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The Glorification of the Believers

The Glorification of the Believers

Resurrection Sunday is a day that Christians all around the world celebrate. Why? That’s because Jesus’ resurrection guarantees believers that they too will be resurrected. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:12, 20, 52; Acts 24:16).

This doctrine is known as the glorification of the believers (Romans 8:30). When Christ redeemed us, He did not just redeem our spirits (or souls)—he redeemed us as whole persons, and this includes the redemption of our bodies.

Therefore, the application of Christ’s work of redemption to us will not be complete until our bodies are entirely set free from the effects of the fall and brought to that state of perfection for which God created them.

However, the redemption of our bodies will only occur when Christ returns and raises our bodies from the dead. Paul says we eagerly wait for the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23).

The Glorification of the Believers

Redemption of the Believer

The primary New Testament passage on glorification or the resurrection of the body is 1 Corinthians 15:22–23.

Paul discusses the nature of the resurrection body in some detail in 1 Corinthians 15:35-50. He then concludes by saying that not all Christians will die. Rather, some will remain alive when Christ returns and will have their bodies instantaneously changed into new, resurrection bodies. These bodies can never grow old or weak and can never die (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

Paul further explains in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 that the souls of those who have died and gone to be with Christ will come back and be joined with their bodies on that day, for Christ will bring them with him.

Several other New Testament passages that affirm the reality of the doctrine of glorification include John 5:28-29; John 6:39-40, 44, 54; Romans 8:11, and 2 Corinthians 5:1-10.

Resurrection in the Old Testament

Is there any evidence of hope in a future resurrection of the body in the Old Testament? Yes!

First, even before Jesus was raised from the dead, the New Testament indicates that many Jewish people living at the time of Christ had some hope of a future bodily resurrection (John 11:23-24; Acts 24:15).

Hebrews 11:10 tells us that “Abraham waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” We also read that many Old Testament saints “died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them …” (Hebrews 11:13–16).

The author even says that Abraham “concluded that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead” (Hebrews 11:19).

When we look at the actual teachings of the Old Testament itself, there are indications that Old Testament authors had a strong expectation of the resurrection to come in the future. See Job 19:25-26; Psalm 49:15; 73:24-25; Proverbs 23:13-14; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2.

The Believer’s Resurrection Body

If Christ will raise our bodies from the dead when He returns, and if our bodies will be like His resurrection body (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23, 49; Philippians 3:21), then what will our resurrection bodies be like?

Imperishable

The fact that our new bodies will be “imperishable” means that they will not wear out or grow old or ever be subject to any kind of sickness or disease. They will be completely healthy and strong forever.

Moreover, since the gradual process of aging is part of the process by which our bodies now are subject to “corruption,” it is appropriate to think that our resurrection bodies will have no sign of aging, but will have the characteristics of youthful but mature manhood or womanhood forever.


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There will be no evidence of disease or injury, for all will be made perfect. Our resurrection bodies will show the fulfillment of God’s perfect wisdom in creating us as human beings who are the pinnacle of His creation and the appropriate bearers of His likeness and image.

In these resurrection bodies, we will see humanity as God intended it to be.

Raised in Glory

Paul also says our bodies will be raised “in glory.”

When this term is contrasted with “dishonor,” as it is here, there is a suggestion of the beauty or the attractiveness of appearance that our bodies will have. They will no longer be “dishonorable” or unattractive but will look “glorious” in their beauty.

Moreover, because the word “glory” is so frequently used in Scripture of the bright shining radiance that surrounds the presence of God Himself, this term suggests that there will also be a kind of brightness or radiance surrounding our bodies.

That will be appropriate outward evidence of the position of exaltation and rule over all creation that God has given to us (Matthew 13:43; Daniel 12:3).

Some suggest that these statements might be understood metaphorically. But the hints of the age to come that were seen in the shining of the glory of God from the face of Moses (Exodus 34:35), and, in a much greater way, the bright light that shone from Jesus at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:2), together with the fact that we will bear the image of Christ and be like Him (1 Corinthians 15:49), combine to suggest that there will be a visible brightness or radiance that surrounds us when we are in our resurrection bodies.

Raised in Power

Our bodies will also be raised “in power” (1 Corinthians 15:43), which is in contrast to the “weakness” which we see in our bodies now.

Our resurrection bodies will not only be free from disease and aging, but they will also be given fullness of strength and power. Here on earth, we find that the spirit sometimes is willing but the body is weak. Some devout believers cannot as much attend worship services because of bodily affliction. But in heaven, we will all have strong bodies.

We will have complete human power and strength – the strength that God intended human beings to have in their bodies when He created them. It will therefore be a strength that is sufficient to do all that we desire to do in conformity with the will of God.

Spiritual Body

Finally, Paul says that the body is raised a “spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:44).

We must make clear that the phrase “a spiritual body” does not so much as infer that the resurrection body will be composed of intangible substance.

Rather, it means that while on earth, we are occupied to a greater degree with the natural body. Our bodies are engaged chiefly with the activities and the environment of earth.

In our resurrection bodies, we will be occupied with all that pertains to God and godliness. In other words, the spiritual life of man prevails.

Redemption of the Believer's Body

Paul said, “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me” (Romans 7:21, NIV). There was no question that he was truly God’s child by the transforming power of the Spirit. But the natural man was still very much alive in him.

Christians are hindered by the attitude of the natural toward the spiritual. In our resurrected bodies, the higher principles in us will predominate and the full tide of spiritual life will be in control.

The point is that we follow Jesus in His resurrection by sharing the same kind of body that he has, namely, a spiritual and heavenly one.

Conclusion

When Christ returns, He will give us new resurrection bodies to be like His resurrection body (1 John 3:2). 

Although the emphasis of Scripture is on the fact that believers will experience a bodily resurrection, some passages state that unbelievers will also be raised from the dead, but that they will face the final judgment at the time they are raised.

Jesus clearly teaches that “those who have done evil” will come forth “to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:29). Paul also said that he believed “that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15; Matt. 25:31–46; Daniel 12:2).


Reference: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Getting Ready for the Return of Christ

Getting Ready for the Return of Christ

Scriptures teach that one day Christ will return to earth. Yes, our Lord will come for the believers. But while we wait, what should we be doing?

We can never be sure when God’s purpose for His church will be completed. Nevertheless, we must remain obedient to our Lord’s commands regarding the church.

Jesus made this clear to His disciples before He ascended into heaven. When they asked Him if He was going to restore the kingdom of Israel at that time, Jesus answered said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7).

In Jesus’ statement, two facts are clear: (1) the date has been set; and (2) we aren’t supposed to know it because we have a responsibility to fulfill in the meantime.

The Certainty of Christ’s Return

After Jesus affirmed His disciples of the future restoration of the nation of Israel, He gave them the Great Commission. He told His disciples they would be “empowered by the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Then, to their amazement, He ascended into heaven, leaving them gazing intently into the sky. Two men in white linen (probably angels) appeared and asked, “Why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

John 14:3 (NKJV)

All too often, Christians today are like the early disciples. We spend more time gazing into the sky and speculating about the Lord’s return than we do serving Him. The angels reminded the disciples that the Lord is sure to return. Thus, we should not waste time and energy worrying about when or whether Christ will return.

Instead, we must be confident that He is coming again on schedule, and get down to doing the Father’s business while we wait.

What Should We Be Doing?

Jesus has left instructions about what we are to do while we await His coming.

1. Witness for Christ Everywhere We Go

In the same way that our Lord told His disciples to be His witnesses everywhere they go, even to the farthest ends of the earth (Acts 1:8), we are also commanded to witness to everyone we come into contact with.

Every opportunity that God gives us, let us share the good news about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross with our family, relatives, friends, colleagues, and to everyone that we encounter along the way.

A video of a cab driver witnessing to his passengers went viral. As the two students sat comfortably behind him, he started sharing with them the love of God. He told them that only Jesus has the solution to all the problems and chaos that are going on around us.

Praise God for the life of this cab driver. May we be encouraged by his boldness and also start sharing the love of God with others.

Witnessing for Christ

2. Go into All the World and Preach the Gospel

This command in Mark 16:15 emphasizes the missionary nature of the church’s ministry during the present era. We are to take the gospel to the whole world.

This does not necessarily mean that we all have to become missionaries, go to the farthest or remotest places on earth, and pioneer a church. We can start right where we are.

It may not always be easy to share our faith with others because some people tend to be non-receptive and sometimes hostile towards the gospel. I heard some Christians say the best tool for evangelism is developing a relationship with the person we want to evangelize.

When people see that we truly care about them and we’re not just trying to convert them, eventually they will

3. Make Disciples of All Nations and Baptize Them

In Matthew 28:19, Jesus said all believers are to “go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Making converts and discipling them in their walk with God is a major emphasis of the church’s mission. We don’t stop at getting people to repent of their sins and receive Jesus’ free gift of salvation.

New converts must be taught the whole counsel of God, how to live by God’s will, and to grow in their spiritual walk.

Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit

4. Build the Church

Jesus told His disciples that He would build His church with such power that the “gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

We usually act as though hell was attacking the church and we were trying to survive. But remember, you don’t attack with gates. Rather, you defend with them. Jesus portrayed the church as being on the offensive and hell on the defensive.

We build the church by using our God-given gifts and skills to serve God and our fellow believers in Jesus. The apostle Paul said this to the church in Ephesus:

“And He (Jesus) Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).

