Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Rapture of the Church and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Chapter Seven
The Rapture of the Church and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Christian-dumb is rampant with various rapture theories.  However, the Scriptures are clear.  We must be careful in our reading of the Bible texts and what they teach about the resurrection.  There are three basic positions on the rapture of the Church; Pre-tribulation, Mid-tribulation (included here is the Pre-wrath rapture position), and Post-tribulation.  To arrive at a Biblical understanding, we must be careful to maintain two distinct perspectives from the Word of God.  First, we must maintain a literal hermeneutic giving us an understanding of transitions between Dispensations.  Second, we must be equally careful to maintain a clear distinction between the Church and Israel in our Eschatology.  Failure in either of these areas will prove fatal.

         It is critically important to see that the resurrection of Church Age believers takes place in three phases.  Paul refers to these three phases of the “first resurrection” in I Corinthians 15:23 as “every man in his own order.” 

17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming {“in the air” for the Church and then establish to the Kingdom}” (I Corinthians 15:17-23).

It is also important to understand that the resurrection of the body is not merely the resurrection of a dead, corrupt body of flesh to exist as it did before death.  The resurrected body of the believer will be glorified.  This means this new body will not be the same as the old body.  This new body will be eternal, it will not grow old, and it will not suffer from many of the limitations of the fallen body. 

1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:1-3).

         The first thing we should understand is that the seven-year tribulation period is the seventieth week of Daniel.  It refers to a dispensational transitory period between the Church Age and the Millennial Kingdom Age.  It deals specifically with the judgment of this world and the restoration and judgment of national Israel just before the second coming of Jesus to the earth.  This is to what God refers in Zechariah 2:10-13.

10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. 11 And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. 12 And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again. 13 Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation” (Zechariah 2:10-13).

The Church is not mentioned after Revelation 4:1 where the Apostle John represents all believers at the rapture.  Notice the similarities between Revelation 4:1 and I Thessalonians 4:14-17.

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter” (Revelation 4:1).

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:14-17).

         The tribulation period is the “day of God’s wrath.”  It will be preceded by the rapture of the Church.  The first thing that will happen after the rapture of the Church is the revealing of the Antichrist on Earth (Revelation 6:2; the rider on “a white horse”) in the opening of the first “seal” judgment.  He will be a part of the releasing of God’s wrath upon the earth.  It is obvious from Scripture that God’s intent is to completely deliver all Church Age believers from this “wrath.”

“But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5).

“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath {not just some wrath, but ALL wrath} through him” (Romans 5:9).

“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (I Thessalonians 1:10).

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thessalonians 5:9).

There are many who errantly believe that God will not rapture the Church from the earth until after the Tribulation.  This cannot possibly be true for several reasons.  The central evidences against the Post-tribulation rapture are twofold.  First, Christ cannot return with His “saints” at the end of the tribulation period to establish His Kingdom if they have not already been resurrected and glorified.  Yet the Scriptures repeatedly state He will return with His “saints.”

13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).

“And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee” (Zechariah 14:5).

“To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (I Thessalonians 3:13).

“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints” (Jude 1:14).

         A basic understanding of the Old Testament reveals that “fine linen” was the clothing of the priests.  The saints of the New Covenant will be the “royal” and “holy” priesthood of Christ during the Kingdom Age (I Peter 2:5-9; Revelation 1:6; 2:26-28; 5:10; and 20:6).

11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (Revelation 19:11-14).

         The secondly thing we must also understand is that the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7-10) will take place in Heaven prior to the second advent of Christ, which will obviously require the presence of the Bride (the Church).  

The common Jewish wedding celebration (“marriage supper”) lasted seven days.  Since the tribulation period is the “seventieth week” of Daniel, we can conclude that the “marriage supper of the Lamb” will last for the whole of the tribulation period.  The Church will be in glory with Christ for that whole period, not just the last few days (years).

         Some confusion regarding when the rapture of the Church happens is caused by a misunderstanding of the completion of the “first resurrection” in Revelation 20:4-6.  During the Tribulation, millions of people will accept Christ as their Savior.  Most of these people will be martyred for Jesus Christ.  They will either be “beheaded” or they will starve to death because they will not be allowed to work or buy or sell goods without the “mark of the beast.”

15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:15-17).

