Greek New Testament). Original Hebrew did not include vowel markings or other punctuation. Neither did the Greek of the New Testament, for that matter. Indeed, we can only understand the message of our faith through the medium of historical continuity, tradition, and ongoing dialog.... This was true even in the days of Yeshua, who endorsed the traditional tri-fold division of the Jewish Scriptures (the Law, Writings, and Prophets - Luke 22:44) and relied on Jewish tradition to teach great truths about his message (e.g., he associated the Passover seder with the "Last Supper" rituals of the New Covenant; he called himself Living Water and the Light of the world during Sukkot, and so on.) Yeshua placed high value on the "jots and tittles" of the texts of Scripture that were part of the spiritual heritage of his day (Matt. 5:18).But didn't Yeshua condemn the "traditions of men" in His day? Didn't he reject the traditions of the elders of Israel (Mark 7:5-13)? Didn't he rhetorically ask the religionists of his day, "Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition" (Matt. 15:2-10)? Yes he did, but it's important to understand the historical context of these sorts of statements. First, he was certainly not condemning "true traditions" that are outlined in the Scriptures themselves. Yeshua's entire ministry was predicated on the "appointed times" of the LORD and their fulfillment in him. "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matt. 5:17). No, what Yeshua appeared to take issue with was the dogmatic interpretation of various aspects of ritual law and with the practice of "building of fences" around the original intent of the Scriptures. These man-made "fences" (gezerot) actually created a gilded cage around the Scriptures and effectively relocated the source of authority to the self-styled religious interpreters of the day... This was the crux of the disagreement between Yeshua and the Pharisees. (For more about this, see "The Heart of the Law; the Law of the Gospel".)We all live by hours of the day, days of the week, seasons of the year, and God has revealed cycles and patterns of community life for Israel. Indeed, the moedim (festivals and appointed times) of the LORD are rooted in history and have prophetic implication for our lives. The "traditions of the elders" which Yeshua condemned had more to do with hidebound interpretations of the Scriptures (later embodied in the "Oral Law") than with the idea of tradition itself. The Greek word for "tradition" (παράδοσις) is a neutral term, simply meaning "handing down" (from παρά (down, from) + δίδωμι (to give)) what was given before. Both Judaism and Christianity hold to an "oral tradition" following the ministries of Moses and Yeshua, respectively. Because of the imminent expectancy of the return of Yeshua after His resurrection, the gospels were not committed to formal writing until the prospect of the death of the eyewitnesses loomed large. Moreover, there were numerous Gospel accounts which were eventually compiled into a standardized retelling of the story (Luke 1:1-4). In Jewish tradition, Moses received the written law at Sinai, but this cannot be understood in a vacuum. For instance, the details about how to construct the furnishings of the Tabernacle are not given, and the written law even endorsed the establishment of "judges" to interpret case law and establish precedent. Likewise the Apostle Paul admonished, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions (παράδοσις) which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle" (2 Thess. 2:15, 1 Cor. 11:2). Indeed, in a New Testament sense, "tradition" refers to the Apostolic teaching in general, as well as the valid inferences from the Tanakh that are thereby implied (2 Tim. 3:16, Matt. 13:52).Much of how we engage the relevance of tradition depends on our motives, of course... If we use religion to impress others, we're obviously missing the point of it all. Spiritual pride is an oxymoron of the highest order... (This also works the other way around: those who are iconoclastic regarding tradition may also be guilty of spiritual pride). Or if we are attempting to earn "merit" or find our self worth before the LORD, we are again missing it. God's love for us is unconditional, and there's no "merit" (zechut) we possess beyond that which is freely given to us through the intercessory work of Yeshua as our High Priest (Eph. 2:8-9). As Isaiah says (64:6): "All our (personal) righteousness is as filthy rags" (i.e., k'beged idim - as a menstrual cloth) -- and yet God loves us and finds us infinitely worthy.... There's no need to "ingratiate ourselves" before the LORD by means of performing