Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Apple of God's Eye

by Michael C. Garrett

the House of Israel

Once again, it’s good to be here, it’s always an honor and a privilege. It’s been said that the Bible is the story of one man’s family. It is extremely impressive to read of the love and the devotion and of the dedication that God through His Word expresses for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Joseph’s two sons – Ephraim and Manasseh. God has chosen to love these people, their family members, and their descendants. Even though God has often been grievously disappointed by their actions and attitudes, their decisions and their directions. Their stubbornness and pride over many centuries and millennia. God has loved and continues to love these people. They are the apple of His eye!

Ancient Ur of the Chaldees

Let’s quickly go back in the Book of Genesis and read some of the promises that God made to these founding fathers – of these people. In Genesis 12:1-3 we read, “Now the LORD had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country [he lived in Ur of the Chaldees], From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2) I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3) I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’”

And then in Genesis 13:14 – again speaking to Abram – “…’ Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward, and westward; 15) for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. 16) And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. 17) Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.’” – and that’s a pretty good promise to get from God.

Genesis 17 – a little farther down the story. Verse 1 – “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I AM Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless [perfect, or mature]. 2) And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.’ 3) Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: 4) ‘As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. 5) No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. 6) I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7) And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. 8) Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.’”

Also, Genesis 26 – we’ll skip a few and get to where He’s talking to Isaac. Verse 2 – “Then the LORD appeared to him [Isaac] and said: ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. 3) Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. 4) And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; 5) because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.’” – so now the promise is being passed on directly to Isaac.

Also, Genesis 28 – we read about Isaac blessing Jacob, his son. Verse 1 – “Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, … 3) ‘May God Almighty bless you, And make you fruitful and multiply you, That you may be an assembly of peoples; 4) And give you the blessing of Abraham, To you and your descendants with you. That you may inherit the land In which you are a stranger, Which God gave to Abraham.’”

And then, just a few verses later, verses 10-12 – God speaks directly to Jacob. Verse 13 – “And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: ‘I AM the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14) Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 15) Behold, I AM with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.’”

And then in Genesis 32:24 – this series of blessings continue. And this is one of the most remarkable events I can imagine ever reading in the Bible! Jacob was worried about having his brother come and kill him, because Jacob when he was younger, wasn’t the most upright of people. He was a little sneaky. And his brother was very angry and looking to kill him! Literally. And Jacob was worried, and somehow he ends up – and this is just remarkable – in a wrestling match with the One we now call Jesus Christ! Isn’t that bizarre!? That Jesus Christ – before He was even Jesus Christ – made Himself in the form of a Man, and He and Jacob get into a wrestling match – that apparently lasts all the way until the breaking of the day! “Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.” And we find out later where Jacob says, “I have seen God face to face.” And this wrestling match goes on – and Jacob would simply not give up! He would not let go of Him! A determination. “I’m gonna hang on until You bless me!” And finally, just to get away from Him, the One we now call Jesus Christ literally dislocated his hip. Injured him, to just get him off of Him! And that’s what we’re told in verse 25. Verse 26 – “And He said, ‘Let Me go, for the day breaks.’ But he said, ‘I will not let You go unless You bless me!’ 27) So He said to him, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘Jacob.’ 28) And He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.’ 29) Then Jacob asked, saying, ‘Tell me Your name, I pray.’ And He said, ‘Why is it that you ask about My name?’ And He blessed him there. 30) So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: ‘For I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved.’” – what a remarkable story! Both from the account of God – that He was willing to show up in the form of a Man and would even have this contest – and how remarkable it is of Jacob. His persistence and his determination that he was going to be blessed by God.