         The resurrection and glorification of the martyred Tribulation saints will not take place until after (or at) the second advent of Christ.  This means they will be resurrected from the dead (redemption of the body, Romans 8:23 and glorification) at the beginning of the Kingdom Age.  They will share in the Kingdom Age reign of Christ.  This completes the first resurrection that began with Christ’s resurrection/glorification, then the rapture of Church Age believers prior to the beginning of the Tribulation period.

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead {the lost} lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-6).

         The tribulation saints must be distinguished from Israel as well.  The probability is they will share in rule with Christ as part of the Church since they die prior to the second advent of Christ.  The Tribulation is transitory in nature.

9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. . .14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9 and 14).

         From all that we can see from an inductive, literal interpretation of Scripture up to this point, it would be a serious mistake to presume that because the Tribulation saints are not resurrected until after the Tribulation that the rapture of the Church will not take place until that time.  It should be clearly understood from Revelation 20:5 that this is intended to complete the first resurrection that had happened earlier. 

Christ is the “firstfruits” (I Corinthians 15:20-23), then all Church Age believers from the Day of Pentecost to the beginning of the Tribulation, and then the martyred tribulation saints at the second coming of Christ.

Another text that causes much confusion because it is taken out of its dispensational context is Matthew chapter twenty-four.  The confusion is forced upon Matthew chapter twenty-four because of a misunderstanding of Christ’s epistle to the local church at Sardis in Revelation chapter three.  Because people confuse Christ’s statement about coming as a thief, they assume He is coming for believers.  Revelation 3:1 tells us that there were lost people in the church of Sardis.  Therefore, Jesus speaks to the lost in first part of Revelation 3:3 calling them to remember the Gospel, repent, and be saved.  This manifest their being lost because they do not “watch” for the coming of Jesus.

“Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee” (Revelation 3:3).

         Therefore, Revelation 3:3 is not referring to the rapture of Church Age believers.  Instead, the text refers to the second coming of Jesus Christ after the Tribulation period and at Armageddon.  The ramifications of this warning are very broad.  Since the redeemed will not go through the Tribulation period and will be raptured (I Thessalonians 4:16-17) prior to this, this means that these people are lost.  This confirms the meaning behind the statement “thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Revelation 3:1).  Christ’s coming “as a thief” is a reference to Matthew 24:43.  In this context, this phrase refers to Christ coming in judgment.

37 But as the days of Noe were {Did the lost survive the judgment of God in the great flood?}, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they {the lost} were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away {in judgment and death}; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be {this is at Armageddon, when Jesus comes to the Earth, not just in the air}. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken {killed in judgment}, and the other left {alive to go into the Kingdom Age}. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken {killed in judgment}, and the other left {alive to go into the Kingdom Age}. 42 Watch {this is for those saved during the Tribulation; saved people ‘watch’} therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched{lost people do not watch}, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready {this is for those saved during the Tribulation}: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:37-44).

         In the “days of Noah,” those taken by the flood were taken in judgment and condemned.  The “one” taken in Matthew 24:40 is taken in judgment and condemned.  Those left will enter His kingdom alive.  Therefore, the warning in Revelation 3:3 appears to be that they should carefully consider if there is any reality to their faith because their practices were contrary to their profession of faith in Christ.  The warning of Revelation 3:3 to “watch” is to be prepared for the coming of the Judge.  The only way to be prepared for His coming is to be prepared by salvation. 

1 And after these things {the judgment of the great whore} I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: 2 For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. 3 And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. 4 And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. 5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. 6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy: (Revelation 19:1-10).

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Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Lost in the Darkness of Unbelief

Lost in the Darkness of Unbelief

          Ethos is the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution.

It is difficult to understand the dynamic of hatred in mob-think.  When mobs are incited with hatred, psychopathic monsters are created from otherwise normal people.  Group-think usually means the cessation of an individual’s thought process often accompanied by the complete abandonment of any governing moral ethic or ethos.  Under such circumstances, the monster within the fallen human nature is exposed in all its demonic horrors.  This was the scenario around the crucifixion of Jesus.  This was a demonically controlled and orchestrated event.  Yet, God allowed it to take place to secure the possibility of humanity’s redemption. 