5. Occupy till Jesus Comes

In the parable of the talents (Luke 19:13), Jesus said the servants were to put their master’s money to work until the master returned. Likewise, we are to stay busy with the Master’s business until He returns.

This means Christians need to keep working for the expansion of the Kingdom of God on earth. Yes, we are to take care of our families, take our jobs and businesses seriously. But we must not let worldly cares and worries take our focus off what matters most – the Father’s business.

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6. Remain Faithful Until He Returns

Our Lord concluded His prophetic message in the Olivet Discourse by urging the disciples to continue in faithful and wise service even though He might be gone for a long time (Matthew 24:45-51; 25:14-21).

As I said earlier, we do not know the exact time of Christ’s return; we do not even know how long it will take before He comes. But we are to continue walking in obedience to God and be faithful stewards over what He has entrusted to us.

Let us not be like the servant who starts beating his fellow servants, ate and drank with the drunkards because he thought his master delayed his coming (Matthew 24:48-49).

Getting Ready for Christ’s Return

Our strongest encouragement to live right until Jesus comes is the hope of His second coming. The apostle John said, “Abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28).

He then goes on to say, “We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

The fact that we will face our Lord when He comes again is the ultimate incentive for us to live right.

How do we prepare to meet the Lord when He comes for His bride?

1. Know Jesus Personally

The whole purpose of our Lord’s coming was to die as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. He came to pay the price for our sins so that we might be forgiven and released from the penalty of eternal death.

Jesus is called the Redeemer because He has freed us from God’s judgment against our sin. Peter said we have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” – John 1:12

2. Receive Jesus as Your Savior

We cannot earn salvation by our good works, nor is it something we deserve. It must be received as a gift from God. The Bible says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).

The gospel – the good news – is the message that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The invitation of the gospel calls us to personal faith in those facts.

The Bible says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).

Final Words

Many things demand our attention in life. Many voices are calling to us and many images flash across the screens of our minds. But no matter what our focus in life, one thing is certain. All of us will face death at some point. We cannot avoid it.

There is no better time to settle the question of your eternal destiny than right now. The clock of human history is ticking away. It just keeps on ticking continually and relentlessly, moving us closer to the end of the age.

John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Would you let Him take away your sin? Bow your heart, soul, and mind before Him, and ask Him to save you right now.

Don’t gamble with your eternal destiny. Your time may well be running out. Make sure you are ready when Jesus comes, “for yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37).


Reference: Can We Still Believe in the Rapture by Ed Hindson and Mark Hitchcock

Can We Still Believe in the RaptureChristian Fiction … or Biblical Fact?

Today, the hope that all believers on earth will be “caught up” to heaven is being challenged in new waves of criticism. Is the rapture really taught in the Bible? Can we really expect Jesus to gather up His followers before the Antichrist is revealed?

In this well-reasoned and thorough defense, prophecy authors Mark Hitchcock and Ed Hindson examine the concept, context, and consequences of the important and long-expected event known as the rapture. Discover the answers to such questions as…

  • What is the rapture—and is there any historical precedent for it?
  • Why do some believers object to the idea of a rapture?
  • Does the timing of the rapture really make a difference?

As you explore what Scripture says about the end times, you’ll get a grander glimpse of your glorious future and the deepest hope of every follower of Jesus.

What is the Role of Women in the Church? (Part 2)

What is the Role of Women in the Church? (Part 2)

In part one of this article on the role of women in the church, it was made quite clear that God’s original design for mankind, both male and female, when he created them was to “co-rule” the earth and have dominion over everything in it.

We also examined the role of women in both the Old and New Testaments and how God equally used them in significant ways. I do believe that the most important means of God’s validation on the role of women was when He used them, instead of Jesus’ male disciples, to proclaim Christ’s resurrection.

As we conclude this topic, I would like us to look into the passages that most Christians today use to defend the view that women should never take leadership roles in the church; that women should not be allowed to teach and preach in churches.

Rather, women should “keep silent” in obedience to what the word of God clearly instructs.

Problematic Passages 

As mentioned earlier, Jesus gave His Spirit and gifts to men and women equally on the Day of Pentecost – in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. Yet there are some scriptures in the New Testament about women in the Church that can seem confusing.

Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.”

Should Women Teach in the Church

How could Paul write such a thing? Does he seem to contradict himself at other places in Scripture, when he instructs women how to speak, pray, and prophecy in the church?

In one verse Paul seems to be saying women are to be silent in the churches. Then in another verse (1 Corinthians 11:5), he instructs how they are to pray and prophesy in the churches. In one verse, he commands women to keep silent. In the other, he tells them how to pray and prophesy.

Are women never to speak in church, or are they to pray and prophesy? Which did Paul mean? Let us examine this more closely.

Paul’s Intent in Writing

First, we must consider why Paul was writing to the Corinthian church.

On his second missionary journey in about A.D. 50-51, Paul had established a church there and he kept in touch with them after he left (Acts 18:1-8; 1 Corinthians 5:9; 2 Corinthians 12:14).

After some time, he received some disturbing reports about moral and spiritual problems among the believers in Corinth. They were struggling with such things as divisions, spiritual immaturity, the role of men and women, immorality, and the improper use of spiritual gifts.

1 Corinthians 14:40 tells us why Paul wrote this letter: “Let all things be done decently and in order.”

There were confusion and disorder in the church in Corinth. So, Paul wrote to encourage the believers as to what was appropriate behavior for Christians. He wrote to teach them about order in the church. Again, Paul’s number-one concern in writing to the Corinthians was order in the church.

Order in the Church

In chapter 11, Paul is addressing the problem of Corinthian social customs. A woman who appeared in public with her head uncovered was considered to be immoral, even a temple prostitute (1 Corinthians 11:5).

In that culture, a woman with her head properly covered meant she was either married and in proper submission to her “head” (her husband), or single, and in proper submission to her family. A man’s head uncovered showed that his covering was the Lord.

Both represented a proper spirit of submission in places of public worship. So, Paul has no problem with women praying or prophesying, as he is telling them how it is to be done appropriately in 1 Corinthians 11. The issue is that it be done in order, with a heartfelt submission to those in authority.

The Role of Women in the Church

It is important to realize that in Jewish tradition women had not been allowed to take part in a religious ceremony. They were forbidden to speak in the synagogues. Women were not even allowed in the court of worship in the Jewish temple.

When these women come to Christ, they are thrilled and excited about their forgiveness and about being restored as “co-heirs.” It may take time for them to adjust to their new freedom. It also may take time for them to learn appropriate behavior in public worship services.

Women’s New Found Liberty

In contrast to the old Jewish system where women had always been kept in the outer court, Christian women during Paul’s day were allowed to come inside the churches. For the first time, women could see and hear everything that went on.

The women might not have understood everything that was happening, yet they were overjoyed to be part of the ceremony and worship. They might have been tempted to ask questions or even discussed what was taking place among themselves right during the meeting.

The women may not have yet learned the proper order for church involvement. As a result, they may have been blurting out whatever they thought or felt. Perhaps they were arguing with the men over what they were hearing from the pulpit, and in so doing they were challenging their husband’s authority and shaming them in public.

Perhaps the women wanted to teach the men ideas which they felt had been revealed to them, without an appropriate time of learning and testing.

Are Women to be Silent?

Before we examine 1 Corinthians 14:35-36, we must look at the entire passages surrounding them.

In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul writes to the church in Corinth to address the order of ministry in the meetings. Notice that all were speaking in tongue in the church (1 Corinthians 14:23) and Paul says that all may prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:24). Again, “every one of you” means “all.”

Then Paul says for the fourth time, “For you can all prophesy…” (1 Corinthians 14:31).

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Nothing could be clearer than Paul saying all (men and women) are to participate in the ministry gifts during church service. Paul discourages the confusion of everyone trying to speak or prophesy at once. But he still encourages every person to participate.

But while writing that all should participate in the ministry, Paul suddenly says, “Let your women keep silent in churches … for it is shameful for women to speak in church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

Word Study on the Passage

Three words in the passage need to be studied to understand what Paul was teaching the Corinthians. These three words are: women, speak and says.

The word women in 1 Corinthians 4:34-35 is the Greek word gune, which can mean a wife (not just any female). Given the context, Paul’s instruction is probably directed to wives.

The Greek word used for speak is laleo, which means to talk. This word can imply an extended conversation. Says comes from the Greek word lego, which means to lay forth (an idea or doctrine) in words usually of systematic or set discourse (“ … as the law also says”).

“Lego” (says) involved the teaching or preaching of something the speaker had prepared and carefully thought about. This type of “speaking” was encouraged.

On the other hand, “laleo” (speak) was a talking that interrupted the speaker or was not spoken at the right time; this was discouraged. It could be calling out questions or discussing the weather. The point was that it was not an appropriate type of speaking out in a church meeting.

So, if the passage was expanded to include the true meanings of the words in the original Greek language in which the Scriptures were first written, it might read something like this:

“Let the wives not interrupt (laleo) the meetings of the church with extended talking: for it is not permitted for them to interrupt or to call out to others with their questions; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also it is taught in the doctrine.

And if they desire to learn about anything, let them wait and ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for them to have conversations during the church service.”

Should Women be Pastors

Interpreting the Passage

Paul was not telling women they could never pray, prophesy, or otherwise minister in the church. He had just been teaching them all (men and women) how to minister in orderliness just a few verses before. Paul was teaching the women, and the men, that there needed to be order in the church.

You will notice he also told the men to be silent at times as well (1 Corinthians 14:28, 30). He instructed them all when it was appropriate to speak in tongues, prophesy, and otherwise minister in the church.