And then over in Genesis 35 – we read another little part of this story. And I’m running through these pretty quickly. Verse 10 – “And God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.’ So He called his name Israel. 11) Also God said to him: ‘I AM God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; …’” and here’s such a unique little caption “…’ a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. 12) The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants, after you, I give this land.’” – a nation and a company of nations. Now, you can make of that whatever you want. But if you look up that word “company” it means a multitude, an assembly, or even like the word commonwealth. Where in the history of mankind have two people (who are literally brothers) speak the same language, have the same customs, so many of the same mores and thoughts, family traditions, where there is a great nation and a great commonwealth of nations!? Where has that ever occurred!? Well, I think you all know the answer. It wasn’t Uruguay and Paraguay. It wasn’t Brazil and Argentina. It’s pretty obvious what it was – and again, this is not me speaking, this is the Bible speaking. This is the Word of God. Either you believe it, or you don’t. As for me, I believe it. And I think we have the empirical evidence that God kept His promises.

In Genesis 48 – now, this is after Joseph had been taken into captivity and risen now to a powerful position in the government of Egypt – like a Vice Pharaoh. And now his family is returning unto him. And lo and behold he finds out that Jacob (Israel) his father was still alive, and it says in verse 1 – “Now it came to pass after these things that Joseph was told, ‘Indeed your father is sick’; and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. … 3) Then Jacob said to Joseph: ‘God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, 4) and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people, and give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.’” And then we have this situation where they were actually blessed. Verse 8 – “Then Israel [Jacob] saw Joseph’s sons, and said, ‘Who are these?’ 9) Joseph said to his father, ‘They are my sons, whom God has given me in this place.’ And he said, ‘Please bring them to me, and I will bless them.’”

And then we find out that there was the crossing of the hands. Verse 15 – “And he blessed Joseph, and said: ‘God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day, 16) The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; Let my name be named upon them, And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’” – and so a nation and a company of nations were to come from these two young boys and their progeny. And again, I think we understand how that came about and who they are. And what a blessing it is that we get to share in those blessings.

This line or group of people would become known both historically and prophetically as ISRAEL. Or, the people of Israel, or the House of Israel. And if you look up in my Hebrew lexicon, it says that the word Israel means “soldier of God.” 1

And then in Strong’s Concordance, look it up, it says that this word Israel actually means, “he will rule as God.” 2 How remarkable! As he said, “like a prince, you have power with God.” And, as he said earlier, “you have prevailed.” He was willing to wrestle God all through the night.

In naming them Israel, God gave us insight as to what He wants these people to become. Soldier’s for God and rulers as God. That’s their legacy, that’s their future! Sounds very familiar to me.

Ezekiel 16 – God expresses some tremendous emotion for these people. And this is an allegory. But I think we can glean a lot. I don’t have time to read the whole chapter, but I will pick a few highlights. This is poetic language. Verse 4 – “’ As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. 5) No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born. 6) And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, …’” – and God had mercy upon these people! God literally – and I know that it’s sort of odd to say it this way – fell in love with these people. “’ Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ … 8) ‘When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. …’” – He treated her with great modesty. “…’ Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,’ says the Lord GOD.” He literally as it were, married these people. Just totally and completely attached to these people. And He goes on to describe how beautiful He made them and decked them with beautiful clothes and jewelry. But then there was a flaw within these people. And, like He said in verse 15 – “’ But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it.’” – and Israel has been doing that for a long, long time. And He says in verse 20 – notice how frightening this is – “’ Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured.’” – again it just makes you wonder if God doesn’t see abortion in the very same manner. The murdering of someone who is perfectly innocent! Verse 21 – “…’ you have slain My children …’” And, He’s very upset with them. He says in verse 32 – “’ You are an adulterous wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband.’” And He continues to talk about how disappointed He was in them. Verse 38 – “…’ I will bring blood upon you in fury and jealousy.’” – an allusion to the as yet coming Day of the LORD, or the terrible time in the end-times. (Be sure to read the two-part article The Day of the LORD). He says in verse 43 – “…’ I will also recompense your deeds on your own head,’ says the Lord God. ‘And you shall not commit lewdness in addition to all your abominations. … 59) For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘I will deal with you as you have done, who despised the oath by breaking the covenant. 60) Nevertheless …’” – and this is God’s mercy. “…[in the end] I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.’”

God, even though He’s been greatly hurt by Israel and her behavior, He still is never gonna give up on her!

