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Friday, April 10, 2020

Where is Judas?

This will not be an extensive study on Judas. To be honest, I'm not sure of his eternal fate, but if I were pushed, I'd be on the side of arguing Judas has resurrection life.

I want to look at this issue by examining two opposite ends of the spectrum in Christendom: The Papacy and the (as far as I can tell, their About Us page doesn't have anything about them I can find) Reformed Anabaptist folks at Pulpit and Pen.

As is my practice, I will link the referenced article so you can read it for yourself. I do this as a courtesy, in the name of fairness, and because I try to treat others as I wish to be treated.

  • On the Papacy Side: Judas is in Heaven
  • On the Reformed Side: Judas is being tortured by God with fire "in his own place."

Anybody familiar with this blog knows what I believe about the pagan, blasphemous belief concerning God torturing people with fire. I'll post a sampling of links to related articles at the end of this brief post. So let me pull back the lens to quickly dispense with both arguments.

No one is in Heaven except God and very few believers have that as their hope. In fact, I am of the opinion that no one has actual "heaven" as his hope. We just covered this topic in a recent entry. We see in scripture those who inherit the Earth. We see those who have a Kingdom on Earth. We see those who will reside in the New Jerusalem, which does come down from heaven, but it settles on earth and sky. Finally, we see a small company who have blessings and hope in the "far above the heavens" or "in heavenly places."

As for Judas being in "his own place," let's look at that passage. It is found in Acts 1 connected to the selection of Matthias to replace Judas. The article relies heavily on commentaries. I am not opposed to quotations (I use them if something is worded well), but they are not authoritative. And many are tainted (as is Strong's concordance, which I use) by the traditions of men.

Here is an excerpt:

Acts 1:25 makes it clear…

That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. 
Barnes Notes Commentary says, “The expression “to go to his own place” is one which is used by the ancient writers to denote “going to an eternal destiny.” Thus, the Jewish Tract, Baal Turim, on Numbers 24:25, says, “Balaam went to his own place, that is, to Gehenna,” to hell. Thus, the Targum, or Chaldee Paraphrase on Ecclesiastes 6:6, says,” Although the days of a man’s life were two thousand years, and he did not study the Law, and do justice, in the day of his death his soul shall descend to hell, to the one place where all sinners go.” Thus, Ignatius in the Epistle to the Magnesians says, “Because all things have an end, the two things death and life shall lie down together, and each one shall go to his own place.” The phrase his own place means the place or abode which was suited for him, which was his appropriate home.”

First, their reliance on extra-biblical texts for a ministry which seems to hold the Textus Receptus and the King James Bible as the "superior" and most reliable texts is odd. They defer to "Baal Turim" for Numbers 24:25? Jacob ben Asher? Really? And then defer to the Targum paraphrase for Eccl 6:6? Well, it makes sense if you realize we're talking about mystical and allegorical works as tradition's "hell" is pagan.

The KJV reads:

And Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place: and Balak also went his way. 
-Num 24:25

Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place? 
- Eccl 6:6

Yes, we do all go to "one place." ALL of us. We go to Sheol, Hades, Hell. That is, biblical "hell" (Hades), not Greek Mythology's "hell." It is a state of being rather than a place. In a nutshell, the dead are dead. All the dead.

What sayeth the Textus Receptus (Hebrew, right to left)?
 וַיָּ֣קָם בִּלְעָ֔ם וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ וַיָּ֣שָׁב לִמְקֹמֹ֑ו וְגַם־בָּלָ֖ק הָלַ֥ךְ לְדַרְכֹּֽו׃ פ -Number24:25
וְאִלּ֣וּ חָיָ֗ה אֶ֤לֶף שָׁנִים֙ פַּעֲמַ֔יִם וְטֹובָ֖ה לֹ֣א רָאָ֑ה הֲלֹ֛א אֶל־מָקֹ֥ום אֶחָ֖ד הַכֹּ֥ל הֹולֵֽךְ׃ - Eccl 6:6

I'll leave you to do your own translating. But I can tell you this, you will not find what is found in the corrupted versions quoted by Pulpit & Pen. I reference again their article.

Barnes Notes Commentary says, “The expression “to go to his own place” is one which is used by the ancient writers to denote “going to an eternal destiny.” 

Even if I accepted this as being accurate (in regard to eternal destiny), it's nonsense. We do not see resurrection yet. Until that day, all who die go to the grave. It is only in resurrection that we experience immortality (1 Cor 15:54). The dead go "to the same place" as we just saw in Ecclesiastes 6:6. And what do we do with the following verses?

So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there... And the ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months. And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the Lord? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place.
-1 Samuel 5:11; 6:1-2

Note: I'm not breaking down the Hebrew here, I'm simply relying on the King James.
I would contend that Acts 1:25 does make something clear, but that something is not that God is torturing his friend. What it makes clear is that Matthias took his place among the twelve apostles. This was necessary as the Kingdom in Israel will have 12 thrones. That kingdom (its restoration) was still possible in the Book of Acts as the Lord taught his disciples for 40 days after his resurrection and after he opened their minds (Acts 1:6) and just as Peter preached to Israel after Pentecost (Acts 3:17-26).