33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, 34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. 35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. 36 And sitting down they watched him there; 37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. 39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. 44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. 45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. 48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. 49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. 50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.(Matthew 27:33-54).
          In the middle of Matthew 27:33-54, we find the remarkable truth of verse 45, “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.”  The first hour of the day was at Sunrise.  The first event of this Wednesday morning (not Friday) is recorded in Matthew 27:1-2.

1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: 2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor” (Matthew 27:1-2).

          The interrogation of Jesus by Pilate, the choosing of the murderer Barabbas over Jesus, and the scourging and mockery of Jesus all took place within a three-hour period (6 A.M. to 9 A.M.).  Mark 15:25 tells us Jesus was nailed to the Cross on the third hour, or at nine A. M.  For the next three hours, Matthew 27:36 says, “And sitting down they watched him there.”  For those three hours the scene is an amphitheater of carnality.  The crowds and the soldiers impudently mock Jesus.  Then they join with the chief priests and the scribes as they ridicule and mock Jesus on the Cross.

41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God” (Matthew 27:41-43).

          Then God steps in to get their attention.  In the very middle of the day, when the scorching Sun stood directly overhead, God turn out the lights.  I would imagine that for the next three hours there was some soul searching going on within that darkness.  I imagine a few chief priests and scribes were sweating bullets.  One thing of which we can be sure, for three hours the ridicule stopped.  Another thing of which we can be sure is that for a while there was panic and then everything settled down into silence.  For the next three hours, the scene around the Cross was one of solemn silence.  Darkness and silence can be two somber experiences to generate sober thinking.
          What kind of Being can turn the brightness of noonday into the blackness of night?  Only the Creator can do that.  God was showing the world His presence at the Crucifixion of His “only begotten Son” and teaching these impudent people to be reverent before His Son Jesus.

“For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name” (Amos 4:13).
          The word “darkness” in Matthew 27:45 is translated from the Greek word skotos (skot'-os).  This Greek word can refer to night darkness, or it can refer to darkened eyesight; blindness.  It is also used metaphorically of ignorance respecting divine things and human duties.  This Greek word is the general word for darkness. 
          The Greek word gnophos (gnof'-os) is the word used for the kind of darkness that accompanies a storm.  So we know this was not the kind of darkness referred to in Matthew 27:45.  It was not a stormy day darkness because it was not a cloudy day.  Even on a cloudy day there is still some light.  The Greek word achlus (akh-looce') is the common word used to denote darkness which is due to fog or a mist.  Therefore, we know it was not this kind of darkness because it was not foggy out.
          Since this was the Passover, we know this darkness could not have been due to a solar eclipse since the Passover takes place during the time of the full moon.  A solar eclipse could not happen during this time.  The Greek word zophos (dzof'-os) is used for the darkness of Hell.  Therefore, we know this darkness is not of demonic origin.  This darkness was caused by God.  This darkness was a miraculous supernatural interference with the normal aspects of the creation.  God spoke to this solemn assembly in the only kind of language lost men understand.  He took away the normal and replaced it with the abnormal.  Everyone in that city new that this was the judgment of God and they quaked in fear. 
          Suddenly, the silence is broken with a voice out of the darkness.  “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  At the voice of Jesus, the Creator of Heaven and earth, light bursts forth into the darkness. 
          For the space of three hours, Jesus Christ the incarnate, eternal Son of God was alone in the darkness of broken fellowship with the Father.  For all the eternal existence of the Triunity of the Godhead, the fellowship of the Godhead had never for one moment been broken.  Take the loneliest day of your life and multiply that by a billion and you will not even touch upon the agony of those three hours.  Add to that the most stressful, painful day of your life and multiply that by a billion and you are still nowhere near the suffering of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary.  This loneliness of separation from God is the primary torment of Hell. 
          We can identify with suffering in the terms of pain, loneliness, stress, and anguish.  Yes, Jesus suffered all those things, but on top of all of that He took our eternal separation from God upon Himself.  Now, for three hours, God the Father poured out His eternal wrath upon the sin of all mankind on the body of His only begotten Son.  In that three-hour moment of darkness, Jesus bore the torment of eternal Hell for all of mankind. 

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6).
          Darkness as a separation from the light of God’s knowledge is a small token of one aspect of Hell.  This is to what God refers in Psalm 112:10.  This is spiritual death.  It is separation from God.  He took the death of separation from God upon Himself and then He died physically (Matthew 27:50).  Jesus took our death sentence upon Himself and suffered death for us.  In doing so, He broke the bondage of the curse of death.

