Posts Tagged ‘Messiah’

Shavuot is a little known holiday among Christians today. It is ironic to me, since it commemorates the single most important event in Judeo-Christian history—the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. And in the 3,300 years since, the Torah’s ideals—monotheism, justice, responsibility—have become the moral basis for Western civilization.

Shavuot (Hebrew for “Weeks”) occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan (late May or early June). Shavuot commemorates the early harvest in the land of Israel. (See Leviticus 23:9-16 and Deuteronomy 16:9-11) It is one of the three biblical pilgrimage festivals. It also commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai.

Since Shavuot occurs 50 days (7 weeks) after the first day of Passover, it is sometimes known in Christian circles as “Pentecost,” a Greek word meaning “50 days.” Shavuot, however, has no connection to the Christian Pentecost holiday.

Many people today are taught that after leaving Egypt on the day of the Passover, only Jews traveled into the Sinai desert. And there, God spoke to the entire Jewish nation and  instructed them to keep the Ten Commandments He inscribed on the stone tablets. (See Deuteronomy 4:1-14) So they mistakenly assume that all of the feasts mentioned in the Old Testament are meant only for Jews. But what most Christians fail to understand is that when the Hebrews left Egypt they were also joined by non-Hebrew people. We read in Exodus 12:38 that a “mixed multitude” went with them. Some perhaps, willing to leave their country after it was laid waste by plagues; others, out of curiosity; perhaps a few out of love for the Hebrews and their religion. And the same laws applied both to the native-born Hebrew and to the foreigner. (verse 49) Also, the Bible never refers to the feasts as Jewish feasts, but the “Feasts of the Lord”. (See Leviticus 23:2, 4, 37, 44; 2 Chronicles 2:4; Ezra 3:5)

How to Celebrate Shavuot

In biblical times, Shavuot was tied to the agricultural calendar. It originally celebrated the first fruits of the wheat harvest seven weeks after Passover (Leviticus 23:15-16). Counting the omer between the holidays added an element of anticipation of looking forward to Shavuot and a bountiful harvest. On this pilgrimage feast, Israelites traveled to Jerusalem to offer the first portion of their crops to the Lord in thanksgiving for His provision of food.

Celebrating the Spiritual Harvest

But Shavuot is more than the celebration of the first fruits of a physical harvest. Today, we observe it as the first fruits of a spiritual harvest. On the first Shavuot after Jesus’s death and resurrection, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit that enabled them to speak so that many people in attendance heard their words in their native tongue! Many who heard these messages in their own languages were amazed, though others thought the disciples were just drunk. (Acts 2:12)

Peter went on to explain that Jesus had been raised from the dead and God had poured out His Spirit in fulfillment of His promise through Joel 2:32-33. When the crowd asked what they should do, Peter urged them to turn their lives around and be baptized in the name of Jesus. Then they would be forgiven and would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37-39) About 3,000 people were added to the church that same day!

Just as Jesus promised, God sent His Spirit on that Shavuot to enable His people to be witnesses for Him: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Anticipating the Future Harvest

Thus, Shavuot is a reminder that we are living in anticipation of a harvest that is yet to come when people from every nation will be gathered into God’s Kingdom. Until that final harvest time, God expects us to be His witnesses to Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection to all peoples and nations. And He has empowered us for this task. How we celebrate Shavuot can impact the size of that future harvest as we obey God’s commandments and share the gospel to all peoples, nations and tongues.

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Many Christians today believe that the Ten Commandments are still valid, but that after the death and resurrection of Jesus, Christians are no longer under the Law, but under grace and the other commandments listed in the Old Testament apply only to the Jews.

They also teach that there are only four rules that were given to the early Gentile Christians coming into the faith, and quote Acts 15:19-20 to prove their point: ”Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.”

This passage seems to show that this is true…Until we read verse 21: “For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim Him, for He is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”

You see, the Torah wasn’t forced on the new Gentile Christians all at once—anymore than Bible verses are forced on us in our churches today. And just as today, it was understood that people would learn it gradually over time, hearing it each week in the synagogues. The four rules that were given to the early Gentile Christians were meant for only a starting point, with the understanding that they would gradually come to know the whole truth as they were taught in the synagogues. In fact, even ancient Israel wasn’t forced to learn Torah in a single day either—they also received it over time.

Christians today generally ignore verse 21 in the above passage because the ramifications are obvious: The Gentile Christians were given these four laws in order to have the bare basics to BEGIN their new life with the Messiah, knowing they would learn the rest of Torah each Sabbath in the synagogue.

There are three important facts that we need to understand: 

  1. Being Jewish is not necessarily associated with a religion. It is associated with a nationality.
  2. The word, ‘Gentile’ simply means non-Jew—or someone from other than the tribe of Judah.
  3. The Hebrew word ‘goy’ means nation, and refers to the fact that goyim (gentiles) are members of other nations, that is, nations other than the Jews. (Tribe of Judah)

So all Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews. Just as all Cherokee are Native Americans, but not all Native Americans are Cherokee.

It was only after being confronted by some Jewish believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees who said, “It is necessary to circumcise them (the gentiles) and to order them to keep the law of Moses”, did the apostles decide not to put a yoke upon the new believers “which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear”, that they required the new believers to begin with the four rules. (See  Acts 15:5-11)

Circumcision had become a conversion ritual by the legalistic Pharisees just as baptism is often misused today by legalistic Christians as a means of joining a particular church or denomination.