Acts 1:25, is about Matthias not Judas. You have to understand the parenthetical.

And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship (from which Judas by transgression fell), that he [Matthias] might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles." 

Matthias went to his own place among the Apostles just as the ark in 1 Samuel went to its own place in Jerusalem. Judas doesn't have "his own place." That makes no sense in the context. Judas fell from his place among the Apostles. Man puts him in tradition's "hell" and thus they mangle that verse.

The Apostles in Acts 1 are asking God to show them which of the two he has chosen so that the chosen one can take his rightful place.

Pausing to catch our breath... So, Judas is neither in heaven (as no one is except the Lord currently) and he is not in tradition's hell. So what is his fate?

Judas was chosen by the Lord. He performed miracles. He is called the Lord's "friend." Do we not believe that eternal life is a free gift by faith? Are we now to argue that Judas lost that gift by his works? 

The only legitimate argument for Judas not having life (we're ignoring the mythology of fiery torment) is that he never placed his faith in the Lord. But I don't know that. Christians are capable of horrible wickedness. So I don't know Judas' fate. Why men must have him being tortured is a reflection of our wicked, pagan, vengeful blood-lust. 

Why Are Some Christians Celebrating Passover and the Return of Sacrifices?

I love theology. If you've had the misfortune of happening across this blog, you know this. You also know I use the phrase "this is in pencil" when it comes to some issues (especially prophecy).

I follow a lot of ministries, I read a lot of theologians and I take NONE of the them at face value. NONE. I expect no one to take my writings at face value. As I have often said, there are 7.8 billion people in the world and that means there are 7.8 billion theologies in the world. We are all responsible for ONE. I hand that responsibility to no one else.

All that said, Christianity is, at its core, Christ. As much as I might disagree with some schools of theology, I can find fellowship if they embrace the core. I've read some of Calvin's commentary recently. I don't agree with a number of his interpretations BUT I rejoice when he exalts the finished work!

If there is anything I do write in indelible ink it is these two pillars of the faith:

  • It is Finished
  • He is Risen

As noted, I subscribe to a lot of ministry e-Newsletters and I follow a few prophecy YouTube channels. What shocks me is the odd obsession with reestablishing the sacrificial system in Israel and the building of the Third Temple. And these are Dispensationalists who know better.

Now, I know why I am looking for those things as they are signs that Israel is going to be back at the center of the Plan of God and that this current age is ending. However, I also realize that means terrible times for Israel. These are not good things on their face. The Messiah they look for will first come in the form of the Antichrist and he will deceive many (not all, thankfully).

Israel has its promises and its covenants. God will fulfill these for his chosen people. But that has precious little to do with us in this age.

But let me back up a second. Ignoring all that for a moment, simply in regard to the sacrifices and the Temple, let us return to Christianity 101.

  • It is Finished
  • He is Risen

There is a reason the Temple was destroyed after the Acts age, but we will leave that for another time. Today, I just want to point out that (especially as Gentiles) we have no business supporting animal sacrifice nor an earthly Temple.

Even Paul, writing to Hebrew believers in the Acts age, reminds us:

“Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

Christianity 101. It is Finished.

Gentiles were strangers to the promises. Gentiles were separated by a middle wall of partition and the law and its ordinances. From Adam until now, the only hope of conquering the grave ("the gates of Hades") is:

  • It is Finished
  • He is Risen

The resurrection of the Lord is the great undoing of the curse. He did not decay in the grave and he overcame death itself. He did not turn to dust, he did not die for eternity (as is the penalty for sin).

The sacrificial system was but a shadow. It is specific to Israel. The Passover is forbidden for Gentiles. It is a commemoration of Israel's rescue from Egypt (a picture of their future covenant). We have no business celebrating the Passover.

I'd better stop. Suffice it to say, don't mess around in the shadows. Don't cheer the rejection of the sacrifice of Christ. Don't rejoice in those who teach it is incomplete and insufficient. Don't rob from another's hope. Don't practice another's earthly system which has nothing to do with us.

  • It is Finished
  • He is Risen

Christianity 101. Feel free to disagree me on any matter of theology, but let us cling to these two life-giving pillars.

Do not mind the things of the earth, the shadow over the reality. Follow your own calling, not the calling of another.

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." 
-Col 3:1-3

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Other Verses in 2 Chronicles 7

When dark days come (such as we are currently experiencing around the world in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic), Christians turn their lonely eyes to a promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Sounds good. But as we have hopefully learned by now, the vast majority of promises in scripture have nothing to do with those of us in the current age. Yes, we can learn about the Lord's character from the promises to others and we may even be able to glean principles. In this case, it is always wise to seek God and turn from wickedness, but the rest of verse has absolutely no application to us. More importantly, it contains no promise to us.

The verse omits (ignores) what has befallen the land and why. And what do we make of the "land?" The Body of Christ has no land nor any hope or promise of a land. Who has such a promise? Israel! And it is almost exclusively those Christians who claim to support Israel who regularly try to rob from her hope and promises.

Let's look at the immediate context of 2 Chronicles 7:14.

