Friday, November 27, 2015

Rumors are being spread about Paul teaching Jewish Christians to forsake the customs of Moses.

After the death and resurrection, of Jesus. Part 14

By Terry Cropper

It is difficult for us today to appreciate the position, of the Jewish Christians those in Israel who had come out from the Mosaic covenant. To forsake their Jewish customs which had been pasted down by their fathers for over a thousand years, would not happen overnight. Paul was at the center of this problem after his conversion his personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

In A.D. 59, Paul makes a decisions to go to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21). On his way, he collected the offerings of the churches in Macedonia and Achaia for the saints in Jerusalem (Acts 24:17-18; Romans 15:25-27). He also met with believers in the cities where his ship made port on the way to Jerusalem (Acts 20:17-36; 21:3-6, 8-14). In each of the cities where Paul stopped, the Holy Spirit revealed that imprisonment and persecution awaited him at his destination in Jerusalem (Acts 20:22-24; 21:4, 10-14). Convinced that God had called him to suffer for the name of Jesus, Paul pressed on until he arrived in Jerusalem.

On his second day in Jerusalem, Paul and some of his companions met with James in brother of Jesus and the Jewish leaders (elders) of the church. James was one of the key pillars of that mother church. In considerable detail, Paul reported to them how God had used his preaching of the gospel to save many Gentiles (Acts 21:19). These Jewish brethren rejoiced when they learned that many Gentiles had come to faith in Jesus.

In a endeavor to keep their Jewish heritage many Jewish Christians linked Christianity to Judaism, together as Acts tells us there were many thousands of the early Jewish Christians who were "zealous of the law."

Acts 21:17-22 And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.

And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.

Keeping the law of Moses still reflected in the thinking of the Hebrew Church in Jerusalem thirty years. Here in the bosom of the mother Church were ten-thousands of thousands of messianic Jews who believed in Jesus who were still very much caught up in the Torah; “zealous for the law”.

These Hebrew Christians were upset because they were informed that Paul was teaching all the Jewish brethren who are among the Gentiles to forsake the law of Moses telling them not to circumcise their children or observe the law (Acts 21:21) This was not true of curse Paul was teaching the Gentiles not to observe the law. James and the elders wished to convey this to Paul as a matter of serious concern. (Acts 21:21-22).

Circumcision was a major factor in Jewish identity. We should keep in mind Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, long before Moses was given the law. (Genesis 21:4)
Anyone who was against the gospel were eager to believe the worst about Paul and his ministry and gladly believed the reports that Paul had turned against their Jewish heritage something that was far from the truth. Even the believing Jews in Jerusalem were being persuaded that Paul was teaching Jewish believers that they should not circumcise their children or continue to observe their Jewish customs.

James and the elders were deeply concerned that these false reports about Paul might do harm and even hinder Paul’s ministry among them. James suggested a course of action to prove that this was a false charge, that Paul in fact did “live in observance of the Torah.” (Acts21:24) They asked Paul to publicly participate in a vow with four other Jewish men who had taken a vow. He was to take these four men and go through a purification ritual with them, paying their expenses to do so. This symbolic action would demonstrate that he continued to worship as a Jew. Without delay, Paul set out to comply with this request. (Acts 21:23–26) Paul accepts the Nazarite Vow to prove to all the believers that he kept the Law. He purifies himself according to the Temple rite and joins four other Jewish believers to have their heads shaved (the Nazarite Vow).

He was ready to offer animal sacrifices in the Temple as part of his purification and Vow, along with paying for the animal sacrifices for himself and the four other men. (Acts 21:26) Because he shaves his head, we know this is a Nazarite Vow because this is the only Mosaic vow where the head is shaved. (Numbers. 6:1–21) Paul did not stop being Jewish because he had found the Jewish Messiah.

Paul understood the law had no power to save but to forsake all Jewish practices and customs would only embolden the enemy of the gospel with their accusation that Paul had forsaking or was perverting (their Jewish heritage). Paul therefore needed to undergo the ritual purification to putting an end to the rumors.

While Paul was wrongly accused James and the elder brethren in Jerusalem gladly embraced Paul when he arrived. There is no hint of division or of hostility here, but only warm brotherly love. There is only a false rumor about Paul and that had a negative impacted on Paul and his ministry. The church leaders were right to be concerned. This was for the good of all.

Paul’s Jewish opponents accused him of forsaking or perverting the (Jewish heritage) in effect, they accused him of not being a Jew (Acts 18:12-13). Elsewhere especially in Acts 26, Paul strongly argues that he is a true Jew. He has not completely forsaken Judaism but has embraced its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

The charges that Paul taught Jewish Christians (living abroad in Gentile territory) to forsake their Jewish culture and traditions were false. Jews who are saved did not need to completely forsake their Jewish heritage. Paul circumcised Timothy despite preaching against the necessity of circumcision. (Acts 16:1-5). Why did Paul circumcise Timothy? The Jews would not have received any word spoke by Timothy on the grounds that he hadn't been circumcised, and therefore it was necessary to circumcise him to allow the Jews to give him a hearing. Paul know that it wasn't necessary for a person to be circumcised in order for that person to be saved?

Although Paul never, ever, imposed the Torah, the Law of Moses, on the body of Christ he did not tell the Jews they had to forsake (all their Jewish heritage). Paul’s actions were consistent with his own “rule in all the churches” namely, that Jewish believers should not (remove their circumcision), nor the Gentile believers must become circumcised. 1 Corinthians 7:17-20 But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches. Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.

Did Paul ever tell anyone not to be circumcised YES HE DID but in older to be justified by the law. Galatians 5:3-6 5 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

Many of the Jews had a hard time giving up all the Jewish heritage that had long been a part of their life and change did not come over night. That is why Paul said I became as a Jews to win the Jews. 1 Corinthians 9:20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. It always helps to have a understanding of the back ground in which Scripture was written. Paul became a mighty warrior for God after his conversion.

