The Friends of the Nazarene On-line Magazine

Volume 2 -- December 1998 (50 pages)

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: Nazarene Saints Publishing is a Bible research group for a better Scriptural understanding. We are dedicated to the preservation and publishing of Christian writings which aid Friends of the Nazarene to "follow the Lamb no matter where the Lamb goes." (John 15:14; Revelation 14:4) We are apologists dedicated to the defense of the truth that "God is One" and not three. The Bible is our credo. We view this "God-breathed" book as inspired alone, while the thoughts of men about it are not. We wish to respect the views of our multitude of Christian brethren. (1 Peter 3:15)

IN THIS ISSUE ---

1. The Biblical Woman (c 1,500 - 1,000 BC)

2. Who are the "sheep" and the "goats"?

3. The Hope of the Patriarchs

4. Announcements

5. Thoughts on the Proverbs

6. A Loving Disciple of the Nazarene

7. Faith Perspectives: Evolution; Light of the World

8. Tabernacle Shadows

The Biblical Woman

PART TWO

Under the Law (c 1,500 - 1,100 BC)

WOMAN UNDER THE LAW

The Law Served to Protect Women in the Ancient World

Before the Law the idea of the husband as the owner of his wife was a social and cultural concept. (Genesis 20:3) Under the Mosaic Law this same relationship obtains between the Israelite husband and his wife. This legal attitude existed for a thousand years. (Exodus 21:3, 22; Leviticus 21:4; Deuteronomy 22:22; 24:4; 2 Samuel 11:26) It continued into the period of the Prophets. (Isaiah 54:1, 5; 62:4)

The wise Proverbs also convey this idea. Proverbs 12:4, "A capable wife is a crown to her owner, but as rottenness in his bones is she that acts shamefully." Proverbs 31:11, 23, 28, "In her the heart of her owner has put trust, and there is no gain lacking. ... Her owner is someone known in the gates, when he sits down with the older men of the land. ... Her sons have risen up and proceeded to pronounce her happy; her owner [rises up], and he praises her."

In the Prophets the belief the husband was the owner of his wife is also reflected in Yahweh’s relationship with Israel: God is the "husbandly owner" of the nation. (Hosea 2:16; Joel 1:8; Isaiah 1:3; 54:1, 5; Jeremiah 3:14)

Though this was the legal and spiritual relationship with his wife as her owner Yahweh judged those husbands who abused their women. The Hebrew Bible ends with this warning: "Jehovah himself has borne witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you yourself have dealt treacherously, although she is your partner and the wife of your covenant. You people must guard yourselves respecting your spirit, and with the wife of your youth may no one deal treacherously. ‘For he has hated a divorcing,’ Jehovah the God of Israel has said; ‘and the one who with violence has covered over his garment,’ Jehovah of armies has said. "And you must guard yourselves respecting your spirit, and you must not deal treacherously." (Malachi 2:14-16)

Consider now some of the features of the Law of Moses with regard to women.

Polygamy or plural wives was permissible under the law. However it was legally regulated to protect the woman and her children. (Deuteronomy 21:15-17; Exodus 21:10)

If a man seduced a woman he had to marry her unless her father forbid the union. (Exodus 22:16, 17; Deuteronomy 22:28, 29) If such a seduction occurred the man forfeited his right of divorce.

The Law allowed no arrangement for female divorce, so only the husband could divorce if something "indecent" was found in her. The parameters of this indecency was given wider and wider interpretations. (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)

As part of the Ten Commandments adultery was forbidden and sanctioned by the death penalty for either the husband or wife. (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 22:22) Surely here no double standard was permitted by Yahweh. Additionally the Law outlined a number of family relationships which disallowed marriage. (Leviticus 18:7, 8; 20:11; Deuteronomy 22:30; 27:20; Leviticus 18:9, 11; 20:17; Deuteronomy 27:22; Leviticus 18:10; Leviticus 18:12, 13; 20:19; Leviticus 18:14; 20:20; Leviticus 18:15; 20:12; Leviticus 18:7, 17; 20:14; Deuteronomy 27:23; Leviticus 18:16; 20:21; Deuteronomy 25:5, 6; Leviticus 18:18)

Under the Law sanctions regarding incest protected the women, for such a perpetrator was put to death. (Leviticus 18:29; 20:11, 12, 14, 17, 20, 21)

No male could have intercourse with a menstruating woman. If such occurred and proven both were put to death. (Leviticus 18:19; 20:18) Such sanctions taught self-control and respect for the woman. However, if a husband accidentally or unknowingly had relations with a woman during her menstruation he was ceremonial "unclean" for a week and could not serve in any sacred or religious ceremony. (Leviticus 15:19-24)

Both the father and the mother were under divine command to teach their children the Law of Yahweh. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, 20-25; 11:18-21; Isaiah 38:19)

Children were to honor their mothers also and this was particularly manifest by respect and financial support in old age. (Exodus 20:12; 21:15, 17; Leviticus 19:3; Deuteronomy 5:16; 21:18-21; 27:16)

A woman (as well as a man) were forbidden to cross dress or wear those clothes of the opposite sex. (Deuteronomy 22:5)

Female homosexuality was sanctioned by death for sodomite relationships. (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13)

Examples of Biblical Women Under the Law

In the complete history of the period of the Mosaic Law to the coming of Messiah, there are about two dozen women who are featured prominently in the Hebrew Bible. Some are named and some are nameless. Let us review some of these.

Miriam the Prophetess

Miriam was the sister of Moses who possibly watched as his little ark floated toward Pharaoh’s family. Some believe her name means "Rebellious." She is identified as a "prophetess" who led the women of Israel in song at Yahweh’s victory over the Egyptians. Did this position as female prophet, as well as the brother of the Israelite leader Moses, cause her to become jealous and ambitious?

Numbers 12:1-13 records: "Now Mir'i·am and Aaron began to speak against Moses on account of the Cush'ite wife whom he had taken, because it was a Cush'ite wife he had taken. And they kept saying: "Is it just by Moses alone that Jehovah has spoken? Is it not by us also that he has spoken?" And Jehovah was listening. ... And he went on to say: "Hear my words, please. If there came to be a prophet of yours for Jehovah, it would be in a vision I would make myself known to him. In a dream I would speak to him. Not so my servant Moses! He is being entrusted with all my house. Mouth to mouth I speak to him, thus showing him, and not by riddles; and the appearance of Jehovah is what he beholds. Why, then, did you not fear to speak against my servant, against Moses?" When Jehovah struck her with leprosy the account continues: "And Moses began to cry out to Jehovah, saying: ‘O God, please! Heal her, please!’"

What kind of lesson was there for future Biblical women? If God so chose to use a woman to fulfill His purpose, she ought to remember Miriam’s jealous ambition which led to her disrespect for God’s own appointment. Note God’s warning in cases of leprosy: "There should be a remembering of what Jehovah your God did to Mir'i·am in the way when you were coming out of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 24:8, 9)

Despite this error on this woman’s part she is remember in the prophets a thousand years later: "For I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and from the house of slaves I redeemed you; and I proceeded to send before you Moses, Aaron and Mir'i·am." (Micah 6:4) This illustrates that a woman, inspired by God, who fails in one area of her life, is not any kind of overall failure and, indeed, may be fondly remembered by other inspired servants of God. Surely, she will stand for her blessing in the Judgment of God.

Rahab the Gentile Prostitute

There is an interesting contrast between Miriam -- a woman born into God’s privileged nation -- and Rahab the prostitute of Jericho. Miriam is not to be mentioned in the Christian Bible. Whereas Rahab is not only mentioned but given as an example of faith and godly works.

Joshua 2:1-13 records the account about this Biblical woman of faith: "Then Joshua sent two men as spies, saying: "Go, take a look at the land and Jer'i·cho." So they went and came to the house of a prostitute [Hebrew: zoh·nah' ] woman whose name was Ra'hab, and they took up lodging there." The account does not state how long they remained there. Some wish to make this a very short period of hours, while others make it days because it calls into question the length of time these spies spent in a house of prostitution. Some understand the word zohnah as something like "innkeeper" but there seems little basis for this. Rahab hides the spies and misleads the king of Jericho. However, even under the Law prostitution was not necessarily a forbidden trade punishable by death (unless adultery could be proven). ("Prostitute" occurs 50 times beginning at Genesis 34:31; compare also Genesis 38:15; Deuteronomy 23:18; Judges 11:1; 16:1)

Now she expresses her faith in Jehovah and gives her reasons: "And she went on to say to the men: "I do know [her faith] that Jehovah will certainly give you the land, and that the fright of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have become disheartened because of you. For we have heard [the basis for her faith] how Jehovah dried up the waters of the Red Sea from before you when you came out of Egypt. ... for Jehovah your God is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. And now, please, swear to me by Jehovah that, because I have exercised loving-kindness toward you, you also will certainly exercise loving-kindness toward the household of my father, and you must give me a trustworthy sign. And you must preserve alive my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters and all who belong to them, and you must deliver our souls from death." As a result of her faith -- and immediate conversion -- Rahab’s house is protected when the walls come tumbling down. (Joshua 6:22-25)

The most marvelous news is that Rahab becomes an ancestor of Messiah as Matthew is to later record in his genealogy: "Sal'mon became father to Bo'az by Ra'hab." (Matthew 1:5) Paul lists her as the only woman of faith in all the history of Israel under the Law: "By faith the walls of Jer'i·cho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Ra'hab the harlot did not perish with those who acted disobediently, because she received the spies in a peaceable way." (Hebrews 11:30, 31) Also, the disciple James (also a descendent of Rahab) uses her as an example of justification by faith: "In the same manner was not also Ra'hab the harlot declared righteous by works, after she had received the messengers hospitably and sent them out by another way?" (James 2:25)

Deborah the Prophetess

Deborah (or "Bee") is the next Biblical woman who draws our attention. She is identified by Judges 4:4, 5, "Now Deb'o·rah, a prophetess, was judging Israel at that particular time. ... and the sons of Israel would go up to her for judgment. (Judges 4:4, 5) Some argue that Deborah was not really a "judge" but this seems to go counter to what these verses state. Also, Deborah is seen giving instructions to Barak regarding the Israelite battle against Sisera. She goes on to make a prophesy regarding the outcome: "The beautifying thing will not become yours on the way that you are going, for it will be into the hand of a woman that Jehovah will sell Sis'e·ra." (Judges 4:9) As it turns out it is the Gentile woman Jael who hammers a tent peg through the temple of Sisera. Deborah goes on to compose a victory hymn commemorating the triumph. (Judges 5:2)

The account demonstrates that when qualified men are not available the God of heaven, the Maker of Eve, may choose and inspire a woman to accomplish His purpose. When this occurs in those rare occasions throughout the history of Israel, these Biblical woman take Miriam as a warning not to covet political ambition over men.

Ruth the Gentile convert

One of the most well-known Biblical women was Ruth. This Biblical woman, though not an Israelite, demonstrate outstanding qualities of loyalty, devotion and faith. Her famous response to her mother-in-law Naomi demonstrates this: And Ruth proceeded to say: "Do not plead with me to abandon you, to turn back from accompanying you; for where you go I shall go, and where you spend the night I shall spend the night. Your people will be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I shall die, and there is where I shall be buried. May Jehovah do so to me and add to it if anything but death should make a separation between me and you." (Ruth 1:16,17)

We have seen before in this consideration the enormous desire women had to continue the family line. When a culture or nation is looking for one of their members to become the deliverer at some future moment, then reproduction and genealogy become paramount. This is demonstrated in the case of Ruth who returns to Israel with her mother-in-law after the death of her husband. The account in the book of Ruth is about the process of "brother-in-law" marriage where a brother or kin of the deceased man was duty-bound to raise up offspring so his relative’s name not die out in Israel. The Book of Ruth is vital in a critical link in the ancestral lineage of the Messiah. The link between Rahab and Ruth is recorded by Matthew 1:5, "Sal'mon became father to Bo'az by Ra'hab; Bo'az became father to O'bed by Ruth; O'bed became father to Jes'se."