It was understood by all the apostles that God’s Laws were never changed or replaced. We know this from the teachings of Jesus when he said, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matt 5:17,18) All will not be accomplished until AFTER Jesus returns.

God spoke through the prophet Malachi and said, “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6) And in Hebrews 13:8 we read, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

If God has not changed, and Jesus has not changed, God’s laws have not changed.

So who or what changed? 

“When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:29-32)

Unfortunately, that is exactly what we did. We gentiles have dispossessed nations and then adapted their ways and served their gods. We have exchanged God’s Holy Feast Days and His laws for pagan rituals and human traditions.

Even though Jesus and all of the apostles observed all of God’s laws and Holy Feast Days, they also knew that there would be those who would claim the power to change God’s Law. Through the prophet Daniel we are warned of just such a man. Describing the “little horn power”, Daniel prophesied saying, “He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws…” (Daniel 7:8-25) The apostle Paul warned that this blasphemy was already at work and that it would come not from an outside influence, but from within the Church itself! (2 Thessalonians 2:7)

The Roman emperor Constantine, a self proclaimed sun-worshiper, professed conversion to Christianity, though his actions suggest his “conversion” was more of a political move than a genuine heart change. Later, as Christianity grew, church leaders wished to increase the numbers of the church. In order to make the gospel more attractive to non-Christians, pagan customs were incorporated into the church’s sacraments and holy days—such as Sunday worship, Mass, Lent, Christmas and Easter.

The apostle Paul writes in Colossians 2:8, See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” And yet, all of the holidays celebrated in churches across the globe are “according to human tradition” and are pagan in nature.

Many Protestant Christians refuse to acknowledge that most of their own church doctrines are based on teachings from the apostate Roman Catholic Church. The most common example is when the Catholic Church changed God’s 7th day Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11) to the 1st day Sunday worship. Millions of Christians now worship on Sunday, even though God has commanded us to observe HIS Sabbaths, (Exodus 31:13) and that it is a sign between us and God, to show that we belong to Him. (Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:20)

This change of God’s laws by the Catholic Church has even been documented in many of the Catechism literature:

In the Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine

Q. Which is the Sabbath day?

A. Saturday is the Sabbath day.

Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?

A. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea, (AD 336) transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.

(Rev. Peter Geiermann, C.SS.R., (1946), p. 50)

In the Catholic Christian Instructed

Q. Has the [Catholic] church power to make any alterations in the commandments of God?

A. Instead of the seventh day, and other festivals appointed by the old law, the church has prescribed the Sundays and holy days to be set apart for God’s worship; and these we are now obliged to keep in consequence of God’s commandment, instead of the ancient Sabbath. (The Catholic Christian Instructed in the Sacraments, Sacrifices, Ceremonies, and Observances of the Church by RT Rev. Dr. Challoner, p. 204)

[It is important to note here that the Catholic church is not referring to God’s Feasts of the Bible when mentioning their own feasts and holy days.]

In An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine

Q. How prove you that the church hath power to command feasts and holy days?

A. By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; and therefore they fondly contradict themselves, by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same church.

Q. How prove you that?

A. Because by keeping Sunday, they acknowledge the church’s power to ordain feasts, and to command them under sin; and by not keeping the rest [of the feasts] by her commanded, they again deny, in fact, the same power. (Rev. Henry Tuberville, D.D. (R.C.), (1833), page 58)

Ignatius Bishop of Antioch (98-117A.D.) wrote in his ‘Epistle to the Magnesians’: “For if we are still practicing Judaism, we admit that we have not received God’s favor…it is wrong to talk about Jesus Christ and live like Jews…”

The Roman Catholic John Chrysostom preached the following in 387 A.D.: “The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now…If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies…Does God hate their festivals and do you share in them?” (John Chrysostom. Homily I Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2. )

2 Timothy 2:15 commands us to, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” God expects us to know His Word so that we can act on it. Proper Bible study of both the Old and New Testaments leads to approval from God. Paul explained that people are the servants of whatever and whoever they obey. (Rom. 6:16- 23)

We read in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

I particularly like the New Living Translation: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

What most people fail to realize about this verse is that The Law, The Prophets and other writings of the Old Testament were the only Scripture available when Paul wrote this to Timothy!

I once had a conversation with a woman about Christmas and showed her from Scripture how Jesus could not have been born on December 25th. I also explained how all of the symbols used during the Christmas season were pagan in nature. Sadly, at the end of our conversation she said, “I know that what you’re saying is true, but my family has always celebrated Christmas this way and I can’t change now.” At that moment she went from ignorance to rebellion. And God says, “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” (1 Samuel 15:23)

Sadly, most Christians today feel the same way. Even though they know that all of the holidays they celebrate in their church are pagan in nature, they still continue to observe them as if they are commanded by God. Jesus disputed this when he said, “Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3)

If God commanded that certain Holy Feast Days be kept, then shouldn’t you be certain why you choose NOT to observe them? No matter how comfortable a lifelong practice may be, shouldn’t you base your decision to continue doing it on hard evidence from Scripture instead of assumptions and traditions?

If God does not change, then neither will His Law. “My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.” (Psalm 89:34) “I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.” (Ecclesiastes 3:14)

In 1 John 5:3 we read: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” Mathew Henry writes in his commentary on 1 John, “As God’s commands are holy, just, and good rules of liberty and happiness, so those who are born of God and love him, do not count them grievous, but lament that they cannot serve him more perfectly.”