The Circumcision controversy in early Church

After the death and resurrection of Jesus Part 15

 By Terry Cropper

We can know from the Old Testament and from Jewish history that physical circumcision was a very important part of Jewish life. There are numerous references in the Hebrew Bible to the obligation of circumcision. For example, Leviticus 12:3 says: On the eighth day a boy is to be circumcised. And the uncircumcised are to be cut off from the covenant in Genesis 17:14.

In the first biblical mention of circumcision, God made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants. God said to Abram, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.” God then explained his part of the covenant — he would be the God of Abraham’s descendants and give them the land of Canaan (Genesis 17:1-8); God then further explained Abraham’s part of the covenant (verses 10-14). “This is…the covenant you are to keep.” Every male was to be circumcised, and this physical rite was to be “the sign of the covenant” with God, and it was “an everlasting covenant.”

Every male in Abraham’s household was to be circumcised immediately, and from then on every new baby boy was to be circumcised on the eighth day. Whether they were Hebrews or whether they were purchased as slaves, the males had to be circumcised. If they were not, they would be cut off; they had broken the covenant.

Abraham did what God told him to do (verses 23-27; 21:4). The practice of circumcision became the defining characteristic of the Abraham-Isaac-Jacob clan. Many years later, the sons of Jacob used this custom to get revenge on Shechem (Genesis 34:14-29). They said they could cohabitate and intermarry only with people who were circumcised verse 16.

Circumcision was a requirement for the Israelites, it is natural that it was included within the old covenant laws (Leviticus 12:2-3). People had to be circumcised to participate in the Passover (Exodus 12:44, 48). Even Gentiles had to be circumcised if they wanted to worship God by means of this festival. Circumcision was "a token of the covenant".

John the Baptist and Jesus were circumcised (Luke 1:59; 2:21). Jesus’ only comment about circumcision was favorable: It was part of “the law of Moses,” and the Jews were willing to circumcise children on the Sabbath. Since it was a religious rite, it could be done on the Sabbath (John 7:22-23), just as priests could “desecrate” the Sabbath to perform sacrifices (Matthew 12:5).
In the earliest days of the Christian church, the church was comprised predominately of Jews for the first ten years. Keep in mind: the new entity here, is ten years or so old. It started with a virtually all-Jewish congregation on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 in Jerusalem.

So, at that point in time, all the men in this new church had been circumcised according to Jewish law. These people were having considerable difficulty reconciling the place of Gentiles in this new entity, the church. Previously, if you wanted to become a Jew, and enter into a covenant with God you had to undergo the rite of circumcision.

So, it was understandable that many in the church in Jerusalem were still convinced that this would be a necessary ritual for those wanting to become part of the church as well, even if you were a Gentile. In their minds, accepting Jesus as Savior included accepting Judaism as a foundation for one's faith. They viewed Christianity as a layer built upon Judaism.

Then we see a reality that really complicates this discussion in Acts 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. Please understand, these Gentiles were likely ignorant on everything Jewish and never even heard of the Ten Commandments.

Right there in the church of Jerusalem were Pharisees who had gotten saved, but retained their affiliation as Pharisees. They were particularly adamant about the fact that salvation required circumcision as well. Not only so, but add to that the observance of all the Mosaic law to these new Gentile converts.

So, the first Jerusalem Council is called to order to discuss the question of reasonable requirements for these new Gentile Believers. Do we require them to be circumcised? Do we require them to keep the rituals of the Law of Moses to which they have never been exposed before?

The year is around 49 A.D., Of course, Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to participate in this discussion. After all, they had been responsible for preaching to countless Gentiles who subsequently had gotten saved.

Peter was there also; he had won the first Gentile converts after Pentecost when he went to the household of Cornelius in Acts 10. Peter makes a great speech with an excellent point in Acts 15:10-11 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

Then in verse 12 it was time for Paul and Barnabas to report to them about all the Gentiles who had gotten saved along with the accompanying validating miracles. Finally, James stands up to pull it all together. He refers to Peter's presentation of the Gospel to the Gentiles back in Acts 15:13-17 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: ‘After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the LORD who does all these things.’

James makes his strongest case by quoting Amos 9:11-12 regarding the prophecy that Gentiles would be included in the Davidic Kingdom. Then James recommends a course of action in verses 19-20, Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.

He suggests the reasoning for such a decree in verse 21, For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

In other words, it was necessary to write to the Gentiles what was strictly necessary to be observed by them, relative to these points, it was not necessary to the converted Jews; for they had Moses, that is, the law, preached to them on these points which they agree to formalize and publish.

Paul explains that Abraham was counted as righteous even while he was uncircumcised (Romans 4:9-10). Even though he later received a physical sign or seal of his righteousness, his righteous status before God did not depend on circumcision (verse 11). He is the father of all who faithfully live as he did before he was circumcised (verse 12). That was an exemplary faith, since Abraham packed up and moved without knowing where he was going.

To the Corinthians, Paul made it clear that if a person was called while uncircumcised, he should not attempt to change his anatomy (1 Corinthians 7:18). His reason is surprising: “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts” (verse 19).

This is a surprise conclusion since circumcision had been one of God’s commands, and yet it doesn’t count. The law of circumcision was a religious rite that had nothing to do with their moral responsibilities to their neighbors.

Paul explained circumcision in greatest detail in his letter to the Galatians. They were being misled by a heresy that demanded that Gentile believers follow up their faith with physical compliance of circumcision with old covenant commands. But Paul explained that it is wrong to view physical circumcision as necessary, because that would imply that faith alone in Christ was not enough. “If you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all” (Galatians 5:2).
Many Jewish were deeply troubled by the conclusion that circumcision was not required. This is another stumbling stone they did not get over in one night.