Well God has expressed His deep concern at various times in the pages of the Bible. Ezekiel 33:11 is a particularly moving piece of Scripture. “…’ As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” God is pleading with them!

Jesus Christ said something very similar. He says in Matthew 23:37 – “’ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!’

Over the expanse of time, Israel has failed to live up to the expectations that God has placed upon her. Even in this modern era of time when God has fulfilled many of His promises of national greatness – which were made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. The people of Israel stagger forward with an extremely unsteady gate. And the near future is uncertain, and I think it’s dark and ominous. But now in the words of the now deceased former governor of Texas Ann Richards. Remember this famous convention speech!? “They just ken't help it!” She was referring to George W. Bush. Well, they just can’t help it! Our people just can’t help it! And the reason – except for a very small remnant, very chosen group of people – modern day physical Israel is not converted. They simply do not possess God’s Spirit, truth and knowledge, and therefore presently they simply do not have at their disposal the tools, the means, the methods by which they can know how to worship, obey, and serve God. And yet there is something special and wonderful about the people of Israel. I know that they’re not yet the people that God wants them to become, and they are indeed a work in progress. There are exceptions – there are some bad people out there. As a general rule, the people of the United States of America and Britain, and Canada, and Australia, and New Zealand, and South Africa are wonderful and special people! God loves these people, and so should all of us! Even though they now fall short of the people they are supposed to be – someday in future eras of time, they will become the people of God!

Is all of mankind truly evil?

In all of my years at AC, I grew weary of this constant drumbeat that I heard from so many of those teachers and preachers out there. Of how evil, corrupt and wicked that all sectors of American life happen to be! I remember sitting out there – and I still think this – my family members are not wicked! My friends and associates are not wicked! My people are not wicked! The only difference between them and me, or them and you, is that they are not yet converted. My only claim to fame and your only claim to fame is that God has bestowed His mercy on us just a little sooner than He has on them. Other than the timing, there’s no difference between them and us.

Over the decades I have been given the opportunity to officiate countless athletic events. High school, junior high school, college age, and several other different sports, and I have benefited in so many different significant ways. One of the greatest blessings has been in getting to know many of these young athletes. And on so many occasions I have been overwhelmed by these young people! So talented, so intelligent, so well-spoken, so dedicated. I have learned that they are such high quality, that I find myself just being powerfully overwhelmed and impressed by them. One quick such example – there’s a young man who plays football, basketball, and baseball, at the same high school I once attended. A terrific and outstanding athlete. Excellent grades in the classrooms, hardworking, personable, polite, respectful, courteous. I have officiated dozens of Jerad’s games over the past three years, and this young man, in my opinion, is the finest, most enjoyable, most pleasant human being I have ever had the honor and the pleasure to be around. Bar none. And when I view Jerad and I interact with him, my mind simply cannot conceive that he is somehow evil, corrupt, and wicked. And yet ministers and leaders of AC in the WCG loved to quote the passage from Jeremiah 17:9. I can still hear them up at the podium pounding away at it! Remember, this is the King James English written in 1611. And as written in your Bible, if you have the King James English, it says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked …” – and they would get on that verse and go, “DESPERATELY WICKED!” And every time they did it a little bit of me just sunk. Because I knew something wasn’t right. Well, a little while back I did a little word study. And that phrase ‘desperately wicked’ comes from one Hebrew word – ‘ānaš. Do you know what the actual meaning of that Hebrew word is - in a concordance, lexicon, the best I can do as far as word study!? It’s frail, feeble, melancholy. 3 A much better rendition of Jeremiah 17:9 might well read, “The heart is self-centered above all, and very frail, and very feeble.” And the reasons it’s frail, feeble, is because the human heart unconverted is devoid of God’s Spirit. It does not yet have the tools to become the person they're supposed to become.

And instead of viewing our fellow countrymen as being evil, corrupt, and wicked, maybe we should view them as God views them. As sons and daughters. As brothers and sisters – whose someday will be members of the very people of God! The Commonwealth of Israel. God will redeem them! God will restore them!