He also told them to listen with silence when the Word of God was being taught. Paul was concerned for the witness and testimony of the Corinthian church in their community. He desired that they learn to walk in the Spirit and properly exercise the gifts God had given them.

The Corinthians could be loud and unruly. They even got drunk in their observance of the Lord’s supper (1 Corinthians 11:20-26). This behavior certainly did not bring glory to God, or speak well of their newfound Christian faith.

These problems of lack of manners, civility, common courtesy, and appropriate behavior were the issues in Paul’s writings. He was not trying to keep women from participating in an orderly fashion in the church. Paul’s concern was for ORDER in the church, that all things be done decently and non-offensively (1 Corinthians 14:33).

Should Women Teach in the Church?

Another portion of Scripture that is often used by some to not allow women to teach in the church is 1 Timothy 2:11-12.

It is important to note that Paul wrote this section of Scripture as a letter to young Timothy, who was in charge of the church in Ephesus. He was helping Timothy deal with problems of doctrinal error, qualifications for leadership, and improper behavior by those in the church.

Timothy faced challenges in Ephesus much like those Paul addressed in Corinth. There were thousands of religious prostitutes at the shrine of Diana in Ephesus. They were taught that fornication linked people with the gods, and immorality was encouraged.

Most women were not educated or trained in those days and knew nothing about God. It was considered virtuous for a woman to be ignorant (which is exactly the opposite of what the Bible teaches in Proverbs 31).

So Paul is writing to Timothy to help him correctly lead and provide order for the new Christians, both men, and women, at the church in Ephesus.


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Recommended Resource: Women in the Church, A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry by Stanley Grenz and Denise Muir Kjesbo.

Women in the Church by Stanley Grenz and Denise Muir KjesboStudies of key biblical passages on women’s roles in the church fill entire bookshelves, if not libraries. But in Women in the Church, Stanley Grenz and Denise Muir Kjesbo offer the first in-depth theological study of this issue–one of the most bitterly contested issues of our day.

Carefully considering the biblical, historical and practical concerns surrounding women and the ordained ministry, this book will enlighten people on all sides of the issue. But Grenz and Kjesbo make no secret of their bold conclusion: “Historical, biblical and theological considerations converge not only in allowing but also in insisting, that women serve as full partners with men.”

Thorough and irenic, Women in the Church bids to take an intense discussion to a new plane.

Giving Instruction to Women

Notice the kind of issues Paul addresses first in 1 Timothy 2:9-10.

Paul finds it necessary to give instructions about very simple matters, such as how a godly woman should dress, act and wear her hair. He emphasizes modesty, no worldly display, and that her true attractiveness is her character. He reminds her to not be loud and out of order. (See 1 Peter 3:1-6.)

The women of Ephesus had very little understanding of even the most basic godly priorities and values. They needed much instruction on proper behavior in the church and their personal lives. The clothes, jewelry, and behavior of a temple prostitute were not acceptable in the church.

Paul then goes on to tell Timothy, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission” (1 Timothy 2:11).

Let Women Learn in Silence

It is important to look carefully at the first part of the verse again. “Let a woman learn…” Paul is telling Timothy that it is important to let, or allow, a woman to learn! Remember, in this culture, it was not normally acceptable for women to learn or be taught anything. They were incorrectly told that ignorance was virtuous for a woman.

But Paul writes to say that the women “need to learn,” especially about the things of the Lord. But how is it best to learn? In silence (quietly) and with all submission.

When you want to learn something, you must be willing to sit quietly. You must accept and learn from the person teaching; you must not argue, but submit and listen. So, it is important to “let the women learn.” But we must encourage the women, just like the men, to sit quietly and listen to the teacher while they are learning.

The women of Ephesus had much to learn about God, about living a godly life, and about functioning as part of the church body. How better to learn than quietly receiving what the teacher or pastor is saying.

God’s Order in Leadership

We have seen in his letter to Timothy that Paul was reminding women they may be tempted to step out of their place in God’s order. They may even desire to take over the man’s place of God-ordained rulership.

But what did Paul mean when he said, “I do not permit a woman to teach…” (1 Timothy 2:12)? Didn’t Paul, in Titus 2:3-4 (KJV)), tell older women to “teach” the younger women? Yes, he did.

And didn’t Priscilla – with Aquila – teach Apollos, the “eloquent man” who was “mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24, 26)? Yes, she did. But in 2 Timothy 2:2 we read: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

Does Paul mean only men should learn and teach others?

Should Women Allowed to be Church Leaders

Word Study on 2 Timothy 2:2

The Greek word for men in 2 Timothy 2:2 is anthropos, which means mankind – both men and women. So Paul is instructing Timothy to teach the men and women, and then encourage them to teach others also.

So when Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach…” what is it he was telling Timothy? The word teach is the key to understanding this problem verse. The original Greek word used for “teach” is didaskaleo, which means “to instruct or teach doctrine.”

Women were not authorized to establish the doctrinal standards, as apostolic teachers. That was a function handled by the apostolic councils (see Acts 15). “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).

The apostolic councils set the doctrinal standards, and the women who ministered were to respect those standards and not teach to the contrary. This rule was not just for women, but for men as well. We read this in 2 Timothy 2:17-18, “… Hymenaeus and Philetus … who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.”

These two men departed from the apostles’ doctrine and were condemned.

Interpreting the Passage

Given all of the above understanding, an expanded translation of 1Timothy 2:11-12 using the original Greek meanings would read something like this:

“But I suffer not a woman to teach doctrine contrary to that established by the apostles, or to try and take the authoritative office of apostolic teacher, or to try and rule over a man; but to remain undisturbed, and learn in stillness.”

Paul’s exhortation, then, is consistent with his other words regarding ministry and order in the church. It is also consistent with the rest of Scripture, which does remind women (and men) that they are to be yielded and submitted to God’s order for relationships and the Church.

The ideas and opinions formed in human reason, and the deceptions of false religions, are not what ministry in the Church is based upon. Ministry in the Church is based solely upon the whole counsel of God through His Word.

Pure ministry flows out of a willingness of both men and women to submit and yield themselves and their ideas to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, His Word, and His ways.

Should Women be Church Leaders?

Whatever conclusions one reaches about the role of women in the church, consider these final points of review:

First, the Old Testament contains many accounts of anointed women leading, ministering, prophesying, and praying in the Name of the Lord. Second, the New Testament also gives us many examples of women taking the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ to those around them. It tells us of women who ministered through teaching, prophecy, prayer, and evangelism.

Women of the New Testament were considered Christians of equal standing to men: believers, followers of Christ, witnesses for Him, messengers of the resurrection, and soul-winners for Jesus’ sake.

Third, Jesus our Lord fully accepted and showed loving kindness to both men and women. They were both associated with His life and ministry. He spoke to them, forgave them, healed them, and encouraged them in doing works even greater than His own (John 14:12-14).

Concluding Words

Women were certainly allowed and encouraged) to educate, proclaim truth, and exhort (prophesy). (For biblical review, see Acts 2:17; 18:26; 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:5; Philippians 4:3; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14,15; and Titus 2:3-5.)

It is clear that the idea of women just sitting in church services and not participating or serving the Lord is NOT found anywhere in Scripture. Women should share in the ministry of soul-winning, prayer, prophecy, worship, and miracles. They should fully function in all the gifts and callings the Lord freely gives to those who are His.

Christ lives in any person who receives His gift of salvation through His cross and resurrection. He fills them with His Holy Spirit; He serves through them; He speaks through them; He loves and ministers through them.


Read part 1 of this article here >>> The Role of Women in the Church 

Note: This is an excerpt taken from the book “Women in Ministry” by Shepherd Staff.

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.


What is the Role of Women in the Church? (Part 1)

What is the Role of Women in the Church? (Part 1)

There are various opinions about women in ministry. Some say women should never take leadership roles while others say they are allowed to do so. But it is vitally important to examine what the Bible actually says.

What is the role of women in the church? Should women be church leaders? Are women allowed to pastor a church? How do we interpret passages that say women should be silent in the church?

God’s Original Design

There are passages in the New Testament that might create questions and confusion regarding the place of women in the body of Christ. But before addressing those crucial issues, we must first understand God’s original design for man and woman.

In the creation story, it was clear that God created both man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:27). God created them to “co-rule” over creation (Genesis 1:28), meaning, they had equal authority and position. Man and woman were charged to carry out God’s ultimate rule and authority.

But when mankind (male and female) fell as a result of their sin and rebellion, they lost the privilege of rulership and lost their intimate fellowship with God (Genesis 3:14-24). Although Eve was not directly cursed, she was part of God’s general curse. She was told that “her desire should be for her husband and he shall rule over her” (Genesis 3:16).

Garden of Eden
Photo Credits: TrumpetCall.Org

Some believe that because the man was to “rule over” woman, God would only speak to or through a man from that time on. But Psalm 68:11 says, “The Lord gave the word; great was the company of those who proclaimed it.” The word company is the Hebrew word tsaba which can be either masculine or feminine gender, thus, representing men, women, or both.

The verse is then rightly translated, “The Lord gave the word; great was the mass of men and/or women organized for warfare that proclaimed it.”

Another important verse is Joel 2:28-29, which Peter repeated in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:17-18. “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy… and also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

Women in the Old Testament

God desires to use both men and women to declare His wondrous works. Now, let us look at some examples of God speaking to and through women in the Old Testament.