God’s laws are not burdensome. It is man’s additions and changes to God’s laws that are burdensome. And if we say that we love God but refuse to obey him, then we will end up just going through the motions:

Word of God

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosh Hashanah this year begins at sundown on October 2nd. It is the first of the fall festivals and considered to be the beginning of the lunar new year. The Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkoth, follows soon after on October 16th.

The idea of using the first day of January to mark the beginning of the new year dates back to time of Julius Caesar—five decades before the birth of Jesus. Even as the Julian calendar spread in popularity, some areas continued to use dates in March and September as New Year’s Day.

It wasn’t until the 1570s that Pope Gregory put the Gregorian calendar into effect, restoring January 1st as the first day of the new year. This change in tradition wasn’t officially implemented by England until 1752.

I think it’s interesting, that January 1st of the Gregorian calendar went into effect as the new year in the1570’s but not officially accepted by England or the American colonies until nearly 200 hundred years later. So up until then, England and the American colonies were counting the new year from March 25th which is more closely aligned to the Hebrew lunar calendar.

Why did the Church stop observing the biblical feasts?

So when did God’s feasts stop being relevant to Christians and why? What happened long after Jesus’ death, Resurrection, the destruction of the Temple or even hundreds of years later that caused believers to abandon these biblical “Feasts of the Lord” in favor of new traditions?

According to Eusebius’ Life of Constantine, Book III chapter 18, the Roman emperor Constantine stated: “Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way.”

Constantine was a worshiper of the sun-god Mithras and December 25th was Mithras’ birthday—that later became adopted as Christmas. A few decades after Christmas was adopted by Rome, the Roman Catholic John Chrysostom preached the following in 387 A.D.: “The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now…If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies…Does God hate their festivals and do you share in them?” (John Chrysostom. Homily I Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2. )

Notice that he did not say this or that festival, but all of them together.

Many Christians pick out Colossians 2:16-18 and mistakingly believe that Paul is telling us not to observe the feasts: Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

But Paul is not telling us NOT to observe God’s festivals or Sabbaths, he is telling us not to let others JUDGE us when we DO observe them! And who were those Paul was speaking of who would judge them? The legalistic Jews who would impose man-made ordinances and rules on the new Jewish believers. But Paul tells them: “Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings.” (Vs. 20-22)

The New Testament Christians kept the Fall Holy Days

The Apostles Paul wrote: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) And that included keeping the biblical feast days.

Notice that even after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the importance that the Apostle Paul attached to keeping a Feast in Jerusalem: “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” (Acts 18:21 KJV)

I find it interesting that many Bible translations today have removed the part of that verse that says, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem.” Compare it to the NIV which reads, “But as he left, he promised, “I will come back if it is God’s will.” Then he set sail from Ephesus.” Why no mention of keeping the feast in Jerusalem?

Feasts of the Lord—Not just Jewish feasts

In Leviticus 23:1-2 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts OF THE LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are MY appointed feasts. (Emphasis mine)

Notice that God did not say, “These are Jewish feasts.” But he said, “These are the appointed feasts OF THE LORD.” And “They are MY appointed feasts.”

The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) 

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to the Lord.” -Leviticus 23:24-25

The Hebrew word “moed” is commonly translated “feast” or “festival” in the Bible, but it really means “appointment”. God has set a number of “divine appointments” with Him on the yearly calendar. Appointments that Jesus celebrated, that the first Christians celebrated, that foreshadows the return of Jesus for His bride and that the entire planet will celebrate during the 1000 year reign of Jesus on earth.

It is very important for believers to learn about these festivals, because God didn’t just create them for us to have a good time.  All of the festivals are about Jesus, and all of them are highly prophetic.

The Feasts are commanded to be observed forever.

In Zechariah 14:16-19 we read:Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The Lord will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.”

In Leviticus 23:41 the word used for “forever” is the Hebrew word, עוֹלָם (`owlam) and means, long duration, antiquity, futurity, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, always, continuous existence, unending, eternity—In other words, FOREVER!

The New Testament Greek word for forever is aion (ahee-ohn’) and means at all times, always, perpetual, continuously, or continuous—In other words, FOREVER!

The account in Zechariah 14 refers to the time AFTER Jesus returns to earth and emphasizes the fact that this Feast is a statute forever. All nations are commanded to observe this Feast in the millennium. Eventually, all nations will come to understand and appreciate God’s commanded Feasts.

Human tradition stops many from observing God’s feasts. Notice some of what Jesus taught about religious people who preferred traditions over the commands of the Bible:

“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:7-9)

Those who have their minds set on earthly things lose sight of the world to come. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. (Phil.3:19) Esau was faithless and willing to give up his inheritance in exchange for the immediate gratification of his earthly hunger. But we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

It is very easy to become ensnared by the superficial trappings of worldly comforts so that we fail to realize just how vulnerable and naked we are in this world.

The Sukkah reminds us of our weakness and vulnerability:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary, troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1)

The Feast of Tabernacles is not just to remind us that the Hebrews lived in booths, but also that God dwelt among his people. They were led by his glorious presence and the tabernacle of the Lord was pitched in the midst of their tents. The Sukkah reminds us that as we live within this mortal, temporary body, God also dwells with us as he leads us by His Spirit to our eternal dwelling.

Only when we put aside this earthly tent and receive our glorified immortal bodies will we rejoice in the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises, yet we rejoice even now because we have been given the first-fruits of the Spirit guaranteeing our citizenship in the heavenly Jerusalem which is yet to be revealed.