10 Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; 11 Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: 12 Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help. 13 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. 14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. 15 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 16 For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder” (Psalm 107:10-15).

          It is the “thick darkness” that separates sinful men from a holy God.  Without that darkness, the glory of God would burst forth upon lost man and consume him.  The darkness of the three hours of the Crucifixion was necessary because Jesus was bearing the sin of all mankind and it exhibits the spiritual reality of God’s separation from sin.  It is most probable that the darkness shielded the lost from the glory of God’s holiness shining in burning wrath upon His Son during His crucifixion as Jesus vicariously bore our sin in His body on the tree (I Peter 2:24). 
          Darkness was a solemn reminder to the Jew of God’s presence.  The Chief priests and scribes who knew the Scriptures were very much aware of what this darkness meant.

18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. 19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. 20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. 21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was” (Exodus 20:18-21).

          For those of simple minds, who can see the torments of the curse of God upon humanity only in the terms of physical anguish and torments of the flesh, they do not comprehend the horrors of Christ drinking the cup of God’s wrath in the three hours of darkness.  Within those few hours of time were compressed the eternal wrath of God upon all sinful men now poured out upon the body of the Lord Jesus.  For Jesus, the momentary physical torments of the mind and flesh were insignificant to bearing God’s wrath upon the sins of all humanity.  If anyone was to be saved from God’s wrath upon sin, Jesus had to drink the “cup” of God’s “indignation” (violent passion-filled wrath).
4 The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. 5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. 6 Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup” (Psalm 11:4-6).

17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. 18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. 19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath” (Revelation 16:17-19).

          No one can understand the Gospel who does not grasp Jesus vicariously drinking the “cup” of God’s wrath upon sin for all sinners.  He was not drinking that “cup” for His own sin, for He had no sin (II Corinthians 5:21).  He was drinking the “cup” of God’s wrath for the sins of all humanity for all times.  However, Jesus drank MY “cup” and YOUR “cup” so we could be redeemed. 

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2).

22 Who {Jesus} did no sin, neither was guile {intended deceit} found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him {God} that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree {He drank OUR cup}, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (I Peter 2:22-25).

The engulfing darkness during the crucifixion of Jesus is not the end of the story.  The crowd and the soldiers had a change of heart after those three hours in the darkness.  God was still moving and when God moves, things happen.

51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54 Now when {all the previous mockers} the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:51-54).
          We read these verses and wonder at the miracles of the earthquake and giant rocks being torn apart like pieces of paper.  We wonder at dead men rising from their graves for family reunions.  Yet, there are two miracles here that overwhelm all the others.
          First, the two-foot-thick veil that shut men out of the Holy of Holies and away from direct access to God was torn in two from the top to the bottom.  It did not just have a tear in it.  It was completely torn into two pieces.  That darkness that separated God from man was no longer needed.  Saved man could now have direct access to God.  Jesus has removed the veil and open the door to the presence of God.

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest {the resurrected and glorified Jesus}, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

          The second miracle that overwhelms all others is when unbelievers become believers.  God is willing to save even the likes of those who ridiculed and mocked Jesus.  Jesus made intercession for the very people that mocked Him and Crucified Him as was prophesied in Scripture.  Jesus died for sinners.  Only sinners can be saved. 

10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him {in anticipation of the redemption outcomes}; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed {saved souls}, he shall prolong his days {resurrection}, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand {dominion restored}. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied {satiated; His wrath satisfied or propitiated}: by his knowledge {understanding what the Gospel of Jesus accomplishes for the believing sinner} shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:10-12).

“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots” (Luke 23:34).

          Out of the protective and binding darkness of the fall of mankind into sin, “light” once again shines forth.  The “light” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as He died on the Cross of Calvary is to bear the death sentence upon all mankind and to reconcile “whoever will” to fellowship with God.  Yet there are those who refuse to look at the “light” of God’s grace in Christ Jesus.  They cover their eyes to the wondrous story of the Cross of Christ and blind their eyes to the Gospel of gift salvation.  They continue to live in the blindness of their ignorance of God and His love for them.
3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:3-6).

