The Feasts of God (5)

Table of Contents

32. The Unleavened Bread: Freedom from Babylon

33. The Unleavened Bread: Freedom from Mystery Babylon

34. The Unleavened Bread: The Unleavened Bread vs a Diet of Dust

35. The Unleavened Bread: Destruction of Body and Soul in Hell (Hades/Sheol)

36. The Unleavened Bread: No More Rehearsals

37. The Sheaf of Firstfruits: The Risen Lamb

38. The Sheaf of Firstfruits: The Remnant Bride

 

Chapter Thirty Two

The Feasts of God

The Unleavened Bread

Freedom from Babylon

 

And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the Lord God of Israel, did eat, and kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the Lord had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.  Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of…

 

This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him.  And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.  And he [Ezra] came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king.  Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the Lord, and of his statutes to Israel.  Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time.

 

I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.  Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand; and to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem, and all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem:

Ezra 6:21-22, 7:1, 6-8, 11-16

 

Much of the Old Testament consists of types and shadows of the New Testament Church, especially during the time we are now entering; the third day (millennium) of the Church, when the Bride of Christ/Sons of God are being revealed.  Let’s break down the above scriptures and apply them to the present time:

 

In the fourth century the Emperors Constantine and Theodosius made Christianity the state religion of Rome, in essence marrying Church and state.  This was no less than an act of adultery.  The Church divorced her bridegroom, Jesus and married Rome.  The church went into a time of captivity to the secular world system, represented by Babylon.  Ancient Babylon’s beginnings were Babel, where the Tower of Babel was built and God confused the languages (see Genesis 10:10, 11:9).  In Hebrew “babel” means confusion. 

 

Look at the history of secular governments right up until the present.  Is not “confusion” a good description of most governmental activity?

 

For most of the past two thousand years the Church has been in captivity to the Babylonian system.  Even in a supposedly free society such as the United States, most churches and ministries are licensed by the government as non-profit corporations.  This is done under the guise of tax exemption and being able to accept tax free donations, but is actually government control of religious practice, which is unconstitutional under the United States constitution.  Yet, it is accepted by most churches and ministries without question.  I find that amazing.  In essence, the confusion of the Babylonian system is like a disease that has spread to the Church, simply because the Church is too naive and gullible to know what is happening.

 

The good news is that today there is a remnant coming out of the captivity of that dead religious system; in essence separating themselves from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the Lord God of Israel (see Ezra 6:21), which is a part of the fulfillment of the Feast of Unleavened Bread that lasted for seven days.  Leaven in scripture represents a mixture.  This remnant is no longer willing to accept a mixture but is becoming passionate about an unadulterated, holy and sanctified relationship with the Lord. 

 

Seven in scripture is the number for perfection and/or completion.  This third day (millennium) of the Church we are now entering is also the seventh day (millennium) since creation.

 

I think it is significant that God turned the heart of the king of Assyria to favor the remnant of the Jews that were going back to Judah to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the temple, while they were joyously celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  As the Remnant Bride of Christ is coming out of the Body of Christ in order to complete the Body of Christ, just as Eve was taken out of Adam in order to complete Adam, we are becoming the fulfillment of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 

 

Judah was a remnant of the nation of Israel after civil war divided the nation and ten of the tribes became scattered.  Judah means praise.  Judah is a type and shadow of the Remnant Bride as we are becoming a people of praise and worship, joyously celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  I believe worship is going to be the hallmark of the Bride of Christ as we enter this third day of the Church and seventh day of/since creation.

 

The temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed and the remnant returned to Judah with plans to rebuild it.  The temple in the Old Testament was where the presence of God dwelled among his people.  Likewise, we (the Church) are a habitation of God through the Spirit (see Ephesians 2:19-22).  The apostolic church of the first century was for the most part destroyed in the fourth century and today the Remnant Bride is rebuilding it, using the first century pattern as the blueprint.     

  

Jerusalem was the capital city of Israel and then of Judah.  Not only was the Jewish remnant to rebuild the temple, they were also to rebuild the city.  So their mission was two-fold.  It had a spiritual implication and a civil implication.

 

As the Remnant Bride of Christ is being revealed in the present day, much is changing.  We are in a time of transition when the foundation is being laid that will not only bring the apostolic Church birthed on the Day of Pentecost to completion/perfection, but will also cause the kingdoms (nations) of this world to become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ (see Revelation 11:15), literally bringing the Kingdom of God/Heaven in every aspect of Earth; individuals, the Church corporately and the social and political systems of the world.

 

The Remnant Bride of Christ

 

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Revelation 20:6

 

I think we should look at who the remnant that returned to Jerusalem from Babylon consisted of: priests, Levites, singers, porters and the Nethinims. 

 

The Levites were the descendants of the tribe of Levi and included priests and singers/musicians.  We are priests of God and of Christ.

 

When is the first resurrection?  Can anyone dispute that Jesus is the first resurrection?  And who has part in His resurrection?  Is it not those who have died to self, reckoning themselves to have been crucified with the Lord, which they not only believe positionally but have lived and walked out experientially?

 

Is that not our desire just as it was the apostle Paul’s desire?

 

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:10-12

 

Is this not the mystery that has been hid for ages from generations but is now beginning to manifest in the Remnant Bride of Christ, as we are being revealed to the world (see Colossians 1:25-19, Romans 8:27)?