Indeed, in Matthew’s genealogy covering 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus there are only five women mentioned and only four of them named. (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Mary; Bathsheba goes unnamed as the "wife of Uriah." (Matthew 1:1-17) So, throughout a period of over nineteen centuries only these five women are mentioned in the genealogy. And, two of these during the period of the judges, one in the period of the kings. Thus, there were only four in the whole period of the Mosaic Law. Similarly, Paul is later to name only two women of faith in the entire history from Abel (c 4,000 BC to 29 AD). One before the Law, Sarah; and, one under the Law, Rahab. (Hebrews chapter 11)

Ruth is shown in the Bible book that bears her name (one of two books named after a woman, the other being Esther) to be loyally submissive to, first, her mother-in-law, and second to her future husband, Boaz. In brief Ruth is given advice on how to attract Boaz, a wealthy Israelite farmer, and related to Ruth’s deceased husband. Much in the account will be considered quaint and primitive but we must not judge the historical culture of another peoples without first considering how our own culture has undergone changes and growth.

Ruth is observed to be hard-working as she gleans the fields of Boaz. (Ruth 1:22-2:1) Ruth demonstrates that her character is a humble one when she tells Boaz that she is less than one of his female servants. Ruth 2:10-13 reports, "At that Ruth fell upon her face and bowed down to the earth and said to Boaz: ‘How is it I have found favor in your eyes so that I am taken notice of, when I am a foreigner?’ Then Bo'az answered and said to her: ‘The report was fully made to me of all that you have done to your mother-in-law after the death of your husband, and how you proceeded to leave your father and your mother and the land of your relatives and to go to a people whom you had not known formerly. May Jehovah reward the way you act, and may there come to be a perfect wage for you from Jehovah the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.’ To this Ruth said: ‘Let me find favor in your eyes, my lord, because you have comforted me and because you have spoken reassuringly to your maidservant, although I myself may not happen to be like one of your maidservants.’" Ruth is humble and respectful in her demeanor and speech, calling her future husband Boaz, "Lord."

Ruth’s mother-in-law instructs her in the way of Israel and its law on brother-in-law marriage: "(Naomi says), ‘And it should occur that when Boaz lies down, you must also take note of the place where he lies down; and you must come and uncover him at his feet and lie down; and he, for his part, will tell you what you ought to do.’ ... And Ruth proceeded to go down to the threshing floor and to do according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her. Meantime Bo'az ate and drank, and his heart was feeling good. Then he went to lie down at the extremity of the grain heap. After that she came stealthily and uncovered him at his feet and lay down. And it came about at midnight that the man began to tremble. So he bent himself forward, and, look! a woman lying at his feet! Then he said: ‘Who are you?’ In turn she said: ‘I am Ruth your slave girl, and you must spread out your skirt over your slave girl, for you are a repurchaser [in brother-in-law marriage].’ At that he said: "Blessed may you be of Jehovah, my daughter. You have expressed your loving-kindness better in the last instance than in the first instance, in not going after the young fellows whether lowly or rich. And now, my daughter, do not be afraid. All that you say I shall do for you, for everyone in the gate of my people is aware that you are an excellent woman. And now while it is a fact that I am a repurchaser, there is also a repurchaser closer related than I am. Lodge here tonight, and it must occur in the morning that if he will repurchase you, fine! Let him do the repurchasing. But if he does not take delight in repurchasing you, I will then repurchase you, I myself, as sure as Jehovah lives. Keep lying down until the morning.’" (Ruth 3:4-13)

There are two particularly interesting matters here. First, note what a commentary says regarding Ruth’s actions: "Undoubtedly this symbolical method of claiming the most delicate of all rights, presupposes manners of patriarchal simplicity and virtue. The confidence of the woman reposes itself on the honor of the man. The method, however, was one which could not easily be brought into operation. For every foreknowledge or pre-intimation of it would have torn the veil of silence and secrecy from the modesty of the claimant. But when it was once put into operation, the petition preferred could not be denied without disgrace either to the woman or the man. Hence, we may be sure that Naomi did not send her daughter-in-law on this errand without the fullest confidence that it would prove successful. For it is certain that to all other difficulties, this peculiar one was added in the present case: namely, that Boaz, as Ruth herself says, was indeed a goel [a repurchaser], but not the goel. The answer of Boaz, also, suggests the surmise that such a claim was not wholly unexpected by him. Not that he had an understanding with Naomi, in consequence of which he was alone on the threshing-floor; for the fact that he was startled out of his sleep, shows that the night visit was altogether unlooked for. But the thought that at some time the claim of Ruth to the rights of blood-relationship might be addressed to himself, may not have been strange to him. Even this conjecture, however, of what might possibly or probably take place, could not be used to relieve Ruth of the necessity of manifesting her own free will by means of the symbolical proceeding." (Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, translated and edited by P. Schaff, 1976, p. 42.)

Secondly, Boaz is to use a unique word to describe this Biblical woman. In the version above it is "excellent woman." (Ruth 3:11) This is the Hebrew ליח (chayil) which Strong’s (#2428) states comes from a root (#2342 chiyl) with a meaning which includes "writhe in pain (of childbirth)." Additionally, Strong’s explains that ליח is a military word used of men (able-bodied man) and is associated with, force, army, valor, virtuous. This is the only place where this word is used to describe a named woman. The other rare occurrence in a female context is that description of the "capable ( ליח )" woman/wife of Proverbs 30:10. This word ליח in Proverbs 30:10 is variously translated: KJV: virtuous; ASV: worthy; BER: strength of character; NWT: capable. The power of this word ליח indicates what a strong woman Ruth was, one possessed of all those characteristics a man might look for in a godly woman: virtue, loyalty, hard-working, humble, charitable and respectful. These are to be attributes of that "capable wife" described in Proverbs chapter 30.

Certainly the book of Ruth is a living example of a godly Biblical woman who is blessed ("a perfect wage") as a forebear of the Messiah. It is worth a careful reading by godly women to discern those qualities the Creator of Woman approves. (1 Peter 3:4)

This will end Part Two of The Biblical Woman and will resume in Part Three (Woman During the Period of the Kings and Prophets) in the next issue of the Friends of the Nazarene Newsletter.)

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WHO ARE THE "SHEEP" AND "GOATS"?

The Parable Matthew 25:31-46

The parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31-46 has been given a variety of interpretations. While respecting the views of others we wish to offer another opinion on the identity of the "sheep and goats" in the Nazarene’s apocalyptic parable.

Some interpret the parable to apply to a period of testing and judging during the millennial reign of the Messiah. That is, during the thousand years. Others explain the parable describes two major groups: a remnant of the anointed Church -- the "brothers" of the parable; while the sheep are viewed as a group of Christians, a "great crowd" who are not anointed but who will live through the great tribulation to live on earth forever. (Revelation 7:9-17) [For details on these verse in the Book of Revelation see the online and readable publication Nazarene Apocalypse.]

Before reading the entire parable we observe that three parables precede this one. These parables are: the faithful slave (Matthew 24:45-51), the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-12), and, the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) Each of these parables have some similarities: a good and a bad group, the Parousia of the Lord. The moral of all of these seems summed up by Matthew 25:13, "Keep on the watch, therefore, because you know neither the day nor the hour." This seems reasonable since the last item the Nazarene discusses in his answer to his four apostles’ question is the need to remain awake and alert for his Parousia, or Return as King. (Matthew 24:32-44) In other words, these parables are related to the parousia-judgment: when the King returns he judges his own household first. (1 Peter 4:17)

Based on this context it would seem fair to conclude that the parable of the sheep and goats is also related to the Parousia and the Return of the Christ. We feel the parable deals with the judgment on the Household of Faith -- all those within the Realm of Profession, the "kingdom of the heavens," the Son’s domain or realm -- the Church itself. (Matthew 13:41-43) Thus, the sheep and goats are like the wheat and the tares (weeds) of the Nazarene’s earlier parable. The sheep would be the same as the faithful slaves, the wise virgins, and the slaves who used their talents. The goats would be the same as evil slaves, the foolish virgins, and the unproductive slave with the single talent. Now consider the entire parable of the sheep and the goats.

Matthew 25:31 -- When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne.

Could this be during or following the Thousand Years? We note the King arrives with all his angels. What period could this be? If this were during or following the Thousand Years why would the verse not read, "and all his Saints"? For, it is by the "Saints" that Messiah judges mankind in general. (1 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 20:4,6) Because the Saints are absent here it would seem this prophetic moment is at the Parousia when the King arrives to judge his own household of faith. There will be a future moment when the King does come with his Saints. (Compare Revelation 17:14; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Zechariah 14:5)

This "throne" is not that one mentioned at Revelation 3:21 which Jesus attained upon his ascension to heaven. (Acts 1:9-11; Daniel 7:13; Ephesians 1:20-23) This "throne" is the same as the one Paul mentions at 2 Corinthians 5:10, "For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of the Christ, that each one may get his award for the things done through the body, according to the things he has practiced, whether it is good or vile." Here Paul mentions those two groups in the Nazarene’s parables: the good and the vile.

The beloved apostle also mentions these two groups in the judgment at 1 John 2:28; 4:17, "So now, little children, remain in union with him, that when (the Son) is made manifest we may have freeness of speech (in the day of judgment) and not be shamed away from him at his Parousia." Both Paul and John seem to draw upon the Nazarene’s words at John 5:28, 29, which are drawn from Daniel 12:2. Compare these:

"The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs [from Isaiah 26:19 LXX] will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment." (John 5:28, 29)

"And there will be many of those asleep in the ground of dust who will wake up, these to indefinitely lasting life and those to reproaches [and] to indefinitely lasting abhorrence." (Daniel 12:2)

Thus it seems fair to conclude that upon Messiah’s Arrival he first judges those who profess him as Lord. We note in the parable both the sheep and the goats address the Son of Man as "Lord" thus recognizing him as King. (Compare Matthew 7:21) This explains why the Saints are absent in verse 31 as they are present in Revelation 17:14.

Matthew 25:32 -- And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

This verse, and its mention of "all the nations" is used by some to prove that the sheep and goats in the parable are not spiritual Israelites, but the Gentiles among mankind. However, may these "nations" be those locations where all the "chosen ones" or "elect" are found upon the Return of Christ. The Nazarene has already stated: "And then the Sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven ... and he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones [the Elect] together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity." (Matthew 24:31) It would seem our Lord is here paraphrasing Isaiah 11:12, "And (Messiah) will raise a Sign for the nations, and he shall gather the lost ones of Israel, and shall gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." (LXX Bagster)

Thus the "nations" are those former ethnic backgrounds which has characterized all the anointed Saints throughout the Gospel Age. (Compare Acts 2:5) Revelation 7:9 describes those Saints (or, chosen ones) who survive the Great Oppression and are alive at the time of the Parousia: "After these things I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb." Judging from the parallel language in Revelation 7:14 those "out of all nations" are the same as the "chosen ones" of Matthew 24:30, 31; and, those "dispersed of Israel" in Isaiah 49:6, 17 who "no longer thirst or hunger." (Compare Revelation 7:16).

Matthew 25:33 -- And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.

Like the preceding parables there are two groups or classes: the good and the vile as noted in Daniel 12:2, John 5:29, 2 Corinthians 5:10, and 1 John 2:28. However, in the parable what makes the sheep good or righteous? Can we expect a catechism of beliefs or a long list of duties? First, though, note a further identifying feature of the "sheep."

Matthew 25:34 -- "Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you [plural] who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.

This blessing by the Father includes inheritance or possession of "the kingdom." (Daniel 7:27) What "kingdom" would this be? Some believe it is the earthly realm of the King during the Thousand Years. However, the Nazarene has already referred to this Kingdom of the Father in the context of the Parousia-judgment. Note Matthew 13:41-43: "The Son of man will send forth his angels [as in Matthew 24:31 and 25:31, 32], and they will collect out of (the Son’s) kingdom all things that cause stumbling and persons [the goats] who are doing lawlessness, and they will pitch them into the fiery furnace [compare Matthew 25:41]. There is where [their] weeping and the gnashing of [their] teeth will be. At that time the righteous ones [the sheep] will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." (Compare Daniel 12:3) Is it not clear that the "wheat" here are the "righteous" and that these will ultimately "inherit (the Father’s) kingdom"? Thus, the sheep are the same as the wheat; and, the goats the same as the tares (weeds).

That the "kingdom" in the parable the sheep inherit is heavenly is shown in the only other place where "inherit the kingdom" occurs. Note 1 Corinthians 15:50, 51, "However, this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God's kingdom, neither does corruption inherit incorruption ... in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet." (See also 2 Timothy 4:18) So, is it fair to conclude that these sheep are those true Christians throughout the Gospel Age (or, history lof the Church) who now before the judgment seat of Christ may speak without shame or embarrassment. Now, what is it that made these sheep, "sheep"?