If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
-2 Chronicles 7:13

The people of Israel, in that land, when in blessing, when they are "[his] people," should they suffer a curse of drought or a plague of locusts, then they should follow the dictates of 2 Chronicles 7:14. We can even allow this to be representative of any curses resulting from Israel's sins if we want to be generous with the passage, but there is no room to cram in the Body.

Now let us look at the verse which follows 7:14.

Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attend unto the prayer that is made in this place.
-2 Chronicles 7:15 

"In this place." What place? The temple! This entire passage involves the dedication of the Temple by Solomon. The passage is Israel-centric and Temple-centric.

Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest, forgive.
-2 Chronickes 6:21

Now let's look at some other promises of God hearing from heaven from the same prayer of Solomon. I could single out a number of these prayers, but here are just two.

“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance.

Here we have drought as we will in 7:14. Do we dare take "Your people Israel" for ourselves? Do we honestly believe the USA (or wherever a Christian happens to live) is the same as Israel, in her Temple, in her land? Is the USA our inheritance?

“When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to a land far or near; yet when they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, and have committed wickedness’; and when they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they have been carried captive, and pray toward their land which You gave to their fathers, the city which You have chosen, and toward the temple which I have built for Your name: then hear from heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people who have sinned against You. Now, my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and let Your ears be attentive to the prayer made in this place.

Pray to toward the land you gave their fathers? The city which God has chosen? Toward the Temple? What do we do with that? Soldiers captured by the Japanese or Germans in WWII should have prayed towards Washington DC and London? This long prayer is very specific. Yet we careless rip out one verse and apply it the USA (or Hungary or Russia or Vietnam or wherever Christians happen to live). What if a nation has only 10 Christians, yet it is as pagan and wicked as it can be. Do we believe if the 10 Christians follow 2 Chron 7:14 God is bound to bless the entire nation? This is pure carelessness .

Here is the lead-in to Chapter 7:

Now, my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and let Your ears be attentive to the prayer made in this place.

“Now therefore,
Arise, O Lord God, to Your resting place,
You and the ark of Your strength.
Let Your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation,
And let Your saints rejoice in goodness.

Can we say, "well, the church is now the living temple" and apply these things? No, it is still nonsensical. If we are the temple, how do we look toward it? To what land is it connected? And in this very prayer, Solomon states that God that temple could not contain God. It was symbolic, yet it was real. It had tied to it strict requirements for sacrifice. It contained the Ark of God. All of that is connected to Israel, HER covenant, and the land.

Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven or on earth like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts... Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!

Grace is not a covenant. Israel's covenants (Old. New, Abraham's, David's) are connected to a land and a kingdom on this earthly. Our blessings are in the far above the heavens. We have no earthly hope.

Now let's move into Chapter 7. We've already looked at 7:13-15. Now consider 7:16-18

For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, and do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man as ruler in Israel.’

This should end the folly of ripping verse 14 out of its context. But let us finish the chapter and hopefully we will turn from the wicked way of trying to rob from Israel and of forsaking our own calling and hope as revealed in the Book of Ephesians and Paul's post-Acts epistles.

“But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, and worship them, then I will uproot them from My land which I have given them; and this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.

The Body has no land, no earthly Temple, and we are already among the Gentiles because we are Gentiles.

“And as for this house, which is exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and this house?’ Then they will answer, ‘Because they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and embraced other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore He has brought all this calamity on them.’ ”

God neither brought me nor my fathers out of the land of Egypt. As Gentiles we were, even as believers, without a hope in this earth. You cannot find a Gentile in scripture, since Abraham, who is blessed without a connection to Israel or a Jew. This holds true all the way through the Lord's earthly ministry and the Book of Acts.

Here we were until this age:

Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

-Ephesians 2:11-13

Let us return to Solomon's prayer and find our place

“Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for the sake of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray in this temple; then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name.

-2 Chronicles 6:32-33

First thing we note is that the foreigner (the non-Israelite) is singled out here. He has no place in 7:14. We are not Israel. We are not Jews. Secondly,. Solomon asks that their prayer be heard IF they pray in the Temple (in the court of the Gentiles as they were forbidden from elements of Israel's life).

In Leviticus, Gentiles (foreigners) were able to bring a sacrifice. They could participate in certain aspects of Israel's life (note the Old Covenant was about a nation of priests, not about resurrection life which has always been a gift by grace through faith from the beginning).  But they were forbidden to participate in the Passover.

And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.
-Exodus 12:48 

 We could explore this topic almost endlessly. There are scores of conditional blessings and cursings throughout God's dealings with Israel. Why men choose to isolate this one verse and claim it for themselves, in the age, ironically, puts them in danger of being ashamed at their judgment. For to try to claim 2 Chron 7:14, one must fail to Rightly Divide the Word of Truth. And doing so will result in shame (2 Tim 2:15).

A few related studies:

Prayer in the Present Age
Who is a Jew?
The Present Age - Part 1
The Present Age - Part 2
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Walking in the Spirit - Part 1
Race, Ethnicity, The Traditions of Men, and Lent
Settling for Less - The Warnings of Colossians 2