CHRIST’S SUPREME OBJECTIVE
The supreme object of the Messianic mission of Jesus Christ (the saving anointed One) was to reveal the heart of His Father, who is really our Father, as our Beloved Lord Jesus taught us to address Him in the “LORD’S PRAYER,” Matt. 6:9. When only twelve years of age, Christ recognized Jehovah God as His Father. “‘But why did you need to search?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you realize that I would be here at the temple, in my Father’s House?’” Luke 2:49, LB. The KJV says, “Wist ye not [didn’t you know] that I must be about my Father’s business?”
Throughout the rest of His life, and especially during His three and one half years of ministry, Jesus continually referred to God the Father as “His Father,” or “My Father.” But He also called Him “Your Father.” “Pray to YOUR FATHER who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matt. 6:6 RSV. This understanding must be extremely important. Why? Because the gospel writers, especially John, continually quote Jesus’ words about His relationship with the Father. This is not only a revelation of what God is like, but an example, as well as a sample of the relationship we can and must have to be saved. The life of Jesus was a demonstration of what the Father is really like. A good example of this is found in John 5. Jesus had healed the man at the Pool of Bethesda who had been sick for 38 years. Instead of rejoicing over this wonderful miracle, the Jewish leaders tried to accuse Christ of breaking the Sabbath. It is incredible how blind they were. “So they began harassing Jesus as a Sabbath breaker, But Jesus replied, ‘MY FATHER CONSTANTLY DOES GOOD, AND I’M FOLLOWING HIS EXAMPLE.”’ John 5:16-17. LB. In verse 37 Jesus said the Father had sent Him. At His baptism a voice spoke from heaven, “WHICH SAID, THOU ART MY BELOVED SON, IN THEE I AM WELL PLEASED.” Luke 3:22. And Jesus declared, “…I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things… I do always those things that please him.” John 8:28-29. These words only infuriated and enraged the Jewish leaders. Jesus told them why they would not accept him. “I speak that which I have seen with my Father (God): and ye do that which ye have seen with your father (Satan)” Jn. 8:38, 44. Then they took up stones to kill him. Later in John 10:25 Jesus said he was doing all of his miracles in HIS FATHER’S NAME. Now, a person’s name among the Hebrews (later known as Israel or Jews) often described his character or what kind of a person he was. Even today a person may pick up a nickname like “smiley,” or “chuckles,” or “happy,” or “grumpy.” These adjectives describe the main characteristic of that person’s personality. Well, Jesus said that the works he was performing, healing the blind and maimed and sick, were very descriptive of what His Father was really like. In other words “My Father is a very kind, and wonderful person. You should get to know Him better. He will not hurt you at all. The person who hurts people is the Devil.” He told the Jews that this was their father. Is it possible that some very religious people today are serving the Devil like the Jews did? If it is true, we know the Father today is still the same and will forgive us and adopt us into His family, if we ask Him. I would encourage you to read the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John through, especially John. Pray as you read and the Holy Spirit will reveal more to you. In order for us to really understand what His Father’s heart was like, Jesus told some parables that are well known to most religious people, but sometimes they may be so familiar that we have failed to penetrate their deeper meanings. Let us go to Luke 15. In verse 2 we read what was intended by the Pharisees and scribes to be a slander against Christ’s beautiful character, but turns out to be one of the greatest compliments they could have ever paid him. “This man receives sinners, and eateth with them.” Luke 15:2 KJV. I am so thrilled that Jesus received me and is willing to dine with me at every meal. He will dine with you too. He doesn’t play favorites. James 1:5; Rom. 2:11.
Jesus never met murmuring with murmuring or sarcasm with sarcasm. Instead He tried to lift their minds to heavenly themes so they might see into His Father’s great and magnificent heart of love which was yearning for them to come to Him. And some of them responded. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea finally accepted Him and also a “great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:7. In comparison with the large number of priests who rejected Christ the number was not a huge number, for God’s faithful ones have always been in the minority, but this company was large enough to cause quite a stir in Jerusalem, so much so that by Acts 8 and 9 we see a great persecution taking place which caused the Christian Church at Jerusalem to be scattered throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria. But these new converts “went everywhere preaching the Word.” Acts 8:4. The Random House Dictionary defines “company,” as “any relatively small group of soldiers.” Webster’s New 20th Century Unabridged says, “In military affairs, the body of soldiers united under the command of a captain: it is the lowest administrative unit, usually a subdivision of a regiment.” The Bible qualifies company with the adjective, “great” showing it was not the usual size of a company, but “a great company.” It may never have been more than 5% of the Jewish Nation at that time. Remember that 5% of a million would have been 50,000. It would be surprising if even 5% of the nation ever were converted to Christianity.
And so we see that the methods of Jesus bore the signature of His Heavenly Father and glorified His Father by winning souls to Him and His Eternal cause. Now, let us take a look at Luke 15 in depth. There are three parables and each of them have a very important message. Jesus spoke of 100 sheep who were in the wilderness. One became lost (our lost world). Jesus said he left the 99 in the wilderness to go out and seek this one lost sheep. If our world is the one lost sheep the other worlds must be the 99 who were not lost. Job 1:6 and Rev. 12:12 indicate there are beings on other planets who have never fallen into sin. What Jesus meant by having to leave them in the wilderness is not entirely clear, but some kind of risk to their safety is implied. But we are the one lost sheep. Our little world is a spectacle or theater “to the world, cosmos or universe and to angels, and to men.” I Cor. 4:9. The one lost sheep knows that it is lost and cries out for help. It “repents,” Lk. 15:7 and Jesus is able to gather that little lost sheep back into His strong, loving arms and return it safely to the fold. One day our lost world will be returned to the fellowship of the universe of unfallen worlds. What a day that will be!
Satan knows this and is busy trying to deceive people into believing that the UFOs are manned by angels or beings from other planets. UFOs have been known to forcibly kidnap people and even to burn humans and kill them as well as animals. This is not the work of a loving God. Our Heavenly Father’s holy angels do not need any kind of mechanical device to fly around in such as a flying saucer, so-called. Satan hopes to deceive the world into believing that he is Christ. Most people will probably believe him. The methods used to communicate with UFOs are occult methods and the occult is not from God, but from Spiritualism, which is Satanic. Besides, God’s holy angels do not kill. See Psalm 103:20; John 18:36, Hebrews 1:14.