          The darkness was there because God was imputing man’s sin to Christ on Calvary where Jesus bore the “wages of that sin” (Romans 6:23a), which was death.  He did that to open the door to God’s impartation of the righteousness of Jesus Christ to the believing sinner (justification) in the gift of God’s indwelling Spirit.  Can you honestly say with the soldiers and the crowds, “Truly this was the Son of God”?  Until you do, you are still lost in your sin.  You need to understand and believe the Gospel.  You will need to publicly acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord of your life. 

Anonymous comments will not be allowed. 
Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Messiah’s Hypocrites

Messiah’s Hypocrites
  The birth of the Messiah was about four-hundred years after the Malachi’s prophecies in B.C. 397.  Zechariah prophesied from B.C. 520 through B.C. 487 to the remnant that had returned to Jerusalem.  Haggai was also a prophet to the returned remnant in B.C. 520. 

Why are these facts important?  These three prophecies were the last times God spoke to the children of Israel until the coming of John the Baptist and the birth of the Messiah.  The substance of these last three messages from God to the faithful remnant of Israel would have been given great consideration.  The faithful remnant would have been very familiar with the substance of these prophesies. 

          Professing believers tend to generate and image of God, or an understanding of what He is going to do, from an inaccurate understanding of Scripture.  The most significant contributors to these misunderstandings are often false teachers.  The second most significant contributor to misunderstanding prophetic events is to misunderstand the chronology of those events.

This was certainly true of the first advent of Jesus.  The Jews almost completely ignored those prophesies that spoke of the “stone the builders rejected” (Psalm 118:22).  This is the text Jesus quoted to “the chief priests and Pharisees” in Matthew 21:42-46.  The statement of Jesus to “the chief priests and Pharisees” is the final straw in their decision to have Jesus killed.  Jesus threaten that the authority of the Kingdom rule would be taken from “the chief priests and Pharisees” and given “to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43). 

This “nation” would be the new priesthood of all believers from the Church Age BUILT UPON THE FOUNDATION OF THE FAITH WAY IN KING JESUS as the DOOR INTO THE KINGDOM AGE. 

42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you {the ‘chief priests and Pharisees,’ vs 45}, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they {the multitude} took him for a prophet {not the Messiah}” (Matthew 21:42-46). 

          It is important to read this portion of Matthew chapter twenty-one because it gives us the immediate context of what happened immediately after Jesus rode into Jerusalem claiming to be the Prophet/Priest/King/Messiah of Israel.  Every Jew would have understood what Jesus was doing as He came riding into Jerusalem on “a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:5). 

Matthew chapter twenty-one is a very informative and important chapter in understanding the chain of events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus by the priesthood of Israel with a large portion of the Jews consenting because they were deceived by the corrupt priesthood corrupted with a lust for power and prestige.  This is the substance of the chapter. 

          A main emphasis of the prophesies of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi is the failure and pending removal of the Levitical priesthood of Israel from the leadership over Israel.  The chief priests and Pharisees to which Jesus spoke in Matthew 21:42-46 would certainly have been familiar with messages from God that these prophets had given about their pending removal from power of their priesthood. 

The chief priests’ and Pharisees’ great failure in understanding the prophesies of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi was the failure to see themselves as a part of the fulfillment of that prophecy.  Their self-righteousness blinded them from seeing themselves as the problem and enemies of God’s promised redemption offered by grace and received through faith in the Messiah’s death, burial, and resurrection.  They had become so preoccupied with ensuring that the remnant of Israel keep the Law to ensure no future captivity, they could not see themselves still under the Roman captivity prophesied by Daniel 2:31-45.
Jesus entered into this deadly nest of hypocritical vipers as recorded in Matthew 21:1-11 knowing full well what they were going to do to Him.  This event is often foolishly called the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem.  The ignorance of God’s people to what was happening made a debacle and farce out of Jesus’ coming to His Temple to be given authority to rule over His chosen people (John 1:11-12).  With their mouths they cried “Hosanna {save now} to the Son of David.”  In their hypocritical ignorance, they were crying out for Jesus to establish the Kingdom and for deliverance from Roman bondage while knowing nothing of their great need for their deliverance from their bondage to sin, death, and condemnation.  Self-righteous people know nothing of their wretchedness in the eyes of God and their offense against His holiness!  How quickly we are willing to create God in our image. 

1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives {Zechariah 14:4}, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass {Zechariah 9:9}. 6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. 10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee” (Matthew 21:1-11).