Paul now explain the meaning of Christ death and resurrection to the Gentiles.

After the death and resurrection, of Jesus. Part 16
By Terry Cropper.

“Yahweh is salvation,” long ago promised Israel resurrection from the dead. While the Old Testament does not use the phrases resurrection the concept is most certainly there. Daniel 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Hosea 13:14 (NKJV) "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.

Not only did Paul have problems with the Jews accepting the Gentiles. Paul had trouble with the Gentiles as well accepting that fact that God had not abandon his promise to Israel.

Because the nation of Israel rejected Christ as Messiah; the Gentiles imagined God had abandon his plans for Israel’s dead. “There would be no resurrection.” They believed that Christ had rose but had a false idea that God had abandoned His promises to Israel.

Paul then explains. Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. (1Corinthians 15:12-16)

Paul pointed to the fact of the resurrection of Christ, and showed that the two stand or fall together, saying, “if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. Paul demonstrates beyond all doubt that Jesus resurrection from the dead, is an importance fact of Israel’s resurrection using a metaphorically concept of firstfruits Greek aparche. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, emp. added).

Now the only way you can understand this kind of language is to go back to the Old Testament and if you don't understand the Old Testament then for sure you can't understand what Paul is saying here. So let's go back to Old Testament were did this idea of "first fruits" originate? "On the same general principle that the firstborn of man and beast belonged to the God of Israel and were to be devoted to Him (Nehemiah 10:35-39).

The first fruits including the first grain to ripen each season, were to be brought as an offering to God. Every Israelite who possessed the means of agricultural productivity was under this obligation (Exodus 23:19; 34:26; Numbers 15:17-21; 18:12-13). "Speak the to children of Israel, and say to them." When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your, behalf on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it (Leviticus 23:10-11).

The first fruits were brought in a basket to the sanctuary and presented to the priest, who was to set the basked down before the altar. Then, the offering recited the story of Jacob’s going to Egypt and the deliverance of his posterity from there. He then acknowledged the blessings with which God had visited him (Deuteronomy 26:2-11).

It would be natural for Paul to have thought of Christ as the first fruits, because the day of Christ’s resurrection was the second day of Passover week on which the first ripe sheaf of the harvest was offered to the Lord (Lev 23:10-11,15).

Paul was also establishing another basic point. While Christ was the first fruits of the resurrection. The first century saints were also significance of the "first ripe sheaf" (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:15; James 1:18). All of the first century saints who put their trust in Christ were apart of collective believers known as first fruits to God. This select group of Christians were purchased from the earth as a FIRST FRUITS offering to God. (1Corinthians 6:20, 7:23) The Greek ἀγοράζω for purchased, means to go to the market. It is a picture of God coming to the earth, to select His FIRST FRUITS representative of a whole harvest before God (Revelation 14:4).

Eternal Life, or resurrection was a gift to the first fruits Christians. The time for death to be abolished had arrived. (2 Timothy 1:10) One of the principles that a first fruit offering taught was that a future harvest was promised - the first fruit were just a taste of what lay in store at the end of the age full ingathering harvest. Every Jewish Christian understood this Old Testament concept. The firstfruits ingathering is separate in time to those which follow after, as it occurs.

The second important truth inherent in the first fruits figure is the readiness of the harvest to be gathered as signified in the offering of the first fruits. The act of reaping had already begun, with the first fruits and the harvest would soon be ready to be cut (Revelation 14:15).

The harvest were all the saints who had died under the Old Covenant and had not received the promise of resurrection. Prior to Jesus' messianic work, no one went to Heaven-- where did people go when they died? They went to a holding place of the dead and waited for the atoning work of Christ and the resurrection from the dead. All people were believed to go to Sheol when they die: Psalms 89:48 (NASB) What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah.

God had promised to redeem His people from the grave: Hosea 13:14 (NKJV) "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.

Paul clearly taught that the resurrection was the hope of Israel. Acts 26:6-8 (NKJV) "And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7 "To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. 8 "Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?

These were people like Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Job, Isaiah, and Daniel etc. These "Old Covenant saints" were the rest of the harvest, the general resurrection. These were the ones Jesus addressed "though he may die, he shall live in. (John 11:23). Knowing the biblical concept of the first fruits and the harvest we can appreciate why God said: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living (Matthew 22:32; Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38).

The harvest, follows the ripening "perfecting and offering of the first fruits saints." With the return of Christ and the destruction of temple, the way into God presence was now fully opened. (Hebrew 9:8) The Hadean realm was emptied, and all the Old Covenant saints harvest were gathered in the general resurrection in A.D.70. This is the second resurrection that John mentioned in the first part of verse 5 of chapter 20 of Revelations.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 Paul’s use of the metaphor “firstfruits” (Greek aparche) is to understand how "firstfruits" was used in the Old Testament. Under the Old Law, the firstfruits were the earliest gathered grains, fruits, and vegetables that the people dedicated to God in recognition of His faithfulness for providing the necessities of life.

The Israelites were to offer to God a sheaf of the first grain that was harvested on the day after the Sabbath following the Passover feast (Leviticus 23:9-14). Paul used the term “firstfruits” in this letter to the Corinthian church to reinforce the certainty of the resurrection. Just as the term “firstfruits” indicates that “the first sheaf of the forthcoming grain harvest will be followed by the rest of the sheaves, Christ, the firstfruits raised from the dead, is the guarantee for all those who belong to him that they also will share in his resurrection.

Jesus is God’s “firstfruits” of the resurrection. And, like the Israelites, God would gather the rest of the harvest at the final resurrection. Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand (by way of metaphor) that Christ’s resurrection is a pledge of a future harvest. It is inevitable—guaranteed by God Himself.


After the death and resurrection, of Jesus. Part 17

by Terry Cropper & Joe Daniels

Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8).God guaranteed that through this Tabernacle, His presence would dwell in the people's midst. Half of the Book of Exodus is devoted to a description of the building of the Tabernacle, we can understand how important a role this Sanctuary played.