The next parable Jesus told was about a lost coin. It was lost inside the house, not out in the wilderness like the sheep. There were ten silver coins. In the mind of a Hebrew the number ten denoted totality. Ten meant, “it’s all there.” Ten words or commandments of the decalogue (ten words) covered every facet of human conduct. The first four describe the perfect attitude we are to have toward God and the last six picture or delineate God’s ideal for man in his relationship with his fellow man. It shows us how we should love God and man. This lost coin was made of silver which is the next most precious metal. Gold is more expensive, but gold and silver are usually mentioned together in the Bible. Some believe that gold symbolizes God’s faith and love which He desires to implant in our hearts and that silver represents obedience which He will also give us, if we let Him help us. If this be true, then this lost coin, which was still in the house, was not aware that it was lost through disobedience. But God still lovingly sought the coin out diligently until it was found. We must be God’s hands and feet in bringing back lost members of our house. By faith, love and prayer we, with Christ’s help can do it. The last parable Christ related to answer the murmuring slander of the Pharisees that Jesus defiled Himself by associating with “sinners,” as if they were without any sin, is the story of the LOST BOY. We call it the story or parable of the “Prodigal son”: Most people think prodigal means “wayward,” but it means “wasteful.” The prodigal went out and wasted his father’s goods. But notice the reaction of the father, who is really the main character in this story. Does he send spies out after his son to see if he is behaving properly? No. Does he bribe the law to arrest him and bring him back before the boy has squandered his inheritance? No. The father stays at home grieving for his son, hoping and praying for his return. There are two ways to learn the lessons of life….the easy way by listening and obeying and the hard way by ignoring counsel and rebelling. This lost boy had to learn the hard way just like so many today. But finally the boy comes to his senses when all of his money and fair weather friends are gone. He remembers what it was like at home. Even the “hired servants” are in better shape than he is now. He’s so hungry he was almost ready to eat the pig’s food which were carob-pods, still counted a delicacy in the East, and known to schoolboys as “locust-beans” or “honey-beans.” “But there are sweet and bitter carobs; Tatian’s ‘Gospel-Harmony [second century, A .D.] has ‘carobs of the sea’ [salt carobs]; the nicely brought-up youth could not stomach bitter carobs, which are still given to cattle.” John the Baptist probably ate the sweet type carob. Matt. 3:4.
THE WASTEFUL BOY RETURNS
And so our young rebel has had his fill of worldly pleasure. He found that it only lasts for “a season,” (Heb. 11:25) and that the way of the transgressor is hard, Proverbs 13:15 and leads to shame, Isa. 57:20, then on to the blackness of darkness forever, Jude 13. So he climbs out of the pigpen (which represents the bottomless pit or grave. Isa. 38:18; Job 17:16; Rev. 20:1) and heads for his father’s house. He realizes now that his father’s restrictions were for his own protection and welfare. He longs to hear his father’s voice and to see his face again, but he dares not think that he would ever be accepted back as a son. He remembers his father’s prayers and Bible readings at family worship. He recalls the sumptuous meals and the happy fellowship of younger days. He realizes that the hired servants (who were probably poor relatives) have it much better than he does. Evidently, they were taken into the house and even paid a wage, but were not on a level with the children. He remembers how his father was always kind to strangers and helped the poor and sick. “Oh, maybe, just maybe, he will have pity on me and hire me like he has some of my poor distant cousins,” he muses as he begins the long journey home.
HE APPROACHES THE HOUSE
Obviously this returning son has no real concept of the FATHER’S HEART. He does not know the depths of love that are drawing him back home. Paul tells us that it is “the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.” Rom. 2:4. The LIVING BIBLE puts it like this: “Don’t you realize how patient he is being with you? Or don’t you care? Can’t you see that he has been waiting all this time without punishing you, to give you time to turn from your sin? His kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” Rom. 2:4. What a shocking but happy surprise the boy is going to receive when he approaches the house. But he doesn’t know that now. No, he still has some of that old negative concept of his father in his mind. His father was always very careful with the money. He remembers how reluctant his dad was to give him his “rightful” inheritance. He didn’t realize then that it wasn’t because of the money but because he would miss his boy’s fellowship so much and that he feared for his health and safety out in the big wicked world. He knows his dad probably had to go back to work in the fields, and he didn’t care then, but he surmises that there will be some bitterness in his father’s heart toward him because of this hardship.
And so he makes up his little speech about sinning against heaven and before his Father and since he is no longer worthy of sonship hopes that he can be hired out. Perhaps he even hoped to eventually earn enough money by hard sweat to pay his dad back, at least part of the inheritance. He doesn’t dare ask it, not now at least, but he doubtless hopes and prays that someday his father will forgive him enough to consider him a son again. But, first of all, he must prove himself worthy of such an honor. And so on he goes and at last he sees the old farm house in the distance. Tears well up in his eyes as he remembers his childhood and youth. Those innocent years so long ago. The Bible doesn’t tell us how long this prodigal was in the far country wasting his father’s goods or substance. It could have been as long as twenty years or it could have been only one or five or ten. But it was long enough to accumulate a terrible burden of guilt and remorse that now comes flooding into his mind. What right does he have to come back home? When he was home his only thought was to get away and have fun, “…do my own thing… build my own world.” He was sure this would bring him the happiness he felt was missing in his life. He wanted to get away from his father’s restrictions and especially from his father’s God. Yet, he wanted to claim the good things he felt he had coming without any acknowledgment or gratefulness to his father who had worked a lifetime for what the son took as a matter of course, as if he owed it to him. He realizes how wrong he was now. He realizes that he has made himself the center of everything without any thought for the happiness or the well-being of others. Instead of freedom he has found slavery. How can he ever make it up to his dad? Perhaps he should turn around and go back out into the world, get an honest job, make something of himself and become respectable again (as if he ever was or ever could be). Perhaps his father would be more receptive then. Besides, he would have some money saved by then to pay back part of what he had wasted. All these thoughts and many more are rushing through his mind. He has turned around now and is thinking about going back into the world. But he is weak and hungry and in rags. He would have to live off of charity for awhile. Then he turns around for one more look at the old homestead. It looks so good. If only he could just go down and say hello and see everyone. How good that would be.
THOSE QUICK EYES OF LOVE
Just then he sees someone going out to the mailbox. Why, its his old dad. His father looks down the road as if he might be expecting someone. And that’s when the old man sees his long, lost boy. While his son is a “great way off,” those quick eyes of love discern his boy’s form. The Bible tells us that “he had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck.” It must have been a long, clinging and tender embrace.