Sadly, most Christians don’t know anything about these amazing festivals even though they are featured very prominently in the Scriptures.

Jesus said, “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Mathew 5:17-19 NLT)

The purpose of God’s law will not be achieved until after the return of Jesus. The only thing Jesus accomplished by his death and resurrection was the forgiveness of our sins and the giving of God’s Spirit. All through the New testament writings we read, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Which commandments? All of them. (John 14:15, 21,23; John 15:10;1 John 2:3; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 1:6)

So should we obey the commandments of God as revealed in the Bible and observe His appointed feasts—as practiced by Jesus and the early Christian Church, or should we replace God’s feasts with the pagan-based holidays of the traditions of men?

As for me, I will reject the traditions of men and let God arise:

There has been a national outrage recently about people using public bathrooms according to the sex that they identify with as a transgender person. (Just in case you’re unfamiliar with this transgender issue, it involves biological transgender males using a woman’s bathroom and biological transgender females using a men’s bathroom)

Many have even gone so far as to consider a boycott of Target Stores and other businesses who have publicly adopted policies that accommodate their transgender customers.

What these boycotters don’t realize is that these policies have been in place for years— they just haven’t been made public until now. There has probably been times when you have shared a public bathroom with a transgender person and didn’t even know it. (Because there are partitions between bathroom stalls in the larger public bathrooms)

Use the common sense approach

One common sense approach to this problem would be to design smaller unisex bathrooms with locking doors rather than sex-specific ones. (These are already employed in many hospitals and department stores) http://americanrestroom.org/code/index.htm

That being said, with all of the talk about the fear of pedophiles and rapists disguising themselves as transgenders in order to molest a child or female in a public restroom, I wonder where the outrage is about the 1 out of 5 children that are being sexually abused by someone they know in their own home! Mention that to the same people that protest “transgender-friendly” bathrooms and all you hear is silence.

A more complicated issue

The transgender issue becomes more complicated when it comes to gym locker rooms and showers in public schools. I believe that the current situation in many schools violates the privacy rights of other non-transgender students. Some students already have insecurity problems of getting undressed in front of other students of their own sex as it is, much less having to get undressed in front of a biological boy or girl who are transgender.

I believe everyone has a right to education and dignity. But not at the expense of the majority of our students who would feel uncomfortable getting undressed in front of someone of the opposite sex. This isn’t about discriminating against particular students; this is about putting rules in place that EVERYONE can live with. It’s about allowing everyone a right to privacy. That’s why I think we need a compromise—Like possibly cordoning off a section of the student’s locker room or designating a portion of the showers as “transgender-friendly” so students know what to expect.

Look, I believe that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the creator of everything in this world; that Jesus is the only begotten son of God and our Messiah who will one day return and rule here on earth. And I believe that as a Christian, I am responsible to obey God’s commandments—including observing God’s holy feasts mentioned in the Bible. And it is my right to continue to believe these things without restraint. Now there are many who would disagree with my beliefs. (Including most Christians) But that does not give me the right to force others to conform to my beliefs.

In the same way that I have no right to make people who do not share my beliefs feel uncomfortable by forcing them to accommodate me, transgender people also have no right to make others feel uncomfortable by forcing them to accommodate their beliefs.

God did not make clones. He views every individual as he made them—males and females with certain unique sexual characteristics. Along with those traits, God has provided direction on how we are to relate to one another. There is no prohibition regarding a slightly more “masculine” female or a slightly more “feminine” male. God views them as he does anyone else, with love and delight, and he desires that they experience all the freedom that he designed them to have.

The more important question we should ask is, why do Christians spend so much time and effort judging and condemning the ways of the world, when there is so much sin within the modern Church today?

The apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth on this very issue: “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5: 9-13)

The apostle appeals to our own conduct, that we only reprove and judge those within the Church. Nor did he pretend to exercise a power over others outside the Church. Not only that, but he admonished the Church that it would have been better if they had made use of the power they had over their own members, by admonishing and reproving those who continued to sin.

When this world comes to an end the Lord will not ask us how much effort we put into protesting the LGBT community, or Muslim refugees, or illegal immigrants. But he will ask, “Did you help one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine? Did you give them food and drink? Did you share what you had? Did you visit them when they were sick or in prison?” (Matthew 25:31-46)

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1: 26-27)

It is very important for every student of the Bible, in fact, it is absolutely necessary for every Christian, to see the distinction the Bible makes between the Jews (The House of Judah) and the other Tribes of Israel. (The House of Israel)

Many people today suppose that where Israel is mentioned in the Bible, it means the Jews. We read articles and hear sermons today in which the writers and speakers refer to Abraham as a Jew. Isaac and Jacob are often called Jews. But that is an impossible thing as we shall see from the Scriptures.

Thousands of Christians use the terms Israel, Jew, The House of Israel, and The House of Judah, as if the Bible always refers to the same people. But according to Biblical history, there were no people known as Jews until about 15 centuries AFTER Abraham was born, and until 600 years after the death of Moses!

Most Hebrews are not Jews

Beginning with Adam, we have not only the chronology, but the genealogical tables of the Bible. There are ten generations from Adam to Noah, and ten generations from Shem, Noah’s son, to Abraham. Eber or Heber (or descendants of Heber) was the fourth in the generation from Shem. All of the descendants of Heber were Hebrews. Abraham wasn’t born until six generations later. He, therefore, was a Hebrew. The Hebrews were not Jews, because Judah, from whom the Jews descended, was not yet born! When that time came, there were a very small portion of Jews on the earth. And the great mass of Hebrews were not Jews then, and are not today. Let us closely follow the facts.

