It’s Not As You Perceive 45-Jesus’ Earthly Family

Now the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) was drawing near. Yeshua’s brothers said to him, “Depart from here and go into Yehudaea that your other disciples also may see the works that you do. For there is no man that does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known openly. If you are really going to do this declare yourself to the world,” (For neither did His brothers believe in Him.)
Eisenman Book

How often have we been taught or have heard teachings or messages from Yehovah’s anointed (or for that matter non-anointed) teachers stipulating that Yeshua’s family did not believe Him to be the Messiah-especially Yeshua’s brothers. Time and time again, this passage, along with Mark 3:21 (And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”), are used to put forth a doctrine or belief system that contends Yeshua’s earthly family had serious reservations and doubts as to Yeshua’s Messiah-ship. But what if I were to tell you and show you that this doctrine and belief system is likely a great hoax, a tremendous falsehood, and possibly even a tool used by the enemy to put forth misleading information about Yeshua’s earthly support system? Would you have a change of heart on this issue? Or would tradition prevail over reason and true rational scholarship? You be the judge. But for what its worth, for this moment, consider what I have to tell you absent any denominationalism or traditions. Just maybe you will see Yeshua from an entirely different perspective and praise Yehovah for His amazing grace and truth.

This is a combined episode of Torah Living and It’s Not as you Perceive Tabor Bookand a special Feast of Tabernacle discussion–Yeshua’s/Jesus’ Earthly Family Dismissed.

I am writing and recording this episode while vacationing and celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles in beautiful Aruba. While enjoying these Fall Feasts of the Lord (Yehovah), I came upon event 125 of Michael Rood’s Chronological Gospels which corresponded to the 11th Day of the 7th Month, 4027 from creation or Wednesday, October 1, 27 CE. The event is titled “Yeshua’s (Jesus’) family leaves for the Feast of Tabernacles, found in John 7. I hadn’t read this particular passage in quite some time, but upon reading it this time, I was struck by verses 4 and 5 which read: “For there is no man that does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known openly. If you are really going to do this, declare yourself to the world. (For neither did His brothers believe in Him.)

Now for years I’d heard that this particular passage documented, sadly speaking that is, that Yeshua’s family saw Him as an impostor or at the very least a “nut-case.” I recall that Mark 3:21 was often added to this equation, which reads: “And when His family heard it, they went out to seize Him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of His mind.’” I must admit, any casual reading of this passage would certainly suggest that Yeshua’s family had some serious issues with Him and His ministry. I fell into this mindset lock-stock-and-barrel and said to myself, what else could these passages mean if not that Yeshua’s family had issues with Him and they did not support His ministry? Furthermore, I’d never heard definitively that Yeshua even had any siblings. All I’d known for decades was that Yeshua had a mother by the name of Mary who conceived Him miraculously without the union of a male seed to her ovum or egg; that the conception was through the agency of the Holy Spirit/Ruach Kodesh. Additionally there was Joseph, who had been betrothed to Mary at the time of Mary’s miraculous conception. Yet Joseph was led by an angel to stay with Mary in spite of what would appear to anyone else on the planet as Mary having messed around and gotten herself pregnant  with another man’s baby outside of marriage. Beyond this couple and subsequently Yeshua, there was no one else in that immediate family, despite siblings being recorded in the Gospel record of Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. Yet this reality, this fact, to my knowledge, has rarely been taught or expounded upon.

It wasn’t until I happened upon Robert Eisenman’s book, “James the Brother of Jesus” and James Tabor’s book, “The Jesus Dynasty” that this whole idea of Yeshua being without earthly family to emotionally and physically support Him was challenged. I learned, shockingly so, that indeed, Yeshua had both male and female siblings who supported Him in His ministry. In fact, James the Less or James son of Alphaeus (as recorded in some Gospel accounts), is today believed to be Yeshua’s brother whom Yeshua gave charge over the ministry after Yeshua’s resurrection. Not only that, Yeshua called James and another brother (granted these were half-brothers) Jude (or Judas–not Judas Iscariot) to be two of His inner circle of 12-disciples who would later go on to be Apostles and who would pen epistles under their respective names–reference 13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; 14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, 15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, 16 And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor. (Luk 6:13-16 KJV)  Don’t get thrown off regarding James being the son of Alphaeus–I’ll speak to “the son of Alphaeus” in just a bit. In addition, Yeshua seems to have had a sister by the name of Salome (reference Mark 15:40).

Upon coming across this information from two obvious non-believers in Messiah, I was floored. Not just floored, I was angry. I was angry that Churchianity seemed to go out of its way to teach that Yeshua/Jesus either had no siblings or the siblings He had did not think much of Him; that they doubted His Messiah-ship and even thought Him to be insane; this false doctrine and tradition is still today being taught in the Christian Church? Why? I have a good answer to that. But before I expound on the why, let me first say that I respect both Eisenman and Tabor. They are outstanding scholars in their own right. However, I must say that I do not accept the vast majority of the material that they’ve written in their respective books, specifically their negative commentaries on the miraculous conception and their seeming denials of Yeshua’s sonship to Yehovah/God. These gentlemen come from a pure scholarly perspective and they do not hold to any belief that Yeshua is The Messiah, the son of Yehovah. In fact, Tabor insinuates that Mary was impregnated by a Roman soldier (I believe that’s whom he asserts is Yeshua’s father) and he gives absolutely no credibility to Yehovah’s Ruach in the conception story. But I’m okay with that. Neither Eisenman nor Tabor pull any punches and they are both transparent in their assertions. So you know what you’re getting when you read their content. That being said, however, doesn’t mean that some of their content isn’t spot on in terms of truth. If one is to then take what these gentlemen put out in their books and contrast their content with the content of our Bibles, one will come to truth one way or another–assuming we bring no denominational or manmade traditional thinking influences to the discussion. So enough about Eisenman and Tabor for now.

So back to the why. Why has Churchianity gone to such great lengths to obscure the individuals in Yeshua’s earthly family? There are some very good reasons why and it all comes down to the mindset and perspectives of the early church fathers. The truth about Yeshua’s family was apparently well known for at least the first 3-centuries of the Church. By the 4th century a significant shift occurred in understanding of the Faith by Christian scholars and adherents. A few relevant events occurred during this period: (1) the Catholic Church by this time completely disavowed anything having to do with Judaism; (2) asceticism (that is viewing the carnal or material world as something to be shunned for that of the spiritual) began to take hold in various sectors of the Church; and (3) the doctrine of the immaculate conception and perpetual virginity of Mary took center-stage in the Faith, explaining away any chance that Yeshua had siblings and elevating Mary to a divine status in the Faith. Most would argue that this 3rd point is only relevant to the Catholic religion. But when one starts to peel away the layers of the onion which translates into the layers upon layers of lies that have been perpetrated upon the Body over the centuries, one can see very clearly that Catholicism’s influences remain in place even today in protestantism. I mean: the very fact that most Believers have no idea that Yeshua had siblings (again, half-siblings) should be indicative of this fact. Furthermore, the fact that most Believers have no inkling that the Apostles James and Jude were Yeshua’s brothers and held key roles in the first century Church and Jerusalem Council as referenced in Acts 15, is inexcusable when the information is readily out there for all to grab on to. Why does this matter? Well, maybe to most of us knowing the true disposition of Yeshua’s family towards Him and His ministry is not important or relevant to our faith and walk with Messiah. Indeed, our focus must be on our relationship with Messiah. I absolutely adhere and believe that with my whole heart. But, when we settle for the fodder that is taught to us by our church leaders without ever having the inclination to know or seek out the truth for ourselves, we are all then destined to or prone to accept whatever is put before us as long as it has some hint of ecclesiastical authority, so to speak. For me, knowing that Yeshua didn’t just rise from the dead, hang out with His disciples for 40-days, give a farewell speech on the Mount of Olives and then ascend to heaven to be with His Father without any organization to the Faith He Himself delivered to His chosen 11-disciples, tells me that this thing is serious enough and organized enough and it was not left to happenstance or some nebulous set of circumstances that we attribute to the work of the Ruach Kodesh. Indeed, the Ruach was key to the establishment of the true Faith once delivered. But there were plans within plans set in place by the Father before the foundation of time. Understanding just a small portion of this plan makes for me a much richer experience and closer walk with Messiah. Knowing the truth of the matter, so to speak, and not being blinded or fooled by the lies of the enemy is vital to every Believer. Understanding the truth of the whole matter of our Faith-especially matters related to our spiritual heritage-will be vital to our overcoming the tribulous (my word) times ahead.