various religious observances. God's love is forever the foundation. That said - and I hasten to add this in the same breath - if we love the LORD and honor His Word, we will surely strive to become more and more conscious, aware, mindful, etc. of the "whole counsel of God" and His revealed will. And that, of course, involves becoming more aware of the Jewish roots of your faith.After all, didn't the LORD God of Israel spend nearly 2,000 years before the advent of the Messiah teaching and grooming Israel? And to what end? Or do you suppose that Israel is a "failed social experiment" meant to be an "object lesson" for Christians? (Alas, this is the "cartoon version" of ethnic Israel that is all too common in the Christian church these days.) Is that all we can say about God's covenants and actions performed on behalf of the Jewish people? Is that all we can say about Israel's future? God forbid. No - though righteousness was not attainable by means of observing the covenant at Sinai, that's no fault of God nor of the Torah! The Torah is "holy and just and good" (Rom. 7:12) -- and that goodness / kedushah (holiness) is not diminished by means of the "better covenant" (Heb. 8:6) which God has graciously provided in concession to the weakness of our human "flesh" (Rom. 8:3-4). If I've warned you before about the perils of legalism, now I need to warn you not to confuse the liberty of the new covenant with any form of "replacement theology" that nullifies God's saving acts and promises for the Jewish people. It's a balancing act on this issue, chaverim...So where am I going with this? Well, in the second of this week's Torah readings (Pekudei) we learn that Moses consecrated the Mishkan (Tabernacle) on Rosh Chodashim, "the first day of the first month of the second year [since the Exodus]" (Exod. 40:17). The Jewish commentator Rashi notes that Moses spent the entire week before this date assembling and then (on the same day) dismantling the Tabernacle, perhaps to instruct the Levites. Some scholars have suggested that Moses' actions were a parable, however. The Tabernacle was not a "home" for God like some shrine for a tribal deity. Metaphorically it represented the Presence of the Shechinah in the midst of the people (Exod. 25:8). "Let them make me a sanctuary so that I may dwell in their midst." It is the LORD as dwelling in the midst of the people that is the true Presence of God, not some man-made structure, no matter how beautiful. The Shechinah dwells within our hearts and is no longer confined to a Temple. We are now personal "mishkans" -- "living stones" of God's greater Temple (1 Pet. 2:5). The Spirit of God dwells within us through faith....Nonetheless Moses' object lesson remains. Seven times the Tabernacle was set up only to be pulled back down... "Though the righteous fall seven times, they will rise again," said King Solomon (Prov. 24:16). We strive to move ahead in our spiritual lives, even if we experience repeated setbacks. Even if our lives are shattered by failure, we can take hope, chaverim: God will help you rebuild! (None of the king's men can put Humpty-Dumpty back together again -- but the LORD surely can!) A midrash says that Moses was once tested to see if he was able to receive the Torah. For 40 consecutive days he would study Torah only to immediately forget all he learned! Eventually, however, he remembered his studies and God began preparing him for his role in the kingdom. So take heart and "keep pursuing the goal in order to win the prize offered by God's upward calling in the Messiah Yeshua" (Phil. 3:14).Now let's go back to the original question we were asking ourselves the other evening. Should we be tied to the Jewish calendar and ways of reckoning time? Are we obligated to think and act this way? Well, even though we might have to "build and rebuild" our own sense of sacred space within ourselves (our "inner mishkan"), it is not hopeless to begin to do just that.... We can (of course) opt out and simply repeat the mantra "Jesus loves me just the way I am" all day long, but while it's indeed gloriously true that God's love for us is unconditional, remaining satisfied with our condition is actually a sign of sickness. The life of authentic discipleship is a one of "hungering and thirsting after righteousness" (Matt. 5:6), a sort of "divine discontent." The Apostle Paul wrote: "When the appointed time arrived, God sent forth his Son, born from a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Gal. 4:4-5). Being adopted into God's household means understanding how the house "sets its clock," so to speak. It means being attuned to the rhythm and order of the seasons, days, and even