 

Are we, that Remnant Bride, not the firstfruits of many more to come, and is our hope any less than the hope of glory, which is resurrection life manifesting in us to such a degree that our physical bodies will not die but simply put on immortality, enabling us to reign with the Lord on Earth for a thousand years (see Colossians 1:27, Revelation 20:6)?

 

The Old Testament priests attended to the temple and practices that took place in the temple in Jerusalem.  Today, as priests of our God and Lord Jesus, we tend to His Church, the true Body of Christ.  The qualifications of that job are to share in His sufferings, being made conformable to His death, which enables us to know Him intimately and to know the power of His resurrection.  It is the power of His resurrection that will ultimately bring the apostolic Church, birthed on the Day of Pentecost (see Acts 2:1-47), to completion/perfection, glory to God!

 

Some of the priests were singers and musicians.  They too were of the remnant of Jews that returned to Jerusalem from Babylon.  Singers and musicians are worshippers.  True spiritual worship can only issue out of an intimate relationship with the Lord.  I believe this will be the hallmark of the Remnant Bride of Christ in this new day we are entering.  We are becoming a people of worship.  Just as in ancient Israel, this is not limited to the professionally trained singers and musicians of the temple.  Their job was to lead the entire congregation into praise that resulted in the manifestation of God’s presence in the temple (see Chronicles 5:11-14).

 

Today, because we are now capable of an intimate relationship with the Lord, we are not limited to praise as were the Old Testament saints but can enter into worship, a place of spiritual intimacy with the Lord.  As awesome and wonderful as His manifested presence was in the temple in Jerusalem, I believe that will pale in comparison to the experience that is becoming ours in this new day; which is none other than the day of the Lord or that day mentioned so many times in scripture.

 

The porters were gate keepers or door keepers.  Theirs was a position of prominence, third only to the priests and singers/musicians.  They too were of the Tribe of Levi (Levites) and served in the temple; opening and closing the temple doors at the proper time and guarding the entrances to the temple.  They also attended to certain articles in the temple.  As gate keepers, a major part of their service was to receive tithes and offerings from the people, which then would be directed to the proper use in the temple.

 

As the Remnant Bride we too are gate keepers.  Our very existence, which is made up of who we are becoming, as a result of the intense process of preparation, positioning and maturation we have been driven into, makes us guards of this new and living way we are walking in (see Hebrews 10:20).  Only those that have been subjected to the same process we have been subjected to can enter into and be a part of the first resurrection that will ultimately bring about the Kingdom coming on Earth as in Heaven and the restitution of all things (see Acts 3:21).

 

Nethinims were servants in the temple.  While their origin is debatable, most likely they were not Israelites but of foreign origin; probably prisoners of war that became slaves to the Israelites.  Several hundred of them returned to Judah from Babylon with Nehemiah and then eighty years later with Ezra.  They enjoyed the same privileges as the others that returned, which were granted them by their Babylonian captors.  Eventually the Nethinims became absorbed into the Levite tribe.

 

Like the Nethinims, we are servants and even prisoners of the Lord.  We did not choose this life we live, but were instead chosen and taken captive by the Lord (see Philippians 3:12).  As Gentiles we have been grafted into the chosen of God (Israel) (see Romans 11:17-23).  In this new day we are becoming one with them until eventually there will be no difference.  We will all be one in the Lord, as the result of being fitly framed together and growing into a holy temple; a habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:21-22).

 

Surely we were born for such a time as this!

 

The Prosperity of the Remnant Bride

 

The wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.

Proverbs 13:22

 

King Artaxerxes gave gold and silver to the remnant of the Jews returning to Judah and decreed that the people of Babylon were to do the same.  Evidently this was not a tax but was to be a freewill offering on the part of the Babylonians.

 

Interestingly, the same thing happened when the Israelites left Egypt for the Promised Land years before.  The Egyptians gave of their wealth to the Israelites and just as in the time of Ezra, that gold and silver was then used in the building of the temple.

 

I believe we are about to see that same thing happen again.  There is about to be a great transfer of wealth from the world (Babylonian system) into the Kingdom of God.  The wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.  Think about it.  The sinner has a call of God on his life to store up wealth for us!  Glory to God!

 

But that transfer is not for us to build more and bigger houses or buy more expensive cars and boats.  It is for us to establish the Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven.

 

Surely we were born for this time and I assure you, the time just ahead is going to be the most exciting in all of history so far!

Chapter Thirty Three

The Feasts of God

The Unleavened Bread

Freedom from Mystery Babylon

 

And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with wine of her fornication. 

 

So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.  And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: and upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

 

And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. 

 

And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel?  I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.

Revelation 17:1-7

 

The following verses of chapter seventeen of Revelation give an explanation of the woman and the beast.  Then verse fourteen says this:

 

These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

Revelation 17:14

 

Who is it that has persecuted (made war with) the true Body of Christ down through the centuries right up until the present time?  Is it not the religious systems represented by Mystery Babylon and the governments of nations possibly represented by the beast in the seventeenth chapter of Revelation?