          Ignorance often keeps people from seeing and perceiving the obvious.  The “multitude” could believe in Jesus as “the prophet.”  They cried out to Him “Hosanna to the Son of David.”  Therefore, they were knowledgeable of these two aspects of the coming of Messiah. 

Where then were they ignorant?  They were ignorant of the suffering Saviour of Psalm twenty-two and Isaiah fifty-three.  They were ignorant of the fact that Jesus had to become their Saviour before He would ever become their King delivering them into the Kingdom.  This reality is greatly different than delivering the Kingdom to themThe Kingdom is ONLY for the Redeemed.  No one can have the Kingdom until he becomes one of the Redeemed “by grace through faith.”  To be part of Christ’s Kingdom, a person must be “born again” by receiving Jesus as Saviour and Lord before there is any significance to believing Him to be “the prophet” and the heir to David’s throne.  

          The Levites of Israel served God because that was their duty.  They had positions of power and prestige before the children of Israel.  These positions demanded certain practices and ways of life from them.  In most cases, these men served God because it was the only way to guarantee the continuance of their positions of prestige and power over the children of Israel. 

Herein is uncovered the fountain of hypocrisy –serving God to get the personal benefits of that service.  The truth is that a true believer will worship God and serve Him even if he was still going to Hell.  He would worship and serve God because he believes God deserves his worship and service because of Who God is and because he believes he really DESERVES HELL. 

Most people are quick to acknowledge they deserve nothing from God.  It is true that none deserve any grace from God for if we deserve grace, it is no longer grace.  However, few will worship God out of gratitude for grace in not receiving from Him what we all deserve.  We deserve the eternal fires and torments of Hell prepared for Satan and rebellious angels.  

Worship birthed from anything less is ignorant hypocrisy!  We do not want to talk about this because we want to feel good about ourselves.  We want to think we are pretty good people.  The fact is, apart from God’s marvelous grace, we are ALL hateful, wicked, deceitful monsters.  If we try to live one moment apart from God’s supernatural enabling grace, we will find ourselves oozing back into the slime pits of corruption out of which the grace of God dragged us.  Admit it!  Then, and only then, might genuine worship burst forth from your life. 

The Jews of Matthew 21:1-11 should have known from Zechariah 9:9 that the one upon which they looked was King Jesus the Saviour, not just another “prophet.”  The true spirit of loving forgiveness is the desire to deliver a person from your own anger and wrath.  It has been said, “God loves the sinner, but hates his sin.”  What foolish nonsense.  God hates the sinner and his sin and extends to that sinner the most extreme wrath imaginable -the torment of eternal Hell.  Yet, “God is love” (I John 4:8). 

God’s love extends God’s unsearchable grace to the sinner that God hates.  God’s love does not accept sinners as sinners.  God does not say, “I understand.  You are a sinner and you cannot help that you sin, so I forgive you.”  Redemption is God doing what He commands believers to do; “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Luke 6:27b-28).  Jesus Christ’s death burial, and resurrection mediates the wrath of an angry God and offers the only reconciling solution – the gift of God-kind righteousness imparted to the believer “through faith.”  That is love!

What did Jesus do immediately after the Jews hypocritically proclaim Him to be their prophet and restorer of the throne of David?  He went to claim the Temple they had built for His coming.  The Jews allowed Him to do what is recorded in Matthew 21:12-14 because the multitudes saw Jesus as having the authority of a prophet.  That means, they saw Jesus as having more authority than the “the chief priests and Pharisees.”  However, it is clear from Matthew 21:15-16 that the “the chief priests and Pharisees” did not believe Jesus to be their Messiah. 

12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. 15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, 16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? 17 And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there” (Matthew 21:12-17).

After Jesus purged the Temple of the money changers, Matthew 21:17 tells us He left Jerusalem and traveled about two miles to “Bethany.” He probably went to stay in the house of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha who lived in Bethany.  Jesus “lodge there” often.  The next morning Jesus and His disciples returned to Jerusalem to go back to the Temple and teach there.  Before the event of Jesus’ next confrontation of “the chief priests and Pharisees” with Who He is, a short lesson through an exhibition was necessary for the disciples.  The disciples needed to learn a lesson about faith and faithfulness.  Before you face the hypocrisy of the hypocrite, remember to confirm your faith in the faithful One!