hours of the day. Since the end of our salvation is adoption -- our new identities as sons (and daughters) of God -- is it correct to think it a form of slavery to be mindful of such things, chaverim?There is legalism -- i.e., the idea that we are duty bound to perform certain rituals, behave a certain way, follow a set of rules, etc., and there is the liberty we enjoy as the heirs of God. There is a higher way of understanding the same thing -- namely understanding as an adult rather than as a child. Apprehending your identity as a son (or daughter) of the LORD God of Israel makes you no longer an outsider, a "child," an "outcast," etc., to the covenantal obligations and promises given to the Jewish people. As a co-heir and fellow member through adoption into the household of God, you are a new creation. Being a Jew is a matter of having a new heart, chaverim.... Let me make this up close and personal. Does it matter -- really -- if we bother to make time for Shabbat? Should we go through the trouble of preparing a special dinner, getting the family together, inviting a friend over for table fellowship and discussion about the ways of the LORD? Does it matter if we light Sabbath candles, eat challah, and say the "prescribed" blessings? Isn't this "tradition" that comes from the rabbis who rejected Yeshua, after all? "Let every person be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Rom. 14:5). There is a "weaker brother" issue here and showing respect for others means avoiding "ma'arit ayin" - the appearance of evil. We are at liberty to identify ourselves with God's overarching plans for Israel by honoring such traditions, and we are also at liberty to abstain from such -- though in either case we seek to sanctify the LORD and give Him honor according to the best lights we have.... God has promised to give us wisdom if we sincerely ask Him (James 1:5-7).
The Scriptures speak of three kinds of resurrection.
This refers to Israel. In Hosea 6:1, 2 we read-
"Come and let us return unto the Lord for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.
After Two Days
will He revive us; in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight."
There are several things in this passage worth noting. First we see from the context that the words of the prophet are addressed exclusively to the Jewish people and to the whole "Twelve Tribes" represented by Ephraim and Judah. Hosea 6:4. And it is the "Whole House of Israel" that says-"Come, and let us return unto the lord." It is the cry of repentance of a "nation" that has been torn and smitten by the Lord, and not the cry of persons "dead in their graves." The "healing" does not refer to a resurrection from "the dead, " and the "binding" means that the whole Twelve Tribes, now scattered, will be, "rebound into one nation" again in their own land.
The expression "Will 'revive' us, " does not mean a resurrection from physical death, for the word "revive" simply means what we mean when we speak of a "Revival of Religion, " which is a "spiritual" and not a physical resurrection.
The remarkable statement in the passage is the "time" of the Revival. It says-"after TWO Days." It is clear that those "two days" are not literal days of 24 hours, for more than 2 such days have gone by and Israel has not yet been revived. They were spoken by the prophet about B.C. 780, or 2700 years ago, and therefore must be interpreted on the scale that one day is with the Lord as a Thousand Years. 2Pet. 3:8.
Israel is now well along in the third Thousand Years of her rejection; and it is to be some time in this third Thousand Years, corresponding to the "Third Day" of Hosea, that Israel is to be revived and restored to her own land. For a full account of this "National Resurrection of Israel" see the Chapter on "The Jews."
Writing to the Ephesians, Paul said-"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. . . . . and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Eph. 2:1-3.
"Awake thou that steepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Eph. 5:14.
Writing to the Romans Paul says@'Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Rom. 6:11.
The Resurrection referred to in these passages is "Spiritual" and is a "present" Resurrection, and is going on continually. Every time a soul is "born again" there is a passing from "death" unto "life, " a "Spiritual resurrection." John 5:24.
This is of the dead body. The spirit of man does not die. it goes back to God who gave it. See the Chapter on "The Spirit World." All that goes into the grave is the body, and all that can come out of the grave is the body
Jesus clearly and distinctly taught a resurrection "from the grave."
"Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the 'Resurrection of LIFE, ' and they that have done evil unto the 'Resurrection of DAMNATION."' John 5:28, John 5:29.
Here Jesus teaches the resurrection of both the "Righteous" and the "Wicked." The Apostle Paul taught the same thing.
"And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the Dead, both of the just (justified), and of the Unjust (unjustified)."Acts 24:15.
"For as in Adam all die (physically), even so in Christ shall all be made alive (physically)." 1Cor. 15:22.
That the Apostle means "physical" death, and "physical" resurrection here, is clear, for it is the body, and not the spirit that he is discoursing about, and so the Universalist has no "proof text" here for the doctrine of "Universal Salvation."
These passages clearly teach that there is to be a resurrection of "all the dead, " and if we did not look any further, we would be led to believe that the Righteous and the Wicked are not only to rise, but that they are to rise at the "same time." But when we turn to the Book of Revelation we find that the Righteous are to rise "before" the Wicked, and not simply precede them, but that there is a space of a 1000 years between the two Resurrections. Rev. 20:4, Rev. 20:5.
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them."
This refers to the saints of the First Resurrection, who, represented by the "Four and Twenty Elders" of Rev. 4:4, are seen seated on thrones surrounding the Throne of God.
"And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and which had not worshipped The Beast, neither His Image, neither had received His Mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they LIVED and Reigned With Christ a THOUSAND YEARS."
These are the "Tribulation Saints." John first saw them in their "martyred" condition (as souls), then he saw them rise from the dead (they lived again), and they, with the First Resurrection Saints, reigned with Christ a Thousand Years.
"But the rest of the dead (the wicked), lived not again until the ‘ Thousand Years' were finished."
The rest of the verse-"This is the 'First Resurrection, ' " refers not to the "rest of the dead, " but to those in verse 4, who lived and reigned with Christ for a 1000 years, for
"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the First Resurrection, on such the Second Death (the doom of the Wicked, Rev. 20:14, Rev. 20:15), hath no power, but they shall be Priests of God and of Christ, and shall Reign With Him a THOUSAND YEARS." Rev. 20:6.
That the Dead are to rise in different bands or cohorts, with an "interval of time" between, is beautifully brought out in 1Cor. 15:22-24.
"For as in Adam all die (physically), even so in Christ shall all be made alive (physically). But every man in his own order."
The word translated "order" is a military expression, and means a band, cohort, brigade or division of an army. Paul then gives the order
1. "Christ the First Fruits."
2. "Afterward they that Are Christ's At His Coming."
3. "Then cometh The End."
Now we know that between "Christ the First Fruits, " and they that "are Christ's at His Coming, " there has already been nearly 1900 years, and as we have seen there will be 1000 years between the resurrection of those that "are Christ's at His Coming" and the "Wicked dead, )) we see that there is not to be a simultaneous resurrection of the Righteous and the Wicked.
But some one may say what authority have we for thus dividing up Scripture and locating "intervals of time? " We have the authority of Christ Himself. In Luke 4:16-18 we read that He went into the Synagogue on the Sabbath Day, and they handed Him the Book of Isaiah from which to read, and that He turned to Isa. 61:11-2, and read-
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, "
and there He stopped at a "comma, " as we see by referring to Isa. 61:2, and left unsaid the words, "and the 'Day of Vengeance' of our God."
Why did Christ stop at that comma? Because the time had not come to declare the "Day of Vengeance." That "comma" has been nearly 19 centuries long and will continue until the "Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking 'vengeance' on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2Thes. 1:7, 2Thes. 1:8.
But it has been objected that the passage in Rev. 20:4, Rev. 20:5, is the "only" place in the Bible where a "length of time" is given between the resurrection of the Righteous and the Wicked, and that it is not fair to base such an important fact upon a single statement found in. such a symbolic Book. While the Book of Revelation contains many symbols they are explained in the Book, and we must not forget that it is not a mysterious book, for it is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and is the only book in the Bible that promises a blessing to the reader. Rev. 1:1-3. The Book is to be taken literally.