HE LEARNS THE FATHER’S HEART
The son is shocked and speechless. He didn’t expect this, for he did not know his father’s true character of love. But the guilt and remorse come upon him again in a rush. He remembers the speech he had planned to give and no doubt pulls away or falls down on the ground and begins telling his father that he is no longer worthy of sonship. But the father interrupts him with quick commands to his servants who have come running out to see this unbelievable sight. They didn’t know the true character of the father either. “But the father said to his servants, bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:” Luke 15:22.
Now that his dad has kissed away his guilt and shame he places the royal robe upon him to cover his rags of misery. The father covers his wayward, wasteful, but repentant son with his own robe of righteousness so no one may be able to look down upon his boy with contempt. Isa. 61:10; Rev 21:2. Esther 3:10 says that King Ahasuerus “took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman.” This was no doubt a signet ring which was used to sign checks, legal documents and edicts such as the death decree Haaman later signed against all the Jews. This ring now meant that the son’s word and authority was equal to that of his father. The son’s restoration is now total and complete. The father does not bring up the past. The boy knows by his father’s actions that his sins are “blotted out, as a thick cloud.” Isa. 44:22. It is as if he had never left or done anything wrong at all. And so it is with you and me. He longs to forgive and to cleanse that we might have a celebration of our return to the father’s house. “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jer. 31:34. “…Our God….will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:7.
GOD DOES NOT DEMAND THAT WE REPAY HIM
The story of the prodigal son has many lessons for us. First of all, it takes us into the Father’s heart. We see the grief and sorrow that son brought to his dad by leaving home. Second, we see that the father gave free choice to his son. He did not prevent him from leaving, nor did he ever go out and try to force him to come home. Yet, we know that God sends His Holy Spirit out to draw all of his wayward children back to his infinite and eternal heart of love. Third, we see that God does not demand that we “pay him back.” He didn’t keep track of what the boy had spent and/or wasted. He didn’t say, “alright, you can come back into the house after you have returned the inheritance I gave to you. You either go out and earn it or I’ll take it out of your wages here on the ranch.” Now, that is what the boy expected. That’s the kind of person he thought his dad was. But, he was wrong. His father treated him as if he had never left and forgave him as if he had never wasted a dime. He never mentioned or brought up his past to him. The son repented and was forgiven. His restoration to the father’s house was full and complete. His father treated him as if it had never happened. He was given a royal robe and a ring was placed on his finger showing that he was still heir to all the family fortune and had all the authority to transact and conduct business in his father’s name just as before. He can sign checks, order supplies and run errands or do whatever the business requires. It is almost too good to be true. But it is true. At least about his father. But now enters the “elder brother.” The celebration of his son’s return is in high gear. The fatted calf has been killed and everyone is rejoicing at this party. This older brother has been out in the field working very hard. When he hears the music and dancing, Luke 15:25, he calls one of the servants for a report and finds out that his younger brother has returned home. This indicates that all the events related in the story so far have transpired in one day. The father didn’t waste any time in celebrating his son’s return. Even some of his old friends have been invited over.
The older brother is very angry and refuses to go in and join the celebration. So the father comes out to see him, but to no avail. It is also obvious that the boy who stayed home and was “faithful,” to his father, at least in outward show and according to all appearance, did not know the true character of the father either. The older son shows his malignant pride and dreadful jealousy by his hateful words. He is not happy with his younger brother’s return and refers to him as “thy son,” as if he himself were not even related to him. It is obvious that if he had been in his father’s place he would not have welcomed him back home. He is very insulted at the favor shown his younger brother and disrespectfully speaks to his father about the unfair way he feels he has been treated. “I have worked and slaved here on your old farm for you all these years and never broken one of your commandments, but not once have you even given me a kid or young goat so that I could have a party with my friends. But when this no good son of yours comes back home begging after wasting all of our money on whores and prostitutes, you roll out the red carpet. I don’t think its fair at all.” His attitude, tone of voice and words reveal the real condition of his heart. He has been trying to earn his father’s inheritance by a strict, legalistic obedience to the law. His real motive has been his father’s silver and gold instead of the abiding joy of his presence which brings pleasure forever more, Psalm 16:11. He has only avoided the pleasures of sin for a season so he can gain earthly wealth not because he loved his father.
The elder son is like Cain who hated Abel and like Esau who hated Jacob. He is like the first generation of Israel who failed to inherit the land of Canaan because of their ego and hardness of heart. He is like the son in the parable who said he would go to work in the vineyard but never did go, neither did he repent of his sin. Matt. 21:28-32. He is like Lucifer (Satan) who should have loved all of us on planet earth when God created us, but was jealous instead and found a way to deceive and destroy instead of lovingly help us to grow up into the Father’s love. Genesis 3:1-15; Ezek. 28:13-18. The elder son represents the Pharisees in every age who do not love sinners as Christ did, but are envious and hateful toward them when Jesus draws them to his side and covers them with the royal robe of his righteousness. They claim to be workers in his vineyard, sons of his house, but are really only hirelings, always watching the clock and seeking to find out what the minimum requirements are to receive the reward of the “faithful,” when in reality they are only time servers. They do not know that salvation is a free gift and are seeking to earn their way to heaven by toil, sacrifice, penance and good works. God is a hard taskmaster to them. They do not know his true character of love. This parable is a very loving appeal to the Pharisees then and in all ages. Jesus didn’t say whether the elder son ever went in or not, for the actors were still on stage playing out the final scene. We know now that most of them never went in and were lost for that age. But there is a new age coming in which they will once again be confronted with the same choices. Christ reveals why they refused to accept Him the first time. “And all who heard John preach— even the most wicked of them— agreed that God’s requirements were right, and they were baptized by him. All, that is, except the Pharisees and teachers of Moses’ law. They rejected God’s plan for them and refused John’s baptism.” Luke 7:29-30. LB
But did Jesus give up and stop trying to persuade them to come into the “Father’s house” and celebrate? No, that is not His character to ever give up. He told a parable about a great supper and how all the ones he invited made excuses as to why they couldn’t come. So he invited “the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.” Luke 14:21. They were “compelled” to come in. “But, Mike, I thought you said God didn’t ever force anyone, but always gives us free choice.” That is correct. It was “compelling love,” that drew them into the supper in the Father’s house. “The Lord hath appeared of old unto, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with LOVING-KINDNESS have I DRAWN THEE.” Jer. 31:3. Hosea tells us about God’s drawing power. “I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love;” That man is the Lord Jesus, our Blessed Redeemer. The Living Bible puts it like this: “As a man would lead his favorite ox, so I led Israel with my ropes of love. I loosened his muzzle so he could eat. I myself have stooped and fed him.” Hosea 11:4, LB. Cf. Job 22:15-18. Psalm 2 tells us the rulers and kings plot how to break away from God’s cords and bands of love. How sad. But God never gives up. That is his eternal nature and character for his love is so great. It is beyond our comprehension and yet He says that He will place that love in our hearts through His perfect law. He will make a covenant with us, Jer. 31:33: Hebrews 8:8; 10:16, 17. What is the purpose of the covenant? So that He, “will be their God, and they shall be my people.” And what does He want to do for us? “for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jer. 31:34.