The Tabernacle later became a Tempe. Jerusalem was the capital city of Israel just like Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States. That means that all of the government is there.

Within the Holy Place of the tabernacle, there was an inner room called the Holy of Holies, or the Most Holy Place. Judging from its name, we can see that it was a most sacred room, a place no ordinary person could enter. It was God’s special dwelling place in the midst of His people.

During the Israelites’ wanderings in the wilderness, God appeared as a pillar of cloud or fire in and above the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was a perfect cube — its length, width and height were all equal to 15 feet.

A thick curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. This curtain, known as the “veil,” was made of fine linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn. There were figures of cherubim (angels) embroidered onto it. Cherubim, spirits who serve God, were in the presence of God to demonstrate His almighty power and majesty. They also guarded the throne of God. These cherubim were also on the innermost layer of covering of the tent. If one looked upward, they would see the cherubim figures.

The word “veil” in Hebrew means a screen, divider or separator that hides. What was this curtain hiding? Essentially, it was shielding a holy God from sinful man. Whoever entered into the Holy of Holies was entering the very presence of God. In fact, anyone except the high priest who entered the Holy of Holies would die. Even the high priest, God’s chosen mediator with His people, could only pass through the veil and enter this sacred dwelling once a year, on a prescribed day called the Day of Atonement.

The picture of the veil was that of a barrier between man and God, showing man that the holiness of God could not be trifled with. God’s eyes are too pure to look on evil and He can tolerate no sin (Habakkuk 1:13). The veil was a barrier to make sure that man could not carelessly and irreverently enter into God’s awesome presence. Even as the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he had to make some meticulous preparations: He had to wash himself, put on special clothing, bring burning incense to let the smoke cover his eyes from a direct view of God, and bring blood with him to make atonement for sins.

“But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.” (Hebrews 9:7) If anyone else enter dear enter the Holy of Holies they would die in the spot. So the presence of God remained shielded from man behind a thick curtain during the history of Israel’

During the lifetime of Jesus, the holy temple in Jerusalem was the center of Jewish religious life. Jesus spoke of this Temple building in Jerusalem when discussing with his disciples the chain of events that would bring the close of the present Jewish age and his return.

Herod, the Great (not to be confused with Herod Antipas who came later) is one of the most important characters in Jewish history. The most ambitious of Herod's projects was the re-building of the Temple, which was almost certainly an attempt to gain popularity. It took 10,000 men ten years just to build the retaining walls around the Temple Mount.

When it came to building the Temple itself. Herod truly outdid himself, and even the Talmud acknowledges that the end-result was spectacular. "He who has not seen Herod's building, has never in his life seen a truly grand building." (Talmud-Bava Basra 4a)

The Holy of Holies was covered in gold; the walls and columns of the other buildings were of white marble; the floors were of carrara marble, its blue tinge giving the impression of a moving sea of water; the curtains were tapestries of blue, white, scarlet and purple thread, depicting, according to Josephus, "the whole vista of the heavens."

Josephus describes how incredible it looked: Viewed from without, the Sanctuary had everything that could amaze either mind or eyes. Overlaid all round with stout plates of gold, the first rays of the sun it reflected so fierce a blaze of fire that those who endeavored to look at it were forced to turn away as if they had looked straight at the sun. To strangers as they approached it seemed in the distance like a mountain covered with snow; for any part not covered with gold was dazzling white... (The Jewish War, p. 304) There's no question that Herod had a huge ego and liked to impress people with grandiose building projects.

Herod saw fit however, to place at the main entrance a huge Roman eagle, which the pious Jews saw as a sacrilege. A group of Torah students promptly smashed this emblem of idolatry and oppression, but Herod had them hunted down, dragged in chains to his residence in Jericho, where they were burned alive.

Herod took great pains to make sure the Temple would be run without future problems of this kind. He appointed his own High Priest, having by then put to death forty-six leading members of the Sanhedrin, the rabbinical court.

A large part of Herod’s rebuilding was completed before the birth of Jesus in 4 BC, however, many do not know that the work of rebuilding still continued for almost 68 years after his death. When we read of Jesus cleansing the Temple during the first Passover of his ministry in John.2:13-22 we read that it had by that time been under construction for 46 years. The work was not entirely finished until 63 AD, which was only 7 years before its destruction in A.D. 70!

The whole time Herod and the Jews were rebuilding the earthly Temple another Temple was being built. When Jesus was speaking to the Jews he answered them and said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. (John. 2:17-21)
James under the power of the Holy Spirit stands up to pull it all together. What did James say at the Council of Jerusalem recorded for us in Acts chapter 15 in conjunction with the Gentiles coming into the church? Does he not apply a spiritual application to the rebuilding of the tabernacle or temple of David?

“And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: “(After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up); So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things.” (Acts 15:13-17)

James is quoting Amos 9:11-12 “On that day I will raise up The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old; The church of Christ may be called the tabernacle of David. What God did: This was the Lord's doing. This whole time God was building this temple, a spiritual tabernacle to be in the city or kingdom of God not made by hands!

And guess what all the unbelieving Jews were doing? They were busy building their own Temple made with hands! One was a building, or Temple being constructed by carnal man. The other of course was being engineered and built by God. Jesus said the house Ο οικος Temple that was under construction by man would be life desolate. (Matthew 23:38) The temple, which is now your house, is not God’s; is left it and it is desolate. God has forsaken it and sentenced to utter destruction.

The Holy City was then left to those vain captains of their sinking ship, unaware of their doom, even when the last lifeboat had departed and no means of escape remained. The temple was one of the seven great wonders of the ancient world! Sure it was known as the Temple of God, but it was polluted by an abominable priesthood, and a perverted high priestly office. God was about to do the same thing and “come down” in A.D. 70 and bring that work to nothing!