Matthew 25:35-40 -- For I became hungry and you gave me something to eat; I got thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you received me hospitably; naked, and you clothed me. I fell sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous ones will answer him with the words, 'Lord, when did we see you [singular] hungry and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and receive you hospitably, or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to you?' And in reply the king will say to them, 'Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'

First, it is clear that what made the sheep righteous was their charity and hospitality to those Jesus called "my brothers." Before passing on to this designation, let us never forget by what the sheep are judged: they saw strangers hungry, thirsty, cold, sick, or imprisoned and these they treated with love. No doctrinal creed is here listed. No list of works such as missionary efforts or evangelical campaigns. Simply: it was their charity.

But, who are those the King calls his "brothers. Some would make this another group, different from the sheep and goats. We see no reason to make this distinction. The Nazarene taught that his "brothers" were those who did God’s will. (Matthew 12:48, 49; Mark 3:33-35) Put simply, the sheep are also brothers of Christ (Hebrews 2:11) The Nazarene taught that he had come to find the "lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 10:6; 15:24)

An example of this is seen in Paul’s conversion. He had been persecuting the Church and now on the Damascus road, the "Lord" says to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you keep persecuting me." (Acts 9:1-6) By persecuting the disciples Paul was persecuting Jesus. These disciples were his "brothers" doing the will of the Father. Right there Saul turned from a goat to a sheep. Paul included himself among the sheep. (Romans 8:36; Hebrews 13:20; compare 1 Peter 2:25)

There is a startlingly similarity between Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:35-40 and Isaiah 56:6-8 that cannot be ignored. Note in Isaiah that Yahweh speaks by the prophet to the "house of Jacob" and that in the end charity and hospitality toward one’s "own flesh" is the point:

 

"Is not this the fast that I choose? To loosen the fetters of wickedness, to release the bands of the yoke bar, and to send away the crushed ones free, and that you people (Israel) should tear in two every yoke bar? Is it not the dividing of your bread out to the hungry one, and that you should bring the afflicted, homeless people into [your] house? That, in case you should see someone naked, you must cover him, and that you should not hide yourself from your own flesh?"

If the Nazarene is quoting Isaiah here then the application of the parable of the sheep and goats is certainly that judgment upon "the Israel of God." (Galatians 6:16) But, what about the goats?

Matthew 25:41 -- Then he will say, in turn, to those on his left, 'Be on your way from me, you who have been cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.’

First, these words are similar to those Jesus uses regarding others who called him "Lord, Lord," on the day of the parousia-judgment. Note Matthew 7:21-23, "Not everyone saying to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kingdom [that which the sheep inherit] of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father [the "brothers"] who is in the heavens will. Many [goats] will say to me in that day [of the parousia-judgment], 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?' And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness." Compare these "workers of lawlessness" here with those "weeds" in Matthew 13:41. There is an additional similarity between the parable of the wheat and weeds and the sheep and goats: the weeds and goats end up with the same punishment. (Compare Matthew 13:30, 40) But, what makes the goats "goats"?

Matthew 25:42-46 -- For I became hungry, but you gave me nothing to eat, and I got thirsty, but you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger, but you did not receive me hospitably; naked, but you did not clothe me; sick and in prison, but you did not look after me.' Then they also will answer with the words, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them with the words, 'Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did not do it to one of these least ones, you did not do it to me.'’ And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life." The goats are goats in Jesus’ parable here, not because they were evil, not because they taught false prophecies, but simply because they did nothing in the ay of charity. While the sheep saw the need and filled it with love, the goats, observing the same, failed to obey their Lord’s commandments regarding love. (John 15:17)

This principle that failure to respond to the needs of fellow believers is stressed by James and John. Compare the two:

James 2:14-17, on what constitutes "works" of faith: "Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if a certain one says he has faith but he does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it? If a brother or a sister is in a naked state and lacking the food sufficient for the day, yet a certain one of you [a goat] says to them: ‘Go in peace, keep warm and well fed,’ but you do not give them the necessities for [their] body, of what benefit is it? Thus, too, faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself." This corresponds exactly with the Nazarene’s parable. Belief alone will be of no benefit. Faith without action is good as dead. The goats evidently possess faith for they address the King as "Lord." What they lack is charity and hospitality.

1 John 3:16-18, on how to remain in God’s love: "By this we have come to know love, because that one surrendered his soul for us; and we are under obligation to surrender [our] souls for [our] brothers. But whoever [a goat] has this world's means for supporting life and beholds his brother having need and yet shuts the door of his tender compassions upon him, in what way does the love of God remain in him? Little children [sheep], let us love, neither in word nor with the tongue, but in deed and truth." John was present at the giving of the parable of the sheep and goats and he seems to reflect or echo the same spirit here.

It is our conclusion, therefore, that the parable of the sheep and goats, like the three which precede it, deals with the parousia-judgment upon the Return of Christ to judge his own Household of Faith. The sheep and goats are limited to those Christian believers throughout the Gospel Age, or history of the Church from Pentecost to the Parousia. And so on "that day" will rise those sleeping greats of the ancient Christian world: the apostles of the Lord, the dear ladies who attended him, Paul and his fellow associates, the martyrs of the Gospel Age, Christians great and small throughout time. Both the righteous sheep and the unloving goats. Great Popes and clergy. Men of letters and Bible-reading plough-boys. Humble and insignificant widows and orphans overlooked by the great Church heirarchy. All these must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ and receive what is due to them for what they did in the flesh -- good or vile. (2 Corinthians 5:10). All will know whether they are guilty or not guilty. All will know there final and everlasting destiny.

Then, before our Lord, we will fall in one of two categories as John writes: "So now, little children, remain in union with him, that when (our Lord the King) is made manifest we may have freeness of speech and not be shamed away from him at his Parousia (presence)." It is our prayer that all our readers may be the former -- those unashamed and not embarrassed -- THE SHEEP!

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THE HOPE OF THE PATRIARCHS

Did the "ancient worthies" believe they would live in heaven with Messiah and share his rule as kings? Some feel such men and women, because of their faith, deserve to reign with Christ from heaven.

Some point to Hebrews 11:10, 16, "(Abraham) was looking forward to a city with foundations with The God as its Designer and Maker. ... But, now, they are reaching out for something better, that is something belonging to heaven. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God for he has prepared a city for them."

The phrase "something belonging to heaven" is the Greek TOUT ESTIN ETOURANIOU, which may be "this is of heavenly one," or, "that is to say, a heavenly one." Did Paul mean those faithful ancients from Abel to Abraham were to inherit a heavenly city in which they would become citizens or residents?

What was the hope of the Hebrews and later the Jews? What did the Nazarene teach on this matter? What else do the Christian Scriptures have to say on the hope of the Patriarchs and other faithful servants of God?

THE ORIGINAL "HOPE"

What was God’s original purpose for all humankind? A reading of the first three chapters of Genesis is understood by most to indicate God’s original purpose was for a global Edenic paradise where humankind would live forever as His obedient creatures. Most scholarly commentaries acknowledge that the only cause for death was disobedience, therefore, everlasting life was built into the human creature. In other words, our first parents would live forever on earth if they obeyed.

This is alluded to by God Himself when he warns regarding the first human: "And Jehovah God went on to say: ‘Here the man has become like one of us in knowing good and bad, and now in order that he may not put his hand out and actually take [fruit] also from the tree of life and eat and live to time indefinite [forever on earth] ..." (Genesis 3:24 NWT) Likely, the eating of the fruit of the Tree of Life would be a reward and a conditional guarantee of everlasting life had Adam been obedient.

It seems a given, therefore, that God purposed mankind in general to live forever on earth. No were in the Old Testament does it teach the thought of either soul immortality or an afterlife in heaven. Indeed, the general thrust is that when humans die they become non-existent and therefore unconscious. (For details on this subject see the online publication, Where Are the Dead?) The religious idea of the soul surviving the death of the body originates with pagan religions such as the Egyptians, Persians, and Greeks.

If this be the case, then it may be inferred that those ancients who believed in God held the hope and faith that the original paradise would be restored under the rule of Messiah.

"HOPE" IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Actually there is very little in the Bible about the precise hope or expectations of the "ancient worthies" or faithful witnesses of old. Indeed, the most thorough discussion of life beyond the grave is in the Book of Job chapter 14. Some feel the book was written by Moses and the events occurred at some time between Joseph and Moses, or around 1,600 BC. Therefore, it is the oldest inspired discussion of death and the resurrection hope.

 

1 "Man, born of woman, Is short-lived and glutted with agitation.

2 Like a blossom he has come forth and is cut off, And he runs away like the shadow and does not keep existing. [Non-existence]

3 Yes, upon this one you have opened your eye, And me you bring into judgment with you. [A judgment]

4 Who can produce someone clean out of someone unclean? There is not one.

5 If his days are decided, The number of his months is with you; A decree for him you have made that he may not go beyond. [Psalm 90:10]

6 Turn your gaze from upon him that he may have rest, [Sleep in death] Until he finds pleasure [an ultimate hope] as a hired laborer does in his day.

7 For there exists hope for even a tree. If it gets cut down, it will even sprout again, And its own twig will not cease to be.

8 If its root grows old in the earth And in the dust its stump dies,

9 At the scent of water it will sprout And it will certainly produce a bough like a new plant. [planted in the same soil, earth]

10 But an able-bodied man dies and lies vanquished; And an earthling man expires, and where is he?

11 Waters do disappear from a sea, And a river itself drains off and dries up.

12 Man also has to lie down and does not get up. [revive from death] Until heaven is no more they will not wake up, [they are asleep until ...] Nor will they be aroused from their sleep.

13 O that in She'ol [Hades/hell]/grave] you would conceal me, That you would keep me secret until your anger turns back, That you would set a time limit for me and remember me!

14 If an able-bodied man dies can he live again? [resurrection] All the days of my compulsory service I shall wait, Until my relief comes."

This verse by Job makes it clear the dead are asleep and non-existent. They wait in the grave (Sheol/Hades) for the day God will "remember" them. There will be some future "relief" after a compulsory wait. No where does Job express any idea that he expected to go to heaven.

In the third century Jewish Greek Bible, the Septuagint, verse 15 reads: "I will wait until I exist again." The Greek is PALIN GENOMAI -- something like "rebirth." One would judge from his words that this rebirth or new existence would be on earth and not in heaven.

There is another poetic verse which indicates what this hope is in Psalm 49:9-11, "For the redemption of the soul is too costly; so that he will live for ever [on earth], and not experience death. [HAR] ... Their hope is their houses shall continue for ever." Eternal life on earth is strongly inferred in this verse. It says nothing about the beloved brother dying and going to heaven.

THE NAZARENE’S TEACHINGS

Did Jesus teach that the ancient Hebrew and Jewish faithful would attain to heaven by their resurrection? Some say so. However, there are a couple of verses where the Nazarene seems to say that the ancients of other generations will not enter the "kingdom of the heavens."

First, we can state with a strong degree of confidence that no faithful man or woman mentioned in the Jewish Hebrew Bible ever went to heaven. The Nazarene teaches plainly, "No man has ascended into heaven." (John 3:13) [NOTE: We must look for another "heaven" into which the prophet Elijah may have disappeared in a wind storm. (Consider Genesis 1:20)]

In the context of discussing the greatness of John the Baptist, the Nazarene teaches: "Truly I say to you people, Among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist [John is equal to any of the Hebrew patriarchs]; but a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is [and therefore any of the patriarchs]. But from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of the heavens is the goal toward which men press ["heaven" was only a goal from 29 AD], and those pressing forward are seizing it." (Matthew 11:11-12 NWT) This later verse is considered one of the most difficult to translate in the Christian Bible. There are a variety of approaches with none of these completely satisfactory to everyone. However, the first part seems to make clear that John the Baptist was equal to any man ever born. This would include Abraham, Moses, David, and Elijah. Yet, the very least -- the most seemingly insignificant, some times meaning the elderly, the young, and women -- "in the kingdom of the heavens" is still greater than John the Baptist. This would seem to mean that John the Baptist would not be included in "the kingdom of the heavens."

Some would be tempted here to interpret "kingdom of the heavens" as the celestial realms above. And, this is a possibility. However, Jesus uses the phrase to also mean his own realm or that domain over which he rules. That is, the Church. He does not necessarily say that these ancient men (and women) will not go to heaven. They just are not part of the Church, or those who will be associate kings and judges during the millennium. (Daniel 7:27; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 20:4) However, many would understand this to mean these ancient worthies would not go to heaven.