Suppose that Rev. 20:4-6 is the "only" place in the Bible where a "length of time" is given between the resurrection of the Righteous and the Wicked, that is no reason for questioning its truthfulness. The most marvelous fact in the life of our Lord -"The Virgin Birth, " until it was fulfilled at His birth, rested for centuries on a "single" prophecy in the Old Testament. "Behold a 'virgin' shall conceive and bear a son." Isa. 7:14.
But we do not have to depend on Rev. 20:4-6 to prove that there is to be an "out" Resurrection "from among the dead." There are a number of passages referring to the resurrection of the dead that are unexplainable only on the supposition that there is a "time space" between the resurrection of the Righteous and the Wicked.
In the reply that Jesus made to the Sadducees, in answer to their question as to whose wife the woman would be in the next world, who had had seven husbands in this, He said-
"They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world (Age), and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage; neither can they die any more (Second Death) ; for they are equal unto the angels; and are the 'Children of God' being the children of THE (out) Resurrection." Luke 20:35) Luke 20:36.
This is a very important statement. The use of the Greek word "Aion, " translated "world, " but which means "Age, " shows that Jesus is speaking of a "class of dead" who are to be raised "before" the next or "Millennial Age, " and that those thus raised can "die no more, " there is no "Second Death" for them. Why? Because they are "equal unto the angels" and are the "Children of God" having been "born again, " and are the "Children of THE Resurrection, the "Out FROM AMONG The Dead or FIRST RESURRECTION " for only the "Children" of the "First Resurrection" shall live again "before" the Millennium."
In Luke 14:14 Jesus speaks of a "special" resurrection, that He calls the Resurrection of the "JUST." This is an "Out Resurrection" from "among the dead, " and is only for the "Justified, " and must refer to the "First" Resurrection.
The writer to the Hebrews (Heb. 11:35) speaks of a "better" Resurrection, and it is a significant fact that the Apostles preached through Jesus the Resurrection "from the dead." Not the Resurrection "of" the dead, that they always believed, but the Resurrection "from among" the dead, that was a "New Doctrine."
There is no question but what Paul believed in the resurrection "of" the dead, and that he expected to rise "some time, " but in his letter to the Philippians (3:11) he expresses the hope that he might "attain unto 'the' resurrection of the dead." Paul must therefore have had in mind some "special" Resurrection. What Paul meant is clear when we turn to 1Thes. 4:15-17, where he speaks of the resurrection of the "dead in Christ" and "translation of the living saints, " at the Second Coming of the Lord, and as Christ is to come back to usher in the Millennium, then that event must "precede" the Millennium and be an "Out Resurrection from among the dead, " for the "rest oi the dead" live not again until the 1000 years "are finished."
But the resurrection of the Righteous and Wicked is not only to be different as to "time" but as to "character." They that have done "good" (the Righteous) shall rise unto the "resurrection of Life, " while they that have done "evil" (the Wicked) shall rise unto the "resurrection of Damnation." John 5:28, John 5:29. And we read in Rev. 20:12-14, that those who are raised at the Second Resurrection or the "Resurrection of Damnation" must appear at the judgment of the "Great White Throne, " and that their names shall "not" be found written in the "Book of Life, " and they shall be cast into the "Lake of Fire" which is the "Second Death."
The "Manner" of the Resurrection.
Some claim that the departure of the soul and spirit from the body is what is meant by the resurrection. But that cannot be so, for as we have seen, the dead are to arise from their "graves, " and only that can come out of the grave that went into it, and that is the "body."
Then there is the "Germ Theory, " that in every human body there is a "living germ" that is ... indestructible, " and though the body turn to dust that "living germ" will exist in the grave until at the Resurrection a new body shall spring from it. This theory explains how the body may be eaten by animals, destroyed by quick lime, blown to atoms, or mutilated by the loss of limbs, etc., and still the "life germ" exist from which shall come the resurrection body.