‘Recover the remnant of His people’

Jeremiah 31 – this is an inspiring chapter. You’ve heard it read I’m sure many times. Even the writers of the New Testament quoted it on a couple of occasions. God said through Jeremiah 31:31 – “’ Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a New Covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah – 32) not according to the covenant that I made with the fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. 33) But this is the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel AFTER THOSE DAYS [meaning after the Day of the LORD], says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be My people.’” – that’s the relationship God has truly ever wanted! For Him to be God, and for human beings to be completely dedicated to Him. Verse 34 – “’ No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘[Do you know the LORD?],’ for they ALL shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.’” – He will redeem them! He will restore them!

Notice Romans 9 – a perception of an attitude that I dare say - I don’t have this attitude. But Paul did. I don’t know if any of you do – maybe you do. I’m just not aware of it. He said in Romans 9:1 – “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit.” – he’s saying, ‘I’m just telling you this as honest as I possibly can.’ Verse 2 – “that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3) For I could wish that I myself [if I could be] accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.” – that Israelites could somehow be converted. Paul was willing to sacrifice his own existence if God would somehow at that time pour out His grace upon Israel. Well, He hasn’t yet in mass.

But notice Romans 10 – Paul wrote again, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2) For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3) For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” - and we understand that. We look around. We know what’s going on in the other churches and how they don’t use the Word of God as their Foundation or their Rule Book. They just sort of make up the theories and the doctrines as they go along on their own human whims. He says in verse 11 – “…’ Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’” And in verse 13 – “…’ whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’ 14) How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” – and so the people – our brothers and sisters, our fellow countrymen and our cousins overseas – they simply haven’t heard the truth of God. And they haven’t been given God’s calling. And they haven’t been given God’s Spirit.

He goes on to say in Romans 11:1 – “I say then, has God cast away His people? CERTAINLY NOT! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2) God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. … 5) Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” – and I’m writing this article up for some of that remnant right now! The remnant of God – a very small chosen group of people. Verse 7 – “What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” – they can’t see the truth of God right now! God has protected them in ignorance. Verse 8 – “Just as it is written: ‘God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, …’” Verse 11 – “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? [ARE THEY LOST!?] CERTAINLY NOT! …” – and we understand from the Word of God, as he says in verse 25 – “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery [of obtaining eternal life, the hope of eternal life], lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel UNTIL THE FULLNESS OF THE GENTILES HAS COME IN.” – until the conclusion of the Day of the LORD. Verse 26 – “And so ALL ISRAEL will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer [Jesus Christ] will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27) For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’” Verse 29 – For the gifts and the calling of God are [without repentance].” – God chose Israel back in the days of Abraham to be His people, and God has NEVER forsaken that promise, and He will NEVER forsake that promise! And someday Israel once again will be His people! He says in verse 32 – “For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might [someday] have mercy on all.” - All Israel shall be saved!

There are promises made in the Word of God about ISRAEL. Some of them happen after the Return of Jesus Christ – after the blowing of the SEVENTH TRUMPET. If you would turn to Isaiah 11 – these are marvelous Scriptures to me. I thrill when I think about what’s going to happen. And I’m talking about people that I know – I’m talking about maybe some of my relatives. I’m talking about maybe some of your relatives. I’m talking about maybe young Jared that I admire so much. I pray that he be allowed to live into the Kingdom of God! So that he too can witness this, and be a part of this! It says in Isaiah 11:11 – “It shall come to pass in that day That the Lord shall set His hand again the second time To recover the remnant of His people …” – and He names from all the places around the world He’s going to gather them! Verse 12 – “He will set up a [ensign] for the nations, And will assemble the outcasts of Israel, And gather together the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth. … 16) There will be a highway for the remnant of His people Who will be left from Assyria, ….” – and Egypt and other places. And then chapter 12 – the entire chapter.