18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. 19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever {Jesus cursed the unproductive fig tree}. And presently {instantly or right away} the fig tree withered away {shriveled or dry up; it died}. 20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled {why did they marvel?}, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! 21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done {this miracle was nothing compared to the impact these men were going to have on the world ‘by grace through faith’}. 22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:18-22).

We really cannot understand what is going on in the events of Matthew chapter twenty-one if we do not review the summary statement regarding it all in John 1:11-13. 

Jesus knew what was going on.  We can be quite sure that His disciples did not have a clue.  Jesus was presenting Himself as the Messiah/King/LORD of Israel.  THAT IS WHO HE IS!  The point of His presentation is His RECEPTION as MESSIAH LORD by the nation of Israel, including “the chief priests.”  We have already seen on two occasions in Matthew 21:11 and 46 that the “multitude” (majority) of the Jews believed Jesus was a prophet.  They did not believe Jesus was Messiah/King/LORD, and these three nomenclatures are synonymous.  If Jesus is going to be received as your Saviour, He must also be received as your LORD.

11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13).

The four Gospels present Jesus as the King of the Jews (Matthew), Servant or Prophet (Mark), Man or Priest (Luke), and God or Jehovah incarnate (John).  It is not that each Gospel does not support what the other Gospels teach about Who Jesus is.  It is just that each Gospel writer has his own emphasis.  To deny any one of these four aspects of the character and nature of Jesus is to deny Jesus. 

To believe in Jesus as Messiah is to accept and believe in each of these four aspects of His character and nature with EQUAL VERACITY!

This is the point of Matthew 21:18-21.  Jesus interjects this miracle of the immediate withering of the fig tree upon His cursing it to present Himself as the Sovereign Creator with absolute authority over His creation.  What we do not have in Matthew chapter twenty-one is what John recorded that Matthew does not.  Therefore, reading all the Gospels together is critical to our getting the whole picture. 

13 And whatsoever ye shall ask {the Father} in my name, that will I do {Jesus answers prayers in that He is the executor of God’s will or plan}, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).

The Name of Jesus is more than a means to get His attention.  To ask in the Name of Jesus is to ask believing in all to which His Name connects.  If Jesus is the Messiah, He is Jehovah, the incarnate Word/Will of God in a human body.  If Jesus is Jehovah, He is the Creator of Heaven, Earth, and all that is therein.  If Jesus is the Creator, He has Sovereign authority (the power of life, death, blessing, and curse) over all that He has created. 

When professing faith in Jesus, understanding of all these connecting links are presumed.  Faith in Jesus is all of this or nothing.  To profess faith in Jesus is to proclaim to believe a cacophony of all that the Bible teaches about Who He is.  In other words, a person cannot just believe in one aspect of Jesus while rejecting ANY other.  To believe in Jesus is to believe in ALL that He is and ALL to which His Name connects Him.

Unbelief is often merely another word for ignorance.  To profess faith in Jesus without understanding to all that the Name Jesus connects is really an empty testimony and empty faith.  Therefore, it is important to understand that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).  The more you understand of the Word of God’s teaching about Who Jesus is, the more your faith is increased. 

God created a perfect Adam, who was corrupted by Satan’s deception.  Adam became the progenitor of monsters of sin and all-consuming pride and selfishness.  Cain was the first that manifested the monstrous wickedness of which humanity is capable, but not the last.  However, we fail to see that Abel would have been a progenitor of monsters too, just like his daddy.  So are you and so am I!
Underneath the sanctifying grace of God in each of our lives, there is a wicked, sinful monster.  That monster is the real boogeyman under our beds and demon hiding in our closet.  That monster we simply call a sin nature is the real threat posed to our children and the influence we have upon the next generation of humanity.  Until we understand this reality, we will live under the deception of our own hypocrisy.  Unless we are willing to give Christ full surrender of our hearts, we WILL procreate spiritual monsters that will be just like we are underneath God’s enabling grace. 

23 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? 24 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves {instead of just saying the truth, they start playing politics}, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? 26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. 27 And they answered Jesus, and said {they give a politically correct answer, which is another phrase for side stepping the truth}, We cannot tell {simple translation of what they said: unbelief}. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things” (Matthew 21:23-27).