Miriam

We first read of Miriam in Exodus 2:1-10 when Pharaoh commanded that all newborn Israelite males are to be killed. In Micah 6:4, she is mentioned along with her brothers Moses and Aaron as one of the three that led the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery and into deliverance.

This shows us the very important role of authority and influence given to the woman Miriam, by God. After the army of Pharaoh drowned in the waters of the Red Sea and the Israelites were safely in the desert, a great worship celebration took place.

“Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them: ‘Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea’” (Exodus 15:20-21)!

Miriam’s prophetic anointing and musical gift made her an effective praise leader and prophetess. Like David some 500 years later, she sang the song of the Spirit with boldness.

Deborah

“Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment” (Judges 4:4-5).

Deborah held three important positions: wife, prophetess, and judge or ruler.

Through prophetic insight, the prophetess Deborah called for the Israelite General, Barak, to go out with only ten thousand men against the Canaanites. It is believed the Canaanites, led by General Sisera, had almost 100,000 men and 900 chariots of iron!

Deborah courageously accompanied General Barak into battle. With God’s power, the much-outnumbered Israelites defeated the Canaanites (Judges 4:6-24). Under Deborah’s leadership, the children of Israel were delivered from 20 years of oppression from this alien army. And she knew the source of victory was the Lord God!

Deborah was wise and courageous. She was mightily used by God in the dramatic deliverance of Israel from oppressors. And the people of Israel enjoyed 40 years of peace following her rule.

Why, then, does much of the Church today prevent this biblical kind of leadership from being released through women?

Esther

Though Queen Esther did not have a specific title of “ministry,” she was instrumental in saving the entire Jewish nation.

She was steadfastly committed to living out godly principles. She was wise in her influence on her husband. This allowed God to use her for His purpose and glory (read more about it in Esther 2-10).

Women in the New Testament

In ancient Israel, women were considered to be members of the “family of faith.” Men, as head of the family, presented the sacrifices and offerings on behalf of the entire family (Leviticus 1:2), but the wife could also be present.

Women attended the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:14), the yearly Feast of the Lord (Judges 21:19-21), and the Festival of the New Moon (2 Kings 4:23). Women could enter into most of the areas of worship.

But by the time of Christ, the view of women had changed. Jewish women were no longer active in Temple or synagogue worship. They were often put into inferior and subservient roles. But this was not something God said to do; rather this was human works.

Mary

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a good and godly woman. She was a person of incredible faith in God. How else could she have responded in such a beautiful song of praise and trust after such a bewildering announcement (Luke 1:26-55)?

Mary truly did fulfill a ministry calling of the highest order, that of motherhood. What an incredible privilege God has given women in allowing them to bring forth life!

Moreover, the prophecy of Jesus’ coming (Genesis 3:15) and victory over Satan was enhanced by the fact that God would allow a woman, Mary, to be the vessel through which He gave to us a Savior!


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Anna

After seven years of marriage, Anna’s husband died and she dedicated the remainder of her life serving in the Temple (Luke 2:36-37).

Anna had an important part in Jesus’ birth and dedication. God used her to confirm that Jesus truly was the expected Messiah-Deliverer for which Israel had waited.

Anna’s anointed ministry during her later years of life gives hope and promise to older women. God will always minister through sensitive, obedient and available vessels, regardless of age. The potential is great for those who are more mature to influence and shape future generations.

The Women at the Tomb

On that morning of Jesus’ resurrection, Mary Magdalene was at the tomb with Simon Peter and John. There were at least the three of them at the tomb. The two men went into the tomb to see if Jesus was truly gone, as Mary Magdalene had said. When they saw He was gone, the discouraged men went home (John 20:5-10).

We don’t know why, but for some reason, the resurrected Christ didn’t appear to the two men while they were at the tomb. Jesus waited, and appeared to Mary Magdalene later as she wept outside the tomb (John 20:11-14).

Jesus spoke to Mary Magdalene. He gave her the very important job of proclaiming His resurrection (John 20:15-18). A woman was the first one told to preach the Good News that Jesus had risen from the dead. This charge proclaimed her equally worthy to give out the New Testament message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

If Jesus gave the awesome job of preaching the first message of the Gospel to a woman, what then should our response be to women whom God has called to preach that same Gospel today?

Women at the Upper Room

Women were among those who had assembled for prayer to receive the promised power spoken of in Scripture (Acts 1:8). As that group of men and women prayed, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).

There was to be no question that all (both men and women) were empowered to do the work of ministry and evangelism. The power was NOT just for those in special positions of spiritual authority, but for ALL flesh!

Phoebe

In the church at Cenchrea, there was a woman Paul calls “a servant of the church” and “a helper of many” (Romans 16:1-2).

Some Bible versions translate the word “servant” (diakoneo) used in this verse as deaconess. Others use the word minister since this same Greek word is used in different places in Scripture as minister.

The historian Eusebius says that Phoebe oversaw two churches and traveled extensively in ministry. Many scholars believe it was Phoebe who carried the written book of Romans to the congregation in Rome.

Note: Though most of the spiritual leaders mentioned in the Bible are men, there are also many examples of anointed, consecrated, chosen women of God in both the Old and New Testaments. These women were never denied leadership roles or the right to function in a God-given gift or calling.

It is indeed a mystery why the place of women in ministry is a problem in so much of the Body of Christ.

What did Jesus Think of Women?

At a time when ministry teams that combined men and women were not allowed by the religious leaders, Jesus welcomed several women into His team of traveling ministries (Luke 8:1-3).

Also in Luke 8:43-48, we read of an outcast, unclean woman. She is poor, weak, and afraid. Yet Jesus responded to her faith, spoke to her as His daughter, and healed her!

Jesus encouraged Martha and Mary to sit at His feet and be discipled (Luke 10:38- 42). He considered them among His close friends (John 11:5).

What did Jesus Think of Women

Jesus’ respect and concern for women was something strikingly new. His attitude was very different from the other men’s attitudes of His time. His view of women was especially different from the Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees, and Sadducees.

Through Christ’s redemptive work, all of the partitions have been broken down. Every believer, regardless of race, sex, or other distinction, now has equal access to God (Ephesians 2:14). In Jesus, all divisions have been smashed between Jew and Gentile, between men and women, and between priests and laymen (Revelation 1:6).

We are all one in Christ (Galatians 3:27-28), hallelujah!


Continue to part 2 here >>> The Role of women in the Church

Daniel’s Vision of 4 Beasts

Daniel’s Vision of 4 Beasts

Daniel’s disturbing dream in chapter seven of his book has sparked so much interest among Bible readers. Who are these four beasts that Daniel saw in his dream and visions?

In Daniel 7:1-7, God communicated with Daniel while he was asleep by giving him a disturbing vision in a dream. What’s interesting is that, during this vision, Daniel was also part of the event. We know this because he was able to approach an angel and ask for an interpretation.

Daniel did not explain how he could be asleep in his bed and yet be able to speak to an angel standing before the throne of God. Perhaps like Paul, he didn’t know if he was in the body or out of the body (2 Corinthians 12:1-3).

Daniel 7:1-2 NKJV

What Daniel Saw

In his vision, Daniel observed the sea being stirred up into a raging storm by the four winds of heaven (Daniel 7:2). The churning (stirring) sea is a frequent biblical image for the nations of the world (Isaiah 17:12-13; 57:20; 60:5, 9; Ezekiel 26:3; Revelation 13:1; 17:15).

Just as the ocean is sometimes, so the nations of the world are sometimes in confusion or even at war. Just as the waves and currents of the ocean are unpredictable, so the course of world history is human ability to chart or predict.

God stirred up the sea, and from its foaming, raging waters came forth four horrifying beasts. These beasts, each different from the other, are described in Daniel 7:4-7.

“The first was like a lion and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.

And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’

 After this, I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this, I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong.

It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.”

Interpretation of Daniel’s Vision

Daniel’s vision troubled and terrified him. So, he approached one of those who stood by (possibly an angelic being) to ask for the interpretation of the things he saw and was given to him (Daniel 7:15-16).

The four beasts were four kings and their kingdoms, who will arise from the earth (Daniel 7:17).

The First Beast: The Babylonian Empire

Daniel describes the first beast as one like a lion with eagle’s wings.

It is generally agreed that this beast represents the Babylonian Empire and king Nebuchadnezzar in particular. While God does not specifically tell Daniel that this represents Nebuchadnezzar He does reveal that the “head of gold” in the vision of the great statue was Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:36-38).

Since the head of gold seems to describe the same king and kingdom as the first beast, it may not be too far afield to conclude that Nebuchadnezzar is the king represented by the first beast.

The Second Beast: The Medes and Persian Empire

The second beast looked like a bear that was rearing up on one side and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. This beast symbolized the empire of Medes and Persians who defeated Babylon (Daniel 5) and parallels the arms of chest and silver in the great image (Daniel 2:32, 39).

The bear was raised up on one side because the Persians were stronger than the Medes. In Daniel’s later vision of the ram with two horns (Daniel chapter 8), the higher horn represented the Persians (Daniel 8:3, 20).

Interpreters do not agree on the meaning of the three ribs that the bear carried in its mouth. But the best explanation is that they stand for Libya, Egypt, and Babylon – nations that the Medes and Persians had conquered.

The armies of the Medo-Persian Empire did indeed “devour much flesh” as they marched across the battlefields.

Understanding Daniel's Vision of 4 Beasts
Photo Credits: Neverthirsty.org

The Third Beast: The Kingdom of Greece

The third beast looked like a leopard with four wings and four heads; it represented Alexander the Great and the swift conquest of his army, resulting in the incredible expansion of the kingdom of Greece.