 

There is much discussion and debate about the details of the seventeenth chapter of Revelation but it is not my intent to add to that commentary.  However, I think it is important for us to realize that the true Church, the Body of Christ has had two enemies down through the centuries, who have often cloaked themselves as the Church or as a friend to the Church.  I believe Mystery Babylon was originally the Catholic Church and today is represented by other denominations and even independent churches.  I think the beast probably represents governments that on the surface appear to be supportive of and friendly to Mystery Babylon. 

 

It is interesting that in countries such as communist China there is a government controlled church sanctioned by the government.  However, the true Church there is underground, so to speak.  Even in the United States the government licenses churches under the guise of tax exemption, and in some cases funds church social programs; making the appearance of working with churches when in fact churches and ministries that accept government license and funding also accept government censorship and control.

 

In the archives of the Catholic Church is documentation that the Catholic Church has killed at least twenty-five million people they considered to be heretics, who were in fact believers that opposed at least some of the doctrine of the Catholic Church.  When Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the church house door in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517, he did so at the risk of his life.

 

However, Luther, who is credited with starting the Protestant Reformation, later in life is responsible for the death of many that disagreed with him and wrote that it was an honor to kill a Jew.

 

Certainly, organized religion has been drunk with the blood of the saints (true believers), who are the martyrs of Jesus.

 

History records the death of many Christians at the hands of Rome and other governments down through the centuries.  Today there are more Christian martyrs than ever before in history; most at the hands of communist governments and Islamic nations and groups.

 

I remember as a young boy reading Revelation 20:4:

 

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus…

 

I remember thinking, “These must be Christians of past centuries.  No one gets beheaded today.”  I had no idea that in my lifetime Christians would once again be beheaded, which is one form of execution in Islamic nations and with Islamic terror groups.

 

Certainly, Mystery Babylon rides upon the beast as they make war with the Lamb (Jesus), but guess what?  The Lamb overcomes them because he is King of kings and Lord of lords!  And guess what else?  We of the Remnant Bride of Christ are with him; we that are called, chosen and faithful, glory to God!

 

To be victorious over Mystery Babylon (organized religion) and the beast (the Babylonian world system) is another aspect of the fulfillment of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a type and shadow of the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ (see Revelation 11:15).  This is a process already in motion on Earth, that will have its fulfillment in this third day (millennium) of the Church and seventh day (millennium) of/since creation.

 

Those of us that reach our full potential, fully participating in the first resurrection (the resurrection of Jesus Christ); experiencing the ultimate prophetic fulfillment of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, will reign with Him for at least a thousand years; which is that new day (millennium) we have already entered on God’s historic and prophetic timetable (see Revelation 20:6).

 

Surely we were born for such a time as this!

 

Chapter Thirty Four

The Feasts of God

The Unleavened Bread

The Unleavened Bread vs a Diet of Dust

 

And unto Adam he [God] said… for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Genesis 3:17, 19

 

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.

Genesis 3:14

 

Satan was created by God as his agent (see Isaiah 54:16) to cause us to die to self, enabling us to grow into the nature and character of God (see Philippians 3:10-16), eventually reaching completion/perfection and experiencing the ultimate experience of Christ in us, the hope of glory (see Colossians 1:27), which is no less than our mortality putting on immortality (see 2 Corinthians 5:4), glory to God!

 

We are dust, created from the earth and should we experience physical death, we will return to dust.  Our flesh is dust, and it is that dust that Satan, as God’s agent of destruction is able to destroy.  Satan is a dust eater (see Genesis 3:14) and the dust we are made from not only represents our physical bodies but our soul (mind), which is often referred to as our flesh along with our physical bodies. 

 

While we can experience healing in our physical bodies (see Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24) and the renewing of our mind by the Word of God (see Romans 12:2), the flesh (representative of our fallen nature) cannot be rehabilitated or fixed.  There is no good in it and it must be nailed to the cross of Jesus.

 

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Romans 6:6-7

 

Freedom from sin enables us to live unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord (see Romans 6:11); another fulfillment of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  To be dead to sin and alive to God is to have no mixture of flesh and spirit; of lies and truth.

 

The flesh must be crucified, done away with before we can completely live and walk in the Spirit.  I think most of us, if not all have approached this backward, trying to change our behavior in order to become sanctified and holy, which will never work.  We must first die to self and then Christ can be formed in us, living His life in and through us, which obviously will change our behavior.

 

While we may be able to accomplish this to a degree simply by choosing to do so, for most if not all of us it has taken many tests and trials to bring us to the end of ourselves, where there is no other choice but to totally surrender to the Lord and completely trust Him, resting in the work He accomplished for us when He was crucified, resurrected and then took His seat of authority at the right hand of God the Father. 

 

For many years I took authority over the devil and rebuked him every time I was faced with a test or trial, assuming he was the instigator of it.  In recent years I have discovered that, at least most of the time, the tests and trials I endured were there to cause me to die to self.  It was my own immaturity and giving in to the lusts (pressure) of the flesh that had caused the tests and trials (see James 1:14).  I was rebuking the devil for something he was probably not directly involved in, which in reality was God’s process to bring me to maturity, preparing and positioning me for greatness in His Kingdom, glory to God!

 

I have learned to trust God in the circumstances of my life rather than trying to rid my life of those circumstances, which ultimately enables me to overcome the circumstances of my life.

 

We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

 

That would be us of the Remnant Bride of Christ, who most likely have been subjected to intense and severe tests and trials, which have enabled us to die to self and be overcomers; fulfilling another aspect of the fulfillment of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, paving the way for many more to follow.