“And in THAT DAY …” – when is that!? After the blowing of the SEVENTH TRUMP, and God starts the process of cleaning up this earth. “…’ O LORD, I will praise You; Though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.” – this is what the physical people of Israel will say. Verse 2 – “’ Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For [JĔ-HŌ’-VĂH], the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’” 3) Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation. 4) And in that day you will say: ‘Praise the LORD call upon His name; Declare His deeds among the peoples, Make mention that His name is exalted. 5) Sing to the LORD, For He has done excellent things; This is known in all the earth. 6) Cry out and shout, O inhabitants of Zion, For great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst!’” – God someday will dwell with His people!

Notice Jeremiah 23 – we read something very similar to what we just read. Verse 3 – this is God speaking through His prophet. “’ But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 4) I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; …’” – ‘shepherds that will feed them,’ I wonder who that might be!? Maybe the resurrected saints of God!? Maybe people like you and me!? I look forward to that! I’ve heard people talk about – “Well, I can’t wait until the blowing of the seventh trump, because I’m gonna be resurrected!” And truly it is! And if that doesn’t happen, you’re sunk – so yeah celebrate it! But in a larger respect your concern, your empathy, your excitement, should not be on your own personal excitement, but should rather be on the fact that someday you are going to be given – in the status of being a member of the Family of God – you’re going to turn around and help your fellow countrymen reestablish their lives! You’re going to be their leaders, their teachers. As it were – their city mayor, their local king. What a wonderful future we have in giving back to the people of God - The people of Israel! Verse 7 – “‘Therefore, behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that they shall no longer say, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ 8) but, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up and led the descendants of the House of Israel from the north country and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ And they shall dwell in their own land.”

Jeremiah 32. Verse 36 talks about some of the punishment their gonna have to go through to sort of get their minds right. Their attitudes straight where they will finally listen to God. Verse 37 – “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. 38) They shall be My people, and I will be their God.” – ISRAEL will have a future home! Unfortunately, there’s a real rough spot in the middle of all that!

And with the exception of a relatively few people – here’s another PROMISE from the Word of God for the people of Israel. Remember, He said, ‘ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED.’ So, does my Mother have hope!? She didn’t know the truth of God. O’ yes she will! And I am so happy that I could say that at her funeral. And I was so happy that at the conclusion of the funeral I was able to hug my Dad and whisper into his ear, “I promise you Dad, from the pages of the Bible, that she will live again! And you will be with her!” And, all the people of ISRAEL who has ever died not knowing the truth of God will also have an opportunity to live again on this earth as physical human beings! And to learn the truth of God and to be granted eternal life as members of the Family of God! And in my opinion – this truth is the most wonderful and inspiring doctrine that we embrace. I cannot think of anything more wonderful. Because I know people who live in agony, believing that their loved ones who have died are lost. Some of them actually think their loved ones are burning in Hell. (Be sure to read our two-part article – The Confusion About Death). And again, what human being could ever imagine that God could be so cruel!? That just takes the cake. But we’ve got something to hope for!

Revelation 20 – and you’ve heard these verses before many times on the Last Great Day. But folks, do we get to read these one time a year!? Or, are these ideas we should think about and relish - 365 days a year!? Verse 4 – where he’s talking about the future installment of the people of God and the Kingdom of God. “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the Word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” – and we know that that’s just the beginning. We know that it doesn’t end after a thousand years. That’s just another era of time, and then things become even more wonderful! Verse 5 – “But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. … 6) Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”

Then, down in verse 11 – John saw in vision a great white throne “…and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12) And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and Books were opened [that’s the Bible, biblio – the Greek word means Bible. They’ll be given Bible’s]. 4 And another Book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the Books.” – and we know from other Scriptures these people are going to live again and they are going to have a chance to sort of redirect their lives. They’re going to have a chance to change their lives. They’re going to have a chance to repent. They’re going to have a chance to become baptized and receive God’s Spirit and become physical human beings who possess God’s Spirit, and someday they too will inherit eternal life!