This beast was identified with the number four: four heads and four horns (Daniel 8:8, 21-22). Alexander’s untimely death in 323 BC left him without a successor and his kingdom was divided into four parts and assigned to his leaders.

Israel and Egypt went to Ptolemy I; Syria was ruled by Seleucus I; Thrace and Asia Minor were assigned to Lysimachus, and Macedon and Greece were governed by Antipater and Cassander.

The Fourth Beast: A Fourth Kingdom

This fourth beast is a fourth king different from the first three. It receives greater attention and is of the most interest to Daniel. It seems more terrifying, dreadful, more powerful, and much more hostile toward God and His saints (Daniel 7:23).

Daniel describes this beast to have huge iron teeth, crushing and devouring its victims, and trampling their remains beneath its feet. It has the distinction of ten horns. And as Daniel was looking at these horns, suddenly a small horn appeared among them before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words (Daniel 7:8).

Some believe this creature represents the Roman Empire, a mighty kingdom that indeed crushed all its foes.

The Small Horn

The ten horns represent ten kings who will emerge out of the fourth kingdom. But then, an eleventh king (small horn) rises to power, different from the others, replacing three of the previous kings (kingdom (Daniel 7:24).

The “small horn” (Daniel 7:8, 11, 24-26) represents the last world ruler, the man called Antichrist. The Greek prefix anti can mean “against” and “instead of.” The final world ruler will be both a counterfeit Christ and an enemy who is against Christ.

The mention of his eyes suggests that he would have remarkable knowledge and skill in planning his exploits. He would also be a man skilled in using words and able to promote himself so that people follow him (Daniel 7:11, 25; Revelation 13:5-6).

He would also blaspheme God and ultimately convince the unbelieving world that he is a god (2 Thessalonians 1:1-12). He would become the ruler of the world and would not only control the economy and religion but would also seek to change the times and the laws.

But while this king appears to be successful in his plans against God and his saints, we read that the Lord would grant him success only for an appointed time of three and a half years (Daniel 7:25-26). God would permit the Antichrist to rise to power, rule the world, and even allow him to make war on the saints and temporarily win the victory (Daniel 7:21)

But when the court shall be seated, his dominion is taken from him and he is destroyed forever. The greatness of the kingdoms under heaven and its dominion shall be given to the saints of the Most High (Daniel 7:27).

Final Words

This prophetic vision of Daniel was fulfilled and these four kingdoms represented by the four beasts have already come and gone. However, Daniel 7:12 indicates that each kingdom continues to exist in some way within the succeeding kingdom that “devoured” it.

Daniel saw in his vision something that hadn’t been revealed to Nebuchadnezzar: the last human kingdom on earth would be a frightful kingdom, unlike any of the previous kingdoms, and it would even declare war on God (Daniel 7:8-12).

This is the kingdom of the Antichrist, described in Revelation 13 through 19, an evil kingdom that will be destroyed when Jesus Christ returns to earth (Daniel 7:11-12, 21-26).

What a comfort to know God wins in the end. And we, His saints, will be there with Christ our King to celebrate the greatest victory.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:Daniel: The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries bJohn Walvoord and Charles H. Dyer.

A Commentary on the Book of Daniel The book of Daniel is key to the entire Old Testament prophetic revelation.

Who better to help you understand Daniel’s stories, prophecies, and dreams—and give you a brighter hope for things to come—than John F. Walvoord, one of evangelicalism’s most prominent leaders, and Charles Dyer, a Bible professor and expert on Israel?

In this second work of a renewed series of commentaries, Dr. Walvoord addresses alleged historical inaccuracies and considers past and future fulfillment of specific prophecies. At key points, different views and approaches to interpretation are explored.  Walvoord devotes special attention to textual and doctrinal issues while avoiding technical language.

Refined, updated with the English Standard Version (ESV), and streamlined, this classic text is set to help you understand and interpret the book of Daniel and gain a better grasp of what the future may bring.

When Christians Backslide

When Christians Backslide

Do you know someone who used to be a strong Christian but for some reason has ultimately abandoned the faith? When Christians backslide, people can’t help but wonder if they are still saved or are forever lost. What future awaits those who came into the saving knowledge of Christ but in the end chose to go their own separate way?

In this post, we will have a Bible study on backsliding. What does it mean to be a backslidden Christian? What are the causes and results of backsliding?

Biblical Definitions of Backsliding

Before going any further, it is important that we first discuss what backsliding really is. What does it mean to say that one is a backslidden Christian?

The Cambridge dictionary defines backsliding as “going back to doing something bad when you have been doing something good, especially to stop working hard or to fail to do something that you had agreed to do.” 

But what does the Bible say?

1. Backsliding is turning away from God.

We read in 1 Kings 11:9-10 that “the Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the Lord had commanded.”

As we can see in this particular text, backsliding starts with the heart setting its focus on someone or something else other than God. It could be fame, wealth, power, and whatever it is that the world has to offer. The person who is on the verge of backsliding may not even be aware or could be in denial until it’s too late. 

This is a reminder for us to not only guard our hearts (Proverbs 24:3) but also to rend it and make it subject to the Word of God. Why? It’s because our heart is deceitful and could lead us astray (Jeremiah 17:9).

Guard your hearts

2. Backsliding is growing cold and leaving your first love.

Revelation 2:4 says, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”

In Jesus’ letter to the church in Ephesus through the apostle John, He specifically rebuked them for not loving Him and each other with the same intensity that they used to. Their love has become lukewarm and God said He does not want lukewarm Christians.

If you find yourself growing cold in your love for God, that should immediately raise a red flag. One of the signs that Jesus mentioned when His disciples asked Him about the signs of His coming is that “the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). 

Are you still zealous for God and His kingdom? Do you still find joy laboring in God’s vineyard the same way you did when you first came into the saving knowledge of Christ? The apostle Paul exhorts us to “never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11, NIV).

3. Backsliding is turning away from the simplicity of the Gospel to salvation by law.

“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).

Most of us may not be aware that one of the signs that someone is backslidden is when they start questioning the sufficiency of the finished works of Christ and argue that good works are necessary for salvation. But we are warned that teaching work-based salvation is contrary to the gospel that Paul and the apostles preached. 

When Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30),  it meant that God’s justice has been satisfied and His wrath appeased. Jesus has paid the price for our sins and He paid it in full. We do good works and try our best to live in accordance with the will of God as evidence that we are truly saved; not to add to what Jesus has already accomplished on the cross at Calvary.

4. Backsliding is separation from the Lord because of sin or iniquity.

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you So that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).

When you find yourself committing the same sin over and over again, that is an indication that you are no longer listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Either your heart has become callous or you are choosing to willfully and deliberately disobey God’s word. 

Causes of Backsliding

Although there are several outward causes of backsliding such as covetousness and love for the world, and the things that are in the world, we will focus on the true reasons why Christians choose to turn away from the Lord go back into the world.

1. Failure to pray.

Prayer means talking or communicating with God and consistent communication with Him is what strengthens our relationship. I remember my senior pastor saying, “No communication means no relation.”

How is your prayer life? Do still enjoy spending time with God, talking with and listening to Him?

To fail to pray is also a form of pride. When we do not consult with God in regard to any decision we make, we are saying we do not need His guidance and we do not care about His will.

2. Failure to read the Bible and meditate on it.

If you sincerely want the Lord’s will to be done in your life, then you need to feed on God’s Word. As I often say, “The Word of God is the will of God.” Watching preachers on TV or the internet is not the same as reading the Bible for yourself and asking God what He wants to tell you in His Word.

In the same way that our bodies need food, our spiritual life also needs spiritual food which is the Word of God. Jesus’ words in Matthew 4:4 hold true and remain to be true for every one of us who claims to be a follower of Jesus. how much time do you spend daily reading and meditating the Word of God?

Man shall not live by bread alone

We need to pray and read the Bible at the same time not only to be informed of the will of God and enlightened, but also to be encouraged and strengthened.

Note: Regular daily time spent alone with the Lord in prayer, praise and worship, and meditating the Bible is referred to as quiet time. And backslidden Christians who have come back to the Lord say that they lost out with God in their quiet time.

3. Failure to attend church.

Be sure to go to church at least once a week. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

You can’t expect to grow and mature spiritually without church fellowship. Many Christians who stopped coming to church eventually abandoned the faith and went back to their old sinful life.

4. Failure to obey the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is what convicts us of sin and when we do not obey Him, He is grieved. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Hebrews 10:25).

Note: As I already mentioned, willfully and deliberately disobeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit is a strong indication that we are turning away from the Lord. So, when you find yourself going against what God has said in His Word, know that you are heading towards destruction.

5. Failure to confess Christ.

We are given a stern warning in Matthew10:33, “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”

One of the many things distinguishing a new believer from those who have been Christians for a while is their boldness to declare Christ as their Lord and Savior to the world. Sinners who just came to faith in Jesus are so pumped up and overwhelmed with the amazing grace of God that they want to let the whole world know how Jesus saved them despite their wickedness.

When was the last time you confessed Jesus as your Lord before a hostile group of people?

6. Failure to walk in the light.

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

God has called Christians out of the darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). Thus, we are to not only walk in the light but are also to be the light in this world of darkness (Matthew 5:14). 

Note: Generally speaking, backsliding is growing cold, losing interest in the Lord, Bible reading and meditation, prayer, church attendance, and witnessing, and turning toward or going back to the world.

Heres a song to remind us of the commitment we made to follow Jesus.