But in the meantime God had laid the foundations and placed the Cornerstone to His Temple in place and was building upon it. Paul confirms this in Ephesians 2:19-20 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.

Notice here that Paul said under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that God has built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, which is used in a present tense. We even see that this building that was under construction; was in fact, a holy temple!
This body or Temple of Christ was both a corporate, as well as an individually membered body of Christ. Each and every person Peter stated, was a living stone in that Temple or spiritual house. Of course each individual believer that was being persecuted was a member of that body or Temple that God was building up! Paul spoke of the many members being one in the body of Christ in this way:
So the hold time Herod and the Jews were rebuilding their earthly Temple another Temple was being built. This whole time God is building this temple, a spiritual tabernacle not made by hands!

The New Testament Church In The Wilderness.

After the death and resurrection, of Jesus. Part 18

By Terry Cropper & Joe Daniels.

God used many types and shadows in the Old Testament that found there fulfillment in the antitype of the New Testament. Israel’s 40 year wilderness journey is one of those types and shadows of the first century church’s 40 year wilderness journey.

It was no accident that Stephen, a Jewish Christian called Israel the "church in the wilderness under the leadership of Moses. Acts 7:37-38 NKJV 37 “This is that Moses, who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’ “This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us,
"Congregation" This is the Greek term ekklesia is used in the sense of an “assembly” and translated "church" in the New Testament, is often used to refer to Israel in the ancient Greek version of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint (LXX). The “Congregation” or “Church” equates to ἐκκλησία / ekklesia is made up of two syllables. The Greek prefix ἐκ means “out of, or away from” and the root verb κλησία which means “to call or invite.” ( A handful of quick references out of the 73 times where our word “church” ἐκκλησία is translated as “assembly in the LXX are Deut 4:10; 9:10; 18:16; 23:1,2,3, & 8; Josh. 8:25; Ps.40:9; 68:26; 89:5; 107:32; Micah 2:5)

There were no Gentiles in the church for several years after Pentecost. But God was going to do among many wonders or marvelous things a wonder that would shock the Jews to their core! It was predicted in the Old Testament and also likened to the original Exodus journey. We would like to refresh your memory of it. Aliens were welcome. Exodus. 12:47-49 NKJV All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. 49 One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.” Other verses are (Numbers.9:14; Isaiah. 56:6-8) Joshua, converted to Hebrew by "conversion" he entered into the Mosaic Covenant because he had a sincere desire to worship the God of Abraham.

These Aliens fell in step with the Hebrews as they marched out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. Exodus 12:37-39 mentions two groups of people—Israelite and the mixed multitude marching out of Egypt. 37 Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. 38 A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds—a great deal of livestock. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared provisions for themselves.

For how long? Their presence during the quail incident, cited above, indicates that these peoples were still with the Israelites at least one year after the first Passover. That means that the mixed multitude was present at Mount Sinai, some fifty days after the Red Sea crossing.

The marvelous thing that was going to be seen during the wilderness journey of the first century Church was that the Gentiles would be grafted into the salvation of the Jews! (John 4:22) Let’s get back to the day of Pentecost to view something we find marvelous in the hindsight of our eyes! It is the fact that the apostle Peter in his Holy Spirit empowered sermon on that day while giving the gospel plan of salvation, unknowingly included the Gentiles and prophesied of their inclusion of Israel’s salvation. He does this using the “Afar off” in verse 39 (GR. μακρὰν) It is used only 4 other times after it is used here. (All used by Paul.)

Now first let’s look at the context here. Clearly Peter in preaching on the day of Pentecost and is speaking to Jews! These were Jews were from every nation under heaven – Jewish men of the dispersion. (Along with proselytes!) This is very important to understand here!

Why is that important? Pay close attention to this: It’s because Peter stated that this gospel is to YOU – these people (Jews) from the dispersion (To whom he wrote to later on! (See 1 Peter 1:1) And to THEIR CHILDREN (more Jews)! And then to those who are “AFAR OFF” AS MANY AS THE LORD OUR GOD WILL CALL! These are NON JEWS! Want proof? Here it is…

The Apostle Paul says this about those who are AFAR OFF? And we would ask you if these people fit the description of Jews? We don’t think so and here is why: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off (GR. μακρὰν) have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Eph.2:13
“And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off (GR. μακρὰν) and to those who were near.” Eph.2:17

Now we want you to also remember that in Eph.2:11-13 Paul states that these people were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise! ”Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were “far off” have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” This does not sound like they were connected to the Jews in any way, shape, or form.

Keep in mind that Pentecost was in or about the year 31 A.D. The apostle Paul proclaimed that this subject of Gentile inclusion was a mystery! (Eph.3:3-12) This mystery was not yet known! Yet God was already from the very start making it known by progressive revelation! But at this time the mystery had not been revealed, the Apostle Paul’s conversion was approximately 2 years later.

The first Gentile converts were the house of Cornelius about A.D. 38. And here is more proof of our position about Peter unknowingly prophesying about the Gentiles in Acts 2:39 … it was Peter who God used to convert Cornelius and his family, and God had to show him a vision that this was to be done! (Read all of Acts chapter 16) And even after all this, Peter was rebuked by Paul for still harboring prejudice towards the Gentiles.

Paul really didn’t reach out to the Gentiles till approximately the year A.D. 46 - 49 (Acts.13:46-49) It was about A.D. 49 that we read of the Council of Jerusalem to speak of this wonder of the Gentiles coming into the church.

It is here that James the Lord’s brother spoke of the Gentiles coming into the church as the rebuilding of the tabernacle or temple of David?

Whenever the Apostle Paul went anywhere he started preaching in the synagogues of the Jews first, but always reached out to Gentiles (Non Jews). In any place Paul brought the gospel it was his custom to find a synagogue of the Jews first, and to preach Jesus to them for three Sabbaths. Then he would preach to the gentiles! Look at what we read when we see him going to Thessalonica:
Acts 17:1-2 (NKJV) “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures.”