Ezekiel 37 – a chapter which is so difficult for mainstream people to understand – that all they can really do is make a song out of it. Remember the song “Dem Bones Dem Bones Dem Dry Bones”? Well, it’s so much more IMPORTANT than just being a song! It’s the truth of God – it’s the future! I love this passage. “The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2) Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. 3) And He said to me, …” – and I’m sure you’ve noticed this before, but folks, this is FANTASTIC – this thought process here. It appears to me beyond any doubt that there will be at the resurrection of these dead people a DUAL PARTICIPATION. We - who will be members of the Family of God; for a long time at this point – are going to be given the opportunity to participate in the resurrection of our family members and our friends. Has Hollywood ever thought of a plot like that!? This is a plan so wonderful, so high, that the mental small people of Hollywood can’t even grasp this! But this is the Plan of God – and this is what He is offering to you and to me! An opportunity to participate in bringing back to life some of the very people who gave us life! A perfect circle. “…’ Son of man, can these bones live?’ So I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, You know.’ 4) Again He said to me, ‘Prophesy [speak] to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the Word of the LORD! 5) Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: ‘Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6) I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I AM the LORD.’ 7) So I [spoke] as I was commanded; and as I [spoke], there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone.” – forming perfect skeletons. Verse 8 – “Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them, …” – with all of the organs, everything in place. “…but there was no breath in them.” – they were now just corpses – as it were. And then the Lord GOD said to Ezekiel in this vision – verse 9 – “…’[Speak] to the breath, [speak], son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.’ 10) So I [spoke] as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great [company of people].” – millions upon millions – billions of people! Verse 11 – “Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the WHOLE HOUSE OF ISRAEL. …’” – remember what Paul said, ‘all Israel will be saved.’ God fell in love with Israel millennia ago, and He has NEVER lost that love! And someday He is going to fulfill all of His promises! And these are people some of which we’re gonna know!

Can you begin to imagine what these people are going to go through!? I mean, with some of them, the last thing they knew they had tubes in their arms, tubes down their throat. Some of them had turned around and saw a semi-truck coming at them! And the last thing they knew they were struck with a powerful blow! Lights out! Some of them might have been fighting in a war. Might have been on a jet plane when its engines failed, or wing fell off – or, something. And now these people are going to be alive! And I have to believe that God is going to put them in family groupings – so that at least they know somebody. And I often thought about my own parents, coming up out of the ground, looking around, and finally discovering Larry my brother, and Carol my sister. And I don’t know what they’re gonna think, other than I know that they’re going to be so happy!! Just hugs and kisses and warmth! “I’m alive! You know me, and I know you, and we’re breathing, and our hearts are beating, and somehow something miraculous has happened!” And you know what they’re going to think – they’re going to think they’re in Heaven. Because that’s what they’ve been taught all their life. And so they’re going to get around to asking, “Is this Heaven!?” And someone is going to say, “I don’t know – that looks like Southern Indiana to me!” They’re going to be bewildered, but I don’t think they’re going to spend a whole lot of time worrying about it. And families are going to meet families. My parents are going to introduce my siblings to their grandparents, and to their great-grandparents, and to their great-great-grandparents. They will literally get to see their family tree!

Do you understand that JOSEPH IS OUR STORY!? We who are sons and daughters of ISRAEL. And yet rejected by his own family – they were going to kill him! They sold him into slavery. They didn’t care about his outcome. But God was with Joseph, and Joseph was with God. And God took care of him. And yes, he went through some horrible things – being in a prison and such. But in the end, Joseph was made like he was God – in that nation of Egypt. He had the power of life and death. And he saved his family. But in doing so – do you read about the tricks he played on his brothers!? I mean, he tormented them! But, he did it out of love. And at the very last minute – when he couldn’t contain himself anymore – he finally revealed to them who he was – “I am Joseph your brother, and God has sent me here to save your lives!” And they were so fearful, they all thought that he was going to kill them – “Because we all tried to kill him.” And he goes, “No. I forgive you. That was in the past. God was a part of all of that! Let’s forget about the past, let’s live in the here and the now.” And, for a long time, they didn’t know who Joseph was. He was disguised, he looked like an Egyptian. But he was able to work with his family. And he loved them, and he took care of them. Do you understand that Joseph’s story is our story!? Because we too are going to be able to go to our family members and our friends and work with them. Heal their diseases and teach them the truth of God. And be their personal mentors as they make it into the Kingdom of God. And someday, they too will inherit eternal life. And I well imagine that Jesus Christ may give us the privilege of being there with Him as He inducts them into the Family of God! I can’t imagine a more wonderful story!