So what about the issue of James being named as the son of Alphaeus? Well, certain scholars contend (and I happen to believe much of what they’ve uncovered in their research) that Joseph-the step-father to Yeshua and husband to Yeshua’s mother-likely died early on in Yeshua’s life. Assuming this was the case, Hebrew-Levirate Law provided for Mary/Miriam, Yeshua’s mother, to marry the eldest, unmarried brother of Joseph, have children by him, and thus carry on the lineage of Joseph. We know from various passages of the Gospels that Yeshua’s earthly parents were obedient to Torah and thus it would not be a stretch that if Joseph had passed away early on and during Miriam’s childbearing years Mary would have married one of Joseph’s brothers. The name Cleophas (also rendered Clopas in certain other translations) comes up in John 19:25 as being the husband of one of the women at the foot of the cross that held our Beloved Savior. The passage reads: These things therefore the soldiers did. But there were standing by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (Joh 19:25 ASV) The key areas of this verse I’d like to point your attention towards is “..standing by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.” A casual reading of this verse would lead us to believe that there were 3-woman at the cross–(1) Mary, Yeshua’s mother; (2) Mary the wife of Clopas, the sister of, assuming it to be, Mary, Yeshua’s mother; and (3) Mary Magdalene. Thus we’d be led to believe there were 3-Marys at the foot of the cross. Question: what are the chances that there would be siblings in a Jewish home in the first century bearing the same name of Mary? Not likely. Could there be something in the structure or wording of this verse or, for that matter, could there have been some giggery pokery done in the translation? As uncomfortable as these suggestions might be, we must be seekers of truth first and not cemented to what is always staring us in the face. Bear in mind, there were agendas afoot in the centuries leading up to the final development and compilation of the canon or the books that would make up our Bible. We know from ancient copies of the Book of Matthew for instance, originally written in Hebrew, that some passages we read in our modern translations do not necessarily match certain ancient manuscripts of the same passages in questions. Thus, one must conclude that when reading and or studying scripture we should be cognizant of the translation and wary of parenthetical inserts to many biblical passages such as the passage cited in the introduction of this episode. Now before some of you get your self-righteous, “the Bible is the infallible Word of God”, panties in a bunch, I’m not saying we should throw out bibles into the trash heap. All I’m saying is that we must consider the Truth as related to how we got our bibles, especially in relation to the various religious agendas that existed in the early days of the creation of the Canon or books that make up our bibles. There are hundreds and even thousands of discrepancies that exist between extant (existing manuscripts), some of those differences are due to translational challenges while others include actual inserts and deletions of content. Thus the prudent student will always employ sound exegetical practices (including contextual application of each passage being studied) when studying the Bible along with a perpetual seeking of the Spirit to lead him or her to all truth.

But back to the issue of the 3 Marys. Let’s go over to a companion verse recording this event at the foot of the cross, found in Mark 15:40. This verse reads as follows: And there were also women beholding from afar: among whom were both Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; (Mar 15:40 ASV) . Ah, we seem to have a conflict here: instead of 3-Marys at the foot of the cross as recorded in John’s account, Mark’s account records the presence of just 2-Marys–(1) Mary Magdalene and (2) Mary the mother of Jame the less, Joses and Salome (likely Yeshua’s sister). Does this disagreement between the two verses mean there is a discrepancy in the gospel records related to the true identities of the Mary’s at the foot of the cross? No, not necessarily. It goes back to how the translators of both books and the way the verses record or state the information. Mark’s account seems quite basic: Mary of Magdalene and Mary, whom we’ve concluded to be the mother of Yeshua as well as the mother of James, Joses and Salome. John’s account uses a lot of commas and “ands” to report the Marys. But if we were to read closely, we could very easily scale away an extra Mary if we keep in mind that translators were not interested in putting forth any information that would show that Yeshua had a supportive family, or for that matter, a flesh and blood family apart from Mary and Joseph. So in order to make things work in accordance to their way of thinking, unsavory or simply unknowing and misinformed translators could have very easily inserted in John’s account “…and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas…” Notice that “and his mother’s sister” was not clearly delineated, thus leading the casual reader to conclude that we’re talking about Mary, the mother of Yeshua. But then again, what are the chances that 2 Marys existed in one family as sisters? It just doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t meet the criteria of what we know to be common Jewish family practices. But then when we go back over to Mark’s account, Mary the mother of Yeshua is not even tied to Yeshua as His mother, but only mentioned as being the mother of James, Joses and Salome. Could this be another attempt to hide the fact that Mary, the mother of Yeshua, had other children besides Yeshua? Or maybe translators were once again confused by the writings of Mark and thus they defaulted to translating these things according to their own limited understanding of the situation at hand and basic Jewish culture and practices of the first century. But then, if we step back and look at things within the framework of the Hebrew roots of our Faith, we can fairly presume, that the Mary of Mark’s account, who was the mother of James, Joses and Salome, was indeed Yeshua’s mother. Then if we keep in mind that Joseph is nowhere mentioned in the Gospel account beyond the early childhood years of Yeshua and the immediate family’s return to Judea from Egypt after the death of Herod, we must concede to the likelihood that Mary, the mother of Yeshua, remarried and bore children by her new husband. Beyond the couple’s return to Judea after the death of Herod the biblical record is silent about Joseph. Even when the family goes up to Jerusalem for a feast as recorded in Luke 2, Joseph is not specifically mentioned, although I’m not so dogmatic in thinking that Joseph had passed away that early in Yeshua’s earthly life. But suffice to say, it is clear that Joseph leaves the scene at some point early in Yeshua’s life–either via premature death (most likely) or divorce (unlikely, knowing the caliber of man Joseph seems to have been according to the Holy writ).

Assuming Joseph died early on in Yeshua’s and Mary’s life, we know that in Jewish culture of that day, that it was not a desirable thing for a woman, especially still in her childbearing years, to remain unmarried, especially when Levirate Laws permitted or encouraged marriage to the deceased husband’s oldest living unmarried brother to carry on the lineage of the deceased brother. This then would presume that Joseph failed to father a child through Mary, the mother of Yeshua. Thus, could this Clopas or Cleophas as cited in the Mark and Johannine passages above, be one of Joseph’s brothers and thus the new husband to Mary, the mother of Yeshua? Furthermore, certain websites tie the name Alphaeus with Cleophas or Clopas, indicating that both names are of Aramaic origin and according to biblestudy.org, the letters “phas” that end the word Cleophas could be the same as the “phaeus” part of the name Alphaeus. Both endings sound phonetically alike.

debatingchristianity.com, a moderate anti-orthodox-traditional-christian website, interestingly states, “Mary remarried and bore James the younger of 3-biological sons, to Alphaeus/Cleophas, who had sired 2-sons to a previous marriage and they were Simeon and Jude, the 2-stepbrothers of Jesus, we must now ask the question, did Joseph, Mary’s first husband and father to young Joseph the 2nd son of Mary of whom we know so little die, or was he still alive at the time of the death of Jesus, Mary’s first born son?” The author of this article paints a very interesting scenario, but then, he/she also states that the woman who was caught in the act of adultery by the mob and rescued by Yeshua from certain death at the hands of said mob, was Mary, the mother of Yeshua. I imagine that you’d agree with me that this scenario was indeed a stretch and even bordering on heretical. But then, even the most heretical of the lot can have something good to add to any biblical discussion. In this case, the author of this article gives us good material in which to draw some conclusion as to the likely make-up of Yeshua’s earthly family and the successors to the True Faith once delivered to the first century saints by Yeshua Hamaschiach/Jesus Christ.

One thing before I close this discussion. I want to comment on the parenthetical statement found in verse 5 of John 7 which reads: “(For neither did His brothers believe in Him).” From this discussion, I believe I made a sufficient case in favor of Yeshua’s family’s support of not only Him as a person and His Messiah-ship, but also His ministry. That being the case, this parenthetical statement makes no sense. In fact, this parenthetical statement seems to contradict all that I’ve presented above and support a fractured family structure to our blessed Savior. We know without much debate that James and Jude were brothers of Yeshua and were 2 of His inner circle of 12. Furthermore, we know that Mary and likely Yeshua’s sister, Salome, was at the foot of the cross during the Master’s crucifixion. Lastly, the record shows that one of the primary things that Yeshua instructed  Mary of Magdalene to do as recorded in the Book of John: 17 “Stop holding onto me,” Yeshua said to her, “because I haven’t yet gone back to the Father. But go to my brothers, and tell them that I am going back to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

18 Miryam of Magdala went to the talmidim with the news that she had seen the Lord and that he had told her this. (Joh 20:17-18 CJB)

Now many will contend that the “…but go to my brothers…” is speaking about Yeshua’s disciples. This could be true. But knowing what we’ve just established about Yeshua’s siblings and family support of His ministry would rather suggest that Yeshua was telling Mary to go and inform His actual brothers, James and Jude, of His resurrection.

Oh, and regarding the Mark passage that seemingly records an incident whereby Yeshua’s family members attempt to seize Him from the midst of a group of followers citing that Yeshua was out if His mind? What if I were to tell you that Mark’s rendering of Yeshua being out of His mind is interpreted improperly by us in the west. Furthermore, taking this particular verse at face value without benefit of looking at the verse via the full context of the entire recorded passage would naturally lead one to a misunderstanding of that verse. As the context reveals, Yeshua had become so immersed in teaching the ever growing crowds that flocked to hear Him, He had actually begun to neglect His own well being, even to the point of not eating. Members of His family come on scene and become concerned about His well being and attempt to render care to the Master. This event actually had nothing to do with Yeshua’s family members seeing Him as a kook. Again, poor Biblical exegesis and subsequent teachings, doctrines and traditions have led many well meaning believers down a wrong path, away from Truth. This doesn’t only apply to modern teachers, but also to the myriad of scholars, translators and church fathers who have taken liberties with the Bible record. Today, we have unparalleled access to knowledge. There is no excuse for men to remain in bondage to false teachings. Yet many will, for whatever reason stick to what they’ve been taught in their Sunday houses of worship and never take the opportunity to dive deep and learn the truth for themselves, absent of denominationalism and tradition. Many hold to a mind set of “all I need is Jesus and Him crucified”, thus openly admitting that they are too lazy to learn for themselves the vast riches contained in the Word of God.