 

Surely we were born for such a time as this!

Chapter Thirty Five

he Feasts of God

The Unleavened Bread

Destruction of Soul and Body in Hell (Hades/Sheol)

 

Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28

 

The English word Hell is Hades in Greek and Sheol in Hebrew.  Several places in Scripture we find these words rendered Hell, the grave or the pit.  None of these renderings are correct.  Hades literally means all receiving according to Vines Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, and is not a permanent region of the lost.  Rather, it is a temporary region for those that have died physically and includes both those that died having faith in God and those that did not.  In Revelation 1:18, Jesus informs us that he holds the keys of death and Hades, which the Amplified Bible specifies as the realm of the dead.

 

In Revelation 20:13-14 John saw death and Hades, which the Amplified Bible identifies as the state of death of disembodied existence, giving up the dead that is in them.  All those dead are then judged according to their works (KJV), which the Amplified Bible specifies as their whole way of feeling and acting, their aims, endeavors, motives, and works.  I don’t believe this is a judgment that results in condemnation because there is now no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus, who walk according to the Spirit rather than the flesh (see Romans 8:1).  Rather, it is a judgment that results in rewards being handed out, based on whether or not one was in Christ Jesus, and how much a believer walked in the Spirit rather than the flesh.

 

In Jesus’ narrative of the rich man and Lazarus from Luke 16:19-31, He spoke of the flame the rich man was being tormented in as singular.  He didn’t say flames but this flame.  In this passage the Greek word for flame is pur and literally means fire.  However, I think a reasonable question would be to ask the nature of that fire.  Is it a literal fire or is it the fire of adversity, which manifest as tests and trials in our lives.  Could it be a flame tailor made for that individual?  Could it be the fire that separates the dross from the gold; the flesh from the spirit?  Could it be those that don’t allow that fire to do its work while in the physical body, will have to experience it after physical death; the end result not being eternal damnation but freedom from death and Hades to enter not the bosom of Abraham (which was the case in the Old Testament) but to enter and become one with Christ (under the New Covenant)?

 

Most places in the New Testament the Greek word that translates as flame is phlox, and literally means to shine.  An angel appeared to Moses as a flame of fire in a bush in the Wilderness of Mount Sinai.  The writer of Hebrews speaks of angels as a flame of fire (see Hebrews 1:7).  In Revelation 1:14, 2:18 and 19:12 John describes Jesus’ eyes as a flame of fire, emblematic of penetrating judgment, always searching out evil.

 

While flame in Luke 16:24 actually means fire (pur), perhaps the nature of that fire can only be understood in the context of phlox (to shine).  Perhaps the fire the rich man was being tormented in was shining a laser light on his flesh, burning it out of him; actually paving the way for his rescue (salvation).

 

The Jews around the time that Jesus walked the earth as the Son of Man, also called Hades Paradise, which is actually an oriental word.

 

In 2 Corinthians 12:2 the apostle Paul speaks of himself in the third person, saying he was caught up into the third Heaven.  Then in verse four, instead of the third Heaven he uses the word Paradise.  So it appears that Hades or Paradise during Paul’s time was in the third Heaven.  However, in Ephesians 4:9-10, Paul informs us that Jesus first descended into the lower parts of the earth before he ascended far above the heavens (indicating the third Heaven).

 

While on the cross, Jesus told one of the thieves that was crucified at the same time, “Today you shall be with me in Paradise (see Luke 23:43).”  But in John 20:17, when Mary Magdalene saw Jesus on the day He was resurrected, He told her not to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to His Father.

 

If that thief was with Jesus in Paradise the day they died, then Paradise must have been in the lower parts of the earth.  However, when Paul was caught up into Paradise it appears that Paradise was in the third Heaven.

 

I think this makes it clear that Paradise or Hades, which is one and the same and a place where the righteous dead and the unrighteous dead go, was evidently at the time of Jesus first ascension to the Father, moved from the lower parts of the earth to the third Heaven.

 

The idea that if you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior you go to Heaven when you die, and if you don’t you go to Hell, which is eternal damnation, is not compatible with a thorough study of Scripture.

 

1 Timothy 2:4 says that God will have all men (people) to be saved (KJV).  A thorough study of this verse indicates it actually says that God desires for all to be saved.  But do you really think God will not get what He desires?  Jesus said in John 12:32 that if He was lifted up (on the cross), He would draw all men unto Himself.  Does all mean all? 

 

We’ve been taught that yes, Jesus draws everyone, but that each individual then has to make a decision to follow Jesus, but the scripture doesn’t say that.  That position is reading something into the scripture that just isn’t there.

 

Nor can I find anywhere in scripture that indicates that when a person dies physically, they have missed the opportunity to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.  I even met someone recently who died and was taken by an angel to the gates of Heaven, where he accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and was born again before returning to Earth, being raised from the dead.

 

Everyone that dies goes into Hades or Paradise, which is in the third Heaven.  And where is the third Heaven?  It is where God is.  And where is God?  He is omnipresent (a concept I believe Scripture supports).  While the Bible speaks of the third Heaven as being above the first and second heavens, which entails the earth’s atmosphere and outer space, I think this is an effort at making a natural description of something that is spiritual.  God is spirit (see John 4:24).  I believe that Heaven is in God and God is in Heaven.  Perhaps a better explanation of where Heaven is would be to say it is another dimension, which is probably all around us, as God is all around us.

