Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. (1 Corinthians 12:1)
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus"¦For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 16-17)
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; (1 Corinthians 10:1-2)
The words underlined in each of the above passages all come from the same Greek word "agnoeo" which many translations render as "to be ignorant". The word is used to not just advise that we should not lack information on the highlighted issues, but should go out of our way to avoid being mistaken or in error where such things are concerned. In other words, Paul specifically admonishes Christians that they are to understand, pay attention to, and not be biblically ignorant where three issues are concerned: spiritual gifts, the Rapture, and Israel. Why is it that at the center of present-day Christianity we find the most commonplace error and ignorance on at least one if not all three of these topics?
Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven. He said, "O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart, who have kept with Your servant, my father David, that which You have promised him; indeed, You have spoken with Your mouth and have fulfilled it with Your hand as it is this day. Now therefore, O LORD, the God of Israel, keep with Your servant David my father that which You have promised him, saying, "˜You shall not lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way to walk before Me as you have walked.' Now therefore, O God of Israel, let Your word, I pray, be confirmed which You have spoken to Your servant, my father David. (1 Kings 8:22-26)
One of the central, recurring sources of discussion by Jew and Christian alike is the Temple in Jerusalem. There is a lot of Scripture devoted to the Laws and operation of the Temple and the priests and Levites supporting it, but from a purely historical perspective the two temples, along with their precursor the Tabernacle, only stood for a brief fraction of time in terms of the whole of mankind's history. And yet mainstream Judaism and Christianity alike believe a third Temple is not only inevitable but imminent. I personally find it fascinating that the majority of Jews and Christians alike seem to miss the greater purpose of the Temple, often focusing on all the things humans are supposed to do in the course of operating the Temple. But Solomon's dedication of the original Temple reveals that what is most important is not what MAN does with it, but God. And this is no small lesson to be lost on Christians who are repeatedly taught in the New Testament that THEY are now the Temple. The original, intended role of the physical Temple probably has quite a bit to teach New Testament believers about their greater role and purpose as His spiritual Temple.
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes's and Jambres's folly was also.
"” 2 Timothy 3:1"“9 (NASB)
I have never doubted that sin and wickedness and every aspect of evil would increase as the Day of the Lord draws closer. We are warned in Scripture of the particular intensity of Satan's wrath to come when he is thrown down to the earth in the waning days leading up to Christ's return. So in the course of my life whenever I have read passages like this I have thought, "How awful things on earth are going to be in the Last Days for those who don't know Christ." But what I did not realize in my youth which has become painfully clear in my twilight is that everything spoken of here has already begun to occur, and it is not limited to non-believers. Every single behavior listed here has been adopted by a host of people claiming the title "Christian" and operating within the walls of the church "“ in stunning depth and not simply as an aberration here and there. Is there a Bible-believing, born-again Christian with even an ounce of discernment who does not recognize that the Great Apostasy "“ the "falling away" "“ signaling the imminent return of Christ is not already underway?
"For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But as for you, you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi," says the LORD of hosts. "So I also have made you despised and abased before all the people, just as you are not keeping My ways but are showing partiality in the instruction. (Malachi 2:7-9)
The New Testament explains that the hereditary priesthood of the Old Covenant has been replaced by every participant in the New Covenant. (1 Pe. 2:5; 9) And so I cannot help but wonder that just as Israel so often serves as a reminder to the church in general of the nature of its relationship to Christ, so the Levitical priesthood might provide examples of right and wrong personal service to Christ. In this regard the book of Malachi can either be quite enlightening or particularly disturbing. The last book of the Old Testament sets the tone for the spiritual environment leading up to the first arrival of the Messiah and serves as an example of what it will be like leading up to His second and final arrival. One of the most visible problems is that spiritual leadership among God's people became so corrupt that God begins to reject them so that they lose all public credibility with everyone "“ the saved and unsaved alike.
So the king consulted, and made two golden calves, and he said to them, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt." He set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan.
"“ 1 Kings 12:28-30
Throughout all of Scripture which documents that period of Israel's history from the time the original Temple was built until it was destroyed centuries later, there is a unit of measure by which God holds all leaders accountable. Their righteousness is contrasted to the faithfulness of King David and their wickedness is compared to King Jeroboam, seen in these verses initiating what will later be repeatedly referred to as "the sins of Jeroboam". Jeroboam does not create something completely new from day one. Instead, he ultimately takes everything connected with the One True God and systematically twists each and every item into a shadow of its former self. This activity is particularly evil in that it is not directed at everybody in the whole world but exclusively toward God's people alone. Jeroboam twists every single direction God gave for how His people should serve and worship and replaces them with a duplicate which looks very similar on the outside, but is a complete apostasy on the inside. And where does this apostasy start? What was the first step taken to achieve total corruption of God's people? Worship. And I believe it is most often the way that deception and apostasy enter into Western churches today. There may be cases where it makes its first appearance through the pulpit or an ancillary ministry activity, but it most often first enters through the worship team.
Preface: There are many books, websites, and other resources documenting those persons and organizations who, by biblical standards, are undoubtedly spiritual deceivers. But as the old saying goes, "Give someone a fish and feed them for a day, teach someone to fish and feed them for life." Hopefully this provides a starting point for developing the biblical tools by which the faithful can discern the methods and activities of the faithless.
Granted we need to heed ALL of God's Word, but we especially need to take heed of things which are repeated in Scripture. The Holy Spirit is trying to impress upon us something of particular importance whenever something is referred to in God's Word more than once as evidenced in the Old Testament by the books of Kings and Chronicles, and in the New Testament by the Gospels. But there is a particular Old Testament event which is recorded three times in order to emphasize it's particular importance: the king of Assyria's invasion of Judah. (2 Kings 18-19, 2 Chronicles 32, and Isaiah 36-37) We will examine the account in Isaiah in order to better understand the greater lessons provided for engaging spiritual deceivers in the arena of spiritual warfare.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet
"˜AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH,
ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH;
FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER
WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.' "
Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.
"” Matthew 2:1-8 (NASB)
One of the repeated teachings at Moriel is that prophecy is not so much about the fulfillment of specific events at a specific pre-set date and time as much as it is really patterns which repeat themselves, growing ever stronger until their last, ultimate fulfillment. That is why a lot of what we understand about Christ's Second Coming is foreshadowed "“ a pattern "“ revealed during His First Coming. Learning as much as we can about His First Coming teaches a great deal about how things will ultimately take place at His Second Coming. And I have a very strong suspicion that we are seeing some of these things taking place right now. The religious authorities of the day knew Scripture so well that without hesitation they answered the Magis' question about the Messiah, but like many today, they were completely blind to actually seeing it take place.
I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?"
Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
The number one reason at the top of my list as to why I believe we are living in the Last Days is because of the changes I've witnessed within the church during my lifetime. Yes, the return of Jews to Israel and events in the Mideast are a sign of the end. Yes, the rise of a global monetary system is a sign of the end. Yes, the efforts of the Catholic church to consolidate all religions is a sign of the end. I believe these and a great many more of the same kind of events are literally fulfilling God's Word in our lifetime, but they are not the number one reason I believe the return of Christ is more imminent than ever. The first and foremost reason I believe we've arrived at the eve of the Last Days is that the church is no longer the salt of the earth and has, literally, become tasteless.
(Note: This article appears in the latest editon of the Moriel Quarterly newsletter, but because of a prominent personality once again using the very tactic discussed, we are re-publishing it here. Rick Joyner is but the latest in a long and continuing line of people who mishandle this same Scripture over and over and over again. "“ Moriel Web Staff
"If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst."
"” Matthew 18:15-20 (NASB)