The advocates of this theory claim that Paul teaches it in 1Cor. 15:35-37, where he compares the resurrection of the body with the plant that comes up from the seed. We know that the seed is different from the plant that bore it, just as the acorn is different from the oak tree, but the plant that springs from the seed will be like the plant that bore it, so the body that comes from the indestructible "life germ" should be alike in kind to the body that produced the "germ."
But while the resurrection body shall be alike in kind, it will be different in character and possess different qualities. This Paul declares when he says that "All 'flesh' is not the same flesh; but there is one kind of flesh of 'men, ' another flesh of 'beast, " another of 'fishes, ’ and another of 'birds.' That is, the flesh of God's creatures is adapted to their "environment." "Fish flesh" cannot fly in the air, nor "Bird flesh" swim in the sea. So there are bodies "terrestrial" and bodies "celestial." The human body as it is now constituted could not exist in Heaven. There must be a change, and this change is brought about by the resurrection. This change Paul portrays. He says-
"So also is the Resurrection of the Dead. It is sown in corruption: it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in Glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in Power; it is sown a Natural body; it is raised a Spiritual body."
This does not mean that it will have no "substance." We cannot conceive of a "body" that is to have the faculties of the "Spirit Body" not having "form" and "substance."
Christ's resurrection body is a "sample" of what ours is to be. While it is true that His body did not see "corruption" and He rose in the "same body" that was laid in the grave; while it was the same in "identity, " it was different in "character."
While the "nail prints" and "spear wound" were visible it could pass through closed doors, and appear and disappear at will. It had "flesh" and "bones, " (Luke 24:39-41), but not "blood, " for "flesh and blood" cannot enter the Kingdom of God, (1Cor. 15:50). for "blood" is that which causes "corruption." To preserve a body it must be drained of blood, or the blood chemically preserved by an embalming fluid. As the sacrifice was to be bled, so Jesus left His blood on the earth.
As our resurrection bodies will have visible "form" and "shape" it and stands to reason that they will have a framework of "flesh" and "bones, " but it will be "flesh" and "bones" adapted to its new environment. We must not forget that Enoch and Elijah went up in their "bodies." Presumably their bodies were "glorified" in the transit, but they were not "disembodied, " and if they have use for a "body" in Heaven, why not we? Is it reasonable to suppose that only those two saints shall be in Heaven in their bodies? Why did Michael the Archangel contend with the Devil over the "body" of Moses, if Moses had no further need of it? Did not he and Elijah have use for their bodies when they appeared on the Mt. of Transfiguration with Jesus? And if they were "the" two men that stood by in "white apparel" when Jesus ascended (Acts 1:9-1 Acts 1:1), and are to be the "Two Witnesses" of Rev. 11:3-5, we see, that as they are the "type" of the Resurrected and Translated Saints, that the Saints at the Rapture will have "bodies" like Moses and Elijah now have.
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO - EPILOGUE
(1) And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, (2) coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, (3) in the middle of its street. (4) And on either side of the river was the tree of life, (5) bearing twelve kinds of fruit; (6) yielding its fruit every month; and (7) the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
1. And he showed me a river of the water of life = echoes the promise of Christ to the woman at the well of John 4. Living water has benefits for those that drink it. It quenches thirst.
2. Coming from the throne of God and the Lamb = is the source of the living water. This water supply is supernaturally supplied, which ensures the eternal or continuing nature of not only the supply of water, but the quality as well. The mutual nature of the throne of the Father and the Son should not lead to confusion about the trinity. They both share equally the same essence. However, Christ is the only member of the trinity that localizes with human physicality. God the Father never takes on human form. He can and will make His presence known. We will be very much aware of His presence, but not because He manifests Himself in physical form. That prerogative is uniquely Jesus Christ’s. The throne belongs to the Father, but He shares it with His Son. This is beyond human comprehension, but reality no less.