And this doesn’t happen to just Israel – because we understand from the Word God that all of the world will be grafted into Israel. God has loved Israel from the beginning, He has continued to love her, and He will love her into the future. And He will take care of her – and all Israel indeed will be saved! Your friends, your relatives – your countrymen! And your cousins across the sea! God loves these people. It’s the very basis of His plan – ISRAEL, HE WILL RULE AS GOD! That’s our future! He will be a soldier of God. That’s our future now! It’s a tremendous story! I revel in it! I marvel in it! And, someday, I’m going to have the pleasure of ushering Jared into that Kingdom! Into that Family! And I’m going to be so happy at that point!

Paul said, 1 Corinthians 2:9 - “…’ Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’” We have such a wonderful future. We have such a wonderful purpose. We understand it, the rest of the world doesn’t. He said, ‘No, other people don’t understand,’ but he says in verse 10 – “But God has revealed [this] to us through His Spirit.” – and we do know the future.

He said in Romans 11:33 – Paul, speaking about the salvation of Israel. “Oh, the depths of the riches both of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable [how wonderful, I might add!] are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”

I just want to say to God the Father and Jesus Christ – thank You for Your Plan! Thank You for Your Truth! Thank You for Your mercy! Thank You for Your dedication and Your patience! And, thank You for Your love of Israel. □


1 The text of Genesis etymologizes the name with the root śarah "to rule, contend, have power, prevail over.” שׂ רה śarah "to contend, have power, contend with, persist, exert oneself, persevere" (Strong's Concordance H8323) שָׂרַר śarar "to be or act as prince, rule, contend, have power, prevail over, reign, govern" (Strong's Concordance 8280). modern suggestions read the el as the subject, for a translation of "El/God rules/judges/struggles", Hamilton 1995, p. 334. "El fights/struggles". Wenham 1994, pp. 296–97. The Jewish Study Bible of Oxford University Press says on page 68 "The scientific etymology of Israel is uncertain, a good guess being '[The God] El rules.'"
2 Israel, “he struggles with God [El]” Strong, James, The Strongest Concordance of the Bible, 21st-century ed. ISBN 978-0-310-23343-5 (hardcover), #3478, pg. 1513. It's traditionally been translated as "to wrestle," but the Alfred Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Names denotes the translation as “he will be prince with God.”
3 (‘ānash) I, desperate, incurable, desperately wicked, woeful, very sick. The basic meaning of the word is “to be sick” (II Sam 12:15) but most frequently it is used to describe a wound or pain which is incurable as attested by the contexts of Jer 15:18; 30:12. It is used metaphorically in Isa 17:11; Jer 17:16. In Jer 17:9 it describes the desperate spiritual state of the heart in terms of illness. Harris L. R., Archer, L. Gleason, Jr., and Waltke K. Bruce. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 1980, # 135, pgs 58-59.
4 The “books” (Rev. 20:12) are referred to in justification of the sentence passed upon the wicked. Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Unger F. Merrill. Moody Press, 1966, “Book” pg. 151.
The books of God’s remembrance, alike of the evil and the good (Ps. 56:8; 139:4; Mal. 3:16): conscience (Rom. 2:15, 16), the Word of Christ (John 12:48), the law (Gal. 3:10), God’s eternal counsel (Ps. 139:16). Jamieson Fausset and Brown Commentary on the Bible. Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, A.R.; Brown, David. Zondervan Publishing House, 1982, pg. 1586.
biblíon, n. GK: 1046 [→ 976]. scroll, book, certificate:- book [25], books [4], bill [1], writing [1]. The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Strong, James. Zondervan, 2001, #975, pg. 1598.

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