I contend that it is those of us who are constantly seeking Truth and who apply those truths to our lives and our walk with Messiah who shall triumph in the end and enter the Kingdom of God. When Yeshua taught, He taught in parables. Yeshua interpreted those parables only to those who sought after His direct interpretation. All the others-the vast majority-simply left without ever fully understanding what the Master meant by His parables. Others hung out, hoping to receive a meal, never caring about the spiritual food that Yeshua was providing. Where do we as individual Believers fall out in this equation?

Bottom line Saints: I’m not trying to perpetrate some new doctrine or teaching on the family of Jesus the Christ. My intentions here were to put forth to you information that I’ve come across and hope that you take that information and do your own studies on this issue. The bigger point here is to expose some of the lies and falsehoods that have been foisted upon Christianity for the last 2,000-years. I believe there has been a well-crafted agenda to hide from us the real Yeshua and put in His place a paganizedfictionized, watered-down version of the true Messiah. If we are not willing to face truth and kick to the curb lies, then our faith is for naught.

I hope and pray that this message has been an eye-opener for you as it was for me when I first came across this information some 3-years ago. I must say that I love having the opportunity to come before you with such important content that I trust will be a blessing to you and enhance your walk with Yeshua Messiah. Until next time, may you be most blessed fellow Saints in training. Shalom.

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It’s Not As You Perceive 44–John the Baptist, Christianity and Sex

My daily travels through the Torah was interrupted last week when Michael Rood’s Chronological Gospels, event 100, correlated with September 14, 2014. As has become my practice, I temporarily stopped my Torah studies to examine this passage which is found in Matt. 14:3-12 and Mk. 6:17-29. The title of this passage reads: “Yochanan’s execution is detailed-Yochanan’s disciples apprise Yeshua of his death.” The story of John the Immerser’s/Yochanan’s execution is pretty straightforward. But what I gained from the background story contained in these two passages seemed pretty pertinent to what I’ve learned is happening in the Christian Faith of late. It’s high time we discuss a crucial issue that has the potential to affect most if not all of us in one way or another.
Herodias & John Immerser's Head
Most of us know the story. John the Immerser/Yochanan was arrested by Herod Antipas–King of Judah. Actually, the Herodians were not Jews at all. They were of Idumaean, Greco-Arab lineage. Antipas’ grandfather, Antipater, came on the scene in 63 BC by abetting Roman General Pompey in his siege of Jerusalem/Yerusalayim. For his loyalty, Rome appointed Antipater as the first Roman procurator in Palestine and the ultimate arbiter of political events in the region (Eisenman-James the Brother of Jesus). Roman general Mark Anthony abetted Antipater’s son, Herod the Great as he has become known by us Bible students, in obtaining the Jewish Crown. In order to maintain absolute power over Judea, Herod the Great dissolved the Maccabean family through genocide/ethnic cleansing. Those Maccabeans he didn’t murder, he married. However, he ultimately murdered the wives as well, including Mariamme, who was the last remaining Maccabean princess, according to Eisenman, in 29 BCE. Apart from obtaining the Jewish Crown, Herod also controlled the High Priesthood, including their garments and the men who would serve in that capacity. Eisenman places Yochanan’s death at the direction of Antipas in 35-36 CE, choosing to accept Josephus’ rendering than that of the Gospel writers, Matthew and Mark. Based upon Rood’s Chronological Gospels estimations, John’s/Yochanan’s execution occurred sometime around September 18, 27 CE.
The Gospel writers Matthew and Mark record that John/Yochanan was arrested by Antipas because he, Yochanan, proclaimed that Antipas was in violation of Torah, in that Antipas had hooked up with one of his brother’s wives, Herodias. John/Yochanan stayed locked away in prison for several weeks until Herodias’ daughter, named as Salome by Josephus, entertained Antipas at Antipas’ birthday celebration. Obviously Antipas was taken by Salome’s likely provocative performance. So taken was Antipas that he offered Salome half the worth of his kingdom. Salome consulted her mother Herodias. Herodias was no doubt a scorned woman, having been chided by John/Yochanan over the improper affair she was having with Antipas. Such scorn led Herodias to suggest Salome demand the head of John/Yochanan on a platter. The Gospel record suggests that this demand on the part of Salome was not well received by Antipas who knew John/Yochanan to be a holy man and Antipas also feared John’s/Yochanan’s rather large following would revolt against Antipas’ throne. But Antipas elected to throw caution to the wind–certainly lust played a huge role in his decision to go with Salome’s demand–and he ordered John/Yochanan beheaded and his head delivered to Herodias and Salome on a platter.
Sexual misconduct, as in the days of Jesus/Yeshua and the Apostles, remains a serious problem in not only our society, but also within many of our assemblies and congregations. Sadly, most self-professing believers know that fornication/adultery violate Torah or in the very least it is spoken against by Jesus/Yeshua and His Apostles; yet sexual misconduct remains a mainstay in many congregations and assemblies throughout our nation. For whatever reason, even believers are hard pressed to resist the call of the flesh and reject Torah or at very least, their Bibles’ teachings on this issue. Why? Certainly, the issue is out there and it is not a secret. Yet most Pastors and Teachers of the Word of God are reluctant, and in many cases, outright scared to speak out against sexual immorality. I recall being part of a handful of Christian congregations throughout my youth and into my young adult and middle adult years, and hearing and knowing about questionable relationships that were transpiring between certain men and women in the congregation. Not only did I know about it, it was known by others in the congregation. I’m talking about homosexuality, premarital sex, adultery. If not overt indiscretions, there were divorces and remarriages transpiring on a routine basis it would seem and not a word–to my knowledge–was ever spoken out by the church leadership against such activity. Why? I guess it goes without saying that when church leaders step on the toes of their members–especially when addressing sensitive subjects such as adultery and fornication–they stand the chance of running those members away and with those departing members goes their offerings and tithes and whatever else they brought to the church table.
But do we who know better, especially those of us who have been placed in positions of authority, have the right to turn a blind eye to something so problematic and appalling to God/Yehovah as adultery and fornication, and allow that behavior to continue in the midst of the assembly? If left unattended, these things have the tendency of blowing up and creating greater problems for the overall assembly at some point down the spiritual road so to speak. Furthermore, the Bible’s stance on the issue of adultery and fornication can not be ignored and one must ask the question: what responsibility do we who know better and who have been placed in leadership positions in the body have when such activity rears its ugly head? We can not NOT say something. We must do our part to dissuade such behavior and offer the proper solution which is repentance, seeking forgiveness from Father, and living Torah obediently. Certainly, there may be situations where the leadership must take a stand and insist that the offending parties depart from the assembly. Regardless, we can not stand  innocently by the wayside and not sound that moral alarm (as was done by John/Yochanan), that left unchecked, such behavior will lead to certain destruction–of those involved and potentially the assembly as a whole.
God/Yehovah has established certain rules that we are to live by. Regardless where you stand on the issue of obeying Torah, no one should ever have any uncertainty within themselves over the issue of fornication and adultery. Adultery and fornication and any other sexual misconduct is absolutely not permissible outside of traditional marriage. And if you are an orthodox Christian, I must confess, that I am a Torah observing believer in Messiah. I believe those of us who claim Jesus/Yeshua as Messiah and Lord, are compelled to obey His commandments–love God and love neighbor–and Jesus’/Yeshua’s commandments are contained in Torah–that is, Torah details how we are to love God and love neighbor. Without a clear understanding of what it means to love God and neighbor, we will have 30,000 different ways to accomplish these two central commandments. Love of God and of neighbor is clearly evident in God’s/Yehovah’s laws regarding proper/improper sexual behavior–love of God because sexual misconduct is abhorrent to God/Yehovah, while sexual misconduct violates the integrity of those involved in the act and the families affected by the indiscretion.
Let’s examine what Torah has to say about this issue; and then what the Gospels and the Epistles have to say.
  • Lev. 18:6-18–Yehovah provides a comprehensive ruling on proper and improper sexual behavior in these passages.
    • Yehovah’s view of family-centered sexual misconduct was such that He assigned the death penalty to any who would violate these specific commandments
      • Lev. 20:11-17
    • Naturally speaking, most civilized nations (or what we in the west would consider civilized) have a very negative view of inter-family sexual misconduct, even though they may not be versed in Torah. Therefore, it would seem over zealous to state the obvious, but Yehovah knew that mankind is desperately wicked in all his ways and it was necessary to spell things out.
    • vs. 6–no one is to engage in a sexual relationship with a close relative
    • vs. 7–no parent is to engage in a sexual relationship with their child or children (cf. Lev. 20:11)
    • vs. 8–no child is to have a sexual relationship with his step-mother–(cf. Dt. 23:1; 27:20; Lev. 20:11–again, the offenders are to be put to death; 1 Cor. 5:1–Paul scolds the Corinthian assembly for allowing such an offense to continue in their midst–a man was known to have been having a sexual relationship with his father’s stepmother)
    • vs. 9–incest is strictly forbidden among the siblings (cf. Dt. 27:22; Ezek. 22:11; Lev 20:17–incest is deemed a shameful act, the penalty being cut-off from the nation publicly–the male will bear the consequences of this act)
    • vs. 10–no man is to engage in a sexual relationship with their grandchildren–indeed, the man will face full responsibility for this act
    • vs. 11–no one is to engage in a sexual relationship with their step-siblings because they are considered one’s sibling and the same rule applies as in vs. 9
    • vs. 12-14–no one is to engage in a sexual relationship with their aunt or uncle
    • vs. 15–no man is to engage in a sexual relationship with their daughter-in-law (cf. Exo. 22:11-Yehovah considers it to be a lewd act)
    • vs. 16–no man is to engage in a sexual relationship with their sister-in-law (cf. Matt. 14:4–this is the crux of our story resulting in the death of Yochanan at the direction of Herod Antipas in 28 CE)
    • vs. 17-no man is to engage in a sexual relationship with the children of the woman you are having the affair with
    • vs. 18–no man is to engage in a sexual relationship with a woman for purposes of establishing a rivalry between the woman he takes and her sister
    • 20:10-“‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, that is, with the wife of a fellow countryman, both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. (Lev 20:10 CJB) Deu 22:22 “If a man is found sleeping with a woman who has a husband, both of them must die the man who went to bed with the woman and the woman too. In this way you will expel such wickedness from Isra’el. 
  • Obviously, such terrible sexual misconduct is generally seen as abominable within the Christian community. However, sexual misconduct overall remains a big problem in the Christian faith. The divorce rate among self-professing Christians holds steady at about 50%. Wait a minute, is not the divorce rate in America about 50%? What does that say then about Christians? Don’t Christians realize that God/Yehovah hates divorce: ADONAI is witness between you and the wife of your youth that you have broken faith with her, though she is your companion, your wife by covenant. And hasn’t he made [them] one [flesh] in order to have spiritual blood-relatives? For what the one [flesh] seeks is a seed from God. Therefore, take heed to your spirit, and don’t break faith with the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce,” says ADONAI the God of Isra’el, “and him who covers his clothing with violence,” says ADONAI-Tzva’ot. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and don’t break faith. (Mal 2:14-16 CJB) Certainly, sexual improprieties such as the ones listed above in Leviticus 18 and 20 lend greatly to the divorce epidemic in our society and likely within the Christian Faith. Certainly, God/Yehovah views sexual activity outside of marriage seriously enough to warrant the death of the involved parties. In lesser degrees, it becomes the only acceptable offense to justify divorce: But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, makes her an adulteress; and that anyone who marries a divorcee commits adultery. (Mat 5:32 CJB) Now what I say to you is that whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery!” (Mat 19:9 CJB)