 

A Consuming Fire

 

Our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 12:29 (See also Deuteronomy 4:24)

 

God is a consuming fire.  The fire that consumes our flesh, whether in our physical bodies or after our physical bodies die, separating the dross from the gold; the flesh from the spirit, is in God.  Actually, it is who God is.  We know that God is love (see 1 John 4:8 & 16).  So the love that God is and the consuming fire that God is must be one and the same. 

 

Hades, which is often translated as Hell is not eternal damnation.  It is a refining process that we all must go through either here or there.  It is the working out of our salvation.  It is sanctification.  It is purification and it leads to completion/perfection.

 

We have been taught that one must repent and ask for forgiveness in order to receive forgiveness from God, but that idea is in conflict with what Jesus did on the cross.  As Jesus hung on the cross He asked the Father to forgive those that crucified Him (see Luke 23:34).  They were not asking for His forgiveness.  They didn’t even want His forgiveness and yet He prayed, “Father, forgive them.”

 

The cross of Jesus is more far reaching than we have imagined.  It is not for those only that receive the revelation that He is Lord and Savior; it is also for those that will on the other side of the grave come to an indisputable knowledge that He is Lord and Savior.

 

Love never fails (see 1 Corinthians 13:8).  God is love (see 1 John 4:8, 16).  If the love that God is never fails, I submit to you that He will not lose one.  All will be saved.  The lake of fire (see Revelation 20:14-15) is not prepared for mankind but for death and Hades, which will be done away with at the appropriate time.  The names of all mankind are ultimately going to be found written in the Book of Life.  This is part of the restitution of all things (see Acts 3:21).

 

There is only one way to salvation and that is through the cross of Christ.  Where I differ with many is that I don’t believe God is going to allow anyone to escape it, and this will be the ultimate fulfillment of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

 

When God created Earth, as recorded in the first chapter of Genesis, the scriptures say multiple times, “And God saw that it was good.”  After he created man on the sixth day, Genesis 1:31 tells us that God saw everything he had made and it was very good.

 

Everything included the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Isaiah 54:16 tells us that God created the waster to destroy, and in Isaiah 45:7 we are told that God creates evil.

 

When God created man He knew they would eat of the forbidden fruit.  In order for man to become like God he had to eat of the forbidden fruit.  After eating the forbidden fruit, he initially became like God knowing good and evil (see Genesis 3:22).  However, it took the coming of Jesus (the last Adam) (see 1 Corinthians 15:45) to enable man to become like God in character.

 

You see, Adam was created sinless but not perfect.  Perfection requires overcoming and overcoming requires something to overcome, which is why God created evil and why he created the devil. 

 

The devil was never a fallen angel named Lucifer.  A thorough study of scripture will prove this fact.  The proper name Lucifer was created by the translators of the KJV Bible.  It should have been translated light bearer.  A very good book to assist in studying scripture on this subject, which I highly recommend is satan who? – The Enlightened Church by Dr. Karl A. Barden, published by Destiny Image Publishers.

 

Satan was created by God to be the devil and he has always been the devil.  His purpose and that of evil is to contrast good.  Without evil and without the devil, man would have remained in his original state of sinless but not perfect.  It is in overcoming evil and the devil that we are perfected, which Jesus (the last Adam) accomplished when He was on Earth as the Son of Man, enabling us to be perfected, not only knowing good and evil but being like God in character.

 

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.  For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.  Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

1 John 3:8-9

 

Jesus (the last Adam) like the first Adam was created sinless but not perfect.  He was tempted in every way possible, just as we are (see Hebrews 4:15) and he learned obedience by the things he suffered (see Hebrews 5:8), just as we do.

 

And, it is in our being perfected that Jesus will ultimately be perfected.

 

The Third Day Perfection

 

Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

Jesus in Luke 13:32

 

While the immediate application of Luke 13:32 seems to be speaking of Jesus’ resurrection, the ultimate prophetic application of it speaks of the third day (millennium) of the Church, when the Apostolic Church that began in the first century will be perfected/completed (see Ephesians 5:25-27).

 

Jesus overcame death and Hades between the cross and the resurrection, but He walked out of the grave with the scars of the crucifixion still in His body.  A scared body is not a perfect body.  It is in this third day of the Church that His body, the Body of Christ, will be perfected, which will be a partial fulfillment of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, paving the way for all to be saved and the restitution of all things (see Acts 3:21), which will be the ultimate fulfillment of the Feast Unleavened Bread, glory to God!

 

Hebrews 11:39-40 is a prophetic scripture, which I believe speaks of this third day perfection.

 

And these all [speaking of all those mentioned in chapter 11], having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

 

What is the promise of verse 39?  Verse 40 makes it clear that the promise is perfection.  Every generation of believers has moved us forward toward perfection.  But there will be one generation that will actually reach perfection, while in physical bodies on Earth.

 

In God’s system of justice and mercy, it is absolutely necessary for a people to reach perfection in this life, in order for all that have gone before to be perfected.

 

The idea that we will be perfected when we get to Heaven is incompatible with scripture.  Perfection is simply having the character of God, which is unadulterated, genuine love. 