This is what the Father did for his prodigal son when he came home. He even went out to meet him. The Father represents God the Father, who lovingly kissed this lost boy’s sins away and put the robe of his own righteousness about his returned son and brought him into the house (New Jerusalem) for the celebration. Jesus told another parable to them about a “certain king, which made a marriage for his son.” Matt 22:2. He tells how “his servants” were sent out to invite people to the wedding but those who were invited (the Jewish nation through the ages) refused to come. Well, they made light of it and then he says, “the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully and slew them.” Matt. 22:6. Later Jesus said, “Yes, woe to you, Pharisees, and you religious leaders— hypocrites for you build monuments to the prophets killed by your fathers and lay flowers on the graves of the godly men they destroyed, and say, ‘we certainly would never have acted as our father’s did.’ In saying that, you are accusing yourselves of being the sons of wicked men…..you are following in their steps. Snakes! Sons of vipers! How shall you escape the judgment of hell?” Matt. 23:29-33 LB. Here Jesus is trying to save them from dying. It sounds like He is angry, but it is more like Divine heartache and grief Gen. 6:6; Mark 3:5. If we could have heard his tone of voice and perhaps seen the tears in his eyes, we would realize he was trying to save them. He was trying to get them into the Father’s house, into the celebration, but like the older son they refuse to have anything to do with the marriage supper. Jesus is desperate to save them for time is running out for them in that age.
Next Christ tells them that He is going to keep on sending them prophets and wise men and inspired writers but they will reject them just like their fathers did and just as they are rejecting Him. “Oh, can’t you see your blindness? Please don’t kill yourself. Why will you die?” Then He refers to the murder of all the true men of God the Lord sent from Abel (killed by Cain) to Zechariah (II Chronicles 24:17-22). He blamed the death of “Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar,” upon the Jews in AD 31 when Zacharias (Zechariah) was killed in 856 BC at the commandment of King Joash, of Judah, the southern kingdom. The headquarters for the southern kingdom was Jerusalem, which David had established, but the 12 tribes had split after Solomon died. Ten went with Jeroboam who led them into heathen idolatry (1 Kings 12) and Sun worship and two tribes remained true to Jehovah and his worship at the temple in Jerusalem. Christ our Lord taught parables to both warn the leaders as well as to instruct the people. But as He neared the end of His mission, he began to speak more to the point about the sins of the priests. The people’s minds were enslaved by the deceptions of the priests, and the scribes and elders regarding the mission of the Messiah. These corrupt teachers were themselves deceived. But the people reverenced them and their traditions. Jesus exposed them in no uncertain terms. You can read about it in Matt. 23. He must have had tears in his voice and pain in His magnificent heart of love as He attempted to set the people’s minds free from their blind allegiance to a corrupt ministry. He had to break the chains that bound their souls in slavery to the Jewish hierarchy.
These Jews living in AD 31 were committing a much greater crime than King Joash had committed in killing Zechariah. They were about to kill the very Son of God. Their sin would therefore be much greater than any preceding generation. God had held back Satan, the destroyer, for centuries, hoping that his people would finally repent. But instead they just kept getting worse. By rejecting Jesus, the true Messiah, they were bringing all the blood of the ages upon themselves. Jesus was trying to save them from this terrible disaster, but they wouldn’t listen. God does not destroy men. In fact He does everything in his power to save them from destroying themselves. When Christ referred to the stoning of Zacharias the scribes and Pharisees knew exactly what he was talking about for his blood had been imprinted upon the stones of the temple court and had been there for almost eight centuries as a testimony against the Jewish nation. Yet, they had never repented. Even when Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, these stones were not molested in 605, 597 or 586 BC. Evidently, these stones were never moved, disturbed or even effaced during these sieges. The temple was rebuilt and dedicated in 515 BC and Jerusalem itself was completely repaired by 444 BC under Nehemiah’s leadership. Ezra and Zerubbabel led out in the initial renovation in 536 BC. Joshua was the high priest. About 50,000 left Babylon to return to rebuild the temple and city. It is interesting that Christ was a direct descendant of Zerubbabel, Matt. 1:6, 12, 13; Lk. 3:27,31.
A HEARTBREAKING PROPHECY
The Jewish leaders, like the older son in the parable of the prodigal, were without excuse. They had every evidence a rational minded person could ask for that Jesus truly was the Messiah. But their pride and desire to run the temple their own way shut God’s presence out. So they continued to enrich themselves at the expense of the people. They burdened them with a heavy guilt trip to ensure more animal sacrifices and gifts. Jesus ended his pleadings and warnings in Matt. 23 with this heartbreaking prophecy.
“Yes, all the accumulated judgment of the centuries shall break upon the heads of this very generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets, and stones all those God sends to her! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. And now your house (Please notice that Jesus now calls it ‘your house’ instead of ‘My Father’s house’) is left to you desolate or lonesome.” Matt. 24:1 defines why they were lonesome. Jesus had departed. He was looking at Jerusalem as it would become in AD 70. The death sentence had already been pronounced by the Jews upon themselves. It only was a matter of time until it would be carried out by the Romans and their armies marching under the golden eagle representing the ancient phoenix of sun worship. Matt. 23:36:38.