There is a particular verse which some take to mean at least three of these patriarchs would reign in heaven. This is found in Matthew 8:10-12 -- "Hearing that, Jesus became amazed and said to those following him: "I tell you the truth, With no one in Israel have I found so great a faith. But I tell you that many from eastern parts and western parts [Gentiles] will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens; whereas the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside. There is where [their] weeping and the gnashing of [their] teeth will be."

Jesus made a similar remark in another context as recorded in Luke 13:23-30,
"Now a certain man said to him: "Lord, are those
[? Jews] who are being saved few?" (Jesus) said to them:
"Strain every nerve to get in through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will seek to get in but will not be able, when once the householder has got up and locked the door, and you start to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, 'Sir, open to us.' [Compare Matthew 25:11, 12] But in answer he will say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.' Then you will start saying, 'We [Jews] ate and drank in front of you, and you taught in our broad ways.' But he will speak and say to you, 'I do not know where you are from. Get away from me, all you workers of unrighteousness!' There is where [your] weeping and the gnashing of [your] teeth will be, when you [Jews] see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves thrown outside. Furthermore, people [Gentiles] will come from eastern parts and western, and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. And, look! there are those last who will be first, and there are those first who will be last."

What do these texts mean? If we understand the three patriarchs and all the prophets to be literal then only these would be included in the Nazarene’s remarks about reclining at the royal supper. It would be a case of speculation that anyone else would be included, such as all the ancient women. However, based on the Nazarene’s statement that a) none had ascended to heaven; and, b) those equal with John the Baptist would not be in the kingdom of the heavens, these three patriarchs and "all the prophets" would not be in the kingdom of the heavens. (Note: Matthew uses "kingdom of the heavens" while Luke uses "kingdom of God" meaning the same.)

The Nazarene does sometimes use the phrase "kingdom of the heavens" to be synonymous with his Church, or the realm of profession. This can be observed in Matthew 13:24, 41, "The kingdom of the heavens [the Church] has become like a man that sowed fine seed in his field. ... The Son of man will send forth his angels, and they will collect out from his kingdom [the Church/Christendom] all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness." This would seem to confirm that the phrase "kingdom of the heavens" is the same as the field of the Lord, or the Son’s kingdom, realm, or domain. In other words, the phrase "kingdom of the heavens" would refer only to that territory over which the King Messiah reigns beginning in the year 33 AD. Though some wil be upset with the proposal, the ‘kingdom of the Son’ is the same as Christ’s kingdom, or Christendom.

If this be the view and we take the Nazarene to speak in a metaphor or parable he means in the two accounts that many of his contemporary Jews would not gain entry into the Church when its first Jewish members were being gathered during that period of grace ending in 36 AD with the first Gentile converts. Therefore, these Jews would still be alive to see the first Israelites or Jews, pictured by the three great patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, gaining entrance into the Congregation (Kingdom; compare Colossians 1:13, 18) of Christ. Note in Luke’s parable the part about being locked out is the same as the parable of the ten virgins. In this parable the five foolish virgins would include those unbelieving Jews who did not qualify for entrance into the Church of Christ. Note their gnashing of their teeth at Acts 7:54.

The triune formula of "Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" occurs about a dozen times in the Bible. It is generally in the context of God’s covenant promise to the patriarchs of Israel which would be fulfilled in their "seed." (Exodus 2:2, 4; 3:16; 6:3, 8; 33:1; Deuteronomy 1:8; 6:10; 9:5, 27; 29:13; 30:20; Numbers 32:11; 2 Kings 13:33; Jeremiah 33:26) This later verse reads: "If it was not a fact that I had appointed my own covenant of the day and night, the statutes of heaven and earth, so too I would reject even the seed of Jacob and of David my servant, so that I should not take from his seed rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For I shall gather their captives and will have pity upon them." These references might support the Nazarene’s use of the three patriarchs as metaphor for the "seed" of Israel who would gain entrance into the kingdom/church. (Compare Galatians 3:29; 6:16)

Thus, we do not think it unreasonable that the Nazarene speaks in metaphor using the three patriarchs (as well as Luke’s "all the prophets") to mean the Israelite "seed" who would be "the Jew first" within the kingdom/church of Christ. [NOTE: this is similar to the prophetic use of David’s name for the Messiah. Compare Ezekiel 34:23, 24; 37:24, 25; Zechariah 12:7; Hosea 3:5; Amos 9:11; Acts 15:16] Note this idea in Romans 1:16, "God's power for salvation to everyone having faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Gentile)."

The prophet Daniel foretells that Jew’s will be the first to benefit from Messiah’s work. Note Daniel 9:26-27, "And after the sixty-two weeks [33 AD] Mes·si'ah will be cut off, with nothing for himself. ... And he must keep [the] covenant [with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob] in force for the many for one week [seven years from 29-36 AD]; and at the half of the week [33 AD] he will cause [Jewish] sacrifice and gift offering to cease." With the anointing of Jesus the Nazarene in the fall of the year 29 AD a period of grace began so that the Jews would indeed be "first" to taste salvation as Paul states. Most of those Jews to whom Jesus spoke lost the opportunity to enter the "kingdom" (or, congregation). However, most of them lived to "see" other Jews (pictured by the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) eating at the Lord’s table in the Kingdom. They also lived to "see" Gentiles from all parts of the earth also gain entrance into the Kingdom following the year 36 AD.

Thus, we feel the texts in Matthew and Luke cannot be used to prove the patriarchs would gain heavenly life in the Kingdom of the Father. (Matthew 13:43) At the end of the day, there is little or nothing within the teachings of the Nazarene to indicate that the ancient worthies would inherit the heavenly kingdom. But, what about Paul?

PAUL’S TEACHINGS ON THE HOPE OF THE PATRIARCHS

We believe it likely that Paul was the author of the Letter to the Hebrews (Jews). This letter mentions the patriarchs several times. Indeed, "Abraham" occurs 12 times, "Isaac" 5 times, and "Jacob" 3 times. The hope of these men is discussed in Hebrews chapter 11. Let us examine these for any evidence the ancient worthies would go to heaven.

Hebrews 11:8-10 reads: "By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed in going out into a place (land) he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, although not knowing where he was going. By faith he resided as an alien in the land of the promise as in a foreign land, and dwelt in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the very same promise (of the land). For he was awaiting the city having real foundations, the builder and maker of which [city] is God." What city might this be? Is any "city" mentioned in God’s promises to Abraham? We cannot find such a city in Genesis in any context regarding the three patriarchs.

Paul does mention a heavenly city in Hebrews 12:22-24, "But you [Jewish saints] have approached a Mount Zion and a city of [the] living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and myriads of angels, in general assembly, and the congregation of the firstborn who have been enrolled in the heavens, and God the Judge of all, and the (spirits) of righteous ones who have been made perfect, and Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and the blood of sprinkling, which speaks in a better way than Abel's [blood]." Is it fair to state that nothing in these verses would directly point to the ancient worthies as part of this heavenly scene? We understand the "congregation of the firstborn" to be that future Kingdom of Saints who will judge the world. (Daniel 7:27; 1 Corinthians 6:2) Those perfected "spirits" are those Christian saints who have been sanctified by their faith in the blood of Christ.

Though the Jewish Saints had "approached" such a celestial City it was something which was still future. For in Hebrews 13:14 Paul writes, "We do not have here a city [Jerusalem] that continues, but we are earnestly seeking the one to come." This city is very likely the same as that in Hebrews 12:28, " ... seeing that we are to receive a kingdom." But, would the ancient worthies share as inhabitants of this future city?

Hebrews 11:13-16 may point the way, "In faith all these died [Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc.), although they did not get the [fulfillment of the] promises [inheritance of the land of Canaan], but they saw (these promises) afar off and welcomed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land [of Canaan]. For those [patriarchs] who say such things give evidence that they are earnestly seeking a place of their own. And yet, if they had indeed kept remembering that [place in Ur] from which they had gone forth, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they are reaching out for something better --- of a heavenly (source). Hence the God is not ashamed of them, to be called upon as their God, for He prepared a City for them." Nothing here precisely states these ancient worthies will go to heaven. Though there are phrases here which are rendered differently by translators -- generally paraphrasing some parts -- it may be possible that though the ancients longed for the fulfillment of God’s purpose it was perceived that a Celestial City would bring this about. The final verses of chapter 11 clarify the matter somewhat.

Hebrews 11:39, 40 concludes, "And all these [faithful of old], although they had witness borne to them through their faith, did not receive the promise, (for) the God had foreseen something better for us [Christian Saints], so that they (ancient worthies) might not be perfected apart from us." Depending on the exact translation, some would view the "promise" as that original one in Eden -- a paradise earth. Thus, God in the wisdom of his eternal purpose, had purposed beforehand that the Jewish Christian Saints would receive something better than this original Edenic promise.

What does Paul mean by "perfected"? The word "perfect" occurs about nine times in Hebrews. A couple apply to the perfecting of Christ. Most though deal with the justified and sanctified state of the Saints. (Hebrews 2:10; 5:9; 7:19; 9:9, 11; 10:1, 14; 12:23) The Greek word TELOS from which these are drawn means "end" and may be used for mature, complete, perfect, fulfilled. Paul seems to mean that God foresaw an earlier perfection or bringing to completion some group other than those ancient worthies. It seems reasonable that this is the Church.

That the ancient worthies are of a different order or class is seen in Matthew 19:28, "Truly I say to you (apostles), In the new genesis, when the Son of man sits down upon his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also yourselves sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Does it seem fair to conclude that there are two groups here? The judges and those judged. Here those judged include the twelve tribes of Israel. This would seem to include all those from "Israel" or Jacob and all those born thereafter, including David and all the prophets. Also, the twelve apostles would not be alone in this judging for Paul shows the Gentile Corinthians would also share. (See 1 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 20:4, 6)

Revelation 20:4 describes those who are the judges: "And I saw thrones, and there were those who sat down on them, and power of judging was given them. Yes, I saw the souls of [1] those executed with the ax for the witness they bore to Jesus and for speaking about God, and [2] those who had worshipped neither the wild beast nor its image and who had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand. And they came to life and ruled as kings with the Christ for a thousand years." John sees the judges and he identifies them as belonging to at least two periods: [1] the Christian martyrs, and [2] those Christians who are alive during the history of the Wild Beast when the mark 666 is being enforced upon mankind. (Revelation chapter 13) Nothing here would indicate the "ancient worthies" would share in this, otherwise they would have also been included.

Clearly, the judges must be prepared or perfected before those who are to be judged. Thus, these ancient worthies must wait in sleep until the Church is perfected in its heavenly City, New Jerusalem. Thereafter, "the rest of the dead," including the ancient worthies may be raised to their own judgment. (1 Corinthians 15:23, 24; Revelation 20:5, 12-14)

Just so the Bible teaches that the King will return in his foretold Parousia and thereafter judge his own Household of Faith. (Matthew 24:24-25:46) Later, in what Paul calls "the end" (1 Corinthians 5:24), and what John describes at the end of the Thousand Years, the ancient worthies will be judged and rewarded with everlasting life on earth.

Here on the earth there will already be a "city prepared for them" -- the New Jerusalem. This City will have its tops in the heavens of outer space where now satellites travel around the earth. This City will accommodate Jesus, the angels, and all the Saints --- surely in those lofty upper areas considered "heaven" by the ancients. However, this City has gates through which access may be gained to its "Broadway" -- on the ground floor as it were. Into this City earthlings may enter if they are "holy." (See Revelation chapters 21, 22)

We speculate here, but surely some of those who gain entrance into the City by its gates will include persons like Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Rachel, Joseph, Job, Moses, and many other thousands of "ancient worthies." It such a real way God’s original promise in Eden, as well as to these patriarchs, will be fulfilled. What a blessed time this will be? What communion will obtain between the Saints in the New Jerusalem and the blessed ancient worthies is not declared in the Bible. It seems to create no harm to assume there will be communication and interchange between the judges and those they have judged. [For details on Revelation see the online publication NAZARENE APOCALYPSE.]

There will be those who have a different view or opinion from that contained above. We respectfully acknowledge their right to their own interpretation of matters. We provid this article so that others may examine these different perspectives and draw their own conclusions.

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THOUGHTS ON THE PROVERBS

[A continuing feature]

[Right Begats Good]

PROVERBS 13:21 -- "Sinners are the ones whom calamity pursues, but the righteous are the ones whom good rewards."