Later in that chapter we read of him leaving the unbelieving Jews behind and turning to the Gentiles. Right there in Acts chapter 17 we see Paul going to Athens, and what do we see him immediately do? He heads straight to the synagogue there! And notice the distinctions of people there! We read that he reasoned with the Jews and “Gentile worshippers” (God fearers and proselytes!) as well as speaking to ANYONE who happened to be in the market place! Yet we know that he then preached to Gentiles there. What about the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers he spoke the gospel message to? Where they only Jews as well? We know that is not true!

Acts 17:17-18 (NKJV) 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. 18 Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.”

Paul was told by God himself that this would be his mission: “Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you FAR (GR. μακρὰν) from here to the Gentiles.’” Acts 22:21 What the apostle Paul was to do what we specified was the definition of the church - ἐκκλησία a word made up of two syllables. The Greek prefix ἐκ means “out of, or away from” and the root verb κλησία which means “to call or invite.” The invitation was for all, Jew and Gentile to go through the Exodus journey and enter the promised land!

During the wilderness journey of the church God was sill fulfilling the promise to Abraham. In the midst of a Roman Empire dominated society a Christian society was founded on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem about 30 to 31 A.D. (Acts 2) Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost was entirely Jewish, quoting the prophets and the Psalmist David, and would have meant nothing to any Gentiles standing around, if there were any. The 3,000 people who were saved that day would have been all Jewish.

(Acts 2:1-41) Yet as we have noted in a few studies Peter spoke of the mystery that was not yet revield. A mystery hidden until the apostle Paul made it clear that salvation would also be for those “afar off” μακρὰν ! Acts 2:39 “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (NKJV)

The first time Gentiles would be directly evangelized and admitted into fellowship with Jewish Christians would occur about ten years later. Cornelius (in Greek, Κορνήλιος The name Cornelius means “of a horn” the use of a “horn” in scripture speaks of power.) was a Roman centurion who is considered to be the first Gentile to convert to the faith, as related in Acts 10. This section shows that God, through the Holy Spirit, is bringing the Gentiles into his spiritual body, the church. In Acts 15:5-11 it shows this acknowledgement concerning law as decisions were rendered regarding Gentiles coming into the Church. (Acts 15:18-20)

A centurion was a Roman army officer, theoretically in charge of a hundred men. Cornelius was called a God-fearer, that is to say, he was a monotheist, a Gentile who worshipped the One God. (A very important fact to note is that “God fearers” were people who converted to Judiasim yet would not yeild to circumcision.) One day, as he was praying, an angel appeared to him and told him to send a messenger to Joppa and ask Peter to come and preach to him. Notice Cornelius's worship is directed to the one true God. Acts 10:3-6 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?”

Peter, meanwhile, was given a vision that disposed him to go with the messenger. When Peter had preached to Cornelius and his family and friends, the Holy Spirit fell on them, as on the first Christians at Pentecost (Acts 2), and they began to speak in other tongues. Thus, there was ample evidence to convince Jewish Christians who hesitated to believe that it was the will of God that Gentiles should be brought into the Church.

Cornelius was the first Gentile converted to Christianity, along with his household, and Luke, recording this event, clearly regards it as of the utmost importance in the history of the early Church: the beginning of the Church's decision to admit Gentiles to full and equal fellowship with Jewish Christians.


The wilderness experience for the Israelites was a period of trial, and testing. Deuteronomy 8:2-3 NKJV says, And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

God also knew that the wilderness is an ideal place to test his people and to help them learn faith and endurance. There is hardly a way to travel from Egypt to the Promised Land without passing through the wilderness. We know from Deuteronomy 1:2,that it should have taken only eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea, which was on the border of the Promised Land. Yet, it took the children of Israel forty years to make the journey.

They were stuck in the wilderness because of unbelief and because God had a few things to teach them. In Hebrew, the word for wilderness is midbar. It is surely interesting that the root of midbar has the meaning of “speak” or “word.” God speaks to Israel in the wilderness.

God also humbles and proves Israel in the wilderness. Deuteronomy 8:2 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

The Israelites were guilty on many occasions of tempting God. The children of Israel had just seen the miraculously miracle of God through Moses in Egypt. They were delivered through the sea as they escaped from Pharaoh. While in the wilderness, the children of Israel had some real trouble in the area of worship. Even while Moses was in the mountain receiving the law of the Lord, the people were busy making a golden calf to worship (Deut. 9:7-21).

While God had forth all Israel's battles for them they sill refused to enter the land of Canaan and take the land. (Numbers 14:1-38) They tested God to the point that they were finally sentenced to wander forty years in the wilderness. Numbers 14:30-32 Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in. 31 But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness.

In the New Testament, wilderness in which the church finds herself is not a literal desert. But a time period of trial, and testing also. And her destination is not the literal territory of Canaan. But a “better country,” which indicates that the promised land the saints hope to enter is something other than the literal territory of Palestine. (Hebrews 11:16)

The Great Apostasy from the faith.

After the death and resurrection, of Jesus. Part 19

By Terry Cropper.

Jesus warned his disciples regarding the gosple. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. Luke 21:16-17 (NKJV) The worse days lay ahead for God’s Church. Storm clouds were also building over Judah and Rome at this time.

During the early days of the first century Christianity was seen as just another sect of Judaism, a legal religion. (Acts 2:47) "These earliest Christians had no thought of being anything but good Jews. Soon the Jewish authorities felt threatened by this oddball new religion and forbid Christians to speak the name of Jesus. (Acts 4:1-22) Because of this we are immediately told "there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem;" and that "they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. (Acts 8:1)

Early Christians were persecuted for their faith at the hands of both Jews from whose religion Christianity arose and the Roman Empire which controlled much of the land across which early Christianity was distributed.