The religious leaders were well aware of Zechariah’s martyrdom. King Joash, in a fit of satanic fury had commanded Zechariah the priest to be stoned, 2 Chron. 24:20-22. All those years had witnessed against apostate Israel and now they were about to even add the blood of God’s dear Son to their long and horrible list of crimes. Jesus was trying to save them from their doom. A thrill of terror must have pulsed through that throng as He referred to their crimes and the certainty of the coming punishment. No wonder Jesus wept over His people as He longingly looked one last time upon the temple and His audience. His voice must have choked with Divine love, pity, anguish and bitter tears as He exclaimed, “O Jerusalem, why don’t you listen. O Jerusalem, why don’t you come to me and let me save you from destruction, pain and eternal death.” This is a mental torture and heartache that is beyond human words to describe. And so we see that the parable of the prodigal son or lost boy has some very deep implications and parallels. It takes us into the Father’s heart of love that we may see the depths of Divine pity and compassion for a lost world. But there is more. We will find that the fatted calf has deep significance. The Father going outside of the house to plead with his older son also means something.
THE RED HEIFER
Let us look at the offering of the red heifer. In my simple approach to the Word of God, I see red as symbolic of Jesus’ blood. All the animal sacrifices pointed forward to Jesus’ death on the cross. A heifer is a young cow that has not borne a calf. One may wonder if the gender (sex) has a meaning since it is a female and Christ was a male. Jesus is both father and mother to us as our SAVIOR, Lord and coming King. In Isa. 1:2 God says he “nourished” and brought up children. Jesus is the “word” John 1:1, and Isa. 28:9 speaks of “them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts referring to those who are able to understand doctrine and not just simple, elementary, basic facts of the Bible. I Cor. 3:2 and Heb. 5:12. In Isa. 49:15 the Lord uses the example of a mother giving suck to her lovely young child to show how much he loves us. He says that even though a mother (woman) may forget “yet will I not forget.” In Psalm 91 God uses the simile or figure of speech “He shall cover thee with His feathers.” v. 4. This is what a mother hen does for her little chicks. Jesus used this same comparison or simile in Matt. 23:37. “O Jerusalem….how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” *See Additional Note #26.
So, we see that God has used the feminine gender in the Scriptures to describe his love, compassion, tender care and his sacrifice on Calvary through both male and female animals, see Exodus 29:1 for an example of male animals representing Christ. This would symbolize his great strength and power that he gave to us in his death. He did not use it to hurt, but to save. Each animal that was sacrificed represented a particular facet or characteristic of Christ’s life and death. Even the manner in which it was to be sacrificed had a special meaning and significance which each of us should study out so we might more fully appreciate what Jesus did for us. The red heifer had never been “yoked” nor had it ever “borne” a calf. This would mean that Christ was never under the bondage or yoke of sin, nor was he ever married to anyone. He had come to this earth like a free young bridegroom seeking his bride. All who would believe on Him and would be saved from the bondage of sin would become his bride and take part in the wedding feast celebration. The sacrifice of the red heifer is therefore the same as the “fatted calf” which was killed to celebrate the prodigal’s return.
The blood of the red heifer was to be sprinkled “seven times” representing the perfect cleansing of Christ’s blood and the complete recovery of the sinner from the pit of sin. Num. 19:4. The red heifer also was killed outside the camp signifying how Jesus would die “without the gate” of the city of Jerusalem. Heb. 13:12. The red heifer was also burned to ashes outside the gate. “Her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn: and the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the bumming of the heifer.” Num. 19:5-6. Jesus died in our place. He suffered the death that was ours that we might receive the life that was His. By “his stripes we are healed.” Isa. 53:5. Our “skin” which would be our own filthy outer covering of righteousness he has “burned” away by allowing “fiery” trials to come upon us in the course of our life. I Pet. 4:12-14. Isa. 64:6. Not only was the skin and entrails (inside parts or organs) burned, but also the blood and dung signifying the complete destruction of this earthly body so we might put on the “heavenly” body, for “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” I Cor. 15:50.
The promise of God is that we will have “a glorious body” like Jesus had after He rose from the grave. Phil. 3:20-21. But, it was a real body that could eat food and be touched, Luke 24:39-43. “This same Jesus” ascended to heaven with this immortal, glorified body, Acts 1:9:11, and will return in like manner to rescue His bride. Then we will go home to the Father’s house for the celebration Jesus promised His disciples in Matt. 26:26-29, when He will “drink it new” with us in “my Father’s kingdom.” This is the celebration of the “fatted calf” or “the red heifer.”
For the last year or more I have been giving a simple Bible study from the last two chapters of the book of Revelation which to my mind clearly reveals God’s future plans for the human race. For the first time in the history of the world the entire human race will meet. Unfortunately, at least two thirds of God’s creation will be outside the golden city looking in. Zech. 13:8. This is when all the wailing, crying, weeping and gnashing of teeth will take place. What is going to happen to these people? The last two chapters of Revelation helped me to answer this question for myself.
The “Revelations” of John have been a great mystery through the centuries. But Dan. 12 predicted that in the “time of the end…knowledge shall be increased.” v. 4. I once read that although the various translators and copyists faithfully copied and translated the canon of Scripture they did not always place equal value on certain books. For example, Martin Luther called the book of James, “An Epistle of straw,” meaning it was his opinion that James had no real value or nourishment for the believer. Yet, he translated it. I don’t know how he felt about the book of Revelation but I have heard and read that many scholars through the centuries placed little value on this last book of the Sacred Cannon. Yet, God, in His infinite wisdom has preserved this book along with the other 65 books of the Bible for a very special reason. And the last two chapters have taken on new meaning for me personally, during 1994 and 1995, when I began sharing special insights the Lord revealed to my mind as I prayed and studied.