TRANS: AAT: ill fortune will dog sinners

CROSS REF: Genesis 4:7 = Cain; Romans 2:10 = good works

NOTE: If ever there were a Universal Principle this is it -- calamity befalls the lawbreakers and the righteous will be ultimately rewarded. But, even in this life dreadful things visit the sinful and the righteous are protected from such plagues that befall the immoral. (Romans 1:24-27) Righteousness is its own reward.

There is a difference between a righteous person and a good person. It is possible to be righteous but not good. Righteousness is a matter of obeying law. Goodness goes beyond this to become moral excellence. It may be illustrated this way: the righteous person sees the speed limit sign and does not go beyond. However, this does not require that the righteous person stopped to aid the hapless traveler. Whereas the good person, also obeying the law, could not pass a person in need without offering assistance.

[The Will and Testament of the Good]

PROVERBS 13:22 -- "One who is good will leave an inheritance to sons of sons, and the wealth of the sinner is something treasured up for the righteous one."

TRANS: LXX: a good man shall leave an inheritance to his children

CROSS REF: Proverbs 17:2 = brothers share; Proverbs 19:14 = wealth; Proverbs 20:21 = greed

NOTE: It seems 2 Corinthians 12:14 and the matter of parents "laying up" for the children ought to be cross referenced. There is an interesting conflict here which reflects the wine in the Old Jewish Bota with that in the New Christian Bota. Though the word "inheritance" occurs 246 times in the Bible. "Inheritance" occurs in Luke12:13 in the context of a warning about covetousness and appears very rarely in the Christian Bible. Jesus clearly taught his apostles (his "little flock") to leave, abandon and forsake their worldly things, even "sell all and give charity" at Luke 12:33 -- with the same spirit of divestiture in his parables at Matthew 13:4-46 -- so it becomes impossible, or at least very difficult, for the Nazarene saint to leave behind an "inheritance" to his children in any worldly sense. A godly inheritance may be a good name with which succeeding generations may be proud of. With Jesus it must be a spiritual heritage bequeathed to the sons of a serious disciple of the Nazarene. Jesus condemns those who refuse to "honor" their parents with those things the sons consider corban or religiously dedicated. (Mark 7:9-12) There could be no grander inheritance than a son having a father reign in the heavenly kingdom and having those blessings which accrue.

[Method Matters Most]

Proverbs 13:23 -- "Plowed ground of persons of little means [yields] a great deal of food, but there exists the one that is swept away for lack of judgment."

TRANS: LB: injustice robs him of his riches

CROSS REF: Proverbs 12:11; 27:18; 28:19

NOTE: The hard and honest work of a poor farmer produces more than enough to eat but the get-rich scheme seduces a man into bankruptcy. The humble worker or craftsman -- working with honest but caloused hands -- will fare better than the slick and business-wise fast-talker.

[Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child] *

PROVERBS 13:24 -- "The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline."

TRANS: JB: the man who fails to use the stick hates his son

CROSS REF: Proverbs 3:12; 19:18; 20:30; 22:15; 23:14; 29:15; Ephesians 6:4 = spanking

WORD: Hebrew shay’bet (Strongs # 7626) = branch or stick for punishing

NOTE: This is the "Spanking Proverb" now in much disuse and distaste by a permissive Pepsi Generation -- though more and more wonder if it ought to be reinstituted -- particularly so after the public repentance of the father of "use the rod, spoil the genius," Doctor Spock. The Law of Moses as well as the Proverbs allowed for corporal punishment based on this principle: "Bruising wounds [KJ: blueness of a wound; NEB: a good beating] are what scours away the bad; and strokes [KJ: stripes; NEB: blows], the innermost parts of the belly." (Proverbs 20:30)

"You indulge your child and do not correct him; you permit selfishness and envy and anger to encrust themselves by successive layers, thicker and thicker on his character. The child begins to act the tyrant: he is cruel where he has power and sulky where he has not: he is rude, overbearing, untruthful. The child discovers that he can transgress with impunity. While there should be a strong manly love to wield the rod firmly, there should also be a far-seeing wisdom to judge, in view of all the circumstances, whether and when the rod should be applied. Love will give ample room for the effervescence of a buoyant spirit." (Arnot pages 254-257)

"Spare the Rod, but Note the Consequences" was the title of an article appearing in The Natal Mercury, a South African newspaper, lamenting the modern trend of holding back physical punishment from children at home and in school. Who is responsible for this changed attitude toward spanking? Professor Smythe, a pediatrician at the University of Natal, South Africa, places the blame squarely on child psychologists. "Usually on delving into the roots of an emotional issue," Smythe explains, "one finds the change in attitude starting with psychological dogma. At first violently opposed to any form of physical punishment, then appalled by the consequences of the indiscipline resulting from a creed of no frustrations and no inhibitions." Smythe advocates a balance. "Extremes of permissiveness are as bad as extremes of punishment," he notes, "but the fact that remediation is easier with the overdisciplined than the underdisciplined child favors leaning on the side of discipline when in doubt." The professor emphasizes that the motive for giving physical punishment should be loving concern for the child's present and future welfare.

Burton L. White, authority on child development, says that your strictness will not cause your child to "love you less than if you were lenient. . . . Even if you spank them regularly, you will find they keep coming back to you." He stresses the child's primary need for overflowing "irrational love." Dr. Joyce Brothers reported on a study of hundreds of strictly disciplined fifth and sixth graders who believed that the strict rules "were an expression of parental love." The Journal of Lifetime Living said: "The child psychologists, wrangling over scheduled versus demand feeding, spanking versus non-spanking, have found that none of it makes much difference so long as the child is loved." Even Dr. Benjamin Spock, author of Baby and Child Care, took part of the blame for the lack of parental firmness and the resulting delinquency. He said blame rested on the experts, "the child psychiatrists, psychologists, teachers, social workers and pediatricians like myself."

England's highly respected "New Scientist" magazine recently reported on a study made to determine the answer. Two groups of preschool children were carefully observed at play. Children in the "new" or "progressive" group were given creative toys and an outdoor play area, but supervision was minimal. Children in the "old-fashioned" group were restricted to an indoor location with less equipment, but their conduct was closely supervised. Those who broke the strict rules of acceptable behavior were confined to a "naughty corner." What did the study reveal? That children playing under the "new" methods were far more aggressive, with behavior ranging from verbal threats to actual physical violence. Among the boys in the "new" group, there were 89 aggressive incidents (56 involving an exchange of blows), compared to only five in the "old-fashioned" group, and these were all merely verbal abuse. The girls in the "new" group had 42 aggressive incidents, while the "old-fashioned" group had none. The study's significance? Explained "New Scientist": "The children in the old-fashioned group were just plain happier than those in the progressive group. . . . Our observations are certainly entirely consistent with the old-fashioned view that children are happier and more secure if they are given an imposed code of conduct and know what the rules are and what punishment to expect from transgression, than if they are raised in a free-range style with no clear guidance to expected behaviour."

The Encyclopędia Britannica says: "Family disciplinary policies may be either too lax, too severe, or too inconsistent. American research has suggested that unsound discipline may be related to about 70 percent of criminal men."

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FAITH PERSPECTIVES

[This is a forum for the free expression of faith and conviction no matter the view or opinion. You are welcome to submit anything in good taste, respectful, and mannerly.]

"Stirring the Pot"

Alfred Russell Wallace was a contemporary of Darwin's and came to his conclusions on evolution at the same time as Darwin, independently. He later decided that it did not apply to one species: man. He wrote:

"In our case, we have defied natural selection, which proclaims that: Nature never, never, over-endows a species beyond the demands of everyday existence. Yet here is an instrument --the brain-- which has developed far in excess of our needs." (Indeed, why are we not still hunter-gatherers living simply with rudimentary intelligence.) He continues: "In no way could genius, or even normal artistic, mathematical and musical abilities be explained on the basis of natural selection and the struggle for existence. Something else must also be
operating here (Divine will?)." [EDITOR’S NOTE: other higher species like the great apes function and survive well on less than one tenth the intelligence of humankind.]

Next, why is there two human lines of evolution? The Neanderthals were a completely different species from the Cro-Magnon man, who appeared
suddenly 30,000 years ago (or so). Neanderthal man died out and Cro-Magnon man supposedly evolved into us. There was also a supposed 'great leap' in the evolutionary cycle between a species like Australopithecus and Homo Sapiens. Our ancestors, as the theory claims, went from beings no more intelligent than modern apes to a creature with intelligence capable of space flight and moon landings. For those who like the idea of extra-terrestrial cloning, a Professor Boris Porchnev has said this: "The speed of our evolution indicates a method of selection akin to artificial insemination."

Hmmmm, could it be that both evolutionists and religionists could be right to a certain extent? Might God have used evolution all along then "stirred the kettle" a little to make mankind what he is today?

One thing is for sure. Neither science or religion provides enough evidence to determine anything certain or even 'some doubt'. There is also a curious gap of evidence between the period of 6 million to 2 million b.c. [Contributed: WW]

***

THE LIGHT MEN FAILED TO RECOGNIZE

John 8:12-20 [commentary by William Barclay]

"So Jesus again continued to speak to them.
‘I am the Light of the World,' he said. ‘He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but he will have the light of life.'

"The scene of this argument with the Jewish authorities was in the Temple
treasury, which was in the Court of the Women. The first Temple court was the Court of the Gentiles; the second was the Court of the Women. It was so called because women might not pass beyond it unless they were actually about to offer sacrifice on the altar which was in the Court of the Priests. Round the Court of the Women there was a colonnade or porch; and, in that porch, set against the wall, there were thirteen treasure chests into which people dropped their offerings. These were called The Trumpets because they were shaped like trumpets, narrow at the top and swelling out towards the foot.

"The thirteen treasure chests all had their allotted offering. Into the first two were dropped the half shekels which every Jew had to pay towards the upkeep of the Temple. Into the third and fourth were dropped sums which would purchase the two pigeons which a woman had to offer for her purification after the birth of a child (Leviticus12:8). Into the fifth were put contributions towards the cost of the wood which was needed to keep the altar fire alight. Into the sixth were dropped
contributions towards the cost of the incense which was used at the Temple services. Into the seventh went contributions towards the upkeep of the golden vessels which were used at these services. Sometimes a man or a family set apart a certain sum to make some trespass- or thank-offering; into the remaining six trumpets people dropped any money which remained after such an offering had been made, or anything extra which they wished to offer.

"Clearly the Temple treasury would be a busy place, with a constant flow of worshippers coming and going. There would be no better place to collect an audience of devout people and to teach them than the Temple treasury.

"In this passage Jesus makes the great claim:
‘I am the Light of the World.’ It is very likely that the background against which he made it made it doubly vivid and impressive. The festival with which John connects these discourses is the Festival of Tabernacles (John 7:2). We have already seen (John 7:37) how its ceremonies lent drama to Jesus' claim to give to men the living water. But there was another ceremony connected with this festival.

"On the evening of its first day there was a ceremony called The Illumination of the Temple. It took place in the Court of the Women. The court was surrounded with deep galleries, erected to hold the spectators. In the centre four great candelabra were prepared. When the dark came the four great candelabra were lit and, it was said, they sent such a blaze of light throughout Jerusalem that every courtyard was lit up with their brilliance. Then all night long, until cock-crow the next morning, the greatest and the wisest and the holiest men in Israel
danced before the Lord and sang psalms of joy and praise while the people watched. Jesus is saying:
‘You have seen the blaze of the Temple illuminations piercing the darkness of the night. I am the Light of the World, and, for the man who follows me there will be light, not only for one exciting night, but for all the pathway of his life. The light in the Temple is a brilliant light, but in the end it flickers and dies. I am the Light which lasts forever.’ [William Barclay / suggested by AW]

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A LOVING DISCIPLE OF THE NAZARENE

Introduction

Anyone who claims to be a "Christian" -- that is a disciple of the Nazarene (or, Friends of te Nazarene) -- is bound to do two things in proof of this: First, "If anyone loves me, he will OBSERVE MY WORD, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our abode with him. He that does not love me does not OBSERVE MY WORDS." (John 14:23-24) And, second: "These things I command you, that you love one another." (John 15:17) These two will mark every genuine Christian: a knowledge of and obedience to what Jesus taught; and, becoming a loving disciple of the Nazarene.

What is this "love"? How is it characterized? Most familiar with the Bible would turn their pages of the Scripture to one of the most lovely passages in Holy Writ: 1 Corinthians chapter 13. We do so now with an intense interest and motive to become more loving Friends of the Nazarene.


1 Corinthians 13:1 "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I have become a sounding [piece of] brass or a clashing cymbal."