  • Recent research reveals that Christians are having premarital sex as much or even more than non-Christians. This study showed that 76% of evangelicals believe that sex outside of marriage goes against the teachings of their Bible. Yet, 80% of these same evangelicals say they have or had sex outside of marriage.. Furthermore, 80% of self-professing Christians in the age range of 18-29 say they have or had sex before marriage; 64% had or are having it within the last year (i.e., 2011), and 42% are in a current sexual relationship outside of marriage. Only 20% say they have never had sex outside of marriage. Still more: non-evangelicals such as the Baptists show that 53% of them in the age range of 18-29 indicated in this study that they were currently in a sexual relationship outside of marriage with only 12% claiming they had never had sex outside of marriage. I don’t know about you, but these statistics are alarming and is indicative of a bigger problem within traditional and orthodox churchianity. Clearly the Church triumphant is not doing a good job in keeping her members on the straight and narrow, nor does it appear that the members’ relationship with the Almighty is as solid and true as most of these transgressing individuals would think it to be. I’m not casting judgment here. I’m simply saying that sex outside of marriage is sinful and is not tolerated by the Father. Any and all Christians should know this and by professing Jesus/Yeshua as their Lord and Savior, their loyalty should be to Messiah and not the flesh.


  • The Jerusalem Council knew the importance of sexual purity among its growing assemblies and instructed that: Instead, we should write them a letter telling them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from fornication, from what is strangled and from blood. (Act 15:20 CJB)


  • We should bear in mind that healthy families are central to the true Faith. When adultery and fornication creep in to the mix, the fabric of our faith–which to a goodly part is the family unit–unravels and the assembly becomes disarrayed. 


  • Sexual immorality is a huge problem and it is quite prevalent in both society and as we’ve just seen, within the Christian Faith. Indeed, sexual attraction, unless controlled and spiritually dealt with, can lead to improper sexual activity, impurity and indecency (Gal.5:19). Many of us are not equipped to deal with such temptations and situations and it doesn’t take much for that line to be crossed over into the actual act. As believers in Messiah, we are called to an even higher standard than simply avoiding the act: “You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that a man who even looks at a woman with the purpose of lusting after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mat 5:27-28 CJB) As a male believer, I’ve come to terms with myself as it relates to this whole issue of sexual misconduct. I realize that there is always a war going on in my mind and with my eyes, ears, and emotions. I know myself. I’ve come to a point in my walk with Messiah that I am honest and upfront with myself in relation to my weaknesses and shortcomings. I know where I’m weak and I know where I’m strong. I don’t have problems with sexual misconduct, but I realize that I can’t allow myself to be in a position where such a thing could possibly happen. When I’m at work (my staff is roughly 65% women), I make sure that my contact with them is professional and transparent and I limit my direct contact with them to only necessary work-related issues. Every member of my staff knows how important my Faith is to me and I believe they respect that. In fact, I openly and clearly wear my tzit-tzits each day as not only a reminder to me of my relationship with Torah and my Creator, but also as a sign to the world that I am tied to my Faith and not to the world. Additionally, it is clear that I am happily married, I wear my wedding band without fail, and I constantly stay in contact with Hilary throughout the day-via phone calls or text messages. Thus I make it extremely difficult for me to end up in an adultery/fornication situation. Furthermore, the whole concept of living Torah and being true to the commandments of Messiah who elevated Torah to a heart and spirit level, I make sure that my mind, eyes and ears are filled only with proper things. I limit what goes into my mind, eyes and ears as best I can. If I am watching a show where questionable content is viewable or even suggested, I make sure I shut that stuff down immediately. I avoid going to movies where there is filth being portrayed on the screen. I listen to clean music–mostly classical. I read only books of substance and decent content. I’m not a paragon of purity by any stretch of the imagination. I’m just cognizant of what it takes for me to live Torah each and every day and stay on the straight and narrow with the help of the Holy Spirit/Ruach Kodesh and the example of Jesus Christ/Yeshua HaMaschiach.


  • As sold-out, true Believers in Messiah, we must take a stand as did John the Immerser/Yochanan, and not engage in activity and behavior that could lead to violations of Torah, but maintain proper righteous-Godly behavior. Many of us know of situations going on around us that are contrary to what our Bibles teach about proper sexual relationships. Yet many of us go so far as to support such improprieties–shacking up; 2nd, 3rd, 4th marriages, promiscuity, lewd social activities, and the like. We must stand firm in our convictions and not in any way support such anti-Biblical/Torah behavior. It’s not to say that we must “out” people in our lives who are engaging in improper sexual relationships–that would only serve to bring attention to ourselves that would not glorify our Father which is in heaven. Instead, we must live perfect lives. We must always show forth Messiah in our walk and talk and behave in such a way that is worthy of our calling to be future priests and kings. I recall a situation at work a few years ago where one of my employees (2-times divorced) entered in to a fertility program with a fellow she’d met some months earlier. She ultimately became pregnant with twins. My boss threw a baby shower for her and I attended that shower. Now I knew that my employee was living wrong and that her attempts at getting pregnant by a man that was not her husband was a tremendous moral violation. By my attending that shower, I knew that I was showing the world that I supported my employee’s behavior and chosen way of life. That was for me a learning experience that I promised myself and the Lord that I would not repeat. 


  • We must always be on guard–not only for ourselves in avoiding sexual misconduct/improprieties, but also on guard as it relates to how we respond to the world’s sexual misconduct. We have unique opportunities to teach the world how the Father requires us to live. My call to action for you today is that you go back over the scriptural passages that I’ve provided in this episode (found in the show notes for your reference). Gain an clear understanding of what God’s/Yehovah’s expectations are of us as it relates to sex, and obey/comply with those expectations. Furthermore, I would ask you to make a firm commitment to live a holy life and that means taking a complete assessment of your life and throwing out those things that are stumbling blocks to your proper walk with Messiah. If you’re in an improper sexual relationship–cut it off immediately. Seek the Father’s forgiveness and repent and turn to Torah that you may live according to the way that He has required us to live. If you are unable to correct your situation on your own, seek a greater unction of His Holy Spirit/Ruach Kodesh in order to give you the power and authority to overcome the evil one. Engage in daily study of the Torah/God’s Word. Eliminate those things in your life that distract you from your calling–questionable television shows and movies, racy music, negative and lewd friends and associates and the like. Make up in your mind whom you will serve–your flesh or the Almighty. 