Sons of Abraham

Abraham had eight sons. One son was Ishmael whose mother was Hagar. One son was Isaac, whose mother was Sarah. After Sarah’s death, Abraham married Keturah, and she bore unto him six sons. Abraham, being a Hebrew, his descendants would of course be Hebrews; and their descendants would also be Hebrews. But their descendants are not Jews. If they were, that would make the Arabs Jews!

Now Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. If Isaac was a Jew, then both Esau and Jacob would be Jews. This would make the descendants of Esau also Jews, but the descendants of Esau became the Edomites, and later the Turks. Also the Pharaohs who oppressed the Hebrews were of the line of Esau, but none of these people were Jews.

To call Abraham a Jew would make him a descendant of Isaac’s yet unborn grandson Judah! The Tribe of Judah had no existence on earth during the time of Abraham and Isaac. If Isaac was a Jew, then surely his twin sons, Jacob and Esau would be Jews. We all know that Esau, Jacob’s twin brother, became the father of the Arab nations as they are known today. If Jacob was a Jew, how could it be that his twin brother would not also be a Jew, since they were both born of the same father and mother?

Descendants do not name their ancestors 

Jacob, one of these twin brothers had 12 sons, which came from four different mothers. None of these 12 sons were Jews. One of his 12 sons was Judah, but this racial type or remnant we know as the Jews is only a small portion of the descendants of Judah. There are no Jews among any of the descendants of Jacob’s other 11 sons.

Now Judah had three sons. The descendants of one son, Zarah, peopled the shores of the Mediterranean, leaving Egypt before the exodus of the children of Israel. Pharez, the twin brother of Zarah, became the father of the tribe of Judah. The tribe of Judah descending from Pharez was divided by the Lord into two Houses—the “House of David” and the “House of Judah.”

Abraham was the father of Isaac; Isaac was the father of Jacob; Jacob, who was later named “Israel,” and became the father of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphthali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin. The 12 sons each became the head of a Tribe called after his own personal name. From Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, are descended the Jews. The word “Jew” being simply an abbreviation of the name “Judah.” A glance at the genealogy will show that it is impossible for Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob to have been Jews.

Only the descendants of Judah—those coming after him—could be called by his name, not his ancestors. No one had ever been named Judah until more than 200 years after Abraham was named! Many parents give their sons the same name as a great grandfather or other ancestors. Your ancestor who lived two hundred years before you would not be named after you, but you would be named after your ancestor. So naming Jacob’s fourth son Judah would not make Abraham, his great grandfather, a Jew.

Israel and Judah are separate nations

The 12 Tribes of Israel became two nations, with widely different destinies, until the time when they will be united in the coming age. (Ezekiel 37:22) The distinction or separation between Judah and Israel was foreshadowed at an early date. We read in Psalm 114:1, 2 “When Israel went out of Egypt…Judah became His sanctuary and Israel His dominion.” In Samuel’s day, the two Houses, Judah and Israel, were numbered separately. In I Samuel 11:8 we read “And when he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousands and the men of Judah thirty thousand.” Notice that Israel and Judah were numbered separately. And even at this early date, Israel numbered ten times more than Judah. The contrast today is even greater. The Bible tells us that the Jews would be “few in number,” (Jeremiah 44:28) but it tells us that Israel would become a multitude as the sands of the sea. (Hosea 1:10)

The Scriptures tell us that David reigned seven years over Judah before he was made King over Israel. If Judah and Israel are the same, how could David be king for seven years over Judah before he was made King over Israel? Until the year 975 B.C. the descendants of Jacob formed one nation. But they are spoken of as “the two families which the Lord hath chosen”. (Jeremiah 33:24)

In the year 975 B.C. at the death of King Solomon, the nation was divided into two nations. In I Samuel 18:16 Israel and Judah are separated in this passage: “But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.” In II Chronicles 10:12-14 we are told that when Solomon died, and his son Rehoboam came to the throne, the ten tribes rebelled, and under Jereboam, formed the Northern Nation; while Judah, along with Benjamin and certain Levites, formed the Southern Nation.

The ten tribes of Israel are never called Jews

The Northern Nation, which consisted of the Ten Tribes of Israel were not Jews and nothing can be more unscriptural than to call all Israelites Jews; it is as absurd as calling all Americans Californians! Most Israelites are not Jews because they are the descendants of the other tribes of Israel. The term “Jew” is never used until more than a thousand years after Abraham. It appears for the first time in II Kings 16:6, where we are told that the King of Israel, together with the King of Assyria, made war against the King of Judah. Now if the Israelites and the Jews are one and the same, how could it wage war against itself? The Scriptures never once refer to the Ten-Tribed House of Israel as “The Jews;” neither past, present, nor future.

The ten lost tribes of Israel

The subject of the lost tribes of Israel is a study of great interest. Yet it is remarkable to me that there is little or no serious enquiry in Christian circles regarding the fate of the ten tribes. Two perplexing questions continue to captivate Bible scholars and students alike: How is it that so little is known of the ten tribes of Israel, and why has so little enquiry taken place concerning them? This may well be because the devil has succeeded in frustrating any serious research into the matter.