 

Character cannot be created, therefore it cannot be bestowed upon us when we get to Heaven.  Character must be developed, which is why Adam had to fall and mankind had to go through the last 6000 years of hades and death on the Earth.

 

Perfection is for overcomers (see Revelation 12:11), and we overcome by becoming like God, which He prophesied in Genesis 1:26, when He said, “Let us make man in our image after our likeness.”  Verse 27 says:

 

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

 

There is no more mention of likeness in verse 27.

 

The Hebrew word for image (tselm) has to do with being God’s representative on the Earth.  The Hebrew word for likeness (demuth) has to do with having God’s character.

 

Image can be created.  Advertising agencies do it all the time.  But character cannot be created.  Character has to be developed.

 

So God created man in His image but He didn’t create him in His likeness, which takes a process of development; that process fulfilling Genesis 1:26, with God making mankind into His likeness, having His character.

 

I was teaching Hebrews 11:39-40 in a small meeting in Wilmington, NC a few years ago, saying that a there has to be a generation of believers who reach perfection in this life in order for all who have gone before to be perfected.

 

Three Messianic Jews (two women and a man) were in that meeting.  I had not met them before nor have I seen them since.  I’m not sure they were actually people.  As I was speaking, one of the ladies was literally staring at me with her mouth hanging open.  I became a little uncomfortable and stopped, asking her if I was on the right track, to which she replied, “We (Messianic Jews) have always taught that.  But we don’t teach it to Christians, because they won’t accept it.

 

Perhaps you are having difficulty accepting what I have taught here.  If so, I would simply ask you to ask the Lord about it, and study it out in scripture for yourself.

 

Regardless of whether or not everyone eventually gets to Heaven, I believe we have greatly limited the Cross of Christ and the power thereof.

 

Recently I was challenged on my position and a friend pointed out to me that even if I am not 100% right about this, I probably have a greater revelation of the mercy of God than most, which greatly encouraged me.

 

The Gospel of the Kingdom

 

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom…

Matthew 4:23

 

Jesus didn’t preach/proclaim the Gospel of Personal Salvation, which has been the primary focus of Evangelical Christianity for many years.  Jesus preached/proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom, and there is a vast difference.

 

Jesus didn’t seem all that concerned with whether or not a person goes to Heaven when they die.  Rather, He emphasized bringing Heaven to Earth, which is evident from His numerous parables on the Kingdom of Heaven/God.

 

To reduce the Gospel to the commonly accepted Heaven and Hell mentality prevalent in Christianity today, is to greatly limit what Jesus taught.

 

Actually, the Gospel of Personal Salvation is a very self-centered gospel, and self is perhaps the greatest enemy of Kingdom living.  To see and experience the Kingdom of Heaven/God is to live a life of service, with the purpose of changing the world rather than just escaping Hell.

 

The Gospel of Personal Salvation is full of leaven, while the Gospel of the Kingdom is unleavened.

 

What I have taught here may challenge your thinking and understanding.  You may even totally disagree with me.  But teach it I must, because I realize that what we believe greatly determines how we approach everything in life, especially how we relate to and serve others as we fulfill our destiny, which is interwoven with the destiny of all mankind and all of creation.

Chapter Thirty Six

The Feasts of God

The Unleavened Bread

No More Rehearsals

 

Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

 

Now all these things happened unto them [Israel] for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world [age] are come.  Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

1 Corinthians 10:11-12

 

The things that happened to Israel, which are mentioned in the tenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, are specifically rebellious actions that Israel suffered for in the wilderness, between the time they left Egypt and the time they entered Canaan.  However, I think 1 Corinthians 10:11-12 is also applicable to the entire Old Testament.  The Old Testament is filled with pictures (types and shadows/examples) of not only the New Testament but of Jesus and the Church. 

 

Without an understanding and knowledge of the types and shadows in the Old Testament, it is impossible to fully understand and know God (see Jeremiah 9:23-24).  It is only in getting to know Him that we have a clearer and more complete understanding and knowledge of His plan(s) and purpose(s) for mankind and planet Earth.

 

The New Testament is written in the language of the Old Testament festivals or feasts.  In other words, it is impossible to understand the New Testament without an understanding of the feasts.  These feasts, which were initiated in the Old Testament, are actually not Old Testament feasts.  They are the Feasts of God and continued to be observed by the first century church.  An understanding of the New Testament without an understanding of the feasts and their prophetic significance, will at best produce an in part Gospel; or partially true Gospel.

 

We know the first prophetic fulfillment of the feasts took place with the coming of Jesus.  He was born on Tabernacles, crucified on Passover and the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost.  However, there is a prophetic fulfillment that also is applicable to the Church and the Kingdom of God.

 

Passover is about the coming of Jesus and all that event encompassed; His birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension, which has enabled the salvation of mankind.  Pentecost is about the birth, growth, decline, rebirth and restoration of the Church during the Church Age.  Tabernacles is about the so called second coming of Jesus; not touching down physically on the Mount of Olives, but rather being fully developed in a people, bringing the Apostolic Church to completion or perfection during the Kingdom Age.  It is this so called second coming, which is actually a continual coming, that will eventually bring about the kingdoms of this world becoming the Kingdom of our Lord and his Christ (see Revelation 11:15).