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INAYP 43-The Rapture–The Christian versus Servant Perception–Part 2 in a Series

When it comes to end times studies and discussions, most Christians presume without question that the Book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John to inform them of the times ahead. An examination of Revelation 1:1 revealed that the letter or book of Revelation was actually written to the servants of Jesus Christ. We did a modest examination of what it Biblically means to be a servant and asked some very pertinent questions; most important question asked was, are today’s so-called Christians one and the same the servants that John was addressing in his letter. All indications from our examination were that there are some glaring differences between the definition of a servant in the Bible and what defines a Christian in the 21st century. Tonight we dig a little deeper into the subject of servitude and what it means to be a servant of Jesus Christ and then compare and contrast the two terms for a definitive determination of what a Christian should be as it relates to being a servant of the Most High. This is It’s Not As You Perceive–Episode 43–The Rapture–The Christian versus Servant Perception–Part 2 in a Series.
  • Servants possess a specific mind and attitude to serve (required)

Gen. 18:3-5 (Abraham entertains the angels prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

1 Sam. 17:32; 25:41 (David pledges to Saul to fight Goliath)

1 Kin. 12:7

1 Chr. 17:25

Neh. 2:5

Joh. 12:26  26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. (Joh 12:26 KJV)

Phi. 2:7  7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phi 2:7-11 KJV)

2 Tim. 2:24- 24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. (2Ti 2:24-26 KJV)-

  • Servants constantly seek their masters’ approval, grace and mercy (required)

Gen. 18:3; 19:19

     2 Sam. 7:29; 14:22
     1 Kin. 8:30
     2 Kin. 5:18
     1 Chr. 21:8
     2 Chr. 6:19, 21, 42
     Neh. 1:6
     Psm. 27:9; 31:16; 119:135, 140
     Mal. 1:6–6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour?      and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? (Mal 1:6 KJV)
     Mat. 10:24– 24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. (Mat 10:24-25 KJV)
  • Servants are given tasks according to the trust in them that builds over time by their masters (required)
     Gen. 24:2
     Zec. 3:8
     Mat. 24:45; 25:21– 45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give themm meat in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. (Mat 24:45-47 KJV)
  • Servants are obedient (required)
     Gen. 24:9, 10
     1 Sam 3:9, 10
     1 Kin. 2:38; 1 Kin. 11:38; 14:8; 18:36, 43; 20:9
     2 Kin. 18:12
     Psm. 119:17; 119:124–Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word. (Psa 119:17 KJV)
     Mal. 4:4
     Mat. 24:45
     Luk 12:43; 14:22, 23– 42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? 43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. 45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; 46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luk 12:42-48 KJV)
 
     Rev 14:12–12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (Rev 14:12 KJV)

  • Servants are proud to affiliate themselves (especially in name) with their master (required)

Gen. 24:34-34 And he said, I am Abraham’s servant. (Gen 24:34 KJV)-

Psm. 116:16–16 O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. (Psa 116:16 KJV)

  • Servants earn a special place in their master’s heart (earned)

Gen. 26:24– 24 And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake. 
1 Kin. 3:6– 6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 
Psm. 105:42– 42 For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant.
Isa. 48:20
Mat. 18:27

Act 13:22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. 
Jas 2:23– 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
  • Servants are poor in spirit and seeks the master’s forgiveness, direction, mercy and knows from where he/she comes (required)

Gen. 32:10; 33:14: 43:28
Exo. 4:10
1 Sam. 27:5
2 Sam. 19:20; 24:10
1 Kin. 3:7-14– 7 And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. 8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? 10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.

 11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; 12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. 13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. 14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days. 

Psm. 119:176
Dan. 9:17–face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. 18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name. 
Mat. 18:26– 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.

Mar. 9:35; 10:44

Joh. 13:16; 15:20– 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

  • Servants are typically chosen to assume key roles in the master’s mansion based upon the trust that is earned by the candidate servant (earned)

Gen. 44:10, 17;
Num. 12:7, 8
Ruth 2:5
Isa. 49:5, 6–5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. 6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. 
Isa. 53:11-12 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Mat. 25:23– 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (Mat 25:23 KJV)

  • Servants fear their master and avoid causing their masters upset  (required)

Gen. 44:18–18 Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh. (Gen 44:18 KJV)
Psm. 19:13–13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psa 19:13-20:1 KJV)

  • Servants are bound to the same laws and practices as his/her master (inputted)

Exo. 12:44-49–44 But every man’s servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. 45 A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof. 46 In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. 49 One law shall be to him that is home born, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you. (Exo 12:44-49 KJV)
Lev. 25:6– 6 And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee, (Lev 25:6 KJV)

  • Servants are purchased–specially chosen by their master (inputted)

Exo. 21:2;
Lev. 25:50, 53
Isa. 41:9; 44:21– 9 Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. 10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. 11 Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. 12 Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. 13 For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (Isa 41:9-13 KJV)  21 Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. 22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. (Isa 44:21-22 KJV)

23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. 24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God. (1Co 7:23-24 KJV)
  • Masters reveal secrets and truths to their faithful servants unbeknownst to others who are not that master’s servants (earned)

Deu. 3:24–24 O Lord GOD, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? (Deu 3:24 KJV)
2 Sam. 7:27–Servants27 For thou, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed to thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house: therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee. (2Sa 7:27 KJV) of

  • THE PROCESS OF BECOMING A SERVANT WHO CHOOSES TO STAY WITH HIS MASTER (required)

Deu. 15:16, 17–16 And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go away from thee; because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee; 17 Then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise. (Deu 15:16-17 KJV)
Exo. 21:6–6 Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever. (Exo 21:6 KJV)

  • Good servants earn their master’s trust in all kinds of matters (earned)

Mat. 12:18; 25:21, 23– 18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. (Mat 12:18 KJV) 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (Mat 25:21 KJV)

  • Servants of Yehovah have supernatural abilities or supernatural signs happen around them (earned and inputted)
1 Sam. 17:34, 36– 34 And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: 35 And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. 36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. 37 David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.
2 Kin. 6:1515 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

 18 And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. 
  • Servants often intercede on behalf of others (required)

1 Kin. 8:52
Neh. 1:7, 11–7 We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. 8 Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: 9 But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. 10 Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand. 11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer. 

  • A servants worships his master (earned)

Psm. 86:2, 4; 109:28– 2 Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee.

 3 Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily. 4 Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. (Psa 86:2-4 KJV)28 Let them curse, but bless thou: when they arise, let them be ashamed; but let thy servant rejoice. 
  • Servants seek to immitate their master (required)

Mat. 10:25– 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
Joh. 12:26– 26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. 

  • True servants are loyal to their master (required)

Mat. 24:45-47; 25:21, 23– 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. 45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 
Joh. 12:26– 26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. 
1 Cor. 7:21

  • The great apostles considered themselves loyal servants of the Lord (earned/required)

Rom. 1:1; 16:1, 27
Col. 4:12
Jas. 1:1
2 Pet. 1:1
Jud. 1:1
Rev. 1:1

Prevailing Perceptions of a Christian
  • Saved by grace and therefore there is nothing to do but await for Jesus’ return
  • Once saved–always saved
  • God/Jesus knows my heart
  • The law was nailed to the cross and thus I have freedom in Christ
  • I only have to love God and my neighbor
  • According to a 2013 Barna Group Study, Christians (specifically born again and evangelicals) define themselves as:
    • having made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is important in their lives
    • they’ve confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior and will go to heaven
    • they have a personal responsibility to share their lives with non-believers or non-christians
    • believing that satan exists–that’s nice. I also believe in angels and talking donkeys
    • believing that eternal salvation is achieved only through grace, not work
    • believing that Jesus lived a sinless life–why then shouldn’t we strive to live sinless lives? Did not Jesus suggest to the inquiring rich man that adhering to the ways of the Father brings us to perfection or a life devoid of sin?  16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. (Mat 19:16-22 KJV) 13 Thou shalt be perfect (i.e., blameless) with the LORD thy God. (Deu 18:13 KJV) And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect (blameless). (Gen 17:1 KJV)
    • believing that the Bible is accurate in all that it teachesbelieving that God is the omniscient and omnipotent perfect being who created all that exists in the universe
  • When did being a servant change to being a christian–from being a very active and engaged person tied to their Master through actions to being a disengaged individual who choses to engage in a cognitive exercise of trusting?
  • Jude provides a clue– Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: 2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jud 1:1-4 KJV)
  • Christianity has become a grace-dependent religion that is relying upon inputted righteousness and the promise of eternal life. No such promise was ever made. Most of our translations of John 3:16 implies a insurance policy of eternal life to anyone who believes in Jesus Christ. But many translations don’t make such a leap or assurance. Instead, there is through Jesus’ redemptive work, the opportunity and chance that men through a trusting and believing relationship with God, might have eternal life. See Young’s Literal Translation--YLT  John 3:16 for God did so love the world, that His Son — the only begotten — He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during. (Joh 3:16 YLT)
  • The concept of servant as used in Revelation 1:1 is different than any conception of “Christianity” in the Bible. There is no match based upon today’s perceptions of Christianity. There can be no match. No one can honestly say that the Book of Revelation was written to Western Christians of the 21st centuries simply because Christians and servants are two entirely different types of people. For one to realize the truth of the end times then, he or she must first become a servant of Jesus Christ. Certainly there is a cognitive element of believing that Jesus died for our sins and that god created the heavens and the earth. But there is also other factors involved in being servants and many of these factors were discussed above
  • There is a grass-roots movement taking place outside the parameters of traditional Christianity that is drawing select individuals in to its fold. This grass-roots movement is devoid of man made traditions and denominational influences and assertiveness. This grass-roots movement contends for the true faith once delivered to the Saints. Concepts and perceptions of what defines a true believer are not dictated by a denomination’s leaders and teachers and preachers: but defined by the Word of God. This movement will always be dwarfed in number and size by traditional Christianity because Christianity has created for itself a system like Judaism of Jesus’ day, that seems to have entrapped and bound its members in religion. Religion is, contrary to conventional wisdom, NOT what pleases the Father. Why did Jesus rail against the Jewish establishment? He railed against the Jewish establishment because Judaism utterly failed to follow His Father’s directions to the people. Judaism taught a way of life that was fashioned by the desires and imaginations of men. Christianity is no different my friends. Vast concepts that are labeled as Christian beliefs and doctrines are nothing more than man made beliefs and doctrines such as:
    • belief that believers in Jesus Christ are destined for heaven. Nowhere in the Bible is this taught
    • that Jesus Christ died on Good Friday and rose a day and a half later on Sunday morning
    • that Jesus was born on December the 25th, the birthday of a pagan Babylonian god
    • that Jesus was crucified on Easter, a pagan goddess celebratory holiday
    • that Jesus nailed the Law of God to the cross–a grossly misinterpretation of one of Paul’s writings
  • What will you do with this information? Many of you will write me and this content off as heretical and you will do so in the name of your denomination. Some of you will tacitly agree with some of the content or all of the content, but will not take any action to correct your perceptions of the Faith out of fear, uncertainty, or just laziness. Then there are the precious few of you who might just think there is something to this content and it is you who will take the bull by the horns and do your own research as if you were a Berean, and search out the truths for yourselves from the pages of your Bible. These individuals are crossing over from traditional Christianity to the Hebraic Roots of the Faith and realizing a change to their spiritual lives that will forever change their perceptions of religion and what it means to be a Christian
  • We invite you to take that plunge. Please contact us for information and resources if you are interested in going deeper and further in your walk with Christ than you’ve ever imagined. 
  • Otherwise, we will continue on with our study of the Rapture and the end times next week in Part 3 of the Series–Reading, Hearing and Keeping the Truth