The Roman Empire was generally quite tolerant in its treatment of other religions. The imperial policy was generally one of incorporation - the local gods of a newly conquered area were simply added to the Roman pantheon and often given Roman names. Even the Jews, with their one god, were generally tolerated. So why the persecution of Christians?

It was in 64 A.D. that Nero began his persecution of Christians from Rome. Nero was an inhuman, insane egomaniac. In A.D. 64, Rome burned to the ground. For six days and nights, a great fire raced through the capital city. Thousands of terror-stricken Romans were left homeless. The fire reduced the most heavily populated areas of the city to rubble and ash.

Historical traditions say Nero watched this incredible sight from his balcony. Why was he so fascinated? Because he desired to rebuild the city to an even greater glory. A rebuilt, more glorious Rome would immortalize the name of Nero. The rumor that Nero had burned Rome spread through the shaken city. In fear of his life, Nero blamed the fire on the Christians.

The Romans believed him. Christians were already mistrusted and despised and enduring tribulation by the Judaizes because of their beliefs. To a Roman, Christians were different. They would not worship the old Roman gods. They refused to worship the emperor as divine, which was interpreted as treason.

The Christian teaching of Jesus Christ as King of kings sounded like revolt. It was easy for Nero to plant the idea that the fire could be the beginning of a revolution. The mad emperor ordered the punishment of Christians for burning Rome.

A full-scale persecution began. Nero personally devised some horrible tortures and executions for the falsely accused Christians. Some Christians were crucified, some were torn apart by wild dogs in the Circus Maximus, and others were set ablaze for Nero’s garden parties. Out of the Roman distaste for
Christianity, arose a sense that it was bad for society.

Because of this open persecution at the hands of the Jewish authorities who hated Christ and that of Nero many of the Jews were defecting from the faith and returning under the Mosaic covenant of the Law.

The term apostasy comes from the Greek word apostasia ("ἀποστασία") meaning defection, departure, revolt or rebellion. When individuals or groups of people turn away from the principles of the gospel, and returned under the Mosaic, law they are in a state of apostasy. Apostasy means to fall away from the truth. In the Old Testament, God warned the Jewish people about their idolatry and their lack of trust in Him. The New Testament, epistles warn them not to fall away from the truth.

During this time in the wilderness their faith was being tested in the fury fires of purification or persecution to see who genuine believers in Christ were. 1 Peter 1:7 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

This does not mean that their faith was much more precious than gold, but that the testing of it, (δοκίμιον dokimion,) the process of showing whether it was or was not genuine, was a much more important and valuable process than that of testing gold in the fire. The test, is showing what is their real nature. Zechariah 13:9-10 I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name,and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’”

The intense persecutions, trials and tribulations (was to show how they were to conduct themselves when suffering unjustly). During this refining process many of the Jews were going apostasy from the faith and returned under the Mosaic, law.

The Apostle John and his congregation experienced this firsthand. John write his letters and gives evidence of the departure from the faith - cf. 1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. These Jews were former Church members who went apostasy from the faith.

Paul also experienced abandonment firsthand. This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. (2 Timothy1:15a). These Asiatics had gone to Rome for the purpose of being a witness in Paul’s favor. However, finding that Paul was in position when they arrived terrified them of the extreme danger if being associated with Paul and they forsook him and fled.

Paul warned Timothy some would depart from the faith - (1Timothy 4:1) Paul was inspired write this letter to the Timothy (between the years (63-66 A. D) the apostasy was already on the way.
When Paul wrote this letter to Timothy the Temple was still standing and “falling away” refers to those who were returning back under the Mosaic Covenant. The defection from the faith characterized the latter or last days of the old covenant had already set in. The pull of the Old Covenant world system continued to draw many away from Christ.

The book of Hebrews is replete with warnings to Jewish Christians who were in danger of falling from the faith. The issue is that these passages in Hebrews have not been put into their biblical/historical context. Specifically, Hebrews 10:26 requires a contextual understanding for proper interpretation; then we can easily see why God is very judgmental toward His very own stumbling children. The first thing we must understand is that the Book of Hebrews was written somewhere between AD 30 and AD 70.

Paul warns of this strong pull in Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. What kind of sin could they possibly remove the saving sacrifice of Christ?

The whole idea of "deliberate" sin doesn't involve things like saying a swear word or skipping church or being in a bad mood or stealing a car. Hebrews 10:26 is about something much more serious-a deliberate, premeditated rejection of Christ. This was a warning against offering animal sacrifices for the atonement of sin. The reconciliation of God to all mankind is through Jesus Christ. Anyone who deliberately sinned and offering animal sacrifices for the atonement of sin there no longer remains the sacrifice of Christ for their sins.

Hebrews 10:26, is (the strongest) of the "apostasy warning passages." Paul was talking about Jews who knew the sacrifice of Jesus to save sinners through his perfect blood and then returned to sacrifice through the blood shedding of bulls and goats. If Jesus isn't enough for you, there is no other way your sins can be forgiven.

The Judaizes' error gave birth in the book of Galatians and the possibility of apostasy. Paul ask the Churches of Galatia, I marvel that (you are turning away) (PRESENT TENSE) so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-7)

What was the different gospel which is NOT another? The gentiles must be circumcised according to the custom of Moses. (Acts 15:1) These Judaizes were teaching a doctrine which "troubled the saints" and was a perversion of the gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:7). Those who taught this doctrine were accused of God (1:8-9). Paul described these men as "false brethren" (2:4). The Great Apostasy form the faith was alive and will during forty years of wandering in wilderness of the Church. May of the Jews going apostasy from the faith and returned under the Mosaic law.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The “wrath of God to come”.

