Thursday, July 26, 2012

Israel Restoration from Humiliation Introduction We see that the priest, the prophet Ezekiel is the penman of this book. Ezekiel was from an upper middle-class family. At the time of his prophecy, the northern kingdom had already been in captivity about 100 years. The first part of this is prophecy directed at the southern kingdom of Judah and Benjamin. We will discover that Ezekiel is in Babylon when this prophecy is given. Historians tell us that he lived in Tel-Abib in the land of the Chaldeans. He was, probably, about 30 years old when he began to prophesy. Those who worked in the temple usually began at about 30 years of age. Jesus' formal ministry began when He was 30 years old. It is believed by many that Ezekiel began to prophesy in about 595 B.C. Ezekiel was a prophet of a priestly family, which was carried captive to Babylon in 597 BC, who prophesied intermittently until 571 BC. He was about 25 years old when he was taken to Babylon. Ezekiel was called to the prophetic ministry five years after arriving, and ministered to the captives who dwelt by the river Chebar at Tel Abib. His home was quite often a meeting place. Ezekiel was married to a woman who was "the desire of his eyes". One of the saddest notes of his life was the death of his wife. The prophet was told that his wife would die as the armies of Babylon laid siege against the holy city of Jerusalem. Ezekiel’s sadness at the death of his wife was to match the grief of God for the sin of Jerusalem. During his ministry he glimpsed extraordinary visions, and he performed symbolic prophetic acts, which made him somewhat of a curiosity to his contemporaries. Some of the greatest prophecies regarding future events occur in the Book of Ezekiel (chapters 33-48. The book of Ezekiel is broken down into 5 sections that reveal the glory of the Lord. 1. Manifested to reveal and reprove sin (chapters 1-8) 2. Withdrawn from the defiled Jerusalem temple (chapters 9-11) 3. Departed, resulting in desolation and doom (chapters 12-24) 4. Promised with divine intervention (chapters 25-39) 5. Restored in the new temple and the new Holy Land (chapters 40-48) The key phrase in the book, "son of man" is used ninety three times. Jesus used the terms "Son of man" and "Son of God" to show that He had the characteristics of both deity and humanity. Prophecies directly relating to Israel in the End Times begin in chapter 34 and 36. Israel’s restoration is shown in chapter 37 in the vision of the "dry bones" that came to life. Chapters 38 and 39 deal with the future invasion of Israel from the North and Israel’s victory over Gog and Magog known as World War 111 which can take place anytime now as the world of anti-Semitism of the Jews is so prevalent before us. The Rapture of the Church out of this world and the remaining world goes into the Tribulation Period will also take place in the future. Ezekiel’s 1,273 verses include 821 verses of predictions, which amount to 65% of the total and the largest amount of predictive prophecy to appear in any Bible book. Ezekiel 36:1-7 The People Blessed Eze_36:1-38 is set in antithesis to Eze_35:1-15. When God intervenes on Israel’s behalf, the “mountains” of Israel’s enemies will be judged (Eze_35:1-3, Eze_35:8) but the “mountains of Israel” (cf. Eze_35:12) will be blessed (Eze_36:1). In Eze_36:1-7 Edom is again pictured as representing all nations who seek Israel’s harm (cf. Eze_36:5, Eze_36:7). The first section of the prophecy (Eze_36:1-15) uses the “because/therefore” format to compare the judgment on the nations with Israel’s restoration. The second section of the prophecy (Eze_36:16-38) moves from the mountains of Israel to the people of Israel who will be the personal recipients of God’s blessing. The fact of Israel’s future restoration seemed so remote after her fall to the Roman Empire in 70 AD and 135 AD that God put great emphasis on His personal character rather than external circumstances as the basis for the fulfillment. Ten times the prophet stated, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says” (Eze_36:2-7, Eze_36:13, Eze_36:22, Eze_36:33, Eze_36:37). Israel’s mountains to prosper Ezekiel contrasted Israel’s present humiliation before her enemies with her future glorification. God promised to punish Israel’s enemies for their sin in hounding, slandering (Eze_36:3), plundering (Eze_36:4-5), rejoicing over, and having malice against Israel. The people are just sure that the land of Israel will belong to them. The land of Israel had been ravaged of all its wealth, but the greatest wealth it had, was its natural resources. They were still there. Edom was opposed to Israel, and even pleased, when their calamity came. They saw this as an opportunity to take the Promised Land for themselves. The lips of talkers were saying that Israel could finally belong to them. "Infamy" means slander. Therefore God swore with uplifted hand (a gesture accompanying an oath; cf. Eze_20:5, Eze_20:15, Eze_20:23; Eze_47:14) that the nations who had scorned her (Eze_36:6) will also suffer scorn. Surrounding nations seemed to have triumphed, but their victory was merely temporary. They would suffer for their sin. Ezekiel 36:8-12 In contrast with the judgment about to be inflicted on Israel’s enemies, Israel herself could look forward to restoration and blessing. In a reversal of the catastrophe that God had earlier called against the mountains of Israel (Eze_6:1-7), He said the mountains will produce branches and fruit for His people… will soon come home. When God created the heavens and the earth, He caused the fruit trees to bear, and the grass to grow in preparation for man. This is what God is doing here. He is preparing the land for the children of Israel to come into. He has provided for their needs, when they get home. God will restore the land so that it can provide for the restored remnant. God’s blessing will involve numerical growth, for the number of people will be multiplied. The nation that had been decimated in the land (Eze_6:3, Eze_6:5-7) will replenish it. Israel’s latter state will be far superior to her former. When God finally restores the people to the land He will prosper the land; He guarantees the permanence of this arrangement. Once Israel is restored to the land her inheritance will be secure. The land will never again deprive Israel of her children. Rather than being a cruel wilderness with drought, famine, and death (cf. Lev_26:18-22; Num_13:32; Deu_28:20-24), it will be a place of blessing. Ezekiel 36:13-15 Besides punishing Israel’s enemies (Eze_36:1-7) and restoring Israel’s land (Eze_36:8-12), God will also remove Israel’s reproach (Eze_36:13-15). The mockery and humiliation (taunts and scorn) Israel had been forced to endure (Eze_36:3-6) will cease (cf. Eze_16:57-58). There are many nations who hate Israel. Their hate is more in the form of jealousy. Even today, the Jews, who are coming back to the land, are many times, those with high technical training. The land they leave does not want to give them up. In this sense, it would bereave the nation that lost them. God had, also, blessed them in battle. The other countries were afraid of Israel, because they were afraid of Israel's God. She will once again be restored to her position of prestige as God’s Chosen People (cf. Deu_28:13; Zec_8:13, Zec_8:20-23). Israel will live at peace with God and man. This verse is looking beyond the return from captivity in Babylon. There was not, at that time, a total restoration. There have been other times, when the Hebrew was in exile in foreign lands, as well. This is speaking of the return that is going on in Israel today. A partial fulfillment was in the days after the Babylonian captivity, but it certainly speaks, also, of the return going on today. Ezekiel 36:16-21 Israel’s people to be regathered After discussing Israel’s sinful past (Eze_36:16-21), Ezekiel discussed (in three parts, each beginning with “This is what the Sovereign Lord says,” Eze_36:22, Eze_36:33, Eze_36:37) the nation’s future restoration. Before dwelling on Israel’s future cleansing, Ezekiel reminded the exiles of their past sin which caused their judgment. When they were… in the land, they defiled it by their conduct and actions (cf. Eze_36:19). This profaning was like a menstrual discharge that rendered a woman ceremonially unclean and defiled everything she touched (cf. Lev_15:19-23). How did the people defile the land? By bloodshed and idolatry (cf. Eze_33:25). As a result God removed them from the defiled land. Yet even when scattered among other nations, they profaned God’s holy name. We must continue to realize that God thought of Israel as His wife. When she lived in the land, she had gone after false gods. God thought of this as spiritual adultery. All of the things that happened to Israel in the siege, and in the captivity, were from a jealous husband, who still loved His wife. This Scripture is going back to the time, before they went into captivity in Babylon. God explains, through Ezekiel, that the punishment was not because He did not love Israel. He punished her, to teach her not to be unfaithful. This is explaining that God's judgment on Israel was just. He had ample cause to judge her thusly. They profaned the name of the LORD, because the heathen would, now, think of Him as not being able to protect His people. This is the same embarrassment caused to God, when someone commits a terrible crime and proclaims to the world he is a Christian. Even in dispersion, Israelites tainted God’s honor in the sight of the heathen, who concluded that the Lord of this exiled people was not powerful enough to keep them in their land. The Israelites, as well as the Christians of today, should be a sign to the world of the greatness of God. Everything we do, and say, should glorify Him. We should never do, or say, anything that would turn people away from God. Jesus is the Light of the world. We are to have that Light brightly shining within us, so the world can see the Light in us. We are to dispense Light, not darkness. We believers affect the way the world feels about God. Ezekiel 36:22-23 Other nations viewed the sovereign God through the actions of Israel, thus besmirching His holy name. Therefore God said He would restore Israel… not for her sake… but for the sake of His holy name. Israel had no intrinsic value which prompted God to act on her behalf. He would restore the nation because His character was at stake. He would show the holiness of His great name (cf. Eze_20:41; Eze_28:22, Eze_28:25; Eze_38:16; Eze_39:27). God had shown His justice when He punished Israel for her sin; He will show His grace and faithfulness when He restores her and renews His covenant promises. Ezekiel 36:24-32 The means God will use to show His holiness are explained in these verses. He will first restore the nation physically: He will gather her from all the countries and bring her back into her own land (Eze_36:24). Headlining God’s future program will be the restored nation of Israel. However, Israel’s restoration will be more than physical. God promised I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. This did not refer to water baptism. In Old Testament times sprinkling or washing with water pictured cleansing from ceremonial defilement (cf. Lev_15:21-22; Num_19:17-19). Since Israel’s sin was like the ceremonial impurity of menstruation (Eze_36:17) her cleansing was now compared to the ceremonial act of purification. The point is that God will purify Israel from her sins. This cleansing will be followed by the impartation of new life. God will give the converted nation a new heart and… a new spirit. In place of a heart of stone He will give Israel a heart of flesh (cf. Eze_11:19). With God’s Spirit indwelling them (cf. Eze_37:14), they will be motivated to obey His decrees and laws (cf. Eze_37:24). God’s restoration will not simply be an undoing of Israel’s sin to bring her to a state of neutrality. Rather it will involve the positive implanting of a new nature in Israel’s people that will make them righteous. Jeremiah called this work of God the “New Covenant” (cf. Jer_31:31-33). Implanting God’s Spirit in believing Israelites will produce a new relationship between Israel and her God: You will be My people, and I will be your God (cf. Eze_11:20; Eze_14:11; Eze_37:23, Eze_37:27). God will extend all His graciousness to His people. Being delivered from their sin, they will experience the bountiful provision of the land including grain… fruit, and crops (cf. Eze_34:27) without famine (cf. Eze_34:29). When Israel reflects on God’s grace and her former character (her evil ways and wicked deeds), she will realize she does not deserve His favor. In fact she will loathe herself because of her detestable practices, looking back in horror at them. The blackness of her past actions will contrast starkly with the light of God’s grace. In the future, when Israel recalls her past actions, she will recognize that God had not saved her because of her merit. God will be doing this not for her sake, but to magnify His own name. Ezekiel 36:33-36 When Israel is restored and the land… cultivated, people will note that this wasteland will be like the Garden of Eden. Israel’s cities, formerly in ruins, will be fortified and inhabited. This is speaking of a time of prosperity that God has brought. God wants the cities to, again, be thought of as they were before the captivity. To the surrounding nations Israel will become an object lesson of God’s grace. They will be forced to acknowledge God’s sovereign power in restoring His people: they will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed. At one time, the passerby had thought the land to be totally uninhabitable. Now, it will bloom like a flower in the desert. This had two fulfillments. This happened, when they returned from Babylon, and will again happen in the millennium. The one that says this is the heathen lands around Israel. God caused the Garden of Eden to grow, and furnish their needs. God is causing it to grow, again, as He did in Eden. Their efforts are not bringing this about. God's blessings are bringing it about. Millennial conditions will be similar (not identical) to those in Eden. We are seeing this happen, after the heathen have been destroyed, and there will be few left. Those left will recognize the hand of the LORD in this. It would be nothing at all for Creator God to restore this land it is happening presently. He took nothing, and made the world. God spoke, and the world became. God will speak and the ruined places will be built again He is letting this happen now in front of our very eyes today. Ezekiel 36:37-38 God will also cause the nation to increase numerically. This was considered a sign of God’s blessing (cf. Gen_12:2; Gen_15:1-6; 1Sa_1:5-6; 1Sa_2:1-11; Zec_8:4-5). God will sovereignly work this return/renewal, yet give Israelites the human privilege of praying for it to be realized. This prophecy was to stir up the people’s prayers. “Increase them”: There will be an increase in the population during the Millennium. We can see the mass of increase of Gods people even today. When the male population came to Jerusalem, they brought vast numbers of animals for sacrifice. That was small compared to future kingdom conditions. Ezekiel, a priest, compared the swelling population of Israel to the numerous… flocks of sacrificial animals gathered for the feasts in Jerusalem. As tightly packed herds jostle for space because of their vast numbers, so Israel’s ruined cities and then empty and desolate, will be filled with flocks of people. The temple in Jerusalem had been a place for people from other areas to come to and worship. Many times, the streets were overcrowded with these people. The time will be when just the Israelites will be as large as those numbers had been. God will enlarge their numbers greatly and will enlarge their love for God, as well.

1 Corinthians Chpt. 2

1 Corinthians Chapter 2 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 On this note, Paul made his transition to a third point in his illustration of the futility of human wisdom, compared with the power and wisdom of God. That was seen also in the manner of his ministry which he described as characterized by weakness and fear and with much trembling (1Co_2:3). Paul is explaining to them, here, that it was not because he was a great orator that they received the message of the Lord Jesus Christ. The message was pure and simple. The message was Jesus and He crucified. Paul was a learned scholar, but that was more of a hindrance than a help, in this particular case. “Testimony of God”: This was not Paul’s testimony of God, but God’s testimony of Himself (namely, “the Cross”). This phrase simply describe a spirit of dependence and subjection to God’s authority (cf. Eph_6:5; Php_2:12), which marked his ministry. It was also true that his manner of preaching was unimpressive from a human point of view (2Co_10:10). Paul readily admitted this and even used it as a point in his argument. His preaching was not marked by eloquence or persuasive words such as characterized the sophists, the traveling teachers of that day, but was instead the unembellished message of a crucified Christ as the only means of salvation. “I determined” (literally, “I decided”): The implication is that Paul gave careful thought to his approach, and resolved to lay aside the ornaments of speech and philosophical skill to announce Jesus Christ, and him crucified. Paul’s message and method reflected divine wisdom. Paul was not interested in their standing in the community or their education. The only way that Paul separated them was those who believe and those who do not believe. Though Paul expounded the whole counsel of God to the church and taught the Corinthians the Word of God, the focus of his preaching and teaching to unbelievers was Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for sin on the cross. Until someone understands and believes the gospel, there is nothing more to say to them. The preaching of the cross was so dominant in the early church that believers were accused of worshiping a dead man. Many Bible scholars believe that this was saying that Paul had a nervous disorder. Some type of nervous disturbance in His brain. I really do not believe this is what Paul is saying here. “Weakness…fear…trembling”. Paul came to Corinth after being beaten and imprisoned in Philippi, run out of Thessalonica and Berea, and scoffed at in Athens, so he may have been physically weak. But in that weakness, he was most powerful. There were no theatrics or techniques to manipulate people’s response. His fear and shaking were because of the seriousness of his mission. Faith, then, was induced by a demonstration of the Spirit’s power and was not a product of human ingenuity or rhetorical flourish. I love Paul saying, here, that his preaching was a demonstration of the power and the Spirit of God in him. In other words, he is saying that the Holy Spirit of God is speaking through him. Paul is fully aware, as we should be, that a message he might come up with on his own might not be the one God would have him to bring. He has turned his tongue and his mouth over to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is speaking through Paul. Paul wanted to be sure their faith would not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. Our faith should not be based on mankind, but should be placed in the power of God. It is not up to men to judge whether your faith is what it should be or not: it is up to God. 1 Corinthians 2:6 In Paul’s disclaimer about his own brilliance he did not mean that God puts a premium on ignorance and rejects wisdom of any sort. There was a wisdom taught by the Spirit which Paul wanted his readers to grasp firmly. Some of his readers had done so (no doubt Paul hoped that someday all would do so). He referred to them as the mature, probably including the individuals mentioned in 1Co_16:15-18. They are the same people he described as spiritual people (1Co_2:13, 1Co_2:15). “Perfect” refers to the morally and spiritually mature. (Genuine believers) Paul cannot resist the use of irony here. In verse 4 he denies the use of wisdom; now he admits to using it, buy only among those capable of comprehending and appreciating it (namely, the perfect). We know that the Lord Jesus spoke in parables, so that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not hear. He did not want the world to come to Him with their mind, so He taught in parables so that only His own would understand through the power of the Holy Spirit. The reason the rulers of this age (cf. 1Co_1:20) did not understand this wisdom was because they lacked the Spirit (1Co_2:14), and thus were coming to nothing. 1 Corinthians 2:7 The message which Paul proclaimed was God’s secret wisdom, known only by God’s revelation (Mat_11:25). At the heart of this wisdom is the plan of salvation intended for our glory, determined before time began (Eph_1:4). “In a mystery”: In may be instrumental (i.e., “by a mystery”), modal (“in the form of a mystery”), or local (“hidden in a mystery”). Mystery refers to some work or purpose of God unrevealed until now (Romans 16:25-26). In this case, the reference is to the “hidden wisdom”, which God ordained…unto our glory. The purpose of God concerning our salvation was designed by God from eternity and is directed toward the everlasting glory that believers will enjoy in His presence. We do know that Jesus revealed this “mystery” to the believers. Let me share a couple of Scriptures that will help us understand. Colossians 1:26-27 "[Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:" "To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:" Paul is saying that the very thing they are calling folly is in, fact, and the greatest wisdom. This is wisdom of God that He has revealed through the Holy Spirit of God to those who are His followers. 1 Corinthians 2:8 As did John in his Gospel (Joh_17:1), Paul linked glory with the crucified Lord, an utter paradox to both Jews and Gentiles (1Co_1:23) who nonetheless unwittingly (Luk_23:34) took part in that central act of God’s plan of salvation. “Princes of this world”: The crucifixion is proof that the rulers/Jewish religious leaders lacked wisdom. This is saying; that if they had known for sure who Jesus was, they would not have crucified Him. A little knowledge of the Word of God is a dangerous thing. If you truly get into the study of the Bible, stay with it. To learn just a little will tend to confuse you. You need an overall view of the Bible, before you start deciding what is right and what is wrong. Let the Word {itself} teach you. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 The blessings of salvation were prepared by the Father, carried out by the Son, and applied by the Spirit (Eph_1:3-14) to all believers who as a result love God (1Jn_4:19). In our wildest imagination, we cannot come up with the wonderful things the Lord has stored up for us. Isaiah 64:4 "For since the beginning of the world [men] have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, [what] he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him." These words from Isaiah refer to the wisdom God has prepared for believers. God’s truth is not discoverable by eye or ear (objective empirical evidence), nor is it discovered by the mind (subjective, rational conclusions). This scripture also shows the harmony of the Old Testament with the New Testament. The only way the Corinthians could know this was by the Spirit, who knows and reveals these deep things of God about salvation. The Holy Spirit that we receive is the earnest of greater things to come. We are not like the rest of the world, if we are believers; we have hope of the resurrection. We are not a permanent resident of this earth, if we are a Christian. “Revealed…unto us”: Unto us is in the emphatic position in Greek, emphasizing the enormous privilege granted the recipients of divine revelation. The magnificent treasure of God’s revealed truth is accessible to the mature believer. By the Holy Spirit, God disclosed His saving truth. (Matt. 11:25; 13:10-13). The Spirit alone was qualified because He knows all that God knows, Himself being God. As with the “we’s” in verses 6, 7, 12, and 13, Paul is, first of all, speaking of himself (as in John 14:26; 15:26-27 and, in a sense, of believers who have been given the Word as recorded by the apostles and their associates who wrote the New Testament. 1 Corinthians 2:11 Paul illustrated this by pointing out that nobody can fully fathom the thoughts of anyone else. How much more necessary, then, is the work of the Spirit if the thoughts of God are to be known. It is not possible for man of flesh to fully understand God who is Spirit. We know as much of God as the Holy Spirit of God has revealed unto us. Verse 11 deals with the doctrine of illumination (a condition of spiritual awareness; divine illumination; "follow God's light"), having to do with human understanding of divine truth. This is saying that it is not possible for man to know what is in another’s heart. Only the Spirit of God knows that. It is not possible for man of flesh to fully understand God who is Spirit. We know as much of God as the Holy Spirit of God has revealed unto each of us individually. 1 Corinthians 2:12 It was for that purpose, in part, that the Spirit who is from God came (Joh_16:13), not just to some Christians but to all (1Co_12:13). The subject of verses 12 and 13 is the doctrine of inspiration. In verse 12 Paul talks about the content of inspiration. In verse 13 his concern is with the communication of inspiration. The “we” and “us” refer to the apostles and other writers of the Word of God. The means was inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21), by which God freely gave the gift of His Word. It was this process of inspiration that turned the spiritual thoughts into spiritual words (verse 13) to give life (Matt. 4:4). The Spirit of God has brought unto us life, if we are Christians. We are heirs according to the promise of God if we are believers. The New Testament is the last will and testament of Jesus Christ and it reveals to us what our inheritance is, if we are Christians. 1 Corinthians 2:13 It was this message of salvation which Paul proclaimed and now expounded further. It did not originate in man but in God and was taught by the Spirit. Paul then expressed these spiritual truths which were a message of wisdom (cf. 1Co_2:6). The Greek word pneumatikois may be neuter gender and so translated spiritual words as in the NIV (“expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words”). Or it may be masculine gender and translated “spiritual men” (“interpreting spiritual truths to spiritual men,” as in the NIV margin). Both senses are possible, but Paul’s primary point in this passage was not how the message of wisdom was received but who received it, as suggested by the context: Paul spoke the message of wisdom to “the mature” (1Co_2:6). Thus 1Co_2:13 parallels 1Co_2:6 and forms a kind of bracket, in keeping with well-written Greek style. This, perhaps, is speaking of the things that the Holy Ghost reveals to man. Physical eyes cannot see into the Spirit. That is why so many times people read the Bible and do not understand what it is saying. The Holy Spirit of God {our school teacher} has to teach us the meaning, or we do not understand. The spiritual things are so far above this earth that they can only be understood by the Holy Spirit. We will find, as we go on in these lessons, that it is the spirit of man that Jesus quickens, not the flesh of man. “Comparing spiritual things with spiritual”: The term comparing occurs only here and in 2 Cor. 10:12 where the meaning is clearly “compare”. However, in classical Greek, the term was always used in a sense of “to compound” or “to interpret.” Probably the most satisfactory interpretation is “combining spiritual things with spiritual words.” After speaking of spiritual “things,” (verses 11-13), Paul now speaks of the “forms” in which they are conveyed. Spiritual truth is conveyed in language that is given by God’s Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14 Since only spiritual people are able to receive spiritual truths, it follows that the man without the Spirit, an unregenerate person, would not and could not receive the message of wisdom regardless of his intellectual abilities or accomplishments (1Co_1:20). Like a deaf critic of Bach or a blind critic of Raphael is the unregenerate critic of God’s Word. The natural man looks with physical eyes and understands with a carnal mind, so he does not understand the Spirit at all. The Holy Spirit which dwells in us is {if we are true believers} teaches us the things of the Spirit. The physical {carnal} man believes only what he can see, touch, or taste. The spiritual man understands secrets that cannot be seen, touched, or tasted. The natural man looks with physical eyes and understands with a carnal mind, so he does not understand the Spirit at all. The Holy Spirit which dwells in us is {if we are true believers} teaches us the things of the Spirit. The physical {carnal} man believes only what he can see, touch, or taste. The spiritual man understands secrets that cannot be seen, touched, or tasted. “Natural man”: (Literally, “unspiritual man”) is unreceptive. He does not admit the truth into his heart. (Luke 8:13; Acts 8:14; 11:1; James 1:21). As spiritual discernment is generated only by the Holy Spirit, the capacity to know spiritual truth is beyond the innate powers of the natural man. “Spiritually discerned”: The fundamental idea of discerned is that of “examination” or “scrutiny”. It is used only by Paul and Luke, and mostly of “judicial examination” (Luke 23:14); Acts 4:9; 1 Cor 9:3; 10:25 and 10:27). On the spiritual plane, the natural man does not have the ability to sift the facts. 1 Corinthians 2:15-16 On the other hand a person possessing the Spirit and guided by Him is able to evaluate and apply all things the Spirit reveals (1Co_2:10). The spiritual man can be judged only by God (1Co_4:3-5), not by unregenerate people (1Co_2:15) or by worldly Christians (1Co_3:1-3). Obviously, unbelievers are able to recognize Christian’s faults and shortcoming; but they are not able to evaluate their true nature as spiritual people who have been transformed into children of God. I believe that this is speaking of a man who has been baptized with the Holy Spirit of God and has the gift of discernment. We must try the Spirits and see whether they are of God or not. We do not judge people lost or saved, but we do make judgments on the actions of people. Jesus is the final Judge of all. The only Judge the Christian will stand before is Jesus and those making carnal judgments about you should not affect you at all. The difference between the natural man and the spiritual man is primarily that the spiritual man has founded his faith on God’s revelation. He can judge now both earthly and heavenly things. He can discern what is and what is not of the gospel and salvation, and whether a man truly preaches the truth of God. To have the mind of Christ is to be obedient to God’s revelation (Php_2:5-8), as were the spiritual people in the Corinthian church. Saying that we have the mind of Christ just means that He has revealed to us His will. In the following Scriptures there is an even better description of what I am trying to say. John 15:15 "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." John 16:13 "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come." “We have the mind of Christ”: means that Christians possess the Lord’s own understanding, that is, His thoughts, opinions, judgments, plans, and so on. This answers the question that Paul puts in the same verse, “who hath known the mind of the Lords?”The answer is, “We do!” The term we includes the apostle Paul and to some extent all true believers, though believers today are prudent to acknowledge the superiority of apostolic insight into spiritual matters to that of their own.

Romans Chapter Three - Part One

Romans Chapter 3 – Part One Romans 3:1-2 Condemnation Because Of Their Unbelief A characteristic mark of Paul’s style, particularly in this letter to the Romans, is to ask and answer an obvious question his discussion has raised in his readers’ minds. The natural response to the preceding material (Rom_2:17-29) is, What advantage (perrison, “overplus”), then, is there in being a Jew? Expressed in other words the question is, What value (ōpheleia, “advantage”) is there in circumcision? The first question pertains to Paul’s words in Rom_2:17-24, and the second question to his words in Rom_2:25-29. Paul’s response is immediate and direct: Much in every way! He was not saying that being a Jew or being circumcised had no gains. By the phrase First of all Paul suggested that he was going to list a number of items, though actually he stated only one. He did this same thing elsewhere (Rom_1:8; 1Co_11:18). In this case the item he stated is the most important and in a sense includes any others that could have been mentioned. The Jews have been entrusted (the Gr. past tense could be rendered “were entrusted”) with the very words (logia, pl. of logos, “word” or “statement”) of God. This can refer to the entire Old Testament but here it probably means just the promises and commands of God. Yet, though in that privileged position, the Jews were unable to live up to God’s standards. Paul asks this question as if another Jew is asking. It seems that the covenant that God made with Abraham (circumcision) is no advantage at all. Paul asks, what is the reason for circumcision, if it does not benefit the Jew? The non-Jew up until the time of Jesus had no chance of learning of the true God. The law was revealed to the natural Jew only at that time. The promises made were for the physical house of Israel until Jesus tore the middle wall of partition down in the temple when He gave His body on the cross for all mankind. The promise of the Messiah was to the physical house of Israel. The physical house of Israel (Jew) was the one taught in the temple the laws of God. They were the privileged few. “Oracles”: This Greek word is logian, a diminutive form of the common New Testament words logos, which is normally translated “word.” These are important sayings or messages, especially supernatural ones. Here Paul uses the word to encompass the entire Old Testament - the Jews received the very words of the true God. The Jews had a great advantage in having the Old Testament, because it contained the truth about salvation and about the gospel in its basic form. When Paul said “preach the Word”, he meant the oracles of God recorded in scripture. Romans 3:3-4 The fact that the chief benefit of being a Jew was being “entrusted with the very words of God” raised another question. What if some did not have faith? This verb “did not have faith” also means “be unfaithful.” This is preferred since the same verb is rendered “entrusted” in Rom_3:2. It is true that some Jews did not believe the promises of God, but also some Jews were unfaithful to their trust. Will their lack of faith (this noun can also mean “unfaithfulness,” which is preferred here) nullify God’s faithfulness? To that possibility Paul responded, Not at all (mē genoito, “Let it not be,” a frequent exclamation by Paul; cf. Rom_3:6, Rom_3:31; Rom_6:1, Rom_6:15; Rom_7:7, Rom_7:13; Rom_11:1, Rom_11:11). Though some Jews did not believe or were unfaithful (evidenced by their sinful conduct mentioned in Rom_2:21-23, Rom_2:25), God remains faithful to His Word (cf. Deu_7:9; 1Co_1:9; Heb_10:23; Heb_11:11; 1Pe_4:19). This concept of God’s faithfulness in spite of Israel’s unbelief is developed more fully in Romans 9-11. Paul continued Let God be true and every man a liar. This means, “Let God keep on being true even though every man becomes a liar.” This idea is taken from Psa_116:11. As still further support, Paul quoted Psa_51:4. The fact that some reject the Truth does not make it any less the Truth. Some have not the faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Romans 10:9-10 "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." We see in these Scriptures just what it takes to be saved. God will fulfill all the promises He made to the nation, even if individual Jews are not able to receive them because of their unbelief. If all mankind were to agree that God had been unfaithful to His promises, it would only prove that all are liars and God is true. Psalms 116:11 "I said in my haste, All men [are] liars." Hebrews 6:17 "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed [it] by an oath:" Hebrews 6:18 "That by two immutable things, in which [it was] impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:" In the last 2 scriptures just quoted, you see the word immutable. Immutable means unchangeable or always the same we see above that men are liars, but it is impossible for God to lie, since He is the Truth. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Every man and woman (one at a time) shall stand before this absolute Truth and be judged. We will be justified by Jesus Christ when we Christians stand before Him. Those who rejected Jesus as their personal Savior will be without excuse. In verses 5-8 Paul anticipates and answers the objection that his teaching actually impugned the very holiness and purity of God’s character. Romans 3:5-6 The apostle then pursued his argument with additional questions. The first is, What shall we say to the idea that the Jews’ unrighteousness served to accentuate God’s righteousness? Could they conclude that God’s wrath on Jews is therefore unjust? Paul immediately interjected, I am using a human argument, and responded with the answer, Certainly not! (mē genoito, the same response as in Rom_3:4; cf. Rom_3:31) If that were the case, that God were unfair in judging unfaithful Jews, then He would be barred from judging the world. And of course, that could not be. So, since God will judge the world (cf. Rom_2:5) He will not be unfair in extending His wrath on guilty Jews (cf. Rom_2:11). “Commend the righteousness of God”: By contrast, like a jeweler who displays a diamond on black velvet to make the stone appear even more beautiful (def: to express approval of; praise; To praise or acclaim) “I speak as a man”: He is simply paraphrasing the weak, unbiblical logic of his opponents – the product of their natural, unregenerate minds. We have no righteousness except that purchased for us by the Lord Jesus Christ. Because we are unrighteous, do we presume to judge God for taking vengeance on our unrighteousness? As I said before, those who do not accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and take on His righteousness are without excuse and deserve God's vengeance. Paul’s point is that if God condoned sin, He would have no equitable, righteous basis for judgment. One thing we can surely depend on is that God is just. God has made a way out for the unrighteous. They must accept Jesus as Savior and Lord and then they will be judged righteous, because they have taken on Jesus' righteousness. There are only 2 types of people as far as God is concerned (those who accept Jesus and those who do not). Romans 3:7-8 A second question is this: If someone’s lack of truth enhances God’s truthfulness, how can God in fairness condemn (lit., “judge”) him as a sinner? In other words, since sin seemingly benefits God, how could He turn around and judge sinners for their sin? Paul raised these two questions, which are examples of unsaved people’s casuistry, because some opponents were falsely accusing him of advancing them and proclaiming, Let us do evil (lit., “the evil things”) that good (lit., “the good things”) may result. We might try to justify our sin before God, telling God that our lie makes His Truth even greater, but He will not go for that flimsy excuse. The apostle did not reply to these slanders. He assigned such persons to God and simply observed, Their condemnation (krima, “judgment”) is deserved. Later, however, he did discuss a similar question (Rom_6:1). To suggest, as did these two questions (Rom_3:5, Rom_3:7), that God is unfair in condemning sin is to blaspheme the very nature of God. Such persons who question God’s condemning are therefore themselves condemned! Paul is saying, here, that some liars are going around saying, that He says do evil so that God's good will be greater. Paul just simply says they are lying. They not only lie, but their condemnation is just. Tragically, the apostle’s gospel message of salvation by grace through faith alone had been perverted by his opponents who argued it provided not only a license to sin, but outright encouragement to do so. In verses 9-20 Paul concludes his indictment of mankind with this summary: Jew and Gentile alike stand guilty before God. Romans 3:9 Condemnation against all human beings In this section Paul concluded not only his indictment of the Jews but also the first section of his discussion that God’s righteousness is revealed in condemnation against the sinful human race. All Are Under Sin Paul asked, What shall we conclude then? and, Are we any better? The exact meaning of this Greek verb proechometha (used only here in the NT) is difficult to determine. It seems best to take the question as coming from Jewish readers to whom Paul has just been writing and to translate it, “Are we preferred?” Both the material preceding and Paul’s answer (Not at all!) support this solution. “Not at all” is literally “not by any means.” This is not Paul’s characteristic mē genoito, used in Rom_3:3, Rom_3:6, Rom_3:31, and elsewhere. Jews have advantages over Gentiles (Rom_2:17-20; Rom_3:1-2), but God does not give them preferential treatment. “Are we better”: “We” probably refers to the Christians in Rome who will receive this letter. Christians do not have an intrinsically superior nature to all those Paul has shown to stand under God’s condemnation. “Under sin” means completely enslaved and dominated by sin. As evidence that the Jews have no preferred position, Paul stated that he had previously accused both Jews and Gentiles as all under sin, that is, they stand under sin’s power and control and under the condemnation that results from it (cf. Rom_1:18; Rom_2:5). The order of accusation was first Gentiles (1:18-2:16) and then Jews (Rom_2:1-29). This order is reversed here because the Jews were most recently discussed. Romans 3:10-12 To validate his accusation that everybody is “under sin” Paul quoted in Rom_3:10-18 from six Old Testament passages. Rom_3:10-12, taken from Psa_14:1-3, makes the point that all people without exception are not righteous (cf. Rom_1:18, Rom_1:29-31), do not understand God (cf. Rom_1:18, Rom_1:28) nor seek (lit., “seek out”) Him, have turned away from Him (cf. Rom_2:5; Isa_53:5), are worthless (from achreioō, “become useless,” used only here in the NT), and do not do good (chrēstotēta, “kindness,” or “benevolence in action”; cf. 2Co_6:6; Gal_5:22. In the 23rd verse of this chapter Paul makes it very clear that all have sinned. Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Psalms 14:1 "fool hath said in his heart, [There is] no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, [there is] none that doeth good." The Jews could not and did not keep the law and the heathen did not even have a law to keep. Man is universally evil. All have sinned, but praise God, He sent a Savior named Jesus Christ. His righteousness is what we must have. Our righteousness is but filthy rags. “None … understandeth”: Man is unable to comprehend the truth of God or grasp His standard of righteousness. Sadly, his spiritual ignorance does not result from a lack of opportunity, but is an expression of his depravity and rebellion. “None … seeketh”: This verse clearly implies that the world’s false religions are fallen man’s attempts to escape the true God, not to seek Him. Man’s natural tendency is to seek his own interest, but his only hope is for God to seek him. It is only as a result of God’s work in the heart that anyone seeks Him. This describes our generation perfectly. It seems there is no one seeking after God; or at least very few. If we seek God we will find Him. Matthew 7:7 "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:" Even the Jews who had the law were not keeping it. The priests were twisting the law around and carrying their own customs out in the temple rather than carrying out God's law. Jesus came to save the lost world. Just as this Scripture says, no one truly deserves to be saved. Basically meaning: “To go or choose the wrong way”, much as a soldier running the wrong way or deserting. All men are inclined to leave God’s way and pursue their own. “None that doeth good”: Nine times in verses 10-17 Paul uses words such as “none” and “all” to show the universality of human sin and rebellion. Apart from the indwelling Holy Spirit people cannot exhibit this fruit of the Spirit (Gal_5:22). They have no inner spiritual capacity whereby they can normally and automatically exercise genuine kindness toward others. Instead sin causes them to be selfish and self-centered. These seven condemnatory phrases end with the words not even one, which are also in Rom_3:10. This repetition stresses that not a single exception in the human race (except, of course, the Son of God) can be found. Though Paul did not quote Ps. 14:2 “The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men,” that verse is significant, for what follows in that psalm is God’s indictment of humanity. Romans 3:13-18 These verses describe the vileness and wickedness of various parts of the human body, indicating figuratively that every part contributes to a person’s condemnation. In sequence these quotations are taken from Psa_5:9 (Rom_3:13); Psa_140:3 (Rom_3:13); Psa_10:7 (Rom_3:14); Isa_59:7-8 (Rom_3:15-17); and Psa_36:1 (Rom_3:18). They pertain to three actions: talking (throats… tongues… lips… mouths; Rom_3:13-14), conduct (feet; Rom_3:15-17) and seeing (eyes; Rom_3:18). Their speech is corrupt (open graves; cf. Jas_3:6), dishonest (deceit; cf. Psa_36:3), damaging (poison; cf. Jas_3:8), and blasphemous (cursing and bitterness; cf. Jas_3:9-10). From talking of sin, they commit sin, even to the point of quickly murdering (cf. Pro_1:11-12, Pro_1:15-16). There is a similar Scripture in Psalms. Psalms 140:3 "They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders' poison [is] under their lips. Selah." We see from this that the tongue can be a very evil and hurtful instrument when it speaks from an evil heart. I believe that is what is meant by the throat being an open sepulcher. Look with me in the book of James to see some of this. James 3:6-8 " And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell." "For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:" "But the tongue can no man tame; [it is] an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." A sepulcher is a tomb or in this case, like an open grave. These were sealed not only to show respect for the deceased, but to hide the sight and stench of the body’s decay. As an unsealed tomb allows those who pass to see and smell what is inside, the unregenerate man’s open throat, that is the foul words that come from it, reveal the decay of his heart. When we receive Jesus as our Savior, the very first member of our body that we should turn over to Jesus is our tongue. The natural tongue is very evil, if not controlled by the Spirit. What generation in all of history has been guiltier of cursing than the present? Every movie, or at least the vast majority of them, contains terrible cursing. Bitterness and strife are on every hand. Bitterness against parents is perhaps #1 on the list. This is quoted from Psalm 10:7. It refers to wanting the worst for someone and publicly expressing that desire in caustic, derisive language. Bitterness could be described as the open, public expression of emotional hostility against one’s enemy. This is speaking of evil men; of course we know that some of the Jewish leaders of the church wanted all the Christians killed. They even thought they were doing God a favor to kill the Christians. As a result they and others are destroyed materially and spiritually, are miserable, and know no inner peace (cf. Isa_57:21). All this is summarized in Paul’s words, There is no fear of God before their eyes. Fearing God (i.e., reverencing Him by worship, trust, obedience, and service) is the essence of a godly person (cf. Job_28:28; Pro_1:7; Pro_9:10; Ecc_12:13). So for a Jew not to fear God was the height of sin and folly. In these verses (Rom_3:10-18) Paul left no basis whatsoever for Jewish readers to say that his point that Jews are sinners contradicts the Old Testament! The next few verses are describing people without understanding. They are without the love of God within them. Their desire is to destroy and make others miserable. This really is like so many gangs in our country today. They have no desire to build, just to tear down and destroy what someone else has built. They like to make others miserable thinking with their perverted mind that seeing someone more miserable than themselves will bring them happiness. They are not peace makers. How could they fear what they do not know? They do not know God. Man damages and destroys everything he touches, leaving a trail of pain and suffering in his wake. Not the lack of an inner sense of peace, but man’s tendency toward strife and conflict, whether between individuals or nations. Man’s true spiritual condition is nowhere more clearly seen than in the absence of a proper submission to and reverence for God. Biblical fear for God consists of: (1) Awe of His greatness and glory, and (2) Dread of the results of violating that holy nature.

Political Babylon Destroyed

Revelation 18:1-3 Political Babylon Destroyed But the destruction of the commercial and governmental systems will not take place, however, until the end of the Tribulation. Some Bible scholars do not distinguish between the destruction of chapter 17 and that of chapter 18, but mold them altogether. The following six reasons establish that they are not the same. 1. "After these things" (Rev 18 v.1) This expression indicates that the events described in chapter 18 will not take place until after the events of chapter 17 have been fulfilled. 2. "I saw another angel coming down from heaven" Events of chapter 17 were introduced by "one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls" (Rev 17 v.1). The angel referred to in chapter 18 is obviously not the same as the one who introduced the events of chapter 17. Therefore, we can expect the same sequence of events that have happened throughout the book of Revelation: When an angel fulfills his responsibility, another distinct judgment takes place on the earth. 3. The names in the 2 chapters are different. The name in chapter 18 is simply "Babylon the Great". (Rev. 18 v.2) True, the Babylon destroyed in chapter 17 has the name, "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the whole Earth", (Rev. 17 v.5) but the only similarity is the location, Babylon. When both titles are used fully, the contrast of these two Babylons is clearly seen. 4. Babylon the prostitute of chapter 17 will be destroyed by the kings of the earth. (Rev. 17 v.16) The Babylon of chapter 18 will be destroyed by the cataclysmic judgments of God. 5. The kings who destroy the Babylon of chapter 17 rejoice. In the Babylon of chapter 18, the kings and merchants lament and weep for her (Rev. 18 v.9-15). 6. If chapter 17 and 18 take place during the last days of the Tribulation, there will be no place for the Antichrist and the False Prophet to do away with all religions and substitute the worship of the Antichrist's image as described in chapter 13. Further revelation on the destruction of Babylon was made by another angel coming down from heaven. This contrasts with “one of the seven angels” mentioned in Rev_17:1 and should not be confused with angelic representations of Christ. Angels do have great authority and often make pronouncements in the Book of Revelation. The power and glory of this angel was such that the earth was illuminated by his splendor (Rev_18:1). Then John saw another angel coming down from heaven. Whether "another angel" is one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls we are not told. But it seems doubtful, for this angel is distinctive, with such "great authority" that he lights the earth with his glory. In the last lesson we saw that the beast, and his system, and the great whore were revealed. Here in chapter 18, we will see the judgment that comes from God poured out on them. This "angel" in V-1 was sent from heaven. This "power" spoken of here is power that God has endowed on this angel for the execution of this punishment. This "angel" has been in close association with the Light. We see here that this powerful Light of Jesus, even though second hand through the angel, still lightens the earth. The angel’s message is summarized: Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! The question has been raised as to whether or not this is another view of the same destruction mentioned in Rev_17:16-17. A comparison of Rev_17:1-18 and Rev_18:1-24 reveals that these are different events. The woman in Rev_17:1-18 was associated with the political power but was not the political power itself, and her destruction apparently brought no mourning from the earth. By contrast the destruction of Babylon in Rev_18:1-24 brings loud lamentation from the earth’s political and economic powers. Instead of being destroyed and consumed by the 10 kings, here the destruction seems to come from an earthquake, and it is probable that this is an enlarged explanation of what was described in Rev_16:19-21. The message of this angel who cries with a "mighty voice" is this: "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!" Since chapter 18 seems to describe the destruction of a literal commercial city, the governmental capital of the world during the Tribulation, we naturally ask ourselves the question, "Where is that city?" Again, Bible prophecy students are not in agreement. Some suggest the city of Rome, and some years ago suggested New York City because he felt it was the commercial center of the world. Some who believe we should take the Scriptures literally whenever possible are inclined to believe that the city of Babylon will be rebuilt. In chapter 18 verses 10, 16, 18, 19, and 21 you find reference to this Babylon being a city. In verse 2 the angel cried mightily and said "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen". The literal interpretation would dictate that indeed this Babylon is a city. What is pictured here is a large prosperous city, the center of political and economic life. The judgment of God makes it a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wines of her adulteries this false religion is like a drug that drives men to madness. While it brought riches to merchants, it is now doomed for destruction. Remember in chapter 16 we saw the actual destruction of commercial Babylon. At the end of this chapter I will show it to you again so you can make sense of what is taking place. The corruption may have had its beginnings at the city of Babylon, but believe me it has spread to every corner of the earth. It will not be until the earth is totally destroyed that this evil will be no more. Those who mourn are those who are loosing their ability to deceive the nations any longer. Looking ahead at what it says in chapter 18 verse 23: "for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived", so you see this is not a city only but a very corrupt system that is being destroyed by God by his Judgment to prepare for the coming Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 18:4-8 Following the pronouncement of the angel, another voice from heaven instructed the people of God to leave the city so that they would escape the judgment to come on it (Rev_18:4-5). Babylon will receive torture and grief commensurate with her glory and luxury, in which she boasted that she was a queen (Rev_18:7). Death, mourning, and famine, also fire, will come on the city in one day (Rev_18:8). Come out of her, my people. This is a call for God's people to disentangle themselves from the world system. It may also be an evangelistic call to God’s elects to come to faith in Christ and come out of Satan's kingdom. In both cases, the message is to abandon the system. Read 2 Cor. 6 v-14-17 for a good example of this • Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? • And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? • And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. • Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, You see, even though you are not committing sin, as such. You are committing sin by association. The Bible tells us over and over not to be unequally yoked with those of unbelief. If you do not remove yourself, you are guilty of her sin. In this verse, we read that her plagues will come to those people as well. The righteous God of the universe has not overlooked the sins of the elite power brokers who have used commerce and government for centuries to live luxuriously at the expense of others. The commercial, social and political systems of the Antichrist will receive double judgment for their sins. Babylon's sins will pile up like a new Tower of Babel, but unlike the ancient tower, her sins will reach as high as heaven. Then an angel states that God has remembered her sins. He will take note of them as He did that earlier monument to man's sinful, arrogant, prideful rebellion at Babel. This reward her simple means will recompense or repay commercial Babylon according to her works. All of those who are involved and are guilty will suffer double judgment as the cup is filled twice for her for what she has done to the Saints. She will reap what she sowed. This is describing 3 sins she is guilty of. (1) "She has glorified herself" meaning she was proud. (2) "She lived deliciously" meaning she pursued self gratification, and (3) "I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow" meaning she was not only proud but boastful. That proud boast echoes that of ancient Babylon who said "I will be a queen forever" and I will not sit as a widow, nor know loss of children. Now read that boast in Isaiah 47 verses 7-8: "And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever: [so] that thou didst not lay these [things] to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it." "Therefore hear now this, [thou that art] given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I [am], and none else beside me; I shall not sit [as] a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children." But these two [things] shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, [and] for the great abundance of thine enchantments. (Isaiah 47 v.9) This is saying that Babylon's destruction will not be progressive. The wicked city (system) will be instantly destroyed. Daniel 5 records a similar fate that befell ancient Babylon; the city fell the very night that God wrote its doom on the wall of the king's palace. Babylon's doom is certain and cannot be avoided. No one can change God's plans or keep Him from accomplishing what He purposed to do as Nebuchadnezzar discovered above in Daniel. Or in this case his grandson. Revelation 18:9-20 When kings who were involved with the city see its destruction they will be grieved, and will cry, Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! (Rev_18:10) Merchants too will bemoan the city’s downfall since they will no longer be able to carry on commerce with the city. The description in Rev_18:12-13 indicates the great luxury and wealth of the city. This obviously refers to an economic and political situation rather than a religious one. The mourning of the merchants is similar to that of the kings: Woe! Woe, O great city… ! (Rev_18:16) This will no doubt include the 10 kings of the earth who rule Antichrist's kingdom under his authority as well as the rest of the world's leaders. The destruction of the Antichrist's political and economic power will strike a fatal blow to his empire. The fall of Babylon will be a symbol of the fall of the entire evil world system. And again Babylon is pictured as a harlot whose death causes her lovers to weep and lament over her. This "standing afar off", could mean those who heeded and came out of her. It really doesn't matter where. It may be all of these cities and many more, or it might not be a literal city at all. I really believe this is both an evil system and many evil cities, as well, being destroyed. The one hour simply means the judgment will happen rapidly just as verse 8 predicted. These mourners are the merchants of the earth who will weep and mourn over Babylon because no one will be able to buy their goods anymore. Whatever economy there had been will end and so will any semblance of normalcy on this devastated planet that was already in serious trouble brought on by the divine judgments of God. It appears that these are classed in several types: 1. Personal items of jewelry 2. Articles used for furniture 3. Nice smelling and tasting things 4. Food 5. Animals 6. Souls of men What significance this has, I do not know; unless, it means worldly things. Most of these are things a person could do without if hard times came and you had to, even maybe the food for awhile. This "souls of men", is one of the more interesting. In the days of the old Roman Empire, they sold people as you would animals. Perhaps that is what is meant there. They thought no more about selling a person than they did a pair of shoes. It appears to me, in all of this that trade has just about ceased, period. Probably, all the plagues and wars have just about stopped everything. And the merchandise that was available before are now gone and will never ever be available again. The commercial system is completely shut down and that reality is about to be made manifest. It will probably be a time when it will be next to impossible to even find enough to feed your family. Even if you did find enough for them to eat, it would probably take all you could possibly make just to have even bread for your family. This is probably the time when a loaf of bread would cost a whole day's wages. There will be no money at all left for niceties. Even if you have a tremendous amount of money, there will be great shortages of real items necessary to live on not to mention the things the rich consume will be entirely unavailable. Here, we see such great fear from these merchants who used to sell their merchandise at tremendous, outrageous profits. Like today when many get rich from oil by taking advantage of those who can't afford the inflated prices. And that includes the government who adds very high taxes to every gallon of gas. When this horrible punishment comes, it will put the fear of God on those looking on. It is about time that someone begins to fear. These merchants weep because their materialistic passions can no longer be fulfilled. The weeping that begins then will last for eternity in hell. These greedy merchants are a classic illustration of those in all times who gain the whole world only to end up forfeiting their own souls. These items were common commodities in the ancient world and were the source of great immense financial gain. Those materialistic, unrepentant people mourn as God brings His judgment against Babylon, knowing these items will never be found again. Sea captains… sailors, and others in navigational occupations will lament in similar fashion: Woe! Woe, O great city… ! (Rev_18:19) All three groups — kings, merchants, and sailors — speak of her destruction as sudden: in one hour (Rev_18:10, Rev_18:17, Rev_18:19). As the world mourns the destruction of Babylon, the saints are told to rejoice because God has judged her for the way she treated you (Rev_18:20). In one Hour: The destruction will come suddenly and quickly. The world's pagan economic system will collapse. They cast dust on their heads as a sign of mourning and sorrow (v.19; Job. 2:12; lam. 2:10; Ezek. 27:30). God hath avenged you on her: God at last judges the Babylonian system for its treatment of God's people, particularly those who are martyred during the Tribulation (Rev. 6:9-11). The people cry and are amazed as they see this destruction taking place before their eyes. Casting dust on their heads is a typical ancient expression of grief. These last few scriptures state sailors, but could mean any system of transportation and delivery systems of today such as planes, trains, trucks ect. All of these services would be immediately shut down if the commercial system was destroyed including banking and computers. Consider what would happen if there was no more electrical system available. God has taken vengeance on the ones who killed his prophets and apostles and even his blessed Son. Finally, all of those martyred by these have been avenged. The long awaited moment of vindication, retribution and vengeance for which the martyred tribulation believers had prayed for in chapter 6 verses 9 -10 and for which all the redeemed have hoped, that time has arrived. These final verses picture from within the results of the collapse of the Babylonian system. The finality of its destruction is shown by the six fold repetition of the phrase "no more at all". The stone cast into the sea depicts the violence and permanence of the destruction. The Babylonian system began in Genesis 10, and has continued uninterrupted in one form or another to the present day. But one day it will suddenly "sink," never to return. In verses 23b, 24, three reasons are given for the destruction of Babylon: (1) its arrogance, (2) Its deception of the nations, and (3) its persecution and martyrdom of God's people. Revelation 18:21-24 The final and violent destruction of the city is compared to throwing a large millstone… into the sea (Rev_18:21). "sea" sometimes means masses of people but I do not believe that is the meaning here. Whether this is only a real city, (rebuilt Babylon) or a sinful commercial, social and political system that corrupts the entire world which is being destroyed here, this is speaking of total destruction. More than likely both these are speaking of both as the two can be easily associated. This millstone here is similar to the one spoken of as being around a neck and thrown into the sea. In the light of this Scripture, this is a really bad punishment. I believe this illustration is to show the finality of this judgment of God. We must remember Babylon is destroyed by God Himself, not by the devil. The lament follows that those who once characterized the city — harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, and workmen of any trade (Rev_18:22) — will not be seen in the city again. Literally everything grinds to a halt everywhere. Babylon will be completely and so thoroughly destroyed that it will never rise again as predicted by the Old Testament prophets. Isaiah in Chapter 13 verses 19-21: "And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' Excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah." "It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there." "But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there." Nor will there be light and the joy of weddings (Rev_18:23). The reason for her judgment is that by her magic spell (pharmakeia; cf. Rev_9:21) all the nations were led astray from God (Rev_18:23; cf. Rev_17:2), and she was guilty of murdering prophets and… saints (Rev_18:24; cf. Rev_17:6). Three final reasons are given for Babylon's judgment. Notice that the merchants are mentioned as the great men of the earth. That's why this is talking of a commercial system as well as a political system. They are not from the city of Babylon, but from all parts of the earth. First, they use their wealth to ascent to positions of power, prominence and influence. The abuses of the proud, arrogant rich are well documented in scripture. James, Isaiah and Amos condemned the rich for their self aggrandizement and maltreatment of the poor. Second is all the nations were deceived by her sorcery. Sorcery is from pharmakeia, the root word of the English words "pharmacy" and "pharmaceuticals". The word is used in the New Testament to refer to magic and occult practices. (Gal. 5 v.20) Babylon's hold on the world will not be entirely due to her military and economic power, but also to her occult influence. A final reason given for Babylon's judgment is her murderous slaughter of God's people. The question remains as to what city is in view here. A common view is that it refers to the city of Rome, because of the prominence of Rome as the seat of the Roman Catholic Church and the capital of the ancient Roman Empire. Some find confirmation of this in the fact that the kings and sea merchants will be able to see the smoke of the burning of the city (Rev_18:9, Rev_18:18). Other evidence seems to point to the fact that it is Babylon itself, located on the Euphrates River, which in the end time will be converted into a ship-bearing river. When all the evidence is studied, the conclusion seems to point to Babylon being rebuilt as the capital of the world empire in the end time rather than to Rome in Italy. Bible expositors, however, continue to be divided on this question. The events of Rev_17:1-18 will be fulfilled at the midpoint of the seven years, whereas the events of Rev_18:1-24 will occur at the end of the seven years, immediately before the second coming of Christ. The destruction of the city of Babylon is the final blow to the times of the Gentiles, which began when the Babylonian army attacked Jerusalem in 605 b.c. (cf. Luk_21:24). With Rev_17:1-18 and Rev_18:1-24 giving additional insight and information concerning the earth’s major religious and political movements during that final seven years, the stage is now set for the climax of the Book of Revelation — the second coming of Christ (Rev_19:1-21). Now let's go back and read the end of chapter 16 starting with verse 17 through verse 21. This is starting when the Angel pours our the seventh vial or bowl judgment which is the last of the 21 plaques of Revelation right before the second coming of Jesus and the battle of Armageddon. • 16:17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. • 16:18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightning’s; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, [and] so great. • 16:19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. • 16:20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. • 16:21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, [every stone] about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great. Notice that not only Babylon fell, but also the cities of the nations as well, v.19. Also don't forget the earth is already reeling from the thunders and lightings not to mention the biggest earthquake the world has even know. Then the great hail that weight about a talent each (100 pounds each). This hail is totally capable of destroying cities with no problem at all. And verse 20 tells us that every island fled away and the mountains were no longer found. This is the worst plague of the 21 by far as it completely destroys the political, commercial system called Babylon the Great from off the earth. Not to mention that this is the end of the earth as we have known it as it now has been completely leveled and is ready for the renewal process that's coming.