 

In the twenty-third chapter of Leviticus, Moses listed the feasts or festivals and commanded Israel to observe them.  To understand or have a working knowledge of the feasts is to possess God’s blueprint for mankind and planet Earth.

 

The Israelites and later the Jews were very much aware that the feasts were rehearsals of coming events.  However, in many ways they didn’t understand what it was they were rehearsing.  They were aware that Messiah was coming, and believed He was coming not just once, but twice.  Actually, many Jews thought there would be two Messiahs, which is why John the Baptist, while in prison sent two of his disciples to Jesus to inquire if He was the one they were looking for, or if they should look for another (see Matthew 11:3 & Luke 7:19-20).  Like many, I have read this many times thinking John was having doubts about Jesus while in prison, when actually he was questioning if Jesus was the only Messiah or if there would be another.

 

We know the Jews were looking for a Messiah to save them from Roman occupation rather than from their sins; which, for the most part, they seemed unaware of.  Because of their lack of understanding of the feasts they had been observing each year, most Jews totally missed the first coming of Jesus and continued to rehearse something that had already happened. 

 

It seems to me that His continual coming or appearing (see 2 Timothy 4:8) as a presence fully developed in a people, is also being missed not only by the Jews but by the Church that claims to know Him; primarily for the same reason the Jews missed His first coming.  Most of the Church has little if any understanding of the Feasts of God and of many other types and shadows woven throughout the Old Testament.

 

As I have already stated, the plan(s) and purpose(s) (blueprint) of God can only be understood with a clear and correct understanding of the feasts.

 

One night a few years ago, after attending a meeting of Kelley Varner in Richlands, NC, I was having a conversation with a brother that had also attended.  Actually, it wasn’t much of a conversation.  I was mostly listening as he rambled on and on.  Kelley taught much on the chord of types and shadows that runs throughout the Old Testament.  I had found his teaching that night fascinating, uplifting and extremely encouraging.  My brother couldn’t see the need for all that knowledge that Kelley taught.  He seemed upset and even angry about it.  I felt sorry for him.  Like the Jews at the time of what is considered Jesus’ first coming, my brother was missing so much and as a result, had a very limited and shallow relationship with the Lord.

 

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is about no more mixture of Truth and tradition, of true spirituality and religion, of a Gospel that is in part and a Gospel that is complete.  The Feast of Unleavened Bread is about no more rehearsals, as we come to an experiential knowledge of the true and complete meaning of all the feasts.

 

While the Jews continue to rehearse the feasts and the Church continues to try to figure out so called end time events, the Remnant Bride of Christ is beginning to live the fulfillment of the feasts.  No more rehearsals and no more partial truth.

 

This is the real deal.  This is opening night when the rehearsals are past and it is time to perform.

 

This is no less than transitioning from the Church Age into the Kingdom Age, and from the ultimate prophetic fulfillment of Passover and Pentecost in the ultimate prophetic fulfillment of Tabernacles.

 

Surely we were born for such a time as this!

 

Chapter Thirty Seven

The Feasts of God

The Sheaf of Firstfruits

The Risen Lamb

 

In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s passover.  And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.  And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.  And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the Lord.

Leviticus 23:5-6, 9-12 (emphasis added)

 

…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Revelation 13:8

 

The Feast of Passover was celebrated on the fourteenth day of the first month.  The lamb for the Passover meal was slain at 3:00 in the afternoon and the next day (fifteenth) began at sundown.  God instituted evening as the beginning of the day at the time of creation (evening and morning was the first day, second day, etc.).  Jesus was crucified on the exact day Passover was celebrated at about 3:00 in the afternoon (see Mark 15:42, Luke 23:56).  Not only was Jesus crucified on the Day of Passover but on the same day of the week as the first Passover (Thursday).

 

In studying the celebrations of the feasts and the fulfillments of the feasts, I am in awe of how precise and exact God is.  He leaves no room for doubt that His plan is perfect and being carried out just as He purposed from the foundation of the world.

 

It is clear that Jesus walked out of the grave on the third day (see Matthew 16:21, Luke 24:46).  Hence, Jesus was crucified on the day of Passover (Thursday), which was followed by Friday and then the Sabbath (Saturday), and he arose on the day (morrow) after the Sabbath (Sunday) (see Leviticus 23:11).

 

The sheaf of firstfruits was the very first fruit ready to harvest, signifying the soon coming full-blown harvest.

 

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.  For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.  But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23

 

After Jesus died, the apostle Paul tells us that he descended into the lower parts of the earth (see Ephesians 4:9).  Jesus told one of the thieves that was crucified alongside him that they would be together that day in Paradise.  Paradise is an oriental word that was used during the time Jesus walked the earth as the Son of Man.  Its Hebrew equivalent is Sheol, which is rendered Hades in Greek.  Hell is an English word and not a very good translation of the Greek, Hades or the Hebrew, Sheol.  The place, Sheol/Hades/Paradise literally means all receiving according to Vines Expository Dictionary of Old & New testament Words.  It is not a place of eternal damnation but rather a place that all the dead go; both good and bad, both believers and non-believers.  This is the Jewish concept and was Paul’s understanding when he penned 1 Corinthians 15:22: For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

 

Jesus was the firstfruits not only of all believers but of all mankind.  The widely accepted Christian concept of Heaven and Hell greatly limits the far reaching effects of the cross of Christ.  All means all.  The apostle Paul believed this and we should too.  I realize this goes against traditional Christian thinking.  Teaching it can quickly get one labeled a heretic but it is simply the truth.  Do you really think a God that is love, whose plan included the fall of man resulting in much pain, suffering and death, would not have made provision for the redemption of all mankind?  To think otherwise is a misunderstanding of the feasts and their fulfillment, and I might add, is a gross misunderstanding of the mercy of God.