3. In the middle of its street = at first glance might appear contradictory to the previous idea that the city is a cube. Street is singular, giving the impression that the city has only one street. However, while John does give some information about the city, we certainly must entertain the notion that there is much to the city that he did not communicate. The text does not say "in the middle of its only street." Given the size of the city, there must be many streets. However, whether it’s the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills or Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, all great cities are known for having one great street.
4. And on either side of the river was the tree of life = indicates more than one "tree of life." Since Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only means of salvation from sin, "the tree of life" does not grant to those who eat from it eternal life.
Since the only people allowed in the New Jerusalem are those who already have eternal life (Rev 21:27), "the water of life" and "the tree of life" are not sources of eternal life for "those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life." Water and fruit contribute to the quality of life. The river and the tree will contribute to the quality one existence in the eternal city.
5. Bearing twelve kinds of fruit = indicates miraculous production.
6. Yielding its fruit every month = continues the miraculous production of the trees of life. Thought may be that the trees bear a different fruit for each month of the year. Since time will not be indicted by the sun (Rev 22:5) during the eternal kingdom of God, perhaps the trees will indicate the months of the year.
7. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations = echoes Adam’s attempt to cover himself, but failed to remove the curse.
(1) And there shall no longer be any curse; and (2) the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and (3) His bond-servants shall serve Him; and (4) they shall see His face, and (5) His name shall be on their foreheads.
1. And there shall no longer be any curse = continues the descriptive benefits of the New Jerusalem. Since "the nations" have the benefit of the healing leaves from "the tree of life," the curse of Adam is finally taken away forever. The curse of Genesis three is removed both from nature and mankind. Nature has returned to full productivity and man is both spiritually and physically satisfied.
2. The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it = signals another benefit of the New Jerusalem. Notice that John indicates that this is a future reality. At issue here is whether or not the Lamb is seated on a separate throne. Revelation 3:21 states, "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." The Lord’s throne relates to the millennial reign on earth. The Father’s throne relates to eternity. Since God the Father does not manifest Himself in human form, Jesus Christ will be the eternal physical manifestation of God to man. We will be aware of the Father’s presence, but His presence will not include sight.
3. His bond-servants shall serve Him = actually focuses on worship. The Greek verb refers to religious conduct. What else the righteous will do during eternity is not indicated, but worship will be primary.
4. They shall see His face = that is the face of the Lord Jesus. His bond-servants shall see His face. The Lord Jesus states in Matthew 18:10, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you, that their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in heaven." Since the Father is invisible, the sense of the Lord’s words refers to the presence of God. The angels are continually in the presence of God.
5. His name shall be on their foreheads = is the last descriptive benefit of the citizens of the New Jerusalem. Like the 144,000 who have the seal of the God the Father on their foreheads, the bond-servants of Jesus Christ will be so marked.
(1) And there shall no longer be any night; and (2) they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and (3) they shall reign forever and ever.
1. And there shall no longer be any night = indicates a significant change in the course of human history. The loss of night as a segment of the human timeframe means a change in humanity.
2. They shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them = explains why there will be no night. There will be no electricity in the New Jerusalem. God will be the light source for the New Jerusalem.
3. They shall reign forever and ever = refers to the bond-servants. That the saints will reign with Christ during His temporal kingdom on earth for a thousand years is clear. However, that they will reign with God for all eternity is less clear. Daniel 7:18 and 27 states that the saints will receive an eternal kingdom. What they will do however is not clear.
And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"; and (2) the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, (3) sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place. And (4) Behold, I am coming quickly. (5) Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book."
1. And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true" = refers to the complete Revelation. This sentence begins an important conclusion to the book with witnesses to the process.
2. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets = adds support to the claims that Scripture can be trusted, particularly this Revelation.
3. Sent His angel to show to His bond-servants…place = restates the claims of the angel at the beginning of the Revelation that what is written was sent directly from God.