The distinction between the two nations of Judah and Israel began before their final separation under Jeroboam, and Rehoboam. You will find in 2 Samuel 2, that David was anointed king over Judah only, while Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, was made king over all Israel. Immediately after the death of Solomon, and from that time to the present Judah and Israel have remained absolutely distinct. They were carried into captivity separately, at different times and by different nations: Israel was taken in captivity by the Assyrians B.C. 721 (2 Kings 17:6), while Judah was carried into captivity by the Babylonians B.C. 588 (2 Kings 25:21). A portion of Judah was permitted to return after seventy years, as had been predicted (Ezra 2:1), but Israel never returned nor was there any prediction that they should return until the final glorious restoration at the return of Messiah.

The descendants of the tribes of Israel certainly exist, the question is, Where? The Jews we know, but where is Israel? Some people assert that God has cut Israel out of His divine program, and replaced Israel with the Church. But in Jeremiah 31:35-36 we read:

“Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar: The Lord of Hosts is His name: If those ordinances (that is the sun and moon and stars) depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.”

This passage distinctly declares that while sun and moon and stars exist the nation of Israel will remain before God. Where are the ten tribes? Where is the nation of Israel? Which nation on earth today represents them? I have learned that if we really want to know about God’s people, the Bible is the book in which to look; let us, therefore, go to the Bible for the history of God’s chosen people Israel. Unless God’s promises have failed, Israel must still be in existence today.

It is perfectly clear that Israel, who had been dispersed for more than 700 years, was much in Jesus’ mind during His three years’ ministry upon earth. Because many references to Israel were made by Him. Christ Himself declared in Matthew 15:24 regarding His own mission: “He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Again our Lord says in Matthew 21:43: “Therefore say I unto you (He was speaking to the Jews), the kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation (the Jews had long since ceased to be a nation) bringing forth the fruits thereof.”

The Jews themselves evidently understood His statements, for in John 7:35 we read: “Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will He go, that we shall not find Him? Will He go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?” (The word “Gentile” is derived from the Hebrew word “Goyim” and means non-Jew i.e.; not from the tribe of Judah)

Israel was evidently in the minds of the apostles themselves. On the day of the ascension they asked Him: “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)

Scripture appears to me to furnish strong evidence that the Anglo-Saxon race today are the physical descendants of the house of Israel. If this be true, it adds tremendously to our responsibilities—spiritual responsibilities as well as temporal responsibilities, and will open to us possibilities that no human tongue can describe.

Let none of us, however, be so taken up with the literal fulfillment of prophecy that we forget the spiritual interpretation of it. For this reason it is extremely important that those who study this subject should be filled with the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and the fullness of spiritual blessings that goes with it.

Remember what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 11:16-18: “…if the root is holy, the branches are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you…”

Therefore, as we learn day by day to see more evidences of the fulfillment of these prophecies, may God possess in us individually and collectively, and in the thousands of others who in one body of men and women, the ability to yield to Him in heart and life and learn to do His will, proclaim His truth, and glorify His name.

“These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL in mount Sinai.” (Leviticus 27:34)

“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that YOU CAN DO IT!” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)   (Emphasis mine)

Most Christians think of the “Last Supper” as more of a symbolic communion than a feast meal. Because of this, many often miss out on the full meaning of the Passover and the additional meaning Jesus gave to it.

Jesus kept Passover as a child and an adult. (Luke 2:41-43; Mark 14:12-26; John 12:12) Mark 14:12 shows that the last supper was not a memorial observance, but a Passover meal. “his disciples said to him, where do you want us to go and prepare, that you may eat the Passover.” (cf. Matthew 26; Luke 22)

If Passover was replaced with the Last Supper, shouldn’t it also be commemorated once a year? Because once a year on the anniversary date of Jesus’ death would be more consistent with the belief that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper at the time of the Jewish Passover.

Many believe that Passover is a Jewish festival made only for Jews. And some even teach that every Jew who has become a Christian, should no longer celebrate these very important festivals. Because they believe that the Lord’s Supper replaced the annual feast days, they say that no Christian should observe the Jewish Passover and that the death of Jesus Christ is the only event, which Christians should memorialize.

But Scripture states that Passover, and ALL the feasts that are celebrated once a year are God’s feasts. In Leviticus 23 we read, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.’ “ (Emphasis mine)

These are God’s feasts, NOT just Jewish feasts!

“And a mixed multitude went up also with them…” (Exodus 12:38) Some of these “mixed multitude” were Egyptians, and some of other nations that had resided in Egypt, and who, for various reasons, chose to go along with the children of Israel. In doing so, the mixed multitude became part of the children of Israel—And were recognized as such by Moses and by God.

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34)

“If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” (Exodus 12:48-49)

“You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners residing among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.” (Ezekiel 47:22)

“Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:11-13)

Did Jesus and his disciples observe Passover or the Last Supper?

Passover associates 4 or 5 cups of wine, not just one. In Luke’s account of this supper the wine is taken at least twice; at the beginning and end of the meal. It is most likely that the ‘last cup of wine’ is associated with the third Passover cup, the cup of  redemption, (Exodus 6.6) associated with the coming of Elijah and the expectation of the coming of the Messiah. The fourth cup—the cup of consummation, Jesus declined to drink (Matthew 26.29; Mark 14.25; because between the third and fourth cups he would not drink until his return and consummation of his kingdom.

‘Dipping in the bowl’ in Matthew 26:23 and in Mark 14:20 may refer to the dipping of bitter herbs in either water or wine during the Passover Seder.

