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Seeing the images from Bible prophecy of faithful born again Christians, the saints of God Almighty in Heaven at the end of last week’s post was deeply encouraging to me and I hope you also if you are a fellow believer.1 They are victorious over the treachery and violence of the most evil man to ever walk the earth and all other haters! How God loves us and cares for our encouragement to present these images to us in advance over nineteen hundred years ago. Indeed, the images convey the tender love God has for all who believe in and follow Christ very powerfully displayed to His eleven disciples as He prepared to make His departure back to Heaven in the Gospel of John.
Under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, this episode I am permitted to title, “The Lord’s Long Goodbye,” begins at John 13:1, the apostle writing: “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end,” (NKJV). From that launch point, the final Passover meal and evening together with what began as His twelve apostles proceeded with Him washing their feet and identifying Judas Iscariot as His betrayer he left to fulfill. Alone fully grasping the moment’s significance, the Lord began to declare His and the Father’s glory in it (John 13:2-32)!
Then, the Lord makes a shocking announcement saying, “‘“Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, “‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’” so now I say to you,”’” (John 13:33, NKJV.) From here there is His “new commandment” (John 13:34-35, NKJV), instruction, dialogue with the disciples and prayer to the Father that ends His long goodbye at John 17:26. All of what is said during this time hangs on and is tied to the announcement of His impending departure which is my focus in this post. As such, speaking from the heart “Simon Peter said to Him,” ‘“Lord, where are You going,’” (John 13:36a, NKJV)?
Peter’s question had all of the astonishment, emotion, disappointment, fear of loss, change and the future we all have when confronted with the sudden news someone we care deeply about is leaving for whatever reason. The Lord already knows every one of the other ten men feel the same way as Peter and answers him: ‘“Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward,’” (John 13:36b, NKJV).2 Not satisfied, Peter in all sincerity is insistent. He wants to know “why” he cannot “follow” Him “now” and asserts his willingness to die for the Lord which He rebukes; revealing Peter will in fact “deny” Him “three times” before sunrise (John 13:37-38, NKJV).
With great empathy the Lord Jesus begins to comfort the hearts of His eleven that have become deeply saddened by the announcement of His departure. First, He encourages their faith in Him to be on par with their faith in God the Father (John 14:1). Second, He assures, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” or rooms and He goes “to prepare a place for” them (John 14:2, NKJV). Preparing a place has to do with paving the way and readying the rooms where they will live with Him in the “heavenly Jerusalem” though, final fulfillment awaits the New Jerusalem constructed in Heaven and brought down on “a new earth” by God (Hebrews 12:18-24, 13:14; Revelation 21, NKJV).
Final future fulfillment in the New Jerusalem is made all the more sure by what the Lord says in John 14:3a. If He is going to go to the trouble to prepare a place for His disciples, He will “come again and receive” them to Himself (NKJV). What they did not grasp at the time was that the Lord’s departure and return had two parts. His departure from them initially would be by way of death near to being carried out by crucifixion, but He would return on the third day after through resurrection in God’s plan for their eternal redemption (John 14:15-18, 16:16-22)!3 After this initial brief, but all important departure and following instructions He gives making plain why they could not go with Him, the Lord would ascend to Heaven and the Father before their eyes then, come again (Acts 1:4-11).
Third and last, telling about the Lord’s love for His disciples in His long goodbye are the words, “that where I am, there you may be also,” (John 14:3b, NKJV). This is clearly very important to Him for He petitions His Father for the disciples’ union as and with Their Own plus reunion with Him (John 17:20-24). As He taught, His disciples knew where He was going and the way and were enabled to follow Him to the Father (John 14:4-6).4 Once more, this was so they could be with Him there and wherever He was to be thereafter; never to be separated again! This is why in His coming again to earth He brings with Him the spirits of His disciples to resurrect and gather them with the living to Himself as His first priority act (Matthew 24:29-31; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 19:9-16).5
1 Read the October 23, 2022 post, Revenge Of Those Without God’s Mark, under the category, Bible Prophecy.
2 With this statement, the Lord assures He was only leading out first. His eleven would follow after Him to where He was going at a later time as millions have done until now,
3 The Lord’s resurrection after securing the eternal redemption of His followers made possible the reality of Him, the Father and Holy Spirit taking up residence in them so that
even though physically He would return to Heaven, He could still be with them as He explained (John 14:19-24). Later, the apostle Paul celebrates being used of God to re-
veal “the riches of the glory of this mystery…which is Christ in” us who believe, “the hope of glory,” (Colossians 1:24-27, NKJV).
4 This truth taught by the Lord is why no aspiring strong man or great woman of God in His image is found among the religious seeking to connect to the Father through any
manmade religious means! As the Lord leads I write about essential relationship with Him in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics. Get it along with the com-
panion Strong Man Of God Men’s Group Study and Great Woman Of God Women’s Group Study for the equipping of the saints in the home and churches in the
Strong Man Store, at your favorite internet bookseller or brick and mortar bookstore.
5 The Second Coming of Christ for the saints then, is not about rescue from tribulation as much as it is the union of Christ with His bride and their final reunion as eternally
living, glorified immortals (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, 50-57)!