Results of Backsliding

1. Backsliding will result in the loss of power, a loss of peace, a loss of joy and happiness. Murmuring and darkness will begin to cloud the daily pathway.

2. Backsliding will result in the loss of salvation.

Consider the following passages:

“Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him a warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand” (Ezekiel 3:20).

“But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Revelation 3:5).

See also Revelation 2:7; Revelation 2:10-11; Revelation 2:17; Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 3:21.

Does this mean that a backslidden Christian is forever lost? No! God’s unconditional love and amazing grace compel Him to constantly call and invite people to return to Him, accept His forgiveness, and be in fellowship with Him. One just needs to repent and receive God’s invitation.

Conclusion

We must understand that nobody backslides suddenly.

I am reminded of a church-mate who used to be very active in the church. She was the leader of the Dance Ministry and always sat on the front row for many years. Until one Sunday, she came to church but opted to not join her ministry for praise and worship. 

Surprisingly, she sat on the third row (or was it the fourth?) instead of her regular spot which is the first row in the music and dance ministry sitting area. The following Sunday she sat near the very back row. This continued for several Sundays until such time that she stopped coming. 

To end on a positive note, this sister was restored, praise God! The church leadership came to her rescue, counseled, and prayed for her. It turned out that her fiancé called off their engagement because he wanted to marry another woman. She has gone through a difficult ordeal but God is faithful.

He promised to “complete the work He has begun in us until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). 

Let us then “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).


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How to Discern the Signs of the Times

How to Discern the Signs of the Times

How important is it to discern the signs of the times? Many people today react negatively to any mention of the signs of the end times. They say it is foolish and unwarranted to look for or even talk about trends and developments that point toward the end times scenario portrayed in Scripture.

Is this negative outlook justified? In Matthew 16:1-3, Jesus sternly rebuked the religious leaders of His day for their blindness to the sign of the times of His first coming.

Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus demanding that He show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove His authority, He replied, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the time” (Matthew 16:1-3).

Biblical Signs of the End of Days

Signs of the times, or the end of days, are visible events, sometimes miraculous or otherwise unexplainable, that point to something beyond themselves. Many signs were predicted by Jesus and the prophets throughout Scripture.

Signs are important; they help us know what to look for and what to pay attention to. When we read Bible prophecy, we can look for these “signs of the times” that show us what to be on the lookout for, much like a road sign points to what’s coming.

Jesus used the term “signs of the times” to verify His first coming. He fulfilled Old Testament prophecies and performed the miracles of the Messiah right before the eyes of many people, yet they were blind to the clear confirmation of His identity.

Signs that we are living in the end times

Despite being shown signs to look for, the people didn’t pay attention. Jesus fulfilled 109 prophecies during His life on earth, and He indicted the Jewish leaders for missing these signs of His first coming.

Most people of that day missed the clear signs – Jesus’ visible miracles that confirmed the invisible truth that He was God. Those were the signs that verified His first coming, but what about the Second Coming? Have we been given any signs? What can we be looking for and paying attention to?

Signs for Jesus’ Second Coming

Luke recorded Jesus saying, “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea, and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25). Here, Jesus clearly referred to “signs” that will portend His second coming back to earth.

In Matthew 24:3, when Jesus’s disciples asked Him, “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t worry about the signs of the end of the age.” He didn’t also say, “I’m not going to tell you, it’s none of your business.”

Instead, Jesus outlined several general and specific signs of the end of the age (Matthew 24:4-31). Since Jesus gave us signs like these, we should be careful not to ignore them and scoff at them. We need to listen to what Jesus was saying.

After listing some of the main signs, Jesus concluded with the parable of the fig tree in Matthew 24:32-33. Many believe that the fig tree refers to the nation of Israel since fig trees represented Israel in the Old Testament. However, Jesus was probably using a natural illustration that anyone could relate to.

Just as the blossoming of the fig tree indicates that summer is near, so the fulfillment of the signs predicted in Matthew 24:4-31 will show that Jesus’ second coming is near. We do not scoff at the signs of spring but look for them with anticipation. It should be the same with Jesus’ return. We should look forward to it.

5 Signs of the End Times

Biblical prophecy doesn’t predict every insignificant ripple in our world today, but it does reveal the main currents and trends. Several key signs appear to be flashing in today’s headlines.

While many signs could be listed, here are five significant signs of the times that every believer should be aware of.

1. The Regathering of the Jewish People

The number one sign is the regathering of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland. The Bible predicts over and over again that the Jews must be back in their homeland for the events of the end times to unfold (Jeremiah 30:1-5; Ezekiel 34:11-24; Ezekiel 37:1-28; Zechariah 10:6-10).

It is the most prophesied event in the end-time passages in the Bible, and for that reason, it is often called the “super sign” of the end times. Almost all the key events of the end times hinge on the existence of the nation of Israel.

In 1948 when the nation of Israel was re-established, only 6 percent of the Jews in the world were in Israel. Today, the statistic stands at almost 40 percent. The Jews have returned and continue to come home to their land – just as the ancient prophets predicted.

By the year 2030, it is estimated that half of the Jews worldwide will live in the land. This sign should be like a flashing red light to all who know the prophetic Scriptures.


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2. Surging Apostasy

A second sign of the end times is surging apostasy, that is, a departure from the truth, both doctrinally and morally (1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:1-9, 13; Jude 1:1-16). This apostasy foreshadows the final falling away that will break out as the end times begin to unfold (2 Thessalonians 2:2-3).

This current age will climax with a monumental falling away, both doctrinally and morally. While the church today may not be experiencing a full-blown apostasy on 2 Thessalonians, many within the church appear to be on the leading edge of it.

The book of Jude, which describes and denounces apostasy, also describes our modern world to a tee. Jude is the final book before Revelation and some have called it the preface to the book of Revelation. It portrays the conditions that will prevail before the events of Revelation are unleashed.

Deepening apostasy is a sign of the end times.

3. The Coming Middle East Peace

The third sign is the worldwide clamoring for peace in the Middle East. The one huge issue in our world today that often overshadows all others is the ongoing hostilities in the Middle East.

The Middle East peace process is a key sign of the end times because the signing of a peace treaty between the Antichrist (the leader of the Western Confederacy) and the nation of Israel signals the beginning of the 7-year Tribulation (Daniel 9:27; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).

The current yearning for peace in the Middle East is setting the stage for the final covenant of peace between the Antichrist and Israel predicted in the Bible.

4. Reuniting of the Roman Empire

The fourth sign of the end times is the rebirth of the Roman Empire. As the end times begin to unfold, global alliances will emerge as nations scramble for political power and dwindling economic resources.

Out of this quickly shifting situation, a coalition of nations, headed by ten leaders, will emerge to protect the interests of the West. This alliance will reconstitute the Roman Empire. This “Group of Ten” I first mentioned in Daniel 2:41-44, where it is symbolized as ten toes on a great statue.

In Daniel 7:7 and Daniel 7:24 this same ruling oligarchy of ten leaders is symbolized by ten horns on a beast that represents the last world empire – the Roman Empire in its final form.

Its final leader, the Antichrist, will eventually be able to seize control of the ten leaders and consolidate power very much as the Roman Empire did in the past (Daniel 7:8).

5. Globalism

A fifth key sign of the times is globalism. Ever since Genesis 10–11 when Satan ruled the world through one man named Nimrod, Satan’s goal has been to get the world together again so he can rule it all.

World history bears out this pattern. It’s the record of one person after another trying to rule the world. Many of the power-hungry rulers who have cruelly subjugated nations under their feet have been energized by Satan to foster his goal of globalization.

For the first time in history since Genesis 11 and the tower of Babel, globalization is within man’s (and Satan’s) reach. It is most significant that in the twenty-first century, not only does a need for world government exists, but the technology for establishing such a government is now in our hands.

5 Signs of the End Times

Today the electronic media, especially the use of television via satellite, is a tremendous tool that allows instant communication around the world. Access to the internet and satellite cell phones reach around the globe. The capacity for missile warfare also makes world rule possible.

In terms of economics, the Bible predicts that the world ruler will have absolute control of the economy, and no one will be able to buy and sell without his permission (Revelation 13:17). Today, electronic fund transfers, electronic banking, and debit and credit cards make this literally possible for the first time in world history.

The necessary ingredients for a world government are present for the first time in the history of civilization. The time may not be far away when such a government – foretold in Scripture long before one was possible – will have its accurate and complete fulfillment.

The Final Act

Sometimes life feels like entering a dark theatre and realizing you are coming in near the end of a play with several acts. We didn’t write it. We didn’t ask to be thrust into the play. Yet we can be certain this drama is nearing the last and final act.

Even though we didn’t see the beginning of the play, we can look back and see and see its plot and direction. But even then, how can we be sure when the next act will start?

The biblical prophets talked a lot about the last act. What we can do is look for the events that set it up. If those events occur, we can be fairly certain the final act is just ahead. When the curtain comes down on the current scene, will the next act be the last?

But more importantly, will we be wise enough to see it coming? Will we be ready? The only way we can be ready is if we can discern the signs of the times and know something about the last and final act.


Note: This article is taken from Dr. Mark Hitchcock’s book “The End, A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days.”

Recommended Resource: Bible Prophecy Answer Book: Everything You Need to Know About the End Times by Ron Rhodes

The 144,000 in Revelation 7

The 144,000 in Revelation 7

In the study of end times prophecy, there are several key players whose identities are critical to understanding what’s happening. God highlights these players and provides important information about them.