 

Paul understood that not only would all Israel be saved (see Romans 11:26), but the nations (Gentiles) would be grafted into the vine (Israel) and all mankind would also be saved.  However, the complete salvation and restitution (see Acts 3:21) of all creation is still future.  Until then, there must be a firstfruits company to pave the way as pilgrims and trailblazers.

 

In out next teaching we will look at who this firstfruits company is, which is another aspect of the fulfillment of the Sheaf of Firstfruits.

Chapter Thirty Eight

The Feasts of God

The Sheaf of Firstfruits

The Remnant Bride

 

It shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.

Joel 2:32 (emphasis added)

 

Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.  The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

1 Peter 3:18-22

 

Like the apostle Paul, Peter was a Jew and had a Jewish understanding of salvation and of life after death.  Peter wrote much about trials and afflictions, designed to accomplish in us a dying to self, enabling us to become the likeness of God in nature and character.  He realized we could not be saved by changing our behavior (see 1 Peter 3:21), but that the only hope for us to live a sanctified life is to partake of Christ’s sufferings (see 1 Peter 4:13).  He realized that while we are positionally one with Christ we will become experientially one with Him, either on this side of the grave or on the other side of the grave. 

 

Peter also understood something of great importance to unlocking God’s plan of redemption and restitution found throughout scripture:

 

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

2 Peter 3:8

 

In the same chapter Peter spoke of the day of the Lord and the day of God, realizing there would be a future day (millennium) when the old in part (see 1 Corinthians 13:9-10) understanding of the Gospel would give way to a fully completed understanding and experience of the Gospel.

 

Peter knew he was not alone in his view of God’s plan of redemption and restitution, referring to Paul’s understanding as confirmation of the same (see 2 Peter 3:15).  Both probably understood the day (millennium) when all they saw and understood would culminate in completion; that day being the seventh day (millennium) since creation, which is the ultimate Sabbath of all Sabbaths; as the writer of Hebrews confirmed in Hebrews 3:9:

 

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

 

The writers of the epistles knew the writings of Joel, the prophet.  Peter quoted from Joel on the Day of Pentecost when he preached after being baptized with the Spirit, and saw three thousand accept Jesus as Lord and Savior that day (see Acts 2:14-41). 

 

Joel spoke not only of salvation in Israel but of a future remnant the Lord would call.  In this seventh day (millennium) since creation we are beginning to see this remnant emerge as a firstfruits company to pave the way for many more to come.  The writer of Hebrews spoke prophetically of this remnant in Hebrews 11:39-40.  After naming many great men and women of faith that died without receiving the promise of perfection, this was written:

 

And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

 

In God’s system of justice, someone has to reach perfection in order for all that have gone before to be perfected.  Jesus was the firstfruit of this perfection but He was only one and is only the Head of the Body of Christ.  There must be a remnant, a firstfruits company that reaches perfection in order for all the rest to be perfected.  The feast was not the Feast of Firstfruit (singular) but the Feast of Firstfruits (plural). 

 

Today the Remnant Bride of Christ is being taken out of the Body of Christ in order to complete the Body of Christ, just as Eve was taken out of Adam in order to complete Adam.  The Body of Christ is a remnant of the church world at large and of the world.  The Bride of Christ is a remnant within a remnant, and is currently being taken out of the larger remnant; being separated (sanctified) in order to pave the way for the entire Body of Christ to be perfected, and then the whole world as the kingdoms (nations) of this world become the kingdoms (Kingdom) of our Lord and his Christ (see Revelation 11:15), bringing about the restitution of all things (see Acts 3:21).

 

One night a few years ago I was teaching on Hebrews 11:39-40 at a meeting in Wilmington, NC.  Three Messianic Jews (a man and two women) were in attendance that night.  I had not met them before nor have I seen them since.   I don’t know how they learned of the meeting, but I know their presence that night was a divine appointment.

 

As I was talking about a remnant that must reach perfection in order for all that have gone before to be perfected, one of the women was staring at me with her mouth literally hanging open.  I became a little uncomfortable so I stopped and ask her if I was on the right track.  She told me this:

 

“We (Messianic Jews) have always taught that.  But we don’t teach it to Christians because they won’t accept it.”

 

God confirmed to me through that Messianic Jewish woman that I am on the right track and receiving revealed truth from the Spirit of God, even when it often seems to go against traditional mindsets in the Body of Christ.  Perhaps the primary reason I am receiving this revelation is because I have and continue to come to an understanding of the Feasts of God, initiated in the Old Testament, and of their prophetic significance in the New Testament Apostolic Church; especially for the Remnant Bride of Christ.

 

Surely we were born for such a time as this and surely we of the Remnant Bride are that firstfruits company of pilgrims and trailblazers, paving the way for all others.

 

All glory to God!

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