      Many, like “the chief priests and Pharisees,” fail to see what the Law of God really says in its summary of the Decalogue that we know as the Ten Commandments.  The message of the Law is simple.  All are sinners (Romans 3:23).  The Law says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20).  The Law says, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). 

28 But what think ye {Jesus is speaking specifically to the chief priests and Pharisees}? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. 29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. 30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not {they would not repent of their works way}. 31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness {the faith way, not the works way}, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him {the faith way}: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him {referring to John the Baptist pointing Jews to the faith way in Jesus Christ ‘the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,’ John 1:29}” (Matthew 21:28-32).

The “chief priests and the Pharisees” were looking for entrance into the Kingdom through the “works of the Law.”  They could see no other way because they had blinded themselves to the way of faith

They had completely and totally rejected the way of faith.  They believed God had removed the way of faith in the Abrahamic Covenant and replaced it with the way of works in the Mosaic Covenant.  Paul explains this all in great detail in Galatians chapter three.  Those of the works way hated John the Baptist and all the other Baptists who believed in the faith way into the Kingdom.  Those of the works way have always hated and persecuted those of the faith way

17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. 18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise” (Galatians 3:17-18).

John the Baptist was the forerunner of Messiah.  He was a prophet, but not thee Prophet spoken of by Moses.  As a prophet of God, John the Baptist spoke with the authority of a prophet when he called the scribes and Pharisees coming to his baptisms “a generation of vipers” (Matthew 3:7).  Jesus exposed them as a “generation of vipers” in Matthew 12:24 and again in Matthew 23:33 adding on numerous occasions in addressing them with the label of “hypocrites.”  A viper has the sting of death in his mouth/bite.  Their propagation of the works way in their false teaching was what made them vipers.  The works way is Satan’s invention and his deception.  However, its way is the way of death.  “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).  The works way seems like it should be the right way, but it can never get a person to the destiny it promises!

33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard {the Kingdom of Israel promised to Abraham and delivered to the faithful of Israel under Joshua’s leadership}, and hedged it round about {God’s protection}, and digged a winepress in it {God’s provision for blessing}, and built a tower {for God’s stewards to watch over His vineyard}, and let it out to husbandmen {the priesthood of Israel}, and went into a far country {waiting for the harvest}: 34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it {not the fruits which was the righteousness of the Law, but the heart fruits of genuine faith and the righteousness birthed through the New Birth; II Corinthians 5:21}. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants {referring to the prophets that called the priests to repent of their works way}, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son {Jesus the Messiah}, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen {those propagating the works way} saw the son {all they saw in the ‘Son’ was opposition to their false works way}, they {plotted His murder to kill the faith way once and for all} said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance {the Kingdom and its subjects of the faith way}. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They {the chief priests and Pharisees} say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you {the chief priests and Pharisees}, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone {see the fallacy of the works way} shall be broken {and through repentance of the works way come to faith in the faith way in Christ Jesus}: but on whomsoever it shall fall {because they refuse to repent of the works way believe in the faith way}, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them {they understood but refused to believe thereby sealing their destiny of eternal damnation}. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet” (Matthew 21:33-46).

What most people often fail to see in Matthew chapter twenty-one is that because the priesthood of Israel rejected Jesus as Messiah/King/LORD, the Kingdom Age was postponed.  Jesus said; “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).  The Kingdom was within the reach of the Jews if they would simply repent of their works way into the Kingdom and trust in the faith way into Kingdom through faith in Christ’s gift of God-kind righteousness. 

Of what did these Jews need to repent?  They certainly were not the Jews that were immersed in the paganism of old Israel.  These were the Jews that were the descendants of the faithful remnant that had returned to rebuild the Temple and Jerusalem under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah four hundred years earlier.  However, in overemphasizing the works of Law to ensure that Israel not go back into captivity, they made the way into the Kingdom the works way

Secondly, they failed to see, or refused to see, the continuum of captivity in the succeeding earthly empires revealed in Daniel 2:31-45.  Repentance of the works way by the nation of Israel was necessary before Jesus would usher in His Superior Kingdom through the faith way.  Therefore, Jesus calls Israel to “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).  There is no room or allowance in the “Kingdom of heaven” for people refusing to repent of the works way

30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone {faith in Jesus}; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Romans 9:30-33).

Anonymous comments will not be allowed. 
Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.