One set of key actors in the end times is a mysterious group of 144,000 people who faithfully serve the Lord. They are listed in Revelation 7:1-8 and discussed again in Revelation 14:1-5.

The 144,000 have been the subject of considerable speculation. Who is this congregation of God’s people?

Identity of the 144,000

The most common view is that the 144,000 in the book of Revelation represent the church of Jesus Christ, which is understood as the true, spiritual Israel. The problem with this view is that the word Israel is never used for the church in the New Testament.

Also, it is interesting that Jews and Gentiles are clearly distinguished from one another in Revelation 7. The 144,00 Jews are listed in Revelation 7:1-8 while Revelation 7:9-17 presents an innumerable host of “every nation and tribe and people and language. Merging these two groups does not do justice to the distinction that Revelation 7 makes.

Who, then, are these 144,000 servants of God?

The Identity of the 144,000 in Revelation

If the Scriptures are interpreted literally, then the 144,000 are a literal group of 144,000 Jewish men – 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel – raised up by God during the Tribulation to serve Him.

They are not spiritual Israel (the church), but actual Israel. As John F. Walvoord says, “Israel’s tribes are still in existence, and God certainly knows who they are.”

Characteristics of the 144,000

Revelation 7:1-8 and Revelation 14:1-5 highlight six main characteristics that provide insight into the identity and ministry of these 144,000 servants of God.

1. Purchased

The 144,000 “had been purchased from the earth” (Revelation 14:3, NASB). The word purchased means to “redeem or pay the price for something.” The precious blood of Christ redeemed or purchased these servants of God. They have been bought at a price and they belong to the Lord as His special possession.

2. Prepared

The 144,000 are prepared for God’s service by being given His seal (Revelation 7:3-4).

During the Tribulation, the followers of the Beast will bear his mark on their right hand or forehead (Revelation 13:16). During this same time, the Lord will identify His people by placing a seal of ownership on their foreheads (Revelation 14:1).

It is important to note that Revelation 7 and 13 use two different Greek words distinguishing these marks from each other. In Revelation 7, God seals the 144,000 on their foreheads. The word used there, sphragizo, symbolizes the spiritual sealing mentioned throughout the New Testament (John 3:33; 6:27; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30).

But in Revelation 13 where followers of the Antichrist are given a mark, the word charagma is used, which refers to a literal brand, tattoo, or etching.

The seal of the 144,000 sets them apart and prepares them for God’s service.

3. Protected

God’s seal not only prepares the 144,000 for service, but it also protects them. The seal is God’s pledge of security. God seals the 144,000 before allowing the four angels to bring their judgment on the earth (Revelation 7:1-3). The 144,000 will be protected from the wrath of God and Satan during the Tribulation (Revelation 9:4).

In Revelation 14:1-5, John sees the 144,000 at the end of the Tribulation standing triumphantly on Mount Zion – the city of Jerusalem. Notice he doesn’t see 143,999. Rather, all 144,000 have been divinely preserved by the Lord. Not one has been overlooked.

God will preserve and protect His sealed servants for seven years through the horror of the Tribulation. His pledge of security will be fulfilled.


4. Pure

The 144,000 are pure virgins who have not defiled themselves with women (Revelation 14:4). Many interpret this figuratively – meaning they are spiritually undefiled and pure, separated from the corruption and pollution of false religion.

However, Scripture’s explicit statement that they are not defiled with women suggests that they are male, celibate servants of God. In light of the pressures of the Tribulation period, they are called by God to abstain from normal married life and devote themselves totally to the Lord’s service (1 Corinthians 7:29-35).

5. Persistent

The 144,000 persevere in their service for the Lord even under the direst circumstances.

During the terrible days of the Tribulation they constantly “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Revelation 14:4). Jesus is the Lamb, but He is also the Shepherd. He knows the way, and the 144,000 follow Him wherever He leads.

6. Preachers

These Jewish servants fearlessly proclaim the gospel of Christ during the Tribulation period. There appears to be a cause-and-effect relationship in Revelation 7 between the 144,000 in verses 1-8 and the innumerable crowd of Gentile believers in verses 9-17.

The ministry of the 144,000 brings about salvation for millions of people. They will be the greatest evangelists the world has ever seen. These sealed servants of God will fulfill Matthew 24:14. Revelation 7 provides a panorama of God’s saving work during the Tribulation.

The 144,000 reveal God’s passion to save people even in the middle of the unspeakable judgment of the Tribulation. To the very end, the Savior will graciously continue “to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10).

Why are the 144,000 Important?

The 144,000 are important for three reasons.

First, they reveal God’s faithfulness to His promises. God seals them in Revelation 7 and keeps them to the end of the Tribulation. They make it all the way through under God’s protecting hand. God keeps His promises.

Second, we learn that even in judgment, God is merciful. God will use the 144,000 as messengers of mercy during the Tribulation. Every judgment of God beginning with Noah all the way to the Tribulation, including the judgment of God’s own Son on the cross, reveals God’s mercy.

Third, these Jewish witnesses will help fulfill the prophecy Jesus gave in Matthew 24:14. The 144,000 will spread the good news all over the globe during the Tribulation, and the end won’t come until they’re finished.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Reference Material: The End, A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Dr. Mark Hitchcock

The End by Mark HitchcockThe end times have seen a great amount of interest within the last two decades, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive overview of biblical prophecy and eschatology for more than five decades. Mark Hitchcock’s book is a comprehensive resource for the twenty-first century.

The End will do for eschatology what Randy Alcorn’s Heaven did for people’s understanding of heaven. It will provide a solid biblical foundation for Christians to explore the essential truths around this topic―the end of the world.

Does Religiosity Equal Christianity

Does Religiosity Equal Christianity

Do you know that one major reason why people are hesitant to become Christians is the notion that they have to be religious? This has negative connotations for most people. But does one need to be religious to be a Christian? Does religiosity equal Christianity?

First of all, we need to understand that Christianity is NOT a religion in the same way Islam or Hinduism is. Rather, it is a relationship with the living God.

In this short post, we will look at two important points that need to be made in dealing with this issue.

Religiosity vs. Christianity

One of the things that differentiate religion from Christianity is that the former consists of rules and rituals – things that people must do and other things they must not do. However, Christianity, though it has rules to follow, is basically a relationship between man (humanity) and the Creator.

When one becomes a Christian, he or she enters into a personal relationship with God through faith in the Lord Jesus.

Christ Himself said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

To become a Christian is a personal matter; it is a personal decision made by the sinner when he acknowledges his need for God. This is then followed by a desire to know God’s laws and precepts and to obey them (Psalm 119:33).

Christianity is not merely a set of laws and rules. It is a relationship between the living God and those who believe in Him. Thus, at its heart, Christianity is relational.

What is True Religion?

The Bible Condemns Empty Religiosity

The Bible strongly condemns religion that is without any genuine substance. We read so many instances where Jesus condemned the religious leaders of His day (Matthew 23:2, 3, 27, 28).

If religiosity equals true Christianity, Jesus would not have strong words for the Pharisees and the Sadducees who were strictly living according to the Mosaic Law. By doing so, Jesus exposed their hypocrisy.

Does this mean religion is not important? Some argue that without religion, it would be impossible to practice what God in His written Word has instructed us to do. This is where we need to distinguish between empty and genuine religion.

Scripture informs us what true religion should be and that is living out what you believe. James wrote, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

Contrary to popular belief, Christianity is not religiosity; a Christian is not someone religious. A Christian is one who has a pers0nal relationship with the living God through Christ.

Conclusion

Religion is not attractive to most people because it conjures up the idea of several rules and rituals that one must strictly adhere to. Often times, people follow these rules without any sense of personal satisfaction or fulfillment.

In that sense of the word, Christianity is not a religion.

Don’t be religious; be a Christian, a Christ-follower who has a loving relationship with the Creator.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.


What is the Battle of Gog and Magog?

What is the Battle of Gog and Magog?

Since winning the Six-Day War in June 1967, the nation of Israel has grown into a world military power and has proven its ability to defend itself. But according to the Bible, the greatest threat to modern Israel’s continued existence has yet to happen.

This is when Israel will be attacked by a coalition of nations from every direction. The prophet Ezekiel describes this invasion, known as the Battle of Gog and Magog, in Ezekiel 38-39. This coalition of invading nations will be motivated by a seething desire to eradicate Israel, enrich themselves, and entangle Israel’s allies in the war.

Participants of the Ezekiel 38-39 War

The prophecy of the Battle of Gog and Magog begins with a list of ten proper names in Ezekiel 38:1-7.

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, 3
and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.’”

4 “I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. 5
Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; 6 Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops–many people are with you.”

7 “Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them.”

Note: Italics added for emphasis

Gog

While the other nine proper names in Ezekiel 38:1-7 are specific geographical locations, the name Gog, which occurs eleven times in Ezekiel 38-39, is clearly an individual who heads the coalition of invaders.  He is also directly addressed by God several times (Ezekiel 38:14; 39:1) and is called a prince (Ezekiel 38:2; 39:1).

Ezekiel may have used ancient names familiar to the people of his day and these names have changed many times throughout history, but the geographical territory remains the same. Regardless of what names they may carry at the time of this invasion, a literal interpretation holds that these specific geographical areas will be involved.

Let’s take a look at each of these ancient locations and examine them and then we will identify the modern counterpart.

Magog

The Jewish historian Josephus said the land of Magog was inhabited by ancient Scythians. The Scythians were northern nomadic tribes who inhabited the territory from Central Asia across the southern steppes of modern Russia.