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INAYP-42 — The Rapture–The Christian versus Servant Perspective–Part 1 in a Series

The Rapture of the Church

The end-times has for centuries captured the attention of most believers in Christ. Many have taken it upon themselves to decipher the mysterious writings of the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation and the stark and troublesome prophecy delivered to the saints by Jesus that is recorded in Matthew 24. Most of those, throughout time, who have sought to explain the end-times to the rest of us laymen have done so through the lens of their respective denominations. Consequently, there are dozens of variations on the theme of end-times. Despite 30,000 plus Christian denominations in existence today, we all still tend to read from the same Bible with only slight variations in translation. Yet for whatever reason we manage to not agree on what is going to happen in the end times. Indeed, there must, by sheer commonsense and necessity, be only one true-version of the end times. It must by necessity be the same version that was revealed to the Master by the Father; the apostles John and Paul as revealed by Jesus Christ; and the prophets of the old covenant (i.e., Old Testament) as revealed through the Holy Spirit. Is it then possible to nail down what exactly is going to happen in the end times, simply by utilizing effective Bible study techniques, the revelation of the Holy Spirit, an open and receptive heart and mind, and an ounce of good ole commonsense? I say it is possible and am willing to take the plunge. Are you game? If so, then let us engage in a crucial conversation about the end times. This is It’s Not As You Perceive–Episode 42–The Rapture–The Christian versus Servant Perspective on End Times–Part 1 in a Series.

Main Content:

Greetings one and all–I’m Rod Thomas and welcome to another episode of It’s Not As You Perceive–the podcast and blog ministry of Qumran Family Church. The purpose of this ministry and its posts is to encourage you in righteous living. Jesus commanded us to “seek first the kingdom of God and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS…” (reference Matthew 6:33). And understanding just what that righteous living is really all about comes to us only through study of the Word of God and the revelation of the Holy Spirit. The God-inspired writers of the Bible were used of the Father to provide us instruction on how we are to conduct our lives. Additionally, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ provided each of us an exemplar of how one is to live a righteous life. What has originally developed as a result of these teachings from God’s anointed and the example of Jesus the Christ is THE Faith–a belief-system if you will–that brought to the fill the Hebraic Faith that was originally delivered to the children of Israel through the patriarchs of old (e.g., Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses). Bear in mind, the true Faith was NOT built upon Judaism. Judaism was built upon man made laws and traditions enacted by Jewish scholars that ultimately overshadowed and replaced the original Hebrew Faith. Furthermore, it would be presumptive for us to conclude that “Christianity” as it exists today with its 30,000 plus denominations is the same original Faith. Somewhere, somehow, contained within the pages of our Bible, is the identifying qualities of that True Faith that was once delivered. Clearly, something went wrong along the way and the original Faith was compromised, resulting in the horrendous religious mess we have today.

In following the instructions of these biblical writers and the life example of Jesus Christ, we should begin to develop and manifest traits and characteristics that are holy, righteous and pleasing to the Father in Heaven. Here at It’s Not As You Perceive (and Qumran Family Church), we are all about contending for the True Faith once delivered to the first century saints by Jesus Christ–Jude 1:3. We attempt to accomplish this through an open and honest examination of the Biblical record without any denominational influences or assertiveness. We also look to the leading of the Holy Spirit to reveal some of the more difficult passages found in the Bible (those passages that receive a wide array of interpretations by the various denominations) as well as utilizing the vast extra-Biblical resources that are currently available to each of us through books, computer software and the INTERNET. Most of all, we seek to employ commonsense and reason. Far too many of the doctrinal and traditional teachings by the thousands of Christian denominations that currently exist are not sensible nor reasonable and in many cases not even biblically based; and they tend to play upon the fears and ignorance of those denominations’ members. This seems to be one of the biggest problems facing Christianity today. Millions of Christians are resistant–for whatever reason–to verifying for themselves the things that are coming out of their denominations’ pulpits every Sunday morning or via the hundreds of televangelists occupying time and space on the internet and television. Instead, the vast majority of self-professing Christians rely upon their church leaders for understanding and instruction in what it means to be a Christian. This places every individual who finds themselves in this type of situation in a most precarious position as it relates to their personal relationship with the Creator. If that relationship is not healthy and solid, it stands to reason that those individuals are destined for problems down the spiritual road so to speak. This is a crucial concern within Christianity today and it is high-time that this situation is cleaned up before the end times hits.

Perception Moment #1–Are you content with your church-life? Are you receiving all that you hoped to receive from your church? If you are not satisfied, are you willing to do something about it?

That being said, if you are content in your present spiritual situation and you are okay with placing your eternal destiny into the hands of your denomination’s leaders, then we bid you well. We do not cast judgment on you and we will always value you as brothers and sisters of the Christian Faith. However, if you are not content with the direction that your walk in Christ is heading or if you are not happy with your church for that matter, you are in the right place. Furthermore, if you are the least bit interested in strengthening your relationship and walk with the Master–Jesus Christ–and realizing the tremendous blessings to be had by contending for the true faith once delivered (Jude 1:3) and on top of that living a life worthy of your calling (2 Thessalonians 1:11), then you too are in the right place. You are about to take your spirit life to the next level and this is what this ministry hopes to facilitate.

So let’s move on to the main content for this post.

Understanding eschatology and end time prophecy is not a task for the timid of heart and mind and lazy of soul. It is not an easy thing to understand, especially given the myriad of differing perspectives on what the Bible records about the end-times. Nevertheless, I believe that it is a task that every believer in Christ must undertake. Bear in mind the words that Jesus relayed through the Apostle John to the readers of his letter: “Blessed (Greek for “makarios” meaning to be supremely fortunate or well off) is he that reads (Greek for “anaginosko” meaning to accurately know), and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep (i.e., to guard) those things which are written therein–for the time is at hand” (Revelation 1:3).

Notice that I said “every believer in Christ” should undertake a study of what the Bible has to say about the end times. I do not say this as a means of pushing my own agenda or personal, wild ideals upon you. So then, what do I mean by this statement?

The Christian faith is filled to the brim with Christians. Right now you’re probably saying in response to this statement, of course it is you idiot. But maybe the thing to ponder here is not the number of Christians in the world, but more so, what exactly is a Christian? Turning to Wikipedia, the definition of a Christian is someone who adheres to Christianity. Then what exactly is Christianity? Christianity is a Hebraic, monotheistic-religion that is based on the life and teachings of Jesus. Now, because there is no universal consensus in the world as to what constitutes being a Christian, the universally accepted belief is that being a Christian is one who accepts Jesus Christ (aka: Messiah) as their personal Lord and Savior–whatever that means. In general, the world sees Christians as good and Christ-like–whatever that means.

According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, the term Christian was first used or applied by Gentiles (specifically Romans)–Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16)–to describe individuals who were followers of Jesus. However, the term was not adopted by followers of Jesus to describe themselves until the passing of the Apostolic age–sometime at the end of the first century or beginning of the second cerntury. Interestingly, the early adoption of the title Christian carried with it very negative connotations. Found in the writings of Tacitus (aka: Gaius Tacitus–56-117?A.D.–a Roman senator and historian) is as follows: “The vulgar call them Christians. The author or originator of this denomination, Christus, had in the reign of Tiberius, been executed by the procurator, Pontius Pilate” (Annals xv. 44). Thus, it was not until well in to the 2nd century that believers accepted the term Christian as a title of honor.

Perception Moment 2: Are Christians today (and even throughout the centuries) comparable to believers or followers or disciples or servants of Christ in the first century Churches?