One of the many advantages we mocked “born again” Christians (John 1:12-13, 3:1-8, NKJV) enjoy comes into clear focus during the fifth trumpet warning judgment of God presented in the second installment of last week’s two-part post.1 Born again Christians and remnant Jews marked out by the Holy Spirit as belonging to God will not suffer being repeatedly stung by creatures He permits to do this to those without Him! So painful are the stings and the torment from them, “men will seek death and will not find it…desire to die, and death will flee from them,” (Revelation 9:1-12, NKJV). The tormented will not forget how those with God’s mark escaped the experience.2
God’s elect remnant Jews are specially marked out for protection during all of His judgments and wrath (Ezekiel 9:1-11; Joel 2:28-32; Revelation 7:1-8)! While as the Lord Jesus taught, “the world cannot receive” the Holy Spirit “because it neither sees Him nor knows Him,” by virtue of having received Him upon their repentance and faith in the Gospel, believers come to “know Him” through experiencing new spiritual birth and His abiding presence “with” and “in” us (John 14:16-17, NKJV)! Though since He is Spirit we do not see Him with our natural eyes, His glorious presence with and in us marks us out as belonging to God and is seen by all in the spiritual realm (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)!
For this cause, the angel king over and controlling the stinging locusts is able to distinguish those with God’s living seal upon them from those without Him and by His command, restricts the creatures from touching them (Revelation 9:4). For the record, rather than bitter resentment in the aftermath of their unimaginable agony, those that suffer the five months of painful torment had the prior opportunity as every born again Christian to believe the Gospel and receive the Holy Spirit and should now, be filled with repentance!3 However, their choice to be embittered leaves them open to more intense satanic influence and the evil decision to embrace violent persecution as revenge.
Extremely greater than at this hour widely filled with suffering and martyrdom throughout many nations,4 as the Lord foretold, hatred of born again Christians at that time reaches the point where they are “hated by all nations for” His “name’s sake,” (Matthew 24:9, NKJV). In their reprobate thinking, hurting and killing Christians (whose numbers had swelled during the revival the Holy Spirit freshly sparks when marking out the Jewish remnant--Acts 2:1-21) will be striking back at God for the stinging creatures and every plague of His warning judgments through the time of His “two witnesses,” (Revelation 11:3-6, NKJV). But the sovereign God is in control (Revelation 6:9-11)!
As the Lord led me to write in a previous post this year,5 toward the end of the witnessing of His two witnesses by prophesy and plagues, God’s holy angels led by Michael war against Satan and his angels in Heaven and prevail. They are cast out and down to the earth that have been and are behind the persecution of Jews (the elect is protected) and faithful Christians who overcome through their faith in and love for Christ!6 To be sure, “the devil” comes down “having great wrath because he knows that he has a short time,” (Revelation 12, NKJV). At this precise moment the Holy Spirit ceases His restraint preventing the coming of Satan’s “lawless one,” (2 Thessalonians 2:6-12, NKJV).
He rises up “out of the bottomless pit” to “war against” God’s two witnesses, “overcome” and kill them;” leaving “their dead bodies…in the street” and allowing the whole unsaved world to celebrate their deaths “three-and-a-half days” until God resurrects and calls them up to Heaven. After the “great earthquake” that follows, Satan and his “beast” go forth to rally the world to their quest for exaltation, worship, destructive dominion and warfare against God through killing Jews and Christians--the beast taking up the revenge cause of those without God’s mark who were tormented (Romans 8:31-39; Revelation 11:7-13, 13:1-10, NKJV). This ushers in what the Lord Jesus first describes as “great tribulation,” (Daniel 7:1-8, 19-25, 9:27, 11:31-45; Matthew 24:15-22, NKJV).
During the three-and-a-half year great tribulation that is in fact the beginning of the “third woe” culminating in the outpour of God’s wrath and Second Coming of Christ (Revelation 11:14, NKJV), Satan’s beast will be aided in his ability to kill all, but especially faithful Christians who do not worship him by another resurrected deceitfully lowly, but malevolent figure. He causes an image of the beast to live and kill any that will not worship it. He also requires everyone to receive the beast’s “mark” on themselves showing that they belong to him in imitation of what God has done with His elect Jewish remnant and faithful born again Christians who refuse to take it (Revelation 13:11-18, 14:9-13, NKJV). Consequently, they are shown victorious in glory thereafter (Revelation 7:9-17, 15:1-4)!
1 Read part two of Unbelief In God Near Dramatic End, posted October 16, 2022 under the category, Bible Prophecy.
2 See footnote seven in the post cited above as well as the two-part post that begins June 7, 2020, Days Of Separation, under the category, Bible Prophecy, for deeper
spiritual insight into how God making a distinction between His elects and the unsaved fits into His larger separating activity already in progress.
3 Since nowhere in Revelation 9:1-12 is there even a mention of repentance from among those tormented by the stinging creatures, we have no reason to believe
there is in light of none in the far worse next plague in verses 13-21!
4 Visit https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/ for an overview presentation of what Christian persecution is, its growing scope and severity. This Ministry
is pleased to prayerfully and financially support our persecuted brethren around the earth through Open Doors USA and invites you to do so as well!
5 Read the two-part post beginning February 13, 2022, War Of The Ages End, under the category, Bible Prophecy.
6 Such faith in and love for Christ (Revelation 12:11) fills the heart of every aspiring strong man and great woman of God in His image I write about in my book, The
Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics. Get it along with the companion Strong Man Of God Men’s Group Study and Great Woman Of God Women’s Group Study for
the equipping of the saints in the home and churches in the Strong Man Store, at your favorite internet bookseller or brick and mortar bookstore.
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