Magog today probably represents nations from the former Soviet Union: Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. Afghanistan could also be part of this territory.

Rosh

Bible scholars have often identified Rosh with Russia. But this conclusion has not been unanimous.

The word rosh in Hebrew simply means “head, top, summit, or chief.” It is a very common word used in all Semitic languages. Although most Bible translations translate rosh as a common noun – “chief,” the Jerusalem Bible, New English Bible, and New American Standard Bible all translate Rosh as a proper name indicating a geographical location.

Several arguments support taking Rosh as a proper name but the most impressive evidence is simply that this translation in this context is the most natural. G. A. Cooke translates Ezekiel 38:2, “the chief of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.” He calls this “the most natural way” of rendering the Hebrews.

After establishing that Rosh should be translated as a proper name for a geographical area, the question now is where is Rosh? The great Hebrew scholar Wilhelm Gesenius noted that Rosh is “undoubtedly the Russians.”

Ezekiel 38-39 emphasizes repeatedly that at least part of this invading force will come from the “remote parts of the north” (Ezekiel 38:6, 15; 39:2). The Bible usually provides directions about Israel, which, on God’s compass, is the center of the earth (Ezekiel 38:12).

If you draw a line directly north from Israel, the land that is most remote or distant to the north is Russia.

Meshech and Tubal

Meshech and Tubal are normally mentioned together in Scripture. Aside from Ezekiel 38:2, Meshech and Tubal are mentioned two other times in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 27:13; 32:26).

In Ezekiel 27:13, they are mentioned as trading partners with ancient Tyre. It is highly unlikely that ancient Tyre (modern Lebanon) was trading with Moscow and the Siberian city of Tobolsk. The preferred identification is that Meshech and Tubal are the ancient Moschoi and Tibarenoi in Greek writings or Tabal and Musku in Assyrian inscriptions.

These ancient locations are in present-day Turkey.

What is the Battle of Gog and Magog
Photo Credits: Pinterest/Revelation Bible

Persia

 The words Persia, Persian, and Persians are found thirty-five times in the Old Testament. In Ezekiel 38:5, Persia is best understood as modern-day Iran. The land of Persia became the modern nation of Iran in March 1935, and then the name was changed to the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.

Libya (Put)

Some ancient sources indicate that Put or Phut was a North African nation. The New Living Translation documents this identification in footnotes for several passages, including Isaiah 66:19; Jeremiah 46:9; and Ezekiel 27:10; 38:5.

From the Babylonian Chronicles, tablets that recorded ancient Babylonian history, it appears that Put was the “distant” land to the west of Egypt, which would be modern-day Libya and could possibly include nations further west such as modern-day Algeria and Tunisia.

The Septuagint renders the word Put as Libues.

Ethiopia (Cush)

Modern versions often translate the Hebrew word Cush in Ezekiel 38:5 as “Ethiopia.” Ancient Cush was called Kusu by the Assyrians and Babylonians, Kos or Kas by the Egyptians, and Nubia by the Greeks.

Secular history locates Cush directly south of ancient Egypt, extending south past the modern city of Khartoum, which is the capital of modern Sudan. Thus, modern Sudan inhabits the ancient land of Cush.

Gomer

Gomer has often been identified by Bible teachers as Germany, or more particularly East Germany before the fall of Communism. This identification is superficial and not the literal meaning of the word in its cultural and historic context.

Gomer is probably a reference to the ancient Cimmerians or Kimmerioi. Ancient history identifies biblical Gomer with the Akkadian Gi-mir-ra-a and the Armenian Gamir. Beginning in the eighth century BC, the Cimmerians occupied territory is what is now modern Turkey.

Josephus noted that the Gomerites were identified with the Galatians who inhabited what today is central Turkey.

Beth-Togarmah

The Hebrew word beth means “house,” so Beth-Togarmah means the “house of Togarmah.” Ezekiel 27:14 mentions Togarmah as a nation that traded horses and mules with ancient Tyre.

Ezekiel 38:6 states that the armies of Beth-Togarmah will join in, too, from the distant north. Ancient Togarmah was also known as Til-garamu (Assyrian) or Tegarma (Hittite), and its territory is in modern Turkey, north of Israel.

Based on these identifications, Ezekiel 38-39 predicts an invasion of the land of Israel in the last days by a vast confederation of nations from north of the Black and Caspian Seas, extending to modern Iran in the east, as far as modern Libya to the west, and Sudan in the south.

Therefore, Russia will have at least five key allies: Turkey, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and the Central Asian nations of the former Soviet Union.

Timing of the Battle

The battle of Gog and Magog will occur in the future, in the end times, but when in the future? While there is a general agreement about many of the details in Ezekiel 38-39, the timing of battle is the most debated issue. Scholars have located the battle at almost every major point in the end times from the Rapture all the way to the end of the Millennium.

Some believe the battle will take place before the Rapture; others believe it will occur between the Rapture and the Tribulation; others believe it will take place in conjunction with the Battle of Armageddon at the end of the Great Tribulation. Some believe it occurs at the end of the Millennium since Revelation 20:8 refers to Gog and Magog. Others maintain that it will unfold in phases throughout the Tribulation.

Thankfully, we are not left to our own speculation in timing the events of Ezekiel 38-39. The passage gives us clues that suggest when this battle will take place. One of which is when Israel is at peace (Ezekiel 38:11).

Daniel 9:27 tells us that there’s coming a time when Israel will sign a peace treaty with the Antichrist, which will guarantee protection for the Jewish people and Israel will be able to relax. This is the first half of the Tribulation or what’s called Daniel’s seventieth week.

This peacetime moment in Israel’s history fits the prophetic scenario perfectly. With these guarantees of secure borders and international peace, Israel will turn her energies toward increasing wealth rather than defense. But the peace treaty will be shattered less than four years later.


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The Purpose of the Ezekiel 38-39 War

What is the purpose of this invasion? The passage gives both the human and the divine purposes for the invasion.

The invaders will have four main goals: the land, money, total destruction of Israel, and power. First, the invading forces will desire to acquire more territory (Ezekiel 38:8). Any military invasion of this magnitude and scope always includes land.

Then there’s money. The invaders will come to plunder Israel and amass wealth (Ezekiel 38:12). One might wonder, “What wealth does Israel have?” No one knows for sure what this will entail, but discoveries of vast gas reserves off the coast of Israel could be part of the equation as oil becomes more scarce in the future, triggering energy wars. Make no mistake – greed will be a key motive behind the Gog invasion.

The third is racism. The invading horde will come to destroy the people of Israel and wipe them off the face of the earth (Ezekiel 38:10, 16). This is in keeping with the hatred we see for the Jewish people in Israel’s neighbors today.

Fourth is power. These nations will use this attack to challenge the Antichrist, who will be Israel’s ally as a result of the peace treaty (Daniel 9:27). Their attack on Israel will also be an attack against the Western confederacy, attempting to draw it into an open confrontation.

Finally, while the invaders will have their evil intent, God will also have His own motivation. He says that through this attack He will be sanctified in the eyes of the nations: “You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes” (Ezekiel 38:16).

Result of the War

When the forces invade Israel, there will be no stopping them. They will be bent on war and destruction. The timing will seem perfect, and the invaders will not back down. It will look like the biggest mismatch in history. The Arab invasion of Israel in 1967 and 1973 will pale in comparison. The Jewish people will be unable to overcome their enemies by their own strength and ingenuity. Gog and his army will cover Israel like a cloud. It will look like Israel is finished.

However, God will come to the rescue of His people and will quickly annihilate the invaders by supernatural means (Ezekiel 38:18-22).

Ezekiel 38-39 describes what we might call “One-Day-War” or even the “One-Hour-War” or “When Gog Meets God.” God will mount up in His fury to destroy these godless invaders.

This coalition of nations will brashly swoop down on Israel to take her land, but the only piece of land they will claim in Israel will be their burial plots (Ezekiel 39:12). They will set out to bury Israel, but God will bury them.

The Prophetic Significance

Is the world stage being set for the fulfillment of this incredible prophecy? Many major developments point toward the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy, but three key elements stand out.

First, the Jewish people are back in their land, fulfilling the major pre-condition for this invasion. Second, the nations predicted in Ezekiel 38 all have the will and desire to wipe out the Jewish people and these nations are forming alliances with one another.

Third, according to Ezekiel 39:2, 4, Israel will possess the “mountains of Israel” when this invasion occurs. God tells the future invaders: “I will turn you around and lead you on, bringing you up from the far north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel.”

“You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.”

The famous Six-Day-War in Israel in 1967 helped set the stage to fulfill this prophecy. Before the Six-Day-war the mountains of Israel were in the hands of the Jordanian Arabs, except for a small strip of West Jerusalem.

Only since that war have the mountains of Israel been in Israel. Thus many pieces of the prophetic puzzle are already in place for the fulfillment of this prophecy.

Conclusion

Events in the Middle East today strikingly foreshadow this coming invasion. The continued unrest and smoldering hatred for Israel are necessary ingredients for what the Bible predicts.

Nations are rising and falling. The world is focused on the Middle East. Israel is in the crosshairs. No one knows when the Lord will come or how much time remains before the Battle of Gog and Magog plunges the Middle East into war.

There will undoubtedly be many twists and turns, some expected and others we could never imagine in today’s climate. But God’s Word is clear – when the world stage is set, this invasion will occur right on time in the unfolding of God’s end-times script.


Note: This article is taken from Dr. Mark Hitchcock’s book The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days.