A person’s speech may seem inspired -- like the voice of angels. Or, another may be a master of mystic and ancient languages. Or, speak a dozen different languages. However, if this angelic voice lack agape-love it is nothing more than a "noisy gong" (GDSP) or "the clash of cymbals." (KNX)

The English word "love" is from the Greek AGAPE. How would you define this Greek word? What are your thoughts on this first verse? Perhaps you have a translation comparison, a word study, a quote or commentary bearing on these verses? Also, you may be able to think of practical examples from true life experiences.

1 Corinthians 13:2 -- "And if I have the gift of prophesying and am acquainted with all the sacred secrets [mysteries] and all knowledge, and if I have all the faith so as to transplant mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing."

A man or woman may claim to be a prophet, possessed of spiritual mysteries, and claims to understand the "All" of the cosmos -- "every kind of hidden truth." (BECK) In affect say: "No knowledge is too deep for me." (KNX) A person may have powerful conviction -- such "absolute faith" (MOF) to overcome every kind of obstacle. Yet if love be not present such a person is "useless" (BER) or "worth nothing." (LB) Such a gift person is without value and may well as not.

1 Corinthians 13:3 -- "And if I give all my belongings to feed others, and if I hand over my body, that I may boast, but do not have love, I am not profited at all."

Can there be a hidden agenda behind such charity? May it be praise or honor from others? What is the motive and principle behind such self-sacrifice? (Matthew 6:1-4) [For details on the Sermon on the Mount see the online publication Nazarene Mountain Teachings.]

The KJV uses "charity" here which has in English come to mean "giving ... to those in need." The old English word is from the French CHARITE and Latin CARITAS, the primitive root KA, which meant "like" or "desire." In Sanskrit KAMAH meant love or desire and thus the KAMASUTRA. In the Latin Bible by Jerome the word AGAPE was rendered by CARITAS and equaled "love." Translated into English the word gradually took on its present dominant meaning: demonstrating one’s supposed love for one’s fellows by giving them charity. (See "The Roots of English") Webster’s remarks: "2. In Christianity , the love of God for man or of a man for his fellow men. ... SYN: see mercy."

Now, examine Paul’s list of sixteen of those characteristics which describe agape-love

#1) 1 Corinthians 13:4a -- Love is long-suffering

The Greek MACRO [ = long] -THYMEI [ = desire; feeling] is variously rendered: MOF: patient; RHM: gracious; PHM: slow to loose patience; UBS int: suffers long. The word occurs about two dozen times. God possesses the attribute. (Romans 2:4; 9:22 1 Timothy 1:16) It is a fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22) It is proof of an outstanding minister or servant. (2 Corinthians 6:6; 2 Timothy 3:10. It contributes to unity. (Ephesians 4:2) It is reflected in joy. (Colossians 1:11) A Christian should show it toward everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

#2) 1 Corinthians 13:4b -- (Love is) kind.

The Greek KHRESTEETAI is variously rendered: RHM: gracious; PME: it looks for a way to be constructive; but, most use the English "kind." The Middle English root KYNDE means sympathetic, friendly, gentle, tender-hearted, generous. The Greek is a rare word in the Christian Bible, occurring only here in 1 Corinthians 13:4b. Related forms occur about 70 times. Christ’s yoke is kind. (Matthew 11:30) God is kind even toward the unthankful and wicked and thus kindness and mercy are the path to godly perfection. (Luke 6:35; Matthew 5:45) Kindness is often associated with hospitality and giving. (Acts 26:2, 30; 2 Corinthians 8:6, 7, 9) God is characterized by kindness. (Romans 2:4; Titus 3:4; 1 Peter 2:3) Paul elsewhere counsels kindness. (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:12) Kindness is a fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22) Of course, kindness is related to "grace" which is really undeserved kindness.

So, kindness, or being kind, would be characterized by hospitality, charity, giving, mercy, and good manners, or gentility (a word rooted in the old English related to KYNDE).

Someone has said, "When in doubt about what to do to another -- do the kind thing." Our Christianity should be characterized by our kindness, particularly toward even our enemies, those unthankful, or even wicked. Only then can spiritual perfection be attained. (Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:30-36)

#3) 1 Corinthians 13:4c -- Love is not (being) jealous.

The Greek for "jealous" is ZELOI and the phrase is variously rendered: KJV: envieth not; WMS: never boils with jealousy; TCNT: love is never envious. One can see the English word "zeal" in the Greek. There is a good jealousy (John 2:17; 2 Corinthians 11:2) and there is bad jealousy. (Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 3:3) Often when the subject is the bad form of ZELOS then translators use the word "envy." When it is good, it is "zeal." But, zeal can be misdirected or wrongly motivated.

This may be illustrated two ways: there are three friends but one becomes overly zealous (jealous) in this friendship and begins to speak unkindly against one of the others. The jealous one seeks a singular and unique friendship which closes out all others. Also, jealousy may manifest itself in greed or envy. Here the jealous person covets what another has: beauty, riches, intelligence, social standing, or spiritual status. This jealously always manifests itself in gossip, slander, or hard-hearted coldness.

Proper jealousy may be illustrated by a wife or husband’s insistence on exclusivity in matters of romance or intimacy. (Proverbs 6:32-34) This is a proper jealousy which is an insistence on exclusive devotion. It is not petty and over-bearing so that the mate may have no friends because of the other mate’s jealousy.

Jealousy and envy are exceedingly dangerous and corrosive. (Proverbs 14:30)
Proverbs 27:4 warns, "There is the cruelty of rage, also the flood of anger, but who can stand before jealousy?" This may be illustrated: a flood may not move a giant boulder but water dripping incessantly will wear it away. Just so, a godly man may be able to with stand great attacks but the subtle and veiled Chinese water torture of jealous slander may take its toll. This is what happened to Moses who to spoke without faith because he was provoked by the jealousy of others . (Psalm 106:32, 33)

If we remember that if we are ever moved to speak unkindly, even evilly in slander of another, it is probably jealously or envy which motivates us.

#4) 1 Corinthians 13:4d -- (Love) does not brag.

The Greek is OU PERPEREUETAI and is variously translated: KJV: vaunteth not itself; PME: it is neither anxious to impress; MOF: love makes no parade; TCNT: never boastful. The word is unique to this verse. As with jealousy, there is a good form of bragging or boasting and a bad form. The difference is dependent on the object of this boasting or bragging.

Proverbs 27:1, "Do not make your boast about the next day, for you do not know what a day will give birth to." This is echoed by James 4:13-16, "Come, now, you who say: ‘Today or tomorrow we will journey to this city and will spend a year there, and we will engage in business and make profits,’ whereas you do not know what your life will be tomorrow. For you are a mist appearing for a little while and then disappearing. Instead, you ought to say: "If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that." But now you take pride in your self-assuming brags. All such taking of pride is wicked." On this basis the bragging or boasting -- which is not out of love -- may be characterized by materialistic boasts which ignore God.

Twice Paul quotes Jeremiah 9:23, 24 to the Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 1:28-31 says, "God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are, in order that no flesh might boast in the sight of God ... that it may be just as it is written: "He that boasts, let him boast in the Lord [YHWH]." And, 2 Corinthians 10:17-18, "’But he that boasts, let him boast in the Lord [YHWH].’ For not the one who recommends himself is approved, but the man whom the Lord recommends."

Jeremiah 9:23-24 writes about a good and bad form of bragging or boasting, "This is what Jehovah has said: ‘Let not the wise man brag about himself because of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man brag about himself because of his mightiness. Let not the rich man brag about himself because of his riches. But let the one bragging about himself brag about himself because of this very thing, the having of insight and the having of knowledge of me." Jeremiah lists some of those areas in which even worshippers of God might find themselves bragging or boasting: wisdom or intelligence (or, educational background); personal strength, health or physical fitness; and, riches or material possessions. On the other hand if one is to boast or brag it ought to be in the realm of spiritual insight (characterized by humility) and knowing God in a personal relationship.

In the spirit of Paul’s description of love as not bragging, it is often the case that a mature and qualified Christian must remain silent and not give the impression of bragging. For example, a group might discuss how often some have read the Bible and one knows they have read the Bible more often -- it is best to remain silent. Even if pressured for an answer, it may be best to decline to answer, perhaps with, "Not enough."

#5) 1 Corinthians 13:4e -- (Love) does not get puffed up.

The Greek is OU PHASIOUTAI and is variously translated: NJB: never conceited; RSV: not arrogant; GDSP: not put on airs; PME: nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance. We are not surprised this conceit and arrogance was a Corinthian problem. (2 Corinthians 12:20) Nor that this word is used most often within Paul’s two letters to the Corinthian Christians. Paul states the egotistical attitude often involves favoritism or a sectarian spirit involving personalities. (1 Corinthians 4:6) It is often manifest by what we say about ourselves. (1 Corinthians 4:18, 19) It is also seen in a failure to repent. (1 Corinthians 5:2)

In other letters Paul associates being puffed up with a fleshly way of thinking. (Colossians 2:18) Or, a head-strong disposition. (2 Timothy 3:4) It is always a danger for ambitious men. (1 Timothy 3:6) Paul associates the attitude with those who teach erroneous doctrine not founded on the Gospel. Note what Paul writes: "If anyone teaches differently and not from a healthy approach to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ -- not according to the true form of worship -- such a man is puffed up, not possessed of a good understanding, diseased about speculations and word-fights which result in envy, strife, blasphemies, evil suspicions --- men completely corrupt who rub others the wrong way, despoiling the truth, thinking to profit from the true form of worship." (1 Timothy 6:3-5 NR)

#6) 1 Corinthians 13:5a -- (Love) does not behave indecently.

The Greek is OUK ASCHEMONEI and is variously rendered: KJV: not behave itself unseemly; MOF: never rude; BER: unmannerly; NAS: unbecomingly; WMS: not act with rudeness. The word is rare and other forms are elsewhere rendered as shameless, indecent, unseemly, or dishonorably. (1 Corinthians 7:36; 12:23; Romans 1:27; Revelation 16:15) It is most often associated with sexual matters, including homosexuality.

In English the word "love" is most often associated with romantic, even sexual, feelings towards another. One thing true AGAPE is not is an emotion motivated by actions which violate God’s law. Thus, this kind of "love" will never be found among the immoral or those seeking to take sexual disadvantage of another. Indeed, one may see the word "scheme" within the Greek.

Other translators lean toward the idea of bad manners or rudeness. Certainly, AGAPE love can never be characterized by those with ill-manners or rude social behavior. Rather, a Christian possessed of this kind of love will be seen to be well-mannered and polite in social matters. Never would a Christian man (or, woman) take advantage of their spiritual position in the Church to scheme indecency toward a fellow worshipper.

#7) 1 Corinthians 13:5b -- (Love) does not look for its own interests.

The Greek is literally "not seeking things of itself." (OU ZETEI TA HEAUTES) It is variously rendered: KJV: seeketh not her own; MOF: never selfish; RSV: does not insist on its own way; TCNT: never self-seeking; NOR: not pursue selfish aims. Perhaps no phrase describes the general understanding of agape-love. The idea is expressed elsewhere by Paul. Indeed, a similar phrasing in Greek has already occurred in 1 Corinthians 10:24, "Let none seek selfish interests, but rather the interest of others." Philippians 2:4 is very similar: "Do not be looking after selfish interests, but rather those interests of others."

Here is the root of agape-love: interest, not in self, but in that of others. Truly, this is neighbor-love characterized by the Golden Rule: "Do to others just as you would have it done to yourself." (Luke 6:31) This means putting others before self, just as the example of our Lord, "Though he had a divine existence he did not insist on retaining his own rights, but rather he emptied himself and took on a slave’s existence in the likeness of humankind." (Philippians 2:6, 7) This is Paul’s example of not looking after just one’s own interests as he mentions in Philippians 2:4.

Love does not sit at home wondering why people don’t call. Love makes the call, posts the email, or sends the card to encourage another. Such love will attract other warm-hearted persons.

How many ways can you think which would characterize this unselfishness in your own life experiences?

#8) 1 Corinthians 13:5c -- (Love) does not become provoked.

The Greek is OU PAROXYNETAI and is variously rendered: NEB: not quick to take offense; RSV: not irritable; PME: not touchy; BECK: it doesn’t get angry. One can see the root of "oxygen" in the word and it literally refers to the bellows of the blacksmith which blasts the coals and heats things up and thus sharpens iron. The English word PAROXYSM can mean "a sudden convulsion or outburst" for either good or bad. The word is rare and various forms convey "to stir" or "arouse" (Acts 17:16).