Before we go to Rev. 21 and 22 we need to prepare ourselves with a little background study. Our first text is found in Rev. 15: 1. Here we read about a “sign” John saw “in heaven.” This expression can mean one of three things. John is seeing something taking place in the atmospheric heavens where the birds fly and the clouds float or in the starry heavens or in heaven itself, the third heaven, where God dwells with the angels in the Holy City. In chapter 14:1 John describes a vision he had of the 144,000 on Mount Sion, which we believe is in heaven itself. Then in v. 6 we read that the first of three angels is flying “in the midst of heaven.” Because the plagues are poured out on earth I believe the sign John saw about the seven last plagues is taking place in our atmospheric heavens. God is pictured here and in the next chapter as sending these seven angels to pour out the plagues but in reality God is only permitting them as Rev. 7:1-4 explains. There are four angels holding back the winds of strife until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads. Now let’s go to Rev. 15:2 where John is describing a different scene that I believe is taking place in the third heaven because John also makes reference to the temple in verses 5 and 8. John says that he sees a “sea of glass” mingled or combined together with fire. Seas represent people, Rev. 17:15, and the fire here is symbolic of truth, righteousness and love for God has nothing to do with literal fire. Literal fire never existed until after Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden. Isa. 33 indicates the righteous will dwell with “fire” and “everlasting burnings.” Jesus also told us that we would be like or equal to the angels in heaven and the angels are called “flames of fire.” But the main point we want to make here is that I believe the same group who were singing in Rev. 14:3 before the throne of God “as it were a new song,” is the same group who are singing here in Rev. 15. Actually, they are prophesying in this song, that “all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments (decisions) are made manifest.” Rev. 15:3, 4. Now, this is truly awesome in its implications. This group is predicting that ALL NATIONS are eventually going to surround the throne of God and sing praises of joy and victory to God because everything He has ever done is finally explained, understood and accepted as being absolutely perfect. This should give us a lot of courage knowing everything is happening according to God’s will and He knows what is best and will explain it all to us to our complete satisfaction at the proper time in the future. Between now and then He asks us to have faith in Him. “Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shall know hereafter.” John 13:7.
Now, we come to Rev. 21. Verses 1 and 2 describe the events which transpire immediately after the 1,000 years. John sees a new heaven and a new earth because the former or first heaven and earth has vanished/disappeared. John is describing the final results of all that God is about to create—-a new heaven and a new earth. In vs. 3, John speaks about the tabernacle of God being with men. The word “men” is the generic word for mankind, “anthropos,” meaning humankind or human beings thus embracing the entire human race from Adam and Eve. God Himself is going to be their God and dwell with them personally. The expectation and joy inherent in this text can only be appreciated in terms of our own human experience of the happiness and joy we experience when we are waiting to meet someone we have been separated from for a long time.
Think of the emotions you had as you waited for that bus or airplane to arrive with your long separated loved one(s) on board. The Bible tells us that God created us in His very own image and likeness so why should we think that our loving God is any different from us? He is looking forward to being with His very own sons and daughters from whom He has been separated since Adam and Eve broke His heart and stood Him up at the altar in Eden where He planned to be joined with them in a spiritual union or marriage. Yes, God is looking forward to being joined at last to His finished creation…first with the 144,000 and eventually with all of creation. In verse 4 we are told that God is going to “wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain…for the former things are passed away.” Beloved, here we are faced with the first of several facts most Bible teachers have overlooked, ignored, misinterpreted or flat out denied and/or refused to believe. Instead of destroying all of these masses of humanity and wiping them off the face of the earth, He came and died to save them.
Now, Jesus has brought them forth from the grave not to “wipe them out” but for the express purpose of wiping away all their tears and pain for they are the only ones who will be crying and suffering. Isaiah of old prophesied this very event. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isa. 40:5. After Jesus told the Centurion that He would go to his house to heal his servant of the palsy this faithful soldier told Jesus that would not be necessary for He believed Christ could simply speak the word and heal his “grievously tormented” servant from a distance saving much time which could be used in healing other sick people. Matt. 8:10 tells us that when Jesus heard this man speak these words “He marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. (Inside that beautiful city of Gold). But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matt. 8:10-12.
Now, beloved, who are the people who are shedding many tears (weeping)? They are not the people on the inside of the city. Oh, no! Please notice another text on this same subject. “And shall cast them (wicked) into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” These are all the lost who are weeping because they are outside of the city.
By contrast the saved are inside the city looking out. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Matt 13:43; Dan. 12:3. Does that sound like a sad group of people to you? Hardly! Much more could be said and more proof given but this is sufficient for now to prove that the only people who are crying are those outside of the city. The righteous, inside the city, have been with Jesus for 1,000 years already. So, their tears were wiped away in the first few minutes after they were resurrected and taken up through the sky to heaven with Jesus. Any tears they may shed subsequently (afterward) when they found out that many of their loved ones and friends were not there were wiped away as soon as Jesus explained the whole situation to them, i.e. that after the 1,000 years they would have an opportunity to see and meet with their loved ones again when Jesus raised them up in the final resurrection.
Now, can you imagine the reaction of the righteous if Jesus told them that the specific purpose of this resurrection was simply to rehearse to the wicked all of their sins and show them how bad they were for the sole purpose of killing them again? Do you think the righteous would be in favor of this? Would you? Of course you wouldn’t, nor would I. This is a crucial and critical point to consider. In every age God’s people have held to some kind of “Exclusive Club” doctrine. The Jews in both testaments taught they were superior to all nations of the earth and had an exclusive birthright and privilege to the coming kingdom. Even after the resurrection Paul rebuked Peter for his dissembling or hypocrisy regarding the doctrine of circumcision. Gal. 2:11-16. Even the early Adventists, after the 1844 disappointment, thought they alone were the chosen people of God because probation had already closed on the rest of the world. Slowly but surely these false theories have lost their hold and appeal on God’s Remnant. Now, it is time to see God’s ultimate plan of the ages for the whole human race. And you will discover this concept takes you right into the mind of Christ, and on into the throne room of the Father.
In fact, I believe this is going to become crucial in the days ahead when everything that can be shaken will be shaken. This world is going to become so bad off economically, so sick physically and mentally and so deceived and evil spiritually that we will be tempted to believe God has totally forsaken the human race. It is at this time that a full understanding of God’s overall plan of the ages will give comfort to God’s Remnant people. It will be a vital doctrine to bolster the faith of His chosen, elect ones in these final days of planet earth. Now, let’s come back to the question I posed regarding the response of the Remnant to the idea that all of their loved ones and friends are about to be annihilated off of the face of the earth forever.
What do you think they would say to the Lord? I think they would tell Jesus they did not like this idea at all. But then what if Jesus were to explain that the specific objective of the second resurrection was for the purpose of bringing salvation to all? How many of the redeemed would go for such an idea? What about you? I want you to think about that for awhile. So, we see clearly that the Bible teaches that the wicked will be weeping and crying and gnashing their teeth because of their great mental and physical suffering. But the righteous are going to be singing and shouting for joy. Now, let’s go to Rev. 21:5-7. “And He that sat upon the throne (Jesus) said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And He said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that over cometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” Notice, my friend, how v. 6 emphasizes that everything is already done and carried out as an established fact for with God His Word is action past, present and future for our God dwells in the Eternal NOW.