 After the death and resurrection, of Jesus. Part 22

By Terry Cropper

Jesus told his disciples the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew. 24:14, KJV). The years is 33 A.D

The year is 64 A.D and Paul’s missionary journeys are completed as he writes from his imprisonment in Rome to the saints in Colosse..…if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister. (Colossians. 1:23).

Jesus said to preach the gospel to every creature. Paul freely admitted he had preached “in all the world” (Romans. 1:8). God being long suffering towards the Jews not willing that anyone should perish gave them 40 years to repent.

New Testament passages regarding God's displeasure and wrath towards those who do not accept the Son and disobey the gospel are extensive. Jesus said, when they see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, those are the days of God’s vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. Luke 21:20-22 (NKJV) The Days of Vengeance are the final Days of the return of the Lord. (Luke 21:27)
The ‘sign’ of her ‘desolation’ was to be the advance of the Roman army to her walls. This dramatic event is described as the “times of the Gentiles” which is found only here in the Bible. Where we read, “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”. (Luke 21:24)

We go now to Matthew 24:15-16, “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. In Luke 21:20-21 we read, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.

In Luke 21:23 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. We go now to Matthew 24:19-20 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.

Why should they pray that their flight not be on the Sabbath? Here is where we have to be aware of Jewish customs and practices regarding the Sabbath. Jerusalem was a Jewish dominated city which kept 100% of the law of Moses up to 70AD. The Gates of the city would be closed on the Sabbath: (Nehemiah 13:15-22)

The Jews also authorized their own police regarding certain religious matters. They would have prevented anyone from fleeing Jerusalem and Judea while the Romans armies, were marching toward Jerusalem. (A.D. 66). Such fleeing would have been considered a traitorous action by the Jews in front of the Romans. This would hinder the Lord's instructions to the Christians to GET OUT OF THE CITY before the Roman armies destroyed the city as Jesus said in (Luke 21:20).

Jesus said that people who were in Judea at the time of the crisis at Jerusalem would need to immediately flee far away into the hills. Jesus gave the warning in Matthew 24:20 because he knew that the Jews would not allow the kind of escape in troubling times on the Sabbath that his warning required. His warning was not a command to rest on the Sabbath any more than it was a command to rest in winter. These were simply inconvenient times to flee.

Pregnant or Nursing mothers hindered for obvious reasons. Winter would hinder because of exposure to cold and snow. Since the Jews honored Moses’ laws, they believed it was wrong to take long journeys on the Sabbath. They even had a measurement for the maximum distance to be traveled on this day, which was called a “Sabbath day’s walk” (Acts 1:12). This was a short distance. But Jesus’ warning was given in the context of a catastrophe on the city and Judea, which would have required getting much further out of the area than a limited “Sabbath day’s walk” might allow.

We read in Revelation 11:2, “But the court which is without the Temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (three and one half years) . The Greek word translated “tread” is “pleeroo”, the same word used in Luke 21:24 and is translated “trodden” in the phrase, “and they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nation: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”. Note that this treading down will be for 3 and 1/2 years, i.e the time of the tribulation.

Scripture fulfillment of prophecy. Lamentations 4:9-10 Those slain by the sword are better off Than those who die of hunger; For these pine away, Stricken for lack of the fruits of the field. The hands of the compassionate women Have cooked their own children; They became food for them In the destruction of the daughter of my people.

The war that brings when the Roman armies surround the city of Jerusalem was a time of tribulation, hunger, pestilence and bitter destruction on the Jews who refused the Gospel of Christ. The sword of the Roman army was without the city. And Roman arrows descended on them.

11.000 perished for want of food. (Josephus 37:B.C A.D. 70 p. 230) The tallest and most beautiful of the young men were saved for the triumphal procession;. The Arch of Titus in Rome still commemorates the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. (PICTURE, Vol. 2, p. 536) Accompanied by his father, Emperor Vespasian, Titus celebrated his victory over Jerusalem by a triumphal procession. Some arches served as city gates, but for the most part their function was only monumental. The design of the arches may have represented the yoke of submission under which captives were forced to march.

A great number were also sent into the provinces to provide amusement in the theaters. (Josephus 37:B.C A.D. 70 p. 230) everyone else over the age of seventeen was sent in bonds to work the Egyptian mines. The Roman general Titus, who conquered Jerusalem and Israel, sent 17,000 adults Jews to Egypt."

Scripture fulfillment of prophecy. (Deuteronomy 28:68 concerning Jerusalem) "And the LORD will take (you back to Egypt in ships, by the way of which I said to you), 'You shall never see it again.' And there you shall be offered for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves), but no one will buy you." (emphasis added)

“The cities could be seen full of unburied corpses, the dead bodies of the aged flung down alongside those of infants, women without (a rag to conceal their nakedness) and the whole province full of indescribable horrors. (Eusebius, The History of the Church, 9 105)

Scripture fulfillment of prophecy. (Jeremiah 7:33 concerning Jerusalem) The corpses of this people will be food for the birds of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth. And no one will frighten them away. Then I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. For the land shall be desolate.

Josephus reckon the number of captive taken during the war at 97,000 and the number of those who perished during the siege at 1,100.000. The number who perished in the whole war are reckoned at the total of 1,337,490 and the number of prisoners at 101,700; but even these estimates do not include all the items of many skirmishes and battles, nor do they take into account the multitudes who, throughout the whole country, perished of misery, famine and disease. In may well be said that the nation seemed to have given itself ‘a rendezvous of exterminations.’ Two thousand putrefying bodies were found even in the subterranean vaults of the city, (F.W. Farrar. pp 487-489).

Titus ordered Jerusalem to be completely leveled and work began. However, he allowed part of the walls to remain in their place. All the stones were thrown down at that time. There was terror within the young man and nursing child. There were dashed into pieces and no longer in the memory of the nations as the chosen people of God. (Deuteronomy 7:6) They cease to exist from among men.