The meal concluded with the singing of hymns (Matthew 26.30; Mark 14:26), possibly the second half of the Hallel, (Psalms 113-118) traditionally associated with Passover.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church these words: “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.” (I Corinthians 5:7-8)

Notice, Paul said plainly enough, “Let us KEEP THE FESTIVAL” Not only did Paul in this verse exhort the Corinthians—many of whom were Gentile believers—to observe this Passover festival season, but he himself did so, setting them an example. Keeping the festival of Passover and Matzah symbolizes living the Christian life in holy dedication to God. That is why Paul uses the illustration of leaven when writing to the Corinthian Church.

What other scholars say about this:

“The construction of the Greek verb translated “let us keep the feast” is called horatory subjunctive, which is commonly used to exhort or command oneself and one’s associates. This use of the subjunctive is used to urge someone to unite with the speaker in a course of action upon which he has already decided.” (Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 464)

“Some go to great lengths to attempt to sidestep this clear command to “keep the feast” by alleging that the expression is in some way figurative, since he uses other figurative language in this section of Scripture. But the reason he gives to “keep the Feast” is because “Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us.” Christ’s sacrifice was a literal event; so is keeping the festival that relates to His sacrifice. And a cardinal rule of interpreting the Bible is to prefer the simple, obvious meaning.” ( Edward W. Goodrick, Do It Yourself Hebrew and Greek, p. 12:1 )

Jehovah Witnesses claim to know exactly the date when Jesus Christ introduced the Last Supper.

According the Jehovah Witness website, “Jesus Christ instituted the Memorial of his death (the Lord’s evening meal or Supper) on Nisan 14, according to the biblical Jewish calendar that was common in the first century. Jesus Christ also died on Nisan 14 (in the afternoon about three o’clock). Why that? Because in the first century the Jewish day began at sundown and extended until the following sundown. So Jesus Christ died exactly on the same Jewish calendar day. Jesus instituted the Memorial of his death after sundown on Nisan 14, at the beginning of this day.”

But when is Nisan 14 in our calendar? Jehovah Witnesses claim it was March 23, 2016. But the14th of Nisan in 2016, (Hebrew calendar 5776) begins at sundown on April 22, 2016 not March 23rd. March 23, 2016 is the 13th of Adar II and is the date that Purim begins. (http://www.hebcal.com/hebcal/?year=2016&v=1&month=x&yt=G&nx=on&o=on&vis=on&d=on&c=off&maj=on&min=on&mod=on)

It is interesting that Hebrews 11:28 regards Moses’ keeping of the Passover as an act of faith, not ritual. It was observed in direct trust in God’s means of salvation from Egypt—however illogical it may have seemed at the time.

Thus, the “last supper” was not a memorial symbolized with just the breaking of bread and drinking wine, but a full feast meal—not only looking back on the exodus, but also looking forward to the crucifixion and ultimately towards the second coming of Jesus and the consummation of the messianic kingdom. (cf. Isaiah 25:6-9)

As such, the early church continued to observe it, but eventually exchanging God’s Agape (love) feast for the more symbolic last supper/eucharist. (Perhaps because of the kind of excess mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:17-22)

In the end, the Agape was forgotten and the eucharist became more formal, central and even ‘magical’ in the later doctrine of transubstantiation. The Passover symbolism is mostly lost on gentile believers. Jesus was the ultimate Passover lamb, (1 Corinthians 5:7) and as such died with all his bones intact. (cf. Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; Psalm 34:20)

God’s Passover feast is considered by some to be outdated history. But the treasuring of our freedom through education and enactment is a joyful occasion.

Why does the Church emphasize the morbid death of Christ through the symbolic last supper/eucharist more than his joyous resurrection or return? Indeed, the purpose of Passover is a way of proclaiming our redemption and freedom from the bondage of sin through the sacrificial blood of the Lamb of God!

NEXT YEAR IN THE NEW JERUSALEM!

When someone mentions hell, most think of a fire and brimstone place of everlasting torment and pain. But the Hebrew word often translated as “hell” is sheol—which simply means “pit” or “grave.” It does not mean a place of ever-burning fire.

The New Testament includes three Greek words that are also translated as “hell”—Gehenna, Hades and Tartarus—yet each has a different meaning.

Gehenna describes the fire that will destroy the unjust, (Matthew 10:28) not a place where souls will forever burn. The Greek word Hades, like the Hebrew sheol, simply means “pit” or “grave.”

In the 1600s, people in England and Ireland commonly spoke of putting their potatoes “in hell” through the winter when they planted their crop. They understood that the word “hell” referred to a dark, cold, quiet place that was a hole in the ground—not a place of burning torment.

The fourth biblical word translated as “hell” is the Greek word “Tartarus”. This word denotes a condition of restraint, and the Bible shows that it applies only to fallen angels. (See 2 Peter 2:4)

The word “sheol” and “hades” occurs 54 times in the King James Version of the Bible. Yet it is translated as “hell” 31 times in the Old Testament and 29 times in the New Testament. You can confirm this by simply using a Strong’s Concordance and search various Bible verses for the word “hell” like I did. Or you can use an online Bible search tool to scan various Bible translations for the word “hell.” According to modern Bible scholars, the word “hell” (As some understand its meaning) did not appear a single time in the original Hebrew or Greek—not even once!

What happens when we die?

There are some who believe that when a person dies, they just remain dead and there is nothing beyond that—no heaven, no hell, nothing. Many attribute this belief to only atheists, but there are other religions that hold similar beliefs as well.