Now, beloved, please notice in v. 6 that Jesus says that He is going to “give unto him that is athirst (thirsty) of the fountain of the water of life freely.” Notice beloved, that I said “Jesus” is the one who is speaking here from the throne of His Father for it is Jesus Himself sitting on the throne of the universe with His Father as the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. Isa. 9:6.
Remember, friend of mine, that the righteous have been drinking of the water of life for a thousand years… so they are not thirsty. They don’t need a drink of water. But the recently raised wicked are in a Lake of Fire. Not a literal lake of fire, for God’s fire is not literal. It never has been and never will be. Jesus said, “I have come to bring fire on the earth…” a fire of love, righteousness and truth. So, now, here we have the same thing again in the form of a revelation of truth in the sky… a panoramic view or giant movie in the sky. This lake of fire is, in reality, a lake of humanity on fire with their anger, hatred and rebellion caused mainly by this revelation of truth which creates a lake of Divine purification and education (discipline if you please). The mental agony and suffering they will be going through because of their remorse, guilt, anger and hatred will cause them to become very thirsty. But they are the enemies of God and His people. So, how will God treat His enemies at this time? Proverbs 25:21 tells us that He gives them bread to eat and water to drink. And as a result of this Divine favor the wicked “overcome,” get the victory and become sons of God. This is what we just read would happen in Rev. 15:1-4…that “ALL NATIONS” would come before the Lord.
Now, let’s look again at Rev 21:24-27. “And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it.” The expression “do bring” indicates present tense and could very easily be expressed, “are bringing” because John is writing as an eyewitness of what God is showing him will take place in the future. So, as we keep this in mind, we can understand how John sometimes seems to be speaking in the present tense and then in the future for he realizes he is writing about events which are all still future. In the Modern Language version we read, “By its light the nations will walk (follow the light of truth flowing forth from the throne of God out into the earth) and to it (into the city itself) the kings of the earth will bring their splendor.”
The next verse reveals how this is possible, because the nations outside of the city are not yet converted. But as they follow or walk in the light of God’s revealed glory they will be converted and want to enter the city. In this light we can see why John next tells us that the gates of the city are never closed. “And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.” Revelation 21:25. You see, my friend, God’s love never stops. His merciful invitation is ongoing forever and ever extending throughout eternity.
Why else would the gates of the New Jerusalem always be open and never be closed? Because, beloved, God never goes out of the saving business. That’s why the gates of the New Jerusalem are never closed. He is forever and always saving people. Now, verse 26 tells us that these nations who come into the city are going to bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. These people who are saved are going to be beautiful and wonderful trophies honoring the power and love of God to save sinners to the uttermost. And then verse 27 tells us, “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: But they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Here John is trying to make it clear that even though the gates of the city are open for all to enter that no unconverted or defiled person will be able to enter. The KJV uses the conjunction “And” when “But” would convey John’s meaning better for John is trying to make an important point, which is: That even though he saw all these wicked nations outside of the city going into the city he wants to make it crystal clear that they did not go in until they were changed or converted. I like the way the Modern Language versions puts it: “But nothing unclean nor anyone practicing immorality and falsehood shall ever enter it…” Every time I give this study I learn something new. So, I am sure there is more to be learned.
But let us now go to Rev 22. Even though the apostle must have been overwhelmed with the many visions the Lord gave him of coming events, transpiring in wondrous light and glory, John, with an incredible economy of words conveys and covers volumes of information about the future. The first five verses focus on the throne of God. John describes a beautiful river flowing or proceeding forth or out of God’s throne. Because Revelation is a book of symbols and because waters (seas, lakes and rivers) represent or symbolize people (Rev. 17:15) it becomes clear that John is describing more than just a beautiful, literal river, which I do believe will be there for us to enjoy. But let us not miss the meaning of the symbolism of what John is seeing here. It is a river of humanity flowing forth from the throne room of God, bright as crystal, filled to overflowing with the mighty power of His love. This is the message this book is intended to teach us. Compare it with the vision of Ezekiel 47 in which the prophet describes waters (people) flowing out of the city in Ezek. 47:1-5 in ever increasing depths until he can no longer wade in the water but must swim because it is now over his head. Then in v. 7 he talks about trees growing along the both sides of the river. The Bible speaks of “trees of righteousness” referring to righteous people and in Psalm 1 a tree is symbolic of a man.
Throughout the 48 chapters of his much neglected, ignored and over looked, prophetic, book Ezekiel continually refers to the Lord God or Creator as the One who is revealing all of these things to him. In v. 8 Ezekiel again says, “He told me: ‘This river flows east through the desert and the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea, where it will HEAL the salty waters and make them fresh and pure.’ Everything touching the water of this river shall live. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters (people of Sodom raised from the dead in the second resurrection) will be healed. Wherever this water flows, everything will live.’”
Would you like to be a “fisher of men” in the ‘Dead Sea.’ You can be if you want to be. Ezekiel was a prophet to the common people, probably older than Daniel but younger than Jeremiah. Like Daniel, he was taken captive but unlike Daniel, a prophet to kings and the upper class nobility, Ezekiel was a prophet to the common people and remained with the captives. He did not enter the University of Babylon like Daniel and graduate “Summa Cum Laude.” What they did have in common though was the prophetic gift. Daniel makes one important reference to the resurrection in Dan. 12:2. “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” A correct understanding of this passage hinges on our interpretation of “everlasting.” The most popular interpretation is that everlasting means without end. The hell fire burner-uppers place the wicked in hell-fire, burning endlessly throughout eternity. Those who disagree with this theory believe the word everlasting simply means that the fires of hell will eventually go out after the wicked have suffered long enough to satisfy God’s justice. The wicked will literally burn in a fire that will eventually burn itself out. This word everlasting makes a lot more sense when we translate it “age lasting.” Now we can read more correctly with much greater understanding that some are raised “to age lasting life, and some to shame and age lasting contempt.”
In Revelation 22:2 John introduces an incredibly important piece of evidence regarding God’s plan for humanity. He describes a tree that is on both sides of the river. A dear saint I studied with once told me that this was like a Banyan tree which is known to be able to grow on both sides of a river. But the main point here is that the leaves of the tree of life are for the HEALING OF THE NATIONS.