To the casual observer, the title and term Christian would handily encompass believer, follower, servant and disciple of Christ. But I submit to you that there may be a distinct difference between Christian and these 4-titles. The Bible provides clues as to what the model believer-disciple-follower-servant looks like. The primary clue of course is found in the example of Christ during His earthly ministry–in the way He lived out His life and through His teachings. The rest of the clues are contained in the apostolic writings and teachings that comprise the New Testament (aka: the renewed covenant). The characteristics and traits of believers-followers-disciples-servants are pretty distinct and obvious:

* these individuals are obedient to the commandments of Christ
* they abhor evil and sin; they strive for righteousness
* they seek the kingdom of God
* they are poor in spirit and never forget from whence they’ve come
* they love their master over all others
* they do not compromise their calling
* they are bold in their convictions
* they are loyal to their master and to the true Faith
* they imitate their master
* they love their brothers and sisters

More so, these individuals are willing to give their very lives for their master without hesitation. The traits and characteristics don’t stop here. There are indeed many more. But the question that I pose is: do these and other traits of believers-disciples-followers as suggested in the Bible match our modern day perceptions and concepts of what we call a Christian?

Does all this really matter, especially in relation to our discussion about the end times and the rapture? Absolutely it does! It matters because understanding of the end-times, specifically the book of Revelation, was specifically written for and to a certain class of people. This class of people are servants of Jesus the Messiah–The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. (Rev 1:1-2 KJV). Interestingly, Christians in general over the centuries have presumptively assumed that they are the intended recipients of this revelation. In other words, Christians throughout the last 2,000-years have readily assumed that they are servants of the Most High.

If I can attest to anything having had my Faith aggressively challenged and shaken in 2005, it is never to take anything recorded in the Bible for granted and to never simply take anyone’s word as Gospel about any subject in the Bible or about the Christian Faith without a full investigation in to the facts of the matter. This has unfortunately become the downfall of millions of Christians. It would appear that most Christians rely upon their pastors, ministers, teachers, friends, fellow believers and the list can go on, for basic and even advanced understanding of the many essential elements of the Faith. There is nothing as dangerous as resting one’s eternal destiny upon the oversight of another man or woman. For in the end, we individually must stand before the Eternal in judgment and give an account for our lives.

Consider: in our modern western society, when we go contrary to the laws of the land and we are caught, we are forced to give an account of our actions, typically before a court of law. There are no situations where we can simply plead innocent because we were raised to act contrary to the law or that we were told by others that it was okay to live contrary to the law(s) we broke.

I used to believe that anything and everything I came to understand about my faith and thus having conformed to the teachings of my faith that was sanctioned and taught by my denomination, God would by default approve of my life. And why did I believe this? Well, I rationalized that smarter men than me throughout the ages came to certain conclusions about the Christian Faith and it was those smart men who were led by the Holy Spirit and possessed the license (spiritual) and gravitas to shape my life accordingly through my denomination’s doctrines, teachings and beliefs. I recall speaking to a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses earlier this year about some pretty weighty spiritual matters. Whenever we reached an impasse in our conversation–even about something that was obvious and clear in the Bible (for example the passage where some of the dead saints in the city of Jerusalem rose up out of their graves the day Jesus was resurrected–Matthew 27:52 & 53) that the JW’s weren’t clear on, the JW’s told us that they needed to go back to and consult their church leaders for the answer to the issue in question. I’ve come across other stories of individuals who were staunch members of a Christian denomination, who when confronted with certain truths found in their Bibles that didn’t match the doctrines and teachings and beliefs of their denomination, instead of doing further research on their own or simply meditating and seeking revelation from the Holy Spirit on the issue in question, would sadly say that they needed to consult their church leaders for clarity and direction on the subject.

This is an epidemic my friends. For most believers, their understanding of Scripture which often affects their day-to-day behavior as Christians is shaped by the teachings of their denomination. Few of us are invested enough in our own eternal destinies to challenge the many teachings and doctrines of our Faith and find out for ourselves whether the teachings, beliefs and traditions of our denomination is in alignment with the Word of God. The Psalmist and the Savior both acknowledged that truth comes from the Word of God (Psalms 119:160 & John 17:17). Is it possible for truth to flow through and from our denominations? Absolutely. And don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to Christian denominations per se. I’m opposed specifically to denominationalism. I’m opposed to Nicholaitan organizations that, like the Judaism of Jesus’ day, enslave and foist teachings, beliefs and traditions upon its members outside the realm of the Word of God (reference Revelation 2:6) . Thus the members of these organizations are unable to think for themselves and they ultimately believe and follow lies and false teachings. You see, if the people can read and understand for themselves the Word of God and live victorious, free and powerful lives in Christ, there would be little need for the leaders of these organizations, would there? But then, if we are not willing to step up to the plate and answer the call, excusing the leaders of these organizations from the responsibility for our salvation and walk with the Savior, then it stands to reason that we may be walking through the wide gate and down the smooth path towards destruction– Jesus taught:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Mat 7:13-14 KJV)

Consequently, it is because we who claim Christ to be our Savior are so lazy when it comes to investing in our own eternal destiny and relationship with the Lord, that we are for all intents and purposes Biblically illiterate. And it would seem accurate to even say that most of us are quite content in this perpetual state of spiritual mediocrity. I remember having a conversation with my boss a few years ago about certain doctrinal issues related to the Christian Faith and how I had begun taking time to delve deeper into the Word of God and debate the veracity of some of these weighty doctrinal issues in the light of disciplined exegesis. After much back and forth discussion, she told me that it was much more work than she was willing to invest and that she would rather rely on her faith–i.e., cognitive belief–that what she thought was true was indeed true. I didn’t think much of it then, but looking back at that exchange today, I cringe to think that such an attitude is so prevalent in the Christian Faith. We’ve received just enough information about the Bible to make us dangerous. We have been armed with a handful of nifty scriptural soundbites to support our denomination’s many doctrines and beliefs. Is it a good way to do spiritual business? Absolutely not. The Apostle Paul was quite clear on the necessity of believers to not make a mockery of their calling to the Faith–11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2Th 1:11-12 KJV)

And thus we arrive at the point I am aiming to make on Revelation 1:1 and that has to do with the Apostle John being given the revelation of the end times by his Lord and Master who in turn received the revelation from His Father. It is through John that the Master’s true “servants” or “doulos” are privy to the information about the end times and the Day of the Lord. This revelation is not intended for anyone else, only for the servants of Jesus the Messiah.

Perception Moment 3: Are Christians today servants of Christ? If so, why are there so many differing perspectives (denominational understandings) of what constitutes being a Christian?

Let’s see. The term used in the first verse of chapter one of Revelation says quite clearly that the revelation given by the Master was for “His servants.” The Greek for servants is “doulos.” Consider what Thayer Greek Lexicon has to say about the term doulos:

Rev. 1:1; 10:7; 11:18; of all who obey God’s commands, his true worshippers, Luke 2:29; Rev. 2:20; 7:3; 19:2,5; 22:3,6; (Ps. 33:23 (Ps. 34:23); Ps. 68:37 (Ps. 69:37); Ps. 88:4,21 (Ps. 89:4,21)). γ. δοῦλος τίνος , devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests: Matt. 20:27; Mark 10:44; strenuously laboring for another’s salvation, 2 Cor. 4:5.

It appears that the terminology being used here by John is more than a simple title that is haphazardly passed on to describe any and all Christians. More so, the term servant used in this passage is a descriptive action term–doulos refers to those who are obedient to God’s commands; who are the true worshippers of God; who are fully devoted to Jesus to the point of self-denial and who are actively furthering the message of Jesus Christ to the nations. This comes in context with the rest of the Book of Revelation and what the servants of the Master would have to endure and what the reward of the prevailing servants would be. If we were to, by chance, simply assume that the recipients of the Revelation to be all peoples who profess to be Christians, then we have on our hands a big problem. You see, Christianity is broken up in to some 30,000 plus denominations with corresponding beliefs, doctrines and traditions. Despite this huge disparity within the confines of one of the world’s largest faiths, the vast majority of adherents within the faith believe in some type of return of Jesus Christ to this earth, a gathering of Christians and some form of ensuing kingdom headed by Jesus–either here on earth or in heaven.

If we are to believe that Christians are destined to escape the evil to come in the end times, and that Christians will be whisked away to some realm of safety to live out eternity with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, then there’d be NO reason for the book of Revelation–especially since Christians have been taught for centuries that no one knows when the Savior will return and that the Savior’s return will be sudden and entirely unexpected. Instead then of making John endure such a troublesome vision and record all the terrible events to come at the end of days; and if Christians are going to be exempt from the terror ahead, why not simply write a quick–Jesus is coming back suddenly one day–be ready because you don’t want to be left behind–it promises to be really bad for all who are left behind. Just saying. But common sense says to any truth seeking believer that the Father in His infinite wisdom had more in mind than simply giving information to Christians that things are going to be really bad in the future, but don’t you worry your little heads because you will be exempt from the terror. Indeed, this seems to be the case.

The fact that the Book of Revelation is written exclusively for those who are servants of Jesus–doulos–those who are obedient to the Savior and His commandments and who are loyal to Him seems to suggest that the recipients of this revelation have serious “skin in the game” ahead as evidenced in Revelation 1:1b. In other words, the servants of the Master need to know what is contained in this letter so that they may be prepared to deal with the things that are mentioned in this book. We’re not talking about “good things to know” or simple “shooting the breeze.” We’re talking about really heady, terrible and glorious things that will certainly separate the true believers–i.e., servants, from the classic Christian or even want-to-be servant of Christ.