Jehovah Witnesses, for example, believe that only the righteous will be resurrected and that the unrighteous dead will remain in their graves. (Reasoning From The Scriptures; pages 338-339)

Catholic, Protestant, and Evangelical Christians have their own version of heaven, hell and the resurrection. Many believe that at the point of death the Christian soul will be immediately ushered into heaven to enjoy an eternity with the Lord. They often misquote 2 Corinthians 5:8 as, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” as proof of natural immortality of the soul. What Paul really said is that he would RATHER be absent from the body and be present with the Lord. I too, would RATHER be absent from my body and be present with the Lord. But that will not occur until the resurrection.

So where will Christians go when they die? To begin to answer that question, we should ask: “If the righteous are ushered immediately into heaven when they die, then certainly King David, whom God called a man after His own heart, (Acts 13:22) must be there—but what does the Bible say?

On the Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter preached to a large crowd, telling them of the Messiah’s resurrection from the dead. He further explained: “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.” (Acts 2:29) And to make it even more clear he said, “For David did not ascend into the heavens.” (v. 34)

So the Bible makes it clear that when the righteous die they do not immediately go to “a better place”. They go to the same place that King David went when he died—into the grave!

Many Christians also misinterpret Matthew 13:40-42 as proof that the unjust will immediately be cast into a burning hell at the time of their death, because it states, “Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” But the wailing and gnashing of teeth is the result of the unjust knowing of their coming destruction in the lake of fire (Gehenna)—not from any torment they will endure for all eternity.

Resurrection of the just and unjust

Scripture teaches us that:

  1. There will be a resurrection of the dead, of both of the just and unjust.
  2. The unjust, (Those who refuse God’s gift of salvation) must be punished.
  3. Physical death is not the final judgment of the unjust.
  4. The time of their punishment is not now, but at the day of judgment.
  5. This day of judgment, must take place at the same time as the resurrection of the dead, at the end of this age.

Consider the following Scripture verses:

Daniel 12:2—And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

2 Peter 3:7— But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

Joel 3:12-14 —  Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: For there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: Come, get you down; for the press is full, the vats overflow; For their wickedness is great.

Revelation 1:7— Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Now, none of these verses are yet fulfilled, neither shall they be, until the Lord’s second coming; for though many of the Jews did see him, when he hung upon the execution stake, yet at that time he was not coming in the clouds of heaven, neither then did all kindreds of the earth wail because of him. No, this is reserved until he comes to judge the world. Therefore, this will be brought to pass at the resurrection of both of the just and unjust.

The danger of false doctrine

An opinion of no resurrection of the unjust may lull men into a false security and impiety, yet when the Lord returns he will rouse them, and cause them to awake; out of their graves and into their doom, that they may receive the recompense for their sins.

There are, says Paul, “in a great house not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth, and some to honor and some to dishonor.“ The body of the unjust must rise again because just as the righteous are vessels of mercy and glory, the unjust are vessels of wrath and destruction. (2 Timothy 2:20,21) They have become vessels of wrath because of their hard and unrepentant heart. (See Romans 2:5)

The Bible teaches that there is not only one death for the unjust, but two: “Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:14–15)

Some may ask, “Why would God need to resurrect the unjust only to judge them and destroy them? Why not just leave them in their graves?” Paul explains in Romans 9:22-23, “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory.”

Although God is all merciful, all powerful and all forgiving, God is also holy, righteous and just. Sin entered the world through one man’s disobedience— Adam, and now all of us are born into this “sin nature.” God’s holiness and justice demand that sin and rebellion be punished. And the only penalty or payment for sin is eternal death. Our physical death is not sufficient to atone for sin because atonement requires a perfect, spotless sacrifice that was accomplished by Jesus’ death on the execution stake. (See Romans 6:23; 1 Peter 1:18-19)

Because the unjust refused God’s free gift of salvation, there remains for them a requirement for payment of their sins. So the unjust will not arise by virtue of any relation they have with the Lord Jesus, as believers do, but because Jesus was made sovereign Lord over them. Therefore by an act of his sovereign power, the ungodly shall arise as vessels of wrath.

Even Jesus, who has sovereignty over all creatures, plainly spoke of a resurrection of the unjust, as well as of the just: Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (See John 5:22-29)

Consider Jesus’ parable of the Sheep & the goats found in Matthew 25:31-46: 

Verse 34: Then the King will say to those on his right, (The just sheep) “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Verse 41: Then he will say to those on his left, (The unjust goats) “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

We must understand that not all who stumble with sin are considered to be unjust, wicked or unsaved: “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) Paul was addressing the believing church in Corinth here, so this passage is directed at only believers—not the unjust.

Whoever takes away the doctrine of the resurrection of the unjust takes away one of the main arguments that God has provided to convince the sinner of the evil of his ways. For how shall a sinner be convinced of the evil of sin if they are not convinced of the certainty of a final judgment beyond the grave? And how will a wicked person who cares nothing for God or this life be convinced to repent and be saved if they are persuaded that when they die they will not rise, but will just remain dead?

God is not some angry, vengeful judge who takes pleasure in destroying those refuse to love him. In fact he will weep over those he has to destroy; just as we would weep over a loved one who suffers from an incurable painful disease whose life is being prolonged by machines. In those cases we often make the difficult decision to end their life. Not out of vengeance or anger, but out of love for the one who is suffering—to end their pain.

God desires that all would accept his free gift of eternal life, but those who reject God will be raised up with corruptible bodies and will forever will be in a state of continual corruption and pain—unless something is done. So in order to end the pain of corrupted bodies, he makes the difficult decision to destroy them—and weeps over them.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)