4. Behold, I am coming quickly = cannot be taken in a temporal sense because it has been 2,000 years since these words were given. Jesus will not return quickly, but His return will be quick.
5. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book = a call to faithfulness regardless of what might happen to the reader. Again, John asserts that this Revelation is prophecy in the same tradition as all other Old and New Testament prophecy.
And I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. And he said to me, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book; worship God."
Restates the claim of John that the Revelation is his writings. John’s reaction to the Revelation is the same as Daniel. Both attempt to worship, but were prevented.
And he said to me, (1) "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, (2) for the time is near.
1. Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book = contrasts the message of Daniel (Dan 12:4, 9). Daniel sealed his book, but the Revelation is to be unsealed.
2. For the time is near = cannot refer to time, since 2000 years has transpired.
Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and let the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and let the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.
This is a very difficult verse to understand. Two exhortations are given to the wicked and two exhortations are given to the righteous. Now it is at once clear that the wicked do not read the Bible for direction or encouragement to sin. Therefore, this text is written for the believer. However, one of the difficulties with this verse is the exhortation to sinners to keep on sinning. This is clearly contradictory to the nature of Scripture and the Lord.
Some attempt solve the problem by placing the timing of this exhortation in the context of the days immediately preceding the return of Jesus Christ in which it will be too late to change once the Lord is seen coming on the clouds. However, it has been two thousand years since these words were spoken. Sinners certainly have had time to repent. Scripture would never counsel a sinner to keep on sinning—never! Therefore, we must look closer at what is stated.
Unlike Daniel 12:9-10, which states what is true about the unbeliever, Revelation 22:11 exhorts the unbeliever to persist in his lifestyle. It is clear that Revelation 22:11 is echoing Daniel 12:10. What Daniel declared would happen is exactly what John encourages to happen. Scripture is not indicating what sinners might do, but what they will do. Not because they are not free to do otherwise, but because once set upon their course even the wrath of God will not change them (Rev 9:20-21; 16:9b, 11).
"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."
Some use passages such as this to support a claim that the return of Christ to rapture the church to heaven is imminent (could happen at any moment). A position rendered nonsensical by 2000 years of human history. In what sense can the Lord’s return be termed "a quick coming?" Unless the term quick has changed, it cannot refer to time. It has been 2000 years since the Lord returned to Glory. Quick can refer to the manner of the Lord’s return. In other words, the Lord’s return will happen very quickly. The Lord emphasizes the quickness of His return because the level of suffering the believers will be experiencing during the persecution of Satan/Antichrist against the saints will be unparalleled. Once the Lord sets out to rescue the elect, it will happen very quickly – in the twinkling of any eye!
(1) Blessed are those who wash their robes, (2) that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. (3) Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
1. Blessed are those who wash their robes = is the last of seven blessings that occur in the Revelation. The reward for "washing their robes" is the same as the reward for "the one who conquers." This categorically proves that "the tree of life" does not grant one eternal life. Rather, the quality of eternal life is the issue. There is the opinion among some that as long as a person is saved that’s all that matters. I beg to differ. There is going to be a qualitative difference between those who were faithful and those who were faithful, but not as faithful as they could have been.
"Those who washed their robes" are those who work at moral conformity to the will of God. The Old Testament is replete with examples of those who need to wash their garments in order to be cleansed before entering before God. Since the person must wash his own garments, this has nothing to do with gaining salvation. Rather, the issue concerns what one does after he has attained salvation. We are not working to gain or keep salvation, but to enjoy it.
2. That they might have the right to the tree of life = is the first of two purpose clauses that explain the purpose of washing one’s robe. The Greek of this clause literally says, "in order that they will have the authority over the tree of life." The second purpose of "washing one’s robes" is to enter the city through the gates.
3. Outside are the dogs…lying = obviously refers to the city. Dogs here refer to male prostitutes or homosexuals.
"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star."
The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen