6. The Goodness of God.

We seldom doubt the existence of God and his ability but we often question the willingness of God, because we haven’t understood the goodness of God yet !
A man with leprosy came and knelt before Jesus and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.
( Mt 8 : 3 ) Jesus touched him instantly, as if to assure him of God’s willingness, inspite of his faith being far from perfect. The goodness of God was being revealed to the world in Christ, just as it was revealed to Moses, in the cleft of the rock – In Exodus 33 : 17 – 18, we read : And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do everything you have asked because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory” ( Hebrew : kābôd means splendor or glory )
It was through Moses that God had displayed his awesome power, as he led a band of slaves to freedom from the most powerful civilization on earth and it was through him that God had dramatically parted the waters of the Red Sea for the Israelites to miraculously escape from the Egyptian army who pursued them. And on the other side, he had also seen God’s mercy and forbearance in dealing with the Israelites, when they rebelled against him in the desert. Overwhelmed by the goodness of God, he was eager to see the face of the person behind these spectacular deeds. ( During his first encounter with God at Horeb, when God appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush, he was afraid to look at God when he heard God say : “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob.” At this Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3 : 6 ) But since then he had come a long way and experienced the goodness of the God, along the way. )
And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence … There is a place near me where you may stand on the rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen … And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished …” (Ex 33 : 18 – 34 :7 ) –
When asked to reveal his face, God revealed his character instead and this self description of God became for the Jews a profound summary of God’s nature. The Old Testament quotes or alludes to this passage more than any other. God doesn’t seem to glory in his splendor and power but he seems to glory in his good nature. We glory in our looks and introduce ourselves to others by our names and by our achievements but God introduced himself to Moses by his character ! Put in the cleft of a rock, Moses heard the description of the goodness of God, as he passed by. That is why Scripture says : ‘He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel : The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love …’ (Psalm 103 : 7 )
And that Rock was Christ.’ (1 Corinthians 10 : 4 ) It is in ‘Christ the Rock’ that we receive this revelation about the goodness of God.
In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form …’ ( Colossians 2 : 9 ) So Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” ( John 14 : 9 )
The word ‘euangelion’ which in Greek means ‘good news’, was translated as ‘Gospel’ (Old English : ‘gõd spell’ means ‘good message’ ) It is the goodness of God that makes the message of the Gospel so good to those who hear it. The saints of old had themselves appealed to the goodness of God, in the face of adversity.
‘I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.’ ( Psalm 27 : 13 ) NASB
Give me a sign of your goodness that my enemies may see it and be put to shame.’ ( Psalm 86 : 17 )
And we ourselves have chanted the popular refrain : ‘God is good, all the time; all the time, God is good !’
The sacrifice on the cross is the ultimate expression of the goodness of God, where his heart was revealed to mankind when he was pierced for their transgressions and crushed for their iniquities’. ( Isaiah 53 : 5 )
God demonstrated his love for us in this : While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ ( Romans 5 : 8 ) If we ever tend to doubt the goodness of God, the sacrifice on the cross should assure us of his infinite goodness. Amen !

9. The Gospel about Jesus and the three fold testimony of God.

We had earlier considered the three fold ‘Gospel’ (Greek : euangelion which means ‘good news’ ) about a King called Jesus, his glorious Kingdom and his Kingdom’s all surpassing power. But to further understand the meaning of the ‘Gospel’, we need a revelation of the true identity of Jesus because the ‘Gospel’ is primarily about ‘Christ’ (Hebrew : Māšîah which means ‘Anointed’)
Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say I am ?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man but by my Father in heaven.” ( Mt 16 : 15 – 16 )

What then is the revelation that God gave about Jesus ?
This is the one who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ … And it is the Spirit who testifies because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify : the SPIRIT, the WATER and the BLOOD ; and the three are in agreement.’ (1 Jh 5 : 6 – 8 )

Thrice, a voice from heaven thundered, testifying about Jesus. It happened the first time, at his baptism. ‘As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” ( Mt 3: 16 – 17 ) And later while speaking about this incident, John said: ‘I myself did not know him but the reason I came baptising with water was that he might be revealed to Israel … I would not have know him except the one who sent me to baptize said: “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God.’ ( Jn 1 : 31 – 34 ) The ‘WATER’ testifies to his ‘SONSHIP’.

It happened the second time when he spoke of his imminent death to those around him.‘Then a voice came from heaven … The crowd that was there and heard it, said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit and not mine.” ( Jh 12 : 27 – 30 ) And later while recalling the moment of his death, Matthew wrote: When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified and exclaimed ” Surely he was the Son of God.” ( Matthew 27 : 54 ) The ‘BLOOD’ which symbolizes his death, testifies to his ‘CHRISTSHIP’.

And it happened a third time when he transfigured before them and a cloud enveloped them. ‘While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him.” … Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the son of Man has been raised from the dead. ( Mt 17 : 1 – 5 , 2 Pt 1 : 16 – 18 ) And later while addressing the three thousand on the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaimed: ‘God has raised Jesus to life … Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear … God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’ ( Acts 2: 32- 36 ) The ‘SPIRIT’ testifies to his ‘LORDSHIP’.

We accept man’s testimony but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God which he has given about his Son. Anybody who believes has this testimony in his heart.(1 Jh 5 : 6, 9, 10 )

The three fold testimony of God in our hearts about Jesus is that he is Son of God, the Christ and Lord. It is the spoken word of this testimony in our hearts causes us to overcome the devil. ‘They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the WORD OF THEIR TESTIMONY.’ (Revelation 12:11) Man’s testimony won’t revolutionize you but God’s testimony will ! Amen.

5. Return to Bethel.

Jacob’s encounter with God at Peniel should have marked the end of his wanderings and the beginning of his spiritual journey into God, but it was not ! He had come a long way since he first met God at Bethel, when he fled from home, twenty years ago. But after his transformation into ‘Israel’ ( which was an Old testament shadow of the born again experience ), a new spiritual standard was set by God, that he had to live upto, for the rest of his life ! He reconciled with his estranged brother Esau, ( that story should remind us what is expected from us who have been born again ) and with that his past was effectively put behind him ; so he thought ! He settled in Succoth and there he made a place for himself and shelters for his livestock ( Genesis 33 : 17 ). But Jacob seemed to be oblivious of the vow he made to God at Bethel, twenty years back, when he fled from his brother.
If God will be with me and will watch over me … so that I return safely to my father’s house, … this stone that I set up as a pillar will be God’s house …” ( Genesis 28 : 20 – 22 )
Then trouble began to brew around him ! His daughter Dinah was violated by Shechem the Hivite. In fury, her two brothers, Simeon and Levi, put all the males in the city of Shechem to the sword. Jacob feared an attack by the Canaanites and Perizzites and realized he would be vulnerable, if they join forces against him and attack him (Genesis 34 : 25 – 30). So he decided to leave Succoth immediately.
‘Then God said to Jacob,“Go up to Bethel and settle there and build an altar there to God who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.” ( Genesis 35 : 1 )
So Jacob said to his household, “Get rid of your foreign gods … and purify yourselves … then come, let us go up to Bethel …” (Genesis 35 : 2 – 3 )
Then they set out and the terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.’ ( Genesis 35 : 5 )
Then they moved on from Bethel.’ ( Gen 35 : 16 )
But before long, he suffered a heartbreak ! Rachel, the love of his life, died while giving birth to Benjamin and was buried on the way to Ephrath. ( Genesis 35 : 17 – 20 )
Israel moved on again …’ (Genesis 35 : 21 )
Then the unthinkable happened ! ‘While Israel was living in that region he heard of the incest Reuben had committed. ( Genesis 35 : 22 )
Tragedies struck him one after another ! But why were these incidents happening to ‘Israel’, the man transformed by God ?
The answer seems to be obvious ! He left Bethel, in violation of God’s command and became vulnerable outside the will of God.
Have we wandered from ‘Bethel’, the place of our first consecration ? Have we fallen below the spiritual standard set by the Holy Spirit, that day at ‘Peniel’, when our lives were transformed ? Are we now struggling to make the promise work ?
After beginning with the Spirit, are we now trying to attain our GOAL by human effort?’ ( Galatians 3 : 3 )
Let’s return to Bethel and spare ourselves needless heartbreaks ! The promise is not attained by striving but by yielding to the Holy Spirit, just as we first did, the day we were born again. Amen.

4. From Jacob to Israel.

Twenty years had passed by since Jacob had his first encounter with God at Bethel in a dream, as he was fleeing from his brother (Genesis 28 : 12 – 17 ) and then he had this strange night time encounter with God at Jabbok, on his way back home. He wrestled with God till daybreak and was told, “Your name will no longer be Jacob ( his name in Hebrew meant ‘he grasps the heel’ or figuratively, ‘he deceives’ ) but Israel, because you have struggled with God and men and have overcome.” ( Genesis 32 : 24 – 28 )
Jacob had been scheming all his life to appropriate the blessings of God. He had cheated his brother and deceived his father to inherit the blessing. And in doing so, he had incurred the wrath of his brother and had to flee for his life. But after his first encounter with God, he strived to be an honest person, while working for his Uncle Laban, who cheated him ten times by playing on his love for Rachel. ( Genesis 31 : 38 – 42 ) He ran off with his family and possessions, only to be caught up by Laban with whom he made a treaty at Mizpah. But soon after Jacob made peace with Laban, the news came that his brother Esau was coming to meet him with four hundred men. In great fear and distress, Jacob prayed to God, but found no comfort. (Genesis 32 : 6 – 12 )
He had once played on the love his brother had for food and cheated him of his birth right. Then when he realized that his father still wanted to bless the elder, he deceived his father and swindled the blessing from his brother. But now his past was soon catching up with him ! He thought of pacifying his brother with gifts and making restitution for his sin. But not assured of forgiveness, he sent his family across the ford of Jabbok and spent the night alone, wrestling with God and emerged as a ‘new man’ at daybreak! Herein you see the travail of a man to become a ‘new creation’.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation ; the old is gone, the new has come! ( 2 Corinthians 5 : 17 )
( Just as it takes nine months for a woman to conceive and deliver a new born, so also the process of rebirth takes time. )
Speaking of his travails, Paul said, “My dear children, I am again in the pains of Childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” ( Galatians 4 : 19 )
God had planted the incorruptible seed of his word in Jacob’s heart when he was told at Bethel, “I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” ( Genesis 28 : 15 )
Even so, ‘he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.’ (Philippians 1 : 6 )
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (1Peter 1 : 23 )
Just as it took twenty years for Jacob to become Israel; to go from ‘Bethel’ ( which means ‘the house of God’ ) to seeing ‘Peniel’ ( which means ‘the face of God’ ), so also every man will go through the process of rebirth, before Christ is formed in them. Amen.

3. God of Covenants.

All through the Bible we see many covenants and we ourselves had considered three out of the seven covenants in the Bible, in my earlier posts. Every ‘Covenant’ ( Hebrew : berit means an association with two parties with various responsibilities, benefits and penalties ; ‘to cut a covenant’ means ‘to make a covenant’, a figure of the act of ceremonially cutting an animal into two parts, with an implication of serious consequences for not fulfilling the covenant ) was founded on one or many promises made by one or both parties and their violations demanded punishment. We people in the modern world are more familiar with the term ‘Contract’ and the phrases ‘Terms and conditions’ and ‘Breach of Contract’, where if one party breaches the contract, the other party is absolved from all obligations and has the right to seek compensation from the other, for losses incurred. But unlike a contract, if one of the parties violates the sanctity of a covenant, the other party is still obligated to fulfill his or her part of the promise, whether or not the first party is taken to task. ( Doesn’t that sound like a marriage covenant ? ) Now it makes sense when Scripture says, ‘If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.’ ( 2 Timothy 2 : 13 ) God desired an everlasting relationship with man and he was the one who initiated these covenants with those that he chose, just as he did with Abraham and his descendants, with David and his descendants and now with the Church, the bride of Christ. God had modelled marriage to be a covenant relationship ( But we have made it look like a contract ! ) and that is why he hates divorce. “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, … So guard yourself in your spirit and do not break faith. ( Malachi 2 : 16 )

As we considered in my earlier post, he is a God of promises by which he woos those he choose, as he did Abraham and cut an everlasting blood covenant with him. Abraham therefore, could depart in peace because he believed that the ‘zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish’ the task of testifying to his descendants, as he himself would not be alive to oversee their adherence to the covenant. It was God’s responsibility to bring Abraham’s descendants to the faith of their forefathers. Now we understand why the Lord appeared to Jacob at Bethel, while he was fleeing from his brother Esau and said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Issac … I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” ( Genesis 28 : 10 – 15 ) God made all these wonderful promises to Jacob when he didn’t deserve any but because of his covenant with Abraham.

If we have a covenant with God, we can rest assured that God will take care of our children, even after we depart because he is faithful to keep his covenant with our children’s children.

From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him and his righteousness with their children’s children – with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.’ ( Psalm 103 : 17 – 18 ) Amen.

Qn 3. Why did Apostle Paul care to ask the Ephesians, “Having believed did you receive the Spirit” ? (Acts 19:2)

Unless we receive the indwelling of the Spirit, we cannot claim that we are ‘saved’ because he is the ‘deposit guaranteeing our inheritance’ ( Eph 1 : 13 )
Since it is indwelling of the Holy Spirit that imparts the righteousness by faith in Christ Jesus, how are we justified without him ? ( Gal 5 : 5 )
So it mattered to the Apostles that the people receive the Spirit after having believed. They refuted every ‘teachings of men’ that it was by ‘works’, meaning the law, that we receive this free gift of God.
So the Apostle Paul asked the Galatians, “I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law or by believing what you heard ? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law or because you believed what you heard ?” ( Gal 3 : 2, 5 )
Let not the Christian Sacraments of Baptism and Communion or Eucharist be the ‘works’ by which we think we receive the Spirit but only by believing the gospel. Amen.

Qn 2. Are the phrases ‘all nations on earth will be blessed through you’ and ‘you will be the father of many nations’, one and the same ?

Understand then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify Gentiles by faith and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham, “All nations will be blessed through you.” (Gal 3: 7 – 8 )

All the nations on earth have been blessed to know about a Saviour who is the ‘seed’ of Abraham and now these gentiles who believe are being counted as Abraham’s descendants, implying he fathered them in the spirit.
Therefore the promise ( of the Spirit ) comes by faith so that it is by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” ( Ro 4 : 16 – 17 )

8. The three fold gospel according to Scriptures.

We considered the three new testament promises and how they were ‘better’ than the three old testament promises and how they were the fulfillment of the three fundamental promises made to Abraham. In doing so, we considered the three promises on which each of these three covenants (Abrahamic, Mosaic and Messianic ) were based upon. Now let us consider the threefold gospel according to Scriptures :-
The beginning of the GOSPEL ABOUT JESUS CHRIST …’ ( Mk 1 : 1 )
And this ‘GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM’ will be preached in the whole world …” ( Mt 24 : 14 )
I am not ashamed of the GOSPEL, because it is (about ) THE POWER OF GOD for the salvation of everyone who believes …’ (Ro 1 : 16 )

So the gospel is about :
For many the gospel ends with Jesus but the good news is also about the Kingdom he established and its power. Speaking of that power, Jesus said : “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing” (Mt 11 : 12 ) and the “gates of Hades will not overcome it.” ( Mt 16 : 18 )
Rejoice ‘for he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son …’ ( Col 1 : 13 ) Amen.

7. The New Covenant founded on ‘Better’ promises.

The ministry Jesus has received is as superior as the covenant of which he is a mediator is superior and it is founded on better promises.’ ( Hb 8 : 6 )

What were the promises under the old covenant ?

  1. Freedom from slavery in Egypt. ( Ex 3 : 8, 17 )
  2. Land flowing with milk and honey. ( Ex 3 : 8 ) – Though they were free from slavery, they died in the desert because of their sin and rebellion. Only Joshua and Caleb could enter the promised land.
  3. Conditional healing ( Ex 15 : 26 ) – However, the nation of Israel that had the covenant of healing, was filled with sickness, when the Jesus began his ministry. Why ? Because the promise of healing was conditional and many could not appropriate it.

How are the new testament promises better ?

  1. Freedom from the slavery of sin ( Gal 5 : 1 )
  2. Heavenly country ( Hb 11 : 16 )
  3. Unconditional healing. (1Pt 2 : 24 ) – All who touched Jesus and the ones he touched were healed, including his enemies. Why ? Because the Prophet Isaiah predicted that ‘by his wounds all are healed’. ( Isaiah 53 : 5)

Healing is for all of the human race and if this truth is realized, it will be the God given ‘vehicle’ for us to reach the Gentiles with the Gospel. Amen.

6. The Gospel promise of Spiritual Blessings : God’s oath to Abraham.

We considered two gospel promises on which the new covenant was founded.
Firstly, the promise of the Spirit for all who believe and are washed in his blood of Jesus.
Secondly, the promise of unconditional healing for all, in the name of Jesus.
Now let’s consider the third gospel promise of Spiritual blessings in Christ, which in fact should have been stated second because the order in which it beset man was : sin, curse, sickness and death.

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you … Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his promise very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.’ (Hb 6 : 13 – 17 )

The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham : “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are BLESSED ALONG WITH ABRAHAM, the man of faith.’ ( Gal 3 : 8 – 9 )
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us … He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus …’ ( Gal 3 : 13 – 14 ) ‘Praise be to God….who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. ( Eph 1:3 )

The greeting of the angel to the shepherds couldn’t be more appropriate : “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” ( Lk 2 : 10 )
Had we really understood the gospel, there would have been untold joy in our hearts. If the gospel doesn’t change us, nothing will ! May the glorious gospel be revealed to us. Amen.

5. The Gospel promise of Healing : God’s covenant blessing to Abraham.

The first reference to healing in the Bible is in Gen 20 : 17 where we read : ‘Then Abraham prayed to God and God healed Abimelech, his wife and slave girls …’
Healing is a covenant blessing and it was through Abraham, that this Gentile received his healing. But prior to God’s covenant with Abram in Gen 12 : 17 – 20, we read that ‘the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai’ but they were not healed though Pharaoh returned Sarai to Abram because the covenant was not cut yet.

However, under the Mosaic covenant that was cut with the Israelites, healing was conditional. “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, (then) I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought upon the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.” ( Ex 15 : 26 ) But while the old covenant was still in effect, Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah and the unconditional ( by which I mean unmerited favour or grace ) healing for all, through his sufferings : ‘He was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed.’ ( Isa 53 : 5 )

Therefore, it is through us, the Church, with whom he has cut a covenant, that God intends to impart this healing to the world. Jesus sent the twelve with these instructions: “As you go, preach this message: ‘The Kingdom of God is near’. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give !” ( Mt 10 : 8 )
No wonder Scripture says about all believers, “they will place their hands on the sick and they will recover.” ( Mk 16 : 18 ) KJV
If healing through Christ has been received by Gentiles, how much more should those who are of the household of God ? The Centurion and the Canaanite woman received the healing they sought, though they were not under the old covenant, because by faith they accessed the new covenant blessing in the Messiah, even before the covenant was cut in his blood! Unconditional ( by which I mean unmerited favour or grace ) healing is a covenant blessing and let us receive it by faith. Amen.

2. God of promises.

When God Almighty wanted Abram’s attention, he promised this childless nomad more land and children. Unlike politicians who make promises to get the our attention, which they can’t or won’t fulfill, God is able and faithful to fulfill them. Just as God made a covenant with Abram based on those promises, so also has he made a covenant with us in the blood of Jesus upon better promises. More than getting our attention, God’s promises sustain us, when we are down and under, as it did Joseph when he was put in the dungeon, David when driven out into the wilderness and many more. And finally God’s promises are a revelation of his plans and purposes concerning us, as it was revealed to Abram when the Lord said, “… all the people on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen 12 : 3 )

Hold on to your promises today and it will go well with you ‘for no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.’ ( 2Co 1 : 20 )

Qn 12. If Rapture happens before tribulation, how can the words of Jesus in Matthew 24 : 31 come true ?

And he shall send his angels with a loud trumpet call and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” ( Mt 24 : 31 )
You might have noticed that in this passage from Matthew, he only mentions about the gathering of the elect who are dead, from the ends of the heavens and not the gathering of the elect who are living, from the ends of the earth, probably because none of the elect survived the tribulation. The only ones who will be protected during the tribulation and escape from being beheaded are the 144,000 from the tribes of Israel ( Rev 7 : 4 ) because they had the seal of the living God on their foreheads ( Rev 7 : 3 ). They are the first fruits from among the Jews and they will be ‘snatched’ (Greek : Harpazo, the same word used in 1 Thess 4 : 17 to denote Rapture ) upto God (Rev 12 : 5 ) and will be seen with the Lamb ( Rev 14 : 1-3 )
As said earlier, the gathering of the saints who are dead in Christ and those who are still alive and left, at his secret coming in the clouds, will happen at Rapture and they will be with the Lord forever ( 1 Thess 4 : 17). So they are not the ones who need to be gathered again at the second coming of Jesus because they will have been with him during the tribulation and they will be also be with him at his second coming ( Rev 19 : 14, Jude Vs 14 ) But it is the tribulation saints ( both Gentiles and Jews ) who will be beheaded during the tribulation, who needs to be gathered ( not in the heavens but on earth because it will happen after the second coming of Jesus, when he takes his seat on the throne in Jerusalem – Lk 1 : 32, Mt 25 : 31 )

Here then are the references about the elect who will be beheaded :-
I saw under the altar souls of those ( mostly Gentiles ) who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.’ ( Rev 6 : 9 )
And I saw … those ( mostly Jews ) who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps .. and sang the song of Moses …’ ( Rev 15 : 2 – 3 )

Here is the reference of these two groups being gathered together :-
And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead ( the wicked in Hades ) did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.’ ( Rev 20 : 4 )
( The wicked people who survive the tribulation, will go into the millennium but from among them and their children, many will be gathered by Satan , at the end of the thousand years, for the final rebellion against God – Rev 20 : 8 – 9)

So coming back to your question: Will all the elect be slain? It is not explicitly said so in the Scriptures but it is implicit .
Then I heard a voice from heaven say,” Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” ( Rev 14 : 13 )
But if some of the elect escape from being beheaded and survive the tribulation, they will have to be gathered ( not in the heavens but on earh because it will happen after the second coming of Jesus, when he takes his seat on the throne in Jerusalem ), before the Millennial rule of Christ, provided they never worshipped the image or took the mark of the beast (Rev 14 : 9 – 11 ). Probably that could be the reason why Mark also added : ‘from the ends of the earth …’ ( Mk 13 : 27 ). But that reference doesn’t alter the course of events nor support the arguement for a post-trib rapture.

Qn 11. Does not Revelation 6 : 11 say that only those who are predestined to be martyred will be killed and not everyone?

Then each of them was given a white robe and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.’ ( Rev 6 : 11 )

The full number of Gentiles have to come in, before Israel will be saved ( Ro 11 : 25 ) and those who didn’t get saved before rapture were saved during the tribulation and that is the number Rev 6 : 11 refers to. Indeed the number of Gentiles who will be saved during the tribulation is know by God and they are the ones being addressed as ‘brethren’.
If we go by your assumption that all of them were not slain, shall the same apply to Rev 13 : 15, which says the beast that came up from the earth ‘ caused all who refused to worship the image to be killed’ ? So the ones who escaped earlier in Rev 6 : 11, will now face the inevitable martyrdom or should we assume again that some of them escaped for 1 Thess 4 : 17 to be fulfilled ? If so, when are they going to be raptured? At the second coming of Jesus ? Why go up when Jesus and all the holy ones are coming down ? ( Rev 19 : 11)

All through the Bible we see that when God judged the wicked, the righteous escaped his wrath. Ex : Noah from the Floods, Lot from Sodom, the Hebrews from the plagues in Egypt, Rahab from the fall of Jericho etc and these narratives unequivocally back up this Scripture :
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (1Thess 5 : 9 )

But the strongest argument for a pre-trib rapture is the fact that the ‘man of lawlessness’ cannot be revealed unless the person of the Holy Spirit leaves the earth ( 2Thess 2 : 6 ) and the Holy Spirit will not leave without the Bride of Christ going along with Him. ( Just as Eliezer, the servant of Abraham would not return without taking along with him Rebecca as a bride for Issac, the ‘offspring’ of Abraham, so also the Holy Spirit will not return without taking along with him the Church as a bride for Christ, the ‘seed’ of Abraham.)
Together they wait for the appointed time ! ‘The Spirit and bride say, “Come!” (Rev 22 : 17 )

Qn 10. How can Christians abandon their faith if they are raptured ?

The truth of the matter is, not all are going to be raptured but only those who have the Holy Spirit in them or in other words are born again.
Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.’ ( Eph 1 : 13 – 14 )
I tell you the truth, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of the water and the Spirit.” ( Jn 3 : 5 )

Unfortunately many Christians are not born again and they will find themselves left behind. Some might abandon their faith whereas many will realize the truth and will take a stand for Jesus and will be saved.

When he opened fifth seal, I saw under the altar souls who have been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained … they were told to wait a little longer until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.’ ( Rev 6 : 9 – 11 )
After this I looked and there before me was a multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.
“Who are they and where did they come from? … These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
( Rev 7 : 13 -14 )
And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God … They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.’ ( Rev 20:4 )
Both the raptured saints and the tribulation saints will reign with Christ.

Many think that the dispensation of grace ends before the tribulation but it actually ends with the tribulation because multitudes of Gentiles are going to be saved during the first half of the tribulation and thereafter a remnant of the Jews during the second half of the tribulation. In short, the grace for salvation is available until the second coming of Jesus. If it is not for grace, how can these tribulation saints stand for Jesus, even to the point of being beheaded ?
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith.’ (Eph 2 : 8)

Qn 9. Is the parable of the ten virgins referring exclusively to the Jewish nation?

The context in which Jesus said this parable was Mt 24:3
Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age ?”
At that time the Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom … The bridegroom was a long time in coming and they all became drowsy and fell asleep…” ( Mt 25 : 1 – 12 )
Just because Jesus used a Jewish custom to predict the state of the Church, in the last days, it doesn’t make the parable exclusively for the Jew. Even if it is, the warning is relevant to both the Jew and the church.
Keep watch because you do not know the day or hour.” ( Vs 13 )
So what difference does it make?

Qn 8. Is the wedding supper, the seven years in heaven ?

We read about the announcement of the wedding supper in the 19th Chapter of Revelation, towards the close of the 7 years. Why not earlier, soon after Rapture ?
Let us rejoice and and give him glory ! For the wedding of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean was given her to wear … Then the angel said to me, “Write : Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” ( Rev 19 : 7 – 10 )
Since both the Raptured saints and the Tribulation saints together make the bride of Christ, the wedding will have to wait until all of the tribulation saints are beheaded.
So the wedding supper is not the entire seven years but towards the end of it. Since it happens in heaven, it is definitely not in the Millennium or even at the second coming of Jesus.
( The Raptured saints will have experienced a bodily resurrection, earlier at Rapture but the Tribulation saints will experience a bodily resurrection only after the second coming but before the Millennial rule of Christ. (Rev 20 : 4 )
It shouldn’t surprise us then that the tribulation saints too will be found wearing fine linen at the wedding of the Lamb because John had seen earlier in his vision, these souls in heaven and they were found wearing white robes and holding palm branches even before they experienced a bodily resurrection. )
When the fifth seal was opened, I saw under the altar the souls who were beheaded … Then each of them was given a white robe …’ ( Rev 6 : 9 – 12 )
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.’ (Rev 7 : 9 ) … These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. ( Rev 7 : 14 )

Qn 7. To whom does the Bible refer to as ‘least of my brethren’ ?

The phrase ‘least of my brethren’ refers to the Jewish and Gentile believers because they share a common destiny.
“… who are my brothers ? … For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother …” ( Mt 12 :48 – 49 )
( So the Gentile who believes is included but the Jew who doesn’t believe is excluded according to this verse. Therefore Jesus himself addressed the believer as his brethren.)
Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.’ ( Hb 2 : 11 )
For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are descendants are they all Abraham’s children.’ (Ro 9 : 6 – 7 )
A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.’ ( Ro 2 : 28 – 29 )
There are three distinct people groups that God is dealing with and they are the Jews, the Gentiles and the Church which consist of believing Jews and Gentiles. However the proponents of replacement theology doesn’t recognize the Jew anymore and all the promises pertaining to the Jews are misappropriated for the Church. That is anti-semitism!

5. The mystery of the 7 Churches and the 7 Angels.

Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches : to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyathira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea.” (Rev 1 : 11 )

The cities mentioned were actual cities in the ancient world where a church existed. John listed them in the order in which a messenger on the road would have found them, starting with the chief city of Ephesus and then circling back clockwise. The cities lie in what is now part of modern Turkey. But none of these churches survived the religious wars that took place. However these seven churches represent the universal church throughout the age. Since these churches existed at the same time, it would be irrational to interpret them as different periods of the church age. According to this interpretation, the Church age has been divided into different periods based on Church history.
Ephesus upto 170 AD
Smyrna upto 312 AD
Pergamos upto 606 AD
Thyathira upto 1517 AD
Sardis upto 1750 AD
Philadelphia upto 1900 AD
Laodicea upto Rapture.
The fallacy of such an interpretation is the notion that we are in the Laodicean period of lukewarmness and therefore there can’t be an endtime revival. Yet the greatest revivals happened after 1900 AD. The Welsh revival in 1904, Asuza street revival in 1906, the healing revivals from 1947, the latter rain movement in 1949, the Charismatic revival in 1959, Jesus movement in 1970, just to mention a few ! Infact the 20th century has witnessed more awakenings and revivals worldwide than in the centuries preceding it.

In addition to this incongruity, some have even gone to the extent of identifying the seven angels of the seven churches, as men through whom these periods of church history were ushered. That is because the Greek word ‘angelos’, which was translated as ‘angels’ or ‘messengers’, could mean either angelic or human messengers or even both.
But whom did John see in his vision? “The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand … are the angels of the seven churches …” ( Rev 1 : 20 )
‘I saw the seven angels who stand before God and to them were given the seven trumpets.’ ( Rev 8 : 2 )
Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues.’ ( Rev 15 : 6 )
So undoubtedly he was speaking about angels ! Just because the letters to the churches were written to the ‘messengers’ of the seven churches, does it mean that the seven stars in the right hand of Jesus were men ? ( William M Branham taught about the seven church ages and identified St Paul, St Irenaeus, St Martin, St Columba, Martin Luther and John Wesley as the six ‘messengers’ that preceded him and declared himself to be the seventh and last messenger to the Laodicean church. No wonder the ministry he founded eventually became a Christian cult! )

What then is the central message in all these letters to the churches ? A searching of the hearts by the ‘one who stood among the seven golden lampstands’, revealed the state of the churches, which otherwise is the state of believers themselves :
Ephesus the ‘loveless’ church,
Smyrna the ‘suffering’ church,
Pergamos the ‘worldly’ church ,
Thyathira the ‘adulterous’ church,
Sardis the ‘hypocritical’ church,
Philadelphia the ‘faithful’ church and
Laodicea the ‘complacent’ church.
The call to repentance rings through the letters and five out of the seven churches were admonished to repent. But it was to the ‘faithful’ believer that Jesus promised : “See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have so that no one will take your crown.” (Rev 3 : 8 – 11 )
So whatever be the period we are in or whichever be the church that we attend, what matters is our obedience, if we want to ‘escape all that is about to happen and be able to stand before the son of man.’ ( Lk 21 : 36 ) Amen.

4. The mystery of the seventy ‘sevens’ ( Dan 9 : 24 – 27 )

Vs 24“Seventy ‘sevens’ (Hebrew : ‘shabua‘ means week’ or ‘seven’ ) are decreed for your people (Israel ) and your Holy city (Jerusalem ) to restrain transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy.”

In this passage ‘shabua‘ doesn’t mean ‘seven’ days or a ‘week’ but ‘seven’ years, as understood from Dan 12 : 7 where it states: “It will be for a time, times and half a time ( meaning a year, two years and half a year ), when the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things are completed.” So if half of a ‘shabua’ adds upto 3 & 1/2 years, then one ‘shabua’ is 7 years and seventy ‘shabuas’ are ( 70 × 7 ) 490 years.

Vs 25Know and understand this : From the issuing of the degree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed one comes there will be seven ‘sevens’ (49 years) and sixty two ‘sevens’ ( 434 years ). A total of 483 years.

There were three decrees that were issued for the restoration of the temple and the city :-

1. The Babylonian invasion took place in 586 BC. After the 70 years of exile (counted from the time Jehoiakim was taken as a captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 608 BC), prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer 29 : 10 ), was fulfilled (Dan 9 : 2 ), ‘the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus, King of Persia, to make a decree, during the first year of his reign ( 538 BC ), to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken through the prophet Jeremiah.’ ( Ezra 1 : 1 – 4 ) The first group of exiles returned under the leadership of Zerrubbabel and they began to rebuild the temple but before long the work was hindered until second year of the reign of Darius, King of Persia. ( Ezra 4 : 5, 24 )

2. The second decree was issued by Darius during the second year of his reign when he confirmed the decree made by Cyrus. ( Ezra 6 : 3, 12 ) So the temple was completed during the sixth year of his reign ( Ezra 6 : 15 ) but the wall and streets of the city were not restored. After this a second group of exiles returned under the leadership of Ezra in 458 BC, who had received a letter from Artaxerxes, King of Persia, during the seventh year of his reign ( Ezra 7 : 8 – 26 ) but there is no mention about any rebuilding in the succeeding chapters of Ezra.

3. The third decree was issued by Artaxerxes in the twentieth year of his reign when the last group of exiles returned under the leadership of Nehemiah in (445 BC ? ). He had sought the permission to go to city of Judah and rebuild it ( Neh 2 : 5 ) because he was told: “The wall of Jerusalem remains broken down and its gates burnt with fire. ( Neh 1 : 3 )

The street shall be built again and the wall, even in troublous times.” ( KJV )
This prophecy was partially fulfilled when Nehemiah completed the wall in 52 days ( Neh 6 : 15 ) but the restoration of the city and its streets were far from over. Once the city wall was built, it was possible to restore the city within, without fearing the hostile enemies outside.

Vs 26 “After the sixty two ‘sevens’ ( 434 years after restoration ), the Anointed one ( Messiah ) will be cut off but not for himself” (meaning for the sin of others). This was fulfilled in 30 AD when Jesus was crucified for the ‘sins of the world.’ ( Jh 1 : 29, 1Jh 2:2) “Then the people of the ruler (Romans) who will come will destroy the city and the Sanctuary.” This was fulfilled in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed the city and set fire to the temple as prophesied by Jesus . ( Mt 24 : 1 – 2 ) What Jesus spoke of as the ‘birth pains’ ( Mt 24 : 8 ) are summed up by Daniel in these words : “The end will come like a flood. War will continue till the end and desolations have been decreed.”

Vs 27He ( referring to ‘the ruler of the people’, which is another term for the Anti-Christ who will come out of the resurgent Roman empire) will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven’ (70th ‘seven’ ). In the middle of the ‘seven’ ( 3 & 1/2 years into the tribulation ) he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And in the temple, he will set up an abomination that causes desolation ( Mt 24:15) until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” ( Rev 16:10 ) Amen.

3. The book of Revelation and the order of events.

Rev 1 : Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.
Rev 2 – 3 : ‘Seven Churches’ represent the entire Church age – ‘Seven messengers’ with a message from him who stood among the ‘seven golden lampstands’.

( Two events that will take place before the Tribulation begins ) :-
👉🏻 Rev 4 : John saw a door standing open in heaven (Mt 25 : 10 – 11 ) and heard a voice say, “Come up here and I will show you what must take place after this (Church age ).” He saw a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. Surrounding the throne were twenty – four other thrones and seated on them were twenty – four ‘elders’ (Greek : presbyteros – elder of a Jewish community ). Who are they ? ‘Raptured’ (Greek : harpazo – to catch, steal or carry off – 1 Thess 4 : 15 – 17 ) saints ?
👉🏻 Rev 5 : The Lamb was found worthy to take the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne and open the scroll and its seven seals. Jesus glorified in the presence of the saints (Dan 7 : 14, Jh 17 : 5, 24 )

Rev 6 : The ‘seven seals’ were opened and the inhabitants of the earth were judged.

( Two events between 6th and 7th seal ) :-
👉🏻 Rev 7 : 144,000 from the tribes of Israel were sealed. (Ro 9 : 27, 11 : 5 )
👉🏻 A great multitude from every nation, tribe, people, language – ‘the full number of Gentiles has come in’ ( Ro 11 : 25 ) – These are they who have come out of the great tribulation.

Rev 8 – 9 : 7th seal was broken and the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them. The inhabitants of the earth and their ‘gods’ (fallen angels ) were judged – a third of everything was destroyed.

( Two events between the 6th and 7th trumpets. ) :-
👉🏻 Rev 10 : A mighty Angel with a scroll in his hand was standing on the sea and the land and swore by him who was seated on the throne that the mystery of God will be accomplished when the 7th Angel blows his trumpet.
👉🏻 Rev 11 : 1 – 6 Temple was measured but the outer court was excluded – given to the Gentiles. They will trample the holy city for 42 months. Two witnesses prophesy for 1260 days.

[ Events during the 1260 days that are revealed in Rev 12,13 ,14, should be read in between Rev 11 : 6 and Rev 11 : 7 :-
👉🏻 Rev 12 : A woman ( Jewish Church ) was about to give birth and the dragon stood in front to devour her child the moment it was born – child was snatched’ ( Greek : harpazo ) upto God – There was war in heaven – The great dragon , that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan was hurled to the earth and his angels with him.
👉🏻 Rev 13 : Rise of the Antichrist ( Beast out of the Sea ) and the false prophet (Beast out of the Earth ) – ordered that the image of the first beast be set up in the temple ( Dan 9 : 27, Mt 24 :15 -16 ) – all who refuse to worship the image to be killed – forced everone to receive the mark of the beast.
👉🏻 Rev 14 : John saw the Lamb and with him the 144,000 who did not defile themselves with women. When did the 144,000 reach heaven? The male child who was snatched’ ( Rev 12 : 5 ) ? – Three angels flying in midair – proclaimed the eternal gospel and warned the rest of the mankind against worshiping the image of the beast or receiving the mark of his name. ]

Rev 11 : 7 – 14 The two witnesses finished their testimony and they were killed by the beast that came up from the Abyss – their bodies lay in the street of Jerusalem but after three and a half days, they came back to life and ascended into heaven.
Rev 11 : 15 -19 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet and there were loud voices in heaven, which said : “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” Then God’s temple in heaven was opened.

Rev 15 : Seven Angels with seven bowls of wrath came out of the temple in heaven.
Rev 16 : Seven bowls of God’s wrath was poured out on the earth and the kingdom of the beast was judged.

( Two events that John was shown after the bowls of God’s wrath ) :-
👉🏻 Rev 17 : John was shown a Woman ( false Church ) riding on the beast (Antichrist ) – the woman is the great city on seven hills – Babylon
👉🏻 Rev 18 : John was shown the fall of Babylon – never to rise again – in one hour her doom has come !

( Two events between the 6th and 7th bowl that are revealed in Rev 19 should be read in between Rev 16 : 14 and Rev 16 : 17 :-
👉🏻 Rev 16 : 15 / Rev 19 : 1 – 10 Stay awake and keep your clothes / The wedding of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready – fine linen was given her to wear.
👉🏻 Rev 16 : 16 / Rev 19 :11 – 21 The kings of the earth and their armies were gathered together at Armageddon / to make war against the rider on the white horse and his army – the beast ( Antichrist) and the false prophet were captured and were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. Rest of them were killed by the sword that came from the mouth of the rider on the horse – flesh will rot while standing on their feet ( Zech 14 : 12 – 13 ) – birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

[ Rev 16 : 17 Seventh Angel poured out his bowl into the air – out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne saying, “It is done !” Then there was a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake that the great city split into three and the cities of the nations collapsed, every island fled away and the mountains could not be found.]

Rev 20 : Satan was bound for a 1000 years – the tribulation saints were resurrected ( first resurrection ) – Judgement of the livingMillennial rule of Christ began – At the end of 1000 years, Satan was released from prison – gathered the nations for the final rebellion – Satan was thrown into the lake of fire – Great white throne – second resurrectionJudgement of the dead – those whose names were not found in the book of life were thrown into the lake of fire ( second death).
Rev 21 : John saw the new heaven and new earth. He saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down from heaven.
Rev 22 : John was shown the River of the water of life – Final exhortation to keep the words of this book. Amen.

3. Teaching about Righteousness.

Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of :-
1. Repentance …
2. Faith in God
3. Baptisms
4. Laying on of hands
5. Resurrection of the dead
6. Eternal judgement
And God permitting, we will do so.’
( Hb 6 : 1 – 3 )
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about :-
7. Righteousness.
But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish between good and evil.’
(Hb 5:13-14)

👉🏻 So what is this teaching about righteousness ?
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last …’ ( Ro 1 : 17 )
This righteousness from God, comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.’ ( Ro 3 : 22 )
Having believed in Jesus, we have been credited with his righteousness, just as ‘Abram believed the LORD and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ ( Gen 15 : 6 )
Since we have been declared righteous by faith, God requires that we work out this righteousness in all aspects of our life.

👉🏻 What then were the works that God required from Abraham, after he was declared righteous?
For I have chosen him so that he will direct his children and his household to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is ‘right and just’, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” ( Gen 18 : 19 )
Likewise, it is required of us, who have been justified by faith, to do what is ‘right and just’; to do for others what God did for us.
Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? In anger, his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured … This is then how my heavenly father will treat each one of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” ( Mt 18 : 33-35 )
In this parable of the unmerciful servant, Jesus exposed the double standards among believers who have not been acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.’ Forgiving others who have wronged us is not a matter of our choice but a command !
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’ ( Col 3 : 13, Eph 4 : 32 ) The impetus is therefore on the believer to forgive .

👉🏻 However the matter doesn’t end there because there are two ways to it ! Just as we forgave others who wronged us, we ought to be forgiven by those whom we might have wronged. Again the impetus is on the believer to reconcile; to return what might have been stolen or to make restitution if someone might have been cheated.
Zacchaeus stood up and said … Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today Salvation has come to this house …” because Zacchaeus proved his faith by works. (Lk 19 : 8 – 9 )
Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. ( James 2 : 17 )
So did Jacob prove his faith when he reconciled with his brother Esau and made restitution. In fact the restitution paved way for the reconciliation ! Many believers would forgive the wrongs of others but would not seek forgiveness for their own wrongs because their ego forbids it. They would rather give to charity than make a restitution, thinking that would suffice. But Zacchaeus did both!
“I have NOT found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore what you have received and heard; obey it and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief and you will not know what time I come to you.” ( Rev 3 : 2 – 3 ) Amen.

2. Understanding the Abrahamic covenant.

God’s covenant with Abraham was founded on the seven promises stated in Gen 12 : 1 – 3. Of the many promises, the first promise was about a land that God later showed him ( Gen 13 : 14 -17 ) and even marked out the boundaries for him.
On that day the Lord made a Covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land from the river of Egypt (Wadi) to the great river, the Euphrates.” (Gen 15 : 18)
I will confirm my covenant between you and me … the whole land of Cannan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you … My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant.” (Gen 17 : 2, 8, 13 )
And then when God confirmed his covenant with Abraham, he swore by himself saying :
1) “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.
2) Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,
3) and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed , because you obeyed me.”
(Gen 22 : 17 – 18 )
When the time came to possess the land, under the leadership of Joshua, the Lord marked out the borders of the promised land : “Your territory will extend from the desert ( Negev ) to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates to the Great Sea (Mediterranean ) in the west.” ( Joshua 1: 4 )

God’s covenant with Abraham is an everlasting covenant while the Mosaic covenant with the children of Israel was until the Seed to whom the promise referred to had come’ ( Gal 3 : 16 – 19). So the ‘written code with its regulations stands cancelled’ ( Col 2 : 14 ) but the Abrahamic covenant still stands. Just as ‘the law introduced 430 years later, did not set aside the covenant previously established by God’ ( Gal 3 : 17 ), the new covenant in the blood of Jesus did not ‘do away with the promise’ made to Abraham.

In fact the gospel is the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham. When ‘those who believe are children of Abraham’ (Gal 3 : 7 ) and are ‘blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith’ ( Gal 3 : 9 ), God’s promise to Abraham to give him ‘descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as sand on the seashore’ is being fulfilled among the Jews as well as the Gentiles.

And when ‘this gospel of the Kingdom is preached in the whole world’ ( Mt 24 :14 ), God’s promise to Abraham that ‘all peoples on earth will be blessed through you‘ ( Gen 12 : 3 ) is being fulfilled. Yet one promise remains unfulfilled and it concerns the land!
It was once fulfilled during the reign of Solomon, the son of David : ‘Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River ( Euphrates ) to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt.’ ( 1 Ki 4 : 21 )
It will once again be fulfilled during the Millennial reign of Christ, when he sits on the ‘throne of his father David’ ( Lk 1 : 32 ). Until then, there will be claims by the Jews and counterclaims by the Arabs but it will be settled in favour of Abraham, with whom God had cut a covenant and confirmed it with an oath ( Hb 6 :13 – 17 ), and also had confirmed it with Issac ( Gen 26 : 3 ) and with Jacob ( Gen 35 : 12 ), thus fulfilling the promise : “Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies.” ( Gen 22 : 17)

In those days and at that time ( Millennium ), when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgement against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land … Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy ; never again will foreigners invade her.” ( Joel 3 : 1 – 2, 17 ) Amen.