One day it began to dawn on my mind that the only nations that will be in need of healing will be all the sick people outside the city. All the people inside the Holy City New Jerusalem will have been healed from all their earthly diseases and infirmities for 1,000 years. So, the only nations that will stand in need of healing are those outside the city wailing and gnashing their teeth because they are not on the inside. Then in v. 11 John flashes back in time to the last generation before the return of Jesus and declares that all characters will be frozen at a given time just before Jesus comes again. “And, behold, I come quickly: and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” So, those who are “unjust and filthy” as well as those who are “righteous and holy,” will stay that way until after the 1,000 years are finished. Then all of the wicked or lost will be raised from their dusty graves to receive their reward, which is a realization that they are in a lost condition because of their own evil, wrong choices. This is part of their punishment. In vs.14 Jesus pronounces a blessing on all of those “they that do (or are doing) his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter in through the gates into the city.” This is yet another invitation to repent and be converted so they may enter the city. I like the way the Living Bible paraphrases this passage. The author correctly understood that this was in the present indicative mood, continuous action or present tense. “Blessed forever are all who are washing their robes, to have the right to enter in through the gates of the city, and to eat the fruit from the Tree of Life.” See, right here is another indication that these people who are being invited to wash their robes have not eaten of the tree of life before this time. They are in the process of “washing” or becoming converted or cleaned up so they may be able to enter into the city. I say this because in the very next verse John tells us who it is outside the city who need to start washing their robes so they can enter into the city. Their robes are dirty…robes of their own devising…self-righteousness, mainly religious people of all types, from all ages, who thought they already knew everything there was to know about God, like the Jews of old, especially in Christ’s day, who crucified Him.
Then in verse 17 Jesus and His Bride give the loving invitation to come and drink of the water of life. This is basically a paraphrase from Isaiah 55:1. “Ho, every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Another translation reads, “It’s all free.” The LB reads: “come and drink the Water of Life without charge.” The KJV simply reads: “Let him take the water of life freely.” Now, I wish to share with you a verse from John 7 that bears on this subject. “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. (This shows clearly that Jesus intended for the word “drink” to mean listening and believing what you hear. “We drank it all in,” we often say in regards to accepting what we hear someone say.) “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” KJV. Now, notice what the LB says: “For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water shall flow from the inmost being of anyone who believes in me. He was speaking of the Holy Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in Him;” John 7:37-38. So, Jesus clearly defines the living waters as simply being the good news of the gospel being preached by Spirit filled human beings.
The idea of “buying and selling,” is often taken literally, especially in regard to the Mark of the Beast in Rev. 13 and Matt. 25, in the story of the 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins. When the foolish virgins run out of oil and come to the wise ones to ask for some of their oil the wise virgins tell them to go to those who “sell” and buy for yourselves for if we give you our oil we won’t have enough ourselves. The phrase, “are gone out” should be translated in the present tense, “are going out.” In other words it was obvious that their interpretation of Scripture regarding end-time events…e.g. their Eschatology (study of last day events) is incorrect. Without a clear understanding of God’s true character the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation can never be understood correctly. There has been a gradual falling away from the pure doctrines of the early church and even the reformation doctrines. The belief that the dead are still alive and can be contacted has led to spiritualism. The belief that homosexuality is inherent from birth has led to the ordination of gay ministers and same sex marriages. And the belief that God destroys will eventually lead to forced worship on the day of the Sun, a pagan holiday honoring Baal, the sun god of ancient Egypt and Babylon.
If you interpret the word “buy” literally you miss the more profound implications. For example, we use the word buy today to indicate acceptance of an idea. “I can buy that (idea)” or “I just don’t buy that kind of talk (idea or belief).” We must realize that character is something that must be developed individually between the soul and his/her Maker. It is not transferable. I cannot “give” you my salvation. You have to receive or accept it for yourself from God. One person cannot do it for another that which he must do for himself in preparation for the crisis that is coming.
So, when the righteous or wise virgins refuse to give their oil to the foolish virgins but advise them to go to those who sell, this is a lesson about personal accountability. I believe Jesus told this parable to help every generation or age see the importance of individual responsibility. Ezekiel spoke directly to this point regarding the saving of other people’s souls in times of crisis: “Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.” Ezek. 14:20. There is also implied in this short parable the idea that the foolish virgins are still just that…foolish or stupid people. Because they are asking for salvation on the basis of their own carnal ideas…according to their own folly or foolish ways of reasoning. Of course, you cannot reason with such people so the wise virgins, realizing this, simply tell these foolish people that they will have to go and talk it over with their own preachers who may be able to “..sell them on their ideas,” because obviously the foolish virgins are not buying the theology of the wise virgins.
Virginity represents purity of mind as well as direction and purpose. Paul speaks of being “shod with the gospel of peace.” Shoes also represent your direction and purpose or your work in life. Although the foolish virgins are very sincere they are sincerely wrong. Their motive for doing what is right is based on pride and appearance. Spiritual pride has been the downfall of many sincere people. This has taken place in every generation. But in the great final age to come we have an altogether different ball game or marketplace, if you please. God, in His great wisdom, knows what He is doing in every age with His creatures. As the potter molds the clay, so the Creator molds each of us as He chooses. Our part is to believe in Him and trust in His love, wisdom and eternal goodness.
In conclusion, I want to share this statement from from Desire of Ages. “The gospel is to be presented, not as a lifeless theory, but as a living force to change the life. God desires that the receivers of His grace shall be witnesses to its power. Those whose course has been most offensive to Him He freely accepts; when they repent, He imparts to them His divine Spirit, places them in the highest positions of trust, and sends them forth into the camp of the disloyal to proclaim His boundless mercy. He would have His servants bear testimony to the FACT that through His grace men may possess Christ-likeness of character, and may rejoice in the assurance of His great love. He would have us bear testimony to THE FACT that He cannot be satisfied until the human race are reclaimed and reinstated in their holy privileges as His Sons and daughters.” DA 826.
This same writer also stated that just as surely as God has a place for us to work here below in this earth, He also has a place for us to work in heaven. I always wondered and puzzled over this statement. Now, in the light of what we have just studied we no longer need to wonder anymore. May the Lord richly bless each of you as you continue to pray and study for more understanding of the deeper things of the Word of the Living God. May His Living Waters truly flow forth from our lives to water the thirsty souls we brush shoulders with each and every day. Please know that I am praying for you. Thank you for your prayers for yours truly. I would love to hear from you. Your prayers and donations for this ministry are so very important to our ongoing outreach.