The first case of anger makes us shiver that such a thing befall us. (Genesis 4:5) The Corinthian church had a problem with "cases of anger." (2 Corinthians 12:20) Anger is a work of the flesh. (Galatians 5:20) Elsewhere Paul encourages getting rid of anger. (Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8)

There are two particular occurrences which catch out attention, one bad and another good. Note Acts 15:39, "But, a paroxysm [sharp burst of anger] occurred and they (Paul and Barnabas) separated from one another." It is very interesting that the one who wrote that "love is not (given) to paroxysm" should have it recorded by his traveling companion Luke that he did succumb to such a burst of anger. Though we are not precisely told who it was that first became so angry. The case that caused this circumstance was Paul’s refusal to take the disciple Mark on this missionary tour because he had left midway during the previous journey. Barnabas, Mark’s cousin, may have wanted him to join them for family reasons. (Galatians 4:10) Clearly, here is a case where love was not controlling these men.

This illustrates that there are times when even previously good friends or companions -- as was the case with Barnabas and Paul -- have a disagreement so severe that they become angry with one another. Paul and his new partner, Silas (Silvanus), go on to write several inspired epistles where Barnabas misses out on this opportunity. Barnabas is not mentioned again in the Book of Acts. However, Paul later mentions both Barnabas (though misled by Judaizers) and Mark in positive tones. (Galatians 2:1, 9, 13; 4:10)

There is a good form of PAROXYSM which occurs in Hebrews 10:24, "incite [PAROXYSMON] to love and fine works." Where love may cool it is vital to blast the coals with the oxygen of encouragement. Paul writes this counsel in the context of Christian meetings.

It is true some personalities are given to wearing their feelings on their cuff and have a low boiling point. This is due more to immaturity on the Christian walk, while those who have been Nazarene disciples longer will manifest a calmer and controlled spirit. It is often easier to learn to remain quiet -- and keep opinions within and under control -- rather than struggling to always say the right thing. Once one controls rash speech, anger will become less and less part of the Christian character.

There is one final thought regarding love not provoking others. Being a cause of provocation can bring our Christian friends enormous grief. Consider, how Moses was driven "crazy" (Ecclesiastes 7:7) by the provocation of his fellow worshippers. Psalm 106:32, 33 records, "Further, they caused provocation at the waters of Mer'i·bah, so that it went badly with Moses by reason of them. For they embittered his spirit and he began to speak rashly with his lips." (Numbers 20:2, 12; 27:14; Deuteronomy 1:37; 32:51; compare Hebrews 3:15)

#9) 1 Corinthians 13:5d -- (Love) does not keep account of the injury.

The Greek is OU LOGIZETAI TO KAKON, literally, "does not keep record of wrongs." Or, "keeps no log on bad things." One can see the English word "log" of "logistics" in the Greek root. The phrase is variously rendered: RSV: (not) resentful; KJV: thinketh no evil; MON: bears no malice; TCNT: never reckons up her wrongs; NEB: love keeps no score of wrongs; PME: does not keep account of evil; NAS: does not take into account a wrong suffered; WMS; never harbors evil thoughts; BECK: it does not plan to hurt anyone; NJB: does not store up grievances.

The Proverbs taught to "pass over transgression." (Proverbs 19:11) The first occurrence of "forgive" in the Bible is that of God. (Exodus 34:7) The Psalmist describe God as "ready to forgive" and the Prophets describe Him as "forgiving in a large way." (Isaiah 55:7)

Perhaps this is one of the hardest challenges in showing love: not only forgiving but also forgetting personal injuries. The Nazarene taught us to pray, "Forgive the debts of others." (Matthew 6:9) Or, let go, relieve those indebted to us. Then, Jesus makes the first commentary on the need for forgiveness when he follows with: "For if you forgive others their trespasses your heavenly Father will forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14) Our Lord puts it simply: if we refuse to forgive others we cannot expect forgiveness from God. (Mark 11:25)

The Nazarene answered the disciples’ question on how many times we ought to forgive. Peter suggested as much as seven times per day. The Lord said, "Up to 77 times" then gave an illustration of such forgiveness in the context of financial indebtedness. (Matthew 18:21-35) Luke 17:3, 4 adds a proviso to this forgiveness: the offending person must come and say, "I am sorry." Paul elsewhere counsels "freely forgiving." (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13) Even if a sinner has brought the congregation into disrepute and has repented, all are to forgive him or her. (2 Corinthians 2:7, 10)

Some persons go through life with a little book in their head. This log contains all the injuries they have suffered at the hands of others. In a heated argument they will bring out this book and recite chapter and verse of all the wrongs done against them. These persons are not loving and therefore really hateful. The mature Christian will be characterized by a forgiving disposition who truly forgets offenses or sins committed against the person. What is helpful in doing this is not taking oneself so seriously and emptying self of egotism.

#10) 1 Corinthians 13:6a -- (Love) does not rejoice over unrighteousness.

The phrase is variously translated: NAS: does not rejoice in unrighteousness; WMS: it is never glad when wrong is done; BAS: takes no pleasure in wrongdoing; NEB: does not gloat over other men’s sins; MOF: it is never glad when others go wrong. The idea has two factors: a) love does not enjoy doing wrong things; or, b) love never takes delight in evil which befalls others.

Jealousy or envy may be involved here. If someone dislikes another and that person falls into trouble, or misfortune visits, the jealous person may rejoice inwardly over this bad turn of events. For example, a wealthy person is the object of envy but one day this person looses all their riches. Love will not motivate a person to say to others, "Well, so-and-so got what’s coming to him." This kind of attitude takes many forms. If we find ourselves to be somewhat happy when evil befalls another, we must look inside and see why we feel this way.

#11) 1 Corinthians 13:6b -- (Love) rejoices with the truth.

This phrase is variously rendered: KNX: rejoices at the victory of truth; WEY: joyfully sides with the truth; WMS: always glad when truth prevails; BECK: happy with the truth.

Suppose we hear something evil about another, something slanderous, but later it is made clear that such an untruth was a lie or misunderstanding? If one harbors envy or jealousy there may be a tendency not to rejoice over this truth. Love causes one to rejoice that the real truth is made known, rather than seeking another untruth about the individual.

#12) 1 Corinthians 13:7a -- (Love) bears all things.

The Greek is PANTA STEGEI, or literally, "(love) covers everything." The phrase is variously rendered: WMS: it bears up under everything; NEB: there is nothing lover cannot face; PME: love knows no limits to its endurance; WEY: love can overlooks faults; MOF: always slow to expose. The Greek STEGEI (STEGE) is rooted in the idea of a roof (Matthew 8:8; Mark 2:24; Luke 7:6). STEGO may convey two meanings: a) to cover by silence, or keep a confidence; and, b) to bear up against, or hold out against.

Given the immediate context STEGEI here may mean "love covers by silence" those matters which could be damaging or misunderstood about someone loved. Families do this all the time. So do true and genuine friends who are very reluctant to reveal negative information about a close companion. Peter exhorts to this kind of love: "Above all things, have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8) The Proverbs teach the same thing:
"Hatred is what stirs up contentions, but love covers over even all transgressions." (Proverbs 10:12) This thought from Proverbs is likely what Paul has in mind when he says, "Love covers everything."

On the other hand, many translators prefer the other option: love bears up or endures everything. However, Paul is to go on in the same breath to state this, "love endures everything." So, it would appear the former notion of "love covering everything" would be more appropriate.

One of the most unloving things a friend can ever do is reveal a bit of confidential information to those who have no need or right to know it. Such may not be slander, for the subject is truthful, but unknown. It is rather terribly harmful gossip. Many a close friendship has been destroyed by such failures to cover or keep a confidence.

Additionally, love will cover others’ weaknesses or failures by a willingness to explain unchristian conduct. For example, someone reveals an error or trespass on the part of another. Love may cause one to make an excuse for the person rather than multiplying and passing along such gossip. A loving person might defend the person by saying, "Well, perhaps he (or, she) was just having a bad day like we all do from time to time."

#13) 1 Corinthians 13:7b -- (Love) believes all things.

This phrase also may have more than one meaning. The phrase is variously rendered: WMS: it exercises faith in everything; BER: unquenchable faith; MOF: always eager to believe the best; NEB: there is no limit to its faith; PME: no limit to its trust. If the Greek PISTEUEI is viewed more as "trust" then this kind of love always trusts a friend’s truthfulness or honesty. This love is not paranoid, distrusting, or suspicious. There is a certain guilelessness in such a loving person. This person has no agenda, is no manipulator. These loving persons take people as they are without judging them wrongly without strong evidence to the contrary.

Translator James Moffatt may have come the closest: "(love) is always eager to believe the best." What a Christ-like attitude to trust and believe that there is some goodness in everyone.

#14) 1 Corinthians 13:7c -- (Love) hopes all things.

This phrase is variously rendered: MOF: always hopeful; BER: hopes under all circumstances; WMS: it keeps up hope in everything. In at least one translation the word "hope" occurs about 150 times. The Bible is a book of Hope. The first use of the word "hope" is by the woman Ruth. (Ruth 1:12) We are not surprised that "hope" occurs most often in the Book of Job (12x) in the Hebrew Bible and in the Letter to the Romans (20x) in the Christian Bible.

Since the context is love’s characteristics and qualities, this "hope" must be in others. I positive outlook regarding our fellows, particularly those who love us less than others. We continue to hope all will come to maturity in Christ. Those who have stumbled so as to fall -- we continue to hope they will recover if love be applied and prayer continue to be earnest.

This "hope" may manifest it self in those parents who long for their children to survive life’s blows and that evil enemy, Satan. When Christian children become prodigal and wander from the Nazarene path, mother and father continue to hope all will turn out well in the end. And so, the Proverb, "Chastise your son while there exists hope." (Proverbs 19:18)

When this kind of "hope" is missing it becomes very negative. If we do not hope the best for our fellows, then we secretly wish them evil or harm. We want them to fail or stumble. This is Satanic thinking. On the other hand the phrase "love hopes always" is a very positive outlook and lacks that anxiety which is corrosive to mind and body.

#15) 1 Corinthians 13:7d -- (Love) endures all things.

The phrase is variously rendered: WMS: it gives us power to endure in anything; TCNT: ever patient; BER: endures without limit; NJB: to endure whatever comes; WEY: she is full of endurance. Some translations have made it apparent that "love" is being viewed in the feminine. (See Weymouth) Few could argue that a mother’s love last’s a life time. Mothers seldom give up on their children. So, they still treat full grown men as their little boys. One may always return to mother; and, often at death "mom" and "God" are final words.

Families must often endure the attitudes or actions of others within the household circle. It takes endurance to continue to love despite the worst. We experience this need for love’s endurance at work, at school, in our daily life. Though Paul has already mentioned "love is long-suffering (or patient)" this endurance must be something different. If love ever ends, or fails to endure, then it may not have been love in the first place. Agape-love continues to the last breath. It never tires of forgiving others because it does not put itself on such a lofty pedestal. Those with a "short-fuse" simply are not possessed of agape-love, but rather self-centered, egotistical arrogance.

#16) 1 Corinthians 13:8 -- Love never fails.

This closing phrase is translated by others: NJB: love never comes to an end; BECK: love never dies; NEB: love will never come to an end; MOF: love never disappears; CON: love shall never pass away. One immediately thinks of that God who is love, our heavenly Father. There will never be a future time where love will not exist in the universe. What a joyous thought! At that future time when finally "God is everything to everyone" then the entire universe will be ablaze with love, lacking any hate anywhere. (1 Corinthians 15:28, Moffatt)

Most translators have preferred, "love never fails." It has been said above that if love ends it was not love to begin. The Nazarene taught that the two greatest commandments involved agape-love: first, love for God; and, second, love for our neighbor. (Matthew 22:34-40) If one’s love should ever cease -- for God or neighbor -- then it started as something else, not love. There may have been another agenda at work -- another principle, wrongly thought, as well as a mistaken motive. If one loves God because of the reward, then both the principle and the motive are wrong.

SUMMARY

Jesus said that if we only ‘love those loving us’ we have no reward with the Father. For, even ‘sinners love sinners who love them.’ (Luke 6:32-36) It is something "normal" for people to like people who like them. It is easy to love those loving us. The true test for real disciples of the Nazarene is to learn to love those who do not love (like) you. According to Jesus this is demonstrated by several manifestations: a) praying for those who hate you; b) doing good to those are treat you as an enemy; and, c) give charity and money to even the wicked and ungrateful. (Read Matthew 5:42-48; Luke 6:32-36)

We have noticed in Paul’s list of love’s attributes he has not mention those emotional feelings we often associate with the English word "love." Actually, agape-love is based on principle and correct motive, not on emotional feelings. Other Greek words are reserved for tenderness or affection. However, it is easy to see in kindness, patience, and giving a high degree of fellow feeling and even tenderness.

Today we rub elbows daily with people driven by hidden agendas. People who only think of themselves first. People who play games. People who manipulate for selfish reasons. This puts the Nazarene disciple at a disadvantage in a "dog eat dog world." But, then, here is where the test enters. The true disciple will be easily recognizable -- even by enemies -- by Nazarene love. This will be a living sermon far grander than the most charismatic preacher. Our best praise of God may be the love we show and thus prove we are disciples of the Nazarene. (John 13:35) It may be accurately said that the love we show is part of our worship. (Hebrews 13:15)

With the disciple of the Nazarene love is not a choice -- it is a command: "I am giving you these commands that you may love one another." (John 15:17 TCNT)

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"TABERNACLE SHADOWS"

When Moses was in the Mountain of God with Yahweh he was given instructions and architectural plans to a Tabernacle of worship where the Almighty’s Presence would reside with Israel. The Angel of Yahweh said: "And they must make a sanctuary for me, as I must tabernacle in the midst of them. According to all that I am showing you as the pattern of the tabernacle and pattern of all its furnishings, that is the way you are to make it." (Exodus 25:8, 9 NWT) Little did Moses discern regarding that single word "pattern." For what he was to build as a tabernacle of worship would act as a prophetic shadow of future realities.

Over a millennium and a half later the Jewish rabbi Paul of Tarsus was to pick up on this word "pattern" and explain what the tabernacle of Moses fore-shadowed. This explanation appears in the Letter to the Hebrews (Jews), chapters 8 to 10. Several times Paul notes that the tabernacle was a "pattern" of a spiritual true tent. Not only was the Mosaic tabernacle a shadow but so also was the priesthood and the sacrifices involved. Note how Paul explains this "solid food ... hard to understand." (Hebrews 5:14; 2 Peter 3:16)

Hebrews 8:1, 2 "Now as to the things being discussed this is the main point: We have such a high priest [Jesus Christ] as this, and he has sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a servant to (worshippers) at the Holy Places and of the true Tabernacle, which the Lord [Yahweh] put up, and not man." Paul makes it clear that our Lord the Nazarene, now glorified in heaven -- ruling at God’s right hand -- is a priestly worker or servant who serves for the benefit of Christian worshippers who have come to a spiritual Tabernacle with its holy places.

Hebrews 8:5, 6 -- "(These contemporary Jewish levital priests) are rendering sacred service in a hyper-diagram and shadow of the heavenly things. Just so Moses, when about to complete the Tabernacle, was divinely warned: For says He: ‘See that you make all things after their type [pattern] that was shown to you in the mountain.’ But now Jesus has obtained a more excellent priestly work, so that he is also the mediator of a correspondingly better covenant, which has been legally established upon better promises." For the word "pattern" Paul uses the Greek TYPON, or, "type."

Translators render the Greek TYPON as model, example, design, or pattern. The English word "type" is understood to mean an "outline ... (something) that represents or symbolizes another." (Websters) Elsewhere Paul writes about features of Jewish worship: "Those things are a shadow of the things to come, but the reality belongs to the Christ." (Colossians 2:17) And, so, Paul continues to explain what the various features of the Mosaic tabernacle picture or foreshadow. (Hebrews 10:1)

Hebrews 9:1-5 -- "For its part, then, the former [covenant] used to have righteous requirements regarding (tabernacle) worship and a holy place of this material world. For there was constructed a first tent [compartment] in which were the lampstand and also the table and the display of the loaves; and it is called the ‘Holy’. But beyond the second curtain was the tent-room called the ‘Holies of holies’. This (room) had a golden censer and the ark of the covenant completely overlaid with gold, in which were the golden jar having the manna and the rod of Aaron that sprouted and the tablets of the covenant; but up above it were the glorious cherubim overshadowing the propitiatory. "

Paul continues in Hebrews 9:6, 7 to describe what he had mentioned earlier in verse 5, "After these things had been constructed this way, the priests enter the first tent-room [the Holy] at all times to perform worship services; but into the second [room] the high priest alone enters once a year, not without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of ignorance of the people." Paul here now links the Tabernacle with the annual Day of Atonement held in the autumn. This particular festival is described in the Book of Leviticus chapter sixteen. (See below)

Hebrews 9:8-10 has Paul now giving an inspired interpretation of matters: "Thus the holy Pneuma makes it evident that the way into the Holies had not yet been revealed while the first Tabernacle was standing. This very Tabernacle is a parable for the present season, and in keeping with (this Tabernacle of the material world) both gifts and sacrifices are offered. However, these (sacrifices) are not able to make the worshipper perfect regarding the conscience, but have to do only with foods and drinks and various baptisms. They were righteous requirements dealing with the flesh and were imposed until the right season to set completely straighten things out."

What does Paul mean by "the way into the Holies"? Judging from what is to follow, it must be that way which Christ as high priest was to experience when he ascended to heaven, entering a celestial Tabernacle, and thereafter offering the value of his blood and sacrificed body. Though Paul could be referring to the way into the two holies of the Perfect Tabernacle, he may just as well be using the plural for the "holies of holies," that is, the Most Holy second room. This is what he goes to describe.

Hebrews 9:11-14 -- "But, when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come to pass, by means of the greater and more perfect Tabernacle not of human origin, that is, not of this creation, he entered, no, not with the blood of goats and of young bulls [from the Day of Atonement], but with his own blood, once for all time into the holies and (there) obtained an ageless release (for us). For if [on the Day of Atonement] the blood of goats and of bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who have been defiled sanctifies to the extent of fleshly cleanliness, how much more will the blood of the Christ, who by means of an ageless spirit offered himself without blemish to the God, cleanse our consciences from dead works that we may offer a true form of worship to a living God?" The blood of the Atonement Day bulls and goats foreshadow or point forward as types to the reality in the blood of Christ.

Hebrews 9:22-26 -- "Yes, nearly all things are cleansed with blood according to the Law, and unless blood is poured out no forgiveness takes place. Therefore it was necessary that the (earthly) diagrams of celestial things should be cleansed by these means, but the celestial things themselves with sacrifices that are better than such sacrifices. For Christ entered, not into holies of human origin -- anti-types of realities -- but into the very heavens, now to appear on our behalf before the Face of the God. Neither is it in order that he should offer himself over and over (year in and year out), as indeed the high priest enters into the holies (annually on the Day of Atonement) without his own blood. Otherwise, (Christ) would have to suffer (death) often from the beginning of the world." Again, Paul has in mind the Jewish Day of Atonement as the anti-type in this new spiritual (heavenly) Tabernacle. He may infer that the blood of the bulls and goats sacrificed on this annual festival of the Jews points to the blood of Christ’s own sacrifice.

In these verses Paul mentions "sacrifices" (plural) to cleanse the heavenly or celestial things foreshadowed or pictured by the earthly Tabernacle. Does he mean to infer that "sacrifices" other than that one offered by Christ? Or, is this a latitude of language in which Paul uses the plural "sacrifices" in a poetic or figurative sense to refer to all those "sacrifices" which pointed forward to the one sacrifice? No where in Paul’s writings does he teach that the lives of the consecrated Saints are part of the single ransom sacrifice needed to redeem mankind.

Paul continues with references and allusions to other types and shadows and their fulfillment in Christ’s "suffering."

Hebrews 10:1 -- "For the Law was a shadow of future good -- not the exact image -- (worshippers) who approach (God) can never be perfected by the offering of annual sacrifices." From this and similar remarks by Paul some will find in every feature of the Law some "image" or "shadow" as typical of realities in Christ. Though speculation on this subject of "tabernacle shadows" reaches spectacular proportions by some, there is little inspired basis for such. We cannot go beyond the inspired interpretations of the Nazarene and his god-breathed disciples who wrote under the influence of the Spirit-Helper.

For example, some would interpret that various sacrifices to go beyond that single suffering of our Lord. They would see in these also the sufferings in a multitude of deaths of the martyrs as additional value in the Ransom. However, Paul makes clear there is only one sacrifice and not a composite one. In Hebrews 10:12-14 he writes, "But (Christ) offered ONE perpetual sacrifice for sins and sat down at the right hand of The God, from then on awaiting until his enemies should be placed as a stool for his feet. For it is by ONE perpetual offering that he has perfected the Saints." Paul sees ONE SACRIFICE and no where infers there are many as part of this one offering.

Additionally, the various features of the Tabernacle with its two rooms and courtyard -- including the contents of the Ark of the Covenant -- are interpreted to have a variety of fulfillments. Some interpret the first compartment, the Holy, to picture the sanctified sonship of a priestly class of Christians separate and distinct from other Christians. They see in the several sacrifices on the Day of Atonement the distribution of Christ’s ransom upon three groups: anointed Christians, other non-anointed Christians living at the "end of the world," and lastly, mankind in general during the Millennium.

Sometimes persons who interpret the Bible with a certain bias or agenda -- lacking specific Scriptural proof -- resort to these prophetic "dramas" or "shadows" or "types" to bolster what is lacking in their argument. In other words, they work backwards, beginning with a notion and then seek some make shift "outline" in the Law to establish their views.

Since no inspired writer of the Bible gives such details it is pure speculation bordering on presumption to begin to find meanings in every aspect of the Law’s "tabernacle shadows." This does not necessarily mean that a lesson cannot be drawn or illustrated from such things as the Day of Atonement or the daily prayers and offerings within the Holy of the Tabernacle.

Paul may make an inspired allusion to the priestly courtyard of the Tabernacle where were found the Altar of sacrifice and the Basin for cleansing priests and sacrifices. The Revelation also refers to this "courtyard." (Revelation 11:3) Note Paul’s subtlety in Hebrews 10:19-22, "Therefore, brothers, with boldness we enter into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus, which he opened for us a new and living way through the curtain, that is, his flesh. And since we have (our own) great priest over the House of The God, let us approach (Him) with a genuine heart, trusting in full confidence, our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and the body washed with pure water."

Paul may allude here to the blood of sprinkling which came from the altar in the courtyard of the priests. He may allude to the cleansing basin in which the priests bathed for sanctified service in the Tabernacle. We may wish to add to this the three features in the Holy first room: the altar of incense (Revelation 8:3), the table of showbread (John 6:51), and the lampstand. (Revelation 1:20; 11:4; see the William Barclay quote under "Faith Perspectives") We may even see in the "hidden manna" an eternal source of spiritual and celestial food for those blessed with priestly services within the Divine Habitat of God. (Revelation 2:17) However, we must not go beyond what the Scriptures themselves give as interpretations on these matters.

We may see in the typical Atonement Day commandments fitting illustrations and lessons of encouragement which may be given loose applications to matters of Christian belief and worship. (See Leviticus chapter 16) So, we may wish to see in the sacrifice of the bull that application of Christ’s redemptive price as perfecting that spiritual "priesthood." (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 5:9, 10; 20:4) We may also wish to see in the first goat of the sin offering the application of Christ’s redemptive price over mankind in general. (1 John 2:2; 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22) We may also wish to see in the "goat for Azazel" that feature of Christ’s death which is a "sin-bearer" object lesson for us all. (Isaiah 53:4, 5, 10-12)

In all of these types and shadows there is one remaining powerful lesson for each Nazarene Saint: we too must suffer as we daily carry his cross. (Matthew 16:24, 25) Paul concludes his Temple pictures with this encouragement: "We (Christian saints) have an Altar from which those (Jewish priests) who render worship at the Tabernacle have no authority to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is taken into the Holies by the high priest for sin are burned up outside the encampment. By which Jesus also, so that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. You also, now, go out to meet (Christ) outside the encampment, bearing his reproach. ... Through him may we continually offer a sacrifice of praise to the God --- the fruit of our lips which confess his name. Also, be not forgetting doing of good and sharing with others, for the God is very pleased with such sacrifices." (Hebrews 13:10-16)

We cannot fail in our desire to find the meat of God’s Word to miss this point: the two primary features of our spiritual Tabernacle worship: our confession of Jesus Christ; and, our charity toward others. These are the sacrificial offerings which please the Father of our Lord. [NOTE: For additional information on Tabernacle Shadows see the url: http://www.nazarene-friends.org/booklets/tabernacle.htm ]


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