So where do you fall out? This is a question that each of us must answer if we are truly serious about our eternal destiny and commitment to the Faith? Are we simply socially-religious-people who claim Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior who are waiting to be whisked away during some secret pre-tribulation rapture and avoid the terrible events that will be endured by those left behind? Or are we unique individuals who have been chosen and elected by the Savior, who will, as a result of our affiliation, obedience to and loyalty to Christ, will have a critical roll in the end times; the roll of which will not be so pleasant? But the reward for overcoming will be well worth the unpleasantness of the times ahead.

Friends, this is where any substantive discussion on the end-times MUST begin. A difficult, crucial conversation must occur within ourselves, address that most painful of questions: Am I a “servant” of Jesus the Christ? As silly as this may seem to most of you in terms of a discussion on eschatology (i.e., end-times), I am a firm believer that no headway can ever be made in understanding the end-times unless we know where we stand in the grand scheme of things: namely, are we servants or are we just nice-principled-morale-religious people who happen to carry with us the title of Christian. This my friends is THE question that changed my life forever in 2005. When my brother-in-law asked me “How do you know you’re a Christian,” and all I had to respond with was the well-established talking points of my denomination to explain who and why I was. Quite frankly, I guess I could have simply ignored that question and kept on the path I was on at the time. But something within me was not satisfied with my answer. Why? Because the answers I gave him were NOT my answers, but the answers that were taught to me by my religion–my denomination–my church–my past and present pastors and ministers/teachers.

Perception Moment 4: How do you know that you are a Christian? For that matter, are you a servant of Christ?

Are you prepared to answer this question friends? Are you willing to step aside and seriously–honestly–ponder, meditate and seek the answer to this critical question based upon what your Bible has to say in answer to this most terrible but glorious question? For me, facing reality was painful; yet in the end was also freeing–John 8:32. It took me the better part of a half-year to fully come to terms with the honest answer to this question. I had to force myself to honestly answer this question without any denominational influences. What I found was that I was not a “servant” of Jesus Christ. Instead, I was a Christian. I was someone who said the “sinner’s prayer,” asked Jesus into my heart and life, was Baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and believed that He was, is and will ever be: case closed; game over; end of story. The rest was up to Jesus. All I had to do was await the rapture to heaven baby!

I turned the question around and asked myself: how do I know that I’m an American? How do I know that I’m married? How do I know that I am a father to my three children? I’m not talking about being an American, married or a father simply by name and title. I’m talking about the spirit of the matter. We have many criminals rotting away in jails throughout this nation for various crimes–are these true Americans? I have been married for the better part of 30-years, legally yes, but am I a true husband to my wife? What about my children? Have I been a true father–a good father–a responsible father? Have I fulfilled all of these titles and others as Yeshua would have? I innately knew that being a husband, being a father, an American, and more importantly a Christian, was about what I’d done and what I’m doing now to fulfill the ideals associated with each of these titles. Am I being obedient to the call of each of these areas of my life? Am I obedient to the commandments of my Master as the term “doulos” strongly implies? As in being an American: one is viewed as an American when they pay their taxes, meet their financial and human obligations, obey the rules and laws of the land, and contribute to the overall well-being of society. Those who fail to do any of these things are destined to be marginalized by American society or incarcerated. What about marriage or parenting? If we are not careful to nurture and do the things that are necessary to keep a marriage and parent relationship ongoing, healthy and vibrant, those relationships are destined to deteriorate and ultimately fail.

Why do we feel that our relationship with Jesus Christ should be only a one-way relationship? I’m afraid that a lot of this has to do with the teachings and doctrines and traditions of our denominations. A great deal of blame can be laid at the feet of Calvinism, which contends that much of our relationship with the Master is inputted or administered by God and we are simply too deprived to do or know any better.

I remember a short time ago, when I went back home to visit my folks, and my mother began to inquire why I had abandoned many of the traditions and beliefs of my Baptist upbringing. When I told her that I learned there was more than met the eye to the Christian faith and that I needed to make substantive changes to my walk with Christ, she responded: you weren’t raised that way.

Indeed, I wasn’t raised this way. Unfortunately, many of us are living according to the way we have been raised–be it mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally–by our denominations. Many of us are afraid to grow up and move on. We are often hesitant to question the things that we were taught out of fear of violating the traditions of our past and the feelings and expectations of our family, friends, peers and the like. But our individual eternal destinies and individual walks/journeys with Christ have absolutely NOTHING to do with anyone beyond ourselves and the Lord. There is nothing more important in this world than our personal relationship with the Father and Jesus Christ. Note I said relationship and not church affiliation or confession of our faith.

Thus I humbly and fervently call upon you, dear believer, to assess where you fall out in this thing. How do you see yourself? Are you a Christian or are you a servant? Figure out for yourself why, if at all, you should care about this issue. Regardless, take action today. Do something. Whatever you do, don’t rest on the laurels of your chosen denomination. Jesus foretells of a time when many believers will turn on one another when the truth of the end times is finally realized by the general Christian body (reference: Matthew 24:9-13). This mass betrayal will occur because millions of “Christians” will come to realize too late that there is no secret, pre-tribulation rapture of all the Christians to heaven. Consequently, these same “Christians” will endure the terrors of man made tribulations inflicted upon the earth and subsequently by God upon the earth and its inhabitants and turn on anyone who affiliates with the true Faith once delivered.

This is the first in a series of postings regarding the controversial topic of the end times and the rapture of the Church. Join me for Episode 43–The Rapture–The Christian versus Servant Perspective–Part 2. Until then, may you be most blessed.

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Perception Moment–Did Jesus Eliminate Torah?

According to Michael Rood’s “The Chronological Gospels–The Life and Seventy Week Ministry of the Messiah,” this past weekend corresponded to a single event that is documented in the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke. This event was the healing of a leper who came to Jesus as he descended the mountain just after giving His famous Sermon on the Mount. This event is captured in Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45 and Luke 5:12-15. You all know the story: a leper comes and kneels before Jesus and with simple contrition asks the Master to heal him of his leprosy. Jesus has compassion for this poor leper and heals him without hesitation. Upon healing the leper, Jesus admonishes the man to keep his healing to himself–i.e., keep it under-wraps. Furthermore, Jesus instructs the man to present himself to the Levitical Priest as one is directed to do in his situation by the Torah.

What struck me about this passage more than the contrition that the man had when asking for his healing by the Master; more than the compassion the Master had towards this poor leper; or even more than the actual healing miracle has to do with the fact that Jesus directed the man to obey Torah. In terms of one who is stricken with leprosy but finds him/herself healed, he or she is given detailed instruction as to how they will be reconciled back in to the community and the various tabernacle and later temple ceremonies. This instruction is recorded in Leviticus 14.

This brief mention by the Gospel writers of Jesus directing someone to follow Torah is given absolutely little to no press in today’s Christian circles. In fact, the Christian community seems to go out of its way to villainize the Law (aka: Torah) and forbids it members of even contemplating observing or obeying Torah. My point is not to argue whether or not Christians are required to obey the Law of Moses or not. More so, my point is that Christian Church leaders, teachers and scholars go out of their way given any chance they can to indoctrinate its members in the thinking that Jesus came to do away with the Law. If that was indeed the case, wouldn’t this be a perfect opportunity for Jesus to sell a philosophy of no more Torah? One has to wonder, especially when we find in another passage of the New Testament where Jesus made it clear that He did not come to this earth to abolish the Law but to make the Law achieve its fullest potential in man–reference Matthew 5:17.

Many will argue that Jesus made the Law reach it fullest potential when the Law was (in concept) nailed to the cross with Him, found in Colossians 2:13. But then, that interpretation whereby Christian apologists equate “the handwriting in ordinances which stood out against us” with Torah or the Law has been seriously questioned. Sadly, the Christian community has been taught some really bad Bible study techniques that involve simply taking individual verse sound bites and making complex and detailed doctrines and teachings out of them. Every believer must be acutely aware that sound Biblical exegesis is effectively conducted when one takes presented or quested verses in context–that is that the verse in question is interpreted within the framework of the entire chapter and in some cases the entire book where it is recorded. If one actually were to dissect Colossians chapter 2 one will realize that the context is talking about sin and the subsequent penalty for sin in the life of man. No where is the Law or Torah mentioned or even alluded to. Instead what is clearly discussed is the sin debt that is owed by every human, that was paid by Jesus. Can you say Hallelujah!

So what does this all mean? Only you and the Holy Spirit that is dwelling in you can answer that question. Clearly , Jesus didn’t do away with Torah, either while He walked the earth nor at His death. This leaves one some serious things to ponder.

This Perception Moment was brought to you by Qumran Family Church, encouraging you in righteous living while seeking to examine in the light of the Word of God, the fundamental beliefs, doctrines and teachings of Christianity today absent denominational influence and assertiveness. If you have been blessed or enlightened by what you’ve read here or heard, we invite you to register here on our website at itsnotasyouperceive.com by filling in the boxes in the right hand column of this page and subscribing to this podcast feed via Stitcher or iTunes by simply clicking on the appropraite icons at the top of the right-hand column of